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Springer On Reform

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Hon. Williain M. Springer, of Ulinois, while in New York not long ago fcalked with a meniber of the lioforin club on the prospecta of frirüï reform. He spoke in the most hopefuJ matmer of the outlook, and he feit the r.tinost confidence that the Demócrata vvould win on the tariff issue in 1893. Mr. Springer said: The Repnbliciin politieions of Washington are now emU'avoring to divert public attention froiu the principal issue upon which they wore repudiated at the November election. ïhey seem to be of the opinión that there is trat one way open through which success is possible in 1892. Upon the tariiï question they have been thoroughly fepadiated. They now hope by reviving sectional issues through and by means of the Force bill and appeals to sectional prejudice to reform political issues upon other lines than tariff and taxation. In this they will be as much disappointed as they were overwhelmed by the result of the recent election. The people of the country have pronounced against taxation of the many f or the benefit of the few. They will not give up this issue until it has eventuated in practical legislation in aceordance with their demanda. Lf we were now living under the form of government which prevails in ïnonarchical England, the new congress would be at once convened. and the McKinley bill would be repudiated immediately; but under our more conservativo methods we must abide the constitutional forms required for securing resulta. Un the tariff question the republicans can neither go forward nor backward with any prospect of bettering their condition. To stand still is conceded defeat; to move in the other direction offers scarcely less advantage. If they go forward they must rely iipon the fulUlment of pledges made before the election and pending the passage of the McKinley bill. to the effect that while prices of articles affected by the tariff might be temporarily advanced, yet, ultimately and in the near future, by means of competition, such prices could be greatly reduced and articles would be sold cheaper than before the passage of the bill, thus placing their reliance in ;he future for a reversal of the popular judgment in November upon a claim that competition is to come to their relief, and that by the time of the next presidential election the people will be in the f uil enjoyment of cheap necessaries of life secured throtigh competition. This hope is a flattering one; it can never be realized. Competition has already done its perfect work in this country in the matter of reducing prices. So perfectly has competition been carried on that combination for the purpose of arresting competition has been resorted to all along the line. There is scarcely a manufacturing industry in the United States that is not more or less controlled by some tand of combination for the purpose of liruiting the output and regulating the priees. In some cases this combination has taken the form of trusts or organized monopolies. These trusts have secured the concentration of nearly all the capital engaged in a given industry, and by this combination a complete control of the output and priees has been 6ecured. In other cases a milder type of combination has been resorted to. In some oases the combination has been secured by means of correspondence between the various interests and a tacit agreement reached as to ontput and priees year after year. But through one form or another scarcely an industry can be mentioned in which f urther competition is not prevented or made impossible by the mutual conourrence of those engaged in the business. Those, therefore, who look to competition for a reduction of priees vill be deceived. Priees of manufactured articles can only be reduced, whüe the McKinley bill is in force, by the reduction of wages or by the adoption of improved processes. The lat ter will come without the tariff; it is entirely independent of it. In most lines of industry t would seem that the processes of manufacture were almost perfect at this time; but still we may hope for continued improvement in this direction, although such improvement will searcely se perceptible in the brief space of two years. Lower priees secured by reduc;ion of wages would be attended with greater disaster than if present priees should be maintained and wages increased. So that wherever cheapness is secured by reduction of wages, the remedy will be worse than the disease, speaking in a political 6ense, as it will affect the interests of the Republican party. Henee it seems conclusive that the Republican party cannot improve its positiou on the tariff or on taxation by adhering to the McKinley bill. If, however, the leaders of the party should determine to reverse their position, overturn the leadership of Harrison, McKinley and Reed, and put Mr. Blaine forward with the implied promise of the repeal of the McKinley bill, the enlargement of trade through reciprocity, and the bettering of their condition by repudiating all that the Republican party has done since it carne into power, it will find this latter condition more bopeless than the former. President Harrison in his message to 3ongress "pointed with pride" to the fact that there had been recenfly an increase in the priees of agricultural prodacts, such as corn, wheat, etc., and he sndeavored to convoy the impression that such increased price of agricultural products was the result of the McKinley bill. Nothing could be further from the trnth. If he had taken pains to examine íhe report on the condition of the crops -which issued from the agricultural lepartment almost siriultaneoualy with bis message - he would have f ound that in Kansas the average yield of corn per acre was only eleven bushels, whereas it ought to have been thirty. The very fact that there is altnost a total failure of the corn erop in Kansas was one of the reasons which produced the political revolution in that state. The failure or shortness of the corn erop of the great corn belf of the country cansed scarcity of this prodnet, and scarcity resulted in higher prices f or corn. But the trouble with the farmers was that they had little or no corn to sell, and many of them who had stock to feed becanie buyers at the higher rates which scarcity had produced. The prices of agricultural products are determined entirely by the extent of production, and this is governed by natural canses, not by legislation. A failure of crops in this country is regarded by the farmers as the greatest calamity that can befall them, but such failure inevitably results in higher prices of farm products, and therefore the president has cited as an evidence of prosperity that which the farmers themselves regard as a calamity, namely, higher prices resulting from erop failnre. There can be no combmation among farmers to reduce the output of agricultural products; such coinbinations are not even desirable. Farmers universally strive for bonntiful harvests, the pious ones among them praying as well as laboring for them. They regard a bountiful harvest as essential to their prosperity, notwithstanding the fact that the greater the erop the less will be the price of the products. They are political economists who believe, who realize, in fact, that abundance is wealth and that scarcity can never tend in that direction. If the next season should be favorable, and large crops of wheat. corn, oats and other products of the farm should be realized, there will be a corresponding depression of prices, and the larger the erop the lower the prices. If such should bê the result a j-ear from this time the president in nis annual message would - following the lines of his late one - deplore the unfortnnate condition of the country brought about by the low prices for farm products caused by abundant harvests! The Republican leaders cannot hope to divert the attention of the country from the tariff question whatever they may do, whether they go forward or go backward. The Democratie party has a plain, unmistakable duty to perform; that duty consists in moving steadüy onward and pressing the advantage which it has already obtained. It will keep this question before the public until the fruits of victory have been realized, until the McKinley bilí has been repealed, and until materials which make profitable manufacture impossible have been relieved from unnecessary burdens and so cheapened as to not only aid manufacturing, but increase profitable aroduction. It will demand larger marie ts for American farm products; not only reciprocity with Cuba, South America and Canada, bnt freer trade with all the world. The late election was only the exaression of popular desire; that popular desire has not been accomplished. It may not be f ully realized until af ter the next presidential election, at which the inal and complete victory will be achieved - namely, the election of a president and both branches of coniress, who will carry into effect the wpular verdict of last November. Durng the Fifty-second congress the large democratie majority will keep this quesion continually in view. It will not be turned to the right nor to the left; it will not permit side issues of any kind o interfere with this all absorbing and all important question. With the advantages abready obtained it will be lit;le less than criminal to permit anything o occur which would make irnpossible nltimate and complete tariff reform.