Individual Training in Our Colleges

By Clarence F. Birdseye | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIX
LIFE'S PROBLEMS AND HOW TO SOLVE THEM

THE present conditions of business, professional and other activities may be summed up in one word, "problems." Life in itself has always presented these, but to-day in our busy land it seems to be nothing else. Our problems are immense, intense and inherent in the very texture of our modern civilization.

Nature of modern problems.

The New York Central Railroad system to-day represents over two hundred railroad companies which have been merged in it, or which it owns, leases or otherwise controls, and each embodying the problems successfully solved during its separate history.

The Pennsylvania Railroad in forty-one years has seen its gross earnings per ton mile for freight cut down from about two and seven tenths cents to about six tenths of a cent, or seventy-eight per cent. Yet its net earnings from freight have increased twenty times, because its cost for moving a ton of freight per mile has decreased five per cent more than the net receipts per ton mile, or about eighty-three per cent, and the traffic has increased twenty times. The history of this road, like all others, has been a series of problems from the time of its inception, when it was strenuously opposed, politically and in every other way, by the teamsters of the Conemaugh Valley, who insisted that its coming would ruin their business and take the bread from the mouths of their children. The road, which they would thus have throttled, moved last year freight that was equal to 18,478,371,275 tons for one mile, at a cost of about four tenths of a cent per mile, and employed an army of men who would more than equal in number the voters of Pennsylvania at the time that the road was conceived. But the freight of seventy-five years ago was almost entirely the products of farm and forest, or practically the spontaneous growth of nature; while the freight of to-day is almost as exclusively the product of

Magnitude of modern corporations and their problems.

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