it has resulted in the creation of a watch "trust," producing millions of profits, even while the labor employed was often so poorly paid as to be unsettled and to have gone upon strike a number of times, and the consumer has paid for his American-made watch 20 per cent, to 30 per cent, more than the Italian, the Englishman, or even the Swiss paid for the same article purchased abroad.
That such a condition is evil, and that it should be corrected, all true lovers of their country will agree, but too often "What is every one's business is no one's," and tariff revision along this and a score of other lines equally bad can only be hoped for if the facts are placed before the Congress in convincing form.
It must ever be remembered that those who are now benefited through the protection of the tariff are on the alert to prevent any revision which will reduce their profits, whether reasonable or unreasonable, while the importer can, at the most, be only secondarily interested. He must continue business under existing conditions, although he would prefer a change, but those most interested and to whose benefit such a change would most conduce—the great mass of consumers, the people, are individuals busy with their daily affairs and unable to give the time or afford the expense which would be necessitated by any concerted effort to correct the existing wrongs.
And a great number of wrongs exist under the present act. It is somewhat of a popular fallacy that duties are levied only upon luxuries, and that the average citizen, the one who does not buy diamonds or automobiles and who has never made a trip abroad, has little or no interest in tariff questions.
That this is an error is easily proved by a glance at the act itself. There are 705 separate paragraphs, 463 of which, covering more than six thousand different articles, impose duties running as high as 60 per cent, ad valorem. The remaining paragraphs, 242 in number, constitute the "free list." In the minds of the general public the "free list" should contain all the necessities of life; as a matter of fact it covers less than half a dozen articles regarded as necessities, tea, coffee, needles, ice.
With all the remaining "free of duty importations" the average citizen has nothing to do. The wool which enters into the manufacture of your hat and your clothing pays a duty ranging from 4 to 12 cents per pound; the linen you wear or that is upon your bed pays 60 per cent, ad valorem; your stockings pay 30 per cent, ad valorem and the hides which are imported to make leather for your shoes pay from 15 per cent, ad valorem up. Gloves are taxed from $1.75 per dozen pairs to $4.75 per dozen, and jewelry pays 60 per cent, ad valorem.
We need to import but little food stuffs, as we are able to produce enough to supply our home necessities, but if we eat imported food we pay a tax upon it ranging from 10 per cent, to 45 per cent, ad valorem.