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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/315

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GOVERNMENTAL INTERFERENCE.

the same continue operative to-day in spite of all the customs barriers against international trade that have been erected. All the indications, furthermore, are at present in favor of a renewal of commercial treaties or alliances between the Continental states, with a view through mutual concessions, of establishing better trade-relations between the participating powers than now exist; and the announcement has been made that preliminary negotiations for this purpose have begun between Germany and Austria and Germany and Italy. One project proposed, by Professor Kaufmann, of the University of Tübingen, which has been much discussed, and the adoption of which, in the opinion of not a few, is not improbable, is the formation of a Zollverein, or commercial union, among the nations of Central Europe, with a view, as the "Kölnische Zeitung" (which is regarded to some extent as an official organ of the German Government) has expressed it, "of expanding their markets by means of treaties, so that the surpluses at any one place within their dominions may serve to make up for the deficiencies in another," and which, more especially, would "find its account in collectively fighting against economical commonwealths, like the United States, Russia, China, and Great Britain, which embrace whole continents."[1]

The attempt to artificially stimulate the manufacture of beet-sugar in the states of Continental Europe, and at the same time to obviate the evils from the production of this commodity in excess of local or domestic demand by the payment of bounties on its exportation, has constituted such an extraordinary factor of disturbances in the world's recent economic history as to be worthy of special narration and attention.

Although the practice of stimulating through high protective duties and export bounties the production of beet-root sugar in Europe in competition with the cane-sugar product of the tropics dates back to the first quarter of the century, the present complicated and curious state of affairs is really due to an unexpected result of the German method of taxing beet-sugar, which was adopted in 1869. The idea involved in this method was, in brief, to collect an excise or internal revenue tax on all sugar produced; in the first instance by taxing the raw beets, and subsequently to give a drawback on whatever sugar was exported equivalent to the tax paid on the beets from which the sugar was made. At the outset about twelve pounds of beets were

  1. Such a formation of the "United States of Europe"—this phrase being borrowed from the "Kölnische Zeitung"—coupled with the avowed objects to be prospectively attained by it, would have a peculiar significance for the United States of America, as the feeling in Europe in respect to the export trade of the United States in respect to food-products has not been and is not now friendly. "The prohibition of her hog-products, the successive additions to the duties on grain and cattle, and the readiness with which any complaint against an American staple is taken up and widely circulated, often in a grossly exaggerated form, are indications of what would be the position of such a customs union toward the United States, could it become an accomplished fact."