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Record and Guide.
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DwbTiD TO I^ Estate . BuiLoijfc ApjadTECTai^ McwsdRW DEO0H^TWl.
Basii^ESs Alto Themes of CEHEn^L Ijnu^^l
PRICE, PER TEAR IN ADTANCE, SIX DOLLARS.
Published every Saturday.
Telephone, • • . CJortlandt 1870.
Ck>nununlcatioDS should be addressed to
C. W. SWEET, 191 Broadway.
J. T. LINDSEY, Business Manager.
SEPTEMBER 27, 1890.
Accompanying this number is a Special Supplement of Illus¬
trations of views at Fordham] Heights.
NOTWITHSTANDING the easy rates at which money was obtain¬
able throughout the week, the stock market has not been
strong. Neither is this very muchjto be wondered at. The news
has not been of the most satisfactory description. The railroads
for the first time in many months have reported a decrease in
net eamings, and even the increase in gross eamings, wiped
out as it is by the heavier increase in operating expenses, has
not been taken as a saving clause. Nevertheless the figures as
they stand indicate, if nothing else, a most satisfactory condition
of general business. If the shipping rates lately have not been
large enough to put much money in the treasuries of the trans¬
portation companies, the large quantity of freight carried shows
clearly that ma|!]i>^!:acturers are active and the demand good.
Indeed, the position of the railroads may be compared to
that of the iron trade. In the case of both industries
the demand for service in the one instance and the commodities in
the other has been very heavy, indicating both a large production
and an extensive exchange of general commodities. But, due to
eager competition, the price of iron and the freight rates have
ruled low. In other words the public, instead of the railroad stock¬
holders and the iron manufacturers, have received the benefit.
The increased returns have been immediately expended in employ¬
ing more labor and iu improving facilities—the money being dis¬
tributed among the railroad supply trades and the laborers. It
must be remembered, also, that although 136 roads show a decrease
in net eamings iu July amounting to about $200,000, there is an
increase net in 119 roads, from January 1st to July Slst, of
$8,127,027 aud gross $31,711,638. More serious, perhaps, is the
damage to the cotton crop in the South. What this damage
amounts to it is impossible at present to state; but the speculators
in the cotton market have deemed the loss important enough to
advance the price. The crop is known to be the largest ever
raised, and a partial loss this year can, perhaps, be better afforded
than it could two or tbree years ago.
REPORTS from tbe Trades-Union Congress at Liverpool indi¬
cate that organized English laborers are as much divided
among themselves as organized American laborers. The majority
of the congress decided to tium a cold shoulder to political social¬
ism, but when the question of an eight hours law came to be dis¬
cussed there was no such preponderance of opinion. The advocates
of the measure outvoted their opi)onents, but the majority was
only So in a total of 350, and the discussion was exceedingly bitter.
The decisions of the congress are apparently, however, not so
coercive as the decisions of an American caucus. The workers in
the textile manufactories at once announced that they would not
be bound by the vote. As these industries employ something like
a million hands, it will be seen that an eight hours law is not so
popular as i>t might be among English laborers. The British com¬
mercial mind is very well satisfied with this result, for
it effectually disposes of any attempt at eight-hour legis¬
lation for some time. Affairs on the continent are
also in an improving condition. In Grermany business is active
and stock quotations are advancing. Russian securities are on the
rise, and the advance in rouble notes continues steadily. Austro-
Hungarian securities, also, are selling at higher prices. All of these
advances are ascribed to the enhanced value of silver, and the pros¬
pects of a prolonged peace in Europe. In spite of the disastrous
floods which have impeded trade and destroyed prosperity in Hun¬
gary the industrial and railway securities have also continued
steady. In short, all Europe appears to be enjoying a degree of
prosperity at the present time such as has not been seen for
rr^E articles which have appeared in the Century and other
-A. magazines on Glasgow, Birmingham and similar municipali-
(i es in England, whose government is so fix superior to our own,
that a description thereof is frequently read with something like
incredulity, are apparently beginning to have theu" effect on the
minds of our newspaper editors. There are, indeed, small traces of
the arrival of light in the newspaper oflBces of this city. At the
time the articles were first published many of our city journals
gave an account of the methods adopted by Birmingham and Glas¬
gow in reforming their municipal mstnagement; but it was like
their account of everything alien to their various "policies"—tbat
is, perfunctory to an extreme. Not a few of the Westem
and New England papers, however, have taken the matter
up, and are advocating the adoption of similar methods in
this country with some degree of intelligence and persistence.
Nothing, so far as we have been able to observe, has been
accomplished as yet. Here and there a city operates its
own electric light plant; two or three examples exist of cities
which own their gas supply : but in no municipality in the country
is the principle that natural monopolies cannot be trusted to
private corporations without waste and corruption thoroughly
understood and consistently put into ])raciice. The Record and
Guide has held this opinion for years past, and called attention to
the Glasgow and Birmingham experiments, some time before the
magazines found it worth while to give them space. The experi¬
ence of the past few years, particularly in this city, has been
a continuous and overwhelming justification of the position, but
because false ideas still continue to prevail, people will not and
cannot see its significance. Circumstances conspire, also, to pre¬
vent any proper consideration of a novel policy of this kind, and
one, too, which depends for its efficacy on the degree of honesty
and economy with which it is carried out.. New York City, body
and soul, is in the hands of politicians, and politicians, while they
may be honest, are never wise in the selection of good measures,
courageous and consistent in advocating them, or pertinacious in
putting them into practice. They are not open to
considerations of popular welfare, because from the
very necessities of their being they are obliged to put party
welfare first. If a bill such as the rapid transit measure of last
year, which was imperatively demanded, and which from an econ¬
omic point of view met at the time with no opposition, if such a
bill can be blocked for jjurely factional reasons, what must be the
fate of a policy which rests only on its own inherent rationality,
and the necessity for which is not (as yet) popularly appreciated?
Thus it is a prerequisite of all progrets in our municipal affairs that
the politicians should cease to be supreme, not only in Ne»' York,
but alas ! also in Albany. If the gentlemen behind the Municipal
League can control our local affairs something may be accom¬
plished, for we recognize among their names many students of
political affairs who, receiving their training outside of a pot-bouse,
have settled convictions on the tme relations of a municipality to
the corporations which exercise public functions within its limits.
OUR attention is again called to the strides some of the English
cities are making in the matter above referred to by the report
to the State Department of Consul Sherman at Liverpool. This
report, we are sorry to say, does not betray any great intelligence on
the part of the consul. It is a fragmentary document, exhibiting
neither any l?rge amount of information, nor any power of com¬
bining what there is into a connected whole. Indeed, it is
principally composed of extracts from the last report of the Chief
Engi eer of Liverpool, and does not give the supplementary facts
that are necessary for a full understanding. Such as it is, however,
information of some use may be gleaned from the fragments.
Take, for instance, the following statement, which stands as bleak
and isolated as the mountain of Teneriffe, in the Atlantic Ocean:
"All the street railway tracks (tramways) are laid and owned and
kept in condition by the corporation. And the company leasing
them for traffic pays an annual rental of 10 per cent, on the cost."
Instructive details are painfully absent, but the bare fact stated is
not without ils significance. The fruitful suggestion which
ex-Mayor Hewitt threw out in his rapid transit message,
advising some step of this kind, has, it is true, hardly
entered into rapid transit discussions outside of the columns of this
paper; but can any one allege a reason why advantage should not
be taken of the city's ability to borrow money at 1 and 2 per cent
less than a private corporation? And is there any more equitable
way of obtaining for the city the money value of the franchise than
by such a percentage of the cost as experience has shown to be
fair? If there is a more equitable way, it would only be by taking
a percentage of the gross earnings instead of the capital invested—
in which case the returns would increase as the franchise became
more valuable. In either case, however, the principle would remain
the same, viz.: that whatever value the right of way through a
crowded city has should inure to the benefit, not of capitalists who
under^no risk in operating the road, but to the public which gives
the franchise its value. Experience in Brooklyn has shown full
well tbat tbe practice of letting the franchise at auction without
putting a valuation on it under which no bids will be accepted leads to
results exactly the reverse of those which are sought. Furthermore.