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PROBLEM OF THE SALOON-THE CLEAN-UP
HE following Declaration of Principles was adopted, without a dissenting voice, at the Forty-eighth Annual Convention of the United States Brewers' Association held in Milwaukee in June, 1908:
"The United States Brewers' Association, in convention assembled, presents the following declaration of principles and declares its sympathy with, and offers its coöperation with any movement looking to THE PROMOTION OF HABITS OF TEMPERANCE IN THE USE OF FERMENTED BEVERAGES. By temperance is meant temperate use-neither abuse or disuse. We believe that the temperate use of beer promotes health and happiness, which are the underlying conditions of morality and social order, and in this belief we are supported by the vast preponderance of educated as well as popular opinion all over the world.
"Consistently with this belief we favor the passage and the enforcement of laws for the regulation of the drink traffic and for keeping such traffic free from unlawful and improper accessories, and we earnestly desire such improvement in the drinking habits of the people as will still further advance temperance, together with the spread of enlightenment as to the proper functions of drink, whereby the individual may be able to regulate his habits according to the requirements of WHOLESOME LIVING.
"We realize that these declarations are contrary to what the public is being persistently told by those who are opposed to the use of alcoholic beverages, in regard to the attitude of the brewers towards the drink question, and especially towards the saloon.
“For that reason we desire to make clear TWO IMPORTANT
"FIRST: It is a mistake to believe that the COMMERCIAL INTEREST of the brewer stands back of the excessive multiplication of saloons or of any of the unlawful or improper practices resorted to by a small minority of saloon keepers to swell their incomes, such as keeping open after hours, selling to minors or drunkards, encouraging or tolerating gambling and the "social evil" in connection with their places, etc. We recognize that the amount of beer sold by such improper and unlawful practices is trifling, and is more than offset by the patronage of a place conducted according to law and the proprieties. We also recognize that the multiplication of saloons beyond the requirements of the market involves great expense which is by no means made up by additional sales of beer, and that the maintenance of saloons in residence neighborhoods where they are not desired by the residents, is neither profitable nor wise, as the antagonism created by their presence involves greater loss than the sales in such saloons would make good.
"We are not, in this present statement, putting our arguments upon the basis of public spirit and consideration for morals or social order. While yielding to no class of citizens in cherishing these sentiments and considerations, and believing firmly that the temperate use of fermented beverages promotes both morality and social order, the purpose of this present statement is only to dispel the FALSE IMPRESSION THAT THE COMMERCIAL INTEREST OF THE BREWER IS SERVED BY ENCOURAGING OR CONNIVING We do not deny that keen competition has in the past led to a multiplication of saloons beyond the actual requirements of the market. In that respect our business does not differ from many other lines, some of which have been recently overhauled by legislation designed to eliminate the evils resulting from excessive competition. THE EXISTING EVILS, HOWEVER, CAN
BE ERADICATED BY ACTION ON THE PART OF INDIVIDUALS IN THE TRADE ONLY IF THEY ARE AIDED AND SUPPORTED BY PUBLIC
SENTIMENT AND SUITABLE LAWS, which will make it impossible for a small number of people who may not wish to abide by the concerted action of the majority of the trade, to make such action futile. THE BREWERS ARE READY AND ANXIOUS TO DO THEIR SHARE, to coöperate to the extent of their power in the work of eliminating abuses connected with the retail trade. While repudiating the charge that theirs is the CHIEF responsi
bility for the existence of such abuses, they ask the coöperation of the public and the proper authorities in the work of making the saloon what it ought to be, a place for wholesome refreshment and recreation.
"SECOND:-The brewer is charged with BEING IN POLITICS AND USING POLITICAL POWER for the purpose of influencing legislation, paralyzing executive action and protecting the disorderly saloon. Such statements are grossly exaggerated. Rather it is true that the existence of disorderly saloons is in many cases the work of a certain class of politicians who keep them alive for their own purposes and in opposition to the wishes of the brewers. With suitable laws properly enforced and backed by healthy public sentiment, such disorderly saloons could be exterminated and not only the community purified of objectionable places, but the brewing trade freed of an incubus which it is now struggling to shake off without such assistance. No one would hail such a
mation with greater satisfaction than the brewer.
"If the brewers have been driven into politics, it is due to the intemperate attacks upon them along political lines, and we ask the public to bear in mind that self-preservation is a very elementary instinct. Whenever a spirit of genuine inquiry and rational betterment shall take the place of heedless persecution aiming not at improvement, but at the extermination of our business—and that is the object of both the Prohibition and the anti-saloon movements, the protestations of the anti-saloon men to the contrary notwithstanding the brewers will welcome it sympathetically and bring to all efforts at true progress the knowledge acquired from their practical acquaintance with the matter, and will, as brewers, gladly refrain from participation in politics.
"THE BREWERS ARE READY TO BE TAKEN AT THEIR WORD. Already in many places they are engaged in active work for the purification of the retail trade. In some cases this is being done on their own initiative with the help of the constituted authorities; in other cases, they are coöperating while the authorities and certain volunteer organizations are leading; again, they are doing it in spite of the politicians and against the wishes of the socalled reformers. They are trying to do what is really and properly the work of the official representatives of the people.
"While not denying a certain amount of heedless competition
which our business has shared with many other lines the realization of unfortunate and unlooked-for consequences having come home to us only within recent times-we turn with confidence to the fair-minded American public and ask it, in view of many practical instances of our sincerity given in the face of great difficulties, to consider the statements above made, and to accept our assurance that the objectionable features of the retail liquor traffic do not rest upon, and are not backed, either by the commercial interest or by any supposed political power of the brewers, but that THE ELIMINATION OF SUCH OBJECTIONABLE FEATURES IS MOST EARNESTLY DESIRED BY OUR TRADE, that we will lend our fullest coöperation towards their extinction, and that we invite the assistance of public officials and the people in general to that end."
REFORM OF THE SALOON.
The law-maker, the magistrate, the police authorities, the landlord, the bonding companies, and the licensing authorities must share the odium which rests upon the saloon and its backers, for the evils which have arisen. But whoever may be responsible, the plain fact is that the saloon business is jeopardized by its black sheep, and as a matter of enlightened self-interest, we must proceed to find a remedy.
Experience proves that all cities have saloons. If the saloon is not legalized, an illegal substitute appears in the form of "speakeasies," drug stores and the like. As even the Anti-Saloon League in its Blue Book concedes that the use of intoxicating liquors cannot well be reached by law, and the most rabid Prohibition States have not yet attempted to legislate against the use of liquor, there must and will be agencies to supply the demand. Therefore we stand for open legalized saloons as against the hidden dives or "speak-easies," for the decently conducted saloon under proper laws and regulations, as against the secret drinking which demoralizes the home; we stand against the tricks and evasions, the manifold evils of Prohibition, that bring law into contempt; and we believe that the overwhelming sentiment of the community is with us in our contentions. Moreover, we maintain that saloons should have the same right of sale which is conceded to hotels and clubs. The city saloon is a necessary social institution which serves many useful purposes besides the sale of liquor. Properly conducted, it is a community asset.
The abuse of the saloon is marked by disorderly and disreputable practices, which are not really incidental to the business. We agree with all decent men upon these points.
1. That the saloon should not be used to foster the social evil, and should be utterly divorced from it.
2. That the saloon should not be used for gambling purposes.
3. That the saloon should not be open to minors and that the sale of intoxicants to children should be proscribed.
The problem of the saloon is one of regulation, by statutory authority; of administration by the trade. From either standpoint, it is a complex problem which cannot be settled in the offhand fashion that seems so easy to superficial observers.
Saloon reforms cannot be brought about by the brewers individually. But the brewers, as an organization, can accomplish a great deal, though their organized power has not yet been fully tested.
The regulation of the saloon has been needlessly complicated by experimental legislation, party politics, police corruption and inefficiency. Fixed and arbitrary limitations, imposed upon communities by the State, without regard to local conditions, have only increased the difficulty. Where the State allows elasticity of method, the well-governed communities have worked out a satisfactory plan for themselves. Any honest and fair-minded committee of average citizens can do this, by the exercise of a little common sense. But they must be free from outside interference. To keep the saloon out of politics, it must first be taken out of politics. And the best way to keep it in politics is to provide by local option laws for the constant agitation of the license question, with the element of harassing uncertainty which this involves. In recent years the saloon had been growing to be less and less a political factor. To-day it threatens to become the biggest political issue in our history.
Wherever the Anti-Saloon League has waged its warfare of extermination, all other political issues have been dwarfed and personal rancor and bitterness have taken the place of calm judgment. Designing politicians play for the anti-saloon vote or the pro-saloon vote without the least concern as to any principles involved.