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It is the perception, by people and statesmen, of this irrelevancy of the arguments and objections of the economist which has robbed those arguments and objections of their expected force, and led to the condemnation of their authors as mere theorizers and doctrinaires.

44. The national question.-The first, or national, question has already been partly answered in a previous chapter on the organization of the nation. Different views are held by statesmen as to the functions and powers of government, and different opinions will prevail as to the wisdom of government interference in matters of trade and industry. Admitting, as we must, that all taxation involves incidental interference with industry, it will still be asked whether the aim of the true legislator ought not to be to render this interference as light as possible, rather than to attempt to employ it as an agent of restriction or impulse.

The industries of the people fill the chief chapters in the national life. They occupy and sustain the population, and furnish to the government its chief objects of legislation and oversight. It must burden these industries with taxes for national good; may it also foster them for national good?

The extension and prosperity of the industries concern almost equally all classes of citizens; for they include not only the questions of production and wealth, of ease and comfort, but also of work for workers and of wages for work. The industries underlie and support public order and wellbeing, education, good and cheap government, civilization, and the very existence of society. No question can be more national in character, more universal in application and influence, than that of their prosperity.

If government may at all undertake this work of promoting the industries, then it may surely lay taxes and impose restrictions needful for the purpose. This is no further interference with private liberty than the nature of the case requires.

It is plain that the protection, to be wise and just, must take into account the present industrial condition of the nation. A protective tariff among savages would be an absurdity. They have no manufactures, worthy the name, to protect, and they have neither the wish nor ability to engage in new ones. Nor, at the other extreme, is protection necessary to a people who overtop all rivals in their manufactures. As the savage

seeks a free foreign market in which to buy his powder and shot, and his meager supplies so the great manufacturing nation, outrivaling all others, seeks free foreign markets to sell its surplus. The savage's home market does not yet exist; the home market of the great manufacturing power is fully preoccupied.

A German writer has suggested that there are different stages of national progress that need to be taken into account in settling the policy of a protective tariff. We may easily discriminate three such stages in which the question will wear a different aspect, and demand a different answer: 1. The barbarous or nomadic stage, in which the nation or tribe has no manufactures to protect, and does not care to introduce any. 2. A middle stage, in which the nation has begun to manufacture, and in the presence, as it were, of the older and more advanced nations to which it has served hitherto as a market. Its young and feeble manufactures, feeble in capital and skill, without foreign market and insecure in their own, must evidently languish through a long and uncertain infancy unless helped by the public or protected by the government. 3. A final stage, in which the nation, after years or centuries of experience, has grown rich in capital, is full of inventors and machinery, and has armies of skilled laborers at command, and, besides all this, has the run of the markets of the world. To such a nation the term protection is without meaning, since they have no rivals to fear, unless it be in foreign markets where their protective tariffs could not apply.

These stages of national industries may, in some sense, be found also in each one of those industries. Any manufacture, in its infancy, may need protection against its foreign rivals; but when it has grown strong, and, filling its own home markets, it goes forth to the conquest of other markets, protection is to it an insult, if not an absurdity.

The doctrine of protection loses all its significance and reasonableness when it is applied to industries like this. If by any means the nation, or any one of its industries, has relapsed into the feeble stage, or if openly hostile measures have been taken against such industry by its foreign rivals, the case is changed, and protection may be invoked to ward off the threatened evil.

45. The question of fact.-As has been shown, the whole tariff question resolves itself at last into a question of fact. "Does protection protect?" Does the protective tariff do what it is designed to do? Does it increase and promote the national industries? To this question a vast amount of statistical answer has been given. The history of the civilized nations for centuries has been ransacked, and the example of each has been put in evidence on both sides. But, unfortunately, there are so many other causes that enter into the production of each claimed result, that the full influence of the presence or absence of a protective tariff can not be fully ascertained. There lies before me, as I write, three separate accounts of the industrial policy and condition of the modern German Empire. The first states that it has only a low tariff and is virtually without protection, but is, nevertheless, in a very prosperous condition. The second affirms, on the authority of a German writer, that "Germany is perishing," and gives as the cause of her condition, her adherence to the protective policy. The third, in a popular work on Political Economy, asserts that Germany presents a splendid example of the prosperity which follows from free trade. With such careless discrepancy of statements meeting us on all sides, and

in nearly every case, it will not be wondered at that the question of the influence of a protective tariff is still the battle-field of economists and statesmen.

In the United States the difficulties of the tariff question have been greatly increased, and the controversy has been embittered by the division of the nation into separate States, each claiming a modified sovereignty, and each having such an extent of territory and such a diversity of soil, position, and climate as to render it almost a separate people. The tariff that has protected one has oppressed another of these States. The manufacturing States have asked for protection; the agricultural States for free trade. Sectional and partisan strifes have distorted facts and obscured the vision, and the question has been one of sections rather than of science. Private greed has purposely added to the confusion, to get gain; and the real arguments and issues have often been lost from sight. The progress of new manufactures in the Southern and Western States is now turning them into tariff advocates, while New England, having reached the third state of manufacturing life, is becoming free trade in its views.


Political Economy is not a science for children. As you know, its study requires more knowledge of human affairs and a wider observation of business than are possible to the very young. It is not necessary, therefore, that its text-books shall be written in the familiar style or with the extreme simplicity of statement demanded in books for primary or intermediate instruction.

The study finds its proper place in the higher classes of the highschools and colleges. It asks and repays the thoughtful study of grown men and women.

It belongs chiefly to the class of Subjective Sciences, and as such it demands a large use of the student's reflective powers. This is best secured by frequent, if not daily, requirement of original answers in writing, to specific questions on the principles and applications of the science. Without abundant writing, such studies are rarely well done. Every chapter, and nearly every paragraph of this volume, furnishes topics which may well be filled out with further study.

But Political Economy has a large practical side allying it to the Sciences of Observation, and hence the student should be required to observe carefully and report intelligently the economic facts of his own neighborhood. He ought to be able to interpret the fluctuations of values, the money phenomena, and the economy of the industries of the vicinity.

It is also a Statistical Science, and demands a training in the proper study and use of statistics. The statistical tables in this volume are not to be memorized, but they will afford practice in analyzing, comparing, and interpreting statistics—one of the most difficult arts of statesmanship. Statistics represent facts in masses. Their accuracy should be beyond question; their relations should be fully considered, and they should be so arranged and classified that their real significance is seen. He who wields well statistics, wields arguments of unanswerable power.

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