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I am tempted at this point to undertake to answer a suggestion you made to some one else during the last day or two.
The CHAIRMAN. I would be glad to have you do it, because this committee has the purpose of trying to assemble data upon which it is justified in making a recommendation to the full committee, and if there is error in my impressions, I would like to have it corrected. At least, I would like to have the other side of it.
Mr. GREEN. That question ran something like this, as I recall it: “Why is it not a good thing to have the public advised as to the composition of the cloth ?”
The CHAIRMAN. That is precisely what is in my mind. It seems to me that the public should be advised as to what is in the cloth. Now, if there is any reason why it should not, that is what I would like to have you state.
Mr. GREEN. I am not going to deal with any of the objections except one; that it is admittedly impossible, by any known tests, to tell from an examination whether reworked wool is used or not. That, I take it, is absolutely established. Please remember, Senator, that I do not know anything more about reworked wool than you
do. I have never seen it. The CHAIRMAN. You would not know anything, then?
Mr. GREEN. I do not. I mean it is something our concern never has used and can not use. It is entirely out of our ken, and I am on that point in the same position as you are.
I presume Senator Capper knows ever so much more than I do about it. He has studied it. He has inquired into it. I have not. Following that question, or that objection, this question was asked, or a question something like this: " If.a manufacturer in making the goods is asked to state the composition, he knows, and therefore it will be stated." That I understood to be the suggestion. I don't think that is the answer. I understand, Senator, you are a lawyer.
The CHAIRMAN. I am a lawyer without practicing.
Mr. GREEN. Well, some of the very best lawyers I know are of that type. I wish to appeal to you, then, as a lawyer, first of all, on this ground: Is it wise to put upon the statute books laws which are admittedly incapable of enforcement? Now, if the manufacturers are required to put this information upon their cloth, I would say that the great majority of the manufacturers that I know, practically all that I know, are men of high honor and integrity, and any stamp that they put upon their goods would be true. So far I would confirm the suggestion made either by you or by Senator Capper, but you open the door to fraud to those whose sense of honor would not bind them to truthfully stating the facts and put at a disadvantage those whose sense of honor requires that they conform to the facts.
It is very much like the 1st of April, when those of us who believe in the game laws will not go out trout fishing until the 1st of April, and the ungodly go out the last of March and clean up the brooks. It is possible, by putting policemen on the brooks, to keep off the lawbreakers, but here you have a case where no policeman can tell whether the lawbreaker is there or not. He could go on down the stream as an invisible personage, still fishing.
But although we take care of the manufacturers in this country, what are you going to do with the importers? How in the world are you going to get at them? How are you going to get at the great mass of goods that are coming in and can come in if you can not tell by examination what is the context? How are you going to protect those industries that manufacture fabrics which do not contain reworked wool against the competition of fabrics of that type which do contain the reworked wool and can be made at much less cost?
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Green, if we have a law of this sort, could it not be made to apply to the seller of the goods as well as the manufacturer? Could it not be made to apply in that way so that it would include the importer?
Mr. GREEN. That law will apply to him, Senator Fess. He will be advised by the importer, however, that the goods are made of wool and sell them in good faith that way, and how are you going to tell under the evidence that is before you whether he is or is not selling the thing that he is advertising or marketing!
The CHAIRMAN. I think that is worth considering. I have understood that we have got testimony from the Bureau of Standards that it is difficult, if not impossible, to tell after the cloth is made up, woven, what the constituent elements are. Now, I presume that that would apply to the imported goods?
Mr. GREEN. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. It would be left to us to determine after it was purchased whether it did contain shoddy or not?
Mr. GREEN. Yes, sir.
Mr. GREEN. I think it is sound. I believe myself the evidence that I have heard presented by Mr. Wood as to the unfairness of the psychological effect, but I shall not add anything to that argument. But on the other I do feel some confidence in suggesting to you gentlemen and to Senator Capper, whom I am glad to see here, a thought which I had in mind, namely, is it to the advantage of the woolgrower that the domestic manufacturer should be brought into competition, or possible competition, with goods you can not check up, and I say as a practical individual that that can not be checked in that bill, because who puts them out, the garment manufacturer, the men here, in good faith will classify them as he buys them, and as the importer assures him they are, and if you can not tell whether the goods are as specified or not, I do not see, as a practical proposition, how you can affect him, and it is absolutely unwise in these days to put upon our statute books laws that are incapable of enforcement as a broad, general proposition. I think that covers all that I would suggest. I would be very glad to answer any questions.
The CHAIRMAN. I am very much obliged to you, Mr. Green. I have no further questions.
Mr. NEVINS. I would like, if I may, at the expense of repetition, to refer to your question to Mr. Green, or the impression you had that a lot of goods were made of shoddy. It has been testified to no end here, variously estimated at from 60 to 70 per cent of the whole product of woven cloth, is what is known as worsted, as distinguished from wool goods. As I say, it is more than half. It has been testified over and over again that there can not be reworked wool used in that half of the whole product. Now, in the remaining half in which reworked wool may be used, it is not used in all of that,
the remaining half. There is a considerable portion of what is known
LS “all wool” goods, which are pure, virgin wool. I am simply trying to help your mind to sort of sift down to that fraction of a half, unmeasured, in which reworked wool can be used at all. It sort of amplifies Mr. Green's point that so many of these cloths are entirely exempt from this act. I mean to say, you are simply labeling them unnecessarily.
STATEMENT OF MR. THOMAS C. ATKESON, WASHINGTON REPRE
SENTATIVE THE NATIONAL GRANGE.
Senator CAPPER. I asked that Mr. Atkeson be heard, because I think probably he has given more attention to this legislation than anyone representing the farm organizations, because he has been here on the job all the time and has attended all the hearings.
The CHAIRMAN. We are glad to have Doctor Atkeson here, and have him state all he knows.
Mr. ATKESON. I represent an organization of farmers that has in this country approximately 1,000,000 members.
The CHAIRMAN. Is this the grange?
Mr. ATKESON. Yes, sir; the grange. Its principal membership is east of the Mississippi River and north of the Mason and Dixon line, although we have a scattering membership farther south. It is now 57 years old, having been organized in this city 57 years ago last December, and it is made up of farmer people engaged in every line of agricultural production. Only a comparatively small percentage of the total membership are shepherds, or wool producers, so that our organization can not be said to have especial or paramount interest in the wool industry, although we have a considerable membership that are wool producers.
I have inferred from some of the statements made by parties before the committee that this agitation is something rather new, only dating back four or five years. I recall that as far back as 1873 our organization went on record very decidedly condemning the use of shoddy in the manufacture of woolen goods. That is a little more than 40 years ago.
The CHAIRMAN. I think Mr. Wood said that this bill has been agitated about 20 years.
Mr. ATKESON. This particular thing. Now, the use of reworked wool, as we politely use that term now, in place of the old term shoddy, began during the Civil War in this country. Perhaps in Europe or somewhere else it had been used to a considerable extent in woolen manufacture, but it began to attract attention in this country during the Civil War, when large quantities of shoddy or reworked wool were used in the manufacturing of uniforms for the soldiers, especially overcoats, and there was somewhat of a scandal connected with it following the Civil War, just as we are having some scandal following the recent World War, to the effect that the contractors had manufactured these coats from this reworked material, made from rags and waste of one kind and another, and it began attracting attention at that time, and has been attracting attention ever since.
In our organization I think nearly every year since 1873, it has gone on record in one form or another in opposition to the use of reworked wool, and I have made several statements in regard to this matter before several committees of various Congresses, especially during the last Congress, and it is one subject I like to talk about, because the contention is absolutely sound in economics, sound in finance, and sound in morals, and all that is not true of a good many things we talk about, especially some of the things the farmers talk about. Some of the bills pending for the relief of farmers seem to me to violate all the known laws of economics and sound finance.
The CHAIRMAN. I think we all agree with you on that. Mr. ATKESON. I don't mean all of them do, but some of them. This particular thing, however, is not of that character. It is absolutely sound in economics; it is sound in law, if you can make a law that will work, and it is certainly sound in morals.
Now, our contention during these 40 years or more has been based mainly on the general proposition that I think is sound in law and economics and in morals, that if an individual purchaser of a commodity can not know what he is buying, in the nature of things, that if it is possible to do so, the law ought to guarantee that he is getting what he buys, regardless of the price involved. I think that is perfectly sound in morals, and that has been the key contention of our organization.
The CHAIRMAN. Doctor, would you rather go on without interruption, or should we ask questions?
Mr. ATKESON. I don't object to questions, except it breaks up the line of my thought. I would be glad to have you ask questions.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, go ahead.
Mr. ATKESON. I will probably get through a little quicker than if you interrupted me. Then, if you want to ask some questions, I will be glad to answer them.
Now then, at our last session held at Pittsburgh last November, the grange adopted this resolution:
The National Grange reaffirms its declaration in favor of the “truth-infabric” legislation; that it will be a protection to the buying public and to the producers of wool, and in favor of such legislation as is necessary to protect the farmer by a truthful labeling, marking, and advertising of seeds and fertilizer.
That is, we included on the same general principle those other commodities. One of the chief worries of the opponents of this bill seems to be the impossibility of enforcing the law. I think every reasonable man will agree that it is perfectly sound to guarantee to the purchaser of commodities of any kind that he is getting, what he buys, regardless of its value; that is, in the nature of things, he can not determine what it is, that it is sound for the law to come in and guarantee, as far as possible--at least, there has been considerable legislation based on that high economic and moral position. In the early use of fertilizer, the early commercial use of fertilizer, the thing that smelled loudest brought the biggest price. It might be nothing but sand with a dead cat mixed with it, and absolutely worthless. The chemists of the manufacturers found it was impossible for the ordinary user of fertilizer to determine their value or contents. None of the laws undertake to guarantee to the farmer that if he buys fertilizers that they will be worth the amount he pays for them. It only undertakes to guarantee that he gets what he buys. It may be worthless as a fertilizer. The law does not undertake to determine the question as to the value of the goods, but only that he gets what he buys, and it is up to him to determine whether he wants that particular fertilizer.
The legislation deals with the oleomargarine, and a good many other things, all the pure-food legislation, drug legislation, has been along that line, the attempt to guarantee to the purchaser that he is getting, when he buys, what it is represented to be.
It seems to me that the law ought not to try to go further than that. In a few instances it has attempted to go further, and, possibly, successfully.
But it is contended that in all these other efforts to determine the contents of compounds or commodities that it was possible for the chemists or the experts to determine just the proportion of the different ingredients in the compound, whatever it might be, and that therefore the law is enforceable. But the opponents of this particular proposition emphasize, and seem to be much worried, because you can not enforce the law, and every time I hear that argument made I wonder if we are developing a nation of criminals. I am getting a little suspicious from some things that have been developed one place and another, but I am just wondering, if we write into the statutes that it is a fair presumption that there would be engaged in the manufacture of woolen fabrics, for instance, a considerable percentage of criminals, whether that is what we should do, because every man who would misbrand a fabric would be a criminal. I don't like to think that, but it is perfectly easy to agree that since we have always had criminals since the human race began, so far as I know, we probably always will have, and that the honest people should be protected so far as possible against the criminals.
Every angle of that argument applies to our effort to enforce prohibition, or to enforce any other law.
The central contention in this matter is that it is impossible to know whether a crime has been committed. Now, we have some legislation dealing with the packing industry. I do not refer to the recent packing-house legislation, but back during President Roosevelt's term a statute was placed on the statute books of the country requiring meat inspection in the packing plants, and the packers themselves agree now that it is a good thing, although they opposed it very strenuously at the time.
After I read Upton Sinclair's Jungle, telling about what had been going on in the packing plants in Chicago, I could not eat even a piece of ham that looked sound all the way round with a good stomach. Neither could anybody else who read that book.
Following that, this inspection law was enacted, and no man on earth can tell whether a piece of beef, as you buy it in the retail store, is the product of a tubercular animal or one having some other disease, or whether it died in transit, but the Government inspector in the packing plant is supposed to determine all these matters, and one of the Chicago packers told me this last year when the packer legislation was up that, while they had opposed that proposition, they recognize now that it is the best asset all the way round. The people who buy meat have at least the fair assumption that it has been Government inspected; that the animal from