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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/663

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THE ETHICAL VIEW OF PROTECTION.

taught by the theorists and by hard experience that free trade pays in the long run better than protection, will buy of an American only as long as he can exchange his own goods, plus the duty exacted by the tariff, for the American's goods, and still get them lower than he can of anybody else. When the American can no longer sell the goods the Englishman wants at a lower price than that demanded by other people, the Englishman will go elsewhere; and if the American puts a tax on the Englishman's goods, it is the same as charging more for his own goods, and he is simply handicapping himself in what ought to be a free race.

When this happens—and it is sure to happen sooner or later, because if a man, however strong, willfully handicaps himself in a race, there is sure to be found in time a man who will beat him—when this happens the producers of a protected community have no longer any foreign demand to depend upon and the home demand is not enough to take up the supply, because so many practical men have been attracted into the protected community and gone to producing, that more things are made than the community really desires. The community desires things that its own members can not make, and to get them it must exchange money, which represents labor in some form, at a ruinous disadvantage. The result of all this is, that the practical men who have been producing things their own country does not want are deprived of patronage and are worse off than if they had never been protected. If the family of which we were speaking a little way back had been contented to live out in the country by themselves in a simple way, they would have got on very well without the rest of the world. They would have cut down trees and built a cabin, made a clearing and planted corn and potatoes, hunted game, clad themselves in the skins of animals, and existed entirely independent of their fellow-men. But their wants were numerous, they were forced to depend on others to supply them, and they were obliged to exchange the products of their own labor with the products of the labor of the rest of the world.

We could go on multiplying examples, but we might end by being statistical, and we must not forget the general principles which were to govern our decision. It is clear enough now that protection is a relic of barbarism; that it interferes with and often interrupts the interchange of human activities; that it is ruinous to justice, fraternity, and love; that Just as protection in barbarous times, by means of strong walls and armor, put a premium on brute force and treachery, so protection in these days, by means of a commercial tariff, puts a premium on ignorance and fraud. For these reasons we know that the world would be better oft' without protection in any form, and we are bound