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The Outlook

JANUARY 9, 1918

Offices, 381 Fourth Avenue, New York

On account of the war and the consequent delays in the mails, both in New York City and on the railways, this copy of The Outlook may reach the subscriber late. The publishers are doing everything in their power to facilitate deliveries


To the ordinary traveler and even to the ordinary shipper of freight, the transfer of the entire railway property of the United States from private to public management made no obvious difference. Trains ran as usual-except for the extreme cold weather, for which the Government was hardly responsible and the same conductors punched the same kinds of tickets that they had always punched. Nevertheless, there was a change at once made which is bound to have immediate practical effect.

Mr. McAdoo, the new Director-General of Railroads, promptly declared that priority of shipment over all other commodities should be given to coal. The fuel shortage is so pronounced, on account of the congestion on the railways, that not only is the welfare of the people disturbed through lack of fuel to heat dwellings, but the very production of goods, including munitions, has been threatened for lack of fuel to fire the furnaces of factories. By giving to coal the priority of shipment Mr. McAdoo has recognized the basic quality of this commodity.

More than that. He has made a special and interesting order that affects New York City. As many Americans who have not happened to visit the metropolis may not realize, the only way by which coal can be brought into New York from the South, and specifically from the Pennsylvania fields, has been by conveying it across the Hudson River, or the North River as it is known in New York City. Except for the railway tubes under the river, the only means for carrying it from the New Jersey shore has been by barges. This way requires the unloading of the coal into the barges and then the unloading of it again from the barges.

Mr. McAdoo has ordered that the under-river tubes of the Pennsylvania Railroad, which have been heretofore used practically for passenger service only, be used for coal trains, and that these coal trains be given preference over passenger trains. The astonishing statement is made that this order of Mr. McAdoo's will mean a saving of from three to seven days in distributing coal to consumers.

These two orders issued by Mr. McAdoo are illustrative of the advantage of Government operation. No private railway company could have the authority to issue either of them. Gov. ernment operation has thus made the impossible possible.

On another page we report various opinions on this new enterprise of the United States Government.


So far as Lenine's Government stands for Russia, there is no hope that western Russia can escape German domination. Whether that domination is military or moral does not much matter. If Lenine declines Germany's terms, German troops can and will occupy Petrograd and Moscow. It might almost be said that there are Russian soldiers but no Russian army on Russia's western front. When the discussion of peace terms is over and the effort to get Russia's betrayed allies to join in the scheme has failed, as fail it must, Lenine's Government, so called, is, we believe, doomed, and Germany will do what she chooses with western Russia. Help must come from the south and east of Russia; those who may perhaps bring it must be adverse to anarchy and Bolshevikism; and, if such an effort

gains head, it should be supported by England, France, and America.

England and France have indirectly refused to join Russia and Germany in peace parleying under present_conditions. Lloyd George, in a letter to the British National Labor Conference, declared: "Achievement of the purposes for which the Allies are fighting is essential to the future freedom and peace of mankind."

The French Premier, M. Clemenceau, refused to give passports to Petrograd to Socialist delegates to a conference, saying that, if he should, many people would not fail to say that France was taking part in preliminary negotiations for peace, which was in nowise thought of in the absence of any propositions from the enemy.

Count Czernin, the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister, in his proposal on Christmas Day at Brest-Litovsk, accepted Russia's "basic ideas" of no annexation and no indemnities, but was subtly and intentionally confusing in his comment and definitions. Thus, he declared, first, that the Russian proposals could be realized only in the event that all belligerents obligated themselves to adhere to the terms of such a peace; second, that the Central Powers did not intend forcibly to annex territories seized during the war, nor to deprive nations of political independence lost in the war; and, third, that "the question of the subjection of nationalities who have not political independence to another country cannot be solved internationally, and must be met by each government and its people in the manner established by the constitution of that government." He added, "The protection of the right of minorities is an essential part of the right of peoples to self-definition."

The American Secretary of State has confessed his inability to understand what the quoted phrases mean, and The Outlook joins in this confession.

If the German idea of peace seems impossible of acceptance by Lenine, still more unlikely is it that Germany would accept Russia's terms, for they would check Germany's Mittel-Europa scheme.

We treat of the proposal of peace in an editorial on another



There were cheering incidents for America's allies in the battling of the week ending January 2. Italy still held its own on the Piave River and in the Asiago region where the Germans and Austrians have now for weeks tried to force their way past the foothills of the Alps and into the Italian plains. Better news than this was that of an attack by French troops in the Piave sector; their success was notable in itself and also as showing Italy and the world that France is ready to take the offensive for Italy. The French army drove back and across the river the Austrians who have long had a lodgment on the farther side; moreover, the French took about 1,400 prisoners and many guns, large and small. The French have also repulsed with their usual firmness a new and violent German thrust at Verdun.

The British on their Cambrai sector finally won back" Welsh ́ Ridge" in a heavy counter-attack following some successes by the Germans in this vicinity. In Palestine, despite activity by

the Turks, General Allenby has taken three hundred square miles of country and his front is nine miles beyond Jerusalem. A lamentable British loss (on December 22, but just reported) was that of three destroyers and nearly two hundred men off the Dutch coast.

The chief German war exploit of the week seems to have been the destruction by airplane bombs of part of Padua's beautiful cathedral and of other churches and a museum, with the accompanying loss of those works of art which were not capable of removal.

In one sense there is now no Russian battle front. Yet headlines read "Big Losses in Three Days. Battle Near Moscow." Russia's civil war is on, and Kaledine's Cossacks are at least half-way between the Don River and Moscow.


General Pershing has given an interview to representatives of the Associated Press which ought to set at rest the anxiety of those men and women who have been concerned over the fact that the commanding general of our expeditionary forces has permitted the men under him to drink light wines and beers.

It is not always easy to interpret justly the actions of a man when the attendant circumstances are only partly known. For this reason many people familar with conditions in France have been loth to criticise General Pershing's failure to prevent the sale of light wines and beers to his troops. That this instinctive trust in General Pershing's judgment has been justified is now a self-evident fact.

In the interview to which we have already referred General Pershing said:

The question of prohibiting the sale of all intoxicants to American troops is under discussion with the French Government, but of course there are difficulties here in France that do not exist in the United States. The general order issued December 18 was a long step toward the prevention of drinking among

our men.

It was not by any means intended to convey an injunction to the American troops to drink light wine and beer, but quite the reverse. It was drawn to conform to French regulations on the subject.

It stated only that light wine and beer would be permitted and prohibited the purchase of and acceptance of gifts of whisky, brandy, champagne, or similar beverages. It ordered that all drinking places where such articles are sold be forbidden American soldiers. It is the same regulation made in France by the British army and by the French.

General Pershing said that he, personally, was heartily in favor of prohibition for the American expeditionary force, but he pointed out that grave objections existed to the adoption of a policy which would mean the imposition of prohibition upon a foreign country totally unprepared for such a course. The adoption of absolute prohibition within the American forces would mean the closing of all wine-shops in the region where our soldiers operate. The feasibility of such an action can be determined only by those actually on the ground. It is not a decision which can rightly be made by the American Congress. As The Outlook pointed out last week, General Pershing's original order abolishing the use of heavy liquors was coupled with rigid regulations to prevent the spread of social diseases. General Pershing in his latest interview calls attention to this fact and adds:

Thus far the record of the army in both respects has been most excellent. It is highly gratifying to me and is a testimonial to the high character of the American soldier. Everything possible is being done to protect his morals and his health, and to make him an honor to himself and his countrymen.

To those who are hastening upon incomplete information to criticise the action of our commander in France we suggest the motto, "Trust Pershing."


On December 30 the wireless brought news from Guatemala of the destruction of the capital of that neighbor Republic.

Guatemala City, it is reported, has been completely destroyed

by an earthquake, and its population of one hundred and twenty-five thousand made homeless. A message made public by our Navy Department stated that a series of earthquakes, beginning on December 25 and continuing for several days, were responsible for the great disaster. Eighty per cent of the buildings of the city were destroyed in the earlier earthquake, and the remaining buildings brought down in the earth-tremors which followed.

No figures have yet been received as to the extent of the destruction of life, but unless the account of the destruction of property is exaggerated, the loss of life must have been large.

The Navy Department has ordered all United States vessels in the vicinity of the Gulf of Honduras and the Pacific coast of Guatemala to render all the assistance possible to the stricken population. The American Red Cross has made a preliminary appropriation of ten thousand dollars for the immediate purchase of supplies, and a steamer now at a Gulf port is being loaded with large quantities of flour, potatoes, crackers, disinfectants, stores of galvanized iron for temporary buildings, and certain staple foodstuffs, and will set sail for Barrios, on the east coast of Guatemala, as soon as possible. The American Minister to Guatemala has also been asked to organize a relief committee among the American residents of that city.

Guatemala City was situated about five thousand feet above sea level in a wide table-land traversed by the Rio de Las Vacas. Deep ravines surround this table-land and beyond it high mountains rise on every side. Guatemala City was three times as large as any other city in the Republic. It was laid out with wide, regular streets, many of which were planted with avenues of trees. Most of the houses of the city were only of one story, but they were solidly and comfortably constructed and frequently surrounded by large gardens and courts. The theater, which is reported to have collapsed while occupied by a large audience, was one of the best in Central America. Guatemala City has been called the Paris of Central America. The chief trade of the city has been centered largely in coffee.

Guatemala City was the third capital of the country, the two earlier capitals having been successively destroyed by a volcanic deluge of water and an earthquake. The city which has now been destroyed became the seat of government in 1779. It suffered severely from earthquake in 1874. In less troubled times its destruction would have rivaled the destruction of Messina or of St. Pierre as a matter of international concern.



The present War Revenue Law imposes a so-called excess profits" tax of eight per cent on all earned incomes over $6,000; this in addition to the heavy income tax.

Let us suppose that a lawyer or clergyman, a physician or dentist, has worked his way up in his profession enough to receive $10,000 a year. He pays his individual income tax on the $10,000 and this tax of eight per cent on everything over $6,000 in excess of his deductions. The provision was doubtless aimed at the professional men who enjoy abnormally large incomes, such as corporation lawyers with their rumored $100,000 fees.

The provision was adopted in the final hours of a committee conference of Congress, and was so framed as apparently to exempt members of Congress from its operation. Since then members of Congress have been hearing from their constituents as to the justice of such an exemption. The result was that the Representatives thereupon voted distinctly to include themselves, and, so that they might have good company in their resolution, they also subjected Federal officers and employees to the operation of this tax. Thus it now includes among others the President of the United States, with a salary of $75,000; the Vice-President and the Cabinet officers, each with a salary of $12,000; the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, with a salary of $15,000; the Associate Justices, each with a salary of $14,500; and the Circuit Court Judges, each with a salary of $7,000.

We are glad that the Congressmen are willing to assume the obligations which they would place on other men. But, after having thus put themselves on record, they might well have repealed the whole provision.

It provides for a vicious tax. It puts an extra penalty on

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incomes derived from brains compared to those derived from invested capital. Incomes from invested capital may, it is true, belong to those who are running up incomes by their own exertions; but such incomes may also belong to the idle rich, to those who merely sit at their desks and clip coupons, to those with no purposeful occupations, to those of no particular use to the community. If not to-day, the day will come when the Government will have to discriminate between earned and unearned incomes.

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It ought to be a fundamental principle of taxation that the Government should impose a higher rate on incomes from investment than on incomes from brains and industry. Certainly incomes earned by the efforts of individuals and where no capital is invested ought not to be regarded as excess profits or taxed as such. The worst of this provision is that though it pretends to be "excess profits" tax, it is nothing of the sort. No matter what the individual earned before the war, the entire income above the sum of $6,000 bears the unusually heavy and discriminating tax of eight per cent. It is not a tax on war profits in any sense whatever. It is a special additional income tax without reason laid upon a special class.

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To our regret, Representative Longworth's amendment to rectify the excess profits tax was defeated. This may not mean its final defeat, however. We hope that it will pass the Senate and be reconsidered in the House. If not, as Representative Lenroot remarked during the debate, "We will take it to the people of the country in the next election."


An appeal has come to The Outlook from a Negro lawyer of New York, Mr. Charles A. Smythwick, which ought to receive very careful consideration of an un-Congressional variety. Mr. Smythwick begins by the assertion that less than half of the ten million Negroes in the United States are at the present time co-operating with the Government. If we grant the correctness of his estimate, we can readily agree with his further statement that such a state of affairs "raises a serious question -serious, because the Nation cannot dispense with the services of four or five million citizens in this crisis." Our correspondent states that the situation which he condemns has not been caused by any lack of patriotism among our Negro citizens, but from the fact that American Negroes have been made to feel that their assistance was not wanted.

It is in no spirit of racial antagonism that the criticism of the present conditions is made. "If we are defeated in this war," we are told," race prejudice, social equality, superiority or inferiority between man and man, will not matter; in that case we shall all-superior and inferior-go down to one common ruin." Manifestations of race prejudice our correspondent condemns, not because of their effect upon his own race, but chiefly because of their effect upon the war. He points out that unfairness to his people at the present time disturbs labor conditions, prevents Negro soldiers from throwing their hearts into their work, and results in the wasting of valuable resources in food and supplies.

Specifically he points out some of the ways in which Negroes have been made to feel that their aid was not wanted:

The agents sent out by the Government to sell Liberty bonds, to conserve the food supply, and to husband the material resources of the Nation in general have paid scant attention to the Negroes. A Negro woman complained to the writer a few days ago that she was in a certain theater in New York City on the night before the last day of the Liberty bond campaign, when an agent was present soliciting subscribers for Liberty bonds. There were five other Negroes besides her present; the agent solicited subscriptions from all the persons present except those six Negroes.

None of these Negroes had bought a Liberty bond up to that time; and so far as the writer has been able to find out only one of them bought Liberty bonds the following day, which was the last opportunity. So little attention was paid to Negroes in the campaign for the Second Liberty Loan that "Harlem," in New York City, the richest Negro district in the world, was not canvassed. So completely was this district ignored that even in the height of the canvass one would not have ascertained that the campaign to sell Liberty bonds was in progress from a visit

to this district. It is intolerable that so much material help should be thrown away when it is so sorely needed.

Surely such a plea to be permitted to help should not fall on deaf ears. It is not often that a nation is criticised for asking too little rather than too much from its citizens.


In these stirring times, when things of great importance in the world history are happening every day, the trials of the editors of a weekly newspaper like The Outlook are greatly augmented. The last forms of The Outlook go to press about ten or eleven o'clock on Wednesday evening of each week. Our composing-room is kept open to this hour on Wednesdays in order that the latest possible news may reach our readers. Sometimes an event so important happens on Thursday, after the edition is on the press, that we stop the presses, take out a form of two or three pages, reshape and recast it. Usually this can be done without delay or mishap in getting the edition promptly to our subscribers, but in the issue of The Outlook for last week, January 2, a slight mishap did occur. The announcement of the President's taking over the railways of the country was not made until Thursday morning, December 27. The edition of The Outlook dated January 2 was then in process of being printed. We stopped the presses, took out from the forms one or two articles and substituted an article on the new policy of Federal railway control as announced by the President. In making this change, through one of those mishaps which sometimes happen even in the best-regulated newspaper offices-mishaps which the New York "Sun" used to ascribe to the "office cat "-some defective copies of The Outlook, lacking the editorial article on " Government Operation of the Railways," were mailed before the defect was discovered and remedied. The defective copies were only a few hundred in number, but each one must have been as annoying to the recipient as though a million had been printed. We shall be glad to mail perfect copies of that issue to those of our subscribers who may be good enough to notify us that their copy was misprinted.


In our picture section this week will be found a portrait of the famous Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson, whose safe arrival at Herschel Island has been followed by news of him from Melville Island, in Alaska. Both despatches seem to have come by means of a trading vessel.

The later message is extremely interesting and records in detail a new Arctic exploit, namely, the discovery by Stefansson in the summer of 1916 of several small islands and of one of comparatively large size. This larger island has its southwest corner in latitude 79° 50' north and longitude 102° west, and reaches northward for about two degrees. Mr. Stefansson' also extended very largely his knowledge of the land which he discovered in 1915.

It is supposed that Stefansson has arrived at Fort Yukon in Alaska, which is about two hundred and fifty miles southwest of Herschel Island. He reports that Captain Beneard, of the Mary Sachs, and a Norwegian named Thomsen lost their lives in trying to bring mail to Melville Island in 1916; otherwise Captain Stefansson's long and arduous Arctic exploration seems to have been without serious illness or any disaster.

It is almost exactly four years and a half since Stefansson started on his journey to the Far North. During this time he has been heard from only once, in 1915, when he sent the news of his first discovery of new land.

As we pointed out in an article printed in The Outlook about a year ago called "An Explorer who Feared to Cross Broadway," Stefansson first became known to the general public in 1910 because of his discovery of the so-called White Eskimos of Victoria Island. He is an American citizen, born in Canada of Icelandic parents, and previous to his discovery of the blond Eskimos had traveled among the Eskimos of the Mackenzie River and had studied them in detail. His prime principle in traveling among the people of the Far North has been to live as the natives live and to carry the slightest possible amount of food, clothing, and equipment.


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