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While good country roads, the destruction of insect pests and the stamping out of contagious disease among cattle are for the general good, they are also for the special benefit of the farmers, and were secured through their effort. The laws for the inspection of fertilizers and for the prevention of the sale of oleomargarine under the name or appearance of butter are enforced, at considerable expense, for the farmers' benefit.
So have the farmers secured from the Federal Government many advantages for agriculture and the agriculturist. Their demand that, if a tariff is to protect the manufacturer, it shall also protect, to the extent of its power, the farmer, seems now to have secured the endorsement of the present administration. Their demand that the department of agriculture shall be controlled by a Secretary and an assistant who shall be practical farmers of broad and liberal views, seeking to promote and advance the interests of agriculture in every portion of the United States, has been granted.
We may conclude then that the farmers of Massachusetts, by their attitude toward taxation, have deserved the respect and gratitude of good citizens everywhere. They have called attention, in a most forcible manner, to the fact that unequal taxation brings crushing burdens to bear upon the tillers of the soil and others who from the nature of the case cannot shift it from their shoulders. Like good citizens, they have not suffered injustice without exerting themselves to the utmost to demand the enforcement of the constitution and laws of the State, against the rich as well as against the poor. They have clearly revealed their opinion as to the evil, and proposed a remedy which they believe to be amply sufficient. If they failed to secure the application of the remedy, it has been through no fault of their own. But they have compelled the Commonwealth to give the question of taxation the consideration it demands. It is being discussed, as never before, in every city and town and hamlet, by all classes of the people. When the special committee presents its report to the legislature of 1898, we may hope that as a result of the united wisdom of all classes of the people, tax reforms may be consummated which shall make the tax laws of Massachusetts, already among the best, still more worthy to be the model for other States.
C. S. WALKER. "achusetts Agricultural College, Amherst, Mass.
The Royal Commission on Licensing. Students of political science will do well not to wait for the proceedings of the Royal Commission, which is inquiring into the operation of the English system of licensing the liquor trade, until the Commission comes to an end of its work, and its report is made public. The Commission of which Lord Peel, late Speaker of the House of Commons, is chairman, has already held nearly a hundred sittings and may hold as many more before all the evidence is taken. In the meantime, the sessions are open to the press. They are being fully reported by newspapers, such as the "Times and the “ Manchester Guardian,” and the proceedings are throwing more interesting light on some economic questions, and some phases of English life, than any inquiry of recent years, not excepting the Lords' Committee on Sweating, or the Labour Commission. Within the last fifteen years the brewery industry, in provincial England at any rate, has passed out of the hands of small private concerns, many of them the property of individual owners, into the possession of great stock companies. The results of this change are to be seen in the wide-spread development of the tied house system, under which from seventy to eighty per cent. of the public houses in the country have been transferred to the brewery companies, which possess themselves of the houses, usually at high prices, in order to obtain monopolies in various neighborhoods for the sale of their beers. This is a development certainly never contemplated by the authors of the old laws which make up the present complicated English licensing code, and the changes which are coming in the train of it are unmistakeably having an important effect on English political life, municipal and national. The beer trade has pushed itself into local politics. It has pushed itself on to the town councils, usually with a view to the manipulation of the watch committees, which have charge of the police ; on to the poor law boards in some places unduly to keep down the rating assessment of public house property; and in some towns it seems to have adroitly pushed itself into the chairs of the clerks to the justices, in order the better to obtain the ear of the magistrates who deal with offenders under the licensing laws.
For English people there is much in the evidence submitted to Lord Peel's Commission, which is decidedly unpleasant reading. Here and there, it has laid bare some weak spots in English municipal life, and already it has been made clear that it will not be possible to shelve the licensing problem in Parliament for long after the Commission has reported.
A System of Compulsory Insurance Against Loss of Work has been tried in the Swiss canton of St. Gall and has been found wanting. According to the report of the United States Consul,' the laborers who were steadily employed soon found that the system compelled them to support in idleness those whose labor was at times uncertain, and whose pay, for that very reason, was high. Moreover, the unemployed from other parts of Switzerland came to St. Gall to live at the expense
of the workmen there who naturally objected to supporting this new swarm as well as the drones in their own hive. On 8th November, 1896, it was decided to abolish the system which, in consequence, will come to an end on 30th June, 1897. The workmen have had their dance and have paid the fiddler, and their experiment is a good example “pour encourager les autres." This is a result which Adam Smith or Buckle would have expected from such governmental interference, but the Swiss laborer does not know much about “Smithianismus," nor does he appreciate Buckle's theory that the best thing legislators can do is to do nothing--or to undo the work of their predecessors. On the contrary, the Swiss laborer expects a great deal of help from legislation. In 1893, he (or some of him, at any rate,) petitioned the Federal Government of Switzerland to set aside Nature's law of supply and demand, and to substitute some new law that should insure remunerative work to everybody. The plan was not approved by the popular assemblies, but the Federal Government, to show its good will to the laborer, appointed a commission to consider what should be done for him. While the Federal authorities were musing, the socialistic fire burned, and the local government of St. Gall started a system of compulsory insurance against loss of work. Each person earning less than five francs a day (except children earning less than two francs) was compelled to contribute—the amount of tribute varying in accordance with the amount of
1 See Consular Reports LII., No. 195, Dec., 1896, p. 592-3.
wage. A person earning between four and five francs a day was compelled to pay thirty centimes a week, and, in the event of being out of work, received two francs and forty centimes a week. Pensions were not allowed for more than sixty days in one calen
JAMES GUSTAVUS WHITELEY.
Prices in Silver Countries. The first series of index numbers for a silver standard country sufficiently reliable and extended to take rank with the series of Falkner, Sauerbeck and Soetbeer for gold standard countries has just appeared in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society for March. It is the work of Mr. Fred. J. Atkinson, of Calcutta, and is based on the prices in India of one hundred commodities during the period 1861-96. The following table for five-year periods has been averaged from Mr. Atkinson's figures to exhibit his results within brief compass:
Prices IN INDIA (1871=100).'
1861-65 1866-70 1871-75 1876-80 1881-85 1886-90 1891-95
88 89 93 103
We observe that Indian prices have risen very considerably, especially those of food. Also that Indian prices are quite variable, except those of raw produce.
Aside from Mr. Atkinson's statistics, our information as to price movements in silver countries is very scanty and unreliable. Such as it is, it is summarized in the following table, in the first column of which is also inserted Mr. Atkinson's results for alternate years:
1 "Food" includes rice, wheat, jawar, ragi, gram, bajra, maize, barley, potatoes, sugar, ginger, mutton, beef.
“Raw produce, etc.” includes tea, coffee, cotton, jute, indigo, opium, tobacco, linseed, til, rape, castor, saltpetre, cutch, myrabolams, manure, coal, raw silk, wool, hides, bamboos, teak.
“ Manufactures, etc.” include cottons, jute goods, oils, silks, tanned hides, shellac.
1861 1863 1865 1867 1869 1871 1873 1875 1877 1879 1881 1883 1885 1887 1889 1891 1893 1895 1896
97 97 100
107 103 138 135 106 106 113 III 125 128 138 128
119 99 96 95 101
104 105 105 145 175 130 116 109 116 123 129
99 102 106
103 105 105 105 104 109
107 104 119
132 127 130
Details in regard to these figures will be found in the sources referred to in the note subjoined to the table. The figures for Mexico are of the least importance, as they are based on very meagre data. Those for China and those for India given in column 2 are too far dependent on custom house declarations of value to be greatly relied on. As Mr. Atkinson points out, not only are such declarations notoriously inaccurate, but there is a tendency for each declaration to follow the last and thus to become stereotyped. This produces a false and misleading uniformity in the index numbers, a uniformity which has been rashly caught at by adherents of the silver standard. The tendency is distinctly seen in comparing the first two columns, Mr. Atkinson's figures show
1 Columns i and 6 are from F. J. Atkinson's paper Jour. Roy. Statist. Soc., March, 1897.
Columns 2, 3, 4 are from tables taken from the Report of the Japanese Currency Commission, as translated in appendix of the present writer's “ Appreciation and Interest,” Public. Amer, Econ. Assoc., 1896.
Column 5 has been calculated by a Yale student, Mr. G. M. Ripley, from figures in “Money and Prices in Foreign countries,” Special Consular Reports, Vol. xiii, Part I (1896). It relates only to eight articles of food.
Column 7 is taken from "Sound Currency," of N. Y. Reform Club, Mar. I, '97.