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to go unprovided for. And any manufacture beyond the actual wants of men is of no advantage to any one, but the reverse. Tariffs do not create wants, neither do they increase the sagacity of men; and how, then, can they benefit manufactures? The truth is, all stable and useful manufactures are capable of establishing themselves, and are sure to be established as soon as they will pay; and until then they ought not to be established. It is preposterous to assert that a Yankee needs any quickener to remind him of what is for his interest. Undoubtedly he will accept any reward which the government may give him, and contend for any prize thus held out to him; but not without a secret consciousness of its folly.
But do not tariffs, after all, increase capital by stimulating manufactures, and thus create new wants, necessitating in turn new manufactures? It is, indeed, a well-established principle, that our wants are generally in proportion to our means—that as our means increase our wants increase, usually keeping about so far ahead of our means. These wants, to be sure, are not all of them of a very imperative nature, and some of them are even hurtful in their tendency. Should it appear, then, that these wants, and the means of ministering to them, are increased by the protective policy, it is questionable how far such increase should be regarded as an advantage. But is it certain that the protective policy does increase capital? If so, how? Are not manufactures the child of capital, rather than the father of it? As manufactures require so many payments of exact value to be made every day, they need, more than any other kind of business, the presence, in considerable quantities, of capital in the form of money. But new countries cannot retain much money among themselves; it will flow off to older countries for other forms of fixed capital, required in subduing the earth and satisfying the necessary wants of the people. Or, if they attempt to retain their money among themselves, by manufacturing their own implements, clothing, etc., they can do it only by neglecting more necessary employments, and at a great disadvantage and loss in all respects. Some forwardness and maturity of other interests, then, are obviously necessary, in order to make manufactures, beyond the simplest processes, remunerative. Tariffs may, indeed, induce men to engage in certain species of manufactures before they are really profitable; but how do such manufactures increase the capital of the country? Their effect must be right the reverse. They may retain some dollars of money in the country, but at a loss of much more than their value in other things. Dollars may be very convenient to spend, and hence be more highly prized than other values; but they are really of less worth on this account, and hence but a
poor substitute for the far greater values which have been sacrificed to obtain them. A people is enriched only by real values, and that nation is the most rapidly enriched which creates the greatest amount of these in a given time. It is profitable production, then, which enriches a nation; and whenever any branch of industry promises to be profitable, men are sure to find it out, and will not require the stimulus of a protective tariff to induce them to engage in it. Doubtless, the general course of industry in our country has been somewhat modified and changed by the protective policy; but to claim that it has increased our wealth, or even our money, is the height of folly. Products which exist only in consequence of premiums are not wealth; they have really cost more than they are worth. We have money because our industries have become so advanced that we can supply ourselves and others with fixed capital; and our industries are so advanced because we are a shrewd, energetic people, occupying a widely extended country, abounding in resources of every kind, and, with the best government in the world, have now been a considerable nation for more than a century. To suppose that such a people, with such resources at their command, can have been in any considerable degree dependent upon protective tariffs for their advanced position in the arts of production, is the absurdest thing imaginable. We have gained this position, rather, in spite of such tariffs, which have simply transferred money from the hands of one class to those of another, making the poor poorer and the rich richer, but adding nothing to the wealth of the community; nay, absolutely diminishing it by at least the amount of waste and attrition necessarily attendant upon such a transfer.
Has our protective policy, then, I inquire again, had the effect to develop the resources of the country, and thus give employment to the different classes of the community? Protectionists reason as though there could have been, without a protective tariff, but a very slight development of the resources of our country, and in consequence but a small variety of employments among us. If there be any truth in what has already been said, they must surely be greatly mistaken in this. Of one thing we may be certain—that there would have been just as many kinds of employment as would pay. Labor in itself is not desirable; it is only profitable labor that is coveted. As a principle, no one works for the sake of the work, or merely to develop the resources of the country, but for the profit which results from it. Among a shrewd and industrious people, all the resources of a country which can be profitably developed are sure to be without any artificial stimulus. If one kind of labor pays better than another, men are sure to go into it. If they think it profitable to employ children and females in various arts, they will do so. If they are satisfied that it will add to their gains to plant the factory by the side of the farm, and thus obtain cheaper food for their operatives, and at the same time furnish the farmer a better market for his produce, and save him the expense of its transportation to other parts, no tariff will be required to secure the accomplishment of this. Thus, when labor is allowed to direct itself, all will be employed in that which they regard the most profitable, and receive the best remuneration which the market affords; and anything beyond this must be wholly artificial and disastrous in the end. The resources of a country which are not developed under such a system, may well await the future for development.
IV. The last maxim which I shall examine is to this effect: that, as other nations protect their own favorite manufactures by laying a tariff upon the like articles imported from our country, we ought in retaliation, or self-defence, to protect our favorite manufactures in the same way.
It is admitted that their course injures us, and we are called upon to injure them in return. This can hardly be called a very statesmanlike principle, and yet it may be contended that it is a natural principle. But, should it be allowed to be both a natural and a commendable principle to injure others in retaliation, it will hardly be considered either natural or commendable to injure ourselves, for the sake of doing so. And yet it is certain, that in all such cases we do injure ourselves, as well as others. To make this plain, I will suppose a very simple case. Let us suppose, then, that there are two communities, each consisting of a thousand persons, separated from each other by a river; and that, while the soil on each side is about equally adapted to the raising of the common articles of production, it is specially adapted on one side to the raising of strawberries, and on the other to the raising of melons. For years, we will suppose, they have each been content to improve their natural advantages, raising their necessary revenue by a strictly revenue tariff, and exchanging their surplus with each other without further restriction. At length, however, the strawberry community, wishing to add to their industries the cultivation of the melon, in order that they may be able to do so, notwithstanding the disadvantages of their soil, lay a duty of fifty cents on each hundred pounds of melons imported into their country by their neighbors. Here, then, is a protective tariff and what are its effects and consequences?
Its first effect is, to place the cultivation of the melon at a disadvantage, by the whole amount of the duty, in the community where it has hitherto been cultivated. It will now coat its cultivators fifty cents more than formerly to raise and transport each hundred pounds to its old market. It will injure them, therefore. At the same time, it will raise the price of melons in that market at about the same rate (if it does not, where is the protection?), so that the whole community will be obliged to pay thus much more for all that kind of fruit which they consume. Here, then, is a second injury—an injury to the injurer. And, besides, in order to enforce the law, and collect a duty so tempting to smugglers to avoid, more custom-houses will have to be established along the banks of the separating river, with additional ofiicers and an increased police force at their command— another loss, or injury, to the injurer. And if, now, the melon community retaliate by laying a like duty on the strawberries imported into their country by their neighbors, it is obvious that they will not only injure them, but, as in the previous case, inflict a double injury upon themselves also—raising the price of the berry for their own consumption, and incurring additional expense in collecting the duty. It is a losing business, therefore, on both sides. And what are the gains by which these losses are compensated? Simply the superfluous protective revenue collected, which, as we have seen, is equally a tax on the importer and those for whom the importation is made— raising the price to the latter to about the same amount which is paid by the former, and imposing alike on each party a heavy expense for collection. What can exhibit such a policy in a more odious light, or better show the wisdom of that Christian precept which forbids retaliation and requires us to do to others as we would have them do to us? When will the nations of the earth learn to act upon this principle, and come to realize that the interests of each are bound up with the interests of all?
I have thus briefly examined the principal protectionist maxims, and cannot but regard them all as more or less unsound. As, however, indirect taxes are paid much more readily, and more easily too, than direct taxes, no reasonable objection can be raised against a mere revenue tariff, so laid as to bear equitably upon different branches of business. But a protective tariff is an unnatural, unnecessary, roundabout, and wasteful method of encouraging home production, alike hostile to the interests of the country where it exists, and to the harmony of the world. While protective tariffs restrict intercourse and commerce with other nations, and shut them out from markets which nature has fitted them to supply, they are, at the same time, a far more expensive method of encouraging home products, than direct bounties to producers; since they raise the price of every pound, yard, etc., of every article on which they are laid, whether produced at home or abroad; and hence, though every purchase of any of these articles costs the consumer more, yet only a part of it goes to encourage the home producer; a large proportion of the articles having been produced in other countries. If, then, home production is to be encouraged at all, let it be done by direct bounties to the producers. Then the commerce of the world will be left untrammeled, while every nation is allowed to reward its producers according to its own views of their needs and their merits.