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June 28, 1888
Record and Guid
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Dev&JeO to I^ea,L Estate . SuiLoif/c A^^tdTEciui^E ,Housei(old DegoiViTIoiJ,
"^ -BUsiiiEss aiJd Themes OF General 1;Vt£!\e51'
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Published every Saturday.
TELEPHONE, . • . . JOHN 370.
Communieations should be addressed to
C.W. SWEET, 191 Broadway.
T. T. LINDSEY, Business Manager.
JUNE 23, 1888.
The Republican national platform is well written, but a8 ie tisual
in such documente, it contains a good deal that is pure demagoguery.
What it eays about " trusts," pension bills aad the Mormons may
be classed under this head. Nor have the Republicans any riglit
to blame the administration for pursuing a peaceful foreign pohcy
while our sea-port cities are undefended and our navy is nothing
more than a name. We cannot afford to oppose a bold front to
foreign aggression for aome years to come. Mr. Cleveland deserves
the warm thanks of the coimtry for so conducting our foreign pol¬
icy as to avoid giving offence to gi-eat powers possessed of effective
navies. Then we think the Republicans are to blame in not favor¬
ing an enlarged free list and more moderate duties on the necessa¬
ries of Ufe. The planks which look to taking the tax off tobacco
and liquor is all wrong.
But there are features of tbis platform which we can warmly
commend, aa it indorses lines of national policy we have been advo¬
cating for years. The following reads like extracts from our own
columns. Congress is called upon for " such legislation as will se¬
cure the rehabilitation of our merchant marine." Then say the
We demand appropriations for the early buildmg of our navy; for the
construction of coast f oi'tifications and modern ordnance and other approved
modern means of defense for the protection of our defenseless harbors and
cities; for uecessaryworks of national importance in the improvement of
harbors and the channels of internal, coastwise and foreign commerce; for
the encouragement of the shipping interests of the Atlantic, Gulf and
Paciflc States. This policy will give employment to onr labor, activity to
our various industries, increase the securit3- of nur country, promote trade,
open new and dii-ect markets for our produce, and cheapen the cost of
transportation. We affirm this to be far better for our country than the
Democratic pohcy of loaning the government's money without interest to
This ia all sound, every word of it, and if this poKcy was carried
out by Congress there would be a complete change in the business
situation. If the surplus moneys were spent in the ways indicated
above there would be a prompt revival of industiy just as soon aa
the tariff discussion came to an end. If the times continued
depressed because of the accumulation of unnecessary funds in tbe
Treasury it would be an argument against the re-election of Grover
Cleveland. The civil service plank is very much more to the point
than the vague allusions to the same subject in the Democratic plat¬
form, yet we do not believe that a Reijublican President will pay
any more regard to the civil service rules in the first year of his
administration than President Cleveland has during the last year of
his first tenn.
Mr. Samuel Benner, the well-known prophet of prices, contrib¬
utes to our columns to-day a characteristic and interesting article
on the political and business prospects of the country. He looks
for lower prices in the stock market, for higher prices of grain,
general business depression extending into the fall; nor will there,
in his opinion, be any improvement until after the election of a
Repubhcan President, which he predicts veiy confidently. Mr.
Benner, it will be noticed, holds to the opinions he expressed in these
columns during the first week in January last, and it must be con¬
fessed that liis vaticinations at that time have tm-ned out remark¬
ably correct. He argued then that stocks were not a purchase, but
that wheat and corn were. There are, he said, cycles of dry and
wet weather in the West which make or mar the crops. This sum¬
mer will be the last and worst of four summer seasons of very dry
weather. We have had a shortage of winter wheat, and our corn
crop may be shorter this year than last. Next summer will be the
first of four years of much wetter weather.
Mr. Benner has no faith in bond purchases to stimulate prices or
set the wheels of mdustry going. The businesa depression ia due,
he tliinks, to the tariff discussion started by President Cleveland,
nor will industry revive until the free ti-aders are beaten at the
polls. Undoubtedly manufacturers are afraid to produce in view
of a possible reduction in the impost dutits, but it> should be recalled
that the times do not always depend upon tariffs. England has her
seasons of prosperit;-, with free trade ; and France, experiences of
adversity with a high protective tariff. We had bad times, from
1873 to 1878 and from 1882 to 1880, when there was no reduction of
impost duties. Clearly there are other factors in this problem.
Some of the depression is due to overbuilding, both of railroads and
houses. We have been eating our cake and will have to wait for a
new supply. Under the ciTCumstances we doubt very much
whether the country would immediately become prosperous if the
Mills bill were abandoned and the administration should declare in
favor of protection. In our judgment, in the matter of railroad
building and house construction the country has "bitten off more
than it can chew," and we must accumulate more funds before we
can enter upon a new period of higher prices.
Mr. Benner seems to be " cocksure" that.a Republican President
will be elected next November. In a private note to the editor he
says that Ohio, the State he lives in, wili almost certainly give a
larger majority ^r the Republican national ticket than it did for
Foraker. But with all respect to our coii-espondent we would much
rather take stock in his business than in Iris political prophecies.
Grover Cleveland is a strong candidate personally, and he has al¬
ways been a lucky one. There is a gi'owing reluctance among our
people to change Executives. The fact that he has done fairly well,
that he is conscientious in the discharge of his duties and is a safe
man in every way, will give him thousands of votes in the doubtful
States. We agree with Mr. Benner, however, in thinking that the
American people are not as yet prepared to accept a fiscal policy
which looks toward free trade. Should the Republicans succeed in
the forthcoming election, however, we think it would be wise for
them to carry out the pledge they made in 1884 and correct the
shortcomings of our existing tariff. The free list should be ex¬
tended, some of the oppressive duties on the necessaries of life
should be cut down, and then many of the minor exactions wluch
yield small revenue might be dispensed with, A wise revision of
the tariff would take that subject out of politics for a decade.
Our government ia about to undertake the work of supplying
great guns for sea-coast defenses and the equipment of our small
naval force. There are four ways of providing theae guns. One ia
by the government alone, which is done by England in the Wool¬
wich Government Works. The second is the manufacture by
private parties on contracts for their purchase after undergoing
certain tests. The third involves a partnership between the govern¬
ment and the contractors. The fourth plan ia that of providing
rough forginga from private foundries, the asaembhng and finishing
the parts of the cannon to be done in the government yards. There
are several difficulties in the way of all such work. When done
directly by the government ofiicers it is generally well done, but
the officials in control are always the target for destructive criticism
by private persons who wish to do public work. The government
cannot hold its own in controversies of this kind, yet the Woolwich
guns are excellent ones, and government work ia as cheap and as
efficient aa that of private contractors. But the latter have the
sympathies of the press, and of the outside buaineas public. Their
aim is, of courae, to make money at the expense of the community.
In every war of late years entered into by Great Britain the whole
administrative department of the army and navy was found to be
honeycombed with corruption. The mission of the contractor is to
rob. Thia waa shown in the Crimean war and in our civil war.
Wherever the corporation has a chance its aim is to furnish a cheap
article at a dear price, and in doing so it corrupts the officers of the
service as well as betrays the army.
But the corporation and contractor are ao powerful in our country
that it is impossible to get rid of them. The best plan will probably
be the fom'th one mentioned above, by which private firms would
furnish the rough castings, while the responsibihty of tlie completed
cannon would have to be assumed by government officers. It is
notable that in Germany, whatever is done by the State itself ia
well done. The leading army officers, however, are bitterly diaoon-
tented with the Krupp gun monopoly. In this case the German
Empire has brought into existence a gigantic corporation which haa
it by the throat. If Germany is defeated in the next great war, it
will be because of the superiority of arms in tlie handa of other
nations than the Germans. The Krupp guns were once the best in the
market, they are so no longer, and there seems to be no way of pro¬
curing a new machinery for supplying the improved guna required
by modern warfare. While we may all hope that the United States
will not be a victim tothe intolerable greed of the corporation and
contractor, we muat be prepared for anything that may happen.
With the business methods in vogue it does not seem humanly
possible for us to avoid paying tribute to the contractor octopus.
Parliamentary government is said to be on trial throughout the
world. It certainly does not-seem satisfactory to the French people,