Puslapio vaizdai
[blocks in formation]

Those Democratic papers which confidently predicted that the McKinley Tariff bill would not pass the House, gave the Republicans of that body credit for too much intelligence and independence. The passing of this bill is certainly one of the greatest feats of legislative engineering to be found in our history. Probably not half of those who voted for it regarded it as perfect, or as nearly perfect as any bill that could be drawn. It is tolerably certain that the bill could not have stood an unrestricted debate. The course of the Speaker in recognizing more Democrats than Republicans during the debate, testifies that in his opinion the bill had more to fear from its friends than from its enemies. It is hard to decide which is the more surprising,the skill of Mr. McKinley and his colleagues, or the pliancy of the great body of the Republican members. A better illustration of Professor Huxley's words could hardly be desired:

The alternative of dominion does not lie between a sovereign individual and a sovereign multitude, but between an aristarchy and a demarchy,—that is to say, between an aristocratic and a democratic oligarchy. The chief business of the aristarchy is to persuade the king, emperor, or czar, that he wants to go the way they wish him to go; that of the demarchy is to do the like with the mob.

Mr. McKinley's success with the "mob" has been quite phenomenal.

The feeling of recklessness and irresponsibility manifested toward the close of the debate must strike almost any one with amazement. It is almost inconceivable that any man could vote lightly for a measure which the most stupid member of Congress cannot fail to see would affect injuriously many important branches of business, with the hope that it would be amended in the Senate. Granting that these men really believe that the prosperity of the country is increased by taxing imports, no one of them could possibly think that, with a duty already averaging about forty-five per cent, there is any pressing need of increasing that duty. The most probable supposition is that the feeling of recklessness was caused by a consciousness of their

utter incapacity to deal adequately with the question.

The tariff was an issue in the last campaign, but the issue was whether it should be reduced by Democrats or by Republicans. No one maintained in 1888 that it ought to be increased. The prediction may be ventured that as certain Democratic papers overestimated the intelligence of the Republican majority in the House, the latter much more have underestimated the intelligence of their "constituents."

No arguments displaying any ingenuity have been advanced in favor of the bill. Excluding the demagogic clap-trap regarding patriotism and American versus Foreign interests, the difference in the rate of wages between this country and Europe has been chiefly relied on by its proponents. The argument from this source first made its appearance about 1840, but not in its present form. It was not then claimed that a tariff would enable the manufacturer to increase the wages paid. Wages were then, as now, higher here than abroad; and up to that time the opponents of a high tariff had pointed to this fact as an objection to the stimulation of infant industries, alleging that such industries could never become self-sustaining as long as the labor engaged in them was so much cheaper in Europe. The important point to be noticed is, that a marked difference in the rate of wages existed previous to a really high tariff.

If the question whether the tariff really does raise the rate of wages could be seriously entertained, the method of deciding it suggested by Mr. Laughlin, formerly of Harvard College, would be conclusive. The prices of goods exported from this country, and sold in foreign countries, cannot possibly be raised by a tariff. Certainly England or Germany would not pay us any more for wheat or corn if we placed a duty upon them, and its price at home could not be any higher than its price abroad; for in that case none would be exported. The wages in industries of which the product is exported cannot, then, be directly raised by a tariff, and wages in this class of industries are fully as high as in protected industries. But it is asserted that the existence of protected manufactures creates a demand for labor, and thus indirectly raises wages,-that the rates paid by manufacturers fix the rates paid in other industries.

According to the census of 1880 the working force of the United States was 17,392,099. Of

these less than 2,000,000 were engaged in occupations which can be said to be protected from foreign competition by the tariff. It cannot be reasonably asserted that the wages paid to 1,990,915 persons fix the rate paid to 15,401,184 persons; it is exactly the reverse. A man must be very thoroughly blinded by partisan prejudice to assert solemnly that the tail wags the dog.

The most remarkable thing about the whole matter, however, is the readiness with which protectionists assert that no perfect protective measure can be devised,-none which will not work injustice to many interests and sections of the country. This is the one wholly sufficient objection to the principle, that it is unjust; that in its workings to benefit a few people, it injures a great many; to do a little right, it does a great wrong. There is room to question whether a nation may not with profit pursue an unjust foreign policy; but it is certain that an unjust domestic policy, if persisted in, will lead to disaster. The fact that protectionists openly recognize the essential injustice of the measure they advocate, makes it difficult to refrain from grave suspicions as to that patriotism to which they lay claim. They seem to be avτokatáкpitol, to use the word of the apostle,-" condemned even in and of themselves." 66 For, though they be not all persuaded that it is truth which they withstand, yet that to be error which they uphold, they might undoubtedly the sooner attain to know, but that their study is more to defend what once they have stood in, than to find out sincerely and simply what truth they ought to persist in forever."

The United States Senate spends its time discussing the question whether gold or silver, or both, ought to be money. True, Mr. Dolph said that there was not a single member of the Senate who did not favor both gold and silver as money, but the remarks which are made in the course of discussion-hardly to be dignified by the name of debate-speak more strongly for the fact than general assertions of this kind. The fact is, that the Senate is engaged in a contention over the relative merits of gold and silver as money. Meanwhile, the salaries of the members are paid in gold. Supposing, for the moment, that salaries constitute the only expense of the Senate, it is interesting to consider what the cost to the people may be to have this question ventilated in this manner. Suppose that members of Con

gress are paid for two hundred days of their time in the year, and that the Senate, composed of eighty-four members, consumes six of these days in examining the merits of gold and silver; it is evident that the cost of the investigation will be $12,600. For every day that the Senate passes in this research, the people pay over $2,000, and it behooves them to consider whether the game is worth the candle.

There is not any good reason why Congress should be employed to canvass the comparative virtues of gold and silver. What would be thought of one who would employ the members of the Senate at $2,000 a day, to investigate the relative advantages of wool and cotton for clothing, of felt or straw for hats, or of calf-skin and kid for shoes? Yet, in sober reason, the one

pursuit is as plausible in itself, and as likely to result to our advantage, as the other. As a matter of fact, we leave individuals to decide for themselves the utility of wool and cotton, and if anyone finds difficulty in deciding between the two, we cheerfully let him bear the expense of investigating the properties of both and of experimenting on either to his heart's content. And then, after he has completed his experiment, we do not propose to be bound by his conclusions ourselves, nor seek to make others conform to his opinions. If we like, we propose to continue to use silk or flax, however firmly convinced our experimental friend may be that cotton or wool is better. And there is literally no advantage whatever in our attempting to prescribe a uniform money. If one kind of money is better than another, the fact will be discovered with more ease, expedition, and certainty by letting individuals experiment with all the kinds they can think of, at their own expense. If one man offers me a cow, another an acre of land, a third a bank-note, a fourth a mortgage, a fifth some silver, a sixth a gold-piece, while others tempt me with sticks of tobacco or postage-stamps in exchange for the wheat I have, why not let me take my choice-and the consequences! Yet this is really all that is claimed for free banking. When Senators talk about the "rights" of gold and silver, they talk nonsense, as they themselves, and as everyone else, ought to know. Silver and gold have no more right to be money than molasses candy has; but then, on the other hand, neither have they any less right. When the Government monopolizes the business of making coined money, it creates by that very act the difficulty which it must forthwith proceed to

solve-at an expense of $2,000 a day. And this expense we must continue to incur, in the face of the fact that there is but one solution to the problem-to abolish the monopoly of coinage. When the problem x+y=1 can be solved, we shall then be able to say how much gold and silver, and at what ratio of the two, the Government should coin money. As the algebraic problem is much the simpler, why not pay the Senators $2,000 a day to work over that awhile?

That the National House has also been engaged in an equally arduous and interminable task, can be seen by throwing its problem into algebraic form. The question is, how to make the people richer without performing labor. It is true that the method actually adopted for accomplishing this result would lead us to suppose that the problem is how to make the people richer by wasting labor. For if articles of consumption are produced here which might be bought cheaper elsewhere, the inference seems rigorous that labor has been wasted, and if this very means is to make us richer, it must be that waste tends to wealth. But this may be regarded as the accidental and temporary mischief of an unperfected method, the end in view all the while being merely to produce wealth without labor. The idea is simply to take all the corn and wheat, the cotton and wool, the iron and copper, the gold and silver, the fur cloaks and straw hats, in fact, to take all the annual product of industry and to add the separate quantities together, so that the total shall be greater than if they had been added together in a different order. This will be a very valuable discoverywhen it is made. Every business man can then, at the end of the year, take his ledger and make it yield him a profit ad libitum, just by taking the figures in a different order. Suppose his income from several sources has been 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. If his business is very miscellaneous, perhaps his income has been 1 from corn, 2 from cotton, 3 from iron, 4 from gold, and 5 from straw hats. His problem is really one in maxima and minima, as his son at college will tell him at a glance. How to add 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 together so as to make 16, or, if possible, 17. Now, if he sends his son to college till he can solve his problem for him, it will cost him $1,000 a year, or thereabouts. If two or three hundred business men club together, they can send 330 sons to college at reduced rates. By sending 330 sons to Congress, on the other hand, the cost will be from five to ten times

greater; but and here is the cream of the matter-other people can be made to bear the expense; people who do not take any interest in the experiment at all, who are thoroughly convinced that 15 is not only the minimum, but also the maximum sum of 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Now, if we employ 414 members of Congress for 200 days, the cost in salaries is $10,350 a day. The Senate has been engaged in the attempt to solve an equation with two, or twenty, or two thousand, unknown quantities; the House has been occupied with trying to discover the greatest sum of a column of figures. It will not be said of us in that epitaph for which we are preparing the data, that we have been penurious or pusillanimous. To spend $10,350 a day for the advance of the science of Mathematics, is more than any other people would do. The last word will not be MISERS; it will be IMBEciles.


I found an amusing case of inconsistency in the report of an address delivered in Chicago by Prof. Thos. Davidson before the Woman's Club, a few weeks ago. The report is very much abridged, and may therefore represent the views of the speaker quite inadequately; but it seemed to me that one effect of condensing was to bring nearer together, and thus render conspicuous, opinions which are quite inconsistent one with the other. Premising, therefore, that my only authority is this newspaper report, Professor Davidson said:

[blocks in formation]

to embrace the opportunity, and get enough of the material wealth of the country to make themselves happy, should suffer the consequences.

So far, so good; but the effect of abbreviation is droll. The reporter makes the professor say in the very next breath:

That the State should raise the standard of morality and intellectuality among the people by educating the strong and the weak alike. Education should be made compulsory for the rich as well as for the poor, and the education should take a wider range than the present.

Justice, we are assured, and nothing but justice, is right, and "restricting the rights of one class that another class may be restrained, not justice"; nevertheless the State should arrogate to itself the function of educating all alike! But what is the justice of such a performance? Evidently there is no justice whatever in the proposition, but only utter, inextricable, hopeless confusion,-a confusion which may best be described in the words of Mr. Spencer:

"The like confusion of ideas caused by looking at one face only of the transaction, may be traced throughout all the legislation which forcibly takes the property of this man for the purpose of giving gratis benefits to that man. Habitually when one of the numerous measures thus characterized is discussed, the dominant thought is concerning the pitiable Jones who is to be protected against some evil; while no thought is given to the hard-working Brown who is aggressed upon, often much more to be pitied. Money is exacted (either directly or through raised rent) from the huckster who only by extreme pinching can pay her way, from the mason thrown out of work by a strike, from the mechanic whose savings are melting away during an illness, from the widow who washes or sews from dawn to dark to feed her fatherless little ones,-and all that the dissolute may be saved from hunger, that the children of less impoverished neighbors may have cheap lessons, and that various people, mostly better off, may read newspapers and novels for nothing!

.. Doubtless it is true that the greater part of the money exacted comes from those who are relatively well-off; but this is no consolation to the ill-off from whom the rest is exacted. Nay, if comparison be made between the pressures borne by the two classes respectively, it becomes manifest that the case is even worse than at first appears; for, while to the well-off the exaction means loss of luxuries, to the ill-off it means loss of necessaries."

It is, indeed, profoundly true that "every

[ocr errors]

departure from justice is a step in the wrong direction"!

Equally aberrant from justice, and hardly less injurious in effect, is the compulsory aspect of State education. "It is the people's right," says Mr. Davidson, "to be free to pursue happiness." Then it cannot possibly be right to compel them to pursue happiness, still less to pursue it in any particular way, as by forcing them to go, or to send their children, to school. Compulsion being wrong, then the effects of compulsion must necessarily be bad. Education even of the widest conceivable range, much less of that range likely to result from State supervision, is not the only desirable pursuit or attainment in life. To compel children to go to school must inevitably result in diminishing the share they get-in some cases of other desirable things, such as food, or clothing. Thousands of children work for their living from an early age, and by doing so are better off than they would be if they did not work. Every curtailment of their opportunity to supply their daily wants is a departure from justice, is an infringement of their rights, is an abridgement of their happiness, and no considerations of future welfare or of good intentions can possibly reconcile the aggression with justice. Another way in which compulsory education works evil, is by taking the care and responsibility for children's welfare from those on whom the responsibility should rest. A third way in which compulsory education, at whosesoever expense, works evil, is by conferring a benefit on those who otherwise would have lacked it, thereby increasing their chances of long life. But those who would lack an education but for the State, are generally unfit for long life, and they should be left to go the way of nature as quickly as possible, lest they produce others like themselves.

The inconsistency involved in the views attributed to Professor Davidson is so gross, that I should have believed, but for what followed, that the reporter had dropped a negative or two. Unfortunately the remarks that follow leave no doubt that the confusion belongs to the speaker, and not to the reporter. We are told that "when monopolies arise on the one hand, and organizations arise on the other to oppose them, it is selfevident that the State is not doing its whole duty. A just State would step in and put an end to the strife between capital and labor, whenever these two come in conflict with each other." (The inverted commas refer to the reporter's epitome.)

Now it is not self-evident that monopolies and

[ocr errors]

organizations of laborers result from the omission of its duty by the State; on the contrary, it is extremely probable from the evidence independently collected by several competent persons, that this industrial condition, so far as it works harm, is the result of the State's meddling with affairs which do not belong under its care-is the result not of sins of omission, but of commission. In the second place, the notion that a just State will step in and put an end to the strife between labor and capital, is absolutely inconsistent with the notion that the business of the State is to leave people to pursue happiness after their own fashion. Simply because there is strife between labor and capital, it does not follow that there has been aggression on one by the other; and even if there has been, all that a just State can do is to repress individual aggressors; by no means can it justly compel the buyers and sellers of labor to assume a different attitude toward each other.

That we are being entertained with words instead of ideas, is further made plain by the statement that "practical anarchy followed the fall of glorious old Rome, and in practice, the weak were then the slaves of the strong." But where is the anarchy when the weak are the slaves of the strong? This relation looks suspiciously more like arch-archy than like anarchy. And in the case of France in 1789, alluded to by Professor Davidson, I am at a loss to see how changing the government of a corrupt aristocracy, first for the rule of experts in philosophy, then for the domination of experts in the guillotine, finally for the sway of an emperor, leaves any interval of anarchy. Tyranny-à la bonheur, but anarchy-not as yet.


Great cleverness will not preserve a man from blunders, if he ventures to speak of that with which he is unfamiliar. A classical allusion is a fine thing with which to garnish a political oration; it adds a certain cogency and authority, as well as elegance, to the words of the speaker; but unless the audience is very ignorant

it is best to be sure that the allusion is accurate. In his very clever speech before the Norfolk Club last Friday, Mr. Clarkson spoke of "words sweet as the music of Sappho luring the sailors on the rocks, and

just as dangerous." According to the commonly received legend more singers. than one were necessary to lure sailors upon the rocks.

But though Mr. Clarkson may not be very strong in Greek mythology, he undoubtedly knows a great deal about the practical workings of the "spoils system." His speech as reported is very interesting, but doubtless he could from his personal experience have given us some information which would have been more interesting than anything he saw fit to say. To one very interesting fact, however, he did call our attention. "I believe that the United States Government is a political and not a business organization." Here is an important truth excellently stated. Governments are not, and never can be, business partnerships. Some of Mr. Clarkson's corollaries are also perfectly sound: for instance, that the Government will never be run on business principles. A few persons, who know more about business than they do about politics, have a theory that business methods might profitably be introduced. into the Government; but the prospect of this is very small, and the desirability of it very questionable. Not that business methods are not better than political methods in many respects, but they are out of place in a government.

Another inference, from which a large number will dissent, is, that fitness for the duties of an office should not be the sole, or even the chief, test of appointment. This illustrates very forcibly the difference between the political and the business point of view. It being conceded that the offices are political offices, however, the legitimacy of the inference becomes apparent. It is a euphemism to say that offices are bestowed out of gratitude as rewards for party service. But the man who has shown willingness and ability in working for his party is a valuable man to keep on good terms with, and a dangerous man to disappoint. If he wants an office, as he gener

« AnkstesnisTęsti »