Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/465

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COMMON SENSE AND THE TARIFF QUESTION.

ness. In the factories I have known cases where all the looms were watched, and every weaver who did not reach a certain standard in her earnings was discharged because the mill could not afford to have poor weavers employed in it.

Yet, although we possess so many advantages within the limits of our own domain, there are some parts of the world which hold an advantage over us, especially in the production of some of the crude materials which are necessary in the processes of domestic industry. There are also many arts from which science has not yet removed the noxious conditions or the excessive labor. These arts we had better not undertake so long as we can buy their product with the excess of our crops of grain and cotton.

Again, there are some sections of this country which could be more adequately supplied with crude materials from Canada than they can be from Pennsylvania; New England, for instance, in respect to iron and coal. Our members of Congress sustain the policy which deprives us of the vast deposits of iron, coal, and even of other materials, which are lying unused in the Maritime Provinces. They tax the wool of Australia and South America; they propose to double the tax on tin plates; and they endeavor to promote the manufacture of burlaps and other coarse fabrics made of jute within our own limits.

The question of crude materials I have treated. The noxious conditions under which tin plates are made, I have referred to. The making of burlaps as it is now conducted in Dundee is one of the least desirable occupations that human beings can be called upon to follow; until it has been improved, we had better buy our burlaps with cotton than try to make them ourselves.

Even the finest fabrics which are suitable for taxation for revenue, such as Brussels laces and the like, are made by hand at the lowest wages and under the most abject conditions of life. The finest silks must be woven by hand, because the silk-worm does not spin his thread so evenly as to make it possible to weave it on the positive power-loom. In fact, in respect to many of these finer articles, which are perfectly suitable subjects for a tariff for revenue rather than for protection, there are elements to which no attention has been given; they specialize themselves even according to heredity or to peculiar conditions. The finest cotton yarns are spun in England, sent to France to be woven, sometimes transferred to Germany to be dyed; and brought back to England to be sold. Some of the finest linens are made by growing the flax in one place, spinning it in another, and weaving it in another, all far apart. We can not force the manufacture of flax in this country until we have a great surplus of population which shall be compelled to do the work which the Irish, the Belgians, and the French are now forced to do for us even at the lowest