Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33.djvu/39

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29
THE ECONOMIC OUTLOOK.

tions seem to prove that the aggregate consumption of wheat and meats in Great Britain has not in recent years increased; but such an unexpected result will probably find an explanation in the circumstance that the undoubted increased earnings of the masses have been directed to the satisfying a desire for many commodities which formerly they could not gratify, rather than an increased consumption of breadstuffs and meat products.

Judged by their fiscal policies, most governments would also seem to regard a decline in prices, especially in respect to food products, as in the nature of a calamity to their people. With the exception of Great Britain and Holland, nearly every nation—pretending to any degree of civilization—has within recent years greatly increased its taxes on its supply of food from without, and more especially on meats and cereals. A comparison of the prices of wheat in England and France for 1886 shows that French consumers paid during that year alone 6s. 3d. ($1.50) per quarter more than they would need have done for all the wheat used by them as food in the country, had the free importation of wheat into France been permitted, or $38,000,000 on their minimum aggregate consumption for twelve months. In March, 1887, an increase in the French duties on the importation of wheat further increased its price in France to an average of 9s. 8d. ($2.19) per quarter over the corresponding average rates in England; which difference, if maintained for the ensuing twelve months, would have increased the aggregate cost of bread to French consumers by the large sum of $87,000,000.

In 1885 the registered sales of horse-flesh for human consumption in Paris were 7,662,412 pounds. In 1886 the sales were officially reported as having increased to 9,001,300 pounds, with an accompanying marked diminution in the consumption of pork. Whether there is any necessary connection between the two experiences need not be affirmed, but the facts are suggestive.

The attempt to crush out of use, by legislation, one of the most brilliant discoveries of the age, namely, the manufacture of butter from the fat of the ox, equally as wholesome as that made from the fat (cream) of the cow, is a libel on civilization; and, as a measure for depriving the masses of a better article of desirable food at cheaper rates, than very many of them have been accustomed to have, or can now procure, would be fiercely resented by them, if once properly and popularly understood.[1]

  1. A report on the subject of "Oleomargarine," by the Royal Health Department at Munich, submitted March, 1887, says: "This product is made in great part from such proper ingredients as are useful in nourishment, namely, the fats or greases; and therefore it is of importance, as it furnishes to the poorer classes a substitute for butter which is cheaper and at the same time nourishing. We think that this want has been supplied