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The high tariff papers of the countrj ar...

The high tariff papers of the countrj ar... image
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The high tariff papers of the countrj are at present making a great ado over the plate glass industry, which they claim is a triumph of protection. They are constantly asserting that it was no until the industry was established in this country that the prices of plate glass began to fall, and they are very fond o: comparing the prices which prevailec from 1870 to 1872 with those at which the glass is sold now. How caref ui they are not to say anything about the real cause of the high prices which prevaüed during the for mer period. France is the most important center for the industry in Europe and it is from France that nearly al our imports of plate glass have come During the Franco-Prussian war all industries were shaken up, and th,e drain of recruits from the workmen for the armies caused a great rise in wages. For the same reason the prices of materials rwe, which, taken in connection with the heavy taxes and expenses incident to manufacturing industries in war time, caused añ abnorinal rise in the cost of production, aud henee the price of glass. It is just as logica!, therefore, to compare the prices of wool during war time and now as it is to compare present prices of plate glass with those ruling in 1872. The average price of Ohio woa in New York in January, 1865, was ninety-six cents to $1.02 per pound. The present price is thirty-one cents per poTind. Behold the effect of a high tariff. Of course such a comparison is absurd, but so is that made by the high tariff papers on plate glass. History tells us that in 1699 the Countess of Frique exchanged an estáte for a single mirror of plate glass. Only three years later a yard of plate glass sold in England for L6 12s., or $32.11. How absurd is the statement of the papers that plate glass did not fall in price until the industry became established here is shown by the following figures, which are for plate glass sold by the St. Grobain ijlate glass works oi France: PRICES PER SQUARE FOOT. 185. 1850. 1862. 1881. 39.37x39.37 inches..$2.27 $1.08 $0.88 $0.02 7&74x39.37 inches.. 6.76 2.56 1.91 1.46 This does not show that prices were kept up until we began to make plate glass. On the contrary, the prices have steadily fallen. Only during the past decade have our manufacturers been able to produce enongli glass to affect the market. The duty on the sizes of plates now imported are twenty-five cents and flfty cents per square foot, and our manufacturers add the duty to the price of the glass they make, thus enabling them to exact this amount from the consumers. That the domestic manufacturers do add the whole amount of the duty to their glass is shown by the fact that, while the small quantity of plate glass imported last year is valued in the treasnry reporte at slightly less than thirtythree cents per square foot, the domestic manufacturers sell their output at an average of about eighty-five cents. Thus the domestic manufacturers are able to declare enormous dividends on watered capital, and last year the Pittsburg Plate Glass company declared a dividend of 31 per cent. At the same time that the manufactnrers make these enormous profits they pay the lowest wages of any industry requiring skilled labor. The highest wage they pay their workmen for twelve hours' work is three dollars per day. This amount is earned by the master teasers. Other workmen receive as low as $1.25 per day for the same number of hours. They are enabled to keep the wages down by importing contract laborera in spite of the contract labor law. The real causes of the fall in the price of plate glass are the use of machinery, which makes possible cheaper production, and the greatly increased demand for plate, which in turn makes possible production on a large scaie. The true effect of the dnties upon plate glass, therefore, is to make possible the combinations among the manufacturers to keep up prices and keep down wages. It is impossible to evade the duties so that the prices they fix cannot be cut. But they succeed in evading the contract labor law so that they have practical free trade in labor. Thus on the one hand they make consumere pay more, and on the other force their workmen to accept less for their labor. These are the true effects of the high dnties, and, being such, tariff reformers are perfectly contented to let their opponents have all the glory that they can make ont of them.


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