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Title: Selected Articles on the Parcels Post - Debaters' Handbook Series
Author: Various
Language: English
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                            HANDBOOK SERIES

    Enlargement of the United States Navy (3d ed. rev. and enl.)

    Direct Primaries (3d ed. rev. and enl.)

    Capital Punishment

    Commission Plan of Municipal Government (2d ed. rev. and enl.)

    Election of United States Senators

    Income Tax (2d ed. rev. and enl.)

    Initiative and Referendum (2d ed. rev. and enl.)

    Central Bank of the United States

    Woman Suffrage

    Municipal Ownership

    Child Labor

    Open versus Closed Shop

    Employment of Women

    Federal Control of Interstate Corporations

    Parcels Post

                     _Other titles in preparation_

                     _Each volume, one dollar net_

                      _Debaters’ Handbook Series_

                           SELECTED ARTICLES
                                ON THE
                             PARCELS POST

                              COMPILED BY
                            EDITH M. PHELPS

                       THE H. W. WILSON COMPANY


The plan of this volume is very similar to that of the others of the
series to which it belongs. It contains a brief, a bibliography, and
reprints of articles containing the various arguments for and against
the parcels post; also, information in regard to the present status of
the parcels post in this and other countries. For the convenience of
the reader, the articles have been arranged in three main divisions:
the General, Affirmative, and Negative Discussions. The bibliography
is similarly divided. It is believed that debaters and others wishing
material on this subject will find this book both convenient and

September, 1911.


    BRIEF                                                             ix


    Bibliographies                                                  xiii

    General References                                              xiii

    Affirmative References                                           xvi

    Negative References                                              xix

    INTRODUCTION                                                       1


    Carr, D. M. Up to Members of Congress                              5

    Meyer, George von L. Data Relative to Proposed Extension of
        Parcels Post                                                   9

    Cowles, James L. Our Postal Express                               16

    Walker, Ernest G. From the Boston Herald. Data Relative to
        Proposed Extension of Parcels Post                            18

    Bennet, William S. Post-Office, Our Mutual Express Company        27

    Lewis, David J. System of Postal Express                          32

    Barth, Dr. Letter. Hearings before the Committee on the
        Post-Office and Post Roads                                    42

    German Parcels Post. Monthly Consular and Trade Reports           45


    Sulzer, William. Our Postal Express                               49

    Rider, Fremont. Parcels Post and the Retailer. World’s Work       52

    Mondell, F. W. Star Routes and Rural Parcels Post.
        Congressional Record                                          58

    Bennet, William S. General Deficiency Bill. Congressional
        Record                                                        62

    Walker, John B. Who Will Be Benefited by a Parcels Post?
        Cosmopolitan                                                  72

    Stickley, Gustav. More Efficient Postal Service. Craftsman        78

    Parcels Post Once More. Independent                               80

    Sulzer, William. People Demand a General Parcels Post             82

    Let Us Have a Parcels Post. Hampton’s                             87

    Curtis, Isabel G. Housekeeping by Parcels Post. Good
        Housekeeping                                                  92

    Miller, George E. Parcels Post. Housekeeper                       94


    Maxwell, George H. Perils of Parcels Post Extension               99

    Clark, Allan W. Objections to the Parcels Post. Independent      106

    Burrows, Charles W. Further Thoughts on Parcels Post             108

    Burrows, Charles W. One Cent Letter Postage, Second
    Class Mail Matter, and Parcels Post                              110

    Ordway, John A. Parcels Post                                     115

    Merritt, Albert N. Shall the Scope of Governmental Functions
        Be Enlarged so as to Include the Express Business?
        Journal of Political Economy                                 122

    Parcels Post in England. Parcels Post Problem                    129

    Spofford, C. W. A. B. C. of Parcels Post                         130

    French, F. E. Parcels Post                                       131

    Bogardus, W. P. Why Parcels Post Is Not a Good Thing
        for This Country                                             135

    Haugen, Gilbert N. Parcels Post and Postal Savings Banks         138

    Smith, S. C. Parcels Post                                        140


Resolved, That the Federal Government should establish a Parcels Post.


I. It has been claimed that

    A. Our postal rates on third and fourth class matter are
    exorbitant as compared with those in foreign countries.

    B. Foreign parcels post systems afford many conveniences which
    we do not have.

II. An extension of our present parcels post system is demanded.

    A. Bills providing for it have been presented to Congress.

    B. Postmasters-General Wanamaker, Meyer, and others have tried
    to secure it.

    C. It has been recommended in presidential messages, in
    conventions, by postal officials and by the people.

III. The plan which has received most favorable attention is that of
Postmaster-General Meyer, providing for

    A. A general parcels post at the rate of 12c a pound, with a
    limit in weight of eleven pounds.

    B. A rural parcels post at the rate of 5c for the first pound,
    2c for each additional pound, limit of weight eleven pounds.


The Affirmative is in favor of the Parcels Post, for

I. The United States government would benefit financially.

    A. The receipts from the increased volume of business would
    more than repay the loss from the reduction in rate.

    B. Increased receipts from rural routes would be clear profit.

        1. Rural routes are already equipped for this service.

    C. If the post with foreign countries pays now, the government
    ought to make a profit from a similar domestic service.

II. The general public would benefit by this service.

    A. Present transportation charges would be reduced.

        1. The express companies would have to reduce rates.

    B. Greater convenience in sending merchandise would result.

        1. The express companies would have to improve service.

    C. The cost of living would be reduced.

III. Rural communities would be benefited.

    A. The local dealer would profit.

        1. He could do a larger business with less expense, and
        with increased facilities for delivery.

        2. He could meet the competition of mail-order houses and
        city merchants.

    B. Country towns and villages would have cheap transportation
    which is so essential for favorable growth.

    C. The parcels post would turn the tide of civilization from
    the cities back to the land.

    D. The farmer would be benefitted.

        1. He would save time and expense in driving to market.

        2. He could have more of the comforts and conveniences of
        city life.

        3. He would have better market facilities for his products.

IV. A parcels post would not be class legislation.

    A. Mail-order houses and city department stores would not
    benefit unduly.

    B. Express companies would not be seriously injured.

        1. Their present rates are excessive.

V. The parcels post has been successful in other countries and is

    A. It has paid

        1. Financially.

        2. In comfort and convenience.

    B. In nearly every country the rates are lower than in the
    United States and the limit in weight is much higher.


The Negative is opposed to the Parcels Post, for

I. The present postal deficit would be increased rather than diminished.

    A. The cost of the increased service would not be covered by
    the increased traffic.

        1. The government cannot compete successfully with the
        express companies.

        2. There would be a continual demand for more and better

        3. Government undertakings are always more costly than
        those under private management.

    B. The inconsistencies between our present foreign and domestic
    rates are not as great as has been claimed.

II. The general public would not be benefitted by it.

    A. It would have little influence on express rates.

    B. It would increase the centralization of wealth, population,
    and manufactures.

    C. The demand for it has been artificially created.

III. Rural communities would be injured by it.

    A. Retailers and local dealers would suffer.

        1. Orders would be sent direct to manufacturing centers.

        2. Mail-order houses would obtain most of the trade.

    B. Rural towns and villages would be injured.

        1. Trade would be drawn to the larger cities and population
        would follow.

    C. The farmer would not be benefitted.

        1. He would not use it nearly as much as has been claimed.

        2. The market for his products would be largely destroyed
        by the removal of population to large cities.

        3. The rural parcels post alone would be merely an entering

IV. Legislation for a parcels post would be discriminating and

    A. Dealers, wholesalers and jobbers in heavy merchandise could
    not use it.

    B. Mail-order houses and department stores would benefit at the
    expense of the retailers and consumers.

    C. The Interstate Commerce Commission already has the power to
    correct excessive express rates.

    D. The rural post alone would increase the business of the
    express companies.

V. That the parcels post is in operation in foreign countries at very
low rates and high weight-limits is no argument for its extension in
the United States.

    A. Conditions vary so widely.

        1. Distances are greater in the United States.

        2. The population is more scattered.

        3. The railroads are privately owned, and the government
        must pay heavy rates for service.

    B. It is claimed that the system is run at a loss in England
    and Germany.


An asterisk (*) preceding a reference indicates that the entire article
or a part of it has been reprinted in this volume.


Kansas. State University. Extension Division. Bulletin. Vol. XI. No.
10. July, 1910. Kansas High School Debating League, Announcements,
1910-1911. pp. 26-8.

United States. Library of Congress--Division of Bibliography. Select
List of References on the Parcels Post. 5p. Typewritten. 15c. Supt. of

Virginia. Dep’t of Public Instruction, State University, and the
Co-Operative Education Ass’n. Bulletin. Ser. I. No. 3. March, 1911.
Parcels Post. pp. 18-21.

Wisconsin. State University. Extension Division. Bulletin. Ser. No.
204: Extension Ser. No. 18. March, 1908. Parcels Post. pa. 5c.


_Books, Pamphlets and Documents_

Bennet, William S. Freight, Passenger and Intelligence Post: The Public
Need. 14p. pa. Govt. Ptg. Office.

    Address William S. Bennet, Representative, Washington, D. C.

*Bennet, William S. Post-Office, Our Mutual Express Company: Speech in
the House of Representatives, May 13, 1909. 8p. pa. Govt. Ptg. Office.

    Reprinted from the Congressional Record. 44: 5174-6. Ag. 5, 09.
    [Address William S. Bennet, Representative, Washington, D. C.]

*Carr, D. M. Up to Members of Congress. 8p. pa. March, 1908.

    Address D. M. Carr, Editor “The Winning West,” Omaha, Nebr.

Congressional Record. 32: Appendix. 208-10. F. 21, ’99. United States
Parcels Post. James L. Cowles.

    Printed in connection with a speech by Senator Butler, in the
    Senate, F. 20-21, ’99.

Congressional Record. 43: 1866-8. F. 4, ’09. Parcels Post System.

Cowles, James L. General Freight and Passenger Post: Practical Solution
of the Railroad Problem. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York. 1898.

*Cowles, James L. Our Postal Express. 2p. Postal Progress League.

    Address the Postal Progress League, 125 E. 23rd St., New York

*Lewis, David J. System of Postal Express to Include Both Country
Merchants and Farmers: Speech in the House of Representatives, June 8,
1911. 32p. pa.

    Reprinted from the Hearings before Sub-Committee No. 4, of
    the Committee on the Post-Office and Post-Roads, June, 1911.
    pp. 10-38, 48-52. [Address David J. Lewis, Representative,
    Washington, D. C.]

Monthly Consular and Trade Reports. No. 326. p. 37. N. ’07. Parcels
Post from United States. Govt. Ptg. Office.

*Monthly Consular and Trade Reports. No. 329. pp. 104-6. F. ’08. German
Parcels Post. Govt. Ptg. Office.

Monthly Consular and Trade Reports. No. 334. p. 192. Jl. ’08. Parcels
Post from United States. Govt. Ptg. Office.

Monthly Consular and Trade Reports. No. 335: 179-80. Ag. ’08. Parcels

Monthly Consular and Trade Reports. No. 357. Je. ’10. pp. 109-11.
Parcels Post. Germany and Australia. Govt. Ptg. Office.

Postal Progress. 1907-1911. Post Office: The Minister of Peace. 4p.
Postal Progress League.

    Address the Postal Progress League, 125 E. 23d St., New York

*United States. Congress, House of Representatives. Parcels Post:
Hearings before the Committee on the Postoffice and Post Roads. April
20-29, 1910, 322p. pa. 25c. Supt. of Doc.

    Recommended for purchase.

United States. Congress. House of Representatives. Parcels Post:
Hearings before Sub-Committee No. 4 of the Committee on the Postoffice
and Post Roads, June, 1911, 390p. pa. Supt. of Doc.

    Recommended for purchase.

*United States. Post-Office Dep’t. Data Relative to Proposed Extension
of Parcel Post. (60th Cong., 1st Sess., Senate. Doc. 366.) 15p. ’08.
Govt. Ptg. Office.

    Reprinted from the Congressional Record. 42: 3041-5. Mr. 6, ’08.

World Almanac, 1911. Postal Information, pp. 99-105.

    A summary of the present governmental regulations respecting
    foreign and domestic mails.

_Magazine Articles_

Arena. 34: 113-9. Ag. ’05. European Parcels-Post. J. Henniker Heaton.

    Reprinted in condensed form in the Review of Reviews. 32:
    345-6. S. ’05.

Bulletin. Pan American Union. 32: 365-8. F. ’11. Parcels Post
Convention between the United States and Haiti.

    Contains the text of the convention adopted by Haiti and the
    United States in 1910.

Catholic World. 81: 353-61. Je. ’05. Parcel-Post System of Germany. J.
C. Monaghan.

Chautauquan. 64: 7-8. S. ’11. Parcels Post Next.

Cosmopolitan. 35: 3-10. My. ’03. Governmental Parcel-Post in Great
Britain. J. Henniker Heaton.

Cosmopolitan. 36: 217*-19*. Ap. ’04. Postal Parcels Delivery One Cent a
Pound. John B. Walker.

Dun’s Review. 14: 12-4. F. 24, ’06. Parcels-Post System of Germany. J.
C. Monaghan.

    Reprinted in the Hearings before Subcommittee No. 4 of
    the Committee on the Post-Office and Post-Roads, House of
    Representatives, June, 1911. pp. 70-3.

Nineteenth Century. 25: 894-901. Je. ’89. Agricultural Parcels Post.
Henry P. Dunster.

Nineteenth Century. 54: 981-4. D. ’03. Cash on Delivery, or Shopping by
Post. J. Henniker Heaton.

    Arguments for and against the extension of the parcels post
    system in England to admit the cash on delivery feature.

North American. 187: 330-6. Mr. ’08. Parcels Post. George von L. Meyer.

Outlook. 72: 147-8. S. 20, ’02. Cheap Parcels Post from England.

Outlook. 79: 148. Ja. 14, ’05. Comparison of Postal Rates. James L.

Postal Progress. Vol. I. No. 6. pp. 1-4. Ag. ’07. Common
One-Cent-a-Pound Postal Rate. James L. Cowles.

    Clippings from American Industries, June 15, 1907, and Iron
    Age, July 4, 1907, form a part of the article.

Scientific American. 98: 455. Je. 27, ’08. Reduction of Foreign Parcel
Postal Rates.

Scientific American Supplement. 48: 20008. D. 2, ’99. Parcels Post
Exchanges with Germany.

Survey. 25: 121-2. O. 22, ’10. Parcels Post Made in Germany.


_Pamphlets and Documents_

Congressional Record. 42: 3081-4. Mr. 7, ’08. Post-Office Appropriation
Bill: Speech in the House of Representatives, March 3, 1908. James M.

Congressional Record. 42: 6567-8. My. 15, ’08. Special Parcels Post.
George von L. Meyer.

Congressional Record. 45: 2958-9. Mr. 8, ’10. Amendment for the Parcels
Post. Mr. Hardwick.

Congressional Record. 45: 3223-4. Mr. 14, ’10. Extension of Parcels
Post: Letter to John M. Stahl. George von L. Meyer.

Congressional Record. 45: 9310-4. Je. 24. ’10. General Deficiency Bill:
Speech in the House of Representatives, June 21, 1910. William S.

    Reprinted in the Congressional Record. 45: Appendix 382-6.

Congressional Record. 46: 1243-5. Ja. 21, ’11. Proposed Parcels Post:
Speech in the House of Representatives, January 17, 1911. Ralph W. Moss.

Congressional Record. 46: 1273-6. Ja. 21, ’11. Limited Parcels Post.

Congressional Record. 46: 1443-5. Ja. 25, ’11. Why the People Favor a
General Parcels Post: Speech in the House of Representatives, January
17, 1911. William Sulzer.

Congressional Record. 46: 1881. F. 2, ’11. Resolution Adopted by
Nebraska Farmer’s Congress in Favor of Parcels Post.

*Congressional Record. 46: 1941-7. F. 3, ’11. Star Routes and Rural
Parcels Post: Speech in the House of Representatives, January 19, 1911.
F. W. Mondell.

Congressional Record. 46: 2773-4. F. 9, ’11. Parcels Post: Speech in
the House of Representatives. Ralph W. Moss.

    Consists mostly of quotations from the Price Current and other
    trade journals.

Meyer, George von L. Address at the Banquet of the New England
Postmasters, October 12, 1907. 14p. pa. Govt. Ptg. Office.

*Sulzer, William. Our Postal Express: Speech in the House of
Representatives, June 9, 1910. 8p. pa. Govt. Ptg. Office.

    Reprinted from the Congressional Record. 45: 8287-97. Je. 15,
    ’10. [Address William Sulzer, Representative, Washington, D. C.]

*Sulzer, William. People Demand a General Parcels Post: Speech in the
House of Representatives, February 6, 1911. 15p. pa. Govt. Ptg. Office.

    Reprinted from the Congressional Record. 46: 2094-7. F. 6, ’11.
    [Apply to William Sulzer, Representative, Washington, D. C.]

United States. Post Office Dep’t. Annual Report of the Postmaster
General. 1907. pp. 9-11. Extension of the Parcel Post. 10c. Supt. of

_Magazine Articles_

Arena. 23: 103-6. Ja. ’00. Needed Postal Reform. Louis E. Guillow.

Arena. 35: 212-3. F. ’06. England’s Magnificent Postal-Service Record.

Arena. 37: 308-9. Mr. ’07. Postal Service in Japan.

Cosmopolitan. 36: 379*-81*. F. ’04. Aid Which the Post Office
Department Might Render to Commerce. John B. Walker.

*Cosmopolitan. 36: 497*-9*. Mr. ’04. Who Will Be Benefited by a Parcels
Post? John B. Walker.

*Craftsman. 14: 592-4. S. ’08. More Efficient Postal Service. Gustav

*Good Housekeeping. 53: 2-10. Jl. ’11. Housekeeping by Parcels Post.
Isabel G. Curtis.

*Hampton’s. 26: 261-4. F. ’11. Let Us Have a Parcels Post.

*Housekeeper. 31: 11-35. Ag. ’08. Parcels Post. George E. Miller.

Independent. 53: 2607-8. O. 31, ’01. Parcels Post.

Independent. 56: 306-9. F. 11, ’04. Post Office, Our Mutual
Transportation Company. James L. Cowles.

Independent. 63: 1185-7. N. 14, ’07. Parcels Post.

Independent. 67: 986-7. O. 28, ’09. It Must Come.

*Independent. 70: 105-7. Ja. 12, ’11. Parcels Post Once More.

Nation. 90: 345. Ap. 7, ’10. For a Parcels-Post. Reuben G. Thwaites.

Nineteenth Century. 53: 253-63. F. ’03. Agricultural Parcel Post. J.
Henniker Heaton.

Outlook. 90: 801-2. D. 12, ’08. Postal Deficit and a Rural Parcel Post.

Outlook. 96: 567. N. 12, ’10. Express Monopoly versus a Parcels Post.

Postal Progress. Vol. I. No. 4. pp. 1-2. Ap. 1, ’07. Foreign Parcels
Post Necessary.

Scientific American. 102: 274. Ap. 2, ’10. Need of an Improved Parcels

World’s Work. 21: 13978-86. F. ’11. Post-Office: An Obstructive
Monopoly. Don G. Seitz.

*World’s Work. 21: 14248-51. Ap. ’11. Parcels Post and the Retailer.
Fremont Rider.


_Pamphlets and Documents_

*Bogardus, W. P. Why Parcels Post Is Not a Good Thing for This Country.
8p. pa. Iowa Retail Hardware Ass’n.

    Address A. R. Sale, Iowa Retail Hardware Association, Mason
    City, Iowa.

*Burrows, Charles W. Further Thoughts on Parcels Post: With an
Examination of Postmaster-General Meyer’s Recommendations. 19p. pa.

    Address Charles W. Burrows, 633 Euclid Av., Cleveland, Ohio.

*Burrows, Charles W. One Cent Letter Postage, Second Class Mail Rates,
and Parcels Post: Address Delivered before the National Hardware Ass’n,
March 30, 1911. pp. 11-25.

    Address Charles W. Burrows, 633 Euclid Av., Cleveland, Ohio.

Congressional Record. 40: 3476-82. Mr. 7, ’06. Parcels Post: Speech in
the House of Representatives. Gilbert N. Haugen.

*French, F. E. Parcels Post: Address before the Southern Merchant’s
Ass’n, Nashville, Tenn., February 28-March 3, 1911. Leaflet No. 8. 15p.
pa. American League of Associations.

    Address the American League of Associations, Room 343,
    Rand-McNally Bldg., Chicago, Ill.

*Haugen, Gilbert N. Parcels Post and Postal Savings Banks: Speech in
the House of Representatives, March 13, 1908. 8p. pa. Govt. Ptg. Office.

    Reprinted from the Congressional Record. 42: 3548-51. Mr. 17,
    ’08. [Address Gilbert N. Haugen, Representative, Washington, D.

Hutsinpillar, C. A. Parcels Post: Address Delivered before the Annual
Convention of the Ohio Hardware Ass’n, February 23, 1904, 3p. pa.

    Address C. A. Hutsinpillar, Ironton, Ohio.

*Maxwell, George H. Perils of Parcels Post Extension. Leaflet No. 7.
35p. pa. American League of Associations.

    Reprinted in the Hearings before the Committee on the
    Post-Office and Post-Roads, April 20-29, 1910. [Address
    American League of Associations, Room 343, Rand-McNally Bldg.,
    Chicago, Ill.]

Menace of a Parcels Post. 40p. pa.

    Address S. R. Miles, Mason City, Iowa.

Miles, S. R. Extracts from an Address Delivered before the Federated
Commercial Clubs of Minnesota, January 17, 1908. 14p. pa.

    Address S. R. Miles, President, National Retail Hardware
    Dealers Ass’n, Mason City, Iowa.

*Ordway, John A. Parcels Post: Address before the New England Drygoods
Ass’n, March, 1911. Leaflet No. 9. 15p. pa. American League of

    Address the American League of Associations, Room 343,
    Rand-McNally Bldg., Chicago, Ill.

Parcels Post: from the Standpoint of an Iowa Editor. Parcels Post
Circular No. 3, Series 1911. 4p. pa. Iowa Retail Hardware Association.

    Address A. R. Sale, Iowa Retail Hardware Ass’n, Mason City,

*Parcels Post Problem: From the Standpoint of the Towns and Small
Cities. 30p. pa. National Hardware Bulletin.

    Address M. L. Corey, Secretary, National Retail Hardware
    Association, Argos, Ind.

Shall the Country Towns Be Destroyed by a Local Rural Parcels Post.
Pamphlet No. 5. Home Advancement Series. 30p. pa. American League of

    Most of this pamphlet is a reprint of pp. 274-96 of the Report
    of the Hearings before the Committee on the Post-Office and
    Post-Roads, April, 1910. [Apply to M. L. Corey, Argos, Ind.]

*Smith, S. C. Parcels Post: Speech in the House of Representatives,
March 3, 1908. 15p. pa. ’08. Govt. Ptg. Office.

    Reprinted from the Congressional Record. 42: 2928-31. Mr. 3,
    ’08. [Address S. C. Smith, Representative, Washington, D. C.]

Spofford, C. W. A. B. C. of Parcels Post; A. Catechism, 11p. pa.

Trans-Mississippi Commercial Congress, Proceedings, 1907. pp. 232-40.
Parcels Post.

_Magazine References_

*Independent. 70: 72-3. Ja. 12, ’11. Objections to the Parcels Post.
Allan W. Clark.

Independent. 70: 185. Ja. 26, ’11. Parcels Post Again. Sylvester C.

*Journal of Political Economy. 16: 417-35. Jl. ’08. Shall the Scope
of Governmental Functions Be Enlarged so as to Include the Express
Business? Albert N. Merritt.

North American Review. 174: 807-19. Je. ’02. Defects and Abuses in Our
Postal System. Henry A. Castle.

    Parcels Post. pp. 812-4.

North American Review. 178: 222-34. F. ’04. Postal Service. E. F. Loud.

    Parcels Post. pp. 224-6.

Outlook. 96: 794. D. 3, ’10. Parcels Post. George P. Engelhard.



The parcels post is not a new question. It has been the subject of
popular discussion for years, and several of our postmasters-general
have recommended an extension of our present system, sufficient, at
least, to put it on an equal basis with our foreign service. Those who
are familiar with the parcels post systems of other countries, and
those who believe that the express companies should not be permitted to
monopolize so large a part of the parcels-carrying trade, are in favor
of these recommendations. On the other hand, those who believe that the
government should not enter into any commercial undertaking, and those
who fear that the change will be detrimental to the country communities
and will result in the centralization of our population in the large
cities, are strongly opposed to any increase in our present rates, or
in the size of the package to be accepted.

There are several organizations who are actively engaged at the
present time in supporting or opposing all attempts to enact parcels
post legislation. The Postal Progress League, with headquarters at
125 East 23d St., New York City, has for its aim the improvement of
our postal service, and is at present actively promoting the cause
of the parcels post. This organization is made up of manufacturers,
wholesalers, publishers and importers, and is supported by many of the
state Granges. The Postal Express Federation is a new organization,
formed for the express purpose of urging a reform of our parcels post
service, and is supported by many of the same organizations which are
back of the Postal Progress League. The American League of Associations
(headquarters at Room 343, Rand-McNally Building, Chicago, Ill.), is
composed of wholesalers in all lines of merchandise. Its object is to
promote the welfare of the small towns and country communities, and to
oppose the centralization of population in cities. It is at present
actively engaged in fighting the parcels post.

These organizations as well as several others, named in the
bibliography given elsewhere in this volume, publish and distribute
literature for and against the parcels post, and the student of this
subject will find it profitable to get into communication with them.

Hearings on the subject of a parcels post have been held before the
House Committee on the Post-Office and Post Roads, at two different
times, in April, 1910, and in June, 1911. At these hearings, have
appeared representatives of the associations named in the preceding
paragraph and of others who approve or oppose the recommendations
for an enlarged parcels post. Among those who have appeared in favor
of the parcels post are the various state Granges and farmer’s
organizations, the American Dyers and Cleaners Association, the
Manufacturing Perfumers Association, the Associated Retailers of St.
Louis, the Pennsylvania State Federation of Labor, the Society of
American Florists and Ornamental Horticulturists, and the National
American Woman’s Suffrage Association. Other societies opposing the
parcels post are the National Retail Hardware Association, the United
Commercial Travelers, the National Association of Implement and Vehicle
Dealers’ Associations, the National Associations of Retail Druggists
and Grocers, and various Oil, Paint, and Varnish Clubs and Associations.

Postmaster-General George von L. Meyer recommended that our present
parcels post system, which is now limited to parcels weighing four
pounds or less, be extended to include all parcels of eleven pounds
or less, and that the rate be reduced from sixteen to twelve cents a
pound. He also recommended that a similar post be established on the
rural routes for all parcels of eleven pounds or less, with a rate
of five cents for the first pound and two cents for each additional
pound. Various bills have been introduced into Congress embodying
part or all of these suggestions. Other measures that have been
presented provide that the government be given a complete monopoly
of the parcels-carrying trade. One bill of this kind introduced by
Representative David Lewis of Maryland, provides that the government
shall take over the business of the express companies and have complete
control of the carrying business in parcels under a given weight. This
bill also provides that the zone-system of rates, now in operation in
Germany, be adopted.

The General Discussion, following this Introduction, contains data in
regard to our present parcels post systems both foreign and domestic,
also similar data concerning the systems of other countries. It also
contains information regarding many of the recommendations that have
been made for an enlarged parcels post and the measures that have been
presented to Congress. The student is advised to familiarize himself
with the facts given in this discussion before proceeding to take up
the arguments for and against the parcels post.


Up to Members of Congress.

D. M. Carr.

Bills have been introduced in the present Congress, by Senators Burnham
and Kean, with a view of further improving the postal service. These
measures are for the purpose of enabling the postal department to
extend its parcel delivery service, commonly designated as the “parcels

There is a large percentage of citizens who strongly advocate
an enlargement of the parcels carrying service performed by the
government. A number of foreign countries have for years maintained
parcels post systems on broad gauge plans; in fact, in Great Britain,
in Germany and a few other countries, the parcels post is conducted in
a manner so as to almost monopolize the express business. But in these
countries conditions, both geographically and commercially, are vastly
different from conditions that obtain within the United States. In the
old countries, there is greater density of population, and distances
which mail matter traverses are about one-thirteenth the distance that
the average piece of mail matter is carried in the continental United

In considering any postal innovation, it is essential that not alone
the operation and the revenue of the postal department be taken into
consideration, but also what the effect of the innovation will be upon
the industries located in various districts of the United States.
Some of the bills introduced in Congress, chief among them, that
introduced by Congressman Hearst during a former session, and the one
by Congressman Henry of Connecticut, during the present session, have
elements that mark them as undesirable and thoroughly impractical under
prevailing conditions, or any possible conditions that may arise in the
United States during the next quarter century.

The postal department is not conducted for the purpose of profit;
rather it is conducted to perform a special service, which governmental
function can best perform for the people. But the department should
be self-sustaining. The revenue derived for the services rendered
the people should be sufficient to cover all expense of operation
economically performed. Any legislation involving the performance of
this service for less than cost to the government does not appeal to
the economist as wise or desirable. Yet the postal department does
perform certain services at a loss, although there are compensating
circumstances which more than overbalance the expenditure. In the
carrying of newspapers and periodicals, under the present system, there
is probably a loss, but at the same time the people receive a general
benefit far outweighing the cost to the government by having cheap
and good literature and such information as the press of the country
conveys and this at the minimum of expense. The second class rate, a
subsidy granted the press, has been instrumental to a degree impossible
of estimation in improving the intelligence of the people and raising
the standard of citizenship.

The proposals set forth in the Henry bill, involving the establishment
of a parcels post system with a maximum weight of 11-pounds and the
maximum charge for maximum weight 25 cents from one postoffice in the
United States to any other postoffice or where mail is delivered,
are objectionable from an economic view. In the first place, such
service would entail heavy losses annually to the department; these
losses possibly reaching $150,000,000 or $200,000,000 annually.
Then again this system of parcels post would be a wonderful factor
in increasing the unequal distribution of business throughout the
nation. Geographical and other conditions greatly vary throughout
the states of the United States. In the thickly populated districts,
where manufacturing is carried on, the cost of labor and the cost of
production of articles of manufacture, ranges from 20 to 50 per cent
less than in other sections, principally in the agricultural regions.
A parcels post that allows the transportation of merchandise at as low
a rate as that provided for in the Henry bill, would enable consumers
residing in agricultural districts, where wages are high, to purchase
their goods in the lowest priced markets in the United States, and the
results of this system would be to concentrate industries in the large
cities and densely populated districts to the detriment of agricultural
and other sections now undergoing commercial and manufacturing
development. This would retard the growth of towns and the upbuilding
of manufacturing industries in those sections. Thus it can be seen that
there would be no compensating effects to justify the installation of a
parcels post of this character.

The exorbitant charges made by the express companies and other carriers
have caused the people of the United States to demand that the package
carrying machinery of the United States postal department be enlarged.
Recognizing this demand, Postmaster-General Meyer in his annual report
made the recommendation that the parcels carrying service of the
government be broadened and that the parcels post be extended so as to
make the maximum weight of a package carried 11 pounds with a graduated
rate up to one pound and a pound rate of 12 cents, making the maximum
rate for the maximum weight $1.32. He also recommended that a parcels
post be established over rural delivery routes, starting from the
post-office where the route emanates and ending upon a rural route. For
this service he recommended that the limit of weight be 11 pounds and
the charge 5 cents for the first pound and 2 cents for each additional
pound, making the maximum charge for an 11 pound package 25 cents, and
that this service be limited to bonafide merchants and others residing
along the line of a rural route.

In making his recommendation as to parcels post enlargement, it
is evident that the postmaster-general well considered not alone
the welfare of the department as to revenues sufficient for proper
maintenance and the installation of a more efficient service, but
as well carefully weighed the economic aspects as they relate to
geographical and commercial conditions throughout the Union.

A careful study into Mr. Meyer’s plan will show that it does not
contemplate any revolution in commercial methods. Notwithstanding the
charges made to the contrary, by those opposed to his views, it does
not appear that should his system be adopted by Congress that the large
houses doing an exclusive mail order business would have any advantage
over the merchants of the smaller cities and towns. The rural parcels
post would certainly be not alone advantageous to the twelve or fifteen
millions of people residing in agricultural districts, who are now
served by more than 38,000 rural carriers, but would be of great value
to the live merchants in the smaller towns who at a minimum of expense
could utilize the rural service for the delivery of goods to their
patrons in the country.

The bills introduced, respectively by Senators Burnham and Kean, are in
perfect harmony with the recommendations of the postmaster-general.

With the diversion of small packages from the express companies
to the mails, the revenues to the postoffice department would be
proportionately greater than the increased cost occasioned by the
greater tonnage of matter carried.

During the past fiscal year, the expense of maintaining the rural
delivery routes was in excess of $26,000,000. The installation of a
parcels delivery over the rural routes would most likely during the
first year place the rural delivery on a self-sustaining basis. There
are 38,253 rural routes. Should each carrier over a route on his daily
trip carry only 88 pounds of merchandise from the local stores to
the patrons on his route, it would give the government a revenue of
approximately $24,000,000 annually, and this service can be performed
without other carrying equipment than rural carriers now have.

When every phase of the recommendations of Postmaster-General Meyer be
carefully weighed, it becomes apparent that his plans are based upon
soundest business judgment.

Opposition to Mr. Meyer’s recommendations comes from three sources,

Large manufacturers, jobbers and other classes of business men who
annually spend enormous amounts for letter postage.

Country merchants who are unduly alarmed over the growth of the
catalogue houses, and who fear that a parcels post extension will
increase the mail order business to their detriment.

Express companies, whose revenues would be decreased by operation of
the system.

Data Relative to Proposed Extension of Parcel Post. pp. 1-6.


_Washington, D. C., March 4, 1908._

MY DEAR SENATOR: It affords me great pleasure, in compliance with
your request, to place at your disposal the data which are available
relative to the proposed extension of the parcel post.

It does not appear to be generally appreciated that a comprehensive
system of parcels post is already in satisfactory operation in most
foreign countries. Exhibit No. 1 gives detailed information on this
subject. I show here the limit of weight which has been fixed in a
number of instances:

    Great Britain                            11
    Germany                                 110
    France                                   22
    Italy                                    11
    Chile                                    11
    New Zealand                              11
    Austria                                 110
    Belgium                                 132
    The Netherlands                          11
    Cuba                                     11

The rates in the countries mentioned are much lower than those shown in
Exhibit No. 2, which have been recommended for the general parcel post
in the United States.

The present rate on the general parcel post is 16 cents a pound
for people in our own country, the limit of weight being 4 pounds,
while the rate from the United States to 29 foreign countries is 12
cents a pound and the limit of weight to 24 of these countries is 11
pounds. In other words, our own people must pay 4 cents a pound more
for the privilege of dispatching packages to each other than when
destined to residents of a foreign country. I have therefore urged a
rate of 12 cents a pound for packages forwarded through the mails to
post-offices in the United States and its possessions, subject to the
same regulations as exist at the present time, with the exception of
increasing the weight limit to 11 pounds. The service can be rendered
at a cost well within the rates recommended.

According to the report of the record of weight of second-class mail
matter, transmitted by the Post-Office Department to the House of
Representatives under date of February 1, 1907, the average haul of all
second-class matter was 540 miles.

Of the total receipts of the Post-Office Department 69 per cent are
expended for labor and supplies, and 7 per cent for conveyance charges
other than those paid the railroads for transporting the mail. A
general rate for parcel post of 12 cents a pound would produce a
revenue of $240 a ton. Even on the basis of a 540-mile average haul,
I find the debit and credit sides of 1 ton of parcel post to be as

    By postage                                                  $240.00
    To railroad transportation, 540 miles, at 5½ cents   $29.70
    Other transportation charges                          16.80
    Labor and supplies                                   165.60

          Total cost                                             212.10
          Profit                                                  27.90

A local parcel post confined to rural delivery routes is also advocated
at the rates given in Exhibit No. 3. The Department favors the
establishment of this special service because of its ability to render
it with great advantage to the farmer, the country merchant, and other
patrons of the routes, as the necessary machinery (over 38,000 routes
now regularly covered by rural carriers) is in operation. There are
some 15,000,000 people living on these routes, which shows the vast
possibilities of the rural service. It has been estimated that if but
three packages of the maximum weight were handled each trip on the
rural routes now established the resulting revenue, even at the low
rates given, would more than wipe out the postal deficit. The increased
cancellations would automatically advance the salaries of postmasters
of the fourth class, and the remaining revenue, which would be
clear gain, would be of great assistance in making the rural service
self-sustaining. The rural service will, in all probability, cost the
government this year $34,000,000, an increase of $10,000,000 over last

The history and advantages of the rural delivery should be understood
by our people. There is a feeling in many quarters that it is an
extravagance and an unnecessary drain upon the postal revenues. The
first rural route was established in the latter part of 1896, $14,840
being expended for rural delivery during that fiscal year. At that time
the postal deficit was $11,411,779. During the fiscal year ended June
30, 1907, the expenditures for rural delivery aggregated $26,671,699,
while the postal deficit showed a decrease, as compared with 1897, of
$4,800,000, the deficit amounting to $6,653,282. This would seem to
show that while the expense incurred for maintaining rural delivery is
great, yet the rural delivery has been instrumental in increasing the
general postal receipts. However, its benefits to our people can not be
measured in dollars and cents.

That a local parcel post would be of material advantage to the retail
merchant in competition with mail-order houses is seen at once when it
is pointed out that the latter, at the proposed general parcel post
rate of 12 cents a pound, would be obliged to pay $1.32 for sending an
11-pound package to a rural route patron, a difference in favor of the
local storekeeper of about 10 cents a pound, or $1.07 on an 11-pound

Letters and petitions for the extension of the parcel post are being
received from all sections of the country. Many commercial bodies
formerly opposed to any action of this kind are on record as being
heartily in favor of it.

On the other hand, objections have been raised to the measures the
Department is advocating. Although no sound argument has been advanced
in opposition, the contentions which have been made are not without
interest. I mention the more important of them, at the same time giving
the replies which they have elicited:

It has been stated that the Department is not equipped to deliver
11-pound parcels received in the general mails. The present postal
regulations provide that where a package is of undue size or weight a
formal notice shall be sent the addressee requesting him to call for
it. This practice, would continue were the weight limit increased to
11 pounds, in the case of offices having free delivery. Nor would it
work a hardship, for under the present limit of 4 pounds the average
weight of parcels sent through the mails is but one-third of a pound.
Increasing the weight limit would not have nearly as great an effect on
the average weight of parcels mailed as seems to be commonly supposed.
Where packages were addressed to persons living on rural routes they
would, of course, be delivered to the boxes of the patrons by rural
carriers, who would not thereby be inconvenienced.

The claim that the special local rate recommended for the parcel post
on rural routes would eventually be extended to include the entire
postal service has been given considerable publicity. The impossibility
of this becomes apparent when attention is directed to the cost of
railroad transportation, which has no part in the former service. About
$45,000,000 were paid last year for mail transportation and $6,000,000
for postal cars.

Others have said that large mail-order houses would, under the proposed
law, utilize the special parcel post or rural routes through agents
to the great disadvantage of the country merchant, first assembling
their orders and despatching them by express or freight to suitable
distributing points. The Department has recommended provisions which
will prevent any such use of the routes. It should be remembered, too,
that even in the absence of a specific prohibition of this nature,
any systematic attempt upon the part of a mail-order house to thus
distribute its wares would necessitate the employment of many thousands
of local representatives. The catalogues of these concerns indicate in
no uncertain way that they attribute their success, in large measure,
to their low selling expense, and that the absence of any sort of
agents is the principal feature of their argument in accounting for the
supposedly low prices of their goods.

The cry of “class legislation” has been raised. There is, of course, no
discrimination involved, for all who can be reached by rural carriers
will be accommodated. It would be as reasonable to decry the laws
which permit the delivery of mail to patrons living on rural routes,
while persons differently situated are obliged to make a trip to a
near-by post-office to obtain their letters.

Those who claim that an increase in the weight limit would work
an injury to country merchants appear to have the impression that
mail-order houses now deliver their goods extensively through the
postal service, and that this practice would largely increase if the
recommendations which have been made become law. Upon a moment’s
reflection it will be perceived that the present rate of 16 cents
a pound ($16 per hundred-weight), as well as the proposed rate of
12 cents a pound ($12 per hundred-weight), are alike prohibitive on
practically all lines of merchandise. Mail-order houses make their
shipments usually by freight or express and would continue to do so.

Antagonism to the proposed measures, when analyzed and found not to be
the result of selfish motives, appears to be based upon inaccurate or
insufficient information. In illustration, I desire to invite attention
to a communication of the Richmond Commercial Club, of Richmond, Ind.,
which appeared in the Congressional Record of January 4, 1908. In this
letter the statement was made that a certain mail-order house would
save $40,000 a year on the mailing of catalogues alone. Catalogues are
rated as third-class matter, whereas the Department’s recommendations
with respect to parcel post relate to fourth-class matter only.
Catalogues are now mailable at 1 cent for 2 ounces, or 8 cents a pound,
4 cents a pound less than the rate proposed for the general parcel
post. The mail-order house referred to, therefore, would gain nothing
under the proposed law in the mailing of its catalogues.

With the adoption of new conveniences of life by urban residents, and
the ever-increasing attractions of the city, especially potent in their
influence upon the younger generation, the importance of affording
farmers and ruralites generally every legitimate advantage becomes more
and more apparent. The free rural delivery has improved materially
and intellectually the life of great numbers of these people. Is it
too much to ask that the Department shall make a further use of this
important system; a use which, while adding appreciably to the postal
revenues, will directly and vitally benefit every man, woman, and
child within reach of a rural route? The countryman would have the
necessities of life delivered at his gate at an average cost of 2 cents
a pound, thereby facilitating and increasing consumption. This would
mean augmentation of the trade of thousands of country merchants. The
commercial traveler should appreciate the advantages of this system; it
would increase his orders because the country merchant buys from the
jobber or the wholesaler. Every component part of our commercial system
would feel the effects of an increased prosperity.

It would inevitably tend toward the improvement of the roads. Better
roads and improved postal facilities in the rural districts would
result in increased values of farm lands. The rural service as now
organized has accomplished something in this direction; its enlargement
will add to the good attained.

Believe me, faithfully yours,

G. v. L. Meyer.

Hon. Henry E. Burnham, _United States Senate, Washington_.

Exhibit 1.

Parcel Post Rates in the Domestic Service of the Countries Named.

Great Britain.--Postage rates for the first pound, 3 pence (6 cents),
and for each additional pound, 1 penny (2 cents); maximum weight, 11
pounds; greatest length, 3 feet 6 inches; greatest length and girth
combined, 6 feet.

New Zealand and the States Composing the Commonwealth for
Australia.--Limits of weight and size, same as in Great Britain.
Postage rates, 6 pence (12 cents) for the first pound, and 3 pence (6
cents) for each additional pound.

Germany.--Greatest weight, 50 kilograms (about 110 pounds); no limit
of size. Postage rates: For all parcels conveyed not more than 10
geographic miles, 25 pfennig (6 cents), and 50 pfennig (13 cents) for
greater distance; if a parcel weighs more than 5 kilograms (11 pounds
av.), it is charged for each additional kilogram (2 pounds) carried 10
miles, 5 pfennig (1 cent); 20 miles, 10 pfennig (3 cents); 50 miles,
20 pfennig (5 cents); 100 miles, 30 pfennig (8 cents); 150 miles, 40
pfennig (10 cents); and more than 150 miles, 50 pfennig (13 cents).
Unwieldy parcels are charged in addition 50 per cent of the above rates.

Austria.--Greatest weight, 50 kilograms (110 pounds); except that
parcels containing gold or silver coin may weigh up to 65 kilograms
(143 pounds). Postage rates: Parcels up to 5 kilograms (11 pounds) in
weight are charged 30 heller (6 cents) for the first 10 miles, and 60
heller (12 cents) for greater distances. A parcel weighing more than
5 kilograms (11 pounds) is charged for each kilogram (2 pounds) in
addition to the above rates, for the first 10 miles, 6 heller (1 cent);
20 miles, 12 heller (2 cents); 50 miles, 24 heller (5 cents); 100
miles, 36 heller (7 cents); 150 miles, 48 heller (10 cents), and more
than 150 miles, 60 heller (12 cents).

France.--Greatest weight 10 kilograms (about 22 pounds); no limit of
size. Postage rates: Up to 3 kilograms (7 pounds), 60 centimes (12
cents) delivered at the railway station, and 85 centimes (17 cents)
delivered at a residence; from 3 to 5 kilograms (7 to 11 pounds), 80
centimes (16 cents) at a station, and 1 franc 5 centimes (21 cents)
at residence; from 5 to 10 kilograms (11 to 22 pounds), 1 franc 25
centimes (25 cents) at a station, and 1 franc 50 centimes (30 cents) at
a residence.

Belgium.--Greatest weight 60 kilograms (about 132 pounds); no limit
of size, but unwieldy parcels are charged 50 per cent in addition to
the following rates for any distance: Parcels up to 5 kilograms (11
pounds), 50 centimes (10 cents)--or if by express trains, 80 centimes
(16 cents); up to 10 kilograms (22 pounds), 60 centimes (12 cents)--or
if by express trains, 1 franc (20 cents); for each additional 10
kilograms (22 pounds), 10 centimes (2 cents)--or if sent by express
trains, 50 centimes (10 cents) additional. Fee for delivering at
residences, 30 centimes (6 cents).

Italy.--Greatest weight, 5 kilograms (11 pounds). For ordinary parcels,
greatest size in any direction, 60 centimeters (2 feet), except rolls
which may measure 1 meter (40 inches--3 feet 4 inches) in length by 20
centimeters (8 inches) in thickness. Postage rates for a parcel not
exceeding 3 kilograms (7 pounds), 60 centimes (12 cents); and 1 franc
(20 cents) for a parcel exceeding that weight. A parcel which exceeds
60 centimeters (2 feet) in any direction, but does not exceed 1½ meters
(5 feet), is admitted to the mails as an “unwieldy” parcel and is
charged, in addition to the above rates, 30 centimes (6 cents) if it
does not weigh more than 3 kilograms (7 pounds), and 50 centimes (10
cents) if it exceeds that weight.

The Netherlands.--Greatest weight, 5 kilograms (11 pounds); greatest
size, 25 cubic decimeters (1,525 cubic inches), or 1 meter (3 feet
4 inches) in any direction. Postage rates: 15 (6) cents (Dutch) up
to 1 kilogram (2 pounds); 20 (8) cents from 1 to 3 kilograms (2 to 7
pounds); 25 cents (10) from 3 to 5 kilograms (7 to 11 pounds).

Chile.--Greatest weight, 5 kilograms (11 pounds); must not measure
more than 60 centimeters (2 feet) in any direction. Postage rates: 30
centavos (10 cents) if a parcel does not weigh more than 3 kilograms (7
pounds); 50 centavos (17 cents) if it weighs more.

Cuba.--Greatest weight, 11 pounds; greatest size, 3 feet 6 inches
in length by 2 feet 6 inches in width. Postage rates: 10 centavos
(10 cents) a pound up to 5 pounds; and 6 centavos (6 cents) for each
additional pound.

Exhibit 2.

Rates recommended by the Postmaster-General in his annual report
(year ended June 30, 1907) for packages forwarded through the mails
to post-offices in the United States and its possessions, subject to
the regulations which exist at the present time, with the exception of
increasing the weight limit to 11 pounds.


    One ounce                                    1
    Over 1 ounce and not exceeding 3 ounces      2
    Over 3 ounces and not exceeding 4 ounces     3
    Over 4 ounces and not exceeding 5 ounces     4
    Over 5 ounces and not exceeding 6 ounces     5
    Over 6 ounces and not exceeding 8 ounces     6
    Over 8 ounces and not exceeding 12 ounces    9
    Over 12 ounces and not exceeding 16 ounces  12

Exhibit 3.

Rates recommended by the Postmaster-General in his annual report
(fiscal year ended June 30, 1907) for packages covered by the special
local parcel post on rural delivery routes.

    For the first pound                             5
    For each additional pound, up to 11 pounds      2
    For fractional parts of a pound:
        Two ounces or less                          1
        Over 2 ounces and up to 4 ounces            2
        Over 4 and up to 8 ounces                   3
        Over 8 and up to 12 ounces                  4
        Over 12 ounces and up to 1 pound            5

Our Postal Express.

James L. Cowles.

The United States post-office has always been an express service,
although Congress long confined the business to sealed parcels of very
small weights--not over 3 pounds--and at very high rates graduated
according to distance, with no insurance whatever against loss or
damage in the mails. In 1874, however, the business was extended over
all kinds of merchandise in unsealed parcels at a common rate of
one cent each two ounces, regardless at once of distance and of the
volume of a patron’s business. This placed the humblest citizen in the
most out of the way postal district of the country on a par with the
biggest corporation in our greatest metropolis as to the cost of the
transportation of his produce and of his supplies in parcels up to four
pounds, and, though still with no insurance against loss or damage,
the new postal express immediately became a dangerous competitor to
the private express company with its distance rates based on what the
subject will bear and always discriminating in favor of the big town
against the little town, the big corporation against the ordinary

The private express interests got quickly to work, therefore, and
Congress soon checked up the growing postal express business by
increasing the postal rate one hundred per cent--from eight to sixteen
cents a pound. Later Congress bowed to the powerful book and seed
interests of the country and reduced the rate on their merchandise
to the old rate of 1874, and now, for many years, the post-office
and the public have been subjected to two sets of rates on matter
indistinguishable both in character and as to the cost of their

The evil of this absurd postal classification, continued these twenty
years by Congress, becomes decidedly evident when our domestic service
is compared with the foreign parcels post services established by
President Taft and Postmaster-General Hitchcock, with their common 11
pound weight limit at 12 cents a pound, on all merchandise posted from
the United States to foreign countries and from those countries to the
United States:

    From Austria:
     4½ pounds               .35
    11  pounds               .86

    From Italy:
     7  pounds               .39
    11  pounds               .79

    From Norway:
     2½ pounds               .16
    11  pounds               .96

    From Germany:
     4½ pounds               .33
    11  pounds               .81

    From Belgium:
     4½ pounds               .35
    11  pounds              1.10

    U. S. Foreign Rates:
     2¼ pounds               .36
     7  pounds               .84
    11  pounds              1.32

    U. S. Domestic Service:
     2¼ pounds               .36
     4½ pounds (2 parcels)   .72
     7  pounds (2 parcels)  1.12
    11  pounds (3 parcels)  1.76

Under the English post-American express arrangement English postal
parcels now come to New York three pounds for sixty cents; seven pounds
for 84c; eleven pounds for $1.08, and these parcels are forwarded by
the American express company throughout the country at a common rate
of twenty-four cents a parcel, eight cents a pound on a three-pound
parcel; about three and a half cents a pound on a seven-pound parcel,
and less than two and a half cents a pound on an eleven-pound parcel.
Meantime the express company taxes domestic merchandise of the same
weights from 25 cents to $3.20, according to the distance traversed,
while Congress taxes the public for a similar domestic postal service,
three pounds, forty-eight cents; seven pounds, 2 parcels, $1.12; eleven
pounds, 3 parcels, $1.76.

Data Relative to Proposed Extension of Parcel Post. pp. 8-14.

From The Boston Herald.

Ernest G. Walker.

Postmaster-General Wanamaker first actively urged the establishment
of a parcels post on a large scale. He summed up the situation
epigrammatically in his 100 reasons for it and only 4 reasons against
it--those 4 being the express companies. Others after him, especially
the late Postmaster-General Bissell, made like recommendations. But
Mr. Meyer now has an advantage in his campaign which none of his
predecessors had in the rural delivery routes. Every one of the many
thousands of routes would be a little parcels service in itself, aside
from being a line of communication, by which small packages could be
conveyed from all parts of the country or to any part of the country.
Mr. Meyer is building much upon that fact. The local service at cheaper
rates will also protect the local store-keepers, to which the big
department stores and mail-order establishments are bogeys.

Ever since he announced his intention of urging a better parcels post
service for the United States, the Postmaster-General has been the
recipient of many letters. These come from various classes of people.
Most of them commend his plan, but the retail associations, such as the
associations of hardware men and grocers, come out in bold opposition.
It is such people as these that the Postmaster-General hopes to convert
when they are brought to understand the details of what he wants to
do. Some of these critics, besides claiming that the legislation would
favor the catalogue houses, argue that the government should not go
into a general freight business and that if the express companies are
charging exorbitant rates, the Interstate Commerce Commission, which
now has authority over them, should step in and require that the rates
be lowered.

The operations of parcels post in other countries make a very
interesting transportation chapter. They are conducted on a gigantic
scale and, apart from what J. Henniker Heaton, long an English member
of Parliament from Canterbury, and a great advocate of postal reforms,
calls “grandmotherly regulations,” have worked with practically
world-wide success. Shopping by mail is made easy, whether one in the
country would trade with the local draper or the big metropolitan

Great Britain’s conservative enactments will likely be a model for
any extension of the parcels post service by Congress. The service is
almost twenty-five years old over there. It has become one of the most
important and highly appreciated postal features. Its growth has been
continuous and phenomenal. The scope has frequently been broadened.
There was an early clamor for an agricultural parcels post. The owners
of small farms in remote localities wanted it. The growers of spring
flowers in Kerry said it would enable them to compete with the south
of France and the Scilly Isles. Eventually the agricultural parcels
post was authorized and also spacious dimensions for packages. Flower
growers can now send full length orchid spikes and long-stemmed roses
by post, where formerly only simple blooms were admissable.

_Send Fish, Eggs and Fruit_

The produce of the culturists goes forward to London and other big
English cities in tremendous volume. Fresh fish, dispatched from
seaport towns to the large hotels, are delivered with celerity. Meats,
cheese, fruits, vegetables, and freshly laid eggs in mail packages
under the 11-pound limit form a very considerable factor in the
commerce of the Kingdom.

The general rates are low. A 1-pound parcel takes a three-penny stamp.
That is 6 cents in our money. For 2 pounds an 8-cent stamp is required;
for three pounds, a 10-cent stamp; for 5 pounds, 12 cents; for 7
pounds, 14 cents; 8 pounds, 16 cents; 9 pounds, 18 cents; 10 pounds,
20 cents, and 11 pounds, 22 cents. Four-pound parcels cost as much as
five pounds, and 6 pounds cost as much as 7 pounds. For inland parcels
3 feet 6 inches is the maximum length; 6 feet the maximum measurement
for length and girth. These have been adopted as standard dimensions
in the services of numerous other countries. Parcels should not be
posted at a letter box, but presented at the counter of a postoffice.
The government virtually guarantees the sender against loss up to
$10. Payment of a registry fee of 4 cents, in addition to the regular
postage, insures the parcel for $25; a 25-cent registry stamp carries
an insurance of $1,000. There have been demands, not yet conceded,
for the cash on delivery system that several European countries have

The big retail stores of London avail themselves extensively of the
parcels service for delivery of goods. The rates, ranging from 6 to
22 cents, are not prohibitive. In many cases the government service
is cheaper and quicker. Laundries return washing by parcels post. In
Germany, where the rates are even cheaper, lads away at school send
their soiled linen home by mail to be washed and it is returned to them
by the same conveyance.

Sidney Buxton, the postmaster-general of Great Britain, in his
last report, statistically demonstrates the continuous growth, and
consequently the popularity, of the parcels post in the United Kingdom.
The number of parcels delivered in the country districts of England
and Wales in 1896-97 was 41,512,000, and increased annually by from 3
to 6 per cent, till in 1905-6 the number was 66,277,000. In the London
district for the same ten-year period the increase was from 11,229,000
parcels to 18,167,000. A similar increase was shown for Scotland from
6,802,000 to 10,725,000 parcels, and for Ireland, where the increase
was from 4,172,000 in 1896-97 to 6,513,000 in 1905-6.

The gross amount of revenue the government collected increased from
£1,445,126 for 63,715,000 parcels in the United Kingdom for the first
year of the decade to £2,138,673 for 101,682,000 parcels in the last
year of the decade. The post-office’s share of these collections
increased from £763,307 to £1,142,224. The average postage per parcel
decreased during the period from about 11 cents to 10 cents. The
postmaster-general undertakes to deliver both letters and parcels at
every house in the Kingdom. They are delivered by the same postman,
except in the large towns, where there is a special staff for parcel

_Call Swiss Service Best_

Because of competition from private agencies, that have charges
graduated on a basis of distance, there is a tendency for an unduly
high proportion of long distance parcels and parcels for delivery in
rural districts, which are the least remunerative. The post-office
has met this competition by establishing, for comparatively short
distances, a large number of horse and motor parcel van services,
as road conveyance for these distances makes possible an economy as
compared with conveyance by railway at the charge of 55 per cent of the

The Swiss is cited much as one of the most efficient and satisfactory
in Europe. The mountain villages and resorts of that industrious
little country receive a large portion of their supplies by post, as a
maximum weight of 110 pounds is carried within a radius of 62 miles.
The conditions there are somewhat the same as with the dwellers in the
Appalachian and Blue Ridge mountains, to whom it has been declared that
a parcels post would be a great boon because there is no prospect that
either the railroads or the express companies will ever approach their
hamlets and villages.

This Swiss law includes an agricultural parcels post and likewise a
passenger post, agitation for both of which has generally followed the
establishment of parcels post in most countries. The passenger post of
Switzerland is something like the mail coaches in the United States
before the coming of railroads, except that the coaches are owned by
the state and the fees are prescribed by the same authority. A very
large business is done in sending parcels through the mails. A treasury
official, who was traveling in Switzerland during the past summer, saw
at one railroad station several enormous baskets filled with hams and
provisions. They were samples of mail parcels under the 110-pound limit.

_Cash on Delivery Plan_

The general rates are more liberal than in any other country. A parcel
weighing 1 pound is carried anywhere within the boundaries of the
Federation for 3 cents, a 5-pound parcel for 5 cents, a 11-pound
parcel for 8 cents, a 22-pound parcel for 17 cents, a 33-pound parcel
for 23 cents, and a 44-pound parcel for 33 cents. Parcels weighing
as much as 110 pounds are carried within a radius of 62 miles for 60
cents, which enables many of the peasants to market much of their light
produce by mail. The rates are so adjustable that housewives can secure
anything by post from a paper of pins to a bag of flour. The V. P.,
or value payable, system is a part of the Swiss postal arrangements,
so that purchaser can pay for his goods on delivery, and there is but
one financial transaction connected with the purchase as far as he is
concerned. A provision for delivery makes the service all the more

Belgium’s parcels post has even a higher weight limit than Switzerland,
for it accepts articles of 62 kilograms, or about 132 pounds, in
one package, and puts no limit upon the size, except that unwieldy
packages are subject to an extra charge of 50 per cent. But up to 5
kilograms, which is the conventional 11-pound limit of a majority of
the parcels post countries, the charge is 50 centimes, or 10 cents;
for 10 kilograms 12 cents, and two cents extra for every additional
10 kilograms (22 pounds). A higher charge is made in Belgium, as in
several other European countries, if the parcel is to be carried on an
express train. It amounts to six cents for five kilograms. The fee for
delivering at residence is six cents additional.

Germany and Austria maintain the 50-kilogram limit. The first named
country enforces the 50 per cent extra charge for unwieldy articles. It
also has what is called the zone system. For conveyance 10 geographic
miles the charge is six cents (25 pfennigs), and 13 cents (50 pfennigs)
for greater distances. If the parcel weighs more than 11 pounds there
is a charge of one cent (five pfennigs) for each additional kilogram
carried 10 miles, 10 pfennigs for 20 miles, 20 pfennigs for 50 miles,
30 pfennigs for 100 miles, 40 pfennigs for 150 miles, and 50 pfennigs,
approximately 13 cents, for more than 150 miles. The same rate of
charges applies in Austria.

_A Table of Charges_

The French parcels post law requires presentation at the railroad
station. Some other European countries, like Great Britain, require
it to be delivered at the postoffice. The French maximum weight is 10
kilograms (22 pounds) without any restriction as to size. The postage
rates are 12 cents up to 3 kilograms; 16 cents up to 5 kilograms,
and 30 cents up to 10 kilograms. These rates are for delivery at a
railroad station. An extra fee of 25 centimes (5 cents) is charged for
delivering the parcel at the residence of the addressee.

Certain elementary items of cost enter into the service of European
countries that would not be identical with the maintenance of a similar
service in the United States. In Germany a considerable mileage of
the railroads is state owned. They carry certain parcels in the mails
without compensation. In large sections of Europe there has never been
anything like adequate service by express companies, and in the absence
of business enterprises in establishing such transportation the people
have been compelled to look to their governments for relief. The cheap
rates for parcels post there were originally, in some part, intended as
an accommodation for the poorer classes.

The distances for transportation are less and the population is denser.
The United States is 225 times larger than Switzerland, 60 times larger
than England, 17 times larger than Germany, 12 times larger than the
three countries combined. In England the average distance a letter or
mail package travels is 40 miles; in Germany it is 42 miles; in the
United States it is said to be 542 miles.

_Difficult to Estimate Cost_

No accurate information is available as to whether the European parcels
posts are in reality self-supporting. They certainly are nearly so,
and in some instances are regarded as profitable government ventures.
Everywhere the service is characterized by prompt transmission and
prompt delivery. The percentages of loss are very small. The several
national constituencies that have a parcels post system would no more
relinquish such privileges than American cities would relinquish
electric lights or automobiles. One European enthusiast pronounced
the establishment of the parcels post “a service to mankind only less
splendid than that of the transmission of thought.”

In England it is claimed that the parcels post service would be
a source of profit but for the amounts paid to the railroads for
transportation, the share of 55 per cent of the receipts being regarded
as exorbitant. Generally the parcels post is so joined with the rest of
the mail service that its entire cost can not be counted.

The international business has grown to enormous proportions. The
figures collected at Berne for 1904, in connection with the Postal
Union, show that the parcels mailed across the frontiers of 36 nations
and colonies that year numbered something like 38,000,000. The small
percentage of that total, where the value was declared, showed an
aggregate of about $162,000,000 worth of property. In that list the
United States would have stood about eleventh on the showing for the
fiscal year of 1906, when 264,438 parcels of an average weight of 2⅔
pounds were sent from this country abroad. Tunis sent more according
to the figures than the United States. Germany, leading all other
nations both in the dispatch and receipt of parcels in international
mails, sent a total of 11,675,385, of which 11,343,516 were classed as
“ordinary,” and 331,869 were “with a declared value” of $23,352,378.
Austria, enjoying close postal relations with Germany, dispatched
10,659,300 parcels to other countries, of which 1,082,430 had a
declared value of $68,396,578.

_Has Become Great Factor_

The totals of “receipts” and “dispatches” of course balance for the
36 countries in question, but are not the same for each country
represented. The rank in parcels dispatched runs: Germany, Austria,
France, Hungary, Great Britain, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium,
Netherlands, Tunis, British India, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Russia, Denmark,
Luxemburg, Japan, and Egypt; in parcels received the order is: Germany,
Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Great Britain, Belgium,
Russia, Netherlands, Denmark, Roumania, Spain, Bosnia-Herzegovina,
Sweden, Norway, Luxemburg, Tunis, and so on. Switzerland in 1904
received across her borders 2,788,406 parcels by post, of which
2,635,090 were “ordinary” and 133,316 were declared of a value of
$9,863,886. Of 6,352,360 parcels that came over the Austrian frontier,
778,380 had a declared value of $64,788,927. Germany received 7,337,404
parcels in international mails, of which 482,472 had a declared value
of $35,901,435. The parcels received by post in the United States
during the fiscal year 1906 from abroad were recorded as 131,064, of
an average weight of 2.73 pounds. Probably the actual number was much
larger, perhaps twice as large.

Sufficient figures have been given to indicate what a great factor the
parcels post has become in the trade of the world. The value of the
merchandise thus transported can only be roughly estimated, but it will
probably exceed half a billion dollars annually.

This business is transacted across frontiers, causing little or no
friction with customs officers. Boxes with declared value are subject
to the legislation of the country of origin or destination as regards
payment of stamp duties on articles exported and as regards the control
of stamp and customs duties on articles imported. The stamp duties and
charges for examination by customs officers involved in the importation
are collected from the addressees when the articles are delivered.

_Provision for Insurance_

Practically the same rules apply for all parcels post. There is
provision for insurance and also for “trade charges,” which latter
term means that goods can be sent c. o. d., the maximum value being
f.1000. The limit of weight is 5 kilograms, or 11 pounds. The cost
of conveyance comprises a charge of 10 cents for each country
participating in the territorial transit, a graduated distance tax
for sea conveyance and extra rates for cumbersome parcels, and may be
increased under certain conditions by delivery fees and, in case of
declared values, by insurance fees. Weights under 2 pounds, however,
are transported for a maximum of 1 franc. Special forms are provided
for registering for customs declaration, for certificate of prepayment,
when that is desired, and for trade charges.

The United States is not a party to this comprehensive parcels post
convention, by which a vast quantity of merchandise is carried to
different parts of the world annually, but Argentina, Bolivia, Chile,
Colombia, Guatemala, Uruguay, and Venezuela are among the signatories.
But the United States has parcels post conventions with 33 different
countries on somewhat different but fairly liberal terms. It keeps the
postage for parcels it sends to other countries and they in turn retain
the postage on parcels sent here. That saves in bookkeeping and has
been found economical, whereas the more comprehensive convention, under
which most of the European and Asiatic countries operate, divide the
postage receipts pro rata. The United States will not transmit through
its mails parcels en route from one foreign country to another. Among
the latest parcels post conventions the President has ratified under
statute authority are those with Sweden, Peru, Denmark, Ecuador, and

_Customs Easily Collected_

The popularity in this country of the parcels post is well demonstrated
by the great growth in the use of international facilities. The
dispatches from this country for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1905,
amounted to 560,228 pounds and for the year ending June 30, 1906, was
721,164 pounds, an increase of 28.73 per cent. Only one-fifth of the
dispatches of the last mentioned fiscal year went to Europe, which
indicates that a good share of the parcels business was with Mexico and
Central South America. Parcels for Germany, Hongkong, Japan, Norway,
Belgium, Great Britain, Sweden, and Denmark are accepted only for a
maximum weight of 4 pounds and 6 ounces, where the maximum weight
for the other countries with which the Postoffice Department now has
conventions is 11 pounds.

The customs officials say that the parcels post business with
foreign countries is increasing by leaps and bounds. Within recent
months better facilities for the collection of customs dues have
been inaugurated, with the result it is said, that many packages
which hitherto passed without being noted are now being examined and
recorded. There are offices of exchange, so called, in several of the
larger post-offices of the United States where customs officials are
stationed to attend to the collection of duties on these parcels from
abroad. In the Washington City post-office this foreign parcels post
business is said to have increased 300 per cent within the last twelve
months. The Treasury Department keeps about 25 customs employees now on
duty at the New York City post-office to attend to the foreign parcels
post business which goes through that office. Dutiable packages to
minor offices are handled from exchange offices. Such mail addressed
to Plymouth, Mass., for instance, would be held till the addressee had
forwarded to the postmaster at Boston the amount of duty required.

Post-office, Our Mutual Express Company. pp. 1-3.

William S. Bennet.

MR. CHAIRMAN: In connection with this subject I take pleasure in
submitting the following views of the Postal Progress League:

_The Post-Office, Our Mutual Express Company_

From the foundation of our national government, the people of the
United States, through their representatives in Congress, have always
determined the scope of their postal service, the pay of their mail
carriers, their own postal rates; and from the first they seem to have
provided for the postal transport of merchandise in very small sealed
parcels at very high rates--by the act of 1792, 24 cents an ounce for
distances up to 30 miles, higher rates for greater distances. In 1810
they fixed the postal weight limit at 3 pounds, and it so remained
for many years. In 1863 the postal rates were made uniform regardless
of distance, and since 1863 Congress has definitely provided for the
transport of merchandise in unsealed parcels, but still with a weight
limit so low and rates so high as to be practically prohibitive.

In the old era of household industries when the peddler, with his
pack on his back, or driving his own team, was the chief agency of
commercial intercourse, these postal limitations worked little harm,
but their continuance in our day, when every industry needs a continent
for its development, is no longer endurable. The common welfare
demands the widest possible extension, the most efficient and economic
administration of our great mutual express company.

In its report of January 28, 1907, the Postal Commission of the
Fifty-ninth Congress declared that: “Upon the postal service, more than
upon anything else, does the general economic as well as the social and
political development of the country depend.” And yet the United States
merchandise post of to-day is limited to 4-pound parcels at rates:
Sealed parcels 2 cents an ounce, 32 cents a pound, with no insurance
against loss or damage unless registered; and unsealed parcels, with no
insurance under any conditions, at rates:

_Third-Class Matter_

Some specific kinds of merchandise; printed books; Christmas cards
printed on paper; advertisements on ordinary paper; seeds, bulbs, etc.,
for planting, 1 cent for 2 ounces, 8 cents per pound.

_Fourth-Class Matter_

General merchandise; blank books; Christmas cards of any other
substance than paper; advertisements on blotting paper; seeds, bulbs
for food, etc., 1 cent per ounce, 16 cents per pound.

In 1874 third-class matter covered all merchandise at one-half the
present general merchandise rate.

The Postal Report of 1904, pages 593-595, shows the effect of these
limitations on the free rural service. In its daily 24-mile course,
visiting over 100 families, the average rural post-wagon handles
less than 26 pounds of mail per day, collected and delivered; it
collects less than 1 pound. The average rural family posts hardly one
merchandise parcel a year. Its total merchandise traffic dispatched
and received is less than 10 parcels a year. The postal revenue from
its entire merchandise traffic is less than 50 cents a year. The
total cancellations of the average carrier in 1904 amounted to only
$10.64 a month; to less than $132 a year. With the same limitations in
1909, his postal income must remain practically the same. Meanwhile
the 4,000,000 families on the rural routes go to and from their post
towns and their homes, carrying their supplies and their produce at a
needless expense--estimated at only 50 cents a week per family--of over
$100,000,000 a year.

And the postal weighings of 1907 disclose a similar state of things
in the general-merchandise traffic of the post-office. Of the general
postal business, the merchandise traffic represents:

                          Per cent.
    In number of parcels       1.12
    In weight                  4.79
    In revenue                 4.44

The weight of the average merchandise postal parcel is 5.45 ounces;
its average haul is 687 miles. The merchandise tax, 1 cent per ounce
or fraction thereof, amounts in practice to 17.23 cents per pound.
The average family posts less than 9 parcels a year--less than 3
pounds--and pays for the service about 50 cents a year.

The local merchandise mailed in October, 1907, at 17 representative
post-offices of Alabama weighed only 65 pounds, at 16 representative
post-offices of Arkansas only 14 pounds, at 18 representative
post-offices of Iowa only 116 pounds, at 16 representative post-offices
of New Hampshire only 27 pounds, at 16 representative post-offices of
North Carolina only 30 pounds, at 14 representative post-offices of
Oregon only 1 pound, at 14 representative post-offices of Montana only
1 pound, at 14 representative post-offices of Nevada only 4 pounds, at
12 representative post-offices of South Dakota only 15 pounds, and at
14 representative post-offices of Wyoming only 1 pound.

The weight of the parcels posted in October, 1907, by the 4,000,000
people of New York City in their local traffic amounted to only 55,918
pounds, less than 1¼ ounces per family, and in their total traffic to
only 469,111 pounds, about 8 ounces per family.

The post-office is the most important department of our national
government. Its system of rates--regardless of distance, regardless of
the character or volume of the matter transported, rates determined by
the representatives of the rate payers in Congress assembled on the
basis of the cost of the service rendered--its system of uniform rates
places our whole country on a plane of the most perfect commercial
equality. Up to its limits there can be no possible discriminations
either as to persons, places or things. Up to its limits, the humblest
citizen on the most out-of-the-way rural route is guaranteed the
transport of his supplies and his produce at the same rates as the
biggest corporation in our greatest metropolis. These rates moreover,
may be steadily reduced with the improvement of our transport machinery
and its administration. And yet by our own limitation of this mighty
service we deny ourselves its use almost altogether in local traffic,
and in through traffic confine it to parcels of less than 6 ounces.

Meantime we pay private express companies what “the traffic will bear”
for the transport of our large parcels, and in our local traffic
cheerfully carry our small parcels in our pockets or hand bags or
dispatch them by private messengers or private vehicles. Such petty
work is beneath the notice of our great private express companies. In
many small places they have no offices. Even in our great cities they
have no regular daily courses, save in a few business districts. If
the ordinary city resident would dispatch a parcel by express, he must
go after an express wagon on foot or by telephone. The post-man--our
public expressman--comes to our doors one, two, three, four times a
day, or oftener. We have but to substitute a machine post for our
overburdened foot post and, with a perfected system of collection and
delivery of insured parcels at reasonable rates, we shall have a postal
express at hand, ready and competent to do our bidding on our own terms
and conditions.

The possibilities of such a service were illustrated some years ago,
when James L. Cowles, of the Postal Progress League, dispatched an
11-pound suit case from New York City to New Haven, Conn. Prepaid as
a sealed parcel, with a special-delivery stamp affixed, the suit case
was mailed at a branch post-office on Fifth avenue about 5 o’clock in
the afternoon; it was delivered at its address in New Haven before 10
o’clock the same evening. On another occasion Mr. Cowles telegraphed
from Philadelphia about noon for a parcel of stationery to be sent him
from his office, 361 Broadway, New York City. The Philadelphia postman
delivered the parcel at Mr. Cowles’ hotel before 8 o’clock the same

In his testimony before the congressional committee on railway mail
pay, in 1898, Mr. H. S. Julier, of the American Express Company,
testified that the weight of the average express parcel is 25 pounds;
its average charge is 50 cents; its average haul in the eastern states
is 100 to 125 miles; in the central states a little more; in the
western states from 175 to 200 miles. In local traffic the ordinary
express charge on the smallest merchandise parcel is 15 cents; in
general traffic, 25 cents. The private express service is chiefly
confined to traffic between cities. To be successful, a business
requiring express service must be located in a large city, where
the different express companies have their headquarters; otherwise
their parcels will often be subjected to two or three express charges
before they reach their destination. The private express company, with
its rates based on the value of the service rendered and determined
according to volume of business, is deadly to the small place and the
small dealer.

Under the growing differentiation of industry there is a steadily
growing demand for a door-to-door express service of parcels ordered
by telephone, telegram, or by mail. The business can not be done by
private express companies to the public satisfaction. Their machinery
does not reach the rural districts. An extended postal service is the
only public choice.

As long ago as December 6, 1898, the Merchants’ Association of New York
issued the following statement to the merchants, manufacturers, and
shippers of the State of New York:

    A very large part of every dollar paid by you for express
    charges is exorbitant and exacted to pay a monstrous profit to
    an unrestrained monopoly.

    Many of you are compelled by present conditions of competition
    to use the express service on a large part of your shipments,
    and to pay express charges which are from 300 to over 20,000
    per cent of corresponding freight charges. The express charges
    on many classes of goods average from 5 to 15 per cent of the
    value of the merchandise transported.

    These are the charges that you pay. But many of your strongest
    competitors are favored by discriminating rates and pay much

    The express companies are now uncontrolled by law and you
    have no recourse against exorbitant charges; you must ship by
    express and must pay whatever the express companies see fit to

On the 10th of February, 1909, the Merchants’ Association of New York
again returned to their attack upon the express companies. Note their

_Exorbitant Rates_

Rates so high in the case of the Adams Express Company as to enable
them to pay dividends of over 80 per cent a year on the amount actually
invested in their business. In 1907 they made a dividend of $24,000,000.

Excessive charges for collection and delivery varying, on 100-pound
parcels, from 27 cents to $7.79 for similar services.

Unreasonable restrictions of free delivery service.

Unreasonable regulation as to size of parcels.

Unreasonable regulation as to packing.

Delays in delivery.

Failure to notify shippers of nondelivery.

Delays in settlements of claims.

Delays in returns of undelivered goods.

Marking parcels 1 to 5 pounds over actual weight, and compelling
consignees to pay for the fictitious increase.

System of Postal Express.

David J. Lewis.

MR. CHAIRMAN: In December the government issued its first annual
report on the statistics of express companies for the year 1909, which
developed the fact that the average pay of the express companies to
the railways for carrying express matter was about three-quarters
(0.74) of a cent a pound, while the postal reports show that the
government paid for its letter or mail transportation about 4 (4.06)
cents a pound, barring the weight of equipment in both cases. It
was apparent to me at once that the parcels function could not be
successfully or economically discharged by the government on the basis
of letter-transportation rates. And then the economic significance
of another fact developed: It was that the express companies’
service was at a disadvantage, even greater than that of the post
office, in regard to the nonrailway transportation of its parcels.
The express companies have no agency and at present rates can not
secure an agency to reach nonrailway or rural points. In short, it
appeared that the express companies had exclusive control of one of
the absolutely essential conditions of fast package transport, the
express rate of three-quarters of a cent a pound, while the post
office had equally exclusive possession of the other great agency of
necessary service--the rural delivery system. Common sense indicated
what the solution must be; these two advantages, the railway express
transportation rate and the rural delivery system must be made
cooperative; must be united under one control. The express railway
transportation rate would, if the government parcels amounted to but
one-fourth of the express business, save it, if in its control, at
least $50,000,000 a year, while the addition of rural delivery to the
express business would add to this great service the farming population
of our country at practically no cost to them or the country. The bill
I have introduced for postal express is the result of these conditions.

_Principal Provisions of the Postal Express Bill_

As I have said, the idea of the bill is to unite in one service the two
great instrumentalities above named, in order that a greatly cheapened
and an even more extended service to the public may be had. For this
purpose the bill provides for the compulsory purchase by condemnation
of the railway-express company contracts and franchises, as well as
the equipment and property devoted to the express business per se, and
their subsequent employment by the postal department in connection
with rural delivery and the postal system. The express-railway
transportation privileges are all the subjects of contracts between the
railways and express companies. They constitute the primary condition
of the express service, and while the equipment and other facilities
are only immediately necessary to a running plant, and their
acquisition is provided for, it is the contracts which constitute the
conditions sine qua non of the service. Happily, there can be no legal
question as to the right of the government to acquire these contracts
and other facilities upon providing just compensation.

_Necessity for Postal Express_

In addition to those grave needs for such a service, which the majority
of national communities have recognized, as commending its adoption
domestically and internationally, there exist in the United States
supplementary reasons which it is believed render the institution
uncommonly necessary.

Briefly summarized, they are:

(_a_) The greater area over which our population is distributed and
correlatively greater transportation distances which consume so much
time by freight that a fast or express service needs to be resorted to
in a larger number of instances than if the journey were short.

(_b_) The 100-pound minimum and corresponding charge in railway
practice and the inadaptability of railway methods to diminutive

(_c_) The prohibitive minimum charge of the express companies in
respect to small consignments.

(_d_) Absence of railway “collect and delivery” service and absence of
“collect and delivery” service by express companies as to our farming
population and a large portion of our urban population.

(_e_) Incalculable waste of transportation effort, so far as made,
in movement of necessaries of life from the farms to points of
consumption, a serious factor in our high cost of living.

Of course, the need for fast service will depend upon the greatness of
the distance, when demand is immediate, as much as upon the valuable or
perishable character of the shipment. In our country, with an average
haul for freight of 251 miles, from three to ten times as long as in
Europe, the demand for speed to overcome the obstacle of the time
lost in distance, the time-element necessity for an express service
is correspondingly increased; and so the disadvantages of inadequate
or ineconomical express service are vital. The railway organization
of America and its system of practices does not seem adapted to meet
this great need; while its refusal, upon adequate grounds, to accept a
smaller payment than the rate for its minimum shipment of 100 pounds
precludes it from this service even if speed were not prerequisite.
The minimum charge of 25 cents (average 27 cents) imposes an equally
substantial and serious restriction upon the express service as now
conducted; so that when it is considered that the farmers or nonurban,
about half of our population, are virtually excluded from the service
of this great agency, and the express rates by their prohibitive
costliness substantially minimize the service for the urban population,
it is apparent that instead of possessing an express service
commensurate with its needs, the United States has both unexampled
necessity for, and unexampled deficiency in, its dispatch or express
agencies. Add to this situation the tremendous waste and corresponding
costliness of the unorganized country-to-town transportation of our
necessaries, and such almost equally wasteful and quite equally costly
express service as we have, and have we not put a finger on one of the
big leaks which swallow so much of the unprecedented productiveness of
our country?

_Prohibitive Express Charges_

We should expect express charges to be higher per ton here than abroad,
as much higher as our freight-per-ton charges. But no necessary
economic cause is known which justifies a substantially higher
proportion or ratio of the express to the freight charges here as
compared with other countries. The average express charge per ton here
is shown to be $31.20, while the average freight charge is $1.90 per
ton, giving a ratio of the express charge to the freight charge of 16
(16.42) to 1. This express charge includes the cost of such collect
and delivery service as is rendered, covering, it is thought, about
90 per cent of the traffic. In the table now inserted this element of
the expense of the express companies for collecting and delivering,
amounting to 11.50 per cent, is excluded, because many of the European
countries and other data do not include this factor of cost. The table
embraces 10 countries, while the specific data upon which the ratios
are based are set forth in Appendix B. All countries have been included
where the express data is clearly distinguishable from general freight

_Ratios of average express charges to average freight charges in 11

                                 | Average  | Average  | Ratios of
                                 | express  | freight  |  average
         Countries               | charge   | charge   |    and
                                 | per ton. | per ton. |  freight
                                 |          |          |  charges.
    Argentina                    |   $6.51  |  $1.95   |    3.2-1
    Austria                      |    3.77  |    .74   |    5.0-1
    Belgium                      | [A]4.92  |    .53   | [A]9.3-1
    Denmark                      |    5.49  |    .87   |    6.3-1
    France                       |    6.88  |    .95   |    7.2-1
    Germany                      |    3.80  |    .76   |    5.0-1
    Hungary                      |    3.68  |    .93   |    3.9-1
    Netherlands                  |    2.43  |    .67   |    3.6-1
    Norway                       |    1.90  |    .49   |    3.8-1
    Prussia                      |    4.32  |    .86   |    5.0-1
        Average for 10 countries |          |          |   5.23-1
    United States                |   27.61  |   1.90   |  14.53-1

    [A] Belgium delivers parcels.

From this table it appears that while Argentina charges three times,
Austria five times, Belgium nine times, Denmark six times, France
seven times, Germany (including Prussia) five times, Hungary, the
Netherlands, and Norway, about four times as much for carrying a ton
of express as of freight, the express companies of the United States
charge nearly fifteen times as much.

No further statement need be made to show that the charges of
American express companies are prohibitively excessive, and such
as to disqualify this service as a national economic agency. The
instances given represent merchandise carried by passenger trains
in all instances, and while higher charges for both the express and
freight tonnage in America are justified by the longer haul, there is
no necessary economic reason for a higher ratio of express charges
to freight charges. The presence of the “express company” is the
only circumstance distinguishing express transportation here from
that of the instances cited. In those the “express company” has no
part; the work is done exclusively by the railways. As we shall see
later, the deficiencies of the express companies are constitutional,
not gratuitous merely, and are such as can not be remedied through
corporate agencies.

_Inadequacy of Various Proposals--Regulation_

We have seen that the present express fails to reach the farm, in
itself a fundamental objection to its adequacy. It may be suggested
that where its high charges are such as to inhibit the traffic, they
might be corrected by appeals for reductions to the Interstate Commerce
Commission. A glance at the express report for 1909, it is true, will
show that the profits of the companies are clearly out of normal
proportion to the investment. But it will also show that such profits
amount to but 8.44 per cent of the gross receipts, i. e., to only 8.44
per cent of the rates charged. So that even if all the profits were
taken away, the modified rates would show but a wholly inadequate
reduction; so that the desired relief could not thus be obtained. As a
matter of course, no such reduction would even be asked. No one would
wish that they conduct the business without a profit. But in practice
even when the justification for a reduction is present, and the power
and purpose active, the regulating board will always hesitate to even
substantially reduce a rate in the fear of unduly trenching on private

It was this principle which Bismarck had in mind when in connection
with a similar subject he spoke of--

    The attempts to bring about reform by (regulatory) laws have
    shown the futility of hoping for a satisfactory improvement
    through legal (regulatory) measures, without trenching
    materially on established rights and interests. (Parsons, The
    Railways and the People, p. 318.)

With a margin of but 8 per cent of the rate to work on, the board would
feel this constraint in a marked way; for under substantially reduced
rates a very slight perturbation of the customary traffic might place
in danger the whole net return. Substantial relief in the way of
regulation is thus shown to be wholly impracticable.

_Various Parcels-Post Schemes_

There remains to discuss the numerous proposals for limited carriage of
parcels up to 11 pounds, and so forth, by the postal department. These
all concern the present railway status quo of the post office. It is
apparent that such proposals can only result in two things--the express
companies taking the major portion of the short-haul, profitable
traffic and the postal department getting the long-haul and losing
traffic. But there is another fact recently disclosed by the express
report--a fact rendering any of these proposals, so far as they involve
railway transportation, wholly untenable.

The Post Office Department pays an average of 4 (4.06) cents per pound
to the railways for carrying the mail, excluding equipment.

The express companies pay an average of three-quarters (0.74) of a cent
per pound for carriage of express matter, excluding equipment.

It is manifest that not even the government could render substantial
service under conditions so utterly unequal. It could not pay--what
we shall see when we come to consider the length of the express and
the mail hauls amounts to--about three times as much as the express
companies pay to the railways for carrying its parcels. One is mail
service, which is naturally more costly; the other more closely
resembles a fast freight service, which lies midway between the mail
and the freight in the weight cost of railway movement.

Other difficulties in such proposals, based on the status quo of the
post office, need only be suggested:

(_a_) The government would have to install urban delivery wagons at a
cost its traffic might not justify.

(_b_) The express companies still in the field, the wastes of service
would merely be increased by the entrance of the Postal Department, and
the people would have to pay it all.

(_c_) The government, being a moral agent with the inelastic rate
proposed, would be at the mercy of its unrestrained competitors.

(_d_) The express companies’ contracts with the railways permit them
to reduce their compensation to the railways to the point of 150 per
cent of the freight rate--i. e., from the present ratio of about 8
(7.80) to 1 of the freight rate to about 1½. Of course, they could not
go to this extreme without destroying their own profits, but their
contracts permit them to go as far as they might wish. Thus, while the
government in the beginning might have to pay about three times as much
to the railways for its parcels per pound, in a struggle the express
companies could exaggerate this disparity to any point they wished for
the purpose of destroying the postal department as a competitor.

_Essential Elements of an Adequate System_

For the sake of brevity we state these elements categorically:

(_a_) Fast service.

(_b_) Greatest economically feasible extension of delivery and collect
service, necessitating coordination with both urban and rural free
delivery systems.

(_c_) Express railway contracts to secure the relatively low railway

(_d_) Cheap capital charges.

(_e_) Reliable public-service motive.

(_f_) Economies of single organization, in which all existing
serviceable plants should be merged.

With regard to the element of fast service, discussion is unnecessary.
It is now commonly rendered by the railways for the express companies
in connection with the passenger service. It seems worthy of
suggestion, however, that a single organization like the post office
might on the strong lines of traffic, where carload lots might be
regularly obtainable, employ for certain kinds of matter the fast
freight service, profiting enough on the carload rate reductions to
fully cover the expense of delivery and collection, the regular railway
100-pound charges to be paid to the postal express by the shipper. It
is further suggested that in this way agricultural products might be
received through the rural free delivery in small allotments from
the truck gardeners and farmers, consolidated into carload lots and
conveyed on the trunk lines to the branch lines and distributed over
the branches to destination by passenger trains. The Prussians do,
in fact, have this latter service, for which the charge is based on
a tariff of twice the freight rate, the regular service by passenger
train calling for a charge of four times the freight rate. The railways
would now perform such service if, of course, the collect service
existed to gather the shipments from the country and assemble them.

It is obvious that the element most wanting is the service described
as “collect and delivery,” necessary between consignor and railway at
the beginning and railway and consignee at the conclusion of the act of
transportation. Our country is utterly deficient in this respect as to
the “country” or farming population. In towns of about 3,000 or 4,000
population up the present express companies do render this service
for such traffic as their rates permit to move; but what is required
is a service as extensive as the postal agency, which reaches cities,
towns, and country with the degrees of efficiency of the urban and
rural deliveries, conceded to far excel such delivery as the express
companies give.

There can be no doubt that with regard to this collect and delivery the
postal department is the only agency to which we can look for a service
sufficiently extensive to be really efficient. It only remains to
observe that with regard to the farming part of the country the service
already exists in the form of rural free delivery, equipped and paid
for, and actually waiting with empty wagons to receive and execute the

_Advantages of Postal Express_

In three years under a postal administration it is believed that the
reformed system will produce:

(a) A minimum charge of 7 cents for the first pound, graduated to 17
cents for a 11-pound package, for average distances.

(b) General reductions of about 28 per cent in all merchandise charges.

(c) The extension of the service to the out-of-town and agricultural

(d) The elevation of the employees to the plane of the postal service.

(e) The coordination of country supply of the vital necessaries with
urban demand by a cheap and regular collect and delivery service.

(f) As a result, a greater attractiveness in rural life and improved

(g) In 10 years’ time, with the development of the traffic, a reduction
of rates to about one-half of the present rates.

It is as difficult to describe in detail the manifold economic
and social results of a great agency like this as to give a bill
of particulars of the benefits of the postal system. And in this
connection it seems not irrelevant to suggest that a proper
coordination of the railway mail with the railway express service may
indeed render penny postage feasible. As things are now the rural
free-delivery agency does not bring a direct fiscal return to pay
for itself. In a few years, as the traffic develops in parcels and
agricultural products, the proposed system would enable it to do so.
This would assure a considerable financial gift to the account of penny

_The Agricultural Post_

In the present state of things the truck farmer must devote a large
part of his time to marketing; that is, to the transportation of his
product, however little it may be, to the place of demand. He must
also for this purpose provide himself with transportation facilities,
however small his business. These involve a horse, and its maintenance
and care, and a barn; and the expense of both during the unproductive
seasons. And yet in a socio-economic sense his work and expense of
transportation is the smallest element in his service to the public,
although it requires the maximum of upkeep work and expense, if not
of capital. The proposed postal collect and delivery eliminates all
these, and would enable the truck farmer to enter into the business on
a minimum of capital, and pursue it on a minimum of labor and expense.
The field service of a horse he could hire as occasion might require.
Thus the truck-farming industry would receive a necessary impetus and
the cost of such foods be greatly reduced to the consumer, saying
nothing of the advantage in quality coming from a speedier forwarding
to the market by daily allotments instead of the delays now incurred to
garner a worth-while load.

This application of postal express, with its thoroughly articulated
service and regular schedules, may be taken as illustrative of the
close relations which may be established between the rural producer and
town consumer, as well as between producers and merchants generally.

It is manifestly unfair to the proposition to judge its social value
on a mere computation of the savings in rates which may be made. While
this saving would amount to some $35,000,000 a year on the traffic of
1909, and from seventy to a hundred millions a year when the traffic
reaches its normal dimensions, yet as large benefits will follow in
clearing the prohibitive rate clogs from this necessary conduit of
commerce that it may freely discharge its normal output, in placing the
50,000 express employees on a postal basis, in rendering it easier to
engage in and market food production, to relieve the towns and cities
of high prices for necessaries of life, and relieve them, too, of the
overplus of labor, and, perhaps, too, in aiding in reversing that
tendency of population movement from the country to urban centers to
which is due the most aggravated and most discouraging social problems
of our time.

Hearings before the Committee on the Post-Office and Post-Roads. April
20-29, 1910. pp. 296-7.

Postal Savings Bank and Parcels Post.

Letter of Dr. Barth.

Whilst the postal savings-banks system became firmly established
some time ago in Belgium, France, Great Britain, Italy, Holland,
Austro-Hungary, Russia, and Sweden, all efforts have failed to
introduce the system into the German Empire. In the year 1885 the
draft of a postal savings-bank law was laid before the Reichstag. The
draft never came out of the committee. The principal reason of this
opposition lay in the competitive interest of the many local savings
banks existing in Germany, which are generally under the control of
commercial boards of directors. Since the frustration of the plans for
the law in the year 1885 no further serious efforts have been made to
introduce postal savings banks.

All the greater has been the development of the parcels-post traffic
with us. This traffic dates in Prussia back to the eighteenth century.
Under Frederick William I there already had been introduced a postal
monopoly (the exclusive right of the mail to forward packages) for
packages up to 20 pounds. Under Frederick the Great this monopoly was
increased to 40 pounds. By a postal law of June 5, 1852, it was again
reduced to 20 pounds, and only entirely abolished by the law of March
20, 1860. This postal monopoly has never been revived in Germany;
nevertheless, the parcel postal traffic has developed tremendously
without the protection of a monopoly. In Germany the weight for postal
parcels has now been set at 50 kilograms (110 3-10 pounds); while, as
is well known, there has also existed since 1885 European international
parcels-post traffic with a maximum weight limit of 5 kilograms (about
11 pounds). Only very few articles within the aforementioned weight
limits are excluded from the postal traffic. Even live singing birds,
fish, crabs, fresh flowers, grapes, etc., are sent by us in postal
parcels. The parcels-post service in Berlin employs about 1,000
officials. The rate within the postal territories of Germany and
Austro-Hungary is 25 pfennigs (6 cents) for packages up to 5 kilograms
(about 11 pounds) in weight and 10 geographical miles in distance: at
50 pfennigs (12 cents) for further distances. With heavier parcels the
rate increases rapidly for every kilogram (2½ pounds) in excess of 11
pounds with the growing distance, so that, for instance, at a distance
of 150 geographical miles every kilogram over 5 costs 50 pfennigs (12
cents) more. This rate proves that the post lays its principal stress
on receiving parcels up to 5 kilograms (11 pounds) in weight.

The parcels-post traffic in 10-pound packages is therefore the normal
one. For many trades and producing branches a very strong direct
traffic between the producer and the consumer has grown up in these
10-pound packages, and many articles which in the locality in which
they were produced were either not utilizable, or forced to sale at
a very low figure, have found a market which without the cheap 50
pfennig (12 cents) postage they would never have attained. Mushrooms
gathered in the forests of Masuren near the Russian frontier come to
Berlin in postal parcels. Large crabs caught in the waters of western
Prussia come even to Paris. We ourselves, for example, obtain for our
household through the parcels post meat from Silesia, butter from
eastern Prussia, eggs from Mecklenburg, melons from Hungary, etc. For
the household this is not only cheaper but also more convenient than
the purchase in the market halls, for the post brings the parcels
(for delivery sum of 15 pfennigs; 3½ cents) to the door, also calls
for parcels, cashes in the amount in c. o. d. deliveries, in short,
makes it extremely convenient for the order. It is clear that this
postal traffic forced out many middlemen; the retailers especially in
small places have been made to feel very keenly the competition of
the large forwarding houses in the capital cities. Their complaints
therefore were formerly directed very actively against the cheap
parcels postage. But since the flat land in turn could derive benefits
for its agricultural products, such as fruits, meats, butter, eggs,
etc., from these self-same cheap rates, the complaints of the retailers
became silenced after awhile as far as the question refers to the
cheap parcels rates. They now turn so much the livelier against large
warehouses and forwarding businesses for whom one is seeking through
all sorts of lawful tricks to make the competition more difficult.
The parcels-post traffic has meanwhile become so firmly rooted that
it seems impossible to upset it. Considered from a politic-economic
viewpoint it presents itself as a most important and very beneficent
branch of the whole system transport.

Following the German example in the United States would, I believe,
be of enormous advantage, particularly for the agricultural districts
surrounding the large cities. For the producer of eggs, poultry,
butter, vegetables, fruits there would develop, with a cheap
parcels-post rate, entirely new market possibilities; also the
decentralization of many branches of industry would to a certain degree
become a possibility.

Monthly Consular and Trade Reports. No. 329. pp. 104-6. February, 1908.

German Parcels Post.

Consul W. T. Fee, of Bremen, states that the parcels post system of
Germany, as well as most of the railroads, is owned by and is under the
control and operation of the Imperial government. He adds:

The express companies in Germany are less developed than those in the
United States, where the largest part of parcels forwarded are handled
by these companies. Under the German parcel-post system, parcels are
divided into five classes namely: (1) Parcels with value declared; (2)
registered parcels; (3) common parcels, value neither declared nor
registered; (4) collect-on-delivery parcels; and (5) urgent parcels.
Each shipment of parcels must be accompanied by a waybill called
“packet addressee”; and no more than three packages which must be of
the same class, and which must bear the same address, are to be entered
on one waybill. Each c. o. d. or urgent package, however, must have its
own waybill.

Forms of waybills, with the respective postage stamp of the amount
of the charge printed thereon, are furnished by the postoffices at
the price of the postage charge, while waybills, without this stamps
imprint, are sold by the postoffices at the price of 1.19 cents for
five pieces. Forms of waybills, which are purchased from other sources,
must conform in every respect with those furnished by the postoffice
department. There are two different kinds of waybills in use, foreign
and domestic.

At times of increased postal traffic, before Easter, Whitsuntide
and Christmas, a waybill for each package is required. The prices
charged by the postoffice for forwarding parcels vary according to the
weight of the packages and distance. The fees charged are shown in the
following statement:

                                 For distance up to--        over

                                   46     92      230     461     702
                                 miles   miles   miles   miles   miles

    For parcels weighing up to--

    11 pounds                     5.9    11.9    11.9    11.9    11.9

    15.4 pounds                   7.1    14.2    16.6    19.0    23.8

    17.6 pounds                   8.3    16.6    21.4    26.18   35.7

    19.8 pounds                  10.7    21.4    30.9    40.4    59.5

    22 pounds                    11.9    23.8    35.7    47.6    71.4

    additional 2.2 pounds         1.1     2.38    4.76    7.1    11.9

The maximum weight for parcels to be forwarded by post is 110 pounds.

For registered packages an additional fee of 4.76 cents is charged,
while the insurance fee for packages with declared value is 1.19 cents
for each $71.40 or fraction thereof. For “not-prepaid” parcels up to
11 pounds a collection fee of 2.38 cents is levied. Besides this, in
places where there is delivery to the house, an extra fee of 3.5 cents
is charged for packages weighing up to 11 pounds.

Packages may be sent c. o. d. in the German Empire if the amount to be
collected does not exceed $190.40. These c. o. d. packages, if payment
is not made at presentation, will be held for seven days. Meanwhile
another request will be made on the consignee to pay the amount
charged, and then if payment is refused the package is returned to the
consignor. The fee charged for c. o. d. packages in addition to the
ordinary postage is 2.38 cents, and the fee for the postal money order,
by means of which the amount collected is returned to the consignor is
charged. The charges for these money orders for amounts not exceeding
$1.19 are 2.38 cents; not to exceed $23.80, 4.76 cents; $47.60, 7.14
cents; $95.20, 9.52 cents; $142.80, 11.9 cents; and $190.40, 14.28.

Printed matter, samples without value, newspapers and business cards do
not come under the heading of parcels or packages, different rates of
postage and also different limits of weight and measure being provided
for these classes.

In case of loss the postoffice refunds for common packages at the
maximum rate of 71.4 cents per 1.1 pounds, and for a registered package
at least $10.

Parcels are handled by the postoffice entirely separate from letters
and other mail matter. A request may be sent to the postoffice on an
unfranked postal card to call for a package, whereupon the parcelpost
wagon will call at the place designated in the request. An extra charge
of 2.38 cents is made for this service, regardless of the size or
weight of the package.

Under ordinary circumstances, a package sent from Bremen to Munich,
Bavaria, a distance of 470 miles, thus crossing Germany from north
to south, will be delivered on the evening of the second or on the
morning of the third day. If it weighs up to 11 pounds, it will cost
11.9 cents. If it is a c. o. d. package for $142.80 it will cost 11.9
cents for postage, 2.38 cents for collection fee, 11.9 cents for return
money order, and 1.19 cents for delivery charge for the money order, in
all 27.37 cents. The same package could be sent at the same rate from
Bremen to Königsberg, a distance of 579 miles.

There is no restriction as to the size of the packages to be shipped
within the German Empire, as long as they are not cumbersome, but the
size of packages to foreign countries, as a rule, must not exceed 23.6
inches in each dimension. Exceptions from this rule are made for goods
like umbrellas, canes, charts, furs, plants, etc., which may measure
39.37 inches in length, if they do not exceed 7.87 inches in breadth
and height. Besides this there is a space limit of 25 cubic decimeters
(1 cubic decimeter = .035 cubic foot) for packages destined for
Algiers, Tunis, Santo Domingo, and the French colonies, and 20 cubic
decimeters for packages to Bolivia, Brazil, and Canada, while packages
for Great Britain and nearly all its colonies may measure one meter in
each dimension, with a space limit of 54 cubic decimeters. Packages to
foreign countries, exceeding the before-mentioned limit in weight and
measurement, may be shipped as “postal freight.” The rates for such
shipments, however, vary too much to be quoted here, and they are, in
most instances, subject to contracts of the postoffice department with
prominent forwarding agents.

For packages to the United States--that is New York, Jersey City,
and Hoboken--the charges are from 30 cents for 2.2 pounds up to 64
cents for 11 pounds. To all other places in the United States, Alaska
excepted, the rates are 55 cents for 2.2 pounds up to 88 cents for 11

According to a postal treaty between the United States and Germany,
which is in force since October 1, 1907, packages, which for any reason
cannot be delivered will not be returned after a period of thirty days,
as heretofore, but the consignor will be informed of this fact by the
postoffice in order to give him a chance to dispose of the package in
some other way. If the consignor has not disposed of the package within
two months it will be returned to him as undeliverable.

For special delivery of a package 5.8 cents is charged, and for urgent
packages, which will be forwarded by the fastest mail facilities, a
charge of 23.8 cents is made, in addition to the regular postage and
the special delivery fee collected for each package.


Our Postal Express. pp. 1-6.

William Sulzer.

MR. SPEAKER: I am in favor of a parcels post. I believe the people of
the country generally favor it, and I feel confident its establishment
will be of inestimable benefit and advantage to all concerned. The
post-office is one of the oldest of governmental institutions, an
agency established by the earliest civilization to enable them to
inform themselves as to the plans and movements of their friends and
foes; and from the dawn of history the only limit upon this service has
been the capacity of the existing transport machinery.

The cursus publicus of imperial Rome--the post-office of the
Roman Cæsars--covered their entire business of transportation and
transmission, and with its splendid post-roads, swift post-horses,
and ox post-wagons the Roman post-office was a mechanism far wider
in its scope than that of our modern post-office; and except for the
use of mechanical power, the old Roman post was far more efficient in
its service of the Roman rulers than is our modern post-office in the
service of the American citizen.

The evil of the Roman post-office and of the royal postal services that
succeeded it was their common restriction to the enrichment of the
ruling powers. They were the prototypes of our modern private railway
and express companies, which have for their chief end the enrichment
of their managers rather than the promotion of the public welfare. In
this country the citizen owns the post-office and wants to use it as
his transportation company. Its end is to keep him informed as to what
his representatives are doing at the centers of public business, to
make known to them his wishes, and to provide means by which he may
communicate with his fellow-citizens for their mutual benefit, and to
supply his wants and dispose of his wares at the least possible cost,
in the shortest possible time, and with the greatest possible security.

The postal system of rates, regardless of distance, regardless of the
character of the matter transported, and regardless of the volume of
the patron’s business, eminently fits it for this great service. That
it will sooner or later be greatly extended over the entire field of
public transportation, is absolutely certain; and the people will
duly appreciate the aid of those who assist in its extension and
development. As far back as 1837, Rowland Hill, of England, promulgated
to the world the law that once a public transport service is in
operation, the cost of its use is regardless the distance traversed
upon the moving machinery by any unit of traffic within its capacity,
and upon this law he established the English penny-letter post of 1839.

Instead of a taxing machine, a contrivance for making money,
the post-office should be an agency for good, reaching out its
multitudinous hands with help and comfort into all the homes in our
widespread land.

Without the post-office where would be that national unity, with its
guaranty of equal rights to all, which is the glory of the sisterhood
of states?

The postal savings system and parcels post was inaugurated in England
largely through the efforts of the great Commoner, William E.
Gladstone. Near the close of his life he made the following statement
about it:

    The post-office savings bank and parcels post is the most
    important institution which has been created in the last fifty
    years for the welfare of the people. I consider the act which
    called the institution into existence as the most useful and
    fruitful of my long career.

It is because we realize these truths so keenly that we are so
persistent in urging favorable consideration of a parcels post. Its
only fault is its conservatism. What this country now needs, what
Congress should give it, is a parcels post covering much of the
business of public transportation.

In April last representatives of at least 10,000,000 American voters,
including the great agricultural associations of the country, National
Grange, the Farmers’ Union, the Farmers’ National Congress, Retail Dry
Goods Association of New York, the Associated Retailers of St. Louis,
the manufacturing perfumers of the United States, the American Florist
Association, and others, appeared before the House Postal Committee,
demanding a domestic express post as extended and as cheap as that
provided by the Postmaster-General in our foreign postal service. The
argument in behalf of this legislation, with its 4-pound weight limit,
had then been before the committee for many months, but the bill was
not up to the demands of these friends of the post-office. The report
of the hearing showed that the public wanted an 11-pound service at
least. Seldom, if ever, has any proposition received a stronger public
support, and it seemed as if the House Committee on Post-Offices would
be obliged to report at least some legislation back to the House for
its consideration.

Their answer finally came on the 27th of May in the shape of H. R.
26348, introduced by Chairman John W. Weeks, which provides:

    That all mail matter of the fourth class shall be subject
    to examination and to a postage charge at the rate of
    three-fourths of 1 cent an ounce or fraction thereof, to
    be prepaid by stamps affixed--stamps of the following


    1 ounce          ¾
    2 ounces        1½
    3 ounces        2¼
    4 ounces        3
    5 ounces        3¾
    6 ounces        4½
    7 ounces        5¼
    8 ounces        6

On the 1st of June Mr. Weeks wrote to the secretary of the Postal
Progress League as follows:

    It does not seem to me likely that any other parcels-post
    legislation than possibly the bill which I introduced last
    week--this bill--providing for the reduction in rate on
    fourth-class matter, will be considered at this session of

This means that for at least two years more the American people are
to be left subject to the extortions of the rich and powerful express
companies, while we have in the post-office a well-equipped service of
our own through which much of the people’s business now carried on by
these companies could be done quicker and at infinitely less cost.

Mr. Speaker, if the powers arraigned against the post-office continue
their efforts to limit its functions in behalf of private interests,
they will soon find themselves confronted with a Congress pledged to
extend the service of the post-office to a much larger degree of the
public transmission business; and hence, I think it wise that my bill
should now be brought before the House for immediate consideration.

World’s Work. 21: 14248-51. April, 1911.

Parcels Post and the Retailer.

Fremont Rider.

Of all the arguments against a parcels post by far the most venerable
is that of financial disaster; and even April 1911 finds many an
opponent of a parcels post uttering gloomy prophecies of the enormous
losses which the system would entail, losses which would have to be
met, as he takes pains to point out, by an already bankrupt post office

On the other hand, the men best acquainted both with the problem of
transportation and its cost and with the parcels post as it has been
worked out abroad, go so far as to say, that so far from being an
expense, a parcels post would probably be the most profitable business
venture into which the United States government ever embarked. In fact
a private parcels post, in certain of the metropolitan districts at
least, would probably be started by private capital were it not for one
thing--the growing agitation for a government parcels post which would
render valueless the plant of the private company.

The plan of this private parcels post, in direct competition with the
present express companies is no chimera.... Every thinking person
marvels at the economic waste in the present day methods of city
delivery. By your house in Yonkers, for instance, if you happen to
live in Yonkers, there now rattles, once or twice daily, the wagons
of your butcher, your baker, your laundryman, your milkman, and your
grocer, as well as those of the various butchers, bakers, laundrymen,
milkmen, and grocerymen of your neighbors, all covering in staggeringly
wasteful duplication, the same route. Besides them, up from the city
come, in further duplication and longer distance waste, the wagons
of the nine different New York department stores that deliver in
Yonkers, the wagons of the four local express companies that divide the
“independent” business, and those of the two general express companies
which do the high-priced long distance business. Yet, when you think
of it, one wagon could come to you three times a day and do the work
of all these people, more effectively and at one-tenth of the present
total expense.

You buy a dollar’s worth of groceries of John Jones, the grocer. The
whole package, bread, milk, eggs, butter, and vegetables, weighs,
perhaps, ten pounds. A company doing all the delivery business of a
town, centralized, complete, without waste labor or waste mileage,
stopping its motor wagons two or three times a day at every house on
every street, can make money delivering that ten pounds for six cents.
It now costs Jones, sending out his boy and wagon to a dozen odd houses
scattered all over town, two or three times that amount.

But such a private parcels post will not be undertaken because of the
fear that the government may enter the field. Yet so far at least,
although in the post office the government has most of the plant
necessary to carry on such a business, it cannot be persuaded to go
into it.

The most exasperating reason for this inactivity is the legislative
assumption that our present “parcels post” approaches perfection. The
fact is, of course, that the United States has no parcels post in the
sense in which the term is in accepted international use. The present
fourth class rate is but little used in this country simply because
it is prohibitively high. To send ten pounds of merchandise from New
York to Philadelphia involves, not merely the indefensible nuisance of
separating it for mail transportation into three packages, but a charge
of $1.60. Naturally, instead, the merchandise is sent in one parcel by
express for fifty cents. As the work done by the express company, it
is needless to note, gives them a very handsome profit indeed, it is
evident that by far the larger portion of the government’s $1.60 in
this case would be sheer profit--if the post office were as efficiently
conducted as the express company.

The express company, however, does not attempt to carry a ten pound
package from New York to Seattle for fifty cents. Such long and
profitless hauls they leave for Uncle Sam. Yet, even so, with all the
cream of the parcel business continually and inevitably going to the
express companies, the Post Office Department according to its reports
makes a profit in its “parcels post” business.

Of course were the post office rate from New York to Philadelphia a
real parcels post rate, that is, for example, 20 cents for ten pounds
instead of $1.60, there would be 1,000 pounds of merchandise so sent
where there is one sent today. People will use a parcels post when it
becomes cheap enough to be an economic possibility, and they will use
it enormously, as experience elsewhere has abundantly and conclusively
proved. Until then they will use the fourth class postal rate only for
the occasional cross continental parcel on which the express rate soars
out of all reach, or for the small parcel under a pound in weight on
which the fourth class rate is less than the express companies’ minimum

The four vital arguments (the four great express companies) against a
parcels post, once so succinctly enumerated by Mr. Wanamaker, and the
other hoary arguments sampled above, have, however, of late years been
bolstered by another--the welfare of the “small country retailer”; and
round the great fear of a vague but very horrible something called
“trade centralization” the battle for parcels post is at present being

It has been taken for granted that the small country retailer will
be put out of business by the parcels post with its low delivery
charges--yet there are stores in Yonkers, Plainfield, etc., in spite of
the fact that the New York department stores deliver in these places

Let us examine another aspect of this
death-of-the-small-retailer-fattening-of-the-mail-order-trust-bogey a
minute, and see whether a parcels post means really a more centralized
basis of distribution, or a less.

Speaking very roughly, there are in the world two great tides of
merchandise traffic: one of raw materials, of which food products is
the most important, from the farmer to the urban consumer; one of
manufactured products--to wear, to use, or to eat (as refined sugar or
prepared breakfast food)--from the urban maker to the farmer consumer.

Surprising as it may seem the parcels post argument has dealt almost
entirely with the latter tide: of the former tide, even more important,
as I think I can show, very little has been said.

Let us look for a moment into our existing high cost of transportation,
and therefore, decentralized distribution of farm products.

In New York the farmer sells his milk for--these figures are quoted
very roughly and without elaboration but they will give my point--2
cents a quart. He sells it, usually, to one of two or three--there is
considerable evidence that they all act in agreement as one--gigantic
milk companies (of which Borden’s is the largest) which bring it into
the city and distribute it. The ultimate consumer--again I give a rough
figure--pays 10 cents a quart. The other 8 cents is the “distributing
cost”; and in each case it goes, mind you, to two great corporations,
a milk company and an express (or a rail-road) company. Is this that
decentralized distribution that the defenders of the express companies
in and before our Committee have eulogized.

Take almost any other farm product, strawberries, for example. The
farmer, who grows them, gets 3 cents a basket. Then begins a long line
of tolls: the express company, 3 cents; the commission merchant, 2
cents (he claims, and often with reason, that his “spoilage” is high);
the jobber 1 cent; the small retailer--delicatessen store, corner
grocery or street cart vendor--3 cents (it “costs 25 per cent. to do
business” he says, and it does too). The ultimate consumer pays 12
cents a basket, sometimes more, sometimes, when the market is glutted,
a little less. Here is 9 cents of “distributive costs” of which but
3 went to our friend, the “small retailer.” The rest went to more or
less centralized distributing agencies. Now suppose on the other hand
that the farmer could send his products direct to his list of regular
customers in the city. It would be perfectly feasible with a parcels
post. Strawberries, which the farmer would get 6 cents a basket for
(double what he gets now) could be delivered at your breakfast table
the next morning after picking instead of two or three days old in the
triple transit of commission merchant and his storage place, jobber and
his trans-shipment, retailer and his store, and finally to you. And for
this infinitely better article you would pay only 8 cents (2 cents for
the parcels post) instead of the former 12.

There are only three factors, the farmer, the government parcels post,
and you! This is not theory: it is being done in England, in Germany,
in Japan, and in almost every other civilized country in the world
every day; and has been done for years.

And as for the mail order business bogey, it would not be a bogey in
the country districts because every farmer would be running a little
mail order business of his own, shipping his eggs and butter pats
and comb honey and fresh fruit and vegetables by mail right to his
customers, on their standing or postal card orders, getting enough
for his produce to make small farming worth while, but giving the
consumer better goods at a big saving. Cost of living! There is no
other revolution in the methods of distribution that would make so much
difference in the cost of living as a thoroughgoing parcels post would
work. And instead of greater centralization it would be almost the
ultimate of trade decentralization.

Or, let us look at the thing the other way round. What is the chain
of trade from urban producer of manufactured articles to the country
retailer and consumer? Is there any decentralized purchasing now except
by mail? The farmer buys of the small retailer. But the retailer
buys of the lesser jobber and he of the main jobber and he of the
manufacturer; and this is true whether the product be canned goods or
dry goods. Freight shipments in bulk can underbid single shipments by
mail or express; and the present system of distribution, cumbersome and
expensive as it is to the ultimate consumer, is nevertheless cheaper
than direct single shipments at the present mail or express rates.
The moment that you introduce bulk shipments into any distributive
system you necessarily introduce a middleman somewhere to divide up
that bulk shipment for individual consumers; and the greater the bulk
economically shipped the more middlemen there will be between producer
and consumer.

Now where the parcels post could afford a cheaper way of doing the
distributing than the machinery at present in use, the people ought
to have the benefit of it; but in spite of the obvious benefits of a
parcels post it is not wise to jump to the ultimate conclusion. No one
would be rash enough to say that the present system of retail selling
is entirely wrong. Even if the flat-rate, “zoneless” parcels post were
established there are certain kinds of goods--books, for example, in
which every article is a “novelty” which must be personally handled
before choice and purchase, in which a local retailer with a display
is, if not essential, at least a great convenience.

But so far we have been considering an ideal, flat-rate parcels post,
without that “zone” provision which is an important provision in
the bills and proposals for a parcels post which are now being most
actively agitated.

The zone system of parcels post proposes, roughly, a flat rate per
pound and per additional pound within the limits of any delivery office
(that is a service which involves no transfer from one post office to
another) and a rate considerably heavier (but still much less than
the present fourth-class mail or express rate) for delivery elsewhere
in the United States. This would furnish the cross-roads store with
a most convenient delivery system and furnish it at a cheaper price
than its city rivals could secure it. The local retailer would have
the advantage of the difference between the two charges. To give this
advantage to the local retailer is probably wise from the standpoint
of general public policy. The small retailer in the country does
the public a very actual and very valuable service. To have a stock
displayed for selection is often an assistance in purchasing; there
are certain things which cannot in any case, be bought by mail; there
are other things which may sometimes preferably be bought direct, just
as most people like, occasionally at least, “to shop”; there is a
welcome personal touch in retailing which is lost in the long distance
purchase. For these and other reasons the retail store will remain,
stripped of overcompetition and non-essential distributive agents,
competing with the parcels post, not in price so much, as in the kind
and quality of service. That is the way the small retailer in Germany
had adapted himself to the parcels post; and although in his case
there is no zone preferential to aid him, he has made good.

After all, there is the gist of the answer to those who oppose a
parcels post on anti-centralization grounds. They speak as though there
were but one factor in retailing--price. As a matter of fact there
are many factors, and the best students of retailing methods consider
service one of the most important. With a parcels post established the
public would be getting value for its money in cheapness or service, as
it chose; with the present express system it gets neither.

Congressional Record. 46: 1941-7. February 3, 1911.

Star Routes and Rural Parcels Post.

F. W. Mondell.

I do not want to put the entire blame for the hidden, circuitous, and
indirect opposition to parcels post upon the express companies. There
is another class of people who are opposed to parcels post who do not
directly show their hands. They are the firms and corporations who send
out a very large letter mail, upon which they pay 2 cents for every
half ounce. The average citizen who only writes an occasional letter
does not realize how heavy the burden 2-cent letter postage is to
people who send out great numbers of letters.

There are many large concerns, like the mail-order houses for instance,
promoters, jobbers, and dealers in special extensively advertised
lines, whose actual letter postage amounts to many thousands of dollars
a year. Such people naturally oppose any change in the postal service
which might increase the postal deficit, even temporarily, because of
their anxiety to have the letter rate reduced. The yearly income of the
Post Office Department from letter postage is about $132,000,000, and
it is said that some mail-order houses pay several hundred thousand
dollars a year for letter postage. A reduction of that by half would be
well worth working for.

It would not be fair in the discussion of this subject to overlook the
fact that there are arguments against the establishment of a general
parcels post which are advanced in perfect good faith and which are
entitled to serious consideration. Those local merchants who have some
misgivings about the matter are entitled to have their views carefully
considered, but as I have indicated, it is my opinion that in the main
their fears are not well founded, and arise largely from the fact that
they have not had an opportunity to give the matter their personal
consideration, and therefore have been inclined to accept the arguments
of interested parties. There are also a considerable number of people
who are honestly opposed to the parcels post in the belief that it is
an unwarranted extension of government activities into a field which
ought to be satisfactorily covered by private enterprise, and who still
hope that the express service may be so cheapened and improved as to
very largely satisfy the demand for a parcels post. There are also
those who feel that owing to the vast area of our country it would be
difficult to adopt a system of parcels post which would be generally
satisfactory and at the same time self-supporting.

The argument is also made that the handling of a large amount of
merchandise by the postal service would make delivery difficult where
city delivery is provided, and delay the transmission of letters by the
loading of the mails with merchandise.

These arguments do present problems which must have serious
consideration. They are none of them, however, in my opinion, problems
which are insurmountable, but a consideration of them, as well as of
that character of powerful opposition exerted indirectly to which I
have referred, leads thinking people to the conclusion that the outlook
for the establishment of a general parcels post in the country in the
near future is far from promising. With this as with all progressive
legislation, little progress will be made until the people as a whole
become thoroughly interested in the subject, quite generally make up
their minds what they want, and in no uncertain tone make their wants

So long as only those who are opposed to the extension of the parcels
post are generally heard from by members of Congress, there is not
much likelihood of definite action being taken, and the probability is
that in any event a general parcels post in this country can only be
secured through the medium of a modest and limited and more or less
experimental beginning in the way of a local or rural parcels post.

_Local Parcels Post_

President Taft in his last annual message recommended a parcels post
limited to rural free-delivery lines. This recommendation was made on
the ground of economy, to meet the opposition aroused by the argument
that a general system would create a great deficit in the postal
revenues, for a time at least. The local system would also have the
virtue that it would furnish an object lesson in a partial and limited
way, which might be valuable in determining the propriety of further
extending the system. There is, furthermore, an argument for rural
parcels post which does not apply in the same degree to a general
parcels post, and that is that while the dwellers in cities and towns
have ready access to stores and opportunities of express service,
the dwellers in rural communities do not have these advantages,
and therefore a rural parcels post which would enable them to have
articles delivered on local routes or to local post offices would be
of great benefit and advantage to them. As we do not have many rural
free-delivery routes in our sparsely settled intermountain country, I
am of the opinion that a rural parcels post, if established, should
also operate over the star routes which supply our country offices and
our people in boxes en route, and therefore the bill which I introduced
provides for such a service.

Such a rural parcels post as is thus proposed would unquestionably be
helpful in building up the trade of the merchants in the small cities
and towns and of very great value and advantage to the people who get
their mail at the country post offices and along country routes. This
being true, I supposed I would avoid much of the storm of opposition
which those who have advocated a general parcels post have heretofore
encountered. Much to my surprise, however, the onslaught against this
very modest proposition, intended to help the local merchant and the
people of the country, has been even more terrific than the outburst
against the general proposition; all of which makes one fact as clear
as the noonday sun, and that is that the opponents of a parcels post
realize that the local parcels post, if it works well and is generally
satisfactory, will be the entering wedge for the general parcels post.
It also illuminates quite as clearly another fact, and that is that the
opponents of parcels post believe that the rural parcels post will work
well and be generally satisfactory. Another important fact emphasized
by this opposition is that the opponents of parcels post believe that
the agitation for a local parcels post is much more dangerous than
the agitation for the general parcels post, because it is more likely
to be successful. The gentlemen who have been spending their money so
liberally in opposition to the local or rural parcels post have thus
made clear three important facts:

First. They believe that there is a strong probability of a local
parcels post being established.

Second. They believe that such a system will work to the satisfaction
of the people.

Third. They believe that, the local system having proven satisfactory,
it would lead to the establishment of a general system.

In this condition of affairs it would seem that it is the duty of
the friends of a parcels-post system to get behind the President’s
suggestion of a local parcels post enlarged so as to include star
routes and country offices.

Some one is spending a lot of money to defeat the rural parcels post.
One way they are doing it is by sending out petitions by the tens of
thousands, which they ask the local merchants to sign and send to their
Congressman. I have received hundreds of these petitions. They have
various sorts of headings printed in various kinds of type, but they
are nearly all alike.

After having in the first paragraph drawn a dreadful picture of the
awful disaster and destruction which the rural parcels post will bring
to the farmers and to the country towns, in whose behalf they weep and
wail--a destruction compared with which the devastation of Sodom and
Gomorrah would be as the passing of a summer zephyr--they tell us how
all these direful calamities are to come, as follows:

    In every town catalogue agents of mail-order concerns would
    establish themselves. They would need no stores, pay no rent,
    employ no clerks, require no credit and give none, and carry no
    stock. Their whole time would be devoted to soliciting orders
    from catalogues. The merchandise would be shipped to them by
    express or freight from the retail mail-order houses in the
    large cities. When received it would be deposited in the local
    post office and the packages delivered by the rural carriers.

The only trouble with this lovely piece of sophistry is they fail
to explain to us why the very game they describe can not be worked
just as well now as it could after a rural parcels post had been
established. There is nothing in the world to prevent just the sort
of a plan, which is thus held up to our horror and execration, from
being carried out now, except that it would not pay. The mail carriers
on rural and star lines not only have the authority, but they would
be very glad to have the opportunity of delivering packages along
their routes which solicitors for catalogue houses might deliver to
them. And, furthermore, they can now, no doubt would be glad to, take
packages of any size; whereas a rural parcels post only provides
for packages up to 11 pounds. So, when you come to analyze it, this
“local-solicitor-of-the-mail-order-trust” bugaboo is found to be just
another one of the strawmen, the poor miserable scarecrows, that the
express companies are trying to terrify us with.

The mail-order houses claim they can sell cheaper than the local
merchants because they do not have any local expense. The moment they
are called upon to pay for the services of a local agent their expenses
are greater than those of the local merchant. I think this disposes
of the “local-agent bogy.” He is the most transparent of all the
scarecrows the express companies have raised.

Congressional Record. 45: 9310-4. June 24, 1910.

General Deficiency Bill.

William S. Bennet.

Mr. Speaker: In view of the great interest in the parcels post
question, I submit herewith the views of the Farmers’ National

_A Brief for a Modern Parcels Post for the United States_

[By John M. Stahl, legislative agent Farmers’ National Congress.]

It has been said, and not without justice, that because of greater
density of population parcels can be carried at a less cost in the
domestic mails of Germany or Belgium than in the domestic mails of the
United States, because the average haul would be shorter in Germany or
Belgium. But the disparity between the domestic parcels post of the
United States and of foreign countries is greater than is warranted
by the length of the average haul. No fact is better established in
the science of transportation than that the cost of transporting an
article bears little relation to the distance transported. But if the
density of population should fix the rate of postage and the limit
of weight in a domestic parcels post, then surely we should have a
lower rate of postage and a higher weight limit than those countries
in which the population is not so dense as is ours. For example, the
area of the Commonwealth of Australia is 2,974,581 square miles, and
the present population is 4,300,000. The area of the United States,
excluding Alaska and the islands, is 3,025,600 square miles. Alaska and
Hawaii would add a shade less than 600,000 square miles. The area of
the Philippine Archipelago is 832,968 square miles, and the population,
according to the 1908 census, is 7,835,436. It is certain that,
including all our territory and all our population, we have an average
population of more than 20 per square mile. Australia has a population
of less than 2 per square mile. If the argument of the opponents of
a modern parcels post for the United States, founded on the density
of population of Belgium, Germany, etc., is a good argument, then the
rate charged in our domestic parcels post should be much less and the
weight limit should be much greater than in the domestic parcels post
of Australia. But the postage rate in the domestic parcels post of
Australia is as follows: Intrastate, 1 pound, 6 pence (12 cents); 2
pounds, 9 pence (18 cents); 3 pounds, 1 shilling; and 3 pence (6 cents)
for each additional pound up to and including 11 pounds, the postage
rate for an 11-pound parcel being 3 shillings (72 cents).

The interstate rate in the parcels post among the six states of
Australia is as follows: One pound, 8 pence (16 cents); 2 pounds, 1
shilling 2 pence; 3 pounds, 1 shilling 8 pence; and 6 pence additional
for each additional pound up to and including 11 pounds, making the
charge for an 11-pound parcel 5 shillings 8 pence ($1.36).

New Zealand is 1,200 miles from Australia and extends for 1,100 miles.
It has a population of only 1,000,000. Yet the rate in the parcels
posts between the States of Australia and New Zealand is just the same
as it is among the States of Australia, and the weight limit is the

Now, if the people of Belgium and Germany should have a less postage
rate and a higher weight limit in their domestic parcels post than we
have because the population of Germany and Belgium is denser than our
population, then we should have a much less postage rate and a much
higher weight limit in our domestic parcels post than have the people
of Australia, because our population is more than ten times as dense as
the population of Australia. But, on the contrary, the average postage
rate in not only the intrastate but also in the interstate parcels post
of Australia is less than in our domestic parcels post, and the weight
limit is 11 pounds, as compared with 4 pounds in our domestic parcels
post. The rule laid down by the opponents of a modern parcels post for
the United States must apply to Australia as well as to Belgium and
Germany, and by this rule the rate in our domestic parcels post should
certainly be less than 8 cents a pound and the weight limit should
certainly be far above 11 pounds.

The postage rate in the domestic parcels post of New Zealand is 4
pence (8 cents) for the first pound and 2 pence (4 cents) for each
additional pound. The population of New Zealand is less than one-half
as dense as our population. The weight limit in the domestic parcels
post of New Zealand is 11 pounds. If the argument of the opponents of
a modern parcels post for the United States, founded on the density
of population is correct, then the rate in our domestic parcels post,
instead of being several times that of New Zealand, should be less,
and the weight limit, instead of being only about one-third that of New
Zealand, should be greater.

Our parcels post with foreign countries shows beyond argument that
the postage rate in our domestic parcels post should be not more than
one-third of what it is, at the utmost, and that the weight limit
should be several times what it is. The domestic parcels posts of other
countries and of Australia and New Zealand show also beyond argument
that the postage rate in our domestic parcels post should be only a
fraction of what it is and that the weight limit should be several
times greater.

Whether or not the railways are owned by the government does not
touch the argument founded on the parcel post of other countries.
If government ownership of railways lessens the cost of the postal
service, it may be an argument that our Post-Office Department pays
our railways too high a rate for transporting mail matter, but it has
nothing to do with the character of the mail service our government
should give our people.

As a matter of fact, government ownership of railways has no apparent
effect on the parcel post of foreign countries. Both those in which the
railways are in large part owned by the government and those in which
the government does not own any railway mileage have a parcel post much
superior to ours.

Possibly our government should not conduct a parcel post at any
considerable loss, although it should be borne in mind that the object
of our Post-Office Department is to serve the people and not to make
money. It might be successfully argued that fundamentally there is no
greater reason why the Post-Office Department should be a source of
revenue than that the War Department should be a source of revenue. The
mails have become so very important in the transaction of business,
in the communication of intelligence, and affect so many of the
operations of our daily life, that each year it becomes apparent that
the test of our Post-Office Department should be the excellence of
the service it gives our people; and the relation of expenditures, so
long as they are judiciously and economically made, to receipts is of
less and less importance. But we would not advocate any parcel post
that, when fully established and on a normal basis, would add much,
if any, to the net cost of our Post-Office Department. However, it is
apparent from a study of the profits of our express companies that our
Post-Office Department could carry parcels in our domestic post at a
much less rate than 16 cents a pound without increasing the net cost
of the Post-Office Department. Further, a study of the profits of our
express companies show clearly that we are being charged altogether
too much by these express companies for the service they give us, and
that their charges should be subjected to that most effective of all
control--the competition of a modern parcel post. This study shows
with equal plainness that the present weight limit on parcels in our
domestic post, which compels us to send by express all parcels weighing
more than 4 pounds, should be raised to a much higher figure, probably
25 or even 100 pounds. Recent investigations and revelations have shown
that our express companies are really subjecting us to extortion.

The competition of a modern parcels post may not prove sufficient of
itself to make the charges of the express companies what they should
be, but it would certainly be most effective in accomplishing this
result. We are subjected to overcharges by express companies as are the
people of no other country on the face of the earth. In fact, the most
important countries of Europe, as well as Australia, New Zealand, etc.,
are not subjected to any overcharges at all by express companies for
the reason that in those countries and colonies there are no express
companies of the nature of those existing in this country. On account
of the overcharges of our express companies we have a very good reason,
indeed, for a modern parcels post in this country; and this very good
reason is in addition to those that so many other countries have found
amply sufficient to warrant a modern parcels post.

And it should not be forgotten that the enormous profits of our express
companies on the capital they actually have invested in the express
business show conclusively that our government could give us a modern
parcel post without increasing the net cost of the postal service after
that parcel post had been established and its business had reached
normal proportions.

In an honest endeavor to arrive at a correct conclusion as to the
features of our domestic parcel post we can not do better than to study
the parcel post of Australia and New Zealand, for the dominant elements
in the population of Australia and New Zealand are the same as in ours,
the people of Australia and New Zealand have obtained their ideas of
government and the functions of government from the same source that
we have, their institutions and conditions approach ours nearer than
those of other countries, and they have the same problem of adapting
the government service to a wide expanse of territory in the settlement
and development of a new country. This problem, though much greater
than ours at this time--the area of Australia is nearly the same as
that of our states, while the population is only about one-twentieth as
much--is the same in its nature.

Another reason is that the postal service of Australia and New Zealand
is so satisfactory in every way. On page 25 of “L’Union Postale” for
1909 it is stated in regard to the New Zealand postal service: “The
financial results of the administration were very satisfactory. The
receipts increased by 9.04 per cent and the expenditure by 7.22 per
cent over the preceding year.”

It will be seen that the postal business of New Zealand conforms to the
rule of good business management that as a business increases in volume
the receipts should increase faster than the expense.

In the last published report of the postmaster-general of New Zealand
it is pointed out that notwithstanding several important reductions
in the postage rate the revenue of the postal service had during the
preceding sixteen years increased by a considerably larger amount
than the expense. “From December 16, 1907, the postage on inland
post cards was reduced to one-half penny. From January 1, 1908, the
rates for inland letters were made 1 penny for the first 4 ounces and
one-half penny for each additional 2 ounces. From January 1, 1908, the
commission chargeable on money orders within New Zealand is 3 pence
for each 5 pounds sterling or fraction of 5 pounds. Owing to the
reduction in postal rates made the year before, the number of parcels
increased 81.57 per cent.” “The rate of postage for inland parcels
was reduced from 6 pence for the first pound and 3 pence for each
additional pound to 4 pence for the first pound and 2 pence for each
additional pound. The public, moreover, has by the change been induced
to send by parcels post articles which were previously forwarded as
packets.” “The reduction in postal rates may be practically referred
to as having resulted in a great increase in parcels-post business.”
There was a handsome net balance to the credit of the postal business.
“The net balance on the year’s transactions would be much higher if the
value of official correspondence dealt with were taken into account.”
“The expansion of the business has necessitated large additions to the
staff. The increase of the staff was, however, below the percentage
of increase of the receipts. An amendment to the post-office act
contributed to improve the financial condition of the postal service.”
The experience of New Zealand and the Commonwealth of Australia in
postal service is well stated by the colonial treasurer, Hon. Sir
J. G. Ward, in one of his recent financial statements, as follows:
“Experience has shown that every concession in postal rates creates
a new class of business which is ultimately to the profit of the

Of course, in the official publications of the Commonwealth of
Australia and of New Zealand one hears nothing to the effect that the
government should not engage in any competitive business--one hears
that only in the United States. If that were put into effect, our
national government would be compelled to stop building war ships
in the navy-yards, to close up altogether the government printing
establishment, to stop at once all its irrigation projects, to close
up all the land-grant colleges, to stop at once casting cannon and
making small firearms and ammunition, etc. As a matter of fact, when
our Constitution was framed there was no question among those that
framed it that it should give to the national government the power to
do certain things, in competition with private enterprise, that would
be for “the public welfare;” and there was never any intimation that
the national government should not engage in any competitive business.
On the other hand, those that helped to frame the national Constitution
and to secure its adoption participated in and sanctioned legislation
by Congress that put the national government into several lines of
competitive business.

The publications of the labor officials of Australia and New Zealand
are decidedly numerous, and show plainly that the working people of
these colonies, as well as the other elements of their population,
are heartily in favor of a modern parcel post. It may truly be said
that the parcel post of Australia and New Zealand has the hearty and
universal approval of the people of those colonies. The officials
and the rank and file of the labor organizations of these colonies
are among the heartiest supporters of their parcel post. And it is
certain that the very large majority of the rank and file of our labor
organizations and the very large majority of our city people, as well
as of farmers, heartily favor a modern parcel post.

As for the relation of a modern parcels post to the so-called
catalogue houses: In his official reports the postmaster-general of
both Australia and New Zealand frequently emphasizes that for years a
thoroughly modern colonial, intercolonial, and foreign parcels post has
been enjoyed by the people of those colonies, even in “the most remote
districts to which the mail service penetrates.” Notwithstanding this,
in all of the many publications on Australia and New Zealand, or by the
officials of those colonies, there could not be found a sentence to
the effect that the local merchants of those colonies have been in the
least injured in their business by catalogue houses.

This fact certainly merits being emphasized. In all the countries in
which there is a modern parcels post the catalogue house is unknown.
In our country, which is the only enlightened country that has not a
modern parcels post, the catalogue house exists and, to some limited
extent, flourishes. Hence the fact is plain that instead of a modern
parcels post aiding catalogue houses the very opposite is true. If
the universal experience of humanity counts for anything, then the
antiquated parcels post, such as we have, aids the catalogue house and
the modern parcels post puts it out of business and keeps it out of

The rural delivery service has grown to more than 20,000 routes.
Official reports show that the average weight of mail delivered by
each team or single-horse wagon in the rural delivery service is only
25 pounds. On nearly all the trips the carrier could practically as
well take 500 pounds in his wagon. The more than 40,000 rural carriers
make more than 12,480,000 round trips each year. If a parcels post on
the rural routes earned $2 for each round trip the gain would be, in
round numbers $25,000,000 a year, and this, with some little reforms
that all agree should be and easily could be made, would wipe out the
postal deficit. Now, if the rate on the pound packages in a rural route
parcels post was 5 cents a pound the carrier to earn the $2 per round
trip would be compelled to carry not the 500 pounds that he could, but
only 20 pounds additional going and coming or a total load of only 45

This is a fair calculation as to profit to the government, for the
expense for the rural carrier service would not be any greater
whatever, and the small expense for handling the additional 20 pounds
at the terminal post-office would be more than covered by the increased
first-class mail (handling which is very profitable) resulting from the
parcels post.

As, on the average, about 100 families are served by each rural route,
if, on the average, each family had delivered or sent each trip only
one-half pound of parcel, taking into account that a good many parcels
would weigh less than 1 pound and that every parcels-post bill proposes
for them a higher rate than for heavier packages, the rate could be
made much less than is proposed and yet the postal deficit would be
wiped out altogether!

And this would be of very great benefit to the 4,000,000 families
served by the rural mail delivery. The rural carrier passes the farm
every week day, yet if the farmer wants a package from the town he must
go after it--each of the 100 farmers must hitch up and drive to town
and back for packages that the one carrier could have brought them as
well as not with the outfit that he already has. Or these 100 farmers
must hitch up and take to town packages that the carrier could have
taken for them with the outfit he already has. The time and labor
saved the 4,000,000 families on rural routes would amount to many times
the present postal deficit.

It is only natural that farmers should be especially desirous of a
modern parcels post, because, as already stated, the express service
stops with the railway station. Hence the farmer has no express service
that reaches to him as have the people of towns and cities. The express
companies have never cared to carry their business to the farmer,
and this must convict them of only the most reprehensible motives in
opposing a parcels post limited to rural routes, which would extend
the equivalent of an express service to the farmers. As bearing on the
farmer’s need of a modern parcels post, the following from a letter
just received from Hon. W. L. Ames, Oregon, Wis., a practical farmer
and a leader of national reputation in all agricultural movements, is
of interest:

“One of the things we most need is better and prompter transportation
facilities for rather small articles. I recently needed a small but
important repair for a machine. It weighed 4¼ pounds. It cost 55 cents.
The express company charged 45 cents to bring it to Oregon--200 miles.
The charge was altogether too high, but what I felt most disposed to
complain about was that it took a week to bring the repair to me. Mail
matter moves promptly; but the express company knew that it was certain
of the job of carrying that repair to me, hence no need of haste on the
part of the express company. We need better and added facilities for
the prompter moving of such merchandise. Present delay is a serious
handicap, and undoubtedly a parcels post would give us prompt service
at a less rate, as it would not be expected that the parcels post would
do more than make a moderate profit for the government, whereas the
express business is a constant ‘melon-cutting’ business. We must not
forget, also, that all the equipment for a parcels post on rural routes
is already installed.

“If the government would take charge of what it already has and add
rules to fix charges for carrying parcels on the rural routes, it would
relieve us of much unjust charge and also much annoyance and loss of
time. Under the rulings of the Post-Office Department prohibiting rural
carriers from acting as agents for anyone to obtain business, carriers
are afraid to carry parcels to any extent. But what cuts a yet
greater figure is that no rule can be established to fix the charges
for carrying parcels and make them the same for all. Each person on
a rural route and the carrier cannot dicker for the transportation
of each article. That would soon lead to great dissatisfaction, as
some would think that others were being favored. And to dicker on
each parcel would take so much time and be so much trouble that the
carrier could not be expected to do it. All we need to put into effect
a modern parcels post on the rural routes is a law fixing a reasonable
and proper rate for the transportation of parcels and making it the
business of the rural carrier to handle parcels as well as the mail
matter he now carries.”

Cosmopolitan. 36: 497*-9*. March, 1904.

Who Will Be Benefited by a Parcels Post?

John B. Walker.

Those who have been appointed to defend the Post-Office Department
in the sacrifice it has made of the American people in the matter
of postal parcels delivery have replied to the argument in the last
issue of _The Cosmopolitan_ by claiming that but very few people will
be benefited by a parcels delivery equal to that of Germany. It is
therefore necessary to consider this question: “Who are the people who
will be benefited?”

First. There will be a gross saving amounting to more than two hundred
and fifty millions of dollars per annum. This annual addition to
our national wealth constitutes an economic factor of the highest

Second. While this sum will be distributed equally among the people in
proportion to their purchases--especially among those who make small
purchases--the direct benefit will be first appreciable in the business
of the following classes:

I. _The Small Storekeepers of the Country Towns and Villages._ One of
the arguments used by those who have been placed in the Post-Office
Department for the protection of special interests, is that a
parcels post would injure the country storekeeper. The very slightest
consideration of the problem, however, would have shown that no one
is so likely to be its beneficiary as he. The chief difficulties with
which the small merchant has to contend are these:

1. Insufficient capital.

2. Distance from wholesale centers.

3. Cost of expressage on small parcels.

The country merchant has the acquaintance of his customers; he knows
their wants and enjoys their good-will, and would have their patronage
if he could be placed in a situation where he could give them equal,
or approximately equal, advantages with a merchant who buys on a large
scale. If one of his customers is driven to go elsewhere, it is not
only because the merchant cannot afford to keep in stock the particular
class of goods desired, but because he cannot afford to ship these
goods in small quantities, on account of the prohibitive rates of the
government’s postal parcels charges of sixteen cents per pound, or the
almost equally prohibitive rates of the express companies.

The country storekeeper has the experience of his customer’s wants,
and he has a knowledge of the best goods, knows what is a fair price
for an article. He is in a position to advise his customer as to his
needs, and if he were not handicapped by lack of capital and cost of
transportation for parcels, he could, in nine times out of ten, supply
the wants of the customer.

In addition to the trade he has now, the country storekeeper would,
with the advantage of a first-class postal parcels system, be able to
keep in touch with all the great wholesale distributing agencies of the
country. He would earn a reasonable commission on all goods ordered,
and would be in a position to secure, within a very brief time, by
postal parcels, the goods which the customer, after looking over the
catalogues and receiving the advice of the merchant, should decide to

There would be no investment and no risk, such as is involved in
carrying a stock of goods which may become unsalable. Without large
capital, he is now handicapped by being compelled, on account of the
discrimination against him as a shipper, to lose the sale of all those
articles which he cannot carry in stock in quantities, and which may,
under present arrangements, only be shipped in bulk. If he attempts
to use the mails, the rate of sixteen cents per pound is prohibitive,
while the fact that the bulk is limited to four pounds is almost
equally so; and the express companies’ charges are so high that in the
majority of cases he cannot utilize their services.

Let us suppose that, instead of the United States’ charges for postal
parcels being six thousand per cent. greater than Germany’s they were
on a par, and that the country merchant could receive parcels weighing
from one ounce to one hundred and eleven pounds for a quarter of a cent
a pound. _It is not even necessary that the rate should be so low.
Let it be made four times as great as that of Germany_, or one cent
per pound, and let us see what advantage the country merchant would
have. One hundred and ten pounds covers nine-tenths of the articles
which he would be likely to sell. Instead of a store equipped with
comparatively few articles, the country merchant would be able to
carry, in addition to his regular stock, an extensive line of samples.
He would familiarize himself with the best that there is in the market,
be able to advise his customer to his advantage, and then, receiving
the order, could, within a brief time, have the goods sent by parcels
post directly to the customer’s home, saving the expense of handling
two or three times--making more money by a small commission than he
does now by the larger margin on the goods which he is compelled to
carry constantly in stock.

Good organization is the trend of modern business, and this is
good organization--saving two or three handlings, truckage, some
bookkeeping, et cetera.

II. _The Manufacturers._ Next to the country merchant, the manufacturer
will be the largest beneficiary of the postal parcels delivery. Take,
for instance, the hardware business. The manufacturer is obliged,
under the existing conditions of trade, to maintain large stocks in
an endless number of cities scattered over the country, or do what is
the equivalent of directly maintaining the stocks--that is, to give
extended credit. This is because there is no way of handling small
parcels of hardware without a cost that is so excessive as to force
shipments of hardware to be made in bulk. With a one-cent-per-pound
rate, more than fifty per cent. of the stocks now carried could be
eliminated and orders sent by the hardware merchant directly to the
manufacturer to be shipped by package. One hundred and ten pounds would
cover the greater portion of the trade, and leave only nails, barbed
wire, and similar articles, for bulk handling.

In cotton goods, instead of shipping from the Mills to New York,
trucking them there through the streets, breaking bulk, repacking,
retrucking and reshipping to the merchant there would be but one
operation. A single piece of goods would go direct from the factory
by parcels post at a total cost for handling not to exceed twenty
per cent. of the charges now engendered by our clumsy, costly and
inconceivably stupid method.

The same thing would happen in the grocery business. A factory in
Rochester or Pittsburg, manufacturing canned articles, must ship in
bulk to New York, or Chicago, or St. Louis. There the car-load, after
being hauled to a warehouse, is broken up and transshipped. There is
no reason for this transshipment, no possible excuse for this waste
of money, except that the ownership of the express by a few private
companies has prevented the organization of a parcels post upon lines
which have long been recognized as absolutely successful in Europe.

The question here will be asked: Would this shipment direct from
the factory interfere with the business of the wholesale merchants
whose task it is now to repack and reship? On the contrary, it would
simplify their work and reduce expenses from every point of view. Their
business primarily is one of distribution of credits. They have certain
customers who receive from them certain lines of credit. They furnish
the capital between the manufacturer and the retail dealer. If tomorrow
they could order by letter or telegraph, directly from the factory, for
shipment to the retail dealer by postal parcels, their business would
be greatly simplified and their profits increased.

III. _The Merchants in Large Cities._ Perhaps to no class will the boon
of a parcels post be greater than the merchants in the large cities.
All the way from four cents to fifty cents is now paid for the delivery
of a parcel within a radius of thirty miles around the leading cities
of this country. Experiments have shown that it is possible, where
the interests of a considerable number of merchants are combined, to
deliver an average dry-goods parcel, thirty miles out, at a cost not to
exceed four cents.

As conducted today, the business of delivering parcels consists in
sending the wagon of one dry-goods house to follow another into a city
block, and deliver each its parcel; then each wagon goes off to another
block, and delivers its parcel. In New York city thousands of wagons
meander through the two or three thousand miles of streets, each firm
doing its work independently of the others, and each wasting money by
lack of cooperation.

It is altogether probable that with thorough organization city delivery
could be conducted, within a radius of thirty miles, upon a basis
not to exceed one half cent per pound. This would mean but two cents
per package for the average four-pound dry-goods parcel, including,
of course, the large number which are transported but a few blocks.
But that is not the only advantage. It would take from the merchants
the constant effort which the maintenance of good delivery systems
involves. I have personally studied the delivery systems of nearly all
the leading merchants in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, and have
spent a day in the delivery department of Marshall Field in Chicago.
Everywhere I heard the same complaint--that the brains consumed in
managing the parcels delivery was one of the most expensive items in
the cost of operating a great establishment.

IV. _Book Publishers._ The cost of delivering a book by mail is now
eight cents per pound. This, for a four-pound book, means a tax
of thirty-two cents. Just how far this retards the development of
intelligence in the people is not difficult to estimate.

V. _Stationers’ Supplies._ The large class of manufacturers and
wholesalers who are engaged in supplying the stationery trade would
find the parcels post a great convenience in receiving supplies and
in delivering to customers; a matter of lessened capital, lessened
trouble, and greatly increased profits.

VI. _The Railways._ At first sight it might appear that the interests
of the railways would not be favored by a postal parcels law. But the
briefest analysis of the problem shows that the benefit to them would
perhaps be greatest of all.

To-day vast numbers of freight-cars stand idle, waiting carload
shipments. These bulk shipments are necessarily made at the very
minimum of cost. In the low price of bulk shipments, American railways
lead the world. Even at existing prices, however, water transportation
carries off a large part of the burden.

The benefits to the railways, by transferring freight from the class of
bulk to parcels, would be:

1. Goods being shipped in a constant stream of packages, instead of
intermittently by car-load or train-bulk;

2. A higher price would be obtained from shipments of the same freight
in parcels as compared with the previous cost in bulk;

3. The large increase in traffic due to better, cheaper, speedier and
more direct, and in every way infinitely more convenient, facilities;

4. The additional prosperity which a saving of anywhere from two
hundred and fifty to six hundred millions of dollars per annum would
mean to the country at large.

There are to-day far-seeing railway officials who have given this
problem serious consideration, and who have arrived at the conclusion
just stated.

VII. _The Farmer._ Last, but not least in importance, comes the
farmer. To-day, cut off from parcel delivery, he is the victim of bad
government, both in his bad roads and lack of postal facilities. The
one step of progress that the United States post-office has made of
recent years, that is worthy of respect, is the rural postal delivery.
As proposed, however, it is ridiculous. The idea was advanced by some
politicians for the purpose of creating additional patronage. Merely
to deliver letters and newspapers to the farmer would, of course,
be to operate a service without hope of placing it on a profitable
basis. It would be as if the New York merchants would keep a thousand
wagons traveling around the streets of New York to deliver nothing but
kid gloves and lace veils--nearly empty, while other wagons would be
carrying the burden of the goods sold.

Rural free delivery is absolutely impossible unless accompanied by
a postal parcels law. Giving a rate even four times as high as that
of Germany, the entire rural delivery could be put on a paying basis

Here again would be an advantage to the country merchant. The farmer
to-day, when he wishes to buy, hitches up a pair of horses, drives
four or five miles, and makes a few purchases. If the United States
had the postal parcels law of Austro-Hungary, the farmer would draw a
postal check, mail it free, the merchant would deliver the goods to the
post-office, and a few hours later they would be in the hands of the

The life of the farm, which has so many drawbacks, would thus be made
vastly more comfortable. It is impossible to estimate in dollars how
great the saving to the country would be in this one particular.

It would be easy to show the endless ramifications of this beneficial
service; but space need not here be taken up for that purpose.
Sufficient has been indicated to show that there is no man or woman,
however poor, however rich, who would not be vastly benefited and
convenienced by a government postal parcels system.

Craftsman. 14: 592-4. September, 1908.

More Efficient Postal Service. Gustav Stickley.

Speaking of the success of the rural routes, of which there are more
than thirty-eight thousand already established in this country, Mr.
Meyer says: “The isolation which existed in many parts of the country
has been overcome; the people are in daily communication with their
friends in the rest of the world; the daily papers and magazines come
to the door of every farm house on the rural routes, and enlightenment
and information are being spread broadcast through the land. Medical
men have said that already the establishment of the rural service is
having its effect upon the mentality of our country patrons, and that
because of it insanity is on the decrease. The extension of the rural
routes to include a parcel post,” he asserts, “will be a boon both to
the rural population and to the store-keeper as the latter can receive
his orders by mail or telephone and despatch the desired merchandise by
the rural carrier. The farmer will be saved from hitching up his horse
and losing the time he needs for planting or harvesting his crops, and
it will enable the store-keeper to increase his sales and meet the
requirements of modern trade.”

Much of the opposition to this measure has come from the country
store-keeper, who very naturally dreads that such largely increased
facilities for delivery by mail would simply extend the already
wide domain of the department store and drive him completely out of
business. But this objection has been met by the plan for a special
postal service for the rural routes, which would be given at a much
lower rate than that prevailing throughout the general system of parcel
post. This special rate as advocated by Mr. Meyer would be five cents
for the first pound and two cents for each successive pound up to
the limit of eleven pounds, thus enabling any one along the line of
rural route to use the mails for delivery of packages at a charge of
twenty-five cents for the maximum weight, as opposed to one dollar and
thirty-two cents for the same weight if sent at the regular rate of
twelve cents a pound,--which regular rate would necessarily have to
be used by department stores unless they should go to the trouble and
expense of maintaining a large system of rural agencies throughout the

The result of such a system in bringing about the general dissemination
of business throughout the country by fostering small individual
enterprises is almost beyond calculation, especially as a secondary
result would be the growth of small villages and settlements throughout
the thinly settled farming districts. And these two changes in the
present state of affairs would go far toward solving the whole problem
of the possibility of turning the tide from the city back into the
country. The hardships and discomforts of many of the conditions
of city life, particularly among people of limited means, and the
uncertainty of the wage-earner’s means of livelihood, are now endured
chiefly because of the greater disadvantages that are attached
to farming in remote parts of the country or to undertaking the
responsibility of working independently of any large commercial or
industrial organization. For months, the Craftsman has been urging the
establishment of rural settlements and the introduction of handicrafts
in connection with small farms. Nothing that is likely to be done in
the way of legislation to this end seems to us to make so possible a
general change for the better along these lines as the postal measures
recommended by the Postmaster-General, supported by the President and
now recognized by Republicans and Democrats alike as a reform that
will not be downed, no matter how powerful are the interests opposing
it. Given the postal savings bank as an encouragement to thrift, and
transportation facilities that will not only bring all necessary
merchandise within reach of the farmer, but also take the products
of his own industry and a great part of the output of the village
workshops to the nearest market at a reasonable rate, and the rest will
follow almost as a matter of course. When a man has a fund of several
hundred dollars, there is hardly any question as to what he will do
with it if he has a chance. The desire to own a home and a little patch
of land is universal with civilized mankind and when to the possibility
of gratifying this desire is added facilities that render life in the
country as interesting and as much abreast of the times as life in the
city, the tenement question in cities will soon cease to be the serious
problem it is now.

Independent. 70: 105-7. January 12, 1911.

Parcels Post Once More.

Proportional rural population is not diminishing. We do not know what
the present census will say, but we do know that from 1890 to 1900
the country gained enormously on the city in its proportion of new
settlers. The old record of 65 per cent. for the city tumbled down
to a little over 30 per cent., and we know of no reversal of this
tendency. Back to the country has become a universal cry. Lands are
rising in value steadily, and deserted farms are a myth. At least,
Governor Hughes in one of his speeches said that he should like to
know where they were in New York State, for he could not find them.
Country churches have often died, to be sure; but they were killed
seventy-five years ago, and they do not note at all any decadence
of farm prosperity. They went out when railroads began to be built.
Crossroads stores have not been run to any extent for half a century,
any more than crossroads taverns. They do not belong to advanced stages
of country life, and are not needed.

Never was country life more progressive, better organized or more
lifeful and hopeful. The crossroads has been displaced by the village
store, and this village store must deliver its goods. It wants the
parcels post. The trolley is reaching its fingers up into the valleys
and touching the farmyards with its carrying capacity. The automobile
is doing even more to reach the isolated farmhouse. We might as well
forbid these forces and conveniences as to deny the farmer a parcels
post. The same argument lies with intense force against rural free
mail delivery in every form. It destroys many post offices; it keeps
the farmer at home; it dissolves hamlet life: but it aids in the great
movement of distributing the blessings of a complete life all over the

We are quite willing to face the frightful proposition which is offered
us, of a community with no business institutions except the post office
and the freight depot. We have seen the tens of thousands of district
schoolhouses blotted out without a qualm, for we have seen the union
schools gloriously taking up the work in their place. We have seen
the little stores and taverns that used to be convenient for watering
horses vanish, because we find a substitute in department stores,
almost invariably within reach, by aid of the trolley and automobile.
We are not worried at all when we contemplate a picture involving a
more substantial country home, with its isolation abolished, hidden
among the hills, but visited daily by the rural free delivery carrier,
even tho he shall have in his automobile a ten-pound package for the

Without parley, we believe that the American people, almost without
dissent, demand a parcels post service; and that if put to popular
vote, this demand would be exprest by a majority of 90 to 1 the
country over. The people are growing impatient over delay, and they
are expressing this impatience very loudly. We believe that the coming
Congress will hardly find it possible to ignore this desire. We quite
agree with one of our contemporaries who says that the next step of
social and economic progress in the United States is unquestionably
bringing the producer and consumer closer together by reducing the cost
of carrying small parcels.

People Demand a General Parcels Post. pp. 7-12.

William Sulzer.

Absence of a parcels-post law enables the railroad companies, through
subsidiary companies called express companies, to eliminate all
competition and prevent all regulation in one branch of transportation
and to escape compliance with the laws that are being enforced against
them in other branches of transportation by the several state commerce
commissions and the Interstate Commerce Commission.

That the owners of the securities of these express companies have made
enormous profits is a recognized fact. One hundred per cent, even 200
per cent, profit when an express company “cuts a melon” no longer
excites surprise when found in the news columns of our evening paper.

No one objects to a fair profit for good service, but conditions seem
to indicate that the transportation companies are not satisfied with
the first and are not giving us the second, while developments before
commerce commission hearings indicate that their backwardness in
adopting economical and scientific business methods causes a tremendous
unnecessary expense. This they are meeting by maintaining and even
increasing already exorbitant rates for service that many believe are
discriminatory, and that grave injury and injustice to business and to
the general public results.

As an example, W. P. Dickinson, of the Burlington Railway, is quoted in
the Railway Record as saying at a public hearing that the expenditures
of the Burlington traffic department for printing and stationery in
the fiscal year 1910 was $222,000. Assuming that they are typical for
all the railways in the United States, the cost of printing railroad
tariffs alone under present methods, is $6,000,000 to $10,000,000.
In modern transportation methods, as, for instance, those in vogue
in Germany, this expense is so trifling as to be scarcely worth
considering. Freights move in Germany on a uniform tariff, based
entirely upon bulk, weight, and distance, discrimination is impossible,
and any shipper can learn in a moment, by referring to the table,
the exact freight charge to any point, and can ship knowing that his
competitors must pay the same price for the same service.

In the United States the shipper can not know all the tariffs that are
published or how they affect rates. He is supplied with a few easily
understood tables, but it is not within human possibility for him to
even read, to say nothing of comprehending, the millions that are filed
with the commission every year and how they affect the cost of the
transportation he buys.

So it seems this extraordinary printing expense of millions, whatever
its purpose may be, operates to keep the average shipper ignorant
about rates. Ignorance is always dangerous, and particularly so in
transportation matters.

Harrington Emerson, the expert, testified at the hearing before the
Interstate Commerce Commission at Washington last November, that
$300,000,000 annually in railroad operating expenses in this country
would be saved if the railroads adopted better business methods of

To save for the consumers that enormous sum, no better beginning can be
made than for the government to establish a satisfactory parcels post
and adopt scientific business methods in its management.

That the interests that control our railroads also own and control
the express companies and that their separate incorporation is merely
a device to cover extortion and discrimination by complex contract
relations is indicated by Senate Document No. 278, pages 53, 54, and 55:

    Stock held by railways in express companies          $20,668,000
    Railway securities held by express companies          34,542,950
    Holdings of express companies in the stock of express
      companies                                           11,618,125
        Total intercorporate ownership express companies
          June 20, 1906                                   66,829,075

_Express Company Rates Cause Loss to Shippers--Express Company Methods
Cause Loss to the Postal Department_

The peculiar, graduated, increasing rate for small-weight parcels is
absolutely prohibitive for express transportation except at an actual
loss for a considerable proportion of business. Most express shipments
are in small parcels. They therefore pay the higher scale. This
increased rate is exacted for both terminal and haulage service and is
as high as 37½ times the first-class freight charge.

The express companies take from the Post Office Department the
profitable business and pocket millions of profits, but leave the
unprofitable for the Post Office Department. The profits from a parcels
post would stop the post-office deficit and give us a 1-cent letter
rate. The annual surplus of the British post-office department about
equals our annual postal deficit. The British have a serviceable
parcels post.

The men in the mail service have a record of one error in 18,000 pieces
handled. Compare that with your experience with the express companies.

_The Parcels Post Not Openly Opposed by the Beneficiaries of Present

The opposition to the parcels post at the late congressional hearing
was made by persons who appeared in the name of American Hardware
Manufacturers’ Association, Illinois Retail Merchants’ Association,
National Association of Retail Druggists, National Association Retail
Grocers, National Retail Hardware Association, National Federation of
Retail Implement & Vehicle Dealers’ Associations, Wholesale Dry Goods
Association, Paint Manufacturers’ Association of the United States.

There was no direct opposition by the express companies to the parcels

_Misdirected Energy Benefits Express Companies and Catalogue Houses_

Since the members of the above commercial associations can not to
any important degree be beneficiaries of the present confiscatory
and restrictive system that has a monopoly of the transportation of
merchandise in packages of 4 pounds to 20 pounds, some other reason
for their opposition to the parcels post must be found, and in that
connection the testimony given by these gentlemen at the hearing is

The main objection to the parcels post was that it would build up
catalogue houses to the injury of retail businesses.

In reply to questions by members of the congressional committee,
however, some of their specific objections applied only to the rural
free delivery now firmly established and which nobody dreams of

The other objections advanced were also to conditions already in
existence, some of which at least it would seem would be less
objectionable if we had a serviceable parcels post.

For instance, the mailing of catalogues by the catalogue houses. That
can be done now to the farmer’s door for one-half cent an ounce, but
even that low rate does not always get the business. I have seen the
catalogue of Sears, Roebuck & Co. and the Chicago House Wrecking Co.
that were sent by each of these firms to addressees who did not specify
how he wished them sent. They were received since the date of the
hearing; both catalogues came by prepaid express.

Had we a parcels post competing with the express companies and reducing
their extortionate charges the express companies would be less able to
deprive the government of that revenue by underbidding the Post Office
Department rate on catalogues.

_Catalogue Houses Don’t Need the Parcels Post, and Oppose It_

At the congressional hearing so much was said by the opponents of the
parcels post about the catalogue houses, how they were behind the
parcels post--that it was for their sole benefit, etc., etc.--that I
went to Chicago and succeeded in getting an interview with Mr. Julius
Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck & Co. He declined to support the
parcels post. He said they were very well satisfied with conditions as
they are, under which they had built up their immense business, which
was done entirely by catalogue and without salesmen or commission. He
explained that only an insignificant amount of their sales went by
mail, that what did was unprofitable, as it cost as much to make ready
and handle such little sales as larger shipments, jewelry being the
only exception, and even for that they advised express.

Evidence that catalogue houses do not want or need, and do oppose, the
parcels post was not lacking at the hearing.

For example: Marcus M. Marks, of the Merchants’ Association of New
York, after stating that the Merchants’ Association is not in favor of
a general parcels post and has frequently placed itself in opposition
thereto he quoted one of the large Chicago catalogue houses as in
opposition, and for this reason: “The result would be that instead
of shipping goods in large bulk it would tend to create a demand for
small shipments, which would increase his expense of doing business.”
Marshall Field & Co., one of the largest concerns in this country,
were referred to by both J. G. Baker, president National Federation of
Retail Implements, etc., and H. L. McNamary, of the Hardware Dealers’
Association, as opposed to the parcels post.

All the opponents of the parcels post at the hearing, mostly retailers
in heavy-weight goods, were very insistent to impress upon the minds
of the committee the great injury that is being done their business
by the big catalogue houses, who, they claimed, are underselling them
and are doing a very large and increasing percentage of the business
that belongs to and should go to the retail dealer. But is it correct
to charge to the parcels post this great loss of trade which has
occurred while we have no parcels post and that has been brought about
by conditions that can claim no assistance from a parcels post? Is it
reasonable to say that a parcels post would produce such conditions
when no such conditions do exist as above noted where the parcels post
has been in operation for many years?

Hampton’s. 26: 261-4. February, 1911.

Let Us Have a Parcels Post.

There would be some shadow of excuse for refusing to accept so great a
convenience as the parcels post if, in accepting it, we would destroy
a large investment in the business of the express companies. But, in
fact, we would not destroy any legitimate values in these companies.
They own practically nothing on which they would lose a dollar. Most
of their money is not in the business of transporting freight, but
in banking and investment enterprises. These would not be interfered
with. Their tangible property actually used in transportation would
be required, and would undoubtedly be taken over at good figures by
the government, when it established a parcels post business. Their
investments in stocks, bonds and banking business would be undisturbed.
The express companies would lose nothing except their graft--the
privilege of charging outrageous rates for the service they render. In
morals and equity that ought to be ended as soon as possible.

The truth is that it is not the political and financial influences of
the express companies which keeps Congress from giving this nation
a parcels post. It is the pathetic and benighted ignorance of a
considerable section of our own people, who have been led to believe
that the parcels post would injure them. It is well-nigh impossible
to believe that there can still be millions of intelligent Americans
who doubt that national prosperity must be promoted by every increase
of the facilities and cheapening of the cost of transportation. Yet
there is such a section of the American public. Misguided and ignorant,
it has permitted itself to become the chief bulwark of protection to
the express companies’ graft. It persists in believing, in the face of
nearly a century of world experience to the contrary, that there is
danger in too easy, too cheap and too universal transportation!

_Unwise Opposition of the Small Merchant_

Reference, of course, is had to the fears which the merchants of the
country towns entertain as to the effect of the parcels post upon their
business. The country merchant has come to accept on this point the
sophistical, disingenuous and dishonest arguments of the express lobby,
skillfully put out through agencies whose real purpose is concealed.

The argument that cheap transportation of parcels will injure the
country towns is exactly as reasonable as the contention that London
and New York, Hamburg and Liverpool, Seattle and Sidney, must be
injured by the railways and steam-ships which, bringing all parts of
the world into close and easy communication, would make it impossible
for great and dominating centers of population, commerce and industry
to exist. Everybody can see how absurd such an argument would be.
The best possible transportation facilities constitute the first
requisite to making a great city. Commercial centers are prosperous and
important, in proportion as they have adequate, efficient and cheap
transportation. This is as true of the country town with a single
railroad line as it is of a continent’s metropolis with half a hundred
great railroad systems pouring their tonnage into its terminals and
with the ships of all the seven seas unloading their cargoes at its

It is an axiom that good, ample and cheap transportation actually
makes commerce. The country town which has no railroad always wants
one. The hamlet which has no post-office is forever riding the neck
of its congressman until it gets one. Great cities vote millions to
build artificial harbors, to provide wharfage, and to increase every
possible facility for cheap and rapid transportation.

There are no communities which need improvement of transportation so
much as the country towns which have been misled into opposing the
parcels post. The country merchant has been made to believe that the
parcels post would take his business away from him and give it to the
mail-order house in the great city. It would do nothing of the kind. On
the contrary, it would give the country merchant the one facility which
he does not now have: it would place him on a parity with the merchant
in a great city.

Quick, cheap transportation would enable him to buy better and cheaper.
He could sell many articles from catalogues instead of having to carry
them in stock. He could create a mail-order business of his own in his
surrounding territory. The local merchant who conducts his business
well has nothing to fear from the mail-order house. Farmers and
citizens prefer dealing with the home man, and the parcels post will
give him many advantages that will enable him to increase his trade to
proportions which are now impossible.

Of course, this does not apply to the country merchant who buys his
goods badly or at high prices, and who gives long credits and sells at
long prices. Parcels post or not, his day is doomed. More alert men,
with better business ideas, will soon occupy his place. The alert,
hustling merchant will use the parcels post so effectively that the old
sleepy head’s day will end just that much sooner.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Every enlightened country
except the United States has a parcels post. No country would think
of abandoning it, any more than it would think of disestablishing its
letter postal service. In the experience of all the world the argument
about injuring the country town is sweepingly and completely refuted.
The small town would gain vastly more than the large town by this
tremendous increase and improvement of its transportation facilities.
The whole public would benefit, for precisely the same reason that it
benefits by having fast steamships instead of sailing vessels, limited
passenger trains instead of stage coaches, two-cent letter postage
instead of five-cent.

_Part Played by the Express Companies_

The people who oppose the parcels post are the innocent and unwitting
dupes of the express monopoly. This is the one point in the parcels
post argument that cannot be too constantly emphasized. When the dupes
are brought to understand their true interests, Congress will not dare
stand for a single session as the protector of express graft.

Small wonder that the express companies are fighting with every
resource against the parcels post. They constitute one of the greatest
groups of financial power in the country. They are united firmly.
Most of the companies are large stock-holders in the others. Thus the
United States Express Company was shown by the report of the Public
Service Commission of New York, issued in 1908, to be capitalized
at $10,000,000. Of this, the Adams Express Company owned nearly
$1,000,000, the American Express Company exactly $1,000,000, and the
Southern Express Company, $70,000. How tremendously profitable the
business of the United States Express Company has been is shown by the
fact that whereas the company claimed an investment of only $2,042,000
in real estate and equipment, it had $7,464,000 in investments,
$895,000 in cash holdings, and $2,000,000 in collateral and other
loans! That is to say, while this company had very little more than
$2,000,000 invested in its transportation business, it had more than
$10,000,000, representing surplus and undivided profit, in general

It has accumulated such vast profits because it has been for many years
charging unconscionable and scandalous rates for its service.

The Adams Express Company is shown by the current number of Moody’s
Manual to have $12,000,000 capital. After paying large regular
dividends and numerous extra dividends for many years, the company in
1907 found itself with such a tremendous surplus that it actually paid
a special dividend of 200 per cent in 4-per-cent bonds! Every holder
of a one-hundred-share of stock was presented with two hundred dollars’
worth of 4-per-cent bonds! The present, of course, represented in part
the excessive charges which the company had been permitted to collect
from the public.

But the most startling statistics of express accumulations are the
financial statements of Wells Fargo and Company. For many years this
company’s capital stock was $8,000,000. Its most recent statement,
as published in Moody’s Manual, listed these assets: Real property,
$4,100,000; equipment used in transportation, $2,044,000; stocks owned
as investments, $3,211,000; bonds owned as investment, $3,750,000;
loans, $17,165,000; cash on hand and in the bank, $5,459,000.

Such were the accumulations of this company whose own statement
admitted that the equipment actually used in its transportation
business represented only $2,044,000. The company has always paid
large dividends. Its star performance in this line was the payment,
early in 1910, of a cash dividend of 300 per cent. Every holder of a
one-hundred-dollar share of stock was given three hundred dollars cash!

This was not all. The stock of the company was worth in the market
exceedingly high prices. In addition to giving this 300-per-cent
cash dividend, the company increased its stock from $8,000,000 to
$24,000,000, and gave the holders of the original $8,000,000 the right
to subscribe at par for two shares of the new issue for each share of
their previous holding.

_Enormous Profits of the Express Companies_

These figures suggest the profits express companies have been making.
They have been making them because our government is the only
government which permits such a monopoly. It is a monopoly which not
only extorts millions upon millions every year from the people, but
which enables railroad companies, through their intimate business and
financial relations with the express companies, to conceal a very
considerable part of their earnings. The express companies are large
holders of one another’s stock, and also of railway stock; in turn,
the men who control the great railway combinations are themselves big
owners of express-company stocks and bonds. The express companies lease
from the railroads the right to transport freight over the railroad
lines. The terms of these leases represent, not a reasonable and
fair charge for the service, but an elaborate project of covering up
excessive earnings and extortionate charges in a maze of complicated
intercorporation transactions.

The worst penalty that the American public pays in order that the
express grafters may make these huge profits and conduct these
manipulations, does not lie in the excessive charges. It lies rather
in the stunting and depressing effect upon general business, which is
a necessary and manifest result of a policy that denies the freest and
cheapest transportation facilities to the entire community.

Good Housekeeping. 53: 2-10. July, 1911.

Housekeeping by Parcels Post.

Isabel G. Curtis.

What would a parcels post mean to the American housekeeper? The
suburban or rural family could receive the bulk of its supplies by
mail--clothing, food, even eggs and butter and fresh meat. And the
country household that had something to sell could, by availing itself
of the parcels post, eliminate the expensive middleman and ship direct
to the consumer. Thus the city housekeeper could receive eggs, butter
and other things by mail at much less than she pays now. In scores
of ways the parcels post would tend greatly to decrease the cost of
living, for it would revolutionize the present cumbrous and expensive
methods of retail business.

The United States Postoffice authorities will accept a package of not
more than twelve pounds in weight and not more than three and one-half
feet wide by six feet long for delivery at any postoffice in England,
Germany or in any one of the thirty-nine foreign countries blessed with
the parcels-post system, at a rate of twelve cents a pound. But you are
denied the privilege of sending the same package to any destination
in your own country at any price. A four-pound package sent to a local
point will cost the sender sixty-four cents while the same package can
be sent to New Zealand or Costa Rica for forty-eight cents.

The parcels-post rates in foreign countries are very moderate. In
Germany, for instance, weight and distance determine the amount of the
charge. The distance charge is fixed by means of zones, the first zone
having a radius of ten geographical miles from the sending point, the
second twenty, etc. The charge for an eleven-pound parcel is six cents
within the first zone and twelve cents for every greater distance.
For parcels weighing more, the charge is the same for the first five
kilograms, but varies proportionately for each additional kilogram. In
Germany, the weight limit is one hundred pounds, in England eleven, in
France twenty-two and in Belgium one hundred and thirty-two pounds.
That there is no good economic reason why any civilized community
cannot have a parcels post seems to be proved conclusively by the
earnings of the postal departments of the governments that have tried
it. The postoffice departments of Germany and France each has a yearly
surplus of more than $14,000,000, and England enjoys a surplus of more
than $20,000,000--a striking contrast to our own Postoffice Department,
with its annual deficit of millions.

“Then why don’t we have a parcels post?” you ask. The answer given
to this question many years ago by Mr. John Wanamaker, when he was
Postmaster General, means just as much today as it did then.

“There are just four reasons against the establishment of a parcels
post,” said he. “They are the American, the Adams, the United States,
and the Wells Fargo Express Companies.”

It has been said by some congressmen and postoffice officials that
there is no parcels post because the public has not demanded it. Why
not demand it now? Let every woman write to her husband’s congressman
and speak her mind!

As pointed out by an Englishman recently in New York, one of the great
advantages of the parcels post is its celerity. “Before it came into
vogue,” he said, “customers often had to wait days for their goods.
Now, within the London radius, it is a case of only a few hours, for
the parcels post makes several deliveries daily. By paying a small
additional fee, ‘immediate delivery’ is secured.

“The great retail houses, in increasing numbers, employ the parcels
post for sending home the purchases of customers, instead of using
their own delivery wagons. They find the government does the work for
them cheaper and better than they can do it for themselves. The price
charged, which is paid, of course, in postage stamps, varies from two
cents for a parcel weighing under two pounds to twenty-two cents for a
parcel not exceeding eleven pounds. Many of the London laundries now
send home the week’s washing by parcels post for the same reason that
the big stores are taking to it. The service cost less than that which
they had previously provided themselves.”

This gentlemen dwells upon the importance of the fact that goods thus
conveyed by the government are virtually insured up to the value of
most packages sent.

Housekeeper. 31: 11-35. August, 1908.

Parcels Post. George E. Miller.

Now what are the advantages and disadvantages of the parcel post? The
advantages can perhaps best be illustrated by reference to the work
done by the parcels post abroad. There, especially in Germany and Great
Britain, this great modern convenience has been brought to the greatest
perfection. And there it is worth studying.

In the first place, it has been demonstrated there that the parcels
post is the greatest stimulant of domestic trade ever devised by man.
In the next place, it has made life in the country, in both Germany and
England as comfortable and convenient as in the city. And lastly, it
has proven so great a blessing in the cities, towns and villages that
in many instances merchants have disposed of their delivery wagons
and they depend upon the parcels post exclusively for the delivery of
merchandise to their customers, except in the matter of goods of too
much weight or bulk to go through the mails.

In London the government runs motor wagons in all directions into the
country for many miles for the delivery of parcels, and this service is
being extended until presently it will cover the country. Parcels up
to the weight of eleven pounds are carried through the British mails,
while in some other countries the limit is much higher, Italy, Chile,
Cuba, the Netherlands, and New Zealand are the only other countries
holding the weight to the same maximum as Britain. In Germany and
Austria packages weighing one hundred and ten pounds are received, and
in Belgium the limit is one hundred and thirty-two pounds. In France it
is thirty-two pounds. In the United States alone the limit is as low as
four pounds while the rate with us is so high, sixteen cents a pound,
as to make the service prohibitive for ordinary use. Abroad the rates
vary, but they are always aimed to be not much above cost, and they are
materially lower than the rate now charged here, and much lower even,
than the rate proposed by the president, which is twelve cents a pound.

No more enticing tale is told by the traveler returned from abroad
than that relating to the parcels post. In England, Germany, and some
of the other countries, the housewife particularly luxuriates in the
joint convenience of the telephone and the liberal mail service. Does
she want a spool of thread of a certain color and texture, or a bottle
of medicine, or a cake or loaf of bread from the bakery, or any one of
a thousand small needs, the necessity for which may come with all too
much suddenness, she simply steps to the phone and makes her request
and by the next visit of the postman she receives that which she
ordered. And yet, she may be ten or twenty miles from the nearest town.

The farmers of those countries likewise receive untold benefit from
the same service. Not long ago a gentleman called at the post-office
department in Washington to relate a circumstance coming under his

“I saw a Yankee demonstrating an American potato digging device to a
farmer in Germany,” he said. “Suddenly one of the parts of the machine
broke. It looked like bad business for the Yankee, but he, with real
American resourcefulness, sprang to the telephone and ordered a
duplicate part from his repository in a village two miles away, and in
twenty minutes the postman delivered it to him and the demonstration of
the digger proceeded to a successful conclusion. Of course, this was
an exceptional instance. Everything connected with it happened luckily
for the man selling the digger. His agent in the repository happened to
be right on the spot when the telephone message came, and the postman
happened to be just on the point of starting in the right direction to
make a speedy delivery. But it seemed to me to tell an eloquent story
of the parcels post, and its effectiveness.”

A red-headed, freckled, vivacious manufacturer from Detroit was in
Germany not long ago and he also brought back a fund of parcels post
stories. But his most significant statement was in regard to the effect
of the service upon the country merchant.

“No man,” he said, “can study this question abroad and retain the
belief that the parcels post will ruin the country merchant. On the
contrary, it has been the making of him. The country merchant of
Germany is far more solid and substantial since the introduction of
the parcels post than he ever was before. It has made him a permanent,
fixed cog in the industrial scheme of that country and given him an
opportunity which he never had before of making himself indispensable
to the community in which he does business.

“How did this happen? By the natural evolution of events. Nothing
else. The wholesale houses of Germany simply stepped into the field
themselves and issued catalogues as fine as any the mail order houses
could produce. And these they placed with the country merchants in
every town and village in the empire. The result was that each merchant
had several dozen catalogues upon his counters for the benefit of his
customers. He was authorized to say to all who came: ‘Here I am. You
all know me. You know whether I am responsible. If you give me your
order and the goods do not prove to be exactly as represented, you need
not take them and I will refund your money. If you want goods of the
same grade as those sold by the mail order houses, I can sell them to
you, and at the same price. And I also have better goods which will
cost you more. But I can give you exactly what you want, and as cheaply
as any one.’

“In the meantime the country merchants have been able to greatly reduce
the stocks carried in their stores. This reduced the amount of capital
tied up in their business. And yet, by means of the catalogues, their
customers were able to select from as large an assortment as they could
in the largest stores, in Berlin.

“And this latter fact is amply recognized by the people of Germany.
They step into a store in the most remote village of the country, and
make their selections and place their orders, securely confident that
they have seen all they could have seen if they had made the journey
to one of the large cities. And they are all satisfied. They regard
their mercantile system as the very best on earth, and I think it is. I
had occasion, while visiting at a house out in the country one hundred
miles from Berlin to need a dress suit, and I didn’t have one on that
side of the Atlantic. I rode to the nearest village one morning,
stepped into a little store, was measured by the storekeeper, and by
mail that afternoon received a very fair ready-made evening suit. I was
both pleased and surprised but the circumstance was a matter of course
to the people I was visiting.”

These are some of the advantages of the parcels post. Now, about the
disadvantages. These would, in this country fall exclusively upon the
express companies. These unaccommodating friends, who have been with us
so long, and who deliver nothing at your door unless you chance to live
in a large city, would doubtless suffer the fate of the German mail
order houses if the government of the United States were to inaugurate
a parcels post upon the same scale as that in Germany. They would have
to go, for who would pay the higher price to have a parcel sent by the
nondelivering express company when the mails would be both cheaper and
would deliver the parcel at your door in city or country?

As for the country merchant, of course, he would demand the German
system, and equally, of course, he would get it. Otherwise, he also
might have to walk the plank and the wholesalers of the United States
would never permit that. They could not afford to.


Perils of Parcels Post Extension. pp. 13-31.

George H. Maxwell.

_A Heavy Deficit Inevitable_

The commercial advocates of larger bulk and lower rates by domestic
parcels post for the shipment of merchandise by mail do not want either
a distance rate or a system limited by territorial zones. They want the
privilege of shipping from any factory or central store or warehouse,
wherever located, anywhere in the United States, to any customer or
consumer, at any postoffice, however remote or inaccessible, in any
state or territory. The rate desired is a flat rate of so much per
pound without regard to distance.

It is urged that the same rate should be charged by Uncle Sam for
carrying merchandise by parcels post from a New England factory to
the distant mountain mining camps in Idaho or Oregon, or to the
prairie towns of Texas, as would be charged for delivering the same
package from the same factory by local trolley car service to a nearby
postoffice in the immediate suburbs of the New England city where the
factory happened to be located.

_Government Bears the Burden_

The national government in each and every case would pay the full
actual cost of transportation and delivery to the point of destination,
whether it were by trolley, railroad, stage-coach, wagon, pack-horse,
mule, sled or snowshoes. Of course it is not contended that the
government could secure an average or flat rate for the cost to it of
transporting merchandise by mail, the same to all points in the United
States, as it is urged that it should charge. On every package mailed
the government would of necessity pay the full cost of carrying it
from the point of shipment by mail to the place of delivery to the
consignee, no matter how great the distance or how costly the character
of the transportation.

In other words, while the government is expected to and of course must
itself pay the full distance cost of transportation and delivery in
every case, and could not give the service unless it did so, it is
expected to look for reimbursement wholly to an average flat rate,
like the rate for letter postage, or the present rate of the existing
domestic parcels post for small parcels--a rate that is the same
everywhere, without regard to the distance from point of mailing to
point of destination.

_Averages Are Misleading_

The argument of averages is relied on to meet this insuperable
objection. It has been suggested that the average haul of all
second-class matter (which comprises only regularly entered
publications, periodicals and magazines) was 540 miles in 1907, as
shown by the report of the Postoffice Department, and on that as a
basis it was estimated that an average rate of 5½ cents per pound or
$29.70 per ton for other transportation charges, and $165.00 for labor
and supplies, a total of $212.00 a ton, would leave a profit to the
government of $27.00 a ton from a general parcels post rate of 12 cents
a pound, which would produce a revenue of $240 a ton.

The estimates given above were embodied in an address by the Postmaster
General before the Union League Club at Philadelphia on October 26,

For reasons based on facts that are undeniable and unquestionable,
these averages and the estimates based on them, would prove utterly
delusive and misleading when put to the test of a practical application
of the proposed extension of the domestic parcels post to include
merchandise in larger bulk and at lower rates than those now authorized
by the postal laws. It is not necessary that the proposed extensions
should be actually tried to demonstrate the deceptiveness of these
average estimates. The conditions are before us and arise from facts so
clearly known and established that he who runs may read.

_The Average Haul_

The average haul of second-class mail matter, made up of printed
reading matter, for every copy of which a regular subscription must be
paid, is fixed by and is in proportion to the average density of the

To illustrate this, take the city of New York as a starting point. It
is the leading publication center in the country, and a larger number
of publications entered as second-class matter are issued from the city
of New York than from any other one city of the country.

The population of New York state in 1906 was estimated to be 8,226,990.
The population of the state of New York alone is as large as that of
the whole western half of the United States, and yet that whole western
half of our territorial area contains only about one-tenth of the
entire population of the country.

The average number of subscribers receiving regular publications
through the mails as second-class matter in proportion to population
is as large in the one state of New York as in the entire western half
of the United States. So the Postoffice Department would serve in New
York state, within an area of 48,204 square miles of closely settled
territory, as many subscribers for second-class mail matter as it
would be compelled to serve over a sparsely settled region in the west
covering 1,513,394 square miles, that being the area of the western
half of the United States, not including Hawaii and Alaska.

_Second-Class Mail Matter_

An average length of haul of second-class mail matter now carried by
the national government would be much greater if limited to the one
state of New York and the western half of the United States, than if
applied to the entire country; for the very simple reason that the
vast sparsely settled area in the west would comprise one-half of the
total number of subscribers served; whereas if the whole United States
were included, then the western half with its sparse population would
embrace only one-tenth of the whole number served, and nine-tenths
would be located in the more closely settled eastern half of the United

In other words, in averaging the length of haul of second-class matter,
nine-tenths of the people served are in closely settled territory,
where they are reached by the short haul, and only one-tenth in the
thinly settled western half of the country, to be served by the long
haul, and oftentimes by the most difficult and expensive methods of

_Conditions That Control Are Reversed_

The principle that controls the average in estimating the length of the
haul of second-class matter is that as the proportion of density of
population increases the average length of the haul is decreased.

It is naturally assumed that the same principle would control in
fixing the average haul of transporting merchandise by mail if the
movement for an extension of the domestic parcels post should prevail;
but strange as it may seem at first thought, the exact contrary would
happen. The principle that controls the average haul in the case of
second-class matter would be reversed in the case of parcels post
extension. The greater the distance the more remote the territory,
the more sparse the population the larger would be the proportion of
merchandise shipments by mail as compared with the whole volume of such

The reasons for this are, first, because the express companies with
their flexible distance rate system would practically surrender the
distant territory and make a rate on nearby points so much lower than
the government rate that the short haul service would go to them,
leaving the long haul shipments for the government; and, second,
because it is the distant market that merchants and manufacturers
desiring to trade by mail wish to reach by the parcels post system of
delivery and which they would exploit if the opportunity were created.

_Impossibility of Adjustment_

Every effort of the national government to readjust an average flat
rate so as to meet this condition, and command for the parcels post the
desired proportion of nearby business, would simply be to get out of
the frying pan into the fire. To lower the average flat rate so as to
compete with express companies in nearby territory and on the short
hauls would stimulate the volume of long distance shipments and still
keep the balance on the wrong side of the ledger. To raise the average
flat rate, so as to secure a larger revenue from the long distance
shipments, would widen the circle within which the express companies
would be able to command the business by a lower rate and reduce the
government revenue by taking away from it more of the short haul

It has been urged that one reason why the proposed extension of the
domestic parcels post should be adopted is that it would lower the
express rates. If that should occur the rates would, of course, be
lowered in the territory, where by lowering their rates the express
companies could command still more of the short haul business, and
thereby increase the proportion of long haul business that the
government would have to carry at a loss. Every time the express
companies lowered their rates it would increase the annual deficit that
would be incurred by the government. No business proposition could be
more simple. The government would be in the position of having entered
into a competitive business. It would have done this after adopting
at the start a system that made it impossible for it to cope with its
competitors. Whatever flat rate the government established would be
met by a lower distance rate by the express companies that would take
the short haul business from which the government could earn a profit,
leaving to the government the long haul business that it could only
conduct at a loss. Nothing that the government could do would prevent
this, because it would make the conditions worse one way or the other
every time it either lowered or raised its flat rate. If the flat rate
were lowered, the proportion of long haul business would be increased,
and the losses be as great as ever. If the flat rate were raised the
proportion of short haul business would decrease, and the average cost
would still create a heavy deficit.

_Act With Open Eyes_

The fact is, the United States government cannot carry merchandise by
parcels post without having to meet an enormous annual deficit for
conducting the service, and the service should not be undertaken by the
government unless such a deficit is to be deliberately and knowingly
created and assumed by the people at large. The government is asked to
undertake an impossibility, if it is expected to make the service pay
for itself, when it is asked to adopt the proposed extensions of the
domestic parcels post.

A flat rate system of charge cannot, in the very nature of things, be
operated in this country without loss. The only way to avoid such loss
would be the adoption of a distance tariff by the government, just as
is charged by the express companies. The proponents of domestic parcels
post extensions do not advocate such a distance tariff system and it
will be time enough to consider its merits if it ever comes before the
people for serious consideration. The fatal defect in the reasoning
of the advocates of the proposed parcels post extensions is that they
disregard the fact that we live in a country as broad as a continent
and extending for over three thousand miles from ocean to ocean, and
that in all that vast territory we have a population of only something
over eighty million people.

_A Subsidy to a Favored Class_

Should the mail trade have a government subsidy?

That is a very plain and simple question, and the answer to it
will also answer the question whether the shipment and delivery of
merchandise by mail should be facilitated and undertaken by the
government as advocated by the proponents of domestic parcels post

If there is any good reason why the mail trade should be encouraged
by government subsidy, it has never been set forth by any advocate of
parcels post extension.

And yet, that is exactly what the proposition amounts to in its
practical application. It would not be a subsidy that would create new
business where there was none before. If it would do that it might be
an argument in its favor. Instead of doing so, it would take the trade
from the merchants, both wholesale and retail, who are now doing it,
and transfer it to new and wholly different agencies, who would be
enabled to secure the trade because of a direct advantage given to the
new agencies by the national government at the expense of the general

_Who Are the Favored Class?_

Whether the seller or the consumer, under this system of a government
subsidy for the mail trade, were to be regarded as the favored class,
the result would be the same. A favored class would be benefited at
the expense of the people at large, and without any advantage to the
general public that would warrant it.

For many reasons the consumer in the long run would be injured more
than benefited by the establishment of such a system for doing the
business of the country, and ought for this reason to be eliminated in
defining the favored class. Temporarily, and considering only immediate
cheapness of needed merchandise, the consumer might imagine himself
benefited, and probably would, but that benefit would be involved and
submerged in far greater indirect losses in the future.

So the favored class, in the last analysis, would be the great
catalogue concerns, and manufacturers who desire to eliminate the
jobber and the retailer and country merchant and sell direct to the
consumer, using the mail as the agency of transportation and delivery
to the purchaser.

Without regard to any of the many serious objections to this system of
trading, based on social and economic reasons, there is no possible
ground upon which a subsidy for the encouragement of this mail trade
should be given out of the United States Treasury and at the expense of
the people at large.

_Effect of a Subsidy_

And when the effect of that subsidy would be to break down long
established commercial customs, and divert the trade from institutions
now successfully and satisfactorily conducting it, there is no more
justification for such a mail trade subsidy than there would be for
the government to carry some new brand of flour cheaper than the old
established brands--in order to enable the manufacturer of the new
brand to introduce and sell the product of his mills.

The growth of the mail trade, under its present limitations, has been
stupendous, and multitudes of retail and country merchants have been
injured, and many driven to the wall by it. But its future growth
would sweep over the country with an irresistible force and wipe out
of existence many thousands of now prosperous retail and general
merchandise stores, if a subsidy were granted to the mail trade in the
form of the proposed extensions of the parcels post.

There are many manufacturers who are doing business along the regularly
established lines, selling goods to the jobber or the retailer, who
are not now seeking or advocating any change in the channels of trade,
but those manufacturers would change their system and enter the field
of the mail trade if the advantages advocated by others were gained
for it. If the avalanche of mail shipments that would follow the
inauguration of such a mail trade system were ever once started no
one could foresee the end or define the limits of the evils it would
ultimately accomplish.

Independent. 70: 72-3. January 12, 1911.

Objections to the Parcels Post. Allan W. Clark.

There are probably a hundred really national organizations of dealers,
and several thousand state and local organizations--generally
affiliated with some of these national bodies. These embrace
practically every line of retail merchandising and the ramifications
of various interests among them. The individual, due paying membership
in some of these larger organizations, like the National Association
of Retail Grocers, the National Retail Hardware Association and the
National Association of Retail Druggists, is from 50,000 to more
than 100,000 each. I have never heard of any association of retail
dealers that is not on record against the extension of the domestic
parcels post in any form, especially the R. F. D. “entering wedge,”
except the organized department stores in one or two cities (such as
“The Merchants’ Association of New York”), who want this practical
government subsidy for the benefit of their mail order departments and
for cheaper local and suburban delivery.

I have mentioned only retailers’ organizations, whose resolutions on
this subject, during the convention season, crowd the pages of all the
trade journals. Nevertheless, practically all the organizations of
wholesalers and manufacturers, besides many local commercial and civic
associations, are opposed to the parcels post, and like the retailers,
have been fighting it for years. Conspicuous among these is the Chicago
Chamber of Commerce, the leading members of which, thru the “American
League of Associations,” are pushing a national campaign “to assist
the retail merchant and to co-operate with other associations in the
protection and development of home trade, and (the italic emphasis is
theirs), _specifically, this organization is now opposing the proposed
parcels post legislation_.”

These dealers, jobbers, manufacturers and others interested in the
maintenance and the improvement of the local stores and the local
community, and who oppose any extension of the domestic parcels post,
vie with its advocates in denunciation of the extortionate charges of
the express companies. But they go further--their associations are
fighting in many states to secure state regulation of express rates
and classification; and they are making practical progress, with every
prospect that their appeals for national regulation will be recognized
by the Interstate Commerce Commission, which has just won its fight
to regulate sleeping car charges. The opponents of parcels post want
lower and equitable rates for the transportation of small packages
of merchandise, but they believe that these rates, like those on the
transportation of larger packages, should be investigated and regulated
by the Interstate Commerce Commission, especially as various state
railway boards have recently demonstrated the fact that the express
companies are chiefly owned by the railroads and are merely vehicles
to bring into the coffers of the railroads larger profits than can be
secured thru government regulated freight rates.

That any one can find an example for the United States in the parcels
post systems over government owned railways in European countries,
the largest of which is smaller than Texas, is incomprehensible to
the average business man who is not asking for a government subsidy
to arbitrarily annihilate distance and the natural local advantages
of thousands of local business communities in order to increase the
present $200,000,000 mail order business; and this in a nation that
maintains a high tariff wall that may or may not “protect” the American
manufacturer, farmer and workman, but the chief effect of which, so far
as the distributor, the dealer, is concerned is to place him between
the upper and nether millstones--the butt of criticism, the subject of
Congressional inquiry on the high cost of living!

The mail order houses want a general parcels post; the general business
community is opposed to it. Suppose that both are actuated by selfish
reasons, one to gain an arbitrary advantage and the other to prevent
it--where do the people come in, those besides the mail order men and
the million retailers and their families?

Further Thoughts on Parcels Post pp. 3-5.

Charles W. Burrows.

Postmaster-General Meyer in an address to the New England Postmasters’
Association, Boston, October, 1907, and elsewhere, made recommendations
urging legislation giving to the Postal Department a greatly extended
parcels carrying service. The recommendations made were mainly two.

First. That the present rate of sixteen cents per pound for the mail
carriage of merchandise with a weight limit of four pounds per parcel
as the maximum shall be changed, reducing the rate to twelve cents per
pound (with fractions at rates from one cent up) and increasing the
weight limit to eleven pounds. The recommendation was that this should
be, like the letter charge, a flat rate to prevail anywhere within
the United States and its possessions irrespective of distance or

In support of this, his first proposition, he calls attention to
certain inconsistencies now existing in the service. He states that
an individual entering any post office in the country with a parcel
weighing four pounds, addressed to New York city will be obliged to
pay sixty-four cents for its carriage by post. If on the other hand it
is to pass through New York city to any one of the thirty-three foreign
countries with which we have postal conventions, the charge will be
but forty-eight cents. Further, should the package weigh more than
four pounds, it will be denied admission to the mails in this country
while it will be accepted and forwarded to any of these foreign lands
if it weighs up to four pounds six ounces, and in the case of some,
twenty-four of the countries it will be accepted even if it weighs so
much as eleven pounds, and it is on account of these inconsistencies
that he urges his legislation.

Let us first examine this point. General Meyer is quite correct in his
statement that it does cost more to send, for example, a pair of shoes
weighing just four pounds from Brockton, Massachusetts, to New York
city, than it would cost to send the same pair of shoes through New
York city to any one of the thirty-three foreign countries with which
we have postal conventions.

General Meyer, however, fails to state that while there is this large
number of foreign countries with which we have postal conventions, yet
not a single one of the twenty-four countries with which we have an
eleven-pound convention is on the map of Europe. They are all of the
nature of Jamaica, the Windward Isles, Venezuela, Barbados, Costa Rica,
Danish West Indies, etc., countries with which we do not do any great
volume of business.

It may further be stated that the weight limit with the remaining nine
countries, most of which are European, is in reality intended to be the
nearest approximation to our own domestic four-pound limit, that is,
it is two kilograms--about four pounds six ounces--and the European
countries all closely scrutinize this weight limit as the business is
one that involves a loss in its operation. Germany, for example, for a
number of years recognized an eleven-pound limit but changed to the two
kilograms about three years ago.

It should be borne in mind, moreover, that the exchange of parcels
between these countries and our own is made as a matter of comity or
international courtesy, and is permitted because the amount involved
is small. The work is done, too, in connection with the carriage of
first-class mail which produces a large profit.

To illustrate this matter, Great Britain carried in her parcels post
last year 104,819,000 parcels. Of these only 2,575,000 (less than 2½
per cent) went out of the country to all foreign countries, her own
colonial dependencies included, and to the United States she sent only
61,000 and we sent to her 89,000 only. The difference which is after
all what we make or lose upon, was some 28,000, and that was but a
fraction of a tenth of 1 per cent of the whole business. With some of
the other countries in question, we exchanged less than 1,000 parcels
in the last fiscal year, and with one of them it was less than 100,
while with all of them aggregated it was a total of but 330,000 parcels
dispatched and 181,000 received; so when we examine this question of
inconsistencies microscopically we find that it is truly of microscopic
proportion only, and may be disregarded as having no important bearing
upon the general question.

One Cent Letter Postage, Second Class Mail Rates, and Parcels Post. pp.

Charles W. Burrows.

Paternalistic, socialistic legislation does not diminish the expense
account, but simply transfers it from one person’s shoulders to those
of others. It is with a people as with a person. If a father gives to
his boy a pair of shoes, the shoes cost the lad nothing, they are to
him as if they had descended from the skies, but the cost is a charge
upon the father, unless he stole them, and even if acquired dishonestly
the cost has simply been moved back upon the shoulders of the merchant.
The compensation for the labor of producing the pair of shoes and of
transporting them to the place where they are put to service is just as
much a charge upon the community whether one individual pays for them
or another. Similarly if the users of any governmental service do not
pay a high enough tariff for that service somebody else must foot the

Now to endeavor to demonstrate that whether the rates imposed for such
service be high or low the government will inevitably be a loser and in
large amount. To this end let us examine for a moment the parcels post
systems of foreign countries.

In Germany a zone system prevails, but the tariff is always low. In
England, a flat rate prevails, and this also is extremely moderate. And
low rates prevail in other foreign countries.

But circumstances alter cases, and with other things we should bear in
mind that the total area of Germany is but 208,000 square miles, while
the area of the one state of Texas is 265,000; in other words, Germany
is but four-fifths the size of Texas. The area of France is almost
exactly that of Germany, again but four-fifths the size of Texas. The
area of England is 50,000 square miles, less than one-fifth the size
of Texas. We have 26 states, any of which is larger than England, and
several many times larger. The area of Switzerland is just under 16,000
square miles, and you can put nearly seventeen Switzerlands into the
one state of Texas. The area of Belgium is but 11,000 square miles; you
can put 24 of it in the state of Texas. Again the density of population
in England is over 550 to the square mile; that of Belgium, more than
600 to the square mile; of Germany nearly 300 to the square mile.

Moreover, no haul in England can be long and but few hauls in the
United States would be short. You may perhaps be able to take 550
parcels from a central originating point like London, carry them for
an average haul of 41 miles, which is the case in that country, and
deliver them all within one square mile of territory at a small tariff
per parcel without material loss, though even England is losing money
upon this service with all conditions favoring.

But remember that the density of population of the United States by
the last census was under 25 to the square mile, and that the parcels
post service would not be mainly operative in densely populated Rhode
Island and near the large cities like Boston, New York, Philadelphia,
etc. If we imagine that 550 parcels are sent from New York city over
a long haul of more than 1,500 miles to the state of Wyoming, where
the density of population is one to the square mile, and have to be
distributed to 550 distinct individuals resident in 550 separate
square miles of territory, no sane business man can doubt that at any
tariff likely to be imposed the government would be a heavy loser.

According to one expert’s estimate, it is possible to carry the
second-class mail matter for short distances on dense traffic routes,
and in quantity lots to one address, that of a news dealer, for
example, as is done for the average daily paper for the part of its
circulation that goes by mail, up to 45 miles with little loss even at
this low 1c a pound rate, though first-class mail at the rate paid by
it can be transported nearly 5,000 miles before the service shows a
loss, and post cards over 11,000 miles.

Now let us suppose a parcels post statute to be enacted, and that the
rate be put at anything you please from 5c per pound to 10c per pound.
Even at the low rate of 5c per pound the express companies will do the
nearby business. If the rate be 10c per pound, the government will
have less to do, but it will still have much with the weight limit
considerably increased over the present amount. And if the rate be put
at 12c per pound, still the government will not make money, not on a
single parcel that it carries. All service that can be rendered at a
cost of less than the government charge will be handled by the express

We cannot have as does Germany a zone system. But without the
operation of a zone system, or a monopoly as on first-class matter,
the government will get all of the losing business and none of the

A friend of mine made a visit a few years ago to the state of
Washington. First he took from Cleveland a 2,000 miles railroad ride.
He then had a day and a half steamboat ride up the Columbia river,
following that a two days’ stagecoach ride to the remote locality that
he was visiting.

He remarked to me in connection with this trip that he should like to
see the government handle a parcels post service for that country at
a profit, even at a rate of 25c a pound, and added that every pound
of anything that went in there would most assuredly be handled by the
government were a parcels post service in operation, for it would be
the cheapest method of getting things there.

Now, the only reason we can have a flat rate upon first-class mail is
because the government makes that a monopoly, and you can send your
letters in no other way than through the post office. Hundreds of
millions of profitable short haul letters carried between the largest
cities of the country where traffic is very dense take care of the
proportionately small number of expensive long hauls.

To show how necessary this may be, permit me to inform you that the
first batch of letters the government sent to Circle City, Alaska,
though each was carried upon a 2c stamp, cost the department some $450
per letter. And it is solely due to the fact that the carriage of
first-class mail is a monopoly that inheres in the government that,
in spite of such expensive occasional service as this to Alaska just
cited, a large part of the receipts from first-class mail are net

Now, even at the low 1c per pound rate accorded to the monthly
magazines and other periodicals, not all of their wares are sent by
mail. There is you know no monopoly of carriage. The publisher can send
packages of his magazine ahead of time by slow freight at less than
the 1c per pound tariff, this freight service being used for the large
lots going over main transportation lines between the great cities and
without expensive changes of route. But upon the quarter hundreds and
half dozens and single copies that go for long distances by expensive
changes of route and to remote rural localities from back of Portland,
Maine, to back of Portland, Oregon, from the upper peninsula of
Michigan to the everglades of Florida, and to the crossroads and rural
free delivery customers of Ohio, New York and other states of the
Union, the government gets the losing job of carrying the periodicals.

I have endeavored in the explanation above to show that the difference
in social condition, density of population, length of haul, ability to
inaugurate a zone system, etc., will operate against our doing at a
profit what may be attempted though even there unsuccessfully, in Great
Britain, Germany, etc.

In Great Britain they pay for transportation but 55% of the charge,
having thus automatically 45% left for other expenses, and if anybody
can do the work at a profit they certainly are in position to attempt

Again the average pay of a British postman is only one-half what we
give our carriers, which is another feature that must be reckoned with.

The first year they had this service in operation, it showed a heavy
loss. They were keeping account of the business, so much in detail that
if a man worked in two different branches they divided his salary.
The eminent gentleman who fathered the system, then said: “Oh, well,
you can’t expect that it should be profitable the first year. This
year we will make it profitable.” The next year the loss was more than
doubled. “Well,” said he, “bookkeeping is expensive, let us discard
bookkeeping.” And since that time they have kept no expense account on
the parcels post system.

Now let us examine what would result in the United States if we were
to enact parcels post legislation and attempt to get it in successful

I wish to make a quotation from the “Catholic World” of June, 1905,
describing the operation of the parcels post system of Germany by a
writer who favors its establishment here. He says:

    “Anyone who has stood in a German post-office, and has seen
    the constant stream of men, women and children, pouring in
    through the doors with packages of all descriptions and sizes,
    and lining up in never-ending rows before half a dozen and
    more receiving officials; who has watched heavy wagons driving
    up to the doors and depositing hundreds of packages, and who
    has noticed the mountains of parcels heaped up in rear rooms
    of the post-office, cannot but have been forcibly struck with
    the magnitude of the parcels post system of transportation in

Does it not occur to the most casual thinker that if a comparable
service were enacted in this country the postal facilities of every
city would be inadequate to the work? Why, you would have to have
in New York city one hundred times as great an amount of space at
your disposal as the Post Office Department has or can readily get
at present. It would involve a thorough readjustment and enormous
expansion of the post office facilities in every large and small
city of the United States, involving an equipment expenditure which
would run to hundreds of millions of dollars--this irrespective of
the question whether it would produce a profit or a loss in operating

There are in the United States more than 50,000 fourth-class
postmasters of these 50 per cent get $100 per annum or less, and 25
per cent of them get less than $50.00 per annum. How long would it be
before they would demand an increase of salary to something like $75.00
per month or more?

The Vice-President of the J. F. Stevens Arms and Tool Co., told me
that if such a service were inaugurated as that of Great Britain, it
would change entirely the methods of distribution of his own house.
They would be obliged to discontinue their present freight shipments
of arms in carload lots to the Pacific Coast at a rate of $3.00 per
hundred pounds upon a twenty-day time schedule for transportation, and
take advantage of the pound rate that the government would give to them
upon a six-day time schedule; that while it would involve increasing
their office force from less than 50 to more than 500 to handle the
work, the savings would be so large that they would have to do this
and to inaugurate many other most radical and far-reaching changes in

If this meant that the service was going to be reduced in cost, while
at the same time shortening the time schedule by more than two-thirds,
always an important factor in increasing rather than in diminishing
expense account, we should all of us find it our duty to welcome
the innovation, great a wrench as it might give to our business
connections. But the costs of the service will not be changed, simply
it will be a different set of people who pay them and no longer would
all the costs be paid by the proper parties--the manufacturer and his
customer, the consumer--but a large proportion by the public at large
in some way or other.

Parcels Post. pp. 6-15.

John A. Ordway.

I question whether there is a man in this hall who actually believes
that one cent of benefit will come to the farmer through reduction in
his cost price of anything he buys because of postal delivery. Each one
of us knows from practical experience that even should the method of
distribution be shifted, still the expense of reaching the consumer
would increase by the methods advocated, which combined with the
profits of inevitable monopoly would cause the poor farmer to wonder
whether this alluring vision of substantial comfort had vanished. Yet
this sham shibboleth of benefit to the farmer has other advocates
besides this small percentage of theorists. The most persistent,
continuous, noisy clamor has proceeded from those whose selfish
self-seeking is as plain to the searcher for motives as the printed
types upon their pages. The editors of various magazines and newspapers
not in touch with the cost and expenses of mercantile life have
almost universally used their columns to create a public sentiment to
accomplish this commercial revolution. Their solicitude for the farmer,
their keen distress at what they term his unfortunate dilemma in being
forced to supply his present needs through present channels, would
wring the stoutest heart, were it not for the perhaps uncharitable
suspicion that their tears were of the crocodile variety, and their
anguish a thin disguise for rank cupidity. “The poor farmer,” more
advertisements; “the unfortunate farmer,” for more advertisements; “we
love and would protect the farmer,” still more advertisements; “we will
organize and preach of deliverance,” for more advertisements; and so
on and so forth shall be our cry until the jobbers’ percentage and the
retailers’ narrow margin shall be diverted into “more advertisements,”
has been the wailing but insistent note everywhere. “No matter if the
actual cash loss of second class matter in 1909 did show a grand total
of $64,128,000, what care we? Still shall our cry be, ‘Help the poor
farmer.’” Shame on such transparent hypocrisy from a public press that
should lead and inspire by truth untainted by the virus of debased

_The Consumer Will Buy Goods No Cheaper_

I may be wrong, but I firmly believe that the development of the
mail order house or the increased adoption of direct selling by
manufacturers, aided by governmental postal delivery, would not confer
one benefit on the consumer in cheapened prices, because of these
facts. The change in the method of distribution would be merely the
shifting of the final price from one shoulder to the other. The margin
between the actual net cost of manufacture and the price paid by
the ultimate consumer is at present divided in varying proportions
into the profits of the maker, the percentage allowed the jobber
for economical distribution, and the final profit of the retailer
in completing this distribution, and in each case competition, that
most effective friend of the consumer, has forced these margins down
to a low general average. Assuming that the jobber and the retailer
have been eliminated and that the manufacturer sells direct, is there
any possible advantage that the consumer or the farmer would obtain?
Decidedly not. The manufacturer would, of a necessity, be compelled to
make and hold a stock of goods ready to respond to instant call. His
cost of manufacture would immediately increase for the reason that his
quantity would be wisely restricted, awaiting the edict of whimsical
fashion, and his sole dependence for the sale of his product would be
that obtained from extensive advertising. I do not believe there is a
man here tonight who has any knowledge of the expense of an advertising
campaign, but will admit that the usual profits of both jobbers and
retailers combined would fall far short of the expense necessary to
continuously maintain any general range of articles of fashion or
utility by advertising alone, and every large advertiser, even if this
stock be protected by trademark or patent, will bear testimony that
not only does the expense of advertising continuously increase, but
also that any cessation of publicity results in immediate suspension of

The second argument or sham pretext for action is that advanced
relating to express companies.

_The Interstate Commerce Commission Now Has Power to Adjust and
Regulate Express Rates and Will Regulate Them_

I am aware, and expensively so, that this monopoly is a menace both to
our pocketbooks and to the general prosperity of the community. Their
course of action is guided by those who fully exemplify the modern
greed and relentless clutch of soulless corporations. Personally,
in their private homes, or in open contact in social gatherings,
these organizers and executives of express companies are attractive
as friends or companions, but officially, and as part of their
corporations, their individuality is lost and the Golden Rule is
locked away to be used only on Sunday or in the imminence of death.

The dangers that confront a free people when monopoly obtains a
stronghold have been freely discussed during the past few years, and
wise restrictions have been placed among our laws. At this very moment
the rates and methods of express companies are being considered by the
Interstate Commerce Commission, and from them we may expect the same
fair-minded decision as recently shown in railroad matters. The laws
are on our books. It is for us to urge, argue, even threaten that they
be obeyed, but the appeal of the proponents of the parcels post bill
that we punish the express companies by starting a government monopoly
in opposition has about the same force to me as an invitation to jump
from the frying-pan into the fire. The power is always ours to regulate
by law, and the law is already ours. One-half of the same energy in
letters, telegrams and petitions asking and insisting on the immediate
action of the law, as has been shown in the propaganda for the novelty
of the parcels post, would have produced results long ago. If this
association, if the various boards of trade, or chambers of commerce,
should manfully and persistently follow this line of action, results
would follow, and thus avoid the dangerous expedient of increasing the
already formidable list of government officials.

_Objections to Parcels Post_

Passing from the consideration of these elusive and mendacious appeals
by self-seeking interests, I ask your attention to what in my judgment
are positive objections to the parcels post, objections that are not
based wholly on dollars and cents, but on the broader principles of
humanity that are above the fleeting tribulations of our little hour,
and whose laws of action create or destroy states or nations as they
are applied wisely or unfortunately.

_Will Injure Country Communities_

John Stuart Mill, one of the strongest reasoners in political economy,
stated in an incisive sentence that “The community that contains the
greatest diversity of industries will always be the most prosperous
and intelligent.” It would seem as if his vision were prophetic of
our loved New England, where towns and villages contain within their
borders the farmer, the manufacturer, the merchant, the teacher,
living in useful harmony, and by their diversity of thought and action
producing men equipped to accomplish the destiny of this wonderful
land. Such environment, such healthy conditions, produce the character
of Americans that the country needs, and the practical benefit from the
New Englander reared in such communities is impressed upon all sections
of this great land. It is to wither and destroy these safeguards of
national security that the proponents of the parcels post intend. In
their infinite wisdom they would sweep the village aside in their zeal
for the mail order octopus and the magazine advertisements. A great
city whose water supply is polluted is in serious danger; a great
community that stems or hinders the growth and influx of healthful men
is short-sighted, and decay will follow. Totally aside from personal
gain, I believe we should steadfastly oppose any attempt, open or
concealed, to sap the vitality of the New England town. Boston exists
because of New England, and Boston should protect its own.

_It Will Increase the Horde of Government Employees_

Another objection to the parcels post is that its operation will add
a tremendous force of government officials to the already swelling
list. Excepting always that human hog who never votes, never reads,
never thinks, but roots and grubs along, grunting out one single
word, “Dollars,” which happily die with him, this objection should be
considered by all thinking men. The stronger the intrenched force of
the party in power, the more difficult will it be to effect needed
reforms when stagnation in office produces disease.

_It Limits the Field of the Individual_

Another objection is that our government of free men was never intended
to block or hinder the pathway of individual endeavor. Rather was its
function to be that of aid or protection to insure equal opportunity
under sane restriction. Following this connection and not to be lightly
regarded, is the assumption that is clearly foreshadowed, that
should the government engage in the transportation of merchandise the
inevitable result would be the national ownership of the railroads,
thereby still further increasing the centralization of power, which is
diametrically opposed to the conception and scope of our general system
of representative government.

_Extravagance Will Be Augmented_

Again a serious objection is that the transfer of conditions of
transportation with its accompanying word paintings of alluring
advertisements would tend to increase general extravagance,
particularly in those sections where prudence is necessary for
happiness, or precaution for old age. A distinguished writer has said
that more discord and misery are caused in this country by our national
extravagance than from any other source, not excepting the results from

Still again, it is closely argued with logical coherence that the
various monopolies that now practically control many branches of trade
would welcome the development of large distributors at the expense
of the present countless individuals, because of the greater ease of
organizing in combination. The tremendous sales and enormous profits
of one mail order house are the subject of daily comment, and should
the government lend its aid to still further increase these figures,
the time would not be distant when similar institutions would start
into life in other sections. Backed by ample capital, and equipped with
the experience regarding methods, their success would doubtless become
immediate, until such time as competition among themselves endangered

It is no fanciful assumption that when that point is reached
combination or absorption will add another impregnable monopoly to the
already threatening list.

The present monopolies have produced such colossal and unwieldy
fortunes that the employment of their surplus is a constant thought,
and so rich a plum would not escape.

Finally, for I have detained you gentlemen long enough, is the rank
injustice of this proposed measure. If by taxation of the people as a
whole, some permanent benefit be obtained, two blades of grass be grown
where one existed, or even one section developed through the agency
of the whole country’s help, no one would more eagerly advocate such
action, for I realize that a healthful growth spreads its benefits
everywhere. But this measure does nothing, creates nothing, carries
with it no lifting of burdens, but simply takes from A to give to B,
without assurance or guarantee of betterment of service or conditions.
As all dry goods retailers know, not one article sold by mail order
houses, in their line, but is daily and usually sold by them at the
same or lower price, without any special fuss or feather about it, and
all of us understand, without possibility of contradiction, that the
advertised brand, in nine cases out of ten, does not depend on its
intrinsic merit for its sales, but instead relies on the credulity of a
thoughtless purchaser.

Again, what justice is there in any law that proposes government aid
to the man whose product weighs eleven pounds, or measures within
certain cubic inches, and denies the same relief to another citizen and
taxpayer whose product necessarily exceeds these limits? If this is not
special legislation bestowing subsidy or patronage on the few at the
expense of the many, then what is it?

For these reasons, and many more, my friends, I oppose the parcels
post as today presented. I believe it unwise and manifestly unfair.
I believe its passage would cause tremendous initial loss, without
subsequent compensating gain. I believe it is a move in the wrong
direction as it affects the government. I believe that the people,
through their representatives, and under the constitution, should have
and should use the power to regulate the channels of trade, and I
strongly deprecate any additional departure from the simplicity, the
directness of our form of government, and especially if such action
should hinder or usurp the zeal or ambition of any citizen in his
wage earning capacity, conducted under the law. If an express company
violates the law treat it under the law with the same justice as would
be given a second story burglar, but no more consider the opening of
governmental lines of express in opposition than you would consider the
governmental employment of other second story burglars as punishment to
law breakers.

The fewer that we have the better, but as self-respecting citizens let
us strive to maintain their standard of even justice, regardless of
special interests or our own personal discomfort.

Journal of Political Economy. 16: 417-35. July, 1908.

Shall the Scope of Governmental Functions Be Enlarged so as to Include
the Express Business? Albert N. Merritt.

In the nature of things the local dealer cannot compete with the
mail-order houses on equal terms. He cannot afford to issue the
expensive catalogues, or to keep so large an assortment of goods.
Moreover, the immense volume of business of the catalogue concerns
enables them to quote cheaper prices on many commodities. Frequently
they are able to secure, on private contracts with manufacturers, large
stocks of goods at prices even lower than the jobber is required to
pay. Furthermore, their expense of doing business is proportionately
much lower, as practically their entire expense of distribution
consists of the outlay in issuing the catalogues and in packing and
shipping the goods when ordered. No experienced force of salesmen is
required to display the goods and argue their merits. Moreover, it is
often the case that the glowing terms in which goods are described
in these catalogues cause the credulous to believe them superior to
what they really are. Distance always seems to lend enchantment, and
abundant opportunities are offered for deception as to the quality of
the goods.

The local dealer, on the other hand, in order to fill orders promptly,
must keep a stock of goods which, in proportion to the amount of
business he does, is vastly greater than that of the catalogue houses.
In order to purchase his goods to advantage, he must lay in a stock in
the fall sufficient for six months or a year, while few, if any, of
the larger mail-order houses would have at any time sufficient goods
in stock to enable them to fill orders for a fortnight. Naturally,
therefore, where the turnover of capital is slower, the percentage of
profit upon individual transactions must be higher, and competition
upon an equal basis becomes impossible.

But quite apart from a theoretical exposition of causes, the facts
show that the local dealers are rapidly losing trade to the catalogue
houses, and in many districts the local retail business has become so
unprofitable that the number of retail stores is decreasing, and their
volume of business less instead of greater as might be expected with
the normal growth of population.

Not only do the mail-order houses excel in the volume of business, and
in the greater assortment of goods, but they are able to effect the
most efficient and economical management by the employment of the most
able managers and department men, which is rarely or never the case in
the ordinary country store, owing to the natural scarcity of men of
that grade. In fact the business management of the ordinary country
store is lamentably weak. From the economic standpoint, therefore, one
is compelled to admit that, in accordance with the laws of competition
and of the survival of the fittest, the catalogue houses have already
demonstrated their superiority.

Admitting, therefore, that the economic position of the mail-order
houses is stronger, are there not important social arguments against
permitting the absorption of local business by the rapidly expanding
catalogue concerns at our large trade centers?

In the first place, it should be noted that the rapid consolidation
of our manufacturing industries makes it more difficult every day to
conduct such enterprises in small communities in competition with the
large plants in the large communities. The result has been that for a
long time the proportion of the manufacturing business done in small
communities has been growing smaller. With the gradual and necessary
elimination of the manufacturing business in smaller communities, the
mercantile business is about all that is left as an economic basis for
the existence of such communities.

These forces tend to a rapid concentration of business in the large
trade centers, and the resulting congestion of humanity at such points.
In one generation the proportion of the population of the United States
living in our large cities has more than doubled, and just at present
is increasing more rapidly than ever before.

It may well be doubted whether this tendency will ultimately be
beneficial to the race. Vice, crime, and disease are rampant in the
slums of our great cities. Human life, under such conditions, becomes
cramped. The unfolding process is impossible. The exigencies of the
situation cause sporadic and abnormal development. The moral and
physical culture of the individual is almost wholly neglected, and
the intellectual development resulting is nearly always one sided,
and too frequently resolves itself into the attainment of solely
those qualities which make for greater acquisitive power. The social
superiority resulting under the questionable standards prevailing in
such centers may be obtained only with the sacrifice of much that is
higher and nobler in human nature.

A large proportion of the population is compelled to lead a sedentary
life. It may well be asked whether the conditions prevailing in our
large mail-order houses and department stores make for the good of
humanity. From 8:00 a. m. till 6:00 p. m. the many children and young
girls employed are kept at close, confining work, frequently straining
every nerve far beyond the limit of safety and human endurance, in
order to make themselves independent, and to meet the conditions which
city life imposes upon them. During the fall rush these girls are often
asked to remain at work till 9:00 or 10:00 p. m. They realize that it
is necessary for them to acquiesce in such unreasonable and brutal
demands or lose their positions during the dull season immediately
following the holidays.

An eminent physician not long ago remarked that it was his personal
opinion, based upon long practice, that less than 10 per cent. of the
girls in our large cities are as strong and healthy as their mothers
were at a corresponding age. This he plausibly explained by the fact
that nearly all of the latter had come from the country where they
lived close to nature, with plenty of fresh air and sunshine, and with
plenty of hard work too, but of the kind which upbuilds and strengthens
the health rather than destroys it.

Furthermore, the wages paid in such institutions are seldom high enough
to enable the individual to live at the prevailing social standards,
and only too frequently the female employees are compelled to piece out
their salaries by questionable means. It is inevitable that the future
generation of the city-bred population should be as much beneath the
present, as the present is beneath the last, unless radical reforms
take place. Such progressive degeneration must be regarded as a
tremendous social calamity.

Without trespassing too far upon the field of the sociologist, it
may safely be assumed that an increased concentration of industry
and population is far from desirable. Why then should the government
take active steps to promote it? Would it not be better to allow the
mail-order houses and local retailers to fight out their own battle
for trade supremacy upon equal terms, on the basis of the survival
of the fittest? The retailer would then at least be able to cling
tenaciously to the few natural advantages which he does possess, and
would necessarily retain a considerable portion of the business. In
establishing the parcels-post the government would be taking action
to crush the local dealer, and would thus take away the last economic
basis for the rural community, and accelerate the concentration of
industry in great cities.

By the elimination of the smaller towns the easiest and most natural
market is taken away from the farmer. His small produce would then have
to be shipped to the large cities, where he would almost certainly
become the prey of commission-house agents, whose methods of operation
are well known. Legitimate competition which means the lowest prices
in view of the quality of the goods offered would be eliminated. The
only competition would then be that of advertising. The one capable of
producing the most attractive advertisements would win in the end. The
American public is so great and so credulous that the house which has
once fooled the public can again under another name and perhaps with
different customers work off the same class of worthless or inferior

Furthermore, the nearby location of a small country town gives to
the farmer and his family immense social, educational, and cultural
advantages, which would be almost wholly inaccessible if it were not
for the existence of such communities. Take away the business and
economic support of such a community, and immediately it becomes
stagnant. Its ambitious and progressive citizens immediately migrate to
other fields, and the town is left to decay.

No parcels-post could be established which would be self-supporting.
The innate desire of the people to get something, as it were, for
nothing, would soon express itself in a demand for a reduction of
rates. No administration could be popular and at the same time
effectively resist such a demand. It has been proved over and over
again in history, that wherever a democratic body politic has
undertaken to conduct a commercial enterprise of a public-service
character, the demand for rates far below the cost of doing the
business has seldom or never been successfully resisted. If this has
proved true of local governments, how much more is it likely to be
true of the federal government which, nearly everybody seems to think,
already has a revenue so great that the principal problem with regard
to it is the determination of the best method of turning it back into
the channels of trade. Even at present with a nominal postal deficit
of from $11,000,000 to $14,000,000, but with an actual deficit as will
be subsequently shown of much more than that amount, it seems that the
demand for penny postage and for the increase of salaries of certain
classes of postmasters and of almost the entire clerical force is too
strong to be resisted effectively.

The real issue is, therefore, Can the government expect successfully to
compete with the express companies, on a business basis? If it can be
shown that the government would be utterly unable to compete it follows
that the government should not undertake the service.

Mr. H. A. Castle, former auditor of the Postal Department of the United
States, has shown in its true light the many defects of our present
postal system, and how far it comes from being that which should be
expected of a private enterprise of like character. Speaking upon this
point he says:

    The protracted postal investigations of 1893 revealed to
    thinking men the disquieting fact that our national mail
    system, which is now the greatest business enterprise in
    the world, is entirely destitute of logical, coherent,
    business-like organization.

Among many other striking defects, he points out that there is utter
lack of business methods in the accounting department. Of the one
billion and a quarter dollars of transactions represented in the
accounts of the 70,000 postmasters all over the United States, less
than 10 per cent. have the double audit required by law. Fraud,
peculation, and embezzlement of third- and fourth-class postmasters
have become common occurrences and are exceedingly difficult to detect.
As the salary of these postal officials depends upon the number of
cancellations at their respective offices, all sorts of fraudulent
schemes are continually being practiced to swell the number of
cancellations beyond the legitimate amount.

Furthermore, there is no method of auditing the number of
cancellations, and the department must accept the word of the
postmaster, which may or may not be true. Several cases have been
unearthed where an agent of a manufacturer has secured a nominal
position of postmaster at some out-of-the-way point, and by drawing
a salary based upon the number of cancellations has practically been
able to secure a rebate amounting to about 75 per cent. on all matter
mailed, the mailable matter being shipped to said point by freight.
Absolutely no account is kept or record made of the number of stamps
issued by the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, and no one has any
means of knowing how many disappear before official record of the
stamps issued is made by the Postal Department.

The weighing of mail matter handled by the railroads takes place only
at stated intervals of four years. As the payment of the railroads
depends upon the average tonnage during the period in which the
weighing goes on, it is charged that all sorts of fraudulent schemes
are continually being practiced by the railroads to increase the weight
of the mail during this period.

There is no auditing of railroad accounts. Forty million dollars is
annually paid out by the department merely on the statement of the
railroads that the service has been performed. There is no effort made
to ascertain the truth or falsity of the allegations.

There is no method of accounting for the actual amount of cash received
by postmasters in payment for second-class mail. The amount of cash
turned in by the various postmasters may or may not bear any relation
to the actual amount of such mail received at their respective offices.
It is impossible to detect dishonest returns except in some of the most
aggravated cases. The average mercantile house which should practice
such methods would be forced out of business in less than six months.

The slowness of the Postal Department to adopt modern business methods
is strikingly illustrated by the fact that till quite recently the only
method of checking the money-order accounts of postmasters was by a
hasty examination of the stubs of order books turned in. No account was
made or reference taken to the actual receipted orders. Imagine a bank
attempting to settle accounts with its customers by the examination of
the stubs of their check-books, rather than by reference to the actual

We are driven to the conclusion, therefore, that the Postal Department
as now organized and operated would be utterly unable to compete with
express companies upon purely a business basis.

Furthermore, it should not be expected that the express companies
would quietly drop out of business. They would make a tremendous fight
for existence, and would at all events retain such portions of the
business as they are now doing at less than the lowest postal rates.
The equipment for the express service would, therefore, have to be
duplicated in every town and village of the United States. It is folly
to presume that the public would not in the end be required to pay
for the enormous loss which would be involved in such an uneconomical

Would it not, therefore, be better to place the proper safeguards
around the existing organizations which are fitted to perform the
transportation service by the best and most economical means, rather
than that the government should undertake the impossible, i. e.,
competition with private companies upon a purely business basis?

Parcels Post Problem. p. 20.

Parcels Post in England.

One of the most concise and yet comprehensive reviews of the operation
of the parcels post system in England is that of I. A. Fleming, taken
from an exchange, and it is as follows:

“American friends of so-called ‘postal reforms’ point to the absence
of express companies in the Kingdom of Great Britain as one of the
good results that have been obtained, and say this is entirely due to
the existing postal laws. But if there are no express companies in
Great Britain, there are scores and hundreds of forwarding agents that
perform the functions of our American express companies. The railroads
are themselves engaged in the forwarding business, making low rates
for service by fast express, exceeding in limit of weight and size of
packages received by the limitations of the postal service by many
pounds even by hundreds of pounds.

“Any attempt at comparison between carrying methods in Great Britain
with those in vogue in the United States is useless, because of the
very short distance between points in the former.

“I asked the managers of some of the leading stores in Ireland,
Scotland and England if parcels post offered great opportunities for
them to send business into the country, and without exception they
admitted that the business by post was decreasing, while the express by
rail and by forwarding agents looking for assignments was increasing.

“Eleven pound packages and under are but a small quantity of package

“From the best information at hand, it is evident that the big carriers
have nullified parcels post in Great Britain, and what they have left
the railroads have picked up. These carriers receive all manner of
parcels, put hundreds in baskets, and thus get the very lowest rates
of transportation. They give their patrons lower rates than they could
otherwise obtain, and because of their concessions charge them four
cents on each consignment, a ‘booking charge’ which gives the carrier a
very fair return for his kindness to the shipper. Little packages go
by parcels post as a rule, and many of the larger department stores use
the mails for delivering goods to out of town customers.

“These rates but add to the burdens of the merchants of the interior.
The independent retailer in the country has few friends. Cheap rates,
co-operative stores, chain stores, mail-order houses by the thousand,
fares paid entirely, special excursions (such as Harrods of London are
now running to the sales) with fares paid and ‘tontine’ establishments
tend but to make the independent merchant, be he a grocer or ‘draper’
as they call dry goods dealers, only a small potato of the kind that
are many in the hill.

“Our mutual friends, the English general merchant, the independent
grocer, and the small retailer, have been almost completely relegated
to a parsimonious living by co-operation, mail-order retailing,
the carrier or forwarding agent, and last but not least, by cheap
excursions to the cities.

“That these same evils will, if they obtain a foothold in the United
States accomplish the same results for the American general merchant
and retailer I firmly believe.”

A. B. C. of Parcels Post. pp. 4-5.

C. W. Spofford.

Q. What is the plan of the rural parcels-post proposed by
Postmaster-General Meyer?

A. It proposes to carry packages originating at a local office of
a rural route for 5 cents for the first pound and 2 cents for each
additional pound, with a limit of 11 pounds. Thus, an 11-pound package
would be carried to any point on a rural route for 25 cents. It is
significant that the rates are the same as those proposed by advocates
of a parcels-post applicable to distances within the United States and
its insular possessions. This proposal seems to be but an entering
wedge for general parcels-post.

Q. Why was rural parcels-post proposed?

A. It was proposed by the Postmaster General as a special favor to
country merchants.

Q. Have country merchants asked for any such special favor?

A. No. On the contrary, they are opposed to it on the following grounds:

1. They do not seek class legislation.

2. The plan would be impracticable in its operations.

3. It would discriminate between towns, favoring the town with the
greatest number of rural routes, regardless of its trading advantages.

Q. Would rural parcels-post be of any benefit to the farmer?

A. No. For the following reasons:

1. The farmer can now arrange with the rural carrier for the delivery
of packages over 4 pounds at rates mutually satisfactory.

2. The proposed rates would be prohibitive on groceries, machinery
repairs and on the bulky merchandise most likely to be delivered under
this new arrangement.

3. To secure the rural parcels-post service, the farmer would be
compelled to buy his goods at the particular town where he gets his
mail, when he might prefer to buy elsewhere.

Parcels Post. pp. 3-9.

F. E. French.

I have the distinguished and pleasing honor of being here today
upon your invitation as a representative of the American League of
Associations, which includes representative wholesalers in nearly every
important city in the United States. The creation of this League has
for its object the development and advancement of the general welfare
and mercantile interest of retail merchants in the smaller communities.
The relations of its members to all retail merchants are intimate and
personal. The retailers desire to buy merchandise from the wholesaler.
The wholesaler desires to sell merchandise to the retailer. In short,
whatever conserves, promotes and advances the merchandising ability and
success of the former, is a direct proportionate benefit to the latter.
Whatever relaxes the intimacy between these interests, deprives the
retailers of their truest and best facilities as merchants and money
makers. The thoughtful and progressive wholesaler and retailer believe
that any rural parcels post bill will unmistakably impair, curtail and
finally dissolve this relationship, which in reality is a partnership
between the wholesaler and the retailer. The proposed parcels post
legislation will gradually eliminate the country store and the very
heart and pulse of country life. Believing this to be absolutely and
unmistakably true, we should stand as a unit in opposition to any
extension of the parcels post system, upon rural routes, even upon an
experimental basis. If the country merchants will co-operate with the
wholesalers in an unyielding resistance to any congressional action
that would in any way interfere with the present system of rural
deliveries, the proposed legislation will be defeated.

In official words, it is contended that rural parcels post will enable
local merchants to hold and increase their trade. On the contrary, the
well informed wholesaler, manufacturer and retailer contend, and the
entire orthodox system of trade distribution replies, that any parcels
post, whether it be a general parcels post law or a rural parcels post
law, although intended to be of benefit to the retailers and a boon to
the rural population, would, in reality, be a great detriment to both.

Mark well how the camel enters the tent: First his head, next his
neck, and last his huge and unwelcome body. First on a few routes only
and in experiment only, a local parcels post; next a complete rural
parcels post; and finally a general parcels post. Let us beware of
the beginning lest in the end we be overcome. During the inauguration
of the first and experimental stage, those interests most to be
profited by this perilous innovation will remain silent, while from
the experiment no safe deductions could perhaps be made which would
indicate the effect of parcels post extension upon your prosperity and
posterity. Finally you will discover that the currents of trade are
running past your door rather than through it, and in that day your
elimination becomes a certainty. In that day also every wholesaler who
has so long found in the country merchants a sure and steady outlet
will know even better than he knows now that rural parcels post, and,
much more, the general parcels post is a dangerous blow to country life.

At the risk of telling you much that you know, let me state some of the
factors of this great problem so that we may think as one man over its

The mail order houses, some of the farmers, and various other people
who reason narrowly, even with generous intent are sustaining the
government in its purpose to go into business in behalf of a class
of the American people at the expense of the whole American people,
and through a bill in Congress they ask all of the people to sanction
a trial of this new species of government aid in certain selected
places. Our government reasons that if it is made more practicable for
rural free delivery routes to become shipping lines between their own
termini, everybody depending for income and outgo on such routes will
profit by this enlarged service. On the contrary, the American League
of Associations holds that everybody will eventually suffer.

The great problem about which we are all trying to think clearly
and think together, has been summarized so effectually by a retail
merchants’ paper in the central west, that I do not hesitate here to
quote its protest against parcels post, endorsed by thousands of retail
merchants in every section of America. The protest reads as follows:

“Parcels post is wholly unnecessary, since rural delivery carriers are
authorized to carry parcels weighing over 4 pounds, and the matter
of compensation is decided by carrier and merchant or by carrier and
farmer. Merchants and farmers generally have not availed themselves of
this service, for the very good reason that there is no need for it.

“If adopted, parcels post will be immediately seized upon as a delivery
outlet by mail order houses which would ship orders by freight or
express in bulk lots to local agents for deposit in the post office to
be forwarded by the rural deliveries. The catalogue houses have already
many of these agents selected, and they have been busily engaged in
distributing catalogues for weeks past. As soon as a rural parcels
delivery became effective, these agents would become active in the
solicitation of business in unfair competition with home merchants, as
these agents would have no taxes, no rent, no salaries, etc., to pay.

“Rural parcels post is admittedly merely an entering wedge for
extension along European lines. That would mean severe demoralization
of our country towns which are dependent almost wholly upon the farmer
trade for existence, and which afford the farmer a good home market for
every dollar’s worth of products he has to sell. If he does not buy
his supplies where he sells his products, he not only demoralizes the
business of his home town, but he also deprives himself of his home
market. If his home market town dwindles into insignificance through
the gradual loss of trade, necessitating the closing of stores and the
emigration of merchants and clerks, then the income will shrink so
seriously that there will be insufficient funds to provide for schools,
churches, libraries, hospitals, good roads, etc.

“Every farming community and its market center are interdependent. It
is impossible to injure one without injuring the other. The parcels
post would injure both farmers and country merchants. We protest
against it as being designed to further the formation of a mail
order trust that could eventually control all important channels of
distribution and thus levy upon the people any desired tribute.”

Today the people’s problem is to conserve our natural resources and
keep the farmer on the farm. Will the gradual impoverishing of the
village storekeeper keep the farmer on the farm? Will the decline of
the social center, the decline of the schools and the decline of the
church facilities keep the farmer on the farm? Will long distance
shopping do more for isolated communities than the sight of real goods
and the warm touch of living people? Will the picture catalogue or the
hearty salesman do more to keep vital the currents between seller and
buyer? Would a heavily laden parcels post messenger, running between a
mail order agency and a distant farm, often through a foot or two of
mud or snow, compensate for the disappearance of the mart and congress
of our country’s rural life--the independent, thriving, hospitable

Fellow merchants, it is our duty to sustain that store, and to do it
now. That store is imperiled by pending legislation, whether by the
institution of a local or a general parcels post. If this new service
be established by the government, even with the best of motives, we
must admit that:

The postal deficit will be increased,

The country’s commercial system revolutionized,

The delivery of legitimate mail delayed,

The population of rural communities depleted, and their progress

And that the government will promote class legislation, for in seeking
to favor the farmer who needs no such preferment, it will subsidize a
commercial interest whose basic business principle is hostility to the
best trade distribution.

Every thinking individual agrees that rural free delivery has been
of great benefit, but the masses of the people do not agree that a
financially unprofitable service shall be put upon its feet at the cost
of the man who has been the mainstay of the farmer in season and out of
season--the country storekeeper.

Why Parcels Post Is Not a Good Thing for This Country. pp. 1-5.

W. P. Bogardus.

Parcels post is a scheme in which it is proposed to utilize the post
office facilities to carry merchandise. Packages under the proposed
bills up to 11 pounds are to be carried in the mails for that sum
varying according to weight, from 2c to 25c. It is claimed by the
friends of parcels post that by adopting the measure the deficit in
the Post Office Department will be wiped out, and a handsome surplus
will result. Claims are easily made. But facts have more value in a
discussion like this. We are cited to the results in Germany as a
substantial proof that post parcels is a paying proposition. They
forget to mention that in Germany there are 340 people to the mile and
an average haul of mail of but 41 miles, while in this country the
average haul of mail is 540 miles and there are less than 23 people
to the mile, and they ignore the difference of conditions in the two

But let us look at the report from the German budget. For the year
ending March 31st, 1910, the income, in round numbers, from the Post
Office Department was $168,000,000 and that included the revenue from
the telegraph business. The expenditures were $148,000,000. This on
the face shows a surplus of $20,000,000, but in the statement of
expenditures there is no account taken of the cost for transportation,
on the ground that the government owns the railroads. In this country
it costs 20 per cent. to transport the mails. That is, one-fifth of
the cost of the Post Office Department is for transporting the mails.
Now add 20 per cent to the expenditures and you have $177,600,000, or
a deficit of $9,000,000. In England, the friends of parcel post claim
that there is a surplus of $24,000,000 in the Post Office Department.
But that includes the receipts from the telegraph messages. In England
the average charge for packages is 9.8c per pound. In this country it
is proposed to send parcels post packages over a territory 30 times
larger than England at an average of not quite 3c per pound to a
population only about twice as large as there is in England.

When the blind Postmaster General of England first introduced post
parcels he reported the results of the measure, but found that there
was an increasing deficit each year, and the reports were discontinued.
It does not seem possible to get exact figures as to the cost of the
system in England, but the presumption is that if there was a large
profit in the plan they would parade the fact. As it is, can we expect
to make parcels post in this country a profitable scheme? With an
average haul of 540 miles to a population of but 23 to the mile, is it
possible to carry goods at less than 3c per pound at a profit, if it
cannot be done in those thickly settled countries at a much higher rate?

If it cannot be done at a profit, why should the government undertake a
scheme that will result in a loss? Rural free delivery is costing the
country $28,000,000 more than it is getting for the service, and only
about one half of the rural population is supplied with the service.

If the government enters into the plan, it must needs have a monopoly,
if successful, of the carriage of packages up to the limit of 11 lbs.,
else the express companies will take all the short haul packages
and leave the long haul packages for the government to carry. Such
conditions prevail at present. The express companies take all the short
haul packages for less than the government charges and leave the long
haul packages for the government to carry, with the result that there
is no profit in the business to the government.

If there is a monopoly established on packages up to 11 pounds, what is
to hinder the government raising the limit of weight?

Are we prepared to let our government enter into competition with
private enterprise? Is it a function of the government to transport
freight? Is it a province of the government to correct abuses of
private corporations, in transportation and other lines, by entering
into competition with them, and using the power the entire people has
given it, to force corporations to be less greedy? It would seem that
the recent decisions by the Supreme Court would justify us in believing
that there is power enough in the laws of the land to protect the
people’s rights.

Perhaps in Australia the government enters into more radical schemes
than in any other country. And this fact is being developed. That the
extension of the control of industry and business, and the activities
in every field of production and distribution is but an incentive
for a greater demand on the government for further movements in the
same direction. The outcome of such policies is a final ending up
in complete socialism. Do we want our government to be a paternal
one? Are we ready to look to it for our transportation facilities?
If we are is there any reason to feel that the government will stop
at transportation? Will there not be other avenues of commercial
enterprise taken over by the government? One of the great dangers to
us, as a people, is the tendency to a centralization of power in the
government at Washington and a willingness of a great many people to
lean on the government for a solution of many problems that they should
solve without the aid of the government.

Parcels Post and Postal Savings Banks, pp. 1-2.

Gilbert N. Haugen.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I want to direct attention to the suggestions made
in a very able and interesting address delivered by Mr. Meyer,
Postmaster-General, at a banquet of the New England Postmasters’
Association, Boston, Mass., October 12, 1907, a part of which I will

    To illustrate the incongruities that exist: Any individual
    entering the post-office here in Boston or in any other city or
    town in the country, with two parcels, each weighing 4 pounds,
    can send one parcel to New York for 64 cents, while for the
    other parcel, which is addressed to some one in a foreign land
    and goes via New York, he will have to pay but 48 cents, for
    the reason that the rate to foreign countries is 12 cents a
    pound, while the rate to our own people is 16 cents a pound....
    Therefore I assume that our Representatives in Congress will
    realize that they can not afford to stand for a policy that
    compels our own people to pay 4 cents more on packages to
    people living in the United States.

This statement is indeed misleading: not that I charge the
Postmaster-General with any intent to deceive or mislead, for I regard
him as a gentleman of integrity, intelligence, ability, and actuated
with the highest motives and with a determination to do justice to all,
and I am not questioning his motives, but will endeavor to present the
facts in the light that I see them. When we have all of the facts, I
will venture to assume that Representatives in Congress will realize
that they can afford to stand for a policy that compels people living
in foreign lands to pay more than people living in our own country. The
Postmaster-General’s statement as to the sending of two pieces, each
weighing 4 ounces, is correct in some cases, and the domestic rate in
some cases is higher than the foreign; but in the majority of cases
foreign rates are the highest. In his excellent address to enlighten
members of the New England Postmasters’ Association and the country,
he might have gone further by saying: “To illustrate the incongruities
that exist, any individual entering the post-office here in Boston,
or in any other city or town in the country, with two parcels, each
weighing 1 ounce, can send one parcel to New York for 1 cent, while for
the other parcel, which is addressed to somebody in foreign lands via
New York, he will have to pay 12 cents, for the reason that the rate
to foreign countries is 12 cents per pound or fraction thereof, while
the rate to our own people is only 1 cent per ounce. Therefore the rate
on the parcel addressed to somebody in foreign lands is 12 times as
great as is the rate on the parcel addressed to New York.” And he might
have referred to the report of the Second Assistant for the year ending
June 30, 1907, pages 25 and 26:

Or he might have said: “If the two parcels referred to, weighing 4
pounds each, or 64 ounces each, or 128 ounces for the two, had been
divided into parcels of 1 ounce each, and one-half of them directed
to parties in New York, the rate on the sixty-four parcels would
have been 64 cents to New York, and the postage on the sixty-four
parcels addressed to London would be $7.68.” According to the Second
Assistant’s report, rates on parcels addressed to foreign countries are
not uniform. The rate to Bermuda is 12 cents per pound, and the rate to
Ecuador is 20 cents per pound. The rate to Sweden, Peru, and Denmark is
20 cents per pound or fraction of a pound for parcels which require the
use of the expensive transit across the Isthmus of Panama, and 12 cents
per pound or fraction of a pound for parcels which do not use that
expensive transit. So we find that rates on parcels weighing 1 ounce
addressed to Sweden, Peru, or Denmark which require the use of the
expensive transit across the Isthmus of Panama is 20 cents, or twenty
times as high as the rate on parcels weighing 1 ounce addressed to New
York. Why this incongruity in rates? Rates on mail matter between the
United States, Canada, Cuba, Mexico, and Panama are fixed by treaty
with each country and with all other countries by conventions of the
Universal Postal Union. The last convention was held at Rome, 1906, and
took effect October 1, 1907. The acts of these conventions are binding
on these countries, but have nothing to do with domestic rates, they
being fixed by Congress and the Department. The conventions are simply
agreements as to international mail matter. The rate on parcels post is
fixed with each country, or in thirty-five parcels-post conventions.
The rate is generally 12 cents per pound or fraction thereof, the pound
being the unit of weight. The rate is 1 cent per ounce. The rate on 5
ounces to the Philippine Islands is 5 cents and to London 12 cents.

Parcels Post. pp. 8-11.

S. C. Smith.

_In Foreign Countries_

The sentiment in favor of this new governmental service has been built
up in this country chiefly by holding up to view more or less highly
painted pictures of what is being done along a similar line in the
countries of Europe. Any fair comparison of the postal service in
those countries and in ours must take into consideration density of
population, expanse of country or length of transportation routes, and
the ownership of the means of transportation. The density of population
and the relative size of the United States and of the principal
countries of Europe having a cheap parcels post are shown by the
following table:

    |               |              |          |             | Population |
    |               |              | Ratio of |             |    per     |
    |    Country.   |    Area.     |   size.  | Population. |   square   |
    |               |              |          |             |    mile.   |
    |               | _Sq. miles._ |          |             |            |
    | United States | 3,602,990    |  100     |  84,154,009 |   23.35    |
    | Great Britain |   121,391    |    3.36  |  41,976,827 |  345.79    |
    | Germany       |   208,860    |    5.79  |  60,641,278 |  290.34    |
    | France        |   207,054    |    5.74  |  38,961,945 |  139.87    |
    | Belgium       |    11,373    |     .31  |   7,074,970 |  622.08    |
    | Italy         |   110,550    |    3.06  |  32,475,253 |  293.76    |
    | Switzerland   |    15,976    |     .44  |   3,315,443 |  207.73    |

These figures are extremely interesting and important in connection
with this subject. We constantly lose sight of the immensity of this
country and its “magnificent distances,” as compared with the nations
of Europe; but in considering a question of transportation, distances
and density of population stand in the foreground. Let it be observed,
for instance, that while our country is over 300 times as large as
Belgium, the latter has a population of 622 people to the square mile,
while we have but a fraction over 23. Yet we will hear it argued that
“Belgium carries 132-pound parcels by mail; why can not we?” or, “If
Switzerland can carry 110 pound parcels, why not the United States?”
entirely ignoring or forgetting the fact that our country is 250 times
as large as Switzerland and has about one-tenth the population in a
given area. Postal authorities have estimated that the average distance
traveled by a piece of mail, including letters, papers, and parcels, is
40 miles in Great Britain, 42 miles in Germany, and 540 miles in the
United States. Of course it is still less in the smaller countries of
Europe. The admission of paper mail to this calculation greatly reduces
the average, since newspapers circulate chiefly in the vicinity of the
city of their publication. Parcels of merchandise or produce would
certainly move much farther on an average, because they would chiefly
flow to and from the great cities. If one is going to trade by mail,
and the cost of delivery is the same, why not go to “headquarters,”
which, in the popular mind, means one of the larger cities in the

The maximum parcel carried by the principal nations is as follows:


    United States           4
    Great Britain          11
    Germany               110
    France                 22
    Belgium               132
    Switzerland           110
    Italy                  11
    Austria               110

_Railroad Ownership_

Another factor of equal importance is the nature of ownership of the
means of transportation. In this country all routes are privately
owned and operated. The railroads--the chief means of transporting
the mails--have been constructed for the most part by private
capital, without the aid of the government, and the government, like
individuals, must pay a rate for its service which will yield a fair
return to the owners. The roads in the foreign countries used in
this comparison are largely owned by the governments, in which case
it matters little whether merchandise and produce move by mail or
by freight. In some of the countries, as in France, the government
guarantees the interest on the capital invested in the roads, and in
return has its mails carried free or at a nominal rate.

The English writer above referred to says of the mail-carrying
situation in Germany:

    The German post has no occasion to enforce heavy rates. It can
    impose its own terms on the railway companies. By law these
    have to carry free all parcels under eleven pounds in weight.
    Thus the mistake which has crippled the activity of the British
    parcels post has been avoided.

Of course there can be no just comparison between a service carried
on under such conditions and ours, for the basic conditions are so
fundamentally dissimilar.

The matter of railroad ownership lies at the very foundation of this
question. If this government owned the roads and operated them, it
would matter little what went forward as mail and what under another
designation. But that is not the case now and it is to be hoped never
will be. From this standpoint, as well as from those hereinbefore
mentioned, it is manifestly unfair to argue that because other
countries do so and so in their mail service, therefore we should do
the same.

It is significant that no country giving a large service of the kind
under consideration undertakes to say that its receipts equal the
cost of the service. I have not been able to find any report showing
the cost of the parcels department. It is stated by some pretty high
authority that the general belief among these nations is that they
are rendering it at a loss. It is hard to reconcile that condition of
the business with any idea of fairness. We may properly carry on the
educational feature of the mail service, in part, out of the general
revenue of the government; but who will say that we may fairly carry
the individual’s produce to market or his merchandise home for him at
public expense in whole or in part? Why should all the people be taxed
to pay a postal deficit created by moving freight for the people at
less than cost of service? Is there any reason why this branch of pure
business should be conducted at public expense which would not justify
the performance by the government of any other department of business?

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Selected Articles on the Parcels Post - Debaters' Handbook Series" ***

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