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each in a spot which seemed more enjoyable than any before. No failure to find a suitable site quickly. No discourtesy, and, in spite of all kinds of weather, no unpleasant experience. Entirely successful in every way, we think we'll try it again.
BY E. L. MILLIKEN
Duries have, with varying degrees of success, been trying
URING the past twelve months individuals and indus
to dodge the peaks of prices. On the part of individuals this has taken the form of the so-called "buyers' strike." On the part of industries it has been evidenced in an almost universal tendency to order from hand to mouth until such a time as prices seem to become stabilized. When it was realized that prices had about reached their peak, no one naturally wished to buy at these prices, and the sharp drop in demand for all kinds of commodities gave rise to the business depression of the past six or eight months.
With this business depression, out of which we hope we are now beginning to emerge, fresh in our minds it seems not out of place to give some consideration to the price of peaks.
We are not as familiar with this term as with “peak of prices," but it is proper that we should become better acquainted with it.
We can with some success dodge the peak in prices, while the price of peaks must be paid by each and every one of us if our present economic and financial structure is to survive.
The term "peak" is one of frequent occurrence in the public utility business, but is perhaps not as familiar to those engaged in mercantile or industrial lines. Nevertheless every individual, every mercantile concern, every industrial corporation, is subject to peaks of one kind or another.
Peaks, in the sense here used, mean the maximum demand made on any given person or facility. These peaks are a most vital element in determining costs of doing anything or providing anything for future use.
All of us know that we have peaks in our daily work during which our time is fully occupied, while at other times there is a let-up and we take it easy for a while.
We have peaks of traffic in our congested business districts. These are becoming more and more evident and cities are obliged to carry a larger police force to handle these peaks.
Frequently it becomes necessary to widen streets at a great expense in order that traffic may easily pass through any given section. Yet through this same section during
*This article embodies a recent talk before Woonsocket Kiwanis Club.
many hours of the day, a wood's trail would ample to accommodate all who use the streets during those hours.
Our stores must have facilities for meeting the demands of Saturday buyers, while the intensive buying the week prior to Christmas has become so great in recent years that every effort has been made to induce people to shop early.
Even in providing the facilities for this luncheon* consideration had to be given to the maximum number who might be expected to attend. No matter how many weeks some portion of these dishes or of this silverware may not be used, on the week when we have our fullest attendance every one expects to be provided with the where-with-all with which to
A NECESSARY CONSEQUENCE OF PEAKS
These are just a few familiar instances mentioned in order to emphasize the fact that peaks of demand determine the extent to which facilities must be provided. Facilities of any kind of a more or less permanent nature, when once provided to meet any demand on the part of the buying public, or a portion of the public, represent an investment which must, under our present economic system, have charged against them, whether or not they are used, such items of overhead as interest, taxes, maintenance and depreciation, and to no small degree, supervision. These must be paid regardless of whether investment is used profitably or not. If these charges are not met out of current sales they must become an element in future costs and eventually be recouped from future sales.
The recent great war has probably produced the greatest peaks in all lines of business which history records. Plants and facilities of all our industries of all classes were greatly expanded during this war period, and this expansion ceased only some months after the signing of the armistice.
Some idea of the effect of these unprecedented demands for materials of all kinds can be gained from the fact that our national wealth in 1912 was estimated at 188 billion dollars, while the latest estimate for 1920 places it around 300 billion dollars. To be sure some of this increment may be said to be due to the inflation of the dollar, with a considerable increase in value measured in terms of the dollar of all existing property; nevertheless, the larger portion of this increase in wealth represents the investment made by the nation in in
creased productive facilities. On this investment, regardless of the inflation of the dollar, those who invested expect, and have a right to expect, a fair return on the money so invested. Our municipalities and states expect to be paid taxes thereon, and those persons or corporations who use the sums representing such investments must provide for their proper maintenance, as well as set aside such sums as are necessary to offset the depreciation of the property which they represent.
Having thus increased the investment in our various manufacturing plants, transportation and communicating agencies, and the other items of property in which our national wealth is invested, but one inference can be drawn, namely, that the proper charges on this investment will mean an increase of this burden on production. In short, such elements of our overhead have been greatly enlarged. This enlargement may be considered as the price of our war peaks in business and production.
These investments in property to meet war demands have been made and cannot be recalled, and those individuals or corporations making use of the wealth of others so invested must pay their just obligations for such use. Renunciation of these obligations would imperil our entire economic structure, just as renunciation of the allied debts to this country would make it impossible for nations in the future to borrow for their peaceful needs.
Ways and means in which to keep this large increase in our productive facilities busy, in other words to make it so produce as to pay the price of the war peaks, are today engaging the greatest minds of this country. Our present productive facilities are far in excess of our national consumption.
It seems that the only way in which they can be made pay the price of peak is through the expansion of our foreign trade. This is a problem with which you are all doubtless familiar. Boiled down, however, it is nothing but finding a way of reimbursing this country for the price of the war peaks, through passing it along to foreign customers who need our goods and will take them, providing they have the price to pay therefor. If they cannot be made to pay the portion represented by our investment in productive facilities