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United States Department of State / Papers relating to the foreign relations of the United States, 1922
(1922)

Message of the president of the United States to Congress, December 8, 1922,   pp. VII-XIX ff. PDF (5.1 MB)


Page IX

MESSAGE OF THE PRESIDENT
time so adjusted to the farm turnover as the Federal reserve system
provides for the turnover in the manufacturing and mercantile world.
Special provision must be made for live-stock production credits,
and the limit of land loans may be safely enlarged. Various meas-
ures are pending before you, and the best judgment of Congress
ought to be expressed in a prompt enactment at the present session.
But American agriculture needs more than added credit facilities.
The credits will help to solve the pressing problems growing out of
war-inflated land values and the drastic deflation of three years ago,
but permanent and deserved agricultural good fortune depends on
better and cheaper transportation.
Here is an outstanding problem, demanding the most rigorous
consideration of the Congress and the country. It has to do with
more than agriculture. It provides the channel for the flow of the
country's commerce. But the farmer is particularly hard hit. His
market, so affected by the world consumption, does not admit of
the price adjustment to meet carrying charges. In the last half
of the year now closing the railways, broken in carrying capacity
because of motive power and rolling stock out of order, though
insistently declaring to the contrary, embargoed his shipments or
denied him cars when fortunate markets were calling. Too fre-
quently transportation failed while perishable products were turning
from possible profit to losses counted in tens of millions.
I know of no problem exceeding in importance this one of trans-
portation. In our complex and interdependent modern life trans-
portation is essential to our very existence. Let us pass for the
moment the menace in the possible paralysis of such service as we
have and note the failure, for whatever reason, to expand our trans-
portation to meet the Nation's needs.
The census of 1880 recorded a population of 50,000,000. In two
decades more we may reasonably expect to count thrice that number.
In the three decades ending in 1920 the country's freight by rail
increased from 631,000,000 tons to 2,234,000,000 tons; that is to
say, while our population was increasing less than 70 per cent, the
freight movement increased over 250 per cent.
We have built 40 per cent of the world's railroad mileage, and yet
find it inadequate to our present requirements. When we contem-
plate the inadequacy of to-day it is easy to believe that the next few
decades will witness the paralysis of our transportation-using social
scheme or a complete reorganization on some new basis. Mindful
of the tremendous costs of betterments, extensions, and expansions
and mindful of the staggering debts of the world to-day, the difficulty
is magnified. Here is a problem demanding wide vision and the
avoidance of mere makeshifts. No matter what the errors of the
past, no matter how we acclaimed construction and then condemned
IX


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