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ances and include the deaths of all persons between the ages of sixty-five and sixty-nine and still be much short of the Captain's total.
In short, Captain Hobson has discovered "by exact scientific investigation” that there is but one cause of death, and that it carries off more people than actually die! And still the doctors are working overtime for the prevention of diseases of various kinds supposed to be fatal to poor humanity; and we legislate industriously to reduce the 50,000 deaths a year (within the registration arca) supposed to be due to accidents.
But Captain Hobson should have discovered that the argument he used against the increased tax on beer runs directly counter to his own pet hobby. While pronouncing his conclusions about mortality, he also assured his hearers that 55 per cent. of the population of the country lives in dry territory, under local or State prohibition. In view of the number of premature deaths on account of drink announced by the unterrified Captain, it must be that all deaths within dry territory occur from the same cause, otherwise the total he gives would appear even more absurd than we have shown it to be. It is an unfortunate dilemma from which there is no proper retreat: either the Captain must say that his figures lie or that prohibition is a vain thing. Which will he choose ?
But Captain Hobson has other indictments against the drink traffic. He informed the House of Representatives of his "own knowledge” that there are now one million habitual drunkards in this country, four million heavy drinkers, twenty million regular drinkers and "unestimated millions" of occasional drinkers. Now, if one applies the Captain's ratio of progression from habitual to regular drinkers to the "unestimated millions" of occasional drinkers, the latter must number approximately one hundred millions. Therefore the grand total of those who in some way are victims of the drink habit and incidentally of the increased tax on beer must be one hundred and twenty-five millions. Had the Captain taken the trouble to consult the official figures, he would have found that the total estimated population in the United States in 1914 is placed at about ninety-nine millions. He could then have demonstrated according to his methods of computation that the victims of the drink habit and incidentally of the beer tax exceeded by about twenty-six millions of the entire population, including babes in arms, the total abstainers, inmates of hospitals for the insane, centenarians, etc.
Again it follows from the Captain's statistics that the fifty-five million people reputed to live in dry territory, under the blessings of prohibition, must be numbered among the habitual drunkards, heavy, regular or occasional drinkers, women and children included, otherwise there would not be enough people to make up the Captain's total. Many unkind and untrue things have been said about prohibition, but nothing so completely damning as this. Yet its high apostle would lead us to these very conclusions.
Perhaps no power of argument would persuade Captain Hobson or his followers that he overstated the case when asserting that there are one million habitual drunkards in this country, regardless of what modifications he might concede in regard to the other classes of drinkers. The point is, therefore, of special interest. For England and Wales the renowned Dr. Branthwaite, who really can lay claim to “exact scientific investigation,” estimates that there is 1.42 inebriates to 1,000 of population ; but Captain Hobson gives this country one for each hundred! Here is a difference with a vengeance. How it can be in the face of our smaller consumption of alcoholic drinks, not to mention the "fact” that more than one-half of our population lives under prohibition laws, is for Captain Hobson to explain.
That the Captain really believes his own figures is shown by the eagerness to have other people profit by the astonishing results of his investigations. He boasts that he sent out two million copies of his speech on prohibition made in December, 1913, and not content with this, he claims to have written 1,500,000 letters on the same subject-all in eight months. But allowing one minute to each letter he would need three years for the task, working twentyfour hours a day!
Such is the efficiency of the Hero of the Merrimac—when aided by the Government Printing Press and the Government's franks. His speeches and letters sent free by the Government must have cost it no less than $50,000, or at the rate of $75,000 a year. And why? In order to carry the most palpable misinformation to people which doubtless thousands of them are made to believe. That's the pity of it!
ALCOHOL AND THE WAR
As a by-product of the great world conflict in which all civilized countries are engaged or by which they are affected, the alcohol question has come very prominently to the fore. Naturally, a wide use has been made of the necessity for a different control of the production and sale of alcohol for purposes of general propaganda. In consequence a great deal has been written which does not state the situation correctly or overstates it. One fact stands out, namely, that all the belligerent countries have found it necessary to curtail the manufacture of alcoholic beverages in which cereal products are used. Thus, Germany has limited the manufacture of alcohol to about 40 per cent. of the usual output and also decreased the manufacture of beer. In France similar decrees are soon to become operative. The reason for this is obvious. Alcoholic beverages are a luxury and the necessity has arisen for preserving cereals and other products of the soil for food. In England no attempt has so far been made to curtail production, but that is something which probably will be effected by the increased taxes to which it will be subjected. In non-belligerent countries, such as Switzerland, Holland and the Scandinavian Peninsula measures have been taken to prevent the usual amount of food-stuffs from being converted into alcohol.
Aside from this very natural and inevitable limitation of production, there has been a widespread agitation in order to prohibit or at least to limit the consumption of spirituous beverages. Most notable, of course, is the prohibition of the sale of vodka by the Russian Government. It has been intimated from time to time that the Czar intends to make this interdict permanent. The reports given currency in the press are more or less conflicting; but it seems clear that the Government is fully resolved to forego the huge revenue, reckoned approximately at half a million dollars, derived from its alcohol monopoly. A recent tentative budget makes provisions
. to cover the loss on vodka by 802,000,000 rubles of new and increased taxes on other things.
Meanwhile, there is an evident desire in Russia to stop the misery flowing from the widespread use of spirits. In spite of all professions to the contrary and the subsidizing of temperance measures, the vodka monoply has proved a tempting source of revenue, and sales have been permitted to increase enormously. This condition must be contrasted, however, with those prevailing prior to the monopoly when home distillation of spirits ruled. It is said that grape wine may be made a Government monopoly, in which case only a fixed percentage of alcohol will be permitted, and the price made so high as to put it out of the reach of the peasants. Since Russia is among the great wine-producing countries of the world it seems most unlikely that the Government will destroy so important an economic factor.
In spite of the prohibition of vodka, it appears that strong alcoholic liquors will continue to be sold in certain restaurants, but only with hot food. This species of class legislation is wholly to be expected in a country like Russia. According to the latest information, the sale of beer of reduced alcoholic strength will be permitted under special license in cities, with the approval of the city councils. Light wines may be sold in city clubs.
How much of this restriction on alcoholic beverages pertains soiely to the War Zone and is of temporary duration, it is impossible to say from available information. Some of the edicts on the subject reported in the press are not general Government measures, but orders of the commander in chief, whose authority is supreme in time of war. The whole arrangement, except the abolition of the vodka monopoly, seems to be of a temporary kind and subject to, many modifications.
Any undiscriminating reader of newspaper stories about Russian temperance legislation gets the impression that within a few weeks, through the prohibition of vodka, the Russian people have turned from being a race of drunkards to one of singular sobriety and straight living. One may expect that large results will appear in the future even if the immediate changes unquestionably are exaggerated. It could hardly be otherwise considering the use which is being made of the information in certain quarters. Does not the Russian decree point a strong moral for the guidance of the United States? "In Russia the word of the Czar is law because he is the Government, the source of law and the embodiment of constituted authority. In the United States the czarship is vested in the people as the sovereign authority, so that when the time shall come that the people themselves order the prohibition of strong drink, its sale will stop.”
The above quotation is from an editorial in the New York Sun,
which finds a suggestion in the story from Russia "which may ultimately have a strong bearing upon the solution of the problem in America.” It is noted that the imperial decree is only directed against distilled liquors and not against "the lighter beverages that substituted for vodka, promote temperance and which act as a 'buffer,' as it were, against any violent resentment against the new order. This fact may lead to a saner discussion of the questions here and result in a juncture of that sentiment between the extremes of prohibiting everything with a trace of alcohol in it and of licensing everything, no matter how menacing to the well-being of society, which will find a safe medium that will prevent drunkenness and inebriety, while making some concession to those who may still cling to the idea that in America the State has no right to regulate any man's personal habits."
In England the Government has contented itself with placing a very heavy tax on beer and spirits, as already stated, and curtailing the hours of sale; that is, so far as the general public is concerned. In Norway, the sale of spirits as well as of other alcoholic beverages was forbidden at the outbreak of the war. Again the chief motive seems to have been to conserve the food supply. It should be remembered also that the country mobilized its army and might naturally be inclined to take steps to prevent drunkenness. So far as is known, the prohibition still remains in force, although a very strong appeal has been made to the Government to rescind this war ordinance. Experience of two months has made it clear that the legislation does not work as effectively as had been hoped. Persons of means have combined and secured supplies for private consumption from other countries, forming so-called stock companies, while among the poorer classes illicit selling has grown to alarming proportions. Being unable to secure spirits and other drinks of the ordinary kind, resort has been had to fearful concoctions sold under the name of "Self Murder” (a name given to denaturalized alcohol flavored with oil of peppermint), and different wares parading under the name of wine, all being strongly alcoholic. So far as known, no other countries have tried to limit the output or to include within prohibitive measures the general public.
On the other hand, accepted measures have been taken to safeguard the different armies' from the abuse of drink. At the very outset Lord Kitchener announced that the English army would not be permitted to indulge in intoxicating liquors.