Popular Science Monthly/Volume 35/September 1889/The Ethical View of Protection
|THE ETHICAL VIEW OF PROTECTION:|
A WORD TO THE WAYFARING MAN.
By HUNTINGTON SMITH.
WHENEVER any great question comes up for settlement, there are always people ready with arguments on both sides. These arguments are all supported by what we call facts. Facts in great numbers are accumulated to prove diametrically opposite things; for there is no question, it matters not how absurd it may be, that facts in abundance can not be found in its favor. Now the simple truth is, that facts mean nothing till we know the relation which they bear to other facts. A mass of facts Is like a heap of bricks; and just as you can construct any sort of a building out of a given heap of bricks, so out of a sufficient number of facts you can, by picking your material and fitting it together in accordance with some plan you have already determined upon, build up any sort of an argument. There is a common saying that figures will not lie. It is true that figures do not of themselves lie, any more than a heap of bricks will lie; but they can be made to lie, just as a heap of bricks may be used for the construction of a sham building. We may compare the discussion over a great question to the terminal moraine of a glacier. The word moraine means a heap of rubbish. When a glacier is formed and begins to push its way down a valley, a vast mass of rubbish gathers and conceals its approach from view. If you did not look carefully at one of these terminal moraines, you never would know that there was any glacier; and after you discovered the glacier you never would know, except by careful observation, that it moved. Yet it does move, slowly but surely, in spite of the rubbish that seems to block its way. The rubbish is pushed on little by little, and in due time the glacier gets to the sea. Every one realizes then that the important thing was not the moraine but the glacier. The moraine has been ground out of sight or is spattered along the path; but the glacier remains.
So it is with every great truth that is making its way in the world. It stirs up a vast amount of talk. Some people approve of the truth, and bring their little store of facts to show what a fine thing it will be; others disapprove of it, and bring the same little facts, arranged in a different way, to show that if this principle is adopted it will inflict immense damage upon the welfare of society. Many remember how it was when the great question of the abolition of slavery came up in this country. Some men argued against it, ingeniously devising plausible arguments, full of statistics and Bible texts, and assertions that slavery was Indorsed by Christianity; and others argued in its favor, with more statistics, and other Bible texts, and the assertion that Christianity and slavery were totally incompatible; and meanwhile the principle of human freedom went on working, and in time the slaves were set free.
How did the man of upright mind and noble heart decide the question of slavery or abolition in the days when that question was before the country? Did he weigh argument against argument, statistics against statistics, this Bible text against that Bible text? No. He simply sat down in the quietude of his own chamber and said to himself: "The slaves are men like me. Would I be willing to be a slave? Will it, in the long run, be profitable to humanity if a portion of the human race remains in bondage?" And it did not take him long to answer the question. His own reason told him what the answer was. He declared then and there that slavery was wrong, and henceforth he was on the side of freedom.
Now, a man who takes such a course as that, it matters not how learned or how ignorant he may be in the science of facts, is a philosopher. A philosopher is a lover of wisdom, and it is possible to be wise and yet to know very few facts. Wisdom does not consist in the ability to heap up facts, although our school instructors seem to think it does. Wisdom is concerned with something far higher than facts; it is concerned with the true, the eternal, the unchanging relations of things. The man who has grasped a few of the elementary truths of existence and governs his life in accordance with them is wise, even if he can not read a line of Latin, or solve a problem in algebra, or work out a sum in the rule of three. A few of the elementary truths of existence are that you must treat others as you would be treated yourself; that, if you would derive the utmost possible advantage from your relations with your fellows, you must be frank and open in what you do; that you must not build up barriers of restrictions between yourself and others and expect to thrive, either materially or morally, as you would if the barriers did not exist—in a word, the elemental truths of existence upon which we must depend are justice, fraternity, and love. The man who governs his life by these principles may not be a learned man; he may not be able to construct ingenious arguments from census reports; but he will be a good father, a kind neighbor, a man you can trust in business, and he is pretty sure to be prosperous, because he is on the side of truth and righteousness, and somehow or other truth and righteousness, sooner or later, always win.
The great questions, as we have said, are all the time arising, and they have to be met in some way. Each generation has its own particular question to settle. In this country, a generation ago, it was the abolition of slavery. That question was effectually settled, as we all know. Now a new generation has come upon the stage, and a new question arises. The new question is broader than the other, although it does not go so deep. If it does not affect so closely the very principle of manhood or call for such heroic treatment, its settlement concerns the welfare of a far greater number, and upon it depend the prosperity and happiness of the whole nation. It is not, then, a question to be decided lightly. Every man should think long and carefully before rendering his decision. The question with which we are now concerned is that of protection and free trade.
Here, as in all other great questions, we find men taking sides and trying to win converts to their own special views by arguments in which statistics—that is, facts—in one form or another, are brought together to prove diametrically opposite things. If we listen to them, we are perplexed, we are not enlightened. If one man tells us that wages are higher in this country because of protection, and that consequently everybody is better off with protection than without it; and another man tells us that, while wages will be lower under free trade, the expenses of living will be far less, and, being relieved from the burden of heavy taxation, we shall all be much more prosperous than we are now; and if each of these men supports bis assertions with a vast array of incontrovertible statistics, what are we to do—we who are not learned in figures, or who see that the same facts differently arranged can be made to prove different things?
Evidently there is only one course open to us if we wish to decide the question on its merits and not in accordance with personal prejudice, or party affiliation, or the superior eloquence and ingenuity of the orator we hear last. We must brush aside all these confusing statistics, ignore the arguments based upon them, and put the matter before our minds in the simplest form. We must deal, not with a misleading array of facts, but with the elemental truths of existence. We must do this, even though we run the risk of being called mere theorists and impractical. The trouble with the practical man is, that his vision is closely limited; he see's only what is directly under his nose. The practical man always wants to get change for his dollar as quickly as possible. He is never willing to run what he calls risks—that is, he is never desirous of making a beginning till he has the end within his grasp. It was not a practical man who built the first steamship to cross the Atlantic, or invented the electric telegraph, or planned the first ocean cable, or conceived the idea of the Pacific Railway The relation of the practical man to humanity in general is the same as that of the hands to the body. It is not for the hands to make plans or say how things shall be done; that must be left to the brain. It is the business of the hands, when the plan is made, to take hold and do the work. And just as the hands can not judge of a thing simply by the sense of touch—can not tell a five-dollar gold-piece from a copper cent—so the practical man, because governed by immediate appearances, is of all men the most easily deceived.
But you, if you are a theorist, a philosopher, a man who deals with general principles, will settle the matter for yourself in accordance with general principles. If the question before you is that of free trade and protection, and practical men are being confused and misled by the artful devices of statistical orators, you will simply refuse to listen to the conflicting statements of either side, which do not prove anything, and never can prove anything. You will decide the matter for yourself on general principles; and you will first wish to determine clearly and definitely what is meant by the terms protection and free trade.
The word protection means a defense, a guard, literally a cover or shield against something or somebody, and it can be used, of course, only against an enemy. No one would think of protecting himself against a friendly influence. The word protection, or its equivalents in different languages, was devised by man when lie was still in a barbarous condition, when bis band was against every other man, and every other man's hand was against him. It was necessary that he should have some sort of a defense or cover to enable him to attack his enemies without being immediately killed, and this defense or cover, whether it was a shield to hold before his person or a strong wall built about his dwelling-place, he called a protection. Holding the shield before him, he could throw his spear or shoot his arrows at his enemy and not be harmed by the spear or the arrows his enemy returned; behind the strong wall he could be safe from assault and carry on the various activities of life without fear of molestation. He could, if he chose, scour the surrounding region, and rob and kill right and left, and get back to his strong wall before those he attacked could rally and take him prisoner. The outside barbarians would not endure this sort of thing forever. They also longed for protection. They got shields for themselves and built strong walls about their places of refuge, and in this way groups of what we now call society were first organized. Each of these groups was a very barbarous sort of society, but it was society nevertheless. A society means an association of persons for mutual profit or advantage. The barbarous group was a society based on protection, and protection was therefore an invention of barbarism; it was armed and organized selfishness; it was the means by which theft and rapine and murder were made possible on a large scale.
Time went on, and man gradually acquired better ideas of living. The little protected groups who were continually making war on each other and trying to prosper, each at the advantage of the other's happiness and prosperity, were led to see that they would be happier and more prosperous if they would stop making war on each other, tear down their strong walls, and unite in one harmonious community. It is not known who the first man was that conceived this idea, but whoever he may have been he was unquestionably a great benefactor to the human race. The groups that united into communities, however, did not embrace the whole of mankind. In fact, in these first days of primitive intelligence, a single community in which all mankind could unite was out of the question. A good many groups were still so barbarous that they preferred a hazardous existence maintained by war, rather than the prosperity that was sure to follow a friendly cultivation of the arts of peace. The groups that did join into communities were closely related to one another by blood; they spoke the same or nearly the same language, they had the same or similar customs, and their ideas of what life was for were nearly identical. These groups united and formed larger groups or communities, and then the same relation existed between the large communities that had hitherto existed between the smaller groups. They all felt the need of protection, and this desire for protection led them to build larger and stronger walls, and to devise new methods of defense.
The only advantage was—and it was a great one—that, instead of a lot of little groups all fighting with one another, there were now large communities, and the chances for fighting were correspondingly decreased. But the process of assimilation once begun could not stop, because man, if he was to be anything more than a fighting animal, must agree to live on friendly terms with his fellows and cultivate the arts of peace. The process went on: communities that had gradually grown to have similar ideas united into still larger communities; tribes became states, and then, at last, states became nations.
Now the idea of the necessity for protection has so long been dominant with the various associations of men that these associations, even in our days of general enlightenment, do not readily believe that it can be given up. A man who has been living for years in a wild country where he has been liable to attacks from savages at any moment, does not readily adapt himself to the new conditions of mutual trust when he comes to live again among civilized and peaceful folks. You will find him still sleeping with his revolver at his side, and when he walks abroad he has his eye out for a possible ambush. So it is with the associations of mankind that have developed from the far-back barbarous groups. They know that the conditions of existence have changed, they know that if they are peaceable and industrious they will not be molested; but the idea of protection still lurks in their minds, and they feel that they must have it in some form, or be at the mercy of the rest of mankind, whom they wrongfully regard as enemies, but who are by nature as peacefully inclined as themselves.
And so we find man, as intelligent and enlightened as he is today, still clinging to this relic of barbarism, this system of organized selfishness known as protection. The trade of man is no longer fighting, the trade of man is now to devise inventions for his own comfort, and although we find some great associations maintaining vast standing armies in conformity with the spirit of protection, the chief occupation of man is with the arts of peace. The arts of peace and warfare are incompatible; one builds up and the other tears down; one creates, the other destroys; hence it is generally acknowledged that warfare is an evil which must soon be abolished. Men can not fight and at the same time till the fields, work in factories, construct railways, write novels, preach sermons, and paint pictures. Men are beginning to see now that fighting is a foolish waste of blood and time and money, especially money, and before long fighting will be abandoned, because when men once are thoroughly convinced that a thing is foolish, or that it costs more than it comes to, they stop doing it. The few men who are now in favor of war are practical men who believe that war conduces in some way to national prosperity or helps trade. They would like to see things torn down, if they could have the opportunity of building them up. The theorists, the philosophers, are all opposed to war; they know it does a great deal more harm than good.
War, then, which has so long been the chief form of protection adopted by nations, is doomed. Men began some time ago, when peaceful communities were fully established, to see that it was doomed; but the old idea of protection, growing out of the distrust of humanity for humanity, had its hold upon them, and they set themselves at work to devise some new method of protection which would meet the new conditions and not destroy what we may call the industrial type of society. The practical men of the day put their heads together and said that the chief thing now was trade, and that they must not permit any rivalry in trade. The enemies of their special community were no longer the men who were better armed or better fortified; the enemies of their community were the men who could make things they could not make, or supply things they could make at a lower price.
"Let us," they said, "keep trade to ourselves. Let us make everything we want, be sufficient to ourselves, and be independent of the rest of mankind. In that way we shall grow rich and prosperous, and the rest of mankind may supply its wants the best it can."
How were they to do this? The days of war were going by. They could not establish guards and shoot every one of their fellow-citizens who bought anything of a foreigner, or shoot every foreigner who brought goods to sell within their borders. They could not do this, because it would be ruinous and expensive, but they could fine every person who engaged in trade with any person outside their own nation, and this they proceeded to do. They established a new form of protection, and called it very properly a protective tariff. The word tariff comes, so some philologists tell us, from Tarifa, a town in Spain at the entrance of the Strait of Gibraltar, where passing vessels were detained by force and obliged to pay tribute to the inhabitants. The citizens of Tarifa were the first of the modern protectionists. When we speak of protection nowadays, we mean a system of tribute imposed upon a whole nation by a certain small but powerful class of its practical men. The system is so devised that it takes money out of the pockets of the people and puts it into the pockets of the practical men, who are manufacturers and traders. At least, it does so at first. After a while it does something else, and the manufacturers and traders lose by it, just as the practical men of barbarous times lost in the end more than they gained by war.
We have now traced the idea of protection from the beginnings of human society down to the present time, and we know what it means. What, on the other hand, is free trade? The term free trade explains itself. It is the opposite of protection. It does not believe in barriers or covers or defenses. It does not believe in organized selfishness at the expense of the many for the good of the few. It believes in the most open and free intercourse between all mankind. It believes that all men are brethren, and that it is no more right to fine an Englishman, a German, or a Frenchman because he can do a thing well than it is to fine an American for employing an Englishman, a German, or a Frenchman to do a thing well. It believes that the world is large enough, the resources of nature sufficient, to enable every man to support himself without; joining a protected community and forswearing the help of others. Protection, as we have seen, is organized selfishness. Free trade is based on the elemental principles of existence—on justice, fraternity, and love.
But now come the orators and tell us, on one side, that protection means higher wages and greater prosperity for everybody, and, on the other side, that free trade means reduced expenses for the necessities of life and diminished taxation; and the orators on both sides have countless statistics to prove the absolute truth of what they say. What are we, who are not practical men, and who know that statistics will prove anything—what are we to do? Evidently we must fall back on elemental principles, and extend our reasoning a little further. We must examine the assertions of the orators in the light of general principles, and ask whether they are true.
Let us suppose a primitive group modeled after the groups of barbarous times to be formed in our day in accordance with the existing industrial conditions. Let us suppose a family group—for such the early groups were—a family group consisting of a father, a mother, three daughters, and four sons. In the barbarous days families were sometimes of this size. The father, we will imagine, is a shoemaker; the mother a milliner; the first daughter, Sarah, a dressmaker; the second daughter, Jane, a cook; the third daughter, Mary, a seamstress; the first son, James, a tailor; the second son, Thomas, a hat-maker; the third son, John, a butcher; the fourth son, Henry, a grocer. Each has grown to be expert at his or her particular trade, and is doing well. But the third son, John, is a very practical man, and he has studied what is called political economy. Political economy is the science of selecting suitable facts to prove certain predetermined propositions with regard to the laws of trade; it can always be made to favor protection, but it will also favor free trade if you choose to have it do so and select your facts with proper discretion; political economy is the favorite science of practical men. John, then, has studied political economy, and he comes to the conclusion that the various members of the family are squandering their forces by working for outsiders. He calls the family together and says:
"I think I see a way in which we could be more prosperous. We must give up working for the rest of the world. Father must make shoes only for us; Jane must not cook for anybody except ourselves; James must not make clothes for any one except his father and his three brothers; Henry must not undertake to sell groceries to people who do not belong to the family; and I shall not supply any one but you with meat. Moreover, no one must buy of other people. We must have our shoes made by father, our clothes by James, and we must buy our groceries of Henry. If any member of the family buys anything of an outsider, he is to be fined twenty-five per cent of the cost of the article; and if any one of us sells anything to an outsider, and takes that outsider's goods in exchange, those goods shall be taxed one fourth of their value. The money so collected shall be put into a common fund, and used for defraying the joint family expenses."
What, think you, would be the reply of the philosophic father to a proposition like that? He would not be likely to waste many words over the matter. He would tell John flatly that he was a fool, and advise him to let political economy alone, and he would send the whole family about their business.
But now let us suppose that, instead of a family, we have a town made up of a hundred families, and the people get together and are asked to adopt a proposition similar to that made by John, the political economist. Some prominent citizen arises and declares that the town would be vastly more prosperous and independent if all its trading were done within its own limits; that the poor and struggling traders would have enough to do if people would patronize them instead of sending to other towns for goods; and that to discourage trade with outsiders it was expedient to tax all such commercial transactions, and place the money so obtained in the town treasury. Would not this proposition be as absurd as the other? Would not some citizen with a philosophical turn of mind, who reasoned from general principles, reply in words like these:
"The gentleman who has made this proposition is talking nonsense. The prosperity of this town and the comfort of its inhabitants depend on its relations with. other towns and the country at large. Our prosperity and comfort depend on the number and quality of things we can make that the rest of the world wants, and the facility with which we can exchange those things for things that we want. The gentleman who has just spoken proposes to tax the very relations upon which our material welfare is founded! We want corn and wheat and tea and coal and sugar; can we produce any of those things here? Certainly not. In order to get them we must make things wanted by the people who can and do produce corn, wheat, tea, coal, and sugar, and exchange our products for theirs. If we tax corn, wheat, tea, coal, and sugar, the people who want our goods will take them and pay for them in money, and we shall simply be paying out of our own pockets the extra valuation put upon goods that we want. We all of us who want and must have corn, wheat, tea, coal, and sugar, will be paying extra for them, and the only people who will be benefited will be the few among us who produce the articles that outsiders want. They can put larger prices on their goods on the strength of the extra valuation of corn, wheat, tea, coal, and sugar, and so the greater portion of the taxes will fall indirectly into their pockets. It will be cheaper for us in the end to pay the money directly over to them in the form of subsidies, which is a polite term for legalized charity."
Somewhat in this way, no doubt, the philosophical citizen would speak, and it would be strange if a majority of his fellow citizens did not agree with him. If we enlarge our community, and instead of a city have a state, would the conditions be any different? Not at all. Certain people in this state would be able to do certain things well, and their prosperity would depend upon the facility with which they could exchange their labor or the products of their labor with the labor or the products of labor of the citizens of other states. What would have been the condition of this country, of the United States of America, if every State had put up a barrier against its neighbors in the shape of a protective tariff? Suppose that an inhabitant of Massachusetts could not get anything from Pennsylvania or New York without paying a duty, and suppose that an inhabitant of New York or Pennsylvania could not buy of an inhabitant of Illinois without being taxed by his own State from twenty-five to forty per cent on his purchase, what would become of our national prosperity? To ask the question is to answer it. The prosperity of each depends upon the utmost freedom of intercourse with all the others.
Let us now take a still wider outlook, and extend our reasoning a little further. Why, if a protective tariff is not conducive to prosperity when established between families or towns or states of the same country, should it be regarded as beneficent to the-welfare of a country when every country is only a state in the great federation of humanity we call the world? Do not the elemental principles of existence apply to countries as well as to states? They certainly do. Then whence the argument that a protective tariff between states of the same country is wrong, while between countries even of the same blood and race it is right and proper, and conducive to national prosperity? Is it not plain that the device of a protective tariff between countries is a relic of the old barbarous idea of protection, the idea that people belonging to other communities are enemies, and that we must have as little to do with them as possible, except to fight them if they trespass on our rights or threaten to take trade away from us? It must be so, or men who profess to believe in justice and fraternity and love between all mankind never would be found advocating the detestable and misleading system of organized selfishness built up of burdensome taxes upon the relations that alone can civilize, enlighten, and elevate the whole of humanity and so conduce immeasurably to the welfare of the whole world.
One of the chief arguments of the orators who favor protection is, that under the tariff system the prosperity of this country has been very great, and as usual they cite an endless array of statistics to prove the truth of what they say. But is the assertion reasonable? Can we who govern our ideas by common sense and not by the dictates of short-sighted expediency agree with the orators when they say that our national prosperity is due to protection? Do we not find, when we come to consider the matter, that through our boundless resources and unlimited energy in industrial affairs we have prospered in spite of the protective tariff, not because of it? If the State of Pennsylvania adopted a protective tariff and continued to prosper and heap up wealth within her borders, should we say that it was because of the tariff? No. We should see at once that her prosperity was due to causes superior to the disadvantages of a tariff system—that is, to the extraordinary capacity of her citizens for industrial affairs and the vast stores of material at their command, enabling them to conquer obstacles under which less powerful communities would languish or utterly perish. If a man sets up a bazaar for the sale of any sort of goods, and charges an admission fee to customers, and yet can sell his goods low enough to induce customers to pay the admission fee and enter and make purchases, and if this man amasses a great deal of money from his business, we shall not be likely to say that his riches are due to his system of admission fees. We simply conclude that he must have an extraordinary capacity for getting his goods at a low price; he prospers, not on account of his system of admission fees, but in spite of it.
We have gone far enough, now in our course of reasoning to see that in the light of the elemental principles of existence the evils of protection are very great. Its greatest evil is that it interferes with the free exchange of human activities; it puts a check upon justice, fraternity, and love. But a great evil can not exist without engendering other evils. Another evil engendered by the protective system is that it encourages poor and defective work. If a man is sure of plenty of trade, no matter how he makes his goods, he will not be so particular with regard to the quality. Ask an American oculist where he gets the delicate instruments with which, he tests the eyes of his patients. He will tell you, if he is an expert at his profession, that he gets his instruments abroad. Why? Because the men in this country who produce such articles are not careful to do good work. They can make inferior instruments and sell them to the generality of oculists who are not expert, and make more money than they could by producing really excellent articles, and selling them at the same price as the foreign goods. If you buy a suit of cheap clothing in this country, the chances are that it will be of little service compared with a suit of clothes you could buy for a third less if you were living in London. Why? Because the tariff on woolens enables the American manufacturers of clothing to use cheaper and poorer goods, and to charge more for a suit of clothes than the foreign suit of first class material would cost if you could send to London and buy it without being fined for patronizing an English tailor. As a matter of fact, a great many rich Americans who go abroad do patronize foreign tailors and do not get fined, but of course the poor Americans who have to stay at home and support the tariff system can not do this. They must buy poor clothing of their fellow-citizens and pay nearly as much, for it as they would for a foreign article of excellent quality. American clothing manufacturers will tell you that they can make as good clothing as a foreigner can and at as low a price. Of course they can, but they don't. If they did, they would not be in favor of protection; they would be willing to meet the foreigner on terms of friendly competition, and not take advantage of him by skulking behind the tariff wall maintained at the expense of the people who do not make, but who buy, clothing.
Imagine a community isolated from the rest of the world, and that this community suffers from a water famine. All the wells have dried up, and water has to be brought from a distant river. Each person goes after what water he needs, or employs some one else to bring water for him, and every one is supplied. But a few practical men get together and say: "How much better it would be if everybody went after water and poured what was brought into a common tank from which supplies could be drawn as needed! We will build the tank." They build the tank, and the people bring water and fill it. Then the practical men take possession of the spigots and charge the people so much a gallon for all the water drawn from the tank. The practical men are protected by the labor of the rest of the community; unfortunately, all can not be practical men.
Of course, the effect of protection upon the morals of the protected must in the end be very bad. It has a tendency to make them cowardly, treacherous, and grasping. The fear of meeting outsiders in friendly competition; the temptation to make poor goods when poor goods can be sold for an unjustly high price; the business of seizing as legitimate prey the labor of others and turning that labor to one's own uses—must, sooner or later, have a bad effect on the individual and the community at large. A man can not thrive at the expense of other men, whether those men are his near neighbors or are living at the antipodes, without being hardened in his sensibilities and becoming to a certain extent inhuman. The effect of protection upon the moral welfare of the protected is bad; its effect on their material welfare is eventually ruinous. In barbarous times, when men collected in protected groups behind strong walls, the outside barbarians had as little to do with them as possible. They removed their goods if they could beyond the reach of plunder. On the other hand, a great many practical men crowded into the fortified groups when the advantages of protection were recognized, there was soon not enough plunder to go round, and the practical men who believed in protection quarreled among themselves as to who should have the spoils, till they learned by experience how foolish fighting was, and joined a larger community where they could live on friendly terms with a larger number of their fellows. So it is with the protected in our day. As long as the wants of a protected community are simple and the industries with reference to the population few, the community gets on very well. If its resources are ample, it will be able to produce things at a low price and compete in the open markets of the world with the producers of older, unprotected communities which have no such natural resources to draw upon. But the time comes when the natural resources of the favored community are exhausted and it can no longer produce certain things at a lower price than anybody else. Then the members of other communities will not pay for the privilege of trading with a protected community on equal terms. They will go elsewhere with their products, where they can exchange them freely. An Englishman, who is a practical man. taught by the theorists and by hard experience that free trade pays in the long run better than protection, will buy of an American only as long as he can exchange his own goods, plus the duty exacted by the tariff, for the American's goods, and still get them lower than he can of anybody else. When the American can no longer sell the goods the Englishman wants at a lower price than that demanded by other people, the Englishman will go elsewhere; and if the American puts a tax on the Englishman's goods, it is the same as charging more for his own goods, and he is simply handicapping himself in what ought to be a free race.
When this happens—and it is sure to happen sooner or later, because if a man, however strong, willfully handicaps himself in a race, there is sure to be found in time a man who will beat him—when this happens the producers of a protected community have no longer any foreign demand to depend upon and the home demand is not enough to take up the supply, because so many practical men have been attracted into the protected community and gone to producing, that more things are made than the community really desires. The community desires things that its own members can not make, and to get them it must exchange money, which represents labor in some form, at a ruinous disadvantage. The result of all this is, that the practical men who have been producing things their own country does not want are deprived of patronage and are worse off than if they had never been protected. If the family of which we were speaking a little way back had been contented to live out in the country by themselves in a simple way, they would have got on very well without the rest of the world. They would have cut down trees and built a cabin, made a clearing and planted corn and potatoes, hunted game, clad themselves in the skins of animals, and existed entirely independent of their fellow-men. But their wants were numerous, they were forced to depend on others to supply them, and they were obliged to exchange the products of their own labor with the products of the labor of the rest of the world.
We could go on multiplying examples, but we might end by being statistical, and we must not forget the general principles which were to govern our decision. It is clear enough now that protection is a relic of barbarism; that it interferes with and often interrupts the interchange of human activities; that it is ruinous to justice, fraternity, and love; that Just as protection in barbarous times, by means of strong walls and armor, put a premium on brute force and treachery, so protection in these days, by means of a commercial tariff, puts a premium on ignorance and fraud. For these reasons we know that the world would be better oft' without protection in any form, and we are bound to do all we can to rid humanity of a burden so heavy to bear and so injurious, materially and morally, to every member of a civilized community.
"Gold and iron are good
To buy iron and gold;
All earth's fleece and food
For their like are sold.
"Nor kind nor coinage buys
Aught above its rate.
Fear, craft, and avarice
Can not rear a state."