Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

of the wool as it comes from the sheep's back, although it is without exception a fact that a reclaimed fiber of shoddy is inferior for manufacturing purposes to the same fiber before it was manufactured into yarn or cloth the first time.

(d) As the processes by which wool is converted into yarn and cloth do not change the chemical composition of the wool fiber, it follows that fibers of wool as they come from the sheep's back and as they are obtained in the form of shoddy or reclaimed wool, will give exactly the same chemical reactions, and that for this reason there can be no chemical test to distinguish in yarn or fabric the fibers of wool that have been previously used in the manufacture of wool goods from those fibers which have not been so used.

(€) The appearance of a wool fiber is changed slightly by the processes of manufacture and conversion into shoddy, the surface being made smoother by the wearing off of the scales that are characteristic of wool and by the breaking of some of the fibers. As wool from the sheep's back varies widely in this respect, from fibers with a surface thickly studded with scales to fibers so smooth and free from scales as to resemble hair, and as but a comparatively few of the fibers of shoddy are found to be broken or split, it is plain that neither the number of scales on the surface of the fibers nor the number of broken or split fibers supplies any reliable indication of whether wool fibers found in a fabric have been previously spun or woven into cloth.

(f) There are several reliable and easily made chemical tests by which wool can be distinguished from vegetable fibers, such as cotton, linen, hemp, and jute.

(g) It follows from (d) and (e) that when wool from the sheep's back is mixed with shoddy and spun or woven into cloth, it is impossible to distinguish one from the other by chemical tests or microscopic examination, and it follows from (1) that wool fibers, including both new wool and shoddy, can be distinguished from the vegetable fibers.

(h) The manufacturer of yarn and cloth composed of mixtures of new wool and shoddy with or without the admixture of other fibers has a record of the weight of each kind of material going into the batch of loose stock before manufacture into yarn or cloth, but he does not know what proportions of such materials are in the yarn or cloth, this lack of knowledge being due to the following influences, which can not be determined: (1) The relative shrinkage, visible and invisible, of the different materials in the processes of manufacture; (2) the amount of oil, soap, or other material added to the stock during manufacture and which remains in the yarn or finished cloth.

(i) For the same reasons it is equally impossible to distinguish cotton fibers that have not been previously used in the manufacture of cloth from cotton fibers that have been so used, when both are mixed and manufactured into goods

Impossible provisions.—Place the facts given above alongside the following provisions of the French-Rainey-Capper labeling bills, and these bills fall of their own weight of absurdity and impossibility.

1. All fabrics in interstate commerce and purporting to contain wool, whether made in the United States or imported, to be stamped on the back of every yard of such fabric, showing the proportions of new wool and shoddy contained therein.

2. Samples of such goods to be examined in the Bureau of Chemistry or the Bureau of Standards to determine whether the information stamped on the fabrics is correct, the officer or analyst to certify under oath as to the result of such examination.

3. New wool designated as "virgin wool” is defined as wool never previously spun or woven into cloth.

“Shoddy" defined as wool, cotton, silk, or other fiber that has been previously spun or woven into cloth, and also as flax, hemp, jute, wood, fur, feathers, and hair, whether or not previously spun or woven into cloth.

Cotton or silk that has not been previously spun or woven into cloth is “cotton" or "silk," not "shoddy.".

4. All manufacturers of goods purporting to contain wool to be numbered by the Government, and any manufacturer whose goods are found in interstate commerce to be unstamped or falsely labeled under the act, and any person who shall sell or offer to sell goods found to be unstamped or falsely labeled, and any manufacturer of such goods shipping his products without having his number registered by the Government shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by fine or imprisonment or both.

What would you think of such men?_With the facts stated above in mind, I ask you to decide what punishment you would measure out to the perjurer who in order to keep a job in the Bureau of Chemistry or the Bureau of Standards would take his oath that a sample of cloth he had examined contained so much wool, cotton, or silk fiber that had never been previously spun or woven into cloth, and so much fiber, wool, cotton, or silk that had been previously spun or woven into cloth, and would

take this oath knowing that in all probability it would subject to fine or to imprisonment or to both fine and imprisonment some innocent human being engaged in the essential industry of producing the clothing that the American people, including the perjurer, wear on their backs.

And what would you call a man who in order to get a job in the Bureau of Chemistry or in the Bureau of Standards says he knows how to distinguish and determine the proportions of these materials when mixed in a fabric, with such certainty and accuracy as to warrant his taking oath to the proportion of each material for the purpose of punishing someone by fine and imprisonment for having certified to other than the correct proportions?

And yet the promoters of these labeling bills have the effrontery to call them "the truth-in-fabric law.”

Fortunately the public and the manufacturers of wool goods are protected against such legislation as the French-Rainey-Capper labeling absurdities by the fact that few, if any, human beings could be found so base as to take oath to the proportions of new and remanufactured materials entering into the manufacture of wool goods submitted for examination as provided by these bills.

A challenge to the acid test.--If there is any member of your committee who has any doubts as to this conclusion from the facts I have stated, and if more than three analysts in the Bureau of Chemistry or the Bureau of Standards are so ignorant as to think they can determine the proportions of new and remanufactured materials in samples of wool goods submitted to them, I ask that you put this entire question of labeling wool goods to the following simple and conclusive test:

I will supply your comniittee with good-sized samples of, say, 12 woven fabrics purporting to contain wool, your committee to submit all of these samples for analysis to each one of a group consisting of not less than three analysts in the two bureaus under conditions that will prevent any one of them from gaining knowledge of the results reached by any of the others until after all of them have made their reports to your committee. The reports, at least three, thus obtained by your committee on the constituent parts of each one of the fabrics to be made public in order that the discrepancies between them may prove that none of them is entitled to any confidence whatever.

I feel sure, however, that such a test will not be necessary, but that the facts which can be easily verified by you will be enough to show the absurdity and impossibility of enforcing these bills if placed on the statute books.

Some propositions are so utterly ridiculous that an attempt to point out all of their absurdities serves only to obscure the fundamental objections. For this reason I will make but passing reference to a few relatively minor defects of this proposed labeling legislation. Under these hills wool and yarn could be knit into a fabric that could be sold without labeling, but a fabric woven or a garment knit from the same yarn must be labeled under penalty of fine and imprisonnient for false labeling; new wool or shoddy if spun and woven into cloth must be labeled, but if manufactured into felt articles, such as hats, shoes, slippers, etc., need not be labeled; shearlings with a fiber about one-fourth inch long from the wool pulling establishments of the Chicago packers would be classed as “virgin wool," while mohair, long, lustrous, and expensive, like silk, a fiber de luxe, would be stamped with the opprobrious name of "shoddy," a classification of special interest, say, to the Representative of the fifteenth congres sional district of Texas, the evidence of whose fostering care of the Angora goat is to be found in Schedule K of the Underwood tariff law; the finest flax, retted in the Lys and spun or woven for the first time into a fabric with wool, becomes "shoddy," but lint from seed cotton when spun or woven into a fabric with wool remains "cotton." The framers of these bills evidently think that flax has no friends, while cotton has hosts of friends-in Congress.

The labeling bills are sprinkled with such stupidities as there, which, bad as they are, look small compared with the fundamental defects to which I wish to direct your particular attention.

What is back of the labeling bills?-How does it happen that a public opinion of such strength and persistence is aroused in support of such a stupidly impossible plan as that proposed by these bills? The insistent demand for this legislation is due to a combination of several influences:

1. First, the just demand of the public for protection against misrepresentation and fraud in the sale, not only of wool goods, but of all kinds of goods.

2. The prejudice against reclaimed wool by reason of the fact that the name "shoddy" is a synonym for reclaimed wool and for what is inferior or fraudulent. This is avoided in the French and German languages, which designate "shoddy" as laine renaissance (reclaimed wool) and Kunstwolle (artificial wool).

3. The belief on the part of the wool growers that goods containing reclaimed wool (shoddy) are sold at as high a price as goods made of new wool, and that if the consumer knew what fabrics contained reclaimed wool, the increased demand for goods made of all new wool would raise the price of the wool the grower has for sale. The following extracts from recent letters from the Northwest give an idea of how this agitation is worked up among the woolgrowers:

“Numerous meetings are being held on the shoddy agitation by many of the county associations, and representatives of the National Sheep and Wool Bureau of Chicago address the sheepmen on the iniquities of shoddy. These agitators work the woolgrowers up into a fury by telling them that the ragman is ruining their industry.

"A large amount of ‘slush money' has already been raised and the woolgrowers' associations throughout the country are assessing their members 1 cent per head of sheep. Taking the large flocks in the West into consideration this will mean a large sum of money when collected.

“The foolish woolgrowers have got the impression from these agitators that the proposed bill would rapidly influence woolen manufacturers to discontinue the use of shoddy, and more than double the present quantity of shorn wool would then be used at much higher prices than what are being paid at present.”

The woolgrowers of the United States produce annually about 300,000,000 pounds of grease wool, which will yield approximately 110,000,000 pounds of scoured wool, which in 1917 amounted to barely 25 per cent of the wool (scoured weight) retained for consumption in this country. This wool will shrink about 30 per cent by manufacturing it into cloth, making an annual production of 77,000,000 pounds of cloth to protect 100,000,000 people, against the rigors of this climate, 12.3 ounces per year for each person. That quantity, say a square yard of a light weight fabric, might make a respectable loin cloth. It is plain from these figures that not only the comfort, but the very existence of the great majority of the population of the United States depends on the reclaiming and remanufacture of wool into wool goods, for the average per capita allowance (14 ounces) of wool cloth for the population of the world outside of the tropics is but little more than that in the United States.

Could producers of any of the necessaries of life place themselves in a more ridiculous position than that now occupied by the deluded woolgrowers of the United States? Producing annually wool for but 12 ounces of cloth per capita to clothe the population of a country in which clothing is so vital a necessity, they are organizing to place the stamp of inferiority on reclaimed wool, much of which is superior to the new wool which they have for sale, and are doing this outrageous thing in frenzied defiance of the plain fact that their object is unattainable. And they are doing this at a time when as a result of the greatest of wars and the decline of sheep raising in this country and abroad, the price of wool and the cost of living have risen to unheard of heights, with the result that the struggle for existence everywhere has become, not only immeasurably more severe, but has become hopeless for a considerable portion of humanity

As I write these words there lies before me a sample of wool goods, marketed as all new wool, which these bills propose to stamp as “virgin wool," bearing the label of a firm of manufacturers whose spokesman is the most obstreperous of the agitators who are deluding the woolgrowers, a sample of unfinished cheviot, made of quarter-blood wool, spun not finer than 21 runs, with 34 ends and 35 picks per inch, and which is sold at wholesale for $3.40 per pound, shedding a significant light on the mainspring of action behind this labeling propaganda.

The woolgrowers of the far West deserve sympathy rather than censure. They are victims of weak, ignorant, and avaricious leadership such as has marked their organized activities for the past 55 years

4. To the three positive influences named above, which for 20 years have aroused the clamor for the labeling of wool goods, must be added the general apathy of wool manufacturers, who, knowing the impossibility of enforcing such laws, treat the proposition with indifference or contempt. They know that the Government can no more enforce such a law than it can compel the employees of the Bureau of Chemistry and the Bureau of Standards to make an accurate map of the backside of the moon.

An exception to the general a pathy.-One exception to the general apathy among wool manufacturers must be noted. There is one mill making goods, said to be made of new wool and sold under the name of “virgin wool," whose managers have taken a very active interest in the use of reclaimed wool and in working up sentiment on this question among the consumers. Their representative has gone around the country preaching the false doctrine that a fabric made of new wool is necessarily better than one into which reclaimed wool has gone, and that the consumer can judge the intrinsic value of wool clothing from the proportion of new wool which it contains. This particular

177735—20— 35

promoter of the propaganda has not hesitated to appeal to the selfish desire of woolgrowers for a wool famine and higher prices, in order to arouse interest in the campaign for what they call “virgin wool fabrics," the following extract from one of his recent addresses before an audience of woolgrowers in the far West being an example: is

"If manufacturers used virgin wool instead of shoddy, all the virgin wool that accumulated during the war, and all the virgin wool produced in the world in the year 1919, would long ago have been made up into cloth, and the woolgrower would not, as now, need to worry about antidumping laws; there would be no wool to dump."

From beginning to end their appeals have been burdened with the words "virgin wool” to distinguish new wool from reclaimed wool, which they are equally insistent on calling "shoddy."

One reason for the agitation. Now, what is the bearing of these facts on the labeling bills before your committee? It is that the name “virgin wool" as distinguished from "shoddy," misleading as I have pointed out to you, is the trade name under which the wool goods manufactured by these particular promoters of propaganda are sold, and that the French-Rainey-Capper bills propose to give the prestige of a United States law to this trade name “virgin wool," and also to the false assumption that new wool, thus designated by the name “virgin," necessarily means superiority in wool fabrics. Furthermore, these bills propose to give additional support to the campaign of these manufacturers by incorporating in the law of the United States the same word "shoddy,” which the promoters of this propaganda use to create the false idea that goods containing reclaimed wool, thus designated by the word "shoddy," are necessarily inferior to goods made of new wool.

Before passing on these bills I ask that your committee determine the effect of incorporating in the law of the country the misleading terms “virgin wool” and "shoddy” to distinguish new wool and reclaimed wool, and whether by so designating new wool, Congress would not be creating the extraordinary situation by which a private trade-mark, protected by common or statute law, would receive the high sanction of the United States law as the only legal designation of fabrics made of new

wool.

A premium on dishonesty. Under the French-Rainey-Capper bills detection of false labeling would be impossible because of the facts I have already stated. A premium would thus be placed on dishonesty. The dishonest manufacturer could place the “virgin wool” label on goods made of say 75 per cent of reclaimed wool and thus profit by the unfounded prejudice in favor of new wool and against reclaimed wool. The honest manufacturer making goods in which there was 10 per cent of reclaimed wool would place the “shoddy” label on the goods and thus suffer from the consequences of his honesty and the prejudice against reclaimed wool. And the consumer? He would be defrauded in both cases.

How to protect the consumer.-Although the French-Rainey:Capper bills are utterly unworkable there still remains the pressing need of protection to the consumer, particularly at the present time when the cost of living has become so high as to prove not only a heavy burden to the people, but a menace to the public peace. The consumers do indeed need protection against misrepresentation and fraud in the sale, not only of wool goods, but of all kinds of products that enter into the cost of living, and the producers also need the same protection in the purchase of materials that go into the manufacture of their products. Wool, cotton, silk, hemp and jute goods, knit, braided and felted fabrics, as well as woven cloths, foodstuffs, building materials, all the articles that are offered for sale at wholesale as well as retail, supply illustrations of the need of laws, State as well as national, that will protect the people of this country against misrepresentation and fraud.

To give them this protection so far as Congress can give it, I ask that your committee recommend the enactment of a law based on a principle which has successfully stood the test of actual experience in other countries, that of prohibiting, under penalty of fine or imprisonment or both, the false labeling and false representation, oral or written, of products of all kinds offered for sale in interstate commerce. Such a law has protected the British public since 1887 and on it have been inodeled laws in most of the British colonies and dominions. A bill based on this principle and evidently modeled after the English merchandise marks act, has been introduced by Hon. 1. W. Barkley and is now before your committee. I ask you to perfect it, for it needs amendment, and then report it favorably to the House of Representatives. That would be a practical step for the relief of the consumers of the country. It would be an example in interstate commerce that the States should follow in intrastate trade. The FrenchRainey-Capper bills propose a visionary and impossible scheme, never attempted in this or any other country, and which now finds its support in the misinformation of the public and the greed of special interests.

SAMUEL S. DALE.

LETTER FROM THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF WASTE MATERIAL DEALERS (INC.).

New YORK, March 19, 1920. Hon. JOHN J. Esch,

Chairman Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, Washington, D. C. Dear Sir: Your letter of March 13 received and I beg to thank you for your courtesy in advising me in reference to when this organization could appear before your committee.

Since writing you I have had an opportunity to place the matter before the woolen rag division of this association and after careful and thorough discussion, we have decided to simply write you this letter formally protesting againet the propoeed legislation. We believe, however, that ('ongress might well determine its course of action by the information it will undoubtedly receive from manufacturers whose interests would be so materially affected by any such legislation.

Were woolen rag graders to actively work against the legislation proposed, we feel that they might be misunderstood by the general public. Notwithstanding all the false statements which have appeared in the press in reference to the deception practiced by rag dealers, it is hardly possible that any man with ordinary intelligence would believe that there was any possible chance for deception so far as the rag man is concerned. Certainly the consumers of rags will tell your committee that they never are deceived as to what kind of rags they are using; therefore if there is any deception the rag man must be left out of it.

I inclose a number of articles on this subject which may be of interest to your committee, as they have a bearing on the view which this association holds in reference to the matter. This organization has but one request to make in reference to this entire proposition, namely, that if your committee and if Congress comes to the conclusion that such legislation is necessary, that you see that the word “shoddy” is eliminated from any bill and the words “reworked wool” substituted, otherwise you will do an injustice to the rag and reworked wool dealer, as well as to the general public. Shoddy, as it is understood by the general public, no more conveys the real truth as to what 90 per cent of the fabric made out of woolen rags is than would any other word which might be haphazardly picked out of the dictionary.

Thanking you for the attention and consideration which I know your committee will give this communication, I am, Cordially, yours,

Chas. M. HASKINS, Secretary.

Following is an editorial which appeared in the New York Journal of November 20, together with a reply to same by the secretary of this association. This is sent you for your information. The picture referred to was the cartoon showing the alleged distribution of the money spent by the public for clothing, with which you are probably familiar.

CHARLES M. Haskins, Secretary.

(Editorial.)

TOO LITTLE FOR THE SHEEP MEN, TOO MUCH FOR THE SHEARERS-THE "SHEARERS"

ARE THE CUNNING GENTLEMEN THAT SELL SHODDY AND OLD RAGS UNDER THE NAME OF "CLOTH."

This picture comes from Alexander Walker, intelligently interested in the National Sheep and Wool Bureau of America.

At the top of the picture you see the money that the public spends for pure wool, the money that ought to go to the men that raise sheep, and the honest manufacturers that sell good cloth.

Below, at the right-hand corner, you see the little driblets of money coming through to the sheep men. At the left-hand corner you see the large stream of cash flowing down to the gentlemen that manufacture “shoddy."

This picture tells its own story plainly enough and emphasizes once more the fact that it is necessary for the people, through their national and local governments, to protect themselves and interfere with the public plunderers.

The sheep industry in the United States has dwindled, partly because individuals are allowed to amuse themselves raising dogs that kill and worry the sheep, partly because swindlers that make dishonest cloth keep using the same old rags over and

« ForrigeFortsett »