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possible degree upon private and individual rights, and for that reason, the act was so framed as to restrict the operation thereof, to transactions in such kinds and character of property, commodities and securities as had been made the subject of gambling or wagering contracts and out of which grew the evil which threatened the welfare and safety of the public, and to place no restraints upon contracts which though of like character as those which were prohibited, had not been employed as a similar means of gambling.
It is not indispensable in order to be constitutional that the section should embrace all kinds of personal property, whether such kinds of personal property had usually or commonly been the subject of option dealing or not. It is sufficient if the selection of the article and property mentioned is based on reasonable and just ground of difference and the prohibition comprehends all kinds of property within the relations and circumstances which constitute the distinction, and extends equally to every citizen and all classes of citizen, and denies to no one a privilege which another is permitted to enjoy. The prohibition need not embrace all contracts for options to buy or sell, but only all such contracts as lie at the root of the evil which threatens the public safety and welfare. The Clair plan enacted would be the valid law of the land under the reasoning of: Booth v. People (186 Ill. 43 af'd 184 U.S. 425), People v. Murray, 307 Ill. 349; Miller v. Sincere (273 Ill. 194).
13. GUARANTEES OF THE CONSTITUTION The preamble of the Declaration of Independence is the true Constitution of the United States for it logically contains the entire statement of universal economic equality guaranteed by the nation collectively to its members individually.
The cornerstone of our Nation is equality of opportunity-economic equality. That is the obvious, necessary and only adequate base of these three rights: Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. What is life without its material basis, and what is an equal right to life but a right to an equal material basis for it?
What is liberty? How can a man be free who must ask the right to labor from his fellow man, at less than production costs, and seek his bread from the hands of others?
How also can government guarantee liberty to men save by providing them a means of labor and of life coupled with its support in their striving for independence, under an economic system assuring employment and maintenance based upon production costs stabilized for the farmer as they are stabilized for other industries?
What form of happiness is not bound up with economic conditions?
How shall an equal opportunity for the pursuit of happiness be guaranteed to all, save by a guaranty of economic equality to the unprotected producers of life's indispensables and the protected producers?
These questions raised by Edward Bellamy in his memorable book Looking Backward 1887 coincide with the plan of Francis J. Clair. This plan so full of ideas, so fundamental in principles of equity and justice, responding so completely to the call of the Virginia Legislature, that gave rise to our Constitution; is so replete in its every suggestive aspect, so rich in quotable parts, that it forms an arsenal of arguments in tune with the problems of the country today, as to support and to urge its immediate adoption, as the law of the land.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. McDonald asked for just a moment more.
Mr. McDONALD. No, I did not, Senator. I am finished. I only want to leave this thought with you. I have been associated with Mr. Clair, and it is my opinion he has got a heart as big as a Texas mule, and there is no man in America that has a clearer vision and more brains than that man, and who is more capable of working out this problem.
The CHAIRMAN. We will now hear Mr. C. H. Conaway. Mr. Conaway, will you give your name and address to the Reporter.
STATEMENT OF CHARLES H. CONAWAY, STARKWEATHER, N.DAK.
Mr. CONAWAY. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen and ladies of this committee, my name is Charles H. Conaway, Starkweather, N.Dak. I am a farmer at present and have been all my life, cultivating a large acreage of land in the State of North Dakota. I have lived there about 23 years. At the present time I have under cultivation over 2,100 acres of land.
I am here under the auspices of the Farmers' National Grain Dealers' Association, with headquarters in Chicago. I am also president of the North Dakota Farmers' Grain Dealers' Association.
The Farmers' National Grain Dealers' Association comprises about 12 States, with a membership of producers approximating 800,000.
We have not taken part in the discussions for farm relief so far, because of the fact it was rather difficult to get a hearing. Not meaning you gentlemen were in any way to blame for this, but an attempt was made by our president to receive a hearing sometime ago, but it seemed as though the calendar was full at that time.
I think that I might be able to give you some information from the soil, which is primarily my business. I am here also looking after the interests of the farmers' elevator movement, insofar as my ability will allow me to do so. We feel that the farmers' elevator is really closer to the producer than most any other institution in our land. We also have a small percentage of independents in this organization to which we extend the same courtesies as that extended to our regular members, or the cooperatives.
Before I came down here sometime ago, when it seemed apparent I would possibly be called, or it was necessary for me to come, I got to thinking it over rather seriously, and decided it was probably too much to assume that any one man might be able to represent a community property without first consulting those most seriously concerned with this affair. Consequently I called a meeting of business men, doctors, lawyers, farmers, laborers, under the auspices of the Commercial Club in our city, and I put this question up to them, with reference to farm relief.
I found in that conference that taking these men individually and asking them questions, they all wanted relief of some description, of some kind, but they did not want regulation. They wanted relief from the burdens of the mortgages on their farms; those in town who have money invested in those mortgages wanted relief, but they were not willing to reinvest that money in the bonds that make it possible.
I make this severe indictment on direct evidence and can prove the statements that I make. When I left that meeting I left it with the opinion that of all of the proposals for relief of agriculture that have yet been made my community was in no condition to accept those proposals and do the right thing by that law when enacted. It seems to me it is futile to attempt to legislate prosperity to a people. You have heard that statement many times. I think you are thoroughly acquainted with what we mean when we say that if a man can't handle his own business it would be impossible to legislate prosperity to him. I make the indictment that the farmer has been largely to blame for his present condition, myself included. Many opportunities have passed me by that a man with less discretion than I have might have taken advantage of. I didn't do it. I cannot expect Uncle Sam
to pull my chestnuts out of the fire, if you will pardon the expression. We tried to legislate prosperity to the farmer by creating the Farm Board. The Farm Board was supposed, under the Agricultural Marketing Act to foster cooperative marketing in America, feeling that possibly by eliminating a great portion of the middlemen of this country that the transition or the transportation of the grain from the farm to the consumer would be much less, and consequently a greater price to the producer himself.
We have found after four years of bitter experience that that Farm Board, being human, with the subsidiaries being set up under that Board being human, that the control has gotten into the hands of some persons who have appeared from time to time to be indiscreet. We have found that instead of fostering cooperative marketing, it has actually destroyed the basic principles of cooperative marketing.
I might cite to you a personal instance, which will have a tendency to prove what I mean. . At our point we have one of the most important cooperative elevators in the United States. It has a capacity of approximately 35,000 bushels, with machinery up to date, plant up to date, and a fine residence for the manager. The property has been listed, and I think conservatively estimated at from thirty-three to thirty-four thousand dollars in 1925. That is down now to about $20,000. At that point, because of certain connections I may have had, certain things I may have said, whether or not that is true, there is another elevator, financed by a Farm Board subsidiary at the present time, and for the past two or three years that has been operating at a loss, a very definite loss. I understand now it has been taken over by the manager on a commission basis.
If I understand the Agricultural Marketing Act correctly, it provides that no duplication of facilities shall be had at any one given point in the United States where cooperative facilities are already available and adequate for the handling of the commodities in that community. This goes to show that a subsidiary, whether they are acting in good faith or not, has absolutely destroyed the confidence of some of the farmers in that community in their own institution. They have absolutely tried to put us out of business. I cite this as one instance. There are several others that I could, but I don't care to take up your time, but if you ask me to, I will try to get the names and verify those instances.
We have learned from that experiment, and from others, wherein they have attempted to stabilize the price of agriculture in this country that it has invariably wound up in the hands of just a few men enriching themselves at the expense of the public, with no direct beneficial results to the producer himself. That is our personal direct contact with one of the subsidiaries, and that experiment having failed, we have naturally lost faith in most any legislation that will be of mutual benefit to the producer.
We are also apprehensive about the granting of power to any one individual to control this great agricultural machine we have in this country. We feel that it is more power than any one man should righteously ask for. It seems to me that it would be assuming too much to be able to direct the affairs of agriculture and directly guarantee to make the farmer prosperous or the producer prosperous.
When you speak of limiting acreage and also limiting production, you are going contrary to the rules of our Agricultural Department in this country. I understand, as has been mentioned before here, that under this bill commercial fertilizer is not allowed to be used where a certain acreage has been taken out of production. We might cite that instance up in the Northwest, that if that rule were followed with reference to wheat, where a man was only allowed to plant 100 acres out of every 130 or 140 that he had, that he would be compelled to let that lie idle, that 30 or 40 acres, without any cultivation, not even summer fallow, because that amounts in our country to what commercial fertilizer does in the East.
I have been instructed by the men I represent, through resolution, by my neighbors and my farmer friends all over that country to state that they are a bit skeptical about this legislation. I have been instructed to say that they do not want to be regulated; they want to be left alone for a while; that they feel if the Government of the United States will take care of the international relationships and attempt to curtail expenditures, reduce taxes, and do the best they can to reduce tariff regulations, or make contracts with foreign countries, that it will have a tendency to bring down the prices of the things the farmer has to pay for, and repeal certain legislation that has been paternalistic in nature, that has protected industry, that has enabled them to levy an unfair tax upon the American consumer to the point where he is no longer able to pay, that that will be the greatest service to the common man that has ever been attempted by a Congress of the United States.
Those are my instructions, and those are the things I would like to leave with you. I have a certain little program that is very brief, that I would like to suggest along that line.
I have already mentioned the tariff. I am not an expert along that line. I don't know much about the technicalities of that. Only we of the Great Plains region imagine that the protective tariff has protected industry for so long it has been inoperative so far as the farmer is concerned, and has enabled industry to get the best of the producer. We imagine that that is the exact result of what the tariff has done to us. If the high protective tariff has closed the markets of this world to us, which so many people claim and believe, then it is high time that tariff was lowered. We feel that industry no longer needs that protection. It doesn't need any good vision to see that it does them no good now. There is no purchasing power in the country. If they ever did need it, they do not need it now. We feel if you open up the markets as nearly as possible between this country and foreign nations, getting back a mobile relationship, based on the necessary transition of the United States from a period of debtor nation to creditor nation, that we will have a further outlet.
Understand and bear in mind that I stated that these men want to produce just as much as they can. They don't want to be regulated. If assistance has to come by establishing a giant bureau here, or with headquarters scattered all over the country, with an army of engineers, or a soldier quartered in every home, the American farmer does not want assistance of that kind. He will never be satisfied if it is necessary to establish that kind of an army.
Another thing, in the experience we have had with the regulation of the agricultural industry so far, and the failure of these acts to be of benefit to agriculture, I would recommend that you repeal that Agricultural Marketing Act and get it off the statute books and forget it. We want the Government taken out of business. If it is necessary to regulate the farmer to give him a higher price for his product, to enable his purchasing power to rise, it will also be necessary, along the same line of reasoning, to exercise control over every business institution or venture we have in this country. If Uncle Sam is going to regulate the business of this country and reduce us to mere public servants, why not enact a bill on that order, instead of being specific as to certain industries?
We also agree that providing the Government launches on this program of President Roosevelt to reestablish world trade and further give us a market for our products, that we will use our best efforts to establish a method of control that will be voluntary. Under the Secretary of Agriculture it would be possible through advice as to what was necessary here and abroad, for the farmer to materially reduce his production without one cent of cost to the Government, or without setting up any additional bureaus of any description whatever; by taking the instructions coming from the Secretary of Agriculture to all the States that certain information was available as to what is required, having an agreement signed up by the producer himself that he will reduce his acreage a certain amount. That goes on down the line to the county. The county officials can look after it there. It goes on down the line to the municipalities and to the various boroughs or townships, whatever they may happen to be.
We will bank on the administration of that agreement and the American citizens' desire for fair play. We believe that one neighbor will check up on another, that he will see it is actually reduced. That can be done very quickly, in time for next year's crop.
We believe that if the Government of the United States will handle the international situation, and create as much of a market as possible in view of other business institutions in America not being much better off than the farmer—we believe that will be the most substantial relief we can get at this time, and that we are not only against this measure that has been proposed as a method of relief, but we are unalterably opposed to Government relief or Government regulation in any form.
Senator THOMAS of Oklahoma. Are you against this bill?
Mr. CONAWAY. I am against this bill, not in its entirety. I am against the bill for the reason that I believe it grants too much power to one man to make contracts with processors and producers, which some have stated is absolutely necessary.
Here are my reasons for that: There are too many interests vying with one another for the producer's business that are going to create dissension and discord if the Secretary should happen to favor one over the other. Not saying that he will.
Senator FRAZIER. You agree, of course, that the farmers must have a higher price for their products in order to put agriculture on a paying basis?
Mr. CONAWAY. Well, Senator Frazier, it seems to me that if the price to the farmer of the stuff he has to buy was in some manner Towered, it would amount to the same thing as him receiving a higher price for his products.
Senator FRAZIER. In other words, there has got to be a balance reached in some way?
Mr. CONAWAY. Yes.