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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/318

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of a drawback, which the English sugar-refiners estimated at 39 cents per 100 pounds. This drawback having been reduced by the Treasury Department to 17 cents, the exports for the succeeding year, 1885-'86, at once fell off to 164,339,000 pounds.

The experiences that have followed this attempt, on the part of practical statesmen, to interfere with the natural progress and development of a great industry, constitutes one of the most instructive chapters in all economic history. Judged from certain standpoints, the bounty system, as applied to beet-root sugar, has been unquestionably most successful. It has increased the aggregate product of this variety of sugar so rapidly that, in place of constituting 20 per cent of the whole sugar-product of the world, as it did in 1860, it now represents at least 56 per cent of such aggregate. This artificially increased product of sugar has so far exceeded the current demands of the world for the consumption of this commodity, that sugar now ranks, in point of retail value, with such articles as oatmeal, barley, and flour; and it has even been proposed that it should be utilized as food for cattle, or as a fertilizer in competition with artificial manures. Comparing wholesale prices, sugar was 114 per cent higher in 1880 than the first half of 1887. Such a reduction in the price of a prime necessity of life has been of immense advantage to consumers. In Great Britain, whose policy since 1874 has been to give her people sugar free of taxation, the per capita consumption has risen from 56 pounds in that year to 75 pounds in 1886 (as compared with a per capita of about 54 pounds in the United States in 1885); while the saving to the British people, from the reduction of the cost of this one item of their living, in the single year of 1886, has been estimated by a good authority (Mr. Samuel Montague, M. P.) as high as £11,000,000 (855,000,000). Again, the bounty policy developed a large local industry in many of the states of Continental Europe, and for a time paid enormous profits to manufacturers and refiners producing for export, as is believed to be yet the case in France, and which has recently increased its duties on the imports, and its bounties on the exports, of sugar, and which latter are now three times greater than those paid by Germany. During the year 1886 the profits of the two leading sugar-refiners of France from export bounties, exclusive of their domestic trade, were reported as about £450,000 (§2,225,000) each; but how much of this they were required to part with in order to force, through reduced prices, the sales of their product in other countries, is, of course, not known. It is claimed to have greatly injured the sugar-refining industry of Great Britain; but, on the other hand, it is declared to have given a great impetus to the business of manufacturing confectionery, preserved fruits, jams, etc., in that country; industries which have given employment to many more persons than were ever occupied in refining sugar.

But there is another side to this picture. Under the influence of