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time; and that they may, when properly organized and administered, be of great public use and benefit.
The Increased Cost of Opera-Giving, by Robert Grau, contains startling facts and statistics showing that the "cost-of-living" problem has invaded Grand Opera, and has produced remarkable changes in cost and practice during the last thirty years. Mr. Grau, who is an acknowledged authority on matters operatic and theatrical, and whose article on "The Moving Picture Theatre" in our November number was highly commended in many professional quarters, gives an illuminating and informing review of the conditions that have developed since the "ideal cast" made possible the declaration of the first dividend in the history of American Grand Opera under the Abbey-Grau régime. The progress and the vicissitudes of opera in the principal cities of the United States; the effect upon opera of concerts in which the leading singers take part; and the possibilities of the future music of this country, are set forth in an interesting and instructive manner.
Why the Russian Treaty Should Be Abrogated, by William Sulzer, shows convincingly that the Russian passport question is essentially an American question and involves one of the fundamental principles upon which our system of government is founded. The rights of our citizens abroad, as well as at home, must be respected without reference to race or creed; for respect to American citizenship is the touchstone of recognition of American authority. Mr. Sulzer represents in Congress the Tenth District of New York. He has given much time and thought to the study of this question. In this article he conclusively demonstrates that Russia has not "lived up to" the Treaty of 1832, whereas the United States has carried out the Treaty obligations to Russian subjects, irrespective of race or religious belief. The passport question has been a matter of controversy for many years, and the injustice of treatment accorded to certain American citizens in Russia has resulted in protest and indignation in this country. Public opinion seems at last to have crystallized, and the arousing of the public conscience bids fair to settle what has become an insult to the whole body of American citizenship. Congressman Sulzer, whose resolution in the House was recently passed by an overwhelming vote, considers that the only remedy is to abrogate the present Treaty and subsequently to conclude one in which no loophole shall be left to the
Russian government for injustice to American citizens on account of race or creed.
Building Construction and Fire Prevention, by William L. Ransom, comes as a timely reminder, lest we forget, after a great holocaust of human life by fire, such as that which aroused public horror and indignation in March of last year, when the Washington Place (New York City) conflagration claimed so many victims, to take proper precautions in the future. That catastrophe stirred the New York legislators into action, and fifty or more bills were introduced into the State Legislature at the last session, the object of which was better protection from fire of structures erected or in course of erection. One of the outcomes was the Wagner-Smith Commission. The Hoey-Sullivan Bill (Senate Act No. 270, Assembly Act No. 407) created a new office, that of Fire Marshal, the first appointee being John F. Ahearn. Another measure, affecting New York City alone, that has received the approval of the Legislature and of Mayor Gaynor, aims to protect the greater city from the ravages caused by conflagrations and the inadequate safeguarding of buildings, private and public. Mr. Ransom writes from the viewpoint of his experience in the legal work of several of the larger firms engaged in building and construction work in the Eastern States before he recently became identified with the rapid transit activities of the New York Public Service Commission for the First District.
The United States as a Commercial Power, by Oscar P. Austin, is a statistical statement of the marvelous progress of the country in the realm of exports and imports. In 1911 our exports exceeded those of any other country except Great Britain. and our imports were larger than any other country except Great Britain and Germany. Mr. Austin is the Chief Statistician of the Department of Commerce and Labor and is a recognized authority on statistico-economic questions. He calls attention to one feature of special interest, the rapid gain in the manufactures exported, which has more than doubled in the last decade. He analyzes the various classes of imports and indicates the increases and decreases respectively. Some of these are thought-compelling. He believes that the year of 1911 will, when all returns are in, prove a record higher than any previously made. The vastness of the figures is almost overwhelming; they convey a clearer conception than can otherwise be gained of the country's commercial progress, position and future possibilities.
A DECADE OF BANKING PROGRESS.
BY LAWRENCE O. MURRAY.
THE financial status of a country, its advance or its decline, is a fair measure of its progress in all the lines of human endeavor. It is well, therefore, at the beginning of the new year, which promises great things in many ways, to see just what progress we are making financially. If the conclusions indicate a condition making for pessimism, then we should face that situation, be prepared to make the best of it and to improve conditions, if that can be done. If, on the other hand, the conclusions make for an optimistic view, then every citizen interested in our headway as a nation will rejoice and take courage.
The first ten years of the Twentieth Century have been a period of wonderful growth in business activity throughout the world, but in our own country the high mark attained in every line of industry and trade is simply marvelous. The record of this period can not be more forcefully presented than by telling the story as reflected by the condition of our banks. During no other period in the history of our country has banking made greater progress or been conducted on a higher plane.
The upward trend in business activity which began in 1897 has continued through the past ten years. Our crops, in the main, have been bountiful; our foreign trade has gained proportionately; our factories and work shops have been kept busy; and our banks, growing as the people became more prosperous, reflect in their summaried reports the splendid prosperity of the country.
The banking power of the United States today is estimated at over twenty-one billions of dollars, or two-fifths of the estimated banking power of the entire world. It has almost doubled since 1900, and it is four times as great as it was twenty years ago. Our banking power is double that of the United Kingdom and equals the estimated combined banking power of the United Kingdom, France and Germany.