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Title: Postal Riders and Raiders
Author: Gantz, W. H.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber’s Note: Punctuation and typographical errors have been
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[Illustration: “The primary step in connection with second-class mail
is taken in the forests of the American continent.”--_Senator J. P.
Dolliver._]



                        Postal Riders and Raiders

        _Are we fools? If we are not fools, why then continue to
         act foolishly, thus inviting railroad, express company
                    and postoffice officials to treat
                        us as if we were fools?_

                        By The Man On The Ladder

                              (W. H. GANTZ)

                 Issued By The Independent Postal League

                            CHICAGO, U. S. A.
                                  1912

                     COPYRIGHT, 1912, BY THE AUTHOR
                           ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

                  Price $1.50, Prepaid to Any Address.
                       Independent Postal League,
                         No. 5037 Indiana Ave.,
                                 Chicago



FOREWORD TO THE READER.


The mud-sills of this book are hewn from the presupposition that the
person who reads it has not only the essentially necessary equipment to
do his own thinking, but also a more or less practiced habit of doing it.
It is upon such foundation the superstructure of this volume was built.
It is written in the hope of promoting, or provoking, thought on certain
subjects, along certain lines--not to create or school thinkers. So, if
the reader lacks the necessary cranial furnishing to do his own thinking,
or, if having that, he has a cultivated habit of letting other people do
his hard thinking and an ingrown desire to let them continue doing so,
such reader may as well stop at this period. In fact, he would better
do so. The man who has his thinking done by proxy is possibly as happy
and comfortable on a siding as he would be anywhere--as he is capable
of being. I have no desire to disturb his state or condition of static
felicity. Besides, such a man might “run wild” or otherwise interfere
with the traffic if switched onto the main line.

Emerson has somewheres said, “Beware when God turns a thinker loose in
the world.” Of course Emerson cautioned about constructive and fighting
thinkers, not thinkers who think they know because somebody told them so,
or who think they have thought till they know all about some unknowable
thing--the ratio of the diameter to the circumference of the circle, how
to construct two hills without a valley between, to build a bunghole
bigger than the barrel, and the like.

There are thinkers and thinkers. Emerson had the distinction between
them clearly in mind no doubt when he wrote that quoted warning. So,
also, has the thinking reader. It is for him this volume is planned;
to him its arguments and statements of fact are intended to appeal.
Its chapters have been hurriedly written--some of them written under
conditions of physical distress. The attempts at humor may be attempts
only; the irony may be misplaced or misapplied; the spade-is-a-spade
style may be blunt, harsh or even coarse to the point of offensiveness.
Still, if its reading provokes or otherwise induces thought, the purpose
of its writing, at least in some degree, will have been attained. It is
not asked that the reader agree with the conclusions of the text. If he
read the facts stated and thinks--_thinks for himself_--he will reach
right conclusions. The facts are of easy comprehension. It requires no
superior academic knowledge nor experience of years to understand them
and their significance--their lesson.

Just read and think. Do not let any “official” noise nor breakfast-food
rhetoric so syncopate and segregate your thought as to derail it from
the main line of facts. Lofty, persuasive eloquence is often but the
attractive drapery of planned falsehood, and the beautifully rounded
period is often but a “steer” for an ulterior motive--a “tout” for a
marked-card game. Do not be a “come-on” for any verbal psychic work
or worker. Just stubbornly persist in doing your own thinking, ever
remembering that in this vale of tears, “Plain hoss sense’ll pull you
through when ther’s nothin’ else’ll do.”

As a thinker, you will now have lots of company, and they are still
coming in droves. Respectable company, too. Mr. Roosevelt suddenly
_arrived_ a few days since at Columbus, Ohio. Then there is Mr. Carnegie
and Judge Gary. The senior Mr. Rockefeller, also, has announced, through
a representative, that he is on the way. These latter, of course, have
been thinkers for many years--thinkers on personal service lines chiefly,
it has been numerously asserted. Now, however, if press accounts are
true, they have begun to think, a little at least, about the general
welfare, about the common good--about the other fellow.

Whether this change in mental effort and direction, if change it be, has
followed upon a more careful study of conditions which have so long,
so wastefully, or ruthlessly and viciously governed, or results from
the fact that the advancing years have brought these gentlemen so near
Jericho that they see a gleam of the clearer light and occasionally hear
the “rustle of a wing,” I do not know. Nor need one know nor care. That
they come to join the rapidly-growing company of thinkers is sufficient.

CHICAGO, March 1, 1912.



Postal Riders and Raiders



CHAPTER I.

MAL-ADMINISTRATION RUN RIOT.


This is nice winter weather. However, as The Man on the Ladder was born
some distance prior to the week before last, there’s a tang and chill
in the breezes up here about the ladder top which makes the temperature
decidedly less congenial than is the atmosphere in the editorial rooms of
my publisher.

But, say, the view from this elevation is mighty interesting. The
mobilization of the United States soldiery far to the Southwest; the
breaking up of corrals and herds to the West; the starting of activities
about mining camps in the West and Northwest; the lumber jacks and teams
in the spruce forests of the north are indeed inspiring things to look
upon; and over the eastern horizon, there in the lumber sections of New
England and to the Southeast, in the soft maple, the cottonwood and
basswood districts, the people appear to be industriously and happily
active; away to the South----

Say! What’s that excitement over there at Washington, D. C.?

“Hello, Central! Hello! Yes, this is The Man on the Ladder.”

“Get me Washington, D. C., on the L.-D. in a hurry--and get Congressman
Blank on that end of the wire. The House is in session, and certainly he
ought to be found in not more than five minutes.”

It is something unusually gratifying to see that activity about that
sleepy group of capitol buildings--the “House of Dollars,” the house of
the _hoi polloi_, and the White House--a scene that will linger in the
freshness and fragrance of my remembrance until the faculty of memory
fades away. There are messengers and pages flitting about from house to
house as if the prairies were afire behind them. Excited Congressmen are
in heated discourse on the esplanade, on the capitol steps and in the
corridors and cloak rooms. And there are numerous groups of Senators,
each a kingly specimen of what might be a _real man_ if there was not so
much pickled dignity oozing from his stilted countenance and pose. There
now go four of them to the White House, probably to see the President,
our smiling William. I wonder what they are after. I wonder----

“Yes, yes! Hello! Is that you, Congressman Jim?” “Yes? What can I do for
you?”

“Well, this is The Man on the Ladder, Jim, and I want to know in the
name of heaven--any other spot you can think of quickly will do as
well--what’s the occasion and cause for all that external excitement and
activity I see around the capitol building? There must be a superthermic
atmosphere inside both the Senate and House to drive so many of our
statesmen to the open air and jolt them into a quickstep in their
movements. Now go on and tell, and tell me straight.”

Well, Well! If I did not know my Congressman friend so well, I would
scarcely be persuaded to believe what he has just phoned me.

It appears that a _conspiracy_--yes, I mean just that--a conspiracy has
been entered into between our Chief Executive, a coterie of Senators,
possibly a Congressman or two and a numerous gang of corporate and vested
interests, cappers and beneficiaries, to penalize various independent
weekly and monthly periodicals. Penalize is what I said. But that word
is by no means strong enough. The intent of the conspirators was--and
_is--to put certain periodicals out of business and to establish a press
censorship in the person of the Postmaster General as will enable him to
put any periodical out of existence which does not print what it is told
to publish_.

It would seem that when the Postoffice appropriation bill left the House,
where all revenue measures must originate, it was a fairly clean bill,
carrying some $258,000,000 of the people’s money _for the legitimate
service of the people_. Of course it carried many service excesses,
just as it has carried in each of the past thirty or forty years, and
several of those _looting_ excesses so conspicuous in every one of the
immediately past fifteen years.

But otherwise, it may be stated, the House approval carried this
bill to the Senate in its usual normal cleanliness. It was referred
to the Senate Committee on Postoffices and Postroads, the members of
which, _after conference with the President_, annexed to it an alleged
_revenue-producing_ “rider.”

This rider I will later on discuss for the information of my readers.
Here I desire only to call the reader’s attention to the fact that under
the Constitution of the United States the United States Senate has no
more right or authority to originate legislation for producing federal
revenues than has the Hamilton Club of Chicago or the Golf Club at Possum
Run, Kentucky. But the conspirators--I still use the milder term, though
I feel like telling the truth, which could be expressed only by some term
that would class their action as that of _assassinating education_ in
this country. These conspirators, I say, did not hesitate to exceed and
violate their constitutional obligations and prerogatives. They added a
revenue-producing “rider” to House resolution 31,539. The rider was to
raise certain kinds of second-class matter from a one-cent per pound rate
to a four-cent per pound rate. Not only that, but they managed to induce
Postmaster General Hitchcock to push into the Senate several _ulterior
motive_ reports and letters to boost the outlawry to successful passage.
But, more of this later.

My friend Congressman Jim has just informed me that the conspirators were
beginning to fear their ability even to get their “rider” to the post for
a start; that many members and representatives of the Periodical Press
Association of New York City, as well as those of other branches of the
printing industry, hearing of the attempt to put this confiscatory rider
over in the closing hours--the crooked hours--of Congress, hurried to
Washington and sought to inform Senators and members of the House of the
_truth about second-class mail matter_. Congressman Jim also informed me
that a delegation representing the publishing interests of Chicago had
arrived a few hours before and were scarcely on the ground before “things
began to happen.” “People talk about Chicagoans making a noise,” said Jim
in his L.-D. message, “but when it comes to doing things you can count on
them to go to it suddenly, squarely and effectively. That delegation is
one of the causes of the excitement which you notice here. Good-by.”

Friend Jim, being a Chicago boy, may be pardoned even when a little
profuse or over-confident in speaking of what his townsmen can do,
but Congressman Jim is a live-wire Congressman, and has been able to
do several things himself while on his legislative job, even against
stacked-up opposition.

While reporting on Congressman Jim’s message from Washington, I phoned
the leading features to the office and have just received peremptory
orders to write up not only this attempt but other attempts to raid the
postal revenues of the country by means of crooked riders and otherwise.
So there is nothing to do but go to it.

Incidentally, my editor, knowing my tendency to write with a club,
cautions me to adopt the dignified style of composition while writing
upon this subject. I assure my readers that I shall be as dignified as
the heritage of my nature will allow and the subject warrants. If I
occasionally fall from the expected dignified altitude I trust the reader
will be indulgent, will charge the fault, in part at least, to my remote
Alsatian ancestor. He fought with a club. I have therefore an inherited
tendency to write (fight), with a club. So here goes.

In opening on this important subject, for vastly important it is from
whatever angle one views it, I wish first to speak of the governmental
postoffice department and then of Postmaster Generals.

First I will say that this government has not had, at least within
the range of my mature recollection, any business management of its
postoffice department above the level of that given to Reuben’s country
store of Reubenville, Arkansas.

The second fact I desire to put forward is that since the days of
Benjamin Franklin there have been but few, a possible three or four,
Postmaster Generals who had any qualifications whatsoever, business
or other, to direct the management of so large a business as that
comprehended in the federal postal service. Not only are the chiefs,
the Postmaster Generals, largely or wholly lacking in business and
executive ability to manage so large an industrial and public service,
but their chosen assistants (Second, Third and on up to the Fourth or
Fifth “Assistant Postmaster Generals”), have been and _are_ likewise
lacking in most or _all_ of the essential qualifications fundamentally
necessary to the management and direction of large industrial or service
business enterprises. I venture to say that none of them have read, and
few of them even heard of, the splendid book written by Mr. Frederick
W. Taylor explaining, really giving the A, B, C of the “Science of
Business Management,” which for several years has been so beneficial in
the business and industrial methods in this country as almost to have
worked an economic revolution. I equally doubt if they have even read the
series of articles in one of the monthly periodicals, which Postmaster
General Hitchcock and his coterie of conspirators tried to stab in the
back with that Senate “rider” on the postoffice appropriation bill. Yet
Mr. Taylor wrote these articles, and Mr. Taylor must _know_ a great deal
about economic, scientific business management. _He must know_, otherwise
the Steel Corporation, the great packing concerns, several railroads,
the Yale and Towne Manufacturing Company, the Link Belt Company and
a number of other large concerns, as well as the trained editors of
several engineering and industrial journals, would not have so generally,
likewise profitably, adopted and approved his recommendations and
directions.

Yet while most of these “Assistant Postmaster Generals” and _their_
subassistants have been glaringly--yes, discouragingly--incompetent
to manage and direct the work of their divisions, some of them have
shown an elegance of aptitude, a finished adroitness in using their
official positions to misappropriate, _likewise to appropriate to their
own coffers_, the funds and revenues of the Postoffice Department.
Reference needs only to be made to the grace and deftness displayed by
August W. Machen, George W. Beavers and their copartners. The one was
Superintendent of Free Delivery, the other Superintendent of Salaries
and Allowances, and the way they, for several years, made the postoffice
funds and revenues “come across” beat any get-rich-quick concern about
forty rods in any mile heat that was reported in the sporting columns of
the daily press.

General Leonard Wood, Congressman Loud and a few other reputable
officials induced President Roosevelt to institute an investigation. The
investigation was made under the direction of Joseph L. Bristow. Then
things were uncovered; that is, some things were uncovered. In speaking
of the nastiness disclosed William Allen White in 1904 wrote, in part, as
follows:

“Most of the Congressmen knew there was something wrong in Beaver’s
department; and Beaver knew of their suspicions; so Congressmen generally
got from him what they _went after_, and the crookedness thrived.

“When it was stopped by President Roosevelt, this crookedness was so
far-reaching that when a citizen went to the postoffice to buy a stamp
the cash register which gave him his change was full of graft, the ink
used in canceling the stamp was full of graft, the pad which furnished
the ink was full of graft, the clock which kept the clerk’s time was
full of graft, the carrier’s satchel tie-straps, his shoulder straps, and
his badge were subject to illegal taxation, the money order blanks were
full of graft, the letter boxes on the street were fraudulently painted,
fraudulently fastened to the posts, fraudulently made, and equipped--many
of them with fraudulent time-indicators. Often the salaries of the clerks
were full of graft. And in the case of hundreds of thousands of swindling
letters and advertisements that were dropped in the box--they were full
of graft.”

We will now get down to the present Postmaster General, Mr. Frank H.
Hitchcock. I have read, and shall later print in this volume the Senate
“rider” to the postoffice department appropriation bill, which, so far
as The Man on the Ladder has been able to learn, Mr. Hitchcock either
wrote or “steered” in its writing. I have also read his series of letters
to Senator Penrose, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Postoffices and
Postroads; also his 1910 report. At this point I shall make my comment on
Postmaster General Hitchcock brief but, mayhap, somewhat pointed.

Most Postmaster Generals for the past thirty or more years have been
incompetent. There have been a few notable and worthy exceptions,
but their worthiness was almost completely lost in the department by
reason of previously planted corruption and political interference.
Most Postmaster Generals, as has been stated, have had little or no
qualification for the management and administration of so large a service
industry as that covered by the federal postoffice department.

Mr. Hitchcock, in his administration of the department, in his reports
and recent letters to the Senate and the House, has shown himself
scarcely up to the _average_ of his incompetent predecessors.

Mr. Hitchcock’s “rider” to the 1911 postoffice appropriation bill and
his recent letters to Senator Penrose and others will convince any
fair-minded, informed reader that he is either an “influenced” man or
is densely ignorant. I wish to make this point emphatic: The careless,
loose, hurried--yes, even silly--wording of that “rider” and the false
and foolish statements in his letters to Senator Penrose, relating to his
demand for an increase of three cents a pound on certain periodicals now
carried in the mails as second-class matter at one cent a pound, he to be
given authority to pick out and designate the periodicals which should be
subject to the increased rate--his false and foolish statements in that
“rider,” and in his recent letters, I say, must show to any intelligent
mind that Mr. Hitchcock is either an “influenced” man or a six-cylinder,
chain-tired, hill-climber of an ignoramus in matters relating to
periodical publication, and also in many essential matters relating to
his department.

My previous statements regarding the government’s postoffice department,
about Postmaster Generals in general and about Mr. Hitchcock in
particular, may not be up to the broadcloth of dignity, but they do carry
the dignity of fact and _truth_, as I shall proceed to demonstrate to my
readers.

Let us consider first the government postoffice department and then Mr.
Hitchcock’s recent actions and utterances.

Most of the Postmaster Generals, including Mr. Hitchcock, appear to have
been greatly exercised about “deficits,” yet persist in pursuing methods
of business management and direction that must, almost necessarily, make
expenditures of the department exceed its receipts.

Also I may ask, in this connection, why so much agony, or “front,”
whichever it may be, about a “deficit” in the Postoffice Department? The
postal service of the country is a public service, _a service of all the
people. As such the revenues of the federal postoffice department should
not be permitted to exceed the actual cost of the service rendered under
honest, economical and competent management and direction._

The departments of war and the navy produce no revenue save the
comparatively speaking trifling sums received from the sale of junk,
abandoned equipment, accoutrements, etc. These departments render
personal or direct service to but a small fraction of the vast number
of people served by the postoffice department. Almost the entire
appropriation for war and the navy in the past forty-five years might be
called a “deficit” so far as any service they have rendered to the great
body of the Nation’s citizenship is concerned. Yet in the face of all
this, so loosely, carelessly and _crookedly_ have the departments of war
and of the navy been managed that there is scarcely a session of Congress
which is not appealed to for huge sums of money to cover “deficits,” to
meet extravagant, wasteful and, not infrequently, fraudulent expenditures
in excess of the vast sums set aside for them in their annual
appropriation bills.

_A few years since it was found that the navy department was employing
more clerks than it employed service men._

As to these strictures on the Postoffice Department, I will here quote
for the benefit of readers who may not have studied this postal service
question, a few authorities on the subject under consideration.

A few years ago the methods and abuses of the federal Postoffice
Department were investigated by a joint commission of Congress. One
paragraph of the commission’s report reads as follows and must be
regarded as officially significant:

“It appears too obvious to require argument that the most efficient
service can never be expected as long as the direction of the business
is, as at present, intrusted to a Postmaster General and certain
assistants selected without special reference to experience and
qualifications and subject to frequent change. Under such a system a
large railroad, commercial or industrial business would inevitably go
into bankruptcy and the postoffice department has averted that fate only
because the United States Treasury has been able to meet deficiencies.”

Pretty plain, straight talk that, is it not?

The resolution to appoint a commission of three members and appropriate
$50,000 for the commission’s use was tacked onto the postoffice
appropriation bill after the Senate “rider” was ditched. That resolution
was under discussion in the House March 3rd (1911)--the usual swan-song
day for those who failed to “arrive” at the November election. Mr.
Weeks, chairman of the House Committee on Postoffices and Postroads,
led the discussion. The discussion was participated in by several
Congressmen, among whom was Congressman Moon of Tennessee. Judge Moon is
recognized as one of the best informed men in Congress on postal matters,
and particularly informed as to present methods of transporting and
handling second-class mail. Mr. Moon, though a member of the conference
committee which had just agreed to the bill, Senate resolution and all,
as amended in conference, quite vigorously opposed the appropriation
of $50,000 of the people’s money for a “Commission” to investigate the
cost of transporting and handling second-class mail matter. He based his
opposition largely on the fact that two or three previous commissions had
been appointed to investigate the same question or matter; that these
previous commissions had gone into the subject thoroughly, had collected
every scrap of information that, under the present methods, or lack of
method, in the postoffice department, it was or is possible to collect;
that these commissions had spent hundreds of thousands of the people’s
money; that they had made complete and exhaustive reports covering all
the information obtained or obtainable; that these reports are on file
and easily accessible, and that _the postal committees of neither Senate
nor House had given any attention or consideration to those reports_.

From the many trenchant things said by Mr. Moon I take the following:

“If the gentleman will excuse me a minute, I am trying to get to
another reason which I want to present to the House as to why I deem
it inappropriate and unwise to pass this legislation. Now, when the
experts undertake to determine just exactly what ought to be paid for the
carrying of the magazines, how the government ought to be remunerated
for the carrying and handling of these magazines, or other second-class
matter, they are bound to take as the basis of the investigation the
manner in which the second-class matter is now handled and the manner
in which it is paid for. In other words, the basis of weighing and
the computation of paying are the basic facts upon which they must
rely in order to determine the question. I undertake to say to this
House deliberately, that in view of our method of weighing and of the
computation of railway mail pay, that no expert on the face of this earth
can today come within fifteen or twenty millions of dollars of what the
compensation ought to be for the transportation of second-class mail.

“If every fact has been adduced that would lead to a proper conclusion
as to what the pay ought to be, if we are to go again over the same
field of investigation with no possibility of any more light, tell me
what sense there is in expending the public money for that purpose? And,
then the very minute you undertake to reach the correct result you are
confronted with a proposition that you cannot justly charge the cost
of transportation and handling to a class of matter flatly _that in
itself produces a return to the government in another class of matter,
probably in excess of the charges of transportation and handling of that
matter itself_--the second class. How are you to draw the lines for the
determination of these questions? You are in the dark; it is a chaotic
proposition, considering the method by which it must be determined today.”

I take it, that however much they may differ from him in his political
and economic views, readers recognize in William Randolph Hearst one
of the most alert and best informed men in this country on the subject
of publishing and distributing periodical literature. He certainly
ranks among the largest, if he is not indeed the largest, publisher and
distributer of newspapers and other periodical prints there is in this
country,--yes, I may say, in the world.

On February 24, 1911, a letter over Mr. Hearst’s signature appeared
in the Washington Post. In this communication he touches upon the
efficiency--rather the inefficiency--of the Postoffice Department in
handling the postal service of this country. I would like to reproduce
the letter entire, but cannot. I will, however, reprint some of its
cogent statements which bear largely upon the point under consideration.
Mr. Hearst says:

    I know something about the cost of distribution of publications.
    I know something about the reasons for the excessive cost of
    distribution of the postoffice. And I say that the high cost
    of distribution in the postoffice is largely due to loose
    and careless and reckless methods, to antiquated systems and
    incompetent management.

    It is estimated that 40 per cent of the charged weight of mail
    matter is composed of cumbersome mail bags and their heavy iron
    locks and fastenings.

    How absurd to imagine that a man who wanted to break into a mail
    bag would be deterred by a ponderous lock.

    The postoffice department might as well insist that a
    burglar-proof lock be affixed to every letter, under the inane
    impression that the only way to tear open a letter would be to
    pick a lock.

    I know, too, personally and positively, of an instance where
    the great mass of western mail was sent over one railroad and
    when the bulk of it was transferred to another railroad, all the
    postal clerks previously employed were maintained on the first
    railroad for over two years after the mail had been transferred.

    The Evening Journal, without any of the powers of the great
    United States government behind it, distributes its product for
    seven-tenths of a cent a pound, and included in this average
    is the 1-cent-a-pound rate paid to the government for copies
    mailed. Obviously, then, the proportion of the product which is
    not carried by the postoffice is delivered for much less than
    seven-tenths of a cent per pound.

    The New York American distributes by mail and express 303,584
    pounds of daily and Sunday papers every week at a cost of
    $1,655.17, or little over one-half a cent per pound. This average
    includes 28,028 pounds sent by mail at 1 cent per pound, so,
    obviously, the average of matter not distributed by mail is less
    than one-half a cent per pound.

    The New York American sends 67,268 pounds of these papers over
    the Pennsylvania Railroad at one-fourth of a cent per pound,
    or one-fourth the rate paid to the United States postoffice
    department.

    That same rate--one-fourth of a cent per pound--is exactly the
    rate charged by the Canadian Government for carrying magazines by
    mail through its postoffice department and for distributing them
    over a thinly populated territory even greater than the United
    States.

    How absurd, then, to assert that the government cannot distribute
    the magazines profitably at this present rate when it handles the
    magazines along with all other mail distributed and without any
    particular extra expense because of them.

    Even if, as I said, the government were handling the magazines
    at a loss, it would be doing a creditable thing. But it is not
    handling the magazines at a loss. It is carrying them at a
    profit, and if it taxes the magazines out of existence it will
    compel the postal department to be conducted at a greater loss
    than the loss at which it is now conducted.

    What inconsistency, too, for the administration to advocate a
    government subsidy to restore a United States merchant marine and
    at the same time advocate a measure to put out of existence a
    much more important American institution.

    If it is a Republican policy to promote business and encourage
    industry, and a proper Republican and American policy to take
    money out of the United States Treasury to subsidize a private
    business in order to create an industry, why is it not a proper
    Republican and American policy to continue to provide a cheap
    mail rate in order to maintain a great American industry and
    perpetuate a mighty educational influence already existent?

The evidence in support of my impeachment of the Postoffice Department
on account of its almost total lack of business method, its absolute
helplessness to tell, even with approximate accuracy, the loss of any
division of its service, or the revenues resulting from any given source
or class of mail carried, would not be complete without quoting Senator
Penrose and former Senator Carter.

Senator Penrose of Pennsylvania is Chairman of the Senate Committee on
Postoffices and Postroads, and former Senator Carter was conceded to be
one of the well informed men on postal matters in Congress.

The excerpt from Senator Penrose is from an address he made on the
floor of the Senate, within the year, when speaking to the subject of
second-class mail rates, and that from Mr. Carter is from his address on
the same subject made in March, 1910. Both follow:

    It is idle to take up such questions as apportioning the cost for
    carrying second-class mail matter or the proper compensation
    of railroads for transporting the mails until we shall have
    established business methods in postoffice affairs by a
    reorganization of the whole postal system.--_Senator Penrose._

    I deeply sympathize with the earnest desire of the department
    officials to get rid of the deficiency they are fated to
    encounter every year, but I submit that the first real movement
    toward that end must begin with the substitution of a modern,
    up-to-date business organization for the existing antiquated
    system.--_Senator Carter._

Comment on the plain, blunt statements of these members of our highest
legislative body, each admittedly well informed on the subject to which
he speaks, is quite unnecessary.

In closing this division of my subject I desire to quote President
Taft; quote from his message to Congress under date of March 3, 1911.
It is an illuminating message and forcefully pertinent to the point
we are considering. I would like to reprint the entire document,
but fear I cannot do so. Of course, President Taft’s strictures and
adverse criticisms are general--since they apply to all governmental
departments--but every official in Washington knows, and none better
than the President himself, that they have both adhesive and cohesive
qualities when applied to the postoffice department.

In this message the President asks for an appropriation of $75,000 to
continue the work he has already begun, that of revising departmental
methods of doing business and of instituting a practical, commonsense
system of accounting under which, or from which, it will be possible
for administrative and legislative officials to learn, approximately at
least, just what departments have done--to any date--and just what it
has cost to do it, two items of information as appears from the message
of the Chief Executive which neither his nor any previous administration
has ever been able to learn, and is not _now_ able to learn with any
considerable degree of dependable accuracy.

As yet I have not learned whether the President obtained the $75,000
asked for. I hope he did. If Congress will appropriate $750,000 for the
purpose the President names in his message, and sees to it that the money
is judiciously and intelligently disbursed, it is the opinion of The Man
on the Ladder that _not less than $100,000,000 annually would be saved
in government expenditures_, or one hundred millions more of service,
material, equipment, etc., delivered for the money now expended.

Following is the essential part of the President’s message. The italics
are the writer’s:

    _To the Senate and House of Representatives_:

    I ask that you include in the sundry civil bill an appropriation
    for $75,000 and a _reappropriation_ of the unexpended balance
    of the existing appropriation to enable me to continue my
    investigation _by members of the departments_ and by experts of
    the business methods now employed by the government, with a view
    to securing greater economy and efficiency in the dispatch of
    government business.

    The chief difficulty in securing economy and reform _is the lack
    of accurate information as to what the money of the government is
    now spent for_. Take the combined statement of the receipts and
    disbursements of the government for the fiscal year ended June
    30, 1910--a report required by law, and the _only one_ purporting
    to give an analytical separation of the expenditures of the
    government. This shows that the expenditures for salaries for
    the year 1910 were $132,000,000 out of $950,000,000. As a matter
    of fact, the expenditures for personal services during that year
    _were more nearly $400,000,000_, as we have just learned by the
    inquiry now in progress under the authority given me by the last
    congress.

    The only balance sheet provided to the administrator or to the
    legislator as a basis for judgment is one which leaves out of
    consideration _all assets other than cash, and all liabilities
    other than warrants outstanding, a part of the trust liabilities
    and the public debt_. In the liabilities no mention is made of
    about $70,000,000 special and trust funds so held. No mention is
    made of outstanding contracts and orders issued as incumbrances
    on appropriations; of invoices which have not been vouchered;
    of vouchers which have not been audited. It is, therefore,
    _impossible for the administrator to have in mind the maturing
    obligations to meet which cash must be provided; there is
    no means for determining the relation of current surplus or
    deficit_. No operation account is kept, and no statement of
    operations is rendered showing the expenses incurred--_the actual
    cost of doing business_--on the one side, and the revenues
    accrued on the other. There are no records showing the cost
    of land, structures, equipment, or the balance of stores on
    hand available for future use; there is no information coming
    regularly to the administrative head of the government or his
    advisers advising them as to _whether sinking-fund requirements
    have been met, or of the condition of trust funds or special
    funds_.

    It has been urged that such information as is above indicated
    could not be obtained, for the reason that the accounts were
    on a cash basis; that they _provide for reports of receipts
    and disbursements only_. But even the accounts and reports of
    receipts and disbursements are on a basis which makes a true
    statement of facts _impossible_. For example: All of the trust
    receipts and disbursements of the government, other than those
    relating to currency trusts, are reported as “_ordinary receipts
    and disbursements_.” The daily, as well as the monthly and annual
    statements of disbursements, are mainly made up from advances to
    disbursing officers--_that is to say, when cash is transferred
    from one officer to another it is considered as spent_, and the
    disbursement accounts and reports of the government so show
    them. The only other accounts of expenditures on the books of
    the Treasury are based on audited settlements most of which
    _are months in arrears of actual transactions_; as between the
    record of cash advanced to disbursing officers and the accounts
    showing audited vouchers, there is a current difference of from
    _$400,000,000 to $700,000,000, representing vouchers which have
    not been audited and settled_.

    Without going into greater detail, the conditions under which
    legislators and administrators, _both past and present_, have
    been working may be summarized as follows: _There have been no
    adequate means provided whereby either the President or his
    advisers may act with intelligence on current business before
    them; there has been no means for getting prompt, accurate
    and correct information as to results obtained; estimates
    of departmental needs have not been the subject of thorough
    analysis and review before submission; budgets of receipts
    and disbursements have been prepared and presented for the
    consideration of Congress in an unscientific and unsystematic
    manner; appropriation bills have been without uniformity or
    common principle governing them; there have been practically
    no accounts showing what the government owns, and only a
    partial representation of what it owes; appropriations have
    been overencumbered without the facts being known; officers
    of government have had no regular or systematic method of
    having brought to their attention the costs of governmental
    administration, operation and maintenance, and therefore could
    not judge as to the economy or waste; there has been inadequate
    means whereby those who served with fidelity and efficiency
    might make a record of accomplishment and be distinguished
    from those who were inefficient and wasteful; functions and
    establishments have been duplicated, even multiplied, causing
    conflict and unnecessary expense; lack of full information has
    made intelligent direction impossible and co-operation between
    different branches of the service difficult._

    I am bringing to your attention this statement of the present
    lack of facility for obtaining prompt, complete, and accurate
    information in order that congress may be advised of the
    conditions which the President’s inquiry into economy and
    efficiency has found and which the administration is seeking to
    remedy. Investigations of administrative departments by congress
    have been many, each with the same result. _All the conditions
    above set forth have been repeatedly pointed out._ Some benefits
    have accrued by centering public attention on defects in
    organization, method, and procedure, but generally speaking,
    however salutary the influence of legislative inquiries (and they
    should at all times be welcome), the installation and execution
    of methods and procedure, which _will place a premium on economy
    and efficiency and a discount on inefficiency and waste_ must be
    carefully worked out and introduced by those responsible for the
    details of administration.

Does that broad accusation of the President approve or disapprove our
previously expressed opinion of governmental department service in
general and of the postoffice department in particular? Notice the
statements I have taken the liberty to _italicize_. Permit me to repeat a
few of them:

“The chief difficulty in securing economy and reform _is the lack of
accurate information as to what the money of the government is spent
for_.”

Does not that fully bear out what Judge Moon said in discussing the
Senate resolution to appropriate $50,000 more for a second-class mail
commission--devote fifty thousand more after the government had already
spent several hundred thousands delving into the same subject and
got little or nothing of value, by reason of the loose, careless and
_wasteful_ methods of the federal postal department?

… “_There is no means for determining the relation of current surplus or
deficit._”

An _inviting_ business situation that, is it not? Especially “inviting”
is it to officials and subordinates who want something they have not
earned, who want to _find_ something.

“No operation account is kept, and no statement of operations is rendered
showing the expenses incurred--_the actual cost of doing business_--the
actual cost of doing business on the one side and the revenues accrued on
the other.”

Now, my dear reader, don’t you know that such a method or system, or
lack of method or system, would put a western corn farm in “financial
distress” the first season and out of business the second? A cattle
ranch, handled on such loose, _ignorant_ methods would be sold out in
a year. What, in reduction, does this _unqualified_ statement of our
President mean?

It means that the heads of governmental departments _do not know_; that
their subordinates _do not know_, and, therefore, our President, our
Senators and our Congressmen _do not know_. Nor can they, under existing
conditions and methods, _find out_. They cannot find out even the
common--the basic--essentials of business methods and management which
Job Fraser, down in “Egypt,” must know in order to keep his hen range out
of bankruptcy.

Do you remember a quotation, some pages back, from the joint commission
which investigated the postoffice department? The investigation which
_rummaged_ into the second-class mail schedule particularly? If you do
not remember, turn back and read it again. It fits like the skin of an
Alberta peach to what the President has just said (March 3, 1911), in his
message from which we have quoted.

While collecting millions of revenue beyond all possible expenditures,
under competent, honest management, our federal postoffice department
would have gone into bankruptcy save for the backing of the government’s
treasury--_for the backing of your money_.

“The only other accounts of expenditures on the books of the treasury
are based on audited settlements, most of which are _months in arrears
of actual transactions_; as between the record of cash advanced to
disbursing officers and the accounts showing audited vouchers, there is
a _current difference of from $400,000,000 to $700,000,000, representing
vouchers which have not been audited and settled_.”

Of course, I do not know how that may strike the reader. It strikes the
writer, however, as being about as near the limit as any individual or
corporation could go without falling over the financial edge and nearer
the limit _than any sensible, well and honestly directed government
should go_.

Again--No, I will requote no more. Turn back and read the quotation from
the President’s message again. Read carefully, and then read it once
more. Any citizen, whose mental tires are not punctured will be not only
a wiser but a bigger and better citizen for having done so.

It was my intention to close this division of my subject with the
excerpts from President Taft’s message. My attention however was called
to a move made by Postmaster General Hitchcock, and an interview had with
him bearing on said move. It was taken note of and “spaced” by a majority
of the newspapers having general circulation in the United States. What I
shall here quote is taken from a Chicago paper of date April 1, and the
“write-up,” nearly a column, is based, it is probable, on a wire to the
journal either from its Washington correspondent or a news agency. As the
article appeared in so many newspapers I take it that the information
conveyed is entirely dependable.

From the write-up it appears that Postmaster General Hitchcock has made
“a round dozen” of changes among the postal officials in the railway mail
service. Some of the changes were promotions--on the government’s pay
roll--changes of division superintendents from one division to another,
shifting of division chief clerks and of division inspectors, etc.,
etc. Theodore Ingalls, formerly superintendent of “rural mails,” is
now superintendent of the “railway mail service,” succeeding Alexander
Grant, who, the friendly space writer says, “is one of the most widely
known postoffice officials in the service.” Whether favorably or
unfavorably known, the write-up sayeth not. At any rate, Mr. Grant goes
to the St. Paul division of the railway mail service at $1,000 per year
less than he formerly drew from the postoffice department funds. Per
contra, Mr. Ingalls steps from “rurals” to railway mails at an increase
of $1,000. The other “round dozen” changes are of similar character,
though affecting positions subordinate or minor to the ones named. No
dismissals, just shifting the official pegs around, possibly for the
“good of the service,” as Mr. Hitchcock says; possibly for other reasons.
It is to be hoped that Postmaster General Hitchcock stated the entire
truth and that these changes are for the good of the service. The railway
mail service is certainly in dire need of betterment, as the reader will
learn before I finish, if he but has the interest and the patience to
follow me to the end.

Why Mr. Hitchcock did not make some _twelve hundred_ changes in the
railway mail service instead of a “round dozen,”--and many of them
dismissals--I do not know. Perhaps Mr. Hitchcock does know. Let us hope
he does and be thankful for small favors. Many people, however, who have
watched the Postoffice Department’s maneuverings during the past forty
years have seen too many “Sunday Editions” put to mail to be fooled by
any of this “shake-up” talk. This shifting of the official shoats from
one pen to another, still leaving them with their noses and four feet in
the trough, is a too common and well known practice in the police and
other public safety departments of our larger cities to fool anybody who
has had his eyes open since the first full moon in April, 1868.

Shake-ups which do not retire incompetent or “faulted” public officials
and servants, just as a “faulted” casting is rejected at “milling,” is
not a “shake-up” that will stand good in any strata of human intelligence
above that found in asylums for broken-down cerebral equipment. It is
_betterments_, not “shake-ups,” that are needed.

The reader will please understand that there is no personal animus in
what I here--or elsewhere--write. I have not had the pleasure, and
possibly the honor, of personal acquaintance with Mr. Ingalls, Mr. Grant
and others of the “round dozen” involved in the Postmaster General’s
“shake-up.” They are probably all fine gentlemen personally, whom it
would be a privilege to meet and to know. But we are writing to a subject
_infinitely larger than any man or set of men_.

The people of this country are “up against” a _postal service
proposition_--a proposition so stupendous in import, so far-reaching
in its application, so crucial in its effects upon us and the children
who follow us, and involving service so incompetent, so wasteful, so
_corrupt_ in its management and operation as to have appalled those of us
who have watched and studied its practices, and to have become a joke,
provoking a smile or laugh among postal officials of other nations who
render a service that _serves_.

For upward of forty years--a few bright spots excepted--our Postoffice
Department has shown itself not only incompetent in the matter of
business management, but disregardful in serving the people who _pay for
the service_. I am aware this is a bald statement, a “mere assertion,”
some postoffice official or sinecure postal “servant” may say, but it
will have to be said more often, more carefully and studiedly and far
more _eloquently_, in order to have it believed outside the family circle
than it ever has heretofore been said to get the people of this country
to stand for it.

In the “write-up” annexed to Postmaster General Hitchcock’s few
paragraphs of interview, the “space” artist gives us, in epitome, the
biography of the men Mr. Hitchcock promotes and demotes in that “round
dozen” of changes. Some of my readers may have scanned the “booster”
newspaper stuff of which I am writing. If so, much of what I have here
said may be bricks or straw, just as it may happen that they know or do
not know the true “innards” of the service status of this Postoffice
Department of ours. I will not do more here than to point to the epitome
biographical sketches of the promotes and demotes in the friendly
“write-up.”

In substance it says that Mr. Ingalls “is a highly trained postal
official” and “entirely familiar with the railway mail system, having
begun his postal work in that service.”

Now, we all sincerely hope that is true. I once ran a sawmill, but,
candidly, I do not believe that any sensible business man would hire me
today to run his saws in any mill turning out mixed cuts. It may be that
Mr. Ingalls has accumulated just the proper, and the proper amount of,
information in superintending “rurals” to enable--to qualify--him to
manage and direct that case-hardened, _looting_ division known as the
Railway Mail Service. Let us hope that he knows how to do it.

In the past twenty-five or thirty years it has been conclusively shown
that the postoffice department, _en tout_, knows about as much concerning
the _railroad_ end of the railway mail service as a mongrel spitz poodle
knows of astronomy.

So I might comment on other names mentioned in the write-up of this
“shake-up” of our Postmaster General. They have all _been_ good men.
Possibly they each and all are good men _yet_--for the jobs to which
the Postmaster General has promoted or demoted them. The people may
appreciate and even honor Jim Jones because he “worked his way up”
from mail carrier on a rural route at Rabbit Hash, Mississippi, to
Superintendent of the Cincinnati Division or the St. Paul Division of the
railway mail service, and even more so, if he got stilted to the position
of “Superintendent of the Railway Mail Service.” Still, listen. While we,
the people, at Rabbit Hash, Mississippi, may be entirely satisfied to see
our boy, Jim Jones, move up the ladder to official honor and salary, how
about you other 93,760,000 people? You want prompt, cheap service in the
railway mail and our Jim Jones fails to give it to you,--_fails when you
know the conditions and the facilities are at call and command to give it
to you_.

What is the answer? Simply that you 93,760,000 other folks may not think
so well of our Jim Jones’ railway mail service ability--or business
ability--as we of Rabbit Hash may think.

Now I have said enough about Postmaster General Hitchcock’s “shake-up.”
What I have not said the intelligent reader will readily infer--_and
there is a whole lot to be inferred_.

At the outset I intended to quote Mr. Hitchcock--quote Mr. Hitchcock
himself--in evidence or proof of my previously made and repeated
statement, that the Postoffice Department is incompetently, is
_wastefully_, if not crookedly, managed and directed.

I am now going to quote Mr. Hitchcock. Of course, he here speaks of only
the railway mail service. It is admittedly one of the worst divisions for
_waste and steal_. But there are others scarcely a neck behind.

The subjoined dispatch states (March 31, 1911), that “while signing the
orders necessary for the changes Mr. Hitchcock said:”

    The investigation which we conducted so long and so carefully
    indicated clearly that the action which I have taken was
    absolutely necessary. _The railway mail service has suffered
    greatly from poor management and lack of supervision._

    In certain of the divisions it was found that the chief clerks
    had not been inspecting their lines, as was their duty. _Some of
    the routes had received no inspection for several years._ …

    The inquiry showed that the business methods of the service in
    several offices _were antiquated and that, as a consequence,
    there was much duplication of work_. Instructions from the
    department directing improvements, as for example the proper
    consolidation of mail matter and the conservation of equipment,
    received _only perfunctory attention_.

    There had been a lack of co-operation also in carrying into
    effect certain reforms which I had indicated, and it was made
    evident by the inquiry that _no proper spirit of co-ordination
    with the department existed in the railway mail service_.



CHAPTER II.

THE UNCONSTITUTIONAL RIDER.


We will now give our consideration to Postmaster General Hitchcock and
the “rider.” I may say some plain, blunt things of him. If so, it is
because I believe Mr. Hitchcock’s official action and statements touching
the recent legislative move were a deliberate, calculated attempt to
ruin some of the greatest periodicals the world has ever known, yes,
_the_ greatest periodicals the world has ever known. Not only was it
that, but the method and time of presentation in the session, as well
as the questionable secretiveness of that official in preparing and
advancing the measure, supply reasonably valid grounds for the charge
frequently made that this attempt at “snap” legislation was but a step in
a conspiracy to throttle the periodical press, to place a muzzle on the
most effective means of education which our people have had during the
past two decades.

Nationally we have far departed from the mudsill principles of the
democratic polity which our founders in their best judgment had framed
for us and bespattered the forest paths of the country with their blood
to _maintain_ for us--the forest paths not alone of the Atlantic states
but also of those vast acquisitions in the West, known in history as the
Northwest Territory and the Louisiana purchases, out of which the fathers
carved so many imperial states. So far indeed have we departed from those
principles, regained from tyranny and maintained for us by the founders
and builders of this governmental polity, that their original _intent_
has been lost sight of by many of our people.

As a result of the struggle for subsistence on the one hand and _corrupt
political practice_ on the other, we are traveling rapidly toward the
old, old way. As the kilted Scots put it, quoting Bulwer Lytton, we
are rapidly reaching that view of life which leads men, in the heat of
a justified anger, to say “Happy is the man whose father went to the
devil;” meaning thereby that our sons _can be happy_ if we manage to
steal and loot enough from the government, or from our fellow citizens
through _governmental favor and protection_, to build for those sons
stone fronts on “Easy street” and leave a bank balance and “vested
interests” sufficient to maintain them.

People happy in the enjoyment of unearned wealth seldom make good, safe
or dependable judges or lawmakers for people who are unhappy.

There may be, of course, some rare exceptions to that statement. The
history of twenty centuries, however--yes, of forty centuries--has
shown very few of them. This may appear to some as a digression from my
subject. Well, so count it, if you will. I have made it as a “foreword”
for three statements I wish to make--statements cogently asserted in
support of an assertion made some paragraphs back.

Mr. Hitchcock, in both action and advocacy, has not only been a
conspicuous member, as newspapers and other reports show, but a leading
factor, in the gang of “influenced” mercenaries and aspiring politicians
who sought to “submerge” certain periodicals which for ten or more
years _have been telling the people the truth--the truth about crooked
corporation practices and about crooked public officials_.

I am here going to make those three statements. I believe them statements
of _fact_. Think them over. _Study_ them. If, after, you think I am wrong
or overstate the facts, then--well, then, that is your affair, not mine.
Remember, I write with a _club_--not a pencil.

The first of the three statements I wish here to make is: The social and
political polity which patriotic and liberty-loving progenitors gave
us, established for us, has been adroitly led from its prescribed way.
Today our governmental and social organizations are _rich in policemen,
soldiers, prisons, poorhouses, organized charities, charity balls, owners
of unearned wealth and in politicians who helped those owners to acquire
that unearned wealth and who furthermore continue to protect them in its
possession_.

The second statement I wish my readers to consider is: The periodical
monthlies and weeklies (and a few “yellow” newspapers), which Mr.
Hitchcock and his coterie of conspirators would muzzle or, by laying
an excessive mail rate upon them, suppress or ruin--and incidentally,
make the Postmaster General _an unrestrained censor of the country’s
periodical literature_----

Those periodicals, I started to say, have given more _real_ educational
benefit to the adult population of this country during the past ten
years _than has been given by all the “little red school houses,”
colleges, universities, and churches combined_.

I do not, as you will notice, include the “political stump.” I do not
care to comment on its peculiar didactic value or fascination for fools.
That means both you and me, reader. We each, occasionally, go to hear the
political “stumper” tell us a lot of _“influenced” lies_.

The third statement I wish to make is: Postmaster General Hitchcock is,
so far as the writer has been able to learn, a politician. Not only
is he a politician, the reports read, but he is a wise, smooth and
“_ambitious_” politician.

That is bad. “Why?” Well, because an “ambitious” politician is about as
useful to us, to you and to me, as are bugs in our potato patch, or dry
rot in our sheep herd. The “ambitious” politician is a disease, attacking
either our kitchen garden or our mutton supply.

“What’s the answer?”

Here is one answer: It is a long way between “three rooms rear and a
palace.” But even they who crawl about the earth, begging for leave to
live, _see_ things, _hear_ things, _feel_ things, and _read_ things. They
are beginning to _understand_ much of what they _see_, _hear_, _feel_ and
_read_.

Is that, Mr. Hitchcock, a reason, one of the reasons, why you who have so
energetically, likewise offensively, tried to shut us out from our main
source of information, from our mental commissary?

Arise, please, and answer.

There are still other remarks which I must make about Mr. Hitchcock’s
peculiar _recent_ action and talk. It may not be at all pleasant to him.
Yet the statements I shall make, I am ready to support by a “cloud of
witnesses.”

As before stated, this attempt to muzzle the press of the country, for
that appears to be the ultimate, likewise the _ulterior_, purpose of
Mr. Hitchcock and his coterie of senatorial and other abettors in their
recent attempt to outrage the _constitutional_ rights of our people, the
_constitutional_ rights of the Lower House and the rules of both Senate
and House, as Senator Robert L. Owen, in brief but pertinent remarks in
the recent closing days of the late session (February 25, 1911), pointed
out,--remarks rife with the cogency of truth.

In a previous paragraph I stated, in effect, that Postmaster General
Hitchcock is an “influenced” man or a densely ignorant one. That he
_is_ densely ignorant on matters pertaining to periodical publications
has been amply evidenced by subsequent quotations from his own reports
and letters. That he at least shares the prevailing ignorance as to the
methods, and the _result_ of methods, for handling the vast business of
the federal Postoffice Department, I have already pointed out.

Possibly I am in error here, but when Senators and Congressmen who have
studied for years the methods of handling business in the Postoffice
Department were--and are--convinced that it is impossible for the most
expert accountants to collect and collate _dependable_ information,
relating either to any of its divisions of service or to the department
in general; when old and tried students of the loose, wasteful methods
of this department, of its utter lack of business system, yes, of its
_crooks_ and _crookedness_--when, I say, such experienced students
frankly and bluntly state their complete inability to gather any
dependable data as to the business done by Mr. Hitchcock’s department, I
am in doubt as to the correctness, or lack of correctness, in my previous
intimation that Mr. Hitchcock is ignorant of his departmental affairs and
practices, as well as of matters pertaining to periodical publication and
distribution.

Mr. Hitchcock has been at the head of his department something like three
years, I believe. He has talked so much and written so much about postal
“deficits,” about the cause of those deficits and how to remedy them by
holding up periodical publishers, that, maybe, he has learned more about
his department, more about deficits and the cause of them--learned more
about these things in _three years_ than older and more experienced men
have learned in ten years--yes, twenty.

Maybe he has. If so, then I was in error when I intimated that his
ignorance extended to departmental matters as well as to periodical
publishing. If, however, I was in error as to Mr. Hitchcock’s knowledge
of his departmental matters, I find myself in a multitudinous and
_growing_ company of intelligent and informed people to whom he will have
to talk and write much more, and to talk and write far more eloquently,
persuasively and _wisely_ than he has thus far talked and written, to
convince them that he has accumulated more departmental wisdom in three
years than numerous older students of the subject gathered in ten.

What training or opportunity Mr. Hitchcock had, previous to his
installation in his present position, to qualify him for the
office--training and opportunity which enabled him to grasp so
comprehensively, as he would have it appear, the duties, functions,
faults in accounting, _frailties_ in the service personnel,--in short,
all the essentials of knowledge and information pertaining to a competent
administration of the department, general, divisional and in detail, I do
not know.

Of course, Mr. Frank H. Hitchcock was chairman of the Republican National
Committee in 1908, which committee, with the aid of “a very limited
campaign fund,” as one colossally profound “stumper” put it, steered the
votes to Judge Taft and himself to his present exalted position. Now,
this experience of Mr. Hitchcock may or may not have especially qualified
him for ready, quick and comprehensive understanding of all that the
Postoffice Department needs to _make it yield even a half of what the
people of this country are today paying for_.

It may have done so. Thoughtful people, however, are numerously
entertaining a private opinion, and thousands of them are publicly
expressing it, to the effect that, so far, Mr. Hitchcock’s voluminous
talk about the affairs, methods, needs and “deficits” of his department
displays a knowledge of the subjects he talks about far more
comprehensive than comprehending. That is, he has talked assertively
or persuasively, as his auditor or audience fit into his purpose, upon
numerous departmental phases of administration, regarding which final
analysis in the crucible of “plain hoss sense” shows he knows little.

And he knew _less_ when he talked than he now knows. The periodical
publishers of the country have been “handing him” some information,
_after they got notice of what he was trying “to put over,” since he went
to President Taft not later than October or mid-November last_. I say
that, because President Taft _covered Mr. Hitchcock’s idea_ (or scheme)
_of removing the postal department deficit in his December message for
1910_.

Now, did Mr. Hitchcock influence President Taft, or did President Taft
influence Mr. Hitchcock?

That is the question; whether it is better to be the “influenced” or the
“influencer.”

The above query may be awkward, or even an uncouth way to state the
question, but in evidence that it is a question with thoughtful
people--_informed people_. I desire here to quote some statements written
by [1]Samuel G. Blythe. With no thought of discriminating praise I can
positively say that Samuel G. Blythe _stands with the best of you boys
who are doing so much for our enlightenment_--FOR OUR EDUCATION--IN
MATTERS RELATING TO OUR NATIONAL GOVERNMENT.

Is not that right, boys?

I hear a unanimous “aye.”

In this connection, however, I wish to remind you boys that many of
you--most of you, probably--have done as much to help the people of the
country in your _local_ fields of interest and activity as you have done
to enlighten us as to Washington’s politics, policies and _tangential
peculiarities_.

With this explanation for my taking our “Sam” instead of you other
boys for quotation, maybe _mutilation_, just here in the context of
this book, I may add that his article in the Saturday Evening Post of
date, April 15, 1911, is before me. It so _fits_ the point I am now
considering--whether Postmaster General Hitchcock was “influenced” or
“influencing”--that I am going to quote, and, possibly, take all sorts
of liberties with Mr. Blythe’s splendid presentation of Mr. Hitchcock’s
attitude, action and _animus_.

Mr. Blythe, in his article in the Saturday Evening Post, (published by
the Curtis Publishing Company, Philadelphia, and, by the way, one of the
most educative weekly periodicals the world has ever known), tells us
something of Postmaster General Hitchcock’s procedure since in office.

I am here going to appropriate some of the information furnished in Mr.
Blythe’s article. Whether I use quotation marks or not, I want the reader
to know that Samuel G. Blythe has “wised me up a heap” regarding our
Postmaster General’s peculiar official gyrations since the latter arrived
on his present job.

First, it would appear that Mr. Hitchcock arrived with the “deficit” in
his brain. I mean, of course, the Postoffice Department deficit was _on_
his mind, and being fresh from that state of splendid attainments and
beans--Massachusetts--Mr. Hitchcock came to his job brimful of nerve,
purpose and postal service deficits. He was determined to do things,
especially to that _deficit_. Well, he has been doing things, but
scarcely in a way that one would expect from a man coming from the people
who grow up there. The writer cannot say whether or not Mr. Hitchcock
“growed up there.” If he did, some cog must have slipped or “jammed” in
his raising. Most born Plymouth rock men whom I have met, and I have had
the pleasure of meeting many, start out, _and live_, on life lines which
clearly and _cleanly_ recognize the fact that _the end is on its way_,
and that they are going to meet it--meet it with a brave, honest face and
a moral courage that will answer “Here” at the final round-up.

I presume, however, there are a few Easterners who grow haughty,
supercilious and dictatorial in proportion to the square of the distance
they are removed (by fortuitous circumstance, political preferment
or other means), from the “down-row” in the fall husking, the spring
plowing, the free lunch and other symptoms of human industry or need.

This is wholly an “aside.” How it may apply to Mr. Hitchcock must be left
to readers who have a more intimate personal acquaintance with him than
have I.

At any rate, he came to his present official job, it appears from most
dependable information, with a “deficit”--the postal service deficit, of
course--in his mind, and he immediately began in his vigorous, though
somewhat peculiar, way to work it off. Whether his dominating intent
was to work that deficit off the department books or merely work it off
his mind, has not thus far appeared, save, of course, to the coterie in
the circle of Mr. Hitchcock’s intimates and a somewhat numerous body of
periodical and newspaper reporters on the job in Washington.

The latter, of course, know everything. And what they don’t know they go
to all extremes to find out. It was, therefore, a hopeless attempt of
Mr. Hitchcock’s (though he yet seems scarcely able to understand how so
much information got to the public), to keep his _scheme_ to remove the
Postoffice Department’s deficit by shunting the _whole of it onto some
twenty or thirty periodicals_--it was, I say, a hopeless task for him to
keep that scheme safely within the periphery of the corral where herded
the “influenced” and the “influencing.”

But why go on? Mr. Blythe in his article tells some things I want to say
and he says them so much better than I can tell them that I will give
the reader the benefit of that difference and quote him on a number of
points. As showing the studied attempt at snap legislation in the very
closing hours of Congress, Mr. Blythe says:

    The Sixty-first Congress expired by constitutional limitation
    at noon on March 4th, last. On Friday afternoon, March 3, the
    postoffice appropriation bill was up for consideration in the
    Senate. It was being read for committee amendments. At half past
    4 page 21 of the bill was reached, and with it the amendment
    proposed by the Senate Committee on Postoffices and Postroads to
    increase the rate of second-class postage in certain specified
    cases and in certain contingencies. Second-class postage is the
    postage paid by newspapers, magazines and periodicals.

    There had been several speeches. Senator Carter spoke for the
    amendment, and Senators Bristow, Cummins and Owen against it.
    Senator Jones, of Washington, had a few observations in favor of
    the amendment also. At 5 o’clock Senator Boies Penrose, Chairman
    of the Senate Committee on Postoffices and Postroads and in
    charge of the bill, rose in his place, withdrew the amendment
    increasing second-class postage, and submitted in its stead an
    amendment providing for a commission to investigate the question
    of fact concerning the cost to the Postoffice Department for
    transportation of second-class mail matter. This amendment was
    unanimously adopted and the Senate proceeded to the consideration
    of other sections of the bill.

    Postmaster-General Hitchcock sat immediately behind Senator
    Penrose when this happened. He had been on the floor of the
    Senate most of that afternoon, and a great portion of the time
    for several days previous when the discussion of the postoffice
    bill seemed imminent. When Senator Penrose withdrew the
    amendment, the Postmaster General’s strenuously urged plan to
    use the taxing power of the government to make himself a censor,
    with almost unlimited power to declare what magazine and what
    periodical should be taxed and what magazine and what periodical
    should not be taxed; to give himself the sole determining power
    to decide what is a newspaper and what is a periodical--his long
    conceived plan, perfected quietly, put into preliminary execution
    without warning to those concerned, to be jammed through if
    possible, failed and failed utterly.

Mr. Blythe also refers to the fight Postmaster General Hitchcock put up
against _investigation_. Here I desire to quote him at some length:

    The Postmaster General had enlisted the President. He had put
    it up to the Republicans on the Senate Postoffice committee as
    an _Administration measure_ to be supported by administration
    men. He got the President to use the same argument. He contrived
    an amendment, after much labor, so drawn as to give _him the
    greatest_ powers of discretion in the application of the increase
    in second-class postage. He had the regulation of the magazine
    and periodical press of this country in his own hands, he
    thought; and he was preparing to regulate it according to his
    ideas--when he met with a sudden check. It was a good scheme, a
    far-reaching scheme, but it didn’t go through. The Postmaster
    General, being a small-bore politician, took a small-bore view of
    the situation. He underestimated the force of public opinion.

    It is my purpose to tell here the full story of Mr. Hitchcock’s
    attempt to put through this legislation. Before starting,
    however, there is this to be said: There never has been a minute,
    since this contention began, considerably more than a year
    ago, when the publishers of the country have not been willing
    to submit the disputed question of fact to a proper tribunal,
    to determine exactly what _it should cost_ the government to
    transport second-class mail. There never has been a minute
    when the publishers of the country have not been willing to
    pay exactly what, under a businesslike administration of the
    department, it should cost to transport their publications. They
    do not desire any subsidy from the government, and never have.
    The publishers have held that the statement of Hitchcock that it
    costs 9 cents a pound to carry second-class matter is absurd; and
    they have further held that if the postoffice department were
    run on proper business principles, instead of being run as a
    political machine, there would be no deficit.

    Notwithstanding, Mr. Hitchcock fought the idea of a commission to
    the last gasp. He spent day after day at the capitol, for three
    weeks before the session closed, in the corridors, in committee
    rooms, on the floor of the Senate, working for his plan to
    increase second-class postage, granting concessions here, putting
    out explanations there, assuring certain publishers they would
    not be taxed, writing letters to Senators and Representatives
    showing how their districts or states would not be affected,
    utilizing every resource of his department, of his political
    connections as former chairman of the Republican National
    Committee, to get support. He had the votes in the Senate, too,
    if he could have brought the matter to a vote. That was where he
    failed. A united opposition was organized, an opposition composed
    of men who think and act for themselves and who were prepared to
    fight until noon on March 4.

    When Frank H. Hitchcock, after being chairman of the Republican
    National Committee in the campaign of 1908, was made Postmaster
    General as a reward for his political services, he inherited,
    in his department, a deficit, an antiquated, cumbersome and
    unbusinesslike organization, and several sets of figures.
    _Hitchcock is young and ambitious._ He has been in the government
    service, in various capacities, most of his life since leaving
    college. He was anxious to make a record. As Postmaster General
    _he was political paymaster_ for the administration, to a great
    degree, as there are more postmasters than any one other kind
    of public officials, and postmasterships are perquisites of the
    faithful politicians in the Senate and House of Representatives.
    This kept Hitchcock in politics, in a way, for he knew what the
    obligations of the administration were, having made most of them
    as national chairman, and he paid them off as circumstances
    permitted.

    He thought, too, that if he could put the Postoffice Department
    on a self-sustaining basis--where it had not been for years,
    if ever--he would do a great stroke for himself; and he began
    work along those lines. There need be no discussion here of the
    methods by which he made apparent reductions in the expenses of
    the department. Whether by bookkeeping or otherwise, he did make
    some apparent reductions, mostly by not spending appropriated
    moneys, by reductions in force, by elimination of substitute
    carriers and by other similar means.

Mr. Hitchcock, it would seem, was a peculiarly active public servant. Mr.
Blythe also speaks of how Mr. Hitchcock got a cue from a predecessor,
Charles Emory Smith. Mr. Smith in the _industrious activities of his
official duties_, signing of reports which subordinates wrote, vouchers
for contracts and other payments, and drawing his salary--Mr. Smith had
laboriously (?) figured it out that the second-class mail rate ought
to be 7 cents a pound. Mr. Hitchcock goes Smith two cents better. This
statement of Mr Smith’s grew on Mr. Hitchcock. “It opened the way to two
things,” as Mr. Blythe ably points out as follows:--

    First he could increase the revenue of the department if he could
    increase the second-class rate; and second, he could get a whip
    hand over the magazine press.

    He reported his assumed facts to the President in time for Mr.
    Taft’s message to Congress, sent in in December, 1909. In that
    message Mr. Taft made the statement that it costs the government
    9 cents a pound to transport second-class mail matter, the total
    cost being more than sixty million dollars a year, and asked
    that there should be an increase in second-class rates. Mr. Taft
    instanced this as a subsidy for the magazine and periodical
    press. Mr. Hitchcock’s report as Postmaster General contained
    substantially the same statements.

    The House Committee on Postoffices and Postroads, where the
    postoffice appropriation bill originates, took cognizance of
    these statements by the President and by the Postmaster General,
    and ordered a hearing on the matter, which was held early in the
    session. The various publishers of the country, representing
    not only the Periodical Publishers’ Association but many other
    organizations of publishers of various classes of periodicals,
    sent representatives to Washington, and there were full hearings
    before the committee, extending through several days. The
    publishers stated their side of the case and the committee took
    the matter under advisement. The House committee reported out the
    postoffice bill with no recommendation of any kind in it for an
    increase in second-class postage; and no separate bill providing
    for the increase was prepared, introduced or reported.

Then Mr. Blythe, under the subcaption of “Running Down the Nine-Cent
Myth,” says:

    Some years previously the congress authorized what was known as
    the Penrose-Overstreet Postal Commission, composed of members
    of the postoffice committees of the Senate and House, of which
    Senator Penrose was then the Senate chairman and the late Jesse
    Overstreet the House chairman. This commission met in various
    places, had long hearings and made a report and prepared a bill.
    Before making its report or preparing its bill the commission
    employed, at a cost of seventy-five thousand dollars, or
    thereabouts, chartered accountants and business experts to make a
    thorough examination into the business methods of the postoffice
    department, its expenditures and its resources. The results of
    the work of these examiners was incorporated in the report to
    Congress by the Penrose-Overstreet commission. It is notable that
    this commission _asked the late Postmaster General, Charles Emory
    Smith, of Philadelphia, who was responsible for the statement
    that it cost seven cents a pound to transport second-class mail
    matter, where he got his figures, and he did not remember, nor
    would he testify concerning them_.

    At any rate, when the Penrose-Overstreet bill, providing for
    the reorganization of the Postoffice Department and the placing
    of that great institution on a business instead of a political
    basis, was introduced in the Senate and the House, it contained
    no recommendation for the increase in second-class postage,
    _because the commission had been unable to find any figures of
    cost of second-class transportation on which such an increase
    could justifiably be demanded_, even after expert examination of
    the books of the department by unprejudiced men.

Of course, I may be mistaken--_I_ may be. But how, in the name of
Jehosaphat, Pan and all the other ghostly deities of antiquity, does
it happen that men like Samuel G. Blythe and hundreds of others,--men
in position to learn and _know_ the facts, likewise, who have both the
ability and the courage to tell what they know--agree with me? Why, I
ask, if I _am_ mistaken in what I have said and am trying to say, do
so many other men who have studied this question, all of them probably
of greater ability, most of them certainly of far greater opportunity
than have I, why, I inquire again, do they so unanimously concur in the
_judgment I am trying to pass on Mr. Hitchcock and his department_?

I shall probably take the liberty, later, further to use the data
given in Mr. Blythe’s timely and informative contribution, quoting or
otherwise, for which I confidently feel he will excuse me. Just here,
however, it is fitting that the reader be given a reprint of that _night_
“rider” to which I have made so frequent reference.

House bill No. 31,539 brought the postoffice appropriation bill to the
Senate. In the Senate it was read twice and then on February 9, 1911,
it was referred to the Senate Committee on Postoffices and Postroads
from which it was reported back by Senator Penrose, Chairman of the
Committee, “with amendments.” It is only one of those amendments we
shall here care to consider. That one appeared on page 21 of Senate Bill
(Calendar No. 1067), and the “rider” portion begins at line 7. Following
is the “rider:”

  (Page 21.)
    7                                                    “Provided,
    8  That out of the appropriation for inland mail transportation
    9  the Postmaster General is authorized hereafter to
   10  pay rental if necessary in Washington, District of Columbia,
   11  and compensation to tabulators and clerks employed in connection
   12  with the weighings for assistance in completing computations,
   13  in connection with the expenses of taking the
   14  weights of mails on railroad routes, as provided by law:
   15  And provided further, That during the fiscal year ending
   16  June thirtieth, nineteen hundred and twelve, the rate of postage
   17  on textual and general reading matter contained in periodical
   18  publications other than newspapers, as described in the
   19  Act of Congress approved March third, eighteen hundred
   20  and seventy-nine, entitled “An Act making appropriations
   21  for the service of the Postoffice Department for the fiscal
   22  year ending June thirtieth, eighteen hundred and eighty,
   23  and for other purposes,” and in the publications described
   24  in an Act of Congress approved July sixteenth, eighteen
   25  hundred and ninety-four, entitled “An Act making appropriations
  (Page 22.)
    1  for the service of the Postoffice Department for
    2  the fiscal year ending June thirtieth, eighteen hundred and
    3  ninety-five,” shall be one cent per pound, or fraction thereof;
    4  and on _sheets_ of any _publication_ of either of said classes
    5  containing, _in whole or part_, any advertisement, whether
    6  display, descriptive, or textual, four cents per pound or
    7  fraction thereof; Provided, That the increased rate shall not
    8  apply to publications mailing less than four thousand pounds
    9  of each issue.”

As previously stated, and pointed out by Senator Owen, all amendments of
character with the above are clearly in violation of Section 7, Article
1 of the Constitution of the United States. Here is the wording of that
section:

“All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of
Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as
on other bills.”

That is plain enough, is it not, as to the Senate’s lack of right or
power to _originate_ revenue-producing measures either by bill or
amendment? A glance at lines 4 to 9 (page 22), as above quoted, will
convince even a stranger in a strange town or a market garden delegate
that this “rider” amendment, if it had passed, would _originate revenue_.

Mr. Hitchcock _talked_, so it is alleged, that it would produce
$6,000,000 or more, thus removing that “deficit” he has had in his
brain or on his mind. Some of the best qualified men in this country
have shown, _and they have used Mr. Hitchcock’s own figures in doing
so_, that the increased mail rate as this “rider” provided would not
produce over $2,000,000 additional revenue, probably not over $1,000,000,
after paying for the added clerical and inspection service which such a
_discriminating classification_ would require.

The reader will note (line 18 of the “rider”), that “newspapers” are
exempted from the increased tax. The reader should likewise note that
under both this “rider” and the present law, newspapers are carried
_free_ to addresses inside the county of publication, save to addressees
resident of towns and cities having carrier delivery. By this is
meant that this tricky rider, as will be readily seen, leaves the
present law--_the one-cent a pound rate_--in force and applying to all
“newspapers.”

Just here I want to ask the thoughtful reader a question or two, though
they are somewhat tangential to the direct line of thought we are at this
point following:

If such a breach of constitutional law, of the legislative rules
governing Congress and of plain, common and understood justice as was
covered in this, I believe, studiedly discriminating “rider” on the
postoffice appropriation bill--if such a breach was permitted, I ask,
how long would it be, do you think, before our newspapers would be made
victims of similar restrictions and injustices?

In short, how long do you think it would take the gang of conspirators
(the “influenced” and the “influencing” factors in the personnel of the
conspiracy) who tried to “put over” that rider, to make any nincompoop of
a politician who chances to be, or who may become, Postmaster General a
_censor of all periodical literature_, newspapers as well as magazines,
_published in this country_?

In this connection another thought comes which I desire to pass on
to the reader. If such censorship is permitted, such discriminating,
_abrogative_ legislation is tolerated, how long will it be, think you,
before our “banking interests,” our “steel interests,” our “packing
interests,” our “hide and leather interests,” our “rail transportation
interests” go into the periodical business?

Each of these have the country covered--yes, flooded--with agents. No
trouble whatsoever for them to get the postal department’s required
“bona fide” subscription list and thus be “entered” _at the one-cent
second-class rate_.

“Will they carry advertising?” Later, yes.

_When our children are paying the cost of our blunder they will be
advertising each other and--at the one-cent a pound rate._

Think it over and--well, wake up. If necessary, get _cogently brisk_ with
that Senator or Congressman of yours. At least, let him know that you are
on the job as well as he and that you _understand the job as well as he_.

Of course, the “steerers” and “cappers” for this press-muzzling and
official censorship game will tell you that such entrance of the
“interests” into our literary field is “quite impossible;” that “the
postal laws prohibit it;” that “it would be a foolish waste of money on
their part,” and a score or more of other equally silly, equally false
and equally “steered” arguments.

You can take it from me _flat_ that the man--_any man_--who hands you
that sort of talk is either _hired_ to talk it or he is mentally unsound.

The “interests” are _already_ in the periodical business. They own,
or control, at this hour, hundreds of newspapers, magazines and other
periodicals. This is a matter of common knowledge to every citizen who
_reads when he is awake_. Not only that, but the interests, banking,
industrial, transportation, etc., have gone into the book publishing
business (the bound book), _and hundreds of thousands of copies of their
capping “literature” have been distributed to the people_, either free or
at a price far below cost of production.

Not only that, but the “interests” are annually (_now_), distributing
millions, in the aggregate _hundreds_ of millions, of circular letters
and circular matter, under seal and open circular-matter sheets,
pamphlets, etc., first and third class, at a cost of _eight cents a pound
or more_.

So, I repeat, the man who attempts to controvert my previous statement
as to the intent, _the ulterior motive_, of the conspirators backing
that rider to the 1911 postoffice appropriation bill is either
hired--bought--or is a fool.

It is one of his easiest “stunts” for any writer to produce a “promotion”
story or article. For instance: The “Packing Interest,” monthly or
weekly, can print three or four “nice” stories. One, say, about “Lucy and
Her Window Garden,” another about “High Light Pink, the Broncho Buster,”
etc., etc. Then can follow a “literary” write-up of how “Jones Rose From
a Wheelbarrow Man to Foreman in a Steel Mill,” or about how “Cruiser
Miller Dropped His Blazing Ax and Became Partner in a Great Lumber
Company,” etc., etc. After this may come a “Home Department,” and then a
few local or “plant” news items.

In the first, your wife and mine will be told how to make her currants
(not her currency) jell; how to make children “bread winners;” how to
“crochet an art tidy,” or how to “Subsist a Family of Five on Thirty-Nine
Cents a Day.”

In the “Local” or “Plant” news may appear some explanation of how
Crawloffski, who had lost a leg in service, is “improving in the
hospital” (County), and “is under the competent care of the company’s
physician,” of the promotion of “Mr. James Field, formerly ‘run-way
driver,’ to the position of ‘hammer-man’ in the slaughter pen, with an
increase of $2.80 a week in salary.”

Of course, it will be understood that I am not giving the entire
scope and plan of an “Interest’s” periodical. The point I am trying
to establish is, that no “Interest” periodical will, for a time at
any rate, advertise _its own interests_, save as _news matter_, and
that each “Interest” can _and will_ advertise the others--_the mutual
interests_--and do it, too, at the _cent-a-pound rate_ and without
violating any postal law now existent.

I will now return to Mr. Hitchcock’s activity and arguments for this
“rider” to that postoffice appropriation bill. I call it “his,” as, from
the evidence, I am forced to the conclusion that it originated with
him. Most certainly he nursed it and pushed it forward with the urgent
solicitude which a fond father would display in advancing his first-born
or favorite scion. The excerpts which I have taken from Mr. Blythe
clearly evidence that fact.

Mr. Hitchcock is on record as stating that it costs “9.23 cents a pound
to transport and handle second-class mail matter.” I am quoting from
memory. Maybe he did not include “handling,” and put 9.23 cents per
pound as the cost of transportation only. At all events I remember that
one writer, with keen perception and a robust sense of the humor of
things, as well as the justice involved, pointed out the fact that any
of the competing railroads between New York city and Chicago (easily
proven to be twice the “average mail haul”), would carry Mr. Taft, our
300-pound “good fellow” President, the “run” at less than 9 cents a
pound. Incidentally the writer pointed out these facts: President Taft
would have a sleeping berth or compartment, a porter in attendance,
smoking room accommodations, likewise barber, manicure, buffet, library
and dining-room services and conveniences. The Chief Executive would
of course put himself on board and “discharge” himself at the terminal
station.

How about 300 pounds of second-class mail matter, say some monthly New
York periodical? This is brought to the mail car, wrapped and directed
to destination, Chicago for instance, to keep the comparison clear and
fair. It is dumped on the floor in a corner of a mail car, with all the
intermediate station deliveries atop of it or stacked about it, and at
Chicago it is tumbled off to the publisher’s agent or salesman. _That
is all the service rendered_ by either the railroads or the Postoffice
Department in handling that 300 pounds of second-class mail matter.

_Yet the Postmaster General says it costs the government 9.23 cents a
pound to render such service!_

Is not that rather jarring to one’s exalted opinion of Mr. Hitchcock’s
all-round, comprehending knowledge of a just and fair mail haulage rate?
If it does not jar the reader he should take his thinking apparatus to
the cobbler and have it half-soled.

A glance at freight schedules will show any reader that live stock,
cattle, hogs or sheep, are carried from Chicago to New York, Boston or
other eastern destination at only a small fraction of his dead-mail
rate. Again, while double-deck live stock cars are in extensive use
on long hauls, the stock is not corded up on the decks as much of the
second-class mail is piled up. Not only that, but the live stock must be
_watered and fed in transit_.

The rail rates for the carriage of dead-freight makes Mr. Hitchcock’s
9.23 cents a pound, which he figured as the cost to the government of
carriage and handling second-class mail, read so absurd as to be a joke,
were the purpose and purport of his statement not so grave and serious as
they are. Even the 4-cent rate that he and a coterie of his friends tried
to put over in the Senate rider--$80.00 a ton for carrying dead weights
the average mail haul, and dumping it off at destination--is a ridiculous
charge.

Why, the express companies are carrying hundreds of tons daily of
dead-freight over such average haul for less than a cent a pound; yes,
they are carrying tons of second-class _mail matter_ and carrying it
_at one-half a cent a pound_. It has been cited by Mr. Hearst and
other publishers that certain railroads carry second-class mail matter
over fast freight runs for about one-quarter of a cent a pound. In
this connection another thought presents itself: Did, or did not, Mr.
Hitchcock, at the time he was pushing his “rider” in the Senate, have
any adequate knowledge of the amount, of second-class mail matter which
publishers were then sending by express and fast freight? If he had such
knowledge, then he must have known of the fact that _thousands of tons_
of periodicals are now carried by the railroads and express companies at
a rate _lower_ than the government’s mail charge of one-cent a pound. If
Mr. Hitchcock had such knowledge when he was handing his string-talk to
President Taft, having his “heart-to-hearts” with certain senators, I
wonder if he intimated to them what must necessarily happen to the second
class mail division and to that deficit which, apparently at least, has
so continuously, likewise so effusively and diffusively, worried him?

If the fast freights and express are now taking thousands of tons of
second-class matter from the government in competition with the one-cent
a pound rate, how many thousands of tons more would they take from
the government if the latter advanced its rate to four cents a pound?
And what effect would the withdrawal of so vast a tonnage from the
government’s second-class service have upon the deficit our solicitous
Postmaster General has kept himself so exercised about--that $6,000,000,
or, to be exact, using Mr. Hitchcock’s own figures, $5,881,481.95? That
deficit, if converted into cash, would barely furnish parade money to our
army for a month. If the Atlantic squadron undertook a junket with such
financial backing its progress would probably end by rounding the Statue
of Liberty at the entrance of New York harbor. If Mr. Hitchcock’s attempt
to put up a four-cent rate on periodicals had succeeded, thus forcing the
prominent publishers to find cheaper means of carriage and distribution,
his $6,000,000 would have soared upward to a point making it worth very
serious consideration.


DEFICITS AFFECTED BY SECOND-CLASS TONNAGE.

In this connection I desire to show that deficits in the federal postal
service are largely governed by the tonnage of second-class matter
carried, the greater such tonnage the smaller the deficit. To do this I
shall take the liberty to quote from the “Inland Printer,” probably the
most widely read periodical among the printing crafts, as it certainly
is one of the best informed and most carefully edited journals of any
in matters relating to the publication and distribution of periodical
literature. The article speaks of several points pertinent to our subject
and is so instructively written that I know my readers will appreciate
it in its entirety. If the publishers of the periodical will pardon my
wholesale appropriation of their article, I am confident my readers will
do the same. The article is of date March, 1911, and was written by
Wilmer Atkinson, whose permission I should also ask for reprinting it in
toto:

    In 1860 the postal deficit was $10,652,543; in 1910 it was
    $5,848,566. The postage rate was four times greater in 1860 than
    now.

    Coming down twelve years to 1872 the total weight of second-class
    matter was that year less than 65,000,000 pounds.

    Now it is 817,428,141 pounds, more than twelve times greater.

    Then the postage rate was four times what it is now.

    Then the gross revenue was $21,915,426; now it is $224,128,657,
    more than ten times as much.

    Then there was no rural free delivery; now that system costs
    $36,923,737.

    Then there were no registered letters; now there are 42,053,574 a
    year.

    Then there were issued $48,515,532 of domestic money orders; now
    there are issued $547,993,641.

    Then postmasters were paid $5,121,665; now they are paid
    $27,514,362, and their clerks are paid $38,035,456.62.

    Then city delivery cost but little; now it costs $31,805,485.28.

    In 1872 there were issued of stamps, stamped envelopes and
    wrappers less than $18,000,000 (there were no postal cards); now
    are issued, including postal cards, $202,064,887.96, more than
    ten times as much.

    Observe that the weight of second-class matter is 752,428,141
    pounds greater than in 1872, costing therefore (according to
    some official mathematicians), more than 9 cents a pound for
    transportation, or a total of $67,718,532.69. The deficit for
    1910 is almost identical with that of 1872.


    1885-1910

    As late as 1885 the government income from the issue of
    stamps, stamped envelopes and wrappers and postal cards was
    $35,924,137.70.

    In 1910 it was $202,064,887.96, more than five times as much.

    The number of registered letters issued in 1885 was 11,043,256;
    in 1910 it was 40,151,797.

    The amount of money orders issued rose from $117,858,921 in 1885
    to $498,699,637 in 1910.

    The total postal receipts rose from $42,560,844 in 1885 to
    $224,128,657 in 1910, an increase of $181,567,813.

    The postage rate on second-class matter in 1885 was double what
    it is now.

    During the intervening period the weight of second-class matter
    had increased about 600,000,000 pounds.

    Now we will get down a little closer in this business and see
    what has happened within the last five years.


    1906-1911

    In 1906 there was a gain in weight of second-class matter of
    41,674,086 pounds; in that year the deficit was $10,516,999.

    In 1907 there was a gain in weight of 52,616,336
    pounds--11,000,000 pounds more than in 1906; the deficit was
    reduced to $6,653,283.

    In 1908 there was a _loss_ instead of gain in weight of
    second-class matter of 18,079,292 pounds; the deficit went up
    to $16,873,223, an increase over the year before of more than
    $10,000,000.

    In 1909 there was only a slight gain in weight of 28,367,298
    pounds; the deficit went up to $17,441,719.

    In 1910 there was a gain in weight of 94,865,884 pounds, the
    largest ever known; and the deficit dropped to $5,848,566.88.

    From 1906 to 1910 there were 198,863,387 pounds increase in the
    weight of second-class matter; the deficit was $4,668,432.12 less
    in 1910 than in 1906.

    The impression is prevalent that the amount paid for railway
    transportation was cut down the past year, but the truth is that
    the railroads were paid $44,654,514.97, the railway mail service
    and the postoffice car service cost $24,065,218.88, a total of
    $68,719,733.85, which is more by a half million than was paid in
    1909, and over $7,000,000 more than was paid in 1906.

    It is claimed that there is no definite relation between deficits
    and second-class matter; very well, the foregoing are the
    official figures; let them speak for themselves.

    In the whole history of the Postoffice Department, neither an
    increase of second-class matter nor a reduction of the postage
    rate has ever increased deficits, no matter what burdens have
    been piled upon the service in the way of an extension of
    city delivery, the establishment of rural free delivery, the
    multiplication in number and increase of pay of officials,
    increase of government free matter, increase of railroad and
    other transportation charges, nor an increase in the obstructive
    energies of postal officials directed against the publishing
    business. (See In Memoriam, page 49.)

    It has come to be generally understood and conceded that
    second-class matter originates mail of the other classes. The
    Postal Commission testifies that “No sane man will deny that
    second-class matter is the immediate cause of great quantities
    of first-class matter.” Mr. Madden and Mr. Lawshe said the same
    thing. Meyer said that “It is known that second-class matter is
    instrumental in originating a large amount of other classes of
    mail matter.” To what extent this is so can not be determined
    with exactitude, but the official figures given throw a flood of
    light on the subject.

    There are four classes of (paid) mail matter--first, second,
    third and fourth. The first comprises letters and postals, the
    second newspapers and periodicals, the third circulars, and the
    fourth merchandise.

    How, of themselves, could the first, third and fourth classes
    develop faster than the growth of population? Does not their
    extension depend upon the business energy and the intellectual
    activity of the people, and in turn do not these depend very
    largely upon the circulation of the public press?

    Will it, therefore, be deemed unreasonable to conclude that of
    the $202,064,887.96 of stamps sold for the first, third and
    fourth classes of mail matter last year, $150,000,000 of it
    originated immediately, remotely and cumulatively from the second
    class? How else than in some such way can we account for the
    prodigious development of the postal business, which has outrun
    population sixfold or more?

    The late Senator Dolliver, at the American Periodical
    Association’s banquet, at the New Willard hotel, at Washington,
    a year ago, said: “I look upon every one of your little
    advertisements as a traveling salesman for the industries of the
    United States.”

    The amazing development of the industries of the country is in
    a large measure due to second-class matter; the great increase
    of second-class matter is due to the low postage rate; and the
    wonderful expansion of the postal establishment is based chiefly
    upon the widespread distribution of newspapers and periodicals.

    The foregoing figures are respectfully submitted; they are
    official; and their significance can be interpreted by any
    intelligent and thoughtful person. In the presence of these
    figures, is it too much to claim that the government has never
    lost a dollar in transporting second-class mail, that it is by
    far the most profitable of any, and that, were it withdrawn
    or greatly curtailed by an increase of rate, the postal
    establishment would collapse into bankruptcy?

    In view, also, of the foregoing figures it is hoped that the
    government will assume a less antagonistic attitude toward the
    publishing business, and encourage and promote the circulation
    of the public press rather than repress and curtail it. Its
    obstructive course has been pursued too long, having no basis in
    justice, business foresight, or common sense.

    Let there be a realization and an awakening!


    IN MEMORIAM.

    During the last fiscal postal year the death list of publications
    footed up to 4,229. Of these, 504 died a-bornin, that is, were
    denied entry; the others--3,725--were papers that had been
    established.

    In the decade from 1901 to 1910, inclusive, 11,563 publications
    were strangled at birth (denied entry), and of established papers
    that died there were 32,060.

    How many of these were forced to give up the struggle for
    existence on account of the hard conditions imposed by the
    government, we have no means of knowing. It is not found in the
    annual reports. It is beyond question that with sample copies
    cut off and necessary credit for subscriptions forbidden, no
    publishers without large cash capital to draw from can start and
    keep going in competition with old established papers.

    Why at this time, when the people are trying to get rid of
    monopoly, the government should thus build one up, is hard to
    comprehend.

    We are informed that the rule in regard to expired subscriptions
    “has met with strong approval and continues to grow in favor with
    publishers and the public generally.” This statement is made by
    the newly installed Third Assistant Postmaster General, but it
    is a delusion which Mr. Britt has unfortunately inherited from
    his predecessor. It may be true as to those benefited by the
    monopoly, but not as to those who have been put down and out.
    “Dead men tell no tales.”

I had intended to omit that “In Memoriam.” Then I carefully read it over.
The appalling slaughter of the “innocents” which it exposes was so new to
me, news of such a tragic nature in the domain of periodical publishing,
that I then and there changed my mind. I am of the opinion that the news
conveyed in its five brief paragraphs will be as new and as surprising
to most of my readers as it was to me. Think of 42,623 publications put
out of business in _ten years_? Of 4,229 sent to the commercial--in most
instances, probably, to the _financial_--junk pile in one year--last
year? Then think of the causes this conscientious writer holds chargeable
for a large share of the slaughter!


ATTEMPT TO BREACH THE CONSTITUTION.

We will now revert to the bold attempt made in presenting that rider
amendment to the postoffice appropriation bill to breach the federal
constitution, following which we will take up some of Mr. Hitchcock’s
efforts to show how much or how little he knows about the business of
publishing and distributing magazines and other periodical literature.

First let us inquire if Mr. Hitchcock and the coterie backing that
Senate “rider” _knew_ that, under the Constitution, all measures for
raising federal revenue must originate in the Lower House of Congress?
One scarcely dares conclude they were so densely ignorant as that. Then,
was theirs a deliberate, calculated attempt to breach the constitutional
prerogatives and rights of the Lower House? Did they figure upon putting
through that vicious rider in the congested closing hours of Congress?
I call them the _crooked_ hours of Congress. Did those backers of that
rider _hope_ that Senators and Congressmen would overlook or fail to read
that rider, hope that so many would be so fully occupied by the swan-song
chorus being sung during those closing hours that they would not notice
that “rider” jumping the constitutional hurdles?

Now, if either one of the last assigned reasons is valid, a word stronger
than “ignorance” should apply to such tricky, treacherous action, whether
it is practiced by Senators, Congressmen, cabinet chiefs or chiefs higher
up. One greatly dislikes to apply a fitting term to such ulterior motives
as lead high and respected public officials to breach the constitution by
trickery about on a level with that of the sneak thief or with that of
a “con” man who thinks he has done his full duty by the people when he
has sold Reuben the painted brick. But how could Mr. Hitchcock and those
Senators co-operating with him be ignorant of the plain letter of the law
and supported by a long line of precedents in both the Senate and the
House?

As to the Senate precedents for the House’s right to originate all
measures for the raising of revenues, Mr. Henry H. Gilfry, Chief Clerk
of the Senate, compiled in 1871 a work entitled “Decisions on Points of
Order with Phraseology in the United States Senate.” Mr. Gilfry cites the
attempt of the Senate to repeal the income tax. The House returned the
bill to the Senate with a reminder that the Constitution “vests in the
House of Representatives the sole power to originate such measures.” Mr.
Gilfry cites many other precedents.

In 1905 the Senate tried to originate revenues by amendment to the
postoffice appropriation bill. That amendment was very similar to the
“rider” of Mr. Hitchcock. I will here reprint it:

“That hereafter the rate of postage on packages of books or merchandise
mailed at the distributing postoffice of any rural free delivery to a
patron on said route shall be three cents for each pound or any fraction
thereof. This rate shall apply only to packages deposited at the local
postoffice for delivery to patrons on routes emanating from that office,
or collected by rural carriers for delivery to the office from which the
route emanates, and not to mail transmitted from one office to another,
and shall not apply to packages exceeding 5 pounds in weight.”

The House brought that measure to conference and flatly _refused to
recognize the power of the Senate in the premises_. The Senate receded
and the amendment was killed.

“Hinds’ Precedents of the House of Representatives” is a recognized
authority. In Chapter XLII, Vol. 2, under the caption, “Prerogatives of
the House as to Revenue Legislation,” Mr. Hinds cites many instances in
which the House had invariably insisted upon the _exclusive exercise of
its rights as defined in Section 7, Article 1, of the Constitution_.

Mr. Hinds cites in all one hundred and twenty-five precedents, each
of which raises the same point of order as was raised in debating Mr.
Hitchcock’s late “rider” and on each of which the House _maintained its
right to originate all bills for raising revenues_.

In view of the fact that some of Mr. Hitchcock’s supporters were men
of experience, skilled parliamentarians, in view of the fact that
some of them were trained lawyers, and in view of the further fact
that the works both of Mr. Hinds and of Mr. Gilfry are on file in the
reference libraries of the Senate and House and probably in most of the
departments, how, I ask, in view of the above facts, can either Mr.
Hitchcock or any of his supporters enter a valid plea of _ignorance_ of
the fact that their attempt to put over that rider was contravening the
constitutional rights and prerogatives of the House?

No, they were not ignorant. In my judgment, as based upon the reports
which have reached me, that “rider” was a deliberate frame-up and its
architects were a few conspirators who sought by means of that rider
either to put certain periodicals out of business or _force them to print
what they were told to publish_.

Possibly I may be in error as to this, but the careful observation of
the best informed and most experienced correspondents on the Washington
assignment, as well as a number of Senators and Congressmen, have, in
reports made, supplied ample evidence to warrant my statement to the
effect that there was a collusive understanding among a few people to
present that “rider” in the closing hours of the session with the hope
that in the rush of affairs it might escape notice and go through. And
that hope was born of an ulterior purpose to get even with some monthly
and weekly publications--publications of _independent_ thought and
voice and which have for several years been _telling the truth_ about
certain Senators and Congressmen. These independent periodicals have
also been telling a rapidly growing multitude of eager readers the cold,
unvarnished facts about some corporations and corporate interests which,
it is generally believed and openly charged, are represented in federal
legislation and in cabinet and other official circles in Washington _by
several of the very men who were so actively supporting Mr. Hitchcock in
pushing his “rider” over the legislative course_.

A brief summary of the history of that rider may be presented at
this point. The Penrose-Overstreet bill was before the House in the
early part of 1910. It carried no recommendation of an increased rate
on second-class matter. This Penrose-Overstreet bill was, however,
reintroduced in the House by Congressman Weeks, of Massachusetts,
Chairman of the House Postoffice Committee, and by Senator Carter in
the Senate. The House refused either to approve or take action on Mr.
Hitchcock’s recommendation. After consideration, the Senate approved
the House bill. That bill carried no recommendation for an increase in
second-class postage rates. Not a single member of the Senate during the
debate suggested nor introduced any bill or amendment recommending such
increase.

In his message of December, 1910, President Taft recommended an increase
in the second-class mail rates. His recommendation was couched in
language very similar to that used in his message of December, 1909.

Mr. Samuel Blythe, from whom I have previously quoted extendedly, says
some pertinent things in commenting on the situation at this point in our
brief outline of how this “rider” got mounted for a lap or two and then
was blanketed in the home-stretch:

“The Postmaster General had not been idle in the matter. He had it on
his mind. Moreover, his party had been defeated at the polls in the
previous November and about the only Republicans who were successful
were Progressive Republicans against whom the President had admitted,
in his famous Norton-Iowa letter, he had been discriminating and for
whom Mr. Hitchcock had no sympathy. The policies, and in many cases the
individuals, in the progressive movement had had large support from the
magazines and periodicals; and before that, the reactionaries who had
ultimately been defeated, had been assailed because of their misdeeds.”

There is a lot of bone and sinew in that. Of course, both the President
and his Postmaster General wanted to make good; wanted, as I have
previously intimated, to get rid of those pestiferous independent
periodicals which had been so conspicuous and powerful in unhorsing some
of their stand-pat friends in the elections of November.

Mr. Hitchcock is not one of the sort of men who rush in where angels
fear to tread. He is quite a general. He can make the waiting tactics
of General McClellan, it would seem, apply beautifully to a political
maneuver. He can wait and bide his time. At any rate, he waited. He
waited until the President and other friends had worked that announced
method of “discriminating” against the progressives, the so-called
“insurgents,” to the end of appointing a Senate Committee on Postoffices
and Postroads, the personnel of which suited Mr. Hitchcock’s quietly
nursed purpose--in fact suited him as well as if he had selected the
committee himself. Mr. Hitchcock, however, still waited, and while
he waited, the House Committee had been appointed and was engaged in
considering the postoffice appropriation bill. This House Committee
held numerous sessions and gave hearings to many newspapermen and to
publishers of periodicals. It went over the entire field of requirement
in the government postal services and appears to have gone into the
subject of second-class mail rates and the cost of its transportation and
handling most carefully and thoroughly. The result of its deliberations
was to tender to the House a bill carrying, as previously stated, an
appropriation of some $258,000,000 for the year’s salaries, maintenance
and operation of the Postoffice Department, a sum which must certainly
appear liberal to any informed reader.

In this connection, two points stand out in bold relief. First:--When the
House bill covering the 1911 appropriations for the Postoffice Department
was passed and advanced to the Senate, _it carried no provision or
recommendation for an increase of the second-class postage rates_.

Second:--As previously stated the House committee held many sessions
while considering and preparing its 1911 Postoffice Department
appropriation bill, and _at no session of that committee did Mr.
Hitchcock urge an increase in the second-class postage rates. He made no
propositions or recommendations to that committee touching on increases
in the second-class mail rate._

_In fact he made no proposition of any sort to that committee. Nor did
he submit any statements or figures to that committee, other than those
contained in his 1910 report and in the President’s message._

Rather a queer procedure that, is it not? Especially is it queer,
likewise suggestive, in a man who, for two years, had been running with
anti-skidding tires on and the high-speed lever pushed clear down, in a
wild chase to capture an increase in the second-class mail rate.

That is the way it looks to The Man on the Ladder, anyway.

Why did Mr. Hitchcock so completely ignore that House committee? Or why,
at most, did his attitude, when present at any of its sessions, manifest
so little interest as almost to indicate an _indifference_ as to what
was done or not done? Why, again, was Mr. Hitchcock so inactive, so void
of suggestions and recommendations when before that branch of federal
legislative authority with which he knew must originate _all_ measures
for the raising of revenues?

_Why?_ To that question there appears, to The Man on the Ladder, but one
valid answer. _Mr. Hitchcock was waiting._

When the House bill was sent to the Senate and referred to the Senate
Committee on Postoffices and Postroads, it appears from reports of people
whose business it is to watch things done and doing at Washington, D.
C, that Postmaster General Hitchcock livened up a bit, being careful,
however, not to put any noticeable pressure on his high-speed lever
_until those meddlesome publishers had left town and were well away_.

These publishers, knowing the constitutional prerogatives of the Lower
House, considered matters safe and settled when the House bill making
appropriations for the Postoffice Department was adopted and advanced
to the Senate. They knew it carried no section advancing second-class
postage rates nor any recommendations favoring such advance. With the
publishers that ended it. But they failed to consider Mr. Hitchcock. His
wiles and ways were, it appears, neither understood nor even suspicioned
by those publishers. So, confident and content, they gathered up their
belongings, packed their grips, paid their hotel bills and hied away
to their several homes. Then it was that Mr. Hitchcock got busy with
that discriminatingly selected committee of the Senate--the Committee on
Postoffices and Postroads.

To see how “discriminating” some one or more persons had been in
selecting that committee, let us look over its membership. At its head,
as Chairman, sat Boies Penrose. He is the reputed Republican boss
of Pennsylvania and an “organization” man. So is President Taft an
organization man. Therefore Senator Penrose is an Administration man to
the last ditch--that is, of course, if the administration is Republican.
Mr. Hitchcock is also an organization man, and if both the President and
his Postmaster General wanted this “rider” turned loose on the senate
tanbark, Mr. Penrose was willing to go along with them. The other members
of the committee were:--

Republicans:--

    Scott, of West Virginia.
    Burrows, of Michigan.
    Dick, of Ohio.
    Crane, of Massachusetts.
    Guggenheim, of Colorado.

Democrats:--

    Taliaferro, of Florida.
    Bankhead, of Alabama.
    Taylor, of Tennessee.
    Terrell, of Georgia.

We will scrutinize that list and see how the members fared at the
November election. The first four Republicans and the first Democrat as
named in the list were defeated at the last senatorial selection--in
fact they were repudiated by the states they had been representing or
misrepresenting, as the reader cares to take it. As these defeated
toga-smudgers attributed their overthrow largely to newspaper and other
periodical attacks upon them, Mr. Hitchcock naturally found them in line
for anything he wanted to visit upon those offensive publications.

Of the other Republicans, Crane, is reputed to be lugging around with him
a large-sized aspiration to be Republican leader in the Senate. If he
cashes that ambition, he must necessarily stand pat with the President
and Hitchcock, in spite of the alleged fact that Senator Crane does not
carry an over-load of esteem for said Hitchcock. The other left-over
Republican member of the committee, Guggenheim, would not be worth
mentioning were it not for the fact that the methods pursued by himself
and his friends in his elevation to senatorial honors have put him in the
class almost removed from criticism. Those methods received much caustic
consideration from newspapers and other periodicals. Simon Guggenheim,
though reputed to be noticeably obtuse in comprehension and decidedly
pachydermatous of integument, is probably neither so dull nor so thick
of skin as not to have felt and to have remembered the exposure the
magazines made of the methods they asserted were used to secure his toga;
methods, it was asserted, which virtually bought his “friends,” both
those in and those out of Colorado’s legislature. Yes, Simon probably
remembers those exposures and the sources from which they emanated.

Entirely aside from that fact, Simon Guggenheim is a dyed-in-the-wool
Administration man. In fact, if reports be true, and his record in
the Senate appears to justify the reports, Senator Guggenheim could
not be other than an Administration man. First, it is said, there are
“official” motives and reasons for his being such, and, second, that
his intellectual equipment is so out of repair, or so lacking in native
operating power, as virtually to disqualify him for any part or position
save that of a nonentity in legislative procedure and affairs.

So Senator Simon “Gugg” must necessarily stand with the President and the
Postmaster General on the “rider” amendment as on any other proposition
_they_ wanted to forward.

As to the hold-over or returned Democratic members of that committee
little needs be said as the Democrats were in the minority anyway.
Senator Bankhead is quite generally recognized as a congenial, obliging
and accommodating politician. In all probability, he would not enter any
strenuous objections to Mr. Hitchcock’s proposed amendment, provided a
hint was given him that the President approved it. That such hint was
handed around quite freely before the committee’s report was submitted to
the Senate is a matter of common knowledge.

Senator Taylor first voted for the rider amendment. Later, however, when
he neared Jericho, the scales appear to have fallen from his eyes and
he then saw things differently. At any rate he later voted against the
amendment.

Senator Terrell of Georgia was ill, and therefore not present when action
was had. It will be seen, then, that the Postmaster General _had his
“discriminating” committee_.

Mr. Hitchcock began his advance on that committee February 1st. He
approached certain of its members on the 1st and 2nd and informed
them, in effect, that he wanted them to urge a second-class amendment
to the postoffice appropriation bill, which the committee had under
consideration. He, it is reported, also assured these senators that
President Taft most earnestly desired that an increase be made in
second-class rates. He got a committee appointed, consisting of Senators
Carter, Crane and others to confer with the President regarding the
matter. Owing, however, to the pending of other legislation in the
Senate (the ship subsidy bill in particular), the matter dragged along
until the 8th of February. During the delay, Hitchcock made sure of
the committee by nailing down Penrose, Crane, Burrows, Carter, Scott,
Bankhead, Taliaferro, Dick and Simon “Gugg.” On the date last named,
Senators Carter and Crane went to the White House “by request” to confer
with the President. The President, it is said on authority, flatly told
the two Senators that they “must” put the amendment into the bill. It
is also reported, and to their credit, that the two Senators argued
strenuously against the expediency of inserting it, pointing out the fact
that such an amendment would go out on a point of order under Senate Rule
XVI. Mr. Hitchcock was present throughout the conference. Incidentally,
it may be likewise noted that Vice-President Sherman dropped in, quite
“by accident” of course, but he showed no hesitancy, it is said, in
participating in the discussion as actively as Postmaster General
Hitchcock had been doing from the beginning of the conference. While the
President and his Postmaster General were arguing with the Senators to
prove to them how important the action was to the Administration; why the
“rider” must go into the bill as an amendment, and probably why it was
“time for all good organization men to come to the aid of the party,” Mr.
Sherman probably dropped a few timely hints to the effect of how easy it
would be, with the gavel in his hands and a quick, true and _favoring_
eye for floor recognitions, _to get around_ Senate Rule XVI. In the end,
Senators Carter and Crane were won over and a meeting of the Postoffice
and Postroads Committee was called for the afternoon of the same day,
Wednesday, February 8th, 1911.

When the committee got together it was found that there was not a single
proposition of any sort relating to second-class mail rates before it for
consideration. Neither was there a written suggestion, recommendation or
report bearing upon that subject before them. Mr. Hitchcock, however, was
present at this committee meeting. He formulated his proposition and the
committee went into session, the discussion being led by Senators Carter
and Crane, who had become “convinced” against their best judgment if
not against their will, in the forenoon of the same day, to support the
amendment. The discussion lasted for several hours, with Mr. Hitchcock’s
deficit occasionally buzzing as his wheels went round. Then the committee
adjourned until the next afternoon, February 9th.

Mr. Hitchcock left the room after the discussion and, it is said, went
immediately and reported to the President. Upon learning that the
attitude of the committee was unfriendly, the President at once began to
turn on more current, not hesitating to use his patronage club in doing
so, reports say.

The committee met, as agreed at its adjournment. _Mr. Hitchcock was
present with his rider amendment all written up and fully varnished and
frescoed, and in two hours Mr. Hitchcock’s rider amendment was tacked
onto the bill_, in wording substantially as it appears on another page.

Then the real fight began. Hitchcock stood to his embrazured guns, to his
reprisal rider, throughout the entire engagement. As an evidence that it
was his rider, or his and President Taft’s, I desire here to present to
the reader points in proof:

That picked “discriminating” Senate committee had a majority of defeated
or otherwise disgruntled politicians. They were defeated or disgruntled
because certain independent periodicals had, figuratively speaking,
peeled the varnish and smooth epidermis off them, thus exposing their
decayed or decaying carcasses to a public not only able to read and
understand, but a public _willing_ to read and understand.

I will offer a few other established facts. Mr. Hitchcock, during the
closing days of the fight, _devoted nearly his entire time to pushing
and advocating his measure, his carefully prepared scheme_. A canvass
of the Senate was made, which canvass led Mr. Hitchcock to believe he
had the votes to put his rider over the course a sure winner. In that,
however, he was mistaken. A number of the Senators had wised up as to the
real purpose and purport of that rider and, in the canvass, they _handed
back to him a little of his own peculiar brand of jolly, which he had
delivered to them in unbroken packages, freight prepaid_.

After his canvass, Mr. Hitchcock still kept his oil tank well filled, and
his “deficit” playing rag-time to boost his rider along. He even kept
his deficit buzzer going after nearly everyone about the Capitol _knew_
that Senators La Follette, Bristow, Owen, Gore, Cummins, Bourne, Clapp,
Beveridge, Borah, Brown and others intended to _talk his rider into the
ditch_ or talk the postoffice appropriation bill into the Sixty-second
Congress.

Yes, Postmaster General Hitchcock, though neither a very competent
nor scrupulous tactician, nor an able manager for any large business,
industrial or other, is a _good fighter_. That much must be said for him.
When a man fights to the last ditch for a lost or losing cause or purpose
as he fought for his “rider,” that man has courage, nerve, whatever we
may call it, in him. At any rate it is a quality which commands respect
and the man possessing such a quality will receive his just meed of
respect wherever men _are_ men.

Mr. Hitchcock worked up a vigorous support for what The Man on the
Ladder considers not only an objectionable cause, but a cause viciously
dangerous to our form of government, to the material welfare of our
people, to their educational advancement as well as to their moral and
intellectual betterment.

That is the reason he opposes the purpose of this rider amendment and
the methods used to enact it into law. In brief, that is why this book
has been written. How Mr. Hitchcock secured a following, even for the
brief period his followers followed, for such a cause and the methods
used to advance it is as difficult for me to work out or solve as
the “Pigs-in-Clover” puzzle or the “How Old Is Ann” problem. He must
certainly have learned some new “holds” or tricks in what Sewell Ford
calls “the confidential tackle,” or he could not have secured so many
“falls” in so short a time for a cause that was bad and for methods even
worse, if such were possible.

Now we will take up the Postmaster General’s somewhat prolific, if not
always lucid, verbiage, to prove that he knows more about the publication
and distribution of publications than the most experienced and successful
periodical publishers have yet learned, however experienced they are and
however hard they have striven to familiarize themselves with the many
intricacies which the business involves.


FOOTNOTES

[1] Now, see here, Samuel, if you have any knock to make about the
liberties I may take with your Saturday Evening Post informative article,
knock me, not my publisher. I may quote and even disfigure a little, but
I assure you the latter will be far this side of the ambulance.



CHAPTER III.

SOME PUBLIC-BUBBLING FIGURES.


Postmaster General Hitchcock’s persistent activity in seeking to push the
“rider” through the Senate was a noticeable feature in the closing hours
of that session of Congress, his industry showing in his daily contact on
the floor of the Senate with the members who seemed pliable or willing
to harken to his wishes in the matter pertaining to the legislation he
wished to have made into law. The following communications, adroit and
carefully worded to Chairman Penrose, boldly justified the increase on
second-class matter, and may be regarded as the dying struggle of the
postoffice head to gain his point.

The italics are the writer’s and set out the controversial
promiscuousness of the Postmaster General. The letters bear date February
14-15, 1911:

                                 WASHINGTON, D. C., February 14, 1911.

    MY DEAR SENATOR:--In response to your request I _submit the
    following statement_ relative to the section of the postal
    appropriation bill, H. R. 31539, now pending in the Senate that
    provides for an increase in the postage rate on the advertising
    portions of periodical publications mailed as second-class matter.

    Under the provision in the bill the postage rate on the
    advertising pages of magazines is increased from 1 cent to 4
    cents a pound, _but this increase does not apply to newspapers
    of any kind_, nor does it affect periodical publications mailing
    less than 4,000 pounds each issue. By the terms of the provision
    the privilege of carrying advertisements is for the first
    time extended to several classes of periodical publications
    enumerated in the act of March 3, 1879, namely, the periodical
    _publications of benevolent or fraternal organizations, of
    regularly incorporated institutions of learning, of trade union
    organizations, and of professional, literary, historical, and
    scientific societies, including state boards of health_.

    As the advertising portions of magazines comprise on an average
    about a _third_ of their total weight the effect of an increase
    from 1 to 4 cents on the advertising pages will be to advance the
    postage rate for second-class matter as a whole about 1 cent,
    making the second-class rate 2 cents a pound instead of 1 cent,
    as at present. In view of the fact that it costs the government
    about 9 cents a pound to handle and transport this class of mail
    the proposed increase is an exceedingly moderate one.

    In a whole page newspaper advertisement printed on the 12th
    instant, signed by 34 of the _principal magazine and periodical
    publications_ of the country, it is stated that the increased
    rate “will drive a majority of the popular magazines out of
    existence, and with them the enormous volume of profitable
    first-class mail their advertising creates.” _This charge is made
    in the face of the fact that some, if not all, of the signers
    of the statement are realizing tremendous profits from the vast
    amount of high-priced advertisements._

    It has been found _on investigation_ that one of the great
    periodical publications signing this protest contained in 21 of
    its successive issues, from January 1, 1910, to and including May
    21, 1910, exclusive of cover pages, an average of 19,354 agate
    lines of advertising matter, which, at the same rate, would make
    a total of 1,006,408 lines for the year.

    On October 1, 1910, the publisher of this periodical increased
    the rate for ordinary advertising in his publication from $5
    to $6 an agate line. At the higher rate the _gross value_ of
    the ordinary advertising space for one year would amount to
    $6,038,448. Increased rates charged for the inside and outside
    cover pages would bring $650,000, making a total _gross value_ of
    $6,688,448. Allowing a discount of 15 per cent, or $1,003,267,
    there would remain as a _total net value_ of the advertising
    in this publication for a single year the _tremendous sum of
    $5,685,181_. The additional income from advertising resulting
    from the increased rates would amount in a year _to $957,107,
    which would be much more than sufficient to pay the proposed
    higher postage rate of 4 cents a pound on the advertising pages
    of the publication during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1910_.
    In other words, _the advance in advertising rates for this
    periodical will not only meet the higher postage charges, but
    will leave a surplus of increased revenue to swell the annual
    profits of the magazine_.

    In a printed statement recently issued by the president of one
    of the leading magazine-publishing companies of New York City,
    _the exceedingly profitable nature of the magazine business
    was clearly set forth_. According to his statement the profits
    of his own magazine for the _month of October, 1910, showed
    an increase over the corresponding_ month for 1909 of 100 per
    cent on advertisements and 151 per cent on _subscriptions,
    making a net annual profit for dividends and surplus, based
    on a circulation of 500,000 copies monthly, of $348,980_.
    Regarding the periodical-publishing business in general, the
    same gentleman says in his statement that “magazine publishers
    receive _gross_ incomes as high as $6,000,000 in a single year.
    Dividends amounting approximately to $1,000,000 yearly have
    been made.” Speaking of the publishers of some of the magazines
    joining in the protest against the proposed legislation, he says
    that one of them, according to his own statement, realizes a net
    profit of $1,000,000 annually; of another, the principal owner
    of two great publications, that his gross income is more than
    $6,000,000 annually, and that his net profits for the same period
    exceed $1,000,000; of another, that his magazine yields more
    than 10 per cent on a capital of $10,000,000; of another, that
    his net profits are $600,000; of another, that the value of his
    advertising space alone is $1,500,000 a year; of another, that
    his advertising receipts are $75,000 per month and his profits
    are from $600,000 to $800,000 per year; of still another, that
    his publishing business represents a profit of 100 per cent a
    year to its stockholders.

    MY DEAR SENATOR:--On February 13, 1911, Everybody’s Magazine
    published in the local newspapers a full page advertisement
    attacking the proposed increase in second-class postage carried
    by the postal bill now pending in the Senate. In their statement
    the publishers claimed to have a circulation of 650,000 copies
    per issue and asserted that “the postal measure now before
    Congress increases the cost of handling Everybody’s Magazine
    $150,000 a year.” They further stated that in view of the fact
    that the magazine makes “each year for its stockholders about
    $100,000,” the proposed increase would “actually exclude the
    magazine from the mails.”

    The department’s figures for the calendar year 1910 show that
    Everybody’s Magazine mailed at the New York City postoffice
    2,898,372 pounds of its issues as second-class matter, on which
    the postage at the cent-a-pound rate was $28,983.72. As an
    average of one-half of the pages is devoted to advertising, the
    proposed increase of 3 cents per pound on such matter would make
    the additional postage $43,475.58 per annum instead of $150,000,
    as stated by the publishers of the magazine.

    Based on the publishers’ statement of 650,000 circulation, the
    gross income of Everybody’s would be about $1,550,000 annually,
    divided as follows:

    200,000 subscriptions, at $1 (net)                      $200,000
    450,000 news-stand sales, at $1 (net)                    450,000
    150 pages of advertising per month, at $500 per page     900,000
                                                          ----------
            Grand total                                   $1,550,000

    Since the publishers state that the magazine makes each year for
    its stockholders only about $100,000, the approximate cost of
    publication reaches the surprisingly high figure of $1,450,000.
    Using their own statement showing a circulation of 650,000, it
    appears that Everybody’s issues 7,800,000 single copies annually.
    If their total net profits are only $100,000, it is evident that
    it must cost the publishers approximately 19 cents to place a
    copy of the magazine in the hands of a reader who can secure it
    on the news stand for 15 cents.

    Before your committee reported the bill providing for the
    increased rate on second-class matter, the publishers of
    Everybody’s Magazine announced that on and after March 6, 1911,
    their rates for ordinary advertising would be advanced from $500
    to $600 a page. On the extremely conservative estimate that the
    magazine carries a monthly average of 150 advertising pages, this
    advance will produce an additional income of $150,000 per annum.
    As the proposed increase of postage during a like period will
    amount to approximately $43,500, it is evident that out of the
    increase of revenue alone the magazine will be able to pay the
    additional postage and still retain a considerable surplus for
    its stockholders.

                           Yours, very truly,

                           FRANK H. HITCHCOCK,
                          _Postmaster General_

    Investigations recently made by the Postoffice Department
    show that large numbers of periodical publications already
    entered as second-class matter are in reality nothing more than
    trade catalogues, which, under the law, ought to be treated
    as third-class matter and subjected to a postage charge of 8
    cents a pound, which is the rate for catalogues. By inserting
    a few pages of reading matter, these publications succeeded
    in being classed as magazines and thus secured admission at
    the cent-a-pound rate. Among publications of this kind is one
    containing 140 pages, 99 per cent of which are devoted to
    advertisements; another containing 562 pages, 97 per cent of
    which are devoted to advertisements; another containing 238
    pages, 93 per cent of which are devoted to advertisements; and
    another containing 268 pages, 89 per cent of which are devoted
    to advertisements. Almost the entire space in these publications
    is devoted to the carrying of commercial advertisements, and
    this in defiance of the statute specifically excluding from the
    second-class privileges “publications designed primarily for
    advertising purposes.”

    By the proposed law, magazines, in so far as they provide public
    information, are left exactly on a par with newspapers and the
    smaller periodicals, for the increase of rate of 3 cents a pound
    attaches only to such portions of the magazines as are devoted to
    advertising purposes.

    The stock argument of magazine publishers that the profit to the
    government on first-class matter induced by the advertisements in
    their publications offsets any loss incurred by reason of the low
    postage rate on second-class matter is disproved by the fact that
    the government’s entire profit on first-class matter is less than
    the total loss on second-class mail matter.

    During the fiscal year 1910 over 800,000,000 pounds of
    second-class matter were carried through the mails at a loss to
    the government of $62,000,000. The profits on all other classes
    of mail matter were more than swallowed up by this tremendous
    loss, leaving a postal deficit for the year of about $6,000,000.
    It is estimated that the annual saving to the government through
    the proposed increase in postage will amount to about $6,000,000,
    or enough to wipe out what remains of the deficit.

    Magazines have repeatedly increased their advertising rates
    as their circulation has grown, but the postal charges for
    the handling and transportation of these magazines have
    remained stationary for years, so that while this increased
    circulation has swollen the profits of the publishers it has
    added correspondingly to the loss sustained by the government.
    It is clearly inequitable that the public in its general
    correspondence, the publishers of books and pamphlets, and the
    senders of small merchandise should continue to be taxed to meet
    the deficit caused by a subsidy enjoyed by the publishers of the
    large magazines.

                           Yours, very truly,

                           FRANK H. HITCHCOCK,
                          _Postmaster General_.

    MY DEAR SENATOR:--Observing that the periodical publishers in
    their opposition to the pending provision increasing postage on
    second-class mail matter frequently refer to the low rate of
    one-fourth cent per pound charged by the Dominion of Canada on
    newspapers and periodicals, I think it well to point out the
    fact that while this exceptionally low rate does prevail in
    that country because of the peculiar conditions there, European
    countries, so far as our information goes, charge a higher rate
    than the United States, notwithstanding their much smaller
    areas. The rates charged by Great Britain, Germany, and France
    are considerably higher than the rate provided for in the bill
    now pending in the Senate. I inclose herewith a memorandum giving
    such information as we have regarding the postage rates charged
    on newspapers and periodicals by European countries.

                           Yours, very truly,

                           FRANK H. HITCHCOCK,
                          _Postmaster General_.

    _Postage rate, in cents per pound, on newspapers and periodicals
    in European countries._

                                                                   Cents.
    Great Britain (one forty-first of the area of the United
    States), 1 cent a copy for local delivery, but for general
    distribution by parcels post in quantities, 6 cents for
    the first pound and 2 cents for each additional pound up
    to 11 pounds.
    Germany (one-seventeenth of the area of the United States)        4⅘
    France (one-seventeenth of the area of the United States)         4
    Italy (one thirty-third of the area of the United States):
      Daily newspapers                                                1⅛
      Other publications                                              2
    Holland (one two-hundred-and-eighty-fourth of the area of
        the United States)                                            1⅘
    Belgium (one three-hundred-and-eighteenth of the area of
        the United States)                                            1⅕

    Under the provisions of the International Postal Convention,
    newspapers and periodicals are mailed by all the signatory
    parties at the uniform rate of 1 cent for each 2 ounces or
    fraction thereof--practically, 8 cents per pound.

Postmaster General Hitchcock in his letter, submitted under date of
February 14, 1911, quotes some publisher (name not mentioned), as saying
that “magazine publishers receive _gross_ incomes as high as $6,000,000
in a single year” … “that one of them, according to his own statement,
realizes a net profit of $1,000,000 annually” … another, “the principal
owner of two great magazines, says that his _gross_ income is more than
$6,000,000 a year;” of another “that his magazine yields more than 10%
profit on a capitalization of $10,000,000,” etc., etc.

Beyond stating that the foregoing declarations were made by the
“President of one of the leading magazine publishing companies of New
York city,” Mr. Hitchcock sayeth not, save as he quotes (see seventh
paragraph of the Hitchcock letter), this President as saying what Mr.
Hitchcock says he said. The Postmaster General does not name this
“President.”

Regretting this oversight of our Postmaster General very much, I would
like to know whether or not this “President” is the real, genuine
article of president, or is merely one of these “phoney” presidents who
laboriously support the honors of the corporate title and vote three
shares of stock, usually _given_ by the promoters of an organization for
the “influence” of an honored name in starting the wheels to revolve.

I mean by this that it would be _information_ to thousands of Mr.
Hitchcock’s readers, as well as to thousands of publishers and printers,
_and numerous millions of American citizens_, had he, Mr. Hitchcock,
told them whether this “President” he quotes so liberally, likewise
confidently and confidingly, is a real, live-wire president, active in
the management of his periodical, and, therefore, fully informed as to
its business, expenditures, profits, etc., etc., or, on the other hand,
whether or not he is merely a corporation stool-bird for the promotion of
a publication enterprise through selling the stock of the concern to the
E. Z.-Mark investing public.

The quotations which our Postmaster General makes from this publisher
“President” sound to me with quite a familiar _tang_. They read a
good bit like a promotion circular, like an “annual statement” which
corporations and companies as well as individuals print and distribute
to call attention to the prosperous _future_ they have in sight,
incidentally inviting _investment_ from savings banks accounts, stocking
hoardings, etc.

Nothing wrong about that method of “public bubbling” at all. Even banking
institutions, national and state, sometimes resort to it. Occasionally,
commercial houses have used it. So, also, has the Steel Corporation,
when it wished its employes to chip in a few millions for “a personal
interest.” Our friend, “Bet-You-a-Million-Gates,” used it to advantage in
reorganizing the Louisville and Nashville system, and it is a practice
now and again indulged in among our Napoleons of finance, as well as
great captains in the industrial realm.

For this reason I cannot--until our Postmaster General further
enlightens us regarding this publisher-president as to his personality,
individuality and general business activity in and knowledge of, his
own publication business,--say anything in adverse criticism of this
“President” Mr Hitchcock quotes so liberally, likewise unctuously.

However, having been a periodical publisher myself, in a small way, I
shall presume here to present a few figures _approximately_ applicable
to larger periodical enterprises. Mr. Hitchcock has much to say about
_gross_ receipts, _gross_ revenues, and other _gross_. I shall present
my estimate of _net profits_. For this purpose, I shall take a monthly
periodical reputedly issuing 650,000 copies a month, each number weighing
about one pound.

Now, let it be here distinctly understood by the reader that my figures,
mostly estimates, are those of a man with experience only as a small
periodical publisher, say of 50,000 a month, not 650,000.

Estimated income of the publisher of a standard monthly periodical
distributing 650,000 copies monthly of average weight of one pound each,
Mr. Hitchcock figures to be (see his letter), about $6,000,000. The gross
annual receipts from subscriptions on a periodical issuing 650,000 copies
per month, and retailing at 15 cents per copy, is less than $750,000.
Such periodicals realize about 12½ cents each for subscribed copies and
8 cents net for copies delivered in bulk to newsdealers and agencies.
The first item of expense the publisher incurs, therefore, is in the
issue cost of production over what he receives for the copies issued.
It is knowledge common to every periodical publisher, newspaper as well
as magazine, that every subscriber as well as news-stand buyer of his
periodical is a _subsidized reader_. Do you catch the import of that
statement?

Did you ever think of that, Mr. Reader? Frankly I confess that I did not,
until quite recently, when a large producer of trade journals and edition
books, and likewise one of our largest manufacturing printers, pointed
out the facts to me. His varied business interests are such that he must
necessarily buy at the lowest market cost, must know to the fraction of a
cent what those costs are--the cost of composition, of presswork, of ink,
of color work, of covers, of binding, of cartage, of rail haulage, of
distribution, etc., etc.

Well, this gentleman summoned me off the ladder, and “called” me in a way
which made my landing somewhat abrupt, in order to tell me some things
about periodical publishing which he had shrewdly, likewise correctly,
guessed that I did not know.

Among the things he told me, not only told me but proved to me, was the
one stated: that readers of periodicals get, _in net mechanical cost,
more than the publishers receive for the publication sold_.

In proof of this he cited the 8-page dailies issued in cities of the
second and third classes, and the 16 to 32-page dailies published in
our metropolitan cities; also the great “Sunday Editions” issued by the
latter, issues which run more largely to color and _tonnage_ than to news
and literature. The former, (the dailies), my publisher friend pointed
out, realize about _six-tenths of one cent a copy_--a little less, if
they do cartage for any considerable part of their local deliveries or
pay rail haulage charges on outside deliveries. Of course, my tutor
is speaking of news agents and carrier deliveries. On their regular
subscribed issues publishers realize a little more. But the difference,
when cost of wrapping and addressing is figured, is so trifling as not
to be worth considering. It can be safely figured that the net price
received by the publisher of a newspaper is six-tenths of one cent
for the daily and about three and a half cents--probably nearer three
cents--for the leviathan metropolitan Sunday edition.

Just here is where my publisher friend’s knowledge of _market costs_ came
forth for my enlightenment and, I sincerely hope, for my reader’s as
well. Having studied his business from the “stumpage” up, so to speak, he
began with the cost of pulp wood timber, “of stumpage,” from the spruce
forests of the north and farther north, the scattered linn or basswood
of the east and southeast, and of the soft maple and cottonwood of the
southeast and south. Then he told me of the prices paid the “lumber
jacks” to fell and saw this pulp-wood; of the cost of hauling it by ox,
mule or horsepower to the river “roll-way,” which river would carry it
down to the pulp mill, or hauling it to the railroad loading station for
rail carriage to the same point.

Nor did he do that only. He told me the price of the “web press roll”
and of “flat-print” papers into which the wood pulp is made, paper stock
on which is printed all our periodicals--both newspapers and monthly
and weekly periodicals. Next he told me of the price of composition,
(typesetting, as we used to call it), by the most modern methods, the
linotype and the monotype machines. Then he talked of ink and presswork
costs, of color work, folding, stitching and covering or binding; of the
cost of wrapping, addressing, cartage, rail haulage and distribution.
The result of the expert’s showing of the _cost_ of raw material and of
skilled and other labor in periodical publication, as the periodicals are
printed and marketed today, was to the effect that the reader gets his
daily, weekly or monthly publication, on an average, _at less than half
what it costs the publisher to produce it_.

Further, it was conclusively shown to me, that the publisher’s _net_
receipts for a newspaper, magazine or other periodical is often but a
third, sometimes less than _a fourth_, of the net cost to him of its
production and distribution.

With this preliminary, we will now go back to our magazine of 650,000
monthly issue and Postmaster General Hitchcock’s estimate of its profits.

Postmaster General Hitchcock’s talk of “gross” receipts of $6,000,000
a year is ill advised. Let us see what must be charged off from that
$6,000,000 before the publisher can count his profits.

First, we will figure the publisher’s loss on published copies. Taking
only the flat cost of paper, ink and composition; of the cost of fine
color and half-tone pages such as monthly periodicals must print; of
cover designing, presswork, and binding, of wrapping and addressing, say
150,000 copies of the monthly issue to individual addresses, that being,
approximately at least, the number of subscribed readers the publisher
will have on a total issue of 650,000 copies. Next comes the cost of
sacking his subscribed circulation and of bundling and wrapping, then
of cartage to mail trains. The prominent periodical publisher not only
delivers his subscribed list _sacked_ to the mail car, but he _routes_
the larger portion of it, the railway mail clerks having nothing to do
with it save to dump it off at the designated stations. Then he must
meet the carriage and delivery cost, about 1 cent a pound, or $20.00
a ton. All these I consider _flat_ costs of producing and delivering
the publication. To this flat cost must be added the expenditures for
contributing writers, for editors, proofreaders and special investigators
(including travel and other expenses), stenographers, postage and
stationery for a large correspondence, clerical, messenger and other
administration service, rents, insurance, etc., etc. And, finally, the
expenditures made in the way of commissions and premiums to work up a
subscribed issue.

A monthly periodical of the size and character which Postmaster General
Hitchcock has reference to--of the size and character to win its way to
an issue of 650,000 copies a month--must cost its publisher not less, on
an average, than 30 cents per copy, probably more. The subscribing reader
pays 12½ cents per copy for it--pays directly to the publisher. The
news stand buyer pays 15 cents a copy, but the publisher, after paying
newsdealer and agency commissions on the latter sales, realizes but _8
cents per copy_. Here let us see how this publisher’s circulation-cost
and receipts figure out. Six hundred and fifty thousand monthly issue
figures to an issue of 7,800,000 copies for the year. At 30 cents’ cost
of production, which is rather low than high, those copies cost the
publisher to produce, to get readers for and to distribute, the annual
total of $2,340,000. He realizes in return from subscription and news
stand sales about as follows:

  From news stand and agency sales (500,000 per month,
  or 6,600,000 copies a year), he realizes 8 cents per copy or  $480,000

  From subscribers (150,000 per month or 1,800,000 a
  year), at 12½ cents each                                       225,000
                                                                --------
              Total receipts                                    $705,000

Thus it is clear that for an expenditure of $2,340,000 a year to produce
and distribute his excellent _low-priced_ periodical to readers, the
publisher gets in return only $705,000, thus standing a net loss of
$1,635,000 on his mechanical output--no, on his _literary and educational
output_. And, mark you, that $705,000 Mr. Hitchcock must, necessarily,
have included in his “gross” receipts. How, then, is the publisher able
to furnish his readers such literary and educational nourishment at so
great a loss on production?

There is but one answer: The advertising carried by the periodical
must recoup the loss on publication and yield the publisher whatever
profit he may realize. Yet Mr. Hitchcock, in the profound profundity of
his knowledge of periodical publishing, figures that the advertising
receipts are clear profit to the publisher. True, he does, in one of his
urgent letters to Senator Penrose, I believe it is, incidentally admit a
possible maximum cost or expense of “fifteen per cent” in securing and
printing the advertisements. “Fifteen per cent!”

Omitting all undigestible words, I shall merely say that Mr. Hitchcock’s
fifteen per cent talk--about the cost of soliciting and printing
advertising matter by any of our high-class periodicals, shows a
knowledge of the subject nearly on the level of that of a cold-storage
egg.

Why, fifteen per cent of the gross receipts for advertising by any of
our high-class periodicals scarcely would meet--I doubt if in any such
case it does _meet_--the expenditures made for skilled “layout” men
and designers. Everyone knows that the advertising pages of any of our
standard weekly and monthly periodicals are _art pages_. People _read_
the “ads” in these periodicals. They are largely attracted to them by
their artistic arrangement, typographically and in design. It takes
_brains_ to make that arrangement, brains of finer fiber or better
trained than the cold storage variety. The service of such brains _costs
money_. Who pays it? _The publisher._ And the publisher who gets the
services of such brains at less than fifteen per cent of the “gross”
charge for his advertising must, in these days, be a wonder in business
acumen or a “pow’ful ’suadin’ boss,” as Rastus used to say, down on the
Yazoo, years ago, when he took a job at twenty-five cents a day less than
he had asked.

I say the people _read_ these “ads” and, fearing I shall forget it later,
I desire to interpolate here another thought: They are led to read them
because of the artistic letterpress, the designing, the attractive
phrasing, catchy wording, etc. They read them. _You_ and _I_ read them.
And--well, that is my point--my thought.

The “ads” in periodicals of the class of which we are speaking cover
almost every field and domain of life--of human life--of _our_ lives.
They tell us of the latest inventions and achievements in the mechanical
and industrial world; of the latest improvements in the cultivation of
the land; of the latest and best in “hen range” management and “run-way”
poultry raising; of the latest achievements of Luther Burbank, or some
other wizard in the domain of pomology; of kitchen and flower gardening;
of how to cut down our gas bills; to make the ton of coal deliver more
“duty”--more thermic B. T. U.’s--of the best new books and of bargain
reprint editions of the best old ones; of where to get a cheap home,
cheap acres around it and how to build and furnish a comfortable home
cheaply; in fact, of an infinity of daily and hourly needs. So what is
the use of my enumerating further? Every reader knows what those “ads”
in our standard periodicals do for us. They enlighten, they inform, they
_educate_ us. And that is why we read them, and that is why we should
continue to do so.

We will get back now to Mr. Hitchcock and his “wondrous ways” of figuring
a publisher’s profits on the advertising he prints. Postmaster General
Hitchcock appears to have ignored the fact I have already pointed
out--ignored the fact that the publisher’s heaviest loss is on the
printing and distribution end of his periodical, and thus is a charge
against his advertising receipts.

Mr. Hitchcock, so far as I have been able to read him, furthermore
ignores the important fact that advertisements are secured for a
periodical largely by solicitation. Of course, the “Want,” “To Rent,”
“For Sale” and similar small line “ads” come to newspapers largely
without personal solicitation. But the display advertiser does not
frantically rush to the publisher and say: “Here’s my check for $500.00.
Give me a page display for this line of goods.” Not at all. The publisher
must go after him and, not infrequently, go after him numerous times
before he lands his $500.00 or $5,000.00 contract or order. To secure
such advertisements the publisher employs the most skilled advertising
solicitors within reach of his bank balance. Such men, if carried on his
regular payroll, are among the “high-salaried” human units which make
up the operating, managing and service personnel of his business. If
they are not on regular salary the publisher must pay such men a liberal
commission on the contracts secured, a commission seldom or never as
low as 10 per cent and I have known them to range as high as 40 or 50
per cent of the gross price received on the first or initial contract,
“just to show the advertiser what we can do for him,” as the publisher
frequently reasons.


TESTIMONY UNDER OATH.

Senate Document No. 820 presents a reply by some publishers to
Mr. Hitchcock’s loose or reckless statements on the point under
consideration. I wish to appropriate for use here some very manifestly
truthful statements made in that Senate Document No. 820. I shall
summarize or quote as best fits my line of presentation.

In 1909 the publishers of five standard magazines, admittedly carrying
“the largest amount of advertising” among the monthly periodicals,
made _a sworn statement_ covering their receipts, expenditures and net
profits. That sworn statement is on file in the Department of Commerce
and Labor and is easily accessible to the Postmaster General if he
desires to know a little something of what _the publishers know about
their own business_. The publishers of the five periodicals thus making
sworn statements to the government of their incomes, expenditures and
profits, are the publishers of “Everybody’s,” “McClure’s”, “The Review
of Reviews,” “The Cosmopolitan” and “The American.”

The named periodicals, it will be at once recognized, if not the
strongest, at least are among the strongest monthly periodicals of this
country. Yet these sworn statements show that Mr. Hitchcock’s proposed
increase of 3 cents a pound in their mailing rates would, under present
conditions, _exhaust “81.8 percent of their net profits_.”

If Mr. Hitchcock’s proposal, prompted, it would appear, by ulterior
motives, as was recently evidenced by his _voluminous_ buttonholing of
interested or “interests” Senators and Congressmen to put his “rider”
over--no, maybe it is not really his, but _it looks like him_--for an
increase on second-class matter would, if made operative, would so
seriously impair the financial strength of five such _strong_ periodicals
as those named, what, it is the part both of duty and of honesty to ask,
will become of the _scores_ of smaller periodicals, especially of those
periodicals which issue more than “two tons” at a mailing and which
serve, inform and _educate_ a reading patronage that needs them?

If Mr. Hitchcock’s actions in this matter are clean and open--not
“influenced”--he might not only serve himself but a good and worthy
cause as well, if he would give some pointers to these smaller
publishers--those between his “4,000 pounds an issue” exemptions from
his four-cent rate and the stronger periodical publications, five of
which are before him in sworn statement. If he would give, I say, these
middle-class publishers--we may so call them for the comparison in hand,
though their published matter is of the _highest class_ all the time--if
he would give such publishers some method or scheme to keep from the
financial rocks, they, I am quite sure, would greatly appreciate it.
Possibly they would put him on their free lists in perpetuity.

Mr. Hitchcock appears to be a phenomenon at “figurin’” and for the
devising of methods to obliterate postoffice “deficits;” also at
following the ulterior motive and its “influence,” and still provide,
by exemptions or otherwise, to protect the “fence-building” country
newspapers,--indeed newspapers in general, now that I read him again.
Likewise he protects the farm, the religious, the scientific, the
mechanical and other publications whose influence, it appears, does not
_obstructively_ influence the “influences” which have directed his recent
action.

I do not know who wrote that Senate Document No. 820. Whoever it was,
he certainly knew “a gob of things,” as our splendid friend, the
washerwoman, would put it, about the United States Postoffice Department,
its management and its methods. I shall probably “crib” or plagiarize
several times from this Senate Document No. 820, but just here I desire
to quote a paragraph from it:

“Postmaster General Hitchcock’s profound ignorance concerning the
relation of magazine advertising to magazine profits is shown by the
fact that although these magazines received in 1909, $2,463,940.39
for advertising, the aggregate of their net incomes was only
$230,734.57,--less than one-tenth of their advertising receipts.”

This Document No. 820 is all good, so good that I believe I will reprint
from it further and at this point:

    Postmaster General Hitchcock proceeds in the first and second
    paragraphs on page four to cite a recent increase of advertising
    rates of a certain magazine, and to consider, and use in
    figuring, as net profits the _total amount of advertising it
    carries for the year_.

    (It is of incidental interest, in showing the _partisan attitude_
    of the Postmaster General, that in calculating the total amount
    of advertising received by this publication, he takes the number
    of lines actually printed in this weekly’s _richest advertising
    season_, ignoring the fact that in the summer this periodical
    is sometimes published at a loss, and makes an estimate of its
    advertising patronage for the whole year on the basis of what it
    received in the months when advertising is at its height).

    But the gigantic error of the Postmaster General is in
    calculating the additional income from advertising for this
    weekly resulting from its increased advertising rate, and
    assuming that this increased income is all profit. This error
    arises from the Postmaster General’s _total ignorance_ of the
    publishing business in general; and in particular, of the fact
    proved above, that the magazines save only a small fraction of
    their aggregate advertising income as net profits after paying
    the expenses of production and administration.

    Then the Postmaster General finds out how much money the
    increased rate brought the periodical and observes with an air of
    finality that this income was more than sufficient to meet the
    higher postal charges.

    The facts are, of course, that to get this higher advertising
    rate, the “great periodical” had to publish enough more copies
    and additional reading matter in those copies to justify the
    increased rate; and that to manufacture and supply these
    additional subscriptions it costs magazines more than twice as
    much as they get from subscribers. Furthermore, the Postmaster
    General takes gross advertising income as net profit, apparently
    thinking that advertising flows into periodical offices without
    the asking, where, as a matter of fact, it is necessary to spend
    enormous sums for high-priced men to solicit advertising, for
    other men to lay out plans and make designs for advertisers, and
    for a large clerical force to handle the advertising department.
    The calm way in which the Postmaster General ignores the cost of
    presswork and paper on which the advertising is printed, exhibits
    his ignorance of the fact that there is in business an expense
    side of the ledger as well as an income side.

    If a magazine has 100,000 circulation and a fair corresponding
    rate for advertising and if the circulation is then increased to
    200,000, the publisher has the same right and the same necessity
    to charge more for the doubled circulation that a grocer has
    to charge more for two pounds of tea than for one pound. But
    what possible relation has this to the fact that postage rates
    have remained stationary? _The postoffice gives no more service
    than it did before magazine circulations and advertising
    increased_--in fact it gives less, as it now requires the big
    magazines to separate and tag for distribution, and, in many
    cases, deliver to the trains, _a vast quantity of magazine mail,
    formerly handled entirely by the postoffice_.

I wonder if Mr. Hitchcock ever read “Job Jobson, Nos. 1, 2 and 3.” If
he has not there is something due him which he ought to take immediate
steps to collect. “Job Jobson” in three little pamphlets tells _more_
than either Mr. Hitchcock or myself will ever be able to learn about
second-class mail carriage and handling--unless, of course, we read those
three booklets of Job Jobson.

Why are Job Jobson’s three booklets so important? A very pertinent
question, indeed, at this stage of our consideration. Job Jobson’s three
booklets are toweringly important inasmuch as they were written by Wilmer
Atkinson, publisher of the Farm Journal of Philadelphia, one of the most
successful as well as the most _useful_ farm periodicals the world has
ever produced.

More than that, Mr. Atkinson has so long and so thoroughly studied this
second-class mail rate question that both Mr. Hitchcock and myself would
have to take our places in the kindergarten class where he is tutor.

I haven’t those three “Job Jobson’s” by me. I have thumbed two of them
out of existence, but from the one I have I desire to quote a couple of
paragraphs which I hope it will do Mr. Hitchcock as much good to read as
it does me to re-read. Here they are in all their vigor:

    Publishers, one and all, should take their stand upon the
    immutable principle that newspaper circulation is not a crime,
    and it is not a fault, that neither a law on the statute books,
    much less arbitrary power outside the law, should ever be invoked
    to curtail the liberty and independence of the press, which are
    a sacred inheritance from the fathers; or to cripple newspaper
    enterprises or bankrupt those engaged in this noble calling.

    That to send their papers into the very confines of the republic,
    into every home, however rich, however humble, to brighten and
    to bless, is a great and beneficent work, worthy of all praise
    and all honor--worthy of the nurturing care, rather than the
    antagonism of government.

And that was written only a few years ago--written _true to the facts_. I
desire here to quote a couple more paragraphs. They have been published
generally throughout the country and universally indorsed. They are
written by the Hon. Woodrow Wilson, Governor of New Jersey:

    A tax upon the business of the more widely circulated magazines
    and periodicals would be a tax upon their means of living and
    performing their functions. They obtain their circulation by
    their direct appeal to the popular thought. Their circulation
    attracts advertisers. Their advertisements enable them to pay
    their writers and to enlarge their enterprise and influence.

    This proposed new postal rate would be a direct tax, and a very
    serious one, upon the formation and expression of opinion--its
    most deliberate formation and expression--just at a time when
    opinion is concerning itself most actively and effectively with
    the deepest problems of our politics and our social life. To make
    such a change, whatever its intentions in the minds of those who
    proposed it, would be to attack and embarrass the free processes
    of opinion.



CHAPTER IV.

BUREAUCRATIC POWERS SOUGHT.


I have before me the Postmaster General’s report for 1910. It presents
a large amount of information both in statistical tabulation and in
“straight matter.” A portion of the former, however, leaves the average
lay mind rambling around in circles, wondering what in the name of all
that is lofty it was compiled for, what service value it can possibly
have and what was the ailment from which the fellow who compiled it
suffered; that is, was his a case merely of bad liver or indigestion, or
a serious case of ingrown intellect, struggling to help his fellowmen
know how real dizzy and foolish tabulated figures can be made to appear?

Mr. Hitchcock in this 1910 report has separated himself from some
striking oddities, about as serviceably valuable as a smoking compartment
would be to a laundry wagon. Of course, it may be that Mr. Hitchcock
did not write the division of this report signed by him. Some talented
secretary, clerk or assistant may have cranked it up. However that may
be, do not let what I here say deter you from looking through this 1910
report should it come your way. It contains a variety of excellent
things, some valuable information, well collated and intelligibly
presented. The foolishness and fooleries in it are--well, they are of
the kind common to all, or at least most, departmental reports, federal,
state, county and city. Much of the tabulated “statistics” in each can
have no possible service value either in this world or the next--even
assuming that statistics and statisticians will be recognized at all in
that division of the “next” to which we all aspire.

As to the “straight matter” in these departmental reports, one often
finds in it some most excellent suggestions, as is certainly the case
with Mr. Hitchcock’s 1910 production. One also finds a lot of other
suggestions and space-written stuff that would make a totem laugh--that
is, of course, presuming a totem could laugh and had advanced as far as
the third grammar school grade in reading.

And the “literary style” of these official reports; so aerial in
elevation, so officially dignified in “tone,” so profusely profound or
profoundly profuse in elaboration and detail, and often so _trivial_ in
significance or import!

If they were still with us, the “literary” standard of most of these
departmental reports would make Bertha M. Clay hug the rail and E. P. Roe
carry weight. But, of course, one must not look for nor expect literary
exaltedness in a departmental report. It should, however, tell us--_we
people_--a good many things we wish to know, in fact, _ought_ to know.
It should not give us too much talk merely to show us how much--or how
little--some chief or assistant knows. If you get the opportunity, read
the Postmaster General’s 1910 report, and you will find many things in it
that will jar you loose from your expectations, but do not be alarmed at
that. Just keep in mind the fact that you can come as near reciting the
Rubaiyat backwards as can Postmaster General Hitchcock, and that you at
least know Old Mother Hubbard “by heart” as well as he knows it.

The point I am trying to make--to emphasize--is that Mr. Hitchcock’s
1910 report presents much valuable information for you and me. So
you should not allow its follies to scare you off. For instance, the
Postmaster General’s fifty notations of “Improvements in Organization and
Methods.” Why he should stop at a round fifty I do not know. I believe
he could easily have added twenty or thirty more _of kind_. Some of
these “improvements” are most excellent; some of them are so assumedly
conclusive on matters previously--for years--in doubt and controversy as
to touch off the risibles in any man who has made anything like a careful
study of conditions governing the Postoffice Department. For instance,
his “Improvement” numbered 10 reads:

“The successful completion of an _inquiry_ into the cost of handling and
transporting mail of the several classes and of conducting the money
order, registry and special delivery services.”

We can _hope_ that the aforesaid “inquiry” was so carefully and
comprehensively conducted as to entitle it to be classed as “successful”
as Mr. Hitchcock’s statement is assertive. However, just how far we may
prudently indulge such hope is a matter for grave consideration. The
Postmaster General’s Third Assistant, James J. Britt, attempts to tell us
(pp. 328-329, 1910 report), all about it. Mr. Britt will be referred to
later.

Again: Mr. Hitchcock in his No. 11 “Improvement,” reports “the
successful prosecution of an inquiry into the cost _to the railroad
companies_ of carrying the mails, the result of which will form
a _reliable basis_ for fixing rates of pay for railroad mail
transportation.”

Now, if Mr. Hitchcock has really and truly so conducted an “inquiry” as
to ascertain a “_reliable basis_” of pay for the mail haulage service
rendered by the railroads--“a reliable basis” that can be built upon,
acted upon and _enforced_--if he has done that, then he deserves a niche
in the Hall of Fame. But here, again, I am doubtful. Did you take Britt’s
word for it, Mr. Hitchcock, or did you steer the “inquiry” yourself? The
only point of interest to us of the commonalty involved in your eleventh
improvement is: Can you, or any other Postmaster General, compel or
persuade the railroads to carry the mail at a reasonable rate? Will such
rate be based upon that “reliable basis” you say you have ascertained?

Grant us but that and we shall ask no more nor will you have any
“deficits” to worry about. I know you explain quite fully (pp. 18-20),
as to how you went about it, how Congress made appropriation for a force
of “temporary clerks” to tabulate the information, the data which your
“successful” inquiry brought to the surface. Still, knowing something
about the _devious_ peculiarities of the railways in the past--say, back
to the Wolcott investigation (at this moment I forget the year when this
was made and have neither the time nor the opportunity to climb down
and look it up)--unless the railways have had a rush of honesty and
conscience into their reports, accounts and _practices_, I am gravely
_doubtful_ as to the dependability of the data your “inquiry” uncovered.
Of course, if you went after them, backed by a court order calling for a
showdown, Mr. Hitchcock, you may have arrived somewhere in the vicinity
of the facts. Otherwise--well, you got about what other _inquirers_
got--_got what the railways wanted you to know_.

I shall make no further specific reference to the fifty improvements the
Postmaster General claims to have covered into operative effectiveness.
It is due, however, that I say, in this connection, that the majority of
those named in the report are sound, sane and _serviceably_ economic. It
is also due from me to say that I personally know that Mr. Hitchcock has
already made a number of them effectively operative in his department
and to the betterment of its service. My contention with the Postmaster
General is chiefly concerning three points, viz.:

_First_--His manifest intent to throw the burden of his departmental
deficit upon a few _independent_ periodicals which, by reason of their
independence, have indulged the proclivity or practice of _telling the
truth about corporate, vested and other favored interests, and about
corrupt officials--city, county, state, national, executive, legislative
and juridic_.

_Second_--His colossally unjust and unfair way of figuring his “deficit”
against such periodicals. Maybe it was Britt, Third Assistant Postmaster
General, or some other “pied” subordinate who did the figuring. I do
not know. However, in common with other citizens, I hold Mr. Hitchcock
responsible for those figures, as we are fully warranted in doing by
reason of his official position.

_Third_--Mr. Hitchcock, it appears, in his reports and letters, gives
us a lot of talk that is _twisted_, “pretzel talk,” someone has aptly
called it. This “night-crawler” talk quite naturally--legitimately, if
not naturally--leaves thoughtful people to wonder what he wants, _what he
is after_, what interest or interests he is trying to subserve and what
“influences” have _influenced_ him to go after certain periodicals in so
_bald and crude a way_.

Still, that does not altogether fully express my third objection to Mr.
Hitchcock and his methods. His letters and special reports in support of
the absurd claim that the transportation and handling of second-class
mail matter costs 9.23 cents per pound, a figure above or equal to that
which will carry gold or currency bills _by express_ for the average
mail haul, furnish valid grounds for doubt as to the good faith of
his intent, to suspicion an _ulterior motive_ back of his action and
writings. To this I do not hesitate to say that his 1910 report, I mean
his own personally signed section of it, is offensively _bureaucratic_.
Mr. Hitchcock, it appears from his own recommendations, would have his
bureau or department bigger than Congress. He wants powers and authority
centered in it which Congress _should not delegate, which Congress has no
rightful powers nor authority to delegate_.

Now, do not misapprehend me. Maybe Mr. Hitchcock has not done all this
on his own initiative. He may have acted wholly on a long-distance or
a central direction from the main stem. I shall, however, proceed to
support my accusation that Mr. Hitchcock evidences in his 1910 report a
desire--a tendency, if not a desire,--to make the Postmaster General not
only a censor of periodical literature (as indicated in the wording of
that “rider” amendment printed on a previous page), but to have delegated
to him powers over the mail service which not only contravene the basic
principles of a democratic form of government, but which, also, tend
to establish a bureaucracy that, if carried to its full flower, will,
necessarily _abrogate our form of government itself_.

Here let us note Mr. Hitchcock’s recommended legislation. In the report
before me he makes thirty-six recommendations. In each of these which
grants added powers or authority touching any matter, the wording of
the suggested legislation gives such added powers and authority to the
_Postmaster General_. In certain minor matters, especially such as relate
only to departmental methods of handling its service accounts, etc., such
grant of power is entirely proper. Among Mr. Hitchcock’s recommendations
are several of such character, and, so far as I have studied them, they
appear sound, and consequently their passage by Congress and their
application to the department would, in my judgment, effect material
savings or betterments in the service.

In a number of other instances, however, Mr. Hitchcock asks legislation
that will grant him (or any succeeding head of the federal Postoffice
Department), powers and authority which _should be granted to no bureau
or departmental division of our government service_. I mean that
the acquirement of such legislative powers and authority by bureaus
(cabinet service divisions), is inimical to the basic principles of our
government; in fact, it is a _stealthy_ move to establish in this country
the bureaucratic form of government which has proved a curse in every
existing monarchical government, causing their peoples to rebel against
them, or constantly a condition of unrest under the system--a condition
which indicates either _enforced_ submission to governmental wrongs and
impositions or a dwarfed and submerged manhood, “begging for leave to
live” and devoting most of its thought to a few questions, such as: “Why
did I arrive? What am I here for? I work, why does the government take
most of my earnings? Why does the government and its bureau heads live,
live in luxury, while I and my wife and children merely exist,--barely
subsist? _Why are hundreds of millions taken every year from people who
need it to secure the common comforts of life, and given, unearned, to
those who need it not at all?_”

It would require pages even to print the inquiries which the victims of
bureaucratic governments ask themselves daily, ask themselves daily so
long as they _exist above the level of the clod_, above the level which
Edward Markham so forcefully and eloquently depicts in his “Man with the
Hoe.”

The point I desire to emphasize is that when the great body of people
in any country--its “citizens”--begin to ask themselves such questions,
_their patriotism begins to dry-rot and die_, and when the patriotism of
a nation’s people begins to die, that nation is on the farther slope of
its existence; it has started on the decline, more or less sharp, _which
ends in rebellion_, dissolution, extinction. This is the uniform lesson
of history. He who reads it not so reads either not carefully or not
comprehendingly.

To a few of my readers the foregoing may appear to be a digression from
my subject. It is not intended as such. It is intended to call the
reader’s attention to some powers and authority Mr. Hitchcock seeks in
his recommended legislation, _legislation which should not be enacted_.
Let us look at a few of those recommendations. If space permitted, I
would take pleasure in commenting on several more of them.

On page 10 of his report, Mr. Hitchcock repeats a recommendation of his
1909 report. He repeats it “earnestly.” He also expresses the opinion
that “_as soon as the postal savings system is thoroughly organized_,
the Postoffice Department should be prepared to establish throughout
the country a general parcels post.” As a “preliminary step” to such
establishment of a parcels post Mr. Hitchcock seeks authority from
Congress to initiate a “limited parcels post service on rural routes.”
On page 26 of his report, Mr. Hitchcock suggests the _substantials_ of
the legislation he believes necessary to enable him to establish his
contemplated “limited parcels post service on rural routes,” _as an
experimental test_.

As evidence that he wants the power and authority to make this
“experiment” on his own lines and judgment and pursuant of his _own
purposes_ I shall here quote the form of his advised legislation. To
anyone who has made study of parcels post service it is needless to
say that among the civilized nations of the earth the United States
is so far in arrears in such service as to be generally recognized as
an international joke. It is quite needless to say to such that Mr.
Hitchcock’s prattle of a “limited” parcels post and of trying it on
certain _selected_ rural routes (with no privileges of service beyond the
geographical limits of such routes), as an “experiment,” is more than a
mere joke.

Informed people know that any such restricted test of a parcels post
service _is no test at all_. Informed men also know that our Federal
Postoffice Department needs make no “experiments” on the parcels post
service, “limited” or other. Every other civilized nation, and even
provinces such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and others, have
made the “experiments,” likewise the successful demonstrations. The
experiments of these other nations and provinces, as well as the results
of them, are ours for the asking. Not alone that, but informed men _know,
and know positively_, that our Federal Postoffice Department is in
possession of--_or was in possession of_--all this information gathered
from the experiences and trials and tests of a parcels post service in
these other countries.

So, I repeat that Mr. Hitchcock’s talk about making an experimental test
of the general value of a parcels post service by putting it in operation
on a few _selected_ rural routes is a joke, _or else it is an evasion
in order to delay the installation of a service which every citizen
wants_, save, of course, the few individuals who now own and control
our railroads, _which individuals also own_, to a controlling extent at
least, _our express companies_.

But I must quote Mr. Hitchcock’s advised legislation in order to show the
reader that Mr. Hitchcock desires that the resulting powers and authority
center in him, or in his successors:

    In order that the recommendation on page 10 of this report for
    the introduction of a limited parcels post service on rural
    routes may be promptly carried into effect, it is suggested that
    legislation substantially as follows be enacted:

    For one year, beginning April 1, 1911, the _Postmaster General
    may, under such regulations as he shall prescribe_, authorize
    postmasters and carriers on such rural routes _as he shall
    select_ to accept for delivery by carrier on the route on
    which mailed or on any other route starting at the postoffice,
    branch postoffice or station which is the distributing point
    for that route, or for delivery through any postoffice, branch
    postoffice, or station on any of the said routes, _at such rates
    of postage as he shall determine_, packages not exceeding 11
    pounds in weight containing no mail matter of the first class
    and no matter that is declared by law to be unmailable, and he
    shall report to Congress at its next session the results of this
    experiment (Page 26, 1910 Report.)

The italics are mine. They make all the comment that is necessary in
proof of my charge that Mr. Hitchcock seeks powers and authority which
should not be delegated to any bureau head.

As a companion piece to the foregoing Mr. Hitchcock asks the following
legislation--legislation which, if granted or enacted, must look to any
man who has given even a cursory study to the subject of parcels post
service, as merely a “stall,” a bit of dilatory play to delay effective
and efficient action to install a serviceable parcels post _until the
express company interests pull down two or three hundred millions more of
unearned profits_.

Following is the companion piece of the last preceding quotation. The
italics are mine and make the only comment that is necessary:

    As suggested on page 10 of this report, an investigation should
    be authorized as to the conditions under which the transportation
    of merchandise by mail may be wisely extended. For this purpose
    it is recommended that legislation substantially as follows be
    enacted:

    _The Postmaster General is hereby directed to ascertain by such
    investigation or experiment as is found necessary_, and to report
    to Congress at its next regular session, the lowest rates of
    postage at which the Postoffice Department can carry by mail,
    without loss, parcels not exceeding 11 pounds in weight; and he
    is hereby authorized to place in effect for one year, beginning
    April 1, 1911, _at such postoffices as he shall select for
    experimental purposes_, such rates of postage on fourth-class
    matter _as he deems expedient_; and the sum of $100,000 is hereby
    appropriated to cover any expenses incurred hereunder, including
    compensation of temporary employees and rental of quarters in
    Washington, D. C. (Page 26, 1910 Report.)

We will here drop the subject of parcels post for the time. In a later
section of this volume I shall discuss the subject--largely aside from
Mr. Hitchcock’s attempts, as has been authoritatively reported to me, to
delay if not to block its successful installation.

I will make a few more quotations in evidence of Mr. Hitchcock’s desire
to acquire bureaucratic powers:

    To provide for a postal note in accordance with the plan
    outlined on pages 10 and 11 it is recommended that legislation
    substantially as follows be enacted:

    _The Postmaster General may authorize_ postmasters at such
    offices _as he shall designate_, under such regulations as
    _he shall prescribe_, to issue and pay money orders of fixed
    denominations not exceeding ten dollars, to be known as postal
    notes.

    SEC. 2. Postal notes shall be valid for six calendar months from
    the last day of the month of their issue, but thereafter may
    be paid under such regulations _as the Postmaster General may
    prescribe_.

    SEC. 3. Postal notes shall not be negotiable or transferable
    through indorsement.

    SEC. 4. If a postal note has been once paid, to whomsoever paid,
    the United States shall not be liable for any further claim for
    the amount thereof. (Page 29, 1910 Report.)

Let us next look at a peculiar, “an unusual,” request for legislation
granting authority to the Postmaster General to do a most “unusual”
thing, the granting of salaries higher than $1,200 a year to clerks and
carriers, who are paid under the present law $600 a year, whenever the
postmaster “certifies to the department” that “unusual” conditions in his
community prevent him from securing efficient help. The italics are my
own and make comment unnecessary:

    In last year’s report, attention was directed to the desirability
    of authorizing the appointment of clerks and carriers at higher
    salaries than $600 at offices where unusual conditions prevail.
    Congress added to the appropriation for unusual conditions a
    proviso that may have been intended to meet the recommendation
    of the department, but subsequent experience has shown that it
    fails to do so. The proviso referred to has effected so great
    a reduction in the amount available for salaries of employees
    at offices where conditions are unusual that the service at a
    number of such offices cannot be maintained after the close of
    the present calendar year, unless additional funds are provided
    by Congress. The same law placed a restriction on the maximum
    salary allowable, making it impossible for the department to meet
    satisfactorily the unusual conditions existing in certain parts
    of the country. In order that the needed relief may be afforded
    legislation substantially as follows should be enacted:

    Whenever a postmaster certifies to the department that, owing to
    unusual conditions in his community, he is unable to secure the
    services of efficient employees at the initial salary provided
    for postoffice clerks and letter carriers, _the Postmaster
    General may authorize, in his discretion_, the appointment of
    clerks and letter carriers for that office at such higher rates
    of compensation within the grades prescribed by law as may be
    necessary in order to insure a proper conduct of the postal
    business, and their salaries shall be paid out of the regular
    appropriation for compensation of clerks and letter carriers:
    _Provided_, That whenever such action is necessary in order to
    maintain adequate service at any postoffice where conditions are
    unusual _the Postmaster General may authorize the appointment
    of clerks and letter carriers at salaries higher than $1,200_,
    their salaries to be paid out of the appropriation for unusual
    conditions at postoffices. (Page 30, 1910 Report.)

I wonder what our Postmaster General is after in asking _re-enactment_
of legislation of this sort, legislation granting him _censorial powers_
without so much as _intimating_ that fact. Maybe some of you organized
labor men, or mercantile tradesmen can tell me. I am listening. _So are
others._

    By the act approved May 27, 1908, making appropriations for the
    service of the Postoffice Department, it was provided:

    That Section 3893 of the Revised Statutes of the United States be
    amended by adding thereto the following: And the term “indecent”
    within the intendment of this section shall include _matter of a
    character tending to incite arson, murder, or assassination_.

    The enactment of this statute accomplished beneficial results,
    and it does not appear that injustice or undue hardship resulted
    therefrom to any person or interest. However, the provision
    quoted was not retained in the penal code adopted March 4, 1909,
    and became void when the code went into effect on January 1,
    1910. On the assumption that the omission was inadvertent, it
    is recommended that the provision be re-enacted. (Page 37, 1910
    Report.)

Following is one more reach by Mr. Hitchcock for bureaucratic power which
should _not_ be granted:

    By virtue of his office the Postmaster General has the power
    to conclude money-order conventions with foreign countries
    and to prescribe the fees to be charged for the issue of
    international money orders. In like manner he should be empowered
    to determine, from time to time, as conditions may warrant, the
    fees to be charged for the issue of domestic money orders. It is
    recommended, therefore, that Section 2 of the act of January 27,
    1894, be repealed, and that as a substitute therefor legislation
    substantially as follows be enacted:

    Section 2 of the act of January 27, 1894, entitled “An act to
    improve the method of accounting in the Postoffice Department
    and for other purposes,” is hereby repealed. A domestic money
    order shall not be issued for more than one hundred dollars,
    and the fees to be charged for the issue of such orders _shall
    be determined, from time to time, by the Postmaster General:
    Provided, however_, that the scale of fees prescribed in said
    Section 2 shall remain in force for three months from the last
    day of the month in which this act is approved. (Page 38, 1910
    Report.)

I have probably quoted sufficient to show that Postmaster General
Hitchcock is _reaching_ for power and authority _which should not be
delegated to any bureau or cabinet head_. The last statement is made, of
course, in the confident belief that the reader joins me in the desire
and _confident_ hope that the basic principles of our government will be
neither superseded nor abrogated by legislative grants of bureaucratic
power and authority, which power and authority once granted is _seldom
or never recovered to a people without sanguinary action on their part_,
with all the waste of effort, vitality, money and human life usually a
concomitant of such action.

There are several more of Postmaster General Hitchcock’s legislative
recommendations I would like to quote, did space permit, but there is one
other which I will quote, because it wears a sort of humoresque drapery
when taken in connection with that “rider” Mr. Hitchcock so industriously
tried to put through the necessary three-ring stunts required in the
senatorial circus; also when taken in connection with a little, not
separately stitched, _brochure_ which Mr. Hitchcock turns loose on pages
7 and 8 of his most excellent, _though ulteriorly tutoring, report_.

On pages 7 and 8 the Postmaster General tells us, as best he can, under
_influenced and influencing conditions_, the why and wherefore for his
attempt to load his department deficit onto a few periodicals which he,
likewise certain of his “influencers” possibly, does not like. Well,
I want my readers to _read_ this bit of official effort, _in a wrong
cause_. I want them to read it in the _raw_, with no spring papering or
decorating on it.

As has been my practice in quoting, I shall take occasion to italicize
a little. But that will not cut any four-leaf clovers this early in
the season. I italicize merely to call the reader’s attention to the
elegant _assertiveness_ of Mr. Hitchcock’s “style” and to his _planned_
determination to “put it over” on those pestiferous periodicals--weekly
and monthly--in spite of _constitutional prohibitions_, Senate rules or
publishers’ opposition.

Stay! I have another reason for italicizing. I want the reader to read
those italicized phrasings of Mr. Hitchcock’s unstitched _brochure_ a
_second_ time, and to read them more carefully the _second_ time than
he did the first. If the reader will kindly do this we will be better
acquainted, also be mutually better acquainted with Mr. Hitchcock and his
dominating purpose, whether _ulterior_ or other, in attacking a special
class or division of periodical publications in order to recoup a deficit
_created wholly by the rural delivery service and by the free_ (franked
and penalty), _service rendered by his department_. We will first quote
his little second-class _brochure_ and follow it with his humoresque
legislative recommendation:

    In the last annual report of the department special attention was
    directed to the _enormous loss the government sustains_ in the
    handling and transportation of second-class mail. Owing to the
    rapid increase in the volume of such mail _the loss is constantly
    growing_. A remedy should be promptly applied _by charging more
    postage_. In providing for the higher rates it is believed
    that _a distinction should be made_ between advertising matter
    and what is termed _legitimate reading matter_. Under present
    conditions an increase in the postage on reading matter is not
    recommended. Such an increase would place a special burden on a
    large number of second-class publications, including _educational
    and religious periodicals_, that derive little or no profit from
    advertising. It is the circulation of this type of publications,
    which _aid so effectively in the educational and moral
    advancement of the people, that the government can best afford
    to encourage_. For these publications, and also for any other
    _legitimate reading matter in periodical form_, the department
    favors a continuation of the present low postage rate of 1 cent
    a pound, and recommends that the proposed increase in rate be
    applied only _to magazine advertising matter_. This plan would
    be in full accord with the statute governing second-class mail,
    _a law that never justified the inclusion under the second-class
    rates of the vast amounts of advertising now transported by the
    government at a tremendous loss_.

    _Newspapers are not included in the plan_ for a higher rate
    on advertising matter because, _being chiefly of local
    distribution_, they do not burden the mails to any such extent as
    the widely circulating magazines.

    Under the system proposed it will be possible, without increasing
    the expenditure of public funds, to utilize _for the benefit
    of the entire people_ that considerable portion of the postal
    revenues now expended to _meet the cost of a special privilege_
    enjoyed by certain publishers.

    In view of the vanishing postal deficit it is believed that
    if the magazines could be required to pay what it costs the
    government to carry their advertising pages, _the department’s
    revenues would eventually grow large enough to warrant 1-cent
    postage on first class mail_. Experiments made by the department
    show that the relative weights of the advertising matter and
    the _legitimate reading matter in magazines_ can be readily
    determined, making it quite feasible to put into successful
    operation the plan outlined. Under that plan each magazine
    publisher will be required to certify to the local postmaster, in
    accordance with regulations _to be prescribed by the department_,
    the facts necessary to determine the proper postage charges.
    The method of procedure will be worked out in such manner as
    to insure the dispatching of the mails as expeditiously as at
    present. (Pages 7 and 8, 1910 Report.)

That sort of a literary hand-out may be all right for certain of our
citizens transplanted from south European environment, likewise from
malnutrition and inanition, by the ship load to this country, where most
of them expected to find $1.50 or $2.00 per day growing on vines or low
bushes--and found it, in most cases, too.

But to the home-grown American citizen, “His Majesty,” such departmental
literature is a noise something like a “chuck” steak makes when his
hunger suggests a “porter house” and he is without the price. That is
“His Majesty” who _earns_ what he acquires and _pays_ for what he gets
and who does not take on an over-load of the sort of official talk Mr.
Hitchcock ships him in packages similar to the above. Our home-grown
American citizens like to have their officials say something that _means_
something. They do not want any literary ham-and’s served to them at four
prices, they knowing where to obtain them at first cost.

I intended to make further comment on the foregoing--or gone--quotation
from our Postmaster General. I shall, however, deny myself that pleasure,
confidently believing that my italicization of certain of its phrasings
and statements is sufficient comment for the reader who is following me
in this effort to peel the varnish and frescoe from a _planned_ bad cause.

The reader who has followed me thus far and has not discovered that I am
writing _against_ the men who are, I believe, trying _to set the brakes
on legislation in order to serve some_ “good interest” which pays them
a thousand or more for each of the twelve annual connections with the
cashier or “deposit certificates”--the reader who, I say, has followed me
thus far and failed to discover that fact should quit right here. It will
not cure him to read the rest of what I shall say. It is to be worse than
what I have previously said; in fact, it is going to be some distance
beyond “the limit.” My advice to any “frail” reader, therefore, is to
quit right at this point and give his brain a rest until he is able to
“come back” _and learn something_.

We will now take a look at the humoresque “throw” of our Postmaster
General for legislative action. To fully appreciate it, the reader
must bear in mind that Mr. Hitchcock’s division of his 1910 report is
of date, December 1st, 1910, and signed by himself. The reader should
furthermore bear in mind that Mr. Hitchcock had previously reported--and
more frequently _asserted_--that the transportation and handling of
second-class mail cost the government 9.23 cents per pound. The reader
should, in this instance, likewise take into his judgmental grinder the
fact that Mr. Hitchcock, in the quotation which follows, is _trying to
put up another hurdle for the magazines and other periodicals to jump_;
that is, for _such of them as he may not like_, to jump.

This recommendation for _legislative authority_ is intended to cut
out the sample copy privilege of periodicals, a privilege which the
government should _encourage rather than discourage_:

    In order to discontinue the privilege of mailing sample copies at
    the cent-a-pound rate, legislation in substantially the following
    form is suggested:

    That so much of the act approved March 3, 1885 (23 Stat., 387),
    as relates to publications of the second class be amended to read
    as follows:

    “That hereafter all publications of the second-class, except as
    provided by Section 25 of the act of March 3, 1879 (20 Stat.,
    361), when sent to subscribers by the publishers thereof and from
    the known offices of publication, or when sent from news agents
    to subscribers thereto or to other news agents for the purpose of
    sale, shall be entitled to transmission through the mails at one
    cent a pound or fraction thereof, such postage to be prepaid as
    now provided by law.”

While I have not the act of 1885 at hand, I am aware that it permits
what the Postmaster General asks for, _a 1-cent per pound rate_ for
periodicals admissible under the acts of 1879 and 1885. Mr. Hitchcock
asks for this legislation, a-cent per pound rate, December 1st, 1910.

Before that date and since he has repeatedly asserted, both in print
and “_interview_,” that second-class mail _costs the government 9.23
cents per_ pound to transport and handle. Do you see the _equivocating_
“ulterior” in this bit of recommended legislation? If you do not, just
go into the back yard and kick yourself until you awaken to the fact
and then come back and read Mr. Britt’s statement, page 328 of the 1910
report. Britt is Third Assistant Postmaster General and knows--well, he
knows so much that he has to _space-write_ in order to fill in about
sixty pages of this 1910 report. But, as I have to take notice of Mr.
Britt’s _furnished_ data later, I shall give him no more attention at
this point.

I believe that I have either furnished the evidence to prove the
purpose, _the ulterior purpose_, of Postmaster General Hitchcock, or of
his _influences_, to punish certain periodicals, _to penalize them for
telling the truth_, likewise to acquire bureaucratic powers to give his
department the right of censorship over our periodical literature; not
only that, but to have the successful introduction of a parcels post
_dependent on conditions of his own choosing_.



CHAPTER V.

THE PENROSE-OVERSTREET COMMISSION.


Next we will again take notice of Postmaster General Hitchcock’s
peculiar figures. I do not know where he learned how to do it, but his
“figerin’” has any expert accountant on the mat taking the count. He
is certainly a “phenom”--or his Third Assistant, Mr. Britt, or other
aid, is the “phenom.” At any rate the figures Mr. Hitchcock and his
third “assist” are wonderfully, likewise _mysteriously_, worked into a
little third-grade problem which makes it look like a proposition in
trigonometry or fluxions.

It’s too complicated for me. I never had the advantage of hulling beans
in Massachusetts. My cornfield arithmetic was all acquired in Illinois.
So, instead of permitting myself to become enmeshed in Mr. Hitchcock’s
figures, I shall resort to my frequently used tactics. I shall quote.

I have before me several analyses of Mr. Hitchcock’s peculiar application
of the “double-rule-of-three,” as the schoolmaster used to call it down
in that little school house at the cross roads in District 6, Town. 17,
R. 3 E. The schoolmaster used to divide his time between “’rithmetic” and
lamming. I graduated with honors in the latter. ’Rithmetic never seemed
to take kindly to me--save to push me along in the lamming course. But----

Well, that is sufficient explanation to the reader to give broad,
likewise legitimate, grounds for excusing me if I dodge, or try to dodge,
Mr. Hitchcock and his Third Assistant when they get down to “figerin’.”

Candidly I am at a loss to know why young men of their physical
robustness and their abnormal--yes, phenomenal--super-excellence in the
matter of figuring things out, should be frittering away their time on a
loafing job with the government. They ought to be holding down the chairs
of Mathematics and of Expert Accounting at Onion Run University, or at
some other advanced institution of learning.

But, as previously intimated, I am going to quote--am going to let
someone else into the maelstrom of official figures.

I would not, however, have the reader think for a minute that I lacked
the courage to take the plunge myself. Not at all. I know my limitations.
Mr. Hitchcock is not only a graduate of Harvard, but he is a graduate of
_two_ Republican party campaign committees. I’d be perfectly willing to
take chances against Harvard in any game of figuring, but when it comes
to sitting into the game with a graduate in two courses of party campaign
figuring, one as Secretary and the other as Manager of the National
Republican Committee,--well, when it comes to that, I believe the reader
will excuse me if I push some more expert arithmeticians to the front.

I will first quote from the 1907 Joint Commission which investigated
costs of second-class mail haulage and handling, and then I will quote
the publishers whose figures Senator Owen so pertinently presented in
connection with his remarks when speaking in opposition to the rider,
February 25, 1911.

Being perfectly familiar with the proceedings of the Senate Committee
on Postoffices and Postroads, he must, necessarily, have learned
something from the publishers who came with the open, frank--yes,
certified--information as to their business. Likewise, he must have got
fairly well acquainted with Mr. Hitchcock and also have learned something
of his _promotive_ methods of figuring.

I have, as yet, not had the pleasure--the honor--of meeting Senator Owen
or his strong, clean minded, clean acting colleague, Senator Gore, but I
like them.

Why?

_Because they stand on the floor of the Senate and fight--fight for what
is right._

Now that I have a copy before me, I will proceed to quote from that
report made by the 1907 commission--a commission which dug up more
information regarding the haulage and handling of second-class mail
matter than Mr. Hitchcock could possibly have gathered in two years
as head of the Postoffice Department. The commission was composed of
Senators Penrose, Carter and Clay and Congressmen Overstreet, Moon and
Gardner, men far better informed as to federal postal affairs than is
Postmaster General Hitchcock.

This commission was authorized by Congress to make inquiry regarding
second-class mail matter. The reader may remember that I made reference
to this report on a previous page. It presents much information and
collated data, which, if Mr. Hitchcock had studiously read would
have enabled him to avoid many of the egregious blunders he has made
at frequent intervals during the past two years when discussing the
subject. It would, at any rate, have prudently curbed or restrained
what appears in Mr. Hitchcock to be a native or acquired tendence to
volume or tonnage in talk when he is speaking of second-class mail
matters or of the publication and distribution of periodical literature.
I do not concur in a number of the conclusions of this commission as
presented in its report, but no fair-minded man can read that report
without being convinced that the commissioners delved into the subjects
of the classification of second-class mail matter and the cost, to
the government, of its haulage and handling most earnestly; also as
thoroughly and as deeply as the _lack of organization in the Postoffice
Department and its antiquated, careless and inaccurate accounting_ left
it possible for anyone to go.

This commission began its sessions in New York, October 1, 1906. It sent
advance notice to all the organizations of publishers in the country,
to publishers not in organization, to editorial associations, to boards
of trade, mercantile, commercial and trades associations and to other
individuals and organizations that might be interested, directly or
indirectly, in the subject matter to be investigated. It invited them
to present their views, complaints, objections and suggestions in
writing and also to send representatives to present their views and
their grievances, if any, to the commission in person. The notice
and invitation of the commission met with a large response from the
newspapers and other periodical publishers, also from other individuals
and associations interested in the distribution of periodical literature
by reason of the commercial, educational, religious, fraternal,
scientific or other benefits such literature conveyed to the people.

At the suggestion of this commission, the Postoffice Department prepared
and delivered to it “an elaborate statement with exhibits” to show the
“defects of the existing statute as developed in _actual operation_.”
Also, the then Postmaster General, Mr. George B. Cortelyou, his Second
Assistant, Mr. W. S. Shallenberger, and his Third Assistant, Mr. Edwin C.
Madden, prepared and presented personal statements to the commission.

Now some readers may wonder why I so particularly present the work
done by this commission for their consideration at this point in my
discussion of the general subject we have under consideration. In view
of my previous statement, to the effect that I do not agree with some of
the conclusions of this “Penrose-Overstreet Commission” some reader may
wonder why I make reference to it at all. Well, there are several reasons
why I do so and do it just at this point in the consideration of our
general subject. Among those reasons are, briefly stated, the following:

The inquiry and investigation of this commission were broad,
comprehensive and thorough.

Its report presents many arguments, recommendations and conclusions which
must appeal to any man who is fairly well informed as to our federal
postal service, as sound and sensible, however widely he may differ from
the commission’s conclusions on some other points covered in its report.

Some readers who have seen and read the Penrose-Overstreet Commission’s
report may possibly have concluded that it presents _all_ the information
collected and collated by the commission. The reader so concluding would,
almost necessarily, think the information it presents insufficient, both
in subject matter and in detail, to be as helpful to the Postmaster
General as, on a previous page, I have asserted the work of this
commission would be to Mr. Hitchcock, or would have been had he taken the
trouble to consult the voluminous but carefully collated data gathered by
the 1906-7 commission and on file in his department.

I will here quote a few lines from the report of the Penrose-Overstreet
Commission in proof of the fact that its inquiry, investigations and
work provided Postmaster General Hitchcock, had he but taken the time to
consult it, a store of information vastly greater than that presented in
its brief official report of sixty-three pages.

Read the following and you will readily understand why Representative
Moon, on March 3, 1911, so strenuously objected to the appointment
of another second-class mail commission and to spending $50,000 more
of the people’s money to investigate a matter already thoroughly and
comprehensively investigated and to collect and collate data _which is
already on file in the Postoffice Department_. The quotation is from page
6 of the commission’s report. The italics are the writer’s:

    In accordance with this plan, (outlined in immediately preceding
    paragraphs), which operated to economize the time as well of the
    commission as of those appearing before it, _a great volume of
    evidence was presented upon all aspects of the question_ from the
    standpoint _both of the postal service and of the publications
    involved_

    …

    The testimony taken by the commission at these hearings, with
    statements submitted in writing by publishers not orally heard,
    boards of trade, and the like, and other data collected by the
    commission in the course of its investigations, _together with a
    complete digest of such testimony, are embodied in the record of
    its proceedings submitted with this report_.

To the end of getting our corner stakes properly located in order to
run our lot-lines correctly, I desire to quote further from the report
of this 1906-7 commission. It says some pertinent things and _says
them hard_. Before quoting, however, I desire to amplify a little on
the character of that commission, on the general character of the men
composing it as indicated in their official and public action.

The first point of interest for us commoners to note and appreciate is
that the photographs of none of them, so far as I have been able to
learn, have appeared in the rogues’ gallery. We may therefore presume
that they are not only intelligent but “square” men--men worthy of Mr.
Hitchcock’s consideration and respect as well as our own.

The second point worthy of note in considering the personnel of that
commission is that none of them, so far as public reports show, ever
had the advantages and opportunities of acquiring that peculiar and
specialized knowledge of federal postal affairs, second-class or other,
which may accrue to men from a postgraduate course in national party
management.

In this connection, however, it may be said that some members of the
commission may have come _near_ to such unusual opportunities as
just mentioned for acquiring expert knowledge of the classification,
transportation and handling of second-class mail.

It is also fitting for me to say in speaking of the gentlemen composing
that 1906-7 commission that, so far as I have been able to look up their
biographies in the Congressional Directory and elsewhere, I find nothing
to indicate that any of them ever tried to rob a smokehouse nor have
any of them ever tried to put over any piece of “frame-up” legislation
of the nature of Mr. Hitchcock’s “rider,” printed on a previous
page--_legislation to hobble, punish or ruin periodicals honest enough
and independent enough to tell the truth to a hundred millions of people_.

The foregoing are some of the reasons--there are many others--why I
think the membership of that Penrose-Overstreet Commission of 1906-7 was
possessed of an ability, character and qualification to have commanded
Mr. Hitchcock’s careful consideration of the information and data the
commission so carefully collated, after thorough investigation, and
submitted with its official report.

“Maybe he did make a careful study of that collated data?”

Yes, maybe he did. But if he did, then much of the “student discipline”
and of the “study habit,” which graduates of Harvard are presumed to have
acquired, must have lapsed in the shuffle of the cards from which recent
years have dealt his hands. I say this respectfully as well as candidly.

I cannot think of it as possible for a man of Mr. Hitchcock’s known
intellectual gauge to read--_studiously read_--the facts as presented in
the testimony before that 1906-7 commission, or so read even the 63-page
official report signed by five of the commissioners (Representative
Gardner being ill at the time the report was submitted)--I cannot, I say,
think it possible for any man of Mr. Hitchcock’s admitted intelligence to
read that testimony, collated data and report, and then proceed to talk
or write so wide of _known facts_ as does he in parts of his 1909 and
1910 reports and in his letters to Senator Penrose, printed in previous
pages.

It may be--yes, it is most probable--that the commission did not dig out
_all_ the facts. But admitting that, the further admission must be made
by any fair-minded man that most of the facts it _did dig out_ appear to
be the very facts which Postmaster General Hitchcock _ignored_--ignored
with the self-centered nonchalance of a “short story” cowboy when
“busting” a broncho before an audience.

I shall now present a few statements from the report of that commission,
first quoting some of the arguments presented by publishers who appeared
at its hearings personally or by representatives, or who presented
their views in writing on the various phases of the questions under
consideration. The quotations made, the reader must understand to be the
commission’s summary of what the publishers testified to, criticised
or recommended, and not the full testimony or reports as made by the
publishers.

I have taken the liberty to italicize certain phrases and sentences in
these quotations, my purpose being, of course, to bring the points so
italicized more particularly to the reader’s notice:

    The primary purpose and function of the postal service being
    the transportation of government and letter mail, second,
    third, and fourth class matter are not strictly chargeable with
    that proportion of the total cost of the service which would
    be equivalent to their proportion of total weight or volume,
    but these secondary classes, on the contrary, are chargeable
    only with that fraction of total cost which would remain after
    deducting all expenses of installation and general management
    involved in the maintenance of a complete postal service for
    government and letter mail. This method of computation should be
    applied not only in respect of the expenses of administration and
    handling, but especially in respect of the expense of railway
    mail transportation, in which, by reason of the sliding scale of
    payment, the additional burden of second-class matter entailed
    but _an infinitesimal additional cost_. As an illustration of
    this point, attention was drawn to the statement of Dr. Henry C.
    Adams, in his report to the commission of 1898 (p. 404), that _if
    the volume of mail had been decreased so that the ton-mileage had
    been 169,809,000 instead of 272,000,000, the railway mail pay
    would have been practically the same_.

    In other words, the argument is that the true cost of
    second-class matter is merely that part of total cost which
    _would be saved if second-class matter were now eliminated_.

The foregoing is from page 9 of the commission’s report. On the same page
of the report it gives a summary of another set of reasons presented by
the publishers in their argument in support of their contention that the
mail rate on second-class matter should be low:

    That second-class matter, by reason of the fact that it is
    handled largely in bulk in full sacks already routed and
    separated and requires little or no handling by the railway mail
    service or the force at the office of mailing and of delivery,
    is in fact the _least expensive class of matter_. With respect
    to the proportion so routed and separated, it was variously
    estimated by the publishers as from _70 to 93_ per cent of the
    total weight. The assistant postmaster at New York fixed the
    percentage for his office at _67 per cent_, and the assistant
    postmaster at Chicago estimated it, for the country at large, to
    be between 50 and 60 per cent.

    The representative of the _American Newspaper Publishers’
    Association_, speaking for the metropolitan daily press, stated
    that less than _6 per cent of their circulation went into the
    mail at all_, in many instances the proportion being as low as
    two-thirds of 1 per cent; that the radius of circulation was not
    more than 150 miles; that their mailings averaged _49 pounds per
    sack_, and that 93 per cent of all second-class matter going out
    of New York city, for example, _was already sorted and routed_.
    It was admitted, however, that while the newspapers _avail
    themselves of express and railway transportation_ for matter
    sent out in bulk, single copies sent to individual subscribers
    invariably went by mail.

Postmaster General Hitchcock appears to have largely ignored the fact so
clearly pointed out by the publishers in 1906--yes, pointed out as long
ago as 1898--that second-class mail matter is a _large producer of the
revenues_ received by the government from mail matter of the first, third
and fourth classes. Following is a summary of what the publishers pointed
out to the 1906-7 commission:

    There is an immense indirect revenue on second-class matter, due
    to the fact that second-class matter is itself the cause of a
    great volume of first-class matter, upon which the department
    reaps a handsome profit. While the extent to which first-class
    matter is thus indebted to second-class matter is necessarily
    indeterminate, attempts were made to illustrate it by particular
    instances. This was done by computing the amount of first-class
    mail arising, first, from the direct correspondence between a
    publisher and the readers, and secondly, from correspondence,
    between the readers and the advertisers, resulting from the
    insertion of the advertisements. In the instances chosen,
    the first-class matter thus stimulated appeared to be very
    considerable. Upon this basis it was argued that any reduction in
    the volume of second-class matter would inevitably be followed by
    a corresponding reduction in first-class matter. This would not
    only deprive the Postoffice Department of the revenue from the
    first-class matter, _but by diminishing the total weight of the
    mails would correspondingly increase the rate of mail pay_, so
    that the net result of the elimination of the socially valuable
    second-class matter would be an actual increase in the total cost
    of the service.

The foregoing is taken from pages 12 and 13 of the commission’s report.
I desire to quote further from page 13--four paragraphs--and I urge
they be read with care. The reader, too, should remember that this is
not _all_ that the publishers said on the points touched upon. It is,
however, no doubt a fair epitome or summary of what they said or wrote to
the commission. The reader should also keep in mind the fact that what
they said and wrote was said and written in 1906, and _all_ they said and
wrote is on file and easily accessible to Postmaster General Hitchcock:

    Within an average radius of 500 miles the express companies
    and railways stand willing to transport second-class matter,
    in bulk packages weighing not less than 5 to 10 pounds to a
    single address or to be called for, at rates actually lower than
    the second-class postage rate. Inasmuch as the average haul of
    second-class matter was reported by the Wolcott commission (p.
    319), to be but 438 miles, it is impossible that the government
    should lose anything upon the transportation of this class of
    matter, or if in fact it should be found to be doing so, _the
    loss must arise from an overpayment to the railways_.

    Even if it should be found that second-class matter was being
    carried at a distinct loss, that loss would be entirely justified
    by the _educational value of the periodical press_. From the
    beginning of the republic it had been the policy of Congress
    to foster and assist the dissemination of information and
    intelligence among the people. Next to the great public school
    systems maintained by the states, the newspaper and periodical
    are the chief agency of social progress and enlightenment. So
    far from this being a subsidy to the publisher the advantage of
    the low postage rate had been passed on to the subscriber in the
    form of a better periodical and a more efficient service. Any
    substantial increase in the postal rates, while for the time
    being bearing heavily on the publisher, must eventually fall upon
    the subscriber, either in the form of an increased price for
    his reading matter or of a deterioration in the quality of that
    matter.

    The correct method of dealing with the question of cost is to
    treat the service as a whole, and if the revenue for the whole
    service, _including allowance for government mail_, meets the
    cost of the whole service, it is immaterial whether each class of
    that service pays its own cost, or even whether the cost of one
    class has to be made up by a greater charge upon other classes.

    With respect to rates, with the exception of some of the
    representatives of the _stockyards journals_, periodical
    publications were a unit against any increase. It was urged
    that the periodical publishing business has been built up
    on the present second-class rates, and that a change from 1
    cent a pound to 4 cents, as suggested by the Third Assistant
    Postmaster General, would cripple, if not destroy, every existing
    periodical. While some would, perhaps, be able to adjust their
    business to the new rates and survive, the majority would perish,
    and the loss would fall heaviest on the smaller and weaker
    periodicals.

We will next note some things which that 1906-7 commission said on its
own account or quotes some one in whose opinion they concurred or did
not, as the case might be.

Some pages back, I told the reader, in effect, that while this
commission’s official report was a good one, presenting some valuable
suggestions, I did not agree with certain of its recommendations and
conclusions. Now, any adverse criticisms I intend to make concerning
that report are, I think, best made right here, after which I will quote
a few paragraphs from it which I believe highly commendable. There are
many suggestions and recommendations that I believe would be of great
value did the department but act upon them, and the vast amount of data
the commission collected and made a digest of would, had he but looked
into it carefully, most certainly have _persuaded_ Postmaster General
Hitchcock to speak and write less loosely on the subjects of second-class
mail rates and periodical publication and distribution, induced him
to talk in a way that would not leave the impression with studious,
thoughtful auditors and readers that he got his opinions at a bargain
sale during its rush hours.

I shall comment adversely on but a few points of the commission’s
report. Three of its members (Senators Carter and Clay and Representative
Overstreet) have _passed_--not off the edge of life but to official
retirement, or, maybe, to the political morgue. They, in time, may
be able to “come back.” The Man on the Ladder has heard varied
opinions--some of them decidedly variegated, too--anent the probability
of those three gentlemen coming back. Personally I am not sufficiently
acquainted with their official service careers to justify the expression
of an opinion of them. If, while in office, they directed their efforts
and activities to a service of their constituents and the interests of
the people in general, let us hope they may “come back.” On the other
hand, if while in office they were but working models of the so-called
“practical” politician, then, as a matter both of self-respect and of
duty, we must hope they stay in the morgue.

“The ‘practical’ politician is the _working_ politician.”

Well, yes, that may be. But most of those within range of my vision from
the ladder top appear to be devoting their most active and strenuous
industry to “working” the people.

No, I do not like that type of human animal popularly designated as
a “practical” politician. Especially do I not like him in public
office--executive, legislative or judicial--elective or appointive, and I
have run the lines on a good many of them. Most of them when in positions
of official power and _opportunity_ act as if their consciences had been
handed down in original packages direct from their jungle ancestors. At
any rate most of those in positions of official power and authority seem
to follow one working rule, and follow it, too, both industriously and
consistently.

_To conceal one theft, steal more._

The typical “practical” politician, when holding down a public office,
usually holds-up the people. They pose and talk as courageous patriots
and _large_ thinkers. Under close scrutiny, however, most of them will
show up or show down merely as _discreet private or personal interest
liars_.

But I have permitted my field glass to ramble from the specific to the
general. Whether the three _passed_ members of the 1906-7 commission
are politically dead or taking only a temporarily enforced rest, the
situation is one which suggests the propriety of that subdued and
respectful tone one is expected to use when standing by as a friend is
lowered to an enforced rest.

I shall now offer my strictures of a few recommendations made by the
1906-7 commission and of some of the arguments the commission’s report
offers to their support.

The first objection I find to the report of this Penrose-Overstreet
Commission is that several of its paragraphs indicate that the commission
appears to have been afflicted with Mr. Hitchcock’s current ailment--an
ingrown idea that some action, legislative or other, must be taken
in order to curb the circulation growth and keep down the piece or
copy-weight of periodicals. To The Man on the Ladder such an idea is not
only faulty to the point of foolishness but it violates long established
and successfully applied business practices in the transportation and
handling of goods or commodities, whatever their character. The idea,
it would appear, is based upon an oft-repeated but nevertheless false
statement of fact, to the effect that the government is losing money in
the carriage and handling of second-class mail at the cent-a-pound rate.

The falsity of that statement I shall conclusively prove to the reader
later, if he will be so indulgent as to follow me. Here I shall say only
this: If the government has ever lost a cent in rail or other haulage
and handling of second-class mail matter, such loss has been _wholly the
result of excessive payments to railroads, Star Route and ocean carriers,
to political rather than business management and to permitted raiding of
the postal revenues in various ways--from overmanning the official and
service force to downright thievery_.

I have adverted on a previous page to the stealings of the Machen-Beavers
gang, exposed by the investigation of Joseph L. Bristow, and a stench
still exhales from the Star Route lootings exposed some years previous.
In the Star Route case, the waste--a more fitting word is thievery--the
stealing was largely effected through the medium of “joker”-loaded or
unnecessary contracts, the contracts running to the advantage of some
thief who “stood in” with the party in power.

Nor has all the Star Route grafting and stealing been stopped, though
both Postmaster General Hitchcock and his recent predecessor, Mr. George
B. Cortelyou, deserve great praise for having eliminated much of it,
and Mr. Hitchcock’s active, continued efforts to further clean out that
Augean stable must command the hearty approval of every honest citizen.
But, as just stated, some of the original graft and steal still lingers.

Last year I personally investigated one Star Route. It was a twenty-mile
drive (round trip). The contractor was receiving $600 or more a year
for the service. What he paid the villager to cover the route with his
patriarchal team I do not know. The villager, however, picked up a little
on the side by hauling over his drive local parcels, some merchandise and
an occasional passenger. I watched his mail deliveries to the village
office for ten days. On no day did the revenue to the government _exceed
sixty cents, and on seven of the ten days it was below twenty cents. One
day it was but ten cents._

In this connection it should also be mentioned that the village which
that Star Route was presumed to serve was on a regular rural route and
received fully 95% of its mail by special carrier service connecting with
a trunk line station only six miles away.

But to return to my objection to the manifest efforts of the Postmaster
General and of recommendations in the Penrose-Overstreet report to
adopt methods or secure legislation to restrain increase in both the
circulation and the copy-weight of periodicals. Of course if the
government really sustains a loss on the carriage and handling of
second-class matter, the loss would be greater on 160 tons than on 80
tons. I, however, contend, and shall later prove, that--barring waste,
payroll loafing and stealage--the government now transports and handles
second-class matter at a profit.

Postmaster General Hitchcock, so far as I have found time to read
him, has made no particular effort to restrict or limit the piece or
copy-weight of periodicals. He was, seemingly at least, so occupied
in his efforts to “get” a few periodicals through the means of that
unconstitutional “rider” of his that he had little or no time for
anything else. But the 1906-7 commission boldly advocated a _penalizing_
of periodical _weight_ for copies mailed to piece, or individual,
addresses.

A table of graduated increases is given and some very peculiar argument,
to put it mildly, is presented to support the recommended scale, or
system, of weight penalization. Following I quote from pages 28-29 of the
commission’s report. The italics are mine:

    The rate then for copy service would be one-eighth of a cent per
    copy not to exceed _2 ounces_, one-quarter cent per copy not
    to exceed 4 ounces, and one-half cent for each additional 4
    ounces or fraction thereof to be prepaid in money as second-class
    postage is now paid. Tabulated, it would appear thus:

    Not exceeding--      Cents.
         2 ounces         ⅛
         4 ounces         ¼
         8 ounces         ¾
        12 ounces        1¼
        16 ounces        1¾
        20 ounces        2¼
        24 ounces        2¾
        28 ounces        3¼
         Etc., etc.

    The net result calculated by the pound will be, upon the
    periodicals above the average weight of 4 ounces and not
    exceeding a pound, a change from 1 to about 1¾ cents per pound.
    For heavier periodicals the rate would average 1⅞ _cents per
    pound_ for those weighing 2 pounds, and increasing by an
    _infinitesimal_ fraction with the proportion of weight above 4
    ounces but never reaching, no matter how heavy the periodical may
    grow, the limit of 2 cents per pound.

    While the actual increase of rate upon the _normal_ periodical,
    especially in view of the publisher’s right at all times to
    send it by bulk at a cent a pound, would be so small as not to
    upset his business, there would be two advantages to the postal
    revenue, one at each end of the line.

    (1) The making of a definite minimum charge for the handling of
    the individual piece. (2) Increase of revenue as the periodical
    grows heavier, due to the fact that the initial rate of
    one-quarter cent for 4 ounces is _less than the incremental rate_.

    This system of payment by the individual piece with a minimum
    limit of weight and an increased rate for each increment of
    weight is _common to the postal systems of the entire world_
    with the exceptions of Canada and the United States. The only
    difference is that in the present project the incremental rate is
    higher than the initial rate.

    Although this graduated scale would appear to be more favorable
    to the smaller periodical than to the large one, it must be borne
    in mind that the periodical weighing _less than 1 ounce_ and of
    necessity paying the initial rate of _one-quarter cent_ would
    be paying a rate (2 cents per pound), slightly greater than the
    large periodical. This increase upon the periodical weighing less
    than 2 ounces finds ample justification in the obvious fact that
    the expense of handling second class matter is not to be measured
    simply by gross weight. On the contrary, as was pointed out by
    the representatives of the publishers in comparing the cost of
    handling second-class with that of first-class mail, such expense
    is to be measured by the number of pieces handled and frequency
    of handling. _A pound of periodicals which is made up of 10 or
    12 or, as is sometimes the case, 30 or 40 separate pieces, each
    one of which requires a separate course of handling and delivery,
    can not with justice be treated as the equivalent of a pound
    of matter which requires but two, or, at most, four courses of
    handling and delivery._

    This increase would be offset, moreover, for the _normal_
    periodical weighing less than 2 ounces, the country weekly, by
    the retention of the free county privilege.

The foregoing is substantially the commission’s _whole_ argument, save
a little more talk about “normal” periodicals, “normal” weeklies, and a
statement to the effect that all countries, other than the United States
and Canada, increase the piece, or copy, postage rate as the weight of
the periodical increases--that is, these other countries do not give a
_flat_ pound, gram or other unit of weight rate.

Now, I shall briefly state my objections to some points in the above
quotation--those points I have italicized.

The reader, however, must bear in mind that the scale of increase in
mail rates above reprinted applies _only to single copies_--to copies
mailed to individual addresses. For copies mailed in _bulk_, in packages
weighing not less than ten pounds, to some agent of the publisher or
other individual, to be taken up by the agent or individual at train or
at central postoffice, the commission recommended the cent-a-pound rate.

In adverse criticism of the commission’s argument for penalizing
_weight_, because all foreign countries do so, I need but say:

1. There are more high-class newspapers--papers which, necessarily, have
weight--published in this country _than is published in all the rest of
the world_.

2. There are four times as many of what the 1906-7 commission--also
Postmaster General Hitchcock--would class as “periodicals” published in
this country _as are published in all the rest of the world_.

Sounds “loud,” does it? Well, look into the matter. Maybe I am mistaken.
If so, it is a mistake made after thirty years of study of the conditions
controlling in my country--in _your_ country--and of the prices paid in
other countries for _efficient, satisfactory service_.

3. Those “other countries”--the stronger ones, at any rate--either _own_
or _absolutely control_ the railroads which transport their mails. In
some of them, rail transportation of mails--also of government officials,
the service personnel of the army and the navy, and of other government
“weight”--are _carried free of charge_.

4. Those “other countries,” of which so much is said and written
ostensibly for our enlightenment, have gone through the mill--their
peoples have been _ground fine_ in mills of sophistry and special
pleadings, to which, _for fifty years_, we have been carrying our grists.

5. Those “other countries” are making their mail service a source of
_governmental revenue_.

The people of this country, today, no more expect a revenue from the
government’s postal service than they expect it from the War, the Navy,
the Interior, the Judicial or other service department.

The people want _service_, not revenues, from any federal service
department.

And you gentlemen who vote away the people’s money for services _not_
rendered--which you _know_ will not be rendered when you vote to “burn”
the money--will, before those independent periodicals are through with
the recent sand-bagging attempt to censor or control their _published
thought_--you will learn, I mean to say, that people want _service_
not revenues; that they want “duty,” as an engineer would name it, not
a _coached_ prattle about B. T. U. or other legislative and official
thermics.

Now, let us look back at that quotation--at some of the points in it I
have italicized.

First paragraph quoted: Aside from small country dailies--now carried by
mail to addresses inside the county of publication free--and fraternal
papers, Sunday School sheets and similar publications, there are few
periodicals published in this country which weigh two ounces or less.

First paragraph following tabulation: “The rate would average 1⅞ cents
per pound” for periodicals weighing two pounds.

A glance at the table shows that the piece or copy rate on a periodical
weighing 28 ounces is given as 3¼ cents. A periodical weighing two
pounds, or 32 ounces, would be charged a half cent more, or 3¾ cents for
mail carriage and delivery, instead of 2 cents as now.

Second paragraph following the table, also in last paragraph quoted:
“Normal” periodicals.

What is a “normal” periodical? Are the 4 or 8 page weeklies published in
the back counties and the small religious, college, Sunday school and
fraternal sheets that weigh two ounces or less “normal” periodicals? Are
the dailies of our large cities, weighing from four to twelve ounces,
“normal” periodicals? Is the Saturday Evening Post, weighing from ten to
twenty ounces a “normal” periodical?

Are any of the periodicals in the following descriptive list “normal?”

The newspapers and other periodicals named in the following tabulation
are those I could find within convenient, likewise hurried, reach. I
tried to get them as near concurrent dates as I could. The tabulation
will show the reader the proportion of advertising to body matter,
printed in the different periodicals on the dates named.

Readers particularly interested in the data presented in the tabulation
should, however, understand that for the newspapers listed, no account
was taken of the “write-up” or “promotion” advertising printed as reading
matter. Some newspapers, at certain times, carry a considerable amount of
such paid matter while the standard monthly and weekly periodicals carry
little or none of it at any time:

  ===================+=======+==========+===========+===========+==========
                     |       |  No. of  | Reading   |Advertising|  Gross
        NAME OF      | Date  | Pages or | Matter,   |  Matter,  |  Weight
      PERIODICAL.    |  of   | Columns. | Pages or  |  Pages or |  of the
                     | Issue.|    [2]   |Columns.[3]|Columns.[4]Periodical.
  -------------------+-------+----------+-----------+-----------+----------
        NEWSPAPERS.  |       |          |           |           |
        CHICAGO.     |       |          |           |           |
  _The Examiner._    |       |          |           |           |
    Sunday Edition   |6-11-11| 392 Cols.| 171½ Cols.| 220⅔ Cols.| 15  ozs.
    Daily Edition    |6-8-11 | 126   ”  |  77⅔   ”  |  48⅓   ”  |  4½  ”
  _Record Herald._   |       |          |           |           |
    Sunday Edition   |6-11-11| 448   ”  | 286½   ”  | 161½   ”  | 18   ”
      Supplement[5]  |       |  20 pp.  |  14  pp.  |   6  pp.  |
    Daily Edition    |6-8-11 | 126 Cols.|  77⅔ Cols.|  48½ Cols.|  5   ”
  _The Tribune._     |       |          |           |           |
    Sunday Edition   |6-11-11| 490   ”  | 212⅓   ”  | 277⅔   ”  | 20   ”
    Supplement       |       |  30 pp.  |  22¼ pp.  |   7¾ pp.  |
    Daily Edition    |6-8-11 | 168 Cols.|  86⅓ Cols.|  81⅔ Cols.|  6½  ”
  _Inter Ocean._     |       |          |           |           |
    Sunday Edition   |6-11-11| 316   ”  | 242⅚   ”  |  73⅙   ”  | 12   ”
    Daily Edition    |6-8-11 |  84   ”  |  59½   ”  |  24½   ”  |  4   ”
  _The American._    |6-8-11 | 126   ”  |  65    ”  |  61    ”  |  4½  ”
  _Daily News._      |6-8-11 | 210   ”  |  87    ”  | 123    ”  |  7½  ”
  _Daily Journal._   |6-8-11 | 112   ”  |  63⅓   ”  |  48⅔   ”  |  4½  ”
  _The Evening Post._|6-8-11 |  84   ”  |  64⅔   ”  |  19⅓   ”  |  3¾  ”
     BOSTON.         |       |          |           |           |
  _The Globe._       |       |          |           |           |
  Sunday Edition     |6-11-11| 720   ”  | 399    ”  | 321    ”  |  25  ”
      Supplement     |       |  28 pp.  |  20½ pp.  |   7½ pp.  |
    Daily Edition    |6-12-11| 128 Cols.| 102½ Cols.|  25½ Cols.|   4  ”
   NEW YORK CITY.    |       |          |           |           |
  _The American._    |       |          |           |           |
    Sunday Edition   |6-11-11| 392   ”  | 221⅘   ”  | 170⅕   ”  |  12½ ”
  _The Herald._      |       |          |           |           |
    Sunday Edition   |6-11-11| 728   ”  | 373    ”  | 355    ”  |  23½ ”
    Daily Edition    |6-12-11| 114   ”  |  73⅘   ”  |  40⅕   ”  |   4  ”
   PHILADELPHIA.     |       |          |           |           |
  _The Enquirer._    |       |          |           |           |
    Sunday Edition   |6-11-11| 576   ”  | 339⅓   ”  | 236⅔   ”  |  18½ ”
    Daily Edition    |6-12-11| 128   ”  |  65⅚   ”  |  62⅙   ”  |   4  ”
    PITTSBURG.       |       |          |           |           |
  _The Gazette Times._       |          |           |           |
    Sunday Edition   |6-11-11| 504   ”  | 358¾   ”  | 145¼   ”  |  15¾ ”
      Supplement     |       |  20 pp.  |  15½ pp.  |   4½ pp.  |
    Daily Edition    |6-12-11|  84 Cols.|  56  Cols.|  29  Cols.|   3  ”
    CLEVELAND.       |       |          |           |           |
  _The Plain Dealer._|       |          |           |           |
    Sunday Edition   |6-11-11| 512   ”  | 292    ”  | 230    ”  |  16½ ”
    Daily Edition    |6-13-11| 112   ”  |  71    ”  |  41    ”  |   3¾ ”
    CINCINNATI.      |       |          |           |           |
  _The Enquirer._    |       |          |           |           |
    Daily Edition    |6-13-11| 112   ”  |  66⅘   ”  |  45⅕   ”  |   4  ”
    LOUISVILLE.      |       |          |           |           |
  _The Courier       |       |          |           |           |
   Journal._         |       |          |           |           |
    Daily Edition    |6-10-11| 112   ”  |  91⅔   ”  |  20⅓   ”  |   4  ”
     ST. LOUIS.      |       |          |           |           |
  _Post Dispatch._   |       |          |           |           |
    Sunday Edition   |6-11-11| 400   ”  | 261⅓   ”  | 138⅔   ”  |  12  ”
  _Globe Democrat._  |       |          |           |           |
    Daily Edition    |6-13-11| 112   ”  |  67⅔   ”  |  44⅓   ”  |   4  ”
   KANSAS CITY.      |       |          |           |           |
  _The Star._        |       |          |           |           |
    Daily Edition    |6-15-11| 112   ”  |  61⅓   ”  |  50⅔   ”  |   4  ”
   SAN FRANCISCO.    |       |          |           |           |
  _The Chronicle._   |       |          |           |           |
    Daily Edition    |6-10-11| 126   ”  |  86⅘   ”  |  39⅕   ”  |   4½ ”
   LOS ANGELES.      |       |          |           |           |
  _The Times._       |       |          |           |           |
    Sunday Edition   |6-4-11 |1170 Cols.| 586½ Cols.| 583½ Cols.| 35½ Ozs.
      Supplement     |       |  30 pp.  |  24½ pp.  |   5½ pp.  |
  MONTHLY AND WEEKLY |       |          |           |           |
     PERIODICALS.    |       |          |           |           |
  _Everybody’s Mag._ |4-1911 | 316   ”  | 146    ”  | 170    ”  |  22  ”
      ”          ”   |7-1911 | 284   ”  | 140    ”  | 144    ”  |  20  ”
  _Cosmopolitan_ ”   |3-1911 | 266   ”  | 144¼   ”  | 120¾   ”  |  18  ”
      ”          ”   |7-1911 | 288   ”  | 146½   ”  | 141½   ”  |  17  ”
  _McClure’s_    ”   |6-1911 | 244   ”  | 113½   ”  | 130½   ”  |  12  ”
  _American_     ”   |6-1911 | 224   ”  | 132½   ”  |  91½   ”  |  15  ”
  _Pearson’s_    ”   |6-1911 | 206   ”  | 143    ”  |  63    ”  |  16½ ”
  _Sat. Evening Post_|5-20-11|  68   ”  |  32½   ”  |  35½   ”  |   9  ”
    ”      ”     ”   |6-3-11 |  80   ”  |  33¼   ”  |  46¾   ”  |  10  ”
  _Ladies’ Home      |       |          |           |           |
     Jour’l_         |6-19-11|  84   ”  |  52½   ”  |  31½   ”  |  16  ”
  _The Literary      |       |          |           |           |
     Digest_         |5-13-11|  72   ”  |  37⅙   ”  |  34⅚   ”  |  8   ”
  _Inland Printer_   |3-1911 | 176   ”  |  68½   ”  |  87½   ”  |  24  ”
  _Publishers’       |       |          |           |           |
     Weekly_         |3-18-11| 136   ”  |  62⅓   ”  |  73⅔   ”  |  7½  ”
  _Review of Reviews_|6-1911 | 268   ”  | 129    ”  | 139    ”  |  17  ”
  _Scribner’s        |       |          |           |           |
     Magazine_       |6-1911 | 250   ”  | 134    ”  | 116    ”  |  16  ”
  _Harpers’_   ”     |6-1911 | 284   ”  | 164    ”  | 120    ”  |  21  ”
  _Popular_    ”     |4-10-11| 286   ”  | 226    ”  |  42    ”  |  14  ”
  _The Argosy_       |5-19-11| 246   ”  | 194    ”  |  52    ”  |  12  ”
  _The All Story_    |4-19-11| 228   ”  | 194    ”  |  34    ”  |  11  ”
  _The New Magazine_ |5-19-11| 200   ”  | 192    ”  |   8    ”  |  10  ”
  ===================+=======+==========+===========+===========+==========

Next to last paragraph: Note the statement that “the periodical weighing
less than one ounce” must “of necessity” pay the “initial rate of
one-quarter cent” or “two cents per pound.”

The initial rate as given in the table is but one-eighth of a cent.
That would make a per copy mail rate of two cents per pound, whereas an
initial rate of one-quarter cent per copy would make four-page sheets and
leaflets “normal” periodicals weighing less than one ounce pay at a rate
of four cents per pound.

Next, note the _crossed_ argument in the paragraph just referred to. The
commission seems to accept the argument made by the publishers--that it
cost less to handle a pound of mail made up of but one to four pieces
than it costs to handle a pound made up of from ten to fifty pieces. That
is a fact which admits of no controversy, is it not?

Then why did this commission advise the adoption of a flat rate of
increase of two cents a pound (one-half cent for each four ounces), as
the mail rate on periodicals weighing more than four ounces.

If the argument of the paragraph just cited is sound--and it certainly
is sound--a just graduation of the mail charge for the carriage and
piece handling of the heavier periodicals should scale downwards and not
continue a flat rate, especially not continue at a flat rate on increase
in weight that is greatly excessive, as two cents a pound certainly is.

I shall speak further of periodical weights later in connection with
railway mail pay and car rentals. The report of this 1906-7 commission
in various other paragraphs manifests a clear intent to restrict and,
if possible, to curtail the expansion of second-class mail matter, not
only by curbing the enlargement of periodicals in size by increasing
the second-class rate and by penalizing added weight, but by putting
restrictions upon the periodical publisher which must necessarily make it
more difficult for him to increase his circulation. These restrictions,
so far as yet expressed, apply to the publisher’s sample copy privileges
and to the amount of advertising a periodical may carry.

On page 48 of its report the commission, speaking of methods to curb a
periodical’s growth in both circulation and weight, advises that the
following be covered into the law in lieu of certain phrasings now in the
statutes and which, the commission asserts, have proved quite inadequate
in restraining periodicals from expanding their circulation beyond a
point which they are pleased to call “normal.” They advise that the law
“enforce the requirement that the periodical may be issued and circulated
_only in response to a public demand_.”

In the draft of a bill which this 1906-7 commission recommends become a
law, the following are the means by which circulation “only in response
to a public demand” will be attained:

    (_a_) By reducing to a _minimum the sample copy, which is one
    of the main agencies of inflation_. The legitimate periodical
    employing this means only to a slight extent will not be at all
    affected.

    (_b_) By abolishing all premiums, whether of printed matter or
    merchandise.

    (_c_) By either prohibiting all combination offers, as, for
    example, a set of books with a magazine, or requiring that in all
    cases a price shall be set upon both elements of the combination
    and that the full advertised price of the periodical be paid.

    (_d_) By requiring that the publication shall print
    conspicuously, not only its regular subscription price, but any
    reduced price at which it is offered in clubbing arrangements and
    the like.

    (_e_) By providing that all copies which the postmaster, in the
    exercise of due diligence shall be unable to deliver, shall be
    returned with a postage-due stamp for an amount equal to double
    the third-class rate. In other words, charge the publisher the
    third-class rate both for the forwarding and the returning of any
    copy sent otherwise than in response to an actual demand.

To The Man on the Ladder the commission’s talk, advising the enforcement
of “the requirements that the periodical may be issued and circulated
only in _response to a public demand_” (page 40 of report), reads much
like one of two things--either the inconsidered or ill-considered prattle
of persons who want to say _something_, or the argument of _ulterior
motive_--of a covert _purpose_ to restrict, to cripple, to _kill_ the
greatest instrument for the education of its _adult_ citizens which
any nation of earth has to date discovered--an instrument that is
economically within easy reach of its exchequer.

How much of a “public demand” does the reader think there would have been
for the reaper, for the thrashing machine, for the case-hardened, steel
shared plow, for the sewing machine, for the triple expansion engine, for
the traveling crane, for any brand of breakfast food, of ham, of flour,
books--in short, how much of “public demand” would there have been for
any of the mechanical inventions, for any of the multitude of betterments
in the housing, clothing and subsisting of our people, _had not that
“public demand” been created_? No one wants anything, however excellent
it may be, until his attention is called to it and he believes it will
_aid him or her_, as the case may be, that it will lighten the stress of
labor or increase its product, or in other lines and directions improve
the conditions of their lives, industrially or otherwise. Ninety-nine
per cent of “public opinion,” as to whether or not that public wants or
does not want this, that or the other thing is _influenced_--is promoted
by what it _senses_ in personal contact with the thing or by what it
hears said of it or _reads of it_.

That statement is as true of the members of the 1906-7 commission and
of Postmaster General Hitchcock as it is of Mr. William Mossback of
Mossville, Connecticut. The “demand” of each of us--our _desire_ to
possess this or that--is prompted--_is created_--by what we see, hear,
feel, taste, smell or _read_ of it. We stand at the head of the nations
of earth for progress in the various fields of mechanical improvement,
from kitchen utensils to laundry equipment, from the plow to the
electric crane. What is true of the progress of our people through the
adoption of labor-saving mechanical devices, implements and machinery
is correspondingly true in various other fields of progress--a progress
largely the result of promoted “demand” for the better things, for the
improvements of which our people have _read_ in our newspapers and in our
monthly and weekly publications--yes, read of in the advertisements and
in descriptive write-ups of such periodicals, if you will have it so.

So this prattle about issuing a periodical “only to public demand” is not
only prattle--it is not only unsound and unbusinesslike both in theory
and service practice, but it is also a _stealthy attempt to garrote the
facts_, likewise an attempt to subject the great publishing interests of
the country to the _rankest kind of injustice_.

How is the publisher to secure additional subscribers if he be denied
mailing privilege to sample copies?

True, the bill recommended by this commission would allow the publisher
to mail sample copies to the extent of ten per cent of his subscribed
issue. Mr. Hitchcock, however, as I shall shortly show, proposes to
exclude _all_ sample copies from the mails.

The following is quoted from Mr. Hitchcock’s 1910 report and shows that
the Postoffice Department, as at present directed, is determined to curb
the growth and development of periodical literature in this country in
every way possible--ways that scruple not at _biased rulings and grossly
unjust distinctions_. In the following Mr. Hitchcock is after what he is
pleased to designate as an “abuse of the sample-copy privilege.”

In order to discontinue the privilege of mailing sample copies at the
cent-a-pound rate, legislation in substantially the following form is
suggested:

    That so much of the act approved March 3, 1885 (23 Stat., 387),
    as relates to publications of the second class be amended to read
    as follows:

    “That hereafter all publications of the second-class, except as
    provided by Section 25 of the act of March 3, 1879 (20 Stat.,
    361), _when sent to subscribers_ by the publishers thereof and
    from the known offices of publication, or when sent from news
    agents to subscribers thereto or to other news agents for the
    purpose of sale, _shall be entitled to transmission through the
    mails at one cent a pound or fraction thereof_, such postage to
    be prepaid as now provided by law.”

In drafting the above recommended legislation Mr. Hitchcock no doubt was
greatly assisted by the luminous suggestions, advice, analyses, etc.,
of his Third Assistant, Mr. Britt, to be found on pages 331 and 332 of
the 1910 report--which suggestions, advice, etc., is based largely on
“estimates”--“estimates” which any student or careful observer of the
Postoffice Department methods of figuring and accounting will readily
discern are, in several particulars, somewhat “influenced,” if not,
indeed, “fixed.”

Up to January 1, 1908, periodical publishers were allowed to mail sample
copies of any issue in number equal to that of their subscribed lists.
Acting on the recommendation of the Penrose-Overstreet Commission, no
doubt approved by Mr. Hitchcock, the mailing privilege on sample copies
was cut down, January 1, 1908, to 10 per cent of the subscribed issue.
Now comes Mr. Hitchcock with a bit of recommended legislation, as quoted
above, which would, if favorably acted upon by Congress, deny the mailing
privilege to _all_ sample copies at the cent-a-pound rate.

Though not pertinent to the subject immediately under consideration,
I desire here to call the reader’s attention again to a point in Mr.
Hitchcock’s recommended legislation as quoted above--a point which is
conspicuously worthy of a second notice and to which I have called
attention on a previous page.

Mr. Hitchcock’s report, from which the foregoing piece of recommended
legislation is quoted, bears date of December 1, 1910. Keep that in mind.
In that recommendation he would grant a _continuance_ of the cent-a-pound
postage rate on periodicals “sent to subscribers,” but to such only.
No sample copies are to be carried and handled, mind you, at the
cent-a-pound rate after Mr. Hitchcock’s recommendation becomes law--that
is, if it ever does become law.

Now, the subscribed mailings of any periodical--newspaper or other--are
piece or single-copy mailings, which are admittedly the most expensive or
costly to the government to transport and handle.

Yet Mr. Hitchcock recommends that _the cent-a-pound rate shall continue
to be extended to such single copies_--a most just and sensible
recommendation.

But Mr. Hitchcock when he wrote that bit of recommended legislation was
thinking--and thinking only, if indeed he gave the subject any _personal_
thought at all--of curbing the circulation growth of periodicals and, as
a means to that end, recommends the exclusion of all sample copies from
the pound-rate privilege.

Read carelessly or superficially that bit of suggested legislation in
itself does not appear to have anything to do with sample copies. On
second and more careful reading, however, its purpose becomes clear. If
the cent-a-pound rate is to be allowed only to regularly _subscribed_
copies of a periodical, then _all_ sample copies must be mailed, if
mailed at all, at the third-class rate--_must pay eight cents a pound_.

When it comes to covering or cloaking ulterior purpose or intent in
legislation, Mr. Hitchcock is an expert, it would appear from the
rider he so strenuously tried to put astride the 1911-12 postoffice
appropriation bill, and from the foregoing as well as some others of
his suggestions to Congress. But the point to which I more especially
desire to call to the reader’s attention when I obtruded that last
preceding quotation at a point where it interrupted a consideration of
the Penrose-Overstreet Commission’s report was this:--

As previously stated, Mr. Hitchcock’s 1910 report bears date, December
1, 1910. On that date, as appears from the last quotation, he desired
a law that would bar all sample copies from the mails at the present
second-class rate. It also appears that Mr. Hitchcock at the date
named--December, 1, 1910--desired that all periodicals issued, except
sample copies, _be carried, as now, at the cent-a-pound rate_.

Somewhere around February 1, 1911--_barely two months after he makes
that cent-a-pound recommendation_--we hear Mr. Hitchcock assertively
declaring, and contentiously arguing, that it costs the government _9.23
cents per pound_ to transport and handle second-class matter.

What happened to his mental gear in so short a time to induce so _loud_ a
change in his mind?

Or was it a change of mind? On page 328 of that 1910 departmental report,
Mr. Britt, Third Assistant Postmaster General, who has charge of the
accounting division of the service, makes the bold statement that it cost
the government $62,438,644.70 more to carry and handle the second-class
mail last year than was received for the service. Being an “expert”
figurer Mr. Britt found no difficulty in arriving at that absurd 9.23
cents a pound as the _actual cost_ to the government of carrying and
handling second-class mail. On pages 7 and 8 of the report, Mr. Hitchcock
himself gives publicity to a conviction that the cent-a-pound rate
should be increased on certain periodicals--_the magazines_--generously
suggesting that the increased rate be confined to their “advertising
pages” only. In the loosely worded “rider” he carelessly--_or
purposely_--uses the word “sheets” in place of the word “pages” as used
in his report.

Still, in face of his Third Assistant’s lofty figuring, the conclusions
of which are announced on page 328 of the report, and of his own
statement of the “reasons for an increase of rate” on periodicals of the
_magazine class_, for carrying and handling their “advertising pages”--in
face of these statements, how did his mental gear so slip, or “jam,”
as to induce him to recommend, on page 35 of this _same_ report, the
enactment of a law continuing the cent-a-pound rate on _all_ periodicals
mailed, except sample copies?

Did he intentionally double cross both himself and his Third Assistant
or, in his anxiety to curb the circulation growth of periodicals, _did he
forget_ what he and Mr. Britt had said?

What’s the answer?

I give it up. However it may appear to the reader, to The Man on the
Ladder it appears that Mr. Hitchcock in his 1910 report has written,
figured and “recommended” himself into a situation that is far more
humoresque than it is consistent or informative.

Returning to the report of the 1906-7 commission, I will mention a few
more of its objectionable recommendations.

As previously stated, the Penrose-Overstreet Commission recommended the
enactment of a law requiring that newspapers and other periodicals devote
not more than one-half their space to advertising matter (Section 3 of
recommended bill, page 50 of report). Thus, in pressing an ill-conceived
purpose to restrain the growth of circulation and increase of weight of
monthly and weekly periodicals, they would, it appears, cut into that
division of their published matter _which produces the greatest revenue
to the government for carriage and handling_.

The truth of the last clause preceding has been so frequently and
conclusively shown as to require no argument to convince the veriest
tyro in knowledge of federal postoffice affairs and the sources of its
revenues that the statement made is true. Elsewhere in this volume,
however, the truth of the statement will be found fully established.

I confine the application of the statement to monthly and weekly
periodicals, to such as are of general circulation. It of course applies,
but in lesser degree, to newspapers. The advertising matter published
in the newspapers is largely of local character, while that published
in our high class monthly magazines and weeklies, in trade journals,
etc., is largely general in character. The advertisements published by
the former are chiefly those of local merchants and manufacturers and of
local, commercial, financial and other interests. On the other hand the
advertisements carried by the class of monthly and weekly periodicals
indicated represent persons, companies and interests widely scattered
throughout the country. Because of this phase in the character of the
advertisements carried, the newspapers advertising space is not nearly so
large a contributor to the government’s revenues from first, third and
fourth class mail carriage and handling as is the advertising space of
our high-class monthly and weekly periodicals.

It is true that this 1906-7 commission makes a somewhat _strained_ effort
to assign two chief reasons for its recommendation to curtail the space
which publishers of periodicals of all kinds may devote to advertising
matter.

1. The commissioners appear to have been carrying around with them
a stern purpose to suppress what they designate as the “mail order”
publications, devoted largely to advertising the wares carried in stock
by one or, at most, a few firms that individually or jointly pay for
publishing the “weekly” or “monthly”, as the case may be.

There can be no question that there is a large number of such alleged
periodicals which have been issued and distributed through the mails
for the _plainly_ manifest purpose of advertising the merchandise of
those who pay for publishing them. I believe, however, that there are
fewer of such fake periodicals enjoying the mail service at second-class
rates today than there were ten or fifteen years ago. The Postoffice
Department, it must be said to its credit, has “disciplined” a large
number of them out of existence or, at any rate, out of the second-class
mail rate privilege.

But even if there are more of such fraud and fake periodicals today than
formerly, any fair-minded man must agree that it is a very rank injustice
to punish--to penalize by harsh restrictions and increased mailing
rates--the thousands of legitimate and highly serviceable periodicals for
the sins of a comparatively few alleged publications which have abused or
are abusing the second-class mail rate privilege.

The department, with its large force of inspectors and investigators,
should be able to weed out and exclude such “fixed” periodicals. If
it cannot do so it appears to The Man on the Ladder that it would not
require a very large amount of industrious, strenuous thinking on the
part of six robust, competent legislators to frame a law that would reach
the _guilty_ without punishing or crippling the innocent.

2. This commission was also, it would appear, a stickler over
_compliance_ with the postal statutes--statutes (those now largely
governing) enacted in 1879 and 1885, therefore so antiquated in their
wording in several particulars as to be a misfit when attempt is made to
apply them to the vast business and varied character of periodicals today.

The statute of March 3, 1879, in its definition of what the law would
recognize as a periodical says, among other things, that a periodical
must be “_originated and published for the dissemination of information
of a public character, or devoted to literature, the arts, sciences, or
to some industry_.”

This portion of the statutory definition the Commission seems to have
entertained a special grudge against. At any rate it expatiated at
considerable length in its report, against the inadequacy, lack of
definiteness, etc., of the definition as given. The commission’s chief
objection seems to center around the fact that space in periodicals
should not be devoted to “commercial ends.”

On page 35 of the report the commission says:

    “What was in the mind of the author (of the 1879 statute), is
    clear enough. He wished to prohibit the misuse of the privileges
    for _commercial ends_ as distinguished from the devotion to
    literature, science, and the rest.”

It is possible that they knew what was in the mind of the author of
that ’79 statute better than I know it, or than Jim Smith or Reuben
Peachtree knows it. It is also possible that they did _not_ know the mind
of that lawbuilder any better. While the ’79 statute does not, in many
particulars, meet present conditions as they should be met, in defining
a publication that should be recognized as a periodical, it requires a
supercritical or finicky mind to find much fault with it.

A periodical must be “originated and published for the dissemination of
_information_ of a public character, devoted to _literature_, the _arts_,
sciences or some _special industry_.”

Now, when one considers the broad application of the word “literature,”
the word “arts,” comprehending as it does not only the mechanical and
liberal or polite arts, but also _business_, commercial, mercantile
and others, including the science of business management, and the term
“special industry” and the broad field covered by it--when one considers
the broad application of those words, it is a fairly legitimate inference
that it was “in the mind” of the writer when drafting that ’79 statute
_to give a broad meaning_ and range of service to the publications he
intended should be classed as periodicals.

In this connection it is pertinent to ask why periodical publications
should not serve, either in their advertising pages or in their “body
pages,” devoted to fiction and articles on political conditions,
economics, history, the lives and deeds of men, forests and forestry,
mills, mines, factory, farm and a vast array of other features, phases
and conditions--why, I ask, should our periodicals not give aid by giving
space to the great mercantile, manufacturing, financial, agricultural and
other interests in this country--_interests which, collectively, have
built up a commerce more vast today than that of any other nation of
earth_?

Why should not this vast commerce of ours--a commerce in which every man,
woman and child of our people is directly or indirectly interested--be
aided and served in every legitimate way by our periodicals? Will some
_politically_ living member of that Penrose-Overstreet Commission rise
and answer? Answer, not in hypercritical nothings, but _straightly and
bluntly_?

Another immediately pertinent thing should be stated and another asked
here. Among the instruments which have contributed to build up the great
commerce of the nation, the American periodical must be recognized--_is
recognized_--as one of the most efficient.

Why, then, this recent attempt to cripple, to curb, to lessen, its
influence and effort? And why, again, try to curtail its circulation and
usefulness by prattle about a postal “deficit” as reason for restrictive
departmental rulings and laws when, should such restrictive measures be
made effective, a shrinkage of postal revenues and a consequent increase
of deficit would, necessarily, result?

Will some one whose thought-dome and _pockets_ are not full of ulterior
motives and postal service “deficits” please rise and answer?

Returning to the 1906-7 commission’s agony over the definition in the
act of 1879 of what should be considered a periodical and, therefore,
entitled to mail entry as second-class matter, it appears that the
commissioners, in an apparent _anxious_ anxiety to prove their charge
against the author of the act for careless, ambiguous wording, quote a
lawyer’s opinion, or part of such opinion, in support of the carefully
framed-up “arguments” which it presents in didactic order, both before
and after the quotation.

The quotation, it should be noted, is from the brief of the Postmaster
General’s counsel in Houghton vs. Payne, 194 U. S. 88, or so the
commission’s report designates it.

The point of the commission’s argument appears to be: (1) that owing to
its loose, indefinite wording, the act of ’79 was of easy evasion when
it came to passing upon the kind and character of matter which might
be published in periodical form and mailed at second-class rates, and
(2) that, by reason of such loose and indefinite wording, periodical
publishers _have_ evaded the intent and purpose of the act--have abused
their second-class rate privileges--_have violated the law_.

That, at any rate, I read as the point and purpose of the commission’s
somewhat labored, if not strained, argument. They quote (pages 37-38)
this counsel in support of that argument. I shall here reprint that
quotation as evidence that the publisher of “the universally recognized,
commonly accepted, and perfectly well understood periodical of everyday
speech” (see fifth paragraph of quotation) _have not violated the law nor
sought to do so_.

The quoted opinion presents some italicized words, phrases and clauses
as it appears in the report. I have taken the liberty to further
italicize in reprinting it:

    “The next words only strengthen the same idea--originated and
    published _for the dissemination of information of a public
    character_. Not, it will be observed, that it shall _contain_
    information of a public character, but shall be published _for
    the dissemination of_ such public information. Each of these
    words is significant, and each gathers significance from its
    neighbors. _Dissemination_ is here a word of strong color and
    tinges all the rest. It indicates a dynamic process, an agency
    at work carrying out a purpose for which it was originated and
    set in motion. But strong as the word dissemination is, it is
    fortified by the use of the word _information_. An agency for the
    dissemination of knowledge for example, might better consist with
    the idea of a library of books. But the word is not knowledge,
    but _information_. The distinction is obvious. One has the sense
    of accumulated stores; the other of _imparting the idea of things
    for current needs_. One is, as it were, human experience at rest;
    the other, human experience in action. One may be as stale as you
    please; the other must be new, fresh, vital. A book, a volume, is
    the medium of one; a journal the medium of the other.

    “Information,” says the Century Dictionary, “is timely or
    specific knowledge respecting some _matter of interest or
    inquiry_.” It is, as it were, vitalized knowledge; knowledge
    imbued with life and activity. Nor when we come to the next phase
    do we find any change in the idea--or devoted to literature,
    the sciences, arts, or some special industry. _Devoted_ to
    literature. Mark you, not that the publication shall be
    literature or contain literature, but that it shall be devoted
    to literature. What is meant by devoted? The Century Dictionary
    puts it thus: To direct or apply chiefly or wholly to some
    purpose, work, or use; to give or surrender completely, as to
    some person or end, as to _devote_ oneself to art, literature,
    or philanthropy. There again we have the idea of a permanent
    continuing entity, a thing existing for a given purpose,
    appearing regularly at such intervals (not greater than three
    months), as may most effectually meet its needs, in the interest
    of art, of science, or literature.

    Do we say that a book--a novel, a history, a drama--is devoted to
    literature? It is not devoted to literature; _it is literature_,
    and it would be an absurdity to speak of it as devoted to itself.
    Such a locution would be merely a willful perversion of language.

    On the other hand, a review or a magazine may be said to be
    devoted to literature with perfect naturalness and propriety.
    For we rightly conceive of the review or magazine as one
    definite recognizable entity--a continuing whole, originated for
    a given purpose, and made up of similar parts having a common
    object--literature, for example, or art, or science, or whatever
    else it is to which the whole is devoted.

    Taking these words, originated and published for, dissemination,
    information, devoted to, they all point to one conclusion.
    They are, we repeat, strong and pregnant words. There is but
    one concept consistent with them all. We confidently submit
    that an attentive reading of the statute will leave no doubt
    that what Congress constantly had in mind in the creating of
    this privileged class of publications was the _universally
    recognized, commonly accepted, and perfectly well understood
    periodical of everyday speech_.

    In establishing the rate for newspapers and other periodical
    publications Congress was not seeking to discriminate between
    good literature and bad literature or to establish a _censorship
    of the press with prizes for merit_. The thing it had in mind
    was not the goodness or badness of the information disseminated,
    but the _instrumentalities by which that dissemination might
    be accomplished_. It was not thinking of all the accumulated
    stores of sound and pure literature in the vast libraries of the
    world, _but it was thinking of how the mind of an inquiring and
    progressive people might be kept abreast of the times in all
    departments of human thought and activity_. Congress did not
    stand hesitating between a good book and a bad newspaper.

Another position taken by the Penrose-Overstreet Commission, and one
which The Man on the Ladder strongly opposes, is that a periodical may
not or “must not consist wholly or substantially of fiction.”

The words just quoted are exactly the words used in the sixth paragraph
of Section 2 of the bill the enactment of which this commission
recommended.

Now, whatever their wit or wisdom, their eloquence or adroitness of
speech, their beauty of shape and apparel, or their loftiness of
position, that “recommendation” should recommend the personnel of that
commission, it seems to me, to some “wronghouse” for a long rest. Their
conclusion, their _lex_ recommendation and their “argument” in support,
taken collectively, are as thrilling, likewise amusing, as the point in
a story “where the woman is turned on and begins to short circuit the
hero,” putting it as near as I can remember in the language of Sewell
Ford, Bowers, or some other “enlivening writer.”

Lest the reader think my adverse criticism of the commissioners too
harsh, or not in keeping with the dignity of the gentlemen composing that
1906-7 commission, I shall here quote a few of the paragraphs it presents
as basis for its recommendation. The reader will oblige by carefully
noting the italics. They are mine, and, following the quotation, I shall
comment on some of those italicized phrasings and statements:

    “Not only does the element of fiction constitute the (1)
    _propulsive force behind the expansion of second-class matter_,
    but it serves at the same time (2) _to undermine the main
    statutory check upon the commercial exploitation of the second
    class_. Being free to make up a periodical which contains nothing
    but fiction, publishers find ready at hand the very thing with
    which to interlard and _disguise the advertising matter_, for the
    sake of which the publication is really issued. This they could
    not do if the advertisement carrying text was required to be news
    matter or critical matter of a current nature. (3) _Deprive the
    mail-order journals of the right to cloak_ their advertising with
    fiction and require them to publish something in the nature of
    a newspaper or review with expensive news-gathering apparatus
    and an editorial staff and (4) the _mail-order advertising
    journal will completely disappear_. It lives only by reason of
    two things, the cheapness of its fiction, with which it cloaks
    its advertising, and the cheapness of the postal rate which that
    fiction cloak enables it to obtain.

    “The distinction between the fiction-carrying periodical and the
    nonfiction-carrying periodical (5) _is precisely the distinction
    between a periodical fulfilling the purposes of the act and the
    publication which, although periodical in its form, has no true
    periodicity in its essence_.

    “Another consequence of the expansive power of fiction is
    found in the confusion of the newspaper and magazine types and
    the unhealthy exaggeration of the modern newspaper, as shown
    especially in its Sunday editions.

    “The newspaper is rapidly being extended into the magazine field
    at the sacrifice both of the postal revenue and the (6) _true
    mission of the newspaper. The miscellaneous matter contained
    in the Sunday issue of a newspaper must of necessity lack the
    quality to make it socially and educationally valuable._” (Page
    37.)

    “No fiction necessarily involves the element of periodicity
    or time publication which is involved in the very idea of a
    newspaper or periodical. It follows, then, (7) _that the real
    purpose of the act of March 3, 1879, namely, the diffusion in the
    quickest possible way at the smallest possible cost of timely
    information among the people, is perverted when the right to
    that quick and inexpensive diffusion is extended to the form
    of fiction_. But the periodical form devoted to fiction, or in
    which fiction constitutes the predominant feature, is the very
    form of periodical which serves to swell the second class. The
    popular demand for fiction seems to be practically unlimited.
    The temptation offered by the low postal rate to supply that
    demand through the periodical form is a temptation impossible to
    resist.” (Page 39.)

I shall make my comment on the foregoing in the order that its italicized
_assertions_ are numbered.

(1) The “element of fiction” has not and does _not_ constitute “the
propulsive force” stated. Was it “fiction” that propulsed the circulation
of _Everybody’s_? of _Pearson’s_? of _The Cosmopolitan_? of _The
American_? of _McClure’s_? of _The Saturday Evening Post_? of _The Inland
Printer_? of _The Progressive Printer_? or of scores of other monthly
and weekly periodicals whose publishers are independent enough to do
their own thinking and courageous enough to publish what they and their
representatives found to be the truth?

Was “Frenzied Finance” fiction?

Was Anna M. Tarbell’s exposures of Standard Oil fiction?

Was the exposure of the Waters-Pierce Oil Company’s connection with
the great Senatorial “I” of Texas fiction? Was the shake-up of the “Big
Three” life insurance companies fiction? Were the hundreds of other
trenchant write-ups and exposures of wrong practices, of impositions,
of crookedness and _crooks_ in official, corporation and private life,
“fiction?”

The man who reads and will attempt to answer any of those questions
affirmatively needs to have his brain dusted up--that is, of course, on
the presumption that he is not _paid for vocal gyrations_.

And yet it was the telling write-ups and exposures of these independents
which greatly increased their circulation and, consequently, increased
second-class tonnage.

(2) There is no such “main statutory check.” Moreover, the “commercial
exploitation” given in the advertising pages of our standard periodicals
to merchants, manufacturers, etc., is, as previously shown, not only just
and due to the vast commercial interests of the country, but it is safely
within both the letter and the intent of the statute.

(3) As previously intimated, a sextet of experienced legislators who
could not frame up a law that would put the “mail-order journals” and
other abusers and abuses of the second-class mail-rate privilege out
of business without ruinously restricting and obstructing the vast
legitimate periodical interests of the country, that sextet ought to
do one of two things, either send their thought equipment to a vacuum
cleaner to get the dust blown off and then try again, or they should turn
the task over to some other legislators. There most certainly are scores
of legislators in the Senate and the House fully equipped to prepare such
a piece of legislation.

(4) In comment under (3) I noted this “mail order advertising journal.” I
did so to indicate that the Penrose-Overstreet Commission, as it appears
to me, worked the “mail order” print stuff overtime for the purpose of
_reaching certain legitimate publications_.

(5) There is no such distinction between “a fiction-carrying periodical
and the non-fiction carrying periodical” as that named. Fiction in a
periodical is just as permissible under the act as is the series of
war stories, or reminiscences, now (May, 1911), running in one of the
magazines; as in the series of articles on the civil war now running in
one of the Chicago newspapers, or as would be a series of articles on
“the Panama Canal,” on the “Development of the Reaping Machine,” on
“Treason in Our Senate,” on “The Depletion of American Forests,” on “The
Railroads’ Side of the Railway Mail Pay,” or on any other subject of the
historical past or active present.

In fact, most of the current fiction, whether in serial or short-story,
published in the standard monthly, weekly and other periodicals of large
general circulation presents far more of _truth_ than do the stories,
reminiscences and “historical narratives about the civil war,” written
forty-five years after the events, and, if based on personal experience,
written from fading memory of the facts.

(6) While one may agree with the thought expressed by the commission
at (6), its wording expresses a desire or tendency to _censor_ the
periodical press of the people by legislative restrictions and
departmental rulings which not only contravene the Federal Constitution,
but which are inimical to the personal rights and liberties guaranteed by
that constitution.

Force is added to this objection to the commission’s recommendation by
the fact that it specifically delegates to the Postmaster General the
power and authority to decide the kind and character of printed matter
which shall have the right of entry at second-class rates, and which
complies with the requirements the commission would have written into the
law.

Section 2 of the at present governing statute, the commission advised
(see recommended bill, page 49 of report), should, in its opening
paragraph, read as follows:--

“No newspaper or other periodical shall be admitted to the second class
unless it shall be made to appear by evidence, _satisfactory to the
Postmaster General or his lawful deputy in that behalf_, that it complies
with the following conditions.”

Then follow the “conditions,” several of which I have already shown to be
seriously objectionable.

(7) I have already presented, under (5), some objections to the
commission’s argument made in this seventh citation. I will, however,
again say that the publication of fiction, other than immoral, in
periodicals, does not, in my judgment at least, in any way infringe the
“purpose of the act” of 1879. I will here go further, and say that the
act of ’79 does _not_ comprehend in its “real purpose,” as the commission
tries to make it appear at (7), that “the diffusion in the quickest
possible way at the smallest possible cost of _timely_ information among
the people”--that is, the act does not so purpose if the word “timely,”
as here used, is intended to mean “news” or “currence of matter,” etc.,
as the commission elsewhere in its report argues for. In fact, the
commission’s statement at (7) is further alee of the “real purpose” of
the act of 1879 than is the publication of _any fiction_ in a periodical,
and that too, whether the fiction be a reprint of some old production
or the imaginative visualizations of some current writer who moved from
periodical publication in 1908 or 1909 to print as a “best-seller” in
1910, or from a best seller in 1908-9 to periodical form in 1911.

In short, the commission’s position regarding the publication of fiction
in periodical form contravenes the “real purpose” of the law. So, also,
does its position on several points it seeks to bolster in its report
contravene the real purpose of that act, as I have previously shown,
quoting in one instance the opinion of a Postmaster General’s counsel,
which opinion the commission itself quoted to support a _false position_.

I feel constrained to make another point against the stand this
commission took against the admissibility to the second class mail rate
privilege of periodicals largely devoted to fiction.

It appears to me that these commissioners must have confined their
reading in recent years largely to the older and so-called “classic”
fiction, to professional tomes, to juridic opinions, attorney’s briefs,
and to “booster” stuff for parties and candidates published in our
newspapers. Certainly they could not have read much of the periodical
fiction published by our high-class monthlies and weeklies. If they had
done so, they would not, it seems to me, have written so loosely and
_unwarrantedly_ of the “fiction” in their report.

Had they read much of the fiction appearing in the leading periodicals
during current and recent years, they would have learned at least two
facts about it:

1. Much--yes, most--of the fiction printed during recent years in our
standard periodicals (even in those printing only fiction as “body
matter”), has been highly didactic or educational in character.

2. The periodical fiction published in our leading magazines and weeklies
has taught our people lessons in morals, in politics, in political
economy, in social, domestic and industrial life. It has told its
readers of the habits and habitat of animals, of birds and bees; of
flowers, of fruits and forestry. Nor has there been much of “nature
faking” in it. Some of the most informative matter ever printed bearing
upon natural history, the geography, topography and hydrography of this
earth, has reached us through the periodical fiction of the past ten
or twelve years. Not only that, but such fiction has gone to the farm
and into the laboratory, into the mine, the factory, the mill, and the
lumber camp; into the mercantile establishment, into transportation,
both rail and water; into the counting room, into the “sweat-shop” and
into the tenement districts, the purlieus and the “submerged tenths” in
both the lower and higher “walks” of the world’s various and varying
civilizations, and it has _taught us things_ we did not before know.

Then _why_ should new laws be enacted, or old laws be twisted, turned
or misconstrued, to exclude “fiction”--_periodical_ fiction--from the
second-class mail rate privilege?

One other objection I find to this 1906-7 commission’s report. It
recommends the appointment of a “Commission of Postal Appeals.”

The report states that certain publishers favored such a commission.
That be as it may, I do not believe that such a commission will return
service value at all commensurate with the amount of public money
it would cost to keep its wheels “greased” and operating. Next to a
bureaucracy, government by commissions is the worst. Can the reader think
of a “Commission”--a Government, a State, County or City Commission--that
ever discharged, promptly and satisfactorily, the duties assigned to it?
One is put to no trouble to think of scores of Civil Service Commissions,
Forestry Commissions, Subway Commissions, Canal Commissions, Traction
Commissions, Railroad Commissions, Postal Commissions, Inter-State
Commerce Commissions and a host of others.

But do you know of one of them that ever did any real serviceable work
_for the people_--did it until an aroused and hostile public opinion
_kicked_ it into doing the work?

You may know of one. The Man on the Ladder knows of _none_, and he has
been watching the service value of the “commission” for thirty-five
years. As a _governing_ instrument it has largely been a _subversive_
instrument. It always spends its appropriation. It always puts as many
of its uncles, brothers and nephews on the pay roll and takes as many
junkets as is possible under its appropriation and, if the appropriation
is exceeded, it usually asks for more and--_gets it_.

We have an Interstate Commerce Commission. It has been on the
job ever since John Sherman put it on duty. Sherman knew what he
intended--_wanted_--it to do. Did it do what he and the rest of us
depended on it to do? Well, not to any noticeable extent. It spent
hundreds of thousands of dollars of our money while it _permitted_ the
railroads and express companies to rebate, “differential” and “short” and
“long” haul us out _of hundreds of millions of easy or stolen dollars_.

O yes! of course the Interstate Commerce Commission is, of late, getting
down to business--getting down to the work John Sherman _intended it to
do when he drafted the bill which created it_.

Why has that commission finally arrived at its starting point? Why is it
now trying to do--and trying, even yet, to do it in a _loose, dilatory
way_--what Sherman intended it to do?

“Why?” Why, simply because the people have finally learned--thanks
largely to the enlightenment given them by the independent periodicals of
the country--that they have been governmentally treated as fools--that
they have been treated as sheep to furnish fleece and mutton for a few
who feast and wear fine raiment, _yet earn it not_.

O yes, the people have learned some things and they, recently, have been
learning rapidly. It is the people who have _learned_ who have virtually
_kicked_ the Interstate Commerce Commission into dutiful action.

No, I positively do not like government by commission, and especially
do I not like government of our postal service, or any phase, feature
or division of it, by a “Commission of Postal Appeals” or by any other
commission, however dignified its title may be. Any suggestion or
recommendation of such a commission is, to The Man on the Ladder, but a
suggestion and recommendation to further load an already _overloaded_
service.

By that, I mean that the service now rendered by the Federal Postoffice
Department is not nearly commensurate with the number of employes carried
on its payrolls or with its expenditures, and that the creation of a
commission--any postal commission--will only add names to the department
payrolls and thousands of dollars to its already excessive expenditures.

In closing my consideration of this Penrose-Overstreet Commission’s
report--a report which Mr. Hitchcock appears to have taken some
“hunches” from while it also appears he gave very little or no study or
consideration to the vast amount of informative data it collected and
_filed_--I desire to make a statement or two and then ask a pertinently
impertinent question or two.

Among the vast amount of informative data on the subject of transporting
and handling second-class mail matter, its cost to the government, etc.,
there are pages upon pages of testimony by publishers the commission
invited to appear before it in person or by representative. Some of
that testimony, so newspapers reported during the hearings in both
New York and Washington, is supported or re-enforced by the jurats of
the publishers testifying. Some of those publishers stated in their
testimony that the sample copies they had distributed had, by reason
of the correspondence and mail business resulting, amply compensated
the government for carrying and handling such sample copies. Several
_specific and detailed_ statements were made by the publishers.

Again: The publishers furnished voluminous testimony--both in their own
statements and in the correspondence of business men who had patronized
the columns of their publications--in proof of the fact that (1) the
advertising pages of their publications were as generally read, if not
more read, than were the body pages, and (2) that the sales of stamps by
the government for the correspondence and business resulting from the
advertisements printed yielded far more postal revenue than did any other
character of second-class matter the mail service handled.

Now, the questions.

When this Penrose-Overstreet Commission sent out its invitations most of
them went to publishers and associations of publishers. At any rate so it
would appear from statements in the commission’s report.

_Did the commission believe the publishers invited were liars?_

If so, why did it invite them?

After hearing their verbal testimony and looking over their written
statements, _did the commission conclude that those publishers were
liars_?

If so, why did it spend the people’s money to collate, digest and file
the testimony of liars for the information of Mr. Cortelyou, the then
Postmaster General, Mr. Meyer and Mr. Hitchcock, his successor, and other
Postmaster Generals who will follow Mr. Hitchcock?

Again--If those commissioners of 1906-7 concluded, either before or after
hearing them, that the publishers were or are _liars_, why may not, or
should not, those publishers conclude (after reading their report) that
the commissioners are liars?


FOOTNOTES

[2] Covers are included in the total for pages given.

[3] One cover page included in count for periodicals carrying cover with
no advertising matter on title page of same.

[4] Three pages of cover are counted as advertising.

[5] The weight of supplements to Sunday Editions of newspapers (when
mentioned as supplements in list), is included in the gross weight of the
issue as given.



CHAPTER VI.

THE PUBLISHERS SPEAK.


I quoted from Senator Owen on a previous page when discussing the
unconstitutionality of Senate revenue-originating amendments. Under his
leave to print Senator Owen embodied in his remarks on February 25,
1911, the arguments presented by some of the publishers in reply to Mr.
Hitchcock’s statements. They point out in particular his peculiar method
of figuring by which he reaches results so at variance with the facts as,
at times, to be far more amusing than informative. I shall here quote
some of them.

I have previously adverted to the promptitude of Senators Owen, Bristow,
Bourne, Cummings and others in getting onto the firing line. Their
combined resistance soon forced Mr. Hitchcock to unmask his guns. He was
ready, it would seem, to do or concede almost anything _provided_, always
and of course, he could give a few of those pestiferous, independent
magazines a jar that would so agitate their several bank accounts as to
influence them to print what they were _told_ to print.

But when the General found that he was flanked, and his position being
shot up, he began to display parley and peace signals. “The country
newspapers would not be affected”--they would still be carried and
distributed free--55,000,000 pounds of them or more each and every
calendar year.

The “poor farmer” needs special government aid, you know. Or, if the
farmer should not be personally in need of government assistance, as now
it frequently and numerously chances, why, well--oh, well, we desire to
show our friendly “leanin’s toward him.” He may remember it at the next
Presidential election--just when we may be needing a few farmer votes.
So, as one evidence of our kindly consideration for the farmer, we will
not trench upon his _special privilege_. He shall still have delivered
him--free--fifty-five to seventy million pounds of “patent insides” and
other partisan dope sheets, printed in his own county and published
and edited by regularly indentured, branded and tagged political
fence-builders--guaranteed “safe” under the pure food laws, etc.

Then Postmaster General Hitchcock also let it be generally known that
it was remote from his intentions to add a mail-rate penalty to any
religious, educational, fraternal or scientific periodical. Some of
these--not including the Sunday School leaflets, of course--circulate in
vast editions ranging from 500 to 5,000 copies a month. They, too, were
such “powerful educational instruments,” he or some of his assistants
assured doubting Thomases in both the upper and the lower branches of
federal legislation.

Next, he back-stepped a little to assure trade journals that it was not
his purpose to hand them any advance over the cent-a-pound mail rate, or
so at least, Washington correspondents reported. Finally it is said, a
statement generously borne out by the wording of his jockeyed “rider,”
that newspapers--_all newspapers_--would be fanned through the mail
service at the old cent-a-pound rate.

It would appear that the anxious interest of our Postmaster General was
willing to let almost any old thing in the shape of a “periodical” switch
through and along at the old rate, if he could only ham-string a few--a
score or less--of monthly and weekly periodicals which persisted in
printing the unlaundered truth about looters, both in and out of office.

Now, we will present a few figures and statements of the publishers,
presented in answer to Mr. Hitchcock’s voluminous, likewise varied and
variegated, utterances, both verbal and in print, to support his _lurid
guess_ that it costs the government 9.23 cents a pound to transport and
handle second-class mail matter.

Before quoting the publishers, however, I desire to say two things:

1. The periodical publishers must necessarily know, I take it, more about
the business of printing and distributing periodicals than Mr. Hitchcock
has been able to learn about that business in the two _politically swift_
years he has been on his present job.

2. The publishers in replying--_in presenting the facts_--are entirely
too dignified. Of course, dignity is a fine thing--an elegant decoration
for our advanced and super-polished civilization. But when some human
animal deliberately and industriously tries to shunt on to your siding a
carload or more of “deficits” and other partisan and “vested interest”
junk, and tells you its price is so much and _that you have to pay the
price_--well, at about that point in the progress of our splendid
civilization, I think it both the part of justice and of thrift to lay
_dignity_ on the parlor couch and walk out on your own trackage, making
as you loiter along a few plain and easily understood remarks. That is
just what I believe these publishers should have done when Mr. Hitchcock
covertly tried to deliver to them, charges collect, his several large
consignments of talk about “deficits,” “cost of carriage and handling
second-class matter,” “publisher’s profits” and other subjects about
which he was either equally ill-informed or ill-advised.

Yes, there are occasions when it is quite proper to hang one’s dignity on
that nail behind the kitchen door and sally forth in shirt sleeves with
top-piece full of rapid-fire conversation.

With these suggestions, from which it is hoped the publishers may take
a few hints for future guidance when Presidents and Postmaster Generals
undertake to deliver to them a cargo of cold-storage stuff that was
“off color” before it left the farm, I will proceed to do what I have
several times started to do--quote the publisher on Mr. Hitchcock’s
ring-around-a-rosy method of figuring.

In quoting from the publishers’ “exhibits” it is due to Senator Owen that
we reprint a few paragraphs from his foreword. In speaking to “the merits
of the case,” the Senator said:

    Separate and apart from the fact that this proposed amendment
    violates the Constitution of the United States and the rules of
    the Senate, I regard such method of legislation as unwise, if not
    reprehensible, for the reason that, in effect, it is a denial of
    the right to be heard by those who are deeply interested in it.
    Over a year ago the periodical publishers affected desired to be
    heard in this matter, and were not given a proper hearing on this
    vital question. Indeed, they appear to have been left under the
    impression that nothing would be done in regard to the matter;
    or, at all events, they seem to have been under this impression.
    When the matter came before the House of Representatives and the
    committee having the matter in charge, no discussion of this
    matter took place. No report on it was made. No opportunity to
    be heard was afforded. Neither was the matter discussed on the
    floor of the House. When the postoffice appropriation bill came
    to the Senate, _no hearing was afforded, but at the last minute_,
    after the committee had practically concluded every item on the
    appropriation bill, this item was presented, not only giving the
    periodical publishers no opportunity to be heard, but giving the
    members of the committee no opportunity to study this matter and
    to digest it. I regard it as grossly unfair, and at the time in
    the committee I reserved the right to oppose this amendment on
    the floor of the Senate.

    _In the affairs affecting our internal administration I am
    strongly opposed to any secrecy._

    In my judgment, the claim made by the Postoffice Department
    _is erroneous on its face_, for the obvious reason that it
    is conceded that these magazines are brought by express and
    distributed in Washington, D. C., over 250 miles from New York,
    at less than 1 cent a pound for cost of transportation and
    distribution. The Postoffice Department declares that it costs 9
    cents a pound. _This is a mere juggling of figures._

    I have no doubt that if a proper weighing of the mails was
    observed, and if the railways were to carry the mails at a
    reasonable rate, this distribution could be made at a cost
    approximately _that which I have named_, as illustrated by the
    cost of distribution in Washington City, which is an undisputed
    fact.

After presenting the publishers’ “Exhibit A,” in which they refute Mr.
Hitchcock’s unfounded assertions of colossal profits in the magazine
publishing business--a subject which I treat elsewhere--the Senator
presents their “Exhibit B,” which counters the Postmaster General’s claim
that the proposed increase in rate would yield a large revenue to the
government. “Exhibit B” reads as follows:--

    It has been shown from the original books of account of the five
    most prominent magazines that the proposed measure charging
    4 cents a pound postage on all sheets of magazines on which
    advertising is printed would tax these magazines, the most
    powerful group, best able to meet such a shock, nearly the whole
    of their entire net income. This means that the new postal rate
    could not be paid. There is not money enough in the magazine
    business to pay it. Magazines would simply be debarred from the
    United States mails.

    But assume, for the sake of argument, that this would not be the
    case, and that the money could be found to pay the new postage
    bills, what, theoretically, would be the increased revenue of
    the Postoffice Department, for the sake of which it is proposed
    to take more than all the profits of the industry that has been
    built up since 1879?

    The Postmaster General, in his statement given to the Associated
    Press, and published in the newspapers Tuesday morning,
    February 14, claims that the proposed postal increase on
    periodical advertising would amount to less than 1 cent flat
    on the weight of the whole periodical. This is not the way
    the ambiguously worded amendment works out literally; but,
    accepting the Postmaster General’s figures and applying them to
    the weights, given in his annual report, of the second-class
    mail classifications affected by the increase, let us pin the
    Postoffice Department down to what it hopes to gain from a
    measure that would confiscate the earnings of an industry.

    Mr. Hitchcock in his statement gives 800,000,000 pounds as the
    total weight of second-class matter. In his report for 1909 he
    gives the percentage of this weight of the classifications that
    could possibly be affected by this proposed increase as 20.23 per
    cent for magazines, 6.4 per cent for educational publications,
    5.91 per cent for religious periodicals, 4.94 per cent for trade
    journals, and 5 per cent for agricultural periodicals, making
    42.97 per cent altogether of the 800,000,000 pounds that might
    be affected by the proposed increase, or 343,760,000 pounds. Of
    course, this includes the periodicals publishing less than 4,000
    pounds weight per issue, and exempted by the amendment.

    But, making no deduction whatsoever for these exemptions, and
    none for the great expense of administering this complex measure,
    with its effect of conferring despotic power, certain to be
    disputed, the Postmaster General claims that this figures out
    only 1 cent increased revenue on 343,760,000 pounds, or a gross
    theoretical gain to the Postoffice Department of $3,437,600.
    These are the Postmaster General’s figures, not the publishers’.

    But from this figure of 343,760,000 pounds the Postmaster
    General would have to subtract the weight of all the periodicals
    exempted, and also subtract all the new expense involved for a
    large force of clerks.

    There will also be a great increase of work for inspectors, as
    the proposed measure puts a premium on dishonesty. There will be
    constant temptation for unscrupulous people, who try to take the
    place of the present reputable publishers, to publish advertising
    in the guise of legitimate reading matter. There will be extra
    legal expenses for the disputes that arise between publishers and
    the Postoffice Department over matters in which the publishers
    may believe the department is using the despotic power given by
    this measure to confiscate the property of publishers. In the
    hearings before the Weeks committee, it was frankly admitted by
    members of the House Committee on Postoffices and Postroads that
    the government postoffice service could never be run with the
    economy and efficiency of a private concern.

    With all the expense of this new scheme subtracted from such a
    small possible gain as is claimed by Mr. Hitchcock, what revenue
    would remain to justify the wiping out of an industry built up in
    good faith through thirty-two years of an established fundamental
    postoffice rate?

    If the department succeeded in saving $2,000,000, after deducting
    the exempted publications and all the new expense involved for a
    great force of clerks, this would amount to less than 1 per cent
    of its revenues for 1910. It would amount to less than one-eighth
    of the postoffice deficit in 1909. It would amount to less than
    one-fourteenth of the loss on rural free delivery alone in that
    year.

    But even this gain would be only theoretical; for, as shown
    before (Exhibit A), many of the comparatively small groups of
    periodicals left to be published, after the favored ones were
    exempted, would find that it required more than all their income
    to pay their share of the new rate.

    You can not take away from a person more than 100 per cent of all
    that he has--even from a publisher. It is not there.

    These figures of increased revenue to the government are based on
    the department’s own statements. They are mathematically accurate.

    They must not be interpreted, however, as measuring the extent
    of publishers’ losses. They take no account of the increases,
    certain to follow the enactment of this legislation, in the rates
    of other lines of distribution from which the government derives
    no revenue. They take no account of the loss in circulation
    volume, that is certain to follow an attempt to raise the price
    of magazines to the public. They take no account of the loss
    in advertising revenue that is certain to follow a loss in
    circulation.

    Neither are these figures a complete record of the effect on
    the government revenue. They take no account of the certain
    destruction of publishing properties, and the consequent
    destruction of postal revenue on the profitable first-class
    matter their advertising once created.

“_Postscript_: Since this calculation was made and a flood of telegrams
from agricultural publications has come to Congress, the afternoon
newspapers of Tuesday, February 14, reported that at a cabinet meeting on
that day it was decided by the Administration and announced by Postmaster
General Hitchcock that agricultural periodicals will be exempted from
the increased postal rate. The owners and other representatives of
agricultural periodicals gathered in Washington to oppose the amendment
to the postoffice appropriation bill at once left Washington for their
homes. It was reported at the same time that the religious periodicals
had also been assured that a paternal Administration would take care of
them.

“This leaves the situation in such shape that the Administration has at
last got down to the comparatively small group of popular magazines.

“These magazines proper, the Postmaster General says, constitute 20.23
per cent of second-class matter, or only 162,000,000 pounds, out of the
800,000,000 pounds of second-class mail.

“As the Postmaster General says, as explained above, that the proposed
increase would only mean 1 cent a pound more on the whole periodical, he
could only figure out a theoretical gross gain of $1,620,000. But his
figures are, as usual, all wrong.

“From this $1,620,000, that his figures come to, he would have to
deduct, of course, the exempted periodicals and also all expenses of
administering the proposed new measure.

“The pretense of raising second-class rates to do away with the
postoffice deficit therefore disappears.

“A few popular magazines are to be punished.

“The absurdly unjust discrimination involved in the proposed increase of
postal rates on certain subclasses of second-class mail, _leaving the
larger subclasses, more costly to the postoffice, untouched_, is shown in
Exhibit C.”

But how about this new development, in which the Postmaster General
apparently decides from day to day and hour to hour as to whether one
class of periodicals or another shall be allowed to live or made to die?

Has there ever before been in America, or in Russia, or in China, a
censor with this power? If the institutions of this country are to be so
changed as to give this despotic censorship to one man, _ought that man
to be the official in charge of the political machinery, as patronage
broker, of the Administration_?

Now, we come to _weights_, and here the publishers begin to talk back a
little. In introducing the publishers’ “Exhibit C” Senator Owen said:

“It is insisted by the Postoffice Department that it is entirely just
to increase the cost on advertisements in the magazines. I submit their
answer:”

    Why should the Administration have gone to a small 20 per cent
    portion of the second-class mail to increase postal rates? The
    Postmaster General gives the magazine weight as 20 per cent of
    the whole second-class mail, and newspapers as 55.73 per cent.
    Why leave out the largest classification entirely and concentrate
    all the new tax on a little 20 per cent classification, which in
    profit-making and tax-bearing capacity is vastly smaller than
    even the figures of 20 per cent and 55.73 per cent indicate?

    The real reason why the Administration concentrated its fire on
    the magazines is well known.

    But let us look at the reasons given by the
    Administration--_given hurriedly and weakly, and almost absurdly
    easy to disprove_.

    Why are newspapers exempt and magazines punished to the point of
    confiscation?

    The Administration says (_a_) magazines carry more advertising
    than newspapers; (_b_) they cost the Postoffice Department more
    than newspapers, because they are hauled farther.

    (_a_) It is not true that magazines carry more advertising than
    newspapers. By careful measuring the entire superficial area
    and the advertising contents, respectively, of each of 36 daily
    newspapers and each of 54 periodicals--the chief advertising
    mediums of the country--it is found that magazines averaged
    34.4 per cent advertising, newspapers averaged 38.08 per cent
    advertising.

    (_b_) The statement that magazines cost the Postoffice Department
    more per pound than newspapers is easily susceptible of final
    disproof from the department’s own figures--the most extreme
    figures it has been able to bring forward in its attempts to
    prove a _case against the magazines_.

    The Postoffice Department states that owing to the different
    average lengths of haul, it costs 5 cents to transport a pound of
    magazines and 2 cents to transport a pound of newspapers.

    Admit that these figures, _often repeated in the department’s
    reports_, are correct. Let us see how the final cost of service
    for a pound of magazines looks beside the final cost of service
    to a pound of newspapers.

    Besides the cost of transporting mail, figured of course by
    weight and length of haul, there are three huge factors of cost,
    apportioned according to the number of pieces of mail--rural
    free delivery, railway-mail service, and postoffice service
    (Postoffice Department pamphlet, “Cost of transporting and
    hauling the several classes of mail matter,” 1910).


    TRANSPORTATION COST OF MAGAZINES AND NEWSPAPERS.

    By weighing carefully the representative magazine, every copy
    of a year’s issue of 64 leading magazines, and by weighing 60
    different classes of newspapers, daily and Sunday, the postal
    committee of the Periodical Publishers’ Association has found
    that the magazine weighs, on the average, _12.3 ounces and the
    newspaper 3.92 ounces_.

    The Postmaster General’s report for 1909 furnishes the total
    pounds of second class mail--764,801,370--and the proportion of
    newspapers and magazines in this weight--55.73 per cent and 20.23
    per cent, respectively.

    This gives 154,719,317 pounds of magazines in the mails and
    426,223,803 pounds of newspapers.

    The cost of transporting these, by the Postoffice Department’s
    figures, is 5 cents a pound for transporting magazines and 2
    cents a pound for transporting newspapers, making $7,735,965.85
    for hauling magazines and $8,524,476.06 for hauling newspapers.


    THE HANDLING COST.

    But the department says specifically, in the pamphlet referred
    to above, that the handling cost it apportions according to
    the number of pieces, in three classifications of expense--the
    railway mail service, rural free delivery, and postoffice
    service. The total cost of these items charged against
    second-class matter is (Postmaster General’s report, 1909),
    $39,818,583.86.

    The total number of pieces of second-class mail handled was
    3,695,594,448 (H. Doc. 910, “Weighing of the Mails.”)

    Newspapers, averaging 3.92 ounces each, and weighing in the mails
    altogether 426,223,803 pounds, furnished 1,740,000,000 pieces
    to handle (taking round millions, which would not affect the
    percentages), or 47.17 per cent of all second-class pieces.

    The 154,719,317 pounds of magazines, weighing 12.3 ounces each,
    furnished 201,260,000 pieces to handle, or 5.44 per cent of all
    second-class pieces.

    Figuring these piece percentages on $39,818,583.86, the expense
    which the department says should be apportioned according to
    the number of pieces, _and which it does so apportion_, we
    have the handling cost on the 154,719,317 pounds of magazines
    $2,166,139.96, or 1.4 cents per pound.

    The newspaper-handling cost would be 55.73 per cent of
    $39,818,583.86, or $28,782,425.10, which, divided by the total
    of newspaper pounds, gives us the handling cost of a pound of
    _newspapers 6.75 cents_.


    THE NET RESULT.

    So, using the department’s own figures and methods of figuring,
    we have the cost of hauling and handling magazines, 5 cents
    plus 1.4 cents, or 6.4 cents; the cost of hauling and handling
    newspapers, 2 cents plus 6.75 cents, or 8.75 cents.

    _This shows that without going into the miscellaneous
    expenditures at all, which would slightly further increase the
    cost of newspapers as compared with magazines, the department’s
    own figures show that it is losing on the fundamental operations
    of hauling and handling 7.75 cents a pound on 426,223,803 pounds
    of newspapers, or $33,032,844.73, as against losing 5.4 cents a
    pound on 154,719,317 pounds of magazines, or $8,354,843.11._

    With a loss, according to its own figures, over 400 per cent as
    great on newspapers as on magazines, the department goes to the
    magazines, of scarcely one-third the weight of newspapers, and
    with not one-twentieth the financial ability to pay such a new
    tax, to meet the whole burden of its futile and confiscatory
    attempt to reduce the deficit.

    Furthermore, the advertising in magazines, which the department
    proposes to tax out of existence, is the very national mail-order
    advertising that produces the profitable revenue, as against
    the local announcements in the newspapers of the class of page
    department-store advertisements, etc., which do not call for
    answers through the mails under first-class postage (see Exhibit
    F).

    And, still further, the modern newspaper of large circulation
    is more of a magazine, as distinguished from a paper chiefly
    devoted to disseminating news and intelligence and discussion of
    public affairs, than the modern magazine. Compare the “magazine
    sections” of the large newspapers (and most of the balance of
    their Sunday issues), with publications like the Review of
    Reviews, World’s Work, Current Literature, Literary Digest,
    Collier’s Weekly, or even with Everybody’s, the American, the
    Cosmopolitan and McClure’s, to see the obvious truth of this
    statement.

I have marked the fourth from last paragraph of the publishers’ “Exhibit
C” to be set in italics. I did so for fear the hurried reader might
gather a wrong impression from its wording. The publishers do not mean
to say that it costs the government 7.75 cents a pound to carry and
handle newspapers, nor 5.4 cents a pound to carry and handle magazines.
It is a _known fact_ that both the newspapers and the magazines _can be
carried and handled_ by the government at a profit at $20.00 a ton--at
the cent-a-pound rate. Mr. Hitchcock asserted in the official brochure to
which the publishers are here making reply, I take it, that second-class
mail hauling and handling costs 9.23 cents a pound. In this “Exhibit
C,” the publishers are proving that, _even if his absurd claim as to
cost were true_, his method of apportioning that cost between newspapers
and other periodicals is grossly unfair, as well as ridiculously wrong
mathematically.

Then Mr. Hitchcock, or his department, suggests that the magazines meet
the added charge put upon them for haul and handling by _increasing
their sale price_. That is, let the five, ten or fifteen-cent weeklies
ring up five cents more per copy on subscribed and news stand
prices--_make the readers pay it_. Let the monthlies do likewise.

That suggestion carries a sort of familiar resonance. “Make the rate
(tariff) what the traffic will stand.”

Ever hear of it? If you have not, then you must have arrived as a mission
child in the Chinese or Hindoostanese “field of effort,” and have lived
there until the week before last.

_Ring up the revenues and make the dear people pay it in added purchase
price!_

The people have a few dollars stored away in savings accounts or
stockings, and if they want a thing they will broach their hoardings.
They have the money. We _want_ it.

One of the surest and easiest ways to get it is to _make them pay more
for what they consider essentials_ to their subsistence, to the comforts
and the pleasures of their lives. They have been buying some splendid
monthly periodicals at twelve and a half cents to fifteen cents. If they
want them, why not make ’em pay twenty or twenty-five cents?

Yes, why not? It’s the people, and--well--

“To hell with the people.”

For four decades or more of our history, that “official” opinion of the
“dear people” has delivered the goods. The Congress, or certain “fixed”
members of it, told us that we needed, in order to be entirely prosperous
and happy, a tariff on “raw” wool, “raw” cotton, “raw” hides, “raw” sugar
and several other “raws,” assuring us that such action would greatly
inure to our benefit.

They _lied_, of course. But it took us fool people a generation or more
to find out that fact. In that generation, the liars gathered multiplied
millions of unearned wealth and passed it into the hands of “innocent
holders,” most of whom, if our court news columns are correct, have been
spending it to get away from the trousered or the skirted heirs they
married.

The point, however, I desire to make here is that while this varied
and various “raw” talk was being ladled to us--and most of us ordering
a second serving--our patriotic friends in positions of legislative
authority, and our commercial and business “friends” who steered the
“raw” talk, had “cornered” all the home-grown raw and were _selling us
the manufactured product at two prices_.

But this is aside. I inject it here merely to illustrate how easily and
_continuously_ we fool people are fooled.

Postmaster General Hitchcock’s prattle about the publishers recouping
themselves by lifting the price on us is of a kind with all the other
“raw” talk which has looted us for forty or more years.

We buy a _better_ periodical--say a monthly--for fifteen cents today than
we got for fifty cents thirty years ago.

Not only that: The fifteen-center tells us of our _wrongs_, of how
we were and are _wronged_ and of how we may right the _wrongs_. The
fifty-center of thirty years ago told us largely of things which
entertained us--things historically, geographically, geologically,
astronomically, psychically or similarly informative and instructive.
They told us little or nothing of how we were misgoverned--of how
_misgovernment_ saps and loots and _degenerates_ a people. That function
of periodical _education_ was left largely to the five, ten and
fifteen-centers of the present day--periodicals _of price within reach of
limited means and of a large, rapidly growing desire to know_.

See the point? “No”? Well, then don’t go to arguing.

If you do not see the point, just sit up and shake yourself loose a
little.

“A little wisdom is a dangerous thing”; “For much wisdom is much grief,”
and similar old saws which truth-perverters glossed into sacred or
classic texts. The people are gathering “wisdom” from these low-priced,
carefully-written, independent periodicals--periodicals which tell
the “raw” truth. It is dangerous. They will hurt themselves. We
vested-interests people and “innocent holders” must set up some hurdles;
must keep the dear, _earning_ people from learning too much--from
learning what we _know_. Their chief source of enlightenment are the
cheap, attractive, instructive, independent periodicals. Our first act
should be to cut down--or cut out--this source of supply.

Then the dear people will come back and read what we _hire_ written for
them, and then--

Well, then the dear earners of dollars for us will not “learn wisdom”
enough to hurt them or--_us_.

But, getting back to Mr. Hitchcock’s reported suggestion, in effect, to
advance the subscription or selling price of the magazines and others
of the “few” periodicals that would be affected by his proposed “rider”
legislation. I shall call attention to but one basic fact which his
suggestion covers--intendedly or not, I know not.

To me, it appears better to do this by a few direct statements.

1. An advance of two or five cents a pound on the people’s subsistence
supplies--meats, vegetables, etc.--or on a yard of textile fabric they
must have to cover or shelter their nakedness, _will_ be met by them as
long as they can dig up, or dig out, the funds to buy.

2. A corresponding advance in the price of some desired, or even needed,
article which is not _absolutely necessary to subsist, clothe or shelter
them_ will induce them to hesitate before purchasing--will often lead to
an exercise of self-denial which refuses to make the purchase--refuses,
not because they do not _want_ the article, but because they cannot
afford it by reason of pressing _subsistence needs_.

That these rules of domestic economy apply to the sale and circulation
of periodicals was quite conclusively shown to Mr. Hitchcock by the
publishers. Senator Owens adverts to this point as follows:

“It has been suggested that the magazines could collect the additional
cost imposed on them by _raising the price_ of their magazines.”

He then quotes “Exhibit D” of the publishers in reply:

    It has been shown (Exhibit A) from the original books of account
    of the chief magazine properties that the measure providing for
    a new postal rate of 4 cents a pound on all magazine sheets
    on which advertising is printed would wipe out the magazine
    industry--would require more money than the publishers make.

    Could not the burden be passed on to advertisers or subscribers,
    or to both?


    WHY ADVERTISERS WOULD NOT TAKE THE BURDEN.

    Magazine advertisers buy space at so much a thousand circulation.
    The magazine is required to state its circulation and show that
    the rate charged per line is fair. Some advertisers go so far
    as to insist on contracts which provide that if the circulation
    during the life of the contract falls below the guaranteed
    figures they will receive a pro rata rebate from the publisher.

    In view of the small net profits of the industry--it is shown in
    Exhibit A that the combined final profits of the five leading
    standard magazines of America are less than one-tenth of their
    total advertising income--it is clear that the publisher must
    be trying always to get as large a rate as possible for the
    advertising space he sells, and it is absolutely true that he has
    already got this rate up to the very maximum the traffic will
    bear.

    Advertisers would not think of paying more than they are now
    paying for the same service. Some of them would use circulars
    under the third-class postal rate, _which the Postmaster General
    says is unprofitable to his department_. Most advertisers
    would simply find this market for their wares gone, and the
    thousands of people--artists, clerks, traveling men--engaged in
    the business of magazine advertising would lose their means of
    livelihood.

    There is no possible hope that the advertiser will pay the bill.


    WOULD THE SUBSCRIBER PAY THE INCREASED POSTAL RATE?

    The 4 cents a pound rate on advertising would require an advance
    of approximately _50 per cent_ in subscription prices if the
    publisher is to recoup himself by raising the cost of living to
    the public in its consumption of magazines.

    _Would the public pay 50 per cent more for the same article?_

    The question is answered eloquently and finally by the
    subscription records of the magazines that were forced to
    increase their rates on Canadian subscriptions when Canada
    enforced a 4-cent rate on American periodicals. As the
    discriminatory rate was later withdrawn in certain cases, we
    have a complete cycle of record and proof. First, the Canadian
    subscription list before the increase; second, the Canadian
    subscription list after the increased postal rate and increased
    subscription price to the Canadian public; third, the Canadian
    subscription list after the postal rate and the subscription
    price to the public had been restored to the original status.


    HERE IS THE RECORD OF THE REVIEW OF REVIEWS.

    In June, 1907, the Review of Reviews began to pay 4 cents a pound
    postage on Canadian subscriptions, instead of 1 cent, and was
    forced to raise its Canadian subscription price from $3 to $3.50
    a year.

    Its Canadian yearly subscribers in July, 1907, numbered 2,973.

    At once the subscription list began to fall off, and continued to
    do so steadily until in January, 1910, it had come down to 904
    names.

    Early in 1910 the Review of Reviews was readmitted into the
    Canadian postoffice at 1 cent a pound, its subscription was
    reduced to the old figure of $3, and the Canadian list quickly
    “came back,” having reached already in February, 1911, the figure
    of 2,690 annual subscribers.

    Below follows the detailed record, eloquent of what would happen
    if the prices of popular American magazines were increased 50
    per cent to the public. In this Canadian incident the price of
    the Review of Reviews was increased only 16⅔ per cent and the
    circulation fell off 69 per cent.

    REVIEW OF REVIEWS--CANADIAN SUBSCRIBERS.

    June, 1907, began to pay extra postage   2,840
    July, 1907                               2,973
    August, 1907                             2,921
    September, 1907                          2,875
    October, 1907                            2,761
    November, 1907                           2,604
    December, 1907                           2,260
    January, 1908                            1,536
    February, 1908                           1,330
    March, 1908                              1,170
    April, 1908                              1,350
    May, 1908                                1,300
    June, 1908                               1,363
    July, 1908                               1,360
    August, 1908                             1,407
    September, 1908                          1,348
    October, 1908                            1,357
    November, 1908                           1,381
    December, 1908                           1,299
    January, 1909                            1,095
    February, 1909                           1,163
    March, 1909                              1,263
    April, 1909                              1,321
    May, 1909                                1,355
    June, 1909                               1,353
    July, 1909                               1,369
    August, 1909                             1,371
    September, 1909                          1,382
    October, 1909                            1,237
    November, 1909                           1,278
    December, 1909                           1,227
    _January, 1910_                           _904_
    February, 1910                             974
    March, 1910                              1,129
    February, 1911                           2,690

The next exhibit (“Exhibit E”) of the publishers shows quite conclusively
“that it would be ruinous to them to raise the rates in the manner
proposed,” and Senator Owen presents their plea.

I am going to reprint here their plea as presented in “Exhibit E,” but in
doing so The Man on the Ladder desires to remark that the argument, as
it has been megaphoned into our ears for the past three or four decades,
that an increase of tax rate (whatever the nature of the tax), or a
reduction of the tariff or selling rate would be “ruinous,” does not
cut much kindling in his intellectual woodshed. It has been entirely a
too common yodle either to interest or to instruct any intelligent man
who has been watching the play and listening to the concert for forty
years. This “ruinous” talk has been out of the cut glass, Louis XVI,
Dore, Dolesche and other high-art classes ever since Mrs. Vanderbilt, as
was alleged, discovered that Chauncey M. Depew was merely her husband’s
servant, just as was her coachman.

If there is a congressional murmur or a legislative growl about cutting
down a rail rate, the rail men immediately set the welkin a-ring with a
howl about “ruin.” If someone rises with vocal noise enough to be heard
in protest against paying 29 cents a pound for Belteschazzar’s “nut-fed,”
“sugar-cured,” “embalmed” hams and insists that they should be on the
market everywhere at not to exceed 23 cents, Bel. and his cohorts will
immediately curdle all the milk in the country with a noise about ruin!
_ruin!_ RUIN!

If some statesman rises in his place and offers an amendment reducing
the tariff on “K,” or cotton, or sugar; or providing that the government
shall build two instead of four “first-class” battleships, the bugles
are all turned loose tooting “ruin” for the “wool,” the “cotton,” the
“shipbuilding” or other industry affected, as the case may be, and
“_ruin_” will be spread and splattered in printers’ ink all over the
country. No, your Man on the Ladder does not have much respect for this
“ruin” talk, as it is usually “stumped” and “space-written” for us
commoners in the industrial walks of life and in its marts of trade.
But when he hears that warning sounded by men engaged in a business
industry with which he himself is fairly familiar--a business he himself
has several times had to put forth strenuous effort to “lighter” over
financial shoals or “spar-off” monetary reefs--when it comes to talk
of “ruin” among men engaged in the business of publishing periodical
literature in this country, why, then, he gets down off the ladder and
_listens_.

There are two special and specific reasons why _every_ commoner--every
_earner_--should listen to the publishers’ arguments in proof that Mr.
Hitchcock’s proposal means ruin to many of them--some of _even the
strongest and best_.

1. An increase of _three hundred per cent_, as the Postmaster General
sought in his “rider” (though somewhat covertly), in the carriage cost
and delivery (rail or other) of its product would _ruin_ almost any
established business there is in this country, if such increase was
forced in the limited time named in that “rider.” A suddenly enforced
increase of even one hundred per cent in the haulage and delivery cost
of product would put hundreds of our most serviceable industries on the
financial rocks.

2. A business man or a business industry that has been giving us _thirty
cents in manufacturing cost_ for our _fifteen cents in cash_ is certainly
deserving not only of a hearing but of a vigorous, robust, militant
support.

That the periodical publishers of this country are doing just that
thing--_have been doing it for the past twelve to twenty years_--no
honest periodical reader who is at all familiar with the cost of
production will attempt to deny.

That is sufficient reason for presenting here the “Exhibit E” of the
publishers:

    We point to the history of deficits in the Postoffice Department
    since 1879, when the pound rate of payment was established for
    second-class matter. The question at the head of this exhibit is
    answered by the successive changes in the size of the deficit,
    compared with coincident changes in the volume of second-class
    mail.

    It will be seen that the largest percentage of deficit in the
    past 40 years occurred _before_ the pound rate of 2 cents
    was, in 1879, established for second-class matter; that the
    percentage of deficit decreased with great rapidity as soon as
    second-class matter, under the stimulus of the new pound rate,
    began to increase rapidly; that this decrease in the deficit _was
    accelerated after the second-class rate was lowered, in 1885_,
    to the _present rate of 1 cent a pound, and after second-class
    matter had increased beyond any figure hitherto dreamed of_; that
    the decrease in percentage of deficit continued, coincidently
    with the increase in volume of second-class mail, until 1902,
    when large appropriations began for rural free delivery service.
    Then deficits began to grow as the specified loss on rural free
    delivery grew. In the last fiscal year, 1910, when the rural
    free delivery loss remained nearly stationary, as against 1909,
    the deficit decreased by approximately $11,500,000 to the lowest
    percentage but one in 27 years, although in this same year
    second-class matter made _the largest absolute gain ever known_,
    amounting to 98,000,000 pounds more than in 1909.

    We submit that so many coincidences, taken over a whole
    generation, and observed in relation to _the enormous production
    of profitable first-class postage through magazine advertising,
    raise_ the strongest presumption that _the larger the volume of
    second-class mail becomes the more fully the postoffice plant is
    worked to its capacity in carrying newspapers and periodicals and
    the first and third class mail their advertising engenders, and_
    the smaller becomes the deficit, other things being equal.

    The other thing that is not equal is the new expenditures,
    unprofitable in the postoffice balance sheets for rural free
    delivery. According to the Postmaster General’s report there
    is in 1910 a surplus of over $23,000,000 outside the specific
    loss on rural free delivery. A chief reason why the Postoffice
    Department has this $29,000,000 to lose on rural free delivery
    is that periodical advertising, and the enormous postal business
    it generates, has long ago extinguished the deficit and given
    the huge surplus to spend for a _beneficent_ but financially
    unprofitable purpose.

    But one thing is proved beyond any shadow of doubt by this
    history of decreasing postoffice deficits and coincident
    increases in second-class mail, and that is, _that the deficit
    can be reduced with an ever-increasing body of second-class mail,
    carried at one cent a pound_. It can be, because the record shows
    it was.

    Below is a fuller history of postoffice deficits and second-class
    increases:


    THE FACTS AS TO DEFICITS AND SECOND-CLASS MATTER.

    The annual reports of the Postmaster General are the authority
    for the following figures:

    In the year 1870 there was a deficit in the operations of the
    United States Postoffice Department of 21.4 per cent of its
    turnover.

    In 1879 there was passed the act that put second-class matter
    on a pound-payment basis. An immediate increase in second-class
    matter began.

    In 1880 there was a deficit in the postoffice operations of only
    9.6 per cent of its business.

    In 1885 was passed the law that made the rate for second-class
    matter 1 cent a pound, which still further increased second-class
    mail. It trebled in the decade preceding 1890.

    In 1890 the deficit in the operations of the Postoffice
    Department was 8.8 per cent.

    The next decade brought a much larger increase in second-class
    matter than any previous 10 years--from 174,053,910 pounds in
    1890 to 382,538,999 pounds in 1900.

    The deficit in the postoffice operations in the year 1900 was 5.2
    per cent of its business.

    In the prosperous years following 1900 the increase of
    second-class matter was stupendous; from 382,538,999 pounds
    in 1900 to 488,246,903 pounds in 1902, only two years. _The
    increase of advertising in the magazines was even greater than
    the increase in second-class matter._ These years brought the
    great forward movement in _the production of low priced but well
    edited magazines_, made possible by large advertising incomes,
    and also in the increase in circulation by _extensive combination
    book offers_, and so-called “clubbing” arrangements, by which the
    subscriber could purchase three or more magazines together at a
    lower price than the aggregate of their list prices.

    In 1901 there was a deficit in the postoffice operations of only
    _3.5 per cent of its business_.

    In 1902 the deficit for the postoffice operations was _2.4 per
    cent_, the smallest percentage of deficit in 18 years and the
    smallest but two in 40 years.


    RURAL FREE DELIVERY STEPS IN.

    But in this year is seen for the first time, in important
    proportions, a new item of expense, $4,000,000 for rural free
    delivery. Our government had _wisely and beneficently_ extended
    the service of the postoffice to farmers in isolated communities,
    regardless of the expense of so doing. The report of the
    Postmaster General for 1902 says: “It will be seen that had it
    not been for the large expenditure on account of rural free
    delivery, _the receipts would have exceeded the expenditures by
    upward of $1,000,000_.”

    It will be clear, from these figures, which are taken from the
    reports of the Postmaster General, that beginning with the
    advent of the second-class pound-rate system, _the deficit of
    the postoffice has steadily declined_, the rate of decrease
    being always coincident with the expansion of circulation and
    advertising of periodicals, until in 1902 there was a substantial
    surplus, which the government _wisely saw fit to use for a
    purpose not related to the needs of magazines and periodicals or
    to their expansion_.


    A REAL SURPLUS OF OVER $74,000,000 IN NINE YEARS.

    Since 1902 there has _always been a surplus_ in the operations of
    the Postoffice Department, outside of the money the Government
    has seen fit to expend for rural free delivery, (wisely, and
    otherwise wastefully.) In the present year, 1910, the report of
    the Postmaster General shows a _surplus_ of over $23,000,000
    outside the loss on the rural free delivery service of
    $29,000,000. The years 1902 to 1910 have each shown a surplus
    in the postoffice profit and loss account, the nine years
    aggregating over $74,000,000, outside the actual loss on the
    rural free delivery system.

    How enormously second-class mail aids the department’s finances
    by originating profitable first-class postage can be appreciated
    by referring to the specific examples in Exhibit F.

    It should be borne in mind that the turning of large deficits
    into actual surpluses, which has come coincidently with the
    expansion of second-class mail, of circulation pushing, and
    of advertising, has come in _spite of an enormous expansion
    in governmental mail, carried free, and Congressional mail,
    franked, which has not been credited to the postoffice at all in
    calculating the actual surplus shown above_.

Next the publishers come forward with “Exhibit F.” Their “Exhibit F” is
not merely an “exhibit.” It is an _exhibition_, with a three-ring circus,
a menagerie and moving pictures as a “side.” Candidly, I am of the
opinion that it was this “Exhibit F” of the publishers which induced our
friend, the Postmaster General, to loosen the clutch on his mental gear.

Of course, it is possible Mr. Hitchcock did not, nor has not, read this
“F” of the publishers. If such a misfortune has cast its shadow across
his promising career, I regret it.

“Why?”

Well, to anyone anxiously interested in dissipating, or removing, the
federal postoffice “deficit,” the reading of the publishers’ “F” should
be most entertaining.

That F of the publishers most certainly presents some facts which any
man, unless he is a fool, as some descriptive artist has appropriately
put it, in an “elaborate, broad, beautiful and comprehensive sense,” must
appreciate.

Senator Owen introduced “Exhibit F” of the publishers in necessarily, and
of course, dignified form--a form in keeping with the exalted position
he holds and worthily fills. Your uncle on the ladder, however, is not,
as you may possibly have already discovered, restrained by any code _de
luxe_ as to his forms of speech or as to their _edge_.

The publishers in their Exhibit “F” show and, as I have said, _show
conclusively_, that the advertising pages in periodicals (newspapers
or other), are _the pages which support--which pay the bills_--of the
Postoffice Department of these United States.

I would ask the reader to keep that last statement in mind, for, in spite
of the Postmaster General’s voluminous, cushion-tired conversation and
automatic comptometer figuring, the publishers furnish ample evidence in
proof that the statement just made is safe and away inside the truth.

Oh, yes, of course, I remember that Solomon or some other wise man of
ancient times has said “all men are liars.” That was possibly, even
probably, true of the men of his day. It may also be admitted without
prejudice, I trust, to either party to this case, that there is a
numerous body of trousered liars scattered in and along the various walks
of life even at this late date. So, there appears to be no valid reason
nor grounds to question the veracity of Solomon, or whoever the ancient
witness was, when he testified, to the best of his knowledge and belief,
that all men are prevaricators. However, I desire in this connection to
have the reader understand that The Man on the Ladder is of the opinion
there are a few men on earth now, whatever the condition and proclivities
of their remote ancestors may have been, who have an ingrown desire or
predisposition to tell the truth.

This view of the genus _homo_ is warranted, if indeed not supported, by
the plainly and frequently observed fact that in almost every recorded
instance where the truth serves a purpose better than a lie, the truth
gets into the testimony.

The Man on the Ladder also believes there are men--bunches of men--in
this our day who will tell us the truth _whether they can afford to do so
or not_.

I have given this “aside,” if the reader will kindly so consider it, to
the end of calling to his attention two points, namely:

First, There are probably just as many truth tellers, likewise _liars_,
in the world today as there were in olden times.

Second, There is probably just as high a moral code--just as high a
standard and practice of veracity--among the periodical publishers of
this country as there is among officials of the Federal Postoffice
Department.

I am of opinion that few, indeed, among my readers will be found to
question the fairness of that statement. Especially will they not
question it when they take into consideration the fact _that pages of the
publishers’ testimony were under oath, or jurat_.



CHAPTER VII.

POSTAL REVENUES FROM ADVERTISING.


Now, the Postmaster General’s whole talk--his whole word-splutter--was,
it seems, to create an impression that the government was losing millions
annually _because of the large amount of advertising matter distributed
by magazines and other periodicals_.

On the other hand, the publishers in their “Exhibit F,” and elsewhere,
try to show, and in the writer’s opinion _do_ show quite conclusively
and dependably, that the excess of expenditure over receipts in the
Postoffice Department would be _two to four times greater than it now
is were it not for the first, third and fourth class revenues resulting
directly from those advertising pages in our periodical literature_.

Before giving these publishers a chance to tell the truth, as presented
in their “Exhibit F,” I desire to make a few remarks about the point
under consideration--the profits to the _government from periodical
advertising_.

The publishers present the evidence of their counting-rooms--the _inside_
testimony. I desire to present some outside testimony.

I may present it in an awkward, raw way, but I have a conceit that the
“jury” will give it consideration.

Three months ago, there was a “party at our house.” No, it was not
a bridge party. Mrs. M. On The L. has, in my visual range, I can
here assure you, many commendable virtues--meritorious qualities and
qualifications. Likewise, she has some faults. The latter I cannot, if
the dove of peace is to continue perching on our domicile lodge pole,
mention here. I may, however, say with entire safety, that “bridge” and
alleged similar feminine amusements are not among them.

The party to which I advert was a “tea.” The guests were six,--Mrs. M.
On The L. serving. The guests not only had “the run” of the house, but
they _took possession of it_. I stuck to my “den” until it was invaded
and then--well, then, my dear trousered reader, I did precisely what you
would have done. I backed off--I surrendered.

“What was the result?”

In this particular case, the chief feature of the result was that
these seven women, _in less than ten minutes_, had appropriated every
copy of all the latest, and some a month or more old, of the magazines
and weeklies about my work-shop. They also annexed me. I “just had
to go downstairs and have a cup of tea with them.” Although I am not
entrancingly fond of tea, I did exactly what you would have done. I went.
Necessarily, I had to be good. I was good. I said--as near as I knew
how--the things that were proper to say and as near the proper time as I
could. That is, I said little and listened much.

It is of what I heard--and afterward learned--I wish here to speak.
I wish to speak of it because it fits like a glove to the point the
publishers make in their “Exhibit F,” which is to follow.

While the hostess was preparing and spreading luncheon--a necessary
concomitant of all “teas,” other than mentioned in novels--the six guests
scanned the magazines and talked magazines. From their conversation it
appeared that five of the six took, either by subscription or news-stand
purchase, one or two monthly magazines “regularly.” Whether the ladies
_read_ them or not was not made clear to me. One of them did make mention
of two “splendid stories”--“The Ne’er do Well,” by Rex Beach, and, at the
time of the “tea,” appearing, in serial, in one of the monthlies. The
other was a short story entitled “The Quitters,” which, the lady stated,
had appeared in one of the magazines some time previous.

Now, so far as I can recall, the reference made by this one of the six
ladies was the only mention made of the “literary” features of the
magazines they had read or to such features of those they were examining.
There was considerable talk and attention given to the body illustrations.

In calling such stories as the lady mentioned “literary” I presume
apologies are due the Penrose-Overstreet Commission. While both the
stories are “brand-new,” are well written, each teaching a lesson--have,
in short, all the essential elements of “currency and periodicity”--yet
that commission, in the anxious interest it displayed to secure “a
general exclusion act” against fiction in periodicals, would, possibly,
see nothing of literary merit in either of the stories the lady mentioned.

I shall, however, offer no apologies to the commission for classing the
two stories as literature and of exemplary currency. On a previous page I
have given my reasons for differing from the commission on its strictures
on current fiction as run in our standard monthlies and weeklies. The
lady’s expressed opinion of the two stories is another reason for
differing from that expressed by the commission. In my judgment, the lady
who spoke has a broader, juster and far more comprehending knowledge of
literature--of its merits and demerits, whether fiction, historical,
biographical or classic--than has any member of that commission.

But to return to our tea party. Those six ladies scanned and thumbed
through my magazines. As said, there was comparatively little talk or
comment about the body-matter of the periodicals. But those women--all
married, five of them mothers, two of them (three, counting the hostess),
grandmothers--gave fully _three-fourths of their time to the advertising
pages_.

But that is not all. Their scanning of the advertising pages of those
periodicals developed some business action. The business talk started
when one lady called attention to the “ad” of a military school in a town
in Wisconsin, “where Thomas attends,” Thomas being her son. It developed
that the lady seated next to her had a son Charles whom it was desired
to start in some preparatory school in the fall. Another matron had a
daughter she desired to have take a course at some school for girls. Both
of the ladies with candidates for preparatory courses, however, were of
the opinion that all the “good schools” appeared to be in the East and
each would prefer to send her son or daughter to some school nearer home.
To this opinion the mother of the boy attending the Wisconsin school
earnestly protested.

“We have just as good preparatory schools, colleges and universities
in the West as they have in the East,” she declared. “My boy is doing
splendidly at the----, Wisconsin. He has been there two terms now. If
you don’t want to send Charles to a military school, there are a score
or more of excellent schools for either boys or girls in the West and
South--some of them right near us, too. Just look here!”----

And then began a scurrying through the school “ad” pages of three or four
of the magazines for the names and locations of preparatory schools. The
advertisements of a number were found.

“Take the names and addresses and write all of them for their catalogues
or prospectuses or pamphlets, giving the courses of study that pupils
may take, the advantages they offer and other information. That’s what I
did before deciding where to send Thomas. I wrote twenty-two different
military schools in the country and got a prompt reply from each of them.
In fact some of them wrote me _four or five times_, besides sending their
little printed books which gave their courses of study and set forth the
special advantages their students enjoyed.”

Of course, it was Thomas’ mother who spoke. Her suggestion, however,
gripped the rails at once. The two matrons with children to place in
preparatory schools asked for pencil and paper. I relieved them of the
immediate labor of writing out their lists, by gallantly inviting them
to take home with them such of the magazines as they thought would serve
their purpose, and, as they were near neighbors, they could scan them at
their leisure and address directly from the advertisements. I lost three
of my favorite magazines on my tender.

“This has no bearing on the point!” Eh? Well, let us see about that.

Of course, I do not know what the mothers of that son and daughter who
were to be started in preparatory school work did. It is safe to presume
however, that they adopted the plan suggested by Thomas’ mother. We
know what she did. At any rate we have her own statement of the course
she pursued, and there can be advanced no valid reason for doubting her
word. Besides, as she is our “next-door” neighbor, I have made, within
the month, special inquiry of her as to what she did. I found that she
had kept the catalogues of the schools to which she had written and had
carefully “filed” in a _twined package_, as a careful housekeeper usually
files things, every letter she had received from the schools.

More than that: She wrote nine of the schools a second letter and three
of them, she wrote _four times_. To the Wisconsin school to which she
finally intrusted the training and instruction of her son she wrote _six
times_.

Now let us see what revenue the federal postal fund _actually_ received
from this one mother in her efforts to place her boy in a good, safe
school.

First the mother herself wrote forty-five letters. On these the
Postoffice Department collected 90 cents.

Second, her “twine file” shows that, all told, she had received from
the twenty-two schools written to, a total of 163 letters. On these the
government collected $3.26.

Third, the catalogues sent her were of various sizes. Their carriage
charge, at third-class rates, I think would range from two to six cents
or more. Putting the average at only three cents, which in my judgment is
low, the government collected for their carriage 66 cents.

Fourth, thirteen of the schools, either not knowing her boy had been
matriculated or thinking she might have other boys “comin’ on” to
preparatory school age, sent her their catalogues for the following
year--another 39 cents.

Add those four items and you will readily ascertain that the government
received $5.21 in revenue from the efforts of Thomas’ mother to select
a school for him--a school that would give him military training and
discipline, as well as academic instruction in selected studies.

_Her course of action was prompted entirely by the school advertisements
she saw in two magazines._

How many other mothers and fathers were influenced to similar action by
the three or four school “ad” pages in those two magazines I do not know.
There must, however, have been many, I take it, otherwise the schools and
preparatory colleges would not persist in advertising so extensively,
year after year, during the summer months, in our high-class monthly and
weekly periodicals.

The two magazines from which Thomas’ mother got her school address
weighed a little under a pound each. If they reached her by mail, the
government got only about two cents for their carriage and delivery,
which was ample pay--$20.00 a ton--for the service. But supposing Mr.
Hitchcock’s wild figures were correct--that it cost the government 18
cents to deliver those two magazines to that mother--a rate of $180.00
per ton. Of course, no man could so suppose unless he stood on his head
in one corner of a room and figured results as the square of the distance
at which things appeared to him, or chanced to be one of those “blessed”
mortals prenatally endowed with what may be called mental strabismus.
But for the sake of the argument, let us suppose that it did cost the
government 18 cents to deliver those two magazines to Thomas’ mother; let
us admit that that falsehood is fact, that that foolishness is sense.
Then what?

A magazine weighing one pound and printed on the grade of paper used by
our high-class periodicals will count 250 or more pages. Four pages of
school “ads,” therefore, would count for about _one-fourth of one ounce_.

Even at Mr. Hitchcock’s absurd figure of nine cents a pound, the cost
to the government of carrying those four pages of school advertisements
in each of two monthly magazines to the mother of Thomas _was less than
four-fifths of one cent_.

Do you grasp the point?

Remember, Mr. Hitchcock has separated himself from much talk to show to
a doubting public that it is _the advertising pages of periodicals which
over-burden the postal service and are responsible, largely, for the
alleged “deficit.”_

I say “alleged” deficit. I say so, because it is not, and never was, a
deficit _de facto_. I shall later give my reasons for so saying--shall
show that this much talked of deficit in the Postoffice Department’s
revenues is _quasi_ only--a mere matter of accounting, and bad accounting
at that.

But here we are considering the cost to the government of carrying and
delivering _advertising pages_ to the reading public of this Nation.
Especially are we considering the transaction between the government and
the mother of Thomas--a transaction induced and promoted by eight pages
of advertising--four pages in each of two magazines.

As just stated, it cost the government _less than four-fifths of one
cent_, even if we rate the carriage and delivery cost at Postmaster
General Hitchcock’s absurd figure of nine cents a pound, to deliver those
eight pages of school advertisement to Thomas’ mother. Even the delivery
of the _complete_ magazines which printed those advertising pages would,
at Mr. Hitchcock’s own figures, cost the government only about 18 cents.
Let’s admit it all--the worst of it, and the worst possible construction
that the worst will stand. Then how does the government stand in relation
to the resultant transaction--_the transaction induced by those eight
pages of advertising_?

It cost the government 18 cents, according to Mr. Hitchcock’s method of
hurdle estimating, to deliver those two magazines to Thomas’ mother.
Well, let it go at that. The government is out, then, 16 cents, the
publisher having paid in 2 cents at the present pound rate for mail
carriage and delivery.

On the other hand, those two magazines each carried four pages of school
“ads.” Those “ads” start Thomas’ mother into a canvass of the schools by
correspondence. The result of that canvass, as previously shown, turned
into the government’s treasury _a gross revenue of_ $5.21 for postage
stamps to cover the first and third-class business resulting.

The government, then, is $5.05 ahead so far as _gross_ receipts and
_gross_ revenues are concerned, and it is ahead that sum, in the specific
transaction under consideration, _solely and only because of those eight
pages of school advertisements printed in the two magazines_.

Is that not a fair--a just--statement?

As Mr. Hitchcock states that there is a large profit to the government
for the stamps sold and as that $5.21 was _all for stamps_, then those
eight pages of advertisements and Thomas’ mother must have turned into
the postal fund a handsome _net_ profit on the service rendered by the
Postoffice Department.

Now, I desire to return to our “tea.” Two other “business” actions
developed which serve to prove the statement made on a previous page,
namely: _It is the advertising pages of our periodicals which yield the
largest revenue to the government for the postal service it renders._

The first of the two postal revenue-producers came up as we sat at
luncheon. Each of the ladies had a magazine or weekly in hand. There was
as much talking as eating in progress, or more. I presume that is the
proper procedure or practice at “tea” luncheons. I am not a competent
authority on “tea” proprieties.

One of the ladies “had the floor,” so to speak, and expatiated eloquently
and at length on the merits of an electrically heated flat-iron or
sad-iron, an advertisement of which she had found in the magazine
she was scanning--a cloth smoother she had had in use for some three
months. Three of the other matrons were wired--that is, their homes
were electrically lighted. The others were getting their domiciliary
illumination from what is vulgarly designated as the “Chicago Gas Trust,”
at 85 cents per.

“Results?” Three of the assembled party desired to write for “full
particulars” about that flat-iron at once.

My boss furnished paper, envelopes, pens and ink. My assigned duty
in this business transaction was both simple and secondary. The boss
_ordered_ me to go over to the drug store, buy the stamps and mail those
three letters.

I did so.

The government got six cents postal revenue from _me_ on that sad-iron
“ad.” What further revenue was gleaned from the correspondence between
the three ladies and the flat-iron manufacturer I know not.

It took me a long time to reach that drug-store--a short block away--buy
the stamps, “lick ’em,” stick them on the envelopes and drop those three
letters into the mail-box just outside the druggist’s door. At any rate,
the ladies so informed me when I got back. They did it politely, kindly,
but very _plainly_. Not wishing to scarify their feelings by admitting
that I had purposely loitered because of an inherent or pre-natal dislike
of teas, I did what I thought was the proper thing to do under the stress
of impinging circumstances--I lied like a gentleman. I told the ladies
that the druggist happened to be out of two-cent stamps and had sent out
for them--sent to another drug store for them.

“How unfortunate!” exclaimed one of the party. “We want a lot more
stamps. We have each written for a sample of these new biscuits. We have
to enclose ten cents in stamps and the letters will have to be stamped.
That’s eighty-four cents in stamps and we want to get the letters into
the mail tonight.”

Then I was shown the advertisement of the desired “biscuits.” In the
good old summer time of our earthly residence, “when life and love
were young,” we called such mercantile pastry “crackers.” Mother baked
all the biscuits we then ate, or somebody else’s mother baked them. Of
course, sometimes Mary, Susie, Annie, Jane or another of the dear girls
learned the trick and could “bake as good as mother.” Then she baked the
biscuits. And they _were_ biscuits. Now, every _cracker_ is a biscuit,
and every biscuit one gets smells and tastes of the bakeshop where it was
foundried.

But that is entirely aside from our subject. The “ad”--a full page--set
forth the super-excellence of some recently invented or devised
cracker--“biscuit,” if you prefer so to call it. It was an attractively
designed and well-written “ad.” The advertiser offered to send a
regular-size package of the “biscuits” to anyone on receipt of ten cents
in stamps--“enough to cover the postage”--and the name of the grocer
with whom the sender of the stamps traded. That, in brief, was the “ad”
offer, and each of the ladies wanted those biscuits--my boss as anxious
to sample them as any of the others. On a corner of the luncheon table in
symmetrical, pyramidal array, was 84 cents in miscellaneous change.

Before it came my turn to speak, Mrs. M. On The L. gave me a scrutinizing
look--a censorious look--a look that said, “I know where you have been,”
and took the floor. She did not rise in taking it either.

“Oh, he can get the stamps. Take that change and these letters. You can
go to some other drug store and get the stamps. Put ten cents in stamps
in each envelope and then seal and mail the letters.”

That’s the speech the boss made.

I should be ashamed to admit it, but I am not. There are limits to the
endurance of even such a temperate-zone nature as that of the writer. The
boss’ speech reached the limit. My patriotism was set all awry. Even my
earnest desire to reduce the “deficit” in the postal service was, for the
moment, forgotten--was submerged.

I took the 84 cents those friendly ladies had pooled on “biscuits” and
the seven unsealed letters, assuring them I would certainly find the
stamps. I then went up to my den, unlocked a drawer of my desk, found
the stamps, made the enclosures, stamped and sealed the envelopes, and
then came down and passed out on my assigned errand. I got back just as
the “party” was donning its hat to depart for its several homes, assured
it that its orders had been carried out, and, by direction of the boss,
escorted home one of its members who had some distance to walk.

Now, I think I did my whole duty to that tea-party, and _more_ than my
duty to reduce the postal “deficit.”

I trust the “dear reader” will not have concluded or even thought that
I am trying to be funny or humorous, nor even ludicrous. I have been
writing of _actual_ occurrences, and writing the _facts_, too, of those
occurrences, as nearly as I can recall them after an interval of _less
than three months_. I introduce the _de facto_ happenings at our “tea
party” here because they _apply_--because they illustrate, they evidence,
they _prove_ that the advertising pages of our periodicals _are the pages
which produce a large part, if indeed, not the larger part of our postal
service revenues_.

But we must look after our “biscuits” a little further.

The seven women at that tea party spent 84 cents for stamps to get
a sample of those crackers. Fourteen cents of these stamps went to
cancellation on the letters they mailed. The other 70 cents went to
cancellation on the cracker packages which the cracker inventor sent
them--cancelled at the fourth-class rate--_cancelled at the postal
carriage rate of sixteen cents a pound_.

Is that all? No it is not all. It is only the first link in a _postal
revenue_ producing chain.

The manufacturer of that cracker or biscuit, as you may choose to call
it, wrote each of those seven ladies a neat letter of thanks, and neatly
giving a further boost to the biscuit. I know this because I have seen
the seven letters--all “stock form” letters.

That contributed 14 cents more in postage stamps for cancellation.

Three of the ladies heard from that cracker baker _four times_. Their
grocers probably had not put the cracker in stock. My boss got a second
letter from the baker.

That contributed 20 cents more in postage stamps for cancellation.

The advertiser sent by mail to each of the seven grocers the ladies had
named a sample package of the “biscuits” and a letter naming the local
grocery jobber or jobbers through whom stock could be had, the jobber’s
price of it, etc.

That contributed 84 cents more in postage stamps for cancellation.

Nor is that all. My boss’ grocer got three letters from that cracker
baker and a visit from a salesman of a local jobber before he “stocked.”
If the grocers named by the other six ladies were similarly honored then
the builder of those biscuits must have written the seven grocers whom
the tea party ladies had named fourteen letters in addition to the first
one.

That contributed 28 cents more in postage stamps for cancellation.

Now let us figure up--or down--how one tea party of seven (I was the
working or “worked” member, so am not to be counted in), and a one page
“ad” stands in account with the postal revenues.

The magazine carrying the cracker “ad” weighs about a pound. The single
“ad” page cannot possibly weigh more than _three-fiftieths of one ounce_.
To carry and deliver that one “ad” page the cost to the government, then,
even at Mr. Hitchcock’s extension-ladder rate of 9 cents a pound, would
be about _one-thirtieth of one cent_.

But as we did in the case of the school advertisements previously
mentioned, let’s give our Postmaster General the whole “hullin’ uv
beans.” Let us credit the government with Mr. Hitchcock’s alleged cost of
carrying that magazine to that tea party--nine cents.

Per contra, the government must give that “ad” page credit for producing
stamp cancellations to the amount of $2.30.

Figure it out yourself and see if that is not the _actual_ showing of the
ledger on this account of the Postoffice Department with that one “ad”
page and those seven tea party women.

That, I believe, is fair and sufficient evidence from the outside--from
the field--in support of the facts which the publishers present in their
“Exhibit F,” and which I shall here reprint:

    The astonishing record contained in (Exhibit E), of the
    absolutely unvarying coincidence of decreases in postoffice
    deficits with increases in second-class mail is square up against
    the Postmaster General’s statements that the department loses
    8.23 cents on every pound of second-class mail and loses over
    $60,000,000 a year as a whole, on second-class mail.

    What is the explanation? How can the phenomenon of constantly
    decreasing deficits, coincident with increasing second-class
    mail, be reconciled? To be sure, the Postmaster General has been
    trying for two years to make out a case against the magazines,
    and nothing is better understood than that, _under orders_, he is
    using all the figures and the infinite opportunities of such a
    complex mass of figures as those of the postoffice, to make the
    case for the magazines as bad as possible. Of course, it does not
    cost the department 9.23 cents a pound for second-class matter;
    but also, of course, in all probability, the cost must be more
    than one-ninth Postmaster General Hitchcock’s figures. Then why
    is it that _the more second-class matter there is mailed the more
    money the Postoffice Department has_?

    The answer is that the advertising in the periodicals, the
    very advertising the Administration is trying to drive out
    of existence, _is far and away the most important creator of
    profitable first-class postage that exists_. That, furthermore,
    the varied and constant efforts of publishers to extend the
    circulation of their periodicals by sending out tens of millions
    of circulars, _each making for a 2-cent reply_, and the great and
    complex business that has been built up around _the originating
    and handling of advertising_ have made this national market
    for reputable wares--a market where the purchasing is done by
    mail with 2-cent stamps--the stamps that pay the Postoffice
    Department’s bills and give it $23,000,000 a year to spend over
    and above receipts from rural free delivery, in advancing that
    splendid service for the country dweller.

    There were published in 1909 in fifty American magazines
    12,859,138 lines of advertising, for over 5,000 advertisers, who
    used over 25,000 different advertisements, and it is obviously
    impossible physically to tabulate complete results. But let us
    nail down certain specific examples of advertisements inserted
    in magazines, _and follow the record right through_, of the work
    they did for the postoffice, the expense they put the postoffice
    to, and the profit they brought it.

    These score or more of specific instances tell the whole story.
    Read, especially, the first instance--the complete bookkeeping
    transaction of one magazine advertisement in account with the
    United States postoffice:

    A MAGAZINE ADVERTISEMENT IN ACCOUNT WITH THE UNITED STATES POST
    OFFICE.

    In the Saturday Evening Post of November 26, 1910, was published
    a 224-line advertisement of the Review of Reviews.

    Three thousand seven hundred replies were received, 1,776 of them
    inclosing each 10 cents in first-class postage.

    The paper on which this advertisement was printed weighed
    0.132815 ounce. The half of it printed with the advertisement
    weighed 0.06640625 ounce.

    One million seventy thousand copies of the Saturday Evening
    Post were sent through the United States mails, so that the
    postoffice transported 4,440.9 pounds of this advertisement. At
    9.23 cents per pound--the pound cost of transporting and handling
    second-class matter given by the Postoffice Department--the total
    cost of giving the postoffice services to this advertisement
    was $409.90; postage paid at 1 cent a pound, $44.41; loss to
    postoffice, $365.49.

    THE POSTOFFICE’S GROSS AND NET GAIN FROM FIRST-CLASS POSTAGE CREATED.

    3,700 inquiries were received by the Review of Reviews.

    3,700 2-cent stamps for inquiries                              $74.00
    3,700 acknowledgments under 2-cent stamp                        74.00
    Six follow-ups to 3,700 inquiries under 2-cent stamps          444.00
    1,776 inquiries sent 10 cents in stamps                        177.60
    740 sales are made, each involving 12 bills and 12
      remittances, under 2-cent stamp                              355.00
    The 3,700 names of inquiries will be circulated at least
      three times a year for five years, under 2-cent stamps
      (a practical certainty of twice as many circularizations)  1,110.00
                                                                ---------
                           Total gross direct sales of 2-cent
                           stamps from advertisement            $2,234.60
    Profit of 40 per cent, according to profit percentage
      of Postmaster General on first-class postage                $893.84
    Direct loss in transporting and handling advertisement,
      cost figured at 9.23 cents a pound, income at 1 cent         365.49
                                                                  -------
                      Ultimate minimum net gain to postoffice
                      in having carried this advertisement        $528.35


    MORE SPECIFIC EXAMPLES OF PROFITABLE POSTAGE ORIGINATED BY
    MAGAZINE ADVERTISING.

    Names of concerns are withheld here. The original documents on
    which these statements rest are in the possession of the postal
    committee of the Periodical Publishers’ Association, 156 Fifth
    Avenue, New York City. These are only a few samples of hundreds
    that have come, and are printed to suggest the details of the
    methods by which national magazine advertising far more than
    pays its way when sent out through America at 1 cent a pound
    second-class postal rate.

    “MR. E. W. HAZEN, _Advertising Director_.

    “DEAR MR. HAZEN: During the year 1910 we paid the Postoffice
    Department for carrying our first, third and fourth class mail
    matter the sum of $496,749.88. We shipped during the year 1910,
    1,717,514 packages. Of these 809,781 were sent by mail and
    907,733 by express. All of these would have been sent by parcels
    post if the postal rates and regulations permitted. We paid the
    express companies for the transportation of the packages referred
    to above $347,392.30.”

    The above statement covers only mail matter sent out of this
    house. The figures given are accurate. Any statement of the
    number of pieces of mail matter which we receive would be
    approximate, but we can safely state that it was in excess of
    4,500,000 pieces of first-class mail matter. This estimate is
    entirely conservative.

    Here is another postal bill of one of the many great “mail order”
    magazine advertisers--a company which sells excellent clothing to
    women who can not come to the great cities and their department
    stores. The president of the company writes:

    “As we are a mail-order concern, our business is derived
    entirely, either directly or indirectly, from our magazine
    advertising. During the year 1909 we paid the Postoffice
    Department for carrying our first, third and fourth class mail
    matter the sum of $433,242.”

    What an advertisement in one issue of one magazine did for
    another women’s “wearing apparel” house is recorded in their
    books as follows:

    The postage required to answer the 15,000 replies from the
    one-column insertion in the magazine, also to send the
    merchandise required by 2,000 of the inquirers, also to “follow
    up” other inquirers, etc., amounted to $5,460.

    The government charge for carrying this advertisement through the
    second-class mails was $38.83.

    That $5,460, by the way, did not include the several hundred
    dollars spent on postage by the inquirers themselves.

    The president of a concern which publishes encyclopedias, natural
    histories, classics, etc., investigated the relations with the
    postoffice of a recent page of his advertising inserted in a
    single magazine, and the correspondence which resulted.

    The stamps and money orders bought by the inquirers and by the
    publishing company, as the result of the 4,000 answers to this
    one advertisement, amounted to $884.

    The publishers paid the postoffice to carry that page, at
    second-class rate, $12.

    Thus, even if it had not already been disproved that the
    second-class rate is insufficient, it would still have been
    mightily unfortunate for the department’s business if that page
    advertisement had not appeared. A good business man would be
    willing to lose several times $12 in order to do $884 worth of
    business as profitable to himself as first-class mail is to the
    government.

    Scores of apparently small advertisers are found in any issue
    of any popular magazine. They are just as good customers to the
    postoffice, in proportion, as the big concerns using columns or
    pages.


    ONE INCH--$5,492 STAMPS A YEAR.

    A modest 1-inch magazine advertisement is printed by a company,
    which reports that its yearly postage account from that cause is
    $5,132. Adding the approximate postage on the 1,500 letters a
    month sent to the company, the yearly total of postage created by
    this inconspicuous concern through the magazine is found to be
    $5,492.


    ONE-HALF INCH--$590 A MONTH.

    A half-inch magazine space is used each month by a certain
    electric manufacturing company in the Middle West, but its
    postage records show stamp purchases for a single month
    (November, 1909), resulting from that half-inch advertisement of
    $590.

    Two quarter-column announcements of a dress fabric,
      appealing to women, in a single magazine, brought 7,000
      replies, involving postage stamps worth                     $230.00
    Pretty good business getters for the department? These
      “ads” cost the publishers to mail, at second-class rates      19.40
    Even better, in proportion, was a one-fifth-column appeal
      to mothers in one issue of the same magazine. It produced
      postage to the amount of                                     240.00
    To carry the little advertisement at second-class rates
      the government charged                                         7.76
    A single-column magazine “ad” of a Chicago clothing firm,
      with a number of retail stores over the country, brought
      4,000 inquiries which, with the following up, etc.,
      caused postage of                                            380.00
    That column cost the publisher to mail, at second-class
      rates                                                         38.67
    The Woman’s Home Companion sent a letter to the advertisers
      in its November issue, asking for a memorandum of the
      letter postage on the inquiries from their November
      advertising and the answers to these inquiries.
      Seventy-five advertisers reported, with definite
      figures, an aggregate letter-postage expenditure of       $3,385.90

    The Woman’s Home Companion paid the government just $583
    for carrying that portion of the magazine on which these 75
    advertisements were printed.

    Any advertising man can point to hundreds of “mail-order firms”
    like the above. These firms can trace directly to their magazine
    advertising, every year, purchases of millions of dollars’ worth
    of the stamps that make big profits for the postoffice.

    It is even more surprising to learn the enormous postage
    bills caused by an entirely different class of magazine
    advertisers--the “general publicity,” or “national”
    advertisers--who wish the reader to ask for their fine soaps, or
    mattresses, or silks, or stationery at his local store. These
    firms do not depend on direct replies, yet they receive so many
    that thousands of dollars are spent for stamps per year in scores
    of cases--even per month in many.


    EVEN THE “GENERAL” OR “PUBLICITY” MAGAZINE ADVERTISING CREATES
    ENORMOUS STAMP SALES.

    A moderate-priced shoe is sold through a number of retail stores
    in different cities. The manufacturers advertise in magazines
    for national “publicity,” to bring buyers into these stores.
    Incidentally they mention their department to fill orders by
    mail. Thus an enormous correspondence has been built up, of which
    the average annual increase alone during the last three years
    has involved 264,000 first-class letters--a minimum postage of
    $5,280. This is simply one yearly addition to the company’s
    already first-class business, of which it writes that “all
    but a nominal percentage” has been “induced by our magazine
    advertisements.”

    More than $15,000 was spent for postage by a mattress
    manufacturer last year, “following up” inquiries received from
    his magazine advertising, though it is designed to create a
    demand for the mattress at local furniture stores.

    This $15,000 is over and above his steady correspondence with
    dealers, etc., which was built up in the first place by magazine
    advertising.

    One of the many recent “contests” conducted by magazine
    advertisers was that of a stationery company. Theirs is also
    “publicity,” not mail-order advertising. It is designed to create
    a demand for their paper over the stationery store counters.
    But their “contest” awhile ago, announced exclusively in the
    magazines, brought 59,000 replies, which, with follow-up, etc.,
    averaged 12 cents first-class postage--a total of $7,080 in one
    month.

    Here is still another “publicity” experience. In the course of
    familiarizing women with a new trade-mark for silk by means of
    magazine advertising, the manufacturers incurred postage bills,
    during the first 11 months of 1909, amounting to $7,979.75. About
    $2,000 more ought to be added to represent the stamps purchased
    by the prospective silk-dress wearers themselves.

    Another “contest,” held by a national advertiser, brought
      12,089 replies from a single insertion in one magazine, to
      handle which postage stamps had to be bought for more than  $600.00
    The publishers paid to have that page carried through the
      mails, at second-class rates                                  97.66
    A half page in one issue of another magazine brought 4,000
      letters from inquirers, which, with “follow-up,” etc.,
      meant stamp purchases                                        200.00
    The carriage of that half page at second-class rates was        25.62

    Magazine advertisements of a popular cold cream brought 170,000
    letters to the manufacturers last year, though the controlling
    purpose of the campaign was to get the public to ask for that
    kind of cold cream at the drug stores.

    Not including postal orders, special-delivery stamps, etc., the
    stamp revenue to the government from these letters was $8,500.
    And, of course, that does not include the profuse correspondence
    between the manufacturers, the jobbers, the drug stores all over
    the country, and so on.

    For another toilet preparation a single advertisement in a
      leading weekly magazine brought more than 13,000 replies.
      The stamps involved here add up to                          $990.00
    The publishers paid the postoffice to carry this
      advertisement, at the second-class rate                       48.83
    A household remedy, seen in most drug stores, was
      mentioned to the extent of one-quarter page in a single
      issue of one magazine. The requests for samples numbered
      1,685. The postage involved was                              202.20

    Another “drug store” preparation frequently brings the
    manufacturer 2,000 to 6,000 letters each month from their
    magazine advertising of it, though that is, of course, for
    “publicity,” first of all. A single insertion last fall brought
    12,000 inquiries, which created, first and last, the purchase of
    $750 in stamps.

    A system of physical culture for women put quarter pages in
    several magazines during the month of November, from which 3,905
    letters were received. In this case, the total postage, including
    follow-up and correspondence back and forth, was $1,104.09 for
    that month of November alone.

    Narrow limits would be expected in the demand for expensive
    silverage. Yet a silversmith’s two advertisements in the November
    and December magazines brought 45,000 requests for catalogues.
    These had already involved by January 13, with the following up,
    etc., a postage bill of $5,510.

    Another big postage bill was also incurred, incidentally, by a
    company which uses magazine advertising to bring buyers into drug
    stores, etc., asking for certain shaving soaps and the like.
    Still their postage bill during 1909, as a result of inquiries
    from their advertising, was $3,656.08. This does not include the
    stamps bought by the inquirers--probably $1,000 more.

    A similar soap was described in a page advertisement which,
      printed in one magazine one time, brought more than 30,000
      letters. First-class postage on them and the answers to
      them aggregated more than                                   $900.00
    The charge for carrying that page, at the second-class
      rate, was about                                              120.00


    THE LARGE STAMP PURCHASES OF ENTIRE BUSINESSES DEPEND ON MAGAZINE
    ADVERTISING.

    All the above examples are of postage sales caused by magazine
    advertising directly, in point of time. Just as directly caused
    are the sales for correspondence between manufacturer, jobber,
    retailer, agent, etc., in the many businesses that have been
    built up by magazine advertising.

    A camera company writes: “There is a magnificent revenue to the
    government through our correspondence with these dealers, through
    their correspondence with their customers, and through their
    sending our printed matter, furnished by us, at a postage cost of
    $100, and such dealer could not afford to go to this expense were
    it not for the fact that this local advertising which he does is
    backed up by our general magazine publicity.”

    This one result of magazine work is figured by the company at
    tens of thousands of dollars every year in postage.

    The postage-stamp revenue created by magazine advertising keeps
    on for months, and years even, between the advertiser and the
    consumer, in cases like correspondence schools, for instance.

    One prominent company writes that it not only spends $429 per
    month in postage, answering inquiries which themselves account
    for about $100 more, but that it enrolls per month more than
    2,200 new scholars--and every scholar, by the time he has
    received all his numerous “lessons,” etc., costs the school about
    $3.50 more in postage. Thus each month creates about $7,700 more
    in postage bills for this school, not counting nearly as much
    again which the scholars must spend.

    “Our advertising,” writes a leading investment banker, “by reason
    of names being placed on our mailing list for circulation, etc.,
    costs us several thousand dollars a year for postage, which would
    not be the case if we were not doing and had done advertising.”

    In fact, there would be little left of the department’s
    profitable postage stamp sales were the big magazine houses
    crippled. The publishers are the largest buyers of lists of names
    used for circulation. To circularize these lists many millions of
    2-cent stamps are bought every year.

    “Our entire mail order book business,” writes a Western firm,
    “has been built up through magazine advertising. Last year our
    postal bill amounted to $12,298.57. This was used on circular
    matter and letters. If the circulation of the magazines should be
    reduced, and it is our opinion that it would be if the postage
    rate should be increased, our postage bill would be reduced
    proportionately.”

There is much more to be said in support of my contention that the
advertising pages of our periodicals are their _revenue-producing pages_,
but it cannot now here be said, as I must pass to another division of our
general subject.

We have devoted most of our previous space to Mr. Hitchcock’s “rider,”
to the influences and _influencers_ that originated it and tried to
push it--by methods adroit and scrupulously unscrupulous--into federal
enactment--into operative law. At this point of our presentation of
the general subject of Postal Riders and Raiders, it was my original
intention to take up generally the _raider_ features or elements as
planned for discussion in this volume. I intended to start just here to
discuss the Postoffice Department “deficit,” of which Mr. Hitchcock has
had so much to say--and of which he made voluminous and eloquent use
during his efforts to bring his “rider” a safe winner under the wire. I
intended, as just said, to begin to write about the postal “deficit” just
here--a deficit _which never had real existence_, since the days of the
“pony post” and “mail coach,” save in quasi form--in methods covering
political lootage and looters.

Well, I have changed my original plan a little. I’ll run a few lines
through that “deficit”--twaddle-talk, a little further on. Here I will
merely repeat what I have already said, in substance at least.

There never has been a postal deficit since the period I have indicated,
save deficits created by official crooks and crookedness, by “interests”
which _hired_ the official crooks and bought the crookedness, and by
department accounting methods which would put Standard Oil or a Western
cow ranch on the financial blink inside of thirty-six months, or even in
twelve.

We will discuss this artistic “deficit” later. Here I now desire to
advert to, and animadvert on, another point which has been brought
forcibly to my attention recently--weeks, some two months, after I
climbed up here to take a look over the general situation, and then
chanced, through the aid of a Congressman friend, to get my distance
glasses focused on this postoffice foolery.

Foolery, I have written. I was wrong. There was no foolery about it. It
was a _calculated, a studied, a cold-blooded partisan stab at one of the
greatest and most helpful--most up-building--industries in this country_.

But we will let that point and the “deficit” rest for the present. It
appears that one of Mr. Hitchcock’s much-worked arguments to harvest or
glean votes for his rider amendment was that the amendment would “affect
only a few magazine publishers,” or that “only a few magazine publishers,
at most, would be affected by the amendment and that they had _enriched_
themselves by the special privilege granted by the second-class mail rate
statute of 1885,” etc., etc.

Various newspapers quoted Mr. Hitchcock variously on the same point or
to the same end, and two Congressmen acquaintances reported that he had
personally talked to them along the same lines.

Only a “_few magazine publishers_” would be affected by legislation of
the character recommended in the rider amendment? That is the point I
desire here and now to consider. I hope the reader will go carefully and
thoughtfully through the consideration with me.

First it may be said, and safely admitted, that no such legislation as
that recommended in the “rider” previously discussed, would be sustained
_by any court in this country_, unless its wording was so modified as
to make its requirements and restrictions apply _to all periodicals_,
or at least to all monthly and weekly periodicals. Even then, it is
doubtful if any court could be found to sustain such a piece of class or
special legislation unless its terms were broadened to cover newspapers,
so numerously and so aggressively are the latter trenching upon what
is generally recognized as the weekly and monthly periodical field of
effort, influence and usefulness.

I think that any informed, fair-minded reader will agree that that
statement is a fair statement of governing facts, unless we question
the honesty of our courts in the discharge of their judicial duties or
question the juridic honesty of some member or members of the ruling
court.

That may read like a blunt or offensive way of putting it. But we are not
writing of a Palm Beach twilight party nor of a Newport frolic. We are
writing of and _to_ a serious subject--a subject which vitally touches
and trenches into the vital interests of ninety millions of people--the
ninety millions who are the blood and bone and sinew of this nation of
ours. It is a subject of such grave import as to make it necessary that
we call a spade a spade, a thief a thief, a scoundrel a scoundrel, and
judicial weakness, judicial _treachery_.

That is why I put, plain and strong, the point that _no court_ could be
found in this country to sustain legislation of the character covered in
Mr. Hitchcock’s “rider” amendment to the 1911 postoffice appropriation
bill, and that every informed, fair-minded man must concur in the
statements that I have made in the three or four preceding paragraphs.

That “rider” amendment would “affect only a few magazine publishers,”
says Mr. Hitchcock, or as he is reported to have said.

Now, let us look over the field a little. Let us make an honest,
intelligent effort--an effort not warped by political hopes and
aspirations nor by _personal prejudices and interests_--to see who or
whom would be affected by such special or class legislation.

First, the reader must get a mental hip-lock or strangle-hold on the
fact that the second-class mail _business_ of this country--the output
of periodical publishers--in marketed values, is somewhere around _one
billion dollars a year_.

As has previously been stated, and I believe well sustained by the
facts, no business, however well established, can stand an increase of
300 per cent in the haulage and delivery cost of its output without
sustaining great financial loss. The fair-minded reader will, I believe,
agree that the publishers in presenting their case to Mr. Hitchcock, to
the Penrose-Overstreet and other commissions, proved the truth of that
statement quite conclusively.

Well, if that be true, legislation of the sort proposed in the Hitchcock
“rider” must necessarily, after adjudication, put all the lesser weeklies
and monthlies (those not financially strong) out of business. Likewise
hundreds of the smaller newspapers must discontinue issue. Of course,
Mr. Hitchcock prattled about the newspapers not being affected by his
proposed amendment. But, as previously stated, no court of justice in
this country would sustain such a biased, prejudiced piece of class
legislation as that proposed in the “rider.”



CHAPTER VIII.

WHO ARE AFFECTED.


Let us see who really would be affected.

As just cited there necessarily would be thousands of periodical
publishers affected--virtually ruined. But, let us go down to things
elemental in this question--_down to the stumpage_.

The great educational white way of our periodical literature is builded
upon _wood pulp_.

In an opening paragraph of this volume I adverted to that fact. The chief
pulp woods are spruce of the North--even of the distant North--and the
Northwest. Then come cottonwood, basswood and soft maple, of the South,
Southeast and New England. Of course, there are several other kinds of
pulpwoods, but they are not used extensively for the manufacture of
white paper, unless chemically treated, and such treatment makes them
expensive. Of the pulpwoods I have named, spruce is far and away the most
extensively used. From spruce is produced the best pulp. In “milling,” it
shows body, fiber, strength--it gives toughness to the milled sheet or
the Web roll.

But that is enough. I am not an expert in pulp-wood stocks. The point I
am trying to call to the reader’s attention is that _any legislation_
which cuts down the consumption of wood pulp must necessarily “affect”
some other folks besides “a few magazine publishers.”

First, a just adjudication of such a piece of legislation as that
proposed in Mr. Hitchcock’s rider amendment would put from thirty to
fifty per cent of our weaker (but excellent) periodicals on the financial
rocks--put them out of business. They consume thousands of tons yearly of
pulp-wood paper.

It will, I think, be freely admitted that such periodicals would be out
of--_forced out of_--the pulp-wood market--I mean out of the wood-pulp
paper market, which amounts to the same thing.

But that is not all. The strong weeklies and monthlies are not going
to be put out of business by legislation of that rider character. They
will continue in business. They will meet its unjust exactions by
readjustments. They are printing on sixty to eighty pound stock. Some
parts of their periodicals are printed on even heavier stock. They will
go to the paper mills and demand _lighter_ stock, of special finish--_and
their demands will be met_--and fifty to sixty pound stock will be used.
The special finish will give the reader just as presentable a magazine,
typographically, as he now receives.

But you observe that the _publisher_ will be saving from twenty to fifty
per cent in _stock weight_.

You will also observe that the paper mills will be using twenty to fifty
per cent less wood pulp than they are now using.

You will also observe that the railroads will haul twenty to fifty per
cent less of pulp timber and less wood-pulp paper than they now haul.

“Only a few magazine publishers will be affected,” eh?

Let us “recast” as far as we have gone.

The owners of pulp wood acres or stumpage would be affected, would they
not? There are probably three to five hundred of them in the country,
taken at a low estimate.

They are not of the “few magazine publishers” are they?

Pulp mill and other investors in pulp-wood stumpage seldom buy until
they have an estimate by some skilled judge as to the probable “cut”
the acreage will yield. For this purpose the prospective purchasers
usually employ one or more “timber cruisers.” A timber cruiser is a man
so skilled and experienced that he can look at a standing tree and tell
you within a hundred feet or so how much lumber it will saw or how many
cords of pulp or other wood it will cut. He “steps off” an acre, sizes
up the available trees growing on the acre, averaging up the large trees
with the small ones, and then estimates or calculates the _average_ wood
or lumber growth on that acre. He then goes off to some other acre.
The latter may be only a few hundred yards or it may be a mile or two
from the acres last measured, the estimate on which the “cruiser” has
carefully noted in his “field book.”

The second acre he “works” as he did the first, and so the “cruiser” goes
on with acre after acre through a forest of ten, fifty, a hundred, or it
may be a million or more acres of “stumpage,” always careful to note the
“light” and the “heavy” timbered sections, and marks with a sharp, shrewd
and experienced eye an estimate of the number of acres covered by the
light and the heavy growth of timber. When he has covered the acreage his
employer contemplates buying, he comes back to civilization, turns in his
field book and makes a report to the boss. On that showing the boss buys
or declines.

Sometimes, of course, the careful, prudent boss may have two, three or
a dozen cruisers, covering different fields of a vast forest section
and, sometimes, virtually _trailing_ each other. In the latter case, the
buyer seeks to use one cruiser’s estimate as a check on the other. In any
event, however, the purchase or investment is usually made on the showing
the cruisers have made.

Now, this talk about timber, cruisers, etc., may be uninteresting to the
reader. I sincerely hope, though, he will read it and follow me along
the same lines a little further. My object is to show how wide of the
truth--how unjustly or ignorantly wide of the truth--Mr. Hitchcock was
when making the statement, which it has been repeatedly and reputably
asserted he did make, to the effect that the legislation he sought
would “affect only a few magazine publishers.” I have stated, and have
given what I believe to be sound, valid reasons in support of the
statement, that legislation of the nature, covered by his rider amendment
ultimately--_and necessarily_--must be either annulled by the courts or
be so broadened as to remove its special or class features. Of course,
Mr. Hitchcock wanted--_and he still wants_--legislation of the nature
indicated in that rider to become _operative law_. It is my belief he
entertained such hope and desire when he asserted that an enactment of
the character of his rider would “affect only a few magazine publishers.”
At any rate, it was with such belief I introduced this division of our
general subject.

As previously stated, legislation of the character sought by Mr.
Hitchcock cannot be enacted into operative law _without cutting down the
consumption of wood pulp from thirty to fifty per cent_.

Such a cut in consumption, I am here trying to show, cannot be made
without affecting the earnings and lives of men--many thousands of men
and families--who cannot even be imagined as of those “few magazine
publishers.”

When the stumpage owner decides to cut five, ten, fifty, a hundred or
more thousand acres for milling, another gang of men--“road blazers”--is
sent into the forest. If the transportation is to be by water, some
river or smaller stream, these latter men select suitable roll-ways and
boom yardages along the stream. From each of these they “blaze” or mark
the trees and smaller growths to be felled and the obstructions to be
removed in order to provide a haulage roadway--usually providing for both
wagons and snow sleds or sledges. If the transportation is to be by rail,
corresponding work is done, the roadways branching in from the forest to
the rail sidings where the loading is to be done. Not infrequently “spur
tracks” are blazed which sometimes run for miles into the forest away
from the main line of the railway.

Following these men who mark out the “haulways,” come a far more numerous
body of men with axes, saws, hooks, oxen, mules and other equipment,
including cooks, “grub” and other things necessary to feed and shelter
them. These, also, are factors--elemental or primal factors--in the
production of wood-pulp from which most of our white paper is made.
Numerically they, in the aggregate, number thousands.

Most certainly they cannot be counted among the “few magazine publishers”
referred to by Mr. Hitchcock.

With equal certainty it can be said that _each_ of these thousands would
be materially affected in his industrial occupation by any legislation or
other influence which caused a shrinkage in the demand for wood-pulp.

In the fall and winter of the year (sometimes in other seasons as well),
an army of men--not thousands, but tens of thousands in number--swarm
into the pulp wood forests. They are axemen, “fiddlers” (cross-cut
sawyers,) foremen, gang foremen, ox drivers, mule drivers, horse drivers.
Here also is again found the cook, the “pot cleaner,” the “grub slinger”
and other servers of subsistence to the “timber jackies” of the various
camps.

Any material reduction in the consumption of wood-pulp would affect them,
would it not?

None of them publish magazines, do they?

This brings us down to the pulp mill. Of course each mill has a hundred
or more men employed getting its wood floated down the rivers or streams
during the spring floods, or “freshets,” if their transportation is
by water. They are log “berlers”, “jam” breakers, shore “canters,”
“boomers,” etc. If their working stock comes by rail, there are
“loaders,” “unloaders,” “yarders,” etc. Then come in the thousands of
mill men, engaged on the work of reducing the wood to pulp. If the pulp
mill has not a paper mill in immediate connection, as often happens,
then the railroad is immediately interested in the reduced tonnage haul,
and likewise every man who works for the railroad becomes interested
industrially.

Even a triple-expansion brained man could not figure these thousands of
industrial workers into the ranks of those “few magazine publishers” whom
Mr. Hitchcock, it is asserted, _repeatedly_ asserted, would alone be
affected by his urgently urged amendment.

Next, we reach the paper mill. How many thousands of men are employed by
them, I do not know. Of the many other thousands--wives and children who
are dependent upon those workers for clothing, shelter and subsistence--I
cannot make even a worthy guess. The reader can make as dependable an
estimate as I, probably a more dependable one. But readers will unitedly
agree that all these thousands of workmen, wives and children would be
affected by _any_ reduction in the consumption of wood-pulp paper.

All readers will also agree that no one of these is a magazine publisher.

Thus far we have seen, in considering the “reach” of Mr. Hitchcock’s
recommended legislation, that it would have affected the earnings and
the lives of many thousands of our people--people who cannot, in even
perfervid imagination, be classed among his “few magazine publishers.”
In this connection, however, should be noted the fact that when the
paper leaves the paper mills, with the thousands dependent upon their
operation and success, the paper proper passes into the custody of the
transportation companies--railroad and water--chiefly the former--and of
the thousands of operatives they employ. Next comes the thousands engaged
in the cartage interests in cities throughout the country, wherever
printing is done. In cities of the first and second classes there is
usually found a division of the cartage interest which confines its
service almost exclusively to the work of carting paper from car, depot,
dock or warehouse to the printing plant which consumes it.

Here, then, in the last two classes named, must be found several
thousands more workmen who would necessarily be adversely affected by
a shrinkage of thirty to fifty per cent in the pulp wood cut. Those
thousands, mark you, do not include the thousands of women and children
dependent upon the earnings of those workmen. Yet they would necessarily
be affected by any shrinkage in wood-pulp consumption.

And again it must be admitted by every man--and _will_ be admitted by
any man with as much brains as directs the activities of any lively
angleworm--that none of the thousands here mentioned are magazine
publishers. None of them could possibly be of the “few magazine
publishers” referred to by Mr. Hitchcock.

So far we have touched upon only the _elements of production_. While the
people employed in the several divisions of the pulp-wood industry may
run, numerically, into many tens of thousands, in the great division of
the printing trades, they run into _the hundreds of thousands_. I refer
to the great printing and publishing trades--the trades which turn the
pulp paper into periodicals and books--_the trades whose work directly
educates us_.

Before attempting to designate the various divisions of this class,
or to indicate the vast multitude--both men and women--to whom they
give employment, I desire to present a few quotations, showing that
these trades and these hundreds of thousands of employes are, in the
slang language of the street, “onto” not only the controlling--the
_ulterior_--motives of Mr. Hitchcock but also that they know and
understand and _feel_ something of the _far-reaching wreck and ruin to
homes and to lives which legislation of the nature he proposed must bring
to this industrial division of our general citizenship_.

Under date of May 20, 1911, Mr. M. H. Madden wrote me the following
letter. While Mr. Madden may not be as widely known as is Postmaster
General Hitchcock, he not having had the advantage of a federal cabinet
position to broadcast his fame, there are few men better known among the
personnel of the printing trades than is Mr. Madden, and equally few men
there are who are better informed on the cost of carriage, handling and
distribution of second-class mail.

In this letter Mr. Madden speaks particularly of the _alleged_ Postoffice
Department “deficit.” While this much-talked of “deficit” is made the
subject of a short subsequent chapter, Mr. Madden’s letter presents
several other points trenchantly pertinent to the subject we are now
considering, to-wit: that the printing trades--all branches and classes
of it, from the pressfeeder and bindery girl to the shop superintendent
and publisher--are alive to the dangers with which legislation of the
“rider” character is fraught:

                                                CHICAGO, May 20, 1911.

    MY DEAR MR. GANTZ--For a considerable time President Taft has
    directed attention to a supposed deficit in the Postoffice
    Department revenues, he accepting the figures of his Postmaster
    General that the amount of the shortage for 1909 was above
    $17,000,000, while that for 1910 was cut down to less than
    $6,000,000.

    An authorized statement by Mr. Hitchcock, sent out on May 27,
    1911, declares that for the six months of 1911 there is a surplus
    in postal receipts ranging from $1,000,000 to $3,000,000. With
    the fact kept in view that there have been increases in expenses
    in many directions and the further fact that second-class mail
    tonnage, on which great losses occur--according to the Hitchcock
    plan of keeping books--has increased, the manifest inconsistency
    involved in Mr. Hitchcock’s discovery is too transparent to
    permit of discussion.

    Factors which have been left out of the reckoning, among others
    might be mentioned the progressive increased amount of business
    of the postal department, with but slight advance in the
    percentage of cost for transacting the same; a general agitation
    for better service on the part of the public which awakened the
    authorities to a fuller responsibility of their duty, and the
    important circumstance that there has been a new alignment of the
    House and Senate Committees on Postoffices and Postroads, has
    caused a moving-up process, we might say shaking-up process, in
    methods that sadly needed furbishing and of ideas that required
    practical demonstration. The effect of improving the system of
    transmitting the postal funds promptly to the national treasury
    instead of leaving the same to accumulate in the common centers,
    where they were earned, is seen by the immediate wiping out of
    the need for a balance of $10,000,000 with which to do business.
    Such an ancient method of conducting postal business would
    probably do in the period when the pyramids were built, but that
    system had finally to surrender, it being too archaic for even
    the Postoffice Department to adopt.

In a communication to me under date of August 9th, 1911, Mr. Madden gives
expression to the following very informative statements:

    In connection with the Hughes postal inquiry I would like to
    inform you of the _total addition_ to the expense of conducting
    the Postoffice Department which became effective July 1, 1911.
    You may avail yourself of these facts in your argument, as they
    are official, orders having been issued by Postmaster General
    Hitchcock for these additional expenditures.

    The sum of $1,200,000 is to be devoted to increases in the
    salaries of postoffice clerks during the current year, while
    $600,000 of an increase will go to city letter carriers. The
    railway mail clerks will get an increase of only $175,000, making
    an addition to the salaries of the three groups of $1,975,000.
    When the rural route carriers get their increase of $4,000,000 it
    will mean _an addition_ to the four groups of the stupendous sum
    of $5,975,000 to the annual total. The figures are calculated to
    startle the ordinary observer, especially when there has been so
    much music about deficits.

On August 15th, 1911, Mr. M. H. Madden, as Secretary of the Independent
Postal League, wrote the Hon. Daniel A. Campbell, Postmaster of Chicago,
a lengthy and strong letter, in response to the latter’s request for
copies of former issues of the league’s bulletins. I have a copy of
that letter before me and shall take the liberty to quote a few of its
relevant paragraphs.

After explaining the reasons why it was impossible for him to furnish
Postmaster Campbell a file of the league’s bulletins, Mr. Madden
continues:

    “For myself I have given second-class postage problems some
    study, have written articles concerning the subject, and have
    addressed many organizations interested, in various portions of
    the country. In this connection I appeared before President Taft
    as a representative of the printing trades with President George
    L. Berry of the International Printing Pressmen’s Union on Feb.
    23 last. We protested against the raise to 4 cents a pound on
    advertising pages in the magazines. As a result of our work,
    more than 10,000 telegrams of protest were sent to Senators and
    members of the House from organized labor men. Two weeks later a
    certain ‘rider’ was thrown in the Senate. The Hughes commission
    of inquiry into the cost of handling second-class matter was
    then created. In one way and another this movement has been kept
    somewhat active.

    “Some weeks ago the editors of union labor publications of the
    country met in Chicago and formed an association to continue this
    work, the Independent Postal League being thereby relieved of the
    task of instructing working people concerning the subject, the
    League turning over to the editors, the data it had, consisting
    of documents, official reports, etc.

    “President Gompers of the American Federation of Labor and
    President Woll of the International Photo-Engravers’ Union
    were furnished with material to present before the sessions of
    the Hughes Commission. The National Typothetæ to convene in
    Denver will also use data supplied by the League, as will the
    International Typographical Union at San Francisco; also the
    American Federation of Labor at its annual meeting at Atlanta, Ga.

    “In this country there are 2,000,000 organized workingmen
    affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and 500,000 who
    are unaffiliated. These are opposed to a raise in postage and
    have so declared. In the printing trades there are more than
    400,000 of the best paid artisans in the world and these are
    working in opposition to a raise, and since they produce almost
    a billion dollars’ worth of printing each year their protest is
    worth listening to.

    “As workingmen we cannot approve of the inconsistency shown by
    having a pressman produce a periodical in Canada and sending it
    through the mails at ¼ cent a pound, while his brother pressman
    in the United States would be forced to pay four cents a pound
    for the same service. And the “Canuck” can certainly do it at a
    profit. Here is where a little ‘reciprocity’ juice would taste
    nectar-like for the Uncle Sam pressman. For several years our
    big postoffice officials have been telling the American people
    it cost more than 9 cents a pound to haul second-class mail.
    In Canada there is a population of 8,000,000 served by 25,000
    miles of railway, while in our country we have 90,000,000 people
    and 246,000 miles of railroads. In the United States we print
    500 periodicals to one printed in the Dominion. The merits
    of the question are so obvious that there is no chance for a
    controversy; in fact there can be no dispute on a matter so
    plain.”

Now, see here, I do not want to burden you--you, the reader--with
quotations. I have not done so save when the quotations covered the
point--our point--better than I could cover it myself. I write up to
a point to the best of my ability, and then, if I have at hand some
authority--some more _conclusive_ and better told statement than I can
make myself, I hand it to you.

So please do not skip the quotations in this book. The _meat_ of it is in
the _quoted_ matter, not in what I have said or may say. That is why I
desire to quote further just here.

Under date of May 16, 1911, Mr. Hitchcock wrote over the signature of
his Second Assistant, Joseph Stewart, the following letter, addressed
“To Publishers.” Whether or not it was sent to publishers in general or
only to “certain monthly and semi-monthly periodicals,” I do not know. I
reprint it here as evidence for the reader in proof of the tendency, or
policy, of Mr. Hitchcock to exercise bureaucratic powers in administering
the official service of his office--_powers not given him by law_.

I reprint also for the purpose of showing, by two or three following
quotations, how closely Mr. Hitchcock’s official acts are being scanned
by the printing trades and how clearly and how _justly_ they estimate the
results and the trade and industrial effects of such action.

The letter signed by Mr. Stewart follows:

                                                   POSTOFFICE DEPARTMENT,
                                     SECOND ASSISTANT POSTMASTER GENERAL,
                                          WASHINGTON, D. C., May 16, 1911

    Publisher, Practical Engineer, Chicago, Ill.:

    SIR:--Arrangements are being made by the Postoffice Department
    to transport, after June 30, 1911, _certain_ monthly and
    semi-monthly periodical second-class mail matter for _certain_
    states by fast freight to a number of central distributing
    points, from which points distribution and delivery will be made
    by mail as at present.

    This method of transportation necessarily being somewhat slower
    than the present method of carriage of mail throughout, it
    becomes necessary for publishers to rearrange their mailing
    schedules to allow an earlier delivery to the postoffice of mail
    for the states to be so transported, in order that delivery to
    subscribers may be made at approximately the same time as at
    present.

    It is believed that an advance in mailing dates of from _three_
    to _six_ days will provide the necessary margin to offset
    the slower movement, and your co-operation to that extent is
    solicited.

    Specific information relative to the _states affected_ and the
    time of advance mailing will be furnished at an early date. Any
    further information desired relative to this matter will be given
    and any assistance in completing arrangements gladly supplied.

    The favor of an early reply is requested.

                           Very respectfully,

                             JOSEPH STEWART,
                  Second Assistant Postmaster General.

The foregoing letter brought a flood of protests in reply. Why should
it not? Why does Mr. Hitchcock, as is evidenced by the letter of his
Second Assistant, seek to make such an unjust discrimination among
periodicals--a discrimination directly contravening _the basic principle
of our government_?

Among the replies Mr. Stewart received was one, a copy of which follows:

                                                CHICAGO, May 22, 1911.

    Hon. Joseph Stewart, Second Assistant Postmaster General,
    Washington, D. C.

    DEAR SIR.--We acknowledge receipt of your favor of the 16th,
    and regret that an early reply, as requested, is but partially
    possible at present.

    You tell us unequivocally, if we interpret your letter correctly,
    that our Postoffice Department in rendering service to
    subscribers will discriminate against monthly and semi-monthly
    periodicals after June 30th; that certain publications of a
    class, issued weekly, will be favored with through mail service,
    and that other publications of the same character and class,
    issued semi-monthly or monthly, shall be rendered freight
    service, and no differential rate provided.

    It is unfortunate that a distinction directly affecting the
    majority of the people could not have been arbitrated, and
    thereby avoided a period of distress.

                           Yours, very truly,

                       CHICAGO TRADE PRESS ASS’N,
                               E. R. SHAW,
                               President.

Another reply follows. It is from the Chicago Printing Trades, an
organization which Mr. Madden, previously quoted, represented at
Washington in his conference with President Taft and senators and members
of the House.

    To Postmaster General Hitchcock:--

    The various branches of labor engaged in the production of
    printing in Chicago number more than 50,000 highly skilled
    artisans and their annual output is more than $100,000,000.
    These well-paid working people declare--they knowing it to
    be a statement based on truth--that the contemplated change
    in the method of distributing their product will interfere
    disadvantageously with their opportunity for employment, and
    they respectfully appeal to the postal authorities to pause in
    installing a system that is calculated to work great harm to
    their industry. Their united, emphatic protest is entered against
    what they feel to be an unwise and unnecessary hampering of their
    industry and they ask that their appeal be heard on the justice
    of their claim.

    In distributing regular publications through the mails the factor
    of time is most valuable, and to inaugurate a slower schedule
    would greatly reduce the current value of periodicals and curtail
    the influence which these publications now wield. We respectfully
    direct attention to the injury which the owners of publications
    would sustain through curtailment of their earning power, as this
    would at once operate adversely to labor. In fact the severest
    effect would reach the toiler.

    As well-paid, organized workingmen we respectfully call attention
    to the policy of protection which has enabled our country to
    flourish almost uninterruptedly for a half-century, and in behalf
    of this wise system we ask that no unnecessary interference
    with our trade be inaugurated by those to whom we look with
    expectation to forward our welfare as industrious citizens.

    In common with other industries, business in the publishing
    lines is far from flourishing, and, while our rate of wages is
    conceded, we recognize that anything which interferes with the
    profits and success of employers will immediately react upon our
    opportunity for employment. It is upon this basis that we plead,
    and we ask you, as head of the Postoffice Department, that you
    forego instituting the system of distributing the semi-monthly
    and monthly publications by freight, and continue the present
    method of rapid-mail service.

    Labor’s voice is raised in earnest plea for what it considers
    itself competent to speak upon, and with the hope that you will
    aid in maintaining for us our present conditions, which we esteem
    necessary for our welfare and the welfare of those depending upon
    us, we leave the question in your hands.

                           MICHAEL H. MADDEN,
                  Secretary Independent Postal League.

I am presenting just here, only local protests--Chicago protests. Similar
objections were heard from all parts of the country. The Chicago protest,
however, would not be complete unless we presented the resolutions
adopted by Typographical Union No. 16, at a regular meeting held July 30,
1911. It applies both to the proposed increase in second-class postage
rates and to Mr. Hitchcock’s unjust discrimination in distributing
periodicals:

    WHEREAS, It is a fundamental economic truth that anything which
    tends to unduly and unjustly raise the cost of distributing the
    product of labor reduces the opportunity for employment of those
    concerned in the industry thus affected, and indirectly becomes
    a menace to all industry, Chicago Typographical Union No. 16,
    embracing a membership of more than 4,000 skilled craftsmen,
    takes this method of entering its emphatic protest against any
    increase in the rate for second-class mail matter; and,

    WHEREAS, The proposed routing of semi-monthly and monthly
    publications by fast freight instead of by the regular fast mail
    service is manifestly unjust and is a flagrant discrimination
    against our product, this organization further condemns those
    who contemplate this pernicious innovation, and we submit that
    the installation of this system by the Postoffice Department is
    not only inimical to our welfare as workingmen but will work
    incalculable injury to the publishing interests of the entire
    country; and,

    WHEREAS, These propositions of the Postoffice Department deserve
    only the strongest condemnation, and as a means of making this
    protest effective, we hereby invite the working people of the
    United States to unite with us in a movement having for its
    purpose the overhauling and readjustment of the postal affairs
    of this country, to the end that the service may become one
    of greater convenience to our people and be an instrument
    of promotion to the industries of our country instead of a
    leaden handicap on our industrial progress and the educational
    improvement of all the people; therefore, be it,

    _Resolved_, That for the protection of the printing industry we
    hereby instruct our delegates to the next annual convention of
    the International Typographical Union to propose the following
    for the consideration of that body, and they are hereby
    instructed to support the indorsement of the same by the said
    International Typographical Union convention:

    _Resolved_, That the International Typographical Union
    emphatically opposes any advance in the rate of postage on
    second-class mail matter, and that it condemns the proposed
    method of distributing semi-monthly and monthly periodicals
    by fast freight instead of by the regular fast mail, to the
    facilities of which they are entitled under the law, because they
    pay for the same.

The foregoing quotations are sufficient to show that the printing trades
of the nation are awake to the industrial significance of legislation of
the Hitchcock “rider” nature, likewise that they are equally wideawake
to the purpose of Mr. Hitchcock--ulterior or other--in his attempt to
_stealth_ such legislation into operative law.

How many people are employed in the printing trades in this country? I do
not know.

In Chicago alone there are, at a safe estimate, not less than 40,000. A
representative of the organized pressmen of New York before the Postal
Commission testified that there were 12,000 pressmen in New York City and
that _six thousand of these_ were employed on presses which print monthly
and weekly magazines.

I have no later statistics by me than a 1905 report touching the number
of men and women employed in the printing trades in this country. From
the figures given for 1905, however, it may be conservatively stated that
the number of persons in this nation who today are earning their shelter,
apparel and subsistence (not counting the office or clerical forces)
in our great printing and publishing industries is somewheres around
400,000. If the counting-room and general office forces are included the
total number--not counting owners or publishers--will reach at least
450,000.

Now, if we total the people who would be affected by legislation which
must force a shrinkage of from 30 to 50 per cent in the consumption of
wood pulp paper, counting from the timber cruisers to the publication
counting-rooms, we shall find that total to be not less than
700,000--probably 800,000. And, mark you, you fair-minded, conscientious
reader, that total does not include the wives and children dependent upon
the vast army of men employed in our printing industries--dependent for
shelter, clothing and food. If they are counted, the figures I have just
given must be doubled--probably tripled.

So, there must be not less than two, probably _two and a half_, millions
of people,--men, women, wives and children--who would be affected by
legislation of the Hitchcock “rider” character.

It is needless, but I must still point out that not _one_ of these
millions of industrial _earners_ nor their dependents who would be
injuriously, if indeed not disastrously affected, by legislation of
the nature Mr. Hitchcock is so persistently, if not _unscrupulously_,
pressing to force into operative law, _is a magazine publisher_.

Most certain is it that none of this vast multitude of our industrial
citizens and their dependents can be thought of, nor even imagined, as
being counted among those “few magazine publishers” who, Mr. Hitchcock
is reported to have repeatedly asserted, would alone be affected by his
proposed harsh, discriminating and, therefore, unjust legislation.



CHAPTER IX.

MR. HITCHCOCK STILL AFTER THE MAGAZINES.


I have previously intimated that Mr. Hitchcock is still devoting
himself to forcing his _ulterior_ motive into operation, either as law
or department ruling. In evidence of this I shall here quote from his
address or addresses before the Hughes Commission. This Commission was
created in the closing hours of the last session of Congress--created as
a sort of cushion or pad in order that his _unconstitutional_ “rider”
might take its cropper without breaking any bones or painfully lacerating
the _official_ feelings of Mr. Hitchcock. This Hughes Commission convened
in New York City, August 1, 1911. Following is Mr. Hitchcock’s opening
address before it, as reported by the New York Times, August 2. The
italics are the writers:--

    Postmaster General Hitchcock opened for the department. He said
    his study of the postage rate problem had led him to believe
    that certain fundamental principles of administration, almost
    new to the Postoffice Department at present, should be closely
    adhered to. These included _the operation of the service on a
    self-supporting basis_, maintained by imposing such charges as
    would yield an income equal to the expenses. They included, also,
    he said, such an adjustment of the postage charges _as would
    make each class of mail matter pay for its own handling, and no
    more_. He would further have the levying of postage rates made on
    the basis of _the average cost of handling and carriage for the
    country as a whole_, and, finally, postal laws should be enacted
    so definite in character as to be easy of interpretation and
    susceptible of uniform enforcement.

    Mr. Hitchcock stated in this connection that when the books for
    the fiscal year of 1911 are closed _they will show for the first
    time in many years a surplus of postal funds_, and he hoped that
    this condition would become permanent. Mr. Hitchcock opposed
    any new classification of mail matter at this time, saying the
    present classification could be made to include all matter
    now admissible, and he doubted the expediency of attempting
    a revision. He then sought to set forth the large share
    second-class matter has in the burdens of the department, and the
    _small percentage it pays of the total cost or even of its own
    cost_.

    “During 1910,” he said, “there were carried in the mail
    8,310,164,623 pieces of first-class mail, consisting of letters,
    other sealed matter, and postal cards. This mail averaged in
    weight 0.35 of an ounce a piece, making 45.1 pieces to the
    pound. The cost of handling and carriage for this mail was
    $86,792,511.35, an _average of 47 cents a pound_, while the
    postage charge was $154,796,668.08, leaving a clear profit of
    $68,004,156.73.

    “During the same year there were carried 4,336,259,864 pieces
    of second-class matter, newspapers and other periodical
    publications, averaging 3.33 ounces a piece, or 4.8 pieces to the
    pound. The cost of handling and carriage was $80,791,615.03, or a
    _little less than 9 cents a pound_, while the postage return was
    only $10,607,271.02, leaving a _total loss of_ $70,184,344.01.

    “From a review of the rates provided for the several classes
    of mail, it will be observed that in comparison with the
    cent-a-pound charge for second-class matter the rate on
    third-class matter is 700 per cent. higher; that on fourth-class
    matter 1,500 per cent. higher, and that on letter and other
    first-class matter 3,100 per cent. higher. While it is true
    that _the expense of handling and carrying second-class mail is
    less than for any other class_, due to the size and weight of
    single pieces, to relief from the cancellation of stamps, and
    to the fact that a considerable part of the bagging, sorting,
    and labeling in the offices of origin is done by the publishers,
    nevertheless a charge of 1 cent a pound covers but a small
    fraction of the actual cost.[6]

    “The present self-supporting condition of the service is
    made possible only by the fact that other classes of mail,
    _particularly the first-class, are excessively taxed to make up
    the loss caused by the inadequate charge on the second-class_.
    This will be better understood when it is noted that although
    first-class matter comprised during the fiscal year 1910 only
    13.4 per cent. of all the revenue-producing domestic mail, it
    yielded a net profit of $68,004,156.73, while second-class
    matter, comprising 65.6 per cent. of all the revenue-producing
    domestic mail, yielded but $10,607,271.02, leaving the tremendous
    loss of $70,184,344.01. Thus the deficit caused by the heavy loss
    on the handling and carriage of second-class matter was greater
    than the profit obtained from first-class matter.”

    Mr. Hitchcock here made a plea for equalization of the rate on
    second-class matter on the ground that it would at once make
    possible the reduction of letter postage from 2 cents to 1 cent
    an ounce. This reduction would come about from the fact, he
    said, that the present profit in handling first-class matter was
    approximately equal to the loss sustained in the transportation
    of second-class mail.

    Mr. Hitchcock said, however, that he did not believe that the
    rate for second-class mail should be at once advanced to where
    _it would cover the cost of handling and carriage, although that
    should be the ultimate end in view_.

    “For the present,” said he, “_an increase of only one cent a
    pound is recommended_, thus making a flat rate of 2 cents a
    pound, which should be regarded as merely tentative, however,
    leaving for future determination such _additional increase as may
    be found necessary to meet the cost_.”

    The Postmaster General served notice on the commission that if by
    any chance it should see fit to recommend the continuance of the
    present rate--a “merely nominal postage rate,” he called it--his
    department could not consistently do otherwise than renew _its
    recommendation for a higher rate of postage on the advertising
    portions of magazines_.

I need make no comment on that address beyond the comment implied in
the phrases and wording I have marked for italics. That Mr. Hitchcock
still purposes to “put over” the injustices covered in his Senate rider
amendment to the postoffice appropriation bill is made baldly clear. That
he still is working that “deficit” as a sort of “come-on” to his purpose
is equally clear. And the ridiculous, if not ludicrous, feature of this
talk before the commission is that it comes _after_ he has demonstrated
and publicly announced that _there is no deficit in the Postoffice
Department for the fiscal year, 1910-11_.

As Mr. M. H. Madden states in a letter to me, printed on a previous page,
Mr. Hitchcock reports a profit of _one to three million dollars_ for the
fiscal year named.

Later, if I remember rightly, he discovered a stealage--pardon me, I mean
he discovered an “excess”--of from $9,000,000 to $14,000,000 in railway
mail pay.

Just in this connection I wish to say that Mr. Hitchcock is deserving of
the praise and commendation of every one of us American citizens for the
aggressive way in which he has cut down expenditures in his department
_without impairing its service_. Also is he deserving of equal praise
and commendation from us for his vigorous and fairly successful methods
of going after that railway mail haulage steal, which has been going
on for a time to which the younger generation of our citizens wots not
of. Although I may adversely criticise a man, as in this volume I have
criticised Mr. Hitchcock, I like the man who puts up a stiff fight for a
cause, even though I believe his cause is wrong. Candidly I can see no
reason why Mr. Hitchcock and his predecessor postmaster generals should
so worry themselves over a “deficit” in the Postoffice Department--_a
department in which a surplus should never be expected and never allowed
to become permanent_.

But our present Postmaster General has, by his aggressive action and
close scrutiny of the loose, wasteful methods under which the vast
business of his department is carried on, disposed of the “deficit” and
found a _surplus_.

_In this he has done what his predecessors failed to do._

For this he merits our highest praise and commendation.
Personally I yield it to him, untrammeled and in full meed. I
object only to his attempt to saddle upon second-class mail--the
one-cent-a-pound-matter--the burden of recouping the government for
the losses on rural route and star route service and the railway mail
pay stealage. I object because I not only believe, but I _know_ as
comprehendingly and as comprehensively as does he, that the second-class
matter carried in the mails today at one cent a pound _should be carried
and handled at a profit at that rate_.

I also know that just as second-class mail (periodicals), is cut down in
distribution _in just about the same proportion will the revenue from
first, third and fourth class mail be cut down_.

It is because of this firm belief, that I oppose Mr. Hitchcock’s, to me,
absurd purpose and attempt to make “each division or class of mail pay
for its carriage and handling.”

I am also opposing his manifest attempt to “play favorites” in
legislation and to secure bureaucratic powers for his department--in
contravention of my constitutional rights--to _your_ constitutional
rights.

I take the following from the New York Call of August 26. The Call
captions it as “Hitchcock’s Sum Up.” It evidences the fact that he still
follows his folly--that he is still after those “few magazine publishers”
and after them, too, on his “rider” lines.

The Call reports as follows:

    “The attorneys for the magazines,” said Postmaster Hitchcock in
    summing up the government’s case, “have presented this matter
    of advertising in magazines in such a way as to leave the
    impression that there is a controversy over it. There is none.
    _The department knows that the advertising matter in magazines
    produces first-class mail_ and that the postoffice is benefited
    in that way. The important question is: What effect will a whole
    increase of 1 cent a pound have on the advertising? Will it be
    the means of stopping it?

    “We feel that advertising would not be diminished by such an
    increase and if such is the case, all this information which
    we have heard today, interesting as it may be, is not to the
    point. Repeatedly we have heard the general argument against an
    increase in rates as though our recommendation is for a general
    increase. We don’t want that at all. What we are driving at is a
    readjustment. We are not trying to economize or save money. We
    have done that to the best of our ability already and want simply
    to increase the second-class rate so that the first will pay for
    itself, believing that in this way the greater number of people
    will be served.”

If Mr. Hitchcock is correctly reported in the above, it would appear
that something of a change has taken place in his mental landscape since
he put his “rider” on the Senate speedway during the closing hours of
the last session of Congress. “The department knows that the advertising
matter in magazines produces first-class mail,” he now says.

Did the department know that fact when that “rider” was on the speedway?
It most certainly did, if it then knew anything--that is anything
about the sources of postal revenues. Did Mr. Hitchcock or any of his
assistants, at the time referred to, make any vehement declaration of
that knowledge--that advertising matter in magazines produces first-class
revenue? If he or his assistants did so, no one has reported the fact of
having heard such declaration.

In March, Mr. Hitchcock battles valiantly to have the advertising pages
of magazines taxed _four_ cents a pound for carriage and distribution.
At that time he “estimated” that such increase in the mail rate on the
advertising “sheets” of magazines would be equivalent to a rate of “about
two cents a pound” on the entire magazine. As about one-half the full
weight of our leading magazines--the magazines which Mr. Hitchcock, as
previously stated, appears to be “after”--is in their advertising pages,
his method of “estimating” must have been somewhat baggy at the knees
last March. Any seventh or eighth grade grammar school pupil could have
told him that a four-cent rate on one-half the weight and a one-cent rate
on the other half is equivalent to a flat rate of two and one-half cents
on the full weight.

However, we may leave that pass. It is past--has washed into the drift
of time. If the Call correctly reports him, he is now willing, or was
willing on August 25, 1911, to accept a flat rate of two cents a pound on
all second-class matter. That shows some improvement over his “estimate”
of March last. It would seem that Mr. Hitchcock is getting down nearer
the tacks in this second-class mail rate question, and, as he has got
rid of that annoying “deficit,” it can be hoped that he may yet see the
fact--see that a _one-cent-a-pound-rate_ is ample to cover the cost of
carriage and handling of second-class mail matter.

Still, we must not be over-confident about what Mr. Hitchcock may or
may not do. Regardless of what he said or may have said before the
Hughes Commission at its recent session, it would appear that he is
still gunning for those independent magazines which have been guilty of
_telling the truth_ about both official and private corruptionists and
corruption and also guilty of turning the sandblast of publicity on the
veneer and varnish under which has been hiding much nastiness--political,
financial and other--in this country. I say it appears that Mr. Hitchcock
is still after those magazines. If such is not the fact, then why does
he and the orators and exhorters of his department go junketing about
the country lecturing and hectoring postmasters, instead of staying
at home and attending to department affairs? If he is not on the same
trail he “caught up” last March, why are he and his assistants trying so
hard to work up sentiment favorable to an increase in second-class mail
rates and a decrease of fifty per cent in first-class rates? Has any
considerable number of our people been complaining about the first-class
or letter postage rate? If there has been such complaints The Man on
the Ladder has not heard of them. On the other hand, it is a known fact
that _millions_ of our people have protested and are still protesting
against any raise in the second-class mail rate. Why, then, in face of
these facts, is Mr. Hitchcock working so hard, so industriously and
so adroitly, if not, indeed, _craftily_, to get the vast personnel of
his department,--carriers, rural routers, star routers, railway mail
clerks and postmasters--postmasters, from Hiram Hairpin at Crackerville,
Ga., all the way up--fourth, third, second class postmasters to the
first-class postmasters in our larger cities--why, I ask, is Mr.
Hitchcock working so strenuously to get the vast _political machine_ of
his department lined up against the protest of millions of our people,
unless he is still after those pestiferous, independent magazines?

Why, again, it may be asked, are he and his assistants coaching the
220,000 clerks of his department and the 60,000 postmasters, assistant
postmasters, etc., on his “staff” to put up a _promotion_ talk for a
one-cent rate on first-class (letter or sealed) matter? It _should be_
a one-cent rate. Nobody at all informed as to mail service rates and
revenues will question that. But it is equally true that, up to a recent
date, there have been, comparatively speaking (the comparison being with
the millions protesting against an increase in the second-class rate) but
few complaints and complainants against the present rate of two cents for
carrying and handling a letter.

Why, then, I ask, is Mr. Hitchcock so actively cranking up his
departmental political machine to make neighborhood runs and do some hill
climbing in advocacy of that one-cent rate for first-class matter? Yes,
why?

Is it a legitimate assumption to say that the present agitation for a
lowered rate on first-class matter found origin in Mr. Hitchcock? If it
is, then what is he after?

To The Man on the Ladder it looks as if he was still after those
magazines which have exposed--yes, even displayed--a weakness for telling
the truth about men and conditions. Otherwise, why should he be arguing
the postal “deficit” in March as cause and reason for his urgent efforts
to make operative law out of that unconstitutional “rider” and now asking
for a flat rate of two cents on second-class, and advocating a cut of
fifty per cent in first-class, or letter, postage rates?

In his January-February-March talk, the “deficit” was the _substructure_
of it all. By attending strictly to what the people understand as a
Postmaster General’s business, Mr. Hitchcock faded the then $6,000,000
deficit into a few hundred thousand surplus, for the fiscal year recently
ended. For this he deserves our highest commendation. He has mine. Why?

Because Mr. Hitchcock in converting that deficit into a surplus has done
just what any one of his predecessors could have done in any year during
the past thirty-five, _if they had tried, and not been interfered with by
dirty politics and dirty politicians_.

Still, from the ladder top, it looks as if Mr. Hitchcock is after some
one or _ones_. If my surmise is correct, who is it he is after, _if not
those publishers of magazines who are educating us as to the wrong and
right of things in this government of ours_?

That is for you to say, reader. That you may not think that the opinion
just expressed is far fetched or an “individual” to bolster an opinion
of the writer, I shall here quote a few paragraphs from an October issue
of the Farm Journal of Philadelphia. The paragraphs are from an article
written by Mr. Wilmer Atkinson, the Farm Journal editor and publisher.

I have on a previous page referred to and quoted Mr. Atkinson, and
here I wish to emphasize, if my earlier reference did not do so, that
Mr. Wilmer Atkinson is one of the best, if not _the_ best, informed
men in this country on cost of second-class mail carriage, handling
and distribution. Mr. Atkinson must also be credited with an acumen
in watching and divining--sizing up--the purpose and intent of our
Postoffice Department that is equaled by few, if any, other men in this
country, Postmaster Generals not excepted. I have been studying this
question for years. Mr. Atkinson has studied it for more years, and he
has studied it, too, from a business man’s--a publisher’s--viewpoint, as
he has been compelled to do, being the directing head of one of the most
widely circulated and read farm journals in this country.

That aside, my purpose here is to reprint a few paragraph excerpts from
a recent (October, 1911) issue of the Farm Journal--an editorial written
by Mr. Atkinson himself and which shows that this astute student of the
present federal postal affairs corroborates the position The Man on the
Ladder has taken--which supports the statement previously made that Mr.
Hitchcock is still gunning for those, to him, objectionable magazines.

The following is from the October issue of the Farm Journal, under the
heading of “Our Monthly Talk:”

    In response to invitation a number of gentlemen interested in
    postal questions came together for informal conference at North
    View, the summer residence of the undersigned, on September 20
    and 21.

    Those who met are the official representatives of the following
    associations:

    The National Fraternal Press Association.

    The Federation of Trades Press Association.

    The Ohio Buckeye Press Association, and the Weekly Country Press
    of other states.

    The National Catholic Editors’ Association.

    The United Typothetæ of America.

    These gentlemen constitute a portion of the Publishers’
    Commission now in process of formation. The representative of the
    American Medical Editors’ Association was unable to be present on
    account of a pressing engagement, and the member representing The
    Associated Advertising Clubs of America was absent in Europe.

    This was the initial effort of the commission to bring the
    entire publishing fraternity of the country into such unity of
    spirit and purpose that something effective may be accomplished
    toward establishing not only just and honorable, but amicable
    and pleasant, relations with the Postoffice Department; to bring
    publishers of the different classes into harmony, in order
    that they may stand and act together for the protection and
    furtherance of their common interests, and for the cultivation of
    fraternal feelings among themselves.

    There were three meetings held, two on the 20th and another
    on the morning of the 21st. After much earnest and harmonious
    discussion, it was decided that the great need of publishers at
    this time is to have the light turned upon postal affairs, so
    that they may know where they are at. To best accomplish this
    purpose it was thought that there should be a _Publishers’ bureau
    established at Washington_, in charge of a first-class man, who
    would be the collector and distributor of information regarding
    postoffice doings, rulings, hearings and proposed postal
    legislation; this bureau also to publish a paper for circulation
    among publishers of all classes throughout the United States,
    which would keep them thoroughly informed as to postoffice rules,
    regulations, proceedings and acts of every description.

    Much of the information publishers get now is fragmentary,
    uncertain, often considerably warped and belated cold-storage
    news, void of substantial life-sustaining qualities. _The annual
    reports_ of the department in which publishers are most vitally
    interested _are less complete than formerly_. Many important
    facts do not appear in them. For instance, no statement is
    ever made as to the amount of first-class matter originated by
    the second-class, none, or very little, account is made of it.
    No attempt has ever been made to gather, much less publish,
    statistics on the subject.

    Formerly a list was accessible of publications annually thrown
    out of the mails at second-class rates, but not in recent years.

    The report of the Third Assistant Postmaster-General in 1897
    comprises 97 pages of compact statements and postal information
    in small type; that for 1901, 133 pages; while those for 1909 and
    1910 contain only 60 and 65 pages in larger type, respectively.
    I am not censuring Mr. Britt in this matter, but simply stating
    facts.

    Then as to the rulings, laws and regulations, there is not a
    publisher living who knows what they are, or can definitely
    ascertain what they are, from month to month. They are liable
    to change without the publishers being informed directly of the
    change. What purported to be “The Postal Laws and Regulations
    Relating to the Second-class of Mail Matter” was issued in 1910,
    but in it the law, rulings and regulations are so jumbled up
    together that it is difficult for a publisher to know which is
    which; instead of being illuminating and helpful, this compendium
    is confusing and involved in obscurity. It is a well recognized
    legal maxim, that “where the law is uncertain there is no law.”

    Publishers have not known that an active propaganda in favor of a
    higher rate has been in progress ever since Congress adjourned,
    but such is the fact. The Postmaster General went before the
    Hughes Commission and advocated it.

    The Third Assistant Postmaster General, in the early summer,
    made an address before some publishers in Chicago, wherein he
    stated that it was the purpose of the Postmaster General “to
    adjust postage rates based upon the principle of the payment on
    each class of mail matter of a rate of postage equal to the cost
    of handling and carriage, and no more, and that one class of
    mail matter shall not be taxed to meet deficiencies caused by an
    inadequate rate on another class,” meaning by this that the rate
    must be raised on second-class matter and lowered on the first
    class.

    General DeGraw, Fourth Assistant Postmaster General, in an
    address before the West Virginia Association of Postmasters,
    stated the purpose of the Postmaster General to be exactly what
    Mr. Britt declared it to be; and he had the postmasters pass a
    resolution indorsing the Postmaster General, and even as late as
    September 22, at Milwaukee, he advocated “_the crystalization of
    the proposed increase in second-class mail rates into law_.”

    Jesse L. Suter, representing the Postoffice Department, brought
    greetings from the Postmaster General, to a round-up of
    postmasters in Michigan in August last, and said that “the great
    subsidy extended the publishers in the form of a ridiculously
    small rate of postage is unreasonable. Were the publishers
    required to pay more in proportion to what it actually costs
    the government to transport their products, the people of the
    United States would be benefited. _Every man, woman and child
    in the United States is taxed seventy-three cents by way of his
    letter postage_ over and above the cost of carrying his own
    letters in order to meet the deficiency of underpaid second-class
    matter.”[7] And then, of course, the postmasters passed a
    resolution thanking Mr. Suter for his “timely hints relative to
    second-class matter and commending the Postmaster General.”

    On August 22 and 23, there was a postmasters’ convention at
    Toledo, Ohio, at which a resolution was proposed complimenting
    the Postmaster General “for his efforts to bring about a fair
    compensation from those enjoying the benefits of second-class
    rates.”

    James B. Cook, Superintendent of the Division of Postoffice
    Supplies, Washington, D. C., also addressed a postmasters’
    convention in the West, in which he said: “There is one thing
    I am going to ask you to do--it is a simple thing and one that
    should be near to your hearts. Certain publishers have attempted
    to create public sentiment against an increase of postage on
    advertising matter in magazines.… Many of us believe that the
    postage rate is class legislation of the rankest kind in favor
    of the few at the expense of the masses. Talk to your business
    men about it; the Postmaster General _is going to win this fight
    because he is in the right_. Tell the business men that the
    Postmaster General feels that he is entitled not only to their
    moral but their active support.”

    At how many other state conventions the postmasters have
    been prompted to pass resolutions and have been addressed by
    Washington officials endorsing “the great fight” the Postmaster
    General is making for a higher postage rate, deponent sayeth not.

    Thus it is that an energetic campaign has been carried on by the
    Postmaster General during the summer, postmasters being urged
    to pass resolutions and “talk to business men” in favor of an
    increase of postage rate on second-class matter in order, no
    doubt, to be ready when Congress meets to put the measure through.

    In confirmation of the above, word comes from Washington to the
    effect that “there has been no cessation in the activities of
    the department to make preparations to renew vigorously at the
    forthcoming Congress the fight for an increased rate. If the
    publishers feel that they have won their fight and are resting
    easily, they will have an awakening ere the year is over.”

    While it would not be possible or advisable under the
    circumstances to circumscribe the activities of our energetic
    Postmaster General, certainly it would be a prudent and wise step
    for publishers to place themselves in position to know what is
    going on injurious to their own interests and that of the people
    of the whole country.

    Now, Mr. Hitchcock is a brave and persistent fighter and as such
    will respect and honor those who will stand up like men and
    defend their cause, and can have only contempt for those who will
    meekly sit still while being pummeled to death.

    _If publishers are ever to establish honorable and just and
    amicable and pleasant relations with the Postoffice Department
    they must show that they are men with red blood in their veins._

    The essential thing will be to get the right man to represent us
    at Washington but this ought not to be difficult.

    Among his duties will be to make inquiry into postal matters
    of every description that in any way relate to the publishing
    business and to publish them; publish orders of the department;
    rulings and proposed rulings; attend hearings and publish the
    proceedings; keep abreast of measures introduced in Congress and
    proposed by the Postoffice Department bearing upon the publishing
    business; keep subscribers fully posted on everything that occurs
    at Washington or elsewhere that concerns them; to advocate such
    reforms in the postal service as the people ask for and need, and
    finally to rally the whole fraternity to resist any threatened
    or actual encroachment upon the freedom and independence of the
    press.

    Here are some of the qualifications necessary for the person
    fit to take charge of the Washington office: Some experience as
    editor and publisher; he must be honest and just; patriotic;
    discreet; firm; tactful; must have power as a writer; character
    as a gentleman; vision, courage, one who cannot be either
    frightened or cajoled; and finally, one who recognizes the
    fact that _liberty of the press is a principle that lies at
    the foundation of republican institutions_, and must not be
    encroached upon, or placed in jeopardy.

I have made the above quotation from Mr. Atkinson to evidence the fact
that he and others support my view of Mr. Hitchcock’s attitude _now_,
in relation to this second-class mail rate question. Mr. Atkinson shows
quite conclusively that our Postmaster General is still, and stealthily,
running the trail which the Penrose-Overstreet Commission _scented_ for
him and urges publishers and the printing trades to be on their guard.

Some pages back I adverted to the fact that the deficit of $6,000,000
for the fiscal year 1909-10 was the ground-plan of Mr. Hitchcock for
an increase in second-class postage rates. That deficit he himself has
converted into _a surplus of several thousands of dollars_.

Why, then, is he still trailing those independent periodicals?

Why, too, it is relevant to ask, did he so suddenly hear that the people
of this country were crying for a cut of fifty per cent in first-class,
or sealed, postage rates, much as the advertiser declares the children
cry for Castoria? To the Man on the Ladder it appears that what Mr.
Hitchcock heard must have been a “far cry”--very far. So far, indeed,
that no one who did not have his _ear to an ulterior motive_ could hear
it.

You will observe that he worries a couple of years over a “deficit”--a
little runabout, five H. P. deficit of $6,000,000. Then by doing a few
things which common business sense imperatively dictates should be done,
and which, it is well known among competents, any one of a dozen of Mr.
Hitchcock’s predecessors should have done, or _could_ have done had
not dirty politics blocked them--by doing just a _few_ of the business
things which every student of the question knows could have been done and
should have been done years ago, Mr. Hitchcock lost his “deficit”--his
ground-plan for attack on second-class rates--_and found a surplus
instead_.

The Man on the Ladder does not desire to appear impertinent nor even
finicky in his type conversation on this point, but in simple justice to
the magnitude of the question he is constrained to ask: Is a “deficit”
so essentially necessary to Mr. Hitchcock in a fight to put certain
independent periodicals on the financial skids that he must, losing one
deficit, _immediately set about creating another_?

That is just what his move to cut the mail rate on first-class, or
sealed, matter must lead to--lead to temporarily of course. In the end a
one-cent rate per ounce or fraction thereof will win to a paying basis.
That rate will mean a cut of sixteen cents a pound from thirty-two cents
a pound for carriage and handling letters and other sealed matter of
the first-class. Certainly the postoffice can haul and distribute such
matter at a profit at that rate. However, it is equally certain that the
department will not handle such matter at a profit for two, three or more
years--not so handle it until numerous causes of waste, inhering in the
department for years, are sloughed and the department put under _strict
business management_, and not left under partisan political management
as now and as it has been for thirty-five or forty years.

With the postal and post card facilities now furnished at the one-cent
rate, no considerable number of our people are complaining about the
two-cent rate for letters and other sealed matter. But all will welcome
a flat rate of one cent on such matter at the present weights. If they
get it, either with or without Mr. Hitchcock’s assistance, the people
will be getting only what they are entitled to, deficit or no deficit.
However, if Mr. Hitchcock thinks a “deficit” necessary armament in his
fight to increase second-class mail rates--to increase such rates, as it
would appear, on a certain few periodicals which print and publish _what
the people want to hear and read and not what a few federal officeholders
tell them to print and publish_, then a cut of 50 per cent in the present
first-class postage rates will most certainly create that deficit for him.

In a few years, of course, after business has adjusted itself to the
lower rate and the fathers, mothers and sweethearts of the country have
learned that they can write a letter to John, Mary, Thomas or Lucy and
have it delivered for one cent, whereas it now costs two cents, then Mr.
Hitchcock’s _created_ deficit will fade away--will again fade into a
surplus.

In the meantime, however, Mr. Hitchcock and associate coterie who
apparently are gunning for periodicals _which dare tell the truth_,
will have a “deficit” to use as wadding in their verbal, oratorical and
_franked_ ordnance.

The 1910 report of the Postoffice Department sets up something over
$202,000,000 as receipts from cancellation of stamps, or stamp sales.
Of course, millions of dollars’ worth of those stamps were bought for
and canceled in third and fourth class service, catalogues, books,
etc.--in third-class carriage and handling, and merchandise parcels in
fourth class. One has no data--nor can he obtain such data from the
Postoffice Department records--to show what sum or portion of that
$202,000,000 worth of stamps was canceled in the transmission of letters
and other sealed matter of the first-class. But it may be conservatively
stated that if Mr. Hitchcock succeeds in cutting down or curtailing
the circulation of weekly and monthly periodicals--especially their
advertising pages--he will have no trouble in finding, for two or three
years at least, a shrinkage of from $50,000,000 to $75,000,000 in that
stamp account.

That, with the falling away in _paid_ second-class matter, will provide
him a “deficit” which should make him jubilant--should furnish wadding
for his embrasured guns for two or three years in his attack on those
recalcitrant periodicals which attend to their _own business_ in a clean,
truthful way and expect nothing of a Postmaster General other than that
he attend strictly and efficiently to his business, to the business of
the Postoffice Department--to the business of collecting, transporting
and distributing the federal mails.

I have probably discussed Mr. Hitchcock, his faults and his excellencies
sufficiently. I will therefore, pass to another phase of our general
subject.


THE HUGHES COMMISSION.

First, however, I must introduce a few paragraphs here in summary of
the work done by the Hughes Commission at its August session in New
York City. The commission comprised Associate Justice Hughes, President
Lowell of Harvard University, and H. A. Wheeler, President of the Chicago
Association of Commerce. That this triumvirate of gentlemen will act
disinterestedly and fairly, so far as their knowledge and the evidence
relating to postal affairs extends, there is here no question.

That they have not and will not dig up and uncover facts and data
relating to the haulage and handling of second-class mail matter, beyond
that already known to and on file with government officials, is equally
certain. No finer trinity of men could well have been selected by
President Taft, but the fact is none of the three has had any opportunity
to make a study of the federal mail service, second-class or other. Or
if they have had such opportunity, the press of official and private
business in other lines and directions preventing, in large extent,
their study of postal service costs and affairs. No doubt, these three
gentlemen will do the very best and fairest they can--or know how to
do--with the evidence presented to them. Still, I am of the opinion that
they will discover little which has not already been discovered--which,
as Congressman Moon said on the floor of the House last March (1911),
“has already been discovered and filed for departmental and official
reference.” Each of them is a man of high academic training but neither
of them, so far as The Man on the Ladder has been able to learn, had
made, as previously stated, any qualifying study of federal postal
affairs. So the best we have a right to expect from them is that they
will tell the story, draped in new or different verbiage, told by
predecessor commissions on second-class postal rates, costs of haulage
and handling the same, etc.

Incidentally it may be said with all due courtesy and respect that
the Hughes Commission will probably succeed in spending the $50,000
appropriated for its expenses, subsistence, incidentals, etc. The present
commission would not be loyal to precedent if it permitted any of that
$50,000 to return to the general fund as an “unexpended balance.”

Just here I desire to introduce a few items from the testimony of Mr.
Wilmer Atkinson before the Hughes Commission, which, in August last began
strenuous efforts to spend $50,000 and to discover and report upon facts
anent the cost of hauling and handling second-class mail matter--which
facts have already been collected, collated and filed with labored,
likewise expensive, care somewheres in the government’s archives. I have
quoted from Mr. Atkinson several times in forward pages. I desire to
quote here from his testimony before this Hughes Commission, because the
Hughes Commission is the latest and “best seller” on the second class
mail shelf and because I recognize in Mr. Atkinson one of the first and
most dependable authorities in the country on the cost of carriage,
handling and distribution of mail--whether of the second or any other
class. Especially do I desire to quote part of his testimony before the
Hughes Commission because I am of the opinion that the reader, as well as
the Commission, must necessarily gather forcefully pertinent facts from
it:

    To ascertain what second-class matter costs has been found to be
    a puzzling proposition. Many have tried to solve the puzzle and
    all have failed.

    The Joint Congressional Commission consisting of Penrose, Carter
    and Clay for the Senate, and Overstreet, Moon and Gardner for the
    House, with the aid of numerous expert accountants, at a cost
    of a quarter of a million dollars (according to the President’s
    statement), attempted it and gave it up. All these gentlemen
    are on record as declaring that it is a task impossible of
    accomplishment.

    Senator Bristow, a former Assistant Postmaster General, who has
    given postal questions much careful study, said in a recent
    speech that “It does not cost nine cents a pound, nor can the
    Department ascertain with even approximate accuracy what is
    the cost of handling any special class of mail. It would be
    just as easy for the Pennsylvania Railroad to state in dollars
    and cents what it costs to haul a ton of coal from Harrisburg
    to Pittsburgh, or 100 pounds of silk from Pittsburgh to
    Indianapolis, as for the Postoffice Department to state what it
    costs the Department to handle newspapers or magazines. Anyone
    familiar with transportation knows that such calculations cannot
    be made with accuracy, because there are so many unassignable
    expenses that must be considered--expenditures that cannot be
    subdivided and assigned to the different classes of freight. The
    same is true as to the different classes of mail.”

    Postal officials have exhausted conjecture as a basis for a
    correct solution of this problem. Nearly every year there has
    been a new guess. Mr. Madden, Third Assistant Postmaster-General
    for seven years up to 1907, guessed that it cost 4 cents a pound.
    His successor, Mr. Lawshe, guessed 2½ cents and then the next
    year 4 cents. For the last two years the Department’s guess has
    been 9 cents.

    The Penrose-Overstreet Commission declared, while it is
    impossible to ascertain with certainty what the cost is, the
    members of the Commission gave it as their opinion that “_One
    cent a pound is approximately adequate compensation for handling
    and transporting second-class matter._”

    I am confident that there is a better way of solving the problem
    than has heretofore been tried. This consists in the direct
    application of plain, old-fashioned common sense to it. A little
    gumption in such a matter as this is far better than fanciful
    guessing or astute figuring by experts, who are bent on finding
    something that is not there.

    In working out this problem I have adopted a method quite
    different and have obtained results quite unlike the foregoing.
    I show the relation of second-class mail to stamp mail extending
    over a period of 25 years, from 1885 to 1910. This covers the
    entire period since the institution of the cent a pound rate.

    I go back still further to 1876 when the postage rate on
    newspapers was 4 times greater than now, when the sale of stamps
    was less than one-eleventh what it is now, _and while deficits
    were larger_.

    The highest point reached in the weight of second-class matter
    previous to the institution of the present rate, was 101,057,963
    pounds.

    It has been repeatedly declared officially that second-class
    matter originates large quantities of other classes of mail, and
    in the official figures we have the proof.

    While population increased from 1885 to 1910 only a little more
    than double, the revenue from the sale of stamps, etc., and the
    weight of second-class matter, each increased over 5 times. _No
    other possible reason can be assigned for the increase in stamp
    mail, and the tremendous development of every branch of the
    postal business 5 times faster than the growth of population,
    than the increased circulation and influence of the newspaper and
    periodical press, brought about by the reduced postage rate._

    SECOND-CLASS MATTER WOULD HAVE LONG AGO WIPED OUT ALL DEFICITS
    AND CREATED AN ENORMOUS ANNUAL SURPLUS HAD IT NOT BEEN FOR THE
    GREAT BURDENS WHICH WEIGHED THE SERVICE DOWN.

    There would have been a surplus, instead of a deficit, every year
    since 1901, had allowance been made for the extraordinary cost
    of free rural delivery, and in 1910, the surplus would have been
    $31,075,170.12.

    If also allowance had been made for free government matter, other
    than the Postoffice Department’s own free matter, being sent
    stamped as first-class matter is, the surplus for 1910 would have
    been $51,075,470.12 and these figures like all others here given,
    are from official reports.


    A VAST INCREASE OF EXPENDITURES.

    _Not only did stamp mail, under the stimulus of the steady and
    enormous increase of second-class matter, enable the Department
    to meet the cost of rural delivery while reducing the deficit,
    but it also met and overcame the immense increase of the annual
    expenditures for railroad transportation which grew from
    $33,523,902.18 in 1901 to $44,654,515.97 in 1910: of salaries to
    postmasters, assistants and clerks which grew from $32,790,253.39
    in 1901 to $65,582,533.57 in 1910, of the railway mail service
    which grew from $9,675,436.52 to $19,385,096.97 in 1910, and of
    the city delivery service which grew from $15,752,600 in 1901
    to $36,841,407.40 in 1910. In these four items alone there was
    an increase in annual expenditures in the last ten years of
    $74,721,361.82, for which second-class matter was only in a very
    limited way responsible._

    Entirely too much stress has been placed upon the cost of
    second-class matter, for it makes little difference whether
    it costs 2½ cents or 4 cents or 9 cents, or even more, if it
    produce results commensurate with its cost, and this it would
    do _if the cost were double the highest guess yet made_. The
    Government could afford to carry it free rather than not carry
    it at all, for without it the bottom would drop out of the
    Postal Establishment. As long as the people get the benefit of
    the low rate, as they are doing now, for which we have official
    testimony, it matters not what the rate is except that it should
    be kept at the very bottom notch.


    WHY THE POSTAGE RATE WAS MADE LOW.

    Even if the cost of second-class matter should be declared to be
    more than one cent per pound, it would not be good public policy
    for Congress to increase it, because much reading matter would be
    placed out of the reach of many who now are receiving the benefit
    of it.

    Postmaster-General Meyer said in his report for 1908: “The charge
    for carrying second-class mail matter was intentionally fixed
    below cost for the purpose of encouraging the dissemination of
    information of educational value to the people, _and the benefit
    of the cheap rate of postage is passed on to the subscriber in a
    lower subscription price than would otherwise be possible_.”

    The Hon. Charles Emory Smith truly declared: “Our free
    institutions rest on popular intelligence, and it has from the
    beginning been our fixed and enlightened policy to foster and
    promote the general diffusion of public information. Congress
    has wisely framed the postal laws with this just and liberal
    conception.

    “It has uniformly sought to encourage intercommunication and the
    exchange of intelligence. As facilities have cheapened, it has
    gradually lowered all postage rates. It has never aimed to make
    the postal service a source of profit, but simply to make it pay
    its own way and to give the people the benefit of all possible
    advancement.

    “In harmony with this sound and judicious policy, it has
    deliberately established a low rate of postage for genuine
    newspapers and periodicals, with the express design of
    encouraging and aiding the distribution of the recognized means
    and agencies of public information.

    “It is not a matter of favor, but of approved judgment. _It is
    not for the publishers, but for the people._”

    The testimony of Senator Bristow is that, “I am glad we have got
    a one-cent rate of postage for the legitimate newspapers and
    magazines of the country, and I would rather decrease it than
    raise it. _The beneficiaries are the poor people themselves_,
    who now get daily papers at from $2 to $4 a year, when they used
    to pay from $10 to $12. They now get magazines from $1 to $1.50,
    when they used to pay $4 to $6 per year for magazines of no
    higher grade.” …

    And I would remind the Commission that there are millions of
    laboring men and women who cannot afford to add to their living
    expenses the cost of any but the very cheapest reading matter,
    and many not even that. After buying food and clothing and
    providing shelter there is scarcely anything left in the home for
    cultivating the intellect and informing the mind.

    When sickness intervenes, then comes the stress of debt, and if
    death follow, the future has to be drawn upon to give the dead a
    burial such as love would provide. Are these people, _the bone
    and sinew of the land, those in the humble walks of life_, not
    to be considered when it is proposed to add to the cost of the
    family reading?

    It surely should not be made more difficult for the poor to
    obtain that which is so essential to their welfare and that of
    the Republic of which they form an important part.…

    “But here I cannot forbear to recommend,” said George Washington,
    in his message to Congress, on November 6, 1792, “a repeal of
    the tax on the transportation of public prints. There is no
    resource so firm for the government of the United States as the
    affections of the people, guided by an enlightened policy; and
    to this primary good, nothing can conduce more than a faithful
    representation of public proceedings diffused without restraint
    throughout the United States.”


    NEWSPAPERS AND PERIODICALS.--THE DIFFERENCE.

    An effort was made in the closing hours of the 61st Congress to
    increase the postage rate on magazines. It is my opinion that the
    postage rate should remain uniform as it is now upon all classes
    of publications. There should be no partiality shown, there
    should be no discrimination. A proposal to increase the rate on
    magazines alone, is not one that should have the endorsement of
    this Commission nor the approval of Congress, as I shall endeavor
    to show.

    Under Section 432 of the Postal Laws and Regulations, “A
    newspaper is held to be a publication regularly issued at stated
    intervals of not longer than one week; a periodical is held
    to be a publication regularly issued at stated intervals less
    frequently than weekly.”

    A magazine is nowhere defined in the Postal Laws and Regulations.
    A law that would increase the postage rate on “magazines,”
    without an explicit definition of the word, would apply to
    just such publications as the Postmaster-General might select
    in the administration of the law, and none others. No such
    power of discrimination should be vested in any official. The
    Postmaster-General is an executive, not a judicial officer, nor a
    lawmaker.

    It has been wisely and aptly said that this is a government of
    laws and not of men; that there is no arbitrary power located in
    any individual or body of individuals; but that all in authority
    are guided and limited by those provisions which the people have,
    through the organic law, declared shall be the measure and scope
    of all control exercised over them.

    There seems to be no good reason why a newspaper, which is
    carried in the mails once a day or once a week, should pay a less
    rate than a monthly or quarterly. If the Government really loses
    money in handling and transporting second-class matter, the loss
    would be greater on the former than on the latter, because a
    daily goes through the mails 365 times a year, a weekly 52 times,
    while a monthly only goes 12 times, and a quarterly 4 times.

    We learn from official records that daily newspapers comprise
    40.50 per cent. of all second-class matter, weeklies 15.23
    per cent., papers devoted to science 1.30, to education .64,
    religious 5.91, trade 4.94, agriculture 5, magazines 20.23, and
    miscellaneous 6.25. Note that it is stated that 20.23 of the
    whole consists of magazines; but what is a magazine? We are
    nowhere told, and the percentage quoted has the appearance of
    being founded upon conjecture.…

    This Commission may not be aware of the fact that the
    Pennsylvania Railroad will take, and does take, packages of
    papers for all of the great newspapers that are published
    along its lines, and transports them in the baggage cars for
    one-quarter of a cent per pound, to any station on the line,
    whether it is ten miles from the place of origin, or 1,000 miles
    from the place of origin. And yet the Department is paying
    the railroads approximately two cents a pound for hauling the
    newspapers of the country.

    The papers are delivered by the publishers to the train just
    the same as the publisher delivers his newspapers to the train
    when they are sent by mail. These packages are delivered to the
    depots of the railroads, and the parties to whom they are sent
    call at the depots for the packages. If they are sent by mail the
    publisher delivers them at the train, and the parties to whom
    they are addressed call at the postoffice for the packages. The
    postoffice Department does not go to the newspaper office and
    get the mail. The publisher delivers the newspapers to the mail
    trains, the same as he delivers them to baggage cars for the
    railroad company.

    And possibly the Commission has not been informed that the
    express companies have a contract with the American Publishers’
    Association whereby they agree to receive newspaper packages of
    any size, and deliver them to their destination within a limit of
    500 miles, for one-half cent per pound. The express company does
    not call at the newspaper office for the papers. The publisher
    delivers them to the express car, the same as he delivers his
    papers to the mail car. The express company then takes these
    newspapers, consisting of packages of any size, from a single
    wrapper to a 100-pound bundle, and delivers them at the other end
    of the line to the addresses, if the distance is not greater than
    500 miles, for half a cent a pound, and by its contract with the
    railroad the express company pays the railroad only a quarter of
    a cent a pound.

    The Department figures show that the average distance which
    newspapers are hauled is less than 300 miles. Yet the Department
    is paying about two cents a pound to the railroad for that which
    the express companies pay but a quarter of a cent a pound.
    The express companies only charge the publisher one-half cent
    a pound, while the Government charges him one cent a pound.
    The express companies pay the railways one-fourth a cent a
    pound, while the Government pays about two cents--eight times
    as much--for exactly the same service. The express companies
    are glad to get the business, and render more service than the
    Postoffice Department, because they deliver the packages of any
    size at the other end, which the Department does not do.

    Senator Bristow is authority for the above statements concerning
    the railroad and express contracts.

    …

    Now I would not have this (class) newspaper and its annexes
    deprived of the low postage rate, but as the Postoffice
    Department has within the past ten years denied admission to the
    mails of 11,563 of other publications, and 32,000 others have
    been ruled out or died from the hard conditions imposed, I would
    respectfully request this Commission to ascertain and report to
    the President for transmission to Congress _why there has never
    been a single publication of this class shut out or even molested
    in the slightest degree_?

    I do not say it is, but _is_ it, because such papers are
    politically powerful, that they have the ear of the public,
    that they hold a monopoly of the news, and that they can make
    or unmake the reputation of public officials at will, and that
    therefore they are immune from interference?…

    I have here a copy of the _Police Gazette_, which I take to be
    a superior paper of its class. It is held to be a newspaper,
    entitled to transmission through the mails at a cent a pound. It
    has never been proposed to raise the postage rate on this paper.…

    _This Commission should endeavor to find out and report to the
    President for transmission to Congress, why the postage rate on
    one-half of the periodicals devoted to agriculture should be
    increased from one cent to three cents, and the postage rate on
    the Police Gazette should remain at one cent._


HEARINGS BEFORE THE HUGHES POSTAL COMMISSION.

I intended to follow the hearings before this commission personally.
Ill health prevented my doing so. Under this stress, I asked my friend,
Mr. M. H. Madden, quoted on a previous page in connection with other
phases of our general subject, to summarize for me the hearings of the
commission in August. Mr. Madden kindly consented to do so. Following is
what he writes me relating to the commission’s proceedings and hearings:

    The first meeting of the commission took place on August 1, and
    it continued its hearings in New York City, with occasional
    adjournments during the greater part of the month.

    Postmaster General Hitchcock represented his department before
    the commission, Second Assistant Stewart and Third Assistant
    Britt were also present, each in turn occupying the stand.
    Hitchcock outlined his position concerning a demand for an
    increase for the first time, although the same idea was
    expressed by Third Assistant Britt some months ago, when Britt
    made an address before a convention of newspaper circulation
    managers in Chicago. Hitchcock and his two assistants held to
    the view that each schedule in the postal service should be
    made self-sustaining, the credit for this idea being given to
    Hitchcock, and in order to justify his position concerning a
    raise in second-class rates an arbitrary figure has been placed
    on the cost of handling the same, the total “deficit” from this
    schedule being placed at about $70,000,000 annually. This amount
    was arrived at by what Second Assistant Postmaster General
    Stewart states was a complete record of the weighing of all mail
    handled by the Postoffice Department of matter originating in
    every postoffice and railway postoffice in the country for a
    period of six months from July 1 to December 1, 1907, together
    with the amount of mail carried in every railway car. The
    department in many instances has admitted the unreliability of
    the figures used, there having been many estimates employed.

    Publishers of the country were represented by several attorneys
    who examined into the testimony given by Hitchcock, Stewart
    and Britt, and by a series of questions they showed that the
    conclusions of the three as to cost of handling second-class
    mail were made on a guesswork plan and not on a scientific or
    reasonably accurate basis of fact. Third Assistant Postmaster
    General Britt made the startling statement that “if all the
    magazines and newspapers were excluded from the second-class
    rates because of a circulation gained, _not on the merits_ of
    the publication, but _because of some voting contest or offer of
    premiums as a bait, not 10 per cent. of the total would remain
    undisturbed_.”

    This declaration was looked upon as an argument by the magazine
    publishers as favoring their contention that the advertising
    portions of their periodicals are justified by legitimate
    business reasons, as an increased volume of advertising enables
    publishers to issue periodicals of much higher literary
    excellence. The postal authorities held with firmness to the
    conviction that advertising matter in publications is primarily
    for the advantage of the publisher, and therefore should be
    charged a higher rate than reading matter. Postmaster General
    Hitchcock went on record before the commission as declaring
    that he would recommend to Congress an increase on the
    advertising portion of magazines and newspapers of a cent a
    pound additional. Assuming that the postoffice officials are
    prompted by a legitimate purpose in their desire to increase
    rates on second-class matter, their arguments before the
    commission have been transparently weak, and an unbiased mind
    they would fail in convincing, but the feeling is that the
    commission will accept the conclusions of the postal authorities
    that the government rate of one cent a pound is inadequate for
    transporting second-class matter. To justify the position taken
    by the government that each schedule should maintain itself,
    the Postmaster General intends to press with vigor a reduction
    of first-class postage from two-cents to one cent a letter, he
    citing the profit on first-class mail and the alleged loss on
    second-class matter as his reason for the change of rate.

    Religious and denominational publications were represented
    before the commission, the contention being made by these
    that the doubling of the rate on second-class matter would
    work very serious injury to the religious press, forcing many
    publications out of business. This statement was made by E. R.
    Graham, representing the Methodist Book Concern publications in
    Cincinnati and New York, and seemingly it made an impression on
    the members of the commission. The attorneys representing the
    publishers were much interested in Mr. Graham’s statement, he
    being considered a competent authority on the matter.

    One of the strongest arguments of the hearings, because of the
    experience which he has had as a postal official, was made by Mr.
    W. S. Shallenberger, who had served several years in Congress
    as a member of the Committee on Postoffice and Postroads.
    Mr. Shallenberger was for a number of years Second Assistant
    Postmaster General, and now represents the Interdenominational
    Publishers who issue Sunday school literature throughout the
    United States. This witness gave it as his opinion that an
    increase in the rate on second-class matter would cause magazines
    and newspapers to avail themselves of the facilities now offered
    by the express companies which are becoming active competitors
    of the government in transporting second-class matter, these
    corporations obtaining better rates from the railroads than is
    given to the government. Mr. Shallenberger expressed the view
    that since every civilized nation was cheapening the cost of
    postal service the fact that our country was seeking to increase
    the rate seemed to be reactionary.

    Mr. Shallenberger served under six Postmaster Generals and all of
    these held that the government was carrying second-class matter
    at a loss. But his opinion was that there was a substantial
    profit in the present rate, at the same time condemning the idea
    that each particular schedule should be made to pay its own way,
    the stimulus toward encouraging other schedule receipts not being
    given its proper consideration. Mr. Shallenberger gave a hint
    concerning hidden influences seeking to have the second-class
    rate increased but did not enter deeply into this phase of the
    subject. The controversy between Mr. Shallenberger and Second
    Assistant Stewart was animated and prolonged, and touched on
    features connected with the compensation paid railroads for
    hauling the mail, the express companies getting better terms than
    the government, this statement being made by a representative of
    the Postal Progress League.

    The strongest point the publishing interests made was when the
    superintendent of the railway mail service, Chas. H. McBride,
    testified that a considerable part of the estimate upon which the
    department’s figures are based is guesswork and assumption, he
    admitting that if this were so the result would not be greatly
    different from what the officials first claimed. On the whole
    Superintendent McBride’s testimony was calculated to show that
    the Postoffice Department was desirous of making out a case
    against the second-class schedule, however necessary it was to
    twist figures and conceal facts in order to do so.

    Mr. Wilmer Atkinson, publisher of Farm Journal, Philadelphia,
    combated the contention of the postoffice officials, as shown in
    their statements and tables, and declared with much emphasis that
    second-class matter stimulated first-class postage receipts. The
    statement of the cost of carrying second-class matter, placing it
    at nine cents a pound, is, according to him, “only a stereotyped
    guess that goes into the postoffice department report, each
    year,” experts having repeatedly stated that there is no possible
    way of fixing the cost of carrying second-class mail. In the
    opinion of Mr. Atkinson the government could better afford to
    carry it free than not to carry it at all. “Gumption and common
    sense,” declared Mr. Atkinson, “should rather be applied than
    indulging in worthless guessing.”

    Representatives of scientific publications, college journals,
    fashion papers, fraternal societies and trade periodicals
    appeared before the members of the commission during the
    sessions, and all entered emphatic protests against the increase.
    In numerous instances these interests made the statement that
    serious reverses would be encountered if the postage rate should
    be doubled, and that many publications would be forced to suspend.

    The labor union press, an interest representing about 250 weekly
    and monthly publications, with a circulation approximating
    1,250,000 copies was officially represented by President Samuel
    Gompers of the American Federation of Labor, and President
    Matthew Woll, of the Photo-Engravers’ Union. Mr. Gompers
    entered vigorous protests against discriminations against
    labor publications and registered a severe censure of the
    method by which the Postoffice Department had hampered the
    official journals of the labor people. Mr. Gompers stated that
    the publications of the American Federation of Labor and its
    auxiliaries were all highly educational in their character and,
    in the event of an increase in the item of postage to the extent
    of 100 per cent additional, many of the best would be driven out
    of business with corresponding loss to the men individually and
    to the nation as a whole. Mr. Gompers’ declaration was listened
    to with much interest.

    President Woll dwelt on the far-reaching effect which the
    hampering of the labor press would have on the manifold business
    relationships involved in the printing industry, primarily
    directing attention to the more than a third of a million of
    workers in the printing trades alone. He then advanced to
    the foundation of the paper and machinery features of the
    proposition, viz., from the ore in the mine, from which the
    machinery was made, to the forest tree from which the pulp is
    ground. The tonnage of the transportation service of the country
    would at once be doubly interfered with, first in a reduced
    demand for material with which to make the paper and, secondly,
    the corresponding decrease in the weight of the finished product
    of the publications. In many features Mr. Woll made prominent
    the ideas which the “Postal Riders and Raiders” is promoting,
    including the educational features of the immense volume of
    printing which comes from the printing press in all sections of
    the country.

    The commission adjourned, subject to the call of Justice Hughes.
    However, it is understood that it will be called together in time
    to prepare its report to President Taft and to Congress when the
    session opens in December, 1911.


FOOTNOTES

[6] Mr. Hitchcock, it should be noted, is careful in giving the higher
per cent. of rate which the third and fourth classes show above the
second class rate. Beyond the bare statement that the expense of handling
second class matter “is less” than for other classes, he says nothing
of cost of carriage and handling. His own figures show (see preceding
paragraph), that the cost of carriage and handling first-class matter is
422 per cent. higher than his own absurd cost-figure of 9 cents a pound
(cost) for carriage and handling second-class and _4600 per cent. higher
than the present second class rate_.

[7] Mr. Suter must certainly have been wind-jamming a little. “Every man,
woman and child” pays at a maximum rate of 2 cents an ounce or fraction
thereof. That is at the rate of 32 cents a pound. Mr. Hitchcock’s figures
assert, that it costs “47 cents a pound” to carry and handle the letters
for “every man, woman and child”--that is, presuming they all write
letters. The letter writers, it appears then, pay only 2 cents for a
service which costs nearly 3 cents.



CHAPTER X.

POSTAL DEFICITS.


Now, let us look into and over that postoffice “deficit,” to the
origin of which the memory of man scarcely runneth back, and which Mr.
Hitchcock, by some strenuous effort on _right_ lines readily converted
into a surplus--a $6,000,000 deficit into some hundreds of thousands
of dollars surplus. The returns are not all in yet. At any rate the
Postmaster General has not announced them loud enough for The Man on the
Ladder to hear, or he was in his physician’s hands when the announcement
was made.

However that may be, Mr. Hitchcock has proved quite conclusively that
there is no deficit--or, at least, no valid reason for one under present
conditions.

And here, again, I desire to say that our present Postmaster General is
deserving the praise or commendation of every American citizen for having
demonstrated, by a few economies here and a few betterments there in the
operation of his department, that the service _can_ be rendered, and
rendered efficiently, with an expenditure safely within the bounds of the
department’s receipts or revenues.

Especially is Mr. Hitchcock deserving of commendation for this
demonstration, because in making it he has done what so many of his
predecessors _talked of as desirable_, but failed to do.

But with full acknowledgment of the splendid effort Mr. Hitchcock has
made in converting a postal deficit of $6,000,000 in 1909-10 into a
surplus for the year 1910-11, I desire to discuss, briefly, postal
department deficits of the past--or the future--and the origin and cause
of them.

In the future pages of this volume little if any reference will be made
to our vigorous Postmaster General’s attempt to put onto the Senate
course a rider that would run down certain periodicals which were to him
and certain of his friends, as it would appear, of obstructive if not
offensive character. It is possible, if, indeed, not probable, that I
may, in this somewhat hurried discussion of our Postoffice Department
deficits and their sources, cause and origin, repeat something, in whole
or in part, that I have said elsewhere in this volume.

The discussion of the postal deficits leads us into the _Raider_
factor or feature of our general title--into a consideration of the
political, partisan and business influences and interests which have for
thirty-five or more years been conspicuously--yes, _brazenly_--looting
the revenues of the department. I shall not be able to advert to all
such influences, interests and persons. Especially can I not mention
some of the _persons_. Many of them have gone to “their reward”--or
to their punishment--as the Almighty has seen fit to assign them. As
a matter of venerable custom and of current conventional courtesy we
must leave them to His justice--to our silence. One by one many of the
_dishonestly enriched_ from our postal revenues have dropped into “the
dead past,” which Christ instructed should be left to “bury its dead.” In
our treatment of this subject we shall obey the Master’s instruction--we
shall discuss methods, practices, and _acts_, not men.

In turning to our subject directly, I desire to make a few positive
statements or declarations.

1. The Postoffice Department is a public service department--a department
intended to serve _all the people all the time_.

2. The people are paying, have paid, and are _willing to pay_, for their
postal service.

3. The people do not care--never have cared--whether the expenditures
exceed the receipts by $6,000,000 or $100,000,000, _if they get the
service for the money expended_.

In comment on the last, I wish here to ask if anyone has heard
much loud noise from the people about the army and the navy
expenditures--_expenditures larger than that of any other nation on
earth_ for similar purposes?

Yet, for twenty or more years, the people have paid the appropriations
for--also met the “deficit” bills of--each of those departments without
any noticeable “holler.”

But, again, it must be pertinently asked, what have the people received
in return for their _billions_ of expenditures for those two departments?

Yes, what? They have had the doubtful “glory” of having their army
_debauch_ some island possessions, maneuver for local entertainments
and do some society stunts while on “post leave”--which “leave”, for
epauletted military officers, appears to have occupied most of their time.

And the people have put up, ungrumblingly, $100,000,000 to $150,000,000
or more (I forget the figures), for a navy--a navy carrying on its
payrolls more “shore leave” men and clerks than it has service men.
(At any rate that was the showing in a recent year). For this vast
expenditure of their money the people got--_got what_?

Well, for their hundreds of millions expenditure on that navy of ours,
the people, to date, have received in return _newspaper reports_ of
numerous magazine and gun explosions with, of course, a list of the
killed and wounded, and reports of “blow-hole” or otherwise faulted armor
plate, turrets, etc., of raising “The Maine,” of shoaling this, that or
the other battleship, or of “sparring” or “lightering” off, to the music
that is made by a “blow-in” of fifty thousand to two or three hundred
thousand more of their money.

Reader, if you read--if you have read--the “news”--the periodical
literature--of those past twenty years, you will know that the people
have received little or no returns for the vast expenditure of money--of
_their_ money--that their representatives (?) have made for the Navy
Department.

Oh, yes, I remember that our army and navy fought to a “victorious”
conclusion the “Spanish American” war.

No patriotic American citizen alive at the time that war occurred will
ever forget it. He will ever remember Siboney, Camp Thomas, Camp Wycoff,
and the cattle-ship transports for diseased and dying soldiers. He will
also remember the “embalmed beef” and the “decayed tack” and other
contracts and contractors.

If the patriotic citizen has been an “old soldier,” or is familiar with
the history of wars, he will also know that, if the whole land fighting
of that Spanish American war was corralled into _one_ action that action
would be infinitely less sanguine than was the action at a number of
“skirmishes” in our civil war--that, if the several naval actions of that
war were merged into one, it would not equal, in either gore or naval
glory, Farragut’s capture of Mobile, the action in Hampton Roads, nor
even Perry’s scrimmage on Lake Erie in 1813.

What has all this to do with the postal department deficit, some one may
ask? It has just this to do with it:

If a people stand unmurmuringly for the expenditure of _billions_ for
a service that yields them no return, save a protection _they have not
needed_ and of doubtful security if needed, that people is not going to
raise any noisy hubbub over a dinky deficit of a few millions a year for
a service which should serve them _every day of every year_.

I have expanded a little, not disgressed, in writing to my statement
numbered 3. I will now proceed with my premeditated statements. Some of
them may be a little frigid, but none of them are cold-storage. Some one
may have told it all to you before, but that is his fault, not mine. He
merely beat me to the _facts_.

4. As stated in a forward page of this volume, the people of this nation
want and demand _service_ of its Postoffice Department. They care not to
the extent of a halloween pea-shooter whether the service is rendered at
a deficit of six million or at a surplus of ten million, _if service is
rendered for the money expended_.

5. The people of this country will object more strenuously against a
_surplus_ in their postal revenues--their service tax--than they ever
have or will object to a deficit in the revenues of that service, _if
they get the service_.

6. The Postoffice Department is not understood--is not even thought of
by intelligent citizens--as a _revenue-producing_ department. It _is_
understood to be a _service_ department, and the citizen--His Majesty,
the American Citizen--is always willing to pay for services rendered.

7. The Postoffice Department has not in the period named--no, not for
thirty or thirty-five years--_rendered the citizen the service for which
he paid_.

I mean by that, of course, that the citizen has been compelled to pay far
more for a postal service than he _should have paid for that service_.

8. Had that service been _honestly, faithfully and efficiently rendered_,
the price the citizen has paid for it _would have left no deficit for any
year within the past thirty_.

9. _The only deficits in those thirty or thirty-five years have been
the result of manipulated bookkeeping, of political trenching into the
revenues of the department, of loose methods in its management, of
disinterest in the enforcement of even loose methods, and of downright
lootage and stealings._

“Rather harsh that, is it not?” asks one.

“Mere assertion,” says another

To the first I need only say that this is an age not congenial to
milk-poultice talk. I have previously expressed my opinion on that point.
If you have a thing to say, say it _hard_. The majority of people will
then understand you. Those who do not understand you can continue their
milk poultices--or believe and talk as they are told _or are paid to
believe and talk_.

The latter--the reader who yodles that my preceding nine statements
appear to be assertions only--can make a courteous and, possibly, a
profitable use of an hour’s leisure in reading a few following pages,
before he _rusts_ into the belief that those nine “assertions” are
groundless assertions.

In showing that there is no “deficit”--a shortage of receipts in the
Postoffice Department over its legitimate expenditures--I shall not take
my nine statements up seriatim, but present my reasons in a general way
for having made such blunt declarations. I may go about that, too, in an
awkward way, but the reader who follows me will get my reasons for making
those nine declarations.


NO CREDIT ALLOWED FOR SERVICES RENDERED OTHER DEPARTMENTS.

If the department of public works in Chicago does a piece of bricklaying,
concrete or other construction work for the police, fire, health or other
department of the city government, or if it carts or hauls away some
excavated material or razed debris for any of those other departments,
the service rendered is made a _charge_ by the department of public works
_against_ the department for which the service is rendered.

What is true in this instance in Chicago’s municipal government is true
of every other city or incorporated town in this country that has its
service departmentized.

If the County Commissioners of McCrackin county build a bridge or culvert
for Ridgepole township in the county the cost of constructing that bridge
or culvert (or a proportional share of it, if on a general highway), is
made a charge against Ridgepole township.

If the transportation department of the United States Steel Corporation
delivers the services of three steam tugs (services rated at $30.00 per
day) to the corporation’s smelting or rail departments there is a credit
of $90.00 given to the transportation department, and a corresponding
_charge made against the department for which the service is rendered,
for each day’s service rendered_.

_That states a recognized business rule and practice_ among both private
and public corporations. Its valid and _just_ purpose is to prevent the
loading upon one department (any one department) the expenses created or
incurred by another.

Is it not a valid, fair and just method of business?

If it is not, then the largest merchants, the most productive and
profitable manufacturing establishments, transportation companies,
banking and other mercantile, industrial and financial institutions have
not discovered the fact.

If the owner of an Egyptian hen ranch had a shrinkage in his castor bean
crop, he would not think of charging the cost or loss on those castor
beans up to his hens, would he? Hens do not eat castor beans. That is
useless--well--yes, of course. Well, hens do not eat castor beans,
anyway. So my ill-chosen illustration, though may stand--stand anyway
until someone finds a breed of hens which likes castor beans.

But, if the hens of that hen-rancher invaded his vegetable garden,
scratched up his set onions and seeded radishes, pecked holes in three
hundred heads of his “early” cabbage and otherwise damaged the fruits
of his labor, care and hopes--likewise disarranged his figures on
prospective profits--if the hens did that, that hen-rancher would most
certainly charge his loss to the hens, would he not?

That is, he would do so, if the hens had attended to their legitimate
business as industriously as they looked after his vegetable garden and,
by reason of that legitimate effort, showed a “profit balance.” The
preceding is based, of course, on the assumption that the rancher has
acumen enough to distinguish a hen from a rooster and a sunflower from a
cauliflower. If he is so wised up, whether by experience and observation
or by academic training, he will most certainly charge his loss on
vegetables against those hens.

“What is the application of all this to the Postoffice Department
deficits?” some one is justified in asking.

Well, my intended application of it is, first, to show a generally
recognized and practical business method--a business method practiced by
both public and private corporations and by individuals and firms, from
the hen-rancher to the department store. My second purpose is to show
that this almost universally recognized business method has been and is
_totally ignored in conducting the vast service affairs_ of the Federal
Postoffice Department.


FREE-IN-COUNTY MATTER.

The 1910 report of the Postoffice Department states that 55,639,177
pounds of second-class mail was carried and distributed _free_ in the
counties of these United States.

Of course, this 1910 _gift_ to country publishers is the result of a
moss-grown custom--a custom born of an ingrown desire common to crooked
politicians--a desire to trade the general public service for _private_
service. All the second, third and fourth class cities in the country, as
well as a majority of our towns and larger incorporated villages, have
their _party_ newspaper or newspapers.

Comparatively speaking, few of them have any extensive telegraphic
service, if any at all, in the gathering of news. Those which have not,
capture the early morning editions--or the late evening editions of the
day before--of two or more metropolitan papers, “crib” their “news” and
deliberately run it, in many instances, as special wires to their own
sheets. In some cases, which I have personally noticed, that practice was
indulged when their own “newspaper” consisted of but two to four locally
printed pages reinforced by a “patent inside.” Why should such newspapers
(?) be given “free distribution” in the county of publication?

They contain little if any real news and less matter of any real
informative or educational value. True, the most of them do publish
a “local” column or half column of “news” for each or for several of
the outlying villages in the county of publication. These “local news”
columns inform the reader that “Mr. Benjamin Peewee circulated in
Boneville on Wednesday last;” that “Mrs. Cornstalk and her daughter
Lizzie are spending the week at the old homestead, just south of town,”
that “Mr. Frank Suds shipped a fine load of hogs from Bensonville on
Friday of this week,” etc., etc.

Most edifying “news” that, is it not? So didactic and brain-building, is
it not?

Now, why should the Postoffice Department carry those millions of pounds
of Reubenville sheets _free_?

The department report says it carried about 56,000,000 pounds of such
“periodicals” free last year. The figures for this year (1910-11) will
probably be around 60,000,000 pounds.

Why should the department give away $600,000 in revenues?

Besides that, _the department does not know how much of this_ “free
in county” matter it does carry and distribute. Of course, it may be
able to make a more dependable _guess_ at the total tonnage of such
second-class matter than can I. However, any one who has been around the
“county seat” or the “metropolis” of any of the “hill” or “back” counties
during a county, state or national canvass for votes will know that the
postmaster’s scales are often sadly out of balance when he weighs into
circulation the local newspaper. In fact, it frequently happens that he
does not weigh it at all--especially not, if it be an extra or extra
large edition issued “for the good of the party”--and more especially
not, if the edition is issued to serve _his_ party.

“It goes free anyway, so what is the difference?” the postmaster may
argue, and with fairly valid grounds for such argument. The department,
acting, pursuant of law, says “carry and distribute your local papers
_free_ inside your county.” So what difference does a few hundred or a
few thousand pounds, more or less, make to the department?

Why, certainly, what difference can it make? It is all done for “the good
of the party,” is it not?

This condition, governing, as I personally know it does govern, furnishes
my chief reason for saying that the Postoffice Department does _not_
know--does not know even approximately--the tonnage of the “free in
county” matter it handles. It never has known and does not _now_ know,
within _millions_ of pounds, the weight of such matter it carries and
distributes.

Again, I ask, why is this vast burden thrown onto the department and the
department getting not a cent of either pay or credit for carrying it?
Is it because of a paternal feeling our federal government has for the
poor, benighted farmers of the country? I can scarcely believe it is.
The farmers of this country are neither poor nor are they benighted.
If they were, free carriage and distribution to them of these local
sheets has not enriched them to any appreciable extent, however much
such free carriage and delivery may have added to the bank accounts of
the publishers of such periodical literature. Besides, ninety-five in
every hundred farmers whose names are on the publishers’ subscription
books _pay their subscriptions_. They usually pay, too, a pretty stiff
rate--$1.50 or $2.00 for a “weekly,” which gives them mostly borrowed
news and much of it decidedly stale at that. If a beneficent government
grants its “free in county” postal regulation with a view to dissipating
the gloom which clogs the garrets of our “benighted farmers,” that
government misses its purpose on two essential points. Our farmers, as
previously intimated, are no more benighted than are the residents of our
villages, towns and cities, and even if their ignorance was as dense as
a “practical” politician’s conscience, the medium which the Government
delivers to them, carriage free, seldom contributes much enlightenment.

No, it was not for either the enrichment or the enlightenment of the
dear farmer that the present “free in county” postal regulation was made
operative. It was to give some local party henchman a fairly profitable
job as publisher of a county newspaper--a party newspaper--and to have,
in him, a county “heeler” who would divide his time between building the
party fences and telling the dear farmer how to vote.

It is due to the publishers of country newspapers to say, that hundreds
of them have grown away from rigid party ties--have grown independent. It
is also but just to say that as these publishers have grown independent
of party domination, their newspapers have improved. We have now many
most excellent country papers published in our “down state” cities and
larger towns.

The points I desire to make, however, are, first, the “free in county”
mail delivery regulation was originally adopted for partisan political
purposes, not to serve the farmer residents of the counties, and, second,
that such regulation is unjustly discriminating and is raiding the
service earnings of the Postoffice Department to the extent of at least
six hundred thousand dollars annually. In my opinion such raiding will
reach seven or eight hundred thousands a year.


FRANKED AND PENALTY MATTER.

Going back now to that generally recognized and practical business method
referred to and which the government persistently refuses or neglects
to adopt in handling and directing the fiscal affairs of its Postoffice
Department, we find another raid on that department’s revenues.

Third Assistant Postmaster General, James J. Britt, makes a sort of
estimate of the amount of free second-class matter of Government origin
the Postoffice Department transported and distributed during the fiscal
year ended, June 30, 1910. Mr. Britt places the figure at 50,120,884
pounds.

Mr. Britt’s estimate is based on a six months’ weighing period in 1907
(the last half of that year.) It is reported as a “special weighing” and
showed 26,578,047 pounds of “free in county” second-class matter and
23,941,782 pounds of free franked and penalty matter of the second-class.
Mr. Britt then proceeds (page 335 of the department report for 1910),
to arrive at his estimated tonnage of franked and penalty matter by
assuming that the weight ratio of such second-class matter to “free in
county” matter would be about the same for 1910. He says: “If, as it
seems reasonable to believe, the relative proportions of this character
of matter have remained the same,” there would result for the fiscal year
1909-10 the figures he gives for the franked and penalty tonnage, or
50,120,884 pounds.

Well, to The Man on the Ladder it does _not_ seem “reasonable to believe”
that such method of estimating is sound nor the tonnage result attained
by it dependable. The year 1907 was a decidedly off-year in franked
matter of the second-class. The then President kept most of the Senators
and Congressmen guessing as to just what he intended to do in the matter
of the presidential nomination of his party. In fact, he kept a goodly
number of federal legislators guessing on that point until well along
in 1908. The result of this condition of doubt was greatly to lessen
the franked mailings and also reduced in material degree the mailing of
departmental, or “penalty” matter of the second-class.

For this and several other reasons, the tonnage of franked and penalty
matter reported as carried in the last half of 1907--even if the “special
weighing” Mr. Britt mentions was accurate and dependable, which it _was_
not and could not be, either then or now, under the lax methods by which
such weighings were and are made--the reported weight of such franked and
penalty matter carried in the last half of 1907 furnishes no fair or
safe basis upon which to predicate 1910 totals or to base a dependable
estimate of them.

Another defective factor is used in Mr. Britt’s estimate--the reported
total weight of “free in county” second-class matter as ascertained
by special weighing in the last half of 1907. As previously stated in
discussing the raid of six to eight hundred thousand dollars a year
made upon the postal service revenues by this “free in county” matter,
the department’s reported figures for it are little more than a robust
_guess_ at its tonnage, even now, and the figures given for 1907 are
much less trustworthy than are the department’s estimates and guesses
for the fiscal year ended in 1910. Whatever may be said of its faults
and faulty purposes, it is but simple justice to say the present
departmental administration has shown more judgment and activity and has
put forth more strenuous effort to get to the bottom of things and at
dependable facts in mail weights than has been shown by any of its recent
predecessors.

Still, I repeat that its reported figures for the total tonnage of “free
in county” for carriage and delivery of second-class mail matter are
not sufficiently reliable to warrant their use as a basis for making a
dependable estimate of the tonnage of another free division of second
class mail. Especially unreliable are the figures reported as total
tonnage of free-in-county-matter as a basis for estimating the tonnage of
a division of the service so far removed from “free in county” as is that
of free franked and penalty matter.

All that aside, however, the fact is the Postoffice Department should
receive credit for every pound of franked or penalty matter it handles
for the legislative and other departments of the government service.

Mr. Britt himself appears to recognize the force of that fact. On page
335 of the department report for 1910, he speaks as follows:

    The public mind seems unusually acute on the subject of free
    mailing facilities, and there is much criticism in the public
    press of the continuance of the franking privilege and the use of
    the penalty envelope, the suggestion being often made that the
    same should be abolished and that this department should receive
    proper credit in accounting for matter now being carried free.
    It is therefore suggested that consideration be given to the
    desirability of eliminating the transportation of mail matter
    under frank or penalty clause, in order that the Postoffice
    Department may receive due and proper credit for the tremendous,
    and in some part possibly unnecessary, services which it is
    performing free, to its apparent financial embarrassment.

    It is probably true that the use of the penalty envelope and the
    franking privilege is availed of with undue liberality, even if
    not actually abused, as is often alleged; that is to say, the
    same care is not taken to confine the mailings of governmental
    and congressional matter to only that which is necessary as would
    undoubtedly be the case if there were a strict accountability for
    their use.

It will be noted that Mr. Britt in the foregoing covers other than
second-class mail matter. Taking the figures of his estimate of the
volume of free franked and penalty matter of the second-class (51,000,000
pounds in round numbers, which I believe is so conservative as to be far
below the actual tonnage), then the various other departments of the
government are raiding the revenues of the Postoffice Department to the
extent of $510,000 for the carrying and handling of their second-class
mail alone. That is, they are requiring the Postoffice Department to
render to them without pay or credit over a half-million dollars’ worth
of service a year. That is figured at the 2nd class rate of 1 cent a
pound. If Mr. Britt’s own estimate, on another page of the same report,
that it cost the Postoffice Department 9 cents a pound to transport and
handle second-class mail, is correct, which as previously shown it is
not, then other departments of the government would be raiding the postal
service revenues--revenues which private individuals, firms, corporations
and governments subordinate, now alone pay--to the extent of more than
$4,500,000 a year.

It must be borne in mind by the reader, however, that Mr. Britt’s
estimate of 51,000,000 pounds (a round figure) of second-class matter
carried and handled free by his department for other departments of the
federal government does not represent the total of service rendered those
other departments for which the Postoffice Department received neither
pay nor credit. Far from it.

Hundreds of tons--how many hundreds of tons, I do not know, nor have I
been able to find an authority or record to inform myself--of letters
and other sealed matter were carried and distributed by the Postoffice
Department for other departments. For that service not a cent in pay or
credit was received.

It must be remembered that the service rate for carrying and handling
the class of matter (first-class) we are here speaking of is 2 cents per
ounce or fraction thereof. That is, the rate is not less than 32 cents
a pound, not 1 cent a pound as is the rate on second class on which Mr.
Britt gives his estimate of tonnage carried.

Why should not the Senate and the House, the Judicial, War, Navy,
Interior and other departments of the government be required to provide
in their annual appropriation bills for paying for the first-class
service furnished them by the Postoffice Department?

The postal service of the government is also rendered free to the several
departments to handle all their third and fourth class mail matter. What
the annual tonnage of these two classes aggregates I have been unable
to learn. Whether or not the Postoffice Department keeps any records
showing the aggregate mailings by the other departments, I do not know.
I do know, however, that it gets neither pay nor credit for transporting
and handling the third and fourth class matter put to mail by the other
departments of the Federal Government. That the total weight mailed must
run into many hundreds of tons yearly for each of the classes named there
can be little grounds for doubt or question, records or no records.

The mailing rate on third-class is eight cents a pound. On fourth-class
it is sixteen cents a pound. Those are the rates the people have to pay.
That both rates are outrageously excessive is well known to every one who
has made even a cursory study of the cost of transporting and handling
government mails, and the irony of it all is the stock arguments put up
by postoffice and other federal officials to justify such outrageous
rates.

“The rates are necessary to make the Postoffice Department
self-supporting--to avoid a deficit,” or statements of similar washed
out force and import. And that in face of the fact that the government
permits its departments, bureaus, divisions, “commissions,” etc., to
raid the postal revenues by loading upon the postal service the cost of
transporting and distributing thousands of tons of mail matter for which
it gets not a cent of pay or credit.

Nice business methods or practice that, is it not?

Beautiful “argument,” this prattle about deficits in the postal revenues,
is it not?

Why, it is humorous enough to make empty headed fools laugh and sensible
men use language which postal regulations bar from the mails.

Think of the tons upon tons of official reports, of the bound volumes
of the Congressional Record, of copies of the Supreme Courts rulings and
other printed books and pamphlets distributed by the Departments of War,
Navy, Agriculture, Interior and others.

All these fall into the third-class, or 8-cent-a-pound rate.

Think of the tons upon tons of seeds--farm, garden and flower--sent by
Congressmen to their constituents--to thousands of constituents who do
not need the seeds, in fact, who can make no possible use of them; of
the tons upon tons of clothing, suitings, household bric-a-brac, etc.,
franked by Senators and Congressmen to their homes, to their wives,
children, sweethearts or friends.

Investigations in the past have shown that hundreds of typewriters,
office desks, even articles of household furniture, were sent home under
frank.

It was also shown in several instances, if I remember rightly, that
some of the typewriters, etc., were never franked back to government
possession. However that may be, all such mailings are of the fourth
class and fall into the 16-cent a pound rate for carriage and handling.

Let us here foot up the amount of the raidings on the postal funds, so
far as we have gone.

First,--There is the free-in-county second-class--$600,000 to $800,000.

Second,--There is the free second-class franked and penalty matter. Third
Assistant Postmaster General Britt “estimates” it at $510,000, figured
at the present one-cent rate. I have shown the weakness of Mr. Britt’s
_basis_ of estimate. In my judgment the tonnage of franked and penalty
second-class mail is nearer 75,000,000 pounds than his estimate of
51,000,000 pounds. But to take Mr. Britt’s figures, there is another raid
of $510,000 on the service revenues of the Postoffice Department.

Next, we have the free _first_, _third_ and _fourth_ class matter which
the postal service handles under franking or penalty regulations.

How much does this raid total? How much has and _does_ this raid
contribute toward the creation of that “deficit” which has so long,
so continuously and so _brazenly_ been used to bubble the people in
politico-postal oratory and writing?

The reader must keep in mind that we are here asking about the
thirty-two, the eight and the sixteen cents a pound classes of mail. To
what extent have the various departments of the government raided the
postal funds by taxing the postal service with their over-load of the
character indicated? That they have taxed the Postoffice Department’s
revenues by demanding of that department its highest class and highest
rated service in _unlimited_ degree, and that, too, without _one cent
of compensation, pay or credit_, is a fact which no informed man will
attempt to controvert.

But what did such service (and abuse of service) cost the Postoffice
Department? To what extent did and _does_ this “frank and penalty”
_privilege_ in first, third and fourth class use of the mails loot or
raid the postal revenues?

Is it to the extent of three, two or one million dollars? Is it lower
than the lowest or higher than the highest figures just named?

I do not know--do you? Have you, the reader, been able to ascertain
from the records of the Postoffice Department, or elsewhere, any
figures or data that enables you to make even a “frazzled” guess at
the _approximate_ cost to the postal department of this unjust--_this
politically and governmentally crooked_ burden put upon it?

I have hunted and have found nothing but talk, and a few figures
scattered here and there and gathered from--well, the Lord may know
where. But the Lord has failed to inform me. So I am in ignorance--am
benighted, just like our “poor farmers,” both as to the source of the
figures I have seen and as to their force and value in reaching a fair
conclusion as to the aggregate amount of postal revenues the departmental
raiders have been and _are_ carrying off. If any reader knows or can dig
up the facts, he will confer a great favor by handing the information
to The Man on the Ladder. Not only that, but I am confident that the
people of this country will give such reader a niche, if needed not a
conspicuous position, in _their_ Hall of Fame, if he will give them even
a dependable approximation of the extent to which the postal service
revenues are raided--looted--by federal department abuses--_their
service and their money_, for the departments pay not _one dollar_ for
the thousands of tons of mail matter of the various classes which the
Postoffice Department transports and handles for them.

So far or so long has this departmental--_bureaucratic_, that is what
it is--practice of raiding the postal revenues by _loading its service_
continued, that the Postoffice Department has been and is _looting itself
by the same practice_.

This volume is written during what is known as the “weighing period” in
the postal service, the weighing being done to establish a basis for
_four years_ on which the railroads transporting the federal mails shall
be paid. In other words, as basis for a “railway-mail-pay” rate, which
rate will govern railway contracts for carrying the mails for a period of
four years.

During the current weighing period I have, at various times, both during
the day and at night, watched the weighing for varying intervals of from
an hour to two hours. Among the revenue raids observed during those hours
of leisure (?), I shall here mention a few. As the present Postmaster
General treats all departmental, or “penalty,” matter as “franked” matter
(See page 11 of the Postoffice Department report of 1910), I shall,
in the brief mention of personally observed facts at several railway
stations in Chicago do likewise.

(1) Three carloads of Senate speeches, franked to Chicago in bulk, the
bulk then broken and the speeches remailed, under frank, to individual
addresses.

I do not know the tonnage of those three cars. Local newspaper reports
stated that there were 3,000,000 copies of one of the speeches. I take it
that sixty tons is a low figure for the three carloads. The actual weight
was probably nearer ninety tons. But leave it at sixty, the remailing in
piece at bulk destination makes the weight 120 tons on which the Post
office Department had to pay transportation, on sixty tons of which it
also had to stand the expense of piece handling.

(2) Another carload of Senatorial vocal effort passed through Chicago to
a destination far west. I do not know, but presume it was in bulk, and
on arrival, bulk was broken and the matter returned to mail for piece
distribution.

The reader must not overlook the fact that the character of matter
carried in those four carloads was third-class--was _eight-cent-a-pound
matter_. There were eighty tons or more of it in bulk and its remailing
in piece would make it 160 tons.

If a manufacturer, merchant or other business man put to mail 160 tons of
third-class matter he would contribute to the postal service revenue just
$25,600.

(3) Three crates of fruit went into a mail car at one time, two cases
of canned goods at another and a crate of tomatoes at another, without
passing over the weighing scale. A drum of coffee, fifty to eighty pounds
in weight, went to mail at another time, and a large sack of sawdust at
another.

Both of the last mentioned _went over the weighing scale before they went
to the mail car_.

I am speaking only of what casual or chance notice brought to my
attention in three railway stations in Chicago. If similar or
corresponding abuses were indulged at other stations here, as it is
a legitimate inference they were, it is also a legitimate inference
that similar abuses were, and are, practiced throughout the country,
especially in cities of the first, second and third classes--in cities
and towns on which has been conferred the distinguished honor of having
their mail handled under the watchful eye and supervising care of a
“Presidential Postmaster,” that is, by a postmaster appointed by the
President _for partisan reasons and prospective uses_.

Again going back to our mutton, I repeat the question, “What is the
extent of this ‘franking’ and ‘penalty’ raid upon the revenues of the
Postoffice Department?” I have cited three local instances merely to
give a “hunch”--to blaze a line along which thoughtful people may safely
think, and think to some fairly satisfying conclusion. I do not know the
extent of the _lootage_ of postal revenues by the uses and abuses of
those “frank” and “penalty” regulations. You do not know, and the present
Postmaster General _admits_ he does not know, nor has he any means or
method of ascertaining.

On page 11 of the report of the Postoffice Department for the fiscal
year 1909-1910, Mr. Hitchcock very frankly states the fact and gives his
personal opinion of the extent of the franking raid upon the service of
his department. He also suggests a partial remedy which also I shall
quote because it is a good suggestion, on right lines, and for making it
Mr. Hitchcock deserves the thanks of a people over-burdened by the abuses
his suggestion would, I believe, correct in material degree. At any rate,
the suggestion is on right lines. Following is what he says:

    The unrestricted manner in which the franking privilege is now
    being used by the several federal services and by Congress has
    laid it open to _serious abuses_--a fact clearly established
    through investigations recently instituted by the department.
    While it has been impossible without a better control of franking
    to determine the _exact expense to the government_ of this
    practice, _there can be no doubt that it annually reaches into
    the millions_. It is believed that many abuses of the franking
    system could be prevented, and consequently a marked economy
    effected, by supplying through the agencies of the postal
    service special official envelopes and stamps for the free mail
    of the government, all such envelopes and stamps to be issued
    on requisition to the various branches of the federal service
    requiring them, and such records to be kept of official stamp
    supplies as will enable the Post office Department _to maintain
    a proper postage account_ covering the entire volume of free
    government mail.

“_There can be no doubt that it annually reaches into the millions_,”
says Mr. Hitchcock of the cost to his department of transporting and
handling the government free mail matter--frank and penalty matter. It
should also be noted that he says that “the unrestricted manner in which
the franking privilege is now being used by the several federal services
and by Congress, has laid it open to _serious abuses_.”

Not only are the foregoing statements of our Postmaster General true, but
with equal truth he could have said that the abuses of the postal service
practiced by other federal departments have encouraged--have coached, so
to speak,--the Postoffice Department into _abusing itself_.

Those crates of fruit and cases of canned goods which I saw loaded into
mail cars were probably for some postmaster who conducted a grocery or
fruit stand, as a “side” to his official duties. Or they may have gone to
some “friend” or “good fellow” along the line, or to some one who stood
for a “split” of the express charges on such a shipment.

The drum of coffee and sack of sawdust may have had consignees of similar
character. But their shipment as mail matter showed another abuse of
the postal service by the Postoffice Department itself, or by employes
of that department. _They were weighed into rail transportation at a
time when the average weight of mail carried during a period of three or
six months would govern the rate of pay the transporting railroad would
receive for carrying the mails during a period of four years._

The same might be said of the four carloads of Senatorial eloquence
referred to on a previous page. Those cars were franked through _during
the weighing period_ in the postal service. There is this difference,
however, between those four cars of franked eloquence and the drum of
coffee and sack of sawdust. The former was an abuse of the postal service
and a raid upon its revenues _by permission, if not by authority, of the
postal statutes_. The latter was an abuse of the postal service and raid
upon its revenues _by employes of the Postoffice Department itself_.

But the point we are after is the extent of federal departmental raid
upon the postal revenues. How much is it? I have confessed my ignorance
of the sum such raid will total. Our Postmaster General has (see last
preceding quotation), confessed his ignorance of the total. He says there
can be “no doubt that it annually reaches into many millions.”

I have no other evidence or authority at hand save the testimony of
William A. Glasgow, Jr., before the Penrose-Overstreet Commission in
1906. Mr. Glasgow represented the Periodical Publishers’ Association.
In presenting the case for that association--strong, reputable body,
representing vast business and public service (educational, social,
fraternal and trade interests)--Mr. Glasgow used the following language:

    You may take the revenues of the Postoffice Department and give
    _away $19,000,000 per annum in the franking privilege to other
    departments of government_ and then give away $28,000,000 per
    annum in the beneficent advantages of rural free delivery, and
    then lose millions in unequal and exorbitant transportation
    charges, certainly $5,000,000, and thus create an apparent
    and artificial deficit and use that as a basis for further
    taxation upon those who read magazines, but no one will be
    deceived by such an excuse and no wise Congress will be moved by
    considerations so transparent or necessities so unreal.--_Page
    544 Penrose-Overstreet Report (Hearings), 1906-7._

If Mr. Glasgow were speaking in 1911, I have no doubt he would have
raised his figure of $19,000,000 to _twenty or more millions_ as a nearer
approximate of the total of federal departmental raids upon the earnings
or revenues of the Postoffice Department.

Do not misunderstand me.

All legitimate departmental service _should_ be rendered by the
Postoffice Department, but that department _should receive credit for
such service rendered_.

The departmental “abuses” of the postal service are _steals_. They
should not be tolerated. If extra-departmental service is rendered (as
is well known it is), _it should be paid for just the same--and at the
same service rates--that Jim Jones, Susie Bowers and Widow Finerty are
compelled to pay for similar service_.

Now, we have raidings on the postoffice revenues by the government
departments themselves, including free in county, and by the Postoffice
Department’s looseness of methods in handling its own business, of
somewheres around $22,000,000 a year, not counting the _stuffing_ of
weights during the “weighing period”, which goes to swell the railway
mail pay rates for mail carrying railroads for a period of four years.

As to the last, I wish to say that Mr. Hitchcock, the present Postmaster
General, has done _more_ to correct such weighing frauds than has any
of his predecessors within the range of my study of the question. Yet
it lingers--hangs on to an extent which should put some subordinate
postoffice officials and railway officials in restraint--put them out of
range of opportunity for such looting.

In the face of an annual raid of $22,000,000, what is the use of all
this prattle--prattle extending over years--about _deficits_ in the
postal service? Will some one kindly rise in the front pews of the postal
department or in the sanctum of its _beneficiaries_ and tell us?

_There is no deficit in the postoffice service revenues. The people pay
and have paid for more service than is rendered--for more service than
they have received or do receive._

“But what difference to the people does it make whether they pay for
carrying the departmental mail out of the postal revenues or have each
department pay for its own mail carriage and handling?” is a common
answering interrogative argument (?) to my immediately preceding charge
that the various government departments _raid_ the postal revenues to the
extent of “many millions,” as Mr. Hitchcock has put it. “The people have
to pay for it anyway, do they not?”

Just so, and what difference does it make? Well, here are a few points
of difference which might be seen and comprehended without jarring any
fairly normal intellect off its pedestal:

1. To have the departments pay or give credit to the Postoffice
Department for the service it renders to them is an honest and approved
method in any other business. The present method not only violates sound
business principles but is _dishonest_ as well--dishonest because it
throws the burden of those “many millions” for mail haulage and handling
of franked and penalty matter _upon the postal rate papers_, and not upon
all the people of the country as it should.

2. If the free congressional and departmental matter now costs, say
$20,000,000 a year for mail haulage and handling, then the government
is practicing a policy which both _originates and distributes revenue
without appropriation_. In other words, the general government in such
practice usurps the function of originating revenue which function, under
the Constitution, is vested in the Lower House of Congress.

Next, the general government distributes that $20,000,000 (or its
equivalent in service, which amounts to the same thing), to the several
departments, or lets each department raid that service as it pleases. It
does this in flat violation of another section or clause of the Federal
Constitution which provides that the cost of maintenance and operation,
including any contemplated construction and permanent betterments, shall
be provided for in an _annual appropriation bill_.

3. The recommended method would greatly lessen the “abuses” of the
postal service by government departments and officials of which Mr.
Hitchcock speaks. On the other hand, the method of the present and the
past _invites_ such abuses. Abuses grow but do not improve with age. Each
year the abuses of which Mr. Hitchcock speaks in his 1910 report have
grown until _abuses_ is scarcely a fitting designation for them. These
abuses of the postal service have grown, and grown in such a stealthy,
porch-climbing way, that they amount to a _colossal steal_ every year.

4. When they hear so much yodling about “deficits” in the Postoffice
Department, millions of our people are led to believe that such deficits
are created by an excess of cost over receipts in carrying the letters,
postal and postcards, the newspapers, magazines and other periodicals,
the books and merchandise, which the people themselves entrust to
the mails for delivery. They hear that the postal service “should
be self-supporting,” that “each division of the service should be
self-sustaining” and then they are called on for higher service rates to
meet “deficits.”

Why should this great government of ours permit its officials longer to
gold-brick the people with such ping-pong talk? Why not tell the people
the truth, or at least give them an open, honest opportunity to learn the
truth?

The annual federal appropriation bills informs them at least of the
“estimated” expenditures for the year for other departments. Why not
give them an _honest_ estimate of what it costs the Postoffice Department
to render a service _which should serve them_?

Other easily comprehended differences between the present method of
loading all governmental mail service upon the Postoffice Department
without pay or credit for the vast service rendered and a method which
would give that department such credit could readily be mentioned.
However, the four points of difference between the two methods above
cited, and the advantages which would accrue both to the service and the
people by adopting an approved, honest business method instead of the
present unfair, foolish and _dishonest_ one, are sufficient, I think, to
convince the reader that there _are_ differences between these right and
wrong ways of handling the nation’s postal service--its governmental mail
matter--that are of vital importance--differences which on the one hand
invite raidings, waste and _lootage_ of the postoffice revenues and on
the other would make for economies in the service and for business care
and _honesty_ in the use and expenditures of those revenues.


EXPRESS COMPANIES CONDUCTING A CRIMINAL TRAFFIC.

But, says another apologist for the loose, wasteful methods of the
Postoffice Department in handling both its service and its revenues, “The
postal service was originally instituted for handling the government mail
only.”

That be as it may, though I doubt the sweeping assertion of the statement
made, just as I doubt the integrity and truthfulness of purpose of the
person making it. It came to my notice as part of an argument (?) in
defense of the outrageous railway mail pay and mail-car rental charges
which mail carrying railroads have _been permitted_ to collect from the
postal revenues _paid by the people_. But whether or not the postal
service was originally intended to be merely a dispatch service for
transmission of government orders, documents, etc., can stand as no
valid reason now for the Federal Government’s permitting its several
departments to use and abuse the vast system for intercommunication
among the people which it has permitted to be built up, and for the
building of which it has taxed (by way of postal charges) those who made
use of the system--taxed them _excessively_, if indeed not somewhat
unscrupulously--whether or not, not, I say, the government originally
intended the mail service to be an exclusive service for use of the
government only has no present bearing. If such was the original
intention, the foolishness of it must soon have become apparent, for we
find that federal laws were enacted to establish a general postal service
_for all the people_. Not only were laws enacted for the establishment
and regulation of a mail service, but by the law of 1845 it was clearly
intended to make such service a _government_ monopoly. Section 181 of the
federal statutes reads as follows:

    Whoever shall establish any private express for the conveyance
    of letters or packets, or in any manner cause or provide for the
    conveyance of the same by regular trips or at stated periods over
    any post route which is or may be established by law, or from any
    city, town or place between which the mail is regularly carried,
    or whoever shall aid or assist therein, shall be fined not more
    than $500, or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

The foregoing makes it quite evident that, as early as 1845 at least,
this government of ours did not intend or design the service on mail
routes then existing, nor on routes to be established, was to confine
itself to the carriage and handling of government matter only. The
establishment of rail post routes and the greater facility and speed with
which such routes would handle the people’s mails--“the letters, packages
and parcels of people residing along such mail routes”--was one of the
stock arguments of the Illinois Central Railroad promoters in 1849-50--an
argument designed to justify before the people a grant of land to the
chartered company so large as to make the grant a _colossal steal_. The
same or similar argument was turned loose and persuasively paraded in
the oratorical procession which preceded the vast federal land grants,
or land steals, in connection with the building of transcontinental or
Pacific rail lines.

Enough has been said to show quite conclusively that whatever may
or may not have been the “intention” of the government at the first
establishment of a mail service--a service then wholly by water
transportation, by runners and by a “Pony Post” and mail coach--a
decision was very soon reached to make the postal service a public one--a
service for all our people--and to give the government _a monopoly of
that service_.

No one reading the section of the Revised Statutes of the United States
above quoted will attempt to controvert the statement last made.

Then, it may be asked again, and justly, too, why does the government
continue to permit its various departments to over-load and to _loot_
the postal service, the revenues for maintaining which the people--the
mail-using portion of the people--alone contribute?

It also may be justly asked, why does the government permit
its postoffice and other officials to _scream_ at the people
about “deficits,” when they have already paid far more than the
service--_their_ service--costs the government?

Other equally pertinent questions might be asked, but I shall forbear.
I have shown, I believe, that the raids upon the postoffice revenues by
free-in-county matter and by government itself would _more than meet_ any
“deficit” yodled about in recent years.

That is what I started to demonstrate in this chapter. But there are
other raids and raiders upon the revenues of the Postoffice Department to
which I must advert. I purposed in writing to this phase of our general
subject, to make official prattle about postal service “deficits” look
and sound foolish.

I believe I have already done that, but in justice to the subject and
to the postal ratepayers, at least three other raiders must have their
cloaks slit.



CHAPTER XI.

LATEST OFFICIAL STYLES IN POSTAL CONVERSATION.


The President’s message of February 22, 1912, reached me a few hours
after the closing chapters of this volume had gone to the printers. With
it arrived a copy of the Postmaster General’s report for the year ending
June 30, 1911; also notice from a Congressman friend that he will have
the Hughes Commission’s report on the way shortly. The Man on the Ladder,
like Lucy, when selecting her spring bonnet, desires the “very latest
creation.” It may not be essentially necessary in a discussion of Federal
postal affairs, but even a hurried reading of the President’s message and
the report of Postmaster General Hitchcock will furnish abundant evidence
that _expressed_ official opinion is somewhat ephemeral and transitory,
like the styles in ladies’ headwear. I have never had the pleasure of
retaining a lady’s unanimous friendship for any appreciable length
of time after giving her my honest opinion of the style of her most
recently acquired bonnet, and readers who have followed me thus far in my
consideration of government postal affairs will have discovered that my
respect for “style” in official oratory and literature needs coaching.

All that aside, however, the point is that I have persuaded my printers
to “break galley” just here and permit the insertion of a chapter, having
as subject the “very latest” in official postal affairs.


THE PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE.

In his Washington Day effort our smiling President is profusely loyal
to the characteristics of his style in composition--plumage and
displacement. Mr. Taft, however, should set up no claims of originality
of design in Executive messages. Several of his predecessors presented
the people of these United States with numerous displays of verbal
plumage and trimmings. So our President had many working-models as guides
in building the message upon which we shall proceed to comment.

This message, both in architectural specification and in contour or
_ensemble_, is largely but a re-trim of the “block” furnished by Mr.
Hitchcock in his report, under date of December 1, 1911. In considering
the President’s message and the report of the Postmaster General, we may,
then, shorten our task somewhat by treating the two public documents as
one. They, of course, differ in phrasing and wording, but the language
of the message is only a sort of Executive “Me-too” approval of what
Mr. Hitchcock says in his report, save on one point--the taking over of
the telegraph companies by the government. That point we will discuss
separately, presenting the argument of the president against the
proposition and the _facts_ presented by Postmaster General Hitchcock:

“It gives me pleasure to call attention to the fact that the revenues for
the fiscal year ending June 30, 1911, amounted to $237,879,823.60 and
that the expenditures amounted to $237,660,705.48, making a surplus of
$219,118.12. For the year ending June 30, 1909, the postal service was in
arrears to the extent of $17,479,770.47.”

Well, yes, certainly. It gives us all pleasure to see a surplus grow
where only deficits grew before--gives us great pleasure. Still,
Mr. President, you will permit us humbly to say that it has been a
distressful winter and that here, the very last of February, the ground
is still frozen hard. You, of course, will recall that our Postmaster
General, at intervals during the last fiscal year, as opportunity for
“interviews” offered, gave us confident assurances that his department
was harvesting a surplus, ranging in amount from one to three million
dollars. These assurances beyond our expectations--our hopes--led us to
an elevation which makes it a far fall to $219,118.12. Of course, it is
our fault. We should not have permitted our hopes and expectations to
become so altitudinous. But Mr. Hitchcock has a very persuasive delivery
and the public press quoted him so numerously and so prolixly that we
climbed on and on up--away above the one and some of us well on towards
the three million level and--well, as before said, the ground being
frozen, a drop to $220,000 jars us some considerable in alighting. Mr.
Hitchcock probably framed up his mid-year interviews to fit observed
conditions, the best he knew how. Most of us will soon be out of the
hospital and in condition to take an inflation for another flight. Some
of the less venturesome among us may be over-careful not to soar too
high, but our tank capacity remains about the same. So the Postmaster
General may meter nearly the same amount of rhetorical gas to us
without fear. The President might, however, if he thinks it would not
occasion any unseemly discord in rendering the grand symphony entitled
“Administrative Policy,” give us folks some information on the following
points--points raised by a reading of the Washington Day message and of
the 1911 report of the Postmaster General, both of which are before me,
as I write. Of course this is the President’s busy season and he may not
be able to devote as much time to our enlightenment as he would like to
and otherwise would. In that event, he may turn the subject over to Mr.
Hitchcock and request him to separate himself from a few interviews to
clear these matters up for us.

In each annual report of the Postoffice Department I have at hand (1907
to 1911 inclusive), there appears an item which reads, “Expenditures on
account of previous years.” For the years indicated, the figures on this
item of expenditures are as follows:

    1907     $  303,045.55
    1908        823,664.64
    1909        586,404.69
    1910      6,786,394.11
    1911      7,132,112.23

As figures are always more or less of a serious nature, we will here drop
the personal element in discussing these points on which information
is desired, and much _needed_, if public press notices can be at all
depended upon as informative. Of course “figures do not lie.” Still,
it is generally known that, however truthful they may be in correct
calculations, they sometimes appear very peculiar, if not queer, in
tabulations. Some persons have even gone so far as to assert that
“official figures” have frequently been so arranged and manipulated as
to “conceal the facts.” Now, the figures for that item, “Expenditures on
account of previous years” may conceal no facts which the public has any
right to know. Still, there is something about them which irritates one’s
bump of curiosity; that is, if one’s bump is not abnormally dwarfed or
stunted. At any rate, it appears from press comment that those figures
have sand-papered or otherwise frictioned several bumps of curiosity into
a state of irritation. It is the hope of securing some official light
that will act as a linitive or demulcent to my own and other bumps that
persuaded those figures into evidence here.

What do those figures mean? Are they of any real informative value or
merely convenient things to have around when building the sub and
superstructures of a department annual reports, like the figures of
the postal deficits? A glance at the sums named in the table shows a
variableness that amounts almost to a waywardness in totaling bills or
accounts payable. The federal fiscal year ends June 30th. The annual
reports of the Postoffice Department bear date December 1st--full
four months after the close of the fiscal year. Surely four months is
sufficient time to gather into account the bills payable or carried-over
obligations of a previous year, is it not? Of course the business of the
department is a large business--over $237,000,000 last year and about
$260,000,000 is asked for this year in the appropriation bill recently
passed by the House. But that is no reason whatever for failure to
account for amounts ranging from $300,000 to $6,200,000 of unpaid bills
of the business year in which the obligations were created; especially
not, when publication of the accounting is made four months after the
close of the year.

This item of “expenditures on account of previous years” becomes no
more understandable, if indeed it does not become more suggestive of
purposeful manipulation, when one looks over the itemized or segregated
expenditures of the year. The items of expenditure are all of the
conventional character used in business accounting--operation and
maintenance--such as service salaries, transportation of the mails,
rents, light, fuel, supplies, repairs, etc. And these are all set down as
expenditures of and for the fiscal year’s business covered by the report,
there being not even a suggestion that any part or portion of the total
is an expenditure of the previous year--of any previous year.

So much for the detail of expenditures as published in the reports. From
the summaries of receipts and expenditures one gathers no additional
light. In the reports of the Third Assistant Postmaster General (division
of accounts), one finds only the bald item, “Expenditures on account of
previous years,” down to the report of Third Assistant, James J. Britt,
for the year ended June 30, 1910. For that year Mr. Britt segregates the
item as follows:

    Services for the fiscal year, 1909             $6,721,058.52
    Services for the fiscal year, 1908                 53,814.12
    Services for the fiscal year, 1907                    108.97
    Claims, fiscal year, 1907 and prior years          11,605.44
    Claims, fiscal year, 1906 and prior years              25.00
                                                    ------------
                        Total for prior years      $6,786,394.11

Anyone taking the trouble to add the five amounts given above, will
discover an error of $217.94 in the total. While that error is only a
trifle, its appearance, however, in the addition of but five items is not
highly commendatory of the ability of Mr. Britt’s expert accountants.
The making of such an error in totaling only five entries has a tendency
to arouse doubt or suspicion as to the reliability or dependability, not
only of the footings given for the longer tabulations published in the
report, but also of the footings which must necessarily have been made
to secure the totals which are entered as items in such tabulations. Be
this as it may, very few persons, aside from clerks paid for doing the
work (and, possibly, an official or two whose duty it is or should be to
see that the work is done accurately), will go to the trouble to verify
even the footings of the published tabulations. So the errors, if any
have been made, are not likely to become subject matter for much adverse
criticism.

My purpose in presenting the showing of the 1910 report on that item
of “expenditure on account of previous years” is to make the statement
that, so far as I have been able to look up the matter, it is a first
weak attempt to make public in the annual report the accounts and claims
carried over from a previous year or years and published as expenditures
of the year to which they are carried. I desire the reader to note,
also, that of the total of “expenditures on account of previous years”
($6,786,612.05 as above corrected), all but $65,553.53 is set down as
expenditures for the year _immediately prior_--for 1909.

Now, the business of the Postoffice Department is a cash business--wholly
so in the matter of receipts and nearly so, or should be, in the matter
of expenditures. This being the case, that item entered in the published
annual reports as “expenditures on account of previous years” must
consist largely of payments made on account of the year _immediately
preceding_ the year covered by the report. As just shown by the published
analysis of the item in the 1910 report, the expenditures on account
of prior years other than the one just preceding are so small (only
$65,553.53 in a total of $6,786,612.05), that they may be ignored in
the attempt I am shortly to make, to show that the item we have been
considering--“expenditures on account of previous years”--has such
dominance in the department’s method of accounting, as evidenced in its
annual reports, as to materially affect the deficit or surplus showing.

First, however, I desire to call attention to another point or two
relating to this item of expenditure.

A glance at the tabulation made of this item shows a huge jump in its
amount for the year 1910 of $6,200,000, round figures. Next, it appears
that the necessities of business, _or the emergency needs of those
building the report_, forced this item still upward in the showing for
1911 as made December last--upward by $345,718.12, making its total
$7,132,112.23. In the report before me, no analysis of that large
carried-over payment on account of prior years is given. The Third
Assistant Postmaster General may furnish information as to the year or
years of its origin. His report has not reached me yet, so I cannot say.
The bald statement is there, however, that 1911 _paid over seven million
dollars_ on account of 1910 and prior bills. It is also in evidence that
_no information whatever_ is published which enlightens the public as
to the amount of _unpaid 1911 bills that are carried forward to 1912
account_.

Whether adverse criticism is justifiable or not, such cloaking of
accounts in giving them publicity most certainly warrants it. It is just
this cloaking that has subjected Mr. Hitchcock’s little vest-pocket
surplus for 1911 to much and merited criticism, doubt and question.
Mr. Urban A. Waters, in testifying before the House Committee on Civil
Service Reform _harpooned_ the Postoffice Department with an accusation
that it had permitted a million dollars to waste, evaporate, be
misapplied or stolen, in connection with a deal for sanitary and safety
appliances to railway mail cars.

If Mr. Waters’ charges are grounded in fact, then is provoked and
_invited_ the question: Is it designed or intended to carry that million
into the accounting of 1912--or into that of some future year--as an
“Expenditure on account of previous years?”

Mr. Waters is publisher of the Denver Harpoon. He can say things and is
generally recognized as a man who makes a practice of gathering the facts
to back up what he says before he says it. In his testimony, so far as
I know, Mr. Waters made no statement or suggestion that the evaporated
million he spoke of would be, or could be, very securely _cacheted_
or “fenced” in this “account of previous years.” It is The Man on the
Ladder who points out--who says--that such loose accounting as carries
to account of a subsequent year the expenditures made or incurred in a
previous year can _very readily_ be made to cloak a steal of one or more
millions of dollars.

Then, there are those rural carriers who refused to do as Mr. DeGraw,
Fourth Assistant Postmaster General, told them to do. You read the papers
of course, and--you believe them, of course, though most of you say, “Of
course, I don’t believe ’em.” Well, it was broadly published that the
_Rural Free Delivery News_ had the temerity to publish--not merely to
insinuate, mind you--that Mr. Hitchcock’s showing of a little $220,000
surplus for the year ended June 30, 1911, was made possible only _by the
failure of the Postoffice Department to make a plain, valid charge of
$7,201,149.64 expenditures for that same fiscal year of 1911_!

Those are _not_ the exact words used in giving publicity to the asserted
fact by the _Rural Free Delivery News_, but that is the meat in the nut
the publication cracked. It appears that the published statement was
closely contiguous to the facts. At any rate, its nestling juxtaposition
to the truth was such that it appears to have neither looked nor listened
well to the department. There is a presidential campaign on the speedway
at this time, with all its usual concomitants of cackle, clack, cluck and
other atmospheric disturbances. Such a published truth--if truth it is,
and it certainly displays a marked resemblance in both form and feature
to that article so extremely rare in campaign clutter--the appearance of
such a truth on the speedway has a tendency to “blanket” some candidate
or jockey him into the fence. With a view no doubt, to guarding against
such possibility, that machine so much used in recent years to smooth
down the rough places in administration roadways was turned onto the
track. A hostile opposition, always somewhat harsh and careless in its
language, calls it “the steam roller.” So the steam roller, with Fourth
Assistant Postmaster General DeGraw at the wheel and manipulating the
levers, rolled out among the rural carriers.

But it appears that it did not roll over them. There are forty-odd
thousand rural carriers and, of course, it would have to be some “steam
roller” to mutilate or seriously dent the ranks of so numerous a body
of men; especially of men who travel about with the fragrance of the
clover blossom and the corn bloom in their nostrils. They just wouldn’t
be rolled and, it is reported they so informed Mr. DeGraw in very polite
and easily understood language. They would not demand of the publisher
of their association organ that he retract and, to date, the _Rural
Free Delivery News_ has, so far as I have seen, shown no sign of either
intention or inclination to back away from or in any way modify its
charge which, in effect, was that the showing of a surplus--of even a
little “runabout” surplus of $220,000 for the fiscal year of 1911--is a
“faked” showing--a showing made possible only by carrying $7,201,149.64
of 1911 expenditures over to 1912 account.

May the _Rural Free Delivery News_ live long in the land and flourish.

In a letter just received from Mr. W. D. Brown, editor of the _R. F.
D. News_, he says: “When the Postoffice Committee submitted its report
on March 6, it contained the statement that instead of a surplus in
the postal revenues there was, up to that time, a deficit of more than
$600,000.00 and I am satisfied that the amount will be greatly increased
before the end of the current fiscal year.”

In the _News_ of January 27, the issue to which Mr. DeGraw took
exception, Editor Brown publishes a letter he wrote under date of January
11, 1912, to Mr. Charles A. Kram, Auditor of the Postoffice Department.
He also publishes Mr. Kram’s reply. In comment on the reply, Mr. Brown
says: “Auditor Kram’s reply throws very little light upon the subject,
except to establish the fact that it is impossible to say at any time,
whether the Postoffice Department is being conducted at a profit or a
loss.”

Next comes Congressman Moon, an admitted authority on postal affairs and
Chairman of the House Committee of Postoffices and Post-Roads.

I see by a press notice that Mr. Moon, in speaking to the question before
his committee recently, stated that there was a “deficit of $627,845
for the fiscal year of 1911” in the Postoffice Department, instead of a
surplus of $219,118.12, as published in its report, and over which Mr.
Hitchcock and President Taft display so much luxuriant jubilation.

We have probably presented sufficient testimony to evidence the fact that
the figures presented by our Postoffice Department are numerously, if not
unanimously, doubted among people who take upon themselves the trouble
and the labor of looking into them. True, the three or four witnesses
we have introduced do not agree as to the amount or magnitude of the
shortages or discrepancies they have found, nor have they said, just
where in the loose, bungled accounting they found the discrepancies.
However, my purpose here is to show only that publicity of such bungled
accounting does not enlighten or inform the public and that the practice
of _charging the expenditures of one year to account of the next_ may
easily be made to cloak and cover up much wasteful if, indeed, not
dishonest expenditure. That being the case, the disagreement of our
witnesses as to the amount of dollars and cents they severally have found
to be mislaid, or not properly accounted for, can make little difference
in the conclusion _forced_ by their testimony on any fair, inquiring mind.

But, it may be argued by apologists for such misleading practice in
accounting or by persons who would plead extenuating conditions for
Mr. Hitchcock and others charged with administering federal postoffice
affairs, that this loose, fraud-inviting practice is of long standing,
that the present administration has not had time to correct and remedy
the faulty practice and that the published showing of current years is
correct, because it is made on the same basis as was the accounting for
many previous years.

All very well said, but it does not answer. Hoary-headed age in loose,
falsifying methods of accounting neither commands respect nor can stand
as reason or excuse for continuing such methods. It most certainly has no
warrant as argument in extenuation for the continuance of such methods by
the present administration.

“Why?” Well, there are several reasons. Mr. Hitchcock, it appears, has
been aware for some two years or more that the practice we are here
discussing was a questionable one, even if he was not fully informed
as to the dangers--the waste, the fraud, the crookedness--which that
practice might easily be made to cloak. Yet he has not only continued the
practice, but, it would appear has further indulged or encouraged its
growth. Let us look at the published evidence on this point.

A _reduced_ deficit in the showing of the Postoffice Department for the
year 1910 was somewhat _evidently_ desired. To that end, the practice
we are criticising charges 1910 with $6,786,394.11 for expenditures “on
account of previous years,” all of which, save $65,553.53, as previously
shown, were expenditures made on account of the year 1909.

Now, in a footnote to page 278 of the 1910 report, Third Assistant
Postmaster General Britt presents a somewhat confusing, if not confused
explanation of his showing of the “Revenues and expenditures” for the
year. One statement in the explanation, however, is resonantly loud in
its clearness.

“On the other hand,” says Mr. Britt, “expenditures made in the first
three months of the fiscal year, 1911 on account of the fiscal year 1910
and prior years are not included in the reported deficit for the year
1910. _The amounts are approximately equal._”

I italicize that last statement. Let’s see: 1910 was made to pay (in
accounting only, of course), $6,786,394.11 of 1909 and prior expenditures
and, in an exchange, as simple as swapping Barlows, $7,132,112.23 of 1910
expenditures are shunted onto the year 1911!

“The amounts are approximately equal,” says Mr. Britt.

Well, the difference is only $345,718.12--a mere trifle, of course, in
a shuffle of millions. But if that trifle had been added to the 1910
expenditures, where it rightly belonged, the 1910 deficit would have
shown up a trifle _over_ instead of a trifle _under_ six million dollars,
as given in the published report--a very important matter along in the
closing days of 1910.

Then, too, when our President and his Postmaster General so warm up to
a surplus of $220,000, it is possible, if not probable, that a trifle
like $345,000 might have been a convenience as a deficit _reducer_ in
December, 1910.

On page 19 of Mr. Hitchcock’s report, he presents the following as one
of thirty “Improvements in Organization and Methods” accomplished by the
Postoffice Department during the year ended June 30, 1911:

    A change in the financial system whereby the surplus receipts of
    postoffices throughout the country are _promptly_ centralized
    at convenient points for the purpose _of meeting other postal
    expenditures incurred during the period in which the surplus
    receipts accrued_, thus paying the expenses of the service from
    current receipts and obviating the necessity of applying to the
    Treasury for a grant to meet an apparent deficiency in postal
    revenues _when, as has happened in many instances, no actual
    deficiency exists_.

Now, that is certainly an “improvement” worthy of all commendation. If,
as stated, it provides for “Meeting other postal expenditures incurred
during the period in which the surplus receipts accrued” it certainly
should prevent “an apparent deficiency … when … no actual deficiency
exists.”

But why, then, is it reported that over $7,000,000 of expenditures for
the year ended June 30, 1910, are charged to the fiscal year 1911? The
report bears date December 1st, 1911--_four months after the fiscal year
1911 closed_. If the receipts of postoffices throughout the country are
“promptly centralized” for the purpose of meeting current expenditures,
it would require super, if indeed not supple, expertness in accounting to
figure out a surplus of $220,000 for a year’s business which assumes over
seven millions in unpaid bills of a previous year without, apparently,
knowing what amount of unpaid bills can be shunted onto the next year.

But, it may be argued, there is nothing inconsistent in Mr. Hitchcock’s
claim as just quoted, of an improvement in the department’s system
or methods of accounting which makes, or _should_ make, unnecessary
the carrying over to 1911 so large a sum for expenditures made in or
an account of the year 1910. While the improved methods have been
introduced, it may be argued that insufficient time has elapsed, even
to December 1st, to admit of their application in making up the fiscal
report for the year 1911. In short, that the improved methods were
introduced so late in the fiscal year 1910 that the resulting betterments
in the system of accounting could not be shown in the report for 1910-11.

Yes, that possibly might be of some weight in considering this claimed
improvement in the accounting methods of the department. There is,
however, one serious objection to its acceptance as evidence in this
case--evidence in proof that there was not sufficient time to make the
improved methods operative in the showing for the fiscal year 1911:

    (5) The adoption of improved methods of accounting by which the
    surplus or deficiency in the postal revenues is approximately
    determined _within three weeks from the close of each quarter_,
    instead of three months thereafter, on the completion of the
    audit of postmasters’ accounts.

    (6) The adoption of an accounting plan that insures _the prompt
    deposit in the Treasury_ of postal funds not immediately required
    for disbursement at postoffices, _thus making available for use
    by the department_ several millions of dollars that, under the
    old practice, would be tied up in postoffices.

In his 1909-10 report, Mr. Hitchcock sets forth _fifty_ “improvements”
in methods of handling and conducting the business of the Postoffice
Department--improvements made _prior_ to June 30, 1910, mind you.
Well, the foregoing quotation presents numbers 5 and 6 of the
enumerated 50 “improvements” that were set up as having already been
instituted--instituted prior to June 30, 1910. Beyond saying that the
department has certainly had ample _time_ to install and make operative
the improvements in methods of handling its business and of accounting,
which its published reports claim to have been made, comment is
unnecessary. If the improvements, as _twice_ claimed in the two annual
reports from which I have quoted have been made, then, it is pertinent
to ask: Why was _over seven millions_ of 1909-10 expenditures carried to
1910-11 account?

Such a showing excuses another question--excuses it because it _invites_
the question:

What amount--how _many millions of dollars_--of 1910-11 unpaid bills
and claims was carried over to become a charge against the fiscal year
1911-12?

Oh, yes, I am fully aware that this may be all readily explained by
saying that the claimed improvements as set forth have nothing whatever
to do with the practice of carrying forward unpaid bills of one fiscal
year and making them a charge against the receipts of the next or some
subsequent fiscal year.

Such an explanation is easily understood, _because it does not explain_.
That is, it is an explanation which, to be _believably_ understood,
requires more explaining than do the faults and crooks in the method of
accounting it attempts to explain.

That the “fumbling” of this carrying-over practice _needs_
correction--needs _abolishment_--will be seen from a glance at the two
following tabulations. That the practice also makes the departments’
annual showing of the _results_ of the business of the year--any
year--almost valueless is also made evident--that is, valueless so far
as real, dependable information is concerned as to whether the postal
service is conducted at a loss or at a profit.

The first tabulation following shows the published figures for the fiscal
year’s expenses as given in the departmental reports. It also shows what
the expenses of the fiscal years indicated really were, when their unpaid
bills (as shown by the next annual report of the department) are charged
against them.

The whole charge, “On Account of Previous Years” in each report is
treated as a charge against the _immediately preceding year_. It has
been shown that payments on “account of previous years,” as given in the
published reports, include for years other than the first or immediately
preceding, amounts so small that they may be, for purposes of comparison,
ignored.[8]

At any rate, the figures in the following tabulations of expenditures and
deficits--accepting the department’s published statements of receipts
as correct--are far more enlightening to the general public as to the
results of each year’s business, for the five years here covered, than
are the statements made in the annual reports of the department for the
years named.

The second table shows the “deficits,” or balances for each of the five
years as compared with the deficits shown in the annual reports of the
department, the corrected figures being subject, of course, to any
trifling reduction which may have resulted from the payment of bills
carried into the account from some other than the immediately preceding
year:

ANNUAL EXPENDITURES OF THE POSTOFFICE DEPARTMENT.

                Expenditures         Expenditures
                as published.        as corrected.
    1907      $190,238,288.34      $190,758,907.43
    1908       208,351,886.15       208,114,626.20
    1909       221,004,102.89       227,204,092.31
    1910       229,977,224.50       230,322,942.62
    1911       237,648,926.68       230,516,814.45

From the foregoing it will be seen that the corrected figures show a
range of variance from the published figures, of over $6,400,000. That
is, the corrected figures are some $230,000 below for the year 1908
and more than $6,200,000 above for the year 1910, the showing in the
departments published reports.

A similar correction for the year 1911 cannot be made until the
department chooses to enlighten the public as to the amount of 1910-11
unpaid bills it _has carried forward to become a charge against the
receipts of the year 1911-12_.

As the account for the year stands above, the surplus for the year
1910-11 is $7,363,009.15--not the comparatively trifling amount of
$219,118.12, as published. Of course, if the report shows that 1912 pays
$7,363,009.15 of 1911 expenditures, then the paltry surplus for the
last-named year may stand as given in the report. But if the 1912 report
should show that so much as _one dollar_ more of 1911’s unpaid bills
were shunted onto 1912 than 1911 paid on account of 1910’s shunted bills
($7,132,112.23), then Mr. Hitchcock’s joy-producing “surplus” will vanish
as an _actuality_ in correct accounting.

Following is the showing of the deficits or balances as published, as
compared with the _actual_ deficits or balances, as corrected according
to previous explanation:

                 Deficits                      Deficits
               as published.                 as corrected.
    1907      $ 6,653,282.77                $ 7,173,901.84
    1908       16,873,222.74                 16,635,962.79
    1909       17,441,719.82                 23,641,709.24
    1910        5,848,566.88                  6,194,285.00
    1911          219,118.12 (Surplus)        7,363,009.15

There, again, is shown a range of more than $6,400,000 between the
published and the _very near_ actual deficits of the several years, not
including 1911, for the showing on which, for reasons stated, I and the
rest of the “dear people,” who are just now being “worked” for votes,
will have to wait until the 1912 report is published.

Why, nothing but a government treasury--the treasury of our easily
“bubbled” people--could survive that sort of bookkeeping for the time
covered in the above tabulated statement of published and _actual_ yearly
shortages and of _one_ alleged surplus.


AN EXECUTIVE OVERSIGHT--POSSIBLY.

We will now detach ourselves from these wearisome figures and more
wearisome figuring, using figures only as a sort of garnishment to chief
courses served to us by the President and our Postmaster General.

The receipts of the Postoffice Department, as published in its annual
reports, were $34,317,440.53 greater for the fiscal year 1910-11 than for
the year 1908-9.

Both the President and Mr. Hitchcock are eloquently ebullient because of
the appearance of a tender shoot or bud of a surplus in a place where
nothing but deficits grew before. But neither of them appears to have
boiled over in either message or report to show the people what splendid
things have been accomplished in two years with that thirty-four millions
of increased revenues. I wonder why? Possibly the failure of ebullition
at the point indicated is the result of oversight. Of course, it may have
resulted from lack of thermic encouragement or inducement. Or, it may be,
that some “induced draft” drew the major part of the thirty-four millions
up the smoke-stack without leaving a B. T. U. equivalent under the kettle.

“The Postmaster General recommends, _as I have done in previous
messages_, the adoption of a parcels post, and the beginning of this
in the organization of such service on rural routes and _in the city
delivery service first_,” says President Taft.

If the President really has recommended in “previous messages” the
“beginning” of a parcels post “experiment” in “the City Delivery Service”
such recommendation entirely escaped my notice. A “test” of a parcels
post service on rural routes--yes. That was much talked of a year or more
since. But of an “experimental test” of an improved parcels post in urban
carrier service, little or nothing was said or, if said, it did not make
sufficient noise for The Man on the Ladder to hear. However, I presume
it is as permissible for the conceptions and concepts of a President to
broaden, enlarge and improve as it is for those of a Postmaster General
to broaden, enlarge and improve. For that matter, a proportional, if not
entirely corresponding thought-expansion may be occasionally noticed
in the Department of the Interior as conducted and operated by common,
ordinary mortals.

As the parcels post is the subject of a later chapter which is already in
type, further consideration here is unnecessary. It may be said, however,
that extending the proposed test--any “test”--of a parcels post service
to city free delivery routes, instead of confining it to a few “selected”
rural routes as Mr. Hitchcock proposed it should be confined in his 1910
report, is a step in the right direction--a step in advance. Still, such
a step is but dilatory; is but procrastinating. A cheap, efficient,
_general_ parcels post service must come and, now that the people are
aroused--aroused as to the _criminal_ wrongs inflicted upon them by a
Postoffice Department and a Congress that have acted for thirty or more
years as if indifferent to or not cognizant of those wrongs--it must
_come quickly_, unless, of course, it should develop that the people
are, really and truly, as big fools as railroad, express companies and
certain public officials have treated them as being.

“The commission reports that the evidence submitted for its consideration
is sufficient to warrant a finding of the _approximate_ cost of handling
and transporting the several classes of second-class mail known as
paid-at-the-pound-rate, free-in-county, and transient matter, in so
far as relates to the services of transportation, postoffice cars,
railway distribution, rural delivery, and certain other items of
cost, _but that it is without adequate data to determine the cost of
the general postoffice service and also what portion of the cost of
certain other aggregate services is properly assignable to second-class
mail matter_.… It finds that in the fiscal year 1908 … the cost of
handling and transporting second-class mail matter … was about 6 cents
a pound for paid-at-the-pound-rate matter, and for free-in-county,
and transient matter, each approximately 5 cents a pound, and that
upon this basis, as modified by _subsequent deductions in the cost of
railroad transportation_, the cost of paid-at-the-pound rate matter,
for the services mentioned” (I have not mentioned all the “services”
enumerated by the President, all being covered in the words “handling and
transportation”), “is approximately 5½ cents a pound.” …

That is from the President’s Washington Day message. Can you beat it?
Well, it will take a smooth road and some going to do it.

First, it is cheerfully admitted that the Commission (the Hughes
Commission) had no “adequate data to determine the cost of the general
postoffice service and also what portion of the cost of _certain other
aggregate services_ is properly assignable to second-class mail matter,”
and then our President proceeds--with equal cheerfulness and smiling
confidence (_or is it indifference?_) to assure us that the Commission
proceeded to figure 6 cents a pound as the cost of handling and carriage
of _paid_ pound-rate second-class matter and 5 cents a pound as the cost
of corresponding service for _free-in county_ and so-called “transient”
matter!

Again I ask, can you beat it? If you can, please send me your
picture--full size and two views, front and profile. I would derive
much pleasure from a look at your front and side elevations. Of course,
the President has an official right to a “style” of his own. A “style”
of expression, however, cannot be protected by copyright, otherwise,
as stated at the opening of this interpolated chapter, President Taft
would be guilty of infringement. Other presidents have run into verbose
verbosity in expressing themselves. It is an official _convenience_ at
times to do so, however ludicrously _open of intent_ or “phunny” it may
appear to laymen.

The President, in the paragraph of his message above quoted, recalls
two of his “arguments” before the Swedish American Republican League,
of Chicago, which arguments I had the honor to hear. In one instance he
was flourishing about our ideal of popular government and said: “What we
are all struggling for, what we all recognize as the highest ideal in
society, is _equality of opportunity_.… Of course perfect equality of
opportunity is _impossible_,” then _why_ it is impossible followed for a
paragraph.

It was so nicely and redundantly redundant, so resilient in phrasing, so
honestly _earnest_, that one just _had_ to go along with our President,
whether or not one could see how “the highest ideal in society” could
possibly be found in a chase after the “impossible.”

At another point in his kindly persuasive Come-unto-me discourse, he
pointed out to us how liable a “majority of the people” is to “make
mistakes by hasty action and lack of deliberation.” Then, after a
paragraph of beautiful foliage, the President cited the anti-trust law
of 1890 as an evidence of the advantages and beneficent results of
ample “deliberation” before taking action in matters of “grave import”.
He explained that the decision of the Supreme Court was at first
“misunderstood, or if not misunderstood, was improperly expressed, so
as to _discourage_ those who were interested in the federal power to
restrain and break up these industrial monopolies. _After twenty years’
litigation_ the meaning of the act has been made clear by a decision of
the Supreme Court, prosecutions have been brought and many of the most
_dangerous_ trusts have been _subjected to dissolution_.”

It was all so fine, so lulling if not luring! It made one feel as if
he were lost or had gone to sleep looking for himself. But when in a
comfortable seat, in the owl car, where the jostle of the wicked world
was so toned down and gentled as to permit a little analytic thought,
that beautiful illustration of the value of making haste slowly and
of long, careful “deliberation” when acting on matters of vast import
recurred to us--that Anti-trust Act.

“After twenty years” careful deliberation, the Supreme Court was able to
decide what the act meant! Was able, also, to decide what its _own prior
decisions meant_ and prosecutions were then brought and “many of the most
dangerous trusts have been subjected to dissolution!”

All of it listened very well, but it don’t stand the wash very well. It
is matter of common knowledge that during the twenty years the Supreme
Court was industriously trying to find out what the Anti-Trust Act
and its own decisions meant, the trust organizers and promoters got
away with _more than eight billions of unearned values_--some set the
figure above fifteen billions. The Supreme Court made haste slowly in
its “deliberation,” while the respectable get-rich-quick Wallingfords
were going after the people’s money and going in high-powered cars with
the speed levers pulled clear down. No making haste slowly or duly
_prolonged_ deliberation with Wallingfords’.

Then, if one will take the trouble to glance at market quotations
of the stocks of _any_ of “those dangerous trusts” which “have been
subjected to dissolution,” he will find that they have passed through the
trying ordeal of “dissolution” without the turn of a feather. All are
smiling. Why should they not? Stock quotations show that Standard Oil
is over $250,000,000 better off than before its _deliberated_ judicial
dissolution. The Tobacco Wallingfords are also many millions ahead of
the game since “dissolution” set in. And “Sugar”--well since the Sugar
Trust was “busted” and subjected to the “dissolution” process nearly
all its controlled saccharine matter appears to be trickling into its
bank account. Similar “most dangerous trusts” show similar evidences of
“dissolution” since the Supreme Court processed them.

What has this to do with our immediate subject? Nothing whatever. It is
a mere interpolation--with a purpose. Its purpose is to evidence what
appears to be a practiced habit with our President--a florescence or
foliation similar to that displayed in the quotation I have made from his
Washington Day Message. In the quoted paragraph, the reader will observe
that he first says the Hughes Commission was “without data to determine
the cost” of certain very important factors in the aggregate expense of
handling and transporting the mails, and then he immediately proceeds
to inform us that the Commission finds that the “cost of handling and
carriage of paid-at-the-pound rate matter was about 6 cents a pound,”
etc.--a virtual impeachment of the Commission’s finding before the
finding is stated.


THE HUGHES COMMISSION.

What little space permits me to say of the report of the Hughes
Commission may as well be said here.

In their report the commissioners very frankly admit the meagerness, or,
on numerous important points, total lack of informative data. But, as the
President states, they proceed to put on record a finding of 6 cents a
pound as the cost of handling and transporting paid second-class matter
and 5 cents a pound as the cost of similar service on free-in-county
matter, for the year 1908. They finally recommend, however, that the
present “transient” rate (for copies of periodicals mailed by other than
publishers) be continued--1 cent for each 4 ounces; also that the present
free-in-county privilege be retained, _but not extended_.

What does that “not extended” mean?

I do not know. Do you? Does it mean that the country newspapers now
issued--_now_ entered in Postoffice Department for free haulage and
handling--shall continue free and that no new newspapers established,
founded and distributed in counties, shall be transported and handled
_free_?

If it does not mean that, what does it mean? If it means
that, then why does this Commission recommend a thing that is
primarily--_elementary_--wrong under the organic law of this government?

The Constitution of these United States _specifically_ prohibits
“special” legislation. Then why, I ask, should the recommendation of this
Commission be complied with? I have been publishing _The Hustler_, a
_controlled_ Republican or Democrat 4 to 8 pager, as the case may be, for
four years. Paul Jones comes along and flings in his money to publish and
print the _Democratic Booster_ in the same county. Does this Commission
mean to recommend that _The Hustler_ be carried and distributed free in
the county and that _The Booster_ be required to pay the regular pound
rate for the same service?

A flat rate of 2 cents per pound is recommended for all other periodical
matter, newspapers and magazines alike.

Well, that recommended rate is of course, better than Mr. Hitchcock’s
“rider” recommendation, discussed in a previous page. The Commission’s
“finding” that the cost of carriage, handling and delivery of
second-class mail “was approximately 6 cents a pound” is also an
appreciable step-down (toward the facts), as compared with Mr.
Hitchcock’s _assured_--milled, screened and sifted--finding that said
cost was 9.23 cents a pound--a finding as late as March 1, 1911. So if
this commendable “merger” of views, opinions and _guesses_ keeps growing,
as industrial, rail and other mergers are wont to grow, the postal _rate
payers_ of the country may hope yet to find that even their great men may
agree.

I have discussed this second-class mail rate--the cent-a-pound rate for
periodicals--elsewhere. With private companies (the express companies)
carrying and delivering second-class mail matter for the average mail
haul, at _one-half cent a pound_ (and standing for a “split” with the
railroads for one-half of that), the question as to whether or not the
government _can_ carry mail matter without loss at _one cent a pound_,
is not worth debating among men whose brains are not worn in their
sub-cellars.

I mean the last statement to apply to third and fourth class matter as
well as to second. What it has cost the government, or what it now costs
the government, to transport, handle and distribute the mails is another
and quite different matter from what such service can be and _should_
be rendered for. Was it not that the people’s money is lavishly wasted
by such foolishness and foolery, a dignified commission of three or six
men sagely deliberating upon, critically “investigating” and laboredly
discussing what it costs the government--what the government in 1908 or
any other year paid--to carry and distribute the mails, might be staged
as the working model of a joke. If a Commission’s time and the people’s
money were spent in making a careful, thorough investigation as to what
it _should_ cost to collect, transport, handle and distribute the mails,
and as to just where and how the millions of dollars, now annually wasted
in an over-unmanned, incompetently managed, raided and raiding service,
could be saved, results fully warranting the expenditures made on account
of these postal-investigating commissions would readily be obtained.

A summary of the proceedings of the Hughes Commission is presented
elsewhere. Here I shall take space for only two or three observations.
First, as is evidenced by the Commission’s report, the Postoffice
Department was before it in conspicuous volubility and the frequency of
a stock ticker during a raid, with call money at 84. Postmaster General
Hitchcock and his Second and Third Assistants appear to have been the
chief “floor representatives” of the department during the flurry. Of
201 “Exhibits” listed by the Commission, about 100 of them--reports,
documents, memoranda and letters--found origin if not paternity in the
Postoffice Department, and a considerable portion of them was already
on file in government archives. Of the sixteen papers submitted after
close of “Hearings,” fourteen or fifteen are letters and memoranda of the
department, besides which seven memoranda are mentioned as having been
received from “the Postoffice Department and not marked as exhibits.”

That should make up a pretty fair collection of departmental argument,
views, opinions and “estimates,” should it not? It is very doubtful,
though--debatable, if not doubtful--if the collection is worth $50,000.
Especially does such a valuation appear questionably excessive, when it
is observed that much of the collection is made up of public documents,
the findings of former postal commissions and committees, and of reports
and showings made up by the Postoffice Department at departmental
expenditure of time and money, and not at an expense chargeable to the
Commission’s appropriation. Of course the Hughes Commission may not
have followed the precedent set by most prior postal Commissions, and
by commissions in general. The Hughes Commissioners may not have spent
all of their $50,000 appropriation. Let us hope they did not. However, a
statement of expenditures actually made would be, by some of us at least,
an appreciated “exhibit.”

Another feature of the Commission’s 108-page report that deserves special
attention is the close adherence of its findings to _the findings of
present postal officials_. Even in cases where the opinions of past
officials are quoted commendingly, the opinions usually support and
bolster the opinions of Mr. Hitchcock and his assistants. The report
presents a number of tabulations, among which are several that are
most excellent and informative. However, the tabulations, and the more
important conclusions of the text as well, are based upon “estimates,”
rather than upon ascertained facts. Then, too, these estimates, as is
somewhat annoyingly evident, are all, or nearly all, the departmental
estimates of the present Administration. Of course, that should in no
way impair their value or dependability and it probably would not, but
for two facts: The present Postmaster General has, for two years or
more, displayed great activity--at times, a fevered if not frenzied
activity--to secure the enactment of laws and issuance of executive
orders to accomplish results which, while they may appear most desirable
to him, were considered by many _thousands_ of our people as being very
objectionable, indeed, inimical to the fundamental right of free speech
in this country and a menace to a free press and to popular education.
The “estimates” which the Hughes Commission has published as basis for
its findings quite uniformly, if not entirely, support the contentions
which the Postmaster General has been making--at times, making with
little or no warrant of fact to support.

Again, it will be observed by careful readers of the Commission’s report
that the “estimates” upon which several of its more important findings
are based, are conspicuously lacking in elements essentially necessary
in the structure of reliable estimates from which fact or facts may be
deduced. To warrant the drawing of conclusions of fact from it, the
structural material of an estimate must consist largely, if not wholly,
of fact, not of conclusions drawn from other conclusions which, in turn
were deduced from estimates based on other estimates that may or may not
have been accurate and dependable.

As just stated, the estimates which the Commission appears largely to
have accepted, are nearly all productions of the Postoffice Department.
Few of them are built directly upon ascertained facts. Most of them
are estimates of estimates based on other estimates. It appears that
the Postmaster General’s estimates are Assistant Postmaster Generals’
estimates of the estimates made by weighing clerks of the several classes
of mail-weights carried by certain railroads during six months in the
year 1908. The nearest approach such a method or procedure makes to a
fact is an estimate of the fact, you see.


A POSTAL TELEGRAPH.

One more quotation from the President’s message and this chapter may
end. This quotation is anent the proposition of having the telegraph
service of the country operated by the government--in connection with the
postal service. Mr. Hitchcock’s recommendation in the matter of a postal
telegraph “is the only one,” says the President, “in which I cannot
concur.” I shall first quote President Taft and then quote Mr. Hitchcock
as he expressed himself in his 1911 report:

    This presents a question of government ownership of public
    utilities which are now being conducted by private enterprise
    under franchises from the government I believe that the true
    principle is that private enterprise should be permitted to carry
    on such public utilities under _due regulation as to rates by
    proper authority_ rather than that the government should itself
    conduct them. This principle I favor because I do not think it in
    accordance with the best public policy thus greatly to increase
    the body of public servants. _Of course, if it could be shown
    that telegraph service could be furnished to the public at a
    less price than it is now furnished to the public by telegraph
    companies_, and with equal efficiency, the argument might be
    a strong one in favor of the adoption of the proposition. But
    I am not satisfied from any evidence that if these properties
    were taken over by the government they could be managed any more
    economically or any more efficiently or that this would enable
    the government to furnish service at any smaller rate than the
    public are now required to pay by private companies.

    More than this, it seems to me that the consideration of the
    question ought to be _postponed until after the postal savings
    banks have come into complete and smooth operation and after a
    parcels post has been established not only upon the rural routes
    and the city deliveries, but also throughout the department. It
    will take some time to perfect these additions to the activities
    of the Postoffice Department_ and we may well await their
    complete and successful adoption before we take on a new burden
    in this very extended department.

As an exhibition of rhetorical aviation, that is both going and soaring
some. How beautifully it “banks” on the curves! How smooth its motor
runs! And its transmission! Words fail me.

Some paragraphing wit has said, “Foolishness is as plentiful as wisdom
isn’t.” Our President appears to know that we fools can take in a lot of
foolishness without our tanks sloshing over as we stumble along the old,
well-worn way--the way that leadeth the earned dollar into somebody’s
unearned bank account. But I do not intend to comment. The italics I have
taken the liberty to mix into the President’s verbal flight is all the
comment needed. Mr. Taft makes it quite clear that all we fools need to
do is wait--make haste slowly, take time for due deliberation. Of course,
some of us fools think we know, or presume to think we know, that the
telegraph companies are charging us two or three prices for the service
they render--frequently, do not render for twenty-four or more hours
after it ceases to be a service. But think of the good other folks derive
from the pocket change they extract from us! The Western Union is, or
was, a “Gould property.” It paid interest or dividends on eighty or more
millions of _quasi_ and _aqua pura_ in stocks and bonds. But think of
the fun sons George and Howard had! Think of the former maintaining the
beautiful Lakewood place, leasing English hunting preserves, playing polo
and “busting” into, through and around Knickerbocker society circles!
How could Howard have built a replica of Kilkenny Castle on Long Island
Sound, where he and “Wild West Katie,” it is said, spent millions and
had a realistic Kilkenny-Cat time of it? Or how could Frank, the fourth
and last son of Jay Gould, have given to the world such a lurid, if
not illuminating, picture of the “Married Rue” as was exhibited at his
divorce hearings? And there is “Sister Anna”--Well, it is sufficient to
say that Anna Gould could not have blown away ten millions in settling
“Powder-Puff” Boni’s debts and turning him loose in the straight and
broad way which leadeth unto the life that is somewhat too “fast” for
even unearned money.

Well, none of the before-mentioned “life lessons” could have been set
for the world’s enlightenment--likewise, disgust--had the people of this
country not waited, not made haste slowly, in “due deliberation,” while
the Western Union and other “Gould properties,” were used to separate
them from many millions of dollars which no Gould or Gould property ever
earned.

But this is digressing. The President advises us to wait, to delay action
a little longer--until the “postal savings banks have come into complete
and smooth operation,” until “after a parcels post has been established
… throughout the department.” Just wait and keep on paying twenty-five
cents for a ten-word wire to your mother or friend ten miles out, even
though the veriest fool knows that a postal telegraph service would carry
a twenty-five word message to any postoffice in the United States for
ten cents. Just keep on waiting--_until the big telegraph interests have
sheared a few millions more fleece_.

But, says President Taft, “If it could be shown that telegraph service
could be furnished to the public at a less price,” etc., etc.

Well, maybe there is a sort of visual aphasia which makes a quarter look
like ten cents to some men. If not, I am at a loss to understand how it
yet remains for anyone to be “shown” that telegraph service could be
furnished to “the public at a less price than it is now furnished by the
telegraph companies.” Postmaster General Hitchcock furnished sufficient
information, it seems to me, to show the President, or anyone else for
that matter, that telegraph service “could be furnished the public” at
rates much below those the telegraph companies collect. Mr. Hitchcock
speaks in part, as follows--page 14, 1911 report:

    The telegraph lines in the United States should be made a part
    of the postal system and operated in conjunction with the mail
    service. Such a consolidation would unquestionably result in
    important economies and permit the adoption of lower telegraph
    rates. Postoffices are maintained in numerous places not reached
    by the telegraph systems and the proposed consolidation would
    therefore afford a favorable opportunity for the wide extension
    of telegraph facilities. In many small towns where the telegraph
    companies have offices, the telegraph and mail business could be
    readily handled by the same employees. The separate maintenance
    of the two services under present conditions results in a
    needless expense. In practically all the European countries,
    including Great Britain, Germany, France, Russia, Austria, and
    Italy, the telegraph is being operated under government control
    as a part of the postal system. As a matter of fact, the first
    telegraph in the United States was also operated for several
    years, from 1844 to 1847, by the government under authority from
    Congress, and there seems to be good ground why the government
    control should be resumed.

While much more could be said in support of Mr. Hitchcock’s position, he
has said sufficient in the above, I think, to “show” even a President.

As evidence that the “estimates,” upon which the Hughes Commission so
largely base their findings are not entirely dependable, I desire to make
two brief quotations from other pages of Mr. Hitchcock’s 1911 report.
On page 17, as the first of thirty “Improvements in Organization and
Methods,” the Postmasters General sets forth as having been accomplished
in the service during the fiscal year 1911, will be found this:

    The successful completion of an inquiry into the cost to railway
    companies of carrying the mails and the submission of a report to
    Congress making recommendations for revising the manner of fixing
    rates of pay for railway mail transportation.

On pages 9 and 10 of the report, in discussing a readjustment of railway
mail pay, Mr. Hitchcock uses the following language:

    The statistics obtained during the course of the investigation,
    disclosed for the first time _the cost of carrying the mails_ in
    comparison with the revenues derived by the railways from this
    service.… The new plan (paying railways on the basis of car space
    occupied by the mails), if authorized by Congress, will require
    the railway companies each year to report what it costs them to
    carry the mails and such other information as _will enable the
    department to determine the cost of mail transportation_.

From the above it would seem that Congress was to be asked to adopt at
its present session a “new plan” which “will enable the department to
determine the cost of mail transportation;” to determine an important
service fact which, according to the preceding quotation and also to the
first sentence of the one just made, was determined sometime _prior to
June 30, 1911_.

Has the Postoffice Department already determined the facts as the report
twice claims, or has it merely collected some data upon which to base an
“estimate?” Which enables it to make a more or less reasonable _guess_ at
the cost of mail transportation?


FOOTNOTES

[8] I find from reports of the department auditor that the fiscal year
of 1909 was made to meet a charge of $128,307.32 which rightly stood
against the year 1907; also that the fiscal year 1911 is charged with an
expenditure of $148,490.01 belonging to 1909 and another expenditure of
$85,195.34, belonging to “1908 and prior years.”



CHAPTER XII.

RAILWAY AND EXPRESS RAIDERS.


I intended to take up here the railway mail-pay and postal car rental
steal and then the infringement by express companies on the postal
service and its revenues. However, since I have quoted Section 181
of the federal statutes governing, I think it as well, or better,
here to take notice of the express companies’ raiding into the postal
revenues--raidings into the field of service which the _law specifically
reserved for the operation of the nation’s Postoffice Department_.

Let me ask the reader to turn back a few pages and read again that
Section 181 of the federal statutes. Let me ask him also to think a
moment about the character of small parcels and packages the express
companies carry. To help our memories a little, let us note a few items.

The express companies carry and deliver for the general public money
remittance for any sum. For carrying sealed remittance of a hundred
dollars or less--for the carriage and delivery of which the government
has provided in its postal money order regulations--the express companies
are _criminals_ under that Section 181.

Had the express company “influence” not reached federal legislators, it
is not only highly probable, but almost a certainty, that our postal
service would today be both prepared and permitted to transmit and
deliver sums of money to any amount and at rates _lower_ than now charged
by the express companies.

If a publisher has ten or a hundred thousand copies of a book to deliver
to mail-order purchasers, some express company steps in and makes him an
offer for delivery, a _trifle lower_ than the 8-cent-a-pound rate charged
by the Postoffice Department for the same service.

In such instance, the express company making such tender of delivery on
any “post route” is a _criminal_, under the _specific_ wording of that
Section 181.

In previous pages of this volume the reader will find testimony of people
and of firms that pay large carriage bills for second-class matter. Among
this testimony are found statements (some of them under jurat), that the
express companies carry periodicals in bulk of five to ten pounds and
upward from New York to Chicago, and to other points equally distant from
office of publication, at a rate materially below the cent-a-pound rate
charged by the government for postal carriage.

In one instance, it is known that one express company has offered to
contract to carry periodicals from New York to Chicago over a certain
connecting railroad at a rate of _one-half cent a pound_.

What does that mean?

It means simply this:--The railroad handling such express business hauls
express cars _en train_ with the United States mail, and the railroad
handling such express consignments of periodical mail matter makes
the New York-Chicago haul at somewhere around _one-fourth of a cent a
pound_. That is, it is somewhere around one-fourth cent a pound unless
the carrying road takes _more_ than half the express company’s contract
charge.

“What more?”

The express company contracting such business and the railroad handling
it are _criminals_ under that Section 181 of the federal statutes.

In this connection I wish to say that under a strict--yes, under a
just--construction of that Section 181, I am not sure but that the
publishers party to such contracts are not also parties to the crime.

From the _letter_ of that section, I confess an inability to see any
other construction of it than that previously stated. The United States
government, or at least its legislative department, in 1845, _intended_
that all such matter--letters (sealed matter), “packets,” or packages
and parcels, should be turned over to the Postoffice Department for
transportation, handling and delivery.

Why has not the intent of that law been carried out?

Why are the express companies permitted, and for years been permitted, so
brazenly to perpetrate criminal violations of that postal statute? Why
and how does it chance that they (the express companies), can violate the
law for years and go unscathed--go unchastized for plain, open, brazen
violation of that Section 181 of the federal statutes? Yes, _why_?

There is but one answer; there _can_ be but one answer.

Federal executives, federal legislators and federal judicial officials
_have connived with private individuals and interests to nullify or make
abortive that Section 181_.

Have you ever read any of Allan A. Benson’s writings? “No?” Then you
have missed something you should never miss again, should opportunity
perambulate around your way. Allan A. Benson says something when he
writes--says it blunt, plain and _hard_--says it in language that
guarantees its own truth--says it in an open, broad way in which no man,
“even though a fool” or a joy-rider, can go astray. In both the February
and the March, 1911, numbers of Pearson’s Magazine, Mr. Benson writes on
the parcels post as a subject. I shall probably quote from him extendedly
when I reach that division of our general subject in this volume. Mr.
Benson _knows_ his subject. And what is didactically of more importance,
_he makes the reader know he knows it_.

Well, even with a fear that I may here reprint from him some paragraphs
for which I may have a greater need later, I cannot refrain from quoting
him in answer to those several “whys” I have just written, anent the
violations of that Section 181 of the postal statutes.

Following his quotation of that section of the federal statutes, Mr.
Benson says:

    The purpose of this law was to give the United States government
    a monopoly of the mail-carrying privilege. The law was first
    enacted in 1845, and, although the statutes have been revised
    from time to time, it stands today in precisely the form herein
    given.

    On the face of the law the express companies are law-breakers.
    But it is not enough to look at the face of a law. Everybody
    except the government is prohibited from carrying letters and
    packets--but what are “packets?” A letter is a letter; but what
    is a packet?

    Foolish question? Yes, it ought to be--but it isn’t. The whole
    express business rests upon the answer to this question. When the
    law was enacted, _there was no doubt_ about the meaning of the
    word packet, because there were no express companies to raise the
    question, and everybody knew that packet was a synonym, used more
    frequently then than now, for “parcel.” Express companies did not
    come along to raise the question until forty years ago.

    Even the express companies, when they began business, had no
    doubt about the meaning of the word “packet.” This is proved
    by the fact that whenever they handled packets, they required
    shippers to affix postage stamps. But recognition of the
    government’s mail monopoly had a strong tendency to curtail
    express business, and there came a time when the express
    companies decided to evade the law, leave off the stamps and
    openly compete with the government.

    See how ridiculous the express companies have since made your
    government. In 1883, a mail carrier who had stolen tea from a
    packet, made the defense at his trial that since a packet of
    tea was neither a letter nor a parcel, the law which prohibited
    tampering with sealed letters or parcels could not be invoked
    against him. United States Judge McCreary, who sat in the case,
    was not so minded. He told the jury to disregard the prisoner’s
    defense. In other words, a package was not only a parcel, but
    presumably a packet. The judge split no hairs about definitions.
    The mail carrier had stolen tea. That was enough. He was sent to
    prison.

    See how another judge, years later, construed “packet.” Nathan
    B. Williams, of Fayetteville, Ark., brought suit in the
    United States Circuit Court to prevent express companies from
    carrying packets. When the last judge had had his guess about
    the conundrum, Mr. Williams was judicially informed that the
    government mail monopoly, so far as packets are concerned,
    extends only to “packets _of letters_.” In other words, a packet
    is a packet of letters; that and nothing more. Here are the
    judge’s words:

    “While Congress has full constitutional powers to reserve to
    the postal department a monopoly of the business of receiving,
    transporting and delivering mails, and, in the exercise of such
    rights, may enact such laws, regulations and rules as will
    effectively preserve its monopoly, yet this monopoly is intended
    (see the Judge read the mind of the Congress of 1845), to extend
    only to letters, packets of letters, and the like mailable
    matter, and Congress has never attempted to extend this monopoly
    to the transportation of merchandise in parcels weighing less
    than four pounds, nor to prohibit express companies from making
    regular trips over established post routes, or from engaging in
    the business of carrying such parcels for hire.”

    That is what the court says--and what the court says goes.
    Here is what the present Attorney General of the United States
    says--and what the Attorney General says does not go. The
    Receivers’ and Shippers’ Association of Cincinnati asked the
    Attorney General to join in Mr. Williams’ suit, which the
    Attorney General declined to do for this reason:

    “The department has made a very complete study of the proposition
    and agrees with Mr. Williams upon the law, except as to the
    one point, namely, that there has been an _administrative
    construction against the proposition for over forty years_, and
    the chances are that a suit will be defeated on that ground.”

    In other words while the Attorney General believes the express
    companies have been and are violating the law, the postoffice
    department, for forty years, _has let them do it_, and it seems
    useless to try to enforce the law.

    Here, then, is the absurd situation with regard to packets
    into which the express companies have forced the United States
    government:

    If a packet contains tea, and a mail carrier steals some of it,
    it is a packet without doubt, and the mail carrier is sent to
    prison.

    If an express company carries a packet of tea, the packet is not
    a packet, because a packet is only a packet of letters.

    But a mail carrier will find out rather quickly, whether a packet
    of tea weighing less than four pounds, is a packet or not, if he
    carry the packet for his own profit instead of turning over to
    the government the amount of the postage. Let the fact become
    known to the government, and he will be arrested as quickly as an
    officer can reach him.

    Now: Is or is not this juggling with the law? If it is not
    juggling with the law, what, in your opinion, would be juggling
    with the law? If the foregoing decisions sound like good law to
    you, perhaps you ought to be upon the federal bench. You might
    shine as a judge. You don’t shine as a voter. You think, but you
    don’t act. You don’t put your thought behind your ballot. You let
    somebody else put his thought behind your ballot.

That is pretty plain talk--talk which should do us readers some good. It
should, at least, enlighten us as to these facts.

First: The express companies have been _criminally_ trenching upon
and into the service of the Postoffice Department for forty years or
more--have been _raiding_ what were originally intended to be the
legitimate and legally protected revenues of that department.

Second: Such raidings have been winked at by our federal legislators
and condoned, and the raiders exonerated by juridic opinions which were
so bald, bare, brazen and _cheap_ that they would make a practiced
confidence or get-rich-quick man blush.

I intended to write further here about this raid of the express companies
on postal revenues, but have concluded to defer much of what I intended
to say in handling this phase of our general subject to the closing
division of this volume--the parcels post. One reason for doing so is
that today it is _not_ the express companies which command and direct the
raidings that _express business_ is making, and for some years has made,
into what rightly and _legally_ should be the field of postal revenue
gathering. Twenty years ago, a trifle more or less, when John Wanamaker
was Postmaster General, he stated to a committee or delegation calling
on him, that there were four insuperable objections to the establishment
of a parcels post at that time. He named the four objections. They were,
if I remember rightly, “The Adams Express Company, the American Express
Company, the Wells-Fargo Express Company and the United States Express
Company.” It may be he named the Southern or some other express company
instead of the United States Express Company. I cannot remember. At any
rate he named _four_ express companies as the “insuperable objections” to
the establishment of a parcels post.

Well, he was right for the period in which he spoke. But twenty years
is a long time in a swift, governmentally aided get-rich-quick age or
country like ours. There are some dozen or more express companies now--a
dozen or more _on paper_--_quasi_-express companies.

The railroad companies and railroad officials _control the express
companies and the express business of this country today_.

A departmental report of the government showed, as stated in the Saturday
Evening Post of May 27, 1911, “that the four principal express companies
have thirty-seven directors, of whom _thirty-two_ are residents of New
York, _two_ are residents of Chicago and _three_ of San Francisco. _These
express directors are also directors in twenty-five of the leading
railroad systems of the United States._”

So, today, if Mr. Wanamaker were inclined to do so, he would probably
revise his statement of twenty or more years ago. He would probably say
that the _railroads of this country_ stood as the insuperable objection
or obstruction to the establishment and operation of an efficient, cheap
and serviceable parcels post--the failure or neglect to do which is
running one of the greatest raids into postal revenues this or any other
nation has ever known.

Mr. Albert W. Atwood in writing to this point under the general caption
“The Great Express Companies,” in the American Magazine, February, 1911,
issue, says:

    Perhaps you have thought of all this before, but do you also know
    that the six largest express companies are among our greatest
    bankers? With them, in one year, the public has deposited
    $352,590,814 and their transactions in money orders, travelers’
    checks, letters of credit and bills of exchange rival those
    of the most powerful banks. This business, unlike any other
    form of banking is under no governmental jurisdiction and goes
    untaxed. It is made possible only by using the machinery of
    the regular banks, although to these the express companies pay
    no revenue. In the money-order line, express companies compete
    with the postoffice and do about one-third as much business
    as the government. The American Express alone has handled
    nearly 17,000,000 money orders in one year. That the public has
    confidence in the safety of the express companies as banks admits
    of no doubt, and it has been credibly reported that in the panic
    of 1907 money was withdrawn from banks, which the people did not
    trust, and invested in express money orders.

    Transportation in a multitude of forms and branch banking do not
    comprise the sum total of express activities. The surplus funds
    of these huge institutions have grown large enough to require
    constant investment, and the express companies form a close
    second to the savings banks and insurance companies as the most
    dependable, regular and important class of investors in railroad
    securities. Diversified as the functions of the express companies
    have become, success has more than kept pace with their extension
    into varied fields, and a keen, wideawake public interest in
    the express business is demanded, not alone by the public and
    necessary character of the business itself, but still more by
    the extraordinary return which the companies receive for service
    performed.

    Six companies control more than 90% of the country’s express
    business, and of these the Adams is one of the oldest and most
    powerful. Organized more than fifty-six years ago, its capital
    stock had grown to $10,000,000 by 1866, in which year the members
    of the association, as the shareholders are called, received a
    stock dividend of $2,000,000. The $10,000,000 of stock itself did
    not represent shares issued for cash. According to the company’s
    own reports, no shares were ever issued for cash. The 100,000
    shares were given to members of the association to represent each
    member’s pro rata ownership in the assets which had accumulated
    from earnings. As late as 1890, according to the census figures,
    the company had an actual investment in property employed in its
    business of but $1,128,195. Yet it had been paying 8% dividends
    for many years, or 80% on the actual value of the property in
    use. In 1898 it distributed $12,000,000 of its own bonds to
    stockholders, these bonds to be secured by the deposit in trust
    of the surplus funds not used in the express business. At this
    time the company reduced its dividend rate to 4%, but as 4% was
    also paid on the bonds, the stockholders did not suffer any loss
    of income. By 1904 the dividend rate had mounted to 10%, the
    bond interest remaining at 4%. In 1907, $24,000,000 additional
    bonds were given to the stockholders, likewise secured by another
    fat surplus, and like the first issue, paying 4% in interest.
    Dividends on the stock have since been maintained at 12% and
    there has grown up another surplus of nearly $25,000,000 which
    must soon be disbursed. Meanwhile the property actually employed
    for express purposes has grown to but something more than
    $6,000,000.

    Moreover, there is another large fund slowly but surely
    accumulating in connection with the 1907 bond distribution. This
    1907 gift to the shareholders was in the form of a bond issue
    secured by the deposit of stocks and bonds of other corporations
    formerly owned by the company itself. The deed of trust provides
    that if the income from these stocks and bonds is more than
    enough to pay interest of 4% a year on the $24,000,000 of Adams
    Express bonds, the surplus shall accrue and be distributed in
    1947 among the holders of the Adams Express bonds. As a matter
    of fact there is a computed excess income derived in this way
    of $151,517.50 a year and by 1947 this will have mounted up to
    more than $6,000,000, not allowing for compound interest. Here is
    a 50% extra dividend being nourished along toward maturity. If
    there is any better example of being able to eat one’s cake and
    have it too, I have yet to hear of it.

    At the outbreak of the civil war the Adams Express Company turned
    its routes in the Southern States, in which it had enjoyed a
    complete monopoly, over to the Adams-_Southern_ Express Company,
    _created by the Georgia courts for the purpose of assuming this
    business_. The property of the association was to be represented
    by 5,000 shares, of which 558 were then issued. The Adams Express
    Company has held to the present day a dominant interest in this
    association, which it created to facilitate business _during the
    war_. After hostilities ceased, it resumed some of its Southern
    routes by agreement with the Adams-_Southern_ Express Company,
    whose name had meanwhile been changed to the _Southern Express
    Co._ The two companies still work in common and use the same
    wagons and offices in many places.

    But close as the Southern Express is to its parent company, it
    has a separate enough existence to justify a separate account
    of its _money-making capabilities_. Referring to the original
    558 shares of stock, the secretary and treasurer of the Southern
    Express says: “_None of the original twenty-four stockholders
    are living and there is no existing record to show how much was
    realized from the distribution._” This does not help us much,
    but in another report to the Interstate Commerce Commission
    the company appears to know what these records showed, for it
    says “_none of its stock was ever issued for real property_,
    equipment, acquisition of securities, or for any other purpose
    in the sense in which the issuance of stock is understood in
    connection with corporations.” But we do find that in 1866 the
    number of shares was increased to 30,000 and distributed to the
    owners _as a stock dividend_. Plainly, the civil war did not
    impoverish the express carriers. Then in 1886 enough more new
    stock was created to give the owners five shares in place of
    every three which they already held, so that there are now 50,000
    shares.

    Five hundred and fifty-eight shares of stock, the circumstances
    of whose issue are known to no one living, have sprouted into
    50,000 shares by the mere process of _paying stock dividends_.
    Dividends of 8%, or $400,000 a year, are now paid upon the 50,000
    shares, although the entire value of the company’s property, real
    estate, buildings, equipment, furniture, etc., was only $944,179
    _on June 30, 1909_. Here are dividends of 8% on $5,000,000 stock,
    or more than 40% on the value of the property employed in the
    business. And this is not all. The Southern Express Company owns
    high-grade stocks and bonds valued at almost $4,000,000, which
    may some fine day form the basis of another melon.

    If the Adams Express Company and its Southern associate were the
    only ones to shower their members with unheard-of profits we
    might be inclined to think they had been visited with peculiar
    and exceptional good fortune. Such is far from being the case.
    Let us proceed alphabetically and see how the members of the
    American Express Company have fared.

    The Adams and American are easily the two most important of the
    express companies, and control, or have controlled at various
    times, all the other important companies with the exception of
    the Pacific. Since 1868 the capital of the American has stood
    at $18,000,000, this stock having been issued in exchange for
    the shares of the original American Express Company and the
    Merchants’ Union Express Company, under articles of merger and
    association dated November 25, 1868. The company’s books show
    that $5,300,000 _was the value_ of the assets taken over at that
    time. There was $183,819 in cash; $1,261,023 in securities;
    $2,200,300 in real estate, less a mortgage of $505,143; and
    $1,260,000 in equipment; making a total of $4,400,000. New stock
    was sold which realized $900,000 in cash, making a total of
    $5,300,000 in assets for the $18,000,000 of stock. _No new stock
    has been issued since 1868 and no further cash has been paid into
    the treasury except from earnings._

    From its own balance sheet we find the company now has less than
    $10,000,000 in _real property and equipment_, all of which does
    not represent property employed in the service, _because the
    item “real property” includes real estate investments_.

    With an original investment in cash and property of but one-third
    the par value of its capital stock, the American Express Company
    now pays dividends on this stock of 12% a year and for many years
    paid 6, 8 and 10%. Moreover, it has accumulated from its earnings
    a fund of _more than $20,000,000_ which is invested in readily
    negotiable stocks and bonds, the yearly income on which amounted
    to $1,178,000 in 1909. Among these securities are such high-grade
    railroad stocks as Chicago and Northwestern, Northern Pacific,
    New Haven, New York Central and Union Pacific.

    Six years ago (1904-5), the substantial assets of the American
    Express Company had grown from $5,300,000, the amount fixed in
    the articles of association, to _six times that amount_. These
    assets, let me repeat, did not represent new capital put into the
    business, for _none whatever_ was put in, but were accumulations
    of earnings over and above funds required to carry on the
    business and pay dividends of 8% upon $18,000,000 of stock.
    Even the association’s own shareholders failed to see the need
    of such a treasure and in 1906 a committee representing them
    addressed the officers of the company thus: “_It is evident the
    management has faith in its ability to conserve the vast fund so
    accumulated beyond the needs of the business, without wasting the
    same or embarking it in new and dangerous ventures, and while
    we personally neither criticise them nor express any want of
    confidence in them, still it is our opinion, and that of many
    representative holders of long standing, experience and means,
    that this immense fund should not be further rapidly increased to
    become a source of temptation to the possible weakness or a snare
    to the possible inexperience of their successors._”

I would like to quote further from both Mr. Benson and Mr. Atwood. The
former writes two articles which appeared in Pearson’s Magazine in
February and March, 1911, clearly showing not only why we have no parcels
post, but, to some extent, the raid which the express companies have made
and are making on postal service revenues that rightfully and _legally_
should accrue to the government. The latter, Mr. Atwood, speaks in three
splendid articles in the American Magazine (February, March and April),
under the caption, “The Great Express Monopoly.” Each of the gentlemen
handles his subject masterfully. Each of them set forth facts which every
American citizen should know and, knowing, should _go after_ every public
official who has ignorantly permitted or knowingly condoned, aided or
cloaked the criminal raiding into the legitimate field of the postal
service and revenues. Every one who can should get hold of and read the
five articles referred to. I shall probably quote further from them in
the closing division of this volume, but to appreciate them fully one
should read them entire and connectedly.

Sufficient has here been said, however, to show any fair-minded reader
that our express companies, or the railways which use the express
companies merely as pinch-bars to pry into our postal revenues on the one
hand and as cloaks for excessive rates to the general public for handling
light or parcels freight on the other, are illegally taking _millions of
dollars annually_ for a service which should be, and which was originally
intended to be, rendered by the Postoffice Department.

I say that the express companies, or the railroads over which they
operate and which, today, virtually own and control them, are doing an
_illegal_ business--a business carried on in flat contravention and
defiance of the _plain letter_ of the federal statutes.

I say further: The contravention of law which makes this vast
lootage--_steal_--possible has no other basis for its past and present
raiding of the field of postal revenues than _corrupted federal
legislators_ and, either corrupted or loose screwed, juridic opinions
which are permitted to stand in place of the plainly worded statute of
1845.

And there is a colossal irony in the brazen effrontery with which this
raiding of the postal revenues by the express companies has been, and is,
carried on.

On the one hand, we have public officials cackling about its costing the
government 4 to 9 cents a pound to transport and handle second-class
mail matter--rather, making voluble and voluminous _guesses_ that it
costs from 4 to 9 cents a pound--while on the other hand, the express
companies enter into contracts with publishers to carry and deliver at
line stations that same second-class matter at _one-half cent a pound_.

When it is remembered that the express companies must “split” with the
transporting railroad to the extent of 40 to 63 per cent of their gross
haulage and delivery charge, the talk of its costing the government 4
to 9 cents to do what the express companies do for a half-cent--in some
cases possibly, for less even than that--passes, from the domain of irony
and becomes disgusting twaddle.

The postal rate for carrying merchandise parcels not exceeding four
pounds is 16 cents a pound. That rate is, as previously stated,
outrageously high and the maximum weight of four pounds is almost as
outrageously low. Both the postal weight and rate have been held for
years at the figures named, it has been numerously asserted and is
_generally believed_, by the “influence” of express company and railroad
lobbying in Congress. The result is that by far the larger portion of
light or parcels shipments go by express instead of by mail, as it was
clearly intended in the law of 1845 they should go.

To get this business, the express companies cut under the government
charge of 16 cents a pound, as they can both easily and profitably do.

Nor do they hold the shipper to a maximum of four pounds for any single
package or parcel. In fact, they set up practically no maximum parcels
weight, and they deliver at any postoffice or station along their
lines of service. In fact, again, the express companies now have, it
is asserted, a sort of compensating agreement by which the company
collecting the business can have another company make deliveries, each
company taking its prorated share of the profit on the carriage and
handling of the parcel or consignment.

Such arrangement, it will readily be seen, enables the express company
to accept package consignments for delivery at almost any point in the
country, if on a railroad, or for delivery at some rail point near the
addressed destination of the parcel.

Then, too, as Mr. Benson points out, the railroads and railroad officials
and owners are also controlling owners of the express companies. Being
so, they do not hesitate virtually to “club” the public into shipping its
parcels freight by express. They do this by fixing a minimum weight in
their freight tariffs. That minimum is 100 pounds. That is, it will cost
the shipper as _much to send a four or ten pound package to destination
by fast freight as it would cost him to send 100 pounds_.

The foregoing is sufficient to show the reader that the express companies
are _permitted_ to raid the legitimate business of the Postoffice
Department--or what should be and, under the law, was _intended_ to be
the business of the Postoffice Department.

The express companies, or their railroad control--which amounts to the
same thing--also forage the field of third-class matter which, _by law_,
was made a preserve of the Postoffice Department.

The postal rate for third-class mail matter is eight cents per pound.
That rate is, of course, away too high. With The Man on the Ladder the
conviction remains, as it has been a conviction for twenty or more years,
that the postal rate of eight cents per pound for third-class matter
is three times what that rate should be--easily double the charge that
should be made to cover the _legitimate_ cost to the government for
handling it, which cost is _all_ that the department should seek or be
_permitted to_ collect.

Trusting that the reader will find excuse for me, I desire to repeat here
what, in substance, I have written into an earlier page:

The postal service of the nation should not be made a revenue-producing
service, any more than the War, Navy, Interior, Justice or other
departments of the federal service should be made revenue-producers.

If the people pay--have paid and are willing to pay--the _actual_ cost of
an efficient, honestly administered and managed postal service, that is
all they should be asked or expected to pay.

But returning to the express companies’ raidings into the postoffice
revenues, let me here assert what every observant citizen of intelligence
knows: The express companies are today carrying _millions of pounds_ of
books--leather, cloth and paper bound books--at a rate for carriage and
delivery materially below the government’s excessive rate of eight cents
a pound.

These same express companies are today carrying _thousands of tons_ of
catalogues, pamphlets, business, political and other circulars, color
prints of apparel fabrics, etc., etc., which the Postoffice Department
ought to handle--and, under the law, _should_ handle, and, but for that
extortionate rate of eight cents a pound _would_ handle.

It has been repeatedly asserted by persons who are familiar with carriage
and handling costs, both in the postal and private service, that the
postal rate of 8 cents a pound for third-class mail matter has been
maintained--and _is_ maintained--by reason of corrupt and corrupting
influences (the coat-pocket “dropped roll,” the “job” bribe, the “deposit
slip,” etc., etc.), which express and railway interests have liberally
exerted upon federal legislators and upon executive and judicial
officeholders--exerted upon “public servants.”

However, that may be, the facts today are that the postal service rate of
8 cents a pound for third-class matter is so excessive--so conspicuously
above the cost of the service rendered--that the express companies find
no difficulty in under-cutting it--in many cases, _more_ than cutting it
in half--and still reap _millions of profit_ from the handling of such
matter.

If a publisher has an edition of five, ten or one hundred thousand of
a book to be delivered in piece, or single copies, an express company
representative will see him at once--often see him before the book is
from the press. If the publisher is doing a large and general business
in book publishing or the book trade, the express companies have already
seen him, by representative, and a carriage and handling charge agreed
upon, under which the contracting or agreeing express company will handle
any or all the publisher’s books, both single copies and trade shipments,
at a rate much below the government’s postage rate of eight cents a pound.

If a publisher brings out a book which weighs, when wrapped or jacketed
for mailing, say one pound on which the mailing charge would be 8 cents,
the express company tenders a rate of 7 cents. If the edition of the book
is a large one the express company will tender a rate of 6 cents or even
a rate as low as 5 cents or 4 cents.

In performing such service the express company is a violator of _law_--_a
brazen outlaw_. Yet the government not only permits this outlawry, but,
by maintaining that excessive rate of 8 cents a pound, the government
virtually _invites_ it.

What I have above said applies with equal or even greater force to the
transportation and distribution of mercantile and other catalogues, and
of descriptive pamphlets, etc. However, I think sufficient has been said
to cover the point raised.

The government _persists_ in charging a third-class rate which virtually
drives _thousands of tons_ of third-class matter to the express
companies. The express companies handle this vast tonnage at a cost
charge to the sender or shipper, ranging from 16⅔ per cent to 50 per cent
_below_ the government’s mail rate.

The express companies roll up millions--many millions--of profits every
year, while at the higher rate, the government officials (some of them),
slash up the ambient with rapier verbiage about “deficits” and make
extension-ladder guesses at what it “actually costs” the Postoffice
Department to carry and handle a pound of third, or some other, class of
mail matter.

Another raid upon the postal revenues--and the raid is by the oldest gang
of looters in the game--or graft--is the railroads.

For lo, these many years, the railroads have carried the mails at a
carriage charge of $21.37 a ton per annum per line mile of haul.[9] That
is $21.37 is allowed on “dense” traffic lines where the daily mail weight
is above 5,000 pounds. On lines where the daily weight is 5,000 lbs., the
rate is $171.00 per annum per line mile of haul. For mail weights less
than 5,000 pounds the rate of pay varies, the ton-mile rate increasing
from 21.37 cents for a weight above 5,000 pounds, to $1.17 per ton-mile
for an average weight of 200 pounds.

Following are tabulations showing the scale of mail pay and also the
postoffice car rental pay. I get them from the Wolcott Commission
report made in 1901. The tables and accompanying paragraphs form part
of the testimony of Mr. Marshall M. Kirkman, who at the time of the
Wolcott Commission hearings was Second Vice-President of the Chicago
and Northwestern Railway. The rates of pay may have been modified in
some slight degree since 1901. If so, I have not learned of the fact.
I am of the opinion that the figures given by Mr. Kirkman still govern
as rates of mail pay and car rentals, and as Mr. Kirkman was speaking
for the railroads the reader may depend upon it that the case of the
railroads--especially of the Chicago and Northwestern, then a system of
about 5,000 miles of trackage--was presented in as favorable a light as
the governing facts would permit:

    RATES BASED ON THE WEIGHT OF THE MAILS.[10]

    -----------------------------------+--------+---------+---------
                                       |Present |Present  |Present
                                       |pay per |rate per |rate per
        Average daily weight of mails  |mile per|ton per  |hundred
               over whole route.       |annum.  |mile.[11]|pounds
                                       |        |         |per
                                       |        |         |mile.[12]
    -----------------------------------+--------+---------+---------
                                       |        |         | _Cents_
    200 pounds                         | $42.75 | $1.170  |   5.85
    500 pounds                         |  64.12 |   .700  |   3.50
    1,000 pounds                       |  85.50 |   .468  |   2.34
    2,000 pounds                       | 128.25 |   .351  |   1.75
    4,000 pounds                       | 156.46 |   .214  |   1.07
    5,000 pounds                       | 171.00 |   .187  |    .96
    Each 2,000 pounds in excess        |        |         |
      of 5,000 pounds                  |  21.37 |   .058  |    .29
    -----------------------------------+--------+---------+---------

    The most striking feature of this table is the rapid decline in
    the rates paid with an increase of weight.

    In addition to the above payments based upon weight there is
    an additional allowance when full-sized postoffice cars are
    provided, the Postoffice Department deciding when these are
    necessary. The rates of pay for these cars are as follows:

    RATES ALLOWABLE FOR FULL-SIZED POSTOFFICE CARS.[13]

    ---------------+-----------+----------
                   | Rate per  | Rate per
                   | mile of   | mile run
    Length of car. | track per | by cars.
                   | annum.    |
    ---------------+-----------+----------
                   |           | _Cents._
    40 feet        |  $25.00   |  3.424
    45 feet        |   27.50   |  3.786
    50 feet        |   32.50   |  4.471
    55 to 60 feet  |   40.00   |  5.498
    ---------------+-----------+----------

    The first column, which shows the rate paid per mile of track
    per annum, is likely to be misunderstood. The compensation seems
    very liberal, and it would be so in fact if it were as large as
    it appears to be. To gain $25 per mile per annum a 40-foot car
    must make a round trip over each mile of road per day. If it only
    makes one trip over the road each day, it will earn but $12.50
    per mile per annum, as it would be but half of what is known as a
    line. The statute reads:

    “That … pay may be allowed for every line comprising a daily trip
    each way of railway postoffice cars, at a rate not exceeding
    twenty-five dollars per mile per annum for cars forty feet in
    length.…”

Let us here take note what the foregoing tabulated figures mean--figures
which Mr. Kirkman argued, if I read his testimony correctly, are
too low[14]. I have read the testimony of numerous other railroad
representatives, testimony before the Loud Commission, 1898, the Wolcott
Commission, 1901, the Penrose-Overstreet Commission, 1907, and before the
Hughes Commission, whose report is not yet compiled for publication. Each
and all of them, so far as I have read their testimony, argue eloquently
that the present rates of railway mail-pay and car rentals are, if unfair
at all, unfair to the railroads--that the rates of pay are too low.

In this connection a most peculiar, if not indeed a peculiarly
suggestive, _harmony_ of opinion appears to have existed between the
special pleaders for the railroads in this matter of railway mail-pay and
government officials--both executive and legislative--who have had most
to do with fixing railway pay rates. The government has spent millions
of dollars for investigations by commissions, by Senate and House
committees, by inspectors, special agents, etc. Each commission has heard
numerously from the railways. Twenty-seven of them were in hearing before
the Wolcott Commission. The testimony of Mr. Kirkman, from whom I quote
the preceding tabulations, while varying in phase, phrase and verbiage
from the other railroad representatives, has two essential features
common to them all, or, I should say, three features common to them all.

1. The railroad representatives unanimously oppose any reduction in the
rates for railway mail pay (weights pay), and mail car rentals--“space
charge,” they call it.

2. They are a unit in declaring that the present rates are too low, but
they as unitedly express a willingness to _continue business at the old
rates_ rather than to contemplate the possibility of a reduction in them,
or even _squarely_ to argue the justice and fairness of such a reduction.

3. When forced down to “tacks”--down to specific facts--by some
interrogating member of the commission before which they are testifying,
these railroad representatives again have a marked similarity as to
“form.” Each comes eloquently forward with his _own_ set or sets of
figures and proceeds to make his _own_ application of them. But when some
commissioner asks for information and enlightenment as to “net cost,”
“relative cost,” etc., of mail carriage as compared with the cost of
express, freight or passenger handling, the railroad representatives,
almost to a man, at once begin to display a dense denseness that is
marvelously wondrous or wonderously marvelous, as the reader may choose
to word it.

The peculiar or suggestive harmony between the opinions of these railway
representatives and the _controlling_ executive and legislative officials
of the Federal Government, is especially conspicuous under point 2 as
numbered above. The railway people plead that the ruling rates are too
low, but are willing to stand for them. However, they _do not want the
rates lowered_.

The peculiar harmony of opinions just adverted to is ample evidence, or
so it appears to The Man on the Ladder, of this one fact:

The present rates of pay for railway mail _weight_ carriage are the rates
fixed by the act of 1879. Freight, express and passenger rates or tariffs
have been changed--_have been lowered_. The railways did not want the
mail rates lowered and the governmental powers that be, and have been,
were apparently at least, quite willing to take their view of the matter,
even if they did not concur in the numerous half-baked, threadbare
arguments advanced by the railroad people in support.

_The rates of railway mail pay have remained the same for thirty-three
years--until 1908._

Comment is unnecessary.

As evidence in support of points 1 and 3 as above numbered, points on
which railroad representatives so uniformly agree in support of, or,
with equal uniformity, display concurring lapses of memory or lack of
knowledge relating to, I shall here quote further from Mr. Kirkman’s
testimony before the Wolcott Commission. In electing to quote from
Mr. Kirkman rather than from another to evidence points 1 and 3, I
am influenced only by the fact that I have the report of the Wolcott
Commission before me at the moment, and to the further fact that Mr.
Kirkman’s testimony appears to me cogently illustrative of the points to
which I have called the reader’s attention.

In closing his prepared or written testimony (page 208 of the report),
Mr. Kirkman says:

    In conclusion, it may be stated that the compensation afforded
    this railroad for carrying the mail _is not now in excess of
    what it should be_. It is not improper, therefore, for us to
    beg, if rates can not be increased, _that no further reductions
    may be made_; also, that the practice of fixing the compensation
    paid for mail service on the basis of the weight carried at the
    commencement of the four-year periods (instead of on the weights
    carried in the middle of the periods), may be abandoned in favor
    of a more equitable system.

From the above it will be seen that this witness states with confidence
that the compensation his road (the Chicago and Northwestern) receives
“is not now in excess of what it should be” and _begs_ that, “if the
rates cannot be increased, that _no further reductions be made_.”

I shall now reprint a few pages from the report of Mr. Kirkman’s oral
testimony as illustrative of point 3:

        By Mr. CATCHINGS:

    Q. What did you state were the gross receipts from your whole
    system for carrying the mails?--A. About $800,000.

    Q. Now, can you state to this commission what your net profit was
    for carrying that amount over your system?--A. _I do not know._

    Q. Can you make any estimate?--A. _No, sir._

    Q. You heard the testimony of Mr. Simpson (representing the Flint
    and Pere Marquette Railroad), did you not?--A. Yes, sir.

    Q. He stated that his road carried the mails at a dead loss. What
    that loss was _he was unable to give us_. I understand you to say
    that you do make a profit out of carrying the mails?--A. I beg
    your pardon. I said that, because we got approximately the same
    rate per ton per mile for carrying the mails as for express (and
    that the express rate had been a matter of careful negotiation
    as between our company and the express company); I have reason
    to believe that we would not have taken the express business
    unless we derived a profit from it, and therefore I think it
    is reasonable to suppose that we must derive a profit from the
    postoffice business.

    Q. Do you mean to tell me that you have no estimate as to the
    cost of carrying this mail matter?--A. _Not to my knowledge. We
    have taken what the Government gave us._ As I have shown you,
    they have never pretended to remunerate us for many services
    rendered.

    Q. If you are unable to say what your profit was for carrying
    this mail, how can you complain that you are not being properly
    compensated for the service rendered?--A. Because we render so
    many services today that we did not formerly when the rate was
    fixed.

    Q. I understand; but, so far as we know from your testimony,
    you may be amply compensated for it.--A. We receive, as I said
    before, a certain rate from the express company for analogous
    service, and do not render them anything like the equivalent that
    we render the Postoffice Department, so that we must derive a
    great deal more profit from the express business than we do from
    the postoffice.

    Q. Still, it would not follow that you were not deriving proper
    compensation for carrying the mail, would it?--A. It would not
    follow that we do not derive some compensation from it.

    Q. _Unless you are prepared to tell us what your profit is, or
    your loss, as the case may be, of course you can not expect us
    to know it, and, unless we know it, you can not expect us to
    sympathize with the complaint._--A. _We are not making complaint
    about the compensation we receive, but the threat held over our
    heads that our compensation would be cut down._ When they cut us
    down on the land-grant roads they did not make it a matter of
    negotiation at all; they just simply took off 20 per cent.

    Q. Do you not think that the best way to prove this complaint
    would be to show that you are not receiving due compensation?--A.
    If I was keeping a boarding house and you came to me and I
    agreed to give you two meals a day, and you afterwards exacted
    four, because you are mightier than I in forcing it, would it be
    necessary for me to prove that I was giving you something that
    you were not entitled to under your contract?

    Q. You ought to show us what your net profits are.--A. _It is
    impossible._

        By the CHAIRMAN:

    Q. General Catchings calls your attention to this: In your
    direct examination I asked you if you had any suggestions to
    make to this commission in the matter of changes of law. You
    said you thought the law should be so changed as to increase
    your compensation to an adequate sum. Now, in answer to General
    Catchings, you say that it is remunerative; he asks you how
    much you make, and you can not tell; then he asks you why you
    recommend a change in the law if you will not tell the commission
    what you are now making by it, and if you can tell what your
    profits in carrying the mail are. That is what General Catchings
    is anxious to have you tell.

        By Mr. CATCHINGS:

    Q. I would like very much to know if we are under-paying these
    roads; we would like to pay them.--A. You ask a question that
    there is nobody but Omniscience could answer, because there is no
    possible method by which you can determine accurately what the
    cost is of carrying traffic. The Government did pretend at one
    time to divide the expense of operating as between passenger and
    freight, but finally abandoned it. Now, if you can not determine
    the cost between passenger and freight, how can you determine it
    between mail and other kinds?

    Q. There is one thing certain; if the roads can not determine it,
    the Government can not.--A. Is it not true that, in matters of
    this kind, no one would expect anything definite in the absence
    of definite information?

    Q. I do not see why you can not figure as well the cost of
    carrying these mails as you can the cost of carrying the express
    packages. I do not see why it ought to be more difficult for
    you to determine that.--A. There is not any single thing that
    a railroad carries, from a first class passenger to a cord of
    stone, that it can tell accurately what the cost is. _Tariffs are
    a matter of evolution._

    Q. At least, your road is better off than the Flint and Pere
    Marquette, for they carry at a loss and you carry at a profit--A.
    I did not say we carry at a profit; but I say that is my
    judgment, sir.

    Q. I believe something has been said about the extraordinary
    cost at which these railroads handle these postal cars. I would
    like to have you help me reach a conclusion from that. How many
    railway postal cars have you on your system?--A. I do not know
    how many we do have.

        By the CHAIRMAN:

    Q. Does your statement show?--A. No, sir; it does not.

        By Mr. CATCHINGS:

    Q. How much do you receive from the government for the railway
    postal cars?--A. We receive certain compensation for cars over a
    given length.

    Q. You stated, I believe, the gross revenue to you for these
    cars?--A. We have a great many that we do not receive any revenue
    from the government for their use.

    Q. I want to know what your revenue is from the postal cars?--A.
    I can not tell you.

    Q. You can furnish that amount?--A. Yes, sir.

    Q. I wish you would furnish this commission a statement showing
    the gross revenue to your system of road derived from these
    postal cars; and then I wish you would furnish a statement
    showing what the cost to you is of maintaining those cars,
    keeping them in repair, what the estimated cost to you is of
    hauling them, and the number of cars?--A. I will give you all
    that you desire so far as I can.

        By Mr. LOUD:

    Q. You stated, Mr Kirkman, that you were Vice-President of the
    Chicago and Northwestern?--A. Yes, sir.

    Q. Are you General Manager?--A. No, sir.

    Q. What is your particular business in connection with the
    railroad?--A. I have charge of the local finances and accounts of
    the company.

    Q. You are not prepared to answer technically, then, questions
    that might be propounded to you, as has been developed in the
    examination by Mr. Catchings, about the cost of the operation of
    a car and the cost of the transportation of a ton of freight,
    passengers, etc?--A. _I am as well prepared to answer the
    question as anyone. There is no one, as I said before, who knows
    what the cost is or can tell you definitely, simply for the
    reason that it is utterly impossible to fix the cost as between
    passengers and freight, for instance._

    Q. What is the use of our investigation, then?--A. I am here
    before this commission; my time here, perhaps, represents ten
    dollars or ten cents. _What am I going to charge it to?_ In this
    case perhaps to mail. In many expenses of railroads there are
    questions impossible to determine as to what expenditures should
    be charged to. You may make, as the General has, a comparison
    between the Flint and Pere Marquette, what he thinks is an
    approximate statement of cost; it may be more, and it may not.
    For instance, the Government of the United States requires that
    the mail shall be carried on fast trains--

    Q You are going into quite an argument. You ought to be able to
    tell what it cost to haul the mail.--A. _No, sir; I can not._

    Q. You can not tell?--A. No, sir; nobody can tell.

    Q. Could not your General Manager give us some information on
    that subject?

    Mr. CHANDLER. He can tell how much their gross receipts are
    and what the gross expenditures are, and he can tell whether
    their whole business is done at a profit or not; but I do not
    understand that the railroads can subdivide their receipts and
    expenditures so as to tell whether any particular branch of it
    actually pays a profit or not. The previous witness undertook
    to do it, and I noticed, as he went on, _that it was mere
    guesswork_. Mr. Kirkman says he never has done it.

    The WITNESS. I want to say, Mr. Loud, that this question of
    division of cost has been up before railroads and experts
    for forty years, and here is what the chief engineer of the
    Pennsylvania says in regard to it. _He estimates that the cost,
    for instance, of maintenance of track and machinery increases
    with the square of the velocity._

        By the CHAIRMAN:

    Q. How much do you charge this maintenance of way?--A. What is
    the wear and tear of machinery and track from the passage of a
    particular train? _No one can tell nor guess approximately._
    In an examination of this question I gave it, probably, the
    most exhaustive study that I have given any subject in my life,
    because so much depended on it--I searched all the records of
    Scotland and England and of the United States to determine, but
    unavailingly--

        By Mr. LOUD:

    Q. Could you not put a train of five cars on and run it from
    Chicago to Council Bluffs and give approximately what that train
    would cost to operate and the approximate cost of wear and tear
    to your rails?--A. I can determine all those things that are
    apparent; that is, the cost--

    Q. That is all we expect; what is reasonable.--A. _But then there
    is the question of interest and the wear and tear of machinery
    and track._

    Q. Let us discard the interest. You ought to be able to get at
    the cost of operation.--A. That train so run has to receive the
    _constant attention of station men, of track men, the whole
    length_. If you will give it a moment’s reflection you will see
    how _utterly impossible it is_ to determine it accurately enough
    to state here to this commission.

    Q. Approximately, it ought to be a perfectly easy matter. It
    seems to be to other railroad men.--A. I do not think there is
    any railroad man who has given it any more attention than I have
    and no railroad man understanding the subject _will do more than
    guess at it_.

    Q. I will ask you a few questions. If you can answer them I wish
    you would. How many miles of land-grant railroad have you?--A. My
    impression is that we have about 600.

    Q. Out of your total of 5,000 miles?--A. Yes, sir.

    Q. What is the average charge on your road for freight per ton
    mile?--A. Last year ninety-nine one-hundredths of a cent per ton
    mile.

    Q. You do not know how much it costs? That is correct, is it not?
    You do not know how much it costs?--A. _That is correct._

    Q. You do not know how much it costs to operate a 40 or 60 foot
    mail car?--A. _No, sir; only approximately._

    Q. Can you say, approximately, how much?--A. _No, sir. It will
    afford me great pleasure to give you all this information that
    can be determined if you desire, but it is valueless in itself._

    Q. Can you say approximately?--A. _I can not._ I would be very
    glad to furnish you all the figures, but such questions, _like
    the cost of the velocity_ with which we send trains across the
    country, _are unknown_.

    Q. Does it cost a dollar a mile as the outside?--A. I could
    not----

    Q. Would it not?--A. _I would not want to pay you the disrespect
    of saying a thing that I know nothing about._

The foregoing testimony appears on pages 213-216 of the Wolcott report.
The italics are mine. When so well informed a railroad man as Mr. Kirkman
answers questions--questions covering that which appears, to a layman
at least, to be essential in successful railway management--as he is
reported in the foregoing, what is to be thought of such testimony? With
all due respect to Mr. Kirkman, it may be said that his apparently frank
confession of ignorance as to several points made subject of inquiry
by the commissioners in the part of his testimony quoted, many readers
of it are left with more or less valid grounds for doubt--grounds for
asking more or less offensive questions: “Was the witness telling the
truth or equivocating--stalling for time?” If he told the truth--if his
acknowledged ignorance was genuine--as to several essential factors in
the successful management and financing of a railroad--then of what value
are his--or any other railroad man’s--statistics and tabulations of cost,
profits, losses, rates, tariffs, “cost of velocity,” etc., etc.?

Mr. Kirkman’s reputation for truth and veracity, I believe, is as high
as that of any other railroad man’s in the country, yet on several basic
factors in the problem which the Wolcott Commission was, presumably at
least, trying to solve, he confessed an ignorance as profound as its
members and the officials of the Postoffice Department acknowledge. If,
as Mr. Kirkman virtually testifies, the information sought is beyond the
ken of man, then why persist in spending thousands--_yes millions_--of
money trying to run it down?

If these railroad men do _not_ know the things which it is _necessary to
know_ to arrive at a solution of this railway mail carrying problem--to
arrive at a just, equitable rate of pay for the service rendered--why
waste more time on them?

That question brings us back to the _rails_ again.

Why do not our postal officials and commissions reach out to Cornville
and summon a few eighth-grade nubbins? Then turn over to them the
_wastefully_ collected and collated statistics, data and _talk_ which the
Postoffice Department has in cold storage and tell them to “go to it” at,
say, $25 per week?

Yes, why not?

Skilled lawyers, reputed “experts,” men of “experience” and “students,”
it would seem, have told all they know about this railway mail cost
problem--told the truth or equivocated or _lied_ about it, to the best
of their ability and in full accord and harmony with their several
“standards” of veracity. Still they have failed to uncover or to
_divulge_ the essential and governing factors in the problem--failed for
_thirty or forty years_. Is it not about time, then, for sensible people,
I would ask, to enter the plea of the Master and say, “Suffer little
children to come unto me?”

Any _average_ “shock” of eighth-grade nubbins from Cornville, or from
other hamlets where the “little red school house” has been in fairly
active operation, will “figger” the cost--_the cost to the railroads_--of
mail haulage and handling, in not to exceed _four weeks_.

That is, such a bunch of eighth graders will arrive at a dependable
solution of this forty-year-old problem in four weeks, if they are given
the _plain, bald facts upon which a correct solution depends_, and
not turned loose on a lot of befuddling, alleged data and _accepted_
“testimony.”

As I must necessarily touch upon the _raid_ of the railroads into postal
revenues when I reach the closing division of this volume, I shall not
comment further here on the testimony and special pleadings presented
by railroad representatives to the several postal commissions that have
sat and sat and then “reported.” The commissions probably--_possibly_,
if not probably--reported the best they could on the evidence presented
to them. Certain it is, their reports present much valuable--much
informative--data of which neither Congress nor the Postoffice Department
appears to have made any constructive or corrective use.

Before quitting this railway pay raid, however, it may be well to do
a little figuring--basing our figures on Mr. Kirkman’s tabulations of
rates, printed some pages back. The tables of rates are correct. They
ought to be. If rate-tables could vote the youngest of the two was
entitled to the suffrage many years since.[15] But let us look into and
over them in a little-red-school-house way.

The first mail rail-haul weight is 200 pounds. That weight of mail is
carried on some cornfield railroad--“a feeder.” It is all bundled or
sacked, if “free in country” or other second-class matter, sacked or
pouched if first or third-class, and, also, if valuable fourth-class.
Some of the fourth-class, if large in dimension of package, may, of
course, be loose. But whatever their class, character, pouching, sacking,
casing, or jacketing, that _estimated_ weight (_estimated once every
four years_), is received by the railroad and dumped into a corner of a
“general utility” car. By that I mean a car used for carrying baggage and
express matter, between stations--jars, buckets, boxes, bags, etc., of
local “favors” or shipments; such as jam, fruits, eggs, butter, and even
“line loafers” who are going to mother, uncle, or friend for a few days
feed, or--sometimes--going to the local metropolis for a “good time.”

But let us, for the moment, stick to that _quadrenially estimated_ 200
pounds of mail. At the several stations along the cornfield or “feeder”
railroad the packages, sacks and pouches of mail are tossed off to the
station agent. Coops of chickens, cases of eggs, tubs or jars of butter
and crates of fruit or vegetables are taken on.

Have you, the reader, ever traveled on a “cornfield line?” Have you
ever “got off to stretch your limbs” at some station between start or
“change” to destination? Have you, while stretching those limbs of yours,
ever noticed or taken note of the miscellaneous and promiscuous sort of
goods--merchandise and human adipose tissue--that get into companionship,
into carriage or _housed_ connection, with that “estimated” 200 pounds of
United States mail?

Well, if you have, no argument is necessary to convince you that the
“railway mail pay” rate on that cornfield line is from _two to five
times_ the rate paid for any other weight (tonnage) carried.

Turn back and look at the table of railway mail-pay (weight). Look at the
rate per 100 pound per mile haul--5.85 cents, or _eleven and seven-tenths
cents_ for carrying 200 pounds _one_ mile.

Do you weigh 200 pounds? If not, our President and several other
gentlemen in this country do, and you, the President, or the other
gentlemen, will be carried--_and for thirty or more years have been
carried on any railroad east of the “Rockies”_--_for three_ cents a mile.

Now, you, the President, or other gentlemen, pay only _two_ cents a mile
for rail _haulage_ on most all of the cornfield or “feeder” lines (and on
“trunk” lines as well), east of the Rocky Mountains.

You see the joke of it? The postal revenue _raid_ in it?

Two hundred pounds of United States mail is railroaded in a general--a
catch-all or pick-up--car at a government charge of 11.7 cents per
mile, while you, the President, or other gentlemen, pay but 3 _cents_!
You, and the other fellows as well, have an upholstered seat, have
watering and toilet facilities and accommodations, have smoking,
“pitch,” “high-five,” “cinch,” “euchre” and, maybe, even “poker” as
divertisements--with palatable “wets” on the side!

You, the President, and the other gentlemen, have all this _sumptuous
haulage_ for _three_ (or two) _cents_ a mile, while the 200 pounds
(_averaged every four years_) of United States mail, handled as junk or
dunnage, pays 11.7 cents a mile.

Does it not look--look to you--somewhat _off_ at the corners somewhere?
Does it not look as if that railway “system” feeder line was getting
robustly _large pay_ for the service rendered?

Well, if it does not so appear to you, it appears to me that you should,
at your earliest convenience, consult some qualified and competent
alienist, or drop into a “rest resort” for six months or more.

As to the other weights given in that tabulation--500, 1,000 and up to
5,000--nothing here needs be said. They are all below the “postoffice
car” weights. At the weights, 5,000 pounds per day of mail-haul, the
student of this rail-mail pay _raid_ should sit up and begin to observe
his nurse and the attending physician.

Before I further inflict the reader with personal comments, it might
be of mutual advantage to quote a recognized authority on the weights
actually carried in postal mail cars--weights of _actual_ mail.

I take the following from the official report of the Penrose-Overstreet
Commission, pages 30-31.

“It is stated in the report of Dr. Henry C. Adams to the former
Commission (Vol. II, 233), that--

    “The average loading of the postoffice car, according to the
    testimony before the Commission is 2 tons. It must be admitted,
    in view of the great weight of these cars, that such loading
    _pays little regard to the requirements of economy_. It is
    doubtful if, on the basis of such loading, the railways could
    afford to carry mail at a rate much cheaper than it is now
    carried. On the other hand, if cars were loaded with 3½ tons,
    which Mr. Davis says is an easy load, or should the average
    load go as high as 6 tons, which, according to testimony, is
    accomplished on the Pennsylvania Railroad by a special train, I
    am confident that _railways operate upon a margin of profit in
    carrying mail that warrants a reduction in pay_.

    “For the purpose of emphasizing the importance of loading as
    essential to the determination of railway mail compensation, as
    well as to suggest the line of desired improvement in the present
    railway mail service, it may be added that were it possible to
    load 5 tons in a car, the expense would be reduced to $1,766 per
    mile of line; that is to say, a sum less than one-half the amount
    actually paid.”

Dr. Adams in the foregoing was presenting a judgmental summary,
or digest, of the testimony before the Wolcott Commission on this
“railway-mail-pay” question. His opinion, or conclusion, as to the
dominant factors involved, has been recognized as authority--_if not
final authority_--on the points to which he spoke.

Now, let us figure a little more. I’m not much at “ciferin.” Maybe the
reader can help me along. Let’s get properly started.

Those rail “postoffice cars,” of which Dr. Adams spoke, are from 40 to 55
feet or more in length. They must weigh, empty, or “stripped,” figuring
running trucks, body, etc., _forty to one-hundred or more thousand
pounds_. So, according to Dr. Adams, this twenty to fifty ton vehicle is
sent hurtling over a hundred or a five-hundred mile run on a steel track
with finest and most modern engine or motive power, baggage and express
cars ahead, and sleepers, buffet, diner and observation cars trailing,
_to carry two tons of United States mail_ in each mail car in the train.

Oh yes, I know that Dr. Adams spoke some years ago (1901, I believe), and
spoke of the “average load” of mail carried by mail cars then. I also
know that our present Postmaster General has “gone after” this railway
mail car raiding--has made them carry more load. All praise to him for
doing so. It was an action which _any_ of his predecessors had the power
to have taken, and which should save millions of postal revenues.

The department report for 1910 (P157), states, there were 1,114 full
and 3,208 apartment postal cars in service--_rented_ cars--while there
were 206 of the former and 559 of the latter (a total of 765), kept
in “reserve.” That makes a total of 5,087 postal cars for which the
government pays rent.

There is, however, another strong presumption--with some very robust
facts which investigation has uncovered--that a considerable number
of the so-called “reserve” cars are in the hospitals about railroad
shops, where such patients receive little but “open air treatment.” In
“emergencies” it is legitimate, of course, to presume that the division
traffic manager may order out or put on the rails any of these hospital
cars, “full” or “apartment,” as first aids to the injured. And it is
right that he does so.

But why, in the name of George Washington, should all these hospital cars
be charged up to the Postoffice Department? Yes, why?

Oh, yes, I know that they are all in “service” or “reserve”--_all subject
to department orders_. But when one looks down from the ladder top
into these shop-hospital yards for car patients, he not unfrequently
sees, unless he is freakishly nearsighted or a victim of a new brand of
strabismus, an old “flat-wheeler” which bears a marked resemblance to one
that he used to, in days agone (long agone), pause, while husking the
“down-row,” and gaze at in admiration as well as wonderment. Of course,
it did not wear “flat wheels” then. It also carries some mars and scars
of time, just as The Man on the Ladder carries marks which did not stand
out so conspicuously then as now. But there, on its sides, appears,
somewhat dimmed by age, that patriotic, stirring designation: _U. S. Mail
Car_.

This is not intended as a criticism. It is merely a suggestion as to
where the present or some future Second Assistant Postmaster General may
find additional _raiding_ into the postal revenues.

A few years since, Professor Parsons asserted, (so the public press
declared--I have not the document by me and am writing hurriedly--the
Professor will, therefore, excuse me if I mis-spell or misquote.
Corrections will be made in later editions) that the railway mail pay and
car rental raid amounted to something like $24,000,000 a year.

Speaking again from press reports, Mr. Hitchcock seems to have been going
after those raiders. At any rate he appears to have stopped that graft
sluiceway to the extent--reports vary--of from _nine to fourteen millions
of dollars a year_.

Again, Mr. Hitchcock, we say, may your tribe increase--_on this line of
action_.

Now let us return and do a little “red-school-house” figuring on this
railroad pay raid. Some pages back, we reprinted Mr. Kirkman’s tables of
weight and car rental pay to the railways. You can glance back and verify
the figures when you deem necessary. Here “orders” force me to hurry. But
in spite of orders a few generalizations in “cipherin,” have to be made.

Many pages back, the Postoffice Department’s _own_ distribution of mail
weights for 1907 (the last preceding “weighing period”), was printed. For
ready reference, we will here reprint it.

                                                Per Cent.
    First-class matter                              7.29
    Second-class matter                            36.38
    Third-class matter                              8.32
    Fourth-class matter                             2.73
    Franked matter                                   .21
    Penalty matter                                  1.99
    Equipment carried in connection therewith      38.12
    Empty equipment dispatched                      4.96
                                                  ------
              Total                               100.00

A few pages back we figured out how a 200-pound mail weight haul stacks
against, around and up-to a 200-pound _human avoirdupois_ haul, assuming,
of course, that the aforesaid avoirdupois is not casketed with the mail,
express or baggage in front. Well, with that understanding, the reader
may take my previous statements anent those 200 pounds of U. S. mail
matter and human avoirdupois--whether citizen or imported--as made. He
should also understand that what was then said fits, of course with a
varying application, to the wheatfield, cornfield, oilfield, cottonfield,
timber, tobacco and other “feeder” fields, which carry our mails at
varying rates of pay for varying weights up to 5,000 pounds.

Now, at the weight of 5,000 pounds (2½ tons), is about where the
“postoffice car” enters, and it is to the mail-carriage-pay the railways
get for this postoffice car service we wish here to “cipher” on a little.
As a start, however, the “example” must be “set.” To do that a little
preliminary figuring must be done.

The quadrennial weighing of the mails is now in progress. The last
preceding weighing was in 1907. In the interim, however, Mr. Hitchcock,
has made some special or test weighing--a good and commendable business
movement--of second-class mail.

From these weighings the department, I take it, has arrived at estimated
results more or less satisfactory--to itself at least. The 1910 report
presents a tabulated tonnage of second-class matter on page 329. A
prolix discussion of the cost of handling second-class mail appears on
immediately associated pages. The discussion is a masterly, a forensic,
production, and, outside of Indiana, the habitat of experts, it may stand
out in fair form as a literary production. Our Third Assistant Postmaster
General must, though, have got the wires crossed or the gear jammed on
his comptometer to have reached those two “answers.”

_Sixty-two and a fraction per cent of the total mail is second class._

_To haul and handle a pound of second-class mail costs the government
nine and a fraction cents._


SOME LITTLE RED SCHOOL HOUSE FIGURING.

Now, let us sit down on the veranda, bring out the little red school
house slates and do some figuring on this railway pay problem, question,
proposition, or whatever the “experts” may choose to call it.

First, there, on page 329 of the 1910 report, it states, “estimated” on
the basis of those 1907 “special weighings,” that there were 873,412,077
pounds of second-class mail carried and handled.

Let’s see! Yes, of course, how simple it is. There’s that 1907 table of
percentages, a page or so back.

As it was “figured out” in 1907 _by the people who did the weighing_, or
who bossed it, we may consider it as dependable as the Third Assistant
Postmaster General’s figures on page 329 of the department’s 1910 report.

The reader will please understand me. I do not mean to say that either
the 1907 or 1910 reports are dependable.

I wish the reader to understand that I understand, or believe, them both
to be merely _guesses_--guesses more or less mis-stitched in the knitting
and more or less frazzled and threadbare by reason of long service.

But they are what we have to “figger” from.

Page 329 of the 1910 report says:

Total mailings (second-class), 873,412,077 pounds.

The 1907 tabulation of distributed mail weights (see table a few pages
back) says that second-class mail, in carriage, is 36.39 _per cent_ of
the _total mail weight_.

Here’s where we put our slates into service.

We’ll first divide (look back at that 1907 table), 873,412,077 pounds by
.3638--that being the percentage of _second-class_ to the _total_ of mail
carried, as reported in the “special weighing” of 1907.

Well, .3638 into 873,412,077 gives us 2,400,802,850 _pounds_ as the
_gross mail weight_ carriage in 1910.

That does not look near so large, nor so _questionably_ peculiar, as does
some other “answers” we are figuring out on our little red school-house
slates.

Looking back to that 1907 tabulated estimate, we find that, of the total
weight carried--_and paid for as mail_--.4308 of that total for which we
patriotic, likewise confiding, kitchen-garden citizens pay is not mail at
all.

A glance at that 1907 tabulation will show us that 43.08 per cent. of the
_total mail weight_ for which the government pays is for “equipment” and
“empty equipment dispatched.”

Now let’s take our slates again and multiply that total weight
2,400,802,850 pounds by .4308. “Well, what’s your answer?”

One billion, thirty-four million, two hundred forty-five thousand, eight
hundred and sixty-eight pounds!

Well, that’s some tonnage, is it not? Of course, as the reader will
readily grab hold of, that tonnage is not, in itself, staged as a
“feature” in this “ciphering.” This is a big country and its tonnages
are big, whether of wheat, corn, pigs, fools, or mail. It is a “curtain”
comparison we desire to have noticed and studied. Look at it, study it
prayerfully, then put your thinker to work for about thirty seconds.

According to the Postoffice Department’s own figures and estimates, it
appears that a total tonnage of 2,400,000,000 pounds (omitting the tail
figures), were handled, and the cost of all _paid for_ by this grand old
government of ours.

Next, let us notice that 1,034,000,000 pounds (tail figures again
omitted), was not mail at all--sacks, fixtures, etc., etc.

Now, look at it--the result.

Railroads were _paid_ for carrying 2,400,000,000 pounds of mail.

_Of that total weight_ 1,034,000,000 (_nearly half_) was _“equipment” and
“empty” equipment “dispatched.”_

Beyond the showing of these figures, comment is scarcely necessary for
anyone at all familiar with railway traffic methods and costs--whether
the haulage is by slow or fast freight or by express--anyone will see the
_raid_ in it.

Look at that haulage of “equipment,” which the postoffice revenues pay
for! Pay for as mail. Look it over, and over again and then sit up and do
a little _hard thinking_.

Waters Pearse, of Pearseville, Texas, ships, say ten or twenty coops
of chickens to Chicago. He may ship by express or by fast freight--the
latter of course, if “Wat” and his friends have been able to make up
a carload. “Wat” consigns his chickens to some Commission house in
Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago or elsewhere. Wherever our friend “Wat”
of Pearceville, Texas, ships, or whether he ships by express or by fast
freight, his empty coops will be returned to him _without charge_.

If Steve Gingham, in Southern Illinois--“Egypt”--has a hen range and his
hens have been busy, Steve will have several cases of eggs to ship every
week or ten days. Well, all Steve has to do is to take his cases of eggs
over to the railroad station. Some express company will pick them up and
take them to Chicago, to St. Louis, to Cincinnati, or other market. In a
few days, about the time Steve gets the check for his eggs, he’ll find
the cases on the station platform returned to him, _without charge_.

What we’ve said about our friends, Wat down in Texas, and Steve in
“Egypt,” is equally true of any shipment of any sort of specially crated
fruit or vegetables, of boxed, bucketed or canned fish, milk, etc., etc.
The shipping cases, buckets, boxes or cans are returned to the shipper
_without charge_. Yet here is this great government of ours paying the
railways for nearly one ton of fixtures and equipment for every ton of
mail (all classes), carried. Fixtures, equipment, etc., aggregated, in
the weighing of 1907 (see tabulation a page or two back), 43.08 per cent
of the total weight for which the government has paid mail-weight rates
for four years--paid for hauling those racks, frames, sacks, etc., etc.,
back and forth over the rail-line haul _every day of the four years_.

Railroad people and their representatives have written voluminously,
likewise _fetchingly_, to prove to an easily “bubbled” public that
the government has been paying too _little_ rather than too much for
the rail carriage of its mails. I have read numerous such vestibuled
productions. They were all good; top-branch verbiage and rhetoric, so
smooth, noiseless and jarless in coupling that the uncritical reader’s
sympathies are often aroused, and his conviction or belief enlisted by
the sheer massive grandeur of the terminology used. Try almost any of
these _promotion_ railway mail-pay talkers and throw the belt on your
own thought-mill while you read. Four times in five the ulterior-motive
writer or speaker will have you rolling into the roundhouse or repair
shop before you know you have even been coupled onto the train. When you
emerge, if your thinker is still off its belt, you will find yourself
about ready to “argue” that the railroads are very much underpaid, if,
indeed, not grossly wronged by the government. I would like to quote
some of the picture arguments from several of these railway studios but
cannot. As illustrative of the general _ensemble_ of these forensic art
productions, I will, however, reproduce here a gem from one of them--a
bit of verbal canvas so generic and homelike as to class as a bit of real
_genre_.

The reader will find it in Pearson’s Magazine for June, 1911. Who
personally perpetrated it, I know not, and the magazine sayeth not. The
editor of Pearson’s, however, assures us that the article from which the
following excerpt is made, was “prepared” by the authority and under the
direction of the Committee on Railway Mail Pay, and as prominent members
of said committee the editor gives the names of _Julius Kruttschnitt_,
Director of Maintenance and Operation, Union and Southern Pacific
Systems; _Ralph Peters_, President and General Manager, Long Island
Railroad; _Charles A. Wickersham_, President and General Manager, Western
Railway of Alabama; _W. W. Baldwin_, Vice-President, C. B. & Q. Railroad;
_Frank Barr_, Third Vice-President and General Manager of the Boston and
Maine Railroad.

That is certainly a representative quintette of railway artists and
generally recognized as qualified to produce--verbally--almost anything
in railway art, from a freehand tariff to a “car shortage” done in
oil while the crops ought to be moving. Am sorry I cannot quote more
extendedly. The following, however, will give the reader a sample of the
“style” and also of the “argument” common to most of the _protective and
promotive railway word pictures_:

    If, as has been reported, a certain railroad president ever
    did utter the famous phrase attributed to him, “the public
    be damned,” the public has more than gotten even. It does
    the damning itself nowadays instead, and so effective is its
    verdict that we are even confronted with the spectacle of the
    government itself bowing to the popular prejudice irrespective
    of the facts in the case. Undoubtedly we have become a nation
    of stone-throwers. To a certain extent this has worked for
    the public benefit. Every deserved stone has worked for the
    correction of admitted evils. But so rapidly has the public
    taken to the lately discovered pastime of stone-throwing that it
    not infrequently uses its strength like a giant, and that, we
    have been told, is tyrannous. Let a corporation raise its head
    nowadays and it is greeted by a shower of stones of which perhaps
    not ten per cent. are intelligently cast. The only thing to do in
    such a case is to “duck;” argument becomes futile in the heat of
    battle.…

That is sufficient to show the “style.” The article then proceeds to
give some mail-service history and to cite a few points wherein by
“arbitrary” rulings the government is grievously wronging the railroads
in under-paying them for the carrying of the mails. The following is one
of the _strong_ points or arguments presented:

    Furthermore, the railroads hold that an additional injustice was
    done in this connection in the adoption of the present methods of
    determining the weights. In addition to the several reductions
    from the act of 1873 above mentioned, and in spite of the fact
    that various government committees admitted their injustice, a
    singular order amounting practically to a _juggling of weights
    in favor of the government_ was issued under the date of June 7,
    1907.

    Under the date of March 2, 1907, the following order was issued:

    “When the weight of mail is taken on the railway routes, the
    whole number of days the mails are weighed shall be used as a
    divisor for obtaining the weight per day.”

But under date of June 7, 1907, a surprising order was issued reading as
follows:

    “When the weight of mail is taken on railway routes, the whole
    number of days _included_ in the weighing period should be used
    as a divisor for obtaining the average weight per day.”

Certainly this is a startling change of methods on the part of a
government which has been attempting to establish a high standard of
integrity in the conduct of all business. Slight as the difference in
the wording of the two orders may seem upon a casual reading, the actual
effect is drastic. Under the order of March 2, 1907, the total amount
of mail weighed to obtain the average daily weight was to be divided by
the total number of days on which it was handled. _Surely there could
be no other fairer basis of determining the average weight._ But under
date of June 7, 1907, the system of weighing was changed, so that to
determine the daily average weight of mail the total weight should be
divided, not by the number of days on which it was weighed, but by the
whole number of days included in the weighing period irrespective of
whether mails were handled daily during the whole period or not. _As a
matter of fact in many cases they were not_, and this arbitrary “change
of divisor,” as it is called, further reduced the pay of the railroads
for the transportation of mails by about 12 per cent in addition to
the reductions above mentioned which _congressional committees_ had
previously characterized as unfair.

There, now. Is not that profoundly and beautifully conclusive? The
strictures, hard and unjust regulations and arbitrary impositions of
the government in the matter of railway mail weights is working great
wrong to the roads; is, in fact, so cutting into their earnings as to
jeopardize their solvency or to force them to raise freight and passenger
rates in order to continue business.

Very sad, very sad, indeed! And how unjust it is for the Postmaster
General so to cut down railway mail pay as possibly to cut down the
dividends the railroads have been paying the “widows and orphans” who
own stock in the roads--stocks and bonds aggregating two or three times
their tangible value. Especially wrong was it for the Postmaster General
to issue and enforce such drastic orders after “congressional committees”
had declared any reduction of the weight-pay rate “unfair.”

I shall not impose on the reader any extended discussion or consideration
of the quoted bubble talk. A few comments I will make--comments which it
is hoped will peel off sufficient of the rhetorical coloring to let the
reader see at least enough of the real subject (the points involved), as
will enable him to make a robust and correct guess at the “ground-plan”
of both the sub and the superstructure the railway talkers and speakers
are trying to erect.

First: Every right-minded citizen should--and when he rightly understands
the matter, I believe, will--give the Postmaster General unstinted praise
and commendation for the issuance and enforcement of the two orders which
the railway men quote and complain about.

Second: The rail people say the last order (see quotation), “reduced the
pay of the railroads by about 12 per cent.”

Without questioning the veracity of the gentlemen under whose “authority”
that statement is made, The Man on the Ladder, as a judgmental
precaution, shall line up with the folks “from Missouri” until that 12
per cent is set forth in fuller relief--until he is shown. The reader
will observe that the railroad authorities quoted merely say that the
“arbitrary change of divisor further reduced the pay of the railroads.”
Whether or not the pay received by the roads _before_ that order was
issued was too low, low enough or too high is not directly stated by
the writer or writers. That it is designed to have the reader draw the
conclusion that the rate was low enough or too low before that second
order was issued is made evident by the reference to the expressed
opinions of “congressional committees”--opinions to the effect that the
“reductions” forced by the first order were “unfair.”

Third: The names of many men of both ability and of integrity have
appeared upon the rosters of the Committees on Postoffices and Postroads
of both the Senate and the House during the past forty years. In face of
that fact stands forth in bold relief a fact so bare and bald--and so
_suggestive_ of wrongs done and doing by the rail people--as to remove
it from the field of serious debate. That fact is: For forty or more
years the railroad men and allied interests have by lobbies, or other
_persuasive_ means, got the Congressional Committees (Senate, House and
joint), to do about what they wanted done in the matter of rail carriage
and pay for handling the mails, or to prevent the committees from doing
things they did not want done.

Fourth: That “change of divisor,” covered in the order of June 27, 1907,
and which these railroad men accuse of causing a shrinkage of 12 per cent
in the mail-weight pay the roads were receiving under the order of March
2, 1907, and prior, possibly was based on some valid reasons or grounds,
or upon grounds the then Postmaster General believed to be valid. I have
not before me, at the moment, any written data or information as to the
reasons assigned by the postal authorities for that “change of divisor”,
or whether they assigned any reasons for the order making the change. I
know, however, of one very good reason there was for making such a change
on several railroads or divisions of roads.

The weighing of the mails was formerly made during a period of 90 to
105 days, or fifteen weeks, once every four years. The law now permits
the Postoffice Department to make special weighings, I believe. On the
average daily mail weight for those 105 days the postal department based
its contract with the roads for carrying the mails for four years.

Now notice this: The terms of such contracts not only implied but
specifically required a _daily_ carriage of the mail weight for the
number of days designated, allowing, of course, for wrecks, washouts and
other unavoidable interruptions in the movements of trains.

Keeping that in mind, suppose the Postmaster General discovered that on a
good many mail runs--“lines” or “half-lines”--suppose that the chief of
the department discovered a condition on many mail runs similar to that I
personally know to have existed on a few, in years 1907 and prior. That
was, briefly stated, this:

The contract called for a _daily_ carriage of so much mail weight and the
government _paid_ for that per diem carriage, the days of unavoidable
interferences and interruptions included. Suppose that the postoffice
authorities discovered that, by reason of the diversion of the mails to
other lines, the _daily_ mail service was not rendered; or discovered,
as in at least one instance I discovered, that the contracting road (or
roads) gave little consideration to the _daily_ service clause save
during the _weighing period_, dropping the mail from train--skipping a
day’s service--whenever it was to their interests to do so, and often
assigning the most flimsy reasons for so doing or assigning no reasons at
all?

That order of June 7, 1907, would have a tendency to stop that sort of
disrespect and abuse of contract stipulations, would it not?

Fifth: The writer of the article from which we have quoted appears to
have got himself somewhat twisted in his consideration of that order
of March 2, 1907. It seems that (see first paragraph of quotation) he
would have the reader class it among those several forced reductions
which “various government committees” had called unjust. But, further
along, it is stated that “surely there could be no other fairer basis
of determining the average weight” than that furnished in that order of
March 2.

I wonder why the railroad lobby so strenuously opposed that order of
March, 1907--connived and schemed for its rescinding, until the order
of June 7, 1907, gave the gang of corruptionists something still more
objectionable to the interests they served? Yes, I wonder why they so
hotly opposed that order of March 2? If there could be “no other fairer
basis of determining the average weight” in June, 1911 (the publication
date of the article from which we have quoted), why was it not fair in
March, 1907? And why was it not a fair and just basis for arriving at the
average daily mail weights for many weighing periods prior to 1907? Did
anyone ever hear any railway man advocating the “fair basis” provided in
that order of March? Most certainly The Man on the Ladder never heard of
such advocacy. The railway people did not advocate such a “fair” method
of ascertaining the average daily mail weight their roads carried during
a period of fifteen weeks--or during any other period--_because they were
beneficiaries of some very unfair methods and practices which gave them
pay for mail weights their roads did not carry_.

As I refer later to some of the practices indulged in the weighing
periods, I will here mention only a method used for years prior to the
issuance of that order in March, 1907--a method of arriving at the
“average daily weight” for the carriage of which the railroad was to be
paid for a period of four years. That method was, though I have been
unable to learn that it was ever officially authorized by the Postoffice
Department, to find the daily average for each week covered in the
weighing period and then arrive at the average for the whole period by
dividing the sum of the weekly averages by the number of weeks in which
the mail was weighed.

Nothing wrong with that is there? Should work out fair and square, should
it not? Well, it did not. The method was all right in theory and in
letter, but a crooked practice was worked into its application--worked
into it by collusion between crooked railway and public officials. And
the crookedness of the practice was very plain and bold and bald. It was
what in street parlance would be called “raw.” Here it is in figures:

Take a “heavy” mail line. Say the total mail weight for a week was, using
a round figure, 840,000 pounds or 420 tons. Now dividing that total by
7, the number of days in a week and the number of days also on which the
mail was weighed, would give a daily _average_ of 120,000 pounds, or 60
tons. That is all clear and straight, is it not? Most certainly it is.

But the crooked application of the method divided the week’s total by 6
instead of by 7--divided the total of seven days’ weights by six. The
railway people, you see, were great respecters of the Sabbath. They
would run trains on Sunday to accommodate the public and to meet the
necessities of their business, which was, and is, perfectly proper. They
would also carry the mails for your Uncle Sam, which was also right and
proper. But their lofty respect for the Holy Sabbath, or the high esteem
in which they held our much loved and much abused Uncle, was such as
induced them to hold up said Uncle as a respecter of the Sabbath, or
seventh day, while they “held him up” in averaging his mail weights.

In the illustrative example we have put on the slate, the “hold up” would
amount to--let’s see: 840,000 pounds, or 420 tons, divided by 6 gives us
70 tons as the daily average for the week, instead of 60 tons, as the
actual average was. That is a “hold up” for pay for ten tons a day--for
10 tons not carried.

“What did the hold-up amount to in cash?”

Yes, it might be well to follow our hypothetical or illustrative example
to its _cash_ terminal. Well, that is easily and quickly done.

The rate of pay per ton mile per year on daily weights above 2½ tons is
$21.37.[16] That ten tons added to the daily average would give to the
railroads, then, just $213.70 in _unearned_ cash each day.

If the contract stood for full four years on such false average, the
railroad would pull down just 1,460 times $213.70 of unearned money or a
total of $312,002 in the four years.

I would, of course, not have the reader understand that our hypothetical
example would fit all railroads. Many, in fact most, of the mail-carrying
roads average in mail weight much below sixty tons per day--even below
ten tons per day. Some roads were and are paid for an average above
sixty tons. Nor would I have the reader understand that the crooked
practice just mentioned was common to all mail-carrying roads. There
were possibly--yes, probably, some exceptions--some roads that carried
so little mail as not to make a steal of a sixth of its weight-pay worth
while.

I would, however, have the reader understand that I mean to assert that
_most_ of the mail-carrying roads were parties to the crooked method
here described and that the hypothetical figures here given applied,
proportionally, to any average per diem weight of mail covered in the
carriage contract, whether it was one ton or a hundred tons.

I would also have the reader understand me to assert that, so far as
information has reached me, no railroad man, or man representing the rail
mail-carrying interests, ever questioned the “fairness” of the crooked
practice just described--a practice which looted the government of
millions of dollars.

As a _raider_ into postal revenues, this thieving practice, it must be
admitted, deserves conspicuous mention--more extended notice than I have
given it.


FOOTNOTES

[9] 5,000 to 48,000 pounds, $20.30 per ton. Above 48,000 pounds, $19.24
per ton.

[10] Land grant roads receive but 80 per cent of these rates.

[11] This is the rate received for carrying each ton handled 1 mile, and
is obtained by dividing the yearly compensation by 365 and then dividing
the daily compensation thus obtained by the number of tons carried 1 mile
each day.

[12] This rate was obtained in the same manner as the ton-mile rate.

[13] By full-sized cars is meant cars 40 feet or more in length and
wholly devoted to mail.

[14] Car and mile-run rates corrected for 1908 and since.

[15] Tables corrected for 1908.

[16] The rate 1907 and prior. Now the rate is $20.30 for tonnages between
2½ and 24 tons and $19.24 for each ton above 24 tons.



CHAPTER XIII.

RAIDERS MASKED BY CIVIL SERVICE.


One other raid into the postal revenues I must notice before passing to
a consideration of the parcels post question, in which consideration of
other raids and raiders will be mentioned.

Here I desire to refer to that band of raiders--thousands in number--who
are carried on the payrolls of the Postoffice Department--carried at
salaries ranging into the thousands in many cases--and who do little or
nothing of service value for the money paid them.

The Postoffice Department is a large institution and does a big
business--a huge business which has much detail and extends over a vast
territory. To handle such a business properly, necessarily requires
the service of a large force of operatives. Most of the work of the
department is of that sort which human brain and muscle alone can do. The
machine can touch but a few of the minor details of the vast amount of
work our Postoffice Department handles. It may cancel stamps, perforate
documents, etc., but it cannot collect, sort, distribute, carry and
deliver mail. It requires human muscle and brains to do such work. Much
of it requires skill--the trained eye and hand as well as academic
knowledge.

Well, the Postoffice Department employs a large force--a vast army of
men, and some women, I believe. Counting the employes in its legal,
purchasing and inspection divisions with the postmasters, assistant
postmasters, railway and office clerks, city and rural carriers,
messengers, etc., there must be somewhere around 330,000 people employed
in our federal postal service.

Whether that is too large or too small a force for the _proper_ handling
of our postal service is beyond my purpose here to discuss. That the
business now handled by the department could be far better handled by
330,000 employes than it now is, and that such a service force could, if
properly directed and disciplined, handle a business much larger than
that now transacted by the department, I do not hesitate to assert. I
base that assertion chiefly on the following observed conditions:

First: There are frills and innovations in handling the business which
take up the time of employes and which have little or no service value.

Second: There is, not too much “politics,” as Mr. Hitchcock and
his immediate predecessors have modestly but wrongfully called it,
but too much political partisanship--_dirty, grafting, thieving,
partisanship_--not only in the appointment of people to the service,
but also in making partisan, often grafting, crooked use of them after
appointment.

Third: There are too many non-producers--non-service producers--among
that army of 330,000.

It is the last, or third, condition named that I shall here briefly
consider, or such observed phases of it as, in my judgment, so trench
into the postal revenues as not only amounts to a raid in itself, but
which also encourages others to graft and loot.

First, I desire to say that there are many thousands in that postal
service, many who are honest, faithful and _competent_ workers. There
are about seventy thousand (69,712 according to the department’s report
for 1910) carriers, city and rural, most of whom work industriously and
efficiently and who are underpaid for the service they render.

There are about 50,000 clerks employed. Of these, the 1909-10 report
says, 16,795 are railway clerks. Quoting the same report, there were
33,047 postoffice clerks in the service. All or nearly all of these are
employed in the “Presidential” postoffice--offices of the first, second
and third classes. Of the total number of clerks, 31,825, are employed
in offices of the first and second classes. There were 424 offices of
the first class and 1,828 of the second. That placed the service of
31,825 clerks in 2,252 offices. The report (1909-10), from which these
figures are taken states 5,373 as the number of third-class offices. The
remainder of the reported number of clerks (1,222) are, it is presumed,
distributed among those 5,373 third-class offices. At any rate, in the
statement of expenditures for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1910, the
Second Assistant Postmaster General, Mr. Stewart, presents the following
showing of expenditures as compensation to clerks:

  Clerks in first and second-class postoffices (31,825)  $31,583,587.37
  Clerks in third-class postoffices, lower grade             540,891.31
  Clerks in third-class postoffices, upper grade             663,632.20

The lower grade of third-class postoffices comprise those which yield
the postmasters an annual income ranging from $1,000 to $1,500 and the
higher grades are those with a compensation of $1,600 to $1,900 to the
postmasters. In this connection, it should be noted that for the fiscal
year there was paid, in addition to the amounts above named, the sum of
$325,953.44 for what are called “temporary” and “substitute” clerks.

Adding these various sums gives a total of $33,114,064.32 paid for
clerk hire for clerks in first, second and third-class offices--in the
“Presidential postoffice,” or offices to which the President has, by
law or otherwise, been granted or permitted the right to appoint the
postmasters.

As previously stated, there is a total of 7,625 Presidential postoffices
on the payrolls of which are carried the names of 33,047 clerks. In
addition to these are 16,795 railway postal clerks. Beyond saying that
the appointment and advancement of these last-mentioned clerks have been
in the past--_and yet are_--largely influenced by assistant postmaster
generals, superintendents and other chiefs of division in the Washington
or department office and by Senators, Congressmen and _postmasters_
in offices of the first and second-classes, I shall not consider them
further here, nor do I include them in the adverse criticisms I shall
make of the clerical force and service of the department.

It should, however, be noted in this connection that in addition to
the 31,825 clerks employed in the 2,252 offices of the first and
second classes, there are 2,237 assistant postmasters. These were paid
$2,536,997.24 for the year ended June 30th, 1910. There were in offices
of the first and second-classes 2,252 postmasters. To these was paid the
sum of $5,814,300. That makes the service personnel of the first and
second class offices, not counting carriers, messengers, etc., 36,314,
and gives a total of annual expenditures for this service amounting to
$40,465,361.56.

The reader will please keep in mind the fact that the foregoing figures
apply only to postoffices of the first and second-classes. There may be a
few clerks and also assistant postmasters in offices of the third-class.
If so, there are so few of them that the department did not deem it
worth while to account for them in that position in any of its fiscal
statements, so far as I have been able to find. I would ask the reader
also to bear in mind that while the following strictures are intended to
apply to all three classes of Presidential postoffices, their application
is less general and less forceful in offices of the second than in
offices of the first class, and less in offices of the third-class than
in either of the two higher class offices.

There has been much talk by Postmaster Generals in recent years about
efforts made and making to get the employes of the Postoffice Department
into the classified service--getting them under civil service protection.
Not only has this been made subject of urgent advocacy in almost every
annual department report of recent years, but Postmaster Generals have
made prolix and voluble reference to and favorable comment upon the
progress that has been made in “taking the department out of politics.”
Mr. Hitchcock in the 1909-10 report commends highly the progress made in
that direction. See pages 13, 14, 24, 85, 86 and others of the report.
The party stump and banquet oratory of the past twelve or more years
has sparkled--fairly scintillated it might be said--with rhetorical
coruscations about what “the administration has done” to remove the
federal service from the “baleful clutch and influence of politics.”

Now do not misunderstand me. I am not saying this because the Republicans
have been in control of things. Had Democrats been at the helm of the
national craft, they would have done the same. The Democratic politicians
might have done more or less than the Republicans have done to get
the civil service of the government away from corrupt and corrupting
partisan influences. The Republicans have done only what they have been
compelled to do--compelled by general public demand. So the Democrats
would have done, had they been in power. Politicians do not want a civil
service free from party control. The “jobs” have been and _are_ a source
both of spoils and of continued power to the so-called “practical”
politician of either party--of any political party. That is why the
party leaders--“bosses”--fight so persistently and craftily to retain
control of the civil jobs. That is why almost every civil service law or
“executive order” for placing civil employes under a merit or efficiency
classification carries a “joker” somewhere about its clothes. That is
true of most all such laws and orders so far enacted or issued, whatever
be their field of application--city, county, state or nation.

So I desire the reader to understand that there is no political or party
animus in what I may say in adverse criticism of the jokes and jokers
which so conspicuously decorate the Republican display of effort to place
federal postal employes under classified civil service and which, it is
said, “has taken them out of politics and will keep them out.” The Man on
the Ladder believes in civil service, but he does not believe in either
legislative or executive “jokers” which, under the guise and pretense
of establishing a _protected_ merit classification of public servants,
makes stealthy crooks and turns to keep their own partisans on the jobs,
regardless of either their ability, merit or fitness.

Now let us return to our subject--to the points which make much if not
most of the alleged “progress” in the postal department toward the
institution of a _merit_ classification of its office employes but
little more than a move on lines to keep administration partisans on
postal service jobs, and which makes this much-talked of progress toward
efficiency conserve party more than service interests.

But some readers may urge that this is mere assertion. Well, let me
present a few facts and conditions which support the assertions, or
which, to me, seem to make the statements assertions of fact.

Mr. Hitchcock rightly asserts (page 13 of 1909-10 report) “that the
highest degree of effectiveness in the conduct of this tremendous
business establishment cannot be attained while the thousands of
postmasters, on whose faithfulness so much depends, continue to be
political appointees. The entire postal service should be taken out of
politics.”

Well and good. Following the foregoing, he mentions the fact that all
assistant postmasters have been placed in the classified service by order
of the President. Mr. Hitchcock, “as a still more important reform,”
recommends that “Presidential postmasters of all grades, from the first
class to the third, should be placed in the classified service.” He also
speaks of efforts made and making to place the fourth-class postmasters
under its laws and regulations. He points out some valid difficulties
to be surmounted if such desired result is attained without impairment
rather than betterment of the service. The First Assistant Postmaster
General, C. P. Granfield, states in his report, that, under an executive
order dated November 30, 1908, all fourth-class postmasters in _fourteen
states_ have been put into the classified service. He also explains
briefly the method of procedure in filling vacancies--_when they occur_.

That is probably sufficient preliminary. Now for a few of the observed
and observable conditions which govern in civil service as thus far
applied in the Postoffice Department. Taking the fourth-class postmasters
first, it may be said the method of appointing such postmasters by civil
service examination scarcely rises to a dignity entitling it to serious
consideration. While the method itself _reads_ well, its application, in
many instances, is but a joke--a tame joke at that. Postmaster General
Hitchcock substantially admits, as previously stated, that conditions
are met with which make its application extremely difficult if not quite
impossible.

Certain it is that, so far as applied, the results have given a vast
majority, if not all, of the certifications to persons of administration
party affiliation.

Then, too, it might be asked by a person addicted to the habit of doing
his own thinking--a habit very obnoxious to party “leaders” and to
politicians of the so-called “practical” breed--it might be asked by any
capable, independent thinker, if it was mere chance that selected twelve
administration and two “doubtful”--chronically doubtful--states in which
first to make application of a civil service method to the selection and
appointment of fourth-class postmasters?

While there are, according to the last published department report,
about 52,000 fourth-class postmasters in the country, a great majority
of them are persons of little or no local political influence. Beyond
their own votes, then, they are of little service to the administration
party, save as distributing or disbursing agents of the party in power
for its campaign literature and other promotion matter. They are used
also to keep the county and state “bosses” of the party advised of local
political conditions as they view them--flurries in the party atmosphere,
as indicated by hitching-post and whittling discussions of party
legislation and proposed legislation or of party policies, as set forth
by the published utterances of state and national “leaders.”

In such and other minor ways, then, the fourth-class postmaster may be a
helpful instrument in the retention of power by the political party in
power--the party from which he has received appointment. So it is good
“practical” politics to keep such a party agent on the job. To that end,
then, the party in power--the administration--places the fourth-class
postmaster in the classified civil service, thus making his removal more
difficult, if not impossible, in case an opposing party should win out at
the polls and take charge of the government.

The foregoing is said, of course, on the presupposition that every reader
knows that a vast majority of the postmasters and other personnel of
the postal service today is of the political party in power. In saying
that the party from which these postmasters and other postal service
employes received their appointments has been and is using a civil
service classification largely, if not wholly, for partisan ends. I
say only--in fact have already said--that the Democratic party or any
other party would, if in national control, make similar use of the
civil classification. And such partisan manipulation of a merit service
classification will continue _so long as we fool people will stand for or
permit it_.

The chief “jokers” woven into most all civil service laws and executive
orders are these:

First: The law or “order” directing the application of a classification
of a service into certain grades, places those holding positions at the
time of the enforcement of such law or order, into the various grades
_without any examination as to their merit or efficiency_.

Second: Such laws and orders almost universally provide a promotion or
advancement credit for “experience,” and the only factor or element
recognized in the make-up of experience is _time_. The number of years an
employe has been on his job or in the service is his “experience.”

Third: Such civil service laws or orders always provide for
examinations--usually an “entrance” and “promotional”--and for
“examiners.” Seldom is anything said as to the qualifications of the
persons selected as examiners. Their selection is invariably left to a
“Civil Service Commission,” and the membership of such commission is as
invariably left to _partisan appointment_. There is usually a pretense
of making such commissions “non-partisan,” that is, one of three or two
of five of the appointed commissioners are to be of the minority party.
Nevertheless, they are _all_ appointed by the majority party--the party
in power.

All three of these “jokers” are in the government civil service laws
and the extension of those laws to the various divisions of the federal
civil service is left largely or wholly subject to the orders of the
President. I object to a classified merit service under such statutory
“jokers.” They provide a service more partisan than efficient. They
permit a payroll raid upon the revenues from which employes are paid.
They retain incompetent, inefficient persons in graded positions for
partisan purposes--often “grafting” purposes--rather than for service
reasons. They leave the promotion or advancement of honest, industrious
and competent employes largely, if not wholly, subject to the will,
wish and whim of a partisan appointed or elected superior or to a
partisan civil service commission. They provide for advancement on an
“experience”--a time service--which may not, and which in many cases does
not, constitute an experience of any value whatsoever to the service.

I have said that the office personnel of the government’s postal service
embraces a large number--_thousands_--of raiders on the postal revenues.
I repeat that assertion here.

Most of these raiders occupy the higher salaried positions--postmasters
of the “Presidential” classes, assistant postmasters, chief clerks and
others who secured their positions through partisan “pull” or “drag.”
These do little work of service value for the salaries paid them. Many of
them are so occupied with affairs of their party that they have little
time for service work even if they were inclined to do it. Most of them
are not so inclined. Many of these raiders know of--some of them have
been parties to--railway mail-weight, contract and other raids upon the
department they are supposed to serve.

But this is only generalization, some one may say. In answer I say kick
off your blanket of apathy. Go do a little investigating and then do a
little--just a little--hard thinking. See what you shall see in even
such a modest effort to put two and two together. Visit a “Presidential”
postoffice in your county, preferably the one at the county seat or the
one at the capital or at the metropolis of your state. These cities
are the storm centers of partisan activity, likewise of partisan
manipulations, bubble and crookedness. If you know the postmaster,
so much the better. If you are of the same party affiliation as the
postmaster, still better. If you are not, do not let that deter you. You
visit him to see things for yourself, and an investigator is not only
warranted but fully justified in appearing to be what he is not. Fix
upon some subject of inquiry before you reach the “presence” on that
particular “Presidential” P. O. throne. Then, with ears spread and eyes
shrewdly as well as interestedly open, go to it.

The postmaster will be glad to see you if he knows you. If he does not
know you, he will be assumedly glad to see you anyway, after he learns
where you are from and that you have an ingrown habit of voting the
ticket of his party. He may even warm up to the extent of tendering a
box of his favorite brand with an invitation to smoke up. Then he will
probably want to know “how things look up your way.” It does not make
much difference how or what you answer, so long as it is favorable
to “the party.” He is handing you a case-hardened jolly. You must be
gentleman enough to return the courtesy. “I know you are a very busy man,
Mr. Jones, and I must not take up your time. I want a little information
and decided I would come to the right place to get it,” etc., or
something along such lines will do.

Then ask your question or questions. Preferably let them be about some
detail or details in the handling of “the large business” of his office.
Now you will begin to see things.

The postmaster will press a buzzer button. In response a well groomed
gentleman appears whom, by introduction, you learn is his assistant.
“Fred,” says the postmaster, “Mr. Smith here desires some information. He
is from Brainville and--well, he is a friend of ours. Now, Mr. Smith,”
with a real “glad-hand” shake, “you go with Fred. He’ll dig up any
information you want, and, now, don’t forget to call on me the next time
you are in town.”

Then you go off with Fred. He sluices a lot of kiln-dried small talk at
you and rounds out with “How are things up at Brainville, Mr. Smith?”
Of course you assure him that things “look good” to you, or that, in
your opinion “there will be nothing to it but counting our majority.”
By this time Fred has steered you to the chief clerk. To the latter he
says, “Here, Baker, shake hands with Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith lives up at
Brainville and is one of our friends. He wants some information. You see
that he gets it will you?”

Fred, then, with another ingratiating hand shake, leaves you in
Mr. Baker’s care. To him you state the points on which you wish
enlightenment. “Oh, I see,” says Mr. Baker. “You just come with me and
I’ll have you fixed out.” Then, if it be a postoffice of fairly large
business, he will take you over to some chief or foreman of division,
tells him what you desire to know and instructs him to inform you. The
division boss next takes you in tow and with much pleased and pleasing
talk steers you down the line to some $900 or $1,200 a year clerk to whom
he turns you over. This shirt-sleeved clerk knows the answer or answers
and gives you the desired information in about three minutes.

Incidentally in your round of the postoffice, you have asked some
conventional questions and have learned, among other things, that the
assistant postmaster, chief clerk, division chief and other top-notchers
in the service are all men of “experience”--have each been in the service
five to ten years and “know the business from garret to basement.”

Once outside or on your way home, some questions will begin swimming a
marathon in your think-tank. Such as these for instance:

“Did those top-notchers really know the business of their office?”

“If they did know, why did they troll you around for an hour to get
information which a shirt-sleeved _worker_ gave you in three minutes?”

“If they did not know, then what have they been doing during their five
or ten years of service?”

“If they know so much, how many years would it take “Boob” Sikes of
Boobtown to learn as little as they appeared to know?”

By the time the questions begin to take on this sort of “How old is Ann”
character, you will have reached the conclusion that you have discovered
something and have seen things to prove it.

Just here it may be pertinently asked, why those top-notchers in that
postoffice should be blanketed by the stipulations of a civil service law
which gives them merit credits and grades for the years they have been
in the service? If you and I have been loafing on a job for five, ten or
more years--been foozling with the duties of that job while heeling and
fanning for a political party--why should the law credit those years to
us as service “experience?”

In placing any service or a division of any service under a merit
classification, the law should require that every position in such
service be filled by examination, and such examination should be open
alike to the shirt-sleeved employe already holding a position in such
service and to outsiders. Such a requirement would show what of service
value there really was as a result of the years an employe had been in
the service.

Do you ever go to Washington, D. C.? If so, the next time you go, take
in one or more of the main divisions of the Postoffice Department. Some
guide or clerk will probably be detailed to steer you through. Your pilot
will talk considerable and his talk will listen well. You need not,
however, hear all nor even much of what he says. As advised in your visit
to the Presidential postoffice, keep both your ears and your eyes open to
hear and see what the service employes say and do.

You will observe that a considerable number of the clerical force are
doing something--are really trying to work. You will also discover before
going far that a number of employes are industriously engaged in talking.
The smiles and quiet laughter which embellish their conversation may lead
you to believe that they are talking about some of the humorous incidents
and features of the postal service. Do not, however, be hasty in arriving
at such conclusion. If you get near enough to hear an occasional word,
you may discover that their conversation is evidently about something
which a humoresque writer has described as “the recently distant
elsewhere,” and not about the department service at all. It may be about
some feature or phase of Washington’s social flux or about some social
function which is to stake a temporary claim in the circle in which the
talkers circulate. In short, you will discover that the conversation is
but commercially pasteurized small-talk and not business.

Moving on, you will observe other little groups in animated conversation.
A glance at the anæmic appearance of some of the talkers will lead you
to the immediate and sound conclusion that the subject of conversation
cannot be weighty. Politics, even party politics, either practical or
progressive, you will readily see would be some sizes too large for them.
Getting within hearing range, you will learn that these industrious
servants of the people are discussing the telling points in some prize
fight “pulled off” the night before or of the ball game which some one or
more of the coterie had seen the day before. Maybe some one of the group
is turning loose his stem-winding, automatic bloviate ejector in telling
his interested auditors about what a “ripping time” he had with Rose at
some dance or other party last night. What you hear will be sufficient to
convince you that these “classified civil service employes” must put in
considerable time in mental and physical exertion to work out of their
systems the lessons they were taught at mother’s knee, and much more of
their time trying to keep several laps behind their jobs. You will also
see that some of the service men are workers--real _workers_--who earn
more than the salaries paid them. So, too, are there many of them whose
industry should make a more or less conspicuous service trench into four
or five dollars a day. But when you get outside or get home, you will
remember having seen numerous supervising and directing heads and many
clerks who appeared to be actually tiring themselves out in exertions to
keep away from work.

Yes, I repeat, the Postoffice Department carries upon its payrolls too
many non-producers of service values--too many mere payroll-raiders on
the postal revenues. Putting all these into graded classified service and
under the protection of a “joker”-ridden law will not improve the actual
service--will not stop the raid of which I have been writing.

The civil service of the government and subordinate division of it--city,
county and state--should be controlled by law, not by political
partisanship. Mr. Hitchcock is forcefully right in what he says on this
very important subject. But laws providing rules and regulations for
the betterment of a public service should not provide blind alleys and
trenches through which dominating party officials and “bosses” may so
easily obstruct or balk accomplishment of the purpose, or the alleged
purpose, of the law. I have mentioned three objectionable features common
to nearly all civil service laws--to all that I have read. There are
other objectionable provisions in some of the laws. I am not, however,
intending to discuss here the desirability or the objections to civil
service, either as it is or as it should be, save in so far as the
present federal law has applied, is applied and may be applied, to the
postal service.

I have tried to show how three of its joker provisions--only _three_ of
them, mind you--have worked, have been and may be “worked,” to keep party
henchmen on the jobs rather than to secure to the people industrious,
capable and efficient servants. Of the three wire-tapping provisions
of the law mentioned, I have suggested how two of them might, in my
opinion at least, be remedied. The third is that of leaving it an easy
possibility to victimize employes through the agencies of partisan
commissions selected to enforce or administer the law and of incompetent,
biased and prejudiced persons such commissions may select to conduct
examinations for entrance or promotions in the service. How remedy that?

Having civil service commissioners _elected_, instead of being selected
by a temporary official over-lord would, in my judgment, go far toward
correcting the abuses which now flourish so luxuriously under that third
“joker” provision of the law.

Any service embracing a considerable number of persons in its execution,
must be closely supervised if anything approaching efficiency is attained
and maintained. An old German saying reads thus: “The eye of a master
will do more work than both his hands.” If value is secured either in
public or in private service, the people paid for delivering it must be
kept under close supervision--must be kept under “the eye of the master.”
A consciousness of having earned his pay should enable any service man,
whatever his position, to shake hands with himself without blushing at
the close of his day’s work. But if his superiors set him an example in
loafing, of hitting the nail slack while on duty, most men will soon
learn not only how to loaf but how to accept any amount of pay for
services not rendered, and accept it, too, without a flicker of blush or
jar of conscientious scruple.

So in closing our consideration of this phase of our subject, permit me
to say that efficient civil service will never be attained--can never be
attained--if department, division and other supervising and directing
heads sit at their desks most of the time, approving documents and
requisitions, reading reports and talking politics. If they expect men
under them to work, they must get out on the job where they expect the
work to be done, and that, too, whether the job be in the office or in
the field.



CHAPTER XIV.

PARCELS POST RAIDERS.


Anyone who attempts to give our parcels post service anything like
careful, studious consideration will, at the very outset of such
consideration, find himself confronted by a number of bald facts which,
when fully rounded out and understood, should make unnecessary any
discussion of our claim that we need, should have and are entitled to
better and cheaper service than that we now have. Without attempting any
immediate discussion of these facts, I desire to present them, or some
of them, to the reader’s consideration just here at the opening of our
discussion of the subject. The desire to do this is prompted by a hope
that their presentation here will induce the reader to think of their
significance and their bearing upon the parcels post question in any fair
discussion of it.

Now for these facts:

1. There are about 250,000 miles of railroad in this country--more than
the aggregate mileage of all the other nations of earth.

2. The capitalization of the railroads of these United States is now,
according to Poor’s Manual of Railroads, the universally recognized
authority, about $18,800,000,000--_Eighteen billion eight hundred million
dollars_!

3. That capitalization is admittedly _twice_ the value of all the
tangible values--trackage, rolling stock, terminals, shops and
other--owned by the roads. In many instances the capitalization of a road
is easily three times the value of its tangible property.

4. Most of these railroads were built with borrowed money, covered by
bond issues, and the payment of the bonds met from the _earnings of the
roads_, or by new issues of bonds, payment of which has been, or it is
intended will be, met from earnings. In view of this method of financing
construction and equipment, it is well known in informed circles that
the present capitalization of these railroads is _ten or twelve_ times
the actual cash ever invested in them--that is, cash other than that
collected from the people for freight, passenger, and other service
rendered--rendered at rates _unscrupulously_ excessive. Some of the best
informed people have gone so far as to say that _all_ of the stock and
a considerable part of the bond capitalization of the nation’s railroads
_is water_.

5. There are a number of express companies in this country. The express
business of the country, however, is controlled by six companies--the
“Big Six.”

6. The express transportation (land) is wholly by railroads. The railroad
companies, and men owning large or controlling interest in railroads, own
a large majority of the “Big Six” stock capitalization.

7. For most of the express company stock owned by railroads, no cash
consideration whatsoever was given. For the stock, a railroad company
gave to some express company a monopoly of the express business on its
line or system of lines of road.

8. The express companies, in addition to any stock bonus they may
have given for the monopoly of the express business on a rail line or
system of lines, pay to the railroads on which they operate _forty to
fifty-eight per cent of the gross receipts_ from the express business
handled.

9. The railroads furnish cars free to the express companies. They also
furnish depot accommodations and facilities for storing and handling
express shipments. In some instances, as much as 90 per cent of the
handling of express shipping is done by railroad employes.

10. There are thirty-seven directors in the controlling express
companies. Of these, thirty-two are also directors in some one or more
railroad companies or are large owners of railroad stocks and bonds.

11. Practically no cash investment whatsoever was ever made in
establishing or organizing an express company, nor in equipment to
conduct its business. Every dollar of value there is in equipment and
other tangible assets of the express companies today--and _hundreds of
millions besides_--has come from the people--has been _taken_ from the
people for handling their express business at rates ranging from _two to
five times the actual cost of handling_.

12. The controlling express companies--“associations” some of them
are called--pay 8 to 12 per cent dividends yearly on their stock
capitalization, which stock has but a fraction of substantial values
back of it, and _all_ those real values have come from earnings. 13. In
addition to the regular annual dividends paid, these express companies,
every few years, “cut a melon”--pay stockholders a substantial “extra”
dividend. One company (Wells, Fargo & Co.), with a stock capital of
$5,000,000 in 1872--and no one knowing what tangible assets that five
millions represented--increased it to $8,000,000 in 1893. That added
$3,000,000 was issued to the Union Pacific Railroad for a contract which
gave the express company a monopoly of the express business on the Union
Pacific rail system. On that eight millions the express company paid
annual dividends ranging from 6 to 9 per cent from 1893 to 1901. From
1902 to 1907 it paid 9 per cent annually, since which date its annual
dividend rate has been 10 per cent.

In addition to these substantial yearly dividends on $8,000,000 of stock,
_which cost its holders little or nothing_, this company cut a huge
“melon” in 1910. This melon was an extra dividend to its stockholders
of 100 per cent in cash ($8,000,000) and a stock dividend of 200 per
cent--_a total of 300 per cent as an extra dividend_--thus raising its
stock capitalization from $8,000,000 to $24,000,000.

On this twenty-four millions of stock the company has continued to pay 10
per cent annually.

_The net earnings of the company for 1910 and 1911 were about 20 per cent
on its $24,000,000 of stock._

14. There are no express companies in European countries. The heavier
express shipments here are there handled--and satisfactorily handled--by
the railroads direct. All the lighter express shipments are there handled
by the parcels post.

15. The parcels post service of European countries is entirely
satisfactory to the people, is cheaper than the pretense of a parcels
post service which has victimized the people of this country for a
half-century and _far_ cheaper than the rates we have been forced to pay
for express service.

16. As it was originally designed, and _so provided by law_, that our
government should have a monopoly in the carriage and delivery of
packages and parcels, the express companies in this country--_all of
them_--have been and are engaged in an _outlawed traffic. They are
criminals._

17. Our government, in all its branches--legislative, executive and
judicial--has been party to this outlawry. It not only has protected
these express and railway raiders while they robbed us, but _it has
permitted itself to be robbed by them_.

The seventeen statements of fact should be sufficient for a starter--a
starter for arriving at a safe, sound conclusion as to how and why a
comparatively few folks get fabulously rich so quickly and so easily
while so many _millions_ of other folks, though lavish in industry and
self-denying in expenditure, rise only to modest means or remain poor.

We shall now take up a discussion of the parcels post--as it has served
us, and as it has served other peoples and should be made to serve us.

The first thing that is noticed in taking a ladder-top view of this
Parcels post question is the _immense_ amount of public bubbling talk and
writing and _money_ that is being expended upon, about and around it.

Is it the people? No. That is easily to be seen. The people are being
written and talked to. The people are saying little, write less and are
not _putting up the money to bubble themselves_ in the _anti_-parcels
post campaign.

Is the general government putting up the oil and fuel to run this
anti-parcels post bunk-shooting game?

Well, the government for years has made little noticeable effort to give
the people better and cheaper parcels accommodation in its mail service.
That is, the _executive_ arm of the national government has done so. The
legislative arm of the national government has _uniformly_, though never
unanimously, _opposed_ any and every measure intended to increase the
_service_ value of parcel mail-carriage to the people.

“Why have U. S. congressmen and senators opposed?”

_They have opposed, because the party caucuses of the House and the
Senate have been and are dominated and controlled by men who were and are
opposed to such legislation._

Still, the government, executive or legislative, has probably spent no
money and has certainly made little noise to defeat the establishment of
a better and cheaper parcels post service.

Now, if it is not the people themselves nor the people’s government who
are making all the parcels post noise, _buying_ newspaper space and
putting up money to _steer country merchants and others into organizing
and petitioning against increased parcel facilities in the mails_--if it
is not the people trying to bubble themselves nor the government trying
to bubble the people, I wonder who it is? Who is putting up for the _fuel
and oil_ to run this anti-parcels post _opinion-molding_ sulky-rake,
which has been so vigorously, so industriously and so _designedly_
dragged over the mental hay-fields of the American _hoi polloi_ during
recent years? What’s the answer?

Unless, of course, one has taken on an over-load of this anti-parcels
post tonnage, thereby giving his _feelings_ a chance to hip-lock or
strangle-hold his intelligence, he’ll not need to browse around long for
an answer.

You have a boy working at Blue Island or Elgin, Illinois. Mother in
Chicago wants to send him a Christmas present. If it weighs no more than
four pounds she can send it by mail, paying _one cent an ounce_. If she
wants to feel sure that her boy gets it, she can “register” the parcel,
_paying ten cents more_.

If the parcel weighs _the fraction of an ounce more_ than four pounds,
mother _cannot send it to her boy through the mail service at all_.
If the parcel weighs exactly four pounds, then our Uncle Samuel will
deliver it at Blue Island or at Elgin when mother puts up _sixty-four
cents_--seventy-four, if mother wants to feel sure that her boy gets it
and for that reason has the parcel “registered.”

That is one case--one _statement of fact_.

Andrew Carnegie at Skibo Castle, Scotland, desires to send a four-pound
Christmas present to some son of Norval or “blow-hole” friend in Los
Angeles, California, or Mrs. John Bull, at Manchester, England, has a
yearning--and the price--to send a present of corresponding weight to
her daughter Margaret, who is happily, likewise _richly_, married and
who lives in a beautiful suburb of San Francisco. Well, “Andy” and Mrs.
John Bull can send their four-pound presents--to be more exact, _they_
can send even if the parcels weight up to _eleven_ pounds each--can have
those four-pound parcels carried by rail to some steamship port, carried
across the Atlantic ocean, put into _our_ mail cars, carried with _our
own_ mail across the entire country and _delivered by American carriers_
to the _remotest_ suburb of Los Angeles or San Francisco for _forty-eight
cents--three-fourths_ the price mother has to pay to get _her four-pound_
present to her boy at Blue Island or Elgin!

That is another case--_another statement of fact_.

For _many years_ the United States government has _carried_ parcels of
newspapers, magazines and other periodicals, weighing up to 220 _pounds_,
to any point in the country reached by its mail service, broke the
package and delivered each separate piece to individual addresses in
postoffice boxes or by carrier for _one cent a pound_.

Yet it persists in charging mother _sixteen cents_ a pound to send her
present to her boy at Elgin or Blue Island and _compels_ her to keep its
weight down to _four pounds_.

That is another case--_another statement of fact_.

For many years, the government has carried by mail, not hundreds, but
_thousands_ of tons of parcels _free_. Every United States Senator, every
Congressman, every department head, every division head, every first,
second, third or fourth “assistant” department or division head, every
political “fence” builder, whatever his position in the government’s
official service, _uses his franking privilege_.

Not only that. _Most of them abuse it._

Not only that. Most of those who abuse it do not confine the abuse to
franking public documents to “friends at home” and speeches--most of
which were never made or were made or written by somebody else--to “my
constituents.” Oh, no! That government “frank,” so it has been credibly
asserted, has been used to carry easy chairs, side boards, couches
and other household goods which have been “bought cheap”--_some of
it too cheap to carry a price tag_--and which “can be used at home.”
Typewriters, filing cases, office desks, frequently acquired by a process
of _benevolent appropriation_, have reached home _without carriage
charge_.

That is another case--_another statement of fact_.

But why continue? I could go on for a page or two with _statements of
fact_, all evidencing this other _FACT_.

_Mother--your mother, my mother--the great tax-paying body of our
people--is wronged, is victimized, by our postal service and regulations._

That is my opinion. That opinion is based upon a “broad, general and
_comprehensive_ view”--a ladder-top view--“of the whole question in its
various and varying details,” as one _anti_-parcels post spouter has
spouted.

I have presented but _four_ statements of fact. A score of others will
readily appear to any reader who does his own thinking. But take any one
of the four above given and study its significance for just _one minute_.

Have you done so? “Yes?” Well, then you see the joke--or the “joker”--in
the _anti_-parcels post talk and literature, do you not? You will also
be able to make a close guess as to _who are financially backing_ the
public-bubbling _opposition_ to any legislation for the improvement of
our parcels post service. If you cannot, I advise you to go to some
jokesmith and have the gaskets and packings on your think-tank tightened
up.

John Wanamaker was a great merchant. He was a brainy business man and,
to a large extent, did his _own thinking_. He was, for a term of years,
Postmaster General of the United States. Mr. Wanamaker was likewise a man
of broad, comprehensive and _comprehending_ humor. He could crack or take
a joke. In either event, the kernel was separated from the shell quickly.
Here is one of Mr. Wanamaker’s jokes:

Years ago, when Mr. Wanamaker was Postmaster General, John Brisbane
Walker asked him why the American people stood for the existing parcels
post outrage. Mr. Walker believed the American people were quick,
_judgmental_ thinkers and _swift_ in remedial action when thought reached
the conclusion that the _thinker was being victimized_.

Mr. Walker was right--_is_ right. American people do think. The trouble
is that too many of us are _coupled into train with the wrong kind of
thinkers_. We are switched or shunted onto any side-track or yarding
the engineer, the conductor or the _traffic manager_ desires. We simply
_think_ we think, while really we are merely following a _steer_. But I
digress.

To Mr. Walker’s question, Mr. Wanamaker made this reply:

    “It is true that parcels could be carried at about _one-twelfth_
    their present cost by the Postoffice Department, but you do not
    seem to be aware that there are four _insuperable obstacles_ to
    carrying parcels by the United States Postoffice Department. The
    first of these is the _Adams Express Company_; the second is the
    _American Express Company_; the third is the _Wells-Fargo Express
    Company_; and the fourth, the _Southern Express Company_.”

Of course there are several more “insuperable obstacles” to an
improvement in our parcels post service. There is the previously
mentioned “big six” obstacles with the railroads, now as when Mr.
Wanamaker spoke, _owning or controlling them all_.

The reader may _know_--no need of _guessing_--that those insuperable
obstacles are _stoking_ the engines which are “yarding” public
opinion--and much honest, but superficial or careless, _private
opinion_--where it will yield _unearned_ revenues to the stokers. Any
man who argues _against_ cheapening our parcels post rates is merely a
_hired_ angler for suckers or a sharer in the spoils which railroad and
express raiders are looting from the people.

I recently heard one of those patriotic hired “cappers” talk to his job.
Among his forceful points were the following:

“The big express companies employ nearly 100,000 men.

“Their payroll (officials included), is nearly $50,000,000 a year.

“Roosevelt added 99,000 names to the federal pay roll during his seven
years in office.

“There are about 70,000 postoffices in the United States and an improved
parcels post service would require an additional clerk in each. Therefore
70,000 more tax-eaters would be added to the federal payrolls.

“There was a _deficit_ of $6,000,000 piled up in the Postoffice
Department last year. To what _appalling_ figures would that deficit
mount if a parcels post were established?”

Now, I want to ask a few questions.

First, those 100,000 men employed by the big express companies and
who are paid the colossal sum of $50,000,000 in salaries. The express
companies neither employ so many men nor pay so much money. But if they
did, that is an _average_ of but $500 a year to each employe. Do you
think those 100,000 express men would lose any _killing_ amount in annual
salary if the government took the whole bunch of them bodily over and put
them into a parcels post service?

So much for those alleged 100,000 express company _employes_, concerning
whose interests and welfare the _anti_-parcel post bunk-shooter _appears_
to have had a pain in his lap or bunions on his mind.

Now, how about the 90,000,000 or more people who make up the rest of us
folks in these United States? How would we come out in the ledger account
if a good, efficient and _cheap_ parcels post service was put into
operation and the “big express companies” put out of business?

It is quite impossible to figure it out to the cent. The _public_ reports
of those big express companies, likewise their system of double cross
bookkeeping, prevent us getting nearer than about eight blocks of their
“inside information.” But some of the _governing facts_ we know and
others must _necessarily_ follow in _any_ process or method of reasoning
recognized outside the harmless ward of a crazy house.

The stock of express companies is _owned_ largely by a comparatively
few people--a thousand, possibly five hundred, persons own 90 per cent
of this stock. No one at all familiar with express company tangibles,
unless he is exercising a loose-screwed veracity, will estimate their
_aggregate_ tangible values _above_ twenty or twenty-five millions. More
than that. The present tangible values in these companies _are_, as
previously stated, almost wholly _investments from earnings_. So largely,
in fact, is that true that _six million dollars_ is a _liberal_ estimate
for the _actual cash capital_ at any time invested in actual operation.

These companies paid their owners two to three and a half, or more,
millions a year _in dividends_.

Since 1907, the Adams company has paid $480,000 a year on $12,000,000
of bonds. Those twelve million of 4 per cent bonds were _given to the
stockholders. Not one cent of actual cash was given in consideration._

What has that to do with the parcels post question? Simply this:

When the government installs a parcels post service that accepts, carries
and _delivers_ packages weighing from twelve to twenty or more pounds
these _looting express and railroad raiders will go out of business_.


SUBSIDY RAIDERS.

Everybody who has studied the question at all knows that all alleged
deficits in the postal service are the malformed progeny of an illegal
union between crooked public officials and criminal violators of the law
enacted to establish and govern the carriage and delivery of mail matter
in these United States. So noticeable has been the closed eyes and “rear
view” of government officials while the railroad and express raiders
raided and walked off with their loot that petty thieves began to shin
up the posts of the Postoffice Department directly or sneak in by way of
Congressional legislation.

“What were they after?” Why, they wanted a “subsidy” for carrying foreign
or ocean mails, or they wanted a “pork” contract--one of those contracts
which renders little service for much money.

Did you ever hear of Tahiti? No. It is _not_ a breakfast food nor a sure
cure for cancers. It is an island. “Where?” Ask the Almighty. I don’t
know, and I am doubtful whether the Almighty knows or _cares_. I know it
is an island somewhere, because a few years ago the postal department
entered into a contract with some “tramp” steamer flying a _rag_, which
_close_ inspection might discover had _once_ been the American flag.

The Postoffice Department paid that tramp $45,000 for carrying our mails
to Tahiti--_a service that another vessel in the Tahiti trade offered to
render for $3,500_.

Can there be any _legitimate_ surprise or wonder at a “deficit” resulting
from such business methods?

But that, of course, was “a few years ago.” Yet, stay! On page 264 of the
1910 report of the Postoffice Department, I find that the Oceanic Line--a
line of United States register--carried to and from Tahiti and the
Marquesas Islands 7,622 pounds of letters and 159,483 pounds of prints.
This was carried under a “contract” and the Oceanic people were paid
$46,398 for the service--_for carrying about 88 tons of mail matter_.

Looks like a good “deficit” producer, does it not?

But there is another queer thing about this Tahiti mail contract. Note
(1) on page 263, to which the report refers readers, says steamers of
United States register _not under contract_ are paid 80 cents a pound for
carrying letters and 8 cents a pound for carrying prints. Figuring up the
Oceanic’s service at those rates gives as result only $18,856.24.

So it can readily be seen there is something in a “contract”--some
contracts, anyway.

On the same page (264), I find that another ship, one of the Union Line
and under foreign register, touches at Tahiti in making New Zealand. It
carried 2,713,850 grams (about 5,970 pounds) of letters and 58,926,887
grams (about 129,639 pounds) of prints--within 16 tons the weight the
Oceanic people carried--and received only $7,781.54 for the service.
These vessels of foreign register are paid about 35 cents a pound for
letter weights and 4½ cents for print weight.

Figuring up the weights hurriedly at the named rates, I find that the
Union folks were entitled to $7,923.40, or some $142 _more_ than was paid
them. The Oceanic folks, you will remember, were paid $46,398 when at
_open_ carriage rates of pay to vessels of United States register they
earned only $18,856.24.

Looks a little off color, does it not? But we must remember that Tahiti
is an island. Must be an island of vast importance. It requires the
shipment of 88 tons of mail matter in a year--a whole year--and our
government pays $46,398 haulage on it. Something over 79 of those 88 tons
of mail was printed weight, too.

What great printers and publishers those Tahitians and Marquesans must
be! Or was that print stuff of United States origin? Catalogues and
franked and penalty matter, I wonder?

At any rate there is the “contract” in 1910 as an evidence that some
one here is doing, or has done, a little turn toward “burning” postal
revenues and helping, in a small way, to keep a postal “deficit” in
evidence. A deficit, you know, shows that the revenues of the department
are too low, too small, to permit the establishment of an efficient,
cheap parcels post, or so the railroad and express raiders would have us
think.

The important point, however, is: Are we fools enough to think it? If so,
how long shall we continue to be fools enough to think it? If not, is it
not about time that we created a disturbance--that we raise some dust--in
efforts to let these raiders and their cappers know we are not fools? Why
should we continue to act foolish if we are not fools? Please rise, Mr.
Sensible Citizen, and answer.

As before said, no one expects nor desires the government to _make
money_ out of _their_ mail service. People have, however, _a right_ to
expect--_and to demand_--that their regularly chosen representatives and
other government officials _prevent_ a lot of raiders, or any one else
for that matter, from making more than a _fair, legitimate profit_ on
what they do for or contribute to that service.

There has been much talk the last three or four years about the economies
effected by the Postoffice Department in the execution of the work it
was established to do. How much of this talk is grounded on fact and
how much of it is mere political gargle and party and administration
“fan”-talk I shall not here attempt to say. Time has not permitted me
to look into these averred economies carefully and thoroughly enough to
warrant positive statements from me anent them here. I am inclined to
believe, however, that the present Postmaster General, Mr. Hitchcock,
and his immediate predecessors, Mr. Meyer and Mr. Cortelyou, have really
accomplished a little in the right direction--a little, where the Lord
knows we _should_ know there was much to accomplish. But, as stated, my
favorable opinion is not based on what I have dug up myself about these
economies alleged to have been effected in the recently passed years. If
they have been effected, their accomplishment only goes to prove that
advocates of a cheap parcels post in this country have been _right_ in
their facts and arguments, and also that their exposures and severe
condemnation of the waste, extravagance, grafting and _stealing_ in the
postal service were timely and well deserved.

Something, however, has, I think, been done. The exposure of criminal
crookedness, grafting, waste and thievery which existed in the
department--with administrative employes, officers, Congressmen and
Senators, either directly or collusively connected with it--was bound
to wipe some leaking joints in the service. The exposures uncovered so
much porch-climbing and so much nastiness that most decent citizens
were holding their noses and thinking of buying a gun. Something _had_
to be done. The noise and injured-innocence “holler,” which railroad
and express company raiders are vocalizing and printing, is pretty good
evidence not only that some little has been done to them, but also that
they fear more is going to be done to jam the gear or otherwise interfere
with the smooth running of some one or more of their high-speed,
noiseless-action cream separators. And more will be done if the people
keep on the mat and keep swinging for the jaw and plexus. But it is not
all done yet. The raiders may be squealing and squirming a little. They
always do when a little hurt. But they are still busy--still actively
after the cream. They may spar a little for time, but they will use the
time actively in figuring out a new entrance into the people’s milk house.

And these raiders will find a way to get in, too, if the people pull up
the blankets and let themselves be talked and foozled to sleep.


TOUTING FOR “FAST MAIL.”

There appears to be much talk about “fast mail” service. Of course if
the railways are already running at a destructive loss on mail weight
and space-rental pay--which they are not--why they will want more pay if
they furnish a fast mail service. The postal authorities (official) seem
to think that a “fast mail” is a thing altogether lovely and much to be
desired. The railroad carriers are of like mind, but--well, such service
costs more money. They want more money. A fast mail is just the thing the
people want and need! It will push the corn crop ahead and keep the frost
off the peaches!

For these and other equally _easy_ reasons it is sought to steer the
people into making a scream for a “fast mail” service. They want and need
their mail in a hurry. The quicker the better. In fact, from the way
some people are already talking, it would appear they want their mail
delivered about twenty-four hours before it starts in their direction.

If the cream-skimming raiders and their “public servant” assistants can
only get the people to talking for a “fast mail” service, why a fast mail
we will have, and we will _pay the raiders for furnishing it_.

How will we pay them?

Oh, that is easy. Bonuses and subsidies are popular fashions in federal
legislative society. Likewise they appear to be popular in postoffice
circles. They are seasonable the year around and are cut to fit any
figure. They don’t stand the wash very well, but--well, don’t wash them.
The raiders and their official valets always keep them brushed up and
vacuum cleaned. Just pay for them is all the people have to do.

I recall a serviceable subsidized fast mail gown which was handed to
a railroad between Kansas City, Mo., and Newton, Kan., some years
since. It was neatly boxed and delivered by the handlers of postoffice
appropriations. It was worth $25,000 a year to the road that got it.

“Of what use was it to the people?”

None whatever. The fast train it was made to drape was put on the line
named for the sole service and benefit of two Kansas City newspapers.
It swished those papers (their midnight editions), into Western Kansas,
Oklahoma and Northern Texas ahead of the appearance of local morning
issues.

I recall another “fast mail” bonus. It was $190,000 and went to the
Southern Railway for a fast train out of New York for New Orleans. It
left New York about 4 a. m. and _carried little or no mail for delivery
north of Charlotte, N. C._

It arrived in New Orleans, if I remember rightly, along about 2 a. m. the
next day--_too late for delivery of any mail before the opening of the
day’s business_--9 or 10 o’clock in the morning.

But the regular mail train, as was shown in the debate in the Senate,
left New York at about 2. a. m. and arrived in New Orleans about 4:30
a. m.--two hours after the so-called “fast mail”--in ample time for
deliveries when the business of the city opened.

Fine business that, is it not? Well, yes, for the _Southern Railway_.

The reader, however, should be able to recognize it as a regular 60 H.
P., six-cylinder, rubber-tired “_deficit_” producer. Especially will he
so recognize it if he thinks of it in connection with this other fact:

That same year, the Southern Railway was paid, in addition to the
$190,000 “fast mail” subsidy mentioned, _over one million dollars at the
regular weight rates for hauling the mails_!

There are numerous others of equal beauty and effectiveness in design.
As previously stated, however, subsidies and bonuses are all carefully
designed and cut to fit any figure. All we wise, “easy” people need do is
to make a little noise for a “fast mail” service and Congress will hand
it out.

The railroad raiders can easily justify their demands for subsidies for a
fast mail service with people who have given little or no study to this
mail-carrying question. Our Postoffice Department furnishes the raiders
about all the argument that is needed. One of the raiders has been quoted
as saying: “We could carry the mails at one-half cent per ton mile, if
the Postoffice Department would allow us to handle it in our own way.”

There you are. The department will not let these raiders help the people
_save their own money_. Very generous. Much like a burglar calling on you
the day before in order to tell you how to prevent him from cracking your
safe.

But the beauty of that railroader’s statement lies in the fact that it
states a fact; not one of these glittering, rhetorical facts, but a real
_de facto fact_.

The rules and regulations of the Postoffice Department for the carriage
of mails in postoffice cars are such as furnish ample grounds and warrant
for the railway official’s statement.

Postoffice cars are from 40 to 50 or more feet in length and weigh,
empty, from 50,000 to 110,000 pounds. The department then has fixtures
and handling equipment put in. This equipment occupies about two-thirds
of the floor space of the car, and, with the four to twelve railway mail
clerks also put into it, weighs from 10 to 15 or more tons. The railroad
is paid for carrying all this bulky, space-occupying equipment at the
regular mail-weight pay rates.

And how much real mail does the department get into these postoffice cars?

Well, some years since Professor Adams, after a most careful and extended
investigation, placed the average weight of mail actually carried at two
tons. He pointed out, however, that the mail load could easily go to
three and a half tons and referred to the Pennsylvania road which, in
its special mail trains, loaded as high as six tons. He also stated that
if the load were increased to five tons, the cost of carriage would be
_reduced more than one-half_, and he made it very clear that his figures
were easily inside the service possibilities.

In view of such evidence and testimony from Professor Adams, and of other
men to much the same effect, the department may possibly have increased
the mail load since 1907 to three or maybe to three and a half tons.

Even so, it is still evident that the railroad must haul from 70,000 to
140,000 pounds of car and equipment to carry 6,000 to 7,000 pounds of
mail; thirty-five to seventy tons of dead load to carry three to three
and a half tons of live--of service--load. Do not forget that, so far
as the railroads pay is concerned, the equipment is live weight--_paid
weight_. So, the railroads get paid for a load of fifteen to eighteen
and a half tons, while they carry only three to three and a half tons of
mail--for carrying, according to Professor Adams’s figures in 1907, only
two tons of mail.

As a deficit-producer that should rank high. As an evidence that our
Postoffice Department is run on economic lines, that mail car tonnage
load is nearly conclusive enough to convince the residents of almost any
harmless ward.

Speaking seriously, the department’s methods of mail-loading the
postoffice car--methods which put from two to three and a half tons into
cars that should carry six to ten tons--furnishes the carriage-raiders
an excellent basis for their talks to the people to the effect that the
roads are not getting sufficient pay for carrying the mails now, and if
they (the people) want better or faster service the roads must be paid
more money, either as bonuses or subsidies. In fact, the railroad people
have been holding up this nonsensical--or collusive--practice of the
department for years as basis for their demands for more pay for hauling
the government mails. As proof of this statement, take the testimony of
Mr. Julius Kruttschnitt before the Wolcott Commission, I think it was.
Mr. Kruttschnitt was then (1901) Fourth Vice-President of the Southern
Pacific. In reply to the Commission’s inquiry as to whether or not the
mails could be profitably carried over the New Orleans-San Francisco
routes at a half cent a pound ($10.00 per ton or for $100 to $200 per car
if reasonably loaded), Mr. Kruttschnitt is reported to have answered in
part that “at half a cent a pound the mileage rate for 442 miles is 2.3
cents. Statement G,” he continued, “shows that to carry one ton of mail
we carry nineteen tons of _dead weight_, so that for hauling twenty tons
we get 2 cents or a little over one-tenth of a cent a gross ton mile.”

All very forceful and conclusive, if it were true, which it is not. It
is true, however, that Mr. Kruttschnitt was making good argumentative
use of the ridiculously low loading of cars under the regulations of the
department. That is all. If the postoffice car used on Mr. Kruttschnitt’s
road was a 50-foot car and weighed, say, 100,000 pounds, that and the
railway mail clerks constituted the only “dead” weight hauled.

His road got paid for hauling the tons of ridiculously heavy
mail-handling equipment and fixtures in that car--got paid for hauling
them _both ways_, at the regular mail-weight rates. His road also
received over $8,000 a year rental, or “space pay,” whichever the
rail-raiders desire to call it, for the use of that car for mail haulage.

So, it is really not so bad as Mr. Kruttschnitt apparently would have it
appear. In fact, one does not have to look into the matter very closely
to see that the Southern Pacific had what might be called a “good thing”
in its mail carrying contract.

But what are the railroads really paid for hauling mail tonnage as
compared with the rates they receive for hauling other tonnage?

In writing to this phase of the question at the time of the pendency of
the Fitzgerald and another bill,--the former requiring that periodical
publishers pay $160 and the latter that they pay $80 per ton for mail
carriage of their publication--Mr. Atkinson said:

    Let it not be forgotten, that publishers pay the government
    $20 per ton for their papers; doesn’t it seem enough, when the
    government is so generous toward the railroads that it pays for
    transporting 1,000 pounds of leather, locks, etc., for every 100
    pounds of letters?

    …

    It is no unusual thing for the railroads to haul live hogs
    from Chicago to Philadelphia, a very inconvenient as well as
    unpleasant kind of freight. The hogs have to be fed and watered
    on the way, they cannot be stacked one upon another, so require
    much space. What do the railroads charge for this service? Is it
    $160 per ton? No. Is it $80 per ton? No. Is it $20 per ton? No.
    They do it for $6 per ton, and are glad of the job.

Professor Parsons wrote a volume a few years ago entitled “The Railways,
The Trusts and The People.” Professor Parsons looked into this ton-mile
rate of pay for rail haulage most carefully and gave the results of
his investigations in his book, from which I take the tabulated rates
following.

In passing, I may say that the professor is recognized by everybody as
a most dependable authority--that is, everybody save the railroad and
express raiders and their hired men. They have written and talked at
great length to “refute” him, which thoughtful and disinterested people
take as mighty strong evidence that Professor Parsons presented the truth
and the facts, or so nearly the truth and facts that his statements made
the “authorized,” rake-off patriots turn loose on him their high-powered,
chain-tired public bubblers.

Following are the figures which the Professor published as showing
the average _ton mile_ rates the railroads then received for carrying
different kinds of shipments:

                                                           Rate per ton
                                                           mile, cents.
  For carrying express generally                             3 to 6
  For carrying excess baggage                                5 to 6
  For carrying commutation passengers                             6
  For carrying dairy freight, as low as                           1
  For carrying ordinary freight in 1. c. 1                        2
  For carrying imported goods, N. O. to S. F.                     8
  For carrying average of all freight                            78
  For carrying the mails (Adams estimate)                        12.5
  For carrying the mails (Postoffice Department estimate)        27


THE PARCELS POST.

The Postmaster General in his reports for 1908-9 and 1909-10 recommends a
trial or “test” of a parcels post service on several rural routes “to be
selected by the Postmaster General.”

The Congress now in session is giving, or will give, this recommendation
serious consideration, it is presumed. Especially will it be given such
serious consideration when the 1911-12 bill, making appropriations for
the postal service, is under fire and is being “savagely attached by its
friends.”

It may be depended upon that the express and railroad gentlemen now
shearing a rich fleece from your Uncle’s postal fold will not have any
_fair_ tests made of a parcels post service so long as they can prevent
it, and they appear to have numerous representatives in both houses of
Congress who can be influenced to prevent it, if their past talk and
_votes_ may be taken as indicating _what they are there for_.

Of course, the chief clack of the enemy’s hired men is “lack of funds.”
Yet they go on appropriating _millions to people who do not earn it_--to
pay for services _not rendered_.

The same kippered tongue lashed the “rural delivery” service the _same_
way. In the end, the people won. But they won, in the bill as originally
passed, a rural delivery of the “test” variety. “Why?” Well, a properly
equipped and serviceable rural delivery would be a step towards a
serviceable parcels post and the raiders do not want the people to have
such a parcels post.

As samples of the _sort_ of “friendly feeling” manifest in Congress
toward a parcels post and of the _profound_ wisdom carried by some of its
alleged friends, I desire to make a quotation or two.

When the measure was first up (1908), Representative Lever of South
Carolina introduced the four counties “experimental test” amendment in
the House. Following is his opening:

    Every _farmer here present_ knows of his _own experience_ how
    much time is taken in _extra_ trips to town and city.

Now, that is _real_ fetching. Especially before so vast a gathering _of
farmers_ as heard it!

But a Missouri “farmer” present wanted to be shown. So he fired a
question at Mr. Lever. The farmer from Missouri wears the name of
Caulfield. He likewise wears an abiding _distrust_ of the parcels post.
Following is his question:

    Is it not a _fact_ that the _great mail order houses_ of the
    country are the ones who are _really_ in favor of the parcels
    post?

There is real intellectual magneto and lamp equipment for you. Note, too,
the _shrewdness_ of this Missouri “farmer” in wording his question--the
mail order houses may not be the _only_ ones who favor the parcels post,
but they are about the only ones who “_really favor_” it!

Well, there are over 40,000,000 residents of the country--villages and
towns in this country--among them, too, are twenty millions of _real_
farmers. These are pretty firmly of opinion that _they_ “are really in
favor of the parcels post.” There are, also, not _less_ than 30,000,000
_more_ residents of incorporated cities, small and large, who at least
_think_ they favor a parcels post service which will permit “mother” to
send a pair of pants to her boy ten miles away as _cheaply_ as the laird
of Skibo Castle, Scotland, can send two pairs of kilts to a son of his
friend’s Aunt Billy who lives in Los Angeles, California.

Of course, the people may only _think_ they think and are sitting up
nights with the windows open and their ears spread to hear _their_
representatives tell ’em they are wrong. If so, Mr. Caulfield and
Mr. Lever will probably hear from them. It takes the people some
time to recognize or properly to appreciate how wise some of their
representatives are--what a _vast_ amount of charges-prepaid wisdom they
have. But the people finally catch on and then--well, then there will not
be so many “farmers” of the Mr. Lever variety in Congress.

But I want to give Mr. Lever another show. He’s entitled to it “under
the rules.” He should have several of them--not to show his profound
knowledge of the value and _dangers_ of an efficient, _cheap_ parcels
post, but to show that a man need not spend a cent in Congress to
advertise the fact that he is a “practical politician.” All he needs do
is make a few _hired_ or _ignorant_ remarks on some subject _about which
the people of the country have been thinking_.

Here is Mr. Lever’s answer to Mr. Caulfield’s question, as previously
quoted:

    The wisdom of _discriminating in favor of the local merchant_
    must be apparent to _any one_ who regards, for a moment, the
    _danger_ involved in a system (parcels post) which would
    _inevitably centralize_ the _commerce of the country_.

Now, candidly, how _could_ a “friend” of a parcels post service show
his friendship more _nicely_ than that? Especially if he is a “farmer?”
Or even if he is not, and merely _desires_ the farmers to _think_ he is
their friend?

Why, Mr. Lever has Mr. Caulfield shoved clear over the ropes in that
answer. Mr. Caulfield, of Missouri, may have full magneto and lamp
equipment, but Mr. Lever, when it comes to a _friendly_, high-speed
spurt for a parcels post service, shows _all_ the latest improvements.
No, sirs, Mr. Lever is not merely a last year’s model. He’s _bang_
up-to-date--axles, drawn steel; forged crank shaft with eight cams
integral; continuous bearings and bearings all ground; two water-cooled,
four-cylinder motors with _sliding_ gear; “built-in” steel frame, and
running on a “wheel-base” of 106 inches. Mr. Lever shows all the other
“latest,” _necessarily_ belonging to the “best seller” class among late
models.

However, I have probably mentioned enough to make it clear to my readers,
if _not to his constituents_, that Mr. Lever is fully equipped to _act_
the part of the farmer’s “friend,” a friend of the parcels post, or of
any other old thing. Some may think he carries a little too much weight
for a good hill-climber. It should be remembered, however, that some
sorts of “friends” do not climb hills. They skip around the hills and
get what _they_ are after while we are climbing. When farmers and others
of our producing classes wise-up to the brand of vocal friendship I am
“insinuatin’ about,” such representatives as Mr. Lever will _last_ about
as long as it would take a one-armed, wooden-legged man to fall off the
top of the Flat Iron Building flag pole.


PARCELS POST “TESTS.”

It may as well be said here as elsewhere that such “tests” of the
feasibility and desirability of a good parcels post service as Mr.
Hitchcock proposes to make are but procrastinating foolery. Great Britain
and every continental country of Europe has an efficient parcels post
service in operation.

Postmaster Generals and railroad and express company raiders know that.
The countries indicated have made all the “tests” we need have of
people-serving parcels post, and every one of them derive more or less
revenue from that service, there being no deficits.

Postmaster Generals and our railroad and express company raiders know all
that. So, also, do our Senators and Congressmen know that. Even alleged
“farmer” Congressmen know it.

Our public servants know even more than that. They know that under the
International Postal Union agreements our government has entered into,
our postal service today handles these foreign countries’ parcels, of
either United States or of foreign origin, weighing up to eleven pounds.
They also know our own postal service now won’t permit our own people
to send by mail, packages weighing more than four pounds. They also
know that for carrying a four-pound parcel by his own mail service the
American must pay 64 cents if the parcel is for delivery in any of the
foreign countries covered by Postal Union agreement,[17] but if sent by
some one in any of those countries for delivery in this, the sender may
make up a parcel weighing as much as eleven pounds and for its delivery
will have to pay only 48 cents.

I say that our mail carriers and public officials know these things. The
facts as stated must be known of the Postal Union agreements. On request,
the Postoffice Department does not hesitate to give this information
to anyone. The following is a paragraph taken from a department
communication. It was sent in response to a request made by Mr. Alfred L.
Sewell, who wrote a most informative communication that appeared in the
Chicago Daily News of date November 6, 1911. I take the quotation from
Mr. Sewell’s article.

    Mailable merchandise may be sent by parcels post to Bahamas,
    Barbadoes, Brazil, Bermuda, Bolivia, Danish West Indies (St.
    Croix, St. John, St. Thomas), Colombia, Ecuador, British Guiana,
    Costa Rica, Guatemala, British Honduras, Republic of Honduras,
    Haiti, Jamaica (including Turk islands and Caracas), Leeward
    Islands, Windward Islands, Mexico, Newfoundland, Nicaragua, Peru,
    Salvador, Trinidad, Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela, in the western
    hemisphere, and to Australia, Japan and Hongkong in the east, and
    to Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain,
    Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden in Europe.
    The postage rate is uniform at 12 cents a pound, or fraction of
    a pound. A parcel must not weigh more than eleven pounds, nor
    measure more than three feet and six inches in length, or six
    feet in length and girth combined.

Then why prattle about a “test” as to the desirability and practicability
of a good, cheap parcels post service in this country; one that will
serve our own people?

Especially why prattle about such a parcels post service on a few
selected rural routes? It is not only foolishly silly, but it looks
suggestively wrong--as if there was some ulterior motive back of any
suggestion of such a test. “Why?”

Well, if such test is made under regulations suggested by the Postmaster
General, the only parcels that service, or “test” service, is designed
to carry, are such as originate on a selected rural route and are for
delivery on the same route or on a route immediately connected with it.
That is, as I understand Mr. Hitchcock’s recommended regulations, any
farmer or villager along the selected “test” rural route may send a
package (weight and rate of carriage yet to be decided upon) to any other
farmer or villager on the same route or connected route, or to a resident
of the town or city at which such route originates or starts.

If such a farce can be seriously thought of as a “test” of what use
and economic value a nation-wide parcels post service would be to our
people, even to the people residing on the test routes, it will take some
graduate of a foolery school or foreman in a joke foundry to so think of
it.

Let’s see. A farmer may send a jar of butter, box of eggs, crate of
fruit or vegetables, etc., to the village storekeeper and get his pay
for the consignment, “in trade” usually. By writing the storekeeper an
order, postal card or letter, the farmer may get on the next round of the
carrier what he desires. That is, he will get what he has asked for if
the storekeeper has it in stock. The farmer, or the farmer’s wife, may
do the same thing in the event that the consignment of their products,
presuming that the “regulations” will permit the carrier to handle
perishable goods, goes no farther away than the county seat or other
town or city from which the rural route starts. They can also send such
parcels to any railroad station on the route for shipment to any more
distant point. In such case, however, the farmer must pay an express
carriage charge from the local railroad station to the destination of his
shipment.

But enough of this local application of the proposed “test” regulations.
It will readily be seen that if the farmer or villager on a selected test
route desires to send a parcel, not above the regulation weight--whatever
that may be--to any point not on the same route, he will have an express
charge to pay--whatever that charge may be. And if he orders something,
inside the regulation weight, from some factory or city not on his
carrier’s route, he must also pay an express charge for its carriage to
his local railroad station. If he wants the article or goods delivered
at his home by the rural carrier, he must pay an additional charge--the
postal carriage charge, whatever that may be.

As a “test” of the service value of a parcels post, could anything be
more absurd? If so, it would be difficult to frame it up. Such a “test,”
however, will still leave the raiding express companies in position
to hold up the selected “home circle,” rural-route residents on all
shipments, which go to or come from any city or point outside the home
circle--and that is about what, if not just what, the proposed “test” is
designed or intended to do, or so it appears from the ladder top.

In this connection it should be noted that the rural-route delivery
enactment, or the department regulations under which it was to be
applied, carried an express protecting “joker.” If not, why was the rural
route carrier required to furnish a cart or other carrying vehicle of
only twenty-five pounds capacity? Was it valid for ulterior reasons which
named so small a weight? Would it have cost the government any more money
for rural carrier service if a maximum weight of 500, or even of 1,000
pounds, had been named for the carrying vehicle?

The reader may answer. To The Man on the Ladder, though, that 25-pound
requirement looks to be of doubtful mail-service value, if, indeed, not
suspiciously queer.

It was carefully figured in 1900 that our rural, or non-railroad,
communities alone lost $90,000,000 a year in excessive express charges
and delays in delivery by reason of the _criminal_ apathy of their
government in the matter of furnishing even a _reasonably_ adequate
domestic parcels post service, such, for instance, as that furnished by
the German government. The German government carries an 11-pound package
anywhere in the German empire or in Austria-Hungary _for 12 cents_.

To aid the reader, I give, following, a table covering the data essential
to a fair understanding both of the excessive pay for a service which our
government should render for a _tenth_ of the money and, also, of _why_
our express service is inconvenient--is _wasteful and expensive_--by
reason of the _distance_ the express offices are from the people
ordering. This last is clearly shown by comparing their _number_ with the
larger number of postoffices in the several states named.


THE WORM UNCOVERED.

  =============+========+========+=======+========+=======+=======+=======
               |  No.   |  No.   |Average| Amount |       |       |
               |  of    |  of    |express|saved by|English|German |Mexican
      STATE.   |express | post-  |charge.| parcel | merchants’ advantage
               |offices.|offices.|       |post at |at 48c.|at 58c.|at 66c.
               |        |        |       |  12c.  |       |       |
  -------------+--------+--------+-------+--------+-------+-------+-------
  Alabama      |    334 |  2,445 | $1.33 |  $1.21 | $0.85 | $0.75 | $0.67
  Arizona      |     41 |    202 |  3.89 |   3.77 |  3.41 |  3.31 |  3.23
  Arkansas     |    262 |  1,880 |  1.66 |   1.54 |  1.18 |  1.08 |  1.00
  California   |    586 |  1,659 |  3.16 |   3.04 |  2.68 |  2.58 |  2.50
  Connecticut  |    108 |    511 |   .61 |    .49 |   .13 |   .03 |
  Georgia      |    451 |  2,657 |  1.33 |   1.21 |   .85 |   .75 |   .67
  Illinois     |  1,495 |  2,622 |  1.09 |    .97 |   .61 |   .51 |   .43
  Kentucky     |    471 |  2,892 |  1.22 |   1.10 |   .74 |   .64 |   .56
  Maine        |    248 |  1,254 |   .61 |    .49 |   .13 |   .03 |
  Michigan     |    737 |  2,161 |  1.22 |   1.10 |   .74 |   .64 |   .56
  New York     |  1,309 |  3,735 |   .61 |    .49 |   .13 |   .03 |
  Ohio         |  1,362 |  3,398 |  1.09 |    .97 |   .61 |   .51 |   .43
  Oklahoma     |     30 |    576 |  2.10 |   2.07 |  1.62 |  1.52 |  1.53
  Pennsylvania |    919 |  5,206 |   .61 |    .49 |   .13 |   .03 |
  Rhode Island |     90 |    153 |   .61 |    .49 |   .13 |   .03 |
  South Dakota |    229 |    639 |  2.67 |   2.55 |  2.19 |  2.09 |  2.01
  Texas        |    662 |  2,968 |  2.19 |   2.07 |  1.61 |  1.61 |  1.53
  Virginia     |    263 |  3,468 |  1.22 |   1.10 |   .74 |   .64 |   .56
               +--------+--------+       |        |       |       |
  Whole country| 20,155 | 60,000 |       |        |       |       |
  -------------+--------+--------+-------+--------+-------+-------+-------

Had I the space at command I would print the figures for the whole United
States. However, it will be seen that the states I have taken are fairly
representative of the whole country--the populous with the sparsely
settled.

The figures as to number of express and postoffices are from the United
States census for 1900.[18] The estimates are made on the parcel weight
of 11 pounds. Eleven pounds is the English _domestic_ parcels weight
that is carried anywhere in the United Kingdom for 24 cents or, by
international postal agreement, to any point in this country for 48
cents. In passing, it might be noted that for the year 1900 the British
postoffice turned into its national treasury over $18,000,000 _profit_.
It might also be well to notice that English merchants _imported_ nearly
five and a half million dollars value by parcels post and _exported
nearly twenty and a half million dollars of value by means of the same
service_.

But to get back to our 11-pound parcel.

Germany carries it anywhere in her empire or in Austria-Hungary for 12
cents.

Switzerland carries it for _eight cents_, and several other countries
_are now trying to reach the German weight-rate for domestic delivery_.

So we will take as our package of _eleven pounds_ and figure its delivery
at any postoffice in the United States for _twelve cents_.

One more point about this table.

The reader must keep in mind that we now deliver packages up to eleven
pounds from any person--merchant, manufacturer or other--living in
England, Germany or Mexico. It is delivered for the English shipper (_by
our mails_) to any United States postoffice for 48 _cents_; for the
German shipper for 58 cents or for the Mexican shipper for 66 cents.

The _three right-hand_ columns of the table show how much _cheaper_ the
English, German or Mexican merchant, or other shipper, can have his
eleven pounds of merchandise carried to Rabbit Hash, Ky., Springtown,
Mo., Gold Button, Cal.--_to any postoffice in the United States_--than
the New York merchant can send his 11-pound parcel to the _express
office_ “nearest” the customer ordering.

The express charges given are the _carefully figured averages_ for the
states named for carriage from New York City. The third column gives
the _average_ express charge (at rates ruling in 1900) from New York
City to the states named. The fourth column gives the _savings_ to
the purchaser--the merchant or the consumer--if the 11-pound parcel
were carried, as it should be carried, in the mails for 12 cents. The
first two columns give the number of express offices and postoffices in
the several states named and are intended as _conclusive_ proof that
_millions_ of our people are much nearer to a postoffice than to an
express office.

With this preliminary, let us now comment on the table. Don’t side-step
it because it’s figures--unless, of course, you’re some _hired man_ of
the express or railroad companies.

The total of express companies in the footing is that given in the
census report for 1900. There are probably several hundred more now.
The corresponding total given for the number of postoffices is correct
for July 1, 1910. There are fewer postoffices now than in 1900, the
establishment of rural route delivery having reduced the number greatly.
The reader must keep in mind that the figures named in headings of the
three right-hand columns cover a “delivery” charge in addition to the
home-rate mailing rate for the countries named. This delivery charge was
covered in the international agreements.

If the reader will study that table a little he will learn several things.

If we have one hundred millions of people in this country, there is
an express office for about each 5,000 of them, while there is a
_postoffice_ for about each 1,666 of them.

There is an _express_ office to about every 175 _square miles of our
territory_, while there is a _postoffice_ for about each 60 square miles
of our territory.

The reader will have no trouble to see by the table that, if he ordered
an 11-pound lot of hose and shirts or phonograph records, photograph
films or other goods from New York City for delivery in Chicago, he would
get the goods by a properly served parcels post for just 97 cents _less
carriage charge_ than he now pays the express companies. If he live in
Los Angeles, Cal., he would get the goods from New York for $3.04 less.
Even if he lived in Buffalo, N. Y., he would get those eleven pounds of
goods from the metropolis of his state for _48 cents less than he now
pays the express companies_.

Be sure, however, to notice those three right-hand columns.

You will observe that the Right Honorable John Bovine, an exporting
merchant of London--or a _manufacturer_, if you please, of Manchester or
Leeds, England--can send that 11-pound package to you in Chicago, Hot
Springs, Fargo or elsewhere in the United States--_send it by mail_,
which no American merchant or manufacturer can do--at from 90 cents to
$3.00 _less carriage cost_ than the New York merchant can send it to you
by express--_the only means our present laws and methods permit him to
use_.

Baron Von Stopper, an exporter of Berlin, likewise has a large advantage
over the New York merchant in supplying your _parcel_ demands. Even
Senor Greaser of the City of Mexico, can ship--_by mail_--eleven pounds
of kippered tamales or sombreros to any point in the country, save ten
states within short-haul range of New York City, and have an _edge_ of
30 cents to $3.23 over his New York City competitor in supplying your
_parcel order wants_.

Great, is it not? Fine system, is it not, to “protect _home industries_?”
To build up “foreign trade?”

But, it is not quite so bad as it looks for the very reason that our
“postal agreements” recognize the “tariff wall” that is built around
_certain_ “infants” in this country. Your goods from England, Germany
or Mexico must be of our “_free_ list” kind, otherwise they must pay a
rake-off to the government. As that is pretty stiff, _you_ don’t order
many parcels from abroad. You buy home products--_thus paying the tariff
rake-off to the protected “infant” instead of the Government_.

Does it not appear that we American citizens are an easily “worked” bunch?

In connection with the tabulation just presented, should be noted
the fact that _millions_ of our people live in non-railroad
communities--live, often, _many miles from any express office_, while
a postoffice may be near. If these people have pressing need for any
article of merchandise weighing over four pounds it cannot reach them,
under existing law, by mail. _They must order it sent by express and make
the long drive to the nearest express office to get it._

The article may be one needed for the health of the family or it may be
a rod, a gear wheel or other part of some machine that has broken in a
critical hour of need--_any one of a hundred needs_, delay in supplying
which _costs money_.

It was carefully figured in 1900 that our rural, non-railroad communities
alone lost $90,000,000 _a year_ in excessive express charges and delays
in delivery by reason of the peculiar if not studied apathy of their
government in the matter of furnishing even a _reasonably_ adequate
domestic parcels post service.

The hypothetical rate (1 cent a pound or $20.00 per ton), for parcels
carriage and delivery by post is low--maybe a little too low. If so, it
is only a very little, _if it is figured to have the rate cover only
the actual cost of the service_. A nation-wide parcels post service, if
properly organized and directed, would, it must be remembered, handle
all the short as well as the long haul business. It would not, as
now, permit a collusive raiding arrangement between the railroads and
the express companies by which the latter get most of the short-haul
shipments and leave most of the long-haul parcels to be handled by the
mail service.

I see by a local press item, that the Senate Committee on Postoffices and
Postroads is going to propose in the bill it is drafting that parcels of
eleven pounds in weight be carried by the mail service for 50 cents--10
cents for the first pound and 4 cents for each additional pound or
fraction thereof, up to the maximum of 11 pounds. Of course, a rate of 50
cents for the carriage of 11-pound parcels would be a great betterment
over the present rate and weight regulations. But a rate of 50 cents for
an 11-pound package is away too high, figuring on short and long haul
parcels, unless it is intended to make the service a revenue producer,
which it should not be. The committee, I gather from the news item, has
recognized the fact that a 50-cent rate is too high on short-haul matter
and are considering the recommendation of a lower rate for it--a distance
scale or schedule of rates. It is to be hoped that, if the proposed bill
becomes law, it will carry such a provision.

It is said the committee decided upon the weight and rate limits after
an “exhaustive investigation of all the parcels post systems of the
world,” and it was pointed out that this investigation disclosed the
fact that only “five powers” reported deficits in their postal services
in 1909--Luxemburg, Chili, Greece, Mexico and Austria--the deficits
ranging from $7,437 in Luxemburg to $1,693,157 in Austria. Of these, it
will be noted, all save Austria are small or only partially developed
countries. None of them have rail or other transportation facilities
at all comparable to those of this country. Yet our government, with
its excessive parcels rate and ridiculously low maximum weight limit on
parcels reported a deficit of $17,441,719.82 in its postal revenues for
1908-9, and $6,000,000 in 1910.

Whatever the action that may be taken by the present or a future Congress
looking to the betterment and to a cheapening of the nation’s parcels
post service, one thing must be done if such action be made effective--if
it yield the results it is alleged are expected of it. Such action must
carry provisions that will effectively break up the present collusive
understandings and arrangements between the railroads and the express
company interests, which arrangement has for years been raiding the
postal revenues on the one hand and, by greatly excessive rail and
express rates for carrying parcel freight, has been looting the people on
the other.

This can be--and should be--done. There are two actions which may be
taken by the government, either of which I believe would accomplish that
most desirable and necessary result.

On previous pages (pages 227 and 228), will be found quoted a section
of the law of 1845--a law for the establishing and regulation of the
government mail service. On the pages 256-257 will be found a most
instructive discussion of the law by Mr. Allan L. Benson. Turn back and
read those pages. Mr. Benson is always worth a second reading.

That it was the intention of the legislators of that time to make the
carriage, handling and delivery of letters and “packets” (small parcels
or packages of any sort of mailable matter), a government monopoly, there
can be no valid reason to doubt. That the express companies have operated
and are operating in violation of Section 181 of that law, there can be
no valid reason to doubt. That Section 181 of the enactment of 1845 is
good, sound law today, there can be no valid reason to doubt. That the
express companies have operated, and continue to operate, in violation
of that law--in open defiance of it--and are therefore engaged in a
_criminal_ traffic, there can be no valid reason to doubt.

True, they have a very peculiar court decision to protect them in their
violation of that law. I call it a “peculiar” decision. A more fitting
term might be used in describing that court decision, and the use of such
a term would be fully justified.

One of the two actions which Congress might take would be to amend
Section 181 of its Revised Statutes so that even a yokel, as well as
a Federal Judge, may clearly see that the carriage of _packages and
parcels_, as well as of “packets,” which do not exceed the maximum
regulation weight and are of mailable class and kind, is “intended” to be
the _exclusive privilege of the government_.

Such an amendment to the law would force the express companies out of
business.

The other action which could be effectively taken would be to make the
parcels post rate so low and the maximum weight of parcels so liberally
high that the railroads and express raiders would quit of their own
accord, which they would do as soon as their present tonnage of loot is
seriously cut down. Nothing would cut into that lootage deeper or quicker
than would a service rated and weighted parcels post.

I have been severe in my strictures and condemnation of the express and
railway raiders. In evidence that my condemnation is deserved I desire to
quote two or three people--people who have made a careful, painstaking
study of the game these raiders have played, and yet play, and of the
practices and tricks which make it a “sure thing” for the high-finance
gentlemen who play it.

Mr. Albert W. Atwood wrote a series of three most informative articles
for the American Magazine under the caption, “The Great Express
Monopoly.” They appeared in the American in its issues for February,
March and April, 1911. I trust the publishers will not take unkindly my
quoting Mr. Atwood. He presents some facts which so conclusively evidence
several points that I cannot resist the appeal they make for quotation.

In evidencing the fact that the railroads own and control the express
companies and also showing how that ownership and control was obtained
and is maintained, Mr. Atwood writes as follows:

    It has frequently been asserted by merchants and shippers that
    the stock issues of the express companies are merely a device
    to make possible the exaction of unreasonable charges. Perhaps
    the most direct case in point is that of the Pacific Express
    Company, organized in 1879 to do business on the Union Pacific
    and Gould Railroads. Before the Indiana Railroad Commission John
    A. Brewster, auditor of the company, recently testified that
    there were twelve stockholders and $6,000,000 of stock. On pages
    784-785 of the record there appears this colloquy:

    Q. What did you do with that stock, Mr. Witness?

    A. The capital stock was given to the Wabash, Union Pacific, and
    Missouri Pacific for the rights, franchises.

    Q. For what rights?

    A. Franchises and rights to do business.

    Q. We begin to understand it; it wasn’t understood before that;
    nothing was received by the Pacific Express Company for the issue
    of this $6,000,000 of stock? Do these railroad companies own the
    stock?

    A. Yes, sir.

    Q. These twelve stockholders are the railroads. The railroads get
    these 6 per cent dividends on the stock?

    A. Yes, sir.

    Before another State Railroad Commission an officer of the
    company stated that so far as he knew and so far as the records
    show no cash was received for the $6,000,000 stock. The Illinois
    Railroad and Warehouse Commission has decided this stock was
    issued in fact and in law without consideration. Ostensibly the
    stock was issued by the express company in exchange for the right
    to do business over the lines of the railroads, but all the
    express companies pay a fixed percentage of their gross receipts,
    ranging from 40 to 57½ per cent, to the railroads over which they
    operate.

On the question as to whether express companies operate at a profit or
not, Mr. Atwood writes as follows of this same Pacific organization:

    Whatever legal view we may take of this curious stock issue,
    there is no room for doubting that it has served as a device for
    the extortion of money from the shipping public, for express
    charges are made high enough to more than pay dividends on the
    stock. Starting in business with no capital except such as may
    have been temporarily loaned to it by the railroads in control,
    the Pacific Express Company has paid dividends of $8,334,000 in
    twenty years and in addition has been paying to the railroads,
    which owned all its stock, about 50 per cent of its gross
    receipts of more than $7,000,000 a year. A large block of the
    stock recently changed hands at $200 a share, and yet we have
    seen how it was issued without consideration in cash or property.
    Indeed it is said the company operated for eight years before the
    stock was issued at all.

In speaking to the same point as applied to the United States Express
Company, Mr. Atwood calls attention to the fact that 55 per cent of its
“stockholders” have entered suit to wind up the company’s affairs on
charges of mismanagement by its dominating officers. Mr. Atwood further
writes:

    Although the gravest of charges of mismanagement and waste of
    assets have repeatedly been made against the directors of the
    United States Express Company, a profit of almost 15 per cent
    was earned by the company on the capital invested in the express
    business in the year 1909. This profit would have been still
    greater had general trade been normal, and had there not been a
    hiatus between the loss of one large contract and the securing of
    another. That the stockholders have not received all the profits
    proves nothing. Millions have gone into unnecessary real estate
    investment and large salaries have been paid, but earnings on the
    capital actually invested have clearly shown that even under a
    management whose good faith and ability is being challenged in
    the courts there is an ample return.

    As long ago as 1875 a writer in Harper’s Magazine said the
    express business had already created fifty millionaires, a
    statement which does not tax the credulity of anyone who casts
    a glance at the dividend record of these companies. To use the
    calmly judicial words of the Census Bureau: “In no other business
    is it probable that so little money, comparatively, is invested
    where the gross receipts are so large.” We have seen that new
    capital is not a necessity of the express business. Unlike the
    railroads, new security issues to raise capital are never sold to
    the investing public.

The cappers for railroad and express interests, keep the atmosphere
agitated with talk about the “uncertainty and irregularity” of the
quantity of express matter to be carried, “the excessive taxes paid,”
etc. In answer to such bubble, Mr. Atwood has this to say:

    While this may be theoretically true, the experience of years
    has shown that the patronage of these companies has been fairly
    regular, remunerative and growing. Not only will a study of the
    gross receipts prove this contention, but further confirmation
    will be found in the remarkable series of excessive dividends.
    “We do not feel that any extravagant return should be permitted
    upon the business of these companies,” said the Interstate
    Commerce Commission in Kinde _v._ Adams _et al._, “for it
    involves none of the elements which entitle an investment to a
    high return.”

    When the Adams Express Company enriched its shareholders with a
    200 per cent extra dividend in 1907, stress was laid upon the
    increase in taxation throughout the country. How ridiculous
    this is can be seen from the fact that the Adams Company paid
    only $145,184 in taxes in the entire fiscal year of 1909, and
    $202,234 in 1910, although its extra dividend alone amounted to
    $24,000,000. Profits on stock and bond speculation amounted to
    $418,979 in the year 1909, and $1,943,889 in 1910. The American
    Express Company, with its huge resources, paid but $283,951
    in taxes in 1909. In the same year the volume of its banking
    business alone amounted to more than $250,000,000. In at least
    one important state, the express companies paid no taxes until a
    few years ago and in Indiana the companies had the audacity to
    tell the Tax Commissioner that they had little or no tangible
    property in that state. When Congress voted to put a tax of two
    cents on every express transaction to raise revenue for the
    Spanish War the companies made the shipper pay, and when the
    shippers objected fought the case to the highest courts.

    At this point the question naturally arises as to how the express
    companies have been able to carry on for so many years such
    a perfect system of extracting money from the public without
    being seriously molested. The answer involves a knowledge of
    the relations existing between the railroads and the express
    companies, and a knowledge of the complete monopoly which exists
    in the express business--a monopoly made possible only because of
    these very relations.

In Pearson’s Magazine appeared two forcefully written articles by Mr.
Allen L. Benson on the parcels post. The articles appeared in Pearson’s
in February and March, 1911. In his February opening and closing Mr.
Benson says some things to us and says them with a kindly bluntness which
we should appreciate:

    Is it a pleasure to you to be treated as if you were a fool? Do
    you never tire of acting like an organ-grinder’s begging monkey?

    These questions are put to you in good faith. I have no desire
    to insult you. I know you are not a fool. I know you don’t like
    to beg. Yet here you are again, with your little red cap on and
    your little tin cup out, begging for a parcels post. Begging from
    those whom you should order. And the gentlemen from whom you beg
    treat you as if you were a fool.

    Perhaps you believe these statements are not so. I shall soon
    show you that they are so. But before we go down this interesting
    parcels-post road, let us hang a lantern to the wagon-tongue. You
    will understand the scenery better if you see it by the light of
    this particular lantern. Here it is:

    Bad government is largely made possible by the mistaken opinions
    held toward each other by the governing classes and the governed.
    By “governing classes” I don’t mean Presidents and Congresses.
    I mean the great capitalist interests that make Presidents and
    Congresses. The governing classes underestimate the intelligence
    of the people. That is why the governing classes are always in
    process of yielding something to the people. Depending upon the
    stupidity of the people, gross wrongs are inflicted that are
    righted only under force, inch by inch.

    The people, on the other hand, have too exalted an opinion of
    both the intelligence and the patriotism of those who control the
    government. They have no good opinion of the patriotic impulses
    of the great capitalists, but they fail to note that the great
    capitalists are the National government. Mr. Morgan in Wall
    street they recognize. But Mr. Morgan in Washington, disguised as
    Uncle Sam, they do not recognize. Therefore they behold him with
    a certain veneration. They have been taught, since childhood,
    to look up to Uncle Sam as to a father. He is the government in
    breeches. The people do not always agree with the men who govern
    them, but they always agree with the government. The grand old
    government of the United States looks good to them. It looks good
    to them because it seems to embody the power, the will and the
    virtue of the people.

    All of which is not true. No government is much better than
    the men who control it. If the men who control it are bad, the
    government is bad. If a few control it, the rest do not control
    it. If a few use it to get more than belongs to them, the rest
    cannot use it to get what belongs to them. If a few control the
    government to rob the rest of the people, the government is not
    the friend, but the enemy, of the rest of the people.

    The United States government is and long has been controlled by a
    few rich men. These men have used and are using the government to
    enrich themselves at the expense of the rest of the people. I do
    not mean so say that the government never performs an act that is
    of service to all of the people, but I do mean to say that when
    there is a conflict between the interests of the few who control
    the government and the interests of the rest of the people, the
    government is almost certain to take the side of the few as
    against the many.…

    The little guiding group of rich who tell you that a high tariff
    helps you is the same little guiding group that tells you a
    parcels post would hurt you.

    …

    Is it a pleasure to you always to be treated as if you were a
    fool? Do you never tire of paying 16 cents a pound on mail
    packages limited to four pounds, when there is hardly a little
    South American republic or fourth-class European state that will
    not carry at least eleven-pound packages for a cent a pound or
    less?

    Think of it--we have entered into agreements with forty-three
    nations that have the parcels post to receive and deliver their
    parcels when directed to any person in this country; we are
    permitting the Philippine Government to establish a parcels post;
    we have agreed to receive in this country big packages at low
    rates for delivery abroad; but we ourselves have no such rights
    among ourselves. We must not only pay tribute to the express
    companies, but we must believe that it is good for us to do so.

    _If the American people only knew their power; if they only knew
    their power! If they would tear off their party labels and vote
    as they talk at home among their neighbors, they could push this
    country half a century ahead at the next election. Everybody
    knows something is wrong, but almost everybody votes the thoughts
    of those who make the wrong._

    _Shall we never vote for ourselves?_

The italics in the last paragraph quoted are mine. So, too, are the
sentiments of that paragraph--both the expressed and the implied. That is
I believe in them--I believe in them hard and stubbornly. If my readers
will think hard about them for a few minutes, I feel confident they
will conclude that it is about time for them, for all of us, to act on
Mr. Benson’s advice--tear off our party labels and begin “to vote for
ourselves.”

In support of his charges of bad faith on the part of the government in
giving the people a serviceable parcels post, Mr. Benson’s remarks are
most illuminating. He makes reference to a public or semi-public document
of the government, written by one Mr. Turner and proceeds as follows:

    “‘This will open a great business for American retail merchants,’
    wrote Mr. Turner. ‘Brazil can be flooded with catalogues. This
    information, in advance, will enable those desiring to go after
    business to prepare for it.’

    “Mind you, these are only occasional sentences from his
    enthusiastic article. He dwelt at length upon the eagerness
    of the Brazilians to buy such articles as we make. He even
    became specific and enumerated some of the articles that
    could be advantageously sent by parcels post. ‘This opens up
    great possibilities for the retail shoe houses,’ he said, for
    instance, ‘as elegant shoes are worn.’ Also, there was a great
    market for gloves, embroideries, ribbons, silks, stockings, and
    underclothing.

    “Here, then, we have the spectacle of the United States
    Government making statements to business men through a
    publication that the common people never read, that are directly
    opposed to the statements that are made to the people of the
    United States in congressional debates and other publications.

    “Now, ask yourself these questions:

    “Would the establishment of a parcels post by Brazil, which we
    have permitted to extend to this country, open any markets for
    Americans in Brazil if parcels-post rates did not permit American
    merchants to deliver their goods in Brazil at reduced cost?

    “Again: If a parcels-post in Brazil will enable American
    merchants to lay down their goods in Brazil at reduced cost, why
    wouldn’t a parcels post in the United States enable American
    merchants to lay down their goods in the United States at reduced
    cost?

    “Furthermore: If reduced carrying charges would enable American
    merchants to capture Brazilian trade by reducing selling prices,
    why wouldn’t reduced carrying charges tend toward lower selling
    prices in the United States?

    “Finally: Is there any reason on earth why the United States
    Government, which is opposed to a parcels post in this country,
    through an official publication, welcomes a parcels post in
    Brazil--is there any reason except the one fact that there are no
    American express companies in Brazil?

    “Figure it out for yourself. I have figured it out for myself. As
    I figure it out, the United States Government is treating us as
    if we were a little weak in the head; as if we are just foolish
    enough so that it was safe to print, in a semi-public official
    publication, an acknowledgment that all of its excuses for not
    giving us a parcels post are really impudent lies.…

    “‘Should the mail trade have a government subsidy?’ asked one
    gentleman who represented an association of jobbing firms. Let us
    see how much honesty there is in this question. A subsidy implies
    the payment of money, either for nothing, or for something that
    is not immediately received in return. That is what these same
    rich gentlemen mean by subsidy when they ask you to subsidize
    American ships. What element of subsidy would there be in a
    parcels post that enabled the government to derive a great profit
    from the mail-order business? We have all the machinery for
    handling ‘packets’--costly postoffice buildings, cars, letter
    carriers, rural mail carriers. Why not use them? Why not let the
    rural mail carrier, whose average load is now 25 pounds, carry
    500 pounds at a cent a pound? The postoffice department would
    earn $40,000,000 more a year if the rural wagons were loaded to
    the 500-pound limit.

    “‘The fact is,’ said the same jobber gentleman, ‘that the
    United States Government cannot carry merchandise by parcels
    post without having to meet an enormous annual deficit for
    conducting the service.’ The fact is that the fact isn’t. What
    brazen effrontery to declare that the government would lose
    money carrying packages at a cent a pound, when the German
    government makes money by carrying packages at a little more
    than half a cent a pound! It is true that German rates are based
    upon distance, but it is also true that Germany, without any
    mail monopoly, competes with all comers and beats them out with
    low tariffs. The German government can compete with the German
    express companies because the German parcels post will accept
    packages up to a weight limit of 110³⁄₁₀ pounds, while our
    Government turns over to the express companies everything that
    weighs more than four pounds.

    “Furthermore, if the carrying of packages is such a hazardous
    business that our Government should not dare to attempt it,
    how comes it that the express companies have become rich at
    it? The combined capital of the express companies is a little
    in excess of $48,000,000. For years, the big stockholders in
    express companies have been apoplectic with wealth. All of this
    money came from somewhere. All of this money came from those
    who consumed products sent by express. Only a few weeks ago the
    Interstate Commerce Commission brought out the fact that the
    Adams Express Company’s business in New England yielded a profit,
    in 1909, of 45 per cent, upon the investment. Yet, there was
    nothing brought out in the proceedings to show, that the Adams
    Express Company was gouging New England any harder than it was
    the rest of the country, or that the other express companies were
    not doing to the rest of the country approximately what the Adams
    was doing to New England. If you had the Government’s equipment
    for handling express matter, would you feel particularly
    frightened at a proposition to give you a monopoly of the
    ‘packet’ business at an average rate almost twice that of the
    German Government’s average rate?”

Knowing that my readers have not wearied of Mr. Benson, I shall presume
to take further liberties with his articles on our subject. His handling
of the point I have raised--railroad control of the express companies--is
so informative and so able that I would do neither my readers nor my
subject justice were I not to quote him and do it right here:

    The railroads have become the express companies, not in legal
    fiction, but in transportational fact. The railroads largely own
    the express companies, entirely control the express companies,
    and, to all intents and purposes, are the express companies. We,
    the highly intelligent American people, simply don’t know these
    facts. Never has it seemed to occur to us that, since Benjamin
    Harrison was President and John Wanamaker was in his cabinet, the
    express grafters may have devised improved ways of working the
    express graft. Therefore, in this parcels post matter, we don’t
    know who is pushing the knife that we feel between our ribs. We
    accuse the express companies. A man who was being murdered might
    as well accuse the shadow of his murderer.

    Perhaps the facts that follow will show you who are behind the
    shadows of the express companies. I quote from Senate Document
    No. 278, Sixtieth Congress:

    Stock held by railways in express companies            $20,668,000
    Railway securities owned by express companies           34,542,950
    Holdings of express companies in the stock of other
      express companies                                     11,618,125

    Since this article was written (Mr. Benson adds in a footnote)
    the Interstate Commerce Commission has issued a report in which
    railroad holdings in express stock are given at $14,124,000. The
    same report says the “total book value of property and equipment
    of 13 express companies is $22,313,575.53.” The figures furnished
    by the express companies are evidently somewhat bewildering
    to the commission, which, having found the total value of the
    express companies’ assets to be $186,221,380.54, remarks: “It
    is evident that the capital stock of these companies bears no
    relation to the amount invested in the express business.” On
    the face of the Interstate Commerce Commission’s report, the
    railroads have disposed of more than $6,000,000 worth of express
    stock since the United States Senate investigated the matter
    during the life of the Sixtieth Congress. Yet there is no mention
    of such a transaction, and it seems exceedingly unlikely that
    the railroads have suddenly reversed their policies and become
    sellers instead of buyers of express stock. What seems more
    likely is that both the railroads and the express companies are
    continuing the policy to use figures to conceal facts. Gentlemen
    who can give $186,000,000 worth of assets a “book value” of
    $22,000,000 might have no difficulty in compelling figures to
    turn flip-flaps upon almost any occasion.

    Please notice that railroad companies--not railroad men,
    railroad companies--own more than $20,000,000 of stock in
    express companies. The express companies are capitalized at only
    $48,000,000. Railroad companies therefore own almost half of the
    stock of the express companies. Railroad men like Mr. Gould, the
    Vanderbilts and Mr. Morgan also own stock in express companies.
    Railroad men presumably do not vote their private holdings of
    express stock in opposition to the manner in which they vote the
    express stock owned by the railways they control. But, even if
    railway men owned no express stock, the ownership by railways of
    a solid block of more than $20,000,000 of express stock would
    enable the railways to control the express companies. Mr. Morgan
    controls many corporations in which he holds only a minority
    interest. It is the way of big men to control more than they own.

    …

    Let us assume that you attach no significance to the ownership
    by the railways of almost half of the stock of the express
    companies. You don’t believe the railroads would take the trouble
    to get control of $3,500,000 more stock and thus control the
    companies. You want to be shown.

    All right. You don’t mind using your common sense? Good.

    Wouldn’t railroad companies be incorporated fools if they didn’t
    control the express companies? Couldn’t the railroad companies,
    if they cared to, control the express companies, even though
    the railroad companies owned not a share of stock in any of the
    express companies? What is an express company?

    An express company is a corporation that is engaged in
    transportation. Not a single express company owns a foot of
    railway track, a locomotive, a roundhouse or a water tank. Not a
    single express company employs an engineer, a fireman, a train
    dispatcher, or a section hand. Not a single express company could
    carry a bar of soap from New York to Albany without using all
    of the mentioned instruments of transportation, besides many
    others. In other words, an express company is an institution
    engaged in transportation without owning any of the means of
    transportation. It exists only by sufferance. So long as railroad
    companies are willing to haul the cars of an express company,
    the express company may do business--but no longer. An express
    company, if ill-treated, has no other place to go. It cannot hire
    a department store company to haul its cars, nor a dry-goods
    firm, nor a manufacturer of hats. An express company must go to
    railroads for its transportation facilities, accept the best
    terms it can get, or go out of business.

    Is it not so? How comes it, then, that you never hear of rows
    between express companies and railroad companies? How comes it
    that the same railroads that are always trying to squeeze you
    on freight rates apparently never try to squeeze the express
    companies on rates for hauling cars? The express companies are
    exceedingly fat birds. They are absolutely in the power of the
    railroad companies. If you owned the only vacant house in the
    world and a wanderer must rent from you or die in the street,
    you would not have him more completely in your power than the
    railroad companies have the express companies.

    Yet the railroad companies are frying the express companies to a
    frazzle. The New York Central Railroad Company takes 40 per cent
    of the gross receipts of the express company that operates over
    its lines. But the frying is entirely friendly, and therefore
    the express companies do not cry out against it. A station agent
    does not complain because the railroad company for which he works
    takes from him the money for the tickets he has sold. He expects
    to give up the money. The officers of express companies expect
    to give up the money they take in. That is what they are there
    for. If they were otherwise disposed they would not be there. The
    $20,000,000 block of express stock held by railroads would keep
    them out. Can you imagine an express company giving 40 per cent
    of its gross receipts to a railway company if the directors of
    the express company were not controlled by the railway company?

    Please get the full meaning of that New York Central arrangement.
    It is not a mere matter of 40 per cent. It is a matter of 40
    per cent of the gross receipts and then perhaps 50 per cent of
    what is left. In other words, the railroad company first takes,
    as a carrier, four-tenths of the express company’s receipts. As
    a stockholder in the express company, the railroad next takes
    almost half of the net profits.

    …

    In both surveying the Canadian express situation and giving the
    order to reduce rates, Judge Mabee, chairman of the commission,
    said:

    “Cut short of all the trimmings, the situation is that the
    shipper by express makes a contract with the railway company
    through the express company. The whole business could go just as
    it now does without the existence of any express company at all
    by simply substituting railway employees and letting the railways
    take the whole of the toll in the first instance.”

As showing how freight tariffs are manipulated by the railroads to force
the people to make light shipments by express and pay the looting rates
the express companies charge, the following by Mr. Benson should be read:

    In what essential particular does the conduct of the American
    express business differ from the conduct of the Canadian express
    business? The Canadian express companies collect money from the
    public and hand it over to the railroads. What do our express
    companies do?

    At this point, some gentlemen may be moved to ask. Why is an
    express company? At first glance, it does seem rather strange
    that the railroads should bother to do business through express
    companies if the railroads not only haul the express cars, but
    get the money the public pays. Yet there is nothing strange about
    it, as we shall see when we consider what the express business is.

    Part of the express business is an effort to commit a crime for
    pay. The rest of the express business is an effort to perform a
    service at an exorbitant rate of compensation. In other words,
    part of the express business is the carrying of “packets” that
    should be sent only by mail, and the carrying of which by a
    private person or corporation is a crime, and the rest of the
    business is the carrying of light freight that should go by fast
    freight at a rate much below the express rate.

    The express business, like every other business that has thriven,
    was based upon a public need. The public need was for a fast
    freight service for light freight. The railroad managers of forty
    years ago were not disposed to give the service, but they were
    willing to haul cars for an express company that wanted to carry
    fast freight at a high rate.

    In this small, timid way the express business began. The crime
    of carrying mail in competition with the government had never
    been considered. When shippers offered mailable packages for
    transmission, they were accepted, but postage stamps were affixed
    to comply with the law. Even the volume of light freight was
    relatively small. The railroads themselves kept all of the light
    freight traffic they could. It was not until the railroads
    invested heavily in and obtained control of the express companies
    that deliberate efforts were made to compel the public to send
    light freight by express.

    Let me explain precisely what I mean by this. The minimum freight
    rate from Chicago to North Platte, Neb., is $1.10. Whether a
    package weighs five pounds or 100 pounds, the charge is the same.

    Suppose you want to send a ten-pound package. A dollar and ten
    cents seems an exorbitant charge, especially when the fact is
    considered that a ten-pound package, sent by freight, probably
    would not reach its destination in less than ten days. You look
    up express rates and find that you can send the package for 55
    cents, with a certainty of delivery within forty-eight hours. Of
    course you send the package by express.

    What has happened? Apparently, the express company has saved you
    55 cents. Actually, the railroad company has clubbed you into
    the clutches of the express company. The railroad company never
    expected you to pay $1.10 for the transmission of a ten-pound
    package. In the good old days when the express companies were
    not owned by the railroad companies, and the railroad companies
    were not controlled by a little group of men in Wall Street, the
    freight rates for ten-pound and hundred-pound packages were not
    the same. The railroads wanted to carry small packages and made
    rates that brought them in. But the express companies showed
    the possibility of collecting a higher rate for quick delivery.
    For this reason, a certain amount of business naturally came to
    the express companies. But after the railroads obtained control
    of the express companies, resort was had to artificial means
    to drive business over to the high-priced express companies.
    The freight rate for 100 pounds was established _as the minimum
    rate_ for all lighter packages. No one is expected to pay this
    exorbitant rate, but it is there for everyone to look at.

    Slow freight delivery is also apparently employed by the
    railroads to compel the public to ship by express. If one have
    a full hundred pounds to send a short distance, he will find
    the minimum freight rate lower than the express rate. But he
    will also have reason to believe that freight trains are drawn
    by snails. The Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central
    recently struggled ten days to bring a hundred-pound package
    forty miles to me. An express company would have performed
    the same service over-night. If the railroads had wanted the
    business, they would have required no more than two days.

Now, I have quoted extendedly from both Mr. Atwood and Mr. Benson. I have
done so, because they wrote not only what I have quoted but much more
that I would like to quote, and each of them has handled his subjects
pointedly and forcefully conclusive. The call for “copy” by my publisher,
will, I trust, argue my excuse with the publishers of Pearson’s and The
American magazines for having drawn so largely upon their columns without
first asking and securing their permission to do so.

But it seems to me I can hear some barker for the interests barking
“Yellow writers! Yellow magazines!”

A few years since, the fling of that appellation “yellow” may have had
some influence--probably did have some influence among the thoughtless.
But millions of the then indifferent and thoughtless people have become
serious and thoughtful recently. To such there is no opprobrium in the
word “yellow” as the barkers fling it at newspapers and magazines which
attack and tell the truth about the interests for which the barkers bark.
In fact, the word has become an appellation of honor rather than of
discredit--of repute rather than of disrepute.

Here is another quotation--two of them. They are from an article in
Pearson’s Magazine, February, 1912, issue. Get the magazine and read the
whole article. The article is captioned “The Railroad Game.” It will
richly compensate you:

    I chanced to meet a man who is now president of one of the great
    Western railroad systems. He chided me good-naturedly about my
    antagonism to the railroads. Finally he said: … “You are too big
    a man to be fighting the railroads. Come get into the game with
    us. It isn’t how much money we make, but how much we can conceal
    that counts in the railroad business.”

    …

    These figures do not take into consideration at all the
    operations of the numerous express companies which impose upon
    the people a burden approximating $125,000,000 a year while their
    actual investment for all purposes does not exceed $6,000,000
    a year. These companies all earn prodigiously. All pay big
    dividends. All have big surplus funds, and frequently have big
    melon cuttings. In one of these a few years ago $24,000,000 were
    distributed among the stockholders of a single company. And after
    all, these companies amount in actual service to the people to
    no more than a parcels post which the government should have
    established long ago. With government control of the railroads
    this pernicious form of extortion would end. In European
    countries express companies do not exist. There the parcels post
    is supreme, satisfactory to the people and remunerative to the
    governments.

Of course, the writer of the above when he mentions $6,000,000 as the
“actual investment for all purposes” means all the actual investment for
all express service purposes. In that statement he is entirely correct.

But who is the writer? Well, the man who made the statements just quoted
is Mr. O. C. Barber, the American “Match King.” Certainly no one--not
even the most courageous and venturesome hired liar of the raiding
combinations--will call Mr. Barber “yellow.”

“Why?” Well, Mr. Barber has a lot of real long-headed and hard-headed
sense. He also has _money_. He has a _whole lot_ of money. That makes
Mr. Barber a “strong” man, as Mr. Benson puts it, in the calculating
eyes and minds of public bubblers. Not only has Mr. Barber money, but,
as Pearson’s editor points out, “he is a man of affairs.” He has been a
man of affairs for fifty years. He is an officer or director in companies
which have a capital of fifty million dollars. Their combined freight
shipments are from 150,000 to 200,000 cars per year, and go to all parts
of the world.

No, there is nothing of the yapped “yellow” about Mr. Barber. When
the barkers bark of him, the trajectory of their language will carry
it scarcely beyond the walls or to the banqueters. In most cases the
barker’s voice, when adversely criticising Mr. Barber, will take that
humble, pendant expression so universally characteristic of the tail of a
scared dog.

Mr. Barber is “strong.” If you don’t know it get the February, 1912,
Pearson’s and read his article on “The Railroad Game.” You will know it
then.

The clackers who clack for those who profit by the outrageous parcels
post service in this country now, will tell you, of course, that Germany,
France and some other countries can “afford” to give their citizens lower
postal carriage rates, “because the governments own the railroads and
have their mails carried free.”

It is sufficient to say in answer to such clack that if we can have a
cheap, efficient parcels post service _only by owning the railroads_,
then let us own them.

Why not? A good, cheap parcels post service is worth it--worth it to you,
to me, to every man, woman and child of the country, both to those living
and to the generations yet unborn.

Yes, sirs, such a parcels post service is worth _more to our people than
our railroads cost to build_, or would cost to rebuild or to buy. Why do
I say that? I say it _because_ it is a _fact_--a fact that needs but a
line or two to evidence.

1. Such a parcels post service would save our people _more_ than
$300,000,000 every year.

2. At 2 per cent (a rate at which the government can borrow all the
money it wants), three hundred million dollars would pay the interest on
$15,000,000,000.

3. Fifteen billions of dollars is _more_ than either the “book” or the
“market” value of _all_ the railroads in this country--“water” included.
It is more than _twice_ their tangible, or construction, value.

So, if we can have cheap, reliable parcels post service only when the
“government own the railroads,” then let’s get busy.

One of the much _worn_ objections to a cheap parcels post service is that
it cannot be established and _profitably_ operated, as it has been in
those countries which _own_ the mail-carrying roads and pay much _lower
salaries_ to the operators of the service.

In reply, I will say that in neither Great Britain, nor in _any country
of continental Europe_ are _all_ the rail-mail roads _owned_ by the
government. But those countries do _control_ all their railroads--and
that is exactly what this government must soon do _or the railroads will
control it_.

To tell _how_ these governments got control _and keep control_ of their
railroads is another story. In fact, it is a story for each of the
countries. Suffice it to say here that they _do_ control them. One
element of that control _compels_ the railroads to carry a _large portion
of the mails free of charge_.

In Great Britain, all regular trains carry at least one mail car free,
or at a mere nominal charge, and the trunk line roads are required to
turn out extra mail trains of ten cars each on demand of the postoffice
authorities. For such a train the road can charge _no more_ for the run
than the _average cost of an average passenger train_.

France guarantees and, I believe, _pays_ the interest on a 70,000,000
franc railway bond issues. That is equivalent to $14,000,000. At 3
per cent the interest amounts to $420,000 a year. For that sum the
railroads carry all the _regular_ mails free--carry them _under
government direction and stipulation_. Last year we paid our railroads
$49,330,638.24 for carrying our mails. The French roads also carry the
officials, the soldiery, and all military supplies _free_.

That, in brief, is about what the French government _compels_ the
railroads of France to do.

_And those roads are all paying fair returns on the money invested in
them!_

It was only a few brief years since the railroads of the German Empire
were _all_ in the hands of private owners--of “frenzied financiers” who
robbed both the government and the people in outrageous mail, freight and
passenger rates. Germans will not stand for such conditions long. The
people shouted aloud their grievances and demanded redress--demanded a
remedy.

_The German government heard and heeded the demands of its people._ It
usually does. When it started to give its people relief it was met on
every hand with just the same sort of talk as has been heard in this
country for a quarter of a century.

“You can’t cut down the rates, for the roads are now earning barely
enough to pay fair interest on the investment.”

“You can’t trespass upon the ‘sacred rights’ of property.”

“You can’t think of taking such action! Why, it would create a financial
upheaval--a panic--causing widespread disaster and bankrupting the
railway companies.”

“You cannot possibly be so inconsiderate as to endanger the savings of
the hundreds of thousands of widows and orphans who have invested in our
stocks and bonds”--and a lot more of like junk.

But the Chancellor of the Exchequer was a clear-headed, _clean_-minded
old German, with the _rugged honesty_ for which his race is justly noted.
Well, this Chancellor listened with courteous dignity to all their “you
can’t do this,” “You can’t do that,” etc., until it was made quite clear
to his mind that frenzied financiers and railroad grafters in his country
were _dictating as to the powers and policies of his government_.

What happened then? Why, as Creelman put in writing of the incident,
when this grand old Von heard enough of those “you can’ts” to make their
object and purpose clear to him, he jumped to his feet and turned loose a
few yards of forceful German language which, translated, summarized and
anglicized, would sound something like this:

“_I can’t! Well, you just watch me!_”

“Did he give ’em anything worth looking at?” Oh, but didn’t he? The
honest old Von sat quietly into their _own_ game, played with their own
_marked cards_ and “beat ’em to a frazzle,” as our strenuous ex-President
would put it. Did he buy up the roads, paying for all the _aqua pura_
they had tanked up?

Well, hardly! It was _control_ Von wanted, and _ownership_ was neither
immediately nor particularly sought, _beyond the point necessary to that
control_.

As I remember the story, he quietly put some agents on the floor of
the Berlin stock bourse and before the gentlemen who had handed him
that miscellaneous assortment of “can’ts” knew what had happened, _Von
had control of one or two of the German trunk lines_. Then the way he
made those friends of the “poor widows and orphans” _see_ things was
profoundly and, for a few weeks, almost _exclusively_ awful. He did not
buy the road for his government. He merely bought _control_.

His government having control, he next slashed all the silk and frills
_out of rail rates on the road or roads controlled_.

“What was the result?” Why, the “can’t” venders were on their knees to
him in six months. In a year the German government _controlled_ its
railroads and there was not a railway patriot in the Empire who was not
busy telling the Chancellor how many _more things_ he could do, if he
wanted to and, in fact, _urging_ him to do some of them.

And the “widows and orphans,” or other _legitimate_ investors in the
securities of the German roads, _lost not one cent of earned income_ in
the passing of _control_ from private to government hands. As a result,
the German government is making money from its _owned_ railroads.
The net revenues of the German Government from its railroads is now
annually about $250,000,000. From 1887 to 1906, the roads paid into the
government’s exchequer about $1,400,000,000. It has saved money from
its _controlled_ roads and is furnishing its people _a cheap and most
serviceable_ parcels post. So much for the cheap foreign mail-carriage
and _the way the “cheap foreigners” got it_.

Now, as to salaries paid. Mail carriers and clerks in this country
are paid something under $1,000 a year. Railway mail clerks are paid
an average of $1,165--_and the latter work only one-half the time for
full pay_. I have no information at hand as to the pay of mail carriers
and clerks in foreign countries, but I have the figures for the pay of
railway mail clerks in Great Britain, Germany and France. So, we will
make comparison of the pay in that class of service. They stand as
follows:

                            Per Year.
    In the United States      $1,165
    In Great Britain             780
    In Germany                   515
    In France                    610

There, now, you see the shocking disparity in the very _worst_ and _all_
of its enormity--the way it is usually presented by “farmers” in Congress
who are _cultivating_ express company crops. But let us look into those
figures a little further.

Information carefully collected and collated, both by official and
private agents, among the former being the Department of Commerce and
Labor of our own government, has _conclusively_ shown that _living_ in
England and in the countries of Continental Europe is _from thirty to
forty per cent cheaper than in this country_.

Let us take 30 per cent--the lowest reported estimate of the difference
in the cost of living--subsistence, clothing, housing, schooling,
amusements, etc.--and see how the figures look in comparison as to pay of
railway mail clerks:

                            Per Year.
    In the United States   $1,165.00
    In Great Britain        1,114.30
    In Germany                734.30
    In France                 871.43

The _enormity_ of the difference, you will observe, is not so shockingly
enormous as it appears in _heeler’s_ figures first shown. But even the
last set of figures does not afford a just comparison. Here is why:

The English railway clerk is allowed $160 a year as “travel pay.” The
German rail man is provided _free_ a house that is worth an annual rental
of $135 _in Germany_. Here, it would rent for from $240 to $360. In
addition to his “salary” the French railway mail clerk is allowed $180
“travel pay” and is also provided _free_ with a house of a rental value
of $80 per year--a house that would rent here at from $160 to $300 per
year. Making these little additions to the actual service _pay_ of those
“cheap foreigners,” let’s see how they compare with our “high salaried”
railway mail clerks. We will figure the “travel pay” allowances at its
purchasing power _in buying a living_ and for the rent allowances we will
add the lowest equivalent given above of corresponding housing in this
country.

On that basis the stack-up is as follows:

                            Per Year.
    In the United States   $1,165.00
    In Great Britain        1,344.30
    In Germany                974.30
    In France               1,288.57

Those “cheap foreigners,” _who are efficiently operating a cheap parcels
post_, you see, come out of the wash in pretty fair shape after all, when
compared with our “high salaried” postal service men.

But even the last table does not present the whole truth as to the _lie_
so often yapped about by the _tools_ of the private interests in this
country that are opposing the betterment and _cheapening_ of our parcels
post service.

The railway mail clerks of England, Germany and France not only get full
pay while laid up from temporary injury, the same as do our rail postal
men, but their governments pay those “cheap foreigners” _a pension_ when
they get old or are permanently injured--_pay it for the remaining years
those “cheap” mail handlers live_!

Among the most _brazen_, yet most frequently used, objections to a cheap
and serviceable parcels post is that it would “benefit but very few
people in the country’s vast population,” or other vocalized breath of
similar purport and _purpose_.

Objectors who use this argument belong to one of two classes: They are
either fools or think _you_ are, or they are men whose sense of the right
and wrong of things, commonly designated as conscience, got lost in their
transit from diapers to dress suits.

The “argument” is not worth a line of consideration were it not so
frequently used by objectors of the two classes just indicated. A man--_a
full-sized man_--who can give it more than a smile ought to hire a
janitor and a couple of scrub women to clean up his garret and dust off
its furnishings.

But, seriously speaking, let’s think a moment about “the few” people who
would be benefited by a cheap parcels post service.

There are 95,000,000 or more folks in this country.

There are about 36,000,000 of that number engaged in farming, farm labor,
stock-raising and other agricultural occupations, counting the dependent
families.

Counting the dependent families. Those “few” would be benefited, would
they not?

Counting wives and babies, there are somewhere around 22,000,000 of our
folks engaged in the mechanical trades and manufacturing.

Those “few” would be benefited, would they not?

Among our folks are, counting families as before, not less than
16,000,000 domestic servants, saloon, hotel and restaurant people,
policemen, firemen, soldiers, sailors and laborers “not elsewhere
specified.”

Those “few” would be benefited, would they not?

Next, we have around 12,000,000 of bookkeepers, clerks, agents,
operators, teamsters, etc., “engaged in trade and transportation,”
again counting “the little ones at home” but _not_ counting the “retail
merchants” nor the _railway manipulators_.

Those “few” would be benefited, would they not?

Next, we may enumerate among our people, doctors, lawyers, teachers and
other _professional folks_, counting their folks at home the same as
before, some 7,000,000.

Those “few” would be benefited, would they not.

Next we have--

But we have already found about _ninety-one millions_ of the “few people”
among our folks who _would be benefited_ by a cheap, serviceable parcels
post. That leaves somewheres around four millions to be accounted for.

Again, including dependent families not less than 3,000,000 of that
number can be classed as retail merchants. Half of that 3,000,000 are
merchants, dealers, manufacturers, etc., in the “larger cities,” whom
even the opponents of the parcels post have agreed would be _benefited_
by its service. At any rate it has been _demonstrated_ by organizations
of merchants in the large cities that parcel deliveries within a radius
of thirty or forty miles of their stores, which had cost from _eight to
fifty cents_, can be made at an average cost _not exceeding four cents_.

That leaves the country merchants, the jobbers, the railroad and express
company raiders and their hired opinion molders to account for. Of these,
the country merchant is by far the most numerous, likewise the most
deserving of consideration.

On a previous page I made it fairly clear, I think, that a good, cheap
parcels post service would be of great service to him. He has the respect
and the confidence of his customers. He knows the worth of goods. He can
sell the goods--any line or make--at the advertised or catalogued price
and _still make a good profit_, as I have previously shown.

The parcels carriage charge, either by mail or express, is now so high
he is compelled to order in quantities to keep “laid-down-prices” low
enough to meet competition. A cheap parcels post service would put him in
position to meet the competition of the larger merchants of _the cities.
A line of samples_, showing the latest patterns, makes and grades, could
take the place of fully _half the shelf stock he now carries_, aside from
the staples. He could take the order of his customer and have the goods
delivered by parcels post either to his store or, if in a rural delivery
district, to the home of his customer for a few cents--_have it delivered
as cheaply as the big city merchant, manufacturer or mail order house can
have it delivered_.

Do not overlook that last point, Mr. Country Merchant, when _hired_
yappers are coaching you to oppose a good parcels post service. The
government will not pay “rebates” nor allow “differentials” in its
parcels carriage. You can put your packages through the mails at as _low
a charge_ as that paid by a merchant _with millions of capital invested
in stocks of goods_.

Of all the objections now urged against a _domestic parcels_ post in
this country, the dangers lurking in the _mail order house_ is the
most industriously worked. “It would be a fine thing for the eastern
merchant to have a parcels post system whereby he could supply the people
throughout the country,” said a Mr. Louis M. Boswell, a few years since
when speaking to the National Association of Merchants and Travelers,
convened in Chicago.

And who, pray you, is or was Mr. Boswell? Why, Mr. Boswell was one of
the main cogs at that time, in the _Western freight traffic wheels_. Mr.
Boswell _talked for his personal interests_, and for those interests
only. To make his anti-parcels post talk _catch_ his auditors--the
Western merchants--he even told the _truth_ about the express companies.

    Freight should be transported as such by _railroads in freight
    cars_, and not by the government in mail cars.… I have long
    regarded the express companies as _unnecessary middlemen_.…
    _Millions of dollars would be saved annually_ to the public if
    the express companies were done away with, and I do not believe
    the _revenues of the railroads would be decreased_.

    “And what are you on earth for,” wrote a self-serving trade
    journal editor in 1900, “if not to look after _your own
    interests_? A parcels post … will _knock your business silly_.
    You are the one entitled to the trade in your town and
    neighborhood.”

I present the above quotations as _fair samples_ of the “argument”--its
method and its _source_--against a domestic parcels post. Let it be
noticed that these two quoted statements--as is the case with most of the
other promotion talk against a parcels post--is talked or addressed to
_country, village, town and one-night-stand city merchants_.

The _mail order houses_ “will knock your business silly!”

Now, of course, it must be admitted that, in this day of super-heated
service of _self_, a man’s _personal_ interests must receive his _first_
consideration. But I cannot for the life of me see why these “Western
merchants and travelers” take the talk handed them by “traffic” cappers,
express company agents and _space muddlers_--take it in such large
_slugs_--and apparently overlook the fact that these talking and writing
bubblers _are serving special interests_. Can you understand it, Mr.
“Storekeeper” of Rubenville? Or you, Mr. “Merchant” of Swelltown? Or you
Mr. “Shipper” of Cornshock or Feedersville?

Mr. Benson in his March article in Pearson’s, says something anent the
great hue and cry which the raiders, aided in this particular case by
merchandise jobbers and some of the larger department store retailers,
are trying to raise among country merchants and rural residents about
what a great “menace and danger” the mail order houses would be if a
cheap, serviceable parcels post was put into operation. I hope my readers
will carefully peruse what he has said. Here it is in part only:

    The railroads, in fighting the parcels post through the country
    merchants, are playing the old game. The old game is to work
    upon the fears of a minority, create what appears to be a
    difference of opinion among the people, and thus give Congress
    an opportunity to say that as sentiment seems to be divided,
    it would perhaps be better to do nothing until the public can
    thrash the matter out and discover what it wants. In the present
    instance we see great firms like Marshall Field & Company
    combined in an organization to spread among country merchants
    fear of a parcels post. Such an association was recently formed
    in Chicago with a membership of 300.…

    There is only one country merchant, perhaps, to every 500 country
    customers, and the country customers are all in favor of a
    parcels post. All other things being equal, Congress always moves
    in the direction of the greatest number of votes. But in this
    matter, as in many others, things are not equal. Great financial
    interests and a few country merchants are regarded by Congress as
    a majority.…

“At any rate, I cannot forget that while Marshall Field & Company cry out
against a parcels post, because it would build up the mail order houses,
that they themselves do a large mail order business.

“This action on their part may seem like patriotism of the highest
sort--but it isn’t. The mail order houses don’t care a rap about a
parcels post. They are not against it, but they are not for it. My
authority for this statement is Mr. Julius Rosenwald, President of
Sears, Roebuck & Company of Chicago, the largest mail order house in the
world. I approached him upon the subject, believing that he would grow
enthusiastic, but he didn’t. He said he had never signed a petition for
a parcels post, or otherwise interested himself in the matter, and never
should do so. He didn’t tell me why, but I found out why and will tell
you.

“The minimum freight rates of the railroads literally drive country
customers into the mail order houses. A farmer’s wife, we will say, has
a present need for two or three articles that she can buy from a mail
order house for less than her local merchant can afford to sell them to
her. But the articles weigh only fifteen pounds, the express charge would
annihilate her saving, and the minimum freight rate, for which she might
as well have 100 pounds shipped to her, is just as high as the express
rate. But she still wants the two or three articles and she wants to
buy them from the mail order house. So what does this thrifty woman do?
First, she increases her order by putting down a few articles that she
will need perhaps three months later. Then she canvasses her neighbors
for orders until she gets enough to make 100 pounds, and divides the
freight charges pro rata. The result is that the mail order house gets an
order for 100 pounds of goods instead of an order for the fifteen pounds
that would have been bought if a parcels post like the English or the
German had enabled the farmer’s wife to order only what she first meant
to buy. Incidentally, the country merchant in her vicinity is not helped
thereby.

“If you have any doubt about the truth of this statement, send a petition
for a parcels post to Mr. Julius Rosenwald, President of Sears, Roebuck
& Company, Chicago, and see how quickly he will not sign it. You will
not be able to get him to lift a finger to help you. He is sending out
fifty-eight loaded freight cars each day, comparatively little express
matter, doing a business of $63,000,000 a year, and is quite satisfied
with such transportation facilities as exist.

“But don’t blame the mail order men because they don’t help you. Help
yourself. First, help yourself by getting it clearly in your mind who in
this matter is the chief offender. Your government is the chief offender.
So far as postal matters are concerned, your government is protecting the
interests that are robbing you. Your government goes even to the extent
of submitting to robbery at the hands of the interests that rob you. I
refer to the continuing scandal of exorbitant mail contracts.”…

Now, I desire to talk somewhat directly to the rural and village
storekeeper and of storekeeping.

The manufacturer, wholesaler or jobber always sells the retail
merchant--_the quantity buyer_--_cheaper_ than they will sell in broken
lots to the consumer. They will always sell to _you_ cheaper than they
will sell to your customer, will they not?

You have an “edge” of 20 to 40 per cent., have you not? But to hold
that “edge” now, you must order in quantities which _anticipate_ the
demands of your custom, must you not? You must “stock up,” must you
not? If you miss your guess, and _underbuy_ the demands of your trade,
you must, later, “sort up,” must you not? If you sort-up, you do it at
“broken-lot” rates and pay _excessive carriage charges_ for delivery to
your place of business, do you not? If, on the other hand, you _overbuy_
the demands of your trade, your shelves are soon full of “shelf-worns,”
are they not? These shelf-worns you must unload, must you not? To do
that, you offer “bargains,” do you not? Unloading “bargains” _loses your
“edge”_--your _profits_--does it not?

But still another point in your present _and compelled_ method of
business. Your customer is _never_ so well pleased with your _sacrifice_
“bargains” as he or she is with the _fresh, up-to-date article_, which
you sell at a _profit_. Is that not so?

Now, let us see how a _cheap_ parcels post would “knock your business
silly.” Let’s put the rate, say at 5 cents for parcels up to one pound, 8
cents to two pounds, 10 cents to three pounds, 12 cents to four pounds,
and so shading up in weight to twenty-five pounds, _at one cent a pound_.
I present this scale of weights and prices merely to illustrate. I have
given them no particular thought or consideration--that is, I do not
present them as a _recommended_ basis for a parcels carriage system. I
believe, however, that the government can carry and _deliver_ parcels at
about the rates named _and not create any larger “deficits”_ than the
postal service now shows.

That aside, let us see how you, Mr. _Retail_ Country Merchant, would come
out in the deal:

_First_: You would not have to “stock up” beyond the _known_ demands of
your customers. Your “shelf-capital,” then, would need not, necessarily,
be more than _half_ what is now is.

_Second_: You could serve your customers fresh goods of latest pattern
and at _less_ cost, and still serve them _at a profit_, instead of
working off shelf-worn “bargains” on them at a _loss_.

_Third_: Mrs. Lucy Smith sees a Sereno Payne _imported_ glove, advertised
by an “eastern merchant” or some distant “mail order house.” It is the
“very latest” and guaranteed to be the very best “kid” ever built--from
a _premature_ calf. Or Uncle Joe wants a mop rag-holder for Martha. It,
too, is advertised by some distant manufacturer, merchant or mail-order
bogey man. Say the advertised price of each is $1.00. Each, of course,
weighs _less than one pound_.

Now, if Mrs. Smith or Uncle Joe orders _direct_, the article costs them,
postage added at our hypothetical rate, $1.05. Of course, they will have
inquired of you before they ordered--to see if you have it in stock--will
they not? Well, you haven’t it in stock--and you can’t work off on them
“something just as good.” Mrs. Smith just _must_ have those particular
gloves, and no other mop-holder will satisfy Uncle Joe. Now what do you
do?

Do you tear off a yard or two of tirade about mail order houses that are
“knocking your business silly” and about manufacturers who are “flooding
the country with fake goods?” If you do, you ought to quit business and
go put your head in pickle or take the “cure.” But you won’t tirade. No
sir, nary tirade from you! You will be onto your job in a minute. And why?

Well, first, you know that you can get those gloves or that mop-holder
for 20 _to_ 40 _per cent less_ than the rate advertised for Mrs. Smith
and Uncle Joe. You can have either sent by mail and deliver it to Mrs.
Smith or Uncle Joe at the _advertised_ rate, pay the parcels charge
yourself and still make 10 to 20 cents on the deal. If the gloves or the
mop-holder strikes you as a probable “seller,” you can order a half dozen
or a dozen pairs of the gloves, or three or four mop-holders, and _still
keep your parcel inside the one or two pound rate_.

One other point in closing:

Well, it may be of no use--of _no_ service value to the reader who asks
the question. He may be a man who has reached his limit of endurance--who
has given up all hope of improving or correcting _legalized_ injustices
which _rob him to enrich others_. If so, he has my sympathy. Or he may
be a man who has “set into the game” and lost, or one who is _hired_ as
a capper, steerer or “look out” for its operators. I cannot say. If the
former, he still has my sympathy; if the latter, my contempt.

I am fully convinced that the outrages permitted by the municipal, state
and national governments of this country in rendering public service to
its people have _discouraged thousands_ of its _best citizens_--best in
_manhood_ I mean, of course. The beneficiaries of the outrages I speak
of are, usually, rated as “best” at the bank, in the society columns and
_in court proceedings_. Even our divorce court records give the latter
_conspicuous precedence_.

    “Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
    Where wealth accumulates and men decay.”

No truer thought as to the politics and policy of _government_ was ever
written than that. When wealth accumulates by _legalizing_ the spoliation
and exploitation of the great body of a nation’s people for the benefit
of a few, _the decay of its manhood is all the more rapid_. When any
considerable body of a nation’s citizens begins to ask, “What is the
use?”--that nation has reached the danger line--has started down the
decline.

Now, I undertake to say that no observing man of average intelligence
can be found in this country today who will not give it as his _honest
opinion_--unless, of course, he is _hired_ to say otherwise--that
not only thousands but _millions_ of our people--of its industrial,
productive manhood and womanhood--are asking, “What is the use” of
arguing and struggling against the oppressive conditions which the _laws
and our administrative and judicial officers force upon us_? What is the
use of “knocking” the men who get the “graft,” the rake-off or the loot?

“Their big bunch of money,” says one writer, “makes so much _noise_, no
one hears our knocks.” “Everybody is out for the stuff,” says another.
“It is _their_ representatives not ours who make the laws and it is
_their_ judges not ours who adjudicate them.” “Industry, thrift, brains
and even _honesty_ have ceased to count anywhere, save on _their_
payrolls. _Money alone counts._”

“Stop knocking, my son,” has become _common_ in paternal counsel. “Sit
into the game and _get money_. Of course, ‘get it honestly if you _can_,
but _get it_.’”

“And if I fail,” asks the boy.

“Well, my son, unless you are careful to salt away in some place secure
from assessors and raiders as well as from thieves, the chips _I have
raked in_, your best course is to _get on the payroll of the gamesters_.”

A recent reading says, in effect, that there are dropped into the life
of every man moments in which “he has the chance to act the hypocrite
or to act the scoundrel.” But when _aided and abetted_ by the law, such
“chances” are not merely for the _moment_. They extend through days and
years, and those so aided and abetted usually take _both_ chances--_act
both the hypocrite and the scoundrel, and to the time limit of their
protected opportunity_.

But that is neither all nor the _worst_ of it.

This _legalized_ hypocrisy and scoundrelism is now _widely_ known to the
honest, productive citizenship of the country, _and it is daily becoming
better known_. What is the result? Simply this:

The law and government administrators are, in permitting such injustices,
not only _creating class distinction_ by the enrichment of a few of our
citizens and holding the millions to the subsistence level--_hundreds of
thousands of them to the “bread-line”_--not only that, but legalized and
_protected_ injustice is _dignifying hypocrisy and scoundrelism_. It is
sapping the _moral foundations_ of a worthy manhood as well as _robbing_
it of its material wealth and earnings.

But what has this sermonizing to do with the parcels post question, some
one asks? It has this to do with it!

_Of the numerous array of law enriched hypocrites and scoundrels in this
country, nowhere can be found more of them to the lineal or square rod
than can be counted in the ranks of the favored beneficiaries of existing
postal laws and regulations--in the ranks of the opponents to cheapening
and bettering the parcels carriage service._


FOOTNOTES

[17] By latest Postal Union agreements, 12 cents a pound, instead of 16
cents a pound (maximum limit 4 pounds) for United States delivery.

[18] Postoffices, 1910.



Transcriber’s Note


List of changes made to the original text:

Page 9, “poloi” changed to “polloi” (the _hoi polloi_) (we’ll ignore the
wrongness of using “the” as well as “hoi”; our author is an expert on
postage, not Greek)

Page 51, “controvening” changed to “contravening” (contravening the
constitutional rights)

Page 57, “be” changed to “he” (but he showed no hesitancy)

Page 73, “neswpapers” changed to “newspapers” (indeed newspapers in
general)

Page 85, “Posmaster” changed to “Postmaster” (what our Postmaster General
is after)

Page 89, “italization” changed to “italicization” (my italicization of
certain of its phrasings)

Page 91, “Massacheusetts” changed to “Massachusetts” (hulling beans in
Massachusetts)

Page 123, “naratives” changed to “narratives” (historical narratives
about the civil war)

Page 123, “evidenee” changed to “evidence” (shall be made to appear by
evidence)

Page 125, “bureauocracy” changed to “bureaucracy” (Next to a bureaucracy)

Page 150, “perparatory” changed to “preparatory” (the names and locations
of preparatory schools)

Page 183, “wastful” changed to “wasteful” (the loose, wasteful methods)

Page 199, “bagagge” changed to “baggage” (transports them in the baggage
cars)

Page 208, “hubub” changed to “hubbub” (not going to raise any noisy
hubbub)

Page 213, “dominition” changed to “domination” (independent of party
domination)

Page 213, “presistently” changed to “persistently” (which the government
persistently refuses)

Page 214, “tonnaged” changed to “tonnage” (his estimated tonnage of
franked and penalty matter)

Page 225, “unsurps” changed to “usurps” (in such practice usurps the
function)

Page 232, “accunt” changed to “account” (Expenditures on account of
previous years)

Page 236, unnecessarily duplicated word “has” deleted (has, so far as I
have seen, [has] shown)

Page 250, “uniformely” changed to “uniformly” (uniformly, if not
entirely, support)

Page 251, “franchiess” changed to “franchises” (private enterprise under
franchises from the government)

Page 259, “reveneus” changed to “revenues” (this raid of the express
companies on postal revenues)

Page 261, “accure” changed to “accrue” (the surplus shall accrue)

Page 264, “remembeerd” changed to “remembered” (When it is remembered)

Page 269, “testimnoy” changed to “testimony” (the testimony of numerous
other railroad representatives)

Page 277, “befudling” changed to “befuddling” (a lot of befuddling,
alleged data)

Page 280, “dominent” changed to “dominant” (the dominant factors involved)

Page 287, “abitrary” changed to “arbitrary” (unjust regulations and
arbitrary impositions)

Page 296, “corruscations” changed to “coruscations” (with rhetorical
coruscations)

Page 307, “doue” changed to “done” (shipping is done by railroad
employes.)

Page 312, “throught” changed to “thought” (when thought reached the
conclusion)

Page 345, “af” changed to “of” (the possibility of collecting a higher
rate)

Page 345, “approbrium” changed to “opprobrium” (there is no opprobrium in
the word)

Page 354, “mecrhants” changed to “merchants” (one-night-stand city
merchants)

Page 359, “spoilation” changed to “spoliation” (the spoliation and
exploitation)





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