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CHAPTER XIX

HIGH LICENSE A SUBTERFUGE

Even upon the basis of the extreme position, taken by the Indiana Supreme Court, in the Sopher case, that the saloon was made unlawful by the statute, in order to compel the person, who desires to sell, to secure a license for that purpose. A license is a permit, a privilege and a suspension of the criminal provisions of the statute. The position of the court makes the license a legalization of that which would, otherwise, be a crime. It is a means of compounding a misdemeanor. Upon the assumed theory, of the court, the license can not, in any sense, be a restriction or prohibition, because the statute first absolutely prohibited the saloon, outlawed it and made it a crime, and then, in order to make it exempt from this condemnation in certain instances, provides for a special privilege, springing alone from the provisions of the license statute.

So that, the license, whether it be high or low, is the root of the saloon evil. Then, we are up to the question of what advantage society can derive from charging a high fee for legalizing a crime. The state can not, certainly, afford to put itself in the attitude of legalizing crime for the sake of revenue. If so, then good financial judgment, would suggest the legalization of all offenses on the basis that will produce the most satisfactory revenue receipts.

However, the most ardent advocates of high license ordinarily disavow such an object, and argue that the purpose of the "high" fee is the restriction of the saloon evils. The best answer is that, according to the Supreme Court, the evils were completely suppressed without the provision for any fee at all. But waiving that feature of the discussion, we shall run the red line of reason through the restriction theory. It is claimed that high license will restrict in, at least, two ways.

Two CLAIMS FOR High LICENSE First, the claim is made that high license will reduce the number of saloons by driving out the low doggery and grog-shop. The casual observer will at once note that the statement does not intimate that high license will reduce the consumption of liquor. If we are to continue the saloon policy, and, yet desire fewer of them, the logical and sensible method of reaching the intended result is to limit directly, by legislation, the number of saloon licenses that may be granted to a given population. The courts have repeatedly held that such legislation is valid, as against the saloon, upon the ground that, as the saloon may be prohibited entirely, those engaged in the traffic have no just complaint if the legislature fails to do all that it may do.

We may here, parenthetically, say that such holdings are not founded on the theory that the saloon is lawful and has the same legal footing as the useful avocations of life. The United States Supreme Court has said that a statute that would attempt to provide that only a certain per cent. of citizens might practice law, or medicine, or farm, or engage in the mercantile pursuits, or the carpenter trade, etc., would be void. If a reduction in the number of saloons be desired and the result may be accomplished by direct legislation, what sensible excuse can be offered for going around "Robin Hood's barn” to it. Experience has clearly demonstrated that there is much difficulty encountered in the enforcement of direct legislation. It will certainly be much more difficult to accomplish the desired results by indirection.

If, from the standpoint of the public good, there is to be a distinction made between the so-called respectable saloon and the low dive, the public welfare will demand the elimination of the alleged respectable saloon. The low dive, without the aid of the "respectable" saloon, will soon die of starvation. The high-class, society saloon is the feeder of the doggery. Men do not begin to drink in the doggery. They begin in the "genuine" clubs and saloons that are given a semblance of public approval and respectability, and they finish at the “grogshop” after they have passed down all the grades of the imagined "respectable" saloon.

The dive is the place of “graduation.” We will have no "graduation" in the low school, if no one shall pass down the grades to it. The best plan to dispense with the "quitters” is to stop the “beginners.” If there shall be no matriculation, there will be no occasion for graduation. Close the place where a man begins to be a drunkard, and you will thereby close the place where he is finally kicked out to the jail, the poorhouse and the insane asylum.

The doggery is merely the "tail-end” of the machine that discharges the finished product, the drunkard in his delirium, that was fed into the cylinder, the society saloon, as a specimen of pure, honest, sober manhood. He went in as the wheat of citizenship. He comes out a thug, the chaff of the straw-stack of a wrecked and ruined life. To prevent his coming out, stop him from going in.

A sad experience has unquestionably demonstrated that high license does not drive out the low dive. The dive can not be closed so long as the high license saloon prepares men for the dive. High license gives to the saloon a financial intrenchment that deadens public sentiment and public conscience, and paves the way to a wide open policy and a greater violation of law.

WILL HIGH LICENSE ELIMINATE TIIE BREWERY

SALOON?

Just how high a license within itself will eliminate the brewery saloon has never fully been explained by the high license advocates. In fact, no explanation has ever been attempted. The whole matter rests upon the empty assertion that high license will rid the state of the brewery saloon. No brewery can lawfully conduct a saloon now. No corporation, except a railroad company, can secure a license under the statutes of Indiana. The statute of Indiana provides that "a license shall be granted or issued in no case to any person other than the actual owner or proprietor of the business." A brewery company can not lawfully hold a license itself and to hold a license in the name of some other person for its benefit is not authorized by statute, but is prohibited thereby.

Indisputable information gathered by the State Statistician of Indiana discloses beyond per adventure of a doubt that about one-third of the saloons in Indiana are brewery saloons. The licenses are held by agents and employees of breweries, and bonds are signed by brewery officers and agents, and, sometimes, by brewery corporations. According to official figures of the State Statistician there were granted in Indiana between January, 1907 and July, 1907, three thousand and two saloon licenses. Of these, two hundred and seventy-four were bonded by breweries, seven hundred and seventeen were bonded by brewery agents and sixty of the saloons are reported directly as being owned by breweries. During the six months between January 1, 1907 and July 1, 1907, four hundred and seven saloon licenses were granted in Marion County, in which Indianapolis is located, according to the State Statistician. Two hundred and thirty-two gave bonds with breweries as sureties and one hundred and seventy of them gave bonds with brewery agents as sureties, leaving only five that were not directly or indirectly brewery saloons.

It is not one of the rights of brewery corporations to execute bonds. The statute authorizing such corporations does not provide that they shall have the power to execute bonds as sureties. If the present statute be enforced the brewery saloon may be closed. If additional legislation is desirable in order to more effectually provide a means of closing the brewery saloon, the legislation should be direct, and not indirect, under the guise of high license.

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