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mission maintained by not having any control from an appointive source. That was brought out by some witnesses, I believe, from other agencies which were permanently appointed chairman.
Then a rather interesting observation was made by somebody else when they said, “At least you get the average of the ability of the 11 by rotating it." And that is not to be too lightly taken, because if it were purely a political appointment, you might not get the best ability, administrative ability, as the Chairman. But in the long run, as Paul says, weighing everything together, I think I tend to go toward the idea of a permanent Chairman, so long as it wouldn't be me.
Commissioner WALRATH. In the entire history of the Commission as far as I am aware we have not had any internal jealousies or internal politics, and I use politics in the broad sense, where we would be in little cliques and groups.
There has been a friendly relationship that might not exist if we had a superimposed Chairman. I do think if we elected our own Chairman we could avoid any such feelings as that. But I have been quite intimately friendly with chairmen of other commissions that have been appointed and I know they have problems we don't have.
My philosophy is that if we either had a Chairman appointed or we elected one, a longer term then would be desirable.
Senator HARTKE. Isn't it true there is nothing in the law against it, now if you want to elect one; is there?
Commissioner WALRATH. No.
Mrs. Brown. Yes. The power and authority is vested in the Commission in the selection of its Chairman for 1 year, 2 years, 3 years; it is vested in it.
Senator HARTKE. Just one question on deregulation.
You indicate you have a fear of destructive compe'ition if there is an absence of regulatory control.
Can somebody here define destructive competition for me?
Commissioner MURPHY. Well, I will lead off by saying what I think it is, Senator.
I have had experience on the shipper side the carriers and the Commission. The experience back before 1935, you horse traded for your rates, you didn't know what your competitor was paying, the man you use today may be bankrupt the next day or be out of business. He would haul it for enough to pay for his fuel or get him a new tire. That situation was serious and when you get the destructive competition, where you have a cargo that is loaded without regulation, without the insurance, the cargo and public liability, there were cases upon cases back before 1935 where cargo burned, or it was stolen and nothing was recovered on it.
So the freedom of entry, and I suppose that is what you mean on this, I frankly have heard it discussed and if it wasn't for the mess we would be in, I am very much inclined to the feeling as that of one former Commissioner had, if we could just take it off for about 30 days, just remove the regulation, the freedom of entry, if we could hope to get it straightened out in the next 6 years, I would be willing to see it tried, but I doubt whether you could do it in 25 years, if you once took it off for that long.
Senator HARTKE. Between that item of destructive competition and this wholesale regulation, isn't there some type of middle ground ? Is there something that could be done?
Commissioner MURPHY. Yes, I think so. I think we ought to be watching for it.
Senator HARTKE. There are a lot of complaints as you well know. I am not saying whether all or any of them are justified. But there are a lot of complaints about excessive regulation, as you well know.
Commissioner MURPHY. My answer has been—and I have heard it charged a lot of times, that these people who are advocating all this-is to ask them to tell you or give you specific examples of it, and the Commission could deal with it and the Commission would. But I don't know whether you will get one out of 10 who will tell you of a restrictive burdensome regulation. We have some, I am sure, who have been pretty stringent. But you go back and look at the history and a great deal of it was brought on by themselves.
So I think if you ask the ones who are advocating this to just name you the field or the section where it is, the Commission could look for it and the Commission-personally, and I don't think the Commission, wants just to have some kind of authority just to have it. If it isn't contributing to a better and sounder transportation system, I would be for eliminating whatever it might be.
Senator HARTKE. You have a section of the report entitled "Assistance to Individual Citizens.”
Can a citizen, if he wants to obtain some help from Interstate Commerce Commission field offices or does he have to come to Washington, D.C.?
Commissioner MURPHY. No, sir, he goes to the field office, they help him fill out his application and direct him how to go about the entire matter. If he comes to Washington, and it quite often happens, our Bureau of Proceedings, Bureau of Operations, sits down and spends hours with him telling him the exact forms and things that are necessary. A great deal of assistance is given.
Senator HARTKE. What is the percentage of cases which come from the field as compared to those that are filed in Washington?
Commissioner MURPHY. The ones filed in the field generally are seeking temporary authority, emergency temporary authority. But any application for the permanent authority is filed in the field offices as a matter of public information, that is the purpose of it.
Senator HARTKE. What if the Commission gets a letter complaining about some facet of carrier activity over which you have jurisdiction? Could you just detail to me how you would handle such correspondence, what would happen to it? Where would it go?
Mrs. BROWN. A complaint? Well, for instance, we have, I am sorry to say, complaints in a lot of areas and if it is a complaint on household goods we have a procedure wherebv the handling of a complaint is put in a section which is right in the Bureau of Operations and then it is investigated there. That matter is handled there to its end result it is handled there. But also with reporting to me.
Senator HARTKE. The complaint comes in and you say in your report "If sufficient information is received in the complaint, direct action may be taken with the offending carrier insofar as the inaccuracy of switching and the use of discrimination are concerned.”
What if there are damages? How do you determine what is sufficient information? What are the guidelines and standards? What does Mr. Jones have to look forward to to make up his mind on, generally speaking, what type of action the Commission would take Do you have any standards, procedures, or any type of thing to look to except to go back to 500 volumes ?
Commissioner MURPHY. Yes, on violations, Senator, as I understand it, there are many varied types of violations, but if it is on a claim, an overcharge, or an undercharge, and I have stood firm on this ever since I have been on the Commission and the Commission has made headway in that, the law provides that it is unlawful to charge anything other than the legal published rate.
Back years ago, I think the Commission just enforced those where it was undercharging, more or less as a rebate. Today on an overcharge claim and the Commission gets a complaint, we handle it immediately. If it is on illegal operations, as far as I know, they immediately are sent to the field and an investigation is made.
Senator HARTKE. Let's take the rate. How would a person, an ordinary shipper, know whether it was an undercharge or overcharge? In other words, he has to come back here and get caught in the big web of bureaucracy, doesn't he really? There is no on-the-spot field operation. Am I wrong, Commissioner Hardin? You are shaking
Commissioner HARDIN. I think there are instances in which we come across these where they don't have to come back here. I think you have a classification of a particular commodity at a certain rate. Vlany times the shipper will have a traffic manager who watches this. I can recall one instance recently where a traffic manager knew that there was a charge that was not correct on this, and he brought it to the attention of the Commission and then we moved on it.
So it does not have to come in here and necessarily be policed through a whole stack of rates for us to find this. This comes to our attention in different ways.
Senator HARTKE. It is handled on the spot in the field or in Washington ?
Commissioner HARDIN. It would be investigated in the field, wherever the violation occurred.
Senator HARTKE. It is investigated in the field and referred back to Washington; right?
Commissioner HARDIN. Yes, sir.
Commissioner MURPHY. No, don't get it that way-when you find there has been a charge there, an illegal charge, the carrier would be foolish not to collect the rate because it is against the law. He can be prosecuted and we have done so for charging an illegal rate.
There are times when they have arguments, yes, sir. They have to come to Washington and are handled under special docket application to decide really what is the rate.
But anyone can find out from the carrier, get a rate quoted on what he has to move, whether it is a little man or not most of the larger shippers, and some that are not large, belong to organizations that perform that service for them.
Senator HARTKE. What if it is damages he is complaining about, who does he go to?
Commissioner MURPHY. If he can't handle it with the carrier, the Commission.
Senator HARTKE. On the spot, or does it come back here to Washington?
Commissioner MURPHY. You can't handle it on the spot, Senator.
Senator HARTKE. Why can't you? You can't have field officers doing this? Why couldn't you establish some type of consumer operation? In other words, again I am coming back to the idea, what I am trying to say to you, I am not saying you should do these things, but I would hope you would give some thought to who is the ultimate man involved in this and that is the consumer. Who does he have to look to ?
Commissioner MURPHY. Under the Bill of Lading Act and under the law on a damage claim if he can't settle it with the carrier, and the Commission intervening and trying to be of assistance can't settle it, his only recourse is court action.
That is the provision of the Bill of Lading Act. When you say settle on the scene, you would be surprised at the number of complaints and claims that we get that when we check them out--and--- you have o go
and look at the record before you can make a charge-quite often we find there is an error or misunderstanding on it.
But you have to go back and check the records to do that.
Commissioner MURPHY. No, sir. You have to send it to the field to get the information.
Senator HARTKE. And they send it back to Washington ?
Commissioner MURPHY. Yes, sir, but there are quite a few of them that are settled in the field, where the agent of the Commission or the employee goes to the carrier and talks to him about it.
Senator HARTKE. But there is no authority in the field to go ahead and deal with these things?
Commissioner MURPHY. If he gets a complaint; yes, sir.
Commissioner Bush. First of all, we don't have authority to settle a claim.
Senator HARTKE. I understand that.
Commissioner Bush. If they first go to the carrier and if the carrier-if they don't get satisfaction from him they come to our field man in the field. We will provide an agent which, as I understand it, will serve as a point to which he can file a claim.
If it is an insurance claim the insurance company gets involved. But when you say "on the spot," I think some of us misunderstood it. You couldn't settle it right there standing in front of you. But on the spot, you mean out in the area where it is.
Senator HARTKE. That is right.
Commissioner Bush. We certainly do. And we provide an agent through which the claim can be served. But I think you have a fine idea. I think we ought to have more of a consumer-oriented section,
not a whole bureau necessarily, but the way it is now, frankly in my opinion, it is rather a hodgepodge.
A Commissioner may get a letter. He has to push it on down to somebody else, or the man in the field may get it. I think your suggestion is excellent that we ought to look into the possibility of having a consumer claims section. They may want to ask for some legislation which might help us to have more authority to settle these.
Senator Hartke. Let us get to page 31, recommendation No. 5, Representation of the poor in agency rulemaking. The principal rulemaking functions are transportation rates. The increase in rates ultimately reflect in retail price to the poor.
How do you determine what is reasonable? In other words, is this all done in adversary proceedings? Who advises the Commission what is reasonable from the consumer's standpoint ?
Commissioner WALRATH. I was trying to look for your page references.
Senator HARTKE. Page 31.
Commissioner WALRATH. don't need to look at it to answer your question. Fortunately for the consumers they have probably more adequate representation through associations before our agency than most.
The National Industrial Traffic League, for example, represents not only large but small shippers and shippers that are representative of all types of shippers. In addition, they have
Senator HARTKE. But those are shippers you are referring to?
Senator HARTKE. Those are not consumers. You see, always you come back to these two groups of people, the carriers and the shippers. What disturbs me is that it appears that this process has gone on so long, in an atmosphere of adjudicating the rights between individuals, that the economics of the shipper and the economics of the carrier become paramount and the consumer or the public generally has been lost sight of, not from any conscious misdoing, but as just the very nature
, of the apparatus and the way it works.
Is the regulatory agency attempting to reform itself, constantly keeping in mind the interests of the Nation? This is an industry which represents 20 percent of the gross national product and it cannot be treated lightly. What I am saying to you is when we come back to this very end product, the poor, for example, and your recommendation here concerning the poor, what I am asking you is how is reasonableness determined ?
Commissioner WALRATH. I had only begun what might have been, or could be, a very long list of representations of the public generally I mentioned the shippers only because they are represented in many ways. Retail
merchants, the Drug and Small Shipments Association all of those. The closest
Senator HARTKE. These are allCommissioner MURPHY. May I ask a question for clarification? When we say consumer-I am not being facetious—who is the consumer? Is it the consumer of the transportation services being sold?
Senator HARTKE. That is exactly the point I am making. I am talking about the public generally.