« ForrigeFortsett »
it, they do not care. So it is not the consumer who is interesting them, apparently, at all; it is the grower himself, asking for all he can get.
Second, our committee must determine whether or not the well being of the woolgrower as such makes it necessary for us to pass a law which will help him get what he wants to get in times when he otherwise would not. get it. Isn't that about it?
Mr. French. I do not believe that it is as broad as the chairman has indicated, as to the woolgrowers' desire that the legislation should pass. I think that the woolgrowers are desirous that the legislation
f>ass. For instance, this very gentlemen who was in my office about our months ago, and who then stated orally that he thought that rather than press the matter vigorously, he would be glad to see a trial made of the Lodge bill, wrote me within, say, the last 15 days, saying if necessary he would come down and testify before the committee, because he was interested. On the other hand, he indicated in his letter that he would be glad to be spared the expense necessary if it could be avoided. He is interested in the legislation, but the situation to-day is such, the prospects such as he sees it under the pending bill in the Senate, that he did not feel like coming to the committee as he did four years ago.
The Chairman. That is fair. Now, another question from me. Do you feel that it would be possible, and maybe wise, in the event of an affirmative action by the committee in respect of these bills, a dozen or so, more or less related, to endeavor to frame an omnibus bill which would cover all, rather than have it specifically a truth in fabric bill, and specifically half a dozen other bills, but in lieu of all that, have one misbranding bill?
Mr. French. I believe a thing of that kind could be worked out, and wherever it is possible to incorporate principles in short space, that it is best to do it. I have no objection to either the Lodge or the Rogers or the Barclay bill; I would vote for either one of them. They are not in conflict with this bill. On the other hand, I think if possible that there should be a compulsory feature in either bill; that the Rogers bill should include the amendments that are now in the Lodge bill. Then with compulsory features touching, branding and marking, it would go a long ways to meet the situation.
The Chairman. If such an omnibus bill could be drafted wisely, would you feel that the administration of the whole matter could be carried on just as well and at less expense to the Government, misbranding and truth in fabric, all under one inspection?
Mr. French. Well, coupled with your first preamble, if it could be drafted wisely, probably there should be but one answer.
The Chairman. Yes; subject to that anyway?
Mr. French. Surely. And if it could be done, I think it would be in the best interests all around to have one enforcement program, one enforcement branch of officers, one law that would include the factors in which many are interested.
The Chairman. So that the side of authorship or any consideration of that kind would not affect approval of an omnibus bill if one was drafted?
Mr. French. Not so far as I am concerned.
Mr. Hoch. I would like to have your idea as to what the probable effect of a law of this sort would be upon the quality and price of clothing upon the market, and I want to ask one or two questions leading up to that.
I understand that it is practically impossible for the ordinary
fturchaser now to distinguish between a suit of clothes that is made rom virgin wool and that which is made from shoddy. Is that true*
Mr. French. I think that is true.
Mr. Hoch. Is it also a correct statement to say that as a general proposition it costs more to make a suit of clothes from virgin wool than it does from shoddy?
Mr. French. With regard to making the fabric; yes. Beyond the fabric stage I would not say that there is a difference in cost. The chances are that the tailor would put more time, more pains, more money on the fine suit than on the poor suit, but in the making of the fabric itself, it is more expensive to make the virgin wool, on account of the prices of the raw materials.
Mr. Hoch. If that is true, then the man who makes a suit of clothes and uses fabric from virgin wool has unfair competition with the man who makes a suit of clothes made from fabric made out of shoddy. That is true, is it not?
Mr. French. Yes.
Mr. Hoch. Now, if we had a law of this sort so that the customer would know whether he is getting virgin wool or getting shoddy, would the effect be to increase the price of the clothes made from virgin wool, or to decrease the price of clothes made from shoddy, or both, in your judgment?
Mr. French. I think that the first reaction would be both ways. I think that virgin wool clothing would be increased in price; I think that shoddy clothing would be decreased in price, and again, the articles would be placed in competition with each other. The public would soon learn to appraise the value of clothing made from shoddy or from reworked material, and to appraise the value of goods made from virgin wool.
Mr. Hoch. Are there concerns which are now able to compete with other concerns, and do compete, concerns which use virgin wool exclusively in clothing?
Mr. French. I understand so; yes.
Mr. Hoch. Yet they are able to compete with other concerns that use shoddy?
Mr. French. I understand that they do at this time; yes.
Mr. Hoch. Well, what does that indicate, simply a higher state of efficiency in their business, or does it indicate that the man who manufactures clothes from shoddy is getting too much of a profit?
Mr. French. I think that it indicates the latter, probably, more than the former, and it also indicates that the public at this time is not generally informed as to the difference between the two, making it easier for the manufacturer who produces products made of reworked material to sell it under the guise of wool in the same market with the virgin-wool manufacturer.
Mr. Hoch. Do you think there would be more clothes marketed of virgin wool than there are now if this law were enacted?
Mr. French. I think immediately there would be; yes; I think there would probably all along—certainly immediately.
Mr. Hoch. Of course, if that were true, that would increase the demand for wool, and presumably increase the price of wool.
Mr. French. I think it would to some extent.
The Chairman. That seems to be all, Mr. French. We are greatly obliged to you.
Mr. French. I want to thank the gentlemen of the committee for their patience, and I think you will bear witness that most of the time I have been before you has not been at my own request.
STATEMENT OF HON. B. CARROLL REECE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TENNESSEE
The Chairman. We will now hear Mr. Reece. Mr. Reece is the introducer of H. R. 4141. Do you wish to make your statement first of all, without interruption, Mr. Reece?
Mr. Reece. Yes. At the time I introduced my bill I had not made a study of the similar bills which had been introduced. I have looked at this question from the consumer's viewpoint, consequently it was intended to protect the consumer, and that was the sole purpose that I had in mind in introducing the bill. It has not gone into some of the intricate details that are found in Mr. French's bill. It is based, however, on the same general principles. As you have noticed, it relates to three specific things, wool, silk, and leather, differing in that respect from Mr. French's bill, and of course it is a compulsory branding bill, differing in that respect from Senator Lodge's or Mr. Rogers's bill.
I think that if a bill of this general nature is to be passed, it ought to include leather as well as the other materials, which have been discussed before your committee, and it is my idea that the branding should relate, of course, only to the principal material contained in shoes, for instance.
Mr. Mapes. Will you repeat that statement, please? Mr. Reece. I say, the branding should relate only to the principal material which makes up the composition of the shoe. It should not. of course, include the eyes and thread and tacks and those things, My observation as to shoes, as a consumer, is that the average buyer generally buys a pair of shoes with the understanding and the expectation that it is leather, and if the shoe is not—if the content of the shoe is not marked, that idea is most always given, and I think most of the buyers of shoes, especially the country buyers, can make the purchase more on price than on their ability to judge the quality of the shoe, and it appears to me that it is fair and just that the consumer should be protected. If a pair of shoes is purchased and they contain paper or faulty material, usually the purchaser of that type of shoe is a man who subjects his shoes to hard wear, exposes them, and the result is that he gets practically no value out of his purchase. Anyway, I can not see the objection that a manufacturer could put forth in being required to mark the content of the shoe.
It may be that certain material could be used which would be better than poor leather in certain parts of the shoe, but if that is true, and so indicated, the purchaser still gets the value that he would get if they were not so marked.
The same arguments apply, in my judgment, to all the provisions of the bill which I introduced, and my interest is that when the law is enacted, it be made to apply to these three articles. It is also my judgment that there should he compulsory branding instead of the so-called misbranding, It is not my purpose to take the time of the committee going into details, because the general provisions of this bill have been covered by Mr. French, who introduced the other bill.
The Chairman. Are there any questions to ask Mr. Reece?
Mr. Hoch. Just a few questions on details.
I notice Mr. Reece in the bill, in the first section, the second section, and also the third, it seems to have been an oversight there, an omission of the word '"State." The first section provides " that every manufacturer of shoes and other articles of footwear purporting to be made of leather within a Territory of the United States or the District of Columbia, shall before offering such articles for sale or for transportation to any State or the District of Columbia"— you do not intend to limit that to shoes offered for sale from a Territory or the District of Columbia?
Mr. Reece. No; that is an oversight. That should be corrected.
The Chairman. Mr. Reece, would you interpret the last two lines and a half of paragraph 1 and likewise another paragraph, as indicating that everything in the shoe, other than leather, would have to be set out on a tag? For instance, the duck lining on the inside of an upper, or the steel that might be put into the shank, or the hooks that might be put into the shoe lor lacing up purposes, or the nails, or the thread? From this language it would seem to me that every one of those things would have to be indicated if it was not leather.
Mr. Reece. My idea was that only the principal materials should be marked, and of course that change would have to be made in that language.
The Chairman. You want to have the committee undertake that?
Mr. Reece. Well, that was an oversight on my part when the paragraph was drawn.
The Chairman. That appeal's to be pretty much what you have indicated in respect of the others.
Mr. Reece. Yes.
The Chairman. In the case of leather, this makes marking compulsory, does it not?
Mr. Reece. Yes, sir.
The Chairman. On every article that is made and sold.
Mr. Reece. Unless it is made of pure material. If it is all wool or all silk, it is not required.
The Chairman. You do not allow freedom of either marking or not marking, if they choose, but you have everything marked.
Mr. Reece. Everything is to be marked unless it is of pure material.
The Chairman. According to that, if we happen to have in a cloth a sizing and some cotton and some shoddy and some virgin wool—which may be an impossible combination, but it may be possible on the other hand—your bill provides that everything other than virgin wool should be set forth in some sort of a tag, and hitched on to every suit of clothes and every bolt of cloth that might come on the market.
Mr. Reece. No, sir; my bill does not refer to virgin wool.
Tho Chairman. Then you would embody all wool and shoddy in t he same class as virgin wool when it comes to the tag?
Mr. Reece. Well, my original idea was that that should be done, and the other thought never occurred to me, probably because I do not have technical knowledge concerning the different types of wool which might go into manufacture.
The Chairman. With a view to the omission on your part —which I am sure was inadvertent—would you still think that every pair of shoes should be tagged or stamped showing the different substances in them, to hold them together, and so on, and in a piece of cloth, which might contain several other ingredients than wool, that there should be on every article manufactured in this country and its possessions, Territories, and the District of Columbia, a tag or mark showing its composition, and had you any thought of the tremendous expense of doing that for the producers, for the great variety of things that are manufactured?
Mr. Reece. It had not occurred to me that there would be a great variety of material that would be necessary to be marked.
The Chairman. You can take an article like shoes. We have canvas shoes or shoes made of part canvas and part leather, a very
Eopular sport shoe, and in it there may be a steel shank. They may ave a lot of tilings that go to make up that shoe, and a great variety of them. The manufacturer would have to have the schedule of each shoe and everything that went into it. He would have to have a tag prepared for each grade and variety of shoe, and have them marked and keep them marked all down the line to the consumer. That would be an endless stockroom full of tags to be marked and printed up and entered and tied on. It would require clerks galore. There would probably be tens of thousands of clerks employed in this country to do all that, covering every single article that comes under the heads that you have treated here.
Mr. Reece. Of course, the chairman has much more technical knowledge about manufacturing shoes and a great many other things than I have.
The Chairman. I am not giving you a lecture on it; I am simply trying to call your attention to what would happen, maybe, under the provisions of the bill.
Mr. Reece. It occurred to me that most of the manufacturers of shoes had their products more or less standardized, and that the box, if the material was to be marked on the box, could be manufactured showing these different kinds of material that enter into the composition of the shoe, and it would require no effort in the case of each individual shoe.
The Chairman. Now, let me show you. This is in the interest of clarifying the matter. I am not trying to double-cross you here.
Mr. Reece. I know.
The Chairman. You have in here the words "the amount and kind of material." We have shoes running from 1, children's size up to 13, and then they begin for adults and run up to 13 again, so far as I know, and you say "the amount and kind of material other than leather used in its manufacture." In each shoe there may be a little piece of steel in the shank to keep that arch up where it belongs. According to this language, you would have to know the weight of the steel in every pair of shoes of every size, so many ounces in an 8