« AnteriorContinuar »
The financial condition of these corporations is facts for the year that ended with June 30, indicated by the following table which shows
Obviously, it would be necessary to look beyond the foregoing for evidence of excessive profits. The shares of four of the eight companies for which price quotations are available have never sold for their par value, while two have never paid dividends under their present organization, and two more have only paid on a relatively small portion of their shares. The The Pennsylvania Railroad is scarcely to be considered in this connection, because of the comparatively small proportior of its total business borne by its anthracite traffic. The Reading and Erie companies have but recently emerged from insolvency and receiverships; while the Lehigh Valley had, during the recent depression of business, a notoriously narrow escape. A recurrence of the conditions which brought about
these financial difficulties is probably nowhere desired, but it should be understood that the only certain safeguard against them is harmonious and united action. So far as this has been achieved, those in control have not only well served the business and investing public, but society in general as well. The anthracite supply is limited in extent; and the period of its exhaustion, if the most conservative methods are followed, is easily calculable. Separate action. on the part of the operators and carriers means wasteful methods of mining, the production of a quantity in excess of that which will sell for prices equal to the real cost of production, and the consequent failure to secure from this wonderful fuel supply the greatest usefulness of which it is capable.
SOLVING THE LABOR PROBLEM OF THE
BY WM. R. DRAPER.
THE HE policy of the farmer of to-day is expansion. He is buying more land, increasing the yield, and demanding more helpers.
The farming West is a country gone to wheat. The principal development of the wheat-raising industry of the world for 1902 is found in the United States, Canada, and India, this country ranking first. So far as the American farmer is concerned, wheat has taken the place of corn as the most reliable and hardy cereal. It remains green through droughts that burn up cornfields. The hot winds of Kansas and the long periods of freezing in Minnesota only cut down the percentage of a wheat yield, when corn would be entirely destroyed by a single month of dry weather. There is still another advantage in wheat-raising, the one which has brought forward this cereal so rapidly in recent years. Should winter have proven too severe for wheat, the field can be ploughed over again and replanted in corn or oats. A destructive frost is seldom succeeded by drought in a single year. Moreover, wheat is more easily handled, the profit is larger, and consequently the acreage is increasing throughout this country.
The average annual wheat crop of the United States is 450,000,000 bushels, of which 400,000,000 bushels are required for home consump tion.
When the yield is greater, there are additional exports.
The great wheat belt of this country is ever changing. Ten years ago we looked to the Northwest for our best wheat, and the largest quantity of it. To-day the millers of large cities expect from the Southwest some of their best bread wheat. Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska are acknowledged wheat-producing sections. Last year, Kansas produced one-ninth of the wheat crop of the United States; Sumner County alone raised 1 per cent. of the entire crop of the world. Oklahoma raised 5,000,000 bushels of wheat in 1896, last year more than five times that amount. For three years Kansas has been in the first rank of the wheat-raising States. Despite the severe drought of 1901, Kansas produced 90,000,000 bushels, for which she received $50,000,000. Corn averaged less than one-fifth of a full yield, which discouraged the farmers; and last fall 1,000,000 acres of corn land were sown in wheat. Prior to that
the corn acreage had been almost double. Last spring, because of the serious frosts of the winter, 1,080,709 acres were again ploughed up and have been sown in corn. Thus only 82 per cent. of the wheat remained in the ground, and this should produce 74 per cent. of a full yield. This means about 90,000,000 bushels of wheat to be gathered in the approaching harvest. These large and increasing crops have encouraged the farmers to enlarge their fields devoted to wheat.
In the past five years the wheat acreage has been doubled in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska. With the increase in yield, there is a demand every summer for extra help in the harvest sea Farmers who own the land, or can secure a lease, sow from two to five hundred acres. The farmer with one hired man, four good horses, and a gang plough and drill can do this; but to harvest the crop requires seven men, ten head of horses, and an extra woman in the kitchen to assist the housewife.
Importing labor into the wheat belt during the period of harvesting has caused a new and serious problem to the grower, that of obtaining the extra workers at the right time and at reason. able prices.
This is the era of large wheat fields in the prairie West. There are many places in Kansas where one can stand upon a knoll and count from eleven to fifteen quarter-sections in one field. The harvesters employed by one man often number a hundred or more. The labor problem of a community given over almost exclusively to wheat-raising is måde more complicated from the fact that few if any laborers from the towns can go to work in the harvest fields. Abundant crops infuse the towns as well as the country with prosperity and bustling life. The towns boom while the farmers are gathering in their crops, and there is demand for every idle townsman. As few farmers employ more than three helpers the year throughout, a supply must be imported from outside the State. Kansas boasts of being the only community where a small army of harvest "hands" are imported annually, to the satisfaction of both the farmer and the laborer. Indeed, the plan is quite new to the Sunflower State.
David W. Blaine, a farmer and implement dealer of Pratt County, commenced three years
ago to work upon the harvest labor problem. It was a difficult task,—the correct solution of sup ply and demand as applied in a great wheat field where the yield is ever changing. He knew he could not depend upon the number of acres as a basis by which to secure a certain number of workers. For two years he found his efforts failed in many particulars. The number of men, women, and teams needed could not be ascertained, as the means adopted for making the estimate proved unreliable. The difference of opinion as to whether Kansas needed one or five thousand helpers proved a drawback in getting laborers to come West. Many did come and found no work, the community in which they arrived being oversupplied, while perhaps in a more isolated section the farmers were anxious for any kind of assistance. Mr. Blaine then decided upon an innovation.
Last year Mr. Blaine sent out reports to the county assessors, asking them to call a meeting of the farmers about three weeks before harvest, and to inform him of the needs of each community, taken as a whole. The prospects at that time were not flattering for a good yield, but favorable weather until harvesting was actually begun deceived even the expert crop reporter. Mr. Blaine's agents had asked for 15,000 men, 3,000 teams, and 500 women. He advertised accordingly. Instead of asking the men to come directly into the wheat belt, he advised all to go to Kansas City, where the Missouri-Kansas free employment bureau accepted the task of distributing them as best it could. Mr. Blaine sent in his reports as to the demands of each farmer. Even this thorough canvass of the situation was insufficient to save all the grain sown.
As early as March 1 of the present season, a circular was sent to the assessor of each township in Kansas, asking him to obtain and file with Mr. Blaine the name of every wheat-grower in his section, the number of acres he had sown last year, the number of extra men, women, and teams he used then, the acreage this year, and the prospect for a full yield. This information was arranged in tabulated form, as follows:
John Jones, Attica township, Sedgwick County, 300 acres in wheat last year, eight men, one woman, and five teams used; 400 acres this year, prospect good.
Mr. Blaine keeps careful record of the con dition of wheat in each section until within a week of harvesting, when he sends in his reports to the employment agencies. Thus, if wheat was reported 74 per cent. good in April, Jones. would need seven extra men; if 90 per cent. good, he would need eight; if 60 per cent. good, six, or even five would be sufficient. The State
Secretary of Agriculture makes frequent reports on the condition of wheat as it nears the cutting season, thus affording ample opportunity for correction. Free employment bureaus have been established this season at Kansas City and Topeka, while several small towns in the midst of the wheat belt will be used as distributing points.
Wheat-growers pay the laborers from $1.50 to $3.50 a day. Some, more expert than others, earn $4 a day. The cost of harvesting an acre of wheat is divided as follows: twine, 25 cents; ploughing and harrowing, $1; drilling, 40 cents; seed, 50 cents; cutting, $1.25; hauling, $1.50; threshing, $1.75; total, $6.65. If sold at 60 cents a bushel, the farmer doubles his money. Machinery saves much to the farmer, but the day laborer yields him even a greater profit. A binder will cut 15 acres a day. The twine costs 25 cents an acre, the binder driver is paid $1.50, and the hire of the team is $2.50. In some sections the header is used instead of a binder, thus eliminating the cost of twine.
The total expense in cutting 1,000 acres is $600, of which $410 goes for horse hire and twine. However, the farmer pays larger wages to those who do the harder work of the harvest field. The binder driver sits under a sunshade, riding upon his machine. His work is frequently given to young women when there is a scarcity of men in the field. Those who shock the bundles of grain, tramping through the wiry. stubble all day long, are paid $2.50 a day. Stackers and haulers earn a similar sum.
Correctly arranging a stack of wheat or oats, so that the top will turn rain and preserve the under portion, is an art within itself, requiring seasons of hard work to understand and learn. There are those harvesters who can build a stack of wheat requiring the strength of a cyclone to overturn, or the hardest of rainstorms to penetrate six inches beneath the straw covering. In these days few farmers stack their grain; most prefer to haul it directly to the thresher from the shock. As the thresher often fails to arrive for weeks after the grain has been cut, the shocker must understand his work quite as well as the stacker.
Helpers about the threshing machines are paid from $2.50 to $4 a day. Feeders are paid $4, but their work is dangerous as well as tiresome. They stand for hours in front of the separator, pushing grain-laden straw into the rapidly revolv ing cylinders, when at any moment a steel tooth may become loosened and fly out, dealing certain death. To keep the mouth of the separator filled with straw, and the straw uniform in its entrance, so as not to jerk the machinery, never stopping from sunrise until mid-day, is a trial of
mind and body that few can endure. It is the hardest labor of the harvesting.
Wheat fields naturally ripen in the southern regions first, the ripening process traveling northward at the rate of twenty-five miles every twentyfour hours. Harvest helpers are, therefore, sent to the southern fields before others are supplied.
Harvest employment bureaus are conducted after the plan of any free labor agency. men in charge have the name of every farmer and a statement of his needs. After first demands have been supplied, the second call for workers is filled. There are always many inexperienced harvesters who cannot stand the fatigue, the heat, and the ceaseless moving about demanded of them. Men of every class seek work in the vast fields of the Southwest. There is the tramp on his summer's outing, the clerk taking a remunerative and healthful vacation, business men and college students seeking novelty and recreation, to say nothing of the majority who are hard workers from the cities and farming sections not demanding their prowess.
Railroads running into the wheat belts grant a half rate to the harvesters, the Santa Fé hav. ing been the first to offer assistance of this kind.
These harvest excursions are crowded for weeks before the actual work begins. The cutting of wheat begins early in June, and lasts unti. midJuly. An industrious and steady worker can earn $125 during a season. The women who come into the wheat belt are generally wives of those laboring in the fields, although many a girl who toils in a village store at $3 a week will accept employment as a binder driver, or even as a hauler or shocker.
THE EMPRESS DOWAGER'S SYSTEM OF MODERN COLLEGES FOR CHINA.
TSU HSI, has issued a
series of edicts completely upsetting the hoary educational system of China, and substituting in its place modern colleges and schools in all the county seats, the perfectural cities, and the provincial capitals. A preface to succeeding decrees showed that the Empress Dowager took herself seriously, and it would be dangerous to trifle with the reform measures which continued to be indited by the throne.
Prior to the establishment of the harvest employment system in Kansas thousands of acres of grain ripened and moulded before the owner could center his smaller forces upon the field. As a field of wheat ripens thoroughly in from three to five days, to permit it to stand after that is extremely dangerous.
The possibility of strikes has been almost obviated through the system inaugurated in Kansas. Last year, near Salina, several hundred men went out, and for one day the owners looked across deserted fields. By the following morning the Kansas City employment bureau had supplied the vacancies. However, even one day's idleness in the midst of a harvest might cause thousands of dollars' damage to over-ripe grain.
BY ROBERT E. LEWIS.
(Secretary Young Men's Christian Association, Shanghai.)
The literary men of China were startled to read in their papers an edict commanding the abolition of the Wen-chang in examinations for literary degrees" and substituting "essays and articles on modern matters, and Western laws, constitutions, and political economy!" This edict affects this year about one million civil service students. The ancient system of military edu cation was abolished, and warning was given that modern military academies in the various
provincial capitals" were to be established. The old system of practicing on the bow and arrow, or with the broadsword, or with stone weights, was acknowledged as "not of the slightest use in turning out men for the army." A flutter of excitement passed through the celestial army corps when this edict was promulgated.
The vermilion ink was scarcely dry on a succeeding yellow decree when it was handed to the telegraph operator at the ancient capital, who notified the Chinese world of a still greater innovation. The proclamation read :
I, Tsu Hsi, etc., etc., command all existing colleges in the empire (Confucian and Buddhist) to be turned into schools and colleges of Western learning. Each provincial capital is to have a university like the Peking University, whilst the colleges in the prefectures and districts of the various provinces are to be schools and colleges of the second and third classes.
I shall not forget the amazement on the faces