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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/863

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

Editor's Table.

 

SAFEGUARDS OF NATIONAL PROSPERITY.

THERE are two very sharply contrasted views of the conditions on which national prosperity depends, and we do not know how they can be better described than by naming them the scientific and the unscientific view, respectively. The scientific view of this and of every subject takes its start from Nature and the operation of natural law. The unscientific view takes its start from the idea of human intervention. The one finds the basis of all prosperity in the fruitful application of labor; the other thinks that nothing can be done well without incessant watchfulness to control and frequently to counteract the operation of natural forces and processes. According to the latter view, men and nations have to be guided, protected, and nursed into prosperity; according to the former, man is an animal who wants to be prosperous, and who has wit enough to attain his desires if he is only sufficiently let alone. So far as this country is concerned, no one can deny that what we have called the scientific view is sustained by facts, at least to this extent that, undeniably, the years when the most rapid advances were made in wealth and general prosperity were precisely those in which industry was least protected, and the principles of paternalism in government least developed.

An important characteristic of the scientific view is that it makes for national unity and for good will among men; while a most unfortunate characteristic of the other is that it tends to separate class from class and man from man in the most invidious manner. There is no one scheme by which the whole of a nation can be "protected." Protection is necessarily a piecemeal business, and what is accorded to one class becomes a pretext for similar or equivalent privileges to another class. In this way each class is led to watch with jealousy what is done for every other, in order to see that it is not left out in the distribution of state favors. The land is thus filled with countless law-made causes of rivalry and contention, and the minds of men grow small through the study of narrow and selfish interests, instead of being enlarged by the thought of one great onward movement in which, under the régime of liberty, all would participate.

Every protectionist system is dominated by the sentiments of fear and enmity—fear of and enmity toward those against whom protection is sought. That such sentiments are at war with and tend to depress and weaken the more generous instincts of a community who can doubt? When party orators talk of the "pauper labor" of the Old World, is it with any accent of sympathy for the hard lot of the alleged pauper laborers? Is it not always with a fierce accent of contempt for the laborers and hatred toward the countries to which they belong? We can truly say that we have no recollection of ever having seen or heard the term employed except with a distinct implication of contempt and hostility. Why is our country even to-day, when arbitration treaties are under discussion, so prone to anger and bitterness toward foreign countries, but particularly toward Great Britain, if not that protective policies steadily