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to wander in the streets hopeless, homeless, without food or shelter, while all around them the favored objects of your legislation are dwelling in comfort as a result of that legislation ? [Prolonged applause on the Democratic side.]
CHARLES A. BOUTELLE [Me.].-Mr. Chairman, Jack Cade exhausted that style of argument more than five hundred years ago.
MR. COCKRAN (pounding on his desk].--Mr. Chairman, the gentleman is faulty in his history. Jack Cade lived four hundred years ago.
THOMAS B. REED [Me.].-Mr. Chairman, I am exceedingly sorry that, with all the répertoire of eloquence which the gentleman from New York (Mr. Cockran) has at his command, he should resort so frequently to that portion of it which is merely physical. (Laughter.]
The gentleman has indulged himself both to-day and on Saturday last in expressions of contempt for our industrial system, because under threat of changes business is paralyzed, and because the accumulated wealth of this country is too little to tide it over the difficulty. But unfortunately, throughout all the language which he has used on this subject, there went this continuous error; he made no distinction between wealth which is consumable and wealth which is intended to produce consumable wealth.
There is an immense amount of unconsumable wealth which is used in the production of other wealth existing in this country and in other countries; but, from the very nature of the case, the amount of consumable wealth that there is in any country at any time is exceedingly limited.
Now, let me come for a moment to this question of wages. The gentleman says that it depends upon supply and demand. I say that is an utterly exploded doctrine. Wages depend upon the amount of the market, and also upon the nature of the workingman himself. I anticipate what the gentleman is going to say in response to the suggestions of other gentlemen on his side, that what they need is a more extensive market; that what they need is to go forth to the rest of the universe and obtain a market; and the method they propose is to obtain a market somewhere else by giving up the market that we have here. [Applause on the Republican side.) But we on our side believe in enlarging the market in a different fashion. We do not mean to go to the ends of the earth and struggle with the cheaper labor of the whole world. What we mean to do is to elevate the market of this country by giving higher wages to the laborers,
and thereby constituting a market as broad as our production. [Applause.]
In this country, with the laborer seeking to obtain higher wages and fewer hours of work and the demand of the public for lower prices, there is going on a tremendous struggle; and that is all the struggle that the inventive power of this country can sustain.
Now you propose, by bringing us in contact with a lower civilization without protection, to make the success of that struggle an absolute impossibility. You are crushing down the laboring man by your efforts; and you are thereby intensifying this struggle between the employer and his employees, which is liable to be fought out as long as selfishness reigns in this world. But, thank Heaven, the success, the good fortune, and the prosperity of the laboring man do not depend on these men who rend the heavens with their shouts of praise, but upon the laws of the Lord God Omnipotent. [Prolonged applause on the Republican side). And among the laws of Omnipotence is the use of human brains by aid of law to provide the laborer with opportunities for work. (Renewed applause on the Republican side and in the galleries.]
MR. COCKRAN.-An opportunity to listen to my distinguished friend from Maine [Mr. Reed] is always a liberal education. The conclusion of his remarks explains the beginning of them, and adds a significant light to the examination which we can bestow upon them. He began by stating that much of the discussion on this side was physical; let me compliment him by saying that the conclusion of the protection argument is purely spiritual. (Laughter and applause on the Democratic side.)
In this way you will observe that the distinguished warrior who had entered the ring when his partisans were sore beset proves that his final reliance is on the Lord of Hosts rather than upon the reasoning power of the American people. [Laughter on the Democratic side.]
But I do not think, Mr. Chairman, that there ought to be any contest between the two. My judgment is that every conclusion which the American people have reached in their history upon any great question has sooner or later come into direct conjunction and harmony with the laws of God; and the American people are moving in that direction now by this bill which is before the House. [Great cheering on the Democratic side.]
Mr. Chairman, that the wages of labor depend upon the law of supply and demand is a proposition so evident that I never
expected to have heard it denied on this floor by a gentleman to whom a great part of the intelligent thought of this country looks up for guidance. I had never supposed that the value of any material or element of wealth depended upon any other law than that of supply and demand. But I regard the statement of the gentleman from Maine on this subject as the crowning admission of the correctness of the position occupied by the majority. I am willing to leave this dispute on the issue which he has framed. If the laws of supply and demand do not control the price of labor, then you gentlemen of the minority are right. If the laws of supply and demand do control the price of labor, then according to your own statement we are right, and on that issue we challenge the verdict of the American people. [Applause on the Democratic side.)
On February 1 Mr. Reed replied to Mr. Cockran on the question of wages.
When I talk about wages I use the word in its broadest sense as the price and value of service whether of brain or muscle. When I speak of constant and continuous increase of wages, I do not mean the caprices of benevolence or of charity, or the fantasy of a mind longing for the impossible.
What is the rule and measure of wages? “Supply and demand” in no sense solves the problem. Only last week in this very city the builders and material men and the workers met together to see if in response to oversupply compared with demand concessions could be made. The material men were ready to yield, but the workmen, whose labor was the only perishable article involved, utterly refused. According to supply and demand they ought to have been hustling each other to see who could get into the job. Instead of that they are ready to struggle and to endure privations rather than give up what have become to them necessaries of life. Of course in time they will have to submit unless this bill is beaten, but there are limitations beyond which you cannot go. No nation can endure in peace any cut which goes into the quick. Necessities born of social life and advancing civilization are the real measure of wages.
This question of wages is all-important as bearing upon the question of consumption. All production depends upon consumption. Who are the consumers ?
Unfortunately the gentlemen on the other side have persistently retained the old idea that the producers are one class and
duty levied on a month's product of a Belgium furnace was $2,937, or $796 more than the total wages paid in this country, collecting this money from the people. They never paid it to their laborers, but have put it into their own pockets.
The enormous amount collected from the people for this extraordinary privilege for the products they produce fell heavily upon the agricultural classes. They are the consumers of sugar and window glass and all of those things that the four hundred and fifty trusts that have been formed under your protective system produce, and that is what has brought the agricultural interests of this country to poverty and bankruptcy to-day, and it must follow that the other interests, as I stated before, must fall into it, and if they do not look to the upbuilding of those interests the whole fabric of your institutions must bring us to bankruptcy as sure as the sun will rise in the morning.
Mr. Chairman, I am not pleased with this bill. I like much better the bill of the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Johnson). But, inasmuch as the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Burrows] says in his speech that this bill carries large reductions as compared with the McKinley system of robbery, and inasmuch as it puts one hundred and thirty-one more articles on the free list, therefore every man who has his article on the free list will be an enemy to the protection the other fellow gets, and must eventually come in the direction of free trade. I support and wel. come the bill as a step in the direction of what may eventually follow. [Applause.]
On January 13 W. Bourke Cockran [N. Y.] supported the bill.
Gentlemen tell us that this bill will operate such a reduction of the revenue as will paralyze the Government. I deny it. I insist that this reduction in the tariff will increase the revenue of the Government. It will stimulate consumption, it will quicken trade, it will broaden commerce, it will not only increase the revenue by a larger yield of taxes, but it will increase the opportunities of the people to earn the money with which the taxes are to be defrayed. [Applause on the Democratic side.]
When we consider the objections to this measure we find that they are twofold. One objection is that it will increase business. Another objection is that it will decrease business. And, strange as it may seem, I have heard both propositions advanced by the same orator, and that, too, by a gentleman who is a leader of thought and an exponent of doctrine on the other side of the chamber. I refer to the gentleman from Maine [Mr. Dingley]. He took the ground that in order to raise sufficient revenue under the provisions of this bill we will be compelled to increase our imports $250,000,000; and he said that such a prospect was calculated to spread rejoicing among the foreigners and to fill the cottages and homes of this land with gloomy apprehension. He told us in the very next paragraph that between nations, as between individuals, all trade is an exchange of commodities; that money is used only to accomplish the movement or circulation of the goods from the hands of one man into the hands of the other; and, if that be so, must' not this $250,000,000 worth of goods that we import be paid for by $250,000,000 of other goods that we export, and in the exportation of which we find our profits! [Applause on the Democratic side.]
MR. DINGLEY.—My answer is simply this, that experience has demonstrated in the past that, in a situation such as sketched by the gentleman, we paid for excessive importations, over and above our exportations, by sending gold abroad, and to that extent depleting it from this country.
MR. COCKRAN.—Let me ask the gentleman from Maine on what basis we could expect to carry on trade if his theory of prosperity be sound! If it be an injury to send abroad money, it must be a benefit to import it. If we imported $250,000,000 in money the gentleman manifestly thinks that we would be better off than if we imported $250,000,000 worth of goods.
Am I right in that! (Laughter.]
MR. DINGLEY.-I suppose the gentleman is aware that we very often purchase things and get into debt for them instead of paying for them. My proposition is simply this, that anything which leads to the importation of goods such as we should produce ourselves therefore deprives our laborers of the opportunity of making those goods, and inevitably tends to reduce the price for labor in this country, and tends to produce the evils of which I spoke in my speech.
MR. COCKRAN.—If I understand the theory of the gentleman from Maine (Mr. Dingley), it is that the importation of $250,000,000 worth of goods into this country, provided we man, ufactured similar goods ourselves, would be a startling event, pregnant with danger to the prosperity of this country. Yet my friend spoke of the importation of money as something that would indicate great commercial prosperity.
Now, Mr. Chairman, I venture to state that, as between an