Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 36.djvu/39

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by year the value of farm, lands depreciates." There is not the slightest reason to believe that there is a county in this State of which a better report can be made. The fourteen examined may well stand for all.

Following closely on this report for New York comes the report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics for Illinois, in reference to farm-mortgage indebtedness. This gives a summary of this indebtedness at the following periods, viz., in 1870, 1880, and 1887; and evidence is also given as to the actual value of farming lands in the State. By leaving out town and city lots, and the suburban district of Chicago, the purely agricultural part of this debt is seen. And it is given as follows:

Year. Debt.
1870 $95,721,003
1880 103,525,237
1887 123,733,098

The report tells its own story; for farms are a constant quantity and do not increase. It is only the wave of debt that increases over them. As this report separates, with such accuracy as it can command, "mortgages representing deferred payments of purchase money from loans," the deduction of the commissioners is, that "the mortgage indebtedness of farmers for borrowed money has increased twenty-three per cent since 1880 in Illinois, and that this is more than twice the increase in the value of the farm lands. An increase in land values is reported in twenty-five counties, a decrease in twenty counties, while in sixteen counties the values have remained unchanged."

This is far from a pleasant showing for a State so naturally good as Illinois, and one which was so recently a new and almost a frontier Commonwealth. But you may go farther West and find figures of the same solemn sort. In the Western States the farm mortgages amount to three billion four hundred and twenty-two million dollars. This is equivalent to a debt of two hundred dollars per capita for each person, or one thousand dollars to each head of a family. The interest which these mortgages pay runs from seven to nine per cent, while the profit on the farm capital, to put it large, is only from four to five per cent.

But, take up any newspaper or magazine, and read its advertising columns in respect to loans. What are they which are most popular and extensively advertised? Why, they are "farm investment loans." "Sixteen years' experience without loss of a dollar." And the interest is delivered at your door almost. These siphons are now extending far beyond the Mississippi and Missouri, on the virgin soil of the continent. For a while they can be borne there, where the capitalization in a farm is either slight or nothing, and where the money borrowed is mainly for buildings