I WRITE as a Protectionist and a Republican, I believe thoroughly in the old-fashioned principle of protection to American industries and labor, as first accepted by Hamilton and Washington.
I understand that under our constitution money can not be properly legislated out of the pocket of a private citizen by Congress except for value received. I believe that the citizen does get value received from a tariff which gives to any desirable, well-managed industry a protection tariff which measures, in the language of Mr. Taft, "substantially the permanent differential between the cost of production in foreign countries and that in the United States." If it costs 90 cents to produce an article in Germany and $1.00 in New York, the New York manufacturer must be protected by the difference in this cost or must go out of business, leaving the American market to be supplied from Germany. The other alternative, that he cut his wages and lower the standard of living to his operatives is impossible.
I believe it pays the American consumer to maintain American manufacturing industries by whatever addition to price protection so measured requires. Also that this difference should be figured with that enlightened selfishness which ordinary prudence justifies. The duty, in the above instance, might well be 20 per cent., thus giving the American producer an advantage equal to 8 per cent, and causing the foreigner to pay this much for the privilege of entering our market and enjoying the protection of our laws, for the support of the government, etc. Protection of this kind steadies the home market, stimulates manufacturing, diversifies pursuits and should bring only beneficent consequences.
During this generation, politicians, economists and others in considering this question have seemingly spent all their time and energy in the discussion of the abstract theory of protection versus free trade. They have not got down to earth. They failed adequately to consider, or at least to emphasize and apply the principle of measurement above indicated, and from this omission came the opportunity for evil, of which special interests have made full use.
With public opinions overwhelmingly for protection, and no rule of measurement, it is small wonder that infinite loss and harm have come