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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/327

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SOCIAL BACTERIA AND ECONOMIC MICROBES.

It will be remarked that when the government again derives a revenue of $2.50 per head or $200,000,000 per year from liquors and tobacco after July 1, 1902, that revenue will constitute a little less than eleven per cent, of the total expenditure for liquors and tobacco computed at $1,840,000,000.

Again, assuming that these expenditures for liquors and tobacco are equal to ten per cent, of the entire cost of living of the whole population, then the government tax upon liquors and tobacco comes to a little more than one per cent., which is assessed upon the total product of the entire country estimated at $225 per head at retail prices. Yet this tax is a purely voluntary contribution to the support of the government. Those who consume neither liquor nor tobacco pay none of this tax; those who do consume these articles pay the tax in the exact proportion of their consumption.

Item No. 3, Wheat or White Bread.—A few years since a well established estimate of the consumption of wheat flour per head of population was one barrel, say 200 pounds, per year. Since then the increased product of wheat, the lessened price and the greater ability of the masses of the people to consume white bread brings that estimate up from 200 pounds to at least 230 pounds of flour. Assuming that the retail price of flour on the average of all parts of the country is two cents a pound, or four dollars a barrel, or $4.60 per head of population on a consumption of 230 pounds each, the cost of flour to 80,000,000 persons would be $368,000,000. Two hundred and thirty pounds of flour will make 325 pounds of bread, yielding a little short of a pound of bread a day per head of population.

I can make and bake six loaves of bread, weighing twelve pounds, in an Aladdin oven with an expenditure of less than two cents for fuel oil burned in a common lamp with some trifling addition for yeast and salt. In other words, a little over eight pounds of flour, costing between seventeen and eighteen cents for the best kinds, can be converted into twelve pounds of bread at a cost of much less than two cents a pound of bread. What then is the cost of bread to the mass of the consumers? What proportion make their own bread? What proportion buy it? This is a problem of difficult solution.

I find that the price of bread in Boston, delivered by grocers and bakers, ranges from a little less than five cents a pound for very poor bread up to ten cents a pound for very good bread. Bread delivered in New York of an average better quality costs less to the consumer. What it is in other cities or in the country I am unable to state. But in view of the large amount of wheat flour which is converted into cake, into fancy biscuits and into pastry, it may not be out of the way to compute 325 pounds of bread per capita at four cents a pound or