Items of Interest

In his annual report Postmaster-General Burleson announces the second consecutive postal surplus of his administration, and points out that now, for the first time in its history, the postal establishment has been securely placed upon a self-sustaining basis. The report records an astounding growth of the parcel post; points to the service performed by the postal savings banks in steadying financial conditions during the crisis precipitated in this country by the war in Europe; tells of reorganizations and improvements introduced in the railway mail service and in the larger city post-offices, which have assured prompt handling of the additional bulk of mail created by the parcel post; and reveals the aggressive and effective work of the department's law officers and inspection service in renewing the enforcement of the fraud-order statutes.

Among the numerous recommendations made to Congress are the following: That early action be taken looking to government ownership of all telegraph and telephone facilities; that the telegraph and telephone systems of Alaska, Porto Rico, and the Hawaiian Islands, including the Alaskan cable now operated by the war department, be immediately taken over and operated by the post-office department; that, partially to eliminate the forty million dollar annual loss in the delivery of rural mail, the contract or "star route" systems of delivery be substituted for the present salaried rural delivery service; that while the present salaried system remains in operation, Congress sanction the method of computing rural carriers' pay adopted in the postmaster-general's order, which grants "the maximum compensation only in case of the maximum performance," and which, by making pay somewhat dependent upon the bulk of mail carried, will stimulate the development of revenue-producing business in the rural districts; that the limit upon the amount which may be accepted in a calendar month from a depositor in a postal savings bank be removed, and that the maximum balance which may be accepted from a depositor be increased from five hundred to two thousands dollars, limiting the amount on which interest shall be paid to one thousands dollars.

In his annual report, Secretary Houston of the department of agriculture sounds a note of warning to agriculture in the United States. "After all our efforts," he says, "while there is an increased diversification of agriculture and both a relative and absolute increase in important products, such as wheat, forage crops, fruits, dairy products, and poultry, we still note not only a relative but also an absolute in a number of our important staple food products, such as corn and meats. This situation exists not in a crowded country, but in one which is still in a measure being pioneered; in one which with nine hundred and thirty-five million acres of arable land has only four hundred million, or 45 per cent, under cultivation; and one in which the population per square mile does not exceed 31 persons, and ranges from .7 in Nevada to 508 in Rhode Island.

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Resolve and Action
December 26, 1914

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