Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/472

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468
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

A PERMANENT TARIFF BUREAU: ITS RELATION TO CONGRESS AND PROPER PROCEDURE FOR TARIFF REVISION
By SEYMOUR C. LOOMIS

NEW HAVEN, CONN.

FROM the six volumes of conflicting testimony given by over six hundred witnesses, during the six weeks' session of the Ways and Means Committee, it is evident that the framing of a new tariff law is fraught with many perplexities. It is important to make it, as nearly as possible, adapted to the accomplishment of the desired end. Frequent changes are to be avoided, because they upset calculations which are at the foundation of trade. Even if the object of a tariff is agreed to and settled, that object may not be attained by the means proposed. A tariff builder always has in mind one or both of two ideas or results; first, revenue with which to run the federal government; second, protection to domestic industries. These ideas may be, and generally are, antagonistic. A schedule which produces a large revenue may not be protective, and one which is protective may produce no revenue at all. Between these extremes there are numberless conditions where the relative amounts of revenue and protection change as the duty is more or less. And when the modifications of supply and demand and the variations of cost of production are considered the situation becomes worse than kaleidoscopic. Persons may even agree as to the principle upon which a tariff law should be drafted, and yet be hopelessly apart as to its application to a given case. The essential facts relating to many industries are hidden, and, if discovered, are not easily placed and held at their true relative value. They need to be coordinated with other facts relating to other industries here as well as abroad. Iron and steel enter into and form a part of so many articles, structures and things in general, that, it is claimed, if the price of those commodities was the same here as in other countries, foreign markets, now closed, would be opened to our manufacturers who use iron and steel as their raw material. This is also claimed concerning other staples. Whether this be true or false depends upon a great number of facts, which only an expert disinterested person can discover.

For these and other obvious reasons it is apparent that a corps of men in the employment of the government under the civil service, whose permanent duty it should be to probe into, obtain and correlate these facts, would be of great public advantage and utility. A perma-