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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/657

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THE ETHICAL VIEW OF PROTECTION.

men, who are manufacturers and traders. At least, it does so at first. After a while it does something else, and the manufacturers and traders lose by it, just as the practical men of barbarous times lost in the end more than they gained by war.

We have now traced the idea of protection from the beginnings of human society down to the present time, and we know what it means. What, on the other hand, is free trade? The term free trade explains itself. It is the opposite of protection. It does not believe in barriers or covers or defenses. It does not believe in organized selfishness at the expense of the many for the good of the few. It believes in the most open and free intercourse between all mankind. It believes that all men are brethren, and that it is no more right to fine an Englishman, a German, or a Frenchman because he can do a thing well than it is to fine an American for employing an Englishman, a German, or a Frenchman to do a thing well. It believes that the world is large enough, the resources of nature sufficient, to enable every man to support himself without; joining a protected community and forswearing the help of others. Protection, as we have seen, is organized selfishness. Free trade is based on the elemental principles of existence—on justice, fraternity, and love.

But now come the orators and tell us, on one side, that protection means higher wages and greater prosperity for everybody, and, on the other side, that free trade means reduced expenses for the necessities of life and diminished taxation; and the orators on both sides have countless statistics to prove the absolute truth of what they say. What are we, who are not practical men, and who know that statistics will prove anything—what are we to do? Evidently we must fall back on elemental principles, and extend our reasoning a little further. We must examine the assertions of the orators in the light of general principles, and ask whether they are true.

Let us suppose a primitive group modeled after the groups of barbarous times to be formed in our day in accordance with the existing industrial conditions. Let us suppose a family group—for such the early groups were—a family group consisting of a father, a mother, three daughters, and four sons. In the barbarous days families were sometimes of this size. The father, we will imagine, is a shoemaker; the mother a milliner; the first daughter, Sarah, a dressmaker; the second daughter, Jane, a cook; the third daughter, Mary, a seamstress; the first son, James, a tailor; the second son, Thomas, a hat-maker; the third son, John, a butcher; the fourth son, Henry, a grocer. Each has grown to be expert at his or her particular trade, and is doing well. But the third son, John, is a very practical man, and he has studied what is called political economy. Political economy