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About The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923 | View Entire Issue (March 1, 1901)
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Wool Growers Complaining:.
It is a painful surprise to learn that tho wool
growers aro complaining. Thoy have supported
tho ropublican party with so much enthusiasm,
and have been cared for so tenderly that tho news
of thoir dissatisfaction is in the nature of a shock.
Tho Drover' s Journal says:
Tho Wool situation is by no moans satisfactory to
tho Shcopnen of tho West. Much of last year's clip
is still stored in tho warehouses, and there is little
prospect of selling1 it at tho prices which obtained
early last year. Manufacturers aro going into the
shoddy business because thoy say that tho demand
from tho laboring classes is for something cheap, and
they cannot afford to pay tho present market price of
wool and sell the cloth cheap enough to make a gar
ment that would como within tho reach of tho ordi
nary workman, Tho advance in tho prico of woolen
goods has shut off much of this demand, and tailors
arp iinding their business shrinking perceptibly. At
tho Salt Lake meeting tho wool men introduced a
resolution demanding that some legislative measures
be taken to prevent or, at leas't, limit the manufac
ture of shoddy goods. How far thoir influence can
go in this direction, howovor, is problematical.
What! Laboring men forced to buy shoddy
because they cannot afford to buy woolen goods?
Shades of tho dinner paill Why, this is almost
treason! And what is tho remedy? Legislation
which will prevent tho manufacture of shoddy
goods and compel tho laboring men to buy woolen
goods whether they can afford to. or not.
How long will it bo before tho voters will see
that a protective tariff, first raises prices and then
1 lessons consumption and demand ?
The consumer is douied an article which ho
noeds, and when ho ceases to be a consumer the
domand for labor raw material is reduced.
But about the same time that the above edito
rial appeared in the Drover's Journal, the Ameri
can Wool and Cotton Reporter registered a simi
lar complaint. The editorial i8 somewhat lengthy,
but it is so interesting and instructive that it is
reproduced in full: -
No industry in tho United States has probably
turned out so poorly in tho last decade as tho wool
industry. Neither the wool grower, nor the wool
merchant, nor tho wool manufacturer will deny this.
All three will admit, in fact, that during the most of
tho time something has been the matter with wool.
Opinions differ very widely us to what that some
thing is. Into tho details of that question it is not
our purpose to enter at this time. Whether the
trouble is duo to too much tariff or to too little tariff
is a matter which we may leave for future discussion.
There can, however, bo no doubt that the situation
has been greatly aggravated by a fact which primarily
has no relation to the tariff nor to the general busi
ness situation. We refer to the speculative spirit
' which has governed everybody connected with wool
in any way during tho last decade. The speculative
fever was fed by tho tariff agitations and the general
business conditions of recent years, but it had its
Why has wool been the most speculative of all our
commodities in the last ten years? The answer is
simple enough. Business in most other lines has long
. since been placed on a scientific basis; and though op
portunities for speculation still exist, they have never
theless been reduced to a minimum. In many indus
tries the commodities dealt in are classified according
to standard grades; exchanges have been established
t to facilitate sales; bureaus have been organized to
collect the most complete data obtainable regarding
stocks in sight and regarding other matters of inter
est to buyers and sellers alike; the fact has been gen
erally recognized that unless buyer and seller mutu
ally benefit trade cannot b& permanently profitable.
This is quite the reverse qt the policy which hu
been generally pursued in connection with wool. In
this parcicular industry every one has conducted his
operations in greater or less ignorance of what every
one else was doing-. In cotton and iron and wheat
and other commodities a scientific system of grading
has been devised; but the people interested in the sale
of wool will tell you that this is impossible in their
business, which statement simply shows how lethar
gic the wool trade are in arousing themselves to the
requirements of modern business. No serious attempt
has over been made in this country to introduce the
exchange as a means of facilitating tho sale of wool
and of compacting tho industry. Furthermore, the
wool trade have discountenanced every serious at
tempt to compel accurate statistics regarding sup
plies and regarding the condition of the industry gen
erally. This fact can be illustrated no more clearly
than by tho manner in which the Boston wool dealers
wore accustomed to report their weekly sales to the
various newspapers. Long familiarity with 'the wool
industry enabled the "Wool and Cotton Reporter" to
accept their statements for what they wero worth,
and not to bo led to erroneous conclusions by them;
but tho credit for accurate wool reports in the past
belongs chiefly to us rather than to the trade.
In short, while almost every other line of busi
ness has been reduced to something like a scientific
basis, the wool industry has been conducted under tho
most primitive conditions. To stato 'the case differ
ently, all the various lines of wool business in the
United States have been conducted up to the pi osent
moment more in accord with the conditions of a
frontier civilization, than in accord with the systema
tized methods of trade evolved by the nineteenth
century. The people in this industry are continually
working in the dark, and never more so then when
they fancy themselves most in the light. They sedu
lously attempt to thwart every effort to reduce the
wool situation to a statistical basis, and then go ahead
and base their operations on statistics "compiled in
London that are absolutely meaningless. The sur
prising thing is, that every one handling wool seems
to labor under the impression that the general igno
rance regarding the real facts in the case is somehow
going1 to work to his advantage, and to everybody
Thus, for instance, the trade in the East like to
have small sales and low prices reported in the sea
board markets just prior to the clip time in order that
they may make the growers in the West believe that
' wool is less valuable than is actually the case; on .the
other hand, they are equally sedulous in quoting high
' prices and reporting big sales just as soon as the clip
has been contracted for, for the purpose of preparing
the manufacturers to pay high prices for the raw
material in the fall and winter. In short, the idea of
mutuality of beueflt between buyer and seller is to a
- very great extent lost sight of, and business is con
ducted apparently on the assumption that there can
be no trade unless one of the parties is a loser.
All this of course tends to reduce the industry to
a gambling basis. Certainly there is no line of busi
nessstock market trading hardly excepted in which
there has been so much gambling in recent years as
in wool. In saying this we aro merely saying what
everybody knows. The gambling has not by any
means been confined to the seaboard wool merchants,
but has extended to the growers in the West and
the manufacturers in the East. The result is, that
everybody in any way identified with wool is today in
a state of profound dissatisfaction. But will the
industry ever reach a permanently satisfactory basis
so long as the present hap-hazard policy is pursued?
There may bo years of exceptional prosperity in the
future, as there have been during the past decade,
but every one with a sound business mind must know
that, year in and year out, tho losses are bound to
greatly offset any such spasmodic profits as were
witnessed, say, in 1897 and 1899? There was once a
miSifh1?' csslnS bridffet with a bone in his
S?n- m -1D the Tater .another dog with a larger
Tt tt hnl!S Tn; ln -try t0 srasp the shadow he
,nin?J 6fi ? mettd?7? hU Pssession-a fate not
unlike that with which wool interests have met
repeatedly in the last ten years.
There icems to W no doubt that there is
'? pro found dissatisfaction" but there is a differ
ence of opinion as to the cause. The suffering is
so acute that the Reporter leaves tho question,
whether the tariff is too high or too low, for
future consideration aud plunges into a discussion
of the situation as it is. The Reporter fears that
the wool growers have, in tho language of the
story, lost the bone in, trying to grasp the shadow.
The, Reporter, might investigate tho tendency of
the manufacturers to combino and employ one
purchaser. When all the woolen factories aro
consolidated into one concern the wool growers
may have even more cause for complaint than
thev have now.
Still Other Foes to Fight.
Senator Hoar grows righteously indignant at
corruption in politics. In a recent speech he said:
The whipping post, the branding on tho forehead,
the cropping of the ears, tho scourging at the cart's
tail, are light punishment for the rich man who would
debauch a state, whether it be an old state with an
honorable history, or a young and pure state in the
beginning of its history.
It is gratifying tb see the Massachusetts sen
ator alive to tho fact that money is being used to
debauch politics. Some two' years ago ho discov
ered that tho republican party was attacking the
Declaration of Independence, and he began aim
ing vigorous blows at the administration. lie
now sees, what many have seen before, viz., that
public morality is being undermined by tho ille
gitimate use of money. The remedies propose 1
by him are none too harsh, but what about tho
lobbyists who hang about the senate and push
subsidy bills, suppress anti-trust measures, defeat
legislation aimed at extortionate railroad rates
and prevent the election of senators by a direct
vote of the people? It is to bo hoped that the
senator's continuous but gradual awakening will
finally lead him to turn his wrath against the cor
poration agents who hold high carnival at Wash
ington during Congressional sessions.
By J. A. Edgerton in The Ram's Horn.
We are mad grown mad in the race for gold.
We are drunk with the wine of gain;
The truths our fathers proclaimed of old -
We spurn with a high disdain.
But while the conqueror's race we run,
Our rulers sho.uld not forget j ':
That the God who reigned over Babylon
. Is the God who is reigning yet. . ";f
Would we tread in the paths of tyranny,
Nor reckon the tyrant's cost?
Who taketh another's liberty, '
His freedom hath also lost.
Would we win as the strong have ever won,
Make ready to pay the debt.
For the God who reignedvover Babylon
Is the God who is reigning yet.
The ruins of dynasties passed away
In eloquent silence lie; :. . , -
And the despot's fate is the same today-
That it was in the days gone by. "''
Against all wrong and injustice done , "?
A rigid account is' set, 'V,
For the God who reigned over Babylon" kl
Is the God who is reigning yet.
The laws of 'right are eternal laws,
The judgments of truth are true; ,
My greedblind masters, I bid you pause'
And look on the work you do. '
You blind with shecklesyour fellow man
Youi; hands with his blood are wet,- !
And the God who reigned over Babylon -;
1b the God who is reigning yet. ' '