Page:American Journal of Sociology Volume 10.djvu/289
NOTES AND ABSTRACTS 277
31980,176 loaned upon 4,474,172 articles during the year 1897. Taking France as a whole, only 6.3 per cent, of the value of the loans is repaid.
Monts de Pidtt abound to a much greater extent in Italy than in France, numbering 556 in 1896, but their transactions are much smaller in amount In about half of them 2 constitutes the maximum loan. The Teutonic countries of the continent occupy a position intermediate between the Latin and the Anglo- Saxon countries. Pawnbroking is in private hands, but pawnbrokers have to sus- tain the competition of loan offices managed by municipalities. In both Austria and Holland there are such publicly conducted loan offices which adopt the principle of charging low interest on small loans and higher rates for larger sums.
The two Anglo-Saxon countries stand alone, inasmuch as pawnbroking has not yet formed a feature of state or municipal enterprise in either country. The United States, democratic republic though she be, authorizes a higher rate of interest for small sums than for larger amounts.
In spite of the abuses to which the business of pawnbroking is open, in spite of the fact that one of the parties to a transaction is almost completely at the mercy of the other, it must not be forgotten that arguments upon this question usually assume that ease in borrowing money must necessarily be an advantage to the poor. There are dangers to be pointed out on the side of an easy and cheap borrowing of money, for the pawnshop certainly offers temptations to improvidence, and may well be called the bank of the unthrifty. Certainly, if we are to substitute another banker for the poor man in place of his " uncle," it should be the credit bank in preference to the Mont de Piete. Charity Organisation Review, April, 1904. E. B. W.
American Municipal Councils. With all the current discussion of muni- cipal problems, there is a striking lack of definite information concerning the primary facts of municipal organization. As a first step in the direction of supplying this lack, this paper dealing for the most part with the structural organization of municipal councils has been prepared. The cities studied are those having a population of 25,000, according to the census of 1900.
Number of chambers. In the early days city councils were always single bodies, but at one time or another most of the large cities have had a bicameral council. At present about one-third of the cities of over 25,000 population have the latter system, while of the smaller cities the proportion is less, and of the cities of over 300,000 inhabitants it is greater. Of cities of the latter class about one-half have bicameral councils ; this comprises Philadelphia, St. Louis, Boston, Baltimore, Buffalo, and Pittsburg.
Number of members. In this respect there is naturally a wide difference between large and small cities ; but there is seldom any definite relation between the size of a city and the size of its council. Philadelphia with 41 members in one, and 149 in the other, branch of its council comes first ; with Boston, with 88 mem- bers, second ; New York, with 79, third ; and Chicago, with 70, fourth.
Term of service. The prevailing term is two years. In New England, how- ever, annual elections for the whole membership are the rule. Although the most general period is two years, elections of aldermen are frequently held every year, one-half of the board going out of office each year. Due to the shortness of the term and the absence of a tendency to re-elect members, there is little opportunity for acquiring experience in municipal affairs.
Mode of election. Members are chosen for the most part by wards or dis- tricts, one or two members being usually elected by each. This election of alder- men from the different localities of a city is objected to on the grounds that more attention is paid to district than to city interests, that ward lines are purely artificial, and that gerrymandering and unequal representation is made possible. It is of special significance that, in the largest cities at least, the districts with relatively small and decreasing population, which thus have an excessive represen- tation in the councils, are often districts where the worst elements of the population are to be found. The unequal representation which this system produces may be seen in the figures for some of our larger cities. New York's thirty-five districts, for example, range in population from about 26,000 to 122,000 ; in Chicago the