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PROTECTION NOT RESTRICTION, BUT EMANCIPATION.
What is meant by a Restrictive System?-It is a Misnomer as applied to Protection.Free Traders and Protectionists in the United States are both after the same thing.The true Relation between Capital and Labor.-The most perfect State of SocietyCapital is Labor in Repose.-Protection of Capital is the Protection of Labor.-An American Protective System a Rescue from a Foreign Restrictive System.-American Labor can not be free, without Protection.-The Protection of one American Interest can never injure another American Interest, but benefits all-Examples and Proofs.The Position of American Capital and Labor in Relation to Foreign Capital and Labor. Consideration of the Maxim that a Nation must buy in Order to sell.-The Prosperous and Rich buy and trade most-Protection makes us rich; the want of it makes us poor. -A Rule for one Nation may be bad for another-Why does Great Britain preach Free Trade?-Adam Smith began right, and ended wrong,-He leaped to his Conclusion from False Premises.
MUCH of the force of the argument of Free-Trade economists, rests on the assumption of what they call a restrictive system, to which they are opposed. Now, if we are able to show that an American protective system, so far from being restrictive on American industry, American labor, and American interests, operates, on the contrary, to set them free; to leave them untrammelled; to give them full scope for action and profit; to rescue them from disadvantages and hinderances placed in the way of their objects; to secure their natural, social, and political rights; to exempt them from restriction, the very thing complained of as the effect of a protective system-in other words, to accomplish the very end of Free Trade, as averred by its advocates, and as understood by nearly or quite all those Americans who are in favor of it; then, clearly, it will result, that Protectionists and FreeTraders in the United States, are both after the same thing, and differ only in the way of obtaining it. It is the object of this chapter to show that such is really the fact.
We have proved abundantly, in other parts of this work, that the chief disadvantage under which American industrial efforts labor, is the greater cost of money and labor, in other words of labor itself, in this quarter, as compared with its price in foreign parts. It is the difference between the freedom and the bondage price of labor. This difference affects capital as well as labor, in the same manner and degree; for we have elsewhere shown that all capital is the product of labor, the cost of which must necessarily
be graduated by the price of labor. By the rights or institution of property, as secured by every civilized society, capital or property when acquired by industry and prudence, comes to occupy the position of the employer of labor, in order that labor, in its turn, enjoying a freedom price under adequate protection, may rise to the same condition, by the same means. This is the American wheel of fortune, where the rights of primogeniture and of entail have been abolished by fundamental law. Human sagacity, after having removed all exclusive prerogatives of birth, and all right in the owners of property to entail its descent, has not been able to invent a better or more equal state of society than for men on such a basis, to rise in the world by their own industry and economy. In this way, labor capital, which is the parent of all other capital, holds its chances in reversion, to become the possessor and controller of other capital, and itself, in turn, the employer of labor. These are the rights of labor. It would be hard, indeed, that the power to labor, which, when applied, is the producer of all the means of enjoyment in civilized society, should never itself be able to come to such enjoyment. The very design of American society, is to keep open these chances, which European society for ever bars, as a general rule. Exceptions to a rule only demonstrate its existence and sway.
Now it is evident, since capital, the product of labor, when acquired as above described, in any considerable amount, occupies the position of the employer of labor; and since capital, so acquired, is nothing more or less than labor in another form or state, that is, in a condition of productive repose; and since this capital must have cost in proportion to the price of the labor that produced it;it is evident, we say, first, that this capital can not be employed in the same ways with foreign capital, which has costs only half as much, without protection; and, secondly, it is evident that the protection of this capital is the protection of labor itself, not only because it is labor in another form, as being its product, but because it can not employ labor, in these ways, without protection. When'ever, therefore, American capital asks for protection, in this, that, or the other pursuit, no matter what, it is labor, and nothing else, that asks for it. And what for? To rescue it from the restriction, or the restrictive system, under which it lies and labors, by the existence and operation of cheap foreign capital and cheap foreign labor; in other words, to give and secure freedom to American labor. It can not be free unless it is protected; but the tendency
and effect of this foreign system, operating on American labor restrictively, is to keep it under and keep it down. It can not rise, it can not enjoy its rights, because it is under the operation of a foreign restrictive system; that is, restrictive relative to itself. It will be seen, therefore, that the professed objects of the advocates of Free Trade and of Protection, in the United States, are identical. Both aim at a rescue from a restrictive system. It must also be seen that Protection is the only way to gain that end.
But it is said that a protection of one or more interests, is a restriction on, and a disadvantage to, one or more other interests. We have proved, in other chapters, that an American protective system can not injure, but must necessarily benefit, all interests of he country; that protective duties are not taxes (which is the only bjection that ever was or can be made against them); and that they are a rescue from an enormous system of foreign taxation. We need not, therefore, undertake to prove here what is proved elsewhere; but we are entitled to assume it, so far as the present argument may require. We grant there may be inequalities in a protective system, so far as that one interest may have a better protection than another. This may be owing, either to the fault of those who suffer this inequality, or to that of the legislators in not properly adjusting the system. But, though this may be a just ground of complaint as a partiality, it is not a positive injustice. The principle on which a protective system is required in the United States is such, that it can not but be beneficial to all, though it be partial in its application. Though it begin with a single interest, and afford protection to no other, all that that interest gains by it, is so much gain to the country, and an injury to no party, even though the protective duties be prohibitory. We have elsewhere cited the highest Free-Trade authorities to establish this point, though it were superfluous. But when Ricardo and Say admit that prohibitory duties can not in the end raise prices, as domestic competition will soon bring them to their natural level, Free Trade answers itself. But we have shown that Protection not only does not raise prices of manufactured articles, but that it. actually reduces them, as a general rule, very essentially. It matters not, therefore, so far as the interest of the country, or of any parties in it, is concerned, whether Protection be partial or general. All are benefited, and none are positively injured.
Suppose, then, that some one interest, such as the fabrication. of cotton goods, in their various forms, has received such an
amount of protection from the government of the United States, that they could be manufactured in this country, against the superior skill and cheaper labor of Great Britain. Time was, when such protection was absolutely necessary to begin. Behold the result. American capital, itself the product of American labor, has, to a vast amount, been invested in cotton manufactures, under a system of Protection, to employ a vast amount of American labor, and to consume a vast amount of American agricultural and other products. And consider, that this could never have been done, without protection, which is undoubtedly true. But for this protection, all this American capital and labor would have been shut up under a foreign restrictive SYSTEM; and it was only by such protection, that they have been emancipated from these restrictions, and been productive of such immense saving, and such immense wealth to the country, and of such great benefit to all the parties concerned. We have shown elsewhere, how greatly cotton goods of every description have been cheapened by this system. Protection, therefore, so far as this great interest is concerned, and so far as all other interests of the country with which it is connected, and to which its success and prosperity have brought like results, are concerned, has been the means of emancipation to both it and them, on an immense scale. Emancipation from what? From a foreign restrictive system; from that system of foreign society, and of the bondage of foreign labor, against which it would have been impossible to contend, without Protection. We see, therefore, that such is the position of American capital and American labor, in these particulars, in relation to foreign capital and labor, that they could not be free without Protection. That this protective system has operated as a restriction on foreign injustice, which before held American capital and labor in bondage, is not denied. So far an American protective system is restrictive; and so far as this is what the Free-Trade economists complain of, their complaint is well founded. But to say, that an American protective system is restrictive upon and in relation to American interests, when the very design, and not less, as above seen, the operation, of that system, is to set American interests free, and give them a chance to live and prosper, against the oppressive power of foreign interests, is absurd. Thus an emancipating, is, by a misnomer, called a restrictive system; and this is one of the great objections alleged against it.
What we have said above of the cotton manufacturing interest,
is equally applicable to every other American interest, no matter what, so far as Protection has been, or may yet be, necessary, to give it a start, and to sustain it, against the rival and oppressing power of foreign capital and labor, engaged in the same pursuits. Protection, in such cases, does not operate as a restriction on home interests, nor as a disadvantage to any; but it is a benefit to all; it encourages all; draws them out, and gives them a wider and more comprehensive scope of operation and of profit. Not a single new American interest can be set up by Protection, that is not beneficial to some, often to many other interests; and not one that is injurious to any other. The amount of emancipation of capital and labor, bears more directly on the interest protected; but it is not confined to that. In helping that, it helps others; and the entire effect, in all its scope, instead of being restrictive, is liberative, in relation to home interests, and especially to the capital and labor which are vested in them.
Such is the position of American capital and labor, in relation to foreign capital and labor, that it is impossible to protect the former, in any particular, or for any object, or in any degree, short of positive bounty, so as to be injurious to any other branches of the same, or so as not to be in some degree beneficial to all, directly or indirectly, by proximate or by remote influences. There is no fear, therefore, of extending Protection to too many objects. As to the amount, in any given case, and in every case, as it may happen to require it, a regard may safely be had to the objects of revenue, as well as to those of Protection, so long as it is thought best to depend on this mode of raising revenue. The rule of graduating Protection is considered in a subsequent chapter. So that it BE Protection, it is enough.
It is said, that a nation must buy, in order to sell, and that this multiplication of home interests by Protection, will restrict and diminish foreign commerce; which seems plausible at first sight, in the same manner as it is commonly or extensively thought, that the protection of one or more of the domestic interests of the country, will operate as a restriction on others. But we have proved, in another chapter, by a statistical array of well authenticated facts and tables, running back through our commercial history, that, whenever and in proportion as our public policy has approximated toward Free Trade, our carrying trade and foreign commerce have declined; and that, whenever and in proportion as we have gone back to a protective system, our carrying trade