The administration is preparing to defend in Congress its policy of the conservation of water-powers of the country. Secretary of War Stimson developed the issue when he upset the old policy of the war department of formally approving, without reference to commercial and other conditions, the bills annually passed by Congress for the erection of dams and the utilization of water-powers in streams under the control of the national government. The secretary instructed the army engineers to report in every case whether the project had any commercial value at present; whether that value was likely to enhance in the future; whether the particular stream was likely to be improved at the public expense and other such data. He wanted this information in order to decide whether the projectors of the various enterprises should be called upon to share their profits with the people in case they proved lucrative, or whether some of the profits derived from the water-power should not be applied to the improvement of the navigation of the stream at other points, thus relieving the general taxpayers. Immediately protests came from congressmen who are furthering bills for the development of water-powers. The secretary, backed by President Taft, served an ultimatum that no water-power bill would be approved by the war department unless in each bill a clause was inserted looking to the division of the profits with the national government.

Suit to dissolve the Poster Advertising Association, formerly the Bill Poster Association of the United States and Canada, is expected to be filed by the government in a few days. The accusation is alleged violation of the Sherman antitrust law. The organization, which is alleged to control the bill posting in more than three thousand cities and towns, has been under investigation by the department of justice for several months, it is said, and the civil suit for dissolution is expected to be filed in the federal court in Chicago within the week. To a great extent the prosecution, it is believed, will be based on the restrictions which are alleged to be in the constitution and by-laws of the association. These rules are declared to compel the members of the association to do their poster advertising through certain delegated advertising agencies, named by the board of directors as the only agents to receive and make contracts for such advertising. Through this system, it is asserted, practically the entire bill-posting business of the United States is controlled and certain fixed prices maintained in a classified scale according to the size and population of the city or town. The main headquarters of the Poster Advertising Association are in Chicago and its board of directors consists of members selected through local organizations in different parts of the country.

Senator Burton of Ohio explained to the Senate at length last week the reasons which, in his opinion, are responsible for the present high cost of living. The manifest and important causes, he said, were "the phenomenal progress of recent years, the striking inequality of this progress in different lines of human endeavor, and the tendencies to extravagance and waste, and to diminished productive energy by a large part of the population. Neither the Payne-Aldrich tariff law nor any other similar measure was responsible for the general high level of prices," he declared; for "the variations in prices have been so very considerable, both in the way of increase and decrease, as absolutely to disprove any inference that the change in prices has been due to the tariff of 1909, or to any other tariff act." He exonerated the "trusts and large combinations of capital" from responsibility for high prices, declaring that a complete monopoly in any particular article affords a chance to increase its price, but that the same result is apparent when separate producers maintain an agreement as to prices.

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August 10, 1912

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