Appendix Q. Speeches For Study And Practise. Part 5
Five years ago, when the fight for this great business measure was begun in the Senate the bosses of both parties were against it. So, when the last revision of the tariff was on and a tariff commission might have been written into the tariff law, the administration would not aid this reform. When two years later the administration supported it weakly, the bi-partisan boss system killed it. There has not been and will not be any sincere and honest effort by the old parties to get a tariff commission. There has not been and will not be any sincere and honest purpose by those parties to take the tariff out of politics.
For the tariff in politics is the excuse for those sham political battles which give the spoilers their opportunity. The tariff in politics is one of the invisible government's methods of wringing tribute from the people. Through the tariff in politics the beneficiaries of tariff excesses are cared for, no matter which party is
Who has forgotten the tariff scandals that made President Cleveland denounce the Wilson-Gorman bill as "a perfidy and a dishonor?" Who ever can forget the brazen robberies forced into the Payne-Aldrich bill which Mr. Taft defended as "the best ever made?" If everyone else forgets these things the interests that profited by them never will forget them. The bosses and lobbyists that grew rich by putting them through never will forget them. That is why the invisible government and its agents want to keep the old method of tariff building. For, though such tariff revisions" may make lean years for the people, they make fat years for the powers of pillage and their agents.
So neither of the old parties can honestly carry out any tariff policies which they pledge the people to carry out. But even if they could and even if they were sincere, the old party platforms are in error on tariff policy. The Democratic platform declares for free trade; but free trade is wrong and ruinous. The Republican platform permits extortion; but tariff extortion is robbery by law. The Progressive party is for honest protection; and honest protection is right and a condition of American prosperity.
A tariff high enough to give American producers the American market when they make honest goods and sell them at honest prices but low enough that when they sell dishonest goods at dishonest prices, foreign competition can correct both evils; a tariff high enough to enable American producers to pay our workingmen American wages and so arranged that the working-men will get such wages; a business tariff whose changes will be so made as to reassure business instead of disturbing it - this is the tariff and the method of its making in which the Progressive party believes, for which it does battle and which it proposes to write into the laws of the land.
The Payne-Aldrich tariff law must be revised immediately in accordance to these principles. At the same time a genuine, permanent, non-partisan tariff commission must be fixed in the law as firmly as the Interstate Commerce Commission. Neither of the old parties can do this work. For neither of the old parties believes in such a tariff; and, what is more serious, special privilege is too thoroughly woven into the fiber of both old parties to allow them to make such a tariff. The Progressive party only is free from these influences. The Progressive party only believes in the sincere enactment of a sound tariff policy. The Progressive party only can change the tariff as it must be changed.
These are samples of the reforms in the laws of business that we intend to put on the Nation's statute books. But there are other questions as important and pressing that we mean to answer by sound and humane laws. Child labor in factories, mills, mines and sweat-shops must be ended throughout the Republic. Such labor is a crime against childhood because it prevents the growth of normal manhood and womanhood. It is a crime against the Nation because it prevents the growth of a host of children into strong, partiotic and intelligent citizens.
Only the Nation can stop this industrial vice. The States cannot stop it. The States never stopped any national wrong - and child labor is a national wrong. To leave it to the State alone is unjust to business; for if some States stop it and other States do not, business men of the former are at a disadvantage with the business men of the latter, because they must sell in the same market goods made by manhood labor at manhood wages in competition with goods made by childhood labor at childhood wages. To leave it to the States is unjust to manhood labor; for childhood labor in any State lowers manhood labor in every State, because the product of childhood labor in any State competes with the product of manhood labor in every State. Children workers at the looms in South Carolina means bayonets at the breasts of men and women workers in Massachusetts who strike for living wages. Let the States do what they can, and more power to their arm; but let the Nation do what it should and cleanse our flag from this stain.
Modern industrialism has changed the status of women. Women now are wage earners in factories, stores and other places of toil. In hours of labor and all the physical conditions of industrial effort they must compete with men. And they must do it at lower wages than men receive - wages which, in most cases, are not enough for these women workers to live on.
This is inhuman and indecent. It is unsocial and uneconomic. It is immoral and unpatriotic. Toward women the Progressive party proclaims the chivalry of the State. We propose to protect women wage-earners by suitable laws, an example of which is the minimum wage for women workers - a wage which shall be high enough to at least buy clothing, food and shelter for the woman toiler.
The care of the aged is one of the most perplexing problems of modern life. How is the workingman with less than five hundred dollars a year, and with earning power waning as his own years advance, to provide for aged parents or other relatives in addition to furnishing food, shelter and clothing for his wife and children? What is to become of the family of the laboring man whose strength has been sapped by excessive toil and who has been thrown upon the industrial scrap heap? It is questions like these we must answer if we are to justify free institutions. They are questions to which the masses of people are chained as to a body of death. And they are questions which other and poorer nations are answering.