Items of Interest

A sweeping declaration in favor of the principle of government ownership of telephone and telegraph lines, and an assertion that the postal service now is self-supporting for the first time since 1883, are features of the annual report of Postmaster-General Burleson. He says that the government has demonstrated its capacity to conduct public utilities, and he is clearly inclined to the taking over by the post-office department of the telegraph lines, and possibly also of the telephone lines. Discussing that, the postmaster-general says:—

"A study of the constitutional purposes of the postal establishment leads to the conviction that the post-office department should have control over all the means of communication of intelligence. The monopolistic nature of the telegraph business makes it of vital importance to the people that it be conducted by unselfish interests, and this can be accomplished only through government ownership. The successful operation of the parcel post has demonstrated the capacity of the government to conduct the public utilities which fall properly within the postal provision of the Constitution. Every argument in favor of the government ownership of telegraph lines may be advanced with equal logic and force in favor of the government ownership of telephone lines. It has been competently decided that a telephone message and a telegram are the same within the meaning of the laws governing the telegraph service, and therefore it is believed that the statute enabling the government to acquire, upon the payment of an appraised valuation, the telegraph lines of the country, will enable the government to acquire the telephonic network of the country."

A Broader Outlook
December 27, 1913

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