Baltimore Evening Sun (22 June 1911): 6.


The lesson of the day is from the Book of Proverbs, the sixth chapter, beginning with the ninth and ending with the eleventh verse.

From a report by the Hon. Thomas G. Boggs, secretary at the Merchants and Manufacturers’ Association:

Our committee is in the midst of its hard work. It has made no report. No action has yet been taken.

Thus history repeats itself, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

And yet even so solemn and windy an organization, once it settles down to hard work, can accomplish a lot. Mr. Boggs presents, for example, figures showing the splendid success of the spring rebate movement. One hundred and one wholesale houses, members of the association, joined in establishing a rebate bureau, and that bureau offered to pay the fare (that is, one way) of any merchant who would come to Baltimore and buy at least $1,200 worth of goods from the subscribing members. When the offer expired by limitation, on April 15, no fewer than 1,007 merchants had accepted it, and their total purchases reached the large sum of $1,777,336.67. The net cost of bringing them here was $11,489.93, which made the selling cost work out to less than two-thirds of 1 per cent.

The following table shows the States from which the 1,007 visiting merchants hailed:

North Carolina296 Tennessee16
Virginia221 Maryland9
South Carolina138 Kentucky8
West Virginia119 Ohio3
Georgia108 Mississippi3
Florida31 Arkansas2
Pennsylvania28 Louisiana2
Alabama22 Texas1

No doubt this table offers a pretty accurate clue as to the distribution of Baltimore’s jobbing trade. North Carolina has been our best customer, per capita, since the opening of railroads. Baltimore is nearer to that State than any other great city—and the North Carolinians have no cities of their own. Charlotte, their metropolis, has but 34,000 population—which ranks it with such obscure towns as Newcastle, Pa.; Jamestown, N. Y.; Everett, Mass., and East Orange. N. J. There is no room in a town of that sort for large and diversified jobbing houses. So North Carolina buys in Baltimore—and finds the market a good one and a cheap one.

It is curious to note that more merchants came from Pennsylvania than from either Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana or Texas. Perhaps our Baltimore wholesalers, intent upon tearing the South to tatters, have been overlooking a more promising market nearer home. Pennsylvania is a huge and opulent State–a fat cow waiting eternally for the commercial dairy maid. A bit of exploration in that direction might do no harm. Perhaps it would even suggest a way to punish Philadelphia for stealing the Eastern Shore.

“Under the influence of a large dose of haschisch,” says Professior Stout in his “Analytic Psychology,” Vol. 1, page 14, “I found myself totally unable to distinguish between what I actually did and saw, and what I merely thought about.” By which it appears that haschisch has precisely the same effect as psychical research.

Discoursing the other day upon the statistics printed in those two interesting volumes, the Anti-Saloon League Year-Book and “The Text-Book of True Temperance” of the United States Brewers’ Association, I pointed out a number of curious and amazing discrepancies between them. A further examination shows that there are further discrepancies and absurdities within the limits of each volume. In other words, neither the Anti-Saloon statistician nor the brewers’ statistician is able to state his own case without letting slip a few arguments for the other fellow.

In the “True Temperance” book, for example, there is a long table showing the mortality from alcoholism in various American States, and from it it appears that the death rate in rural Colorado, which is nearly all dry, is nearly four times that in rural New Jersey, which is practically all wet. Again it appears that the death rate from alcoholism in the cities of Maine, which are all dry, is nearly 50 per cent. more than that in the cities of Maryland, which are all wet.

So far, so good. But a more extended inspection of the table also shows that the death rate in the rural districts of Rhode Island, which are nearly all wet, is more than five times that in the rural districts of Indiana, which are nearly all dry. To find a rate as high as Rhode Island’s, indeed, one must go to Colorado—which is dry! What is the student to do in the presence of such absurdities?

The brewers’ book is carefully edited, but all the same a number of contradictions, more direct and lamentable than that just cited, have crept into it. On page 167, for example, it is stated that the death rate from alcoholism in Maine, between 1880 and 1890, increased from 1.57 to 2.41, while on page 217 it is stated that the rate increased from 1.08 to 2.16. Which set of figures is correct? Or is either correct? And supposing one or the other to be correct, what does it prove?

The statistics of pauperism, like the statistics of alcoholism, quickly set the reader’s head to spinning. The brewers’ book, for example, shows that in prohibition Maine the paupers in almshouses number 163 in every 100,000 of population, while in boozy New Jersey they number but 94. But the brews’ book falls to show (which the Anti-Saloon League book does show) that in liquorish Connecticut they number 256 and in rummy Rhode Island no less than 829. Here is another problem. Does alcohol cause or prevent pauperism? In Rhode Island it seems to do the one thing and in New Jersey the other.

On the square issue of facts the rival books often come together with great noise. There is, for example, the matter of pauperism in Kansas. The Anti-Saloon League book, quoting Gov. W. R. Stubbs, alleges that in 57 out of the 105 counties of Kansas the poor farms and almshouses are deserted and points to this fact as a striking testimonial to the economic benefits of prohibition. But the brewers’ handbook answers at once with the charge that the farmers of Kansas are too stingy to keep their local paupers, and that, in consequence, the latter are all sent to the State insane asylums. “When a Kansan,” it says, “finds himself within the shadow of the poorhouse, he is immediately adjudged insane.” And so the poor farms run to weeds and the lunatic asylums bulge.

H. L. Mencken