« AnkstesnisTęsti »
porations, or to any line of commer- opinion, the corporation's plans and cial enterprise. In some degree
some degree policies have always been carefully every calling in life is a business; and considered, and harmoniously apto the extent that business is in- proved by our finance committee volved in any human attempt toward and by our board of directors. livelihood or gain, these remarks will The United States Steel Corporaapply in due proportion. Big Busi- tion has been characterized as "a corness, so called, is more likely to be poration with a soul.” Whether or exposed to the public view, but small not the characterization is true might business is no more exempt from depend upon one's definition of the moral responsibility.
word soul. A definition acceptable The iron and steel industry in the for the purpose of this paper is that a United States can do much to pro- soul is a controlling influence, posmote the golden rule in business. sessed by individuals, corporations, Perhaps it has done a good deal in or states, which recognizes, as of equal that direction, although it is far from importance with its own, the rights,
, perfect, even between its own cor- interests, and welfare of others--no porate members. Not only individ- greater, no less. Under this definiuals but aggregations should become tion the United States Steel Corporaactive participants in promoting the tion has striven to secure in all who golden rule. Much of large business are interested in its conduct the conis negotiated; that is, many of the viction that it is possessed of a soul. biggest commercial transactions are To say that it has sometimes failed in consummated in discussions between this effort is but to assert that its two or more persons, dealing as man managers are human. to man but at arm's length. Frequently there are no fixed prices or The management of a corporation precise basis for measuring or for stands fundamentally in a position of valuations, and there is the need of balance between three groups or facreaching an agreement which is mu- tors: the security-holders, the general tually satisfactory, or at least ac- public, and the working forces. ceptable. Under these conditions The security-holders rightly ocneither side is obligated to expose cupy first place, because they own what is in its mind as a minimum or the properties and business, and a maximum of possible terms or their control must be recognized. prices. Yet in such cases there can Their capital makes possible the be no excuse for misrepresentation existence, the activities, and the sucor fraud of any kind.
cess of the corporation. No enterIt has been said on occasion that prise would long continue active, or certain individuals absolutely have even remain in existence, if a majorbeen dominant in the control and ity of the stockholders were continmanagement of the United States uously dissatisfied. The managers Steel Corporation. Such a statement of our corporation have neither
. is wholly contrary to fact, indeed minimized nor neglected the rights contrary to reason. Although in the of the stockholders; but at times earlier years there were differences of those rights have been ignored or
threatened by public speakers and its common stock; and we have made writers, especially when incompe- these increases as soon as we believed tent, prejudiced, or unjust. The reasonable, and in amounts as large stockholders should remember that as we believed practicable, taking although it may sometimes seem to every factor into account. Requests them, or to some of them, that the for such increases have been many, directors have been unduly liberal in sometimes in speech, sometimes in expenditures, it nevertheless has been print. But with few exceptions they
. the conscientious judgment of the do not come from investors. Let me management that what was done was state a case as an illustration. calculated to result in the greatest An individual wrote twice demandgood and the largest benefit for all ing an increase in the common stock concerned.
dividend. Letters of the sort are We do not manage the Steel Cor- usually anonymous, but this one was poration for the stock market. I signed, and so we were able to exhave repeatedly made this declara- amine the records. We found that tion. We try to make our securities the writer had been in and out and in intrinsically a little more valuable as again within a few months, that years go on, and we have succeeded he had bought and sold and bought up to the present time. The cor- again
again approximately the same poration is doing a business or has number of shares each time. That done a business ranging from a billion he is an investor is doubtful; rather, and a half to two billion dollars a he is what would be called a speculayear; it has employed from two tor, which he of course has a right to hundred and sixty thousand to three be. He would like to have an extra hundred thousand men; wages have dividend declared in order to dispose been advancing as the cost of living of his holdings at a profit; after advanced, and costs of materials which he would presumably repurhave been increasing. Until the chase, if something happened to de
, World War, competition from foreign press the market. Such reasons as countries was growing and becoming these do not appeal to the judgment more strenuous; since the war, com- of a real investor. petition within the boundaries of the With regard to the general public, United States has been increasing, it will cheerfully be admitted that and has become extremely strenuous.
its interests are highly important. Notwithstanding these conditions, When they clash with private interthe United States Steel Corporation ests the latter must be subordinated. has shown a steady advancement. The management of a corporation,
The stockholder's interests are for its own good and for the benefit always served and protected by con- of its stockholders, must have conservative management, calculated to stantly uppermost in
in mind the avert financial loss or disaster, what- rights and interests of the public, ever business conditions may be or not only as determined by the law whatever emergency may arise. but as best it can be ascertained From time to time the Steel Corpo- from public sentiment, when this is ration has increased the dividends on clear and well defined. Nowadays
the spoken or published expression of necessary. We should not try to opinion, even though it voice unde- suppress it when it is fair and reasonserved criticism, will not be ignored able. Destructive competition is not by a wise management. If upon fair, it is not reasonable, it is never careful consideration it is found to be beneficial in the long run to anybody, justified, criticism should be accepted and it may become the death of and acted upon. There may be ex- trade. Fair prices bring the greatest cuses for mistakes, but there can be good to the greatest number. no extenuation for an intentional In the early days of the Steel Corwrong or unfairness. There may be poration there was a great deal of differences of opinion as to what is opposition from public men to its fair and reasonable; often such differ- large capitalization and to its preences arise; but we can and should ponderance in the industry. It was act conscientiously in accordance thought by many persons, some of with our best judgment, and from them leaders in public affairs, that motives of honesty, as well as of any corporation which had more friendship for others.
than fifty per cent of the business The public should be protected was a monopoly and therefore inagainst combinations or agreements imical to the best interests of the to monopolize or to restrain trade country. We believed that this unduly; that protection still is, will attitude was reasonable, and we did be, and should be in full force. There not expand the activities of some of is no tendency on the part of the our companies as rapidly as we could. courts or of any department of the After we got down to a ratio of government either to ignore or mod- fifty per cent, we held that position ify the effect of the Sherman Act as nearly as was practicable and when properly interpreted and ap- proper. We want to keep our present plied. The law does not compel position as near that point as possible, any one to compete with another if he but not with prejudice to the stockdoes not desire to do so; it especially holders, nor with injury to the public. abhors competition which is intended The interests of the employees of to be destructive and dishonest. the corporation receive as much, as
All business men desire to procure constant, and as liberal consideration just, even liberal profits, and would as those of the other groups we have like to establish and maintain fair been discussing. Labor, so called, prices for what they produce and sell. has never been more highly paid nor The United States Steel Corporation treated so liberally as to-day. Our wishes to have at least its proper and corporation has appropriated for
, full share of the business that is welfare work more than $160,000,000. offered. But we should not at any This is not ground for boasting; it time endeavor, by unfair, unethical, is good business policy. It is true or unreasonable practices, to gain for that individual shareholders have ourselves trade which normally occasionally questioned what they would go to competitors. Competi- thought was undue liberality toward tion is the life of trade, as it should our workmen; but that was largely be. It is not only desirable; it is because they lacked full understanding of the subject, or information enterprises through the purchase of concerning it. It is profitable to securities at low rates on the instalthe employer to treat the work- ment plan. They are enabled thus man with liberal fairness. Employ- to become partners. They share the ers in the United States stand gener- cares and the advantages of partnerally for that kind of treatment. ship. Of this plan I thoroughly They believe in the open shop, which approve. permits a man to work whenever and In America the opportunity is wherever he pleases, and can agree open to all to accumulate capital. To with the employer. It may truth- procure capital we must exert ourfully be said that labor in this coun- selves thoughtfully and skilfully, with try is generally well cared for and is brains, muscles, strength; we must contented. In some businesses or study, we must think and experiplaces it is overpaid; in some in- ment. We must be patient and perstances, perhaps, it is underpaid, sistent in the competitive struggle. though it is believed such cases are Money is needed if one is to accomexceptionaland will be rectified. Dur- plish the best results in any profesing the quarter of a century the Steel sion or calling. The majority of Corporation has been in existence, the people of the United States are no material hostility has been shown equipped for success. They are studiand no serious complaint made to the ous, industrious, progressive, consistmanagement by our workmen them- ent. Never have our young men and selves, either individually or in com- women had such fine opportunities in mittees and groups formed by them business, and everywhere there is an
-as permitted by our practice abundance of room at the top. There which has not been cheerfully con- is no good excuse for failure. Money sidered by the management and is plentiful; the per capita circulation promptly disposed of to the satisfac- is large; interest rates are low. No tion of both parties.
responsible worthy applicant finds We do not approve of experimen- difficulty in obtaining funds for letation with the human factor in labor gitimate enterprise. Our banks are unless it is demonstrably practical strong and well managed and enjoy and reasonable. If any one should public confidence. Despite inexcusassert a right to a voice in manage- able extravagances, which are widement, it is a fair and wise conclusion spread and deplorable, the American that this should find expression people are fortunate in being well through a stockholding interest, in supplied with money, in having order that liabilities and responsibili- an abundance of educational facilities may be shared as well as profits. ties, and in the possession of a busiIn these days capital offers to work- ness life governed by high ethical men the privilege of investing in its standards.
And the Thoughts That Come as I Tend It
HAVE not always lived in flora fairly tropical in its variety, the country. The sun has with all manner of undesirable alien
not yet made one round of immigrants. I may not yet have the zodiac; it is now but in Libra, the words and names scientifically to and I but making my first unenthu- record all these discoveries, but that siastic acquaintance with fall grass. is a detail. My knowledge is real, Yet am I compelled to write. And mystic; it deals with the very eslet no doubt be felt of my qualifica- sence of things; it is a knowledge tions. True, when first I announced that fills one beyond the powers of my intention of caring for this place, expression.
expression. And how fascinating is my friends smiled, most unpleasant- the acquiring of this wealth! Each ly, but things have changed since week, each day almost, brings its then. I have now acquired wis- train of the new and the interesting. dom-I know what I do not know- In the city, seasons are marked but and I have, too, knowledge. Old
knowledge. Old by a change of underclothing-and gardeners, I notice, are slow in
are slow in not by that if you are sufficiently thought, as in movement; I must not modern-but out here all is a dedelay. I am now inscient, in both lightful and evolving adventure. meanings of this obliging adjective How monotonous is the city! of relativity, and I must impart my Think first of the weeds, and esexperience.
pecially of those of the flower-garOf course, to many, a lawn is just den. A moron once asked me, grass, and grass is—well, every one “How can you be bothered with knows what grass is. But is it-or weeding?” What a failure to aprather, do they? Within these busy preciate values, how truly moronmonths I myself have learned and esque! Weeds make life joyous. now know, to run them over quickly They stimulate our wits. And how in my memory, six kinds of lawn cheerful they always are! In my grass; and I know, by the same rapid own case, not at first knowing weed review, seven kinds of growth that from flower, I determined to try look like grass until you put on your watchful waiting. If the growing glasses. And not only that, but I thing should bring forth sweet blosknow too that grass and near-grass soms, why, then-good! If it did are not the only things that grow on not, if it proved contemptible in its a lawn. Here is the habitat of a burgeoning, then was it to be up