Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923 | View Entire Issue (Oct. 21, 1910)
" fy V Ty" t "T
ji ?m rT-
OCTOBER 21, 1910
WKia the Tariff Has Done for Me
(Tho Commoner will print brief letters de
scribing personal experiences with the republican
high tariff. Letters must necessarily be brief
and to tho point.)
In discussing the tariff question I will lay
down the basic or fundamental principle that
tho law of supply and demand controls in every
thing. That being the case labor must bo meas
ured by that standard, as well as labor's pro
ducts, and as the immigration" gates have swung
inward for tho last forty or fifty years, labor
in the United States has had absolutely no
benefit from the so-called protective tariff, inso
far as wages were concerned.
The wage earner being forced to sell his labor
in open and free competition with Tom, Dick and
Harry from every quarter of the globe, and at
the, same time being forced to buy tho supplies
he needed in a restricted or artificial market
produced by setting aside tho law of competition,
through foolish tariff laws left him exposed to
a' raking fire from all sides with absolutely no
shelter and no way to escape.
With such a strangle hold on tho consumer
the employers of. labor have been enabled to
build up enormous fortunes as if by magic and
through the agency and power of their vast
wealth have succeeded in controling tho pulpit,
the bench, the bar, halls of legislation and in
many instances tho public press.
With such tremendous power on one hand
and the Ignorance and carelessness of the voter
on the other hand""they were enabled to ralso
the tariff wall so high that few goods come Into
tho country from abroad, and the government
was thereby deprived of its revenues, and the
tramp and the millionaire multiplied with ra
pidity in our fair land.
But that is not all: This short-sighted and'
foolish policy has driven the American flag off
of the commercial high seas and turned the
world's carrying trade over to other flags and
In 1850 with a population of 23,191,876 we
had 1,802 vessels with a gross tonnage of 285,
304 tons, while in 1900 with a population of
more than-75,000,000 we only had 1,491 ves
sels with a gross tonnage of 468,331 tons, show
ing an increase In tonnage in fifty years of about
70 per cent, while our population increased 350
During the same period, under- free trade,
England Increased her tonnage from 133,695
tons In 1850 to 729,31)7 tons In 1899, an in
crease of nearly 600 per cent.
That Is a sample of what the protective tariff
has done to tho Anierican marine In the short
period of fifty years, for prior to its adoption
the American flag was supreme and American
bottoms carried more of the world's commerce
than those of all other nations combined.
' What can be more absurd than to build great
expensive lines of transportation on land and
sea to carry the commerce of the nation and
then deliberately tax commerce out of ex
istence? Now you hear the grafters hollering subsidy,
subsidy subsidy for a merchant marine, which
is taxation under another name.
According to the United States census In the
decade from 1880 to 1890 there were annually
employed in manufacturing "lines in this country
4,251,613 persons at an annual average income
of $444.83 each. During the period from 1890
to 1900 there were employed in the shops and
factories 5,321,087 persons, but their incomes
had fallen to" $437.93 each, which showed an
annual loss to the toilers of over $36,715,500,
while the cost of living had- increased about 15
per cent, and during this period the tariff had
been revised upwards three times.
Worse still 200,000 children under 16 years
of age and 1,100,000 women were forced into
the tread mills and sweat shops to grind out
gold for the tariff hogs.
Out of 16,239,797 homes in the United States
in 1900 only 7,218,755 were owned by their
occupants and of those 2,180,229 were mort
gaged and 8,246,747 were occupied by tenants
and had it not been for our vast and almost
Inexhaustible natural resources the government
Itself would have become bankrupt long ago.
No less an authority than Professor Eliot, of
Harvard, said recently "that it was possible that
the protective tariff may have done a little good,
but the harm it had dono the American people
Monopoly is the child of the tariff system in
the United States and monopoly has crushed out,
wherever possible, all competition, which is tho
lifo of trade.
What tho tariff has dono for tho people col
lectively, as outlined above, it has dono for mo
individually as I am one of Us many victims.
Well has tho poet sung:
"111 fares tho land to growing ills a prey,
Whoro wealth accumulates, and mon decay ;
Princes and lords may flourish, or may fade
A breath may mako them, as a breath has
But a bold peasantry, tho country's pride,
When onco destroyed can never bo supplied."
Every honest, thoughtful citizen who holds tho
Interest of tho country at largo above tho right
to plunder andjttb through tho agency of tariff
la"ws should uso evory honorable moans within
his power to tho end that tho infamous system
may bo wiped from our statuto books.
Yours for reform,
Seattle, Wash. It. J. WILSON.
EAGER TARIFF TAXERS ANT) THE nOME
A beefsteak raw Is tariff-taxed. 1 cents a
pound, poultry 5 cents a pound and chops or
cutlets 10 per cent.
The steak is cooked on a broiler tariff-taxed
'40 per cent, or in a frying-pan (a barbarous
method of tho backwoods), and tho frying-pan
Is taxed 40 per cent.
You test tho steak with a fork tariff-taxed on
a varying scale, but by the tariff law it must
never bo less than 40 per cent. Forks, 40 per
cent or more.
You trim it with a knife that may pay more
but must never pay less than 40 per cent.
It rests in state on a platter tariff-taxed 55
The stovo it has just left is tariff-taxed 45
The dab of melted butter Is tariff-taxed 6 cents
Even tho popper is taxed one-fifth of a penny
Tho Worceslershiro sauco Is. tariff-taxed 40
Tho prepared mustard, five-eighths of a' penny
Tho celery salt, 40 per cent; ordinary salt,
ono-tenth of a penny a pound.
If there is a small bit of cheeso It Is taxed
6 cents a pound.
Tho pickles are tariff-taxed' 40 per cent, or the
onion pickles also 40 per cent; the apple sauco,
35 per cent, and in addition one penny a pound.
The butcher, who sold the steak has his sharo
of tariff tax to bear.
Ho has carved the steak from a quarter of
beef with a knife taxed 40 per cent.
His butcher's cleaver has been tariff-taxed
perhaps more, but by tho law never less than
40 per cent.
The wooden chopping block on whlcirlt was
trimmed Is tariff-taxed 35 per cent.
It Is weighed on scales tariff-taxed 45 per
It is wrapped up to bo delivered In paper
tariff-taxed 35 per cent.
What a splendid affair the Payne tariff tax
law Is? New York World.
THE PERILS OF COMPROMISE
. The Indianapolis News, an independent re
publican newspaper, prints this editorial:
"The Insurgents, of all people, should under
stand the dangers that are liable to come to
them and their cause through the leadership of
Theodore Roosevelt. In their attitude toward
the Payne bill they stand for principle. In con
gress and out they have refused to- compromise.
But Mr. Roosevelt comes home and assumes to
place himself at tho head of the movement.
Two great dangers Immediately developed. Tho
first was that insurgency, which was a simple,
natural, and easily understood movement, would
be swallowed up in the 'new nationalism,' and
the other was that the cause might be weakened
if not destroyed through weak compromises. It
soon became apparent that Mr. Roosevelt was
ready and willing to talk about everything ex
cept the tariff. True to his record, he sought
to evado that. Yet ho did say something from
which the Insurgents derived considerable 'en
couragement. But when his .convention in New
.York Indorsed tho Payne bill, they began to
see surely this must be so how fatal this
spirit of compromise might bo to a cause thsT
can bo got through only by tho hardest fighting
"Tho plain truth is andit had bent bo spok
en that Mr. Rooscvolt is at any time willing
'to comproiniRo a principle for votos, offices and
powor. Ho hnn won many fights simply for tho
fight's sako. He never has in tho whole courso
of his llfo espoused ono cauno which ho believed
to bo unpopular, novor mado tho hard choice,
'never sacrificed ono thing for principle. On tho
contrary, when ho has won his fight ho, as n
rule, always socks somo way to com prom Iho
with the cnotnies of tho cause championed by
him. The puro food bill wns got through with
practically no help from him, andMho at onco
proceeded to weaken Its effectiveness with tho
help of his reforco bonrd. Ho criticised tho
Payne tariff in his westorn speeches and praised
It in his New York platform and crowned his
performanco with a repudiation of tho
Now York tariff plank! Wo havo never had an
other such compromlHor In our history. This .
disposition has led him to tako all sides of
groat public questions. Two years ago ho de
nounced tho plan providing for pre-olectlon pub
licity of campaign funds. A few weeks ago ho
proclaimed ns though It wore a dlscovory of his
own that thcro ought to bo such publicity.
Then his Now York convention meets and ig
noros the whole subject! In short, It Is Impos
sible to get from him any sharp, decided and
clear-cut dellvoranco on any practical and pres
sing issue. Ho 'will denounce crooks and crook
edness in general terms, proclaim his opposition
to corruption, but on all controverted questions
and principles ho has invariably played safe.
And ho is playing safe today. With him victory,
for its own sako, or for tho sako of tho job or
of control is everything, and the causo nothing.
One wonders whether such battles aro worth
fighting, such victories worth winning. How do
things get forward through such conquests?.
Slightly to parnphraso Hosea Biglow:
" 'He's wlllin' enough to go tollablo strong
Agin wrong in tho abstract, for thet kind o
Is oilers unpop'lar an' never gits pitied,
Because it's a crime no ono never committed..
But jest to decide 'twlxt stan' pat an' insurgent
Ho finds ain't expedient, not to say urgent;
Ho hums an' ho haws, backs an' fills till you'r
In Kansas is ono thing; In New York whut is ho?''
"Now, if insurgency means anything, It meant!
straight and hard fighting, not for tho sako tf
victory, but for the sako of relief from oppress
slve burdens corruptly Imposed on the people,,
Men who are fit to lead this movement can not.
afford to go Into the business of political bar'
gaining. In such a war as this thoto is and
can bo no place for trimmers, for men who con f
demn the Payne law In tho west and praise It
In the east. Here, then, Is tho danger which'
threatens the Insurgent movement. Let it oncer
be known that it is a mere attempt to 'save'
the republican party by promoting a falso har r
mony, nnd tho movement will swiftly collapse,
If It is not based on principle it will make no
appeal to the American people. If It Is based
on principle it lies beyond the sphere of com
promise. Let It bo remembered that at a tlmoi
when men Were risking their political careers,
putting everything in danger, Mr. Roosevelt
chose tho safe and easy way, as when he aban-,
doned his free trade principles, and came to the
support of Mr. Blaine. He has never mado ono
choice that cost him anything. There is nothing
of the martyr in him. Wo refer all who aro
disposed to question these statements to tho
book entitled 'The Man Roosevelt,' which Is av
most flattering biography, written by Mr. Roosc-,
volt's friend and admirer, Francis E. Leupp.
To bo sure, Mr. ''Leupp often explains at great
length why Mr. Roosevelt took tho easy way.
But the fact Itself is not, and can not be denied.
"The question, therefore, is whether the in
surgents aro going to allow their causo to fall'
under this blighting Influence of compromise.
If they do they might as well give up tho fight,
at once. But we do not believe that thoy havo
any such notion. Cummins, LaFolIette, Dolll-'
ver, Beverldge and the others evidently beliovo .
what they say, and say what they believe.
There Is not one of them that would not greatly
prefer to lose on the right issue than to win
on the wrong one. Mr. Roosevelt has never
shown a glimmer of that spirit. What ho is'
after is power, and when he gets It he fritters it
away. He is great in strengthening the organI-
zatlon, but when he gets it he does nothing
with it. It is for the Insurgents to say whether,
they will fight their way into the fortress of
privilege, or whether they will hand over their
f JU. . ..
Powered by Open ONI