Tuesday, April 14, 2015


William Clark, editor and publisher of the Cortland Standard

Standard block, corner Main and Tompkins streets. Editorial office and post office on first floor on Tompkins Street.
The Cortland Democrat, Friday, November 29, 1889.

Organized Greed.

   The Cortland Standard of November 21 sustains its merited reputation as the organ of organized greed in the following editorial:
   "Many of our merchants are protesting—and their protest is likely to take form in writing and come before our Village Board—against allowing auction and Cheap John concerns from outside to come into the village and hawk their wares on the most public corner, or rent stores for a short time at desirable seasons and flood the market with their goods often poor or worthless, to the injury of regular and reputable home dealers. The small license fee paid by these concerns into the village treasury does not begin to make up for the injury done home dealers—and frequently does not represent a hundredth part of the money swindled out of purchasers. A business man who makes his home here, rents or owns his store or house, pays his taxes and discharges his duty as a citizen, is entitled to all the protection which the law will permit to be given him. Our home dealers would often prefer to pay the license fee themselves rather than have one of these outsiders permitted to set up shop, but this they ought not to be asked to do. The village which protects itself and its citizens, and where no one buys anything outside which can be bought at home, is always the one where prosperity is the most general."
   A little coterie or cabal of retail merchants, grocers and market men organized to black list every man who disputes an account, or who for any reason, well or ill-founded, omits or refuses to pay the same, and calling themselves by the lofty sounding name of the Board of Trade, have repeatedly importuned the Board of Trustees in public and the members thereof individually in private, to adopt ordinances proposed by them, the purpose of which was to relieve them from the effects of legitimate business competition, and give them the monopoly of the exclusive right to retail the necessaries and conveniences of life in Cortland, and compel purchasers to pay the prices they may combine to fix or agree upon among themselves. They thus propose to apply the doctrines of a protective tariff to the village of Cortland and compel all purchasers to pay tribute to themselves as vendor's of merchandise, that is, to make ten thousand people pay them a profit upon their purchases in excess of what they could obtain for the same goods in a free trade market, where competition was not restrained or prohibited by a village ordinance.
   They do not exceed one hundred persons all told, and probably not fifty, yet this insignificant number persist in dictating municipal legislation so as to increase their profits, which they propose to take out of the ten thousand or more who buy their goods in Cortland, indirectly and obscurely, by means of an ordinance protecting them from all competition save that among themselves, which they will paralyze or remove by combining to fix prices. The consequence will be that the able and the enterprising will not buy in Cortland.
   More than half the builder's hardware used in Cortland is now bought in Syracuse because of the excessive prices charged by our local dealers, who seem to prefer the slow shilling to the nimble sixpence.
   The disease with which this cabal is afflicted is hide-bound selfishness and should not be spread but checked. Among their number are some of the most astute and inveterate tax dodgers in Cortland. Their stocks of goods are not assessed by our assessors, their real estate in a majority of instances is grossly undervalued. Some of their number become nominal members of the Fire Department for the evident purpose of exempting their property in whole or in part from taxation, and other evasions are resorted to to escape just taxation too numerous to mention; yet they never omit to claim that they are tax payers, and well they should be.
   The streets are maintained at an annual cost of $6,000 or $7,000 over which their merchandise is mainly transported and their customers come and go. The water works for the extinguishment of fires costs the village $4,500 per year that their stocks of merchandise may be protected from the flames. The police are maintained at an annual expense of about $2,500 a year to protect their persons from assault and their property from depredation. The streets are lighted at an annual expense of $5,000 for their benefit, and the poor artisan or laborer, who lives in a dark and muddy alley pays a much greater proportion of this expense in comparison with the benefits he receives, than do these nabobs of the Board of Trade.
   But they are not content with this; they want the Board of Trustees to put a handle on the earth for them and give them exclusive control of the handle. To such an odious complexion has the doctrine of protection brought our citizens that many have embraced the heresy against their own dearest and best interests.
   The prosperity of Cortland can never be promoted by municipal legislation in the interest of the few at the expense of the many. The ordinance which the trustees have been urged to adopt will drive trade away from Cortland and bring none to it if adopted. If it accomplishes the purpose designed for it, it will increase the cost of living to the inhabitants in about the same sum it increases the profits of the members of the Board of Trade. Already hundreds of our population have been compelled to leave the place by the excessive cost of living and the dearth of employment, and perhaps the odious black list of so called dead beats, compiled and used by the Board of Trade for their selfish interests, has been instrumental in driving away from Cortland some of our unfortunate poor.
   Shall this organized greed be allowed to depopulate our village and drive trade from our markets that they may for a time at least reap greater profits?
   The Board of Trustees have thus far held out nobly against the pressure brought to bear upon them to induce them to commit this despicable folly and injustice, but the people whom it is their duty to serve should counteract the baleful influence brought to bear upon them in the interest of organized greed by an overwhelming remonstrance against such measures.
   The following remonstrance which has been already quite numerously signed, or one of similar import ought to be signed by every lover of justice and hater of tyranny in the village, and presented to the Board of Trustees.
   The undersigned, citizens of the village of Cortland, hereby respectfully protest against the adoption of any ordinance restricting by license or otherwise, the sale of any article of food, or other commodity sold for consumption in the village of Cortland as experience has shown that such an ordinance has the effect to increase prices thereof, to the consumer and also to limit dealing therein, to a favored few who combine to advance prices to the consumer and diminish the same to the producer after the manner of trusts. We respectfully protest against ail municipal legislation the purpose or effect of which is to relieve any class of persons from the legitimate competition incident to their business or that unjustly discriminates in favor of one part of the community or against another part as tending to favor and promote trade conspiracies.
   We further protest that it is no part of the duty of the Board of Trustees to aid any class of persons to obtain customers for their goods or enhance the price thereof and any ordinance which promotes such a purpose is outside of any lawful authority which can be conferred upon a municipal corporation and tends to create harassing, expensive and unjustifiable litigation and unnecessarily increases the duties and labors of the police and the expense of maintaining the same and bears unjustly upon those who sell or buy the necessaries of life excepting only the favored few, who by means thereof may obtain a monopoly of the trade affected thereby.
   Cortland Village, August 17, 1889.
   By this means the Trustees will know that they have the approval of their constituents in the course they have hitherto pursued. Don't imagine this matter will take care of itself. Organized greed influences most of the legislation of the present. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Serpents are best killed in the egg. Act at once and either sign and circulate a remonstrance against the measures proposed in the Standard's article and the petitions already on file with the village clerk in the interest of the would-be plutocrats of Cortland.
   Good lawyers pronounce such an ordinance as that proposed for adoption by the Board of Trustees illegal. Its legality may be doubtful, but its injustice is evident and certain.
   FAIR PLAY. [pen name]

·        Cheek is a tolerably good thing in its place, but it is barely possible to have an overstock of it when it sometimes proves to be a heavy load to carry. Last week the Whitney's Pt. Reporter published an article on its third page, complimenting itself on the vast amount of original reading matter that the paper contained and saying that the proprietors knew very well that they could publish the paper much cheaper and easier by using plates as many of their neighbors were doing. Of course the inference intended to be conveyed was that all the reading matter in the paper was set up in type. On turning to the first page of the Reporter we were somewhat surprised to find that the entire page of reading matter was printed from plates. "There are tricks in all trades but ours," but then it pays better to be honest. There are very few papers published now that do not make use of plates to some extent. Even the McGrawville Sentinel that made such a great bluff a year ago about its neighbors using plates, is running them on its inside pages now.
·        The Cortland Message of last Saturday has an article on "Editorial Thinking" that places one or two of our editorial brethren in anything but a pleasant predicament. It gives an extract from the N. Y. Times of Nov. 20, 1889, and then prints below it an extract from an editorial in the Cortland Standard of Nov. 21, 1889, on the same subject. Singularly enough, both articles read precisely alike and many of our citizens are wondering if there is some quality in the wild, wild winds of November, that produces the same thought in different minds, located so far apart. The Message thinks that a "wave of editorial thought" is occasionally let loose in New York and that it usually travels north at the rate of about ten miles an hour, reaching the Cortland Standard about twenty-four hours after it has started on its northern voyage. While the wave may not prove of a vast amount of benefit to the originators, it undoubtedly serves to lessen the labors of some of our editorial brethren. The wave seems to have struck the McGrawvillc Sentinel with diminished force.

   The winter term of Cincinnatus Academy opens Dec. 10th.
   Charles J. Cummings, of Preble, has taken out letters patent on a potato digger.
   The members of the Board of Supervisors had a square meal [free substantial meal—CC editor] at the County House on Wednesday.
   The DEMOCRAT is issued Wednesday afternoon, in order to give its employees an opportunity to observe Thanksgiving.
   The schools in this place will be closed Thursday and Friday.
   The December term of the County Court and Court of Sessions will open at the Court House in this village, next Monday, Judge S. S. Knox presiding.
   The Catholics of Homer are circulating a subscription paper which they intend to forward to Bishop Ludden, with a petition for a Catholic church to be established there.
   The dairymen and farmers of Homer and vicinity held a meeting at Hotel Windsor in that place, last week Wednesday, to form a Milk Producers’ Association. L. H. Heberd was elected president and C. O. Newton, secretary.
   In another column will be found an article signed "Fair Play," which explains itself. The columns of the DEMOCRAT are always open for the discussion of such questions, and we invite a free expression of opinion on the subject.
   Last Monday, while Mr. J. T. Copliss, foreman of the mounting department in the Howe Stove Works, was working at an emery wheel, it bursted and one of the pieces struck him between the eyes, causing a severe wound. Dr. Dana dressed the injury.
   A large number of Catholic priests attended the Anniversary Mass for the repose of the soul of the Very Rev. Dean McLoghlin, solemnized in St. Mary’s Church in this place last Tuesday. A very large congregation was present, and the members of the C. M. B. A. were present in a body. The services were very interesting and impressive.
   The Chenango county Board of Supervisors have awarded the publishing of the official canvass of that county to the Chenango Union and the Chenango Telegraph, and fix the price at $100 each, which is only a fair remuneration for the work performed. The Cortland county Board of Supervisors have selected the Homer Republican and the Cortland DEMOCRAT to publish the official canvass of this county, and have fixed the price at $15 each. Generous fellows.

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