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party affair because
There are intimations that municipal ownership will be made an issue in the coming State campaign and that by the time the legislature adjourns it will be made plain whether the two parties will differ on this subject during the campaign. Another vacancy has been caused in the senate since the first of the year by the appointment of William J. Heffernan of the fifth district, New York city, to a political office under Mayor Hylan. This means that there will be forty-nine members in the senate this year instead of the usual fifty-one, the other vacancy being due to the resignation of Senator Morris S. Halliday of the fortyfirst district. Senator Heffernan is a Democrat and has been a member of the senate for five years.
Senator Halliday's district includes the city of Ithaca, and Cornell university. He has been a member of the senate three years, but the lure of aviation caused him to resign.
WANT MORE FARMERS
Strong drive this year to be made to elect fifty real tillers of the soil to the
STRONG and determined effort will be made this year to elect fifty farmers to the New York legislature. What is a farmer? New New conditions make new definitions necessary, and in this campaign a clear distinction will be drawn between farmers and near or hyphen farmers. A near farmer is one who makes most or a large part of his living at some other business than farming. When I speak of a farmer in this article I mean one who makes his primary living and supports his family by working on the land and managing a farm.
The ambition and sympathies of the average man go back to the primary source of his income, and few men can have real sympathy for the farming people unless they work their living out of the soil. Of course, this would cut the near-farmers out of the running. They are usually men who make most of their living as lawyers, bankers, manufacturers, some professional work or as landlords. They run farms as a side issue, either to spend some of their time for pleasure or to raise a crop for political capital. When these men go to fashionable hotels they do not give their occupation as farmers. When they come to the legislature they think that there may be more political capital in a hoe than in a fountain pen. The movement now under way will deal with farmers, not "agriculturists" or nearfarmers.
The legislature has become a political promotion club for lawyers, business men, and near-farmers. For years this organization has been growing until now it is about
complete. It would be well-nigh impossible to go into any country district in New York State and find an intelligent man, who does not hold some sort of public job, who will say that he is proud of the legislature or that it fairly represents his district. The New York senate is composed of 51 members. There are 26 lawyers, more than a majority of all. There are 3 insurance men, 4 bankers, 3 real estate men, 1 manufacturer, 2 editors, and 2 business men. Two senators class themselves as farmers, but neither one of them can be said to earn his living primarily by working upon the land. They are both nearfarmers, perhaps closer to the soil than others, but still too far away from it to have full sympathy for country people.
Among the 150 members of the assembly there are 46 lawyers, 14 real estate men, 17 merchants, 5 commission men, 9 manufacturers, 3 civil engineers, 3 railroad men, and 3 editors. There are some 20 members of various trades or professions, including 1 shoemaker, 1 laundryman, and one who frankly classes himself as a liquor dealer. In the assembly there are 26 men who say they are farmers. Applying the test given above, however, this number falls apart until not over six of them are found who do not have some other business upon which they depend for a living. Some are lawyers, others buy and sell produce, some are doctors or other professional men, but not over six of them earn their living primarily by working on the land.
We must remember that in New York State there are forty counties in which farming predominates as a business and in
which the rural people are in a majority.
A more remarkable state of affairs is found in the southern tier of counties from Broome to Chautauqua. Here we have an agricultural district represented by 6 lawyers, 3 commission men, 2 real estate men, and 1 each of merchant, ice dealer, shoemaker, manager, editor, and lecturer. In the east central part of the State lies a great dairy district which contributes a large share of the liquid milk used by the cities. Although this district contains the city of Syracuse, it is an agricultural territory the cow being the wealth producer. It is represented by 2 editors, 2 bankers, 5 lawyers, 3 merchants, 3 farmers, 1 each of hotel keeper and commission man.
The Hudson valley district is a fruit and dairy section. Leaving out five cities the chief source of wealth comes from agriculture, yet here we find 6 lawyers, 3 real estate men, 3 farmers, 2 merchants, 2 insurance men, 1 each of editor, business man, railroad man, electrician, manufacturer, auctioneer, civil engineer, reporter, and contractor. Around the Great Lakes may be found the
chief fruit growing section of New York. This depends entirely upon farming for its support. It is represented by 2 farmers, 3 lawyers, 2 near-farmers, 3 merchants, 2 manufacturers, 3 insurance men, 1 each of fruit packer, machine foreman, doctor, fruit grower, commission man, and banker.
The following table puts it in another way. The 201 members of the legislature divide into the following groups. The population figures are taken from the last census reports except the near-farmer. Their number is estimated.
But why elect farmers? Have not these men represented farm interests fairly? No, most of them have misrepresented New York agriculture. There has been a long period of such misrepresentation. Our game laws, our agricultural laws, and most restrictive legislation have been fair on their face but they carry "jokers" which have always turned up like a thorn in the farmer's side. Practically every piece of farm legislation worked through by lawyers, manufacturers, bankers and the rest of them have carried the "joker" which always turns up among the cards in the hands of the interests which oppose farming.
An illustration of this is found in the dog law enacted last year. Farmers were given to understand that claims for damage under this law would be promptly paid, and they gave the law full support. There are now over 600 just claims for these damages. These claims amount to about $60,000. At the present time about $270,000 income from dog licenses have been collected to pay these claims. Now a "joker in the bill holds up all payments until the legislature
shall appropriate this money which is lying idle in the treasury, while many of the farmers to whom it is due are suffering because they cannot obtain it. This is an illustration of how these "jokers " enable many country members to "strut their brief hour" at Albany as important men when they when they secure this money.
This long series of joker legislation culminated last year in the food legislation which has already eaten up more food than it will ever produce. There is no reason why food legislation should be "fool legislation," and yet there is no other term which can be fairly applied to the work of last year in this line. Had there been a group of fifty armers in the Legislature that work never would have been done; but measures would have been taken to really handle the food question. This long record of joker legislation is injuring New York and especially the rural districts. Here is an extract from an actual letter written by a farmer in Indiana, and there are many others of the same mind.
For a long time I used to read the advertisements about farms for sale in New York, but after reading accounts of some of New York's fool laws I have made up my mind that it is the last place I want to locate, unless I can help make it better. H. H.
But why cannot lawyers, business men, or near-farmers properly represent farm sections? They certainly have not done so, and there are several good reasons which account for it. Most lawyers in the legislature appear to be retained by some corporation or business which is interested in certain definite legislation. Votes are traded back and forth in order to put through favorite bills. The farmers being the only class not closely organized have never been able to bring the pressure at Albany that other interests have been able to do, and thus their rights are usually lost out in the shuffle. It is said of the English parliament that during seventy-five years it was responsible for many beneficent laws but not one
of them was ever passed willingly. It was not until organized pressure was brought upon parliament that even the wisest laws were enacted. The farmers realize that, and it is one reason why they propose to see if fifty men in the legislature cannot bring this pressure to bear.
Then it is impossible for 90 per cent of the legislators at Albany to put themselves in the place of the working farmer. They do not know his life or his ambitions, and thus from the very nature of the case they cannot fully serve him. Their political interests are tied up with the source of their income, which is something outside of working on the land. Most legislators prefer to give the big things of legislature first consideration. The country people believe more and more with Paul A. Vogt in "Social Sociology"
That the ideal of property in rural life, regardless of what may happen in the cities is the farm owned and operated by an independent self-supporting farm family with a minimum of hired help.
No one but the man who has real sympathy for the farmer's life can work that out in legislation.
Another reason is that most members are obliged to be partisans and they put party above real principle. When the party leaders turn a proposed bill into a party measure most men will fall in and vote for it, even when they know its character and understand the "joker" which it contains. Here, then, are three reasons why legislation for farmers in New York has been largely a farce. The legislature as it stands, controlled by lawyers and big interests, will never do anything to injure the present method of distributing food or fiber, and it is only through smashing the present system and building a better one that New York farmers can ever hope to endure.
We believe we can find fifty actual farmers who are just as wise, just as patriotic, and far more loyal to our interests than any
fifty lawyers in New York. We believe that fifty such men will do more to make the open country of New York State a better place to live in than any 5,000 millionaires ever could do with all their money. There is no thought at this time of starting a new party. The work will be done by having the agricultural interests in each county designate candidates pledged to farm interests and then put through at the primary. The farmers will fight to the death against any attempt to destroy or weaken the primary, for that will afford us the opportunity of selecting our own candidates. These men will be pledged to support a brief, strong platform covering a few important farm needs. They may be party men in other matters but they will be absolutely independent on farm legislation and will work together in a compact body. Our farmers have been played with and "jollied " long enough. They now
see that the best way to start an offensive is to get right on the fence and stay there until the line between right and wrong is fairly established. Then they will get down on the right side and put it over.
Briefly stated, this will happen during 1918 in New York. At this moment the rural counties of the State are on fire with indignation at the working of the school law and the food legislation, and that fire will never go out. Space will not permit full details here but the leaders and politicians may rest assured that this movement has started. They cannot stop it. It will be carried on largely by volunteer work and will develop a class of new men as leaders and workers. The object is direct and simple-fifty farmers in the New York legislature not lawyers, or editors, or professors, or bankers, or hyphen farmers, but farmers.
MAKING OF A NEW YORK ASSEMBLYMAN
An experienced member tells plainly how a new legislator at the
BY SIMON L. ADLER
O the new member of assembly, the first weeks of the year are of absorbing interest. This is especially true if he has had no previous experience in any capacity about the capitol at Albany. The constitution of the State provides that the legislature assemble on the first Wednesday in January of each year. On Tuesday, the new member finds himself in Albany. He has been notified by a member of his political party, who signs himself chairman of the caucus committee, that on the evening before the opening day a party caucus will be held at which will be selected the candidates of his
party for the several elective offices of the assembly. It may be that there is a contest within within the party for these positions. In that case, the various candidates establish headquarters in Albany to which the new member is invited, and there he meets the candidates and most of his fellow members of the same party.
On Tuesday evening, the various caucuses are held in the capitol. The majority party meets in the assembly chamber; the minority party meets in the assembly parlor, and if there is a third party, it meets in one of the committee rooms. The new member has