Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/463

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459
TARIFF REVISION

interests as paramount, and to forget the many intricate questions involved, all of which go to the proper conduct of the commercial scheme of an entire nation.

To-day the most experienced and intelligent business men are practically agreed upon the necessity of a tariff. The unsettled question which stands between the law maker and the importer is the rate. Both are now agreed as to the justice of the principle when equitably enforced; what remains is to agree upon what is equity to the importer, to the government, to the home producer and competitor and to the consumer.

I had the honor quite recently to suggest to the ways and means committee of Congress at one of the tariff revision hearings what I regarded as a "just tariff," which should be an act so drawn as to produce the needed revenue and at the same time protect home interests. Such protection should be equally divided between the capital that establishes, the labor that produces and the public that consumes.

I am still inclined to regard the definition both concise and correct.

Mr. Taft quite recently voiced his view of the tariff principle laid down in the republican platform in the following terms:

The measure of the tariff should be the difference between the cost of production of the article in this country and such cost abroad, and in the estimate of the cost of production abroad and in the estimate of the cost of production here there should be included among other elements what is regarded in each plan as a reasonable manufacturers' profit.

With this the importer finds no complaint, as a duty fixed along such lines would leave open to reasonable business competition all the fields wherein foreign and domestic merchandise naturally seeks a common market. What the importer does object to is the establishment of a duty which either strangles all competition, thus creating a monopoly for home products only, or a rate so high that the so-called "reasonable" manufacturer's profit becomes unreasonable, forces the consumer to pay too dearly for his goods, either foreign or domestic, and inevitably produces "trust" control in the lines affected.

Such a tariff is unjust and benefits no one but the home producer.

Under it the importer must necessarily pay a heavy bonus for the privilege of conducting his business; the consumer is compelled to pay a high price for his merchandise; and it is always unjust to labor, since the rate of duty is never used as a measure by which to regulate the wage scale. The sole beneficiary is the home producer who is enabled to realize a profit drawn from the pockets of three classes, the importers, the consumers and his own employees.

One of the best examples of a violation of the basic principle set forth by Mr. Taft is the present tariff rate upon watch movements imported in cases or without.

Fixed in 1897 through the efforts of certain interests in this country,