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Subject Of Great Interest

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The president next takes up domestic finances and prefaces his suggestioris with a statement of the national balance sheet, and of collecting the revenue, exports of gold and imports of same, together wlth the production of precious metáis at home and abroad. He shows a deficit for the year of $25,203,245.70. He then refers to all the departments of government in turn and finally takes up the tariff as follows: I desire to recur to the statements elsewhere made concerning the governments's receipts and expendltureg for the purpose of ven turing upon some suggestions touching our present tariff law and its operation. This statute took effect on the 26th day of August, 1894. Whatever may be its shortcomings as ft complete measure of tariff ?irtwm It must be conceded that it has opened the way to a freer and greater exchange of commodities between us and other countries, and thus furnished a wider market for our producís and manufactures. The only entire fiscal year during which this law has been in force ended on the 30th day of June, 1896. In that year our imports increased over those of the previous y car more than $6,500,000, while the value of the domestic products we exported and which found markets abroad was nearly $70,000.0U0 more than during' the preceding year. Those who in?ist that the cost to our people of articles coming to them from abroad for.their needful use should only be inoreased through tarifC charges to an extent necessary to meet the expenses of the government, as well as those who claim that tariff charges may be laid upon such articles beyond the necessities of government revenue, and with the additional purpose of so increasing their price in our markets as to give American manufacturera and producers better and more profltable opportunitles, must agree that our tarift' laws are only primarily justifled a3 sources of revenue to enable the government to meet the necessary expenses of its maintenance. Considered as to its sufliciency in this respect the present law can by no means fall under just condemnation. Puring the only complete fiscal year of its operation it has yielded nearly $8,000,000 more revenue than was received from tariff duties in the preceding year. There was, nevertheless, a deficit between our receipts and expenditures of a little more than $25,000,000. This, however, was not unexpected. The situation was such in December, seven months l)efore the close of the fiscal year, that the secretary of tlve treasury foretold a deficiency of $17,000,000. The great and increasing apprehension and timidity in business circles and the depression in all activities intervening since that time, resulting from causes perfectly well understood and entirely disconnected with our tariff law or its operation. seriously checked the imports we would have otherwise received, and readily account for the dlfference between this estímate of the secretary and the actual deficiency, as well as for a continued deficit. Indeed, it must be confessed that we could hardly have had a more unfavorable period than the last two years for the collection of tariff revenue. We can not reasonably hope that our recuperation from this business depression will be sudden, hut it has already set in with a promise of acceleration and continuance. I believe our present tariff law, if allowed a fair opportunity, will in the near future yield a revenue which, with reasonable economical expenditures, will overeóme al! deficiencies. In the meantime no deficit that has oceurred or may oceur need excite or disturb us. To meet any such deficit we have in the treasury, in addition to a gold reserve of $100,000,000, a surplus of more than $12S,000,000 applicable to the payment of the expenses of the government, and which must, unless expended for that purpose, remain a useless hoard, or if not extravagantly wasted must in any event be perverted from the purpose of its exaction from our people. The payment, therefore, of any deficiency in the revenue from this fund is nothing more than its proper and legitímate use. The government thus applying a surplus fortunately in its treasury to the payment of expenses not met by its current revenues is not at all to be likened to a man living beyond nis income and thus incurring debt or encroaching on its principal. It is not one of the functions of our government to accumulate and malie additions to a fund not nceded for immediate expendlture, With individuals it is the chief object of struggle and effort. The application of an accumulated fund by the government to the payment of its i ■' ring expenses is a duty. An individual living beyond his income and embarrassing himself with debt, or drawing upon his accumulated fund of principal is either unfortunate or improvident. The distinction is between a government charged with the duty of expending for the benefit of the people and for proper purposes all the monry it receives from any source, and the individual who is expected to manifest a natural desire to aviod debt or to aceumlate as much as possible, and to live within the income derived from such accumulations, to the end that they may be increased, or at least remain unimpaired for the future use and enjoyment of himself and the objects of his love and affection who may aurvlve him. It is immeasurably better to appropriate our surplus to the payment of justifiable expenses than to allow it to become an invitation to reckless appropriations and extravagant expenditures. T suppose it will not be denied that under the present law our people obtain the necessaries of a comfortable existence at a cheaper rate than formerly. This is a matter of supreme importance, since it is the palpable duty of every just government to make the burdens of taxation as light as possible. The people should not be required to relinquish this privilege of cheap living except under the stress of their government's necessity made plainly manifest.


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