The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, May 26, 1905, Page 3, Image 3

Below is the OCR text representation for this newspapers page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

    The Commoner.
MAT 20, 1005
Announcing that the executive committee of
tho Isthmian Canal commission had decided to
purchase in the markets of the world the material
necessary for tho huilding of. tho canal,
the Associated Press says:
This important decision was reached with
some reluctance because it was appreciated by
Secretary Taft and the executive committee
that there would surely be a great outcry from
two great interests in this country, the pro
ducers of material and tho ship owners, if tho
purchases were not limited to the American
But it wao decided Jthat the money consid
eration was so great that it could not be ig- ,
nored, for it was held that in many cases fully
fifty per cent more would be charged for the
material needed in the cana" construction than .
the same goods could be procured for in
Tho republican platform for 1904 said: "Pro
tection which guards and develops our industries
Is a cardinal principle of the republican party. The
measure of protection should always at least equal
the difference in tho cost of production at home
and abroad." In his message to congress Presi
dent Roosevelt went a step farther, saying that
the measure of protection should bo "more than"
the difference in the cost of production at home
and abroad. This "measure of protection" which
the republican party has so freely given to the
great interests that have regularly and liberally
contributed to republican campaign funds has not
been bestowed as a favor. It has been claimed
that this "measure of protection" actually belongs
to these people, and that to deprive them of it
would not only be to deny them their rights, but
would mean tho taking of bread from tho mouths
of tho laboring men. American consumers havo
often protested against this "measure of protec
tion," but whenever it was proposed to give tho
consumer relief there was "a great outcry from
the great interests of this country" and the repub
lican party heeded.
But now we are told that Secretary Taft pro
poses to proceed in utter indifference to tho
boasted rights of the tariff baronB; that ho pro
poses to ignore tho "great outcry" which we all
know will be forthcoming.
And what is the republican secretary's explan
ation for tho abandonment of tho protective the
ory? "Tho money consideration is so great that
it can not be ignored, for in many cases fully fifty
per cent more would bo charged for the material
needed for the canal construction than the samo
gooZ3 could be procured for in Europe." That is
tho very argument that has been presented for
years and for yearn by the consumers of this
country who havo protested against a high pro
tective tariff. What mojment is it that the money
consideration in this instance is largo? Enormous
though it be it is by no means so heavy a burden
as tha,t borne by the individual consumer who
for years has found it necessary to pay "fifty per
cent more for the material needed than the samo
goods could bo procured for in Europe."
It is a mighty poor excuse that Secretary Taft
and his republican associates give. Having as
serted tho government's right to be relieved from
imposition in the way of exorbitant prices made
possible by the protective tariff, tho administra
tion may find it a bit embarrassing when it comes
to answer tho individual consumer's plea. Repub
lican orators will fin'' it difficult to explain how it
happens that their party gives "protection" to tho
manufacturers, as a right, whllo tho republican
administration goes to Europe for Its supplies bo
causo "tho measuro of protection" make it po3
siblo for tho American tariff baron to add fifty per
cont to tho prico.
If tho republican party Is right on the ques
tion of protection, then Secretary Taft Is wrong;
if tho party has not been grossly In error then
Secretary Taft has no moral right to avoid tho
payment of that extra price made possible through
"thD measuro of protection."
Thoro Is no doubting the importance of Sec
retary Taft's action. A Washington correspondent
for tho Chicago Record-Herald likens It to "a
Shlmoso bomb shell." Whllo republican nownpa
pers arc everywhere insisting that the party shall
"stand pat" on tho tariff question, Secretary Taft,
acting evidently with tho consont of tho presi
dent, abandons the republican position. In tho
way of showing the absurdity of tho republican
party's contention ho furnishes tho most powerful
illustration that has over been offered in the his
tory of a political organization given habitually
to error,
Secretary Taft's free trade order places tho
grand old party of plunder by protection In a very
embarrassing situation. It recalls tho novel writ
ten by Mark Twain. Tho reader was carried along
with a plot that becamo moro and more Intricate
until it seemed that tho hero of tho tale would
meet death whichever of tho J.wo courses con
fronting him ho adopted. Just as the reader's In
terest was at its height ho turned a page and read
Mark's abrupt conclusion of tho story In this way:
"Tho reader will not see this story continued In
our next or in any other publication. The fact Is,
tho author has got tho hero in such a mighty
bad fix that ho here and now washes his hands
of tho entire affair."
Tho consular reports are giving some inter
esting information in regard to municipal ..owner
ship in Europe. Below will be found extracts from
the report of Consul Walter C. Hamm of Hull,
England, and Consul Frank W. Mahin at Notting
ham, England. The municipalization of what aro
known as natural monopolies is going on in Eng
land, and where the experiment is tried it is
nearly always found to result in great benefit to
the community and to the employes. For instance,
Mr. Hamm says that the construction of the mu
nicipal telephone system at Hull has brought
about a speedy reduction in rates. The municipal
telephone has reduced the rates in Hull to about
$2 a month, and street car fare to 2 cents. Gas
is being sold at less than 50 cents a thousand
feet, and electricity is furnished at 9 cents per
At Leicester the city has taken over tho
stret car lines, or tramways as they aro called,
and is going to operate about forty-two miles. Tho
fare is 2 cents, and sometimes tlie distance trav
elled is nearly three miles. The gas and electric
plants, and water plants, are also in the hands
of the public in Leicester, and will run at a profit.
Mr. Hamm says:
"The construction of a muncipal telephone
system in Hull has brought about a speedy reduc
tion in rates. At a recent meeting of the corpora
tion telephone committee it was announced that
the charge for unlimited service over an exclusive
line would be 5 ($24.33) per annum to private
houses and 6 Gs ($30.65) to business premises.
This reduction has been followed by a large in
crease in the number of subscribers. The National
Telephone company has been compelled to reduce
its rates for unlimited service to private houses
from 10 ($48.66) to half that amount. To what
extent this reduction will affect the company In
other towns and cities is a matter of interest. It
is stated that in the agreements which tho Na
tional Telephone company has with practically all
tho large towns and cities Jn England, and by
which the corporations of those towns granted
the company underground way leases, it was mado
a condition that in case it reduced its unlimited
service rate in any place below; $18.66, similar
reduction must be made, if demanded, in all other
towns. If this is tho case, then other cities may
now demand the same telephone rate that Is mado
in Hull. Thus the competition in this city may
prove beneficial to every city in England.
"A recent report of tho comptroller of ac
counts of the Hull corporation throws some light
on tho position of other corporation enterprises
and the success attending their municipalization.
On account of the crematory $530.44 was expended
for maintonanco and $306.58 was received in tho
year ended April 1, so that there was an excess
of expenditure of $223.86 in this case. On tho
public baths during the same time there was an
excess of expenditure of $1,110.53. In the gas
department the profit in the year was $15,380, from
which there is to be deducted interest on tho
debit balance and a sum for the sinking fund,
leaving a net credit balance on the revenue ac
count of $2,637. The working profit of the water
works was $149,893; deducting $12,652, city fund
annuity; $57,449, interest on loans, and $8,622 for
the sinking fund leaves the not profits $71,162.
The revenue account of the electric lighting shows
a working profit of $88,696, from which there are
to be deductions for interest on loans, sinking
fund, and meter Installments, leaving the net profit
$7,976. The working profit on account of tho
street cars for tho year was $185,238, from which
$48,329 is to be deducted for interest on loans
and $45,700 for tho sinking fund, and $37,400 to
be transferred to tho reserve fund, making tho
credit balance for this year $57,500.
"In each Instance, then, with tho excoptlon of
tho crematory and tho baths, tho municipalization
of public utilities In Hull has resulted in profit to
tho city treasury. Tho profit, It is truo, Is small,
but It must be remembered that tho charges for
these public services aro extremely low. A ride on
the street cars in any direction to the end of tho
lino costs only 2 cents; an exclusive telephone in
private house costs less than $25 a year, and In
a business office about $30 a year. Gas is sold at
48 cents per thousand feet and electricity at 9
cents per unit. The object Is not so much to make
a profit for the city out of these utilities as to
furnish the public with tho best service at the
lowest possible price. Viewed In this light, munici
palization In Hull can-bo pronounced a success."
The following is Mr. Manin's report: "An im
portant public improvement this year in Leices
ter is the installation of an electric street car
system in place of the horse-drawn cars. Tho old
system extended nine miles; the now lines, when
completed, will cover forty-two miles. The greater
part is now equipped with overhead trolleys and
is open to the public. It is a municipal under
taking. Tho largest tramway junction in the
United Kingdom is at tho clock tower, whence
five sets of double track radiate. The fare from
this point to any other on the line is 1 penny (2
cents), which pays for a Journey, in some cases
of nearly three miles. The total cost of tho
system will be about $3,250,000. For the first half
of 1904 the net profits of tho municipal gas works
were $110,000; of the electric light works, $12,500,
and of the waterworks, $44,000. All this surplus
goes to reduce the taxes or to benefit tho public
in other ways."
In a speech recently delivered in Boston,
and referring to tho Philippine islands Gen
eral Frederick D. Grant said: "You hear a
great deal about the force necessary to keep those
degenerate people in subjection. There are 12,000
soldiers out there. Ily department in the east
maintains 14,000 men to keep you citizens of New
York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore ,and other -coast
places in tho straight and narrow path."
It is interesting to learn that it requires two
thousand more soldiers to keep the citizens of
New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and
other coast places "in the straight and narrow
path" than it doe:: to maintain order in the Phil
ippines. Is memory at fault or is it a fact that several
years ago it became apparent that army posts
were being located near all large cities? There
was then very general criticism, particularly
among labor representatives who thought they
saw a disposition to place federal troops In a
position where they might readily participate in
labor contests. Every time an organized labor
representative intimated that there was a dispo
sition to put the regular army to use In large
cities he was severely criticised by republican
newspapers, but these newspapers do not seem
to be greatly disturbed because of General Grant's
strange1 statement.
i ntrjrrJrtwirrt1fllftfifr li
,4UiMK. t -?4r ".