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February 6, 1886
The Record and Guide.
THE RECORD AND GUIDE,
Published every Saturday.
191 Broad^Arav, IST. IT.
Onr Telepbone Call is.....JOHN 370.
ONE YEAR, in advance, SII DOLLARS.
Communications should be addressed to
C. W. SWEET, 191 Broadway.
J. T. LINDSEY, Business Manager.
Vol. XXXVII. FEBRUARY 6, 1886.
Wall street, after two months of dullness and depression in
prices, promises to be the scene of a new bull campaign. Appear¬
ances may be deceptive, but the " boom" which was promised for
January may make itself felt in February. The business outlook
proper continues to improve. We have commented elsewhere
upon the excellent showing of the January official returns in real
estate. Indeed it has been the most prosperous January in years.
Dealers in dry-goods have not been making so much money since
1881, while traders in woolen goods are very happy over the pros¬
pects ahead. There is no diminution of the demand for steel and
iron. The coal industry has picked up, while in the railroad world
tho combinations and arrangements have been such as to insure
against any war of rates. Then money is cheap and likely to remain
so, and there is not the slightest danger of the stoppage of the silver
coinage, which fact is reassuring to everyone in the West and South
as well as all who understand tbe financial situation in the East.
A reasonable advance in j^rices in Wall street is in order, and we
can state upon the very best authority that the Pennsylvania and
Baltimore & Ohio difficulty is practically settled and it will soon be
Count de Lesseps' invitation to the representatives of the various
chambers of commerce and trade boards of the leading cities of the
commercial world to join with him in inspecting the jsrogress of
the work on the Panama Canal, is the best possible answer to the
misleading statements made by so-called American engineering
experts interested in the Nicaragua and other schemes, as to the
monstrous cost and the long delay before the completion of the
work on the canal now under way. The American public have been
fooled by the vigorous lying of interested so-called engineering
experts. The English public were hoodwinked in the same man¬
ner by their engineers .when the Suez Canal was building. Ameri¬
cans may not like it, but the Panama Canal will be completed and
in good working order befoi-e any of the schemes which they would
like better are fairly under way. The opening of the Panama Canal
will probably occur within three years time, and it may lead to
grave complications with tli3 leading nations of Europe. We will
probably have to eat humble pie, as there is no likelihood- of our
having a navy or proper coast d<:fenses by that time.
It is to the credit of a religious jjaper, like the Christian Union,
that it has the courage to oppose the extraordinary bill which
recently passed the Senate for suppressing Mormonism. It says,
very truly, that if the government has a right to sequestrate
the property of the Mormon Church it can also appropriate the
possessions of the Roman Catholic or Presbyterian sects. There
were only seven Senators who opposed this monstrous enactment,
yet every lawyer in that body who voted for it knew that its pro¬
visions were utterly opposed to the spirit if not the letter of our
constitution and lavvs. It is to be hoped that the House will show
more respect to the traditions of our government, than has the
The newspapers have managed very successfully to make a mud¬
dle of the proposed trial by government to test the validity of the
Bell telephone patents. The suits now pending in the courts, it is
suspected, are collusive. They are sham legal contests to further
legitimatize the Bell monopoly. The suit instituted by Secretary
Lamar is to go to the root of the matter and find out whether the
original patent was not procured in a questionable manner. The
way in which leading newspapers are attacking Secretaries Gar¬
land and Lamar shows how extensive and powerful is the tele¬
phone ring. It would be a great public benefit if the making of
telephones were thrown open to the public without the impedi¬
ments of patents. There are many useful inventions which cannot
now be utilized because the Bell monopoly stands in the way.
Patents are sometimes useful, but in a great majority of cases they
^^ do not benefit real inventors and lead to the unnecessary taxation
of the public.
The.supineness of the public over the squandering of money on
pensions is very remarkable. Pension agents have plundered our
treasury to the tune of nearly $500,000,000 within a few years. As
yet no effective protest has been made by the press or the public.
One half the money corruptly voted away would have given us
sea-coast fortifications, a navy, internal improvements, and encour¬
agement to our fallen commerce. The expenditure, moreover,
would have tided it over the bad times by giving work to unem¬
ployed laborers. We have some hopes that President Cleveland
will put his foot down and stop further spoliation of this kind.
Should he do so it would make him justly popular. Should he
approve of these fraudulent expenditures—well, we will not con¬
demn him in advance.
The German director of Posts has invited our government to
send an officer of the Post-offlce Department to Germany to study
the advantages that would accrue in joining the international
parcels posts. All who have traveled abroad must have been
struck with the economy and convenience of the parcels post on
the other side of the Atlantic. By au extension of the post-office
machinery foreign governments do the work nov/ monopolized by
our express companies for one-twentieth of the charges made by
the latter. The business done by the parcels post abroad is simply
enormous, because goods can be sent from place to place at a
minimum of expenditure. In our country the newspapers get all
the advantage which is given to general business abroad ; that is,
their packages are charged only two cents a pound, while private
persons have to pay two cents an ounce for their letters. It is this
which causes the heavy yearly deficit in the post-office receipts,
although the carriage of letters in itself shows a profit.
Were we to adopt the parcels post for domestic and interna¬
tional commerce it would be an immense stimulus to the trade of
the country. The great manufacturing and trading centres would
no longer be forced to pay such tribute as they now do to express
companies and freight lines. The government charges abroad for
carrying parcels are so small as to astonish Americans, who know
to their cost how severely they are mulcted by the express compa¬
nies and the freight lines. Of course very bulky articles are not
taken by the post-offices abroad ; but the writer, last summer, in
Germany, saw trunks, huge cheese boxes, barrels, carcasses of
animals—such as deer—among the parcels delivered at the post"
office. It will be a long time, however, before we will get these
advantages in this country, for the express companies will fight the
carriage of parcels by the government; nor will the newspapers
help to decrease the value of the monopoly they now enjoy, which
amounts to a subvention of ten to fifteen millions per annum.
The Board of Estimate and Apportionment.
The movement now making at Albany to enlarge the Board of
Estimate and Apportionment by the addition of three members
representing the taxpayers will, it is to be hoped, be successful.
The board now consists of the Mayor, Comptroller, president of the
Board of Aldermen and the official head of the Tax Commissioners.
These officers, who have enough to do already, cannot give the
thought or time requisite to deciding upon the appropriations called
for by the various city departments. Mayor Grace is all but
supreme in the present board; and it is alleged, with great apparent
justice, that he has been very partial in the distribution of the city
monies. He has been liberal with the officers who are his friends,
and has been unnecessarily parsimonious with departments the
patronage and expenditures of which he could not entirely control.
The proposition to come before the Legislature is to add three
members to the board. They are cto be taxpayers, and are to be
chosen—one by the Real Estate Exchange, another by the Chamber
of Commerce, and the third by the Board of Fire Underwriters.
The presumption is that these institutions would appoint intelligent
and honest commissioners who could give more time and attention
to the wants of the various city departments than the elected
officers who are now in the sole charge of this matter.
The Record and Guide has heretofore often said that there
should be some way of utilizing the taxpayers in looking
after the finances of the city. We have urged that the
Legislature should require—say 500 of the leading taxpay¬
ers to keep watch over every department of the city
government. A commission of five or seven, appointed by
and paid by them, should be in perpetual session to see what
became of the money paid into the city treasury. They, the repre¬
sentatives of the taxpayers, should be required to know the exact
work of every person who drew a salary from the city and whether
the bills presented were for actual service performed. In other
words, the object would be to throw a blaze of light in and upon
all the expenditures of the city. There would seem to be a pro¬
priety in letting the persons who paid the money know what
became of it. We would not propose to clothe these taxpayers,
representatives with any powers except to examine and report.
It is true the Mayor now appoints two city auditors, but their work
has amounted to very little, because they represent an official and
not the taxpaying public.
It is known now, in a general way, that from one-third to oue-