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AMERICAN BUSINESS AS AFFECTED BY PEACE AND PREPAREDNESS 225 altogether the business men of Greater New reasonable apprehension of lower prices once York.
the European supply of beet sugar is again We are particular to explain our action in available. Many who anticipate a slackening this respect lest it be regarded as invidious. in the war-stimulated demand for specialties Our purpose has been to obtain a reading of are undisturbed thereby and admit that they the business mind of the United States at first are gradually and successfully preparing themhand rather than through the eyes of bankers
selves for such a contingency. who must view events in the light of their We cannot, therefore, regard the evenly financial trusteeship, or men of large affairs balanced opinion as to the effect of peace who live in New York and are precluded by upon American business as indicative of a the very isolation of their metropolitan resi- lack of confidence in the country's ability to dence from anything more than a vicarious readjust itself promptly to the conditions knowledge of conditions outside this great which shall develop with the ending of the city.
war. It is only proper to say that we approached The answers to Question 2, in regard to this investigation with the feeling that the
the effect of higher prices upon the
consumpdependence of the country upon the foreign tion of goods, are most reassuring. Nearly demand for our goods had been exaggerated, every one agrees that the purchasing power and in submitting the questionnaire to our of the country has been greatly increased, correspondents we so informed them, closing that people are able to buy more and better our letter of transmittal with the following goods, and there is but little, if any, comstatement :
plaint as to the effect of high prices upon The aggregate of our foreign trade, includ. consumption. In fact, one New
, England ing both imports and exports, is about five and manufacturer goes so far as to say that inone-half billions. Our domestic commerce is
stead of buying a poorer quality of goods at competently estimated at about one hundred the same prices the demand is running conbillions. The purchasing power of our popu- stantly in the direction of better goods even lation is greater than that of any other people at higher prices. in the world. Economically, we are self-con
The answers to Question 3, with regard to tained. If the balance between domestic pro
the unemployment of labor, are most reasduction and consumption is fairly well pre
suring The unemployment reported is, for served, and we do not unnecessarily alarm
the most part, localized either on the Pacific ourselves over conditions that affect us but remotely, our progress ought to be undisturbed.
Coast or in the Southern States, where, as
many of our correspondents state, the higher We have received in all some 1,629 replies, wages paid have really had the effect of diminwhich we have summarized in tabular form, ishing the industry of the Negro. according to geographical districts. [This The answers to Question + indicate a somesummary will be found on pages 226 and what widespread desire for higher wages, but 227 of The Outlook.]
most of our correspondents express themThe summary speaks for itself and requires selves philosophically with regard to the situbut little explanatory comment. Of those ation, and realize that it is entirely natural that answering the first question, about one-half the wage-earner should desire to share in the feel that their business will be directly affected widespread prosperity of which he hears su by peace in Europe, while the other half look much. for undiminished activity.
The response to Question 5 is a corollary It is only proper to explain that those who of that made to Question 4, and is, if any. feel apprehensive as to the effect of peace in thing, more reassuring. The labor unrest is Europe upon American business activity are apparently confined to a few classes, includengaged, for the most part, in the metal or ing the railroad men and the workers in some munition industries or in the manufacture of highly specialized staple industries. articles that were imported before the war. The unanimity of opinion with regard to Thus, a Connecticut manufacturer of clocks the operation of the Federal Reserve Law is says that he fears that he will not be able to remarkable, and about the only dissatisfaction compete with German-made clocks when the expressed comes from the Rocky Mountain war is over ; and those who are interested in States and the Pacific Northwest, in which the manufacture and production of sugar in sections loans running for longer periods Louisiana, Utah, and Colorado express a than the Federal Reserve Law permits are
9. Are the business men in your section content that the tarift
1416 117 315 407 160 103 111
56 147 question shall be taken out of Answer: politics by the creation of a
65 8 29
251 245 87
They are saving
17+ 196 83
have led to greater of better times?
extravagance. 523 34 137 153 60
25 42 14. Is public sentiment in your ser: tion opposed to or in favor of
78 2 11 29 9 6 12
185 9 36 70 26 14
extension of our foreign trade,
162 173 77 47
19 NUMBER OF REPLIES 1
1629 137 389 453 187 118 119
64 162 ' This is the total number of persons replying to one or more questions. Few of those answering made replies to all questions, which explains the discrepancy between the totals of the answers to each question and the number of persons answering at least one question.
required to satisfy the financial needs of most We regard the answers to Question 11, in of the population. Doubtless the Federal regard to the abatement of the antagonism Reserve Law will pass into history as the toward the railroads, as providing what is, in most beneficent piece of economic legislation a financial sense, the most important inforthat has ever been enacted in this country. mation in our report. That over ninety per
The response to Question 7 negatives much cent of our correspondents should report of the newspaper talk with regard to the infla. that the disposition to harass the railroads tion of currency and credit in the United is vanishing, is extremely encouraging. The States. If there is any inflation, but few railroads of the United States employ more business men are conscious of it, and it is, labor and disburse a larger sum in wages we think, reasonable to assume that until there than any other single industry. Their puris an inflation of which people are conscious chases constitute a very large proportion of there will be no attempt at contraction. our total commerce; and if their develop
The answers to Question 8, in regard to the ment in the future shall be unrestricted by constructive activity of the country, reveal the unwise legislation and regulation of the basis upon which the present prosperity which they have hitherto been the victims, rests. Constructive activity means the crea- it will be well for the future prosperity of the ation of productive wealth, and it is encour- country. agingly significant that about eighty per cent The negative answers to Question 12, with of our replies indicate that the people are regard to a possible advance of five per cent building new houses, enlarging their plants, in railway freight rates, are, for the most part, and making permanent improvements that qualified by statements of which the followbespeak their confidence in the future. ing from a Southern correspondent is typical :
The answers to Question 9 report an We have already accepted one advance almost unanimous willingness that the tariff of five per cent in ralway rates without question shall be taken out of politics by the complaint, and would not be willing to subcreation of a tariff commission. In view of mit to a further advance unless it is equi. the fact that a very large proportion of our tably distributed throughout the entire counreplies come from manufacturers and States which on account of their industrial activities The answers to Question 13, in regard to are generally reckoned as “ protectionist," the saving and extravagance, are also qualithis unanimity of opinion may be said to mark fied. Most of our correspondents admit that something of a revolution in American polit- the savings banks, insurance companies, and ical feeling with regard to the tariff. We other repositories of thrift show increased recommend it to the special attention of the sources which bespeak a reasonable provision platform committees of both the Democratic for the future. One informant says that he and Republican parties, and are delighted to “ sees no increase in extravagance except in feel that we are nearing the time when the the matter of automobiles.” His allusion to political energies of each successive Congress the automobile expenditure of the Nation is may be employed more profitably than in the the only comment made upon it, from which revision of tariff schedules. One correspond we infer that there is a noteworthy change ent qualifies his acceptance of the tariff com- in the attitude of thinking men toward the mission plan with the proviso that it shall be American investment in this form of transmade operative “before the end of time.” portation. With this we are in hearty agreement.
The answers to Questions 14, 15, and 16, The answers to Question 10, in regard to which deal with preparedness, the sense of the market for real estate, drive another rivet civic responsibility, American Nationalism, in the structure of prosperity that is visualized and the protection of American citizens resiby this investigation. If the Rural Credit dent or having property interests outside of Bill which the Senate has already passed shall the United States, will, we think, be a surbecome a law, the effect will probably be to prise to the pacifists. If they could read the increase greatly the availability of farm lands remarks and letters with which our replies to as a basis for loans, thus stabilizing their value; these questions have been accompanied, they and a prosperity that is buttressed by higher would abandon the theory that the United wages, increased consumption, and stable States has become a spineless Nation. There values for land would seem to be, for a time is naturally a widespread disagreement as to at least, immune from any serious reaction. the degree of preparedness to which we
1916 AMERICAN BUSINESS AS AFFECTED BY PEACE AND PREPAREDNESS 229
should commit ourselves. Some of our cor- good many who seem to favor the forcible respondents in the rural communities say annexation of sufficient Mexican territory to that the feeling in favor of preparedness is indemnify us for the damages inflicted upon cooled by the fear that it is inspired by the American life and property in that Republic, Wall Street hope of large profits,” but a will- The division of public opinion in regard to ingness is generally expressed to support the Mexican problem seems to be greater Congress and the Administration in any rea- than that disclosed in regard to any other sonable measure that shall be adopted for the question submitted. It is evident that the defense of the Nation, and it is apparent that issue is one in regard to which there is not the war in Europe has quickened the spirit as yet any great unanimity of feeling. of Nationalism and increased the individual Speaking generally, we may say that a consciousness of civic responsibility through- careful examination of the replies received out the country.
leads us to feel great satisfaction in the ecoIn regard to the protection to be afforded nomic condition of the country and increased by our Government to American citizens resi- confidence in the political common sense of dent or having property interests outside the the people. If we were mapping American United States, there is a somewhat wide diver- prosperity, we should paint New England, gence of opinion. One correspondent, in re- Pennsylvania, and Michigan in the most gard to whose Americanism there can be no roseate colors. In fact, one correspondent doubt, writes that “we ought to protect our in Detroit says that the boom is dangertrade in foreign countries, but there is no ous." The Pacific States of the Northwest reason why we should follow and protect the and northern California are the only sections people who leave the United States to live in which the use of even a light shade of blue and invest in foreign lands.” He adds: “I
would be justifiable. believe that this country is good enough for In the southern portion of California the any one and its guardianship should not follow absence of war-induced prosperity has been expatriates. They should know what they to some extent offset by the winter influx of are doing and assume the consequences.” tourists from the East and the demand for
Not a few feel that the Nation should the petroleum production of that locality. avoid taking a position that would plunge The clouds have almost disappeared from 100,000,000 people into war for the protec- the Cotton States as a result of the higher tion of those who take unnecessary risks in price of cotton and cotton seed and the inbelligerent countries or on belligerent vessels. crease in cattle production. For the most part, however, our replies indi- In the Middle West the remunerative cate that the people of this country are jealous figures obtained for the grain crops for the of the honor of our flag and the rights of our past two years have made the people conNation and entirely willing to support any tented and happy, although there is some measures that may be necessary for their complaint that the high ocean freight rates protection.
are interfering with the export movement. Upon the question of military intervention Dealing with what we may describe as the in Mexico there is a great division of opinion, politico-economic situation disclosed by our and the correspondence that we have re- report, it may be said that there is evidenced ceived provides a symposium that would a much keener appreciation of the essential greatly interest many Congressmen. A Bal- relation between good government and good timore friend says that “weeping prevents a times, and, while there is but little disposition reply to this question,” meaning presumably to disparage the constructive achievements that he is ashamed of the policy which the of the present Administration, there is a wideGovernment has thus far pursued. Another spread dissatisfaction with the selfish political correspondent writes us that, " while the
individualism of the present Congress and a young men of the country may be in favor of disposition to hold the one that shall succeed Mexican intervention, the older people, who it to a rigid accountability. know the horrors of war, will continue to Our confidence in the permanent prosoppose it to the end."
perity of the country and our optimism in We are somewhat surprised by the num- regard to the benefits and sanity of repreber of answers that advocate the solution of sentative government have been increased the Mexican problem by the purchase of the and to some extent rehabilitated by this innorthern half of Mexi. o, and there are a vestigation.