Page:The World's Famous Orations Volume 5.djvu/241

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ASQUITH

the Board of Trade have computed that as the wages paid in the export trade are something like 130 millions, and as the total wage-bill of the country is between 700 and 750 millions, the export trade does not employ more than one- fifth or one-sixth of the whole labor of the coun- try. I say, then, my first point is, you can not judge of the industrial condition and progress of the country by looking only at its foreign trade. You are leaving out of sight by far the most important factor in making up the account. Indeed, even a slackening in your export trade may be a proof and consequence of the activity of your trade at home. It was so in certain in- dustries in the year 1900, and the reason why in those times exports did not increase at the same ratio as before had little or nothing to do with hostile tariffs. It was because our manu- facturers and those they employed were so busy meeting the demand of the home market that they had not the time, the machinery, or the appliances to satisfy the demands from abroad. That is not all. Mr. Chamberlain begins by ignoring the home trade.

If you take the foreign trade, or, to use a bet- ter expression, trade carried on oversea, it is a perfectly absurd criterion to measure its extent or profitableness by looking, as Mr. Chamberlain does, to exports alone. It would be just as reasonable to determine a man's wealth by the amount of the man's expenditure without looking to his income, as to compare the profitableness of

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