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The Protective System.

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

In his lecture, given last night in Sanders Theatre, Hon. Henry Cabot Lodge said that the first thing in any discussion should be to ascertain what the question at issue really was. The free traders are not willing to allow the question of protection to go fairly and squarely before the country, but load it with cries and catches, many of which are entirely without foundation. It was said, for instance, that there were 4,000 articles that pay duty-the President even says so in his message-but Mr. Lodge, after making a careful count of all the enumerated articles, finds that there are only 1,112. The idea that the present tariff is a war tariff is also false. We have always had a tariff of some kind ever since the foundation of the Republic. The real war tax is the internal revenue tax which was imposed solely to carry on the war. The tariff of 1883 has a free list of 380 articles, many of which have been added since the war, and a large number of duties have been materially lessened. England is constantly pointed out to us as an example of a country whose prosperity is due to free trade, but even England employs protection when it is for her interest to do so. Look at her system of subsidizing her shipping. Up to 1885 she had already paid $273.563,000 in protecting and developing her commerce by means of mail subsidies. It is said that the present tariff needs reform, that it is full of inequalities and abominations. No man would do other than support any measure-whether specific legislation for particular cases or general revision-which would correct injustices and remove inequalities. The question before the nation is, however, not one of reform or even of the disposal of the surplus. The accumulation of a surplus could be stopped by buying bonds, as the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to do. That the President does not ask for reform, but for the substitution of free trade for protection is shown by his silence about the large revenue from sugar, and by his advice to remove protective duties and let the purely revenue taxes, such as those on tobacco and spirits, remain. And why should this be done? Has the country been injured by the present system? In 1860 the wealth per capita of the United States was $415; in 1887, $1000. Can anyone look at these figures and deny that protection and prosperity have gone hand in hand? It is said that the laborers suffer from the tariff, even if they do not perceive it, because, although wages are higher, the cost of living is raised by protection. Colonel Wright's careful statistics prove that while the cost of living is 17 per cent. greater here than in England, wages are 50 cent. higher. It is the high price of our labor that makes our products cost more than those of foreigners. If labor were to be regarded as a commodity to be bought and sold in the cheapest market, by all means let us have free trade that our wages may fall to the level of those received by the European. But in a country where the government is in the hands of the people, no such attitude is possible. It is of vital importance to the life of the Repulic that any device be used to raise wages. This may be accomplished by what Clay calls "the American system," yet it is proposed to abolish this, and thus expose the American workingman to the competition of the pauper labor of Europe.

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