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There remain to be considered, briefly, certain measures of regulation in regard to which there is not such general agreement, and, unfortunately for the construction of a general policy, these involve some of the most vital phases of the question. The more important of these are the nature of the licensing authorities, license fees or taxation, Sunday closing and the power of control to be given to city authorities.
There is not complete agreement among the advocates of regulation that any system of licensing is desirable. Many prefer instead a fixed tax to be paid by all who engage in the trade with no other restriction upon entering the business. There is no doubt that it is difficult to construct a licensing authority which will not be susceptible to political influence. On the other hand the plan of fixed taxation cannot readily be used in connection with other desirable measures of control, e. g., limitation in the number of saloons. For that reason, in spite of the dangers which beset a licensing system, it seems preferable to the uniform tax. In any plan of control through license the manner of constituting the licensing authority should be worked out with the utmost care. It would seem best to make it an independent authority in order to avoid burdening officers elected for other purposes with duties not pertaining to their office and to remove from them the temptation of using their licensing authority to further their political ambitions.
As regards the amount of license fee or tax to be exacted there is a wide difference of opinion although high license is rapidly coming to be the prevailing type. So long as city authorities and the people in general regard high license as predominantly a method of control and not as a means of raising revenue little objection can be offered to it. However, there is always the danger that the profitableness of the saloon as a revenue producer will blind both the authorities and the taxpayers to its shortcomings. The situation in Chicago may be taken as a case in point. The license fee was raised from $500 to $1000 for the sole purpose of increasing the city revenue. At the present time about one-fifth of the total local revenue and one-third of the revenue of the city corporate is derived from saloon-license
Liquor Fees and Taxation
fees. There is a serious question as to whether there is not created by that situation an interest favorable to the saloon on the part of the taxpayer which may operate to prevent desirable regulation and control. High license in connection with decided limitations as to number is not so open to objection upon these grounds.
The whole question of the relation of liquor taxation to city finances is one deserving a most careful and exhaustive investigation. Until that has been done it will be impossible to speak with authority upon the points just discussed.
The power of the city to control the liquor traffic within its borders is a matter of great importance. It involves the two great questions of the right and duty of the state to legislate and enforce its laws in the interest of the whole people as against the city claim of local autonomy. In general the powers of the city in this respect are not wide. Owing to the well known disposition of cities toward liberal tendencies the state governments have been strongly inclined to make most of the provisons for the regulation of the liquor traffic. Even in the case of the few cities which have been given broad powers over the traffic the legislature has usually pretty fully preempted the field with legislation. Some of the state regulations are demanded by the state at large; many are of such a nature that they had far better be left to the local authorities. This state interference is offset by the cities through the power of local administration of state laws. The resulting situation is often far from desirable.
It seems clear that if state legislatures are to continue to legislate for the cities upon this question there should be provided some means of state enforcement. Direct enforcement of liquor laws by state police has not proved practicable. Whether any better results could be attained by local enforcement under strong central administrative supervision is a question which cannot definitely be answered. There can be no doubt that unless state enforcement can be made effective the entire situation should be turned over to the city authorities so that there may, at least, be harmony between law and practice. The recent experience of Chicago with Sunday closing is a striking
example of unenforced state liquor legislation. The spectacle of one jury after another refusing to convict in the face of the plainest evidence is not attractive. A high regard for the sanctity of law is especially necessary if life is to be tolerable under urban conditions. The present state of much of our liquor legislation is productive of anything but a law-abiding spirit.
In conclusion it may be well to remember that there are many things which are contributing to the solution of the liquor problem which were not designed especially for that purpose. The conditions under which much of our present city life is lived and especially the nature and environment of labor have the saloon and drink as their natural accompaniment. High types of men and women cannot be produced amid such surroundings. The fact needs to be faced that the drink problem may be as much a result of the conditions under which men live and labor as it is the cause of the misery which seems to flow from it alone. The shortening of the hours of labor, improved dwellings, more attractive and sanitary surroundings amid which to work, easily accessible libraries, parks, playgrounds, gymnasiums and baths-and even a better knowledge of cookery-all are contributing their share to the solution of the drink problem. Many men drink today because physically and mentally they feel the need of artificial stimulus. Others frequent the saloon because it is a social center and relatively an attractive place. With the possibility of a more nearly normal life and with places of superior attractions where men may indulge in virile pastimes the saloon will lose at least a part of its patronage.
Banquet to the Members and Delegates of the National Municipal League and the American Civic Association, held at the Hotel Schenley.
Thursday Evening, November 19, 1908, 7.30 p. m.
The usual banquet in honor of the National Municipal League and American Civic Association was held at the Hotel Schenley on Thursday evening, November 19, the Hon. George W. Guthrie, Mayor of Pittsburgh, presiding.
MAYOR GUTHRIE: Ladies and Gentlemen: It is my very pleasant duty, on behalf of the various committees having charge of this meeting and these gatherings, to say to our guests that it has been a great pleasure to us to have them with us on this occasion, and also, on behalf of the people of Pittsburgh to say to the various speakers that there is no feeling among us that anything that has been said in way of criticism has any other purpose than a kindly desire to benefit us and all other cities. [Applause.] I do not think there is in the minds of any of the people of Pittsburgh any feeling except that of gratitude to those who have pointed out to us things to be corrected and which we can hope to correct. For ourselves, permit me to say to you we are aware here that the Pittsburgh Survey was made not in any spirit of unkindly criticism, to Pittsburgh, but because those having it in charge and we believed that what could be shown here was simply typical of all the cities of the United States under similar conditions. What was wrong we wanted to know, and I am glad to say that many of the things for which we deserved criticism and which were referred to in this report have already, by reason of that, become things of the past. [Applause.] Old Tammany Hall and Yellow Row for instance are no longer blotches on our fair city. They are matters of history and regret. It is with this spirit that we have heard these things, and we have laid them to our hearts with the promise that what has not been corrected for want of time will be corrected in the near future. [Applause.]
Now, I know that as chairman of the meeting I am not expected to make any long address, but I want to tell you a tradition-a story which
some of you have heard before, because I have told it before; but it comes aptly to point a moral; and as some of you may not have heard of it and others of you may not have thought of it in connection with this moral which I want to point out I will repeat it. There is a story that in the the long past when an arrogant organization, rich with the ill-gotten plunder taken from a subject people and arrogant from long years of uninterrupted rule, determined to remove from their midst a reformer named Daniel, who by his persistence had become annoying to them, they proposed to give a dinner to the lions at which he should be served as the "piece de resistance." When the dinner was served and Daniel looked at the lions, hungry and anxious for the banquet, tradition tells us that he said "Well, at least this I have to be thankful for. There will be no after dinner speeches after this banquet. [Laughter.] Now, the moral which I want to point out to you is this: You cannot remove from the pathway of the wrongdoer a reformer who can welcome death willingly, when he feels that his death will aid, in some small way, in the uplift of humanity and the relief of the world. And I might also point out to you too how unwise Daniel was with all his wisdom in supposing that he could even by his death change a social custom deeply seated in social usage and supported by the "best" people of the country.
Now, the reforms for which Daniel was working continued even after that dinner; he did not die on that occasion, but when he did die the race of reformers did not cease; they have gone on during all the centuries still and persist in their pernicious habits of trying to make things better, so I have been frequently told; and somehow or other it don't seem to make any difference with them when they are told by those to be reformed that "you don't understand these things. You have not been trained and educated in the capacity and in the science of governing people; you ought not to undertake it or attempt to interfere with those who have had practical experience."
Well, as we look along the pages of history, we find the same objections to all reformers.
The Race of
King John told the barons of England "You don't know how to govern a kingdom. You must not interfere with the kingly right and the kingly perogative, and the king of England."
And yet the charter which the English barons got signed at Runnymede has continued to be a blessing to that portion of mankind who have enjoyed the rights and privileges of the common law of England for all the years which have passed since.
Charles I thought that it was a great piece of presumption for a tanner to undertake to displace him who had been born blessed with the divine right of kings to misrule and misgovern England as he saw fit and assume to govern in his stead. But Cromwell went ahead and the head which had been anointed with the consecrating oil which Shakespeare tells us