Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/450

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the protective system of the republic of Mexico or the continent of Europe has had no effect in improving the condition of laborers there; and—no end of instances could be brought to show that the supposed tendency does not exist. The only way to make out that it may exist is to ignore every test by facts. Wages are high in this country, for several good reasons; but a protective policy is not among them. Yet men even so intelligent as the manufacturers who appeared before the Ways and Means Committee, joined in protesting that they could only maintain their business, in the event of lower duties, by lowering their rate of wages. Unquestionably a lower price for the product, unless accompanied by considerably larger sales, argues either a lower total profit or a reduced cost of production; but why should these manufacturers look for their saving only to the payroll? Would they have us believe they are now paying their workmen more than the competition of other employers compels them? Or is their first thought always, in case of a business loss, to take it out of their men? As has been shown, they could not if they would.

There are positive reasons, moreover, for believing that a stronger demand for the services of the laboring man would naturally follow when we put our trade and industries into a more normal condition. It would be a benefit, surely, to cease to discourage the higher grades of industry by making their raw materials dearer. Even the protective nations of Europe—Germany and France and Italy—as well as Great Britain, adopt the expedient which Alexander Hamilton emphatically recommended as an encouragement to manufacture, admission of the raw material free of duty. Such a piece of barbarous stupidity as taxing the importation of raw wool, for instance, never occurs to European nations, although they raise many sheep. Nor do they put a penalty on shoe wearing by a tax on hides, or a premium on forest waste by barring out lumber. Again, we learn from the experience of Germany that lowering the duties on food is followed not only by a reduction in the laborers' cost of living, but by an increase in the government's revenues, and by increased merchandise exports, thus conferring a triple benefit. For another instance, we see the two Australian colonies. New South Wales and Victoria, characterized until 1901 by a difference in fiscal policy, adopted some thirty years before, and we find the free-trade colony, at first in the rear, now taking the lead in amounts manufactured and in income per capita. Once more, we are reminded by a prominent member of the British Parliament that in the twenty-eight years following 1879, when the Cobden treaty with France expired and when Germany definitely adopted a protective system, exports of British merchandise not only increased, but increased by a much greater amount, than during the thirty years that preceded; thus proving that free trade encourages exports, not only when other countries reduce duties at the same time, but also when the