1 Mun. Aff. 631 (1897)
Municipal Electric Lighting

handle is hein.journals/mncplaffrs1 and id is 661 raw text is: MUNICIPAL ELECTRIC LIGHTING.

By JoHN R. ColmoNs.
In advocating municipal electric lighting I accept the burden
of proof. I agree that government, whether national or local,
cannot safely undertake experiments on a large scale. The
assumption of new functions must be shown to be not merely
desirable in the interests of a few, or adapted to the doctrinaire
ideal of a well-rounded form of government, but it must be shown
to be necessary and essential for the preservation of important
interests affecting the welfare of the entire body of the people.
Governments do indeed enter upon experiments, and the assump-
tion of a well-established industry may itself be called an experi-
ment. But in the sense in which I use the word, the introduction
of new modes of manufacture or service and the creation of new
wants among the people are matters involving risks of an in-
calculable and speculative kind, and this is not the business of
government. Private parties should be encouraged to push for-
ward in all the untried fields. If their ventures are unsuccessful,
if they are ahead of their times, failure anid bankruptcy will
affect only them and their immediate dependents. Successors
will come in, and if the service in question meets a truly growing
need of the people, success and fortune will follow. But if
government ventures upon the sea of uncertainty, bankruptcy
means the beginning of anarchy. Government does not perish
like the individual'or the corporation, and failure on a large scale,
if it involves repudiation or oppressive taxation for years to come,
produces a   popular revulsion   and  deep-seated distrust of
government itself in all its departments.
A   criticism  should  be  made  upon   those cities which
entered upon municipal electric lighting eight or ten years ago.
Here was a new agency utterly unknown as a commercial
quantity; new machinery of all degrees of imperfection and un-
certainty; cost of operation, depreciation, risks, unsettled ; en-
gineering and mechanical requisites on the part of employees

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