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The first of a series of lectures to be given under the auspices of the Free Wool club was delivered last evening in Sever by William Lloyd Garrison, who spoke on "How Protection Protects Wool and Woolens."
Mr. Garrison began by reviewing the early history of tariff legislation when its purpose was to foster an industry not strong enough to exist of itself, and when no one denied that a tariff was a tax. He considered briefly the causes which led to the revenue tariff of 1847, and described the wonderful prosperity which the country enjoyed in the decade which followed. He declared that notwithstanding the incubus of the industrial condition of the south the country has never had greater material properity than during the year between 1850-60.
At the close of the war a great amount of army woolens was foreed upon the market, and a natural depression in the woolen trade followed. Business men could not suddenly comprehend the cause of the situation. They sought help from the government, and a tariff more stringent than any of its predecessors-the tariff of 1868, was enacted. That tariff is now twenty-two years old, and as a wool dealer, Mr. Garrison did not hesitate to affirm that it is a disappointment.
The tariff has not built up the wool growing industry. The United States cannot grow all grades of wool. The finer grades of wool must be imported, and unless they are imported we must be contented with an inferior quality of cloth. The bulk of the wool grown here finds its greatest value when mixed with foreign wool; but since the tariff practically prevents our importing foreign wool, we are compelled to import the best fabrics from abroad, and the wool growing industry languishes. The wool grower who procured the tariff failed to procure protection.
The tariff has not enhanced the price of raw produc or of the manufactured article. Neither the wool grower nor the manufacturer has been benefitted by the tariff; and certainly the consumer has not, for he has been compelled to assume the burden of an indirect tax which the manufacturer lays upon him to himself escape injury from the tariff.
That the tariff does not create is demonstrated by the falling off in the woolen industry since the war. In only one line has it grown, and that is in the worsted trade. That branch has been built up, not by the tariff, but by skill and industry. Indirectly the tariff has assisted, because it does not tax the wool used in this industry so heavily as it does other grades of wool.
Mr. Garrison next touched upon the wage question, and the encouragement which the tariff offers to smuggling and fraudulent invoices, and concluded by declaring the impending doom of the protective tariff, and the triumph of the principle of tariff reform.
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