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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
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
the consumers are another, and hence we hear on all hands such stupidities of speech as those which sum up the workers in each branch and compare them with the whole people. One hundred and fifty thousand workers in woolens—you ask what are they compared with 70,000,000 of consumers; 200,000 workers in steel, what are they compared with 70,000,000 of consumers; 200,000 workers in cotton, what are they compared with 70,000,000 of consumers, and so on all through the long list, forgetting that all these people added together make the whole 70,000,000 themselves.
Where do our high wages come from? Just think a moment what wages are. They are the devourers of consumable wealth. In order to have more consumable wealth you must have an incentive for its creation. Wealth will never be made unless a consumer stands ready. More consumable wealth, therefore, depends upon a broadening market. This does not necessarily mean more purchasers, but purchasers with better purses, though for that matter in this country we have both.
Here let me meet one other question, and let me meet it fairly. We are charged with having claimed that the tariff alone will raise wages, and we are pointed triumphantly to the fact that the wages of France and Germany, protected by a tariff, are lower than England, free of all tariff, and to America with a tariff and still higher wages. We have never made such a claim in any such form. Free-traders have set up that claim for us in order to triumphantly knock it over. What we do say is that, where two nations have equal skill and equal appliances and a market of nearly equal size and one of them can hire labor at one-half less, nothing but a tariff can maintain the higher wages, and that we can prove.
If there be two bales of goods side by side made by the same kind of machinery and with the labor of the human being in both of the same degree of skill, and if the labor of one bale cost only half, for example, as much as the other, that other bale can never be sold until the extra cost of the costlier labor is squeezed out of it, provided there is an abundant supply of the product of the cheaper labor. If the bale with the cheaper labor of England in it meets the bale with the dearer labor of America in it, which will be bought at cost of production! I leave that problem just there. The sale of the English bale will be only limited by England's production.
Now, as to France and Germany. England had centuries of peace or distant war, while both France and Germany were the battlefields of Europe. Until Bismarck made Germany a nation
she was not even big enough to enter successfully modern industrial warfare. To compare either of those nations in machinery or wealth to England, a hundred years in advance of them both by reason of her history before 1850 and her tributary provinces, is absolutely farcical.
We are the only rival that England fears, for we alone have in our borders the population and the wages, the raw material, and within ourselves the great market which insures to us the most improved machinery. Our constant power to increase our wages insures us also continuous progress. If you wish us to follow the example of England, I say yes, with all my heart, but her real example and nothing less. Let us keep protection, as she did, until no rival dares to invade our territory, and then we may take our chances for a future which by that time will not be unknown. [Applause.]
Charles F. Crisp [Ga.] arose amid prolonged applause by the Democratic side and in the galleries, and replied to Mr. Reed.
The gentleman from Maine, with a facility that is unequaled, when he encounters an argument which he is unable to answer, passes it by with some bright and witty saying and thereby invites and receives the applause of those who believe as he does. But the gentleman does not attempt, the gentleman has not today attempted, to reply to the real arguments that are made in favor of freer trade and greater liberty of commerce.
The gentleman points to the progress of the United States, he points to the rate of wages in the United States, he points to the aggregated wealth of the United States, and claims all this as due to protection. But he does not explain how we owe these blessings to protection. He says, we have protection in the United States, wages are high in the United States, therefore protection makes high wages.
When we ask the gentleman from Maine to give us a reason why a high protective tariff increases the rate of wages he fails to give it, but points to the glory, the prosperity, and the honor of our country. The gentleman belongs to that school who believe that scarcity is a blessing, and that abundance should be prohibited by law.
Assuming, if you please, for the purposes of the argument. what these gentlemen claim, that a protective tariff gives higher wages in protected industries, and still your proposition is wholly without foundation. The consumer and the producer