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The Twelfth Annual Report of the Bureau is devoted largely to the subject of the system of assessments for purposes of taxation, as it prevails in Connecticut, covering a large field of inquiry and exhaustively treating the matter of inequalities, as found to exist, through the many channels and sources of information by means of which the data found in the subjoined tables was secured.
One of the distinctive features of the trend of public opinion for years past, has been the revival of interest in matters pertaining to the always existing inequality in assessments of real and personal property for purposes of taxation. It is true that from some of the more advanced thinkers and political economists, there has been the most earnest and vehement protests against the system as now in use in Connecticut, with what effect is a matter of public knowledge. With the more flagrant and glaring of these inequalities this report has to do.
It might, in this connection, be pertinently asked; What has a Bureau of Labor Statistics, established and conducted by the State government, to do with the subject of taxation? The answer is equally pertinent, and sufficiently clear and convincing, that the purpose for which the Bureau was organized, * gives it unlimited scope as regards the investigations to be made by it, when the investigation is one made in the interests of “laboring men and women,"and for the purpose of “promoting their material, social, intellectual and moral prosperity.” And equally as pertinent is the assertion that the question of the inequalities in the assessment of property, as this report will clearly show, obtain in the State, most certainly is of such vital interest to the toiling masses whom it most concerns, as to warrant the expenditure of the work necessary for its compilation. Moreover it has been the contention that working men have been unjustly treated in many ways. Among them is the matter of unfair and excessive assessments on his property, were he sufficiently fortunate as to be possessed of any, and for the purpose of ascertaining the truth
[ Extract from Statutes. ] *SECTION 2947:-"The Commissioner shall collect information upon the subject of labor, its relation to capital, the hours of labor, and the earnings of laboring men and women, and the means of promoting their material, social, intellectual, and moral prosperity; but for this purpose persons shall not be required to leave the vicinity of their residences or places of business.”
or falsity of this contention, this investigation has been made, with what result the pages following will disclose.
Furthermore, it can be stated without the possibility of successful contradiction, that the contention made has been proven, for were all property to be assessed at its full value, (large and small holdings alike,) as the law requires, the home of the toiler would be taxed on an equality with that of his more wealthy neighbor, and, while the amount of his assessment might be slightly increased, the estate of his more fortunate townsman would be largely added to, thereby reducing the rate per cent. of tax each would pay. Obviously, the small property owner would be greatly benefitted by assessments made at full value, and the amount paid by him in taxes much lessened.
It is evident that the most prominent evils in the system of taxation, as it exists at the present time, are to be found in the habitual undervaluation of property, and the failure to assess at ali a large proportion of all personalty. Among them also may be enumerated the selection of unfit persons for Assessors, who often exhibit gross ignorance of the laws governing them, the fixing by them of arbitrary standards, the departure from such standards when there are friends to favor, or obnoxious business or classes to punish, and the encouragement of a sentiment among the people that in matters of taxation there are no such things as public obligations or public morals.
The contention made by some that to assess property in accordance with law would beget extravagance in expenditures by municipal officials, possesses all the elements of disingenuousness, and should not be considered as having a bearing. The integrity and honesty of public officials thus assailed, is sufficient denial of the truth or justice of such a contention, and its absurdity made evident. Clearly, a low rate of taxation, as a result of a proper, legal and equitable assessment of property, would scarcely lead to improper or extravagant use of the revenue thus raised, and in such an event, should it occur, would be of but short duration.
It has not been the purpose of the Bureau in making this investigation, to assume any prerogative other than that to which it is entitled, the only object being to be of use to the people of the State as a whole. Without distinction of any portion of the community at large, it has proceeded upon the theory that the facts brought out were necessary for the formulation of some remedial plan of legislation looking to a revision and alteration of the scheme of assessment for taxes as now made. Much good has been accomplished by the Bureau in the past in thus collecting, tabulating and distributing facts, concerning economic subjects and conditions and its best work, and thought will continue to be directed to the same end.
The text accompanying the different tables sufficiently explain the method used in securing the information obtained, and it need only be stated that no effort has been spared in making the results clear and in exact conformity to the conditions as found to exist. Difficulties and obstructions were found in abundance by the agents engaged in gathering the statistical material, but they went steadily forward in the performance of the work committed to them by the Bureau, having abiding faith that satisfactory and beneficial results would be attained.
OTHER WORK OF THE BUREAU. The work of the Bureau has by no means been confined to one line of investigation, and it has with zeal and energy made minute and thorough examination into the prominent evils attending the unsanitary conditions of the Cellar Bakeries which abound in the larger cities of the State, and to the cities only, was the investigation directed, and all the facts collected and the salient points and results clearly brought out in the text analysis ( Pages 261-9), yet it may be well, in this introduction, to still further crystallize the general results of the investigation, especially in order to show just what is to be learned from it. First, then, the results of the investigation show, that the laws of health as applied to the production of bread and other cereal foods, in many bake shops are not observed ; second, that the use of the product of these cellar bakeries must inevitably be conducive of disease, and third, it brings out clearly and forcibly the necessity for close inspection of all cereal food products, by State or municipal authorities.
The State has at some expense provided for the inspection of domestic animals by an official board, who have shown commendable zeal in eradicating disease, preventing the use as food of any animal or its product, when, by scientific tests, it is found in any degree contaminated. It would most certainly seem that the human family should be still further protected and guarded against the certain and inevitable sickness and death which surely accompanies the continued use of food containing germs of disease. It has also provided for the prevention of the manu