In 1835, eighty days work sufficed; now, in 1870, probably forty or fifty days wages would buy a ton of flour.
That fact measures and explains the social, industrial, moral, and political progress of Pennsylvania
In view of such a rule we claim the right of government to check any forced and unnatural importation of labor; against such a claim the advocate of a protective tariff cannot consistently open his mouth.
If government may and should protect a nation against pauper labor in other lands, this surely — this immigration of pauper labor — is the most threatening danger.
If you would be consistent, Mr. Protectionist
, join with us in devising effectual methods to avert it. If the Free Trader assails us with his objection, “Has not the laborer a right to buy his coat or flour in the cheapest market?”
We answer, “Yes, under certain restrictions.”
To purchase the products of the earth, manufactured or otherwise, wherever you can get them cheapest, is good; good for the seller and good for the purchaser.
But this is only true provided there is no artificial combination, no plot of powerful men or classes to flood the market of one land with the surplus of another.
Every competition that comes in natural currents, from individual enterprise, is a healthy tendency to average.
Secondly, this restriction is to be still more stringently enforced in the purchase of human labor
; since the artificial and forced antagonism of that deranges society, undermines government, obstructs progress, crushes individual effort, and drags the highest type of human attainments down to the murky level of the lowest and idlest barbarism.
Against anything which threatens such results government has the right to defend society by appropriate laws.
The rate of wages is said to depend upon supply and demand.
The rule is sound; but so equivocal that it is