The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, January 03, 1908, Page 2, Image 2

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the homo product, we will the first year collect
five million dollars revenue on tho article, and
by so doing enable domestic manufacturers to
produce a similar article at a price fifty per
cent abovo what they could charge without the
tariff. If at the end of five years wo produce
half of the product at home and buy half abroad,
tho revenue will be reduced to two millions
and a half while the people will pay the same
amount they did before, namely, the foreign
price plus the tariff. If at the end of ten years
we produce the entire amount at home and ex
port none of this article, the revenue from this
source will be entirely extinguished, while the
people will go on paying the foreign price plus
tho tariff, unless competition at home reduces
the price. If, however, competition at home
reduces the price, it shows that the tariff is
not needed, and that to the extent that it is
not used, it could be reduced without increasing .
either the import of the article or the revenues
of the treasury.
Senator Beveridge's plan for extending our
markets is the retaliatory plan proposed by Mr.
Chamberlain, the English statesman. Mr. Bryan
had an opportunity to hear this plan presented
by Mr. Chamberlain, at .Cardiff, Wales, about
four years ago, and no one has ever appealed
more eloquently than he to the get-even spirit,
although, fortunately for Great Britain, the ap
peal was unsuccessful.
While there may be an occasional oppor
tunity to increase trade by reciprocity treaties,
such extensions are insignificant compared with
the extensions which would follow a general
reduction of the tariff. In the first place, re
taliatory duties are levied upon the theory, that
the foreigner pays the tariff, whereas the tariff
is paid by the consumer. While it is to the ad
vantage of the producer to enlarge his market,
it is foolish to suppose that tariff reductions
are intended for the foreigner, and to say that
we will maintain the tariff, or raise it, on an
article imported from' Germany, for instance,
unless' Germany reduces the tariff upon some
article which we expc . is really equivalent to
saying to Germany: "If you do not stop tax
ing your people when they buy goods of us, we
will retaliate by taxing our people -when they
buy goods of you." If export duties were paid
bv the foreigner, then the making of a tax law
would be a very different matter. Each govern
ment could make the citizens of other countries
pay its running expenses, and it might even
carry its exactions to the .point of collecting
from abroad and distributing tho surplus
through bounties to its own people. But the
fact is that the importer pays the tax and then
collects it from the consumer, -with interest and
commisisons added. Republican spellbinders
may be able to conceal the operatlpn of the
tariff -from trusting republican voters who stay
at home, but the republicans who visit other
countries are, upon their return to America,
confronted with the unpleasant fact that the
r. .Jtanrican and not from the foreigner.
, One objection to the reciprocal or retalia
tory tariffs is that we can not offer concessions
to other nations in return for concessions de
manded without arguing from a false basis. In
stead of assuming 'that the tariff is a tax upon
the foreigner, to be reduced only out of con
sideration for the foreigner, it is far better to
teach by argument and by example that tariff
duties are paid by the people of the country
by which tho duties are levied, and then rely
upon the intelligence of other nations to make
reductions which will increase international com
merce. Another difficulty about a reciprocal or re
taliatory tariff is that when such a treaty Is
being made there is liable to be a conflict be
tween industries, all of them anxious for ad
vantage, but none of them willing to consent
to a reduction on their own products. If a
-valuable concession is gained something equally
valuable musf bo given if it is a fair trade; Ac
cording to the argument of those who sunnort
a protective tariff, a concession, in order to be
valuable to others must be hurtful to us, and
therefore, according to this logic, we must sac
rifice some industries in order to help others
What industries are willing to be sacrificed'
If, for instance, we have a tariff on an article
and this tariff is really needed, it can not be
taken off without injury to tho industry which
needs it. If we have a tarif which i nnf ,i
od, it ought to be reduced even from a protec
tionist's standpoint, and w can hardly fool for
eign nations by proposing a. reduction which wo
ought to make anyhow.
The third objection to the reciprocal or
retaliatory tariff is thsrt it is of comparatively
The Commoner.
little value In the extension of commerce. The
friends of protection have been talking reciproc
ity for a great many years, but the amount ac
complished is scarcely worth mentioning, where
as an independent reduction of the tariff would
be greatly beneficial. In the first place, our
manufacturers are all more or less embarrassed,
by", tariffs levied for the protection of other in
dustries. Take, for instance, the matter of ma
chinery. Tho tariff on machinery requires a
larger investment in the plant; then in the man
ufacture of goods for export a great deal of ma
terial is used upon which it is impossible to
collect a rebate the rebate being given only
when an imported article is used in the manu
facture of things exported. There is no way
of securing a rebate where the manufacturer
uses a home-made article whose price is en
hanced by the tariff, and the employes must
either bear the burden or demand an increased
wage to compensate for the increased cost of
living produced by the tariff. If increased
wages are given to compensate for the tariff,
these increased wages make it more difficult for
us to compete with foreigners. It can not be
said that protection confers any net benefit upon
an employe in a protected industry unless pro
tection increases his wages more than it in
creases his cost of living. If protection in
creases his wages less than it does his living
expenses, the protective tariff is an injury to
him, and may be an injury also to his employer.
Tariff reformers believe that statistics show
that the present high tariff is actually injurious
to the laborer in the protected Industries and
to many manufacturers who derive from the
tariff less than it costs them, and there is no
question about the. present tariff duties being
oppressive to the great majority of the people
who are engaged in the protection of things
which can not be protected.
Reciprocity treaties, therefore, while pos
sible in a few cases, are not a substitute for
tariff revision, and our experience is that the
manufacturers who urge high rates on the theory
that they can be used to compel reciprocity
treaties stubbornly insist upon retaining the
duties, however high, thus postponing, if not
destroying, hope of belief, from this source.
Senator Beveridge is especially anxious to
make a reciprocity treaty with Canada for the
admission of free wood pulp. He asks why not
say to Canada,. "We will let in Canada wood
pulp-free if you will let in American implements
and other articles free." Why, he asks, should
we put wood pulp on the free list for nothing?
He answers his awn question by saying: "This
would reduce the price of every newspaper in
our country, save our forests from extermina
tion, and at the same time open the Canadian
market to the admission of many American
products." Suppose we can reduce the price
of every newspaper in our own country and
save our forests from extermination, would that
not be sufficient reason why we should put
wood pulp on the free list, without waiting for
Canada tp act? If we recognize the wisdom of
protecting our own people by the reduction of
the duty on wood pulp, we may be able to con
vince the Canadians of the wisdom of admitting
American implements and other articles free
We have tried: the plan of retaliation for many
years, and we are still paying a tariff on wood
pulp. Why not make an experiment and try
legislating for the consumers of the whole coun
try rather thau for the manufacturers of nro
tected articles? F
Senator Beveridge's remedy Is a tariff com
mission. He says: "Wo must have a revision
of our present tariff; but It must not be a
political revision; it must be a scientific revi
sion, It must not bo a politician's tariff it
must be a business man's tariff." This is mere
ly the usual motion which the defendant makes
for a continuance when ho knows that he has
no evidence with which to oppose the plaintiff's
claim. Senator Beveridge has been a national
legislator for some years, but he has never at
tempted to take the tariff out of politics. When
he makes speeches upon the stump, he recog
nizes that the tariff Is a political Issue, and he
warns the country against allowing the demo
cratic party to have anything to do with tariff
revision. Only when gross abuses have aroused
resentment, and there is a popular domand for
tariff revision, does he come forward with the
domand that the subject be taken out of politics.
It is kept in politics as long as it promises to
keep the republican party in pqwer, and becomes
non-partisan only when the party Is in danger.
The republican party had an opportunity to
frame a tariff bill in 1800. Did it do it by a
commission? On th$ contrary, tho bill was
framed in a republican congress, and the party
which framed it demanded a public indorse
ment as a reward. When the republican party
came into power again in the spring of 1897 it
had another chance to reduce the tariff hv I
commission made up of business men but in
stead of taking the question out of politic l
proceeded to make a political use of the power
gained, and it has boasted that the tariff ill
panacea for all industrial ills. The more mi
scrupulous of the leaders of that partv hi
not hesitated to claim credit for whatever pros
perity the country has derived from a larcer
volume of money and better crops; and they
have assured the country that panics never
come while republicans are in power and while
tariffs are adjusted according to the protective
principle. Just now these boasts are more hol
low than usual because at the time of the writ
ing of this article we are in the midst of a
financial panic which is, in some respects, more
acute than the panic of 1893. While in 1803
some banks failed, most of them continued to
pay depositors on demand. Now, a large per
centage of the western banks refuse to allow
deposits to be withdrawn except in limited
amounts, the banks deciding as to the wisdom
of withdrawal.
The state bank is to be found everywhere,
and in the smaller communities it Is often the
only bank. Has the state banker considered
the currency situation as it presents itself at
this time? The national bankers of the cities
are clamoring for an asset currency that is,
for a currency which they can issue on their
assets without the deposit of government bonds
with the treasury department. At first they
tried to secure a complete change in the basis
of their banknotes but failing In this, they have
been urging the asset currency as an emergency
currency. The state bankers ought to let their
.congressmen know that there is objection 'to the
asset currency either as a permanent currency
or as an emergency currency. There is no rea
son why, the government should not issue what
ever asset currency the country needs. If the
government instead of the banks issues this cur
rency, it can issue treasury notes, and these
treasury notes can be loaned to the state banks
as well as to the national banks. The policy
of the treasury department has been to take
care of Wall Street and then trust Wall Street
to take care of the rest of the country, but it is
an absurd and foolish policy. If asset currency
is needed, there is no reason why it should not
be furnished in such a way that the state bank
as well as the national bank can relieve a local
stringency. If we are to have an emergency
currency, let it be issued by the government and
controlled by the government; let congress fix
the kind of security and then let the currency
be loaned to the state bank as well as to the
national bank. There is no reasoiifor the dis
crimination that Is constantly made In favor of
the national bank. It is time that the state
bankers voiced their protest against this
There ought to be a democratic weekly
newspaper in every county; where there is no
such weekly, one ought to be established. It
does not cost much to start or to conduct a
weekly newspaper. It can be owned and edited
by the same man. The country weekly has
far more influence in proportion to its circula
tion than the city daily, first, because it has
behind it a person who is known to the readers
and whose character adds force to his words;
second, because the weekly is read with more
care. The country weekly comes much nearer
reflecting the sentiment of tho community than
the large daily. In fact, in every contest be
tween the unorganized masses on the one side
and organized wealth on the other, the big news
papers are generally on the side of organized
wealth, and "this fact has become so notorious
that candidates are often elected with practi
cally all of the daily papers against them.
In 1896 when nearly all of the great dailies
deserted us, the weeklies were faithful because
they were near to the people and shared the
opinions and aspirations of the multitude.
The editorial page of the democratic week
ly ought to bo large enough to present briefly
the democratic side of the questions upon which
the people are thinking. Having local as well
as general politics to consider, the country week
ly can not of course give the attention to na
tional questions that a national paper can, for a
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