The President's Cabinet of ten members theoretically reflects all the major activities of national life—Finance, Commerce, Law, Husbandry, Labor, National Defense, etc. etc. To make the Cabinet more representative, a Secretary of Education, a Secretary of Health, a Secretary of Air, a Secretary of Communications have been proposed in Congress and out. And since 1920, railroad men have been urging a Secretary of Transportation.*
Last week a Secretary of Transportation was urged again, by Harvard's famed economist and rail expert, William Zebina Ripley. In the course of a lecture at Columbia University, Professor Ripley declared: "Such a Cabinet official would have just the prestige and authority to enforce discipline on the rail industry that it needs." Under the Ripley plan the administrative functions of the Interstate Commerce Commission (locomotive inspection, accident investigation, safety equipment orders) would be transferred to the Department of Transportation while the I. C. C.'s judicial work (rate-making, valuation, corporate finance) would be left as an independent function. Other governmental activities which could logically be transferred to the Secretary of Transportation would include the Alaska R. R. (from Interior Department), civil aeronautics, steamboat inspection, lighthouses and navigation (from the Commerce Department), river and harbor development, the Mississippi barge line and the Panama Canal (from the War Depart-ment), the U. S. merchant fleet (from the Shipping Board).
*Transportation portfolios exist in the Cabinets of Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Russia. In many another country the Minister of Public Works exercises this function.