April 12, 1910 (11th Parliament, 2nd Session)


George Gerald King



Referring to another source, a record of prices on 96 commodities compiled by Bradstreets on January 1, 1910, shows that prices in the United States, on that date had reached an absolutely high

Teeord mark. The increase is 61 .per cent over the figures of July, 1896, which was the lowest price touched by Brad-streets calculations. Mr. Blue, the Census Commissioner for the Dominion, prepared a statement two or three years ago regarding the increase in the cost of living in this country, and he found that there had been, during the fifteen years from 1892 to 1896, an Increase in the prices of food products, ranging from 15 to 20 per cent. In 1906, there had been a rise which would bring the increase up to a larger percentage. Then there have been three or four other important investigations conducted by different bodies.
Throughout the Dominion the steady increase in the cost of living, especially since the beginning of the present century, has been the subject of repeated comment, and, in almost every city or centre of employment, of more or less careful examination. In 1906 the Ontario Educational Association went carefully into the whole matter, in connection with the arrangement of teachers' salaries, with the result that an increase amounting to thirty per cent in 10 years was shown. In 1907 an estimate . made by the Synod of the Church of England in the city of Quebec placed the increase within the decade at a much higher rate. In the city of Toronto, an investigation conducted with care and minuteness during 1907, by the Department of Political Economy of the University of Toronto, also showed a higher rate of increase. These examples could be multiplied.
All show upward movement since 1896- 30 to 35 per cent higher than the average for 1890-99 ; 40 to 45 per cent higher average, 1896-97. ,
The cost of living has increased from 30 to 40 per cent in the case of incomes ranging from $2,000 down to $500. That is a fact which has impressed itself upon all classes of the community. Now what has the community been witnessing in another direction ? We find the increase in the cost of living going on simultaneously with the organization of capital on a large scale, the formation of trusts, mergers and combines of one kind or another. I have the figures here with regard to combines in the United States, and these combines have had their effect on the people of this country, as well as those of the United States. Quoting from Nelson's Encj^clopedia of 1909, which has the latest information gathered on the subject, I find that :
Down to 1898 the number of trusts formed (in the United States) was small. From 1898 to 1900 not less than 149 such combinations with a capitalization of over three billion dollars was formed. A large number of combinations have been effected since 1900, the most important of which was the United States Steel Corporation with a capitalization of $1,400,000,000. The aggregate Mr. KING.
capitalization of such corporations in 1906 is variously estimated at from six to eight billion dollars. . . . The Sugar Trust, it has been estimated, controls ninety per cent of the output of refined sugar in the United States; the Standard Oil Company sixty-five per cent; the Rubber and Paper Trusts about seventy per cent of their respective products; the Steel Trust less than sixty per cent. The six great packing companies -the ' Beef Trust '-slaughtered only about forty-five per cent of the cattle killed in the United States in 1903. The Salt Trust controls over eighty per cent of the salt produced in the country, and the Starch Trust about ninety per cent of the starch. Where *the proportion of the industry not controlled by the trust appears to be considerable, as in the case of the Standard Oil Company, allowance must be made for the output of companies ostensibly independent, but in reality controlled by the trust. Furthermore, while in some industries a large proportion of the business may be in fact as well as in name independent of the trust, as m the case of the slaughtering industry, the great combination, nevertheless, controls certain markets without much interference from competitors. The six great packing companies furnish 75 per cent of the beef consumed in New York; in Boston they furnish over 85 per cent; in Philadelphia and Pittsburg 60 per cent; in Providence more than 95 per cent. In the greater part of the smaller cities and towns of New England the trust furnishes more than three-fourths of the consumption.
I shall not weary the House with statistics of the growth of trusts in the United States, but will refer hon. gentlemen to a book written by Mr. John Moody, entitled, ' The Truth About Trusts,' in which they will find tabular statements regarding the large amalgamations in the United States during the last ten years, the number of plants acquired or controlled and the total capitalization, stocks and bonds outstanding. An analysis of these figures slightly in detail would show that of the industrial trusts 15 have $100,000,000 capitalization or over, 33 have $50,000,000 or over, 165 have $10,000,000 or over, and 451 have $5,000,000 or over. Of the franchise trusts 16 exceed $100,000,000, 41 exceed $50,000,000, and 156 exceed $5,000,000. Of the six greatest railroad groups, all exceed $1,000,000,000 capital.
These figures should make every one realize the tremendous power thus vested in the hands of a few men and point to the necessity for some agency in the direction of state control to see that this power is not exercised to the detriment of individuals or the public. No exception can be taken to a trust doing all that is justifiable to further the interests of those whose capital is invested in it, but the business should be carried on with due regard to the interests of the large body of consumers who make up society.

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