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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/609

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THE ECONOMIC OUTLOOK.

employés: "A great reduction in price from which there has been no recovery. Business has invariably, and with scarcely notable friction, adjusted itself to new conditions; and save only in exceptional cases—new companies struggling for a place—the capital invested has been fairly remunerative. Best of all, the wages of operatives have been maintained; for one reason among others, that reductions in rates paid for piece-work have operated to stimulate the intelligence of the workman, so that he devises for his special works methods and appliances which not only increase his speed but his product also, and improve its quality. The great decline in recent years in the price of American watches has not been caused by the importation of foreign watches, but has sprung wholly out of an intense competition between American manufacturers; and from this and other causes the industry has experienced all the vicissitudes incident to the occurrence of what are generally denominated ' hard times.'"

The following examples of the increase in the consumption of commodities, consequent on reductions of price through abatements of taxation, also indicate how largely the opportunities for labor and of the sphere of exchanges or business can be increased in the future by an extension of this policy:

Reductions in the price of tea in Great Britain, following a progressive reduction in the duties on the imports of this commodity, from 2s. 21/2d. in 1852 to 6d. (the present rate), have been accompanied by an increase in its annual consumption from 58,000,000 pounds in 1851 to 337,000,000 in 1885, or from 1·9 pound per head of the population to 5 pounds.

A removal in 1883 of the comparatively small tax of one cent on every hundred matches imposed by the United States, is reported to have reduced the price about one half, and to have increased the domestic consumption to the extent of nearly one third.

In 1883 a few additions were made to the free list under the tariff of the United States, and among them were included unground spices, which had been previously subjected to duties, which, although heavy as ad valorem, were in themselves so small specifically (as five cents per pound each on pepper, cloves, and pimento) that their influence on the consumption of the American people, with their acknowledged tendency to extravagance, would not have been generally regarded as likely to be considerable; and yet the removal of the duties on these commodities, which pass almost directly into consumption, carried up their importations in the following remarkable manner: In the ease of pepper, from 6,973,000 pounds in 1883 to 10,995,000 pounds in 1886; pimento, from 1,283,000 pounds to 2,500,000 pounds; cassia-buds, from 27,739 pounds to 238,000; cloves, from 989,000 pounds to 1,298,000; nutmegs, from 661,132 pounds to 1,189,456; while the importation and consumption of mace in the country more than doubled and that of cayenne pepper more than trebled during the same period. It is evi-