A Dirt Farmer Speaks His Mind
I AM a farmer — just an ordinary dirt farmer, making my living (or what passes for a living) out of the soil. I have but little education. The idea of my writing an article for a magazine is almost too ridiculous to believe. A farmer may know how to milk and load hay and pitch manure; he may know the difference between an Ayrshire heifer and a Yorkshire shote, between a Baldwin apple and an ear of King Philip corn; but that a mere farmer should dare to express his opinion about financial or political conditions in this country is unbelievable.
A year ago last fall I caught a severe cold while helping a neighbor with his threshing; the cold later developed into pneumonia. I got by, although it was a tight, squeeze, and the doctor said I had better spend the winter in Colorado or Arizona. ‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘I am also thinking of buying a limousine, a steam yacht, and a house on Fifth Avenue. Spend a winter in Colorado or Arizona? You’ll be lucky if I have enough to spend to pay your bill.’
But the doctor insisted on the grav - ity of the crisis, and a family council was called. I have a brother who is a railroad engineer on the New York Central, and a niece who is a publicschool teacher in New York City. My brother offered to pay all my expenses from my home to the West and back, and my niece offered to pay the expenses of a hired man to take my place from October 1 to May 1.
That was generous of them, and I greatly appreciate their kindness, but it was humiliating and annoying to feel that I had to accept such generosity. Why should conditions be such that I who work fully three times as hard as they do, I who have thousands of dollars invested in my business while they have not a penny invested in theirs, I whose work is certainly as important as any in the world, should be placed in the humiliating position of having to accept help from my relations? Why should not the muchheralded ‘American standard of living’ apply to a farmer and his family as well as to a railroad engineer or schoolteacher?
After I had unsuccessfully sought to recover my health in Colorado, Texas, and Arizona, my doctor advised me to spend the summer in North Carolina. I did the best I could by writing to a nephew who is an R. F. D. carrier on the east coast of Florida, asking how cheaply he would board me. He replied that he and his wife would be pleased to have me as their guest for two months, after which they would charge only three dollars a week for as long a time as I cared to remain.
I appreciate his kindness as much as I do that of my brother and niece. My nephew thinks it ‘pretty soft’ to be an R. F. D. carrier, work four and a half hours a day, get a vacation with pay, sick leave with pay, and a fat pension after twenty-five years of service. My brother tells me that ‘railroad men are sitting on top of the world,’ while my school-teacher niece assures me that she has ’a snap.'
I do not object to their good fortune. I am glad of it as far as it concerns them personally. But I am not pleased with a condition that makes it possible for other individuals and their children to enjoy ease and prosperity at the expense of my wife, my children, and myself.
We farmers have been the under dogs too long. We have been humbugged by the politicians, cheated by the railroads, imposed upon by the unionization of other forms of labor, made to appear as lazy and incompetent nincompoops by men who claim that the farmer works only a few months out of the year, and now we are going to get justice or know the reason why! We are to blame for some of our own troubles and financial difficulties, but most of them have been forced upon us by selfish interests and grafting politicians.
Reasonable cost of transportation is absolutely necessary to the success of the American farmer, and the worst enemy of the reasonable cost of transportation is the unionized railroad worker, the man who year after year insists upon having his wages raised higher and higher and higher, no matter how great the agricultural or business depression may be. And about equally guilty is the politician who backs him up in his demand. During 1926 the average pay received by the railroad worker (including all classes, the humble track worker as well as the haughty engineer and the lordly conductor) was a trifle over 68 cents an hour, and that is allowing that every engineer and conductor put in eight hours for a day’s work — as none of them did. Yet during 1927 and 1928 the Board of Arbitration, the United States Board of Mediation, and the railroads themselves added wage increases amounting to more than one hundred million dollars! And while our kind Uncle Samuel was busy helping the poor railroad man to maintain the ‘American standard of living,’ another of Uncle Sam’s departments, the United States Department of Agriculture, reported that, ‘compared with earnings of the preceding year, the return for the labor of the farmer and his family declined nearly 10 per cent.’ Is it any wonder that from 1910 to 1928, when railroad wages, counting rate per hour, went up over 400 per cent, farm mortgages increased by about the same figure?
A few days ago a farmer who owns a small neighboring farm uttered these words: ‘See that conductor standing there with his blue uniform and gold braid? He makes more in one year than I make in five, and he does n’t work one quarter as hard. See that engineer? Well, that goes for him, too. Now go back and look at my five-acre field of rotten melons! Rotten because, on account of the high cost of freight and handling, I could not ship them except at a loss. All my work gone for nothing! ’
My home, a 158-acre farm, part woodland, is in Madison County, New York. I sell milk to the Dairyman’s League, take a few boarders (when I can get them) in the summer time, raise my own cows, sell my surplus calves to the local butcher, also make a few dollars (last year it amounted to $341.14) by the sale of peas and sweet corn to the cannery at; Canastota and eggs, chickens, raspberries, cherries, alfalfa, and potatoes locally. My farm cost me, in March 1898, $6310. I have about $3000 invested in cows and a milking machine, $475 in three horses, and about $2000 in wagons, harness, tools, and farm machinery. Two thousand dollars may seem like a lot of money for a small farmer to put in machinery, but with the high cost of farm labor it is an absolute necessity. I have a grain drill, hay loader, sidedelivery rake, manure spreader, reaper and binder, one two-horse riding cultivator, one one-horse walking cultivator, one plough, one side-hill plough, one small auto truck (I use this principally to deliver milk to and bring back empty cans from the milk station, some seven miles distant), one bobsled, two wagons, two sets of double and one set of single harness, a spring-tooth harrow, a disk harrow, and a smoothing harrow. I have also spent about $1600 on a silo, milk house, and engine. So, as can be seen from the above figures, I have $13,385 invested in my business. My farm cost $6310, but as a dwelling house cannot st rictly be counted as part of a business investment I have deducted $2500 as the cost of my house, leaving a balance of $10,885 to be reckoned as entirely a farm investment.
I have two children, a boy of thirteen and a girl of twelve. The boy helps me on the farm (and I would rather have him than nine tenths of the hired men I can get), while the girl assists her mother in the house and does some light work on the place, such as gathering, cleaning, and candling the eggs, dressing chickens, picking berries and vegetables, and, occasionally, going for the cows. I suppose it would be fair to say that the boy, counting winter and summer, averages four hours a day and the girl two hours, making a total of 2190 hours a year. My wife does some work on the place, but her housework and other duties occupy her time so fully that she has but little left to help on the farm, so I have not counted her time at all. I put in about thirteen hours a day for seven months of the year and about eleven hours for the other five months, although on the fifty-two Sundays during the year I work only about five hours a day. On Sundays all that has to be done between the time I get up and dinner time is to brush off the cows, clean the cow stable, milk, feed the chickens, feed the pigs, groom the horses and clean out the stable, attend to the calves, and take the milk to the milk depot. Between dinner and bedtime the only work consists of feeding the chickens and pigs, gathering the eggs, cleaning out the cow stables and milking the cows, feeding and bedding down the horses, and attending to the calves.
I read a signed article by Henry Ford some months ago in one of the magazines in which the illustrious proprietor of the Peace Ship and critic of the Jews stated that ‘the farmer does practically no work for seven months of the year.’ I should like to have the brilliant Mr. Ford spend those seven months on my farm.
But to go back to the subject of labor and money invested. I have $10,885 invested in my business; my children work 2190 hours at that business and I work 4067 hours, a total of 6257 hours.
From January 1927 to January 1928 my gross income from the farm was: —
My milk receipts (counting in my bonus) from the Dairyman’s League amounted to $1952.24. The total would have been somewhat more than this had I not fed some of the milk to pigs and some to the boarders. My old Berkshire sow died a few days after her tenth litter arrived, so I had to use some whole milk for the little pigs; and we had three boarders during all August and most of September. I have not counted their board as part of the income from the farm because my wife did most of the work and I felt she should have all the money.
My expenses on the farm for feed (I raise most of my own feed), blacksmithing, repair work, taxes, tires, gasoline, and oil for the milk truck, extra labor when we were filling the silo, threshing, and cutting ice, gasoline, oil, tubing, and repairs for the milking machine, oil and grease for the farm machinery, amounted to $895.77. So my farm account for the year 1927-1928 was as follows: —
|Money invested in plant||$10,885|
|Hours of labor of myself||4,067|
|Hours of labor of my children||2,190|
|From sale of milk||$1,952.24|
|From other sources||341.14|
|Total income received||$2,293.38|
|Total cost of operating plant||895.77|
It is fair to allow me 6 per cent on my $10,885 investment (most business enterprises expect to — and do — receive a much higher rate than that for the money invested in the business), which would amount to $653.10. Subtracting this from $1397.61 leaves a balance of $744.51 to represent the pay for 6257 hours of labor of myself and my children, or an average of a little less than twelve cents an hour!
The town children and the children of the foreigners sometimes hire out, and the lowest you can get them for is twenty cents an hour. Figuring the work of my children at that rate would amount to $438.00. Subtracting that from $744.51 leaves $306.51, which is the amount I received for 4067 hours of work — the tremendous pay of seven and a half cents an hour! Can you imagine any other trade or profession in America working for that pitiful sum? And I am considered one of the most successful farmers in Madison County! I know dozens of farmers in New York State who cannot make both ends meet, and dozens more — if what they tell me is true — in Colorado, Texas, Arizona, and Florida who cannot make enough to feed themselves and pay their taxes.
Of course, a farmer has to take into consideration that he has no house rent to pay and that he raises a large percentage of the food he and his family consume, so that his grocer and butcher bills are much less than those of men in other occupations; but, even giving that advantage every consideration, there is no doubt that the farmer receives far less for his labor than any other American worker. For instance, just compare what I receive per hour with what my brother, the railroad engineer, receives, and my nephew, the government mail carrier, and my niece, the New York public-school teacher. My brother has a run of two hours in the morning and two in the afternoon, four hours of actual service, and receives $310 a month. His overtime brings his pay up to fully $3.00 per hour. An engineer’s pay depends upon so many conditions — the size of his engine, its speed, and the like — that I could never quite take in the details, but I know that for years his income has never been less than $4000. My nephew, the R. F. D. carrier, receives about $2.60 an hour of actual service; while my school-teacher niece receives $4.93 per hour. And these figures do not take into account the fat pensions they will all receive. Their average pay is three dollars and a half an hour. Mine is seven and a half cents an hour. Is it any wonder that we farmers see red?
What is the reason for this, and what is the remedy?
It seems to me that what the farmer has to sell he disposes of in a competitive market, a market largely (although not always entirely) governed by the law of demand and supply, while what he has to buy he buys in a market of forced or unnatural prices. If I should take my milk or eggs or vegetables or alfalfa to Utica and, standing in the public square, announce, ‘C’onte on, ladies and gentlemen, I will sell you these goods at the lowest-bid prices,’ I should receive as much as, perhaps more than, I do for them now. But suppose my Senator or Congressman, or sheriff or road commissioner or R. F. D. carrier or teacher in the public school, or the president or engineer or conductor of the road that carries my milk to New York, or the union laborer who helped make my shoes or clothing or plough, should stand in the same public square and announce, ‘Come on, ladies and gentlemen, my position is to be sold in the open market to the bidder who will take it at the lowest figure.’ Would there not be thousands of men and women who would be only too glad to take the positions at half, or a good deal less than half, of the present pay?
The railroad worker, by political and economic pressure, by intimidation, destruction of property, strikes, violence, arson, and murder, has forced wages up to an entirely unnatural level, and the same may be said of practically all unionized labor; while teachers, especially since women received the vote, have employed threats of political destruction to force salaries (especially in cities of the first and second class) up to ridiculous proportions. For instance, in New York State in 1890 there were 23,835 public-school teachers, receiving $10,422,171, and in 1926 there were 66,434 teachers, receiving $140,930,059 (which does not include pension payments); so that, while the number of teachers increased less than 200 per cent, their salaries increased more than 1300 per cent! Are farmers receiving 1300 per cent more for their labor than they did in 1890? Well, not exactly!
The past year my niece who is a teacher in New York City received $4,93 an hour for every hour she worked. Her youngest sister (who also tried for a teacher’s job, but found that every position had about fifty applicants) is a stenographer for a law firm in Yonkers. She received less than eighty cents an hour. The older sister was receiving a forced price, the younger sister a natural price.
If unionization and political pressure have proved so successful with other trades and professions, the person unfamiliar with agricultural conditions naturally wonders why farmers do not employ the same methods. There is nothing to prevent them from doing so. In fact, farmers and union laborers are the only individuals who can combine to put up prices and not be liable for prosecution under the Sherman antitrust law.
The reason the farmers do not combine to put up the prices of what they have to sell is that they cannot do so without injury to themselves. The plumber who lives in New Orleans, the plumber who lives in Chicago, and the plumber who lives in Atlantic City all have but one object in common — higher prices for their labor and shorter hours of work, or higher prices for the same hours of work. But the desires of the farmer who lives in Louisiana, the farmer who lives in Illinois, and the farmer who lives in New Jersey are diametrically opposed to each other. The sugar-cane grower of Louisiana wants a high price for sugar and a low price for wheat and corn; the Illinois farmer wants a high price for wheat and corn and a low price for sugar; while the poultry farmer of New Jersey wants a low price on what both the Louisiana and Illinois farmers have to sell, but he wants to see his own products — eggs and poultry — bring a good big sum. So what is meat for the planter in Louisiana or Mississippi is poison for the farmer in Pennsylvania or Iowa.
Pleasant old gentlemen with theoretical cure-alls for agriculture, practical politicians, and farm ‘experts’ with axes to grind (and checks to receive) have advocated ‘coöperative associations’ and ‘one big union’ of the farmers. It would be just as sensible to advocate one big union of lawyer and client, or one big union of cats and mice, for how can a body of men whose interests are diametrically opposed to one another, even though they may all be classed under the general name of ‘farmers,’ form one big union?
Have they, then, no interest in common ? Have they no object to be gained upon which farmers of the North and South and East and West may all agree?
Yes, they have. All farmers have two ends to gain — lower transportation costs and lower taxes on farm property. Even the politicians, as evidenced by the platforms of the two major parties during the last presidential campaign, have come to the conclusion that farming as an American industry will cease to exist unless agriculture receives relief in some form. And what does the party in power propose to do to help the farmer? Does it propose to make railroad presidents and vice presidents and general managers and chairmen of boards, and conductors, engineers, firemen, oilers, and telegraph operators reduce their salaries and wages to a reasonable or competitive basis? Oh, no, indeed! For has n’t Henry Ford said that the way for a country to be happy and prosperous is for everybody to receive high wages for short hours of labor? And has n’t President. Green of the American Federation of Labor announced that the receipt for making America rich and contented is to pay all labor (by which he meant all union labor) the very highest wages for a five-day week of six hours a day? And does not the Grand Old Republican Party want everybody to be prosperous? Indeed it does!
Well, then, how do President Hoover and his followers in Congress propose to help the man who makes his living from the soil?
They propose to do three things: first, to raise the tariff on all agricultural products grown in the United States; second, to build great inland waterways, costing hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars, so that the farmer may move his crops ‘at a reasonable cost of transportation,’ to quote President Hoover; third, to spend one hundred and fifty million dollars through the Federal Farm Board to help farmers. To me — just an ordinary dirt farmer—no more foolish, extravagant, and silly legislation has ever been proposed.
There is already a ‘tariff wall’ so high around the United States that even the cow that jumped over the moon would have difficulty in scaling it. Should a man desire that simplest of all meals, bread and cheese, he finds that the flour has a tax of $3.12 a barrel and the cheese five to seven and a half cents a pound. Should he care to substitute butter for cheese, the tax would be twelve cents a pound. And even should the present rates be doubled, what good will that do the farmer? It has been estimated that the proposed tariff changes will increase the food cost twelve and two-thirds cents a meal per person. At a rate of three meals a day, this means that Mr. Taxpayer must contribute $138.70 a year to help the farmer out. John Doe, who has a wife and two little Does, will have to pay $554.80 more a year for his food supplies.
If farmers were exempt from this tax we should most enthusiastically approve of the measure, — for we are just as selfish as any other class of worker, — but unfortunately the farmer is a buyer as well as a seller. If the tariff is raised, I shall receive more for my milk, berries, eggs, and potatoes, but I shall also pay more for my flour, sugar, rice, and oatmeal; although, of course, what I purchase does not amount to as much as what I sell.
And how will the carpenter, the plumber, the railroad man, the miner, the politician, the teacher, the Federal officeholder, — all those trades and professions which have the power, more or less, to increase their own pay,
— how will these ladies and gentlemen accept the increased cost of food products? Will they say, ‘Oh, well, the farmer is a jolly good fellow; and, as the poor chap has been having bad luck for the last few years, let’s all chip in, pay the extra cost, and say nothing’?
It seems more likely that Mr. Bricklayer, for instance, when presented with his butcher and grocer and milk bill for the month, will demand, ‘Why should I, a poor man with a wife and children to support, pay $554.80 a year to some farmer? If I’ve got to pay $554.80 more for food each year, then I’ve got to get $554.80 more in my pay envelope to meet the increased cost of living.’ And up will go the wages of Mr. Bricklayer, and up will go the wages and salaries of every other organized and unionized worker in the United States, so that Mr. Farmer will pay more taxes, and more for his boots and his shoes and his clothing and everything he has to buy.
As for ‘great inland waterways,’ such a scheme is as foolishly impractical as it is wickedly extravagant. How are these great inland waterways to be paid for? Why, by the taxes, of course. And is the farmer a taxpayer? He most certainly is! And so the farmer is to have more taxes added to his already overburdened shoulders; and not only the farmer, but every individual in the United States is to be made to contribute to the cost of an enterprise which will never pay even the interest on the cost, and all because the railroads or the Government or the public in general cannot or will not make the railroad worker accept a reasonable wage.
But suppose the great inland waterways are ever built — what will be the result as far as the farmer is concerned? Why, the fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters and uncles and aunts and cousins and in-laws, and every ‘loyal party worker’ out of a job, will be provided with a nice position, holding a fat pension in the offing, on the great inland waterways; and even before a single bag of wheat or one horned animal has been placed upon a barge the ‘International Union of Waterways Workers’ will have been formed and the cost of transportation upon the great inland waterways will be as high as on the railroads.
The Parcel Post is an example of what happens to governmental agencies formed ‘ to help the farmer.’ When the Parcel Post was added to the Post Office Department in 1912 it was universally hailed by agricultural publications, by the Republican Party (then in power), and by the farmers themselves as a great boon. It was largely to cut out the middleman. The farmer could ship his ham and bacon and berries and vegetables and peanuts and maple syrup and oranges and eggs and poultry direct to the consumer, thus securing the highest retail price. In 1913, the year after the Parcel Post was established, agricultural products formed more than 65 per cent of the articles carried. Then it gradually came about that R. F. D. carriers, to meet ’the increased cost of living’ and conform to ’the American standard of living,’ had to receive increased pay, sick-leave pay, vacation pay, pensions, and what not. Now Rural Post cost is as high as, in some instances higher than, express charges; and in 1927 less than 5 per cent of the articles carried were agricultural products. Also during the last few years certain regulations have been added so that the big shippers have advantages that are denied to farmers.
I wanted to send some pecans and peanuts north to my children. I pasted a strip of paper around the box, exactly as Sears, Roebuck and other big firms do, and I printed on it in large black letters, ‘Notice. Postmaster may open for inspection.’ When I handed it in to the postmaster he remarked that I should have to cut the pasted slip.
‘Why?’ I demanded. ‘Sears, Roebuck sent that box exactly that same way to me.’
‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘but big firms using regularly printed labels are the only ones who can send packages that way.’
‘Then farmers cannot do it, even though the notice is printed on a typewriter and worded exactly the same?’
‘No,’ he snapped, ‘it is only for the big people.’
And so I sent my peanuts and pecans as the Post Office Department requires us little people to do, and when the box reached mv home there was not a pecan or peanut left in the package.
I have two Northern Spy and two Tompkins King apple trees behind my house. A man who boarded with us one summer, and who has a small winter home below Miami, is very fond of both these varieties. He would gladly pay me two dollars a bushel for these apples,— and I should be very glad to accept it, — but if I try to send a bushel of apples to my friend I find the Parcel Post cost, not counting insurance or special-delivery fees, amounts to $5.78. This means that the apples would cost my friend $19.45 a barrel — $5.00 for the apples and $14.45 for the Parcel Post charges. Naturally, I do not send him many apples! That shows what a great help Parcel Post is to farmers.
If our noble Solons at Washington would look back a few years and study the history of the Erie Canal in my native state, they might learn something to their advantage — if a politician ever can learn anything to the advantage of anybody — about ‘great inland waterways.’
As to the expenditure of $150,000,000 (which is only a starter) by the Federal Farm Board, we farmers are opposed to it for several reasons. In the first place, after the salaries and traveling expenses of Tom, Dick, and Harry are paid there won’t be much left of that $150,000,000. In the second place, it is special and class legislation, and we farmers are bitterly opposed to every variety of privilege and class favoritism. It is our contention that the Government of the United States has no more right to appropriate and lend one hundred and fifty million dollars to farmers than it would have to lend fifty millions to garbage collectors, seventyfive millions to shoemakers, or two hundred millions to stove manufacturers, however worthy and necessary those three occupations may be. In the third place, we farmers do not want to be regarded as beggars. We do not want gifts. We want justice!
I can, of course, speak only for myself and the farmers I know in New York, Colorado, Texas, Arizona, and Florida; but I have an idea that our wishes are about the same as those of the rest of the farmers. We share certain views on the government and policy of the country which may not always seem directly related to farming, but which we think more important than all the juggling yet done with farm problems.
1. We should like Congressmen to be elected by states, not by districts as at present. That is, a Congressman need not necessarily reside in the district he represents. If the voters of Madison County wanted Mr. Sensible to represent them in Congress, they ought to be allowed to elect him, even though Mr. Sensible resides in Washington or Westchester County. This method of electing Congressmen would lessen the power of local bosses and would remove the pressure at present exerted upon Congress by Prohibitionists, Union Labor, Church organizations, Protectionists, and other improper lobbies.
5. We farmers feel that government pensions absorb an enormous and unjustified amount of public tax money, whether these pensions are military or civil, whether they are paid to railroad workers, teachers, or what not. The idea of a poor farmer being taxed to pay a pension to a former President’s wife, or to an ex-governor, not to mention thousands of others who for years have held fat government jobs! Pensions are well enough in theory, but when a farmer — or anybody else except a pensioner — pays his taxes it gets under his skin to feel that he is sup-
porting a crowd of government workers with secure jobs and certain futures.
3. Farmers are against the creation of new political offices, boards, committees, and departments, even when they are ostensibly designed to help the farmer. The farmer believes with Thomas Jefferson that‘the less we are governed, the better we are governed.’ I have read that it is an economic maxim that the power to tax is the power to destroy, and I believe history shows us many instances in which the over-taxation of the common people by the nobles and landed aristocracy led the former to rise up and destroy the government. And how about America? Is n’t the history of the United States one continuous record of increased taxation? Have n’t wc merely swapped a tax-eating titled class for a lot of elective and appointive tax-eating grafters? It cost $38,500,400 a day to run the United States during the year 1928! That means that it takes one day in every seven — 52 days a year — from every wage-earning man, woman, and child in this country to pay for the cost of government. It also means that every nine of us have to pay to support one person on the public pay roll. In 1828 one person in every forty-eight was upon the public pay roll. Quite a difference! Have we a government ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’ or have we a government of, by, and for the officeholders?
I believe it was some witty Frenchman who wrote, ‘The best system of taxation is the one that produces the most feathers with the least squawking from the plucked birds.’ And another Frenchman who, when comparing his king with a republic, said, ‘I would as lief be eaten by one lion as by a thousand rats.’ Well, the farmers in this country have been plucked and plucked until they have not a feather left, but they’ve been squawking now for some years and the time is coming — and coming mighty soon —when they will make their squawks so loud and clear that even the deafest person in the United States will sit up and take notice. The French farmers arose and killed their king, and the American farmers—unless conditions change mightily—are going to rise up and kill their rats.
4. To farmers the tariff is a sore point. Every farmer naturally wants a high tariff on what he has to sell, but, although the politicians may think otherwise, we farmers as a class are opposed to protection as a national policy. In past days the farmer, especially the Northern and Western farmer, was a believer in a high protective tariff. He raised practically all the food he consumed; his homespun clothes, socks, shirts, mittens, caps, and very often his underwear, his axe and pitchfork and shovel handles, his bobsled and oxcart, and part of his household furniture were all made at home. He purchased but little. In 1884 (I happen to have his account book for that year), my father, a well-to-do farmer, spent (leaving out his taxes, church dues, and life and fire insurance) less than one hundred dollars cash money — and that was for a family of five persons. But in these days the farmer is a buyer as well as a seller. He has seen the tariff used to enrich the merchant and the manufacturer until millionaires in this country are as plentiful as tabby cats. He has seen the lobbyist, he has seen corruption and bribery and every form of governmental favoritism, flourish like the green bay tree in the soil of the tariff. He has seen the hours of work decrease and the rate of pay increase year after year until now many forms of union labor are receiving from 400 to 3000 per cent more per hour than they did twenty-five years ago. He remembers how President Harrison, while extolling ‘Republican’ prosperity and the Republican tariff, made the wonderful discovery that ’a cheap coat makes a cheap man.’ He has listened to false prophets extolling high tariff and high wages with such wearisome iteration that now, as he looks over his unpaid bills, his overdue taxes, and his duplicate copy of mortgage deeds, he comes to the conclusion that, with all due respect to Henry Ford and Arthur Brisbane and President Hoover and the Grand Old Republican Party, he would like to try a change to low tariff and low wages.
These paragraphs express the attitude of the farmers toward the present political structure and tendencies of the government. We believe it would be to our financial, political, and social benefit if changes were made in conformity with these views. But there are other changes which we farmers arc going to insist upon. We are prepared to express our insistence by methods which will be criticized for lack of gentleness.
First of all, we want lower government expenditures in national, state, county, and town governments. This will mean a lowering of taxes, including the present exorbitant and crippling taxes on farm property. Next, lower transportation charges—lower by 40 to 60 per cent. Finally, the curbing and controlling of the excessive power of organized and unionized labor. If the railroad worker (and this applies to the president of the road as well as to the fireman) will not give the farmers — and not only the farmers, but every non-union person as well — a square deal, then the farmers are going to force him to do so.