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commodity values that now go up in thousand mines competing for an ill smoke, we are guilty of waste which defined and uncertain market, with experts figure at from two to four bil- thousands of mines unable to keep lions of dollars a year. This waste is their machinery and men busy for more largely responsible for high freight and than two hundred and fifteen days in passenger rates and the persistent the year, with half of their output floundering of our railroads. It is a wasted in smoke, life is an endless, large element in our high-fuel and harassing gamble. Inevitably, when power costs. It has a fundamental the two sides come together to negotibearing upon industrial unrest in the ate a wage agreement, each is keyed up coal-fields, upon coal shortages and to a sullen desperate determination to strikes. For waste breeds war.
have and hold as large a share of the The reason for the publication of this industry's gross income as it can comarticle at this time is that the editor of pel the other to yield. Last year the THE CENTURY shares the general ap- miners struck when the operators de prehension that there may be a nation- manded a reduction in wages. They wide lockout or strike, or at least a dis- won their strike. There is no likeliconcerting period of uncertainty and hood that they will agree to a redueunsettlement, in the bituminous coal tion now.
tion now. The operators will probably industry when the present collective protest that they cannot pay the presagreement between the United Mine ent rate without going bankrupt. For Workers of America and the organized most of them this will be approxibituminous coal operators expires at mately true. Already an increasing midnight of March 31. A strike may number of them are taking refuge in be averted, but there will inevitably be the non-union fields, where they can a period of uncertainty during which make up for the wastefulness of our the railroads and the industries, which use of coal by getting cheap labor and depend very largely upon the soft- recovering much of the wages they pay coal supply for power, will not know by operating company stores. Both how soon they may have to curtail sides organize for war rather than for operation or shut down altogether. stable industrial government and coIf a strike should develop, coal will operation in the development of their leap back into the newspaper head- industry as an essential public service. lines.
This long contest between the coal For my part, I shall have a fellow- operators and miners will continue and feeling for both operators and miners, the coal problem will remain with us because, like the rest of us, they are the until through the development of the victims of our ancestral idea of coal. giant-power idea we conserve the full I know that under our present wasteful economic values of coal. method of burning raw coal in steam Giant-power means the conversion locomotives and under hundreds of of coal into electricity at or near the thousands of isolated individualistic mines; but it means more than that. factory boilers, the coal industry is It contemplates, as an integral part of perpetually struggling to make ends coal electric plants, the construction of meet. Some operators and some min- coal by-product ovens for the recovery ers make good money, but with ten of the tar, ammonium sulphatea valuable fertilizer--and the oils that trucks, dumped into bins, and shoveled are lost when we burn raw coal. It into dirty stoves and furnaces, whose contemplates the interconnection of by-products are soot and ashes. carboelectric and hydroelectric power Heating during all but the coldest plants and systems into regional reser- months of the year. But what of voirs of power and the ultimate inter- those coldest months? Our present connection of these reservoirs into a answer is anthracite, and for those who vast nation-wide giant-power system. can afford it that will continue to be Moreover giant-power, as distinguished the answer for some time to come. from what is popularly known as su- But our supply of anthracite is limited. perpower, places the service of the Except for some low-grade deposits in home on the farm and in the small Rhode Island and some inaccessible community ahead of, or at least on a veins in Colorado, all of our anthracite parity with, the service of the railroads coal confined to an area less than five and manufacturing establishments. It hundred square miles in extent in aims to encourage the decentralization Pennsylvania. For all practical purof population by making all the con- poses all anthracite is Pennsylvania veniences of electricity as readily ac- anthracite. Many of the best workcessible to the farm and the small town ings there have been exhausted; it is as they now are to the inhabitants of becoming increasingly necessary to large cities, and so to temper the evils tunnel deeper down in the earth. of the steam industrial revolution with its slum-breeding concentration of fac
$ 3 tory populations. It will more than We usually speak of the "anthracite double the value of our annual coal monopoly,” because seventy per cent. production, and so simplify the prob- and more of this fuel is owned or conlem of earnings and wages; it will im- trolled by a few big financially related mensely increase the mechanical en- companies, and we therefore assume ergy at the disposal of the individual that it will be relatively simple to give workman, and so greatly increase the the industry the legal status of a pubnational wealth. The major technical lic utility, subject to regulation as to apparatus required for the develop- prices, like gas and electricity. But a ment of the giant-power idea already condition of public regulation is that exists; the system itself already exists the price shall be such as to yield the in embryo. It is now possible to relay owner a reasonable return on his inelectrical current from Oregon to the vestment, and as Mr. S. D. Warriner, borders of Mexico; only a link or two President of the Lehigh Coal and Naviare missing in a chain of power units gation Company, and spokesman in that stretch from Minnesota to Ala- ordinary of the anthracite operators, bama. The public can have electricity suggests, the price of anthracite under for manufacturing and all manner of regulation might follow the example of household uses, including heating in all railroad rates and fatten on its medibut the coldest months of the year, as cine. Moreover, as he also points out, soon as they begin to think of coal as there are substitutes for hard coal electricity instead of something to be other than soft coal.
other than soft coal. Within a few hauled about on the railroads and in months during the recent anthracit
strike, 418,000 tons of anthracite were trial uses, like the large-scale developdisplaced by oil in New York City ment of electricity, depends upon the alone. The use of coke is rapidly in- full application of the giant-power idea creasing. Coke is a product of bitu- to bituminous coal, with anthracite as minous coal. When a ton of bitumi- a minor ally. The conversion of coal nous coal is put through by-product into electricity at or near the mines in ovens, it yields, among other things, plants equipped with ovens for byfrom seven to ten thousand cubic feet product recovery has a most vital bearof gas, and also some fifteen hundred ing upon industrial relations in the coal pounds of coke or smokeless fuel simi- industry, because without it the net lar to anthracite. The United States income of the industry will be insuffiGeological Survey has issued a pam- cient to meet the reasonable demands phlet in which it demonstrates that of owners and workers. Since the coke is in some ways a better domestic days back in the seventies when Marfuel than hard coal. The editorial di- cus A. Hanna lead the progressive coalrector of the “Gas Age Record” says: operators in the recognition of the “before many years have passed, fuel union in exchange for the pledge of consumers in great cities, getting all John Siney, the miners' leader, that their heat units through pipes, will look there would be no strike without preback in horror to the day when raw coal vious resort to arbitration, all attempts was burned and the people submitted to to establish permanent peace in the the evils of smoke, ashes, unnecessary industry have broken on this problem waste and needless labor. . . It of earnings. Waste breeds war. It will be just as easy in the future to turn has a fundamental bearing upon busion the gas in the cellar as it is now to ness stability, for the stability of industurn on water in the bath-tub."
try largely depends upon the stability The advantages of gas need not be and cost of the fuel supply. It has a confined to large cities. Owing to our profound bearing upon the convenvast inheritance of natural gas, there ience of domestic life and the mainteare already great networks of gas-pipe nance and increase of our American lines reaching into hundreds of small standard of living. It is technically towns and farm-homes. "Just as feasible and economically imperative. whole regions will be supplied with electricity for power purposes from one
§ 4 great central plant, so whole regions What, then, delays the coming of
will be supplied with gas from giant-power? Among other things, enormous central plants. . No the vast investment in raw coal-burnmodern practice is more ridiculous or ing machinery, for whose capitalized more closely linked with a primitive waste the public pays. Take the age than our present methods of dis- single case of the railroads. Compe tributing and burning coal.” Like my tent engineers have figured that the acute Chinese student, the editor of electrification of our railroads under a “Gas Age Record" finds comedy in our giant-power system might easily save American coal situation.
$800,000,000 a year. At least a third This large-scale development of coke of our railroad mileage lies in territory and gas for domestic as well as indus- of sufficient traffic density to make immediate electrification good business. well as for themselves, but the ghost But there are the thousand of steam- walks just the same. locomotives already in existence, to- But the greatest cause of delay in the gether with the locomotive works coming of giant-power is the persistthat built them. Burning raw coal ence of the ancestral idea of coal in the costs the railroads a heap of wasted official and lay public mind. We have money, but, then, a third of their just had a federal coal commission profitable freight load is coal. For whose reports, according to one of the the stupidity of hauling coal up and commissioners, represent the expendidown the country instead of sending ture of a million and a half dollars. its energy through pipes and wires. These reports are bulky with facts the public pays in high freight and pas- about the coal industry as traditionally senger rates and in railroad inefficiency conceived. The commission plead for generally.
the recognition of the coal industry as Then there are thesmall electric light one affected with a public interest, in plants whose owners prefer not to be the technical sense, as a public utility. disturbed in their present inefficient, For years, senators, congressmen, and but profitable, business. These small governors—notably since the last anplants use from two to three times as thracite strike, Governor Pinchot of much coal per unit of electricity pro- Pennsylvania—have tried to find legal duced as the large modern plants. But ways of bringing coal under public conthey are a vested interest, and hitherto trol as a utility. But so long as coal is the public, spellbound by the still novel treated merely as coal, the courts have wonder of electric light, has seemed held that this cannot be constitutionwilling to pay for their extravagance. ally done. There are thousands of There are the large electric light and coal companies, ten thousand coalpower companies owning valuable mines. Coal as such is no more a pubfranchises and wanting to extend their lic utility than wheat. But put it on business along the established lines of wires and into gas pipes and it becomes least resistence. They want to en- a recognized public utility at once. large their present franchises in advance Electric transmission lines, like gasof the full flowering of the giant-power pipe lines, are essentially monopolistic; idea, so that when the public awakens their construction involves the use of to the idea that coal is electricity and public highways and the exercise of the gas, the question of ownership will be sovereign power of eminent domain. largely an academic question. For it Giant-power is the necessary forerunis obvious that a giant-power system ner to the solution of this quaint parainvolves the development of a giant dox in which common sense says coal monopoly of the nation's fuel and is a public utility, but the common power resources. Owing to knowledge law says it is not. of this fact, the ghost of public own- We are like sleep-walkers in a dream. ership already haunts the houses of But once we awaken to the idea that the great electric utility corporations. coal is not merely coal, but gas and They are entirely certain that private electricity, the comedy of coal will ownership is better for the public as draw to a close.
BY KONRAD BERCOVICI
OME to Damascus, the old city steel into famous blue blades, are still of Damascus!
glistening in front of the bazaars. “The sand-laden wind of the There is an old and a new minaret near desert polishes the tops of the mush- the gate. Both towers are painted room-like, flat, round towers. Patches green. The new one is over a thousand of gold glitter in the sun, when the years old. The stalls of the heavy, sirocco, the wind of the desert, has let columnar bazaars hang with rugs, up; glitter between the cracks of the groan with brocades and embroidered greenish roof copper sheeting, remind- shawls and engraved yataghans, razor ing of the old glory of the city of the sharp on both edges, with hilts covered califs, Damascus, the key city of the with inlaid mother of pearl, ésideef,' world. The narrow, crooked streets and poignards with silver handles upon which look small, high iron- made by the men of the desert under barred windows from overleaning, the shadows of palm-trees, while the heavy, white walls, the cobblestones camels sun themselves, and the tiger of the pavement, the praying men and the lion look at one another from wrapped in shawls and rugs at the behind the golden sand hillocks. street corners, the braying ass groaning “Come to Damascus!" my father under the load of calfskin water-bags urged. bulging down to his hoofs-all this And so we went to Damascus. For cries aloud that Damascus is still generations and generations my foreDamascus, as it has been a thousand, fathers have brought their offspring to two thousand years ago, as it will be Damascus to acquaint them with, on in all eternity. Bagdad has changed, the outskirts of the city, a few ruined Alexandria has become transformed walls behind a cobblestone-paved yard, into a modern city, Tyre and Nineveh where lean goats were angrily tearing are gone and forgotten; Damascus the
the grass and moss that grew between still remains, as Paul of Tarsus had the cracks. It was our ancestral home. seen it, as the califs of Ommiads have One did not belong to the family unwilled it.
less he had slept a night between those “The small anvils, the steel of which walls. It was home, the only home. has been half eaten away by the blasts The other place we lived in was "the of sand that have passed over them, abode.” spiked six feet underground, upon And so we slept between those walls which twenty generations of sword- the first night of our arrival, although makers have hammered the thin, cold the wind blew the sharp sand into our