Friday, June 20, 2014

Bigger Isn't Better, 1946

“Danger in Bigness” from the Editorial Page of the Monday, June 10, 1946, issue of The Robesonian, Lumberton

Speaking the other day at little Washington college in Maryland where he received an LLD, President Truman said that “small towns are the best towns and small colleges and universities suit me best.” He said further that he would “rather see hundreds of small insurance companies than one large one, and 100 small steel corporations than one U.S. Steel Corp., and a hundred banks than one National City bank.  Small companies give a number of good men opportunities.”

The President certainly has something there, all the way through. The News and Observer, quoting Mr. Truman’s remarks recalls that the last Justice Brandeis, being asked “What is the greatest danger in America?” replied, “Bigness. I think this country is great on account of its small educational institutions more than anything else,” and quoted with approval Garfield’s idea of a college, “a bench in a log house with himself on one end of the bench and Mark Hopkins on the other.” His idea on that was that “Mark Hopkins was famous as an educator because he was an individual educator.” The Raleigh paper adds:
Truman and Brandeis saw the dangers as Theodore Roosevelt saw when he was heading toward his Progressive party. He saw oil and tobacco monopolies impoverishing the small oil producers and tobacco growers, and the consumers, and began the prosecution that resulted in their conviction under the anti-trust laws. There is need of pressing to a conclusion the strengthening of the anti-trust laws, a repeal of the law exempting the over-big fire insurance trust, and the killing of the house measure to exempt railroads from the anti-trust laws. One of the evils of bigness is that it tends to monopoly, and Brandeis was an inveterate foe of all monopoly.

President Truman the week before had found it necessary to crack down on bigness of labor union bosses who by the rail and soft coal strikes had brought disaster upon the American people. Bigness is the trouble with the labor unions. Their leaders have challenged the authority of the government itself. Strikes against the welfare of the people have approached the point of revolution, largely as a result of legislative and judicial acts of the past decade.

Labor unions if broken up into small units could be a great blessing. They have gotten too big, just as oil and tobacco monopolies got too big and powerful and had to be trimmed down to size.

It would be a healthy thing for the unions as well as for the country to have the powers of the big unions curtailed by remedial legislation.

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