Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/449

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445
TARIFF REVISION

on us in the same act, for the commodity we must send abroad to effect the purchase.

Perhaps the most important condition of prosperity, to manufacturing and all mercantile business, is "Peace among ourselves and with all nations." There can be no reasonable doubt that continually shaping our policy with a view to possible war has a tendency to provoke war, among nations as among individual citizens; while the endeavor to increase the interdependence of nations, as of citizens, is a potent agency for peace. Free trade is thus a long step on the way toward universal peace, and as such it accords with the interests of mercantile business, as with the aspirations of all who believe in the Sermon on the Mount.

The question of the true interest of the manual laborer, too important to pass without a mention, is also too wide for adequate treatment within the limits here permissible. All other considerations might be banished from the problem, when once we convince ourselves which way the interests of the toiling millions point. If their interests demand a high protective rate of import duties, we might feel justified in adopting that policy, however objectionable it appeared on other grounds. But there is no real reason for separating the interests of the manufacturing operatives from those of their employers, and every business which would draw larger profits from cheaper raw materials and greater sales of cheaper finished products, would be sure to have more to pay its laboring men. As to the many times larger number of laborers in occupations not protected, because not subject to foreign competition or because able to meet it on its own ground by exjx>rting, it is difficult to see anything but clear gain in the reduction of tariff duties for them. The most important of such occupations is the agricultural. Free trade is clearly to the advantage of the farmer, and whatever helps him will help those he employs. Every workman, in whatever calling, must be benefited by increasing the purchasing power of his wages, and the demand for labor in general must be increased by opening new markets abroad.

Some people pretend to believe, and some others may really believe, that free trade between countries having different wage-rates per day will tend to equalize those daily rates; but that is a fancy that finds no support in the realm of fact. It might be so if a day's work were everywhere under similar conditions and equally effective in production; but that has never been the rule, and with the increase of machinery it is becoming less and less the rule. The great difference in wage-scales prevailing in different sections of our union have established themselves and grown wider in the face of complete free trade throughout; the higher wages paid in Great Britain, with lower average cost of necessaries of life, as compared with all other countries of Europe, accompany a policy of free trade, and have advanced with it;