"THIS GOVERNMENT SHOULD BACK UP AMD
. START OVER AGAIN ON PANAMA TOLLS"
SAYS HERBERT QUICK.
BY HERBERT QUICK,
Author of "On Board the Good Ship
Earth," Eto-ditor of Farm
(Copyright, 1913, by the Newspaper
If, as I think, we are, as a matter
of policy and duty, bound, to repeal
or suspend the law providing for free
passage of our coastwise ships and
imposing tolls on the ships of other
nations, what shall we do about
We can let everybody's ships
through free and make the world a
present of the canal, for one thing;
and it would be money in our pockets
as a nation to do this rather than
charge tolls which would eve"h retard
the movement of freight.
If the interest on our investment is
twelve or fifteen millions a year and"
we operated the canal free, it would
still be a good investment. It nearly
doubles the efficiency of otir navy
and that alone is worth the annual
charge. It will break the freight
monopoly of the transcontinetnal
railways and that will be worth
many times twelve millions a year.
But no such, generous policy is
necessary. We can exact tolls which
will carry the charges and not reduce
the usefulness of the canal, avoid of
fense to the nations of the world and
deal fairly by our treaty obligations.
To do this we need only adopt the
rate-making methods any competent
freight agent would use.
Tolls through canals arcgenerally
calculated on the tonnage of the ves
sel. No matter with what she is
loaded, or whether she Js. loadedat
all, she pays on her tonnage':- She
pays as much if filled with hay of
crushed rock as if her cargo were
Bilks, pianos or tourists.
No railway man would ever be so
insane as to adopt such, a scheme
of charges; and yet I believe this is
exactly the scheme which our law
adopts for the Panama canal. I be
lieve the tolls are $1.25 a ton. Some
thing like that, anyhow. When the
phosphates of the Columbia Valley
are mined and ground for fertilizer,
they will have to pay $1.25 a ton.
The gold from the Treadwell mine in
Alaska can go through at the same
rate. The millionaires owning the
Treadwell mines can personally go
through at $1.25 a ton. This is
cruelly high for fertilizer and absurd
ly low for gold, I submit, million
aires should have a higher rate than -manure.
All freight rates are so calculated
that the. traffic wil move freely. "'The
ooda which need a low rate get it.
The goods wfrich can pay agh rate
'without feeling it, pay it.
The government should back up
and start over again on Panama tolls.
We are now steering right into the
middle of a bad muddle in which we
shall be in the wrong. We should
make the tolls according to the value
of the things carried. Hay, crushed
rock, coal and lumber should pass
through at a toll very much below
$1.25. Oranges, lemons and fruits
should pay moi;e. Silks still more.
Twenty passengers weighing a ton
could easily pay--twenty dollars. A
ship with no cargo should go through
free, in the interests of the canal, if
she is coming back with a load.
These are the principles on which
all just tariffs,' and most which are
not just, are levied. The adoDtion of
them would settle the treaty question.
t woum setue tne matter of reduc
ing freight rates on the railways.
And it would make the canal a paying
o o " '
The average, depth of the ocean
bed is about 12,000 feet, as against
the average land height above sea
level of 2,300 feet.
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