Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/611

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COMMON SENSE AND THE TARIFF QUESTION.

making tin plates. The income of the tax has been asked for this purpose—it has been granted by the majority of the Committee of Ways and Means for this purpose—it is consistent with the so-called principle of protection with incidental revenue, and not a man who has voted for this measure in the House of Representatives can deny that, under the ruling of the Supreme Court, this method "is not legislation; it is a decree under legislative forms, and is none the less robbery because it is called taxation."

On the other hand, almost all the advocates of the theory of protection according to the principles of its founders—viz., temporary support during the period of the infancy of any art—may now be ready to join with the reasonable advocates of freer trade in coming to an agreement upon a measure which would be consistent with existing conditions, and also consistent with common sense. All admit, as Sir Robert Peel did, that we can not apply the absolute theory of free trade at the present time. But we can lay aside our prejudices; we can treat the whole subject in a judicial way; we can adopt a measure of tariff reform which shall lead in due season to such free trade as may be consistent with the necessity of deriving a revenue from duties upon imports, the subjects of taxation being selected with a view to the least burden upon consumers.

We may now take up the right method of bringing an agreement on method into practice and thereby giving the necessary direction to our legislators, who are all seeking for guidance among their constituents. How can we expect legislators to make good laws if their constituents do not.themselves know what kind of laws they want?

When this subject is thus approached in a judicial way, there are two lines of preliminary research and two sets of facts of which full cognizance must be taken:

The home market of this country rests for its development, its stability and its profit, upon the prosperity of the great mass of the consumers of this country who are working people busily occupied for gain in all the arts of life; of whom a vast majority are "working people" even in the narrow sense in which that term is commonly used. The census of occupations of those who are engaged in gainful pursuits is doubtless about as accurate as the enumeration of the population itself. Those who are thus occupied for gain and who do all the work of production and distribution, and who enjoy greater or less abundance in their consumption according to their larger or lesser share of the joint annual product, number one in three of the whole population, disregarding fractions. They are listed under different heads, viz.—four general classes, and a great many sub-classes under each of the general heads. The proportions under the four general classes