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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/19

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9
THE EFFECTS OF PROTECTION.

labor on the material, and sell only to ourselves. The American is not naturally slow, but he can not run with the Englishman while his feet are fettered.

The protection system would obviously not stand for a year in this country were it not for the belief that it results in an increase of wages among our working-people. It is, therefore, especially important to observe the effects of protection upon our wage-earning class. First of all it is to be noted that great numbers of the working-people can not, in the nature of things, be any more subject to foreign competition under free trade than they are at present. This applies to railroad-men, now nearly 700,000 in number; men in the building trades, agricultural laborers, household servants, clerks, professional men, and the like. The numbers belonging to protected and non-protected industries stand about as five to ninety-five, as above noted. The vast discrepancy between the two is not usually taken into account in tariff discussions; but it is instructive, as tending to show that American labor is not in any danger of great displacement by any possible legislation or by any possible competition.

It is a startling fact, of which the application is not obvious, that, while the protected industries have produced more millionaires, perhaps, than any others, the wages paid to workmen in them reach a much lower level than the usual one in wages-paid occupations, and in some cases a most miserably low level. This circumstance is well known, and as such was stated by a number of iron-manufacturers who united in a letter to the late Secretary Manning, in reply to that of the Iron and Steel Association—for there are manufacturers of iron who do not believe that the tariff duty should be three or four times as high as the labor cost of the product:[1] "The figures of the census show that in the year 1879-1880 the total wages of $9,538,117 paid for mining ore, distributed among 31,668 men and boys, averaged but $301 per working year each, or less than a dollar for each working day. Since that time wages have been again and again reduced. It is a notorious fact that men are working in the mines for eighty cents a day or less." So true is this that, while the cost of living is much higher in this country than in England—for the reason that taxes are there not levied altogether on articles consumed in daily use—the wage-workers receive in many cases about the same in both countries. For example, Joseph D. Weeks, special agent for the tenth census, gives ("Statistics of Wages," pp. 112 and 119) a table of wages paid in the iron-making business in the Cleveland district in England, and in "an establishment in Pennsylvania":

  1. Letter of J. B. Sargeant and others to Hon. Daniel Manning, December 21, 1885.