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Mr. WALKER. Yes; unless the cost of production here went down immediately they would sell their boots and shoes under the noses of our own workmen.
The CHAIRMAN. The buyer of boots and shoes would get his supplies cheaper iu either case. Mr. WALKER. He would nominally get some of his supplies cheaper.
The CHAIRMAN. What is the proportionate value of the raw material and of the labor in a pair of shoes?
Mr. WALKER. In a thick upper-leather boot the labor and expense account is about 28 per cent. The expense account is about half in Europe, the same as the labor.) Of course, if the English factory-hand works for one-half the wages of an American, we must have a duty of 14 per cent. to make us even. The rule holds good here as elsewhere that the nearer to the consumer a thing is manufactured the more honestly it is made. That is one reason why our goods are exported and taken in many of the foreign markets in preference to English goods, although their selling price may be higher. Then, again, the people here buying these English shoes would not buy shoes that were so well adapted to them; and it is a fact that the masses of the people are protected in anything which they consume by having it manufactured in a manner especially adapted to their use. The goods that are ill adapted to a people are not cheap to them.
The CHAIRMAN. Would not that adjust itself without a tariff ?–Men would very soon learn that you provided them with boots that would wear longer than English boots; and would they not pay the extra 14 per cent. to get your boots without the intervention of a tariff?
Mr. WALKER. In buying the goods made at home a man would get more for his money than in buying foreign-made goods.
The CHAIRMAN. And he would pay more for them.
Mr. Walker. A few wise and very shrewd persons would do so, but the masses would not. I only mention this as oue way of protecting those who are unskilled and injudicious.
The CHAIRMAN. I thought you supposed it dangerous for the government to interfere with the savings-banks to protect people against their own ignorance and their own want of order.
Mr. WALKER. I said that the government should protect them, but shonld not do savings-bank business directly. So I say in regard to this question of tariff'; that the goverment should not make goods directly, but that the government should so arrange its revenue laws as to protect the unskillful and also to develop the industries of our own country.
The CHAIRMAX. The question is this: Whether the individual will not find his selfinterest sufficiently strong to make him pay for that which is best, and which suits him. Is not that a more cogent and powerful reason than anything the government can do?
Mr. WALKER. As an abstract principle, that is true; and it is true practically with those who have skill enough rightly to decide.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you have us recommend legislation as to the business of life (buying and selling) for the protection of the ignorant and the unskilled against the shrewder ones? Because if you do, in the ordinary transactions of life, you come to the communistic theory that says you must protect the poor against the rich.
Mr. WALKER. I thought that the protection of the weak or ignorant from the strong and unscrupulous was the theory of all laws. I thought that that was what you were in Congress for: to protect the weak against the strong. The strong can take care of themselves. The question is, how far shall you go? That is a question of degree; not a question of abstract science; not a question of principle; but a question of practice.
The CHAIRMAN. You would stop with the tariff; but when it goes beyond that, when it goes to the case of the mock-auction store, would you allow the policeman to put up a placard, “This is a mock auction"; or would you stop short of that!
Mr. WALKER. Do you not think that the policeman ought to be required by regulations to put up that sign everywhere that it is required!
The CHAIRMAN. Where there is a fraud, I agree with you that the public should be warned of it.
Mr. WALKER. That is what I want the government to do.
The CHAIRMAN. Then you think that the great object of the tariff is to warn the consumer that the foreign product is not so good as the doinestic product !
Mr. WALKER. I never said so; and I do not think that it is a logical conclusion from anything I did say. I said that the practical effect of having free trade would be that those who are less skilled and the least able to decide upon the quality were the people who would suffer most by having goods in the market that were not so well adapted to their wear as the home-made goods. This point is only incidental to the question, and but a small part of the office of a tariff.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you adopt the same principle in every branch of industry as well as in the boot and shoe line?
Mr. WALKER. I would carry it through everything which our climate and soil are adapted to produce.
The CHAIRMAN. And everything that we can produce with as little expenditure of labor as in England would be your standard ?
Mr. WALKER. That is it, exactly—orerything that we can produce with as little expenditure of what may be called skilled labor in producing. This is not purely a question of dollars and cents as to coats or boots and shoes. If I understand it, this country is for making men and women. It is for the progress of its citizens, their development, their education, the making of better men and women. Now, if you put this on the question of trade only, it is immaterial whether a man gets four francs [80 cents] a day here or in Belgium, so far as the whole mass of humanity is concerned. But every man's duty is first to himself, his family, his State, his country; and that is the way in which all progress is made. It is for the interest of this country to benefit her citizens, and it is necessary, in order to do that, that every man should have an opportunity to work at that for which he was born; and he cannot do it unless everything is done where he is.
The CHAIRMAN. You said just now that the tariff made boots and shoes cost more to the consumers. Now, if it makes the commodity cost me more, what good do the higher wages do me?
Mr. WALKER. Of course I knew that you were coming to that. It is only a portion of the boots and shoes that would cost much more to the consumer-only a few kinds, not all kinds. I do not know that the common split boot would cost much, if any, more, because I do not think the tariff affects those goods. Now, as to wages: If a man gets $2 a day you ask me how much better is he off than if he gets only a dollar.
The CHAIRMAN. Provided that the $2 a day is expended in buying the same quantity of goods as could be bought with a dollar under other circumstances.
Mr. WALKER. Then he is not any better off. Do you want your original question answered:
The CHAIRMAN. O, of course.
Mr. WALKER. In the first place, there is scarcely anything consumed by the mass of the people which cannot be obtained in this country as cheaply to-day as it can be obtained anywhere. And things were made cheap in this country precisely as they were made cheap in England and other countries. They were made cheap in England by a tariff. In England they went so far, in order to get freight for their ships, as to absolutely destroy the ships of Holland, blowing them out of the water-sinking them. The navigation-laws of England have been as stringent as navigation-laws could be made, and this fairly illustrates her course in building up all her industries. We are subject to the same conditions; and the fact that we had the tariff, and that our industries were developed, gave us not only the agricultural machinery of this country, but of the world. Agricultural machinery is an American invention—the same as shoo machinery is--and the tariff has given us all our shoe machinery, absolutely every bit of it. There was not a piece of inachinery connected with boots and shoes used anywhere in the world that was not a Yankee invention up to very recently. That is the effect of the tariff everywhere. And your $2 wages now will certainly buy 50 per cent. more—and I think nearly 90 per cent. more-of what the mass of men consume than the wages which you have mentioned in England will buy there. Now, if the $2 wages received here will buy only one-half more than the wages paid in England, our workinen are certainly 50 per cent. better off than the English workmen.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes, if the facts are true, but they are not true of all business.
Mr. WALKER. The fact is true of cutlery, it is true of cotton goods, it is true of everything but woolen goods. It is true of the boots and shoes which the masses of the people wear or very nearly so. It is true of agricultural products, and what is there left of the necessities of man?
The CHAIRMAN. I am a maker of pig-iron. Pig-iron pays a duty of $7 per ton. The manufacturers of agricultural machinery are largely buyers of pig-iron. They are exporting agricultural machinery to all parts of the world; but they are met by competition from Great Britain, and they say, “If you give us pig-iron free, we can produce agricultural machinery at less cost and can drive the English competitors out of the market.”
Mr. WALKER. That is undoubtedly true in certain cases; but they are a very small percentage of the industries of the country. We cannot do anything to benefit ourselves in one direction without some slight injury in some other. It is with the tariff as with everything else. You cannot make any law without incommoding somebody. We never can be a manufacturing and exporting country such as England is. It is impossible. Remove all tariff, and still it cannot be.
The CHAIRMAN. If food here were as cheap as there, could it not be?
Mr. WALKER. I will come to that in a moment. The institutions of England, from the beginning to the end not only her laws, customs, and business habits, but everything else--are so formed that not another man can live there by agriculture; and the increase of population there is therefore driven into manufacturing centers. If we should undersell her in manufactures her operatives would starve, bid under us, or emigrate; and, therefore, let us manufacture as cheaply as we may, England must still undersell us. Now, can we ever succeed in competing with a nation so situated ? Then, again, her population is so situated that the workmen in factories have not onefourth the space to work in that our laborers have. It is just the same with the houses, and just the same with the land. If the English operative's wages were increased 25 per cent., he has no special use for it. In our country every man wants to educate his children a little better, dress them a little better, and live in a better house. The gradations in society here are as nothing. Not so in England. An English workman cannot spend his earnings like the workman that I have alluded to, in buying a house, or a piano to teach his daughter music. He would have no place in his tenement in which to put a piano.
The CHAIRMAN. I think you cannot be aware of the enormous progress that has been made in Great Britain within the last thirty years. I think if you had read Jones's and Ludlow's work of the progress of the working classes in England you would probably change your opinion on that subject. In the first place, the government takes the savings of the workmen and keeps them for them. In the next place, the improvement in the dwellings of the working classes in Great Britain has been something wonderful within the last twenty-five years, and is growing with very great rapidity. A most material and decided improvement has taken place in the position of English workmen, for which I am profoundly glad, because that makes the conditions of the competition with this country more equal. I hail with delight every step, on the other side, by which the workingmen are brought up in the scale of society. And the result of my observations for the last thirty years is that the English workingman is inaking enormous progress. The wages are steadily rising, and he is learning to spend them much more wisely than formerly.
Mr. WALKER. There is no question about that. The improvements you mention were sadly needed, and I also rejoice in them; but this thing still remains, that the doing it in the way it must necessarily be done there, the dead uniformity in the doing it, is not desirable, and is not conducive to human progress. There should be more diversity in the houses in which they live. If you see a factory village in one of their manufacturing centers, it is one dead level. There is nothing in it to stimulate the minds of the people to a desire and determination to “get on" in the world. If every family lives in a tenement that is exactly like every other (and he cannot live in any other tenement until he becomes substantially rich), what inducement is there for a man to rise, or what place for a small beginning?
The CHAIRMAN. There is no country where the progress of the workmen has been so great as in England of late years. The whole of the English legislation in that respect is so admirable, that I want to get as much of it here as I can. The difficulties which they had to contend against never existed here. Now, the point is this: Can we, by any process of legislation, keep our people on a permanently higher plane of civilization than our English competitors ? Is it possible to do that?
Mr. WALKER. No, sir; we can simply keep our people where they are until the English people come up to them; but by no means let us degrade our people down to their level for the purpose of getting an advantage of England in trade. That is my point. I want to save everything that we have. I want to outgrow our tariff. There is no thinking man who does not know that it is an abnormal condition of things that requires a tariff. In fact everything is abnormal, or else there would be no necessity for law or its machinery, no room for progress.
The CHAIRMAN. Do yon think that the higher amount of wages paid in this country is due to the tariff, or is it due to the superior natural advantages which enables the workingman to produce more and thus to get a better reward for his labor ?
Mr. WALKER. It is due entirely to using the superior natural advantages which the tariff' has made available to him.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you mean to say that without the tariff he could not use these advantages ?
Mr. WALKER. Not a bit more than a child can grow until after it is born.
Mr. WALKER. If you choose to go any further back in its history, you will excuse me from following you.
The CHAIRMAN. It is alleged that the laborers of no country can get more remuneration than the productions of the soil of the country-in other words, what its natural advantages will produce, to be divided among them. It is said that we are limited by the soil and the labor devoted to it, and that that determines the reward of labor, measured by the common standard of the world-which is gold. You seem to have an idea that that can be increased by legislation. If that is true, it would be a most desirable aid to our natural wealth.
Mr. Walker. I am exceedingly sorry that I seemed to have that idea; for certainly I have it not. You have heard of the professor from the college of Utopia, or of the
pick and shovel, I have forgotten which, who said that if he could purchase a stove that would save half the fuel, he would purchase two stoves and save all the fuel.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes; we have had that case put here.
Mr. WALKER. It is sound logic to the free-trader. All countries have been developed by protecting their infant industries, and always will be. Our people export goods abroad to-day because of the protective tariff. Every bushel of wheat and every bushel of corn that is exported is due to the tariff. The means by which the corn and wheat are produced for exportation have grown out of the tariff, by the tariff protecting our industries, and creating a competition among mechanics here, which has given ns machinery by which our corn and wheat are produced. Our present exportation of agricultural products is as good an illustration of the beneficent effect of protection as anything that the country can show. The very reaper would not have been here, in all human probability, were it not wrought out of the brains of our mechanics, whó could not have been mechanics if it had not been for the protective tariff. If it is better for us to be simply and solely an agricultural people, let us go back to that condition. And that is the condition in which we would have been had it not been for the tariff. If you remove the tariff, I have no question but that many of our industries will leave here. Some of them will not. But why change a policy which has produced such great results? Why not adhere to it and outgrow itThen, again, I want to say that our tariff has given us, in all probability, nearly twenty-five per cent., if not more, of our present population. One-fourth of the people that inhabit this country were born abroad, or their parents were. Shall we ship our agricultural products three thousand miles to a market, rather than continue the policy that makes a market at the doors of our farms and factories?
The CHAIRMAN. But the most important fact before this committee is that we have in this country a large amount of unemployed labor.
Mr. WALKER, A man might just as well hang himself because he had a boil, as to talk about changing our laws or institutions because the country has a local ache just now.
The CHAIRMAN. What remedy are we to take for this surplus population ?
Mr. WALKER. They lie, and they tell the truth-both. That is true of individuals. It always has been; it always will be. It is a melancholy fact, a fact to touch the heart of any living being, to see a man with his wife and children depending upon him, honestly asking for work, and unable to get it.
Mr. Rice. Are there not some in that condition now?
Mr. WALKER. They must be cared for now, as they have been in the past for a very brief period. We are nearly over this thing. We are decidedly on the other side of the trouble. In twelve months' time, in my judgment, you will not see a man who uses any discretion in seeking it, who will not have work enough to support himself and family. But the government, as a government, can do nothing by any additional laws.
The CHAIRMAN. Is not the first object of a protective system to afford an outlet for labor!
Mr. WALKER, It has done it most wonderfully.
The CHAIRMAN. You say that the government can do nothing; but it has done something.
Mr. WALKER. Certainly; I firmly believe that in this August, 1878, there are not so many people seeking employment as there were in any August between 1840 and 1850.
The CHAIRMAN. I think I can confirm that statement. My recollection is that there was great difficulty in getting employment during that time, and yet we had what was then the highest protective tariff we ever had, the tariff of 1842.
Mr. WALKER. I did not allude to the tariff of 1842 or 1846. I meant to say any ten years not affected by war. I have heard the question discussed as to the effect of this or that measure, but the great fact stands out that this country's manufactures only came by the tariff, and that where we have a thousand men to-day, there would not have been one-quarter so many if there had been no tariff. Of course there is no man who can certainly prove or disprove this theory, for it is one of those things that never can be settled, but I believe all the facts sustain it.
The CHAIRMAN. I have asked you these questions for the purpose of getting at the strongest possible arguments that can be brought out for the tariff. I have been accused of not being willing to allow that side to be heard. The special purpose of my questions to you has been to get the matter presented in the strongest possible way; and I hope I have removed that reproach from myself at least. I never heard the question in favor of the tariff presented more strongly than it has been presented by you to-day.
Mr. WALKER. I did not know that I was to be asked any questions upon the tariff, until Mr. Rice told me last night that I.probably would be.
The CHAIRMAN. I have been denounced in the Evening Telegram as a well-known protectionist; so th: you see that I have done my duty well on that side, too.
Mr. WALKER. I think that you have tried to do it on the other side also. That my opinion of the present tariff may not be misunderstood, with your permission I will say that I think the United States revenue laws and regulations now need a very thorough and careful revision in the interests of American commerce, agriculture, and manufactures. This work should be thoroughly divorced from party politics, and committed to a commission composed of seven individuals, two of whom should be selected at large, and one from each of the five leading industries of the country. The five last-mentioned members of the commission should have that thorough and practical knowledge of the written and unwritten laws, the conditions of successful trade and manufacturing, extending to the minutest details, which only comes from a life-training in the successful prosecution of the business they severally represent. Such a commission has the sanction of success in other countries, and I believe it would unanimously report a bill to Congress that would there command the support of all parties.
Mr. Rice. There has been a complaint made about prison labor. Have you had any experience in employing convict labor? If so, state the result to the employer. Is it an unfair competition against ordinary outside labor? State whether convict labor affects unfavorably honest labor.
Mr. WALKER. Convict labor is related to and comes in competition with other labor just as machinery is related to the labor which it is designed to supplant. That is, if you have a thousand men absolutely idle, and you set them at work and they prodnce a given result, they stand with relation to all the rest of the community just the same as so much machinery producing that result. Every convict must either support himself by labor or must be supported by taxation; and I suppose that, in this day, no one will dispute that taxation ultimately falls upon labor and is taken from the results of labor. Now, either these convicts must labor to support themselves or some other man must labor to support them. Leaving all humanitarian questions out of the problem, they are simply thinking machines. That is all that there is about it. Their labor does not unfavorably affect other labor any more than machinery does; and there is just the same reason for occupying convicts, who would be otherwise idle, that there is in employing machines.
Mr. Rice. I suppose you have convict labor in Massachusetts. Can you compete fairly with your neighbor who has not such convict labor?
Mr. WALKER. I had used convict labor five or six years without carefully determining whether it was to my advantage or not. Subsequently, I had a contract for three years more, and I carefully kept the figures. The apparent advantage to me was $1,500 a year; but when I took into account the quality of the work, the damage that came from it, and the inconvenience of employing convict labor, I thought that, on the whole, I lost a sum nearly equal to the apparent saving.
Mr. Rice. Then you do not think that convict labor bears unfavorably on other labor?
Mr. WALKER. The letting of convict labor is by contract. Anybody who chooses can bid for it. I think that there was $2 lost where there was one dollar gained by the employment of convict labor until quite recently. Up to the time of the war, i think that nearly every man who had contracts for convict labor lost money upon them. Certainly nearly every one in our trade did. But during the period affected by the war several parties made considerable sums of money on them.
Further questions were submitted to Mr. Walker, to which the following answers were returned in writing.
Question 9. What was the cause of the panic ?
Answer. The abuse of credit, the activities called out by the war, and the issuing of paper money produced a delirium of enterprise, or, perhaps, more properly speaking, manufacturing and trading activity, which has revealed with remarkable distinctiveness and power the law of compensation, which governs in all things. The abuse of credit is what bas brought upon both Europe and America the commercial revulsion of the last few years, aggravated there, as here, by inflation of the currency. Credit became as cheap as dirt.' As every dollar of our circulating medium must be redeemed by one of intrinsic value, so every promise must be redeemed by doing the thing promised. Destroy confidence in the ultimate redemption of either, and it is itself destroyed. The people suddenly awoke from their delusion, and we had the panic. That, for all any of us can see, things might have gone on ten years more as they had done for the ten years preceding 1873 is certain ; but that the longer the day of settlement was put off the more suffering it would cause is equally clear. We are settling our accounts for a