The Cortland Democrat, Friday, October 26, 1888.
THE STUFFING KNOCKED OUT OF THE TARIFF BUGABOO.
An Absurd Attempt to Substantiate the Soundness of the Republican Protective Tariff Theories by Illustrations Drawn From the Business Of a Wealthy Firm of Wire Fabric Manufacturers Confuted.
The Cortland Standard of Oct. 18th displays its usual bad taste and fatuity in an editorial in which the name and business of Messrs. Wickwire brothers is made the subject of comment. We beg the pardon of these gentlemen for the allusions we must make to them and their business, in commenting on this editorial. The Standard has been so long accustomed to parade bugaboos to scare, instead of arguments to convince voters that it appears to be helpless in any other role. The enslavement of the negroes, the payment of the rebel debt, and the Southern war claims for slaves liberated, and the bloody shirt having been worn out, made worthless and everlastingly condemned by the election of a Democratic President in 1884, the "Free Trade" bugaboo is now displayed to excite the imaginations and terrify voters into support of Republican candidates and measures.
For a long time the Standard denounced the Mills bill as a "British Free Trade" measure, now it says "that bill is the first step towards a tariff for revenue only.'' If this be true of the Mills bill, is it not also true of the Republican Senate bill? If not, why not? What has altered the Standard's views of the Mills bill from "British Free Trade" "to a step towards a tariff for revenue only?" Has the Standard discovered that to bold a lie is less effectual than one better disguised?
The arguments employed to support the Republican positions on the tariff are based entirely upon false and unfounded assumptions, namely, that the earnings of the laboring man are increased, that the necessaries of life cost less, and that public prosperity is promoted by the tribute exacting and bounty-paying tariff which has fostered extravagant expenditures of the public money, while locking up a large part of the money necessary for the transaction of business and increasing the rates of interest to borrowers and business men.
The Standard resorts to a false and unfounded assumption in the following language:
"The Wickwire Brothers could never have started in their present business except under a protective tariff, any more than they could continue without it. The Mills bill does not affect them, but it comes so very close to them as to be exceedingly uncomfortable."
We fail to see any excuse for the Standard in dragging this firm and their business before the public as it admits "the Mills bill does not affect them." The Standard attempts to show in one breath, that Wickwire Brothers have realized more for wire cloth in consequence of the duty imposed upon it, and in the next that the consumer has bought it cheaper for the same reason. Wonderful result of a wonderful tariff, that it should increase the price to the producer and diminish it to the consumer, at the same time. An analysis of the stock Republican arguments in support of their monopoly tariff will always show just this absurdity. But let the Standard speak for itself.
"Therefore, under a tariff starting at 40 per cent and raised to 65, and which free trade liars assert is robbing the people, and is a tax added to the cost of production, the price of this one commodity has fallen from 12 ½ to 1 1/8 cents per square foot, and in the same time foreign-made wire cloth has been shut out of our markets."
The reasoning and the language are et-assic assinine [sic]. It is the characteristic of Republican tariff philosophy that it accomplishes two intrinsically, inconsistent and opposite results at the same time, namely, to both increase and diminish the market price of manufactured articles at the same instant. As long as the one view can be presented to the manufacturer and the other to the consumer, to the exclusion of the opposing view it works well, but it fails as soon as both sides are disclosed to scrutiny.
….Here are the Standard’s words for it:
"About this time a syndicate of American manufacturers bought up for one year all that was imported, in order to hold the price at about 5 cents per square foot, the industry by this time having got a start in the United States and foreign manufacturers having begun to cut prices in order to crush out American competition. The price, however, continued on the decline. Large importations from Germany were made year after year till in 1883 the price reached about 2 1/4 cents per square foot. In this year the tariff on painted wire cloth was raised from 40 per cent, to 65 per cent, and foreign wire cloth was entirely shut out of our markets."
Observe how this confirms what the President says of trusts and the tariff in his last annual message.
Here is another scaley statement from the Standard.
"The present duty on wire of the size used by the Wickwire Brothers in making cloth is 3 cents per lb., and there is an additional duty of 2 cents per pound on the same wire when woven or made into goods. The stock costs 3 cents per lb., and it costs about 5 cents per lb. to draw it. More than half the value of the wire, therefore, is the labor that is put into it."
Two things are to be observed about these last statements.
1st, If the stock costs 3 cents per lb., and the duty is 3 cents per lb., "who pays the tariff and the freight? Can't be Jones?
2nd, If it costs 5 cents per lb. to draw it, what part of the expense of drawing represents labor, and what part of the cost is credited to the plant? The expense of drawing the wire is not that of "the labor put into it." We should be greatly surprised if the labor exceeded 40 per cent of the cost of drawing the wire. The Standard's statement crediting all of it to labor is obviously erroneous and misleading.
Here is another choice specimen of Republican logic from the Standard.
"Already the agitation over the Mills bill has affected the market for the goods made in Cortland. Wickwire Brothers, while they are paying 25 per cent more to their weavers for weaving wire cloth than they did three years ago, are selling their goods at a lower price than ever.
We wonder how Brother Clark blundered into this truth. Can it be possible that the Standard means that prospective "free trade" has the effect to reduce the price of manufactured goods to the consumer and raise the wages of the laborers engaged in their production? This is rank honesty from a Republican stand point. The true Republican doctrine is that a high tariff, not free trade, makes high wages. At this rate the Standard is, as it has often been before, outside of the party lines. This won't do for an organ. It is worse than Blaine's approval of trusts, or Burchard's fatal alliteration. It is refreshing, however, to find truth in the columns of the Standard even by mistake. Such mistakes have been far too rare in the past.
We forbear to quote further from this fatuous diatribe. We apologize for reiterating as much of this nauseous flap doodle. The Standard concludes with a picture drawn by prophetic pen, showing how Wickwire Brothers shops must close, the wages of their operatives be reduced and all earthly shapes melt in the gloom, if a Democratic President and Congress should be elected.
At this dreadful crisis we beg leave to be allowed to suggest a measure of relief for the Messrs. Wickwire, and that is, that the tariff on the stock from which they draw their wire (all of which must be imported because American iron is vastly inferior for this purpose) be removed or reduced, and this is what the Mills bill proposes to do.
This firm whose business, and private affairs the Standard sees fit to discuss, in an editorial, once placed upon their factory a banner with a strange device to the effect that the election of a Democratic President would be followed by a reduction of wages.
They are reputed to have made over half a million of dollars in their business within a very short time, and except to fine wire drawers, who were scarce and difficult to obtain, they have paid the smallest wages of any firm engaged in manufacturing in Cortland, and have received the greatest bounties from consumers of their goods through the tariff, which serves to prove the proposition which Democrats maintain that employers who are protected and pampered by the tariff usually pay their employees lower wages than those who are not so "protected." If they have increased the wages of their weavers as the Standard says they have, it is because their competitors at Homer have done so, and made it necessary for them to do so, and not because they have concluded to divide their large profits among their employees as wages.
The tariff is a tax paid by the importer of merchandise which, with the profits of the importer is added to the price paid by the consumer, which results in raising the price of like merchandise of domestic manufacture with which the foreign competes in the market to the same figures as that imported. The consumer thus pays a tribute which the producer receives as a bonus. A protective tariff is therefore a statue enacted to increase the market price or value of merchandise, and of necessity discriminates in favor of the producer against the consumer. The latter class being vastly more numerous than the former, it benefits the few at the expense of the many, and under its operation the rich grow richer and the poor poorer. Millionaires are produced at one end of the line, tramps and paupers at the other. Just what we observe in this country as the result of twenty odd years of such legislation by Congress.
The national prosperity which Republicans are so fond of mentioning, is confined to the rich and the crafty. One can readily point to a few who have amassed great riches through the favors bestowed upon them by the monopoly fostering tariff. The poor victims of this rapacious legislation are less conspicuous but far more numerous.
Like the operators in Wall street, the fortunate and the rich are conspicuous, while their victims whose lost money they acquired, are obscure in their poverty and misfortunes. We have had too much legislation for the benefit of capital, let us now have some for the sake of humanity. The rich and the crafty may to trusted to take care of themselves for a time. Let the poor have a chance in their unequal struggle. Remove the tribute-bearing taxes from the materials which compose the cottages which shelter them, the clothing that covers them and the food they eat. Repeal the laws enacted to artificially increase the cost of these things and free their limbs from the shackles wrought to bind them in poverty and servitude. Release from the grip of this accursed tariff tribute the materials to be wrought into useful articles of merchandise by our manufacturers, and thereby afford laborers an opportunity of adding to their own and the nation’s wealth by their skill and industry. This will remove the burdens imposed upon commerce which will then expand her white wings to bear our surplus product to be exchanged for materials to be wrought by our skill and labor into commodities of great value and excellency for foreign and domestic use.
That a tariff is an indirect tax levied upon articles, and in the nature of things, paid by the consumer is a fact in which all respectable writers on political economy agree.
That a high rate of taxation is a thing to be desired, or that such a tax contributes to the general prosperity and welfare of a nation or an individual is the most absurd and preposterous assumption and contention ever advanced to uphold a partial and unjust enactment.
But it is the Republican INDEPENDENT.
An excellent tariff lesson, and one easy to remember, is appended from the Philadelphia Record:
November 6 will be a good time for the American who believes in freedom and fair play to express his opinion of COSTLY COAL, COSTLY PORK, COSTLY FLOUR, COSTLY LARD, COSTLY SUGAR, COSTLY CLOTHES, and all sorts of costly necessaries. November 6 will be a good time to give it to the barons and bosses and cut throat monopolists of all sorts and sizes.
Borthwick seems to think the county owes him a living. In 1876 he was elected sheriff of the county and served three years. He then took things easy for three years, and again became a candidate and was elected by a very small majority. After serving that term he sat down and waited until this fall, when he again became a candidate. Three years on and three years off seems to be his motto. Three years of very mild labor and three years of play. Is this thing to continue as long as he lives?
Where was Rufus T. Peck, Esq., when the war was in progress? This question has been often asked and seldom if ever satisfactorily answered. Undoubtedly Mr. Peck recollects where he was domiciled during those troublous times but in view of the fact that many people who do not know are anxious to be informed, we suggest that he publish in next week's supplement to the Standard, a short account of his past history, not omitting the period embraced within the years 1861 and 1865. We have often heard it charged that when the war broke out he had urgent business to transact at Aurora, Canada, and that he didn't find it convenient to return until after the smoke of battle had cleared away. Mr. Peck's many friends in this county would be pleased to have this question settled previous to November 6, 1888. He certainly is not drawing a pension from the U. S. Government for valiant services performed for his country period.
During Borthwick's second term as Sheriff, John H. Doris' circus exhibited in this village. The show had several of the most unscrupulous bunco men and sharps in the country hanging about it. While here two of these sharps snatched a package containing $1030 from the hands of Lorenzo Smith., an elderly resident of this place, and made their escape with the plunder. Mr. Smith consulted the officers of this place and it was finally agreed that Sheriff Borthwick should go to Lock Haven, Pa., where the show was to exhibit about a week later, and endeavor to apprehend the rascals and obtain the money. Mr. Smith agreed to give Borthwick $50 for expenses and agreed to pay a reasonable sum besides if he was successful. Borthwick took John P. Lee along and the rascals were nabbed at Lock Haven, and the money paid back to the Sheriff. One of the bunco men also claims they paid $150 in addition for expenses. When Borthwick and Lee came back they drove to Smith's house and are said to have divided Smith's money as follows: They first paid him $30, then the $50 expense money that he had advanced and the balance of $950 was divided equally between Borthwick and Lee on the one side and Smith on the other. In other words Smith received $555 out of his $1030. Now if Borthwick and Lee got the $150 expense money in addition out of the bunco men, it must have been a profitable trip for them. But has an officer any right to charge more than the legal fees for his services? The main difference between the two parties into whose hands Mr. Smith fell, seems to be that, while the first gang took all the money he had, the last one was satisfied with half.
Two or three years since, the Cortland Water Works Company put up a drinking fountain at the corner of Tompkins and Main streets, not far from the Standard office. [The drinking fountain was located in front of the Messenger House--CC editor.] The top of the fountain was surmounted with the figure of a partially nude female. The figure was cast in iron, and although of rather voluptuous mold, it was perfectly harmless except possibly to persons of lascivious minds and temperaments. Whether the editor of the Standard belonged to this class or not, it is not for us to say, but it is a fact that he claimed to be mentally and morally shocked at this wonderful breach of decorum, and he scored the trustees and all others interested in a long article in the Standard. Our neighbor thought then that it was heathenish in the extreme for any one to place such a scandalous figure in such a public place. We thought then that he was "straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel" but we think now that he was correct. Familiarity with vice, crime and lewdness is said to dull the finer senses, and the constant association of pure minds with the wicked is said to have a tendency to degrade and lower the finer fabric instead of raising the lower to its plane.
We don't know when we have seen this truth better illustrated than in the case of the editor of the Standard, for last week he published in his supplement the picture of an entirely nude female resting upon a table. One of her lower limbs had been sawed from the body and was lying under the table and the horrid looking executioner was in the act of amputating the other just below the knee. Both arms had been cut off and were lying on the floor in plain sight. We suppose the picture was intended as a political caricature, but no one could look upon it for a moment without turning away with feelings of horror at the disgusting sight. The artist that conceived the design must have been afflicted with nightmare or delirium tremens, and the publisher who would print it in his paper and spread it before his readers must be lost to all decency and shame. Four years ago our neighbor could not have been hired to admit such an indecent wood cut in his columns even for pay. The figure on the drinking fountain has been getting in its work on our susceptible friend most thoroughly and we demand that it be removed at once.
On the 30th day of May, 1887, just as the people of this village were about to commence the usual ceremonies observed on Decoration day, a loud explosion was heard in the east part of the village. It soon became known that one of the boilers in the Hitchcock Mfg. Company's shops on Elm street had exploded, tearing the building in pieces and burying some of the employees in the debris. An immense crowd assembled at the shop in less time than it takes to tell it, and willing hands at once commenced to remove the huge piles of brick and timbers. Wm. P. Ballard was taken out badly injured, and died soon after being taken to his home. Frank Scott was found badly bruised, his skull fractured and badly scalded. He died at 6:30 P. M., of the same day, leaving his widow penniless and in rather feeble health. Henry A. Webster was dead when found. The terrible accident caused a feeling of gloom to pervade the entire community and the hearts of all our citizens were filled with sympathy for the sufferers. Mrs. Scott was seized with convulsions when she heard the terrible news, and it was feared for some days that she would not survive the shock. With tender care and nursing she finally gained in health and strength. Later she commenced an action against the Hitchcock Mfg Company to recover damages for the killing of her husband.
Unfortunately for her, one H. L. Bronson was selected to act as her attorney. The Hitchcock Company was willing to settle the case and they did settle it last winter without trial for $1500. This sum was certainly not a very large price to receive in exchange for a dead husband, but it would have helped her to get along in the world if she had received it all. But she didn't get it all. Bronson received $620 for his services and paid the balance $880, over to the stricken widow. Six hundred and twenty dollars is a large sum to pay drawing up a summons and an ordinary action. We will undertake to draw the summons or complaint in a similar action for $15, and will agree to do it for nothing if we don't do a better job than Bronson did in the Scott ease. While every other person in town was sympathizing with Mrs. Scott over her loss, Bronson was profiting pecuniarily through her misfortunes. The occasion that brought tears to her eyes and wrung her heart with anguish, put gold into Bronson's pocket. What proved to be a calamity for her turned out to be a gold mine for him.