As Mr. Carnegie has said, it may be taken for granted that the chief purpose in forming any trust is to raise prices. Industries operating under the old-fashioned principle of competition do not add tariff excesses to their prices, because they can not. In competition, and in that alone, is protection to the American consumer.
Government reports show that the Standard Oil, for instance, charges its domestic consumers 35 per cent, to 60 per cent, more for oil than it charges its foreign consumers. Domestic users pay about 40 per cent, more for files than foreign buyers of the American-made article. The foreigner gets American-made screws for about one half the price to the American consumer. Bar iron and other steel products are sold abroad at 20 per cent, to 40 per cent, less than home prices. It is a question whether ignorance is to be accepted as a congressional excuse. Said Zach Chandler, once a great senator from Michigan, "You may call me a thief, you may call me a liar, but, —— you, don't you call me a fool."
It seems impossible that our congressmen can have failed to understand that the marvelous profits our trusts make comes, in great part, not from the operation of plants, but from their manipulation of Congress itself, comes by vote of your congressman and mine, compelling you and me to make unwilling and forced contributions to trusts over and above fair compensation for their products.
It is pleasant for some to look toward Pittsburg and see the great flood of money rolling into its coffers, but look the other way. Trace the river to its sources, and you find the mighty flood dividing into millions of rivulets and at last each of them falling from a slit in a man's pocket—a slit cut by a congressman.
This situation has been brought about by the carelessness with which the American people regard their political interests, and by reliance upon the principle of competition, until recently sufficiently operative really to protect the consumer and make unnecessary scientific and exact procedure upon the part of Congress, in tariff-making.
This carelessness upon the part of Congress has now come to be practically intolerable because of the frightful excess to which many rates have been lifted. The walling in of 80,000,000 of consumers and their deliverance under an excessive rate to any who will and can "trustify" has led to the greatest exploitation of the public that has ever occurred in the history of any people. This hurt has come not only to 80,000,000 consumers, but in no less degree to the thousands of "intermediate consumers," the non-trustified competitive manufacturers who get their supplies largely from the trusts and are so overcharged as to be almost driven out of business. Steel, for instance, costs almost twice what it did when the Dingley law was enacted and the industry trustified. Those who use steel have been obliged to force their prices