Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/465

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461
TARIFF REVISION

It will therefore be seen that the tariff is a subject that affects every citizen, even though he is unconscious of it, and that its revision is a matter of almost universal interest.

And because of the universality of this question it can be understood how vitally it affects all who are home producers.

The man whose business has grown up under the wing of a protective tariff will never admit that the original "infant industry" has become a lusty youth able to care for itself. He rather appears before the committee on revision and with simulated anxiety presents reasons why the protective rate should be increased, hoping doubtless by such tactics to prevent any reduction.

So general has this procedure become during the past two months while the ways and means committee have been holding tariff hearings in Washington, that lately when any one appeared before them requesting an increase in the tariff the committee would propound to him the initial query: "Are you making money in your business?"

One of the most striking examples of this pronounced selfishness on the part of the home producers was evidenced in the hearings under the paragraphs protecting oranges, lemons and olives.

A large delegation appeared from the California fruit growers, who presented to the committee among other things the statement that in the past twelve years the lemon growers had realized less than 5 per cent, net upon their investments and that unless the duty upon citrus fruits, lemons and oranges could be at least doubled, that is, made $1.60 per box instead of as at present, 80 cents, the California interest in these fruits would be destroyed.

In reply to such statement there was presented to the committee the annual report of the U. S. Government Pomologist for 1907, showing the cost per acre of maintaining the average lemon grove to be about $370.86 while the average production of one carload of fruit per acre sold at an average price during the past five years of $696.00 per car; thus making a net profit of about 90 per cent, annually; or allowing the cost of the land as given by the Californians themselves, viz., $1,000 per acre, the annual returns would pay all yearly expenses and 33 per cent, upon the original investment.

No reply to this official "knock out" has been made by the citrus fruit growers, but it is not an isolated case. The rule is absolute that human nature, especially American human nature, gets all it can and keeps—if possible—all it gets. The public must look out for itself or fall under Commodore Vanderbilt's noted ban.

In the marts of trade no day passes that complaint is not voiced against the present tariff law. The mutations of eleven years have been such as to render scores of the paragraphs of that law and the duty rates imposed thereunder most inequitable and unjust. It is my belief that the so-called "good trusts" as well as the "bad trusts" have been