June 12, 1889
THE “Trust” is now the favorite scheme by which the greedy increase their gains. There is the Whisky Trust, the Sugar Trust, the Coffee Trust, the Oil Trust, and Trusts of all kinds too numerous to mention. A Trust is formed by the leading dealers in a certain article of trade laying together all their interests in that line, making a combination so strong as to control the market, and then putting up the price to the highest possible point. If a dealer refuses to join the Trust and does not follow the rise in price which is laid upon the article by the Trust, then the Trust takes steps to compel him either to join the Trust or go out of business. If the Trust cannot so fully control the market as to keep him from buying from anybody but them, at their own price, then they will run down the price so low that he cannot afford to sell at such a rate, and in one way or the other the object of the Trust is accomplished,—he is either forced into the Trust or out of the business,—and then the Trust, having the field entirely to itself, puts up the price to the highest possible point, clears immense sums, pays its trustees enormous salaries, and divides the profits amongst the managers of the combination, making them, many times, millionaires in a very few years. The Standard Oil Trust, for instance, has nine trustees who are paid a salary of $25,000 a year, and divides among its managers profits amounting to millions every year.
It will readily be seen that the word “Trust” is but another name for an organized monopoly, but with this characteristic: it is wholly irresponsible. A corporation, a railroad or steamboat line for instance, may secure a monopoly of the traffic in a certain locality, but being a corporation, receiving its charter from the State, it is responsible to the State, and the State may put a check upon its exorbitant greed. But a Trust is not incorporated, is responsible to nobody but itself. The following from the Christian at Work fitly describes the Trust:—
“What after all is a Trust? Well, for one thing it is neither a corporation nor a well-defined common-law Trust; it avoids the checks and safeguards which a wise public policy has thrown around corporate acts; its articles of agreement are secret and jealously guarded even from the investor himself; no charter nor statements need be filed for public inspection; no reports need be made or published; it may carry on any business it desires; the principles of ultra virce acts do not check it; no limit is placed by statute on its capital stock; no law prevents an increase or decrease of its Trust certificates; no qualifications are prescribed for its trustees; no tax is levied on its charter or franchises or capital stock; no limit is placed by the public on the power and discretion of its trustees; no publicity is given to its acts. It may move from State to State; it may evade taxation and defy the powers of courts; it wields vast sums of money secretly, instantaneously, and effectively to accomplish its nefarious ends; and it does all this not for the advancement of the community and the Nation, but for the purposes of extortion and for the annihilation of independent firms. Such a trust is the Sugar Trust; such are the four great Oil Trusts—such in short are almost all the Trusts.”
It is evident that, in its accepted use, the word “Trust” signifies a combination of capital for the formation of an irresponsible monopoly to rob the consumer of the extra price which he can thus be  forced to pay. This is the one extreme. There is another monopoly, although not called a Trust, at the other extreme, which is as irresponsible, and consequently as despotic, as any Trust in existence can be. Although not called a Trust, to all interests and purposes it is a Trust. Although, by those who compose it, it is not granted that it is a monopoly, yet a monopoly it is. Instead of calling this a Trust it is called a Union. Instead of a monopoly in certain lines of trade, it is a monopoly of labor. What we refer to is the trades-union. It is as really a Trust, and as certainly a monopoly, as any Trust or any monopoly that was ever formed. And, like any other monopoly, its greed grows by what it feeds upon.
An instance in point (if any instance were needed to show what is palpable to all) will show that the action of the Union is identical with that of the Trust: In the fishing season of 1888 the Fisherman’s Union in the Columbia River formed a combination so strong that no outside fisherman was allowed to enter the Columbia to fish. Then, having secured control of the river, they forced up the price of fish so that each fisherman of the Union made from seven to ten dollars a day. The only difference between this and the Trust is in the amount scoured to the parties interested in the monopoly.
More than this, the trades-union not only assumes the monopoly of work within the trades, it monopolizes the trades themselves. This combination that is responsible to no law, presumes to make and enforce the law that nobody shall learn any trade without the consent of the Union; and that consent is granted only to a limited number. Under this “law” of the trades-union Trust a manufacturer cannot apprentice his own son, at his own trade, in his own shop, without the consent of the labor Trust. Some months since a young man wrote a letter to Mayor Hewitt, of New York City, asking to be directed to some place where he could learn some mechanical employment. He said that he had applied to more than fifty employers to be received as an apprentice, but could not find an entrance anywhere. The mayor replied, regretting that he could not give him a favorable answer, and said:—
“In this great city there ought to be abundant opportunity for every young man to learn a trade. Under the regulations adopted by the various trades-unions, the number of apprentices is limited, so that there is growing up in our midst a large number of young men who cannot find access to any mechanical employment. This is a lamentable state of affairs, because these young men are turned loose upon the streets, and grow up in habits of idleness, resulting in vice and crime. If this action of the trades societies in this matter really limited the competition for employment which they experience, it might be defended, at least upon selfish principles; but inasmuch as foreign workmen are free to come to this country in unlimited numbers, the only effect of these regulations is to keep our own young men out of useful employment, which is freely open to those who are born and trained in foreign countries. The evil is of the most serious character, and I trust that this statement of it may lead to a reconsideration on the part of the various trades organizations who now restrict the right of employment without benefit to themselves, but to the great injury of the rising generation.”
We seriously doubt whether this statement, or any other, will ever lead to any such reconsideration as the mayor suggests. Monopolies never voluntarily loose their grip.
Only lately some boys in Chicago made application to the Police Court to be sent to the Industrial School, or House of Correction, that they might become sufficiently acquainted with some trade so as to enable them to follow some useful occupation. We are not informed whether their request was granted or not. But even if it were, we know that even this refuge is not long to be left them; for the despotism of the labor Trust is controlling the State, and is already declaring that the trades shall not be followed to any material extent even in penal institutions, but that all criminals shall be supported in comparative idleness.
The third week of last July, the Legislature of New York, in response to the “labor” agitators, enacted a law which provides that no manufacturing machinery shall be used in any of the penal institutions of that State; that hand labor only shall be employed; that only such articles shall be made therein as can be used in the penal or public institutions of the State; and that none of the prison products shall be sold to the public. And why is this? Because, it is said, articles manufactured in prison by convict labor and sold outside, come into competition with articles manufactured outside by “free labor,” thus lowering the prices of the outside articles, which tends to reduce wages and degrade “labor”!
Is it necessary to point out to any man who thinks, the blind fallacy of such an argument? Do these men not know that if the State is not allowed to make the convicts support themselves, they will have to be supported by taxation? And if the manufacturer has to pay increased taxes, wages will be lowered accordingly. But the labor monopoly may say, We will not allow him to lower the wages. Very well, he will then add to the price of his goods the extra tax which he pays to support idle convicts, and when the laboring man buys any manufactured article he will pay the tax. And if the merchant or the grocer has to pay an increased tax for the support of convicts, he will add the amount to the price of his goods, and when the laboring man buys a piece of muslin, or a pound of coffee, he pays the tax which the State is compelled to levy to support the criminals, whom he himself has declared shall not be allowed to do enough to support themselves. The whole subject then resolves itself into this simple question: Shall the convicts be made to do enough work to clear the expense which they cause, or shall the laboring man support them in idleness so that the proper dignity of labor may be maintained?
Thus the labor monopoly forces the youth into idleness rather than to allow them to support themselves by honest trades. Through enforced idleness they are led into vice and crime, and by that into jails and penitentiaries; and even there the labor monopoly compels him to dwell in idleness. Therefore of all Trusts the labor Trust is the most heartless; of all monopolies the labor monopoly is most wicked. To say that such organizations are in the interests of labor, is a perversion of language. Their principal effect, if not their direct aim, is solely to promote idleness, with its inevitable consequences,—vice and crime.
A. T. J.