Please note: this text may be incomplete. For more information about this OCR, view About OCR text.
The Record and Guide.
THE RECORD AND GUIDE,
Published every Saturday.
IQl Broad^^aTT, IST. 'Y.
Our Telephone Call is.....JOHN 3 70.
ONE YEAR, in advance, SIX DOLLARS.
Communications should be addi-essed to
C. W. SWEET, 191 Broadway.
J. T. LrNDSEY, Business Manager.
FEBRUARY 27, 1886.
be in getting angry at a blizzard or an earthquake. Matters have been
so ordained in this country, that when a great public improvement
is caUed for, the privilege of serving the community can only be
secured by bribing legislatures, courts, lawyers and aldermen.
New York has been suffering for the want of a Broadway railroad
for thirty years. It is an undeniable public benefit; yet, as our
newspapers know, there was no way of getting the charter except
with the machinery employed by Jake Sharp. If the press and the
public would unite to put an end to this vicious machinery it
would do some good ; but the indignation should be directed
against the vicious system even more than against the guilty per¬
sons who take advantage of it.
We are unable to publish the report of the majority of the Land
Transfer Reform. Commission, in advocacy of the lot system of
indexing, this week, owing to the failure to get the copy in time
for to-day's issue of The Record and Guide. Mr. Dwight H.
Olmstead has one great advantage over his opponents in the
promptness and perseverance which characterises his advocacy of
the block system.
It is a pity that we cannot nationalize the Torrens' Laws which
have made the transfer of real estate so cheap and easy in the
British South Paciflc colonies. There is no question in those
countries as to indexing either by lot or block. The government
keeps an official map in which all properties and their owners are
indicated, and upon payment of a trifling fee the government
guarantees the title when the transfer is made. The same system
obtains in many of the States of Germany. A subscriber, a native
of Baden, informs us that in that city the municipality guarantees
the title upon the payment of a moderate fee. There is no need to
hire a lawyer, for there are no searches. This gentleman thinks
that the city of New York might realize a large revenue from this
source if it would give a similar guarantee to those who bought real
estate. The purchasers would in that case save nine-tenths of the
money tliey are forced to expend and the transfer could be made
in a day, whereas it now takes a month.
There is no marked change in the business situation. The trans¬
actions in real estate continue unusually large ; the building move¬
ment shows no signs of abatement, and general business is fairly
good. The striking workingmen have no reason to complain, for
in many branches of business the prosiiects are so good as to
warrant employers in advancing wages. The stock market may be
described as strong, but dull. The Reading" reorganization will
certainly go on, as it is now settled that the purchase of the stock
from the Vanderbilts was to secure better terms for the junior
securities from the Drexel syndicate. Some gold is still being
shipped; but there is no likelihood of any large quantity of the
yellow metal leaving our shores, because we have again begun to
ship cotton and grain. A rise in exchange beyond the gold export¬
ing point would lead to heavy shipments of American agricultural
products. The foreign news shows that there is great depression in
business abroad. The United States seems to be the only prosper¬
ous country on earth.
What a muddle this Broadway railroad business is to be sure.
The.community is so angry over the revelations showing the turpi¬
tude of Jake Sharp and his associates that there .is a demand that
the charter be annulled, and a resolution to that effect has been
introduced into the State Legislature which, if pressed to a vote,
would certainly go through without even a protest from the press.
But the case against Sharp & Co. has not been made up as yet. The
investigation is still going on; there has been no action of the
Grand Jury—no court has given a verdict in the case. No one
doubts the guilt of these people ; but before the Legislature can
act surely there should be a warrant from some court. The least
the Legislature should do would be to wait untfl. the end of the
investigation of the Senate Committee, when the evidence will
be submitted formally. Our perversely unwise newspapers are
applauding this premature movement to annul the charter, never
thinking of the consequences. Apart from the many innocent
stock-holders whose property would be imperiled, if not confis¬
cated, if the Legislature should prove to have the power to annul
charters upon eajjpar^e evidence, corporate securities would suffer
a severe depreciation, for the Albany lobby would convert the Leg¬
islature into a huge blackmailing machine. Undoubtedly other
corporations have secured their charters by the same means as
were employed by Jake Sharp in getting the Broadway franchise.
What a bonanza this would open to the lobby ?
The fact is, Jake Sharp and corporate promoters like him are
the natural result of our political, legal and business machinery.
There is no more sense in being indignant at him than there would
The Money Actually Invested,
Were it not that newspapers furnish a medium for the propaga¬
tion of truth as well as falsehood, and supply an atmosphere, so to
speak, through which the sun of common sense can sometimes
penetrate the malarial fogs which they serve to maintain in mid-
heaven, we should be compelled to doubt the utflity of diurnal
printing presses. The most pretentious of our daily newspapers
seem to be conducted by an editorial corps of juvenUe cadets, with
only an occasional adult or two who can do no more than try to
hold the helm while the youthful and disorderly crew trim the sails
to catch the winds aback, or in any manner that will either drive
the craft in the wrong direction or throw her on her beam-ends.
The prevailing cant of the newspapers, echoed in this instance
in legislative chambers and committee rooms, refers to the money
actually invested in any enterprise or work of construction from
which incomes are drawn, and the ratio of profits derived in return.
If a railroad brings in more than 4 per cent, on the money paid to
the iron founders, rolling stock manufacturers, track-layers, etc.,
by whom the work was carried to completion, the stock is watered
and the public is being defrauded. On the same princi¬
ple, if a builder succeeds in selling a new dwelling for
a trifle more than the amount of the loan that enabled him to
undertake the construction, with six per cent, and his living
expenses added, he is a most dishonest man and should be care¬
fully watched in all future attempts at bargain and sale. If a land¬
lord charges more thaii enough for rent to pay his taxes and insur¬
ance dues, and keep his property in repair, he is to be suspected of
being a rapacious gadgrind who wishes to filch from honest poverty
and toil the wherewithal to pay for extravagant dinners and sump¬
tuous apparel. The money actually invested is to be the guage of
all charges and the key of all industrial transactions.
But who ever yet knew an instance where the money actually
invested in production was the true standard for estimating the
value of any piece of property ? Will two dwellings, each built at
a cost of $50,000, and located, one on Fifth avenue opposite Central
Park, and the other on Baxter street, bring precisely the same price
in the market ? It ought not to take a very wise man nor a very old
man to see that it is extraneous circumstances that give economic
values to property, and that cost, except in a very secondary
degree, is not even a factor in fixing the standai'd. The very men,
org boys, who write these sage paragraphs in our daily papers
about exorbitant profits on the money actually invested will go
forth exhausted or emasculated by their labor in search of a
ditmer; and if the condition of their finances will permit the
sacrifice to respectability, they wfll seek a restaurant where they
know that the charges wiU represent a profit of several hundred
per cent, on the food actually eaten. They will go to this place in
preference to the ten-cent restaurant just around the corner, where
they could feed quite as heartily with a restaurateur who would be
satisfied with less than one-half the profits. It is respectabflity for
which these young gentlemen are willing to pay. The cost of the
food is only a subject of secondary consideration, or, as Toots says,
" a matter of no consequence."
Let us draw a still further illustration from that same fountain
of wisdom from which so large a proportion of the community
drink an inteUectual fluid more frequently to be compared to fire¬
water than to pure Croton. We will call up the World newspaper.
That journal is a champion of the poor and needy ; a bitter foe of
all the Jacob Sharps in the community who insist on doubling and
quadrupling the value of property by seeking fields for investment
from whence extraordinary returns may be drawn. Now, it is
barely possible that the present proprietor of the World may have
invested, counting money and collaterals together, $150,000 in
his new property. Yet, admitting the truth of his claims for
circulation and custom of all kinds, he would not probably to¬
day, after two years possession, thank any person who offered to
take the paper off his hands for a consideration faUing much below
$1,000,000. But he says not one word about reducing the subscrip¬
tion price of his journal, and is known to be endeavoring, by every
resource within reach, to increase his rates per line for advertising.
Day by day he goes on at his nefarious work of watering his stock,
not always even being very solicitous to inquire if the water be not
contributed from the sewer. Yet there are many thousands of