Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/451

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447
TARIFF REVISION

whole world appears arrayed against it. The reason of this tendency of free trade to advance industry, as I pointed out, in an address before the International Free Trade Congress in London last summer, is "that every agency for reducing and obstructing importations must at the same time, a little less directly but precisely as powerfully, obstruct and reduce exportations."

It is altogether fallacious to treat the interest of the manual laborer as if it were something apart from that of the people as a whole—as if it were not practically identical with that of the consumer generally. Yet it seems peculiarly absurd to sunder the two in this case, because the main interest of the consumer, in cheaper and more abundant production, is one that necessarily and especially involves a great and steady increase in the demand for labor. That helps us to understand what so puzzled our great-grandfathers, the tendency of labor-saving machinery to bring prosperity instead of ruin to the working people. Free trade, now feared on exactly the same grounds as our ancestors feared labor-saving machines, will be sure to work the same way, as is proved by the last half century of English history.

A pretended connection of low-tariff legislation with panics and hard times has again and again been brought forward to befog the people's minds. It might be thought that the example seen a year and a half ago, of a business crisis occurring under the untrammeled sway of unmitigated Dingleyism, would cure any such notion. But since custom seems to devolve upon the tariff reformer the duty of accounting for all financial crises, it is worth while to say that the best explanation of that of 1907 appears to be the unnatural stimulus to protected industries given by the Dingley tariff, resulting in overproduction and a consequent glut, with which the inelastic currency system still surviving to curse our country was powerless to cope. But we must limit this degree of connection: if people are diligently enough taught to regard anything—no matter what—as the cause of panics, the appearance of that thing will produce a panic as the direct effect of the teaching. There is hardly even that connection between political economy and political boundary lines. It is everywhere conceded, probably, that a free exchange of goods is a benefit to our citizens throughout our northern territory, as far as the Canadian border. But why should there be an abrupt change across that artificial line, where conditions—except the color of bunting floating from buildings—are all the same? This reminds me of an old story of a German who lived, or thought he lived, in Pennsylvania, before the boundary was settled by Mason and Dixon. The border line, which he had believed to be just south of his house, was finally fixed a few lines north, and Hans was told that he now lived in Maryland. He replied: "I'm very glad of it, for I am told it is warmer in Maryland than in Pennsylvania."

The tariff, like national questions generally, ought to be settled on