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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/11

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

NOVEMBER, 1888.


 

THE EFFECTS OF PROTECTION.
By CHARLES S. ASHLEY.

THE people of the United States are this year applying them-selves with a concentration very rare in great masses of men to the problem of tariff revision. It is inevitable that in a nation of so fresh and independent a spirit the claims of authority and scientific results should not receive any great recognition; and I, for one, rejoice that the people rely upon themselves and their own judgment and experience, rather than on the theories, however respectable, of eminent writers. We are therefore brought face to face with the question. What has been our experience in the matter? What have been the effects of protection in this country? It is especially interesting to examine the question from a strictly practical point of view, because this is the chosen battle-ground of the defenders of the existing system.

Free trade is an extension of the practice of our daily lives. We each of us buy in the cheapest market what we wish to buy, and sell our wares or our labor where we can get the most for them. I do not make my own shoes, but employ the great length of time which it would take me to make them in doing something which enables me to buy several pairs and other things as well. Instead of making my own shoes (thus, in protection phraseology, "protecting" my own "labor"), I buy my shoes of a neighbor, and the Government does not attempt to prevent me or to tax me for so doing. Even my neighbor does not himself make the shoes which he sells me. He does not undertake to protect his labor, but buys of a wholesale house in New York, which in turn buys of a Lynn manufacturer. The result of all these complicated transactions going to give me a pair of shoes is, that I get them at an equivalent of a very moderate amount of work, instead of by a great deal of direct exertion and personal sacrifice. So, too,