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Profits And Wages

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For 80 years our government has been in partnership with the sngar renners. The terras of the contract under the McKinley act are that, in consideration that the refiners shall stay on our soil and continue to pay ' 'American wages to American workingmen, ' ' the government grants them license to collect frorn consumers from 5-10 to 6-10 cents per pound more for reflned sngar than it sells for outside of our boundaries. At the same time it gives them free raw sugar. This is very much of a one sided bargain: 1. The refiners employ almost no American workingmen. 2. The wages they pay are perhaps the lowest paid in anyindustry. 3. While the duty was ostensibly only intended to cover the ' 'difference" in wages between this and other countries it is, in fact, fully five times the total labor cost of refming, which does not now exceed 1-10 of a cent per pound. 4. While the refiners have formed a trust to collect the last cent possible under the contract, they have not only closed many refineries and thrown out hundreds of wage earners, bnt they have shamefully misfereated those still employed. The government, being a silent partner in the Sugar trust and guaranteeing profits of % cent a pound on the 4, 200, - 000,000 pounds of sugar annually consumed here, might naturally be supposed to have the right to examine the books ocaeionally. This is necessarynot only in order to see that the contract is faithfully performed, but in order to supply a basis for future agreements. The census statistics, taken every 10 years, might answer for this purpose. In 1890, however, the sugar refiners refused to show their books or to submit statements to census officials. Some of the smaller refiners submitted carelessly compiled or incomplete statistics, but several of the largest made no attempt to "give away their business" by complying with the "act to provide for taking the eleventh and subsequent census. " Under these conditions it would take an unusual amount of assurance for an industry to ask congress to renew the contract or to ask to have the government continue as the financial backer of the industry. Yet this is what the Sugar trust is doing with a vigor not found outside of the well nonrished, protected "infant industries." The sugar infant has, in fact, gone to Washington with its millions of unclean dollars to stay there until it can by bribery get what it wants or defeat all tariff legislation, and thus compel the government to continue its partnership under the McKinley contract On March 28 Senator Pettigrew offered a resolution which the senate agreed to, calling on the census office to state whether it was a fact that the Sugar trust, substantially alone among all manufacturers in this country, refused to answer the census questions. Colonel Carroll D. Wright made to congress the same reply that Mr. Robert P. Porter made more than a year ago, adding to it his reasons for advising the department of justice to discontinue the suits against the refusing renners. Concerning this reply, The Journal of Commerce and Commercial Bulletin of March 23, 1894, said: "The superintendent of the census made a report, to congress last year of ïis efforts to get frorn the sugar renners the same sort of information that he had got from the flour mili owners, the steel rail makers and the woolen manufacturers. Harrison, Frazier & Co. of Pfciladelphia made a report so deficiënt as to be worthless. They were requested to supply the missing information, and they refused. Mr. Porter called their attention to the act of July, 1892, and they promised to supply the information, but they failed to keep their promise. "The Louisiana Sugar Refining company of New Orleans and the Havemeyer Sugar Refining compahy of Brooklyn referred all the census officials to the American Sugar Refining company at 117 Wall street. The Havemeyer rêfinery in Jersey City referred all census inquiries to Matthiessen & Wiechers at the same address. Agents of the census went again and again to 1 1 7 Wall street. 'From written reports on file in this office, ' says the superintendent, 'it appears they received numerous promises, and at other times refusals, to comply with the requirements of the law. They finally reported, however, that they were satisfied that further efforts on their part to secure the returns would be without avail. ' "Why shoukl sugar refiners be any more reluctant to 'give their business away' than iron or lumber or cotton men? If Mr. Havemeyer will not obey the law, why should the law make Mr. Havemeyer exceptionally opulent? He certainly would not invest any of his tnoney in a business the particulars of which were refused to him, but he and his associates and their hired agents insist that the people of the United States shall guaranlee them jjrofits of I _ j 000 a year, theugh thèy refuse fo answer I the census questions that other people ' answer. 1 "It is about time that this foolishness : were stopped. If there is any reason wliy the refinetó are entitled to protec tiou by the tariff, let them show it. It ' is intolerable effrontery that these people should refuse to answer the ordinary j census questions that every one else an! swers and demand from the government 1 they defy, and whose laws they trample on, a rate oí' protection that enables ! them to divide 22 per cent in a year on ! their vastly inflated common stock. Let I the sugar renners obey the law or get along without the help of the law. " After observing that only the smaller manufacturers of sngar and molasses even pretended to answer census inqulries The Journal of Commerce and Commercial Bulletin of April 14, 1894, said: "It is probable that these concerns make smaller profits than the great refineries that compose the trust, partly because they are small, partly because much of their products are of limited tonsumption and mainly because they were willing to answer the census questions. The only reason the Sugar trust can possibly have had for refusing to answer the census questions is that if the country knew what enormous proñts it was making it would no longer afford it a protective duty. It is concealing the facts in order to prevent the reduction of the sugar duty. It is obtaining money under the false _ pretense that it needs protection. "It also appears from the census bulletin that wages constitute a phenomenally small item in the cost of sugar and molasses. In these smaller establishments, where of course those economies for the acomplishment of which trusts are f ormed are impossible, there was only 2 1-5 (less than 2 in refmeries) cents' worth of labor in $1 worth of sugar. Where wages cut so small a figure in the total, an increase or de crease of wages, or a diff erence between wages in one place or another, is insignificant. But the wages in the sugar business are exceptionally low. The average wages in all manufacturing industries in 1890 were $485, but in the sugar and molasses business they were only $374. The sugar business appears to be at or near the head of all industries in profits and at the foot of all industries in the proportion of its earnings distributed to labor and in the rate of wases naid. ' ' Not only has the Sugar trust opeiilj defied and violated the census laws, and thus rendered almost worthless the ■whole census statistics for 1890. It is perhaps the greatest lawbreaker now doing business in our territory. It nagrantly and constantly violates the federal antitrust laws as well as those oi New York and all other states that have 6uch laws. It also disregards the interstate commerce act in that it has made secret contracts with many railroads se that it obtains discriminating rates and can quote freight rates prepaid at less than the usual rates for sixth class freight. It shares its illegal spoils with its large sugar dealers in our cities, and thus subsidizes them. This is one of the reasons (rebates are another) why the Wholesale grocers stick to the trust and do its bidding, as they did when hundreds of them sent telegrams to congress asking members to vote against Warner's free sugar amendment. This high handed lawbreaker, criminal and conspirator is now in congress "holding up" legislation until it can get a renewal of its license for robbery and spoliation. It should be kicked from our legislative halls and outlawed even if we should have to lay discriminating duties to break up this band of conspirators. Congress should investígate the books of this robber gang to see what laws it breaks and to see how the spoils are divided and to what corrupt uses they are put.


Ann Arbor Argus
Old News