Baltimore Evening Sun (24 June 1911): 6.


The lesson for the day is from the Manu-smriti, the seventh chapter, the two hundred and fifth verse.

According to Jacob Epstein, who should know all that is worth knowing about such matters, the average wage paid to staff employes by Baltimore wholesale houses is the stupendous sum of $13 a week. Mr. Epstein says that by staff employes he means office clerks, stock clerks, house salesmen and stenographers. Traveling salesman and department heads are not included. Such magnificoes, no doubt, get a good deal more. But for clerks, high and low, $13 is the average. In New York city, says Mr. Epstein, the average wage for the same class of workers is $19.50, or exactly 50 per cent. more than the clerks of Baltimore get.

The difference, says Mr. Epstein, is due to the fact that the cost of living is greater in New York than in Baltimore. But is it really 50 per cent. greater? Let us try to find out by examining the wages paid in the great unionized industries—wages which very accurately reflect general living conditions. I take figures supplied by Mr. Epstein himself. He shows, for example, that Baltimore plumbers get $3.15 for eight hours’ work, while those of Now York get $4.21. But the difference here, it quickly appears on inspection, is not 50 per cent., but 32 per cent—and in no other trade is there a difference above 30 per cent. Here are Mr. Epstein’s figures:

  Baltimore. New York. Difference.
Carpenters $2.96 $3.76 28%
Machinists 2.54 3.04 20%
Clothing cutters 2.70 3.17 18%
Painters 3.00 3.45 15%
Bricklayers 5.00 5.06 1%

There seems to be some error about the bricklayers; no doubt those of New York get wages nearer $6 a day than $5.06. Allowing them $6, it follows that they receive 20 per cent. more than their Baltimore brethren. Now, strike an average of the six skilled trades discussed—and it appears that the difference in wages between Baltimore and New York is not 50 per cent., but a bit more than 22 per cent. In other words, the Baltimore clerk, compared to other Baltimore workers, is underpaid by 22 per cent., even admitting, as Mr. Epstein argues, that there is to a substantial difference in living costs in the two cities.

If you want to go into the matter further, examine Mr. Epstein’s article for yourself. It appears in the current issue of the Old Bay Line Magazine, a monthly issued by the Baltimore Steam Packet Company. In the same issue you will find an interesting note by Waldo Newcomer, president of the National Exchange Bank, upon certain errors persistently made by the amateur economists of this, our fair city. Why doesn’t Mr. Newcomer write a couple of explanatory articles for one of the local newspapers—say, The Evening Sun? They would do a lot of good, for he seems to have something to say and to know how to say it.

A board of censors for the local moving-picture parlors seems to be one of the certainties of day after tomorrow. Just how a board of three men will manage to inspect all of the films shown in the city each week, or even half of them, is so far unexplained. But a little detail of that sort need not halt a moral jehad. The aim of such crusades, as everyone knows, to not to accomplish results, but merely to strike postures and emit affecting music.

Meanwhile there are many Baltimoreans (including, I believe. Mayor Preston) who hold that the present demand for a censorship is but ill supported by the facts. How many positively indecent and demoralising pictures are shown here during the average week? If any at all, where are they shown? Why, to brief, don’t the crusaders come forward with names and dates—and turn their evidence over to the grand jury? Whether or not we have a law specifically forbidding improper representations in theatres, it must be obvious that any gross violation of public decency, whatever its character or scene, is an indictable offense. If such offenses are being committed, why are not the offenders brought to book?

As matter of fact, most of the present complaints are probably coming from persons of exaggerated and preposterous sensitiveness—from persons whose noses are so miraculously acute that they smell indecency in almost everything. Not long ago, for example, I heard a man complain against a certain moving-picture film on the ground that it represented a case of marital infelicity, ending in fisticuffs and flight, and that children should be kept from all knowledge of such things. Could anything be more ridiculous? How many children of 10 years are yet unaware that married folk sometimes fall out, that wives sometimes take new husbands and husbands new wives. Every second American family and every American neighborhood has its domestic tragedy and scandal, its divorced couple. What good would be accomplished by withholding all knowledge of such dreary commonplaces of life from the young?

If there are any parents who feel that their children would be better off without such knowledge, let them forbid their children to go to moving-picture shows altogether. But let them then prove their sincerity by extending that prohibition to the public schools, the Sunday-schools, the playgrounds, the streets and all other places where the young of the human species congregate. The only way, in brief, to bring up a child in such utter and chemically pure ignorance as these connoisseurs of impropriety dream of is to cut off its ears, put out its eyes, deprive it of all books, bore a hole in its head and empty its brains.

If all the committees appointed by the Merchants and Manufacturers’ Association since January 1, 1889, were mustered in one horde, they would fill seven and two-thirds Fifth Regiments armories, and the light of high resolve in their eyes would pale the sun. And if all the resolutions passed by the Merchants and Manufacturers’ Association since January 1, 1889, were engrossed on parchment and piled in a heap, a man standing on top of that heap could suck the Milky Way through a straw.

Specimens of the American language as she is spoken:

You ain’t no tireder than I am.

Them sort of things don’t make no difference.

It ain’t what you usen’t to do, but what you do do.

Battle-cry of the travelers marooned in Baltimore over Sunday:

See Baltimore—and run!

Contributions to the new dictionary of synonyms for bald head:

Sky scraper, Minaret,
Plaza, Infield,
Shell, Desert,
Icing, Slide.