January 1934

The Engineer's New Year


THERE IS a vast amount of joking and insincerity with regard to the making of New Year's resolutions and wishes. These particular vows are held to be as fragile as glass, and, in general, as useless as a tin whistle.

 They are a part of a noisy celebration put on by one in an ir-responsible mood. They are just a part of the "game."
But one approaches this new year of 1934 with some peculiar inner feelings. We are all thinking in terms of longer periods of time than formerly. The trip "Around the corner" has come to be recognized as a curve on a long radius—not a sharp turn in the road. The pavement is broken and rough. In fact, it is missing in many places, and the going is hard and laborious.

We see here and there indications of a letdown in standards of materials and of workmanship. We see the eager pushing forward, and the waiving of recognition of rights of others or of full ethical responsibility that rests upon us whether the way be easy or difficult.

In times of stress and hardship, there is always  a tendency to revert to the aphorism that "Might makes right," and to the belief that the standards of human conduct which we have laboriously built up are too limiting. We are much too likely to emphasize the expediency of a procedure, and to test it by the immediacy of its results.

Engineers see new values being placed upon large construction projects throughout the country; new balances being proclaimed between favorable and unfavorable statistical data; new approaches being made toward disregard of property rights; new estimates of the relative values of technical soundness and emergency.

It is granted that these present-day reconsiderations should be our prime concern. Rut let each engineer resolve that be will retain and exercise his right of independent Judgment upon principles of humanitarianism, and of economics; of social welfare and of technical requisites. Let him determine more firmly than ever, before that the ethics of human conduct demand this of him. While he willingly may go far upon the thesis that social morale is worth a great price, let him not lose sight of his duty to limit the price paid, to the necessary and sufficient minimum.