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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/653

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THE ETHICAL VIEW OF PROTECTION.

be far less, and, being relieved from the burden of heavy taxation, we shall all be much more prosperous than we are now; and if each of these men supports bis assertions with a vast array of incontrovertible statistics, what are we to do—we who are not learned in figures, or who see that the same facts differently arranged can be made to prove different things?

Evidently there is only one course open to us if we wish to decide the question on its merits and not in accordance with personal prejudice, or party affiliation, or the superior eloquence and ingenuity of the orator we hear last. We must brush aside all these confusing statistics, ignore the arguments based upon them, and put the matter before our minds in the simplest form. We must deal, not with a misleading array of facts, but with the elemental truths of existence. We must do this, even though we run the risk of being called mere theorists and impractical. The trouble with the practical man is, that his vision is closely limited; he see's only what is directly under his nose. The practical man always wants to get change for his dollar as quickly as possible. He is never willing to run what he calls risks—that is, he is never desirous of making a beginning till he has the end within his grasp. It was not a practical man who built the first steamship to cross the Atlantic, or invented the electric telegraph, or planned the first ocean cable, or conceived the idea of the Pacific Railway The relation of the practical man to humanity in general is the same as that of the hands to the body. It is not for the hands to make plans or say how things shall be done; that must be left to the brain. It is the business of the hands, when the plan is made, to take hold and do the work. And just as the hands can not judge of a thing simply by the sense of touch—can not tell a five-dollar gold-piece from a copper cent—so the practical man, because governed by immediate appearances, is of all men the most easily deceived.

But you, if you are a theorist, a philosopher, a man who deals with general principles, will settle the matter for yourself in accordance with general principles. If the question before you is that of free trade and protection, and practical men are being confused and misled by the artful devices of statistical orators, you will simply refuse to listen to the conflicting statements of either side, which do not prove anything, and never can prove anything. You will decide the matter for yourself on general principles; and you will first wish to determine clearly and definitely what is meant by the terms protection and free trade.

The word protection means a defense, a guard, literally a cover or shield against something or somebody, and it can be used, of course, only against an enemy. No one would think of protecting himself against a friendly influence. The word protection, or its