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4. Public opinion on the need for protection.
We have prepared some charts here that I might use in presenting the findings.
First I would like to show you the findings in connection with usage of oleomargarine and butter.
The question we asked was this: Are you or your family using butter or oleomargarine, or both, in your home at the present time?
These are the results: 47 percent said they used both butter and oleo; 32 percent said they used butter only; and 21 percent said they used oleo only.
The next question had to do with the over-all attitude toward the problem of repealing the tax, and that question was worded in this manner:
A Federal law places a tax of a quarter of a cent a pound on white margarine, and 10 cents a pound on margarine colored yellow. Some people say that the 10-cent tax on yellow margarine is unfair to consumers like yourself, because it raises the price, and therefore should be done away with. Other people say that the tax should be kept on, to protect you, so that you won't be given margarine when you ask for butter in the store, or when being served in a restaurant.
And then, after those two statements, people were asked:
In answer to that, we found these results: 68 percent of the people said yes; 20 percent said no. Twelve percent of them had no opinion.
And, as Mr. Holman has mentioned, those results were quite comparable to a report of the Gallup poll findings on a survey about a month ago; although the question was not exactly the same, it got at the same basic opinion.
The next question is actually a series of questions, which has to do with what people know about oleo taxes.
This series of questions was asked in this way: As far as you know, are there any special taxes on butter or margarine? Which have special taxes, butter, margarine, or both ? These are three separate questions.
So far as you know, is the tax on yellow margarine different or the same as the tax on white margarine?
Now, in answer to that combination of questions, we found that 45 percent of the people did not know there is any tax on oleo. We found that 30 percent of them knew that there was a difference between the tax on white and yellow, and 25 percent of the total population did not know that there was any difference in the tax on white and on yellow oleo.
We went a step further, then.
The CHAIRMAN. Let me see that chart that has the over-all figures on removing the tax.
Does that question not imply that they did know that there was a tax to be removed ?
Mr. BENSON. That is not the question, sir. The question put to the public was different from that. That is just a condensation of how people feel about it, for chart presentation.
Would you like to have me read the question again!
A Federal law places a tax of one-quarter of a cent a pound on white margarine and 10 cents a pound on margarine colored yellow.
We stated the fact first, and then we stated the arguments, briefly, on both sides, or at least two of the arguments that have been proposed.
Some people say the 10-cent tax on yellow margarine is unfair to consumers like yourself, because it raises the price, and therefore should be done away with. Other people say that the tax should be kept on to protect you, so that you won't be given margarine when you ask for butter in a store, or when being served in a restaurant.
The CHAIRMAN. Then this next question, as to what people know about oleo taxes, really goes to what they knew about it before you informed them there was an oleo tax. Is that right?
Mr. BENSON. That is it exactly.
Now, when we probed this matter of knowledge about taxes on oleo further, we did it by asking another question in that tax series, of the people who said that they knew that the tax on white and yellow was different. And this was the question we asked:
About how much do you think the tax is on a pound of white margarine?
And the results with that series of questions showed that in the case of yellow margarine 12 percent of the total population actually know that the tax is 10 cents a pound; in other words, had absolutely the correct figure. Six percent, in addition, made guesses that the tax ranged anywhere from 1 to 35 cents. They were wrong guesses, of course. And the balance, 82 percent, did not know what the tax was on yellow margarine.
In the case of the tax on white oleo, we found that only 3 percent knew that the tax was a quarter of a cent a pound. An additional 11 percent made a wrong guess. They mentioned figures ranging from one-tenth of a cent to 15 cents a pound. And, of course, the balance, 86 percent, did not know what the tax was on white oleo.
The CHAIRMAN. It seems to me that is a rather high percentage of people who knew the exact amount of the tax on oleo.
Mr. BENSON. The 12 percent?
The CHAIRMAN. The 12 percent. I mean, how many people know exactly what the tax is on cigarettes, among those who smoke them every day! How many people know what the exact amount is on liquor, among those who drink liquor every day? Mr. BENSON. Well, you may be right.
The next question that we asked had to do with: would people know the difference between yellow oleo and butter if sold in the stores ?
That question was phrased this way:
Some people say that if margarine colored yellow like butter is sold in stores, many people won't know whether they are getting butter or margarine. Do you think most people would know which they were getting?
In answer to that question, 67 percent of the people told us: yes, they thought the people would know what they were getting.
Twenty-three percent said they did not think people would know what they were getting, and 10 percent expressed no opinion.
The CHAIRMAN. What is the labeling factor, there?
We then analyzed this. We asked the 67 percent and the 23 percent why they felt that way, and of the 67 percent, who answered “yes," 32 percent of those people felt that the public would know because of Government controls which involved labeling, packaging, and so on.
In addition, 33 percent of the total also mentioned that the difference in the physical properties of margarine would let them know; such things as taste, color, texture, and so on.
Now, as for the “no” answers, 21 percent of the people, in other words, practically all of this 23 percent, gave that very same reason. They gave physical properties as being the reason why people would not know what they were getting; in other words that people could not tell from the taste, color, texture, and so on.
Another question that we asked had to do with the matter of serving oleo in restaurants. One of the first questions we asked in that series read like this:
When eating in a restaurant, would it matter to you whether you were served butter or margarine?
Forty-nine percent of all the people said that it would matter to them whether they were served butter or margarine, and 51 percent said no.
We had also several other questions on that subject, which had to do with the question of when they were eating in a restaurant:
Do you think you should be informed as to whether you are being served butter or margarine?
And to that question, 66 percent of the public said yes, and 34 percent said no; which is shown in the chart here.
This other question, having to do with the possibility that some restaurants may pass off oleo and claim it was butter, was worded in
If margarine were sold already colored yellow, do you think that restaurants would serve you margarine but claim it was butter?
To that, 55 percent of the people said they thought at least some restaurants would, and 30 percent said no, and 15 percent said they didn't know.
We also asked another question, which had to do with whether it made any difference to the general public if their margarine, instead of being colored white or yellow, were colored some different color. That question was worded in this way:
Would it make any difference to you if your margarine, instead of being yellow or white, were some different color?
And in answer to that, we found that 52 percent of them said it would make no difference, and 48 percent of the public said it would make some difference.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you mind reading the question again? Mr. BENSON (reading):
Would it make any difference to you if your margarine, instead of being yellow or white, were some different color?
The CHAIRMAN. These were margarine eaters? Mr. BENSON. These were all people. Senator FULBRIGHT. What does that prove? Mr. BENSON. I would prefer that you draw that conclusion. Senator FULBRIGHT. I got in a little late. I was wondering just what this means, after you have given us this.
After all, I am looking for information, and you are the chart man. I thought perhaps you had an explanation.
Mr. Benson. Well, as I interpret the question, it says that if margarine were sold to them, and it were some other color than yellow or white, it wouldn't make any difference to 52 percent of the people in this country. i The CHAIRMAN. I will put on the dunce cap and ask you to read that question again.
Mr. BENSON (reading): Would it make any difference to you if your margarine, instead of being yellow or white, were some different color?
The CHAIRMAN. It seems to me to be a strange question, where a considerable percentage of your people do not use margarine.
Mr. BENSON. I am sorry. I should perhaps explain that that question was asked only of margarine users.
The CHAIRMAN. That is what threw me off. I asked you that a while ago.
Mr. BENSON. It is based on the total population. Because we could not ask that one of people who used only butter. That is quite right.
Senator FULBRIGHT. What do you mean by “total population”?
survey. You missed the first part of my testimony, where I explained about that. I will be glad to go over it again if you would like.
I Senator FULBRIGHT. No. Mr. BENSON. Then we asked still another question about the color of oleo, and it was worded in this way:
How much difference does it make to you whether or not you can buy margarine colored yellow ? A great deal of difference? A fair amount? Only a little? Or no difference?
And in answer to that question we found that 62 percent of the people said color is unimportant. Now, what that 62 percent includes
, is 51 percent who said it made no difference to them whatsoever, and 11 percent who said
it made only a little difference. The CHAIRMAN. These are margarine users!
Mr. BENSON. They are all people, in this instance. This question was asked of everyone.
Twenty-three percent, on the other hand, said that color was very important to them, and the balance, 15 percent, said that color was fairly important to them.
That covers all the questions, and my testimony.
Mr. BENSON. I have a paper here covering the high lights of the survey, the test survey, we conducted, which may be helpful.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you. That may be placed into the record. Mr. BENSON. Yes, sir. Thank you. (The paper referred to is as follows:)
OPINION SURVEY ON BUTTER AND OLEOMARGARINE CONDUCTED MAY 1948 BY BENSON &
BENSON, INC., PRINCETON, N. J.
Use: 32 percent of people use only butter; 21 percent use only oleo ; 47 percent use both, with oleo use somewhat greater.
Taxes: 45 percent do not know that there is any tax on oleo; 30 percent know there is a difference in the tax on yellow and white oleo ; 25 percent do not know that the taxes on white and yellow oleo differ.
Only 3 percent of the people know the tax on white oleo is one-fourth cent per pound; 11 percent guess wrong, naming amounts ranging from one-tenth to 15 cents per pound; 86 percent do not know what the tax is on white oleo.
Only 12 percent know the tax on yellow oleo is 10 cents per pound; 6 percent guess wrong-from 1 cent to 35 cents per pound; 82 percent do not know what the tax is on yellow oleo.
Sixty-eight percent say the 10-cent tax on.yellow oleo should be repealed.
Twenty-nine percent say if the 10-cent tax is repealed yellow will cost more than white oleo.
Color: 62 percent say that it is unimportant to them whether or not they can buy yellow oleo; 52 percent would not object to oleo colored some tint besides yellow or white.
Fraud : 67 percent say people would know whether they were being sold oleo or butter in a store; 23 percent say they would not know ; 10 percent are not sure; 55 percent believe that if yellow oleo is sold, some restaurants would serve their customers oleo and claim it was butter ; 66 percent say restaurants should inform people whether oleo or butter is served.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Holman?
STATEMENT OF CHARLES W. HOLMAN, SECRETARY, NATIONAL
COOPERATIVE MILK PRODUCERS FEDERATION, WASHINGTON, D. C.Resumed
Mr. HOLMAN. Mr. Chairman, without destroying the continuity of my written paper, I would like to condense this part, now, for only about two or three paragraphs, and comment on Mr. Benson's findings.
First may I say that Mr. Benson's firm was jointly employed to make this independent survey by the National Cooperative Milk Producers Federation, the American Butter Institute, and the National Association of Creameries. And they proceeded in their own way to obtain their findings.
We found—these are our comments now—that the public's reaction to the Gallup question on oleo tax repeal was similar to organized labor's first reaction to the Taft-Hartley Act.
As you will recall, initial questioning showed that organized labor was almost unanimously opposed to that law, because union leaders had told their members that the act would create slave-labor conditions.
Therefore, when the Opinion Research Corp. asked union members whether or not Congress should have passed the law, 64 percent said "no."
But when opinions were sought on the 10 major provisions of the law, at least 70 percent of union members approved of seven of these, with the other three receiving the approval of 61 percent, 50 percent, and 48 percent.