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The Sorted Wool Clause

The Sorted Wool Clause image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

Who makes our tariff laws? It is nsnally snpposed that the inenjbers of congress who vote for them are the makers of them. This is trae only to a certain extent, for the beneficiarles of the tariff in many cases write into the tariff bill the duties which they want. Thns by "ways that are dark and tricks that are vain" the tariff bill gets into the house of representatives and is voted upon by the average membei', who never suspects how many different handwritings were to be fonnd in the original draft of the bill, put there by men financially interested in getting high duties and obediently accepted by their politica! f riends on the ways and means committee. Af ter these protected interests get their dnties voted into law they are usually silent - are like "Bre'r Rabbit, he lay low." Not always so, however. Judge Lawrence, the Ohio political shepherd, has recently boasted of being the author of the wool schedules of the McKinley law. In that law is a clause called the "sorting clause," which provides that the duty on wool "which has been sorted or increased in value by the rejection of any part of the original fleece shall be twice the duty to which it would be otherwise subject." When the McKinley bill was under disctission it was understood by the carpet manufacturers that this language was meant to apply to clothing wools, which bear specific dnties - not to carpet wools, where the duties are ad valorem and of course increase with the value of the wool. Now, however, Judge Lawrence has come f orward and has had Secretary Foster to decide that this "sorting clause" applies also to carpet wools. Judge Lawrence says, "I wrote the sorting clause and I know that it was so intended to apply." By the operation of this clause some kinds of carpet wools now imported will have to bear doublé duty, which will perhaps prevent their importation altogether. The East India wools are always sorted before shipment. A leading manufacturer says of these wools, "They are of great importance to us; we use large quantities of them exclnsively for cárpete." A comparison of these doublé dtrües on sorted carpet wool with the duties prevailing before the McKinley law was passed will show the quality of Judge Lawrence's worth. The old duty on carpet wool was cents a pound where the value was 12 cents a pound or lesa, and 5 cents a pound on wool worth more tlian 12 cents. These duties were equal to 25 and 30 per cent. ad valorem, respectively. Judge Lawrence had both duties changed to ad valorem duties- 32 per cent. on wool worth less than 13 cents, and 50 per cent. above that. Syrted wool will now pay 64 and 100 per cent. What niakes these dutie all the more absurd is that we raise practically no carpet wool, finding it more profitable to pioduce clothing wool. More than threefourths of our wool imported is carpet wool.