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The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, October 11, 1912, Image 1

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The Commoner.
WILLIAM J. BRYAN, EDITOR AND PROPRIETOR
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VOL. 12f NO. 40
Lincoln, Nebraska, October 11, 1912
Whole Number 612
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A REVENUE TARIFF VS. PROTECTION
Both Mr. Taft and Mr. Roosevelt are attempt
ing to raise a false isstie, and of the two Mr.
Roosevelt, because of the intensity of his na
ture, is the more misleading.
Instead of discussing the real issue, namely,
a revenue tariff vs. a protective tariff, they
would have the voters believe that absolute free
trade is the only alternative to a protective
tariff.
There is no party in this country advocating
free" trade, and this is well known by those who
profess to view any reduction of the tariff as
the beginning of a free trade policy. It is worth
while, therefore, to present the real issue and to
challenge the republicans, both standpatters and
progressives, to meet that issue.
A twenty-five per cent duty on a given article
gives protection, to that extent, to those who
manufacture a competing article, whether the
twenty-five per cent is collected for protection
or for revenue, but it makes a great deal of
difference to the public whether the duty is
fixed for the purpose of raising a revenue or for
the purpose of giving protection, and the dif
ference may be stated in this way:
A revenue tariff is levied for the purpose of
collecting revenue; it is so laid as to raise a
revenue, and those who levy the tax for revenue
purposes stop when the necessary revenue ia
secured, A Drcitectlyeariffj on the' other hand
is l:(vildprlmarily'f6r protection, the revenue
being incidental; it may be so levied as to lay
a heavy burden upon the people without rais
ing .any revenue. at all; and those who levy
taxes for the purpose of protection never know
when to stop.
The democratic platform demands a reduc
tion in the tariff. It clearly sets forth the
party's position when it says: "We declare it
to be a fundamental principle of the demo
cratic party that the federal government, under
the constitution, has no right or power to im
pose or collect "tariff duties except for the pur
pose of revenue." ' The .party makes its "appeal
to the American peopl$ to support us in our
demand for a tariff for-revenue only."
But this return from a false economic system
to a correct one is not to be sudden or abrupt.
The platform says: VWe recognize that our
system of tariff taxation is intimately connected
with the business of the country, and we favor
the ultimate attainment of the principles we
advocate by legislation that will not injure or
destroy legitimate industry." There is to be a
RETURN", and the end in view is frankly
stated, but the progress toward that end is to
be gradual, because industry, relying upon the
promises held out by an evil system, has tried
to adjust itself to that system.
The democratic platform not only states the
ultimate purpose and puts limitations upon the
speed to be employed in the accomplishment of
that purpose, but it specifically states the order
in which reductions should be made. First, ma
terial reductions should be made speedily in the
tariff on the necessaries of life. Second, articles
entering into competition with trust controlled
articles should be put upon the free list, and
to the free list also should be added the articles
which are sold abroad more cheaply than at
home.
Here are three propositions which candor
compels our opponents to meet and yet they
do not meet them. Will they deny that the
first reduction should be made on the neces
saries of life? If so, will they meet the issuo
boldly and explain to an overburdened people
why the present extortionate rates should be
collected upon the things the masses must use?
What objection will the republicans make to
the use of the free list as a means of protect
ing the people from the exactions of the trusts?
It used to be insisted ithat competition at home
would give the peoplettho benefit of low prices,
no matter how high ?tfoe tariff might be; but
suppose the manufacturers, hiding behind tho
tariff wall, combine to take from the people
the highest toll possible is there to bo no
relief? Must the people endure it without com
plaint? And what about American goods sold abroad
more cheaply than at homo? Is thero any ox-,
cuse for a tariff on such goods? If an Ameri
can manufacturer can ship goods across tho
ocean and, after paying freight, compote with
foreign goods in foreign lauds, Is thero any
excuse for a tariff, even upon tho theory of tho
protectionist? And can tho American manu
facturer consistently ask for a tariff when ho
uses it to force a higher price from Americans
than ho asks from foreigners?
I have stated tho democratic position; if tho
republicans can not meet this position, let them
confess it. It is not honest for them to ignore
our party's position and spend their tlmo light
ing a man of straw.
The democrats, in as plain languago as can
bo commanded, coudomn tho tariff system as it
now exists and outline tho tariff system as it
should be, while tho republicans not only re
fuse to discuss tho democratic position as it
really is, but they oven refuse to discuss tho
present tariff situation.
Both Mr. Taft and Mr. Roosevelt cling to the
protective system and the languago which they
employ Is the same that has been employed by
tho defenders of jtli at 'system for half a genera
tion. When tho protective system was first estab
lished, it, was defended on tho theory that it
was a national necessity; that wo should en
courage infant industries Until they got upon
their foot, or until they had tlmo to demonstrate
their ability to maintain themselves. It was
admitted In tho early days by tho most ardent
champions of the system that protection should
not be continued if, after a sufficient trial, it
was found that the industry could not, when
established, maintain itself in tho face of open
competition with tho world.
This was protection when it was first Intro
duced and when its original appeal was made
to the patriotism of the country. But that was
long ago, and we hear nothing more of that
kind of protection or protection based upon
that theory.
Before tho war, the fallacy of protective argu
ments was shown up and the system was over
thrown. The revenue tariff adopted in the '40s
worked so well that tho first republican na
tional platform tho platform of 185 G never
mentioned protection as a matter worthy of
consideration, and the renewal of a high tariff
in 1861 was advocated, not upon the theory of
protection, but on the ground that more revenue
was necessary to carry on the war. -
Protection, as wo now havo It, is an entirely
different sort of protection; it is a protection
based upon tho theory that It Is profitable to
tax ourselves permanently to produce at a high
price that which we can purchase abroad at a
lower price. The weakness of this argument,
as an economic proposition, has never been
better illustrated than by Bastiat, who has tho
manufacturers of candles petitioning for legis
lation against the sun, on the ground that the
sun furnishes light more cheaply than man can
produce It.
Of course, the advocates of protection do not
dare ask more than "the difference between the
cost of production hero and abroad." That Is,
they do not dare to ASK more, and yet the In
sincerity of their plea is shown by the fact that
they are not content with such a tariff. Investi
gation shows, for instance, that in tho case of
most of our cotton manufactures the cost of
production Ib less In this country than abroad,
and that a very low rate on cotton goods 'would
more than cover any possible difference there
may be, where there Is any difference at all, in
favor of the foreigner. No prominent advocate
of protection for protection's sake, however. Is
willing to havo the law' made according to .the
theory which tho protectionist advances. Tho
theory is advanced in terms as plauslblo as can
be framed, but the protection asked is far mors
than that. If the leaders of tho republican
party were slncore in thoir desire to givo the
people such reductions as are possible, accord-
Ing to their thoory, thoy would long ago havo
investigated tho matter of cost and then framed
their laws to meet tho facts as they woro found
to exist; hut instead of that they havo shunned
information; thoy havo prevented any fair in
vestigation, and even where a one-sldod Investi
gation has provon tho possibility of largo re
ductions, they have refused to mako them.
Tho public knows better now than over boforo
that the protective system, howovcr honestly
believed in by the rank and file of tho republi
can party, has been employed by tho republican
leaders as a means of collecting largo campaign
contributions, and that, in return for thcao con
tributions, tho manufacturers have boon per
mitted to collect onormouB tribute from tho
public.
The protective system has been tho most cor
rupting forco in American politics; It has led
to the subsidizing of newspapers and to tho
cultivation of a public opinion that has put a
price upon suffrage. Tho advocates of protec
tion have unbhushlngly insisted that thono in
terested in a protected 'ndustry should uso
their ballots, npt to advance tho interests of the
country, but to enlarge their Incomes. If a
farmer prpducod anything upon which a tariff
was laid, no wa3 assured that tho price of hla
product was enhanced to the extent of tho tariff,
and that to securo or rotain this increaso ho
should vote tho republican ticket, rogardless of
tho effect of republican policies on tho country.
Tho laboring man was Informed that hla
wages wero perceptibly increased by a protec
tive tariff, and that this increaso should be
accurately computed by him and should bo ac
cepted as a liquidated sum given him in return
for his support of tho republican ticket.
Manufacturing communities wero assured
that they had a pecuniary interest in tho elec
tion of republican presidents, congressmen and
senators. In fact, tho country was put upon
a commercial basis and each voter was tagged
with a card plainly showing tho exact price for
which ho sold his voto to tho republican party.
It was not, however, a one-prico store, for the
prico ranged all tho way from millions given
tho larger manufacturers to tho few dollars
which tho employo was supposed to receive as
his share.
And while the farmer and laboring man were
being told that they received MORE for their
product because of the tariff, they wero being:
promised that they could securo what they had
to buy at a LOWER price because of tho tariff.
In other words, the tariff was offered to tho
farmer and laboring man as a system which
would raise the prico of what they had to sell
and lower tho price of what they had to buy,
and the manufacturer was represented as a
benevolent person who contributed larto sums
to secure legislation which made hlrn pay moro
for what he had to buy and then reduced the
price of what ho had to sell.
No sleight of hand performer ever perfo-raed
more mysterious tricks with his hands than pro
tectionists have performed with words, but the
reign of deception has reached an end. Tho
Juggling and the jugglers have been exposed and
an indignant people are girding themselves for
a great task. Thoy are preparng to take tho
government out of the hands of those who havo
used it as a private asset in business; they aro
ready to restore control of the government to
the people to whom tho government belongs.
Our tariff laws are no longer to be written by
the few who have been the beneficiaries of pro
tection, but by tho many who havo been tho
victim of high tariff rates, and, with the driving
of the exploiters and their lobbyists from tho
balls of congress, the country will havo a new
birth of political freedom. Patriotism will again
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