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DEPARTMENT OF RAILWAYS.
I went from there to the Department of Railroads and was given a copy of freight and passenger rates which on examination proved to be very simple and that required no great lawyers with legal cunning to draw up as they did in my country in making tariff schedules to fool the people and open a wider door for graft rebates and special privileges. The passenger rate was five mills per mile for any and every distance, with children under seven years of age free, with but one exception-all children attending the District High School were carried free to and from school.
Sleeping cars were provided for all persons traveling over one thousand miles on the train, but no person under that distance was permitted to occupy one. There were no Pullman or Palace Coaches and no special train was allowed save only to the President or member of his Cabinet on official business. The railway lines were run through the country so as to bring the produce of the people to market and to bring all the people in touch with one another. Hundreds of short lines were in operation that by themselves did not pay operating expenses, but as they formed a part of the whole railway system of the Republic under one management, they were beneficial to the people. The rate for all kinds of freight, except grain and vegetables, was five mills per ton per mile for all distances, and for grain, fruit and vegetables two mills per ton per mile.
All Government freight and employees were carried free, but a strict account was kept so as to prevent fraud. No discrimination between persons or places was allowed. Everyone was placed on the same footing, but to prevent conspiracies in restraint of trade if a person in any district shipped goods into another district and offered them for sale for a less price, with the freight added, than he sold them for in his own district, he was punished by six months' imprisonment at hard labor in the district where he violated the law, and if any person, either of his own account or acting as agent for another party, sold goods brought from a foreign country for a less price than the wholesale price of the goods at the place where they were produced or manufactured with twenty per cent. added for freight and other expenses, was punished by six months' imprisonment at hard labor, and if not a citizen of the Republic of Eurasia, was expelled from the country after serving out his sentence, for, as a prominent officer remarked to me: "We do not permit any Standard Oil methods in our country." There were no tariff duties levied. Every article produced or manufactured (except those produced or manufactured by the Government, which were prohibited) were admitted free, provided the Government of that country admitted articles produced or manufactured in Eurasia free; if not, then a non-intercourse decree was issued by the President of Eurasia to be in force until the other country accepted free trade. The railways were built directly by the Government, employing soldiers to do the work, and no contracts were allowed, Government superintendents and foremen bossing the construction, even to getting out ties in the Government forests and the rails made in Government mills and foundries. The Government built railroads at less cost than they were built for in any other part of the world and politicians had no chance to get their political friends into soft berths at the expense of the taxpayers. No money was paid by the General Government for right of way.
All claims for damages arising out of the building of railways had to be presented to the District Court, and the law provided that the District Court could grant such compensation as was just, but in no case could it exceed the assessed value of the land per acre that the owner had sworn to previously as the full value of his land, to be paid out of the funds of the district. There were only two forms of taxation in Eurasia, a land tax and a graduated income tax. There was no tax on improvements of any kind, either on city or country property, but on the land only; by this wise system of taxation encouraging the people to improve their property and beautify and discouraging land speculation; and when the Government wanted land owned by private parties who were citizens of the Republic (for no foreigner was permitted by law to own land directly or indirectly, so that the curse of Absentee Landlordism which was the ruin of Ireland, should never blight the happiness of the people of Eurasia), they added up the assessments for the previous five years and divided them by five and added twenty per cent. to it in payment for the land, together with fair compensation for any buildings there might be on it; so that if the owner swore to a low valuation on his land he was the loser; but the District Court, sitting as a Board of Equalization every year, could fix the value of the land at what they considered proper.