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STATEMENT OF MR. ALBERT S. GOSS, MASTER WASHINGTON
STATE GRANGE, SEATTLE, WASH. Mr. Goss. Although I come from one of the large wool-producing States of the Union we are interested in this bill possibly more particularly from the standpoint of the consumer of the wool than we are from the standpoint of the producer, although we are interested in the bill from the two standpoints.
I would like to point out the reason why we are particularly interested in the Capper bill over the Lodge bill.
I would like to direct attention to the Lodge bill, and particularly subdivision (e) in section 2, which defines the terms“ virgin wool and “new wool.” The definition contained in that section is:
The terms virgin wool" and new wool” mean sheep's wool, lamb's wool, and hair of the Angora and Cashmere goat that has never previously been spun into yarn, woven into cloth, or felted, and is without admixture of cotton, jute, hemp, silk, reworked wool, or any other fiber than new wool.
Section (f), or rather subdivision (f) in section 2, defines the term “all wool":
The term “all wool means sheep's wool, lamb's wool, and hair of the Angora and Cashmere goat that has no admixture of cotton, jute, hemp, silk, or any other fiber.
In other words, it contains a definition of all wool ” as being a fabric that contains no other fabric than wool. But it might still contain shoddy, and in our opinion the purpose of the bill is absolutely to legalize the putting of shoddy into woolen goods, and we believe the expression“ all wool” is deceptive, and it would have the effect of legalizing the use of shoddy and leading the consumer to think it is virgin wool, because we believe the consumer will not be familiar with the distinction of technical terms.
That is the chief reason we favor the Capper bill over the Lodge bill, because we believe the Capper bill is an honest effort to show the consumer exactly what he is getting and what is going into the goods.
There is one other point that I think should be called to your atention, and that is in arranging for the labeling of the goods, I find no provision in the Lodge bill as to the size of the label and no requirement that it must be legible or that it must be in such form as to attract the attention of the consumer. That point is covered adequately in the Capper bill, I believe, and I think that is an important thing from the viewpoint of protecting the consumer.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you think that is entirely necessary! Would not the purchaser look carefully at the contents if it was labeled? Do you think it would have to be done in that precise way?
Mr. Goss. The experience we had with the pure-food law shows this, when it was first put into effect. Many cases were brought to the attention of the authorities where the contents
were put in such small type that the words escaped the notice of the consumer. Now, the requirements are that the description of the “contents” must be in type large enough to attract the attention of the purchaser, and I think that same condition might well be found in the case of woolen goods. It says here, for example, in section 8 of the Lodge bill that
A trade-mark or mark or trade description shall be deemed to be applied whether it is woven, impressed, or otherwise worked into, or annexed, or affixed to the goods, or to any covering, label, or any other thing.
Now, it could well be woven into the margin of the goods so as scarcely to be read or to attract attention, and so, I think it should be provided that the goods should be labeled so that what is on the label can be definitely determined.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any questions the committee would like to ask!
Senator COUZENS. I am sorry I was late. Has witness called attention to any of the evils that justify the passage of this bill?
Mr. Goss. No; I have not, except that I just pointed out the vision in the Lodge bill which permitted the use of the term “all wool."
Senator Couzens. I, understand, but do you know of anything that justifies the passage of the bill, that warrants this undertaking? Do you know of any deception that the public has suffered as the result of not having this thing done?
Mr. Goss. We feel very keenly that shoddy goods have been sold to the public and that the shoddy is not nearly so good as virgin wool.
Senator CouZENS. Yes; but may it not have been that they got a decreased price because of the inferior quality of the goods, and therefore the consumer got his money's worth?
Mr. Goss. It may have been that they got a decreased price, and maybe they did not. The public has no way of judging whether the goods contain virgin wool or shoddy.
Senator Couzens. Whether the public did or did not is not so material as whether they got their money's worth. I am interested to know if the public has been cheated, and, if it has been, how and in what way, and to what extent they were charged unwarranted prices for shoddy goods when they should have received all wool goods. If the public has had their money's worth, I do not believe that is so important as it would be if they had been cheated out of their money as a result of any effort to deceive the public.
There is a lot of opposition to the bill, and I see no necessity of putting more laws on the statute books unless those laws that we put on the statute books will correct something that is a menace, and I have not yet heard any testimony to indicate that the present practice has developed to such an extent that it has become a menace, or that the public was cheated. Have you any evidence on that point?
Mr. Goss. I have no evidence as to the price paid, between the price for shoddy and virgin wool.
Senator CAPPER. Have you read the testimony of the last hearing, Senator Couzens?
Senator COUZENS. No.
Senator CAPPER. We made it plain, I think, to the committee, that we are resting on the showing made in over 500 pages of testimony taken on this same bill at the previous hearing, and, in fact it was the suggestion of the chairman of the committee that it was not necessary to go into detail again as to the merits of the bill. You will find in the previous record of the hearings a showing from more than 300 organizations, most of them consumer organizations, complaining about the practices in the very matters you are speaking of. and I think you will find a very strong showing right along the lines you have raised here.
Senator COUZENS. I am satisfied, then,
Senator CAPPER. There is a feeling that a large number of retailers are resorting to unfair practices and deceptive methods and are perpetrating fraud on the buying public. I think I can take you down to at least a dozen clothing men in the city of Washington todav who will undertake to put over on the buying public, and are doing it every day, goods which they represent to be all wool, and which as a matter of fact contain little or no wool, and I believe I can show you that that practice is being followed all over the country and those facts are brought out, I think, in a very strong way in 500 pages of printed testimony here.
Senator COUZENS. You have read the testimony?
Senator CAPPER. Yes. I myself have ma le quite a statement, covering several pages, which goes into the merits of the case.
The CHAIRMAX. I have suggested that instead of making another copy of it we should put it in as his statement. This committee spent more than a month taking testimony here, and I think everybody conceded it was done in a most thorough way on both sides.
Senator CPUZENS. What is the idea of going all over this again?
Senator Cpper. I think it is not necessary. "I think Senator Fess was good enough to say that we might come here to make it known that the farm and consumer organizations are still for the bill and are for this particular bill, the Capper bill, rather than for the one which has since been introduced, and which presents another plan attempting to get at this evil.
The CHAIRMAN. Senator Lodge wanted to be heard, and that is why we thought we would have the hearing. He said if this bill was to be considered he wanted to be here.
Senator COUZENS. Is he coming ?
The CHAIRMAN. Yes; he will be here a little later. He was called to a conference in the White House.
Whom else did you want to call, Senator Capper?
STATEMENT OF MR. GRAY SILVER, WASHINGTON REPRESENTA
TIVE OF THE AMERICAN FARM BUREAU FEDERATION, WASHINGTON, D. C.
Mr. SILVER. I am confident the truth-in-fabric bill will become a law. Whether it will be written on the statute books this session or next, of course, I am unable to say. I can assure the subcommittee now considering the bill, however, that 22 years of waiting for such legislation with patience and persistent requests on Congress have worn the farmers' patience about as threadbare as a suit of shoddy clothes which has been caught out in the rain a few times.
Congress finally saw the wisdom of passing a pure food act. At that time there was not a little controversy over the question whether we should permit certain manufacturers to continue to poison the public with overdoses of preservatives and shoddy food. But the wisdom of Congress finally prevailed and the pure food bill was enacted. To-day I do not believe there is anyone who would have the temerity to claim that we should revert back to the old days when it was “ difficult to tell what to eat and what to leave alone.”
Congress has sat passively by during these two decades and permitted the workingman and the farmers and their families to pur
chase shoddy goods, for they could not determine whether they contained 50 per cent shoddy or 100 per cent, whether they would keep their shape during the first rainstorm and whether they would be worn out within three months. These people, the rank and file, can not pay an exorbitant price which theoretically at least would protect them from the wiles of a manufacturer and salesman who would foist upon them shoddy or secondhand wool garments calling them “all wool” or “pure wool.” Even the "truth-in-advertising advocates use this “ fire sale” method of selling woolen clothing and knit goods for what they are not. The greedy and unscrupulous impose upon the public for it understands the term “wool," "all wool,"
to mean virgin wool, that which has never before been spun—which for the first time is manufactured into a garment. The result is that a slick salesman or the unscrupulous advertiser imposes upon the public through a twist of the tongue or a slippery phrase which does not register on the ordinary mind.
We have no quarrel with shoddy as such. We merely ask for common honesty in the sale of it. If the garment contains 10 per cent of shoddy let the buyer know. If it contains 20, 30, 40, 50 per cent or more label the goods so the public will not be fooled in their purchase. No doubt there will be a difference in price between garments made of 90 per cent virgin wool and those containing 90 per cent shoddy, but the public will expect it and pay for it. The point is the public frequently pays for 90 per cent virgin wool and gets 90 per cent shoddy and has no way of telling the difference until the clothing is worn.
The economic law as inexorable as the law of gravitation says that when a substitute and the genuine both sell under the same name, the substitute inevitably will drive the genuine out and destroy the industry producing it. In this case we have virgin wool as the genuine and shoddy as the substitute. The fact that the law is working is shown by recent statements in trade papers indicating that shoddy is going to be used in the near future in increasing amounts in worsted goods. Thus the menace of poor clothing is spreading. The only incentive for the use of shoddy is greed.
More than 80,000,000 pounds of shoddy are used annually in this country and it makes a great difference to the public how it is used and how it is sold. What a protest would be raised if second-hand cotton were used in automobile tires so that they would run only a few thousand miles and explode at the most inopportune moment. Instead of trying to use shorter, weaker, and inferior fibers, however, the automobile tire manufacturers are using longer, stronger, and better fibers and advertise the fact. The clothing manufacturers, however, hide behind the terms of " wool," "all wool," and
pure wool” and mislead the public and utilize shoddy in large amounts in the garments which they have to sell. No merit that a second-hand article or substitute may possess can justify the fraud of permitting the public to believe the second-hand article is new and a substitute for the genuine.
Congress saw the wisdom of making it impossible to sell oleomargine as butter, yet it hesitates and becomes inarticulate when it comes to a law which would make manufacturers af woolen goods simply stamp, their product so the purchaser may be protected. One of the chief functions of the Government is to protect the people against frauds against which they can not protect themselves. The public can not identify shoddy, as everybody admits, so it is therefore no more than just to ask Congress to pass this truth-infabric bill which has been before it for the last 22 years.
Principal fibers used in woolen manufactures in United States.
(U. S. census figures. In million of pounds.]
Production of recovered wool fiber (shoddy) in United States.
(U. S. census figures.]
84, 836, 000 40, 049, 000 40, 787, 000
Wool used in wool manufactures.
If I understand correctly, I did not come to a formal hearing on the truth in fabric bill this morning, but just to assure you of our continued interest in the French-Capper bill. The testimony which has been given in hearings that have been held previous to this one is on record, and we now subscribe to the things we said in that record.
The CHAIRMAN. That record is here?
Mr. SILVER. Yes; it is the record to which we have been referring. I think my statement was made to the committee on June 3, 1921. We are strongly in favor of the Capper-French truth in fabric bill.
The CHAIRMAN. Will you state the distinction between the Capper bill and the Lodge bill?
Mr. SILVER. Yes. Not only does the Capper bill refer to these fabrics particularly, but it is designated in the bill as “ the truth in fabric law," and the purpose of its enactment is stated in the bill to be
To prevent deceit and unfair prices that result from the unrevealed presence of substitutes for virgin wool in woven fabrics purporting to contain wool and in garments or articles of apparel made therefrom, manufactured in any Territory of the United States or the District of Columbia, or transported or intended to be transported in interstate or foreign commerce, and providing penalties for the violation of the provisions of this act, and for other purposes.