Canadian Transport Sourcebook

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Canadian Transport Sourcebook > All works> 52 Questions on the Nationalization of Canadian Railways > Chapter 8


Cannot a Government Manager Observe These Conditions for Preserving Morale?

It is possible that all of the officers giving rewards in each department may be skilled railway men capable of judging.

It is possible that their judgments will be as fair as in any other railway.

It is possible that their rewards and punishments, when issued on the merits of a case and merit only, may not be over-ruled.

It is possible that a single standard of judgment, namely, ability as a railroad servant, may be maintained—and that considerations of a political nature will not enter in.

But it is not possible to climb to "the top." The "top" is closed! The current of life in the whole organization is sluggish. Any sincere, practical-minded Canadian who has had any experience in business life, or who has observed the face and the philosophy of the average civil servant in Canada or anywhere else, knows, though his memory may still echo the fine-sounding pledges of sentimental politicians, that the man still good for inspired, creative work, shuns a Government department.

The most necessary stimulant to the ablest young officials, the lure of the open "top," the subconscious hope of one day being master of the department, or even of the whole organization—is missing, and can never be provided.

The "top" is now a political affair in the gift of the hardest master in the world—the Public! To retain one's enthusiasm and initiative and yet please a public that not merely commands certain standards of service through the Railway Commission but owns one body and soul, is a problem that not even the hardiest politician could undertake with any hope.

The Hardest Master in the World?

Is ourselves—the Public! The wisest of judges after the event! The poorest of judges before, or at the time of the event.

Statesmen, the devoted students of the Public mind, more often die broken-hearted than not, through the hastiness or slow understanding of their public.

The politicians most astute, often miscalculate its will, and suffer its punishment.

Divided in its viewpoint,—Diverse in its interests,—With many standards to satisfy,—With an ear ever quicker for the catch-phrase than the reasoned argument,—The public is the hardest master in the world!

With a special court to interpret the public to the roads and the roads to the public—each is protected. Without such protection the ablest railroader may be overthrown by a catch-phrase and the wiliest demagogue enthroned—through a newspaper cartoon. Good men will avoid such service.

[Public Domain] Copyright/Licence: This work was first published in 1964 or earlier, and the author of the work was anonymous. To the best of my knowledge, the author of the work was unknown at the end of the year 50 years after the work was published, meaning that this work would be in the public domain in Canada, per section 6.2 of the Copyright Act. Note also this link. See disclaimers.