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July 12, 18«0
Record and Guide.
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De/oteD to f^ Estate . BuiLoijfc ApprfiTEcrai^ ><owsErfoiD DEOo^^noit
Basii^ESS wto Themes of CeHei^I \m^m
PRICE, PER YEAR IN ADVANCE, SIX DOLLARS.
Published every Saturday.
Telephone, . - - Cortlandt 1370.
CotnmumcatiaDS should be addressed to
C. W. SWEET, 191 Broadway.
7. T. LINDSEY, Business Manager.
JULY 12, 1890.
Now that the silver bill has passed and will undoubtedly receive
■Vhe signature of the President, other problems are appearing, most
of which, however, ought to be of easy solution. Money is really
close on the other side of the ocean at nearly all of the great finan¬
cial places, and particularly so in Berlin and London. It is solely
because of this tightness of money that gold is being shipped to
Europe, from whence it will probably continue its travels until it
reaches South America, for which country large loans were some
time ago contracted for with a syndicate- of English and Grerman
capitalists, headed by the Barings. Europe has no gold to spare
andthis country is looked to for whatever amounts are necessary
to tide over the financial crisis in the South American countries
and it is estimated that we may be called upon for several mill¬
A contention urged against any increase in the use of silver as
money is that in a short time it will drive gold out of the country.
This is theory; facts tell a different tale. It is well to remember
that the same assertion was made twelve years ago, when silver
was remonetized in this country. It is scarcely necessary to point
out that nothing of the kind has happened. In 1877 the amount of
gold held in the United States was $167,000,000, to-day it is $629,-
000,000; and the stock of silver has increased from $65,000,000 to
$448,000,000. There is little doubt that ten or fifteen years from
this, those who now fear any increase in the use of silver because
they imagine it will cause large exportations of gold and a deple¬
tion of our btock of that metal, will have to face a condition
of things very similar to the foregoing. There is no doubt
that the influence at work to increase the coinage of sil¬
ver is, in character, quite as selfish as economic. With
$1,765,000,000 of gold and silvpr coin certificates, legal tender
and bank notes in the country, it cannot be said, without extrava¬
gance, that more money is needed for the requirements of trade.
The idea, too, that the real prosperity of a nation is solely
a matter of monetary standards, a question of monomet-
alism or bi-metalism must also be dismissed. As pointed out in
these columns last week, the chief concern of the nation should be
whether corn, cotton, wheat, provisions, etc., will be as abundant
as ever, or, in other words, whether there will be any diminution
in the prodnctivenesss of labor. So long as there is no falling oflf
in this particular these need be no fear about the prosperity of the
country despite the complexion of the existing monetary policy.
The silver bill, however, agreed upon in Washington this week
by the Conference Committee is of a character that may be allowed
to pass without any very vigorous examination. It is not at all
likely to work the ruin which hairbraincd monometalists predict,
nor, on the other hand, will it greatly benefit the country, as its
enthusiastic friends would have us believe. It is essentially a com¬
promise measure ivithout any very radical provisions. It will no
doubt augment the revenues of owners of silver mines (and this is
one of the chief objects sought for), and should it to any consider¬
able extent enhance the price of silver this country will be some¬
what benefited, as the world depends for its supply of silver very
largely upon the United States.
The publication of the final assessed valuations for the forthcom¬
ing fiscal year, which are printed in another colimin, once more
recalls the elaborate farce, so diligently enacted, of endeavoring to
raise revenue by the taxation of personal property. That it is what
the old play-bills styled a '• howling farce," is admitted by every¬
one, by the Commissioners of Taxation, by the assessors and by
every individual possessing personal property. It will be remem¬
bered that Commissioner Coleman, in stating his views some time
ago to a reporter of The Record and Uuide, said that the tax was
ridiculous; that it was persistently evaded and sworn off, even by
reputable citizens who had become so callous to their obligations
on that score thai they were incapable of recognizing any moral
obliquity in the action. The commissioner said that he would
guarantee to so arrange that with $100,000,000 of personal property,
he could legally swear off within twenty-four hours of obtaining it.
This is only a forcible way of putting what everyone knows, and it
seems to us that it is fully time to abolish this part of our system of
taxation which is nothing but a tax upon honesty. As it is, real
estate practically bears the burden of taxation in this city and it
would be little more than a nominal rearrangement to make it the
sole source of municipal revenue. If personal property were not
taxed, real estate would have to pay, during the forthcoming year,
about $2.30 per cent, instead of about $1.95. Aside from the moral
gain, the advantages to be obtained from this change in the city's
fiscal policy would be that the burden of taxation would be more
equally distributed. It may be said that everyone, even the poor¬
est, pays some rent (or owns his dwelling), and thus would bear his
share of all taxes. Evasion and swearing off would be impossible.
It is not likely that Mayor Grant will do anything further in con¬
nection with rapid transit until he knows whether he is re-elected.
If not re-elected, most probably, he will leave the matter where it
is for his successors to continue. If elected, however, perhaps even
if nominated, bis first step no doubt will be to reappoint his Rapid
Transit Commission and commence an active campaign along the
lines they have already laid down. But before anything practical
can be accomplished the Legislature must extend the powers of the
commission and remove certain restrictions as to the use of certain
streets which are now apparently unsurmountable obstacles in the
way of the construction of a rapid transit road that will really
meet the necessities of the city. After the experience of
the last session we venture the opinion that Mayor Grant
will be unable to obtain any assistance from the Leg¬
islature unless he is willing to overlook all political considerations.
No one expects him to do this, and probably he would assert that
he ought not to be called upon to do sq, alleging that if politics are
to be intruded into the matter, the politics intruded should be those
of the party dominant in New York City. Moreover, Mr. Ivins
will in all probability be on hand next session with a more or less
revised edition of the Fassett bill, and this is pretty certain to pro¬
voke a repetition of the political fight that prevented ihe passage of
any rapid transit measure last session.
Of course, a measure might be squeezed through, but it would be
well if the people of New York City come promptly to the con¬
clusion that what is needed is not a political compromise on a mat¬
ter of such vital importance to their interests and welfare, but a
carefully drawn measure solving, and solving completely, and in a
sense permanently, the rapid transit problem. What the city needs
is an engineering and not a political solution. For the people the
matter is absolutely without a political phase. We commend,
therefore, the proposition advanced in another column of this issue
of The Record and Guide, that the people of this city should
bestir themselves to take the matter entirely out of the hands of
politicians by drafting a non-partisan bill for the construction of a
rapid transit system under the direction of the best engineering and
financial advice that the country affords. Business, gentlemen!
Haven't we had enough of politics?
Speaker Reed's article on the proposed Federal Election law is
about as strong an argument in favor of that measure as can be
made. It has regard, however, for only one aspect of the question,
and its force is due quite as much to what the writer ignores as to
what he says. There is no doubt that elections, North and South,
are not infrequently vitiated by bribery, false coimting, ballot-
box stuflOng, and other devices of political strategy. Intimidation
is also prevalent; and though in the North it is not the practice as
in the South to let off shotguns on the eve of Election Day to let
niggers know there is going to be a free ballot on tbe
morrow, other methods of coercion almost as effective are, at
times, successfully employed. This being the case, Speaker
Reed asks, why should not the Federal Government under¬
take the supervision of elections, not of State or municipal
elections, which are matters of concern to only a certain small
pert of the people, but of Federal elections in which all sections of
the country are as one, and in which the interest' of the citizen of
Maine and the citizen of Louisiana are identical. Corruption (if
it could exist) in a municipal election in New York City, does not
affect, at any rate it does not affect directly, the citizen of Chicago
or of St. Louis, but in a national election a stuffed ballot box in
Jersey City is a crime against every voter in the country. Here,
then, is there not justification for Federal interference
and supervision? Stop consideration of the matter at this
point and no doubt the case for the Federal election
law is very strong. We must not, ho%vever, stop here.
We must look both " before and after," and after the passage
of the Federal election measure, what then? A vast
piece of machinery will be created and set in motion ; it Mrill need
engineers, and it must not be forgotten these engineers will be
politicians. Who doubts for a moment that the new machine will