Readings on the Relation of Government to Property and Industry

By Samuel P. Orth | Go to book overview

PREFACE

This volume has been prepared, primarily, for use in a class studying the relations of government to industry, a subject just now in that eager ferment through which all important issues pass before reaching even a temporary equilibrium.

We are in the midst of swift changes affecting business and property, changes that touch the daily activities of everyone at the bread-and- butter point. We cannot be said to have reached a fixed policy. Even the courts, those sanctuaries of stability, are groping their way along the new paths of "police power" and are attempting the difficult task of reconciling our constitutional traditions with new administrative functions.

There can be, therefore, very little permanent literature upon so shifting a subject. But there is a vast amount of current literature, and this volume attempts to bring together some of the most significant of these current discussions.

Inasmuch as the question of the relation of government to business and property is principally one of constitutional and legal relations, the articles here reprinted are largely of a legal nature, and most of them have been taken from a source heretofore almost entirely neglected by the lay student, the law journals, repositories of much careful research and concise thinking on this subject.

While attempting to avoid controversial material, it has been necessary to present various phases of issues still in the propagandist stage.

The arrangement of the material has followed a seemingly natural sequence. One necessarily begins with the presentation of the changing conceptions of property obligations and of governmental functions; this leads to a discussion of the expanding police power, as sanctioned by state and federal courts. The problem of the control of corporations, the financial enginery of all our important industries to-day, directs one's attention to the organization, functions, and powers of commissions -- the device we have adopted for making governmental regulation of public utilities effective. The development of labor laws further affects profoundly our ideas of property obligations and the functions of government. Perhaps we should expect that all these tendencies lead to the centralization of federal control over state business. The new amendments to the Anti-trust Law and the new Federal Trade Commission Act are at present the apex of this centralization. From the testimony taken before the Senate committee, in the investigation which was a

-iii-

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