« PreviousContinue »
WHY YOUR COAL BILL İS SO HIGH
violate the Sherman Act.
much money in the first place or is making none now. It is out of the question to assume that the producer absorbed this increase. This means it was paid for by us and the steam user. The price of steam coal has gone down rather than up. Railroads which used to pay $1.121/2 to $1.15 for their coal are, right now, getting it all the way from eighty to ninety-five cents a ton. The official figures for Illinois show a reduction in the average selling price of coal of fourteen cents a ton in eleven years.
A MODERN STORAGE PLANT. This measures the de
Few single coal-producing companies could afford this expensive outfit. If
two or more companies united to build it, they would crease in the price of steam coal. That is, the reduced price on sixty per cent of the output- and this will mean an addition of two the steam coal—was enough to reduce the cents a ton to the cost of producing coal. average price of the whole fourteen cents The charge is justified and must be paid. a ton. In a struggle to make up this loss But, who is going to pay it ? and also pay the higher wages to the The steam user fixes his own price and miner, coal prices to you and me have will not pay an increase. Just now the gone up swiftly. In 1910, by way of ex- Illinois operators are absorbing it but ample, Springfield, Illinois, lump coal they can't absorb everything. It will, was selling for $1.25. Illinois operators ultimately, be passed on to you and me. gave the Illinois miners an increase of And, when it is passed on, it will not be seven and one-half cents a ton. The merely two cents a ton, or our just share; price of domestic coal immediately there- it will be four cents a ton—unless someafter went up to $1.40. That was an in- thing is done. It will be the two cents a crease to you and me of fifteen cents or ton which we naturally should pay as coal seven and one-half cents for the legiti- users plus two cents a ton which we pay mate rise due to the concessions of the to relieve the steam coal user from his miners and seven and one-half cents to obligation. make up what the producers knew they I will give you a third burden. could not collect from the steam users. For the protection of miners, state If the miners are given any new conces- legislatures are now demanding that fire sions, you and I will pay in like propor- fighting apparatus be installed in mines ition.
and that the producers shall maintain well Here is another coming burden upon drilled first aid corps. These things with our purses.
other safety appliances and their mainIn almost every state the question of tenance will cost-I am following Gercompensating the families of those who many's actual figures—at least a cent a were killed in the mines is being agitated. ton. To you and me it means two cents At Cherry, Illinois, in 1909, a great mine a ton-our own one cent and the one cent fire caused the death of about 300 men. which we pay to relieve the steam user. To the heirs of these men the St. Paul Permit me to cite a fourth burden. Coal Company paid $1,500 each. In In the halls of Congress, men are talkGermany, systematic settlements of such ing about conservation of coal. Under claims costs two cents a ton on all coal present methods, producers recover only, produced. Illinois has passed a law pro- on the average, sixty to sixty-five per yiding for such systematic settlements cent of the coal in the ground; forty per to cite a fifth illustration, and I might add a sixth and a seventh.
We have about worked out the "surface” veins of coal in all of those producing centers which are near the market. Hereafter, we must go deeper for the coal; we are mining coal today at depths ranging from 500 to 1,500 feet. This costs more money, naturally. Who pays that increased cost ? Not the steam user because his price is
not an advance
RECOVERING COAL FROM STORAGE, Anthracite coal companies are able to make uniform prices because they have the capital with which to store the surplus until it is needed. In this device the coal is scraped down from the pile upon this conveyor which carries it to the reloading plant.
proposicent is left unrecovered and unrecoverable. Conservation demands the recov- and I pay it; it ery of that undisturbed forty per cent, is a burden on the householder. I cannot and soon we will have a law demanding measure it in cents for it is variable. it. That law, for the protection of this While dissecting this subject, I want nation, should be passed tomorrow morn- to bring out one more point. Personally ing because our coal is all too rapidly I have the very opposite of any quarrel disappearing. However, to get that with the miners' union or, for that matextra forty per cent, will add ten cents a ter, with any other union. I like them ton to the cost of producing all the coal. and I think—if my opinion amounts to Being a just charge, it should be paid. a bean's weight—they are fine things for But who is going to pay it? The steam industry and for the nation. However, user is so fortified in his position he does the miners are human; they prefer the not have to pay. Therefore the burden, road of least resistance. They find that when it comes—unless something is done powder will get down coal easier than
—will fall upon you and me as house- they can pick it down by hand. Blasting holders. And, we will have to pay our powder is a brainless force and is no own ten cents and the ten cents by which respecter of substances. By making the we will graciously relieve the steam user powder do the mining, the miners are of his burden. The total cost to us will shooting the coal to pieces; they are makbe twenty cents a ton additional for our ing an increased quantity of fine coal to domestic coal.
be sold at a loss and a decreasing quanPermit me, if you have the patience, tity of lump coal to be sold to you and
me at a big profit. That increases your men. About three years ago, I was in at and my burden. It must increase our the death of the McAlester Fuel Comburden if we must use lump coal and if pany of Oklahoma which was trying to lump coal only bears the manifold bur- equalize and standardize prices. The Indens of mine expense.
terstate Commerce Commission got wind The skeptic arises to scoff at my logic. of it and advised that the arrangement He asks me what has become of the be broken up. Then Governor Haskell economy of production in mines arising of Oklahoma went out upon the trail of from the introduction of labor-saving the operators and has been after them devices and arising from the increased ever since; he is a very busy policeman size of the mines. I answer him by say, who insists that the way to help the ing that the price of domestic coal has householder is to saddle this system upon not risen enough to account for all the him permanently. The prime movers in increased expenses. I answer him by the McAlester Fuel Company were Carl saying further that coal producers on the Scholz and William Busby, Oklahoma average are no longer making any profit. operators, who yielded to the law's perThus the increased economy in coal pro- suasions because they preferred business duction and the surrender of profits by suits to stripes. I know both of them. the operators have merely gone to soften I have spent literally days with Mr. the blow upon your purse and mine. Scholz trying to find some legitimate way
However, the fact remains that you of easing this burden on the householdand I should have had smaller fuel bills er's purse. as a result of this very economy of pro About that same time, in Chicago, I duction. We did not get them but in- also attended the obsequies of the Sterstead are paying and will continue to ling Coal Company. It was organized pay higher and even higher prices—un- for the sole purpose of increasing the less something is done. As I showed, price on the steam coal produced in Illithough, the steam user is getting lower nois and Indiana, that the domestic coal prices. He profits by the economy and price might be reasonable. The fathers by the enforced competition; you and I of that movement were G. W. Traer, R. and the operator of the mine stand the R. Hammond and J. K. Dering. Their brunt.
hopeful project was killed not by the law Under the circumstances, the operator, -it never got that far—but by a league who is a joint sufferer with you and me, of the big steam users who knew what its is our partner in this affair. Anything success would mean to them. Their which you and I may decide to do, he method was cunning. The Sterling Coal will go with us; he even wants to lead Company intended to "corner” steam and will lead if we will but permit him. coal and thus force up the price. The You ask why he has not done something steam users, to crush the intended corner, long ago. He may be dull but having bought lump and crushed it down to their tried many things has found that the only efficacious way is some sort of an agreement as to output and relative prices—you and I are self-appointed policemen to see that he does not agree on either. The newspapers are our allies in this vigil; they would throw spasms of ink if any such thing were attempted.
Nevertheless, some efforts have been made along the line of equalizing prices
ANTHRACITE COAL IN STORAGE. and one after another they This is a sample of the Dodge System of coal storage. Such a plant will
cost from a million dollars to ten million dollars. Few single comwere killed by us police
panies could afford such a device.
size. One winter of this practice was thing, the old system was fastened more enough; the Sterling Coal Company died tightly about our necks—yours and mine of financial starvation. I know all of —and all efforts to solve the problem by these men well. They are not criminally amalgamation of existing companies was inclined; they want to do the square given up. We who know coal know that thing. But, they can't—and weren't per- prices by amalgamation cannot be standmitted to do it.
ardized without an outright monopoly of I have a recollection of a meeting of all available coal land. That, seeing the the Indiana and Illinois operators last amount of available land, is impossible. spring to attempt to reach some under- In my time among coal men I have standing as to how prices might be equal- heard Tom L. Lewis, then president of ized. I recall the virile and assert the Miners' Union, try to shame the opive stand taken by Walter S. Bogle. erators into some kind of action for their At one end of Mr.
own protection—and for yours and mine. Bogle's forty
I have heard year career
him say: stands a
"You men wheelbarrow;
are cheap, at the other
cheap, cheap. end a position
You let the as the leading
steam users of operator of
coal take away Indiana and
your capital Illinois. He
and your did not climb A RETAILER'S DELIVERY OUTFIT,
birthright from the
The owner of it has no responsibility for existing conditions, yet this without rais
simple thing has become a veritable instrument of torture to many. wheelbarrow
ing a hand to to the role of
protest. Why the manager without some vigorous don't you organize the way we miners fighting and all the fight in him rose to are organized ?" the surface when he talked of this sub That taunt of Mr. Lewis that hot sumject. I remember his defiant declaration: mer day at St. Louis never caused a rip
"We will agree legally if we can but ple. The operators saw the need for orwe are going to agree."
ganization but between them and the There were men in that room who had goal they saw the Sherman law and—you been within the purview of the grand and me as policemen. jury and they did not follow Mr. Bogle, Again at Cincinnati, in 1910, I heard so nothing was done. I have talked on Mr. Lewis thus tantalize the operators: this subject with Mr. Bogle. He wants “You men stand together about as what I have outlined here—to equalize firmly as a rope of sand. You talk boldly prices.
in meeting and then the traitor in your Going further back and drawing an ranks comes to my hotel at midnight and illustration from history: I remember offers to sell out the whole of you. You when the Pittsburgh Coal Company was have no organization with which to punformed to do exactly that one thing—to ish that fellow as we miners would do." equalize prices. Since the law would not And again the specter of the law and permit any agreement, as to production, the policemen; the operators sat still and this company started out to buy all the bolted that truth. They could do nothing. producing mines in the Pittsburgh dis- If the operators were given the right trict. The leader of that movement was to agree—under proper supervision? G. Francis L. Robbins, a genius of a kind, W. Traer said to me not long ago: now dead. That company began to stand- “If the steam coal price were marked ardize prices and to make a little money. up, the domestic price could be marked In two years, the competition upon which down, now; the householder would get you and I insist had duplicated the output the benefit, in future, of mine economy.” of the Pittsburgh Coal Company, by the Dr. Joseph A. Holmes, director of the
WHY YOUR COAL BILL IS SO HIGH
Harry Coal Coperatorsican F
Harry N. Taylor, president of the You say, naturally and truly: Store Monon Coal Company, president of the the surplus until it is needed, as any busiIllinois Coal Operators' Association and ness man would do. But-one dock to president of the American Federation of store coal will cost a million dollars; Coal Operators, before the meeting of some storage plants in the anthracite the American Mining Congress said: field cost as much as $10,000,000 to $15,
“The householder pays too much for 000,000 or even more. It would seem his coal because the steam user pays too easy for the coal producers of a given little. Equalize these prices and we can field to build these docks and store our reduce the householder's price and still domestic coal until we. wanted it and make all the improvements in mining then use the same space upon which to conditions the public demands.”
store the surplus steam coal until it was I have, in the hearing of men who needed, thus enabling them to equalize know the coal business from the bottom the price. "It seems strange they have not of the shaft to the ash pit, made this done it long ago. You forget, however, statement without being contradicted: · that this would regulate the price and
"If coal prices could be equalized, it that an agreement to regulate the price would be possible, at once, to take fifty contravenes the Sherman act. cents a ton off the price of the domestic B ut suppose we gave the coal men the coal at the mine mouth; grant workmen's right to agree? What would happen? compensation and old age pensions; put The coal men, instantly, would build safety appliances in mines; recover all those storage piles and then forget about the coal left in the ground; and still leave the seasons and the influence of cold the coal as rich as the oil business.” weather. Domestic prices would not go
In drawing this down to a practical up every time the thermometer went suggestion, I want to show how easily the down. whole situation could be turned end to The biggest change would come in end. To make my point clear, I will ask this: Mr. Lind said that the big steam coal the uninitiated to dismiss from their users would never pay the coal man a minds, once and for all, the notion that profit, and I believe him. The Commonsteam coal and domestic coal are different wealth Edison Company has enough coal products; they are one and the same land in Illinois to last it for the next 100 thing in all save the size of the pieces. years. The International Harvester Coal in the ground is a solid black rock. Company has 14,000 acres of land in It is shot down with blasting powder. Kentucky and 20,000 acres in West VirThe large lumps and the fine lumps are ginia. The United States Steel Corcarried to the surface in the same mining poration owns about all of the Connellscar and go together upon a chute which ville field of Pennsylvania and has someleads to a screen. The fine particles thing like 200,000 acres of coal land in which fall first through the screens con- southern Illinois. Every coal carrying stitute the steam coal; the large lumps railroad has control either of virgin coal which pass over the screens constitute land or of coal-producing companies. domestic lump.
One and all, these big buyers of steam However, you and I do not burn coal coal would desert the commercial coal in summer; the steam user takes his companies which they now patronize and coal the year around. When, how would start to develop their own propever, the coal producer is mining the erty. There would be a rapid and radical requisite amount of steam coal in sum- readjustment of coal sales by which the mer, he also mines perforce a proportion- steam coal price would be freed from ate amount of domestic lump. The ques- the downward pressure of these powerful tion is: What to do with that lump buyers. We would have a realization coal until we are ready to take it? Also, that it is as much against the common in winter when he is getting out all the good for a coal producer to sell one man domestic coal we want, he is making too his coal at a lower price than is charged much steam coal or more than the steam another as it is now against public user wants—just at that minute. What policy for a railroad to give one man a is he to do with that surplus ?
preferential freight rate.