Read CHAPTER - V of High Finance , free online book, by Otto H. Kahn, on

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

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 admire.

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 country.

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.