Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/453

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
449
TARIFF REVISION

United States over that in Europe. This certainty comes from two sources: first, the difference in a large number of cases, even of high-protected articles, is the other way. The foolish assumption that a difference in wages per day means a precisely similar difference in labor-cost of articles produced, deserves hardly the honor of a refutation; for a real index of the fact, we can not do better than note, as did Mr. Carnegie, who is probably the best living authority on the subject, the confessed profits of the U. S. Steel Corporation: $133,000,000 net in 1907, on 10,000,000 tons of steel. They thus cleared $13.50 per ton, which, deducted from the selling price, leaves a cost-price lower than can be equalled in any country in the world. Every penny of that $13.50, above the "reasonable profit" that the world's competition would allow, is obviously a gratuitous bestowal of the people's money upon the trust; but our present concern with it is as a conclusive demonstration of lower labor-costs here than in Europe. The same is true, to a less striking extent, in the case of every product which is freely exported from this country. A second reason why we know that the committee will not apply this difference-in-labor-cost criterion is found in the absurdity of the principle itself. The little boy in the story, whose sympathies, in viewing a picture of Daniel in the den of lions, were especially called out by "that poor little lion in the corner, that was not going to get any of Daniel," seems particularly absurd when we first hear of him; but he was quite a master in protectionist logic. This criterion of labor-cost shows a very nice regard for the equities among the lions who are to feed on Daniel, and no regard for the prophet himself.

It would be interesting, also, to discuss the tariff before a scientific audience, as a purely scientific question, in a scientific way. This would involve, probably, an examination of the evolution of a national policy from a community policy, showing how each development on the larger scale had been long preceded by a similar development on the smaller. The question of division of labor, among members of a tribe, was probably as hotly discussed in its day as is the question of promotion or suppression of foreign trade in this; and quite possibly the arguments then made, on the one side and on the other, were very similar to those we now hear. The reason why no record of this ancient debate remains for us is doubtless that the decision was so complete and conclusive that it passed in a short time beyond the field of controversy; and so we may hope for the question of to-day—when the present pleas for industrial independence of nations shall have gone to join the old time pleas for industrial independence of families, just as we expect national wars and war preparations and war policies to follow into obsolescence the continual tribal wars and hostile proceedings of the past.