Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 36.djvu/204

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tuate with, every breath of public opinion, the medium on which politics depends; while for government to step into the business arena and assist one party or the other is as immoral, financially, as for the umpire of a ball-game to play upon one side or the other by partial decisions.

In 1887 steel rails were selling in the markets of the world for twenty dollars per ton. Like a wall around the United States, there was a protective duty of seventeen dollars, and steel rails were selling within this country at thirty-seven dollars per ton. Protection removed foreign competition, a trust removed domestic competition, and the two carried prices to the very limit. Here the business men of Pittsburg had gone out of the purely business arena—they had stepped into politics, had got the United States Government into their business as a business factor, and, securing to themselves the surrender of a part of its taxing power, they had government, which is only just when impartial, playing on their side.

Now note, the business man by government partiality gets thirty-seven dollars per ton where otherwise, or in the markets of the world, he could only get twenty. He has a rise in price on steel rails of seventeen dollars per ton. The young girl has worked a day and got a dollar; she wants ten yards of calico, and goes to a store and gets it at ten cents a yard, and pays the dollar her day had produced. The store-keeper would have charged only nine cents a yard but for extra freight he had to pay; the railroad charged extra freight because of the increased cost of its steel rails. In other words, when, by government interference on behalf of the business man, the price of steel rails was carried from twenty to thirty-seven dollars per ton, the railroad got it back by increased freights and the merchant by increased prices. The young girl got it back from nowhere; her ten cents was passed over to the merchant, who passed it over to the railroad, which passed it over to the business man.

Government, which can produce nothing, has wrought a different distribution of wealth; the business man gets all he earns as before, but also gets one tenth of the earnings of the young girl. Government is no longer just, because no longer impartial; the girl is no longer free, because not permitted to enjoy in full the fruits of her own labor. Ten cents apiece, once a year, from a hundred thousand persons, made up of young girls, boys, babies, sick and old folks, and the poor generally—for the tax can always be landed upon the poor at last—make ten thousand dollars. That ten cents to the young girl was blood-money; she will be less well clothed, less well nourished, and, taken from supplies already scant, it may mean hunger, cold, and even death to her. To the business man it may mean a cigar, or a stick of chewing-gum for