網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

AMERICAN DEMOCRACY.

PART FOURTH.

TARIFF, Taxation, Bounties, Free Trade, Revenue, Protection.

The technical term tariff, as used in our country, means a list or table of duties or customs to be paid on goods imported -- according to some fixed scale or uniform system. Without attempting any formal, elaborate or scientific discussion of this complex, exciting, vexatious and much controverted subject; I merely su mit my general views, in few words, under the following heads. I remark:

1. That, as a mode of taxation, it is preferable to all others. It is a tax on consumption--chiefly on luxuries —and is always voluntary. It is infinitely better, or less injurious, than a tax on land, or upon production, or than any species of direct tax whatever. Here, again, Mr. Jefferson was orthodox. Among the first acts of his administration, was the repeal of the internal or direct taxes of every kind. (Tucker, vol. ii. p. 113.) This is high authority and safe precedent for both whigs and democrats.

2. It is perfectly equal—in all sections of the republic, and upon all classes of the people. It operates on individuals everywhere as much so in Massachusetts as in

It is not,

South Carolina. The individual consumer of the foreign goods always pays; and in exact proportion to the amount consumed. It favours none-oppresses none. and cannot be, sectional or local or partial in its application. It is the fairest and most equitable plan of supplying the necessities of an economical government which human wisdom can devise.

3. The interests of all classes and professions—the farmer, planter, mechanic, merchant, manufacturer—are identical and inseparable. You cannot depress one class of producers, without injury to all the rest. There is no ground, therefore, for jealousy or hostility on the part of any one class or vocation towards another.

4. A distinction ought to be made between a tariff for revenue, and a tariff for the protection and encouragement of home industry. A tariff strictly for revenue, is not intended to prevent or to check importation. Otherwise it would defeat its avowed design. With this single object in view, a judicious tariff would never be higher than the actual condition of commerce could bear without diminishing the dutiable commodities in number or quantity. It should be as light as the exigencies of government would permit. And should be laid on luxuries rather than upon necessaries—upon wine rather than on coffee. It is a tax: and all taxes are onerous, and generally odious. It is difficult to persuade the people that a tax is a good thingma desirable measurema real favour to themselves. They are naturally and justly suspicious whenever they are told about the blessings of taxation. They do not readily perceive how the taking of their money is to enrich or benefit them. They have a shrewd notion that more is meant than meets the ear. That.it is all a cunning Yankee scheme to get money out of their pockets under false pretences; and for very selfish purposes. That a tariff, in short, is neither more nor less than a robbery of the many for the benefit of the fewor of the South to enrich the North.

It were, perhaps, a wiser policy at once to discriminate between the articles which we must import from abroad, and those which we intend to produce or manufacture at home. Upon the first, levy a sufficient impost or tax to meet the wants of government; and prohibit the importation of the latter altogether: either by a forfeiture of the cargo, or by other penalties; or by so heavy a duty as must soon put an end to the traffic. The people would then understand the whole subject. Two distinct objects would be placed before them. The one, revenue: the other, the exclusion of all foreign goods, which could compete or interfere with domestic industry. The first is a tax-nothing more. It will be regarded and paid as a tax without complaint, if reasonable and moderate. In the other case, it will be seen that the government is aiming directly to foster and sustain certain kinds, or rather all practicable kinds, of home production; and that a tariff for this end, was never designed as a tax, but as a preventive-as an obstacle in the way of the foreigner--as a guarantee of a clear field and ample market for the American labourer. Who would object to this? The universal cry is, or has been, the want of something to do—that is worth doing. Every sensible

reflecting man among us sees, knows, and, if honest, avows, that we must learn to manufacture, as well as grow, the raw material. If a tariff of a thousand per cent, on the foreign manufacture, would lead to this result, we ought to pray for the boon. Still, inasmuch as we are eternally mystified and humbugged by the term tariff, I would not employ it in this connexion. I would instead, call the thousand per cent. a penaltya fine-imposed on the European capitalist who should dare to violate our laws, by sending his wares into our ports to the injury of our own honest labourers. Here would be no tax-not even the semblance of extortion or oppression. It would be direct, positive, manifest protection. And all the people would rejoice and prosper together: if the demagogue will let them alone.

5. The grand desideratum is, to bring as nearly together as possible, all classes of producers the farmer, manufacturer, merchant. Then a mutual exchange of their respective commodities can be readily, cheaply and profitably effected. Manufacturing cities, towns and villages spring up in the midst of agricultural districts; and the whole country assumes a cheerful flourishing aspect.

6. There can be no monopoly in such cases. Exclude the foreign competitor; and the competition immediately commences among our own citizens. Let any man, or set of men, engage in manufacturing cotton, for example; and should the business prove lucrative, others will enter upon the same vocation and others still - until the profits are reduced to the lowest scale or value of productive capital in other investments. The goods will be supplied at lower prices by the home manufacturer than ever before by the foreigner. Such is the natural, universal and inevitable course and result of all free competition. Our past experience proves it. It is absurd to talk of a monopoly of any profitable business which is equally open to the competition of fifteen millions of enterprising freemen. Or even if limited to the citizens of several States, the scope for competition will still extend to millions, and thus render any approach to monopoly impracticable.

7. No country has ever prospered long or greatly without manufactures. A purely agricultural country is never rich or powerful. Poland and Turkey may illustrate the truism. Russia has learned the grand secret of national strength and greatness; and is sagaciously devoting her wisdom and energies to the protection and increase of her domestic manufacturing industry.

Her immense agricultural capacity would avail but little without it. She invites and encourages foreigners to settle and labour in her midst.

8. Cheap labour. Labour is cheaper in Europe than with us; therefore Europe can manufacture for us at cheaper rates than we can for ourselves.

Let us see. Agricultural labour is also cheaper in Europe than in this country. Shall we therefore depend on Europe for our corn and potatoes? The logic is as pertinent to the one case as to the other. We had better go to sleep, and let good old Europe take care of us.

9. Our agricultural productions can be indefinitely enlarged. We could grow grain enough to supply half the

« 上一頁繼續 »