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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/662

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

practical men get together and say: "How much better it would be if everybody went after water and poured what was brought into a common tank from which supplies could be drawn as needed! We will build the tank." They build the tank, and the people bring water and fill it. Then the practical men take possession of the spigots and charge the people so much a gallon for all the water drawn from the tank. The practical men are protected by the labor of the rest of the community; unfortunately, all can not be practical men.

Of course, the effect of protection upon the morals of the protected must in the end be very bad. It has a tendency to make them cowardly, treacherous, and grasping. The fear of meeting outsiders in friendly competition; the temptation to make poor goods when poor goods can be sold for an unjustly high price; the business of seizing as legitimate prey the labor of others and turning that labor to one's own uses—must, sooner or later, have a bad effect on the individual and the community at large. A man can not thrive at the expense of other men, whether those men are his near neighbors or are living at the antipodes, without being hardened in his sensibilities and becoming to a certain extent inhuman. The effect of protection upon the moral welfare of the protected is bad; its effect on their material welfare is eventually ruinous. In barbarous times, when men collected in protected groups behind strong walls, the outside barbarians had as little to do with them as possible. They removed their goods if they could beyond the reach of plunder. On the other hand, a great many practical men crowded into the fortified groups when the advantages of protection were recognized, there was soon not enough plunder to go round, and the practical men who believed in protection quarreled among themselves as to who should have the spoils, till they learned by experience how foolish fighting was, and joined a larger community where they could live on friendly terms with a larger number of their fellows. So it is with the protected in our day. As long as the wants of a protected community are simple and the industries with reference to the population few, the community gets on very well. If its resources are ample, it will be able to produce things at a low price and compete in the open markets of the world with the producers of older, unprotected communities which have no such natural resources to draw upon. But the time comes when the natural resources of the favored community are exhausted and it can no longer produce certain things at a lower price than anybody else. Then the members of other communities will not pay for the privilege of trading with a protected community on equal terms. They will go elsewhere with their products, where they can exchange them freely. An Englishman, who is a practical man.