Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 55.djvu/198

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186
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS AND AMERICAN CAPITAL.
By J. RUSSELL SMITH.

THAT the Philippine Islands are of value as a place for investment is an unexplained generalization that is now being used to tempt business men. The object of this article is to discuss this generalization. The idea that the Philippine Islands are of importance to us, as a new field for our industrial developments, depends upon two assumptions: First, that we need to go beyond the bounds of the United States; second, that the Philippines offer the best available field for the satisfaction of that need.

As to the first assumption, the occasion and origin of the demand for the retention of the Philippines furnish presumptive evidence that it represents no real economic want of the American people. No one ever thought of it until we heard the boom of Dewey's guns at Manila. The demands that then arose for Eastern territory were the natural result of a just pride in the amazing triumph of our navy. Before the battle of Manila a suggestion that we should take the Philippines and receive $20,000,000 as a bonus we would have deemed preposterous. Before that battle, one idea was uppermost in the minds of the American people—namely, the development of the American continent. And yet, along with the enthusiasm over the accomplishments of our army and navy, the idea has crept into some minds that we are in need of more land to develop, and that we must find it in the Eastern Hemisphere.

Examination of the internal condition of the United States does not seem to indicate such need. Our exports are an index to our condition. In 1872 we exported merchandise to the value of $522,000,000; in 1898 the amount had swelled to $1,230,000,000, an increase of two hundred and thirty-five per cent. No European nation has shown such progress. Despite their colonial empires, their armies and navies, their chartered companies, their spheres of influence, and all their elaborate paraphernalia, we are competing with them in their own markets. We have pursued a policy the opposite of theirs and are outstripping them in the race for a share of the world's trade. It is not compatible with industrial wisdom to change and adopt the policy of our less successful rivals just as the success of our own policy is being fully demonstrated.

A nation's commercial supremacy rests upon the same principles as a business man's leadership in his trade—namely, superiority of production. It does not require a citation of evidence to say that the producers of Europe are staggering under the burden of their armies and navies. While they are thus handicapped, we have nothing to