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Opposed to all this stand the privileged combinations of the country to whom has been farmed out the power of taxation. They are arrayed in solid phalanx in favor, not of protection to infants, but monopoly for gains; not in favor of keeping up the price of what labor has to sell, but of what labor has to buy ; not in favor of moderate taxation and economic government, but in favor of excessive taxation and profligate expenditures; not in favor of that fundamental principle of equal justice to all which forms the very substructure of this Republic, but in favor of the principle of special privileges to the few, which corrupts government and destroys the welfare of the many. On such an issue, and with such a cause, we confidently appeal from the clamor of greed, of privilege, and of power on this floor to the millions on the farms and in the workshops of the country, on whose shoulders at last fall the burdens of government, and in whose hearts at last rests the safety of our insti. tutions. [Prolonged applause.]
On May 17 Samuel S. Cox [N. Y.] replied in a humorous vein to various remarks of the protectionists preceding him. He said in conclusion:
With all this country's wonderful experience and accomplishment, beyond the wildest dreams of that classic genius which pictured a new Atlantis and an ideal commonwealth beyond the Hesperian star-shall we be shackled by a wrongful constraint! Shall Economy, which ever walks white-handed along with her sister-Liberty-fail of that guiding effulgence which makes glad the heart of our people? Why should not our struggling millions aspire to a better future? Why should they lay up the treasures of their enterprises, if, indeed, the spirit of freedom be wanting! Freedom not only to work as we please, but to dispose of the product of our work as we please; freedom to spend our means where we can get the most for them; freedom to invest our means without the ignominy of enslaving statutes, and freedom to symbolize with our enstarred ensign that beauty and unity with which nature has glorified our beloved land, and to inspire other nations with the same constitutional order wherewithal that we have been made free.
What avail the plow and sail,
[Long continued applause.]
Samuel J. Randall [Pa.] spoke on May 18. He presented a substitute for the Mills bill.
The bill which I have introduced embraces a revision of the entire tariff system on principles believed to be in harmony with the last authoritative declaration of the Democratic party. The principles of this bill are as follows:
It carries to the free list many articles which enter into consumption as raw material, or otherwise, and in the production of which there is no injurious competition between this and other countries.
In fixing the tariff rates the aim has been to adjust the duties as nearly as possible to cover the difference in the cost of production in this and other countries, arising from the different conditions I have stated. This rule has been extended to all the industries embraced in our system where climate or other causes do not put us at a disadvantage in carrying on production.
In working out the details of the bill under these principles it has been my purpose to lower the duties wherever possible and reduce the revenues.
But here we come upon principles that require careful attention. Between the extremes of free trade on the one hand and a prohibitory tariff on the other there are three principles, one or the other of which must govern in levying a tariff. First, revenue oply, or an even rate of duty on all imports, just high enough to yield the revenue needed to support the Government.
Second, maximum revenue; that is, a tariff that will yield the largest possible revenue.
Third, a tariff to cover the difference in cost of production in this and other countries.
The important points to consider in connection with these principles is that the line of “revenue only” falls below either of the others, and that the line of maximum revenue (which is the largest product resulting from multiplying the rate of duty on any article by the quantity imported) is always and necessarily below the line of difference in the cost of production. Consequently, to lower the rate of duty, until the line of maximum revenue is passed, must result in an increase of revenues and not a decrease. To reduce the rate from the line of maximum revenue down will result, of course, in reduced revenues. On the other hand, to raise the rate until the line of maximum revenue is reached is to increase the revenues; but, from the line of maximum revenue up, an increase in the rate of duty necessarily results in reduced revenues. To ignore these principles is to act blindly, and any computations calculated to show the results of changes in the tariff that do not take these facts into account are utterly worthless.
William McKinley [O.] followed Mr. Randall.
Mr. Chairman, there are a few striking things in this bill which the country ought to understand.
Here is a single item, steel billets. The present duty on steel billets is 45 per cent. ad valorem. In this bill it is increased to $11 per ton, which is equivalent to 68.33 per cent.an advance of 45 per cent. Do you know what is made out of these steel billets? Wire fencing, which incloses the great fields of the West; and the raw material is increased 45 per cent. by this bill; and if the principle of the gentlemen who advocate the bill be true, that the duty is added to the cost, every pound of wire fencing that goes to the West will be increased from one-quarter to one-half a cent a pound; all this under a Democratic bill. What else is made out of steel billets? Nails, which everybody uses, which enter into the everyday uses of the people. The duty upon nails is reduced 25 per cent., and the raw materials is increased 45 per cent. [Laughter.] As a friend near me suggests, when one end goes up the other goes down; and the latter, I trust, will be the fate of this bill. [Laughter.]
Why, sir, the duty on wire fencing is only 45 per cent. ad valorem, yet the billet from which wire fencing is made must pay in this bill 63 per cent. Here (illustrating] is a piece of wire rod drawn from these steel billets, and which finally goes into fencing. That is dutiable at 45 per cent. under this bill; and the steel from which it is made is dutiable at 63 per cent. What do you think of “raw material” for manufactures ? [Laughter.] No account is here taken of the labor required to draw the rods.
Then here are cotton ties, which present another queer freak in this bill. Everybody knows what cotton ties are; they are hoop iron cut into lengths just large enough to go round a bale of cotton. Now, if the Southern cotton planter wants some of this hoop iron with which to bale his cotton, he goes to the custom house at New York or Charleston and cuts off all he wants; and he does not have to pay a cent of duty; but if the farmer-constituent of my friend who sits before me Mr. Nelson), or your farmer-constituent, want some hoop iron of precisely the same width and thickness, and goes to the custom house to get it, the Government makes him pay one cent and a half of duty upon every pound he takes, while it lets the cotton planter take his for nothing.
Gentlemen, is that fair? I appeal to Southern men who sit before me; I appeal to Northern Democrats who sit around me; is that fair upon any principle of justice or fair play! Talk about sectionalism! You raise the question in your bill; you make a sectional issue which I deeply regret, and I am sure you must upon serious reflection.
Why, what in the world, Mr. Chairman, has this bill done for the people anyhow! What has it done for the farmer! It has taken the duty practically off of everything he grows; I will not stop to give the items. It makes free practically every product of the farm, the forest, and mine.
It takes the duty off of wool. What does it give the grower in return! Everything he buys is dutiable.
Now, I shall not tax you further with the details of the bill. I might spend hours in pointing out inconsistencies. I only give these samples so that my honorable and learned friend from Kentucky [Mr. Breckinridge), who replies to me, shall take them up and explain the principle on which these rates are fixed and these duties levied.
Mr. Chairman, there is another thing which I wish to call attention to in connection with this bill, and that is the internalrevenue part of it. It seems to have escaped attention. Now, so far as the abolition of the tax on tobacco is concerned we are all in accord; but this new feature of the bill provides for the repeal of the law which authorizes the destruction of illicit stills when found in unlawful use. Under the present law if you find a man engaged in unlawful distilling, not having paid the tax or secured the license, the officer is authorized to go and destroy the whole outfit. This bill repeals that section of the law and provides that the still shall neither be mutilated nor destroyed, but preserved presumably for future violations of the law. (Laughter and applause.]
And in this bill further provision is made that, in case a man is arrested for illicit distilling, the judge is charged especially with the duty of looking well to his comfort and to his well-being while he is in the custody of the officials of the law. [Laughter on the Republican side.]
Now, Mr. Chairman, there is one leading feature of this bill which, if it stood alone, ought to defeat this entire measure; and that is the introduction of the ad valorem system of assessment to take the place of the specific system now generally in force.
It is a system, sir, that has been condemned by all the leading nations of the world. There is not a leading nation that adheres to any considerable extent to the ad valorem rates of duty upon articles imported into its borders; and England has abandoned all ad valorem duties except one, for the very reason that there can be no honest administration of the revenue laws so long as the value is fixed thousands of miles away from the point of production and impossible of verification at home.
The expectations of cheaper clothes is not sufficient to justify the action of the majority. This is too narrow for a national issue. Nobody, so far as I have learned, has expressed dissatisfaction with the present price of clothing. It is a political objection; it is a party slogan. Certainly nobody is unhappy over the cost of clothing except those who are amply able to pay even a higher price than is now exacted. And besides, if this bill should pass, and the effect would be (as it inevitably must be) to destroy our domestic manufactories, the era of low prices would vanish, and the foreign manufacturer would compel the American consumer to pay higher prices than he has been accustomed to pay under "the robber tariff," so called. Let us examine the matter.
[Mr. McKinley here produced a bundle containing a suit of clothes, which he opened and displayed amid great laughter and applause.]
Come now, will the gentleman from Massachusetts know his own goods? [Renewed laughter.] We recall, Mr. Chairman, that the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means talked about the laboring man who worked for ten days at a dollar a day, and then went with his ten dollars wages to buy a suit of clothes. It is the old story. It is found in the works of Adam Smith. [Laughter and applause on the Republican side.] It is the old story, I repeat, of the man who gets a dollar a day for his wages, and having worked for the ten days goes to buy his suit of clothes. He believes he can buy it for just $10; but “the robber manufacturers' have been to Congress, and have got 100 per cent. put upon the goods in the shape of a tariff, and the suit of clothes he finds cannot be bought for $10, but he is asked $20 for it, and so he has got to go back to ten days more of sweat; ten days more of toil; ten days more of wear and tear of muscle and brain to earn the $10 to pur