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work by those obtained in others, and can co-ordinate, unify, and verify the whole.
This last is an extremely important consideration. If I should seek the one word which best describes the most useful function of the permanent office, I should call it the standardization of official statistics; and you will permit me briefly to illustrate what I mean. One of the great defects of the statistical work of the government has been not merely the duplication of statistics, but the inconsistency and discrepancy which have existed between statistics on subjects closely related, emanating from different bureaus of the government.
Not all the duplication has disappeared, but it has been greatly curtailed since the establishment of the permanent office.
The inconsistencies and discrepancies have been still more reduced; and the federal statistics harmonize with each other more nearly since the permanent office came into being than ever before. There is still much to be done in this way; and I esteem this one of the most important functions of the permanent office.
The plan pursued to this end is very simple. It rests upon the proposition that the Census Office is a sort of general statistical clearing house for the government. There is hardly a point at which its work does not come in touch, more or less close, with the statistical work done by other government offices. Wherever and whenever this contact arises, it is the policy of the Census Office to get into touch with that other office, and by co-operation, study, comparison, to bring the joint results into harmony.
The statistics of gold and silver production, as compiled by the census, the Mint, and the Geological Survey, now harmonize; and they are more accurate than ever before, because their compilation has had the benefit of the combined knowledge, facilities, and experience of all three offices.
The statistics of imports and exports have been so reclassified that they harmonize with the census statistics of manufactures, and it is now possible to determine, for every great line of manufacture, with each recurring five-year census, just what
proportion of the product is exported and what proportion consumed at home.
The annual statistics of the lumber cut, required by the Forest Service, are now compiled by the Census Office in co-operation with the Forestry Bureau, and harmonize with the five-year censuses of the lumber industry. The statistics of fisheries are compiled in co-operation with the Fish Commission. A close working arrangement exists between the census and the Inter-State Commerce Commission in the compilation of the statistics of transportation. In agricultural statistics the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Statistics of the Department of Agriculture now interchange information and work together instead of seeking to discredit each other's figures, as was formerly the case. The Geological Survey and the Census Office unite in collecting the statistics of mining. Arrangements are pending for similar co-operation with the Bureau of Education. I might illustrate by a number of additional instances.
Until there was a permanent Census Office, this co-ordination and correlation of government statistics was impossible, because there was no bureau of the government whose business it was to bring it about.
Curiously enough, it is a reason for the existence of a permanent office which was not even thought of when the bill for its establishment was under consideration in Congress.
But it is not alone in federal statistics that this good work is progressing. The Census Office is in more or less intimate touch with the statistical bureaus of all the States; and the work of standardizing their schedules of inquiry and their presentation of data has made rapid progress.
Quite as important is the census work in the standardizing of vital statistics. The United States is behind, and far behind, every other great civilized nation—including Japan-in the field of vital statistics,—the field that touches the people most closely because of its intimate relation to the public health. As to births, we have no registration whatever of which any effective use can be made. As to deaths, but few of the States
have possessed effective registration laws until recently. Formerly the laws differed widely in scope and requirement, and the returns under them were impossible of scientific classification. In the brief interval since the census has been at work in this field, it has secured the adoption of its "standard certificate" of deaths in practically the entire registration area, thus making it possible, for the first time, to accurately judge the health conditions of one community by comparison with those in others. No single step ever taken by a federal bureau meant so much for the future physical welfare and sanitary protection of the American people as the successful introduction of this "standard certificate.” If we had done nothing else, we would still have justified our existence by this single achievement. Moreover, largely as the result of an earnest propaganda by the Census Office, the number of States and cities in which effective registration laws are efficiently administered has greatly increased. These States and cities contained a population of 30,765,618 in 1900, or 40.5 per cent. of the total population: now they represent a population of 36,846,981, or 48.5 per cent. of the total. We are hopeful that at least two great States of the Middle West will be added during the present winter.
A third field in which the census is blazing the way to standardization is that of public accounting. Confusion worse confounded exists in the methods of book-keeping which now prevail in State, city, town, and county governments. In whatever direction we turn, we find an absence of uniformity, a lack of system, a confusion of methods, which originated in the separate organization of independent States and independent communities within the States. The progress of our own peculiar civilization is conditional upon the gradual unification of these diverse and conflicting statutory and administrative anomalies in the book-keeping of public finances. The most prolific source of municipal graft, its securest hidingplace, its most effective agency in seeking immunity, is the chaos existing in municipal book-keeping and in the classification of municipal accounts.
To each of the 157 cities of the United States having a population of 30,000 and over, a representative of the census goes every year, and so classifies the receipts and expenditures for every purpose that each city now knows just what it costs, in comparison with the cost in other cities of its class, to maintain schools, police, fire department, streets, sewers, every important item of municipal expense. This is a magnificent work, furnishing a most effective weapon in the crusade for municipal reform and rehabilitation now sweeping over the United States.
These are some of the directions in which the permanent Census Office has already been able to lay the foundation for the standardization of official statistics. Our plans contemplate the unification of these statistics at every point where the work of the census touches the statistical work of any bureau, board, or commission in any State, city, or county throughout the United States. To lead the way, by example, by co-operation, by advice, in reducing the huge mass of illarranged and discordant State and municipal statistics to an orderly and comparable basis, is a most important function of the permanent census.
These things make me confident that the outlook for statistical science, in its application to government work, is full of promise and encouragement. A definite, well-directed movement for the standardization of official statistics is under way, and has already made rapid progress. I believe this movement, in its far-reaching, practical results, to be the most important work now in progress in the government service. It needs the cooperation, encouragement, and active assistance of every one interested in statistical science. It has only just started; but it has got a good start, and it must not be permitted to go wrong. Goethe was not quite ready to admit that "figures govern the world.” But, if not true in his day, it is becoming true as time passes. In the kind of problems with which modern government has to deal, a column of figures may prove more potent than a column of soldiers, and a statistical table may exercise more influence than a flotilla of battleships !
AN INTERPRETATION OF CERTAIN STATISTICAL
EVIDENCE OF CONCENTRATION OF WEALTH.
By G. P. WATKINS, PA.D.
The growth of large fortunes, both in number and in size, is matter of common observation. It is so obvious a fact that we do not need statistics to prove it.
In order to measure the strength of such a tendency, it is true, we need statistics, and statistics of such a kind as are very difficult to get.
That property is undergoing concentration seems to be a proper inference from the admitted fact of the growth of large fortunes. The assumption involved in this inference is that the amount of wealth possessed by the people as a whole remains about the same, or the same per capita. Under such circumstances, if there are more who have much property, then those who formerly had little must now have still less. The assumption needs only to be made explicit in order that the unsatisfactory basis of the inference as to concentration be evident.
That the increase in the absolute number of large fortunes along with a corresponding increase of population is of no significance is too obvious a fact to require more than passing mention. The significance of an increase of wealth more than in proportion to the increase of population (that is, an increase of per capita wealth) is not so readily perceived.
Per capita wealth is known to be increasing. If so, and if there be no change in the character of its distribution (that is, if there be no tendency either to concentration or to the opposite), large fortunes must be increasing proportionately along with small properties. As per capita wealth increases, even though there be no tendency to concentration, the number of men worth $100,000 or $1,000,000 or any other given absolute