Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic]

В у

for five years editor of a trade SYSTEM OF DIRECT LOADING OF COAL CARS OVER THE TRACKS BY MEANS OF COAL

HOISTING AND CONVEYING MACHINE. WHY YOUR COAL BILL IS SO HIGH

GEORGE H. CUSHING HIS is not written boast fully even pay the cost of producing that coal but that you who read may

which he uses. know I speak with some One day last October I made that authority. I am and have been statement while at luncheon with a group

of coal operators. They knew the facts paper devoted exclusively to coal. What yet no one of them raised a voice to that paper has to say about coal prices is protest or deny. What adds some accepted in every court in the land as emphasis is that Dr. Joseph A. Holmes, prima facie evidence. At the minute this director of the National Bureau of Mines is written I am under subpoena to appear at Washington, who was sitting next to in court to testify as an expert upon me, put in significantly: market conditions and prices. With that “That's true.” as a foundation and with deliberate inten Only one operator said anything and tion to make every word exert its full his comment was no denial : weight, I say that the householder-the “I'll agree to that if you make the unprotected buyer; the consumer of operator the partner of the householder. “domestic” coal-pays far more than his I'd say it this way: 'The householder share of the cost of coal production. He pays all the increased cost of producing pays all that his coal is worth, plus part coal except what the producer involuntarof what the user of steam coal ought to ily absorbs and all the profits of coal pay. This means that he pays all the mines when there are any profits.' profits of the coal mining companies, all I accepted the amendment then and the cost of making sales, all of the in- accept it now because it makes small difcreased wages of the miners, all of the ference. The main point here is that the cost of safety appliances in mines, all of householder pays so heavily, merely bethe cost of workmen's compensation, all cause the big industries will not carry of the increased value of coal lands, and their end of the load. Yes, I mean it—he consumes not to exceed forty per the people who own homes and must use cent of the coal. The user of steam coal coal or freeze, pay, along with their own pays no part of these things.; he does not bills, a considerable part of the fuel bill

WHY YOUR COAL BILL IS SO HIGH

63

of the railroads, the steel mills, the big would not arrest murderers or porch factories, the electric light companies, et climbers. In our specialty, we have no cetera and ad finitum. What is more to truckle with manufacturers, with steel your liking, I will prove it before I have makers, with railroads, or even with the finished this article.

banks and so they consolidate to their We hate winter—innately, constitution- hearts' content. The result is that every ally and cordially we hate it because it other business is centralized, trustified hurts us and would kill us if the coal man and controlled from a central point; coal and his product were not at our elbows. outside

-outside the anthracite field—is as We argue from the ill to the remedy and loosely bound together as chaff on the come to hate the cure as badly as we do thrashing floor. You and I cannot comthe cause. We don't hate the man who plain about this because it is our own sells us straw hats, light underwear, handiwork and if we pay it is our fault. screens and electric fans, which means What we have done is easily underwe feel differently about summer. stood even if not so easily undone. Cen

This natural passion of ours has been tralized industry means efficiency-effiour undoing financially. At the behest ciency in buying as well as in production of the paragraphers and the news writers et cetera. Lack of organization means we have come to believe that no coal man the reverse—it means no united or syscan be a Christian. On the contrary we tematic effort to produce and sell scienimagine that every man who sells coal is tifically. This means that a swarm of inhumanly avaricious and unless watched coal men flock to the offices of these big will walk away with our earthly wealth. . industries to sell them coal, only to enTo see that he is kept in bounds we have counter a cool-headed calculating buyer all turned policemen, in which we are who follows machine methods and gets aided and urged by the newspapers. And, his coal at the lowest possible price. I all of us think we are doing a wise and need but make one or two suggestions to praiseworthy thing.

tell
you

what this means. The fuel purIn the role of a policeman we naturally chasing agent of the Chicago & Norththink of invoking the law. While on the western Railroad told me that he buys trail of the coal man we naturally think 3,500,000 tons of coal annually for his of the Sherman act which inveighs great system. One man buys all the coal against conspiracies to restrain trade. We used on the 13,000 miles of railroad conbelieve that if we can prevent coal men trolled by the Pennsylvania Railroad; from combining to put up the price, we and one man buys for are safe. Thus we are specialized policemen who, being sent for pickpockets.

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

THE PRESENT SYSTEM MAKES OUT LAWS OF THE POOR. Being compelled to pay the household price and a bonus be.

they can buy but a basketful at a time, they rebel and organized theft in railroad yards is the result.

cause

the 12,000 miles of New York Central Great Western Railroad not long ago Lines. In fact, I am told by railroad bought its supply from Illinois and Indimen that the carriers of this country use ana mines for eighty-two cents a ton. 125,000,000 tons of coal annually or one

The United States Steel Corporation fourth of the total production and that used to have a contract with the Dering it is all bought by not more than twenty Coal Company of Chicago to furnish it five men. On the average, then, one rail 4,000 tons of coal per day at five cents a road purchasing agent, will buy 5,000,000 ton above cost. Then the Steel Corporatons of coal per year. In placing such tion went to R. R. Hammond and J. K.

[ocr errors][merged small][graphic][graphic]

FRANCIS L. ROBBINS, He organized the Pittsburgh Coal Co., which has proved that amalgamation of companies in the bituminous coal field cannot standarize prices. On the contrary. its temporary success complicated the dis

order in two years.

CARL SCHOLZ. He organized the Mcalester Fuel Co. to equalize prices and when that was broken up by the Government he

helped to introduce the American Mining Congress into the coal fields. That association is

now struggling for the same goal.

enormous orders, he receives bids and Dering of that company not only deprices not from twenty-five coal com manding a surrender of that small profit panies but from at least 500. This dupli- but that the company should accept a cates the situation which enriched the oil loss. The Dering Coal Company refused refiner and impoverished the producer of and was forced into the hands of a crude petroleum; which enriched the receiver. To multiply examples adds no American Tobacco Company and impov- weight; a clear and authoritative stateerished the farmer who grew the tobacco. ment of a fixed policy is better. I get it It pits one buyer against a multitude of from Charles A. Lind, purchasing agent producers. In coal this has resulted in of the Commonwealth Edison Company a situation which gives the centralized of Chicago, who buys 3,000 tons of coal buyer his steam coal for less than it costs per day. He said plainly that if the time to produce it.

ever came when he had to pay as much This is not merely theory pinned to for coal as the cost of production or logic; it is supported by facts and is the more, his company would begin to opertruth. For instance, to produce Illinois ate mines upon the coal land which it coal costs $1 at the mine mouth. The owned. His reason for this is clear and

[merged small][ocr errors]

easily understood and I will let him We are not centralized buyers and can't give it:

beat down the price. For that reason we “Coal is our raw material and if any must make up the loss and supply all the profit is to be made on it by any one, our profit. And that is precisely what we are stockholders can use it as well as the doing. Upon every ton of coal delivered stockholders of the coal company." to your cellar and mine is put a price

Then Mr. Lind added a word or two which gives the producer what he lost on which explains his own attitude and that his big steam business and what he ought of every other centralized coal buyer. He to have and will have as a profit on his said:

total production. "I know what

To make this this thing means

clear, I will tranand I'm sorry,

scribe from the colreally sorry. How

umns of the coal ever, you can't

trade paper of blame me for buy

which I am editor, ing coal as cheaply

a few current maras I can. Whether

ket prices. you do or not, that

It costs $1 a ton is the purpose for

to produce the sowhich I am hired

called smokeless by this company.

coal coming from If I can't get it

West Virginia. cheap enough they

The “slack” or will get some one

small coal which is who can. If, under

used to make coke this system, I get

for the steel mills coal for less than

and blast furnaces cost it is only busi

is selling for fifty ness.”

to sixty cents a ton; Mr. Lind is right.

the domestic lump It is business and

is selling for $2 to what he does is the

$2.25, on board natural thing under

cars at the mines. the existing system.

It costs about $1 You and I made

R, R. HAMMOND.

a ton to produce the system and you

Franklin county, and I pay the piper.

one of the financial sponsors for the Sterling Coal Illinois, coal. The With this situation

“screenings" or made clear, it re

small sizes sell for quires no wizard to explain why we pay. sixty to eighty cents a ton; the domestic All business concerns itself solely to lump is bringing $1.75 to $2. make a profit. Coal companies are busi- It costs $1.10 to produce Hocking Valness units—not eleemosynary institutions ley coal in Ohio. The slack is selling for -and exist solely to make a profit. If they eighty to ninety cents a ton; the domestic do not get it off one thing, they get it lump is selling for $1.50. (The spread off another. If, as a result of your and there would be wider but for the fact my vigil, coal companies are prevented this coal mines—under rigid discipline of from organizing while all their big cus- the miners—with a greater percentage of tomers are uniting or have united, it lump than in other fields. Having more stands to reason that steam coal is at the lump to sell, the producers can recover mercy of its users and that the users put their loss on the steam coal without any on the screws to their own advantage. excessive burden being put upon the That gives the coal company no hope of householder.) profit from that source—but it must have I prefer not to burden your mind with a profit. You and I are not trusts and figures which are duplicates. The fact so we who buy small lots come in handy. is enough and the fact is that the

[graphic]

He was president of the Dering Coal Co. which was crush

ed by the United States Steel Corporation. He was

Co. which was ruined by an assault made by

the big users of steam coal.

[ocr errors]

"domestic" price, at the mine, is from must go up—unless something is done.
two to four times the steam coal price I name a few of these things and com-
at the time the householder wants it. pute their cost to you and to me.
And, whether used for steam making or The American miner today works only
in the house, it all has the same heat pro 180 or 200 days in the year. This is so
ducing power. Intrinsically there is no because the competition upon which you
difference in it—no practical difference. and I have insisted has caused so many
The steam coal comes down from the mines to be opened they cannot possibly
seam with the same shot that brings be worked steadily. Still, the miner must
down the domestic coal that is made up live whether he works 180 or 300 days in
of the large lumps; the steam coal con a year. As a consequence, he must get
sists of the small sizes and the dust. The for his 180 days as much as another
coal is the same and in some circles it workman gets for 300 days or thirty-
is conceded I know something about com three and one-half per cent more per day
bustion—the mixture of small lumps and than the man who is steadily employed.
dust burns better than large lumps. Now, the miner is complaining that his

Resting upon the foregoing statements yearly income is not enough. He knows
alone, I might lay claim to having made it is useless to ask for more steady em-
my case. But, I have just begun for the ployment, so he asks instead an increase
reason that new developments in the coal in his “mining rate.” We will say that
field have just begun to lay their hand he asks for ten cents a ton and com-
heavily upon the householder. As mat promises on seven and one-half cents or
ters now under consideration come to five cents.
fruition, the price of your coal and mine If any increase whatever is granted, it

must be paid, must it not? If it must be
paid, who is to pay it?

We all know that this money can come
from only one of two sources: The pro-
ducer must take it from his profit, or
it must be raised by increasing
the selling price of the coal.
The “mining rate”—the price
paid per ton to the miner-
has about been doubled
in the last twenty years.
The producer could
not absorb that
increase; if he
could he was
either
making

too

[graphic]

A SHIPPING PIER OF THE BALTIMORE & OHIO RAILROAD AT TIDEWATER. This is an expensive modern device for transferring coal from cars to ships. It must make a profit: interest on the investment in it must be paid; the operating cost must be met. This is all charged against the coal

the domestic coal.

« PreviousContinue »