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Why Falling Prices Are Bad For Working Men

Why Falling Prices Are Bad For Working Men image
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In a very Jeugtby bnt very able editorial tbe New York Journal cöin pletely demolishes Burke Cochran's great eiïort in replying to Bryan. Frorn it we taken the following extract : Finally Mr. Cochran throwshis glove in the tace of all teachers of accepted economie dogma by attemptiug to prove that falliug prices are advantageons to the comrnunity and to individuals. In impassioued defence of bat he, perbaps honestly. believes the rights of the wage workers, he cries: "Yon shall not obscure the golden prospect of a further improvement in his condition by a further cheapening of the cost of living as well as by a futrther appreciation ofthn dollar wnich is paid him." Now Mr. Cochran is not so youug a man as to be ignorant of the history of his country. He bas been observant of public phenoruena for many years and he must recall the fact that every year of rising prioes bas been añ era of commercial prosperity ; every period of falling prices a time of industrial distress. Tbe coinoidence between falling prices, commercial depression and legislation for tbe contraction of the curren cy has been given several striking illustrations since 1860 in the United States. In Europe the same iDtimate connection between the volume of money, prices and prosperity was distressiugly showu in the dark years of 1847-49, wheu prices feil 22 per cent. Mr. Cochran may be challenged to cite one period in the bistory of the world when falling prioes were not accompanied by the gravest commercial distress. We do not have to rely on the evidence of history or the argnments of the professional econoroists to disprove Mr. Coohran's novel theory that falling prices are beueflcial. If we study the conditions today we find tüat with everythiug olieap industry is paralyzed aud men are cheaper than ever. If the eloquent orator of Madison Square Garden will attempt to flnance any produotive enterprise - except that of producing McKinley voters - be will flud that money cannot be borrowed to be used in manufaeturing or producing goods the prioes of which are likely tj be cheaper six mouths henee than now. He will flad that the oharm of the appreciatiug value of the dollar in which he thinks the working ruau should be paid appeais also to the capitalist, wbo is content to keep the dollar in his own vaults and enjoy its euhanced valué himself. It is the nature of men to cling to that which is growing more valuable and to uuload property which is deteriorating. The appreciating dollar which Mr. Cochran so admires is a dollar for hoarding, not one to be risked in the enterprises nf productive industry. Today it is easy to borrow rooney on interest bearing bonds of perfectly solvent corporations of a public or semipublic character, bnt how easy is it to borrow on the best farru laods, on th% best equipped factory, or on a stock of goods? Money is absolutely driven froin the channels of produotive indnstry, and therefrom resnlt absolute staguation of business, a dearth of employment, a grave cartailment of the purchasing power of the people and widespread distress. Tbat with a rising raarket, which is rising prices, business revives, faetones reopen, the avenues for the employment of labor are niultiplied, is one of the truisms of the commercial world. It must be kept in mind that, Hke most of the members of his faction, Mr. Cochran did not suggest any other currency system than the present one, which, has added 1262,000,000 to the interest bearing debt of the nation and spread disaster thick over the land. He attacks the remedies which Mr. Bryanoffers, but prescribes none of his own. So, when we read his appeals to and for the workingmau we must bold tbat he believes the present monetary system the best for them. Unfortuuately in discussing the effect of free coinage on the fortunes of wage workeis we cauuot ignore two classes of whom Mr. Cochran thinks very little. At the foundation of the workingman's prosperity is the prosperity of the farmers - the Western wheat growers whom Mr. Cochran describes as "professional farmers who labor with their iaws, " and the Southern cottou growers whoru he regards as "unreconciled slave holders who would like to pay no wages. " Unless they tbrive and have money to speud milis will not run nor railroaüs be built. Now iha prices of American wheat and cotton are fixed at London in competition with Russia, India, Egypt, Argentina, Chili, Uruguay - all countries which are silver using nations. The price is fixed in gold. If it be 67 cents a bushei, that roeans 67 cents and no more to the American farmer, but the expoiter in a silver-using country gets with his 67 cents in gold Si. 21 in silver. It is a demonstrated fact that prices in the silver-nsing communities have not risen so greatly as to destroy this practical subsidy to their agriculturists. They can therefore and do undersell our farmers in the markets of tbe worild and tbrive, while we, trying to meet ther prices and still do business on a gold basis, starve. The first prices to rife under a return tu bimetallism would be the prices on wheat and cottou. The farmers expoiting these great Staples would again be liberal purchasers in our domestic markets. Their demands would start again the wbeels of industr'y, would stimulate railway buiJdiDg, would revive commerce. The multiplication of portnnities for eraol yinea' Tonld in fallibly iuoie ise rbe earuings of labor, if not the norinul 'iaiiy wage. Nor will tbe cost of living Ie ïnereased ïd proportion to tho orportnuities for earning a living, for the piices of most oommodities wruld increase only slowly, as year by yeat the volurue of the currency was increasefl, aud as demand, growing out of widf-r prnsperity, iucreased also. These faots Mr. Cochran saw fit to ignore in his sppech, though so ranch of it was addiessed particularly to workingmen.


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