Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 86.djvu/388

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388
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

magazines, this lack of perspective on their part does not seem to have affected that of their readers. The finances of our cities have been strengthened and accelerated. There has been no slackening or diversion of interest or effort on the part of social and civic workers. On the contrary, they have manifested a determination and persistence of the greatest significance and there has been a throwing back on our own resources that will develop a self-reliance and an American policy of social welfare and municipal administration that will constitute a worthy contribution to the advance of mankind.

 

THE FREE PORT. AN AGENCY FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICAN COMMERCE
By Dr. FREDERIC C. HOWE

COMMISSIONER OF IMMIGRATION AT THE PORT OP NEW YORK

IN the discussion of conditions necessary to the rehabilitation of the American merchant marine and the promotion of American overseas commerce, one very important factor has been neglected; and that is the necessity of cargoes, not only for incoming ships, but for outgoing ones as well. This is absolutely essential to a profitable merchant marine service. It can only come into existence upon a commercial basis.

Present economic conditions provide outgoing cargoes of raw materials, food stuffs and certain manufactured products. This comprises the bulk of our export trade. For the most part it is directly consigned to the ultimate buyer. There is but little direct over-seas trade to South America, to Africa, to the Orient, for these countries desire mixed rather than simple cargoes. We buy largely from these countries, but our purchases come to us through European ports. This increases transportation costs, and supports foreign ship-owners. These conditions spring partly from our high protective tariff, partly from the fact that America has few foreign banking connections, and partly from the general nature of our industry.

I believe that our merchant marine would come to life again if it were possible to speedily and surely find outgoing cargoes from American ports. This is a sine qua non to the establishment of direct routes with other parts of the world. The modification of the registration laws will not solve this problem, for this will not furnish cargoes. That can only be achieved through the creation of conditions under which the wealth of the world will come to America for sorting, re-assembling and re-shipment, as is now the case in Great Britain, Germany, and in some of the ports of the continent as well.

The carrying trade of the world is now performed by those countries that have substantially free trade. They are England, the free ports