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dear when you press upon it?” Would they disregard in their sales - the cost of production," or fail to raise their prices upon an "urgency of demand ;” or in case of a cheap market cease to importune the government for the indefinite continuation and increase of their protection?
We have seen what immense protection was given by Great Britain between the years 1780 and 1820. Foreign bar iron could not be sold in Great Britain for less than one hundred dollars per ton. “They gave the English manufacturer entire possession of the home market, and yet, we are told, that their prices were always below the foreign market.” Then what was the use of this pretended protection, for the whole object of protection is to keep prices at the highest point, by producing artificial scarcity? And now, we are also told by the memorialists, that the British can, at the present rates of their prices,“ put their bars in our market at forty dollars, duty paid.” “It is true, say they, they lose money by the operation, but they would lose more by selling at home.” And this, then, they do not seem to perceive, is the result of more than forty years of continuous and increasing protection! Are the public to be taxed for forty years and upwards, to give profits to a particular preferred class of industry, which, at the end of that time, cannot stand alone, but must still be supported by a continued increasing protection, or become a losing concern ? Such, the memorialists inform us, has been the progress of the iron interest in Great Britain. Those who have read Mr. Huskisson's speeches, will remember the gross misrepresentations which he detected and exposed in Parliament, on the part of the iron masters or manufacturers, in relation to some' measures he proposed for the relief of commerce, and by which they endeavoured to sustain and continue their high and long protection. Upon the authority of the memorialists, we have shown what has been the course and progress of the iron interest in Great Britain, and “the wisdom of all interests” is now called upon by them to perpetuate and increase the evils of so absurd a course among ourselves. It is against the “ruinous competition of this forced over-production, occasioned by a false system of legislation, that we are required to protect them; for they say, (p. 5,)“ If we ask relief against such ruinous competition, we derive countenance from the fact, that Brit
ish manufacturers constantly appealed to their government for protection under the favourable circumstances we have noted. We have seen with what success.” They could now "dispense with all aid and defy competition. Defy competition no doubt they may, but if they are really doing the losing business described by the memorialists, it does seem to us, that they now stand in as much, if not more, need of aid, than at any other period. And we feel assured that if the memorialists after one hundred years of profit and high protection were to find themselves doing a losing business, and one so wreckless as to render them in their sales regardless of the cost of production," their cry for protection would be renewed with unabated vigour. They would never consider themselves as having arrived "at that ample growth and power, when they could dispense with all aid."
The memorialists proceed to say, (p. 5,) “If this business has been overdone in Great Britain, the evil consequences have fallen upon the manufacturers. The public has enjoyed an immense advantage in the abundance of a material so important in every department of industry as iron. The fluctuations in price which have ensued from this large production have been of late years so great as to cast in the shade all commercial changes of price. The range of these fluctuations in pig iron during the last year, is from £1.18s. to £5.12s.6d., and in bar iron £4.10s. to £13, or about two hundred per cent.” That the evil consequences of a man's own acts should fall upon his head, and not upon the heads of others, is nothing but justice, of which he has no right to complain ; but forty years of protection and profit were forty years of evil to all who had to pay the forty years profits and high prices. Is it to be considered a grievance, if not borne with for one hundred years or more? Or do the memorialists envy the state of over-production which now, they say, exists in Great Britain ? We would decidedly advise them to pursue a course of moderation and forbearance; for hastening on to excess of any kind must always prove unprofitable, in morals as well as in the pecuniary affairs of man.
Again, let us ask these memorialists, what interest is there in the country, that is not subject to fluctuations, to over-production, and to rivalry and competition? What
has varied more in price than cotton, the greatest agricultural produce of our land ? It has varied within our recollection from thirty-five to four and a half cents per pound. We speak of short staple. Sea Islands have had still a wider range. From sixteen cents to one dollar fifty cents, per pound. Yet have these producers ever asked for protection, or complained to the government of grievances, from which it should relieve them, except where they have complained of preferences allowed to such as our memorialists, who seek peculiar prerogatives? And however important an abundance of iron may be to the community, an abundance of cotton, and perhaps of other things, may be quite as indispensable. Besides, the measure proposed by the memorialists is to produce Scarcity, not Abundance. Let us contrast the two theories. “A man becomes rich," says Bastiat, (Sophisms,) “in proportion to the profitableness of his labour ; that is to say, in proportion as he sells his produce at a high price. The price of his produce is high in proportion to its scarcity. It is plain, then, that as far as regards him, at least, scarcity enriches him. Applying successively this manner of reasoning to each class of labourers, individually, the scarcity theory is deduced from it. To put this theory into practice, and in order to favour each class of labour, an artificial scarcity is forced in every kind of produce, by prohibition, restriction, suppression of machinery, and other analagous measures.” “Man produces in order to consume.
He is at once producer and consumer. The argument given above considers him only under the first point of view. Let us look at him in the second character, and the conclusion will be different. We may say, the consumer is rich in proportion as he buys at a low price. He buys at a low price in proportion to the abundance of the article in demand ; abundance then enriches him. This reasoning extended to all consumers must lead to the theory of abundance !"
Is this “ immense advantage in the abundance of a material," acknowledged by the memorialists to be so necessary to our rapid national progress, to be relinquished by the great mass of the community, merely to enrich a few? How then can our memorialists have the face to say that " the legislation asked by American manufacturers deserves not the odium so frequently heaped upon it ; “ for,"
say they, we know that we can furnish to the consumers of this country a million of tons of iron cheaper and better than it can be had abroad.” It appears from a statement we have already alluded to, made by the engineer of the Reading rail road, Pennsylvania, to the President, Mr. Tucker, which statement is published in the last January number of Hunt's Merchant's Magazine, from the Philadelphia Ledger, where it first appeared, that American iron is worth, upon experience, thirteen dollars fifty cents per ton more than British iron. Or, in other words, that it is as economical to give fifty-three dollars fifty cents a ton for American iron, as forty dollars for British. If this is true, and we have no reason for denying it, then here is thirty-three and a half per cent. advantage which the American has over the British, besides the duty of thirty per cent. under the Act of 1846. Is not that enough to satisfy them? The American people are too shrewd not to make the best bargain that is offered. And the same statement admits “that the dividend paying capacity of rail road is the same with English iron at forty dollars a ton, as with American iron at fifty-three dollars fifty cents.” Now all we ask is to be let alone to our own bargains, and to judge for ourselves whether it be to our interest to buy English iron at forty dollars a ton, or American at fifty-three dollars and a half. It is Socialism at once if the course of industry is to be regulated by the state, and not left to individual enterprise and to allconquering competition. If their iron is cheaper and better than the British, it will be bought,-if not so good, and dearer, the government has no right to force it upon the people by giving a monopoly to the maker. But it is not on the fact that they cannot furnish consumers with “iron cheaper and better than it can be had from abroad,” that the memorialists base the grounds of their petition, for, say they, “we ask for defence ugainst those commercial fluctuations which occur in Great Britain from causes wholly originating there.” Might not the government as reasonably be asked to relieve them from commercial fluctuations so frequently caused by revolutions in France, or elsewhere? Are not all interests influenced by these fluctuations ? Will government attempt to guarantee against them? Some fluctuations in the cotton market would soon cause it to stop payment. Great Britain is
all the time held up to us as the great example to follow, yet they tell us, “ that if we ask aid against such irregularities (in prices) it is no more than we should be obliged to do if the manufactures in the United States were as greatly developed as in Great Britain.” In other words, PROTECTION BE CONTINUED FOREVER.
They declare again that they do not ask for monopoly, but only " for that security against ruinous fluctuations and that regularity in sales (which is indispensable to the success of industry." They do not regard competition at home; but that from abroad "cannot be watched” nor preparations made for its sudden inroads!
" Among the most deeply interested in the vigour and prosperity of our iron manufactures, are the farmers who furnish food, and the planters and manufacturers who furnish clothing for our operatives in iron." The manufacturers may see much weight in this argument, while Senator James is trying to make some coalition or bargain to increase their protection, but the farmers and planters can scarcely be persuaded to give up the European or foreign market for the custom of some fifty-seven thousand persons engaged in mining and manufacturing iron in the United States, who will, in their turn, take care to buy where they can get the cheapest and best. What hypocritical cant, then, to talk of “unfolding the chain of mutual interests which binds all branches of industry together!” The sooner such a chain is broken the better. To induce the unsuspicious farmer to have this chain placed around his neck, and to neglect and abjure the benefits of free trade, or rather of a freer trade, they tell him that, “ when the ports of Great Britain were opened to our ag. ricultural products, it was fondly hoped that our farmers would find there an unlimited market for wheat and maize. At the present moment, however, these are very little higher in Liverpool than in Philadelphia.” What do the memorialists mean by an unlimited market? One of unlimited prices? If so, are they willing to pay unlimited prices, to add to the prosperity of the farmers ? Let the farmer try and see if the manufacturers are willing to pay higher prices than their neighbours. Neither the farmer nor the planter are such fools as to expect on this earth a demand unlimited in extent, while population has its limits. Look at the vast amount of provisions