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absolutely opposed to Government ownership and management, not for selfish reasons, but because they are convinced that bureaucratic management would be fatal to the efficiency of the great organisation which they have created. We read in the report of 1914 the following sentences, which are particularly interesting because of their references to England:

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Our opposition to Government operation and ownership is not based on pecuniary, partisan, prejudiced or personal reasons. It is because of our interest in the upbuilding of a great public utility and its preservation. ... We are opposed to Government ownership because we know that no Govern. ment-owned telephone system in the world is giving as cheap and efficient service as the American public is getting from all its telephone companies. We do not believe that our Government would be any exception to the rule. ...

The private companies of England were operated under a limited licence. It was known years in advance that the licences would not be renewed, and that the Government would purchase the plants. The Government and the owners could not agree as to expenditures upon the plants to be made prior to the purchase to keep them in any up-to-date condition; consequently as little was done as possible. This was a period of rapid improvement in telephone exchange equipment. ...

* In England, where the Post Office pays a very handsome net revenue, its telegraphs show a relatively much larger deficit, while the revenues and ordinary expenses of the telephone operations show a small balance,* excluding, however, depreciation and obsolescence which have not yet become fully determined but which cannot be ignored. These deficits are not the result of a definite policy to give a cheap service to individuals at the cost of all, but are due to errors in management such as under-estimates of values and cost of new construction; disregard of maintenance, depreciation and particularly of obsolescence; impossible theories of operation, and a mistaken policy founded on promises, prophecies and assertions exactly the same in character as those now being used to bring about Government ownership in this country, and upon a failure to understand and appreciate the advantages of private as distinguished from Government organisation.'

* This is no longer the case.

The report of 1912 contained the following warning against Government ownership:


*The facts are, that there is hardly a telegraph or telephone system in the world now operated by any Government which shows a profit, even under accounting methods employed, and not one that would not show a deficit under accounting methods obligatory upon private enterprise. For authority, see any department report of any Government telegraph system.'

Towards the end of the Great War the American Government, obeying the clamour of the ill-informed, took over the management of the telephones, and the results were disastrous. The formerly excellent service became totally disorganised. When experience had proved the correctness of their previous warnings, the controllers of the Bell organisation wrote in their report of 1918:

The financial affluence and credit of the Government and its immunity from direct control, and the lack of dependence of the Government employee upon his employment, are inseparable, inherent and preponderant factors in Government operation. Therefore the desirable factors of economic and efficient operation are wanting. Whatever can be done by the Government through direct operation can be done more certainly through control and regulation of private operation, thus combining the potency of the sovereign with the initiative and interest of the subject.'

It cannot be doubted that the extraordinary efficiency and cheapness of the American telephone are due to the fact that private enterprise was given a free hand, while the backwardness of the telephone in England and in many other countries must be ascribed to Government obstruction and hostility at the time when the telephone was at its beginning and to Government control and ownership later. The dead hand of bureaucracy has done the greatest harm to that invention in all countries, except in Sweden. Sweden is the one exception which confirms the rule. The success of Government management in that country is due to the fact that a businessbuilder of remarkable force and ability, Henry Cedergren, was given a free hand in organising the service.


Before the Select Committee on Telephone Charges Colonel Webb, an expert on telegraph and telephone matters, who is intimately acquainted with the American telephone system, stated :

The Post Office telephone staff in 1920 is stated as 49,080 persons. This gives a ratio of one telephone employee to 186 stations. The U.S. Federal Census of Telephones for 1917 showed, for all telephone systems in the United States, a total of 11,716,520 stations, and a total of 262,629 employees, a ratio of one employee to 45 stations. If the Bell System employed staff in the same ratio to stations as the Post Office does, it would have a total force of 430,000 people instead of the actual 209,860. ...

Information as to the current rates of pay of the principal classes of telephone employees in the United States shows that these range higher than the corresponding rates in England; and it is well known that the salaries of supervising, engineering and administrative officials in large American companies are substantially higher than those paid to the few superior officials of the Post Office. The secret of economical operation of the telephone service in America is not to be found in lower wages and salaries, but in the vastly more efficient administration resulting from purely commercial management.'

Major O'Meara, the consulting engineer of the Government in Great Britain, wrote some years ago to Mr Vail of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, acknowledging receipt of the annual report:

After spending over 16 years out of my 32 years' public service in the British Post Office Department, I have come definitely to the conclusion that a Government Department is, as a rule, an unsuitable organisation to manage services of the character of the telegraphs and telephones.'

Towards the end of last year Dr Alexander Graham Bell, the venerable inventor of the telephone, came to England on a visit. At that time the defects of the British service were generally discussed. He was interviewed on the subject, and he stated, according to The Times' of Nov. 25, 1920 :

We had the best system of telephony in the world before the war, in the United States. When we came into the war, the telephone was taken out of the hands of private companies

and run by the Government. Immediately the efficiency of the service fell. ... The decrease in efficiency in consequence of Government ownership is found elsewhere. I visited Australia some years ago; and the telephone system, which was in the hands of the Government, could not be compared to ours in America. I am afraid that the comparatively low state of efficiency in this country as compared with our system in the United States must be attributed to Government ownership.'

Dr Bell is not a business man but a man of science, who retired from active participation in the American telephone company many years ago. His condemnation of Government management is therefore not caused by personal reasons. He is, as regards the Bell System, merely a distinguished outsider.

An efficient telephone is indispensable in modern business life. The facts, figures, and opinions given in this article show that America is far ahead of Great Britain with regard to that important invention because the Republic has not allowed its telephone system to be first strangled and then to be managed by the bureaucracy. It seems hopeless to expect that a Government Department will be able to give to this country the telephone which it needs. The only way to create a cheap and efficient service lies, apparently, in handing it over to private management. The Government should merely reserve to itself the minimum of supervision. Then, and then only, will England obtain an up-to-date service. That is the lesson of the American telephone.



1. Le Théâtre Indien. By Sylvain Lévi. Paris : Bouillon,

1890. 2. The Castes and Tribes of Southern India. By Edgar

Thurston. Seven vols. Government Press, Madras, 1909. 3. Hindu Holidays and Ceremonials. Second edition.

By B. A. Gupte. Calcutta: Thacker, 1919. 4. Some Milestones in the History of Tamil Literature.

By A. P. Sundaram Pillai. Madras : Addison, 1895. 5. Historical Sketches of Ancient Dekkan. By K. V.

Subrahmanya Aiyar. Madras: Modern Printing Works, 1917. And other works.

The evidence set forth already in my Dramas and Dramatic Dances of Non-European Races' (Indian Section), derived from medieval and modern dramatic performances, led to the conclusion that in Hindustan the serious drama, historical and tragic, did not arise merely in the worship of Krishna, whether regarded as a deity from all time, or as a vegetation abstraction, as held by Prof. A. Berriedale Keith, but as in other regions—Burma, China, Japan, and Greece—from the worship and propitiation of the dead. That the vast majority of all those whom the Hindus adore as gods were once human beings and, in not a few instances, very important historical personages, has been proved long since by Sir Alfred Lyall, while Hindu tradition emphatically declares that such was certainly the case with Rama, Krishna, and many other well-known deities. The evidence which has since come to hand (for which I am mainly indebted to my friends Dr L. D. Barnett, Keeper of Oriental Printed Books and MSS, British Museum, and to the late Dr J. D. Anderson, Lecturer in Bengali at Cambridge, and through him to Pandit Dinesh Chandra Sen, the chief native authority on the history of Bengali literature) will demonstrate how little regard has been paid by Sanskrit scholars to crucial facts in ancient literature and the monuments existing in Indian temples, while it will be seen that practically no account has been taken by European students of the actual dances and dramatic performances carried

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