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knows this. It is only set down here to explain what happened to the mind of Senator Sorghum when the fact was driven in upon
him. Not only is the cost of living increasing more rapidly than any increase in wages, but every time wages are forced up, whether by strikes, threats, appeals, the work of the unions or what else, the fact is made an excuse for jacking up the cost of living another notch, so that the increase in the good man's wage really reacts to his disadvantage.
Thus, when in 1910 the anthracite coal miners succeeded in extracting from the Coal Trust a slight increase in their wages, the Trust immediately used the fact as an excuse to advance the price of coal 25 cents a ton, and thereby increased its income $15,000,000 a year; whereas the increase of wages it had granted to the miners cost the Trust only $6,440,000 a year — thus adding $8,560,000 net to its yearly gouge.
But the increase of 25 cents a ton went into the production cost and the transportation cost of 90 per cent. of the things the miners bought; with the result that they were no better off than they were before.
But the Trust had $8,560,000 more to divide.
All these facts were undeniable and not pleasant to contemplate, even to the gentlemen of the professional and well-to-do classes, to whom exclusively (for some reason never disclosed) we entrust our government.
It was all well enough to have a working class perpetually on a lower social plane, but if that working class was every year being worse fed and worse housed, and was getting constantly poorer, those among our legislators that were able to think at all conceived that the outlook was not wholly reassuring.
Suppose the working class, for example, under such conditions, should get tired of being forever fooled into supporting Lawyer Sorghum and Politician Mazuma; suppose the worker should quit voting for his employers, as represented in the Republican and Democratic parties, and begin to vote for himself. You see the possibilities were not nice. Of course the worker never had revolted nor shown signs of insubordination in his politics, but there was no telling what might happen in such an extraordinary situation. Where the cost of living was always increasing, and there was no corresponding increase in wages, was every possibility of trouble. Every year it was harder for the workingman's wife to make her hus
band's income buy the food for the household and clothe the children; every year she must scrimp more and practice more self-denial; and every year the chances for the children grew
For all this again some of the well-fed contingent told us the simple remedy was to reduce the tariff. If we could import the articles now monopolized by the innumerable trusts the trusts would dry up and blow away, all commodities would necessarily be cheapened, and, of course, down would come the cost of living.
Workingmen were told this throughout the campaign of 1912, and seemed to believe what they were told, for the country elected a Democratic President and a Congress Democratic in both houses, and this Democratic administration promptly applied the simple remedy that had been doped out by the wise men. Congress passed the law reducing the tariff on most things and abolishing it on those important articles that were supposed to control the high cost of living
Bread was put on the free list; so were crack
Meat was put on the free list.
Milk and eggs, potatoes, cattle and hogs, fruits and lard were put on the free list.
Wool was put on the free list.
Corn and cornmeal were put on the free list; so were bacon and hams.
Lumber was put on the free list.
Wheat and four were put practically on the free list.
Coal was put on the free list to reduce manufacturing cost and household expenses ; so was kerosene.
Iron ore, pig iron, hides, leather, boots and shoes, cotton, steel ingots, billets and slabs were put on the free list.
The duty on sugar was greatly reduced for the time being, to be abolished a little later.
Salt was put on the free list; so were fresh water fish.
As you will see, a whole bill of fare, and then
This great and wonderful reform has now been in operation about one year.
The result is that the cost of living has not been reduced; the trusts have not been busted, but only benefited; the situation of labor has not been improved.
Exactly as before, the workers continue to grow poorer. The cost of living continues to increase upon them. There is no corresponding increase in their wages. The winter of 1913-14 was the worst that the working class has seen in the country for many years; more men were out of work; there was in all parts of the country a more acute distress. Chicago, St. Louis, San Francisco, and many other cities saw demonstrations by the unemployed the like of which had never before been witnessed in American communities. In New York the charitable societies estimated that there were 350,000 men without employment, and it was admitted that the resources of the city government and of private charity were utterly unable to cope with the situation. Many of the unions were caring for unusual numbers of the destitute among their members. In more than one city the well-to-do were appalled at the plain manifestations of distress and discontent among what are called in snobbish speech “ the unfortunate."
So it is apparent, brethren, that Tariff Reform isn't the thing; they were not giving to us the correct dope when they handed that out. We have had the blessed old tariff reformed and reduced and amputated and tinkered with in every way those experts could suggest, and the trouble keeps on exactly as before.
Still the cost of living increases, and there is no corresponding increase in wages and sal