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Northern Wisconsin Agricultural and Mechanical Association / Transactions of the Northern Wisconsin Agricultural and Mechanical Association, including a full report of the industrial convention held at Neenah, Wisconsin, February, 1886. Together with proceedings of the Association for 1884, to January 1, '86
Vol. XI (1886)

Bright, C. M.
Taxation,   pp. 273-306 PDF (6.8 MB)

Page 281

are bound to think, and thinking never makes anything but a
free-trader, if the man who does it is honest. Tariff reform,
so-called, is not reform. It is only agitation. It matters not
what the proposed plan, the result is the same, the business
of the country is unsettled by it, and the reduction, if ac-
complished, brings us but from a protective condition to that
other- no better in any way except that it is a degree nearer,
free-trade - a tariff for revenue only - a bag with wheat
in one end and stone in the other. There is but one way to
really reform the tariff: abolish it. Moderate reduction
year after year has the effect on business that a cautious
surgeon would have on his patient whose leg must come off
above the knee, if he should begin at the toes and cut off
an inch at a time so as not to give the poor fellow too great
a physical shock. It is doubtful if the total abolition of all
tariff laws would unsettle the business of the country much
more than these periodical agitations do.
If it is necessary to give aid to industries that are not
self-supporting, it would be cheaper to give it in direct cash
bounties. There would be no waste in this way of doing.
It would cost the people what the uncouraged industries
would receive, and no more. There would be no stone in
one end of the bag. And in this way the people would
know just what they would be doing, and how long they
would want to do it. It does not take a farmer of any in-
telligence many years to get out of a crop or a breed of
stock on which he continually runs behind.
I would divide protectionists into three classes: First,
those who believe in protection because they are selfishly
interested; second, those who believe in it because they be-
lieve anything that pays politically; and, third, those who
believe in it because they are told it is the thing to believe.
I can conceive of no other class or of any reason for one.
Everybody is at liberty to classify his protectionist acquaint-
ance-s to suit his fancy.
The internal revenue tax, once necessary, is another ex-
pensive machine that the country would be better off with-
out, and it ought to be abolished. This suggestion always
causes expressions of holy horror, and you are asked if you

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