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Protection In Practice

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The Engineering and Mining Journal gives an exceedingly valuable illustration of the manner in which a protective tariff raises its beneficiaries above the operations of the natural law of trade. The illustration concerns steel rails, which are now $4 a ton higher than they were in 1885, although the cost of production and the tariff tax are less and the demand is slight. The command of the inarket, by reason of the tariff on rails and the ownership of the Bessemer patents, has enabled the railmakers to fix arbitrarily the price of their products. The American manufacturers make much of the fact that improved machinery has greatly increaaed their output, and The Journal estimates that the cost of producing steel rails, when the manufacturer makes his own pig, cannot exceed $20 a ton. In 1885 steel rails sold at $26 a ton, and the cost of Bessemer pig alone was $16. At $30 a ton the profits on the annual output of steel rails is necessarily between $10,000,000 and $12,000,000. That the protective tariff gives this enonnous dividend to the makers, who instead of increasing wages are trying to cut them down, is shown by an exmination of English prices. In May. 893, English rails sold for $19.44. The duty on this, $13.44, would make theii price $32.88, not counting freight and in surance. lt is clear theref ore that f30 is the price at which the English rails can be kept out. While the English price has fallen since 1885 from $23.17 a ton to $19.44, the price of English pig has risen from $10.69 a ton to $12.15. In other words, the English maker pays $1.43 more for his pig and gets $3.73 less for his rails. At the same time, while the price of American rails advanced from $26 to $30 a ton, the price of American pig feil from $17 to $14 a ton, so that the American maker )aid $3 less for his pig and got $4 more for his product. This gain he keeps for himself.


Ann Arbor Argus
Old News