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erty which distributes the charges upon it including the import duty to all the subjects of the State by whom the duty is levied and to no one else. Accordingly all civilized States have re. tained the duty and we may be sure will continue it until indi. rect taxation of all kinds is abandoned. The ideal of the free trader is an impracticable dream as things are. He will never strike off what he calls the schackles and fetters of trade until he has persuaded the State to find its revenue in direct taxation of the product of the national wealth. Meanwhile the only question in order is whether in taxing the capital employed in the importation of foreign merchandise, the State is controlled exclusively by the two considerations which justify the tax, namely, the accessibility and the distributing power of the property on which it is laid.
The customs tariff of the United States in its original form was one of a group of measures adopted on the spur of the moment to save the commonwealth from extreme and instant peril. It was in effect, like the call for volunteers or for subscribers to the national loan, an appeal to the patriotism and self-sacrifice of the people, and with its companion act, the internal revenue tariff, was drafted, with the single intent of bringing into the treasury the largest possible tribute in the smallest possible space of time.
of time. It would be unreasonable to consult the taxation of 1860-'64 for anything beyond the supreme necessity and emotion of the hour. There was in fact no time, as up till that moment there had been no preparation by previous experience, for scientific calculation of the most productive and equitable sources of revenue. All considera tions as to the relative accessibility and distributing power of different forms of property gave way to the apparent necessity of drawing at once from property in any form that was at all accessible the utmost tribute that it would bear. No doubt even as a war measure, a desperate provision for a desperate emergency, the whole fiscal system of that time, including both the contraction of the public debt and the corresponding taxation, is open to technical criticism, but it is forever absolved with all its errors by the simple motive of its inspiration and the triumphant vindication of results. The question of motives enters only with the continuance of the customs tariff
after the emergency had passed, and all the other measures adapted to meet it had been abandoned. Why are we here to-day in a time of profound peace and an overflowing treasury paying upon our imports substantially the same duties we paid during the war of the rebellion ? Who or what is it we are taxed to save as we were taxed then to save the commonwealth? What considerations have determined the State to leave upon a particular form of property burdens long since removed from forms which the other day were equally burdened?
The war duties upon imports have been maintained since the close of the war for the distinct and specifie purpose of aug. menting the cost of the goods and thereby obstructing their sale in the American market. This evidently is so far from being a legitimate and permissible state motive that it is not a state motive at all, for it is the business of the State as protector of the property of its subjects to protect it from arbitrary and artificial charges; and its interest to maintain the natural price and so promote the sale of commodities which it taxes, inasmuch as the larger the sale the greater is the available source of its revenue. They who are interested in the artificial price and the obstructed sale are neither the people nor the agent of the people; they are the producers of commodities of the same kinds as the kinds taxed. The Swiss watch is handi. capped with a duty equal to one-fourth of its real value, that the untaxed American watch may have easier sale in a better market; in general the open arena accessible to the whole world of commerce in which prices adjust themselves to real values according to the laws of world wide demand and supply is closed to the foreign producer that the producer at home may advance his prices beyond real values yet retain his customers. It goes without saying that a close market of this kind becomes at once and inevitably a rendezvous for all the blind avidities and rapacities of commerce. Every producer exerts himself to maintain or procure the highest possible duty on the foreign article both to diminish competition and to increase bis prices, coalitions are formed of all producers of the same and of affiliated products to influence legislation, and the simple motive of providing for public expenses by equable taxation of the na
tional wealth disappears in the chaos of conflicting personal and class interests which dictate the tariff.
This perversion of the functions of the State as the agent of all to the exclusive benefit of a few is disguised under the taking euphemism of protection to American industry, or more exactly American manufactures ; a capital instance of that delusive generalization or "realization of abstractions," common enough in metaphysics and theology, but nowhere more mischievous than in the domain of the historical and political sciences. For twenty years the intelligence of the people has been paral. yzed or perverted by a phrase, as the political energies of all Europe were for ages by the doctrine of the divine right of the sovereign. The implication is that the industries in question are American in derivation and right, as the kingship was divine, that the whole people in some way participates in them and is responsible for them as for American liberty or American law; that they are a national concern to be defended against all comers by the State. Stripped of the imposing abstraction the naked facts are that the industries represented in the tariff are the private enterprises of certain American citi. zens, or residents on American soil, which concern the rest of us and the State only so far as they may be supposed to add to the prosperity of the country, like American agriculture or American labor which do not figure in the tariff at all. The humblest of them is entitled to protection, if need be in the full measure of the power of the State; but protection from what and what kind of protection? From fraud and violence, from the common enemy for whose repression the State exists. But foreign competition is not a common enemy. There is no disturbance of public order and security, no wrong to person or property, no violence or fraud, in putting a Swiss watch on the American market. On the contrary the presence of the Swiss watch at its real value is a factor for determining the real value of the American watch ; the free admission of the world's prod. ucts along with our own is the only way of finding out what our own are worth and should be "protected” by the State in the interest of the people, for the whole people is concerned in buying what it requires, whether of bome or foreign origin, at its real value. But this is precisely what the producer fears, and
asks to be protected from under the alarming generalization of foreign hostility, namely an open market whose free exchanges settle the real value of his products. If he were content with or could afford to take this he would not require protection. So what he demands and has actually got is compensation for incompetence and a bounty on inferior goods.*
The remarkable thing is that the inferiority is openly avowed -under another euphemism, and made part of the plea for protection. It is said that American manufactures are as yet in their "infancy” and therefore unprepared for competition with robust foreign manufactures, which, it is further said, have acquired their adult vigor and their aptitude for infanticide by having been protected when they were infants. This I am persuaded is the most picturesque and pathetic abstraction in the whole range of political philosophy. Here the implica
. tion is that the American people has incurred the solemn responsibilities of paternity by having engendered a progeny of industries full of the charm and promise of childhood, but doomed to untimely extinction unless sheltered from the foreign foe, and suckled at the maternal bosom of the State. The fact again is that the American manufacturer himself is no infant whatever his manufacture may be, but as adult as any. body and one of the shrewdest of his kind, a man who like the American farmer, or miner, or merchant, or banker, bas availed himself of the liberty secured to him by the State to choose among all the ventures of commerce the one which suits
* The point may be best made by an example. Let us suppose two watches, each the exact duplicate of the other, the one made in the United States at a cost of $100, the other, owing to differences in methods and the wages of labor, in Switzerland at a cost of $80. The latter will then sell at a profit of 25 per cent. for $100, which is the manufacturing cost of the other, and supposing the profit to have been fairly determined in the open market, the real value of each. The import duty of 25 per cent. on the wholesale price of the Swiss watch overcomes this difference and enables the American watch to dispute the market at a profit of 25 per cent. and to command it at a profit of 24. Whichever of the two he takes the American purchaser is forced to pay 24 or 25 per cent. more than its real value. It is beside the point to plead the benefits to American industry or to the country of such protection. Were everybody else the better for it it is spoliation of the purchaser and the immorality of it simply does not admit of discussion.
him best. As he is the sole author of it so is he solely respon. sible for its issue, and as he is to reap all the profits so should he bear all the losses. That the enterprise is new to the country, and so under the disadvanages of inexperience, untrained labor and a preoccupied market, is perfectly well known to him in advance as a part of the general risk which be takes with his eyes open in expectation of finding his ultimate re. ward in it. It must be said of him therefore, that he pleads the baby act with perfect absurdity in the wrong court. His appeal should be to his friends if his own means are insuffi. cient, or to the capital around him waiting for investment, or to the charitable public which founds lying-in hospitals and infant asylums. But he has no right to ask, and the State none to grant, a modification of the common environment for his exclu. sive benefit, an artificial milieu in which he can force upon us the products of his infant industry at prices beyond the real values of the products of industries in full maturity. That the infant sufferer is American is an appeal to our sympathies and our patriotism, but absolutely no concern of the State whatsoever; an occasion for charity perhaps, but certainly not a motive for legislation and not an excuse for spoliation of the people.
The crowning wrong is that there are no assignable bounds to the spoliation as there are no logical limits to the law which orders it, for the law, however rigorously defined, is a wide generalization of the most practical kind, establishing a principle and a precedent which may be rightfully invoked against the State in all similar cases. The principle is that it is the duty of the State to enable the American manufacturer to undersell bis foreign competitor at remunerative prices. This it has effected by creating artificial values which make up for the higher cost and inferior quality of his goods. If now for any cause, and especially for any cause attributable to the action of the State, the inferiority and costliness increase, the right to increased protection follows; the poorer and dearer the goods become the higher the duty required to overcome foreign competition. Now the policy of protection itself tends to the deterioration of the protected industry, that is to the necessity of ever increasing protection. For the law of all