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OUR AMERICAN LETTER.

Keokuk (lowa, U.S.A.), J»ty 20. A YEAR OF DISASTER. Judged by the record of the first fix months the year 1889 promises to be remembered as a year of disaster all over the world. In the month of January there was a railway collision on the New York and Pennsylvania Kailway, in which 8 persons were killed and as many more seriously injured, and 15 marine disasters, involving a loss of 165 live.'. A cyclone swept over Pennsylvania, killing 60 persons; while 54 lost their lives in mining disasters in the Old World. In February 284 lives were lost in marine disasters. A wind storm in Nebraska killed 23 persons, 26 died by a hotel fire in Hartford (Conn.), 13 by a cyclone in Georgia, 11 by a powder explosion in Wilkesbarne, (Pa.), and 200 in an earthquake in Costa Rica. In March the marine losses mounted up to 351, including the 146 German and American sailors lost at Samoa; 50 were lost by a railway accident in Russia, and 20 in a mine disaster at Wexham, England. In April the A.F. and S.F. Railway killed 4 persons and injured 10; 5S lost thenlives by marine disaster; 30 in a hurricane in the South Pacific, 25 in a mine disaster in New South Wales, 12 by a railway accident in Mexico, and 20 in a similar accident near Hamilton, Dominion of Canada. May recorded 1 killed by railway in California, and 35 injured; the marine losses amounted to 255. Five thousand lost their lives by a flood in the Conemaugh Valley (Pa.), and 135 in Austria and Bohemia. In June the flood continued its work of destruction in the valleys of the Potomac, Juniata, and Susquehanna Rivers, drowning 239 persons ; 30 persons killed by railway accident in Pennsylvania; 70 at Armagh, Ireland; 1,200 by fire in China ; 40 by a falling building in Mexico; 70 in a mine in Austria; and 70 by a cyclone in Cuba. July well kept up the record of fatality by railway, mine, marine, and storm disasters. Besides this, fire has swept away L 14,000,000 of property in the United States, or L 4,504,200 more than the whole of last year. What the remaining six months has in store for us no one knows, but enough has already passed to characterise 18S9 as a year of disaster. Add to the record ? the number of suicides, murders, hangings, lynchings, and crimes of every sort, which have shown a marked increase over the corresponding period for many years past. THE FAILURE OF COMMUNISM.

Several members of the famous Oneida Community of New York have como into Court and asked that the band be dissolved. Their complaint is that from a community wherein each member had an equal share of the profits it had become a corporation in which the members only hold a certain portion of the shires. This community has long been celebrated, and often cited as the ideal social community. It was founded in the early years of the century by Jobn Noyes, who went from Dartmouth College to teach theology at Yale. With a few friends he determined to found an ideal community. The main object was to "make home happy." The early history of this colony is interesting reading. These few people proposed to make themselves, in their lives, the leaven that should leaven the whole lump of human society. Their ideas of home life, and of what constituted "happy homeF," were not in accordance with general notions of propriety. They fell into disputes and wrangles among themselves ; their founder withdrew disgusted; and the society gradually became a great commercial company, having in view the accumula-

tion of the mighty dollar rather than the reformation of society. That the application of their original idea was a failure by no means implies that it was unsound. Communistic theories are admirable, but when reduced to practice are found to bo inadequate remedies for social inharmony, A NEW CONTINENT BEING OPENED. The South American Continent is looming up as the land of promise. The Spaniards were not far from the truth when they designated it as the "land of gold." The gold is there, but not in the shape these adventurers thought. The Republics of South America are developing in a marvellous manner, and their resourcesseem to be inexhaustible and varied. It was but a few years ago when Sooth America belonged to the geography. Aside from the out and dry statements in these monotonous text books almost nothing was known of these lands. Novr South American commerce cuts a large* figure in commercial circles. There faasteady but quiet emigration to the progressive republics, which oiler wonderful investments for capital. North American money and enterprise, are important factors is this remarkable growth. Another century will witness these American States rivalling the United States in their growing prosperity. Chili is pushiog a railway from the Atlantic to the Pacific, for the construction of which contracts are mad* for 10,000,000 ties with American and British Columbian parties. This rail nay is to be pushed to early completion in order to> bring the rich silver deposits of the Andes to the markets of the world. This is but one ot many projects for the development off the country. The emigration from Europa to Chili and the Argentine States is remarkably large. The land of the Incac, tho anaconda, and the peccary will soon lose in its new commercial growth the last traces of barbarism, and be another and prosperous continent formed from the primitive wild* that Pizzaro and his band explored centuries ago. THE PROFIT-SHARING SYSTEM. Mr C. A. Pittsburg, one of the big millers of Minneapolis (Minn.), who since 1885 has run his mills on the profit-sharing system, about two weeks since paid out LB.OOO to his employes as their share of the net earning? of the year. la 1886 and 1887 there was nothing to divide, both being bad years for milling; but this year was u. favorable one—hence this generous dividend, which has delighted all the Pittsburg men and made all the other wage-workers of Minneapolis wish that their employers would follow his example. The Wanamakers, of Philadelphia, merchant tailors and clothiers, are another profit-sharing concern. A few big payments of this sort, reported oceasonally from different parts of the country, are made much of by those who think that this " profit sharing" is the panacea for all industrial ills; that its adoption would stop discontent, and, by acting as a stimulus, would make more industrious and better workers. They do not take time to reflect that their pet scheme, tobegin with, is essentially one sided, and that under no circumstances can it be applied in more than a limited number of caßes. It is all right for the employer to fix a limit of profit which will satisfy him, and to agree that any excess of net earnings above that shall go to his men. But will the workiug men reciprocate by agreeing to do something out of their wages for the employer if it appears at the close of the year that he has not made money enough to pay him anything on the capital he has invested ? Nobody expects it of them, and yet " loss-sharing is the necessary compliment of " profit sharing." Otherwise, it would be a case of "heads I win, and tails you lose." Labur is not yet ready to Bhare the burdens of capital for the sake of sharing in its possible profits. Mr Pillsbury is a man of singular business ability, who, it ib said, made L 5.000 last year on wheat alone. He can do many things that his rivals cannot. So wherever the working men find an industrial genius like Pillsbury they may look for the introduction of " profit-sharing," if the man is generous enough to grant it. They cannot look for it elsewhere ; and it is doubtful if many of them do. They are generally satisfied when they get fair wages for fair work promptly paid in cash. THE COST OF STRIKES. The Illinois Bureau of Labor Statistics in a recent report gives some interesting figures on the results of labor strikes. They show conclusively that strikes are expensive methods, and that the burden falls on the workmen. In six years L 1,300,000 have been lost from the savings of labor. Over L 200.000 a year has thus been thrown away. From 1881 to 18S6 2,768 establishments in the United States were involved in strikes, and during this period of disturbance the loss to employers was L 105,166. The last census gives L 281,310.413 as the total of capital invested in manufacturing industries. Upon this basis the loss amounts to 3.7 per cent, of the investment. The loss of wages to the workmen during this period was L 1.307,242, and 38.2 per cent, of this loss was due to the strikes of ISS6. The assistance received from the labor organisations is almost nothing compared with the loss to the wageearners. The amount thus received from these sources was L 47.692. These and other figures I might quote from this report show the damage that strikes bring both to capital and labor. The ultimate results of such methods of settling difficulties are never satisfactory. « Even if the point is gained, there is loss on both sides, which must be made good. Arbitration is less costly, and is much more satisfactory; and if both sides, capital and labor, could be induced to always resort to that wholesome method, there would be no more strikes, and a great saving of cash and sentiment. At this wri ing there are no great strikes on. The Carnegie workmen have made a compromise, and are now at work. The mine-owners of Illinois, whose workmen struck last month, have closed the mines, and the workmen with their families subsist upon public charity.

THE NATIONAL TEACHERS' ASSOCIATION. The National Educational Association are in session at Nashville, Tennessee, with a large number of prominent teachers from all parts of the country in attendance. Nashville has put on holiday attire, covered itself with flags and bunting, and stopped business for a day in order to give the teachers a welcome, which was conspicuously Southern and provincial. It consisted of a barbecue in a grove. Last year the teachers assembled in the palatial hotels of San Francisco. This year they are sitting crosslegged on the grass in a grove in the suburbs of Nashville' Beef, unlimited pickles, gallons of buttermilk, peaches and water-melons were spread before the crowd. Some of them dreaded the effect of the Southern sun, but Nashvilo had something more to be dreaded than the hot sun. Nashville had the stranger within her gates, and she proposed to gorge him to the full. But what delightful sarcasm in making the barbecue the target for the pedagogical appetite. After the preliminary agony of reception is over the meeting will be intensely enjoyable and profitable. Of this more anon. Ulysses.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890823.2.12

Bibliographic details

OUR AMERICAN LETTER., Issue 7993, 23 August 1889

Word Count
1,837

OUR AMERICAN LETTER. Issue 7993, 23 August 1889

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