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The average cost of construcüou of railroads is not less than $25.000 per mile. Taking the smallest estímate of thisyear's coustruction- ten thousand miles- the capital expended this year in buiMing railroada will not be less than e250,000,000. It may be interesting to those who are alwaya loudly complaining of the extortions of railroads, a3 well as those who think our present economie system is perfeclion, to look at the matter in still another liglit. Practically all the rails used in construction are steel. Of these it takes 100 tona to themile, or 1,000,000 0118 for the 10,000 miles whieh we will assumo to have been constructed this year. Besides these 1,000,000 tons required for new eonstruction, it is estimated that at least 800,000 tons more are required for repairs and repairing iron rails now in use, or 1,800,000 tons of steel rails required this year by the railroads of the United States for all purposes. Now the manufacturo oí steel rails is one of the infant industries. Not only so, but it is one of our most highly favored infants. It is protected by a duty of l cents per pound, or $28 per groas ton oL 2,210 pounds. According to the recently-published report of the treasury department for the last fiscal year, this is a duty of about 84 per cent. That Í3 to say, steel rails can be bought in Europe for $33 per ton. Of course they can not be imported from Europe for less than $33 cost, plus $28 tariff, or $61 uer ton. But our infant industry has been able to go European pauper labor onobetter, and f or the last threo years it lias rnanfactured steel rails for $60 a ton. Now, then, what does the tariff coat the railroads in the matter of steel rails only. We wish to put this matter very plainiy, so that none of our protectionist friends can misunderstand us. If, with the tariff, steel rails cost $60 a ton, and without the tariff could be purchased for $33, then it is evident that the tariff costs thera $27 per ton on all the steel rails they use. And if they use 1,800,000 tuns a year, then it co3ts them 1,800,000 times $27, or $48,600,000 per year on the single item of rails. The expenditures of all the railroads of the United States in 1881 were $450,000,000 and their receipts $725,000,000. Supposing them to be the same thia year, then the tariff on steel rails only will absorb 10.8 per cent. of their expenditures, or 6.7 per cent. of their entire receipts. Now, their are only two questions of especial importance for us to answer in this connection. First, who pays this tax of nearly $50,000,000, and, second, to whom is it paid ? We will consider the last question first. To whom ia this $48,600,000 paid ? If it were paid to the government ife might possibly be defended on some ground, even if it were used for no other purpose than to improv8 the navigation of those creeks and puddles lying in the vicinity of railroads, whose commercial uy -mignt ace as a restraint upon railroad changes. To be sure, it would seem rather hard to levy such an enormous tax on railroads for a purpose so hostile to their interests, but it might possibly receive some justification on grounds of public policy. But how much of this money ünds its way to the public co Kers? During the flscal year ending June 30, last, theamount of duties collected on steel rails was $7,147,949, and during the preceding fiscal year it was $6,507,048. This leaves over $10,000,000 of the tax yet to be accounted for. And it goos, as of course no one will deny, to the support of the infant steel-rail industry, where it is used in compensating American labor for the compétition of the pauper labor of Europe, presumably. But, fortunately, we are not obliged to presumo anything about it. The Boston Herald has been so fortúnate as to obtain from three Besseiner rail manufacturéis detailed statements of the various items of expense in the manufacture of steel rails. It is not necessary to publish them in detail here, but it is suffleient to say that in scarcely any manufacture doe3 labor cut a smaller figure. The total amóunt paid for labor on a ton of steel rails, which they have been Relling for $60, is $5.75. And in order to protect this labor we levy a tariff of $28 a ton on imported rails. Has not the climax of absurdity been reáched when, in order to protect labor, we levy a duty of $28 on an article in which labor is only interested to the extent of less than $6, even under that duty ? Let us suppose that everything the laborer gets comes from the tariff. There still remains $22.25 which labor never gets its fingers on, but which goes entirely to the manufacturen We pay him $28 in order that he may f urnish$50.75worth of labor to the workingmen. Surely not a very economical investment, if it is only the welfare of the workingman that we are looking af ter. There is not a chance lef t for doubt that, whether the workingman's pittance come from the tariff or not, more than four-fifths of the tariff goes into the pockets of the manufacturera. These manufacturera consist of fourteen companies banded together in a monopoly inore selflsh and aggressive than almost any of the railroad monopolies commonly supposed to be so heartless. They regúlate the price of rails not by the cost, but by what they can extort, aided by what is in their case a protective tariff. That this is so, is shown by their recent aetion in putting down the price of rails to $46 a ton in order to stop the itnportatioD from Europe, which was becoming larger than they desired. How long they will allow it to remain there remains to be seen. It is entirely in their ewn hands. They can just as well extorfc #50,000.000 as f30,000,000 from the railroads. And they will probably not for any length of time be content with less than they can get. As to who pays this $40,000,000 a year to the Bessemer steel rail milis there can not be any doubt. The railroads pay it directly, but the public pay it eventually. It adds to every passenger fare and railroad tariff, and must seriously retard railway construction; 11.2 per cent. of the cost of every mile of railroad built is paid as a tax on one article of its construction to an association of selflsh monopolista, and benefi ts no one else on the face of the earth. Such a sysem would make an Oriental despot blusa. One of its not improbable consequences is thus hinted at by the Boston Herald: "One important idea in conneetion with the high tariff on steel rails must not be lost sight of. This is best illustrated by tho Grand Trunk ráílrond. That road has a terminus at each end in the United States. The great body of tho road ia in Canada. Canada imports her rails free of duty, and sa ves $28 per ten on her iron over her neighboring competing lines in the United States. That road can haul grain from the west to the seaboard at prices which her eompetitors cannot touch. The idea eau bê extended- doabtless will be unless the present exorbitant tariff on rails i3 removed. A line of railroad can be run from the Atlantic to tho Pacific just over the Canadian border, and tapped with little branches running down into the United Stafes, and a very great portion of our western carrjing trade can be done over Englisfa cfteap rails, while our railroads eau only hold up their hands in holy horror at the lack of wisdom in such a tariff."


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Ann Arbor Democrat