Second Glass Mail Rates
One does not have to agree with Postmaster-General Hitchcock in
all of his methods or contentions, for some of his methods are open
to grave criticism, but it must be admitted that in his contention for
an increase in second class mail rates he is substantially right.
In discussing this question it is well to clear up the ground a
little. The war department, the navy department, the department
of justice represent dead expense. From these there is no return
whatever, no dividend. The postoffice dpartment, from which the
public gets valuable and direct service, represents a loss of three
or four per cent in its operation. This is a mere bagatelle in com
parison with the service rendered, and would not be serious if the
deficit was five times as great. The Atlantian, therefore, lias no
sympathy with the Postmaster General’s contention that the depart
ment must pay its way. The justice of an increase in the second
class rates does not hinge upon the necessity of the department’s
being made self-supporting, but on something else altogether.
The crux of the question is found in the word, “Privilege.”
The ordinary citizen pays two cents per ounce on his letters, or
32 cents per pound.
The ordinary book publisher pays 8 cents per pound on his books.
Here is a concession granted the book publisher and it is based
on the solid ground of the public welfare, in that by this rate we
assist in the dissemination of useful knowledge, the imparting of
valuable information, the extension of education. In addition to
this it is supported by the sound business policy that it is done at
a profit. The citizen with his ounce letter has no special privilege
for the government is not giving him anything.
The book publisher is favored over the letter writer, which is a
concession, but this concession the public can afford to make, for it
makes money on the business.
"Wo come now to the publishers of newspapers and magazines,
and these have the doctrine of special privilege worked out to a
They pay one cent per pound on their stuff, just one thirty-second
of the rate paid by the “unprivileged” letter writer and one-eighth
the rate paid by the unprivileged book publisher.
Does their stuff possess 32 times the value of our letters that it
should have this privilege ? Does it possess 8 times the value of our
printed books that it should have this privilege? Certainly no one
would set up such a claim. Let us presume then that these people
base their contention for a low rate on the idea that their stuff is
less valuable than letters and books and belonging to a lower classi
fication is entitled to a lower rate. Let us concede that, and see
how it works out. We make a concession to the book publisher on
public and business grounds, but not enough concession to cause us
to lose money on his business.
We are willing to make an additional concession to tliese publish
ers of stuff which belongs to a lower classification, but not enough
concession to cause us to lose money
This brings us down to business. The Postmaster General has
learned by the work of his department that the business can be done
at two cents a pound without loss, but cannot be done at one cent a
pound without making a tremendous loss.
These privileged gentlemen deny this, make a great outcry about
incompetence, etc., and demand a continuance of their profitable
privilege. All these publishers are in business to make money.
They put the price on their wares, supposedly a fair one to them
selves, for they make it, and the public pays it. Then they turn to
the public and demand that the public shall give them an additional
bonus of twelve to eighteen cents per year on a magazine weighing
one to one and a half pounds and of varying amounts on news
papers, according to weight.
Why should the public grant to these “business” men a special
privilege so exceedingly valuable which we do not give to the grocer
Let us pass now to another phase of the matter. The publishers
say that the business can be done at one cent per pound. The Post
master General says it can not be done at that figure. He is paying
the bills and we prefer to take his word. But we need not depend
altogether upon that.
The Postmaster General makes the official statement that the av
erage haul on second class matter is 588 miles. Suppose the average
citizen should have to ship a box of books 588 miles by express (and
all mail is carried on passenger trains like express), he would learn
something about rates. But the Postmaster General also says offi
cially that the average haul on magazines is 1,048 miles. The pub
lishers demand for this haul a rate of one cent per pound when
express rates will range from 5 to 8 cents per pound, according to
character of merchandise.
Aren’t these publishers just a little bit greedy, and isn’t it likely
true that their tremendous outcry is in behalf of their own dividends
rather than for an oppressed public ?
The just settlement of the whole matter would be a two-cent flat
rate on all second class matter. Such a rate would hot destroy any
publication worthy of life, but would give the department an income
that would justify an increase in salary to many hard-worked and
underpaid postal employees; would justify an extension of rural
free delivery and might even result in penny postage to that great
unprivileged public which in the last analysis pays all the bills.
The Democratic Opportunity
Senator Elkins was a shrewd politician before he was even con
sidered a statesman or thought of for a place in the senate. His
speech championing the South was one of the shrewdest political
moves. It was an invitation to the South to rush to the trough and
fight for its share of the swill. It was not so much his purpose to
secure advantage for the South as to break up the old Southern idea
that the government should not provide swill to be scrambled for.
But there is a great deal of truth in what Senator Elkins says.
The Payne tariff has been written in the interests of New England.
Except for the proposed reduction on shoes, the Payne bill will give
New England as high protection as the Dingley bill affords, and
the New England cotton manufacturers will be protected by even
higher duties than ever.
This quarrel between the East and the West gives the Democrats
an excellent opportunity of lifting the burdens from the consumers.
They should vote for free hides and then vote for free boots and
shoes. New England will help put hides on the free list and then
the interests that will be angered by this will vote to put boots and
shoes on the free list. Free hides will not help the people at all.
Unless the tariff is materially reduced on boots and shoes the manu
facturers will get all the benefit and will not be compelled to share
with their customers. The placing of hides on the free list, how
ever, will furnish a lever for prying the manufacturers loose from
the favors they have been enjoying.
If the Democrats will vote to cut the tariff on raw materials to
the bone they will have the help of representatives of manufacturing
sections. In turn, the representatives of sections that produce raw
materials will help them cut the tariff on manufactured goods.
If the Democrats will take advantage of their opportunities we
believe they will get through the house a lower tariff than any that
has been in. existence, since 1861. Their platform pledges them to
it and nine-tenths of their Democratic constituents want them to do
it. Protection talk is loud even in the South, but when it comqjj to
a vote the protectionists can’t be found in this section.—Jacksonville
Times-Union. * •