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falling under the same class, without, at least, unfair discrimination among them.
The gross weight of newspapers mailed yearly in the United States is several times greater than the gross weight of magazines. Both come under the head of second class matter. Yet Postmaster General Hitchcock says that the increased cost of postage shall apply only to magazines and that newspapers shall be carried at the old rate of one cent per pound. His reason for this discrimination is that the magazines are on the average carried through the mails for a longer distance than the newspapers. Therefore they should pay more for the service. It costs, says Hitchcock, five cents to transport a pound of magazines and two cents to transport a pound of newspapers.
But the handling and distribution of mail matter costs much more than its mere railroad transportation. The average magazine weighs a pound. It takes
GAiN IN WEIGHT OF .SECOND CLASS MATTER
four or five average newspapers to weigh a pound. Therefore there is four or five-times more work to be done in handling and distributing a pound of newspapers than a pound of magazines.
Mr. Hitchcock's own figures—which we think inaccurate and misleading— make his argument ridiculous. To haul and handle a pound of magazines, as derived from the figures of the department—costs 6.4 cents ; to haul and handle a pound of newspapers costs 8.75 cents. And the magazines make up—again according to Mr. Hitchcock—only about one-third of the total weight of the second class mail.
In other words the department's own figures show a loss in hauling and handling newspapers of more than $33,000.000, against a similar loss of $8,400,000 in hauling and handling magazines.
Why should this discrimination be shown in favor of the newspapers? A cynic, knowing the tremendous political
IS THE POSTAL DEFICIT DUE TO SECOND CLASS MAIL? THESE FIGURES SEEM TO DISPROVE THAT CONTENTION. Note that, with one exception—1909—an increase in the quantity of second class mail troduced a decrease in the deficit: a loss in weight of second class matter—1908—increased the deficit.
WHY RAISE THE KATE ON MAGAZINES AND LET NEWSPAPERS GO AT THE OLD FIGURE?
power of the newspaper press, might suggest an answer.
Again it may be stated, in passing, that under the present law all newspapers and other periodicals which are mailed for distribution to actual subscribers in the county of their publication are carried absolutely free, provided only that they are not mailed at a letter-carrier office. The object of this exemption is, of course, to provide for the circulation of the small country newspapers, chiefly weeklies. And this magazine, for one, thinks it a perfectly proper provision of the law.
Another reason which Mr. Hitchcock gives for putting the w:hole burden of the increased cost of postage on the magazines, is the alleged fact that they carry a greater percentage of advertising than the newspapers. This statement is not accurate. A comparison of the volume of advertising in newspapers and magazines is obviously hard to make. But, by careful measurements, it appears that the newspapers contain about four per cent more advertising than the magazines, in proportion to the amount of reading matter.
So far as the present business organization of the department is concerned, it is a matter of common knowledge that a large percentage of the postmasters appointed by every successive president are really nothing but the political agents of Congressmen and of other officeholders. In many cases—every man will be able to recall them in his own experience —these political postmasters practically turn over the management and operation of the postoffices to subordinates and devote almost all their own time and attention to their individual business or to political work. Certainly if every postmaster were compelled to give his individual attention to the postoffice, a considerable saving in clerk-hire and other expenses could be made.
Postmaster General Hitchcock and President Taft apparently recognize the fact that this great opportunity for saving exists, for they have recommended that first class postmasters be put under the protection of the civil service law. This will remove them from politics and insure to competent and honest public servants, permanent positions in the postoffice service.
TOTAL CASH RECEIPTS Of POST I0FFICE DEPARTMENT! IN
TOTAL LOSS ON
TOTAL DEFICIT IN
THE PRESENT DEFICIT IS LESS THAN THREE PER CENT OF GROSS INCOME. C^uld not a non-political post office department, organized and run on a business basis, save that per cent in the
expenses of administration alone?
Once this great reform is put into effect it is believed that the present deficit will promptly disappear—unless, indeed, the department decides to make rural free delivery universal or institutes some other public convenience which cannot, and should not be expected to, pay its own way.
3. Any change in postal rates should be made by Congress on its own merits, with plenty of time for discussion and consideration.
The law increasing the postal rate on advertising pages of magazines was hitched onto the postal appropriation bill as a "rider" in the Senate Committee on Post Office, under the lash of the administration and after the bill had passed the house. This method of forcing legislation through a reluctant Congress by attaching it to an absolutely necessary appropriation bill is recognized as so unfair that in some of the states of the Union it is absolutely prohibited.
It is the method frequently adopted by shrewd and determined men, who desire to secure the passage of bills which would have no show if they stood by themselves.
So introduced in the closing days of a crowded and tumultuous session, it was made impossible for the magazines to get a fair statement of their case before Congress or before the public.
To attempt in this indirect and underground way to take "snap judgment" on the magazines is not worthy of a dignified and sincere statesman. It suggests, rather, the peevish and spiteful determination of an angry politician to punish and, possibly silence, certain of his critics.
It is to be noted that the movement to increase the postal rate on magazines did not originate in Congress. It is the pet project of Postmaster General Hitchcock and has been endorsed by President
Taft. And it is exceedingly unfortunate that the bill is so worded as to apply almost exclusively to those magazines of large circulation and influence which have taken a leading part in the discussion of public affairs and in criticism of certain policies of the administration.
One of the worst features connected with the increased rate on magazine advertising pages is the tremendous power which it puts in the hands of the Postmaster General. The increase applies only to magazines and not to newspapers. Now what is the difference between a magazine and a newspaper? Is Collier's Weekly, devoted almost entirely to the discussion, illustration and description of current events, a newspaper? Are the magazine sections of the great Sunday newspapers, printed in close imitation of recognized magazines, newspapers or are they magazines? These questions— and a thousand like them—only the Postmaster General is authorized to answer.
No one wishes for a moment to suggest that Postmaster General Hitchcock would be guilty of using such a tremendous power for any ulterior purpose. But suppose a case where a Postmaster General is an unscrupulous politician, devoting most of his attention to political manipulation and wire-pulling?
Suppose he is desirous of stopping adverse criticism of the administration with which he is Connected or of recognizing the flattery of some complacent periodical? By a nod of the head, he might reward his political friends and punish his political enemies.
Are we ready in this country for the appointment of a press censor, with a lash and muzzle in one hand and a fat piece of meat in the other—to say nothing whatever of the absolutely crushing power of the post office department behind him?
A POTATO AMBASSADOR
IN the endeavor to find out why the United States, with its immense area of arable land, cannot always raise enough potatoes to supply the home demand, the Department of Agriculture has had a "potato ambassador" abroad, studying potato conditions in Europe.
E. H. Grubb, of Carbondale, Colorado, known as the "Potato King" of the Centennial State, has been making official investigations for Uncle Sam, and he has found that American potato growers have much to learn of foreign farmers before the crop in this country becomes great enough to supply the demand from year to year. Mr. Grubb has specialized in potato culture for years, though he is also celebrated as a livestock raiser. It was on his suggestion that the government established a carriage horsebreeding station in Colorado, to develop a national type of carriage horse, and he put the need of better potato conditions so convincingly before Secretary of Agriculture Wilson that a scientific investigation of conditions at home and abroad was determined upon and Mr. Grubb was chosen to carry out the work.
"I have found that the foreign farmers, in the great majority of cases," said Mr. Grubb, on his return, "are far ahead of our tillers of the soil. They are quick to take advantage of every scientific implement, and they put their land to the best use. That is why Lord Rosebery, on soil that has been cultivated for hundreds of years, can grow 2,000 bushels of potatoes to the acre while the best I can do on my irrigated farm in Colorado is 600 bushels. Foreign farmers are specially strong in saving their land, not making it barren by too frequent demands for bumper crops. The potatoes of Great Britain are not as large nor as firm as those grown under irrigation in our own West. That encourages me to believe that, when scientific culture becomes general, especially in the West, it will no longer be possible for Germany and Russia, and nearly every foreign country, to outstrip us in potato production. There is no reason why a small country like Germany can raise one-third of the potato crop of the world — nearly 1,700,000,000 bushels, while we can raise only about 300,000,000 bushels.
"With cheap potatoes to fall back on, there will be no cry about the high cost of living in this country. Germany is able to get along with little meat, because potatoes are used as a substitute. The Germans use potatoes to make alcohol for commercial purposes, and also put the tubers to other general uses, but in this country we seem to think the potato's field of usefulness is ended when it figures on the table. We ought to be able to raise potatoes enough in this country to enable us to use denatured alcohol as much as we use gasoline. In Germany potatoes are even dried and used for feed. In fact there is no end to the uses to which the potato can be put—but the first problem is to make the American farmer raise a better and larger potato crop.
For thirty years the consumption of potatoes in this country has been about three and one-half bushels per capita, but the supply has not always kept pace with the demand. It will surprise the average individual to learn that we import about one-quarter of the potatoes used in this country, but such is the fact.
This lagging of the potato crop is one of the chief reasons why living expenses in America have climbed until the average wage-earner stands aghast at his household bills.
"Advancement in knowledge of soils, and how to preserve their richness—that is the solution of the potato problem in this country, and incidentally the solution of the cost of living problem," declares Mr. Grubb. "We have been wasteful of our soil, which was the best in the world. First we impoverished the soil of New England, and of late years we have wasted the soil of the West. Now there is no new soil to be taken up, and we are face to face with the problem of making the best use of the old acreage. Europe has faced that problem for centuries, and has solved it, if one is to judge by the immense crops European farmers grow on a restricted acreage. The potato is only one of the many things we must cultivate better—but it is one of the most important."
The government's "potato ambassador" is another Luther Burbank in many