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Quotation of the Day…

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… is from chapter 2 of William Graham Sumner’s 1885 book, Protectionism: the -ism Which Teaches that Waste Makes Wealth [2] (link added; footnote omitted):

They have never had any plan or purpose in their tariff legislation. Congress has simply laid itself open to be acted upon by the interested parties, and the product of its tariff legislation has been simply the resultant of the struggles of the interested cliques with each other, and of the log rolling combinations which they have been forced to make among themselves. In 1882 Congress did pay some deference, real or pretended, to the plain fact that it was bound, if it exercised this mighty power and responsibility, to bring some intelligence to bear on it, and it appointed a Tariff Commission which spent several months in collecting evidence. This Commission was composed of protectionists with one exception. It recommended a reduction of 25 per cent. in the tariff, and said: “Early in its deliberations the Commission became convinced that a substantial reduction of tariff duties is demanded, not by a mere indiscriminate popular clamor, but by the best conservative opinion of the country.” “Excessive duties are positively injurious to the interests which they are supposed to benefit. They encourage the investment of capital in manufacturing enterprises by rash and unskilled speculators, to be followed by disaster to the adventurers and their employés, and a plethora of commodities which deranges the operations of skilled and prudent enterprise.” This report was entirely, thrown aside, and Congress, ignoring it entirely, began again in exactly the old way [3].

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