« PreviousContinue »
Many curious statistics have been cited in the controversy over economic effects of prohibition. Sometimes the per capita expenses of police administration are brought into use. But that is contingent upon a variety of local conditions, such as public sentiment, the composition of population, the character of municipal administration, which cannot be entered statistically.
The local tax rate is no better criterion. Its fluctuations in a city or State may depend upon a number of conditions wholly unrelated to the liquor traffic. If the administration is extravagant, taxes will be high, and vice versa. A community that demands the highest service in the way of education, the care of all public wards, well kept and well lighted streets, adequate sewers, etc., etc., must pay accordingly.
The valuation placed upon property is also an unsafe gauge; it depends more or less upon existing systems of taxation as well. as upon natural resources, and so on through the whole range of tangible evidences of prosperity; whether economic conditions are considered singly or in combination it would be impossible in the present state of knowledge to reason from them how license or prohibition affects prosperity.
There is some force in the statement that the loss in direct taxes from the liquor traffic makes itself felt in a no-license community. In times and places this loss may affect the tax rate, but hardly in a degree that would permanently influence the general prosperity of a community. If this loss were offset by smaller burdens in caring for victims of intemperance the story would be different. But this has already been shown not to be the case.
There appear to be some exceptions. In Georgia, the loss of the large State revenue from liquor licenses has become a serious matter and must be met by the imposition of new taxes. In Birmingham, Alabama, the annual license ordinance for 1908 reveals some astounding burdens placed upon business in order to meet the loss from liquor license. Banking houses pay a license fee from $200 to $450; building and loan associations from $100 to $500; each cotton press $300; each fruit store $125; each express company $1,000; grocers from $12.50 to $200; hotels from $65 to $275; provision dealers from $75 to $250; and so on through a list of 416 different kinds of businesses or occupations.
In general the situation is this: The loss from liquor licenses must be met through a redistribution of taxation without any
appreciable diminution of the cost of caring for those classes of the population supposed to typify the results of intemperance. The extent to which such redistribution will be felt must vary according to local conditions. If a State like New York should be deprived of its income from liquor licenses, millions would have to be added from other sources to meet the State tax. Where the State is the lesser participant in license money the municipalities would be the greater sufferer from loss of income. There can be no doubt, however, that the financial resources of very many cities would be seriously crippled by suddenly cutting off the revenue from liquor licenses. This is clearly brought out in the next table which shows for a number of cities the total per capita revenue and the percentage of this derived from liquor licenses. The figures relate for the most part to the year 1907. The divergence in the percentage of per capita revenue derived from liquor is due to a complexity of local conditions of which no analysis can be attempted in this place.
TOTAL PER CAPITA REVENUE IN CITIES AND PERCENTAGE OF SAME FROM LIQUOR LICENSES.
FACTS ABOUT MODERN BREWING.
T is fair to assume that the great majority of modern people are very much like the ancients in lack of knowledge concerning the general or technical conditions surrounding the production of beers and ales, and yet, this form of alcoholic beverage is one of the very oldest in history, and can be traced backward to the most remote antiquity. The Egyptians, Angles, Goths, Huns, Saxons, Danes and Germans, all drank varieties of malt liquor, and must have known something about fermentation, but until the commencement of our own nineteenth century, the art of brewing continued to be entirely empirical. For hundreds of years beer has counted historians, poets, songsters, lawyers and statesmen among its votaries; only the scientist appears to have deemed it unworthy of serious investigation. At the close of the eighteenth century, the malting and brewing processes, still shrouded in mystery, were practiced by such closely secret methods that there existed what were known as "brewing families," the heads of which handed down their secret formulæ from father to son, generation after generation. There was no intelligent communication between fellow craftsmen; all attempts at improvements or innovations, either in materials or processes, were regarded with jealous fear; there was consequently no progress, and, necessarily, no uniformity, and all practical brewers worked by "ruleof-thumb;" they knew not how to reason why, and so were satisfied to keep within the narrow confines of a track beaten out by the centuries. Of the old product itself, we have no trustworthy analyses, but we conclude that it was of great alcoholic strength, because in the light of our present knowledge, it is evident that a high percentage of alcohol was essential to its keeping qualities. We have plenty of evidence that it was highly intoxicating, and must believe that it was well adapted on this account to the needs