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of the conditions as they exist now. When this bill is enacted, then the conditions would be entirely different and each would stand upon its own merits.
Mr. WINSLOW. Does that statement which you made-I am merely asking for information, you know
Mr. BONYNGE. Certainly, Mr. Winslow.
Mr. WINSLOW (continuing). Does that statement that you make, that under present conditions shoddy manufacturers are able to get the price of virgin wool material, suggest a profiteering on the part of the shoddy manufacturer, or are you prepared to allow that they are in some cases entitled to the price of the virgin wool?
Mr. BONYNGE. That I can not answer; because that the public will answer. Economic law will determine that.
Mr. WINSLOW. How?
Mr. BONYNGE. The demand for the goods will determine it. After you take away the conditions which now exist, whereby the public are purchasing shoddy assuming that they are getting virgin wool, and allow the unhampered sway of the law of supply and demand and other economic laws to determine the value of these goods, then the public themselves will determine.
Mr. WINSLOw. As to the consideration of values, which I understood you to be talking about for the moment, is there any economic theory on which you could suggest that the manufacturer of shoddy goods should not get as much as if they were all wool, if they were as good or better?
Mr. BONYNGE. Absolutely not. If they were as good or better, they ought to get as much for them as for virgin wool.
Mr. WINSLOW. Would you not suggest, in regard to price and value, to get down to the question of informing the public clearly what they are getting, regardless of value?
Mr. BONYNGE. That is exactly what we seek to do by this bill, to inform the public as to what they get; and when they are informed as to what they get, then the general economic law will come into play and determine the real value.
But that is not the present condition. At the present time, as Mr. French showed you, the manufacturer of a woven fabric can secure the shoddy that makes up the fabric at about 50 cents a pound, I believe he said.
Mr. FRENCH. Yes.
Mr. BONYNGE. Approximately 50 cents a pound, or $2 for the material that would enter into the ordinary suit of clothes. But if he was to purchase the virgin wool necessary to make up a suit of clothes, he would have to pay for that virgin wool $2 a pound, or it would cost him $8 for the amount of material that would enter into a suit of clothes.
If, at the present time, he is able to sell the shoddy as the virgin wool, he is able to get the price of virgin wool, namely, $8, for his material that enters into the suit of clothes, plus whatever legitimate profit he is entitled to for the manufacture of the goods, instead of the $2 which he paid as the original cost of the material that entered the goods; and that cost is not the only expense to which the public is subjected in the price it pays for the goods, but it is multiplied once or twice over, necessarily, in the course of the handling of the fabric from the manufacturer before it reaches the ultimate con
sumer; so that by the time it reaches the ultimate consumer, instead of its being $6 that the shoddy manufacturer has gotten in excess of what is his legitimate price, he has gotten perhaps $12 or $15. Mr. MERRITT. Who gets it?
Mr. BONYNGE. The manufacturer.
Mr. WINSLOW. Do you mean, now, taking a standard grade of virgin wool and comparing it with any old shoddy?
Mr. BONYNGE. No: that is assuming you took the very best shoddy and the best kind of virgin wool with which he comes in competition. Mr. WINSLOW. And your assertion is that in the market the shoddy cloth is bringing as much as the other?
Mr. BONYNGE. Yes.
Mr. WINSLOW. Can you demonstrate that in any way, by any testimony, Mr. French, if you have it? Have you any statistics or facts or invoices or exhibits to show that shoddy is actually bringing
as much as virgin wool?
Mr. FRENCH. I thought that I had developed that idea yesterday when I said that in my judgment practically all of the people of this country assume from their understanding of the trade words "all wool," that they are buying virgin wool materials and fabrics, and they are paying for them what they assume to be the price for a virgin wool article.
Mr. WINSLOW. I respect your judgment, but I was looking for concrete examples to demonstrate the assertion that Mr. Bonynge makes that that is a fact.
Mr. BONYNGE. I think Mr. French referred to or read a statement from fiber manufacturers.
Mr. FRENCH. From Fiber and Fabrics.
Mr. BONYNGE. From Fiber and Fabrics, a trade paper, which asserted as a fact that in the very best establishments shoddy is contained in the goods that are sold to the public.
Mr. WINSLOW. Do you think that the maker of that statement would be willing to come and help you out by giving testimony on that?
Mr. BONYNGE. I could not answer for anybody else but myself. I certainly could not answer for him.
Mr. WINSLOW. I just asked your judgment about it.
Mr. BONYNGE. There may be reasons why he would not do so. Mr. FRENCH. May I suggest that if he would not, it certainly lends a great deal of credence to his statement made at the time he was not thinking of this discussion.
Mr. WINSLOW. There are several ways of answering that.
Mr. BONYNGE. This shows the public interest in this situation. It is this condition that accounts for the exorbitant price of clothing today, undoubtedly. We do not assume to say by this legislation that shoddy shall not be used. There is no provision in the bill anywhere that prevents a manufacturer from using all shoddy if he wants to, or part shoddy. All that we seek to do by this legislation is to require that the manufacturer shall give to the public the knowledge which the public is unable to obtain by an inspection of the article, regarding the contents of the article; and once the public gets that information, once the public is able to know what it is purchasing, then and not until then does the question of the relative merits of either of these materials enter into the discussion,
and the relative merits of those various materials will be determined not by the manufacturer, but by the demand of the public; and if the shoddy is better than the virgin wool, then shoddy will command the price that it ought to command in the market.
A question was asked, and I think has been referred to again this morning, whether the enactment of this bill would not increase the price of virgin wool. Now, as I have said before, Mr. Winslow, I do not think you can absolutely determine whether it would or not. Mr. JONES. It is a fact that there will not be enough virgin wool to clothe the people of the United States?
Mr. BONYNGE. Absolutely.
Mr. JONES. And it is also a fact that there are a certain class of people that will classify the quality of their clothing, and they will assume that virgin wool is better than anything else?
Mr. BONYNGE. Possibly.
Mr. JONES. That will be the common acceptation?
Mr. BONYNGE. On the part of some people, possibly.
Mr. JONES. May not the effect of that be, in the light of the production, to put an enormous price on all-wool clothes?
Mr. BONYNGE. I think not. As the matter stands to-day, you have fallen into just the trouble, exactly, that exists in this matter, because you speak of "all wool" as if it were virgin wool. That simply emphasizes the condition as it exists with the public generally, and you are expressing the interpretation placed by the public generally upon the contents of woven fabrics by referring to an "allwool" fabric as a virgin-wool fabric. It may be true that there may be some people who would prefer virgin-wool garments, those that contain exclusively virgin wool, and that is their right and privilege. The number of such people would be extremely limited. The only people who can obtain virgin wool in their garments now are the very rich or the very comfortably fixed.
Mr. JONES. Let me put another question to you. You spoke of your own suit of clothes a moment ago.
Mr. BONYNGE. Yes.
Mr. JONES. Is it not true that the price a person pays for an article is regulated largely by his pocketbook and his resources?
Mr. BONYNGE. Not altogether. If I could regulate the price of my clothes to the size of my pocketbook, I would not pay what I do
Mr. JONES. If you had picked out that suit, you would have paid more or less, if it was stamped?
Mr. BONYNGE. Stamped virgin wool"?
Mr. JONES. Yes.
Mr. BONYNGE. That would depend on whether I wanted virgin wool or whether I wanted shoddy, and which I considered better. If I found by experience that a suit which contained shoddy was better than one made of virgin wool, and cost me less, I would certainly buy the shoddy.
Mr. JONES. Then the price would not be regulated by what it contained, but it would be regulated by your likes and dislikes.
Mr. BONYNGE. Not my likes and dislikes, but what the relative. merits of the two materials were that entered into the production of these articles; whereas it is not so now.
Mr. JONES. If you had liked that suit of clothes you would have taken it, regardless of how it was marked or stamped?
Mr. BONYNGE. No; if the stamp was "all shoddy," and I did not consider that shoddy was as good as virgin wool, I might not have taken it. It would depend both upon the material and how it was stamped, and the price that was asked; and it would leave to me instead of to somebody else the determination of what I was to take; whereas under the present conditions I have no way of exercising that choice. If I should go to a tailor today and ask for an all-wool suit, which would probably have been what I would have asked for if I had not learned, through my connection with this legislation, that "all wool" did not mean what I had assumed it to mean, and he had made me a price for an all-wool suit, I probably would have felt it necessary to pay that price; and then I would not have gotten, perhaps, what I had paid for.
Mr. SIMS. As I understand, your theory is this, that virgin wool garments should be sold as such.
Mr. BONYNGE. Yes.
Mr. SIMS. And let one form of virgin wool garments compete with another of virgin wool; and that shoddy or anything not made out of virgin wool ought to have its own field of competition?
Mr. BONYNGE. Let it compete with virgin wool as what it is. Mr. SIMS. You want them to compete with knowledge of what they are?
Mr. BONYNGE. Yes, sir; absolutely.
Mr. SIMS. You just want them undisguised, and let the purchaser determine for himself?
Mr. BONYNGE. What objection can there be to giving the public this information? What sound reason can there be advanced by anyone why the public should not have knowledge of the contents of the articles they are purchasing?
Mr. MERRITT. I see no objection, unless, if I may answer your question
Mr. BONYNGE. Yes.
Mr. MERRITT. I see no objection, unless in the process of giving that information you are going to subject the manufacturers to such trouble and expense as will raise the price of all clothing.
Mr. BONYNGE. Then, in other words, instead of allowing the people to determine what they want to buy, we are going to have it determined by allowing this deception to be practiced upon them.
Mr. MERRITT. I think it is a question whether there is any deception practiced upon them, for this reason, and it seems to me, from what Mr. Jones was asking about, that it has a good deal of basis. If I go into a clothing store, in the first place I usually pick out a man that I think is reliable, and I say that I want a suit of business clothes. I do not ask any questions about all wool or shoddy. I say, "Is this good cloth, and will it wear well?" He says, "Yes." Then, if it is within my means, I buy it.
If a man with a store next door advertises a suit for half the price, in the first place my understanding is that there is a nigger in the woodpile somewhere and I might question his integrity. It is a question of trust, I think. If I find that that man's suit does not wear, I do not go back to him.
You are assuming, it seems to me, that every man is going to be an expert on clothing, to buy his clothes.
Mr. BONYNGE. No; not at all. I am assuming that he is not expert and can not determine by inspection.
Mr. MERRITT. As I understand you, if he was to make an examina
Mr. BONYNGE. He could not ascertain.
Mr. MERRITT. He would not know whether it was better or worse? Mr. BONYNGE. No; he would not know whether it was better or worse, but he might be in a position to determine whether the shoddy was better or worse than the all-wool.
Mr. MERRITT. He would have to buy the suit to find that out? Mr. BONYNGE. Yes.
Mr. MERRITT. It would be left to him anyhow?
Mr. BONYNGE. It would be left, as I said, to follow the general economic laws, and the law of supply and demand, which would regulate that matter.
Mr. JONES. If the shoddy was better than the virgin wool, it ought to sell for more than the virgin wool.
Mr. BONYNGE. And it would, if the law was in effect long enough so as to determine whether the shoddy was better than the virgin wool. If it was, he would pay more for the shoddy.
Mr. JONES. If a man lived long enough to determine whether his shoddy suit was better than a virgin-wool suit, he would buy shoddy suits?
Mr. BONYNGE. Yes.
Mr. JONES. But do you think that the American public will accept the proposition that shoddy is better than virgin wool, even though it may be?
Mr. BONYNGE. Do I think they would accept it?
Mr. JONES. Yes; as a fact?
Mr. BONYNGE. I can not answer that. That depends upon the desire of the public. If they found that it was better than virgin wool, I have no doubt they would accept it.
Mr. BARKLEY. If they did determine that, it would be on the theory that the longer a suit is worn the better it becomes.
Mr. SIMS. Perhaps the answer to that would be that a suit of clothes is like liquor, the older it is the better it becomes. [Laughter.] Mr. MERRITT. Would you have them say, in this instance, shoddy 50 per cent is better than virgin wool?
Mr. BONYNGE. There is no necessity at all, so far as legislation is concerned, to fix the relative merits. That we do not assume to do in the sale of any article. That we leave to be determined by the general law.
Mr. MERRITT. The whole theory of the thing is to inform an innocent purchaser whether he is getting stuck or not?
Mr. BONYNGE. Not at all. The whole theory of this is to give the purchaser the truth and the information that he can not obtain for himself; just exactly as in the pure-food law. He can not tell whether the article is adulterated or not by inspecting the article, and so you require that the manufacturer shall brand it and state what it contains.
Mr. WINSLOW. Is any cloth manufacturer now making any brand that states it is made of virgin wool wholly?
Mr. BONYNGE. I think so.
Mr. WINSLOW. Is that a general practice?