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November 23, 1884
The Record and Guide.
THE RECORD AND GUIDE.
Publithed every Saturday,
191 Bpoadway, N. Y.
ONE YEAR, in advance, SIX DOLLARS.
Communications should be addressed to
C. W. SWEET, 191 Broadway.
J. T. LIEfOBSY, Business Manager.
NOVEMBER S3, 1884.
Tliere has been some revival in general buBinesB during the past
week. The advent of cooler weather has created a demand for
coal, clothiQg and winter stores. Stocks look weak for the moment
but the condition seemed to exist favoring a moderate rise. The
coming year will see a better feeling in the stock market securities
unless some unexpected catastrophe should intervene.
In the important treaty juat negotiated with Spain it is pro¬
vided that not only our food staples, raw cotton and wool shall be
imported free into Cuba and Porto Rico, but also ship-building and
house-building materials and all kinds of lumber, together with
engines, machinery and tools made from metals, wagons, carriages,
fine furniture, rubber goods, etc. Hence this treaty ia of special
interest to all dealers iu building material, as, if it is confirmed by
our Senate, they will get several new and lucrative markets. This
treaty has followed so cloaely upon that made with Mexico, of a
similar tenor, that other treaties w^ill doubtless ;follow. Naturally
the first to be negotiated will be with the South American States,
and will be based on the report of the commission now in session
to inquire into the practicability of some agreement between the
United States and the States of South America. Next in order
may come treaties with France and Germany, in both of which
countries measures are on foot to tax American agricultural pro¬
ducts unless we abate the severity of our customs duties.
It is in this way doubtlesE that our high dutiea will be relaxed to
the advantage of our own manufacturers. It has been found
impossible to pass any general act reducing our tariff imposts.
Since the Civil War we have reduced the tariff in special particu¬
lars. We have taken the duty off quinine, tea and coffee, and have
scaled the rates here and there, but every general act looking to a
reduction has alarmed the protected interests which have united
against a common danger and have succeeded in nullifying every
enactment taking the shackles off of trade. But tbese treaties with
different nations are all in the nature of a flank attack upon the
tariff. Instead of antagonizing our protected industries they
appeal to the interests of the manufacturers themselves by offering
a chance at markets which they cannot find at home. But the
final result will be the breaking down of many of the barriers of
trade between the United States and other nations.
Berlin haa come to tbe front as a great money-lending centre.
New Yorkers in past times have been hoping that this city would
become a rival of London as a great international money market,
but the German capital has unexpectedly got the start of us. Bis¬
marck has made Germany the greatest military power on earth.
He deprived Russia of the fruits of her victory over the Turks.
Great Britain haa just been snubbed in "the matter of the com¬
merce of Congo Land, and haa been forced to submit her preten¬
sions to a Congress of the representatives of interested nations sit¬
ting at Berlin, with Germany taking the primacy. Population and
wealth is always attracted to power. The Berlin ot to-day, aa the
capital of Germany, is becoming one of the great cities of the
world. A correspondent of The Record and Guide recently called
attention to the amazing evidences of Berlin's superiority to every
other capital of the world save alone London and Paris. Now
comes the news of foreign loans being made in tbe German capital.
A 5 per cent, Servian loan amounting to |2,600,000 in our money
waf. recently called for, and the extraordinary sum of $825,000,000
was subscribed. Greece is about to establish specie payments on a
gold basis and wants 170,000,000 francs to do so, but the applica¬
tion is made not to London or Paris, but to Berlin.
Why is there not public spirit enough among our bankers to
offer to take a foreign loan? Money goes begging here at 2 per
cent., when it is 4}4 ^^*i ^ P^r ceut. in London. There is no
present employment for unused funds. Why should we not lend
money, say to Russia, which ia in the market for heavy loana to
extend her railway system? That colossal power is perfectly
sound and so careful of its credit that the English and French
ownera of her bonded debt were promptly paid all through the
Crimean war, A foreign loan negotiated in our market would be
a splendid advertisement for this country, and of course would
pay better than investments in our own national securities. This
matter ought to be discussed in the directors' rooms of the banks In
To defray the extra expenses of the Soudan campaign the Brit¬
ish government has added a penny in the pound to the income tax
already in force. It is surprising that this tax does not exist in
this country. It is by far the most equitable of any form of taxa¬
tion. The income any person is in receipt of represents the benefit he
derives from the economic forces of the community. Courts, jails,
armies and navies exist to protect the rights of property and prop¬
erty should pay according to ita means, which ia best shown from
the income derived from investments. Under our present system
real estate bears all the burdens. Owners of vast fortunes based on
personal property escape " scot free." The owner of $20,000 worth
of realty pays more for the support of the government tban dots
any of our great capitalists, such as Jay Gould or Wm, H. Vander¬
bilt. There are grave objections against taxing personal property
but au income tax is equitable and should be levied to lighten
the burdens of real estate owners.
The liquidation in wages in thu return for all services and labor
has fairly begun. In the dry-goods district there will be a general
reducing of salaries and many clerka and bookkeepers will be
thrown out of employment. For some time past factory operatives
have been required not only to accept a smaller compensation but
to submit to a reduction of the time in which they are employed.
This movement is becoming general. The coming year will see the
great army of the unemployed doubled, if not trebled, both in this
country and in Europe, whilst those who are retained at work must
submit to a serious reduction of tbeir former incomes.
But these economies are not confined to the operative classes
proper. The railroads are reducing their expenses, and the high
officials are beginning to feel the pressure as well as the men work¬
ing on the lines. President King, of the Erie road, not only accepts
$25,000 a year in lieu of the $40,000 charged by his predeceaacr, but
has announced his intention of cutting down the high salaries
which that road has always paid to its unnecessarily large staff of
officers. Other roads will be forced, by public opinion and the
demands of their stockholders, to reduce the perquisites of their
principal officers, as well as the wages of the working force on
The time has come when all en&aged in tbe building trade should
reduce the wages of their employes. There must be no sentiment
about the matter. During the busy times through which we have
passed the bricklayers, stone masons, painters and house finishers
have by means of co-operative effort in their trade unions held em¬
ployers at their mercy; the latter were single-handed and the trade
unions used their power mercilessly. The employers will from this
time forth have the upper hand, and they will not hesitate to be as
regardful of their own interests as the laborers were of theirs.
With a period of liquidation on hand and the general trade of the
country in a desperately bad state, the trades unions insisted upon
the highest wages and the shortest hours of work. They were
warned that they were killing the building business and cutting
their own throats, but while they had tbe power they used it regard¬
less of consequences. They will now be made to suffer for their
folly. Everything in the way of buiMing material is now cheap.
We have reached the lowest point for bricks, lumber, etc., known
in many years. The one item in which there has been no rebate is
labor ; but that must yield as all others have yielded, and be con¬
tent with a smaller return. The quicker the situation is accepted
the better it will be all around.
We are not among those who look upon a general reduction of
wages to the lowest point as a desirable thing in itself, On the
contrary we regard it as an almost unmixed evil. The working clasa
is the great consuming claaa ; when ita compensation is cut down
to the lowest point every business interest suffers. Individual
employers are naturally anxious to get their work done at the,
lowest possible rate, but a moment's consideration must show them,
that if the great consuming class is impoverished by inadequate
wages or no employment at all, tbat every business interest receives,
a vital blow. Let us dwell on this matter for a moment. With
our present population there ought to be at least 12,000,000 of wage
receivers, men, women and children. Let us suppoae that in pros¬
perous times the average income would be $15 per week ; but hard
times come, production is checked, many are thrown out of
employment, there are fewer days of labor, and the sum paid to
the working classes then averages say $5 weekly less per capita.
This makes $60,000,000 a week, and over $3,000,000,000 in the year.
This vast sum is withdrawn from active retail trade in tho course
of one year, and with what results? Bankruptcies, reduced rents,
cutting off of profits, the distress of every one engaged in all the