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Senator LODGE. The Secretary of Commerce, under this section, is not going to do anything except exercise his discretion,
Senator COUZENS. Why should he have any discretion?
Senator LODGE. That is another question, but the Secretary of Commerce is not bound to it.
Mr. McSPARRAN. No, no.
Now, for these reasons we would prefer the Capper bill and our organizations have, for years, gone on record, and I feel there are people in our organization who believe they are deceived in the purchase of these goods and this clothing, and that they have suffered a tremendous loss, and that the consuming public as a whole has suffered a tremendous loss.
Senator COUZENS. Do the farmers get any advantage under this, outside of the advantages derived by the general public?
Mr. McSPARRAN. The farmers are interested in it in two ways. Not every farmer is a wool producer. However, every wool producer would naturally receive a certain amount of advantage if the manufacturer or jobber were prohibited from putting shoddy on the market in competition with new wool. Of course, that advantage would not come immediately, but it would come shortly. Then, as consumers, and they are big consumers, they would derive an advantage because they would get what they are paying for. They have large families, and they buy clothes, and they would receive an advantage in being able to go into the store and know something about what they were buying.
Senator COUZENS. I wanted to know if they did not have a dual advantage, one in the sale of the goods and the other in the purchase.
The CHAIRMAN. If that is the conclusion of your statement, Mr. MeSparran, I would like to read to the members of the committee a letter addressed to me by Mr. C. S. Barrett, president of the Farmers' Educational and Cooperative Union of America, under date of February 23, 1924.
This will certify that Mr. Charles W. Holmani, secretary of the National Board of Farm Organizations, is authorized to represent me personally, the National Board of Farm Organizations, and the Farmers' Educational and Coopertive Union of America in support of Senator Capper's bill (S. 1024), known as the truth in fabric measure.
Our organizations are anxious to see the Capper bill become a law during the present session of Congress.
We will, accordingly, now receive the statement of Mr. Charles W. Holman.
STATEMENT OF MR. CHARLES W. HOLMAN, SECRETARY OF THE
NATIONAL BOARD OF FARM ORGANIZATIONS, AND REPRESENTING C. S. BARRETT, PRESIDENT FARMERS' EDUCATIONAL AND COOPERATIVE UNION OF AMERICA.
Mr. HOLMAN. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, my statement is very brief. The organizations which I represent have a membership of approximately 800,000 farm families. The various resolutions which they have passed in the past seven years since they have been working together in the headquarters which they own here in Washington are formulated in a very interesting way and I think you are entitled
to know how they arrive at the conclusions they reach. Each of these member organizations is an independent autonomous organization. Each of these organizations has to really pass its own resolutions, and as a result of these resolutions which come up to them from their State and regional units they adopt their formal resolutions. They are in turn sent to the National Board of Farm Organizations. These regional units and State organizations send their delegates to the regular meetings of the national board. These resolutions are then laid on the table and compared. Sometimes, because of a difference of opinion between autonomous groups, it is necessary to form a composite resolution. The rule in deciding matters of this kind, therefore, is that unanimous consent must be obtained before the national board can take any action on these questions before the board, either for or against it.
In the matter of the proposed legislation, the policy has been well defined for two or three years. There are resolutions which have been introduced in former years on the Capper bill in the Senate and the French bill in the House which puts the strength of these organizations, such as that might be, behind the bills by name and by number.
As a general rule our organizations do not indorse a bill by name or number, because frequently the principles may appear in several conflicting bills and sometimes a composite bill comes out of the committee, and if we indorsed by number a particular bill it would make
difficult to back the bill when it comes out of committee in composite form. But in this particular case, the case of the CapperFrench bill, we have indorsed the measure by name and by number for the reasons stated by Mr. McSparran, who is one of the members of the executive committee of the national board.
I do not know that there is anything further for me to say, except to answer a question propounded by Senator Couzens. As I listened to Senator Couzens, I happened to turn to Mr. Reynolds, who is sitting in the audience, and I find that his overcoat bears a brand, “ All virgin wool.” Last week, being very much in need of an overcoat, I went down to one of the well-known merchandising houses in the city and looked over their stock. They showed me several specimens of overcoats, and my mind was divided between two coats, one of them happening to be a coat with a brand put on it by this house which said All virgin wool” on it. The other coat looked just as well to me. It was about $10 higher than the guaranteed virgin wool coat, so I asked, “ Can you guarantee this other coat to be all virgin wool?” The salesman said, “ No.". I said, “ Can you guarantee this?" He said, “ Yes; the guaranty is behind every one." I said, “If you can guarantee a coat that is marked ' All virgin wool,' why can not you guarantee this coat, which is a higher-priced one than the guaranteed coat?” The salesman said, That is the way it comes marked to us." I believe that answers the question brought out. The point is this: That the merchant or the manufacturer of every particular article places a price on it according to what he thinks the traffic will bear, and the consumer will not be able to tell unless there is some form of guaranty in sight.
Senator COUZENS. Did you ascertain why the coat that was not guaranteed cost $10 more than the one that was guaranteed ?
Mr. HOLMAN. I asked the question and the clerk was unable to state.
Senator COUZENS. That ought to be followed, because it might indicate there was a better combination of cloth or clothing than this all virgin wool coat provided.
Mr. HOLMAN. From the viewpoint of a consumer, I would like to know what I am buying, because I have some reason to believe that a new piece of wool will last me longer than a piece of wool that has already been put into clothing and taken to pieces and rewoven into another piece of cloth. I think we are entitled to that knowledge.
STATEMENT OF GEORGE C. JEWETT, REPRESENTING THE AMERI
CAN WHEAT GROWERS' ASSOCIATION
Mr. JEWETT. Mr. Chairman, I represent the American Wheat Growers' Association.
The CHAIRMAN. Where are you from?
Mr. JEWETT. I have offices in Minneapolis, Spokane, and Portland, Oreg: We have a membership of about 65,000 farmers located in the nine Northwestern States. My duties carry me over the entire territory and during the last two years a great amount of discussion has been carried on by the farmers and other oganizations in respect to the bill which you have under consideration. I only desire to express what appeared to me to be the sentiment of these meetings. I believe these meetings all are 100 per cent for the measure. Our membership includes a great many producers of wool and purchasers of wool as well, and we are interested from those two points of view. Our membership feel that the selling of their commodity under conditions which permit of misrepresentation affords what might be well termed unfair competition and works a great disadvantage to them.
As consumers, and our people, of course, are all consumers, there is a very distinct interest to them in this measure. I do not believe that the price of a garment necessarily represents its true value. By that I mean to say that very often a garment which the consumer purchases is priced on conditions with which true value has nothing to do. Many years ago I was a clerk in a clothing store, and I recall very distinctly that we took our shipments of garments, laid them out on the counter, and priced them according to their appearance and what we thought was their salability. Very often we put a higher price on a garment that did not have the wearing quality of another garment simply because it looked better and we thought we could get a better price for it.
There is no way the purchaser will know what the garment contains until he tries it out, and very often he does not have the knowledge until he steps out into a rainstorm.
I believe there is a distinct need for this class of legislation, and I think we owe it to the purchaser to give him this protection.
These remarks that I am making are, I am sure, expressions from the people in my territory, and they are only expressions which I have heard over and over again in various meetings of farm groups in the organizations from all over the States from which' I come.
Senator CAPPER. I think that is all that I wish to present to the committee.
The CHAIRMAN. Then, Senator Lodge, if you please, we will be glad to hear from you.
STATEMENT OF HON. HENRY CABOT LODGE, SENATOR FROM
Senator LODGE. Mr. Chairman, the notice of the hearing on this bill only came to me the day before yesterday, and I have not had an opportunity to prepare myself at all, and, moreover, I shall ask the committee to give an opportunity to the experts on these questions, the representatives of the woolen manufacturers and the national association men, to come here and present their views on the subject.
The CHAIRMAN. How long a time do you think that would take?
Senator LODGE. I hope I can get them here the beginning of next week. I shall try to.
I would like to say a few words here about these bills, since I introduced one of them. The purpose, the general purpose of both measures, is the same. That is, it is to prevent, so far as it can be done by law, the selling to the consumer of an article which does not conform to its advertised price or the description made by the dealer.
The bill introduced by Senator Capper, which you have been discussing, relates only to woolen articles. The bill which I introduced is a general bill against misbranding, that is, to put an end to the evil which we all recognize. It covers the entire question of misbranding. It does not attempt to settle the brands which shall be used for any article, but it provides punishment in cases of misbranding and provides very heavy punishments. It covers all articles. It is founded on what is known as the British merchandise act, which has been in operation now for a good many years, and in very successful operation, and which has met the evil of which we are all trying to dispose.
I believe that there is a proposition for certain amendments to the British merchandise act in the present Parliament, and I think they are providing for certain improvements on the bill, but this bill which I have introduced is founded on that British merchandise act. It has been tried and it has worked well and has prevented misbranding. The title of the bill, as you will observe from a reading of it, is-,
To protect the public against fraud by prohibiting the manufacture, sale, or transportation in interstate of misbranded, misrepresented, or falsely described articles, and to regulate the traffic therein, and for other purposes.
It is a very general measure, and section 3 of the measure provides
That any person who, in any Territory of the United States or the District of Columbia, (1) misbrands or misrepresents, or causes to be misbranded or misrepresented, or applies or causes to be applied any false trade description to any article; or (2) sells, or exposes for or has in his possession for sale or any purpose of trade or manufacture any article to which any false trade description is applied, or which is misbranded, or misrepresented, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and for the first offense shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000 or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both; and for each subsequent offense shall be punished by a fine of not less than $2,500 or by imprisonment for not more than two years, or both.
You will see from that that it covers a very large field. . It covers all articles in interstate commerce, practically, and it imposes a very heavy penalty for violations of the act.
Senator COUZENS. Is there not a distinction between misbranding and no brand at all? Your bill covers misbranding. Suppose the seller does not put any brand on the article at all. That could not be misbranding the article?
Senator LODGE. They might be misrepresenting the article.
Senator COUZENS. He may put his name on the article, but that would not brand the article. Supposing he put no brand on the article, merely laid it on his counter and said nothing about it. Suppose he made no misrepresentation at all, made no representation, for that matter. If he lays it on the cou without any brand at all, the customer may still have no opportunity of determining between the value of the virgin wool garment and shoddy. Is not that a distinction between your bill and the Capper bill?
Senator LODGE. Yes. The other bill attempts to settle the brand.
Senator CAPPER. I think the difference is that my bill requires that every fabric be required to contain a certain percentage of wool, shoddy, etc., before it can be so identified.
Senator LODGE. This bill of Senator Capper's simply takes up the woolen business. My bill goes further and applies to any article of interstate commerce. It attempts to protect the consumer on everything, as well as clothing. Its object is to protect the con
Senator CAPPER. There is nothing compulsory about your bill?
Senator LODGE. We do not compel them to brand at all. We punish misbranding or misrepresentation.
Senator CAPPER. If he brands it or labels it, and it is not correctly branded or labeled, then your bill would punish him.
Senator LODGE. Yes; or if he misrepresents it in selling it—it is the same thing. One bill, my bill, covers all articles of interstate commerce; the other_bill, your bill, Senator Capper, picks out a single industry. As I say, I can not undertake to go into the entire argument, which is an elaborate one.
The CHAIRMAN. Could you get your people here next Thursday, a week from to-day?
Senator LODGE. I think so. There is one point that I would like to expand here, and that is that I think misbranding or misrepresentation is just as bad for the consumer of one article as it is for the consumer of every other article. I do not think wool is the only
I do not think it is reasonable to select only one article. Whatever bill we adopt should apply to misbranding and misrepresentation of all articles in interstate commerce. I think my bill has the advantage of going further than the Capper bill.
I want to call your attention this morning, and I shall not do more than that, to the extreme difficulty of dealing with the question of wool and woolen goods, as it has been shown by experts in that line.