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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/266

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

products are high, while corn is cheap. Here, at least, denatured alcohol may be expected to displace gasoline. What applies to North Dakota applies equally well to many semi-isolated agricultural districts far from large markets, provided the alcohol can be made on the spot.

Whether or not the denatured alcohol business will become the property of a trust which will regulate prices is an interesting question. If the Standard Oil Company looks with such perfect equanimity at the advent of denatured alcohol upon the market, as Mr. Young attributes to it, it is strange rumors should so constantly appear in the newspapers that the Standard Oil Company is buying up the distilleries. These rumors might, indeed, be ascribed to the agitation in favor of the bill before it was passed, but this does not explain the persistence with which these rumors have been repeated during the last few months, since the passage of the act. The experience of. other countries is worth noting in this connection. During the last year or so an alcohol trust has been formed in Spain, with headquarters at Madrid, and another was formed a year ago in Greece, with headquarters at Pyræus. Even one of the oldest of countries appears willing in these days to learn the tricks of trade from one of the youngest.

Any monopolization of the business of making alcohol would be totally impossible if nature were allowed to take its course. The process of manufacture is so simple and so readily carried out, and on a small scale requires so small a capital outlay, that groups of farmers could easily associate themselves and construct distilleries to convert their surplus crops into alcohol. Nearly every county in an agricultural district could have such a distillery and its products would find a ready market at home for light and power. The Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Mr. Yerkes, is reported to have been asked, some months ago, if there was anything in the free alcohol bill to prevent farmers and smaller merchants from so banding together; whether any provision of the bill would result in throwing the new industry into the hands of the distillers or of any other trust. He replied, 'Nothing whatever.'

A study of the rules and regulations which were issued September 29, 1906, to govern the manufacture, denaturing and sale of denatured alcohol, leads one to believe that he has supplied this omission; without a doubt unwillingly, and through a sense of his duty as custodian of the revenues, because Mr. Yerkes is well known to favor the 'free alcohol measure,' but none the less effectually. Such a labyrinthine web of restrictions and obstacles is surpassed in no other country or language, and is equaled only by the present United States Government restrictions on the distilling of spirituous liquors. It is more than