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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/14

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

that rails have sold for double and even treble the natural cost; but still buyers were forced to buy in the home markets. And the reduction in duty from $28 to $17 per ton was accomplished only in the teeth of vigorous protestations that it would ruin American mills and workingmen. I say nothing of the effect of this tax on railroad building and operation in rendering transportation scarcer and more expensive. But it is probable that a line of railway with which I am connected would by this time have been completed and have been paying handsomely but for the $300,000 additional expense of construction entailed by the protection tariff.

Pig-iron enters into articles used in every house and in every business. It is turned into plows, kettles, and stoves, as well as into vast engines, railway material, building material, and firearms. Four million and a half tons of this material were made in the United States in 1882 and sold at an average of $22 per ton. In 1880 the market value reached $40, and in 1886 $17. According to Mr. Wilkeson, this material ought to be marketable at $9 per ton easily, and Mr. Vinton does not think its actual value much more. But making an allowance of $12 per ton as liberal, in fact very liberal, we may say that the people of the United States have paid an unnatural price for this product amounting in all to $45,000,000 in 1882 alone; and, assuming that to have been an average year, we may place the enhanced price of pig-iron to the American people for the past twenty years at the enormous aggregate of $900,000,000.

On lumber it is difficult to make an accurate estimate. But assuming the cut of Michigan in 1880 (4,172,000,000 feet) to have been half the product affected, and to have been enhanced in price to the extent of half the duty, which, in view of the enormous forests of Canada, and the great value of our standing pine, is very moderate, the tariff on lumber has cost the people of the United States $8,000,000 per annum. One peculiarity about this tax, or rather levy, is, that it inures to the benefit solely of a few land-owners in Michigan and elsewhere, who were fortunate enough to get the pine-lands when they were worth $2 per acre.


    per ton; making a profit of about $1,158,000 on that item alone of their manufactures. For the making of these rails they paid out in wages $778,075, equal to about 68 per cent of their profits. During the same year the same firm turned out about 30,000 tons of iron and steel beams (used in large buildings, bridges, etc.), at a cost of about $28.02 per ton, and sold them at $66 per ton, through a trust; making a total profit of about $1,150,000, which is 135 per cent, of the total expenses and about seven times the sum paid by them to their labor employed on this product. The exorbitant profit thus made at the expense of the owners and patrons of railways and buildings was rendered possible solely by the high tariff (on rails $17 per ton, or about 75 per cent; on beams, l 14 cent per pound, or about 102 per cent).—Abridged from the speech of W. L. Scott, in the House of Representatives, May 11, 1888.