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It reminds one of the case of the contention of the two women over the child. One was the mother of the child and the other wanted it. The mother wanted it because it was her's, and her heart yearned for it. The other wanted it because she had none, and she coveted it; and so when Solomon proposed that it should be divided between them-which meant the destruction of its life and all pleasure it could be to either of them-and the mother in her anguish said, rather let her have it; she turned upon the mother and responded: “Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.” She was one of the earliest nihilists.
Contentment and safety lie in keeping good the promises of our free institutions, in giving to every man as nearly as may be an equal chance with every other man. The conviction is rapidly gaining ground among mechanics and laborers that the chances are not only equal but that they are growing more and more unequal; that capital has its own way, and labor has a hard time of it, and he must be blind indeed who does not see that there is much truth in what they say. In the nature of things it must always be more or less so under the best practicable conditions. The man who has gained a dollar is that much ahead of him who has his dollar to gain, and it is right it should be so. This gives incentive to higher skill and greater industry and frugality. It is in the nature of money to gain other money, to work for its owner, and when combined with skill in the direction of its energies, to increase in power as it increases in amount, and within reasonable limits this brings the best results for all concerned. An equal chance does not mean that all shall stop and divide and start anew, and keep stopping and dividing, as inequalities in acquisition arise, as they ever must. Nor does it mean that all shall receive equal pay for their labor. This would be to ignore all differences in skill and in natural ability and between him who has an established reputation and him who has a reputation to gain. Intelligent mechanics and laborers do not contend for this. What they ask and what they ought to be freely granted, is that wages shall be in proportion to services; that the relation between one's pay and the cost of living be not so close that there is no chance of getting ahead of the necessities of life; that there is a way open for advancement from the more simple and least paid employments to the more responsible and better paid; that by self-improvement and economy he may press his way up into the higher walks of life; that the employed may in turn become the employer. We cannot make good this bright promise to all; there will always be many that will not get ahead. Some from lack of natural ability of both body and mind; some on account of misfortune over which they have no control; others from unwillingness to meet the conditions of success; and still more-the victims of the vices. But we believe under a wise system of property law the number of the unsuccessful may be kept down to a small per cent. of the whole--far below the danger point.
The conjecture that a more general diffusion of property would seriously interfere with the carrying forward of great enterprises, has little in it. It is not difficult to concentrate capital wherever it will pay best. A far more difficult and important problem is how to prevent it from combining and crushing out all who are not admitted to the combination. If a more general diffusion of property would tend to a more general diffusion of enterprise, it would be a great point gained to the general welfare of the country-one of the strongest arguments that has been urged against perpetuities is that they take property out of circulation--get into dead hands, as the lawyers term it. It is not the experience of this country that the great enterprises have been originated and carried forward by men who have inherited great fortunes, but by men who have grown up to the magņitude of their conceptions through toil and preparation.
Whether such a limitation would have the efțect to dampen the ardor of business to a hurtful extent would depend upon the reasonableness of the limitation itself. The settled law of a country has such an influence upon the customs, opinions and aspirations of the people that it is hard to tell beforehand what will be the ultimate effect of a great rule of property.
If, because one cannot leave to his children or other objects of his choice more than a certain amount, he will stop earlier in his career of money-making and take some good of it himself, it is not at all certain that the country will on the whole be the worse for it. His retirement will most likely open up opportunities for others, quite as worthy, and who will carry forward his enterprises with quite as good results as he might have done. But it is doubtful if the question of who will inherit the property has much influence upon the question of making it, unless it is forced upon the attention by the sudden removal of a cherished object. Some of the most eminent cases of great accumulations have been by men who had no kin upon whom they could bestow it. The habit of money making, the pleasure of possession, the power and distinction which wealth gives, and the pride which it stimilates, have each and all proved sufficient to postpone the time of bringing a successful career to a close. The pride to build up great estates and found a great family (a pride that is more often disappointed than realized) would no doubt have to be relinquished in a great measure. Perhaps it would be replaced by endeavors more thoroughly to fit those who are coming on for greater usefulness and success. It will no doubt have the effect to widen the range of sympathies among kindred as primogeniture has the effect to narrow them. We very naturally interest ourselves in those whom the law recognizes as entitled to share in our gains when we shall have done with them, and they quite as naturally return the solicitude,
HARVEY B. HURD,
JAMES A. CONNOLLY, JANUARY 11, 1887.
On motion of Mr. Bonney, the thanks of the Association were extended and a copy requested for publication, but discussion of the same postponed.to Wednesday, January 12, 1887, the second day of the Association.
On motion of Mr. Bonney, the following papers, prepared and read by him, were referred to the Committee on Law Reform :
A BILL FOR AN ACT TO ESTABLISH A LAW REFORM COMMISSION.
SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly: That to provide a suitable means for dealing with the existing delay, uncertainty, inadequacy and expense of legal proceedings, a Law Reform Commission of this State is hereby established. Said Commission shall consist of three members, who shall be appointed and commissioned by the Governor, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate; and shall take the oath of office prescribed by the constitution; and shall hold office for a like term. and receive the like pay as judges of the Supreme Court of this State. The contingent expenses of said Commission shall be allowed by the Governor, and paid out of the contingent fund of the executive department.
SECTION 2. It shall be the duty of said Law Reform Commission to examine, from time to time, the decisions of the Appellate and Supreme Courts of this state, and to note, as may be disclosed thereby, or otherwise, any defects in, or omissions from the laws of this State; and the causes of any such delay, uncertainty, inadequacy or expense; and thereupon to consider the same, and prepare bills for the remedy thereof, so far as may seem practicable, with a brief statement of the reasons in support of such bills, respectively. Said bills shall be reported to the Governor, and he shall transmit the same to the General Assembly, with his recommendations, if any.
POINTS IN SUPPORT OF THE FOREGOING BILL.
1. The evils which the bill aims to remedy, are almost universally admitted. There can be no serious debate on the question of their existence. That fact admitted, it must be an imperative duty to deal with them in a practical way, and provide some adequate means for their removal.
Under existing circumstances, legal remedies are practically worthless to the poor and friendless; and suitors who are able to bear the delays, expenses and uncertainties which legal proceedings commonly involve, find that in many cases the actual results are not worth what they have cost. So the poor shun the courts because they cannot afford the luxury of justice; and others avoid them, so far as practicable, because almost any settlement of a controversy yields better practical results than a course of litigation. The cases now brought are, for the most part, sucu as cannot be settled, or such as drift into the courts in a sort of matter-of-course way, for want of any better mode of determining them.
2. Justice, remedial justice, can never be satisfactory to the people, unless it be speedy and inexpensive. Litigation is not, and should not be permitted to become a private business. All the people are, and ought to be deeply concerned in securing justice to all, especially to those who are unable to protect themselves. When government forbids the members of a community to settle their conflicts of interest or feeling by physical strife or retaliation, it necessarily assumes the duty of providing adequate means of speedily determining all proper controversies, in impartial tribunals, and giving a practical and efficient redress of grievances.
3. The general cause of the evils we deplore, is the fact that judicial remedies and means of administration, have not kept pace with the enormous advance in population and business, wealth and power. Our judicial force is much too small, and not properly compensated. The entire expenses of the judicial department of the government, State and National alike, are absurdly small, in comparison with the aggregate annual expenditures for governmental purposes. The laws are made with undue haste, and without proper revision; and are administered by very inadequate executive, as well as judicial forces.
The proposed Law Reform Commission would take charge, as a matter of business and duty, of subjects of transcendent importance to the whole people, but which are now notoriously neglected. It may be said that it is now the duty of the Governor, the Legislature, and the Courts, to deal with all such subjects. Granted: but the maxim remains true that what is everybody's business, will surely be neglected as nobody's business, and so the neglect will continue till some specific agency is provided to perform the neglected duties.
4. The expense of such a commission would be of no moment in comparison with the benefits it should accomplish. But if it were otherwise, the State of Illinois is too rich and powerful to let a needed service go unperformed, because it cannot obtain the service gratuitously. Illinois is able to pay for any service that will benefit the people.
C. C. BONNEY. CHICAGO, January 10, 1887.
A PROPOSED LEGAL REMEDY FOR CONFLICTS OF LABOR AND CAPITAL.
A BILL FOR AN ACT TO ESTABLISH A STATE BOARD OF LABOR AND CAPITAL.
SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly: That within ten days next after the date on which this act shall be in force and effect, the Governor, subject to the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint and commission five persons, who shall constitute a Board of Commissioners and officers of this State, and shall be called and known as the “Illinois State Board of Labor and Capital.” The first person so appointed, shall be commissioned to hold his office for the term of one year, the second for two years, the third for three years, the fourth for four years, and the fifth for five years, and all shall further hold the same till their respective successors shall have been appointed, and shall be ready to enter upon the duties of the office. And thereafter, all persons appointed as members of said Board, shall be commissioned to hold office for the term of five years from their appointment, except that whenever a vacancy sball occur in said Board, by reason of death, removal, resignation, neglect of duty, or other cause, the Governor shall fill the same by an appointment and commission for the unexpired part of the term, subject to the advice and consent of the Senate, if then in session, or as soon as they shall be so, and act upon the matter. The Governor shall be the sole judge of the fact whether a vacancy has occurred. The persons so appointed shall organize as a Board, by electing one of their number President, and another Secretary, and another Treasurer of the Board. Assistants may be appointed from persons who are not members of the Board. The members shall take the oath of office required by the constitution of this State, and the same shall be filed in the office of the Secretary of State. Three members shall constitute a quorum. Said Board shall adopt all such by-laws, rules and regulations as may seem expedient for the proper discharge of their duties, and the convenient transaction of the business that may come before them, and may alter or rescind the same at pleasure. Said Board shall belong to the executive department of the government of this state, and as such shall be subject to the supreme executive authority which is vested in the Governor, who by virtue thereof may make any rules or orders that he may deem proper in relation to the proceedings of said Board. It shall be the duty of the Attorney-General, and of the several State's attorneys, to give to said Board, or to any member or members thereof, an official opinion upon any question or questions relating to the rights, powers, duties or liabilities of the Board, or of any person or persons with whom they may have occasion to deal, on which question such opinion shall have been requested in writing.
SECTION 2. On and after the date on which this act shall take effect, all contracts for the employment of personal service and labor within this State, shall, as a matter of law, be subject to the provisions of this act, and to the rights, powers, duties and jurisdiction hereby vested in said Board. And said Board shall have full power, jurisdiction and authority to inquire into the relations of the employer and the employed, in any business or occupation carried on within this State; and to that end, the members of said Board, or any or either of them, or any person or persons duly appointed and commissioned by said Board, shall have the right under the police power of this State, to enter the premises and buildings upon or in which such business or occupation shall be carried on, and inspect the same, and freely communicate with all and any persons employed therein; and to examine all and any contracts, agreements, rules, pay-rolls and accounts that may relate to the relations of the employers and the employed. And in case any fraud, extortion or oppression shall appear in any such relations, whether on the part of the employers. or on the part of the employed, the same shall be reported to said Board, in writing, and thereupon said Board shall summon the offending person or persons, or some committee, officer or agent representing them, to appear before the Board at some early day, to be specified in the summons, and show cause, if any they have, why said Board shall not deal in a summary way with such fraud, extortion, and oppression, and make all such rules. regulations and orders as will effectually prevent a continuance of the same. And upon the hearing of the complaint, which shall be briefly stated in such sunimons, said Board shall decide the same as they shall deem just, and shall make all such rules, regulations and orders as may seem to be required by the nature of the case. And thereupon all persons concerned, shall abide by and obey the same, until relieved therefrom by an executive order of the Governor, or by a judicial order or decree of a court of equity in a case that may be brought to determine the validity of any such rule. regulation, order or proceeding, of said Board or Governor. And in all such cases, the rule of quantum meruit, that the services rendered shall have such compensation as under all the circumstances shall be deemed just and reasonable, shall be applied, any special contract thereabouts to the contrary notwithstanding. Subject to such executive order, and to such judicial order or decree, said Board shall have power, upon any such hearing, to fix or regulate the hours of labor and the rate of wages or compensation, as in their judgment justice may require; and they may exercise, in that behalf, as ample authority as is exercised by the Railroad and Warehouse Commissioners of this State, in respect of warehouses and railroads. and the compensation for the service thereof respectively. All such limitations or regulations of wages or labor, shall be in force for the space of three months next after the date thereof, unless otherwise limited by the terms thereof, but the same may, at any time be changed or rescinded by said Board, or by the order of the Governor or the court. Any case arising under this act, shall have priority over all other civil business, in the court in which it shall be brought, and in the Appellate and Supreme Courts, in case of removal thereto; and shall be heard and determined in a speedy and summary way, any rule of practice or proceeding to the contrary notwithstanding. Any question of the rightful power of said Board, either under this act, or under the constitution of this State, or of the United States, may be submitted in the first instance to the Supreme Court of this State, in and by a petition for an order or writ of mandamus, commanding said Board and the members thereof, to do any act within their proper authority, or to keep within the limits of their jurisdiction, under the constitution and laws, in any particular matter or thing involved in any act or proceeding of said Board.. In case of any pressing emergency, said Board may make and enforce such temporary rule, regulation or order, as justice may require, between the time of the inspection or the complaint, and the time when such complaint sha l be heard as aforesaid.
SECTION 3. Said Board shall, from time to time, hold public sessions in different parts of the State, to hear and act upon any complaints that may be made to them in writing, touching any matter within their jurisdiction. Any one of said Commissioners shall have power to administer oaths and affirmations; and said Board may require the attendance and testimony of witnesses, in any matter that may be pending before them. The several courts of justice in this State shall, upon the application of said Board, enforce the attendance and testimony of witnesses, as in other cases. Any forcible resistance of any lawful proceeding, rule, regulation or order of said Board, without an order of the Governor, or of a court of record, authorizing the same, shall constitute a misdemeanor, punishable on indictment and conviction, by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars, or imprisonment in the county jail not exceding one year, or both, at the discretion of the court, according o the enormity of the offense. Said Board shall, during the month of December in each year, make to the Governor of this State, a report in writing of their doings under this act, with such recommendations as they may deem expedient; and the Governor shall transmit all such reports to the General Assembly. Each of said Commissioners shall receive an annual salary of
thousand dollars, which shall be paid to him at the same times and in the like installments as the salary of the Governor is paid. And the sum of thousand dollars annually, shall be paid by the State Treasurer, at the same times, and in the like installments, to the Treasurer of said Board, and said sum, or so much thereof as said Board shall deem necessary, shall be expended by them, or under their direction, for the proper expenses of fully executing this act, including travel and hotel bills; stationery and printing; clerks and assistants, and the like. And the annual report of said Board shall include, in an appendix, a detailed account of all such expenses. The general office of said Board shall be kept in the city of Springfield, in such room or place as may be assigned to them by the Governor, or may be selected and provided by said Board, with his approval,
POINTS IN SUPPORT OF THE FOREGOING BILL. 1. The principle of usury laws is broad enough to cover the proposed legislation.
2. Our system of government has the right, by universal consent, to regulate even the most sacred relations of society, such as those of husband and wife, parent and child, and guardian and ward. Much more must it have the right to deal with and regulate the relations of employer and employed
3. The right and the duty of THE WHOLE PEOPLE to protect the weak against the strong, is axiomatic. The whole body of protective laws rests on this basis. The terms and conditions on which individual contracts may be made and enforced, are clearly within the legislative power of regulation.
4. The enforcement of the laws which affect the general welfare, should not be left to individual effort. The People should appoint their own agents and inspectors to nquire into the condition of those who may need protection, and if they find it required, to take the necessary steps to secure it.
5. The inadequacy, the expense and the delay of ordinary legal proceedings at the suit of individuals, are so great and so notorious, that it is a mere mockery to bid the poor and the helpless to go to law for a remedy for the wrongs they suffer. They have neither time nor money to spend in a law-suit, which may be appealed and require years for its determination. The people should cause their own agents to grapple with and remove the abuses which bring upon the whole people the heavy burdens of pauperism, insanity and crime.