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THE TECHNICAL WORLD MAGAZINE
VOL. XV APRIL. 1911 NO. 2
TO MUZZLE THE FREE PRESS
In the closing hours of the session the "rider" increasing magazine postage was withdrawn and provision' made for the appointment of a committee to investigate the whole subject of second-class mail matter and its cost.
THE Technical World MagaZine—like every other established standard magazine— represents an investment of several hundred thousand dollars. On this large investment the present net return is very modest—less than could be safely secured in other lines of business.
The increase in postal rates from one to four cents a pound on all magazine advertising pages, which the administration attempted to force through Congress, would probably wipe out the profit entirely and might leave a deficit.
It is admitted, then, in the first place that this magazine opposes the postal increase for purely selfish reasons. But if there was nothing more involved than a financial loss to its publishers they would make up the deficit—or go out of business—and not attempt to bother the reading public with a statement of the case.
But, with no desire to make rash charges, with every wish to be generous and fair in its judgments of public men, this magazine is forced to the conclusion that there are involved in the postal increase consequences of the gravest import to all the people of the United States.
By way of clearing the way, let it be
said that the Technical World MagaZine does not ask—nor will it knowingly accept—anything in the shape of a subsidy from Congress. President Taft and his advisers may urge the granting of ship subsidies; they may approve in the highest terms the passage of a tariff bill which gives vast subsidies to wool trusts, steel trusts and other dropsical infant industries. This magazine prefers to stand or fall on its own merits. It is not only ready but anxious to pay a fair price for postal service.
But it submits to the fair-minded public that in determining what is a fair price for postal service and in putting any change into force, the following principles, among others, should be followed:
1. The fair price should be—can be— determined only after a full and careful investigation, such as would satisfy any reasonable business man.
Postmaster General Hitchcock declares that the present postal deficit of $6,000,000 is due to the fact that it costs many millions more to carry second class matter than is paid for the service.
Mr. Hitchcock is an ambitious politician who has been Postmaster General for about two years. His statement is questioned by Senator Boies Penrose of Pennsylvania, the chairman of the great the the
Copyright. 1911. by Technical World Company.
Post Office committee of States, who, speaking in within a year, said:
"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 Carter of Montana, also speaking in the senate, said in March, 1910:
"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-todate business 1 organization for the existing antiquated system."
Senator Carter is also an old member of the Post Office committee and is thoroughly acquainted with its problems.
The total gross receipts of the post office department for the last fiscal year were $224,OOO.OOO. The total deficit for the same year was 2.6 per cent. To the man on the street, who knows something of the way politics has entered into the administration of the post office department, it will appear perfectly reasonable to believe that a saving of less than three per cent of the gross receipts of such an enormous and complicated business may easily be made by the adoption of approved business methods.
In the meantime it is safe to take the word of Senators Penrose and Carter —both experts in postal matters—that until the post office is put on a nonpolitical and business basis it will be
impossible to make such an investigation as to fairly apportion the cost of transporting and handling any class of mail matter.
Since, however, Postmaster General Hitchcock insists on blaming the magazines, it is to be noted thai; in 1870, before second class mail matter was put on the pound basis, at all, the deficit was more than twenty-one per cent of the gross receipts of the department. In 1880 the first year after the pound rate went into effect— when there was a sudden jump in the amount of second class matter—the deficit was less than ten per cent of the gross receipts.
Five years later—in 1885 — the law was passed which reduced the postal rate on second class matter to one cent a pound. And between 1880 and 1890 the total weight of second class matter had been multiplied by three. Yet in 1890 the postal deficitstaggering as it should have been under this awful burden — dropped to less than nine per cent.
After 1900 the increase in the weight of second class matter was stupendous. And with each year's increase the postal deficit decreased, until in 1902 it amounted to only 2.4 per cent of the gross receipts. Deficits since then have been due to the appropriation of millions for free rural delivery — in which the Technical World Magazine fully believes. The loss on free rural delivery in 1910 was nearly $30,000,000—the total deficit of the department was less than $6,000,000.
It would appear hard indeed to show any connection between magazine advertising and deficits in the postal department.
2. The same rate of postage should apply on all varieties of mail matter