Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/25

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THE EFFECTS OF PROTECTION.

quently makes combination easier. It might be practicable to get up a combination to control production and prices in the United States, and yet be impracticable to form one to cover the entire world. Of the enormous sums beyond a reasonable profit which these concerns have taken from the people we have no accurate knowledge, but the amount even in single cases, such as the sugar trust, is simply vast. It is not argued here that these combinations are criminal. But will it, on the other hand, be argued that we are bound to "protect" them? Are they to combine to force high prices from the people, and are the people to meekly assist in the process?

The central idea of the protective system is to compel our people to buy at home, while allowing them to sell abroad—thus retaining our money at home and adding to it. This is the old mercantile theory so popular during the middle ages. It needs but little reflection to see that such a programme can not be indefinitely carried on. If hundreds of millions of gold are brought into this country, gold becomes cheap, while abroad it becomes dear. There soon comes a time, therefore, when the gold will seek purchases abroad in consequence of its high value there. If we "corraled" all the gold in the world, the only thing we could do with it would be to send it abroad and buy with it. This process has already begun; for, during the year 1887, and much more the year ending June 30, 1888, the balance of international trade was against us. Some protection organs, failing to see the meaning of this, called for still higher tariffs. But that gold is only valuable as it enables our people to buy with it would seem to be axiomatic, however much it is forgotten.

It might be inferred from the above, as it is certainly demonstrated by experience and well understood by economists, that in the long run imports and exports must balance each other, except where, as in the case of England, imports are made to balance incomes derived from foreign investments. But if this be true, then a tariff on imports is also a restriction on exports. Have we found this to be true? Not to rely on such general principles as that all international trade is essentially barter—an exchange of product for product—because payment in gold instead of bills of exchange is too expensive; because freights without return freights are too high; and because, as experience everywhere shows, people learn to buy wherever they sell; not to rely on abstract propositions, let us appeal to the statistics of American and English exports and imports:

Exports.-Average, 1861-1880. Imports.-Average, 1861-1880.
Great Britain £245,000,000 £321,000,000
United States. 74,000,000 74,000,000