home | authors | books | about

Home -> Otto H. Kahn -> High Finance -> V

High Finance - V

1. I

2. II

3. III

4. IV

5. V

The people are fair-minded and when fully informed, almost invariably
wise and right in their judgment, which cannot always be said of their

When scolded, browbeaten, maligned and harassed, finance may well turn
upon its professional fault-finders and challenge comparison.

Finance and financiers have had no mean share in creating organizations
and institutions in this country which are models of efficiency and
which men from all quarters of the globe come here to study and to

It is the critics of finance and business who--to mention but a few
instances--have given to the army aeroplanes that are grossly defective,
to the navy submarines that are in constant trouble, who have passed
laws which have driven our ships off the seas in the world's trade, and
other laws which have mainly brought it about that in the year 1915 less
railroad mileage has been constructed in the United States than within
any one year since the Civil War.

Just as Congress, by a series of laws, has imposed burdens and costs
upon ships operating under the American flag which made it impossible
for capital to invest in American ships for use in the world's trade and
earn a fair return in normal times, so the Federal and State
Legislatures, during the past ten years, have imposed upon the railroads
all kinds of exactions, restrictions and increasing costs which have had
the result of arresting progress, and which threaten, after the
cessation of the present period of abnormal earnings, to seriously lame
that vastly important industry.

Congress has done little to indicate that it recognizes the urgency and
bigness and significance of the momentous situation which confronts the

Nor does it seem inclined to pay serious heed to the views of
business--and by that I do not mean the views of business "magnates,"
but the consensus of opinion of business men in general.

Nor does past experience encourage us to believe that it will pay such
heed unless impelled by the instinct of self-preservation.

Amongst the powers for which our friends of both political parties have
a wholesome respect, one of the most potent is organization.

Let business then become militant, not to secure special privileges--it
does not want any and does not need any--but to secure due regard for
its views and its rights and its conceptions as to what measures will
serve the best interests of the country, and what measures will harm and
jeopardize such interests.

Without wishing to hold up the labor unions as offering a model for the
spirit which should actuate us or the methods we should follow--because
their class-consciousness and the resulting conduct are sometimes
extreme and often shortsighted, I would urge upon business men to
cultivate and demonstrate but a little of that cohesion and discipline
and subordination of self in the furtherance of the common cause, that
readiness to back up their spokesmen, that loyalty to their calling and
to one another which working men practice and demonstrate daily, and
which have secured for their representatives the respect and fear of
political parties.

Let business men range themselves behind their spokesmen, such as the
United States Chamber of Commerce in Washington and the Chambers of
Commerce and kindred associations in states and cities.

Let them get together now and in the future through a properly
constituted permanent organization, and guided by practical knowledge,
broad vision and patriotism, agree upon the essentials of legislation
affecting affairs, which the situation calls for from time to time.

Let them pledge themselves to use their legitimate influence and their
votes to realize such legislation and to oppose actively what they
believe to be harmful lawmaking.

Let them strive, patiently and persistently, to gain the confidence of
the people for their methods and their aims.

Let them meet false or irresponsible or ignorant assertion with plain
and truthful explanation. Let them take their case directly to the
people--as the railroads have been doing of late with very encouraging
results--and inaugurate a campaign of education in sound economics,
sound finance and sound national business principles.

Let business men do these things, not sporadically, under the spur of
some imminent menace, but systematically and persistently.

Let them be mindful that just as the price of liberty is eternal
vigilance, so eternal effort in resisting fallacies and in disseminating
true and tested doctrine is the price of right lawmaking in a democracy.

© Art Branch Inc. | English Dictionary