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September t, 1889
Record and Guide.
"^ ^ ESTABLISHED^ N^^RPH 3\'-^ 1868. ^
DEvfejED TO R,E^L ESTWE , SuiLDlf/o Aj!.cHlTECTJR,E ,HoiJSÂ£Â«OLD DeG0IV,T10I4.
BUsihJESs a(Jd Themes of GEfjER^l 1j^7Â£i\e5t
PRICE, PER TEAR IN ADVANCE, SIX DOLLARS.
Published every Saturday.
TELEPHONE, - - . JOHN 370.
ItommuDlcations should be addressed to
C. W. SWEET, 191 Broadway,
/. T, LINDSEY, Business Manager.
SEPTEMBER 7, 18S9.
Wall street sees, or thinks it sees, which is the sarae thiug to it,
the prospect of a genuine bull market, the first which has appeared
within the memory of auy of the brokers who cannot show gray
hairs ae evidence of their presence at the breaking up of the last
one. All the conditions aTe favorableâthat is, for Wall streetâas
never yet have the sides there Ijeen perfectly clear. There is
always a dark cloud on the horizon. A heavj' frost in the West
would still send the cold chills down the back of every operator in
the "street," but barring-that tliere is little else to bother him.
Railroad wars, he believes, never are serious when there is plenty of
business for all. It i-^ only when the rations get low that a figlit for
what is left is likely to occur. Europe, it is true, is getting too
much of our money, and we too little of theirs ; but this is a condiÂ¬
tion which may any day change. Englishmen have a keen nose
for prosperity, ar.d, no matter what country, they appear to have the
capital always TCady to take advantage of the country having it.
It is a pity that our imports are on so large a scale, as every dollar
must be paid for; but as we are very likely to have plenty of wheat,
corn, oats, pork and cattle to exchange, the handling of it all will
bring good times to all.
The reports that have been received on this side indicate that the
striking dock laborers in London have been successful. Several of
the dock companies have conceded the demands of the men, and
work has been resumed. After this it is not likely that other comÂ¬
panies will be able to bold out much longer. To pass an intelligent
judgment on the strike, a thorough knowledge- of all the " condiÂ¬
tions" related to it would be necessary. Most of the judgments
that have been passed so far in thia country have been little more
than a reflection of the sympathy, one way or the other, of the perÂ¬
sons expressing them. One of the flrst questions one would like to
have answered is: Will the .strike, granting that it is successful,
benefit the dock laborers a.3 a class f So far as individuals are
concerned, the rise in wages is of course a "good thing." The
dock laborer who henceforth gets twelve cents an hour in London
instead of ten cents will find life somewhat easier than hitherto.
But suppose this increase iu wages lessens the number of men
employed in the docks and makes the companies economize in other
directions, the benefits obtained through the strike wiU simply be
giving to Paul what has been taken from Peter. If we fix our
eyes on Paul only, we shall be sure to see in the sfci-ike nothing but
benefit. The difficulty is to keep watch on the condition of Peter.
In every case an increase in wages that is not due to greater proÂ¬
duction means taking from one person's pocket all that is put into
another's. Wlien a company increases its pay roll without any
corresponding return, it declares smaller dividends or makes fewer
improvements to property than it otherwise would. This means
that stockholders have less money to spend, and this their tradesÂ¬
men aud others feel; or, if the company makes fewer improvements,
less labor of a certain kind is employed, and men find it harder to
get work, and consequently their wages fall. The strike in EngÂ¬
land, however, is no doubt due to the improved condition of trade
on the other side. Labor is endeavoring to get its share of the
increase. It should not be overlooked that there is a lesson in the
strike for employers in this country. Events here usually follow
the course of those on the other side. This has been the case for
years. We seem now to be at the beginning of good times, and
perhaps no better indication of this can be given than the tendency
of wages to rise, which is now visible. The Missouri Pacific have
voluntarily increased the wages of certain employes 10 per cent.,
and the other day the Pottstown, Pa., Iron Company announced an
increase in the wages of puddlers from Â§3.25 to $3.60 a ton, and
probably this will affect the entire iron trade, as the company is an
In the controversy between Mr. George Gunton and Dr, WashÂ¬
iugton Gladden as to whether Trusts are institutions which tbe public
should view with favor, correctly or not, a great deal lias been made
to depend upon the effect which the esistance of the Standard Oil
Company has exerted upon the price of refined petroleum. Mr.
Gunton ia a defender of Trusts. He alleges that the Standard Oil
Company has lowered the price of refined in a greater ]n'oportion
than the price of crude oil has been reduced by the producers, and
from this he draws the inference that the public have been beneÂ¬
fited, having in fact been made sharers in the great economies
which the Trust with its enormous capital and resources has been
able to effect. On the other hand. Dr. Gladden denies that the
Standard has done anything of the kind. He asserts that the pubhc
have not only not obtained any benefits from any economies, but
have not received even the full reduction iu the price of refined
that they are entitled to iu consequence of the reduction in the
price of crude.
It is very difficult to bring controversies as to matters of opinion
or belief to any conclusive test. For a long time to come people
will, no doubt, continue to argue as to whether Trusts, as a whole, are
institutions beneficial to tbe public or not. There are already two
camps in tlie field fighting on the subject, and the proliability is
tbat the truth is not wholly with either. But it is comparatively
easy to settle disputes as to what are called "matters of fact,"
especially such a matter of fact as whether the price of refined
petroleum has fallen in the same proportion as the price of the
crude oil since the establishment of tlie Standard Oil Company,
Exactly when the Standard Oil combination came into being may
well be a matter of dispute. The Standard Oil Trust has existed
for only a few yeiirs. Previously there was the Standard Oil ComÂ¬
pany and its affiliations, which, so far as the public was concerned,
was for years practically all tiiat it is to-day as a Trust. It is nofc nec;!S-
sary, however, to go back further than 1873. At that time the StandÂ¬
ard Oil Company was undoubtedly a powerful organization. Its
infiuence on the oil trade was great, though, of com-se, thecompauy
wasnot then fche overwhelmingmonopoly that it is to-day. Now, on
the Sth day of November, 1S73, tbe Standard instructed its Oil City,
Pa., buyers to pay $4,75 per barrel for oil, and on the 9th it purchased
at those prices 20,000 barrels in Oil City. At the same time 6,000
barrels were sold to Oil Creek refiners at the same figures.
That, however, was the highest price of the year, and perhaps it
is not fair to treat it as tbe iirioe of crude oil at the time,
though a controversiahsfc might feel warranted in going back
to 1871 when oil fetched as high as $5.10 a barrel, and taking
some figure between that amount and %i as the starting price.
In those early days the price of crude oil fluctuated rapidly and
extensively. Oil had sold as high as $30 a barrel and as low as 80
cents before 1873, Certainly for 1S73 SJS^.iiO would be a low averÂ¬
age, and we will accept tbat figure. Now, let us turn to the price
of refined oil. The highest New York quotation in 1873 was 21%
cents a gallon and the lowest 21% cents.; the average may be placed
for convenience at 25 cents. During the past twelve months the
avera.ge price of crude oil has been about yO cents, so that there bas
been a decline of about 77 per cent, from tbe average of |3.50 a
barrel in 1872, If Mr. Gunton is right and, as he says, the Standard
Trust has lowered the price of refined, at least in proportion to the
reduction tbat iias been made in crude, then the market price of
refiued during the past year should have been 77 per cent, less than
30 cents (the price in 1873), or 55^ ceuts per gallon. As a matter of
fact the price has been about 7),4 cents a gallon. Refined oil has
seldom sold much below that figure. It is plain then, that facts do
not bear out BIr. Gunton's assertion. This error does not affect the
strength of his argument as a whole. It shows, though, tbat he
bas endeavored to prove a good case, with poor evidence.
Further announcement as to the details of the postal telegraph
arrangements will be eagerly awaited. As yet there bas been
given to the public nothing sufficiently specific for intelligent conÂ¬
sideratiou; although, apart from its details, it would seem to be a
commendable step in that it will lead to a closer affiliation between
the telegraph company and the postal department. Some time ago,
Postmaster General Wannamaker made the announcement that the
improvements he contemplated were not in the direction of a reducÂ¬
tion in cost, but rather towards a betterment of service ; but it is
safe to say that nobody expected that he would reach an agreement
with the Westera Union Company (if indeed he haa), whereby the
company should take advantage of thegovernment delivery system,
paying for the same by a considerably smaller charge to the public.
By this the public will certainly lose nothing, and perhaps gain a
good deal. What this gain will consist in, however, cannot be learn
until the details of the delivery system are known. If it will*
involve no increase of expenditure on the part of the government,
but simply the utilization of carrying J'acilitiesalready in existence
why the gain will be considerable ; but, if on the contrary, it does
involve an increase of expenditure, the question will arise how far
that increase is justified by the saving effected by the decreased cost
of telegraphic messages.
Bishop Duggan, of Loughrea, has written a letter in which he
asks the friends of Ireland in this country to invest capital in
establishing manufactories in the Emerald Isle. Ireland has many