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Newspaper Page Text
' Sometimes' we learn things by z' cst Sometimes it takes aa ac
cident to blow away a tradition or superstition that has enslaved millions
of minds for years.
, I wonder if it ever occurred to anybody in Chicago, during all this talk
of mergers, through-routes and street railways, that street cars can really
run along the streets and carry passengers without the company having
"any franchise at all?
, I think the people would be better off if there were no franchise at all,
and public service corporations were permitted to operate in a city only
"during good behavior, and under such regulations as the city might make
for the public good,
But it wouldn't be so soft for the street railway promoters, for it would
evaporate all the millions of water in bonl8 and stock. It is the franchise
value, you know, on which most of the bonds and all of the stock' are is
sue.d. The actual investment isn't a marker to the franchise value.
So we keep on granting franchises because the bond and stock gam
blers want 'em and need 'em in their business, and because councils have
been doing the same thing ever since the game began.
A street railway company, in consideration of the people granting a
franchise, agrees to do certain things if permitted to use the people's-
'streets. Then with great regularity they fail to do these things until the old
franchise is about to expire; whereupon they come in and promise again to
"do the things they failed to do, provided we give 'em another franchise.
', And because our ancestors were chumps, we keep on being chumps, too.
I was talking to Brand Whltlock, mayor of Toledo, the other day about
a recent rotten decision of the supreme court of Ohio one of its long list
of rotten decisions.
' Last year the people of Ohio amended their constitution. One of the
"amendments granted home rule to cities. The supreme court has just de-
elded, by a tie vote, that the amendment doesn't operate automatically, and
that the cities can't have home rule except by legislative enactment
"Why have a state constitution at all?" asked Mayor Whltlock. "Con
"stitutions were all right when all power came from the king, and he granted
.certain power to the people through a written constitution. But when the
people of the state are the source of all power, why should they fetter them
selves with a constitution? If they had no constitution, then no court could
declare unconstitutional a law enacted by the legislature or the people
I presume the answer is that states always have had constitutions, and
"hence always will have to have them just like those buttons on your long
My observation has been that constitutions have been used to fetter
"the people, just as franchises have been used to rob the pedple. And I've
got so tired of seeing Big Business skin the public by beating it over the
"head with its own constitution that I'd like to see one state burn up its
darned old constitution and worry along without one.
, Then the people could enact any law it wanted, and judges couldn't
Repeal the law by judicial decision.
And I'd like to see one city refuse to bolster up watered bonds and
stock with franchises, and make nromoters run street railways as straieht
"business propositions and be permitted to run them only so long as they
were run for the benefit of the public.
' But then, were're still wearingbuttons on the backs of our long-tailed