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How A Tariff Raises Wages

How A Tariff Raises Wages image
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The argument that larger profits for manufacturers means higher wages for employees is the thinnest irgument we have heard in many a day. Wages are determined not by the profits made by the employer but by the amount the laborer will ake for his worK. A rich man pays no higher wages than does a man in moderate circumstances. In fact, he rich are often closer in paying wages. The amount that a man is able to pay does not enter into the calculation. A.s has been well saidi 'ay Gould is able to pay $500 to his jootblack but he only pays his five cents like a little man. The manufactory that is losing money can obain its employees at no lower a rate han an adjoining factory which is making money. These thingsbeing granted, it must be seen that the underDÍnnine has been knocked out from under the doctrine of protection so far as it relates to the increasing ofwages. That this statement is not theory alone, we may quote from that apostle of high tariff, the New York Tribune, to prove, prefacing the quotation with the remark that cloaks are among the most highly protected of American industries and any one who would import $100 worth of cloaks must pay $67.75 in duties. If the doctrine of the protectionists be true, then we would look for high wages paid cloak makers. And yet this is the way the cloak makers live as told by the New York Tribune : "In a room ten íeet square, lovv ceiled, and lighted by but one window whose panes were crusted with the dirt of a generation, seven women sat at work. Three machines were the principal furniture. A small stove burned fiercely, the close smell of red hot iron hardly dominating the fouler one of sinks and recking sewer gas. Piles of cloaks were on the floor, and the women, white and wan, with cavernous eyes and hands more akin to a skeleton's than to flesh and blood, bent over the garments and would pass from this loathsome place saturated with the invisable filth furnished as air. There were handsome cloaks, lined with quilted silk or satin, trimmed with fur or sealskin, and retailing at prices írom thirty to seventy-five dollars. A teapot stood at the back of the stove; some cups, and a loafol bread, with a lump of streaky butter were on a small table absorbing their portion also of filth. An inner room, a mere closet, dark and even fouler than the other one, held the bed; a mattress, black with age, lying upon the flooi. Here such a rest as might be had was taken when the sixteen hours of work ended - sixteen hours oftoil relievedby not one gleam of hope or cheer; the net result of this accumulated and ever accumulatfag misery being $3.50 a week. Two women using their utmost diligence could finish one cloak a day, receiving from the "sweater" through whose hands all must come, fifty cents each for a toil unequalled by any form of labor under the sun, uiiless" it be that of the haggard vvretches dressed in men's clothes. but counted as female laborers in Belgian mines." If a protective taiiff is such blessing to wage vvorkers, why doe, not such a high tariff on cloaks raise the wages of the cloak makers?


Ann Arbor Argus
Old News