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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/13

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THE EFFECTS OF PROTECTION.

the East, by which, they save labor and build up their country. He will then be in a position to see, by analogy, the evils which have followed in the train of protection, even in this country of vast extent and limitless resources. And, on the other hand, he will not fail to see the analogy between the success of that natural system which prevails in the United States, and is practiced by each of us in our private capacities, and the policy of industrial liberty which a few nations have been led to adopt.

The plain primary effect of a tariff and its main purpose, so far as protection is concerned, is to raise the price of the article imported by the amount of the duty. It may be, and to some extent doubtless is true, as claimed, that internal competition afterward reduces the market price. But the primary effect is manifestly as stated, if the article continues to be imported. This increase of price necessarily is borne entirely by the consumers, except in certain special cases (as where the supply market is very small in extent, and where prices would consequently rise very fast with the unfettered demand of the American consumers), since we have no means of forcing foreigners to ship goods here except at the same rates which they would be willing to sell for if there were no tariff. But, of course, it may be that the tariff is so high that the imports practically cease, and the American market is supplied by American producers, though at an enhanced cost over what would have been necessary to pay, with the world to choose from. In this case the consumer, of course, still pays this enhanced price, whether or not, as the protectionist contends, he somehow gets it back. With these few points in mind we will proceed to determine in a few particulars, as nearly as may be what this country has actually paid by reason of our high tariff. It is greatly to be regretted that materials do not exist to make a complete showing of what the protective features of the tariff have cost the people without benefiting the Government; but a few instances may serve as illustrations, and will faintly indicate the enormous extent of that forcible transfer of wealth from buyers to sellers which has been made by prohibitory tariffs.

The average price of steel rails in this country has for the past twenty years been at least $15 per ton more than in England. There has been a consumption of at least 30,000,000 tons necessary to lay and repair our 156,000 miles of railway. More than two thirds of this amount has been bought at home. The Government has, therefore, forcibly transferred about $300,000,000 belonging to one class of American citizens to another class, by laying an embargo on the business of the first in favor of the second.[1] In some years the demand for steel has been so great

  1. In the year 1887 Carnegie Brothers & Company, of Pittsburg, manufactured 192,998 tons of steel rails at a cost of $26.79 per ton, and sold them at an average of $37.1212