Press enter after choosing selection

The Farmers' Foes

The Farmers' Foes image
Parent Issue
Day
16
Month
October
Year
1874
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

We extract the following portrayal of the two chief foes of the farmer, from the recent address of Prof. Peiry, of Williams College (Mass.), to the farmers of Nebraska. The truths Prof. Perry tells should open the eyes of Michigan as well as Nebraska farmers : FIRST FOE - PAPER MONEY. The greatest foe the farmers of this country have had for the past dozen years has been the paper money. Some of you have suffered fearfully this year from the devastations of tho grasshoppers. I would not belitlle your Ios6es, for they have buen great, and they moved me to pity ; but the swath of your grasshoppers has been comparatively a narrow swath, and the losses, though great, have been local and not national, but the swath of the greenback grasshoppers has been a wide swath, and the losses have been national and not local. I hold in my hand a silver dollar. It is a loug time since you havo all seen one. You all seem to be as glad to see it as if it were an old friend. In truth, it is an old friend whom you have unwisely discarded, but who is just as ready to serve you faithfully as he ever was. This dollar is a reality. There is no sharn about it. There is nothing mysterious about it. There is nothing magical about it. It is just so much sil ver metal stamped, but the stamp adds only a slight fraction to the value. It took honeBt labor to get this silver out of the earth, refine, alloy, and coin it, and therofore it is just the thing to help exchange other things that have cost honest labor. This dollar is just like a bushei of wheat, it has cost something, it is adapted to a human want, and therefore it in good for something. Labor for labor is the law of exchange, and therefore the dollar that has cost labor is the only honest dollar. It is the only dollar about which there is no trick. It is the only dollar that defrauds nobody. It is a real equivalent. It is needed only as a tooi to help exchange other things, but it is an honest tooi. We take it only to part with it again, but when we take it we get an equivalent for what we give, and when we part with it we give an equivalent for what we get. Money is indeed a medium to exchange other things with, but it is of vast consequence that the medium be a good medium, a real medium, an intelligible medium, a medium that gives no advantage in the exchange to either party. Moreover, this silver dollar is the same thing year in and year out. The first silver dollar was coined in this country in 1794, just eighty years ago, and there was put into it 371 1-4 grains of pure silver, and that quantity of pure silver has been put into every silver dollar coined since ; so that, so far as the word dollar has depended on the silver coin of that name, (and the same principies of course apply to the gold dollar), the word has had a steady significance. Men knew what they were talking about when they were bargaining in dollars, The thing dollar was a perfectly detinite thing, and oonsequently the denonnnation dollar was a steady denomination. In values you reckon in dollars iust as iri rains you recKon in Dusneis. wolu and siiver moneys give you steady denomination dollars to reckon in, to bargain by, to make calculations with. As things, dollars are a medium to exohange other things with ; as denominations, dollars are a measure of all other values whatsoever ; and it is impossible to have ttteady denominations unlees you have steady coin dollars behind them. I now hold in iny hand a so-called paper dollar. It is not a dollar at all. It is only a promise to pay a dollar. Read it, and you will see that it is so. "The United States will pay the bearer one dollar." It carries the truth upon its very face. It is only a promise. Unfurtunately, also, it is a promise that has not been kept. It is an unf uifilled promise. Worse than that, it is a promise that the promiser refuses to fulfill. It is a broken promise. It is a dishouored promise. It is failed paper. Because it is an unfulfilled promise it is of course worth less than that whioh it proimse to pay. It is depreciated. It always has been depreoiated, and it is depreciated now. It has been at times very muoh depreciated. Now we have seen that the dollar as a thing is a medium helping exohange all other things and also that the dollar as a denomination is a measure measuring all other values. But a measure of other things should itself be uniform. A bushei measure should be the same thing year in and year out- to buy and sell by. A yardstick ehould be thirty-six inohes long, no more and no less, made of solid material that just holds its own, and not of indiarubber, expansible and contractible, of one length to-day and another to-morrow, and nobody knows what length the next time. FLUCTUATIONS OF THE PJ.PEK DOLLAR. Why, this very dollar bilí has fluctuated in valué, as compared with a gold dollar, all the way from 35 cents up to 93 cents and a fraction ; and yet we have been calling it a dollar all the while ; we have been estimating our property in these dancing dollars ; we have been buying when the dollar was at one value and selling when it has been at another ; a bushei measure holding three pecks at one time, four pecks at another time, and five pecks at another, is muoh more sensible than such a variable dollar, much as the buahel only measures gram, while the dollar, in the way of estímate, bargain, or sale, attempts to measure all values whatsoever. Even during the last year, 1873, there has been a variation of 14 per cent. in the value of this paper dollar as compaied with gold- from 106 1-2 to 119 1-2, and now almost back agaiu. These constant fluctuations in paper money -and they are inherent in it unlesa the paper is instantly convertible into gold- make it abominable aa a measure of valuo for everybody, and partioularly for farmers. "WHY "WORSE FOR FARMERS. An inconvertible paper moncy, always depreciated and always variable, is worse for farmers than for almost anybody else : first, on the ground of its depreciation, and second, on the ground of its variability. As the value of money goesdown, of conree general prices tend to riae ; but, unfortunately, they do not riae equally nor in equal times, ana some pnces ao not rise at all. For example, manufactured goods are quickest to experieuce a rise of price owing to a depreciation of the currency, beoause, aa a rule, manufaoturer8 are intelligent men and know the tendenoy of depreciated money to deprecíate more, and thus hasten to insure themselves by putting a higher price on their goods. Wagesrise much more slowly than goods, and never proportionably ; because laborera do not well understand the situation, and never aot quickly enough to insure themselvea ; and so they are always great sufferers froin a depreciated money. Real estáte rises slowly and irregularly, though at times tumultuously under such money, and nevor on the average bo high aa manufactured goods rise; while agticultural product8, some parts of which are exportad to foreign countriea, never rise in price at all. The reason for this is, that the foreign gold price of that part which is exported largely determines the home prioe of the whole erop. There is only one wholesale price of wheat of the same grade in New York city, whether it is for export or whether it is for home consmnption. The gold price in Liverpool determines the currency price in New York just 80 long as any wheat is exported ; and the price ia New York determines the price in Chicago and Omaha, If tne premium on gold in consequence of the use of a depreciated currency were as high as the average rise of prices arising from that depreciation it would not be so unjust, but it never is. Gold is generally the cheapest thing agoing so soon as an inferior curreney has demouetized it and thrown it out of demand ; and the whole consequence to farmers of the use of such a poor money is that they have to pay a greatdeal more for all that they need to buy, and only get a very little more or nothing at all for all that they have to sell. Wheat was no higher in currency in 1873 than it was in gold in 1860 ; hams were not, lard was not, and salt pork was not. These are all exportable agrieultural products whose current price is determined by the gold money of the world's great market. These things are what farmers sell. But harnesses, boots and shoes, hats and caps, blankets, all manner of clothing, were much higher in 1873 than they were in 1860. These manufactures are what the farmers have to buy. THE mjUSTICE OF IT. The mischief of paper money is that it affects different classes differently and the largest class the most injuriously of all. It raises some prices much, other prices little, and still other prices not at all. Some prices are raised quickly and pretty regularly, and other prices are raised slowly and irregularly ; so that the shrewd ones always take advantage of the ignorant ones, and the dishonest ones of the honest ones. The whole trick of the thing is a trick of distribution. Some men may get rich out of it, but this is always at the expense of other men. All classes of the people are ultimately great losers in wealth and reputation from the destruction of the stable measure of value - from disturbing the meaning of the word dollar. A huge erop of defaulters and of failures and of bursted speculations and of ruined reputations are always the harvest of that sowing. But farmers always have b" en and always will be the greatest losers from rag money ; partly for the reason that I have just given, namely, that what they have to buy is enhanoed in price by it, while what they have to sell is not enhanced in price by it ; and partly, also, because it takes the farmer almost a year to realize on his crops, and he cannot meanwhile insure hiinself against the inevitable changes in the currency. The dollar in which he oalculates the expenses of his erop is almost sure not to be the dollar in which he reslizes the results of his erop. He cannot calcúlate. He cannot insure himself. He is helpless. The mauufacturer who turns off his product weekly or monthly can vary his prices weekly or monthly, and save hiniself at least in part, but the farmer, poor man, can do no such thing. He is at the mercy of currency tinkers. Because all our paper money ia only a promise to pay, and an nnfnlfj far"bISwttaSi&eÍSytoÍfáieetirwrid'9 market ; because it is variable in value trom day to day and trom year to year, unsettling the measure of all other values; beoause auch money always stirnulates speculation and hampers productivo industry ; because it corrupta public morals, undermines honesty, and makes defaulters, by destroying the stable standard of value ; because it unjustly distributes the rewards of industry, and cheata by wholesale the wbole farming interest ; and because sucïi money has always been followed by these resulta wheresoever the experiment has been tried ; I do hereby invite all farmers East and West, all Patrons North and South, and all other true men, to unite with me in raising a cry that shall pierce the dulled ears of our rulers - an honest cry for an honest dollar. THE SECOND FOE TO FARMEKS. Next to the irredeemable paper money, the greatest obstacle to the prosperity of the farmers of the United States at the present moment ia the so called protective tariff. This is not so bad as it was two or three years ago. It haa been twice reduced and simphfied in the fear that the honeat indignation of tbe people would other wise overthrow it altogether. But it ia still bad enough. It is still too bad. It is an old trick of the devil to take a good word and cover up with it an evil thing. Precisely this ia done whenever the word " protective" is applied to any tariff. The word protective is a good word when used in its legitímate senae. As signifying the security of person and property under a good government, it is an admirable word, and describes an indiapensable thing; but as applied to a tariff the word ia full of deceit, inasmuch as a tariff trom its very nature cannot " protect"' anybody or anything. It can rediatribute property by raiaing the prioes of some thinga and depressing the prices of other thinga, but it oannot possibly raise the average prices of thinga in general. The trick of a protective tariff is just the same as the trick of paper money, the juggler's trick of putting existing things in strange places. A tariff creates nothing, produoes nothing, adds nothing to existing wealth ; but it diatributea a great deal; and we must now examine this matter especially in its bearing on the farmers. THE NAME TABIFF. There is a lown in Spain situated on the narrowest part of the Strait of Gibraltar, on the southernmost point of the kingdom, whioh is nauied Tarifa, in honor of Tarif ibn Mahk, a Berber chief who first landed here from África to reconnoitre the country before the conquest of Spain by the Mohametan Moors in the eighth century of our Lord. These Moors occupied parts of Spain until the year of the discovery of America, 1492 ; and it was in the joy of her heart at the fortúnate conquest cf Grenada, their last stronghold, that Queen Isabella pledged her jewels to the enterprise of Coluuibus. The Moors built a castle at Tarifa which commanded the strait, and durmg their domination in Spain compelled all vessels passing through the strait to stop and pay " duties" to them at such rates as they diotated ; and from this custom, thus originating at Tarifa, the word tariff, derived from the name of that town, passed into the English and other European languages. The name tariff accordingly has not a very respectable origin, tor those " duties" were nothing in the world but blackmail. They were the equivalent for no service rendered ; they conferred no benefits on anybody except the robber-like receivers of the money ; they were commanded and paid und er compulsión ; and they took just so much out without return from the prohts of the voyages of the ships which passed inward and outward through the strait. TARIFF8 TAKE BUT NEVEB GIVE. At first sight a tariff seem to be nothing but a series of taxes on certain foreign goods One may read a tariff act from beginning to end, or begin in the the middle and read both vrays, and he 'j will find nothing but demands repeated over and over again, " Thou shalt pay !" j are the only words that a tarifF utters or can utter. I will quote from the tariif now in force in this country, from a oopy [just recei vod from the Secretary of the Treasury, as codified and re-enacted in June laat, premising that the deinands i quotp.d are taken at random under the different sohedules, and premising also j that there are by actual count just 756 different rates of duty speoified to be assessed upon different thinga and classes of things. For example : Spool-thread, 6 cents per dozen and 35 per centum. Slates and slate pencils, 25 per centum. Anüine dyes, 50 cents per pound and 35 per centum. Woolen shaws, 50 cents por pound and 35 por centum. Bunting, 20 cents per square yard and 35 per centum Keady-made clothing, 50 cents per pound and 40 per centum. Webbings for shoes, 50 cents per pound and 50 per centum. Hand-saws, SB1 per dozen and 30 per ceutum. Hair-pins (iron), 56 per centum. Druggets and boeking, 25 cents per sqnare yard and 35 per centum. These and the rest are demands. A tariff gives nothing. It takes. At its best estáte, when most simple and honest, when there are no " protective" features in it, and no combination of specific and advalorein dutiea on the same article, which is a device of " protection," as in some of the samples above given, a tariff is a body of taxes, which the people have to pay. It is needful to note this distinctly at the outset, because theie are some peoplo who seem to think a tariff has a sort of creative power, that it is a a positive, productive agent, that it oan do good, that it has something to confer. Not so. From the very nature of it, it pours nothing in, but only takes something out. lts sign is minus and not plus. It comes to take something from the people, and not to give anything to the people. TARIFF TAXES. The United States has been aecustomed from the beginning of tha Government under the present Constitution to raise the principal part of its revenue from taxes on imported goods. These taxes of course raiso the prices of the goods on which they are laid considerably more to the consumere than the amount, of the tax itself, because the tax having to be advanced by the importer and the jobber becomes larger from the profits of the money advanced, and frequently also the tax is made a cover or excuse under which the consumer is charged a sum additional to the original tax and the profits on it. In the ultimate price of the taxed goods the consumer pays for the goods, pays the tax and all profits on the tax, and frequently also something additional under cover of the tax. There are decided objections, as we shall see, to raising a revenue in this way, even when the sole purpose in laying the duties is to get revenue, and when the duties are so adjusted as that the Government really gets the most that the'people have to pay in consequence of the duties. It is very plain that whenever tariff taxes are levied solely for the sake of the revenue to be derived from them they ought to be laid in accordance which are wholly imported from abroad, and not also grown or made at home, otherwise the tax on the portion imported will also inoidentally raise the price of the portion produced at home, and the people will have to pay more in consequence of the tax than the Government gets in revenue, beoause the Government only gets the tax on the part imported ; second, if such taxes are to be productivo, they must be levied at comparatively low rates, so as not to interfere essentially with the bringing in of the goads, or encourage smuggling at all, for in either of those oases the revenuo from the importations would fall off; third, the taxes should be simple, so that everybody can calcúlate their amount, and know how much of the price paid is owing to the tax, and it ia just as much for the interest of the revenue as for that of the people that these taxes should be simple and honest, so that both importers and consumers calculating them beforehand, and knowing just how much the Government is to take, will not be deterred from importing and buying by indefinito taxes ; and, fourth, it is agreeable to reason, and has been found true in experience, that it is not needful to levy even low rates on all articles imported in order to realize a large revenue, but only on certain classes of them, so as to burden at as few points as possible the ongoing of international and profitable exchanges. Laid strictly on these four principies, which are very important, (1) on goods wholly imported, (2) at low rates, (3) at simple rates easily calculable, (4) on few classes of good used by almost everybody, tanff taxes, though objectionable because falliug unequally on rich and poor, are yet endurable, and are infinitely preferable to the tariff tases laid at present in this country. TARIFF TAXES IN QEEAT BRITAIN. The English, after having violated for a long time every one of these four fundamental principies, now at length levy their tariff taxes in strict aocordance with them. I quote from the Monthly Report of the Bureau of Statistics of the United States for December, 1872, the following facts : All tariff duties in Great Britain are levied under nine heads, as follows : 1. Tobáceos. 2. Sugars. 3. Tea, coffee, chicory, and cocoa. 4. Spirits. 5. Wines. 6. Dried iruits. 7. Malt producís. 8. Table ware. 9. Playiug-cards. loe taxes on these are all specific, that is, by the pound, gallon, dozen and so on, so that anybody,can calcúlate ; they are laid on things exclusively imported, or whenever they are not, as in the case of spirits and malt, a corresponding excise tax is put on the domestio product, so that the Government get.s all thai the people are compelled to pay as the result of the tariff taxes; and while the dutiesin some oases may be said to be high, they are not so high in any case as to disoourage the importation of the things on which they are laid. There is no tariff tax on any portion of the food of the people except sugars, no tariff tax on any article of clothing, and no tariff tax on any raw materials or implementa of production. Thia tariff of Gieat BriUin, which can alinost be written on the palm of one's hand, yielded in the fiscal year 1872, $101,630,000 of revenue, which wa3 $3.20 tor each man, woman, and child in the United Kingdom. If there are to be tariffs at all this is the only form of a tariff that even approaohes towards justice and equality. Taxes on stimulants and sugar, which yield almost the whole of British custoins revenue, are as unexceptionable as any taxes on commodities can be, because everybody uses them in some form, and because ït is optional with everybody how much of them they shull use. FROTECTIVIt TARIFF DOOMED. But protective tariffs, so called, will doubtless pass off from our statute-books, as they have already passed out of the laws of Great Britain, Belgium, and largely also of France, because they are monstrously unjust ; because, by raising the price of the corresponding domestic artiole as well as of the foreign article taxed, they make the people pay in tensible taxes a great deal more than the Government gets ; because, since all foreign trade is an exchange of eommodities, just so far as a protective tarifp keepa foreign goods out, it keeps in of necessity domestic goods that would gladly go out, and thus domeatio producers lose their bestand freely-cbosen market; because there is no general gain in taking money out of one set of pookets in tbe mostly vaín hope of transferring it to anotber set of pookets; because, so soon aa the system beoomes general, even manufacturers, who have to buy " protected" materials, soon have to pay more protection than they get ; and because, just so íar as the importables are raised in valué by protective tariff taxes, the exportable are depressed in valué, thus throwing the vast losses of the eystern upon those who grow the exportables. PROTECTION IS PÜHE LOSS TO FARMERS. No man iu his senses can pretend that protective tariff taxes are a "direct benefit to farmers, since these taxes cannot increase the number of mouths that eat the farmer's produce, and since we do not import agricultural produce to any great extent to be raised in price by these taxes bo that our farmers can sell their produce for more. On the other hand, it is perfectly plain that these taxes cause an enormous loss to farmers, because they grow the exportables that are necessarily depressed in valué by just so much as the exportables are enhanced in valué by these taxes. According to the Bureau of Statistics, this country exported in 1873 $649,132,563. Of this immense aam $449,328,590, or more than two-thirds of the whole, was iu strictly agricultural products. What we export buys all that we import. Most that we export is farmer's produce ; but so far as the imports are burdened with protective taxes the farmer's exports are lessened in value - that is to say, they will not go so far, they will not buy so much. The farmer has to give more of his grain, his hauis, his pork, his lard, in order to get what he wants in return. It makes no difference that others come in to help him uiake this exchange. He is the real exchanger. These middlemen pay him less for his produce than they would otherwise gladly pay him. His exports suffer loss in price equal to the gain in price of the imports caused by the protective taxes. THE SMITTEN CIIEEKS. Under Protection the farmer suffers a doublé loss. He must submit to pay a great deal more for his supplies, whether these be foreign goods protectively taxed or domestie goods raised in priee by such taxes; and on the other hand, he cannot get nearly so much for what he has to sell. He is smitten on the one cheek, and then told by his masters in Pennsylvania and New England to turn the other also. He sends out more than two-thirds of all the exportables of tho country to have thein shaved and whittled down iu price and value by the artificial obstacles set up in our ports to prevent the return of the things which these exportables went forth to buy. If everything else that I say to-night be forgotten, I beg the farmers of the We3t to remeraber that Protection curs right into the heart of the value of their exportable commodities. Nay, more, it sometimes prevents the exports of these commodities altogether. The harvest in Europe this seasou has been unusually good ; the European deinand for breadstuffs and other lood products of our country is likely in consequence to be rather slack; already the price of wheat in New York and Chicago has feit the influence of this in a decline ; still, if we were allowed by the tanff to take into this connt.ry freely the things which we want, of which foreiguers have a surplus to sell, they would take now freely of us our surplus breadstuffs, and we could afford to let them have them. In one word, we could export more food products at all times with a greater profit on each transaction, provided we could get our return cargoes tree of protective taxes. We eould sell more when the price was high, and longer after it carne lower, than we can possibly do now. A proteotiye_tajjfE.-trjiiÍL _An_atria-th9 py. as the farmers furuish the bulk oí' the exporta, the principal lossea of the tariff fall upon them. As things nOw are, it is true indeed that the gold price of produce in. Liverpool determines the point of prolitable export from New York ; but a lower gold price in Liverpool would still allow a, profitable export from New York, provided the gold price received here would buy more of all the coinmodities wanted by the farmers. Thus we see that Protection is a doublé foe to the farmers. It causes them to get leas for what they raise and to give moro for what they buy. Protection in its best estáte is a shurtsighted, narrow-mindedprejudice; whenever it passes beyond that, it becomeB a consciously deceitful scheme of 'plunder, by which a few seek to enrich theiuselves at the expense of the rnany. Those many are mainly the farmers. They are abundantly able numerically and otherwise, if they will only unite to do it, to put down forever this monstrous injustice of legislation. I hope that their rising intelligence, and the courage that is born of union, will seize this lying fraud by the throat and shake the lite out of it, as a dog shakes the breath out of a woodchuck.

Article

Subjects
Old News
Michigan Argus