The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, February 21, 1908, Page 3, Image 3

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FEBRUARY 21, 1908
The Commoner.
of the bank, are selected by the directors and
the directors are chosen by the stockholders,
and the stockholders would lose all of their
capital, all their surplus and then they would
have to respond to the 100 per cent liability be
fore any other bank could lose anything;
wouldn't that bo enough to make the officers
careful? If that isn't enough, suppose we try
the criminal law and see if that will make them
careful. What has been the difficulty with our
hanks? Our financiers will tell you that the
banks that have failed have failed in almost
every instance because the officers of the bank
have violated their trust and used the money of
other people to advance their own private in
terests! Isn't that true, Mr. Gase?
Mr. Gage: Yes, sir.
Mr. Bryan: Isn't that true Mr. Baker?
Br. Baker: Yes, sir.
Mr. Bryan: Why hasn't it been remedied?
Because the managers of the bad banks don't
want to be restrained and the good bank isn't
anxious to have the 'other ones restrained, be
cause the good bank can point to the recklessness
of the other and draw away deposits.
I am not supposed to know anything about
banking, and yet these distinguished men who
have shed lustre on the banking business, admit
that I have put my finger upon the sore place
in the banking system. Now when wo make
all the banks responsible for each bank then
they will be interested in effective regulation.
We will find them favoring legislation that will
protect the public from a missappropriation of
funds. We have been asking for this regula
tion all the time. I introduced a bill in con
gress to increase the penalty for embezzlement
where the amount was large; I supposed that
I would have unanimous support. I supposed
the stockholders would be glad to hold over
their officers the danger of a longer penal term
if they were dishonest and took money, but I
could not get that through. (Laughter.)
I welcome the prospect of guaranteed banks,
because I think it will enable us to get some
regulation that we need. For instance, I think
it might help us to pass a law to make m.ore
than directory the rule that a bank shall not
loan more than one-tenth of its capital and
surplus to one person. A man testified in the
case of a Chicago banker last summer that that
law was merely directory; that if an examiner
found that a bank was loaning more than ten
per cent to one man, the department would send
him a formal letter calling his attention to
it, and then if he did not correct it by the
next examination, he might expect to be forcibly
reminded by another courteous letter. Is that
good banking? Is that safe and sound finance?
If one-tenth of the capital and the surplus is
all that ought to be loaned under our present
system, if it is the judgment of those" who make
the law that the loan shall not exceed that,
then I insist that we ought to make a criminal
law, to compel the officers to do that which they
were directed to do by the authorities. (Ap
plause,) Wouldn't that be a good law, Mr.
Mr. Gage: Yes, sir.
Mr. Bryan: Would not that bo a good law,
Mr. Baker: Yes, sir.
Mr. Bryan: My friends, if I keep on I
be in standing after a while. (Laughter
and applause.) Now I think there Is another
tiling that we ought to have. I think more
of the reserve ought to be kept in the bank and
less loaned. Isn't that right?
Voices: Right again. (Laughter and ap
plause.) If more of the reserve Is kept in the bank,
the bank can be allowed to keep a part of it in
bonds upon which emergency notes can be bor
rowed from the government. It was the deposit
of western and southern reserves in New York
that caused the stringency to spread through
out the country. Now, I want to remind you that
for forty-seven years our laws have been made
by financiers, and yet we reach the condition
which confronts us today, and eminent bankers
admit here in your presence, that I, a farmer
from Nebraska, can suggest changes that your
financiers did not think of, or at least, did not
put into Jaw. (Laughter.) Why?
A Voice: You ought to be right part of
the time. (Laughter.)
Mr. Bryan: Thanks, it Is a concession that
I appreciate, and I wish I could return the com
pliment by saying that our financiers have been
right even part of the time. (Great applause
and laughter.)
Now there is another' safeguard. I would
like, to see a" law that would make it a criminal
offense for any bank official to become a gambler
upon the stock market. Don't wait until he
has lost or committed sulcido, but make it crim
inal to begin. Savo tho man's life, and his honor
and his family by protecting him from tho temp
tation. I read, a few years ago, that a bank official
found that tho market had gone against him and
shot himself; and another official who was asso
ciated with him in the bank camo in and found
him dead, and knowing tliftt ho had shared in
tho dead man's speculation he shot himself
and fell dead across the body of tho other man.
In Iowa, not long ago, I was told that
within a radius of, I think it was one hundred
miles, ton bankers had committed sulcido as the
res'ilt of speculation. It would be a mercy to
these men to protect them from this temptation.
The man who has in his keeping tho money of
others ought to bo protected, as far as law can
protect him, from the temptation to gamble.
Am I not right?
Voices: You are; you are.
Mr. Bryan: Again I am right. (Applause.)
Now I am afraid that I have talked over
my time (Cries of "go on, go on.") When you
say, "go on, go on," I am reminded, of a fellow
down in Kentucky who was making a speech.
He had to leave on a certain train. When ho
saw the time was near for his train to depart,
he said: i.iy train will go in a moment now,"
and they said, "go on, go on." And he talked
until his train had gone. Finally ho stopped and
said: "You see, gentlemen, that I have been
persuaded by your entreaties to miss my train."
They said, "Why, we told you to go on."
(Laughter and applause.) I am not sure just
what you may mean by "go on." (Laughter.)
Now I have said what I have upon this
question because I believe it should be present
ed. It is not necessary to wait until tho election
is over to find out what ought to be done. Take
a plan that appeals to the common sense
of tho average man and you need not be afraid
to present it before election. The people of
this country aro the most intelligent people In
tho world. They want to do what is right.
Some of you misunderstand our people. (Laugh
ter.) You think we are anarchists. You think
we want to injure tho country. I think I am
a fair representative of the average man out in
the west, at least I have been able to keep in
touch with him in spftc of all the newspapers.
He and I get along pretty well together. Why?
Because I have tried to appeal to the hearts
and consciences and judgment of these men.
You have said that we are arraying class against
class. It is false.
You have accused us of disregarding prop
erty rights. That is not true. The man who
defends human rights is the best defender of
property rights. (Applause.) The man who
prosecutes the wrongdoer is the best friend of
honesty. (Applause.) And all that we have
asked is that you view this great question from
the bottom and not from the top.
There is a theory that God selected a few
men and endowed them with greater wisdom
and fitness, and then put the country in tholr
hands. That used to be tho theory. First, it
was the king who could do no wrong; then it
was the aristocracy that ruled; now it is tho
These men, whose deposits make your bank
ing profits; these men whose deposits are the
basis of your fortunes these men ought to be
considered not only their interests but their
opinions. You like to persuade a man that the
bank is a good place to deposit his money, and
if his judgment is good when you are trying
to persuade him to deposit his money in your
bank, trust his judgment a little when ho wants
to regulate the methods to be employed by those
who have charge of his money. (Applause.)
We will have to meet this issue sometime, and
we may as well do so frankly and boldly now.
If our finances had been conducted as they
ought to have been, there would have been no
stringency now. If you tell me that you need
an elastic currency, I will take your word for
it, but if you tell me that you object to it unless
you can hold both ends of the elastic, I will
tell you that you do not need it as much as
you thought you did. Trust the government,
the representatives elected by the people. These
men, acting in the open and responsible to their
constituents, are more trustworthy than those
who act behind closed doors, and are respon
sible to no one but themselves. I think you
will have to consider the opinions of the voters
on this question, whether you try to settle it
now or by a commission selected for the pur
pose of preparing a bill that you would not
present before the election. It must come before
the people and you might as well take them into
your confidence first as last.
If you want this elastic currency let tho
government issuo It and control it, and yon
will have no difficulty about the security. Then
lay upon tho banks tho responsibility for mak
ing tho banks safe. If tho bankM say that they
do not. want to bo hold responsible for Other
banks, my answer fa that if your banker will
not trust each other, they should not expect
tho people to trust them with their money.
Tho slight tax that this plan contemplates
would bo more than compensated for by tho
money drawn from hiding that you could then
loan out and on which you could chargo Inter
est. This is a system that protect the depositor,
protects tho community, and gives tho banks. a
largo advantage at a small price.
I thank you for this opportunity to speak
to you; It Is tho first I have had. I have been
talking for many years, and this Is tho most
respectable crowd that I have ever talked to In
my lire (Laughter and applause) that is,
measured by New York standards. (Laughter.)
It is no more roapcctablo, however, than the
people among whom I live! The man who tolls
by the day, who goes out in the morning and
works all day, . who commences in tho spring
and works all summer, though his hand be hard
from work, and his clothing not of tho latest
cut he -is a respectable man, and I have been
addressing reHpectable audiences all over the
country, but this is the most highly financial
audience that I ha o yet addressed. (Applause.)
And if I have oxceeded my time limit and
spoken with an earnestness for which I should
apologize, Just remember how long I have wait
ed for the opportunity, and remember also that
J may never have It again. (Prolonged ap
plause.) oooo
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Publishers who patronize rendy
print houses and who believe that tho
reproduction of The Commoner cartoon
each week and two columns of Com
moner editorials and paragraphs would
please their readers and promote tho
cause of democracy could probably se
cure such service by requesting it of
those supplying them plate matter. The
Commoner would gladly furnish without
charge galley proof of editorial matter
and matrix of cartoons to ready-print
and plate houses or to others who desire
. A
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The Commoner again calls the attention of
its readers to the sentiment expressed by
Matthew Arnold:
"Because these things, right and wrong,
aro really what do govern politics and save or
destroy states, the few who keep insisting on
the good of righteousness and the unprofitable
ness of iniquity are the only real politicians."
This sentiment will bo reproduced from time
to time in order that tho readers of The Com
moner may become familiar with it. IfJ.ho dem
ocratic party is to b a power for good in this
country It must "keep insisting on the good of
righteousness and tho unprofitableness of in
iquity." OOOO
The New York World says: "The World
is willing that Mr. Bryan should be the repub
lican candidate for president. It Is as the dem
ocratic candidate that we object to him."
But, according to the World's political
record, it ought to have considerable to say con
cerning the republican nomination. It will learn
in due time, what It now seems unable to per
ceive, that it has no Influence whatever with
tho democratic party freed from the special in
terests which the World seems so faithfully to
James T. Lloyd of Missouri was chosen
chairman of the democratic congressional com
mittee at a caucus held February 11. Mr. Lloyd
represents the first Missouri district. He was
elected to thefifty-flfth congress to fill a vapancy
and has since been regularly re-elected. "Mr.
Lloyd is a true and faithful democrat and his
colleagues made no mistake in trusting him with
great responsibility.