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That old political stand-by, tariff, is about to resume its formerly undisputed place in the public eye. A senatorial committee for investigation of the United States Tariff Commission has just been formed. The usual concomitants of such investigations are not wanting: startling disclosures are promised and the old line Republicans aver that the Democrats are merely seeking campaign material. The Commission, it is charged, has lost its non-partisan, independent character and has become a tool in the hands of the present administration.

This event calls to mind the curious reversal of the tariff situation which is taking place in the United States. In the days of Cleveland and Bryan the Middle--Western farmers were vigorous opponents of the large protectionist manufacturers. Now, as the Canadian Forum points out, many manufacturers are becoming free trade advocates while numerous agrarian organizations favor a reasonably high tariff. Particularly do the farmers see the need of duties on agricultural imports which can be produced at a much cheaper rate in Canada, Argentina, and New Zealand. The manufacturers, on the other hand, due to improved, automatic machinery and quantity production find themselves able to compete with the cheaper foreign labor. Thus they will have nothing to lose by free trade and much to gain in cheaper food for their laborers and better international commercial relations. The present situation is similar to that of Great Britain in the middle of the nineteenth century when the industrial interests clamored for free trade and the agriculturists sponsored protection.

There is, of course, still a considerable class of farmers represented by Senator Norris to whom this new classification does not apply. The administration by its control of the Commission in the interest of continued high rates indicates, too the there is as yet no unanimity in favor of free trade among the business interests. The traditional alignment is not yet obliterated but the general tendency of thought in the two classes is being reversed. The forthcoming campaign should throw an interesting light on this new current of opinion.

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