My conviction is that we can find no solution for the problems of social, political, economic, or spiritual unrest. “The man’s the man” philosophy has taken hold of the world. We have lost all traditional moorings. We have no religion. We have no philosophy. Our age is greater than any other that the world has seen. We have been lifted clear off our feet and taken up into a high place where we have been shown the universe. The result has been a tremendous and exaggerated growth of the ego, and we have regarded ourselves as masters of everything, and subject to nothing. Agnosticism led to sensualism, and sensualism had its foundation in hopelessness. We are materialists because we have no faith. This thing, however, is being changed. We are coming to recognize spiritual forces, and I put my hope for the future, not in a reduction in the high cost of living, nor in any scheme of government, but in a recognition by the people that after all there is a God in the world. Mind you, I have no religion, I attend no church, and I deal all day long with hard questions of economics, so that I am nothing of a preacher; but I know that there never will come anything like peace or serenity by a mere redistribution of wealth, although that redistribution is necessary and must come.
If I were these young men and wished to concentrate upon some economic question, I should put my time in on the cost of distribution. ... That is the economic problem of the next century—how to get the goods from the farm to the people with the lowest possible expenditure of effort; how to get the manufactured product from the factory to the house with the least possible expense. I have an idea that we have too many stores, too many middlemen, too much waste motion. So that I have only two thoughts to suggest: The first is that the ultimate problem is to substitute some adequate philosophy or religion for that which we have lost; and the second is to concentrate on the simple economic problem. Have we the cheapest system of distribution possible? ... Sincerely yours,
SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR 1913-1915
Appointment as Secretary of the Interior—Reorganization of the Department—Home Club—Bills on Public Lands
His appointment, as Secretary of the Interior, came to Lane in a letter from President-elect Wilson, stating that he was being “drafted” by the President for public service in his Cabinet. The letter was written about the middle of February, 1913. The urgent manner of the appointment was caused by Lane’s frankly-expressed reluctance to leave his work on the Interstate Commerce Commission, where opportunity for yet fuller accomplishment had been assured by his recent appointment as Chairman of the Commission. Seven years of application to the intricate problems of adjustment between the conflicting