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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 1, no. 5: April 18, 1868

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AND BITILDEBS' GUIDE V6L.L] SATURDAY, APRIL 18, 1868. [No. 5. i Published Weekly by , C. W; SWEET & CO., Room 31 World Buildino, No. 87 Pabk Row. TERMS. SIxmonths....................;................ 8 00 PRICE OF ADVERTISING.' 1 square, ten lines, three month's.-/..,'..'.',,;,.. ...$10 00 1 square, single insertion.'.............■............ 1 00 Special Notices, per line.......................... 20 Business cards, per month......................... 2 00 THE LIFE INSUEANCE HUMBUG. "Life is uncertain. Death is sure I " says the insurance agent, as he stalks into your place of business, like a bird of evil omen, and tries to scare you into the belief that you really ought to get your life insured; and if you give him any encouragement, a dialogue, similar to the following, generally occurs: Agent.—"Now, really, sir, from your ap¬ pearance you ought to be insured. How old may you be, sir ? " GENTLE.AfAN.—" Oh, about thirty-five." Agent.—" Humph. Under the most favor¬ able circumstances, you will probably not live to be more than twice that age. Only think of it, half your Ufe gone for a certainty, nay, more than half, for according to the mortuary tables the avejrage age is but forty- five years, so that you may actually be upon the brink of the grave even now." Gentleman.—" Do you think I look like a dying man ? " Agent.—" No ; but appearances are often very deceitful. Why, sir, I insured a gentle¬ man one day, for $20,000, who was the very picture of health, and that day week he was a corpse, and the last words that he spoke were these : 'Do not grieve for me, dear firiends; I am quite contented to die; I have robbed death of its sting by getting my life insured; go thou and do likewise.'" And with this kind of argument he has succeeded five times out of ten in disposing of his policies. But the eyes of the people are beginning to open. They begin to wonder how it is, that men who were once too poor to pay their grocer, can now ride in their barouche, and drive a la tandem to the races, occupy the best pew at church, a box at the Opera, and dwell in a superb broAvn stone mansion away up among the crime de lacrtme of society—and all out of the income they derive from the percentage they are allowed on the premiums that they collect from -the insured. Mind you, these men are but the agents, who are supposed to get the crumbs merely. Now, is ii reasonable to Buppdse that these life insurance companies can' afford to pay to their agents the heavy percentage they do, ranging, as we have been assured it does, from fifteen to twenty, and, .in some instances, to twenty-five per Q^nCl^said percentage being allowed not only upon the first premium, but upon every dolla'r that is paid in upon each and every policy that has been issued through the instrumentality of the agent. Can they afford to do this and prosper? The idea is preposterous. Why, if every person that is now insured should live to the fuU age allotted to man, always supposing that they, the insured, pay aU their premiums promptly to the end of the terra'' agreed upon, the profits would not admit of such a heavy percentage, unless they should happen to invest their funds in a mine that would produce a nugget of gold as big as a sugar loaf for every single dollar so invested; for it must be borne in mind that the officers of life insurance companies draw big salaries, and spend enormous amounts annually for advertising purposes, some of Avhich are of the most costly description. Some few weeks ago, a gentleman in our hearing, while riding in one of the Brooklyn cars, said to a neigh¬ bor, with whom he was conversing on the subject of insurance : " Do you see that large mansion surrounded by trees, that one with .an observatory on the top of it? " point¬ ing in the direction, " I do," said the other. " Well, that was all bought out of percentage on policies of life insurance, and the present own¬ er, a year or two ago, had judgpdents against him to the amount of fifty thousand dollars; he did not own a dollar in the world; he is rich now, however, and has also paid olF all his debts." In A'iew of such revelations as these, it is no wonder that such eminent au¬ thority upon Ufe insurance as Elizur Wright should say : " Never since financiering be¬ came an art or a science has any scheme been invented whereby fraud can be rendered so respectable and secure as this life insurance, with the most noble and indispensable object in the world; its methods are inscrutable to the public, and its ways past finding out. If the government does not, in a thorough, scientific, and comprehensive manner, watch the companies or set them to watching each other, twenty years cannot roll away before all the frauds on the treasury, of Avhich we now hear so much, will be eclipsed and made insignificant by those of life insurance. One ounce of prevention now is better than one thousand 'pounds' of cure then." A man like Mr. Wright is not liable to make such remarks as these Avithout having good grounds for believing that fraud in life insur¬ ance does exist, and that, too, to an alarming extent. Mr. Wright says the government should watch the companies; but in order to get the government to do so, the people must agitate the matter, and the way to do it is to call a meeting at once, and let every policy-holder attend that meeting; then ap¬ point a competent committee of investiga¬ tion ; and if the report of the committee is not satisfactory, send a delegation to Albany with a petition, calling upon the government to investigate the matter, and to enact such .Jaws as will compel each and every life insur¬ ance company to give full and ample security for the payment of all policies that are now and may be hereafter issued by them. A movement Uke this will shake all the rotten concerns to their very foundations; and if the earth in reality should gape and SAvallow them, it would be a fit retribution for all the misery they will cause to thousands of poor families who have and are daily stinting and impoverishing themselves in order to keep their policies paid up, with a'fuU belief that if their natural provider should be taken away from them prematurely, they would have a certain amount of money to assist them in their hour of distress. This is the staff they lean upon. A staff that in majority of in¬ stances is sure to break when its help is most needed. EEPOET ON THE NEW POST-OITICE. In our last issue we made some remarks about this building, which now appear almost prophetic. We expressed our fears that by the unwise employment of so many archi¬ tects about the same design nothing satisfac¬ tory could result; and what we then treated as only probable has already been fully realiz¬ ed. Since then the report of the supervis¬ ing architect of the Treasury Department, Mr. A. B. MuLLETT, has been presented to Congress, and, judging by this report, the builders of Babel were in no greater quan¬ dary by the confusion of tongues than the five architects of our Post-Office seem to have been by their confusion of ideas. The report is certainly one of the moat scathing criticisms that we have ever seen upon a public structure; and Avhile the very withholding of these plans from public inspec¬ tion—of which we complained in our last— prevents us from forming any counter opi¬ nion, we are sorry to say that Mr. Mullett's objections throughout seem fortified by such irresistible arguments and data as to leave very little doubt that the present design for the Post-Office is a huge blunder, froni beginning to end.