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Harvard. Debate Briefs on International Trade Policy, ca. 1886-96

 

Print from 1897 by J. S. Pughe in Punch. shows Uncle Sam sitting in a wooden tub labeled “Dingley Bill”, rowing with oars labeled “Monopoly” in a small pool labeled “Home Market” near a sign that states “Republican Goose Pond”. The title of the prints is “A self-evident fact” with the caption “Uncle Sam Say! I want you fellows to distinctly understand that I’m not racing with you!” Beyond the pond are several large steam ships, labeled “France, Germany, Italy, England, [and] Austria” steaming ahead of Uncle Sam. While Uncle Sam protects the home market through tariffs, European nations are expanding their global markets. (Library of Congress)

The inspiration for today’s posting comes from the announcement in late January, 2018 by U.S. President Donald J. Trump that steep tariffs would be imposed on washing machines and solar panels imported into the United States.

Below you will find transcriptions for Harvard University debating briefs on tariffs, subsidies and international trade from the last decade of the 19th century. While economics as a science has shown some considerable progress since that time, zombie ideas are resilient and continue to stalk the face of the earth in original and mutated strains. The literature cited in the briefs is taken largely from the popular periodical literature of the time or government and Congressional publications that conscientious scholars of the history of economics really need to be familiar with. Such stuff is not yet quite so neatly sorted and indexed for our purposes as to facilitate entry into flow of actual policy debates outside the academic realm. The collection of Harvard student debating briefs used here is really a treasure chest (Pandora’s box?) waiting to be opened, filled with good, bad, and ugly arguments regarding international commercial policy.

Also thanks to another of Trump’s policy initiatives, Economics in the Rear-view Mirror has provided transcriptions of analogous old debating briefs on the subject of immigration into the U.S.

The eight debate topics concerning international trade policy were:

Resolved, That the time has now come when the policy of protection should be abandoned by the United States.

Resolved, That a high protective tariff raises wages.

Resolved, That it would be to the advantage of the United States to establish complete commercial reciprocity between the United States and Canada.

Resolved, That foreign-built ships should be admitted to American registry free of duty.

Resolved, That the United States should establish a system of shipping subsidies.

Resolved, That sugar should be admitted free of duty.

Resolved, That a system of sugar bounties is contrary to good public policy.

Resolved, That a system of duties on wool and woollens is undesirable.

 

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Briefs for Debate on Current Political, Economic, and Social Topics.

Edited by
W. Du Bois Brookings, A.B. of the Harvard Law School
And
Ralph Curtis Ringwalt, A.B.
Assistant in Rhetoric in Columbia University

With an introduction by Albert Bushnell Hart, Ph.D.
Professor of Harvard University.
(1908)

[From the Preface:]

“The basis of the work has been a collection of some two hundred briefs prepared during the past ten years [ca. 1886-96] by students in Harvard University, under the direction of instructors. Of these briefs the most useful and interesting have been selected; the material has been carefully worked over, and the bibliographies enlarged and verified….

…” the brief is a steady training in the most difficult part of reasoning; in putting together things that belong together; in discovering connections and relations; in subordinating the less important matters. The making of a brief is an intellectual exercise like the study of a disease by a physician, of a case by a lawyer, of a sermon by a minister, of a financial report by a president of a corporation. It is a bit of the practical work of life.

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PROTECTION AND FREE TRADE.

Question: ‘Resolved, That the time has now come when the policy of protection should be abandoned by the United States.’

Brief for the Affirmative.

General references:

Frédéric Bastiat, Sophisms of the Protectionists; W. M. Grosvenor, Does Protection Protect?; Henry George, Protection or Free Trade; J. S. Mill, Principles of Political Economy, II., Bk. V., Chap. x., § 1; article on Protection in Tariff Reform Series, IV., No. 12, p. 2 (September 30, 1891); Lalor’s Cyclopædia, II., 289; Nation, XXVIII., 161 (March 6, 1879); XXIX., 338 (November 20, 1879); XXXIV., 288 (April 6, 1882) ; LXXVI., 118 (February 8, 1883); J. G. Carlisle in Congressional Record, 1891-1892, p. 6910 (July 29, 1892); D. A. Wells in Forum, XIV., 697 (February, 1893); F. A. Walker in Quarterly Journal of Economics, IV., 245 (April, 1890); Edward Atkinson in Popular Science Monthly, XXXVII., 433 (August, 1890); Senator Vest in North American Review, Vol. 155, p. 401 (October, 1892); Harper’s Weekly, XXXVIII., 819 (September 1, 1894).

  1. Protection is unsound in theory:

J. S. Mill, Principles of Political Economy, II., 532. — (a) It shuts out what is ours by nature: Sophisms of the Protectionists, pp. 73-80. — (b) It raises unnatural obstacles to intercourse: Sophisms of the Protectionists, pp. 84-85. — (c) It can only raise prices by diminishing the quantity of goods for sale: Sophisms of the Protectionists, pp. 7, 17. — (d) It endangers the interests it aims to promote: Nation, XXXVI., 118. — (e) It may transfer but not increase capital: Sophisms of the Protectionists, p. 93. — (f) The doctrine of protection for revenue is inconsistent: J. S. Mill, Principles of Political Economy, II., 538. — (g) It is anti-social: Sophisms of the Protectionists, pp. 15, 127; Nation, XXXVI., 118; XXXVIII., 161.

  1. Protection is unsound in general practice.

(a) It makes capital and labor less efficient: J. S. Mill, Principles of Political Economy, II., 532, 539. — (b) It hurts our carrying trade: Nation, XXXVI., 118. — (c) It closes against us many of the world’s best markets: J. S. Mill, Principles of Political Economy, II., 537; Nation, XXVIII., 161; XXXVI., 118.

  1. Protection is not beneficial to any class.

(a) It raises prices to consumers: Popular Science Monthly, XXXVII., 433. — (b) It does not raise the wages of laborers: Congressional Record, 1891-1892, pp. 6910-6917; Popular Science Monthly, XXXVII., 433. — (c) It hurts farmers: Nineteenth Century, XXXII., 733 (November, 1892). — (d) It hurts the community by shutting off foreign markets: North American Review, Vol. 155, p. 401. — (e) It increases the cost of materials. — (f) It does not help us against pauper labor: Popular Science Monthly, XXXVII., 433. — (g) It does not benefit the majority: Nation, LV., 299 (October 20, 1892). — (h) Infant industries are not permanently aided: Quarterly Journal of Economics, IV., 245.

  1. Protection tends to run to extremes.

(a) It perverts taxation from its proper uses: Forum, XIV., 51 (September, 1892). — (b) It creates dangerous precedents: Ibid. — (c) Industries seek permanent protection: Nation. LV., 252 (October 6, 1892). — (d) It creates monopolies.

Brief for the Negative.

General references:

S.N. Patten, The Economic Basis of Protection; H. M. Hoyt, Protection versus Free Trade; Congressional Record, 1889-1890, p. 4248 (May 7, 1890); 1891-1892, p. 6746 (July 26, 1892); J. G. Blaine in North American Review, Vol. 150, p. 27 (January, 1890); William McKinley in North American Review, Vol. 150, p. 740 (June, 1890); R. E. Thompson, Social Science and National Economy, pp. 243-278; Lalor’s Cyclopædia, III., 413; Van Buren Denslow, Principles of Economic Philosophy, Chaps. xiii., xiv., xv., xvi.

  1. The policy of protection is sound in principle.

(a) It enables a country to fix the terms of exchange in foreign trade. — (1) Foreign demand for our commodities is necessarily great. — (2) Protection lessens our demand for foreign commodities. — (b) Protection is the best means of increasing the consumer’s rent.

  1. The policy of protection has proved beneficial in practice.

(a) Without it no country has secured a symmetrical development of its industries: Social Science and National Economy, p. 267. — (b) Every period of protection in the United States has been followed by great material prosperity.

  1. Protection secures a home market for commodities incapable of transportation abroad:

E.E. Hale, Tom Torrey’s Tariff Talks. — (a) It enhances values, especially the value of land: J. R. Dodge, How Protection Protects the Farmer.

  1. A protective tariff does not raise prices.

(a) The establishment of a new industry has invariably been followed by lower prices: Congressional Record, 1889-1890, p. 4248.—. (1) Steel rails.—(2) Glass and earthen ware.—(3) Wool.— (4) Tin-plate.

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THE TARIFF AND WAGES.

Question:Resolved, That a high protective tariff raises wages.’

Brief for the Affirmative.

General references:

S. N. Patten, The Economic Basis of Protection, pp. 54-80; Lee Meriwether, ‘How Workingmen Live in Europe and America,’ in Harper’s Magazine, LXXIV., 780 (April, 1887); R. P. Porter, Bread Winners Abroad (People’s Library), Chaps. xvi., xxviii., xlix., li., liii., lvi., lxvi., lxvii., lxxxiv., civ.; Van Buren Denslow, Principles of Economic Philosophy, pp. 623-627.

  1. A high protective tariff raises wages theoretically.

(a) It causes more employers to compete for the hire of labor.—(1) By increasing the number of occupations and enterprises that can be carried on: R. E. Thompson, Social Science and National Economy, p. 248; Principles of Economic Philosophy, pp. 623-624. (b) It increases the amount of money available for the compensation of labor.—(1) By increasing the profits of manufacturers: Principles of Economic Philosophy, pp. 626-627. (c) It enables laborers to share in the natural resources of the country.—(1) By preventing competition with cheap foreign labor: The Economic Basis of Protection, pp. 64-70.

  1. A high protective tariff raises wages practically.

(a) In the United States, which furnishes the best example of a protective tariff, money wages are higher than in Europe.— (1) This is shown by the opinions of writers: Principles of Economic Philosophy, p. 527; Bread Winners Abroad; Consular Reports of the United States, No. 40, p. 304 (April, 1884). —(2) It is shown by the opinions of manufacturers: John Roach in International Review, XIII., 455 (November, 1882); J. M. Swank, Our Bessemer Steel Industry, p. 23; letters from the National Association of Wool Manufacturers and the Titus Sheard Co. in Congressional Record, 1891-1892, p. 6751 (July 26, 1892). (b) Wages have risen in other countries under a protective system. — (1) In Germany: Principles of Economic Philosophy, pp. 523-524; Consular Reports of the United States, No. 42, pp. 12, 13, 15 (June, 1884).—(2) In Canada: Principles of Economic Philosophy, pp. 666-668. (c) Real wages are higher in the United States than in Europe.—(1) An American workman can save more than a European: Consular Reports of the United States, No. 40, p. 304.—(2) His standard of living is higher: Harper’s Magazine, LXXIV., 780.

Brief for the Negative.

General references:

F. W. Taussig in Forum, VI., 167 (October, 1888); W. G. Sumner in North American Review, Vol. 136, p. 270 (March, 1883); J. Schoenhof, The Economy of High Wages, pp. 175-193; J. Schoenhof, Wages and Trade; ‘Labor, Wages, and Tariff,’ Tariff Reform Series, II., No. 21 (January 15, 1890); ‘Labor and the Tariff,’ Tariff Reform Series, I., No. 12, p. 2 (October 10, 1888).

  1. Arguments based on comparisons of wages in different countries are untrustworthy.

(a) Such comparisons prove too much: D. A. Wells, Practical Economics, p. 137. — (b) There is no uniform rate in any country. — (c) There are many local causes which must necessarily make wages higher in one country than in another. — (1) Natural advantages: D. A. Wells, The Relation of the Tariff to Wages, p. 2. — (2) Standing army service: Ibid. — (3) The question of unoccupied land: North American Review, Vol. 136, p. 270.

  1. Careful use of statistics shows that wages are relatively higher under a low tariff.

(a) The high rate of wages in the United States is determined by unprotected industries.— (1) There are more laborers connected with unprotected than with protected industries: J. L. Laughlin’s edition of J. S. Mill, Principles of Political Economy, p. 619. — (b) Wages in certain protected industries in the United States are lower than wages in the same industries in England. — (c) In protected industries in which wages are higher than abroad, they were higher before the existence of a protective tariff: Nation, XLVII., 327 (October 25, 1888). — (d) New South Wales is more prosperous than Victoria: Fortnightly Review, XXXVII., 369 (March, 1882).

  1. A protective tariff lowers wages by diminishing the amount of capital to be distributed for wages.

(a) The general productiveness of industry is less: Practical Economics, p. 135.— — (1) The effect of limiting the sale of commodities to a domestic market is evil: Practical Economics, p. 139. — (b) The proportion in which that produced is divided is less favorable to labor.—(1) The producer requires the same ratio of profit, while the number of laborers among whom the smaller wage-fund is divided is as large as before: North American Review, Vol. 136, p. 270.

  1. Real wages are less.

(a) The tariff increases the price of commodities and puts them out of the reach of the poorer classes: North American Review, Vol. 136, p. 270.

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RECIPROCITY WITH CANADA.

Question: ‘Resolved, That it would be to the advantage of the United States to establish complete commercial reciprocity between the United States and Canada.’

Brief for the Affirmative.

General references:

Goldwin Smith, Canada and the Canadian Question, pp. 281-301; Handbook of Commercial Union (Toronto, 1888); Century, XVI., 236 (June, 1889); Forum, VI., 241 (November, 1888) ; VII., 361 (June, 1889); New Englander, LIII., 1 (July, 1890); North American Review, Vol. 148, p. 54 (January, 1889); Vol. 151, p. 212 (August, 1890); Vol. 139, p. 42 (July, 1884); Harper’s Magazine, LXXVIII., 520 (March, 1889).

  1. Greater freedom of trade between the United States and Canada is desirable.

(a) It would furnish the United States with much needed raw materials: Century, XVI., 236. — (1) Coal, iron, and other mineral products are extensive and easily accessible to the northern and middle states: Handbook of Commercial Union, pp. 72-85; North American Review, Vol. 139, p. 42. — (2) Agricultural products. — (b) It would open to us a large and convenient market for our manufactures: Handbook of Commercial Union, p. 249. — (c) Closer commercial relations would remove much of the present ill feeling, and international disputes would be avoided.

  1. Reciprocity would be advantageous economically.

(a) It would open up a great field for the investment of American capital: Handbook of Commercial Union, p. 247. — (b) It would do away with the enormous expense of maintaining an unnatural customs line four thousand miles long. — (c) By the settlement of the fishery question it would give our fishermen valuable privileges.

  1. Reciprocity is practical:

Handbook of Commercial Union, p. 111. — (a) Great Britain would not raise serious objections: Handbook of Commercial Union, p. 101 .— (1) English investments in Canada would be benefited by commercial prosperity. — (2) Greater commercial activity would establish confederation on a firm basis and give assurance that Canada would remain a part of the British domain. — (b) The loyalty of Canadians would not be affected. — (1) The common tariff would not discriminate against England. — (c) A common tariff could be agreed upon. — (1) The present policy of the United States is toward a reduction of tariffs, while that of Canada is toward an increase. — (2) Canada would be willing to make concessions, such as the adjustment of internal revenue. — (d) The reciprocity treaty of 1854 was a commercial success. — (1) Trade rose from seven millions to twenty: Encyclopedia Britannica, IV., 766. — (2) The abrogation of the treaty was due to national animosity caused by acts of the English during the civil war.

 

Brief for the Negative.

General references:

James Douglas, Canadian Independence, Annexation, and British Imperial Federation; Forum, VI., 451 (January, 1889); J. N. Larned, Report to the Secretary of the Treasury on the State of Trade Between the United States and British Possessions in North America, January 28, 1871; Penn Monthly, V., 529 (July, 1874); Congressional Globe, 1864-1865, pp. 229-233 (January 12, 1865).

  1. Complete commercial reciprocity is impracticable.

(a) The commercial policies of Great Britain and the United States are conflicting. — (b) A common tariff could not be decided upon without detriment to one country. — (c) Internal revenue stands in the way.—(1) Excise taxes and internal revenue would have to be made equal; but excise is necessary to Canada, while it is not unlikely that we shall do away with our internal revenue: Forum, VI., 451.

  1. Complete reciprocity would be contrary to good public policy.

(a) It would result in loss of revenue. — (b) In case of war with Great Britain the frontier would be in a bad condition, and our whole tariff system would be torn asunder.

  1. Complete reciprocity would be economically disastrous.

(a) American and Canadian products are not supplementary, but competitory. — (b) Cheaper wages and cheaper raw material would be an inducement for our capital to move to Canada, and would also lower wages in the United States. — (c) We should lose much through emigration to Canada. — (d) It would give Canada the benefit of the market which we hav

e built up for ourselves by protection: Penn Monthly, V., 531.

  1. Historically, reciprocity with Canada has proved injurious.

(a) The United States tried commercial reciprocity with Canada in 1854, but abrogated the treaty in 1866.

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FREE SHIPS.

Question: ‘Resolved, That foreign-built ships should be admitted to American registry free of duty.’

Brief for the Affirmative.

General references:

D. A. Wells, The Decay of Our Ocean Mercantile Marine; John Codman, Free Ships; J.D.J. Kelly, The Question of Ships; North American Review, Vol. 142, p. 478 (May, 1886); House Reports, 1889-1890, No. 1210, Minority Report; 1882-1883, No. 1827, Views of the Minority; 1891-1892, No. 966; 1887-1888, No. 1874; Congressional Record, 1890-1891, p. 1044 (January 8, 1891); Congressional Globe, 1871-1872, Part 3, p. 2241 (April 6, 1872).

  1. A change in our navigation laws is necessary.

(a) Under their restrictions American shipping has suffered. — (1) Through heavy duties on ships. — (b) Though heavily protected, the ship-building industry has not thrived. — (1) The cost of labor is too great. — (c) American capital has been forced abroad. — (d) The present provision for the limited admission of foreign ships is inadequate. — (e) The development of inventive genius is prevented.

  1. Free ships furnish the only practicable remedy:

The Question of Ships, Chap. v. — (a) They enable Americans to compete on equal terms for world’s commerce. — (1) Ships can be bought at the lowest price. — (b) Carrying trade should not be sacrificed to ship-building.—(1) It employs fifty times as many men: The Question of Ships, p. 31. — (c) American ship-building would not be seriously affected.— (1) Only iron ships are concerned. — (d) The success of the plan is well illustrated by Germany’s policy.

  1. Subsidizing schemes are impracticable and inefficient:

The Question of Ships, Chap. iv. — (a) Subsidies large enough to be efficient would be too great a tax on the people. — (1) The cost of building ships is one-third greater than in England: John Codman, Free Ships. — (b) They must be permanent. — (c) They have already been unsuccessfully tried in the United States. — (d) They have failed in France. — (1) Ship-building has not been built up in ten years’ trial. — (e) England’s supremacy is not due to subsidizing: The Decay of Our Ocean Mercantile Marine, pp. 29-45. — (1) No payments are made to sailing vessels. — (2) Compensation is given only for carrying mails, and for building according to admiralty requirements.

Brief for the Negative.

General references:

W. W. Bates, American Marine; C. S. Hill, History of American Shipping; H. Hall, American Navigation; North American Review, Vol. 148, p. 687 (June, 1889); Vol. 154, p. 76 (January, 1892); Vol. 158, p. 433 (April, 1894); House Reports, 1891-1892, No. 966, Views of the Minority; 1887-1888, No. 1874, Views of the Minority, p. 10; 1882-1883, No. 1827; 1869-1870, No. 28; Nelson Dingley, Jr., in Congressional Record, 1890-1891, p. 997 (January 7, 1891).

  1. The lack of free registry was not responsible for the decline in American shipping.

(a) Under the present laws our merchant marine reached its height. — (b) The decline was due to other causes. — (1) To the destruction of commerce by English-built cruisers: American Marine, Chap. ix. — (2) To the commercial depression following war. — (3) To mechanical changes. — (x) From wood to iron. — (y) From sail to steam.

  1. Free registry offers no material advantages.

(a) American capital now invests in foreign-built ships. — (1) ‘Whitewashed’ sales: American Navigation, p. 75. — (b) The advantage of flying American flag would be subject to abuse.

  1. Free registry involves grave evils.

(a) Economic. — (1) It would annihilate ship-building in the United States. — (2) It would withdraw millions of capital from the country. — (b) National. — (1) It would cripple us in time of war. — (x) We should have no trained workmen. — (y) We should have no shipyards to build in an emergency.

  1. There are better alternatives than free registry.

(a) The removal of duties on materials. — (b) Sufficient mail subsidies to American-built ships: American Navigation, p. 77. — (c) A change in taxation from the principal invested in ships to net profits.

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SHIPPING SUBSIDIES.

Question: ‘Resolved, That the United States should establish a system of shipping subsidies.’

Brief for the Affirmative.

General references:

W. W. Bates, American Marine; House Reports, 1889-1890, No. 1210; C. S. Hill, History of American Shipping; House Reports, 1888-1889, No. 4162, Views of the Minority, p. 5; Congressional Record, 1890-1891, p. 997 (January 7, 1891), p. 3355 (February 26, 1891); Statement of Captain W. W. Bates in House Reports, 1889-1890, No. 1210, p. 220; Overland Monthly, I., 462 (May, 1883); H. Hall, American Navigation.

  1. The merchant marine of the United States is at present in a deplorable condition and ought to be built up:

House Reports, 1889-1890, No. 1210, pp. i-vi. — (a) A national marine is of the greatest importance to the wealth and the commercial prosperity of a nation: Lalor’s Cyclopædia, II., 987; J.D.J. Kelly, The Question of Ships, p. 108. — (1) It is essential to naval power. — (2) To the development of resources. — (3) To national unity and individualism. — (b) The United States has the necessary qualifications for the marine industry: The Question of Ships, Chap. i.; American Navigation, Chap. ii. — (1) In 1856 the United States merchant marine was the most extensive in the world. — (2) Our extensive sea-coast naturally fosters a maritime spirit. — (3) We have abundant natural resources. — (4) Extensive commerce. — (5) Great ship-building interests.

  1. The subsidy system is a desirable means of building up the marine.

(a) It is preferable to the policy of free ships. — (1) Such a policy would destroy our ship-building industry: American Navigation, Chap. vii. — (b) Subsidies given to vessels for mail service would greatly encourage commerce. — (1) By insuring regular service: American Navigation, p. 77; Congressional Record, 1885-1886, p. 4009 (April 30, 1886). — (c) Vessels subsidized could be put under contract to serve the United States in case of war: American Navigation, pp. 83-86. — (d) It is an economical system. — (1) The total payments would not exceed $5,000,000 per annum. — (2) The earnings of the foreign mail service, which amount to $10,000,000 per annum, could fittingly be used for subsidies: Congressional Record, 1889-1890, p. 6996 (July 7, 1890).

  1. Subsidies are necessary.

(a) The cost of American ships and their running expenses are greater than those of foreign vessels. — (b) The high subsidies given to foreign lines make it impossible for American lines to compete without like subsidies.

  1. Subsidies have proved successful in practice:

American Marine, pp. 325-327. — (a) We have tried such a system and found it effective: W. S. Lindsay, Merchant Shipping, IV., 194-228. — (b) Nearly all foreign nations maintain shipping subsidies: Congressional Record, 1890-1891, pp. 3359-3362 (February 26, 1891). — (c) They have been successful in France: House Reports, 1889-1890, No. 1210, pp. ix-xv. — (d) Great Britain, the foremost maritime country, has steadily adhered to a system of bounties: Congressional Record, 1890-1891, pp. 1001-1003 (January 7, 1891).

Brief for the Negative.

General references:

House Reports, 1889-1890, No. 1210, Minority Report, p. xxxix.; D.A. Wells, Our Merchant Marine; D.A. Wells, The Decay of Our Ocean Mercantile Marine; John Codman, Free Ships; John Codman, Shipping Subsidies and Bounties; Congressional Record, 1890-1891, pp. 3348, 3368, 3383 (February 26, 1891); 1889-1890, p. 6959 (July 3, 1890); House Reports, 1888-1889, No. 4162; J. D. J. Kelly, The Question of Ships.

  1. Subsidies are politically objectionable.

(a) They have proved and always will prove inducements to corrupt legislation. — (b) They create and foster a privileged class at the expense of the whole people: Our Merchant Marine, p. 141; Free Ships, p. 15. — (c) The practice would establish a bad precedent: House Reports, 1889-1890, No. 1210, pp. xl., xlii.

  1. Subsidies are economically objectionable:

Congressional Record, 1890-1891, p. 3352. — (a) They are merely temporizing measures: The Decay of Our Ocean Mercantile Marine, p. 25. — (b) They would be a tremendous cost: House Reports, 1888-1889, No. 4162, p. 4. — (c) They would not contribute to the general prosperity of the country: House Reports, 1888-1889, No. 4162, pp. 2-3. — (1) They would not benefit commerce. — (x) Foreign vessels now carry as cheaply as it can be done. — (2) They would benefit one industry at the expense of others. — (3) As profit would come wholly from subsidies, shippers would become uneconomical and the advantages of competition would be lost.

  1. There is no truth in the statement that shipping subsidies have built up merchant marines.

(a) Great Britain does not subsidize her vessels: The Decay of Our Ocean Mercantile Marine, p. 29; House Reports, 1889-1890, No. 1210, pp. xlii., 1. — (1) British mail subsidies are for actual service rendered as shown by the exacting rules and penalties for non-performance of contracts. — (b) The French system has not been successful: House Reports, 1888-1889, No. 4162, p. 3; 1889-1890, No. 1210, pp. 1-lx. — (c) Our own experience has been unfavorable. — (1) The Collins line in 1847: Congressional Record, 1890-1891, p. 3386.

  1. The best remedy for American shipping is free ships:

Our Merchant Marine, pp. 95-128; North American Review, Vol. 142, pp. 481-484 (May, 1886). — (a) Free ships would at least allow Americans to compete on equal terms for the commerce of the world.

 

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FREE SUGAR.

Question: ‘Resolved, That sugar should be admitted free of duty.’

Brief for the Affirmative.

General references:

‘Sugar and the Tariff,’ Tariff Reform Series, III., No. 12, p. 174 (July 30, 1890); Harper’s Weekly, XXXVIII., 602 (June 30, 1894), 771 (August 18, 1894), 819 (September 1, 1894); Nation, LIX., 74 (August 2, 1894), 112 (August 16, 1894); Congressional Record, 1889-1890, p. 10,631 (September 27, 1890).

  1. The question of protection does not enter.

(a) We produce only ten per cent, of the sugar we use: Princeton Review, VI., 322 (November, 1880). (b) The established industry can be more economically protected by bounties.

  1. The tariff is a burden on the poor.

(a) The poor man must pay more in proportion to his ability than the rich: C. D. Wright in Seventeenth Annual Report of Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor, p. 266; W. O. Atwater in American Public Health Association, XV., 208. — (1) Carbohydrates are necessary to life. — (2) Sugar is the most economical carbohydrate. — (3) The laboring man consumes the greatest proportion of this constituent: American Public Health Association, XV., 216.

  1. The sugar tariff is a check to the country’s development.

(a) It discourages industries in which sugar is a raw material. — (1) The preserving industry. — (2) The condensed milk industry. — (3) The refining industry. — (b) It injures foreign commerce. — (1) With Brazil and Cuba. — (2) Germany has retaliated for our tariff by putting a tax on American beef: Harper’s Weekly, XXXVIII., 1058 (November 10, 1894).

  1. Sugar taxes are a great source of corruption.

(a) They enable importers to defraud the government by manipulating the grades of sugar. — (b) They give rise to political corruption such as has disgraced the Senate. — (1) By fostering the sugar trust: Nation, LVIII., 440 (June 14, 1894); LIX., 71, 93, 112; Harper’s Weekly, XXXVIII., 602, 771, 819; Tariff Reform Series, VII., No. 2, p. 28 (July 1, 1894).

  1. The sugar tax is not necessary for revenue.

(a) If the revenues fall short, the deficiency can be made up better by replacing the higher taxes on malt liquors and tobacco.

Brief for the Negative.

General references:

Congressional Record, 1893-1894, Appendix, p. 1178 (August 13, 1894), p. 634 (January 23, 1894); 1889-1890, Appendix, p. 437 (May 20, 1890); Harper’s Weekly, XXXVIII., 218 (March 10, 1894); Tariff Hearings Before the Committee on Ways and Means, 1893, pp. 505, 520, 542.

  1. A tax on sugar is a just way of raising revenue:

Congressional Record, 1893-1894, Appendix, p. 1182. — (a) It is evenly distributed: Ibid. — (1) It reaches consumers in proportion to their incomes. — (2) Sugar is to a great extent an article of voluntary consumption.

  1. It is a desirable way of raising revenue.

(a) It is the only tax which furnishes a steady, reliable revenue, capable of computation beforehand. — (b) It is an easy tax to collect. — (c) Precedent has established sugar as a fitting article for taxation: D. A. Wells in Princeton Review, VI., 323 (November, 1880); Congressional Record, 1893-1894, Appendix, pp. 1180-1186. — (1) It has heretofore furnished one-fourth of the total revenue: D. A. Wells, The Sugar Industry of the United States and the Tariff, p. 9.

  1. The tax is necessary to encourage the American sugar industry:

Congressional Record, 1893-1894, Appendix, p. 632. — (a) The beet and sugar industries are difficult to establish. — (1) They require a large outlay of capital at the beginning. — (2) The return on the investment is small. — (3) The industries are still experimental. — (b) American producers require a special protective tax to offset the large bounties which foreign countries pay to their producers.

  1. The objections to the tax are unsound.

(a) The sugar-refining trust would remain even if sugar were admitted free. — (1) As nearly all of the sugar admitted to the United States is raw, it would still have to pass through the refineries. — (b) The frauds against the government, due to the manipulation of grades, are not an inherent result of the tax.

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SUGAR BOUNTIES.

Question: ‘Resolved, That a system of sugar bounties is contrary to good public policy.’

Brief for the Affirmative.

General references:

D. A. Wells, Recent Economic Changes, pp. 295-309; Lalor’s Cyclopædia, II., 99; Fortnightly Review, XLII, 638 (November, 1884) ; Nation, XLV., 164 (September 1, 1887); XLII, 420 (May 20, 1886); Congressional Record, 1889-1890, pp. 10,712-10,716 (September 30, 1890), Appendix, p. 391.

  1. The bounty system is unconstitutional.

(a) It is legislation in favor of a class: Nation, XLVII., 24 (July 12, 1888); Congressional Record, 1889-1890, pp. 10,712-10,716, Appendix, p. 391; Loan Association v. Topeka, 120 Wallace, 663-664.

  1. The bounty system is burdensome on the people:

Nation, XLIV., 484 (June 9, 1887). — (a) The people are compelled to pay the bounty: Fortnightly Review, XLII., 638. — (b) They are compelled to pay the highest cost of production for sugar: Fortnightly Review, XLII., 638. — (c) They are compelled to pay for the expensive system of administration.

  1. The bounty system gives rise to fraud.

(a) It places a great amount of money and patronage in the hands of political parties: Congressional Record, 1889-1890, Appendix, p. 391. — (b) The intricate system of bounty payments enables producers to defraud the government: Recent Economic Changes, pp. 295-298.

  1. The bounty system is injurious to commerce.

(a) It deranges prices. — (1) The producer is led to disregard the law of supply and demand: Fortnightly Review, XLII., 638. — (b) It makes foreign exchange uncertain: Nation, XLV., 164. — (1) By causing alternate over-production and under-production: Recent Economic Changes, pp. 295-309. — (c) It enables producers to control the markets.

  1. The bounty system is unnecessary for the development of the industry.

(a) The United States has as good facilities for raising beets as any other country. — (b) The sugar industry is not an infant industry.

  1. The bounty system has proved a failure in Europe:

Nation, XLVI., 45 (January 19, 1888); Recent Economic Changes, pp. 295-309; Lalor’s Cyclopædia, II., 99. — (a) The beet-sugar industry was fostered at the expense of cane sugar: Nation, XLV., 164. — (b) International complications arose: Saturday Review, LXIV., 142 (July 30, 1887), 847 (December 24, 1887).

Brief for the Negative.

General references:

Essay on ‘Industry and Commerce’ in Works of Alexander Hamilton, III., 366; Congressional Record, 1889-1890, p. 4266 (May 7, 1890); Senators Allison and Sherman in Congressional Record, 1888-1889, pp. 888-895 (January 17, 1889).

  1. The sugar industry is highly desirable.

(a) The importance of sugar as a food is constantly increasing: Congressional Record, 1889-1890, p. 4266. — (b) The industry will be national, not sectional: Congressional Record, 1888-1889, p. 892; 1889-1890, p. 4515 (May 10, 1890). — (c) Beets do not exhaust the soil: Congressional Record, 1889-1890, p. 4266.

  1. The sugar industry would bring general economic advantages.

(a) It would keep at home money now sent abroad in payment for sugar. — (b) Capital greatly exceeding the amount of the bounty would be invested in the industry. — (c) The industry would create a new and a large demand for labor, both agricultural and mechanical.

  1. The bounty system is the best means of establishing the sugar industry.

(a) Protective duties are inadequate. — (1) Bounties paid by foreign countries tend to counteract our tariff. — (2) In the past import duties have failed. — (b) Bounties are necessary to tide the industry over the critical time of beginning: Congressional Record, 1889-1890, p. 4515. — (1) Establishment is difficult and expensive. — (2) There is small inducement for capital. — (3) Beet and sorghum sugar industries are more or less experimental. — (c) Bounties have been successful in establishing industries abroad. — (1) Beet-sugar industry in Germany: Congressional Record, 1889-1890, pp. 4266, 4431 (May 9, 1890).

  1. The bounty system is constitutional.

(a) The bounty is extended to anyone who is willing to undertake the production of sugar: American Law Register and Review, XXXI., 289 (May, 1892).

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DUTIES ON WOOL AND WOOLLENS.

Question: ‘Resolved, That a system of duties on wool and woollens is undesirable.’

Brief for the Affirmative.

General references:

F. W. Taussig in Quarterly Journal of Economics, VIII., 1 (October, 1893); North American Review, Vol. 154, p. 133 (February, 1892); ‘Wool and Tariff,’ Tariff Reform Series, III., No. 19, p. 342 (November 15, 1890); ‘The Wool Question,’ Tariff Reform Series (Report of Ways and Means Committee on the Springer Bill), V., No. 1, p. 1 (March 15, 1892).

  1. Duties on wool and woollens have failed to bring beneficient results.

(a) Wool-growing has not prospered. — (1) The United States cannot raise grades of wool that will compare in quality with the better grades of foreign countries. — (x) Owing to climate: Quarterly Journal of Economics, VIII., 18. — (b) Woollen manufacturers produce only the cheapest grades of woollens. — (c) Under the tariff American producers have succeeded in producing but a small quantity of woollens in comparison with foreign importations: Quarterly Journal of Economics, VIII., 28-29; Tariff Reform Series, III., No. 19, p. 359.

  1. The removal of duties on wool does not hurt woolgrowers.

(a) The grades of wool raised by American growers are not subject to foreign competition. — (1) In these grades the American producer has an equal advantage with foreign producers: Quarterly Journal of Economics, VIII., 5-20.

  1. Free woollens are not injurious to manufacturers.

(a) They do not injure the production of cheap grades of woollens for the American market. — (1) The American manufacturer, owing to the greater efficiency of his machinery and the small necessity for hand labor, can compete on equal terms in these grades.

  1. The removal of duties on wool is a benefit to manufacturers.

(a) It enables them to engage in the manufacture of finer grades of woollens: Quarterly Journal of Economics, VIII., 32-33. — (1) By giving them free raw material of finer grades. — (b) It gives them a larger assortment of wools from which to select their grades: Congressional Record, 1887-1888, pp. 6519-6530 (July 19, 1888). (c) It enlarges their trade with South America: Nation, XLVI., 500 (June 21, 1888).

  1. Duties are unjust to consumers.

(a) They require them to pay a high price for woolens which are not made in America. — (1) This is shown by the constant increase in the importations of the finer grades of woollens in spite of the high tariff.

Brief for the Negative.

General references:

Bulletin of National Association of Wool Manufacturers, XVIII., 1888, Nos. 2, 3; XXII., 268 (September, 1892); XXIII., 275 (December, 1893); XXII., 1 (March, 1892); XXL, 333 (December, 1891); XXII., 115 (June, 1892); W. D. Lewis, Our Sheep and the Tariff (Publications of the University of Pennsylvania), Chaps. i., vii.; Congressional Record, 1893-1894, Appendix, pp. 1064, 1172.

  1. Duties on wool are necessary to protect the sheep-raising industry:

Our Sheep and the Tariff, Chap. vii. — (a) Foreign competition is especially active in this industry. — (1) Australia and the Argentine Republic have superior natural advantages.

  1. Duties on woollens are necessary to protect manufacturers:

Bulletin of National Association of Wool Manufacturers, XXII., 133. — (a) Foreign manufacturers have an advantage in cheap labor. (b) Foreign manufacturers have as good machinery as manufacturers in the United States. — (1) American machinery is used extensively abroad. — (c) The return on investments in the United States is less than it is abroad. — (1) A larger capital is required to produce an equivalent amount of woollens: Bulletin of National Association of Wool Manufacturers, XXII., 136.

  1. The history of the United States shows that duties have been successful in building up the wool and woollen industries:

Bulletin of National Association of Wool Manufacturers, XVIII., 234. — (a) The production of wool has greatly increased since the system was begun. — (b) The woollen industry is four times as large as in 1860: Bulletin of National Association of Wool Manufacturers, XXII., 3. — (c) Under periods of high protection the industries have been most prosperous.

  1. The duties have benefited the consumers:

Bulletin of National Association of Wool Manufacturers, XXII., 119. (a) They have reduced the price of woollens to less than half what it was thirty years ago. — (1) By causing active competition and rapid improvements in machinery: Bulletin of National Association of Wool Manufacturers, XXII., 119.

 

Source: W. Du Bois Brookings and Ralph Curtis Ringwalt, eds., Briefs for Debate on Current Political, Economic, and Social Topics. New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1908, pp. 96-117.

Image Source:  Cartoon by John S. Pughe published in Puck , September 15, 1897. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540.

Irwin Collier

Posted by: Irwin Collier

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