Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 86.djvu/376
present supply, the names and reputation of possible customers and similar data necessary to conduct business intelligently and safely could be obtained only by personal investigation and experience. To-day he has at his disposal means of securing the fullest details at a cost so small as to be insignificant.
Through departments of the United States government, institutions like the Pan-American Union, and through such bureaus of information as that conducted by the Philadelphia Commercial Museum, he can obtain the most detailed information regarding any market in the world. Information on such subjects as shipping, invoicing, packing, banking and customary terms of sale is readily obtainable, while efficient and responsible translation bureaus provide our manufacturers with means of communicating with merchants and importers in all parts of the world in their own language.
We hear much of the aid given to German exporters by their government, and comparisons are frequently made, unfavorable to similar efforts on the part of our own government. It is nevertheless a fact that in many ways the United States is doing more to assist our manufacturers than is done by any other country in the world, Germany not excepted. There even is danger that American manufacturers may expect too much from the departments at Washington engaged in this work. It is one thing to ask such departments to investigate, report and advise, it is another to expect them to place orders in our manufacturer’s hands.
The Agricultural Department conducts investigations, reports results to the farmers of the country, and gives them much valuable advice. It does not and can not till the soil, plant the seed, and reap the harvest for each farmer, although there seem to be many who expect the government to do all this for our manufacturers in the cultivation of export trade. The government can do much preliminary work, institutions like the Commercial Museum can lend valuable aid, there are export commission houses which can handle the shipping and financing of orders, but if a manufacturer is to secure a lasting hold on foreign markets he must do the selling himself. The assistance which is offered to the manufacturer to-day is in some respects like that which a physician gives to his patient. He may prescribe the remedy, but it is useless for the patient to expect satisfactory results unless he does his own part by following the accompanying instructions as to diet and exercise.
There is a vast difference between the world to-day and the world 50 years ago. Distances have been shortened—almost eliminated—and what were but a brief lifetime ago separate groups of human beings, in a large measure independent of each other, now form one great body—dovetailed and interwoven so closely that any serious shock to one of the component parts is distinctly and immediately felt by all.