COMMON SENSE AND THE TARIFF QUESTION.
|COMMON SENSE APPLIED TO THE TARIFF QUESTION.|
By EDWARD ATKINSON.
"WE are at the parting of the ways." Any one who takes the ground that the main object which should be kept in view in placing taxes upon foreign imports may rightly be an attempt to establish any and every branch of industry, great and small, without regarding the use to which imports are to be put, and without any consideration of the temporary obstruction to other branches of industry which must follow any interference with the natural course of trade, may take his own way; he will have no further interest in this essay. Such men may separate themselves under the guidance of their chosen leaders, for such influence upon the question of taxation as they may be capable of exerting. Their position is a very plain one, and it has been rightly named by its chief exponent, the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, the method of "protection with incidental revenue" May it not be held that this method is inconsistent with the public welfare and that it is contrary to the very principle of law which has been established by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of the Loan Association vs. Topeka?
In this case, Justice Miller, on behalf of the court, stated this fundamental principle of law as follows: "To lay with one hand the power of the Government on the property of the citizen, and with the other bestow it on favored individuals to aid private undertakings, and to build up private enterprises, is none the less robbery because it is done under the forms of law and is called taxation. This is not legislation; it is a decree under legislative forms. . . . Beyond a cavil there can be no lawful tax which is not laid for a public purpose."
I think it must be clear to every unprejudiced mind that the theory of Mr. McKinley, of "protection with incidental revenue" is in fact forbidden by this dictum of the Supreme Court. It can only be justified by a legal subterfuge, to wit, that a public purpose or necessity exists which justifies doing away with the revenue duty on sugar, thereby depriving the Government of all revenue from that source, and continuing to tax the people in order to pay a bounty to the sugar-planters. The bounty to sugar-planters must be justified, if justified at all, upon the ground that public necessity requires the production of sugar within the limits of our own country, although sugar can be procured at less cost in exchange for wheat, cotton, and oil. If