Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 48.djvu/53

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43
THE PAST AND FUTURE OF GOLD.
Years. Soetbeer. Jevons. Laspeyre. "Economist." Mulhall. Medium.
1845 to 1850 100 100 100 100 100 100
1851 to 1855 114 107 111 . . . 104 109
1856 to 1860 125 120 122 127 105 120
1861 to 1865 127 120 123 . . . 110 121
1866 to 1870 125 121 . . . 140 111 124
1871 to 1875 136 . . . . . . 127 112 125
1876 to 1880 127 . . . . . . 115 99 114
1881 to 1884 124 . . . . . . 105 92 107


A study of any of these tables will convince one that there is an enormous exaggeration in the way the cheap-money men talk about the fall of prices. While there has been to some extent a fall in the price of most products in centers of trade, it is by no means very extensive or portentous.

According to Mulhall (History of Prices, page 7), cotton in the United States averages thirty-three per cent higher in 1881-'83 than in 1841-'50; and wheat two per cent higher. Owing, however, to the great fall in transportation, and to improvements in agricultural machinery, the farmers' increased remuneration is by no means expressed by these figures. For corn the showing is still better, probably amounting to something like one hundred per cent for the average American farmer. During the same period pork has risen fifty-six per cent; tobacco, forty-four per cent; butter, forty-five per cent, and cheese eighty per cent—all in centers of distribution, while they have risen still more in the hands of the producer. If my personal recollection is at all reliable, we pay in Toledo, Ohio, to-day more for eggs, chickens, potatoes, and fruits than twenty years ago in greenbacks. Thus, by a little discrimination, we see that the "great fall in prices," so often and so lugubriously spoken of, is in the great centers where the consumers and not where the producers live. Instead, therefore, of being a calamity, this fall in prices has been an unmixed blessing. The farmer gets more for his product; the city man pays less. Such has been the result of the construction of railroads, the most beneficent and far-reaching of all practical inventions. And yet, with locomotive whistles reaching well-nigh every ear in the country, from lines of railroads having a mileage of nearly one hundred and seventy thousand in the United States, our free-silver friends ignore their existence, and, on the basis of London prices in former times, build up a purely imaginary farmers' paradise in contemporary America.

The evidence afforded by wages shows either that the money standard has not risen, as claimed, or that the working classes have received an astounding increase of wages. Take the trades in which the conditions are wholly or comparatively unchanged