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March 5, 1887
The Record and Guide.
THE RECORD AND GUIDE,
Published every Saturday.
191 Broad^w^ay, 3Sr. "ST.
Our Telephone Call is - - - - - JOHN 370.
ONE YEAR, in advance, SIX DOLLARS.
Communications should be addressed to
C. W. SWEET, 191 Broadway,
J. T. LINDSEY, Busiuess Manager.
MARCH 5, 1887.
spent $400,000,000 on the navy and then left us without a ship tha*
was of the slightest value for offense or defense, cannot very well
ask to be restored to power. A reconstruction of parties is inevit¬
able, and the old leaders on both sides must give place to younger
men who are abreast of the times.
The war of the indexes still rages. To-day we publish a commu¬
nication from Mr. Max Fast, whose voluminous article on the Prus¬
sian land laws enriched our pages some months back. Mr. Fast, it
will be seen, believes neither in the lot nor the block system of
indexing. He favors a survey of existing estates, not lots, and then
all that subsequent deeds would call for would be the transfer of
the particular plot designated on the official map. This is in
substance the Torrens' plan, which has worked so well in the British
colonies of the South Pacific. It also conforms to the Prussian
system. This indexing would get rid of all the legal verbiage now
employed to describe the property which is conveyed.
The scenes of confusion which have prevailed in the House of
Representatives during the past week shows the necessity of a
radical change in the constitution of that body. The members
care little or nothing for the public opinion of the country so long
as tbey are secure of the approval of their several districts. At
least one-third of the House should be chosen at large by the whole
nation, or else they should represent groups of States. This would
bring to bear a public opinion from the country at large on what
would prove to be the most important third of the House. For, as
our history shows, the larger the are i of territory covered the
more likelihood is there of a better class of representatives. Then
some provision should be made by which all the appropriation biUs
should not be crowded into the very last week of the session.
We have published a great deal on thifs subject of Land Transfer
and the proper method of indexing the records. Our readers can
form their own judgment on the various views presented. Every¬
one admits that the present system is intolerable. It is costly,
wasteful of time and insecure. All admit that a reform is needed.
Lot indexing is ideally the most perfect system, but to begin with
there should be a survey of every piece of property now owned in
the city. This would be so costly that the public would not stand
it. But we fear that lot indexing without this preliminary survey
would involve endless confusion, as the buyer and seller would not
only have to describe the premises to be conveyed but the adjoining
premises; hence the block system is so far preferable, as giving
" defined boundaries," within the limits of which it would be com¬
paratively easy and inexpensive to furnish perfect titles.
Business prospects are not quite so good as they have been.
There is less demand for iron and steel. The grain and cotton
growers are discouraged by the low prices they get for their
products, and then the labor strikes have so far failed, which has
led to a disposition to economize on the part of the working classes.
These various depressing incidents affect retail trade and decrease
the consumptive demand for goods. The laboring people in this
neighborhood lost heavily by the unsuccessful strikes against the
coal roads and the shipping lines. Stocks have been depressed, but
the market for securities looks better as the week closes. The most
promising interest just now is real estate. All dealers in realty
speak cheerfully of the prospects for the rest of the year.
It would greatly advantage the Democratic party if there was
some way of retiring Messrs. Randall and Holman to private life.
These gentlemen belong to a type of party leaders who are out of
date. They are dominated with the idea that the United States is
a bankrupt concern, and that its salvation depends on cutting
down appropriations and being intolerably mean to all who enter
its service. What this country really needs is that larger business
talent which realizes that the truest economy is in liberal but
wise expenditure. Our country has wonderful possibilities—it
covers an immense area; but it needs many and large improve¬
ments to transact its possible business. It could spend anywhere
from two to five hundred millions within the next five years with
very great advantage. At the end of that time, steamers with a
draft of thirty feet could enter New York harbor. The Erie could be
riiade a ship canal. The waters of the lakes could be joined to the
Mississippi. We could have great guns, ships and armored forts
to defend our seacoast cities. Then we ought to have twenty
powerful steamships that would be commerce destroyers in case of
war, while in peace they might be employed under contract with
private corporations in transporting our products to distant foreign
ports. It is statesmen of this kind who will yet rule this country.
The Democratic party can never hope to remain permanently in
power while it is led by men who are bitterly opposed to every
•expenditure! designed to protect the nation or add to its business
In this criticism of tjie Democratic party leaders we have no
intentipn o:f helping the old IJepublican party. That organization
/iff morihuftd, Its fnissioii wap ended when the reconstruction of
|ilie y^i9Q pn 9XL anti^s|ayery basis was <?o|up}@t@^. The party th$^|
A Needed Reform in Elections.
James Russell Lowell, in his recent address in Chicago, pointed
out and deplored the break down in municipal governments in this
country. None of our large cities, he said, were administered
efficiently or honestly. The waste of money was a small evil,
compared with the shame of this fact as an outcome of the work¬
ings of Republican institutions. Every lover of his country must
agree with Mr. Lowell in deploring this discrediting of Democratic
theories as shown by the failure of local self-government. What
sense is there in demanding Home Rule when corruption is
rankest among the local officers who represent the people most
directly. Our State Legislatures are bad enough, but they are very
much better than the Boards of Aldermen and Supervisors which
control our cities and counties. Much is said to the discredit of
Congress, yet the National Legislature is animated by much higher
motives than those which actuate the State Legislatures. Then, as
a rule, our Mayors, G-overnors and Presidents are more honest and
efficient than the representative bodies which control local. State
and Federal legislation. There is much complaint as to the tendency
towards centralization; but how can that be helped, when we
get fairly good work out of executives and the higher legislative
bodies, while corruption runs riot among the smaller local officials
who are nearest to the people.
In this connection the speech of Chamberlain Ivins at the Com¬
monwealth Club dinner has not; received the attention it deserved.
He shows that every New York city election involves the expendi¬
ture of near $1,400,000, and that about one-fourth of the voters are
for the time being in the pay of the several party " machines."
Mayor Hewitt when a candidate had to pay as an assessment
$13,000 to Tammany Hall, and the same sum to the County
Democracy. All candidates must pay handsomely to the " ma¬
chine " of their respective parties in addition to what they spend in
securing nominations. An election costs the State or city authori¬
ties about $290,000.
These startling figures explain why the practical politician
objects to Civil Service Reform. Who, he asks, is to pay those
enormous bills, unless it be the '• Ins" who occupy the offices or the
" Outs " who want to be elected. If the bulk of the office-holding
class are appointed for life or good behavior, as the Civil Service
rules demand, they will have no object in contributing to the
parties' funds. This means a break down—a collapse in party
organizations which, after all, are indespensable to the political
machinery of the government.
This objection to Civil Service Reform would be a valid one were
it not that the system which England has copied from Australia
suggests a means by which we may have Civil Service
Reform, and a reform in our elections at the same time.
In England the expense of the legal machinery of an election,
including the supply of ballots, is paid by the nation in the
locality; but the amount expended is assessed upon the candi¬
dates. This gets rid of the "machine" as known in this coun¬
try, for the voters look to the legal poll officers to supply them
with tickets. Then in England the expense of the candidates is
limited by law. A member of Parliament can spend from $500 to
$3,500 of our money, and a candidate for a local position may spend
from $100 to $600, but never more than the last sum. In our case
it would be wise for the government or municipality to pay all the
legitimate expenses of an election and then to pass stringent laws'
against any expenditure of money to influence the election or secure
a nomination. Our system keeps alive the trading politician,
makes the "machine" indispensable and adds enormously to the
cost of conducting local governments. The O'Briens, Biglins,
Cregans, . Crockers and the multitudinous "boys," who
run our conventiohis, nominate our candidates and corrupt
our politics, could be gotten rid of were we tp ^dopt the
IploglisJ^ system in ^ ?i^o^i^e^ form and rigi% ^pp|y fbe piy||