Chapter IV – Part IV

March 25, 2016

They called it the “Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule.” The Alliance of Railroad members did not look each other in the eye when they approved it. The stated purpose of this Alliance was to “protect the welfare of the railroad industry” by making each member comply with the majority rule of the body. While some had suggested that the reason this body is needed is that shippers and supply manufacturers might try to take advantage of them, nobody, apparently, is really clear on what any union might ever actually be needed for.

Apparently, none of the members liked this particular rule, but like lemurs they voted for it anyway.

They don’t mention specific railroads, they just talk about public welfare. They decry competition, and suggest that younger railroads will find future fortune by running through blighted areas. This is not about the idea that infrastructure might spur development, but rather about putting public service to “struggling inhabitants” ahead of profits.

Rand goes on to explain the argument that, “large established railroad systems were essential to the public welfare; and that the collapse of one of them would be a national catastrophe; and that if one such system had happened to sustain a crushing loss in a public-spirited attempt to contribute to international good will, it was entitled to public support to help it survive the blow.”

…so we get to the explanation of this rule – it’s meant to undermine “’destructive competition’; that in regions declared to be restricted, no more than one railroad would be permitted to operate; that in such regions, seniority belonged to the oldest railroad now operating there, and that the newcomers who had encroached unfairly upon its territory, would suspend operations within nine months after being so ordered; that the Executive Board of the National Alliance of Railroads was empowered to decide, at its sole discretion, which regions were to be restricted.”

The first seems to indicate that Taggart should be somehow compensated for the loss in San Sebastian – which might make sense if it was part of the US government’s way of insuring his participation in an international program. The second is clearly an assault on the Phoenix Durango and its entrepreneur Dan Conway, again to the benefit of Taggart. Only five voted against the law. The rest seemed to hope that someone else would. The members leave quickly and quietly after the vote. Conway seems shell shocked.

Boyle runs into Taggart and says ominously that he’s done his part, now it’s Jim’s turn.

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