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has made careful estimates which show that to these figures should be added at least $200,000,000 for lumber other than planing-mill products, and $200,000,000 more as the cost of foundry, machine-shop, and blacksmithing products and of structural iron and steel. He also computes the cost of all other materials at $117,000,000. This makes a grand total of about $2,600,000,000 as the annual expense bill of the people of the United States for erecting and repairing buildings. Probably from 20 per cent to 30 per cent of this sum is expended on business and public buildings, churches, etc.; making a liberal deduction for these, we find that Uncle Sam's nephews and nieces expend every year almost $2,000,000,000 (or the wealth of two Rockefellers) with which to protect themselves from wind and weather.
The cost of building materials is now fullt 50 per cent higher than it was eight years ago when the Dinzley tariff bill became a law. This is only in slight measure due to higher wages; and it is estimated that the tariff is responsible for most of this increase. According to Moody's Manual most of the trusts have been formed since 1898; and it is only since that date that the lumber and other trusts have fully realized how the tarifi enables them to raise prices. There can be no doubt that if the tariff on building material were abolished the prices of lumber, paint, varnish, glass, tin plate, pipe, cement, nails, screws, lead, etc., would be lower than in 1897. If the tariff increases the cost of houses only one-fourth, it adds more than 10 per cent to rent, for the value of houses is on an average probably twice that of the lots on which they stand. Rents in cheap flat houses average annually about 10 per cent of the value of the house and lot. If a man pays $9 a month rent for an apartment, his part of the house is probably worth $800 and of the lot on which it stands, $300; total, $1,100. Without a tartff, he would pay rent on property worth only $900 ($600 for his part of the house and $300 for his part of the lot) instead of $1,100, and his rent would not average more than $8 a month. The low cost of building materials is largely responsible for the very low rents in England.
A large proportion of the rent for homes goes to cover the cost of repairs. These consist largely of lumber, paint, glass, cement, nails, screws, and roofing materials, the cost of nearly all of which is increased 40 or 50 per cent, or more, by the tariff. If the materials for repairs on the average house cost $15 a year the tariff is responsible for about $4 or $5 of this amount. I have, therefore, estimated the tariff cost of those who own and of those who rent homes together. In either case it is the occupants of homes who pay the so-called protective tariff tax of constructing and repairing the homes of this country-unprotected from the protected tariff trusts.
It requires a great deal of calculation to arrive at the average rate of duty under the tariff act of 1897. On some products the duty is imposed according to weight or quantity, on others according to the value, and on still others according to both quantity or weight and value. On Portland cement, for instance, the rate is 8 cents per 100 pounds, and on other cement 20 per cent ad valorem. I have, however, taken the report of the Bureau of Statistics of the Department of Commerce and Labor, and carefully calculated the ratio between the imports for the year ending June 30, 1904, and the duties collected thereon, and I find that the average percentage of duty on the principal materials entering into buildings is as follows: Brick and tile.......
25 Glass .
68 Iron and steel nails.
28 Iron and steel pipe
34 Lumber (planing-mill product).
55 Paints (white lead)..
55 Paper hangings.
50 Tip plates.
97 Now, what justification is there for thus handicapping the poor man in his struggle for a home? Is it revenue? In 1903 less than $12,000,000 was collected in the customhouses from duties on building materials, and in making up the list, in order to be perfectly fair, I included materials that are not used in the average building, such as asphaltum, coal tar, oxide of cobalt, iron beams and girders, marble and onyx. So that less than 2 per cent of the Federal revenue is derived from this source-surely not enough to warrant the Government in discouraging the building of homes,
Take the item of cement. I venture to prophesy that the exterior of the humble home of the future will consist of stucco or cement-that is, if the price is cheapened. Buildings constructed of this
material not only present a pleasing appearance but are practically indestructible. During the past 10 years the manufacture of cement has increased at the rate of about 25 per cent per annum. The tariff on the various kinds of cement averages 25 per cent ad valorem, and it is evident that, were it not for this extra charge of one-fourth added to the price, the sales would be largely increased. According to the census bulletin, the United States in 1901 manufactured 20,068,000 barrels of cement, valued at $15,786,000, or at the raie of 75 cents a barrel. During the same year we imported only 939,330 barrels, valued at $704,000. The duty paid on this was only about $175,000. Will 80,000,000 Americans continue to limit their supply of this most necessary building material for the sake of a beggarly $175,000 of revenue? The hard-headedness of the average Yankee will soon impel him to answer an emphatic “No!” to that question.
Even the most hidebound protectionist must now admit that unless the apologists for a tariff tax on building materials can show that it tends not only to keep men employed who without it would be obliged to seek another livelihood, but also to increase their wages, it should be repealed by the next Congress. Remember that we are not now considering manufactured articles, such as cotton goods, shoes, etc., but what are practically raw materials, for all things used for the building of a house are, in relation to it, raw materials. If the tariff on these were necessary in order to keep men employed at living wages, the majority of the American people would bear it patiently, for they seem wedded to the protectionist idea. The prices they pay, however, should be greater than the European prices for similar goods only in the proportion as American wages are greater than the European. As a matter of fact, the prices charged their fellow countrymen by the trusts which control the principal building materials are many times greater than the difference in wages.
Besides that, if the tariff is necessary in order to maintain what the trusts call the American standard of wages in competition with the pauper wages of Europe, why is it that these same trusts are able to export to those poverty stricken countries, and at a profit, too? Window glass is heavily taxed, and the Census Bulletin of July 3, 1902, states (at p. 42) that exports of this most necessary building material are steadily increasing The most important item in the building of homes is the lumber. The tariff tax on lumber makes it practically prohibitory to import anything in this line except mahogany and other woods which are not grown here. The Census Bulletin of June 24, 1902, gives the value of the annual exports of lumber as $34,340,119, and states that
more than half consisted of boards, deals, planks, joists, scantlings, and shingles." After seeing these official figures, what possible justification can the apol gist for the tariff on lumber plead for its retention?
I have thus far shown that the only two reasons that justify a tariff, viz, revenue and protection, do not apply to building materials. The hypocritical pretenses of the building material trusts have been proven, I will now show that they have taken advantage of the situation by not only getting all they can out of their fellow countrymen, but are actually enabled to undersell foreigners on their own territory. They export large quantities of their products and sell them abroad at competitive free-trade prices. This is the fact with the Tin Plate Trust and the Lead Trust, but is more strikingly illustrated with the Steel Trust than with the others. Most kinds of iron and steel sell here for from 50 to 100 per cent above foreign prices.
Careful estimates of the tariff profits of the United States Steel Corporation indi. cate that they amount to $162,000,000 for the years 1902 and 1903, the total net profits being $242,000,000. These estimates were based mainly on the difference between the export and home prices of steel products and goods, the difference being multiplied by the quantity of each kind of product sold, as given in the annual report of this company for the year ending December 31, 1903. This $162,000,000 is clear tariff profit. That is, had there been no duties on these steel products, and had they been sold here at the same prices for which they were sold abroad, they would have cost our consumers $162,000,000 less than they did. As nearly all of these are unfinished products, it is evident that American manufacturers, to whom steel is a raw material, have to pay nearly $80,000,000 a year more for these materials to the United States Steel Co. than is paid by their foreign competitors, even though they buy steel of our Steel Trust. The United States Steel Co. manufactures only two-thirds of our steel; therefore, adding the tariff tax charged by the manufacturers of the other third, we find that Americans are annually charged for American steel $120,000,000 more than are Englishmen, Germans, Frenchmen, and Russians. This in itself is a great handicap upon our manufacturers, especially when attempting to sell goods in foreign markets. It is this discrimination in favor of foreign manufacturers, making it much cheaper to produce outside of than inside of our tariff wall, that is mainly responsible for the exodus of American capital into foreign countries.' Scores of “branch" mills and factories, operated by Americans have, during the past few years, been located
abroad in order to escape from the protection” that means dearer raw materials and higher cost of production. Had there been no unnecessary duties on raw materials the great amount of business now done in these American-owned foreign mills would be done in this country, to the great advantage of our own workingmen. Of course these manufacturers tack the extra charges on to the final consumers—the builders of homes.
On July 30, 1904, the New York Journal of Commerce and Commercial Bulletin contained the following:
"One of the most interesting features of the steel situation is an important sale of xveral thousand tons of steel plates for export, the price of £5 delivered at Newcastleon-Tyne, netting the mills about 90 cents per net ton f. o. b. Pittsburgh. It should be remembered that sales are made in the English market by the gross ton. Allowing $3,50 freight rates and a slight allowance for insurance, this price would net the mills $20 gross, or $1.80 per ton net, or 90 cents per 100, against $1.60 per 100 for domestic business.'
There are nearly 300 export commission houses in New York City. Some of the largest of these publish weekly or monthly export trade journals. These are a mixture of catalogues and price lists and circulate only in foreign countries. They do not usually quote the lowest prices for export. Some of them, and notably the Exporters and Importers' Journal, refer to a special discount sheet, which prints the lowest export prices.
The tarif committee of the New York Reform Club reports that it has been able to obtain copies of several recent export journals, notably (1) The Exporters and Importers' Journal of June 18, 1904, published by Henry W. Peabody, 17 State Street, New York City; (2) The American Export Monthly of June 18, 1904, published by Arkell & Douglas, 5 to 11 Broadway, New York City; (3) The Export World and Herald of July 5, 1904, published by the American Trading Co., Broad Exchange Building, New York City; (4) El Mundo y Heraldo de la Exportacion of June 21, 1904, also published by the American Trading Co. The report of the tariff committee states:
"While many of the prices quoted from the journals are not the lowest export prices, yet they are often far below the home prices on the articles mentioned. To supplement and corroborate the information derived from these export journals, the tariff committee employed a man who has for 20 years been a buyer of goods for export. Being personally acquainted with the selling agents of many of these exporting manufacturers, he could and did obtain the export catalogues and price lists of most of the manufacturers quoted. Many of these price lists are in the possession of the tariff reform committee. In most cases the manufacturers themselves or their agents have marked their discounts for export on the margins of their catalogues or lists. Sometimes they have also indicated their home discounts in the same way. In other cases the expert who obtained these prices wrote them on the margins of the lists as they were given to him. All of these prices were obtained in June, July, and August, 1904.
"From the information thus obtained the following comparative lists of prices have been prepared. They are not usually bottom prices, because they were not given to a man who had actual orders for goods in hand. Besides, all exporting manufacturers allow a commission to the buyers of goods for export. This commission is seldom or never less than 1 per cent, and is sometimes as high as 5 per cent.
“The home prices are believed to be the lowest for quantities of goods similar to those on which export prices are quoted. They were obtained from manufacturers, from domestic price lists, from market quotations, and from merchants who are buyers for domestic consumption."!
The tariff committee then appends a long list of hundreds of articles of merchandise, giving the export price, the home price, and the difference between the two. I have selected only such as come within the purview of my paper, either building materials or tools with which those materials are assembled to make homes:
Articles and description.
Adzes, carpenters', square handled, 4-inch...
A quality No. 2-0..
F quality No. 2-0..
Breast, Nos. 10-11..
Rip, 18-inch, No. 4....
Buck, 30-inch, No. 104.
D) handles, R point, No. 3..
AI, No. 2.:
D handle, R point, No. 2.
Al, No. 2.
My table shows the export and home prices of 32 articles, the latter showing an average of about 18 per cent above the former, though in many instances these exporters charge their fellow Americans from 30 to 60 per cent more than they do their foreign customers.
I have seen a letter from Henry Rossell & Co. (Ltd.), Sheffield, England, large manufacturers and dealers in files and tool steel. This letter says: “As an illustration of the unfair manner in which home buyers in files are treated by the United States manufacturers, I inclose you herewith a comparison of the prices charged to the buyers in the United States with those offered by the same manufacturers here."
Here are some of the prices that appeared on the list:
Comparative prices of American files in America and England.
From these figures we see that the American File Association, which has not revised its price list to American buyers since November 1, 1899, is charging us for most kinds of its small files more than twice as much as it charges English
men for these same files, and for half-round files we must pay them three times the price charged Englishmen.
These figures are rather dry as dust for a summer's day, and I was tempted to omit them and give only the sums total. It is easy, however, to deal in glittering generalities, but not convincing to such an intellectual and earnest audience as the one I am addressing. Building association men, as such, are really bankers and are accustomed to wrestle with financial problems every week in the year. They would, therefore, deem a writer or speaker intellectually lazy and not worthy of serious consideration if he did not fortify his premises and conclusions with facts and figures. This I have done; and I think that I have proven that neither of the only two justifications alleged for a tariff-revenue and protection-apply to the tariff on building materials.
It is only fair to state that the apologists for this tariff claim that the amounts thus exported are very small and constitute only. what they term surplus products. Secretary of the Treasury Shaw claims that for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1904, the total exports that were sold abroad at lower prices than in the United States amounted to only $4,000,000. How he obtained these figures he does not state; but they are easily disproved. Take iron and steel, for example. Our exports of iron and steel goods for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1904, were valued at $111,948,586. From these exports a half dozen items, each larger than $4,000,000, and some of them matenials that enter into the building of homes, can be picked out, such as wire, $5,821,921; builders' hardware, $11,726,191; pipes and fittings, $6,310,551. If iron and steel alone furnish over a hundred millions, how stupendous must be the totals of all goods exported by the trusts, for which they charge foreigners less than they do their fellow citizens. * But," exclaim the apologists, "there is no proof that any appreciable part of these exports are sold for less than American prices." It is indeed difficult to get at the facts, because it is to the interest of the trust magnates to conceal them. In an unguarded moment, however, President Schwab, of the Steel Trust, testified before the Industrial Commission, on May 11, 1901, as follows:
"Q. Is it a fact generally true of all exporters in this country that they do sell at lower prices in foreign markets than they do in the home markets?-A. That is true; perfectly true.”
It would be expanding this paper unduly were I to cite the statistics of exports of building materials other than steel and iron; but as the president of the chief offender, the Steel Trust, admits that all exports are sold at lower prices in foreign markets, my point can be considered as well taken.