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would progress more rapidly if each individual having a statement to make is permitted to make the statement without interruption, the questioning to follow the completion of the statement, if any questions or interrogatories are to be put. In order to bring the matter before the Commission and have a disposition made of it at this time, I move that the person invited to make a statement be allowed to make that statement complete without any interruption. The CHAIRMAN. If there is no objection, that will be the sense of the Commission. If there is present the representative of a periodical who desires to make any request or statement before we proceed to hear Mr. Madden, the Commission will be very glad to hear him. You may as well proceed. Mr. Madden.
STATEMENT OF EDWIN C. MADDEN, THIRD ASSISTANT POSTMASTER-GENEPAL.
Mr. MADDEN. Mr. Chairman and members of the Postal Commission: Under date of July 7 last you notified Postmaster-General Cortelyou of the action of Congress creating this Commission and of its object and purpose, namely, to investigate, consider, and report upon the whole subject of second-class mail matter, and you asked his cooperation in your work. His assurance thereof was promptly given. Your Commission then notified him of the line of inquiry and plan of procedure, and you asked that the Post-Office Department send a representative to your first meeting here to present its case against existing statutes. The Postmaster-General requested me as Third Assistant Postmaster-General to appear in response to that notice, and to present the case and otherwise represent the Department. That is my duty here. The subject this honorable Commission has to deal with is one of paramount importance to the postal service. An understanding of the laws and of the result or effect of their operation since their passage can not be gained without more or less elaboration. My purpose is to place the whole subject before you in the briefest possible statement, yet in a way, so comprehensive that he who desires to understand can not fail if he follows the story. It is not my intention to argue as to policy or to discuss any of the numerous theories concerning the subject. I shall make a plain unvarnished statement of the present situation and nothing more. It will be to the point and as brief as may be consistent with the importance of the matter to be presented. The Department will content itself with showing that the laws are defective, and wherein they are so, and their effect upon the service. This Commission and Congress can determine the questions of policy. Should it be your judgment, or that of Congress, that, notwithstanding the conditions, the Department should proceed to execute the laws as best it can, that course will be followed. But a solution of this great postal problem, which now so vexes the publishers, the service, and the Administration, and is the cause of such tremendous wrongs, is hoped for. The active cooperation of all citizens interested in the improvement of the postal service and in the proper and economical administration of the functions of the Government is expected. Especially are the publishers of bona fide newspapers and periodicals looked to for assistance in getting the matter properly before you. They are vitally concerned, and full weight should be given to their representations, for the publishing industry is one of the greatest. If my information be correct, these publishers will appear before you in the same spirit and with the same purpose that the Department appears—that is, to endeavor to rid the statute books of laws which are practically inoperative and substantially nonenforceable; laws which require experts to pass upon their technical distinctions, and the administration of which may vary with the degree of zeal, or the lack of it, in each new executor; laws which, though having a public purpose, are easily corrupted to private advantage: laws which, if our estimates are true or even approximately true, lose annually to the Government through their abuses alone enough money to maintain the entire Executive establishment—the Presidency and all Departments in the city of Washington—laws which, to be properly enforced, require an irritating and humiliating surveillance, scrutiny, and espionage of every publisher's private business. What is wanted is a statute free from these conditions and these difficulties; a statute which will leave as little as possible, and, if practicable, nothing to executive discretion; a statute which can be enforced; a statute the terms of which are so plain that any man may read and know for himself his rights is his limits, if any, thereunder; above all a statute which will require no inquiry into private affairs in order to fix postage rates on the matter to be transported and delivered; a statute which will deal only with the practical questions of transportation and delivery of the physical thing itself; a statute which will not permit private interests to rob the Government in the name of public benevolence. A railroad company arranges its tariff at so much per pound, according to the class of freight it is to carry. There is one rate for coal, another for flour, another for hay, and another for iron. It makes no difference what the coal, flour, hay, or iron may have cost the shipper, or whether he sells it at a profit or at a loss, or whether he gives it away, or whether he is giving part of it away and selling another part, or whether the part he is giving away is greater than the part he is selling, or whether the party to whom it is shipped has ordered it. All such things are the business of the shipper. The question for the railroad is simply that of a charge for service for the class of matter offered for shipment. There is no sound reason why the different classes of matter and the different rates charged for their carriage in the mails should not be determined on tests as simple as those which characterize the railroad and the express service. If such an ideal condition for the postal service can not be secured, the next best thing is desired. The statute should be a workable one; one that the publisher, the postmaster, and the Department may read, one in one place and one in another place, and yet have no difference of opinion as to the right it confers and its limitations. The present laws are so impracticable of correct administration, and any attempt at an execution of them was attended by such personal hazard to the executive, that for years it seems as though no effort at all was made to enforce them. It is only of late that an actual administration has been undertaken, and that administration does not pretend to go to the limits of a thorough and exact enforcement. It is of necessity only partial.
The case would be inadequately presented if I omitted a brief summary or résumé of what has been said and what has been done in the past by the Department to secure a change in these laws and to correct in some degree the wrongs that existed under them.
RÉSUMÉ OF FIFTEEN YEARS' EFFORTS TO SECURE LEGISLATIVE REFORM.
In the report of Postmaster-General Wanamaker of 1889 the first formal official declaration of the head of the Department concerning the defects of the laws governing second-class mail matter'was made. The low rate of postage and free privilege for second-class matter were dwelt upon. It was pointed out then that to get the benefit of the cheaper rate of postage a fertility of expedients had been developed to evade the law for third-class mail matter and secure the benefit of the second-class privilege. Success attended those expedients.
The effect, he said, was not only hurtful to the postal interests, but opposed to legitimate journalism. The principal evils then calling for remedy were regarded as the books masquerading under the semblance of periodical publications having made some pretense of complying with the requirements of the law as to being issued periodically from a known office of publication; being formed of printed paper sheets; not bound in cloth, leather, or other substantial binding; being originated and published for the dissemination of information of a public nature, or in the interests of literature, science, art, or some special industry; having a legitimate list of subscribers, and not being designed primarily for advertising purposes, or for free circulation, or for circulation at nominal rates, they were admitted to the second class.
In that report the Postmaster-General gave this illustration of how the legal rate of postage on books was evaded. He explained that a publisher in Boston might make an application for admission to the mails as second-class matter for what he termed a "library; " that it would be claimed to be issued quarterly; that it would be devoted to the science of law; that there would be a subscription price; that it would have a list of subscribers; that it would be numbered consecutively; that it would be issued from a known office of publication, and on this showing the so-called library, which in truth it was, was admitted to the second class as a periodical publication. With one example of this kind a multitude of libraries followed under various titles, and they included books upon every conceivable subject to which books are devoted. Nothing was required from the publisher beyond a mere statement. He was allowed to construe his "library” as meeting all the conditions imposed by law, and that required only a little elasticity of conscience. Once in-once by the gate the publisher, it was said, suited his own convenience as to frequency of issue.
It was then said that this practice had been in existence some ten years, beginning with a few of such publications and increasing vear by vear until the number was very considerable, which had availed themselves of what was then termed the looseness of the law and its very liberal interpretation by the Department. The PostmasterGeneral said that “an astounding aggregation of books” were annually sent through the mails as second-class matter; first, from publishing
houses to news dealers throughout the country, and again by them to their patrons. He was well satisfied that it was a gross abuse. The law, he said. beyond all question never could have been intended to admit to the mails at the cent-a-pound rate The Adventures of Claude Duval, with paper covers, merely because it purported to be a number of some pretended periodical, while at the same time Butler's Analogy or Webster's S i. Book were chargeable with postage at eight times the rate |. bound in cloth and issued without alleged connection with other books; but as time went on the very o described as not being issued as periodicals came to be so issued. Postmaster-General Wanamaker also pointed out the unfair discrimination against publishers whose conscience did not allow the issuing of single works at stated periods, or whose conscience or good taste, or whatever it was, did not permit them to resort to this practice to benefit themselves at the expense of the Government. He said that if he were asked why he allowed this illegal practice to continue and even to increase, that his answer would be that the length of time it had lasted gave some claim to recognition, and that the great number of additions to it officially before his entrance into office prevented the exclusion of new claimants without manifest unfairness. However, he asked Congress to provide a remedy. In that same report the Postmaster-General called attention to the abuse of the sample-copy privilege. He said there was no limit fixed to the number which might be sent, and it often happened that the mails were burdened with vast numbers of alleged samples of publications which by technical compliance with the requirements had been admitted to the second class of mail matter, but which in reality were mere advertising mediums issued on scanty subscription lists. Even these subscription lists had been encouraged and, in some instances, made up by offers of premiums of not less value than the price of subscription. It was not unusual, he said, that the number of samples exceeded many times the number sent to alleged subscribers. Instances had come to knowledge where publishers had secured advertisements upon the guarantee to mail extra-large editions of samples. He thought it would be proper to restrict the number of samples to a fair proportion of the actual subscription list, but somehow (a matter which he did not explain) no limit was fixed. In the same report attention was called to the gross and unwarranted abuse of returning dead matter to the publisher. The law itself did not permit a publisher to have copies returned at less than a cent for each 4 ounces; but if the return copies were mailed by one news agent and addressed to another, which might be located next door to the office of publication, the rate of 1 cent a pound was secured, and even this, he said, had the high sanction as to its legality of the Assistant Attorney-General for the Post-Office Department. Evidently Postmaster-General Wanamaker had his doubts as to the correctness of the Assistant Attorney-General's opinion. He said: “I am not prepared to question the legal correctness of this deciSion, especially as it has received the approval of my two immediate predecessors, both of them distinguished lawyers, but I am inclined to think that such a discrimination, being unjust in principle, was never intended by Congress, and I am convinced that it ought not to be permitted to exist.” He recommended that Congress enact a provision which would require the rate of 1 cent for each 4 ounces or fraction on all return matter. Congress did not act. Again, in 1892, Postmaster-General Wanamaker called attention to the abuses of the second class of mail matter, and dwelt especially upon the book abuse. He gave an illustration of the flagrancy and brazenness which then characterized that abuse, which, he said, was “a practice of so long standing that it has crystallized into law, allowin to paper-covered books, which are simply numbered and dated an designated as periodicals, though in reality not so, the privileges of genuine periodicals.” He stated that the interests of legitimate periodicals demanded the discontinuance of this abuse. In the same report the sample-copy abuse was dwelt upon. He said: Publishers persistently claim that they have the right to regard as subscribers persons indicated by advertisers in the paper; that they have the right to send out unlimited numbers of sample copies; that what they choose to designate as exchanges, complimentary copies, copies given as premiums to purchasers of
their wares, copies sent to persons advertising the general business of the firm and otherwise must be regarded as equivalent to subscriptions.
The Postmaster-General then pointed out that—
If these claims were allowed, then the main barrier erected by the statute against the admission of pure advertising sheets, or, in other words, “house organs,” would be broken down, and the generous policy of Congress, which has always been to favor dissemination of current news and other desirable and beneficial intelligence among the people by granting a very low and unremunerative rate of postage to genuine newspapers and periodicals, would be practically defeated.
can not be so construed as to permit such an abuse—an abuse that, while operating to load down the mails with immense masses of stuff of insufficient value to command cash-paying subscribers to any extent, would be a wrong to every business institution which issues its advertising circulars and other matter in an undisguised manner and therefore pays the lawful rate of postage on them.
He said further that—
It would also be an intolerable evasion of the rights of all bona fide newspapers and periodicals in the United States, which, while at great expense giving to the public news and literature and intelligence of importance and value on every conceivable subject, yet depend on paying lists of subscribers and on advertising none the less for their support.
And these practices, he said, were practically doing away with the distinctions between second and third class matter. He found the law was not specific enough in the matter of publications designed for advertising purposes.
Two years later (1894) attention was again called by PostmasterGeneral Bissell to this great scandal upon the postal service. It was stated that the increase of matter of the second class was disproportionately great and that it was not due to the healthy growth of genuine newspapers and periodicals, and that a conviction had been reached that the statutes were defective and that the abuses were growing all the time and some remedy was needed. Figures were given to support the conviction. The Postmaster-General then urged the withdrawal of the low postage rates from the large class of pretended periodicals, without which, he said, he was hopeless of ever o the financial conditions of the Department properly established.