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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 52

Summary of Contents

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Summary of Contents.


Introductory i to viii
The arguments of Free Traders seldom appeal to Working Men, because—1st. They generally deal with the effect of Free Trade upon Capital, and not with its effect upon Wages; 2nd. Because the commercial expedient of Free Trade is often confounded with the political principle of "Laissez-faire," or "Let Alone." The school of "Laissez-faire" politicians has opposed most Working Class measures in the name of Free Trade.
Free Trade and High Wages 1 to 15
The right method of argument is to show how Free Trade affects the peculiar class interests of the Wage-receivers. 2
These may be summarised thus—(i.) Good Wages, (ii.) Good and convenient dwellings, (iii.) Provision against sickness and old age.
Free Trade indirectly causes High Wages.
(i.) By increasing the national productiveness. This gives a larger amount to be divided between Workmen and employers 3
Illustration from the statistics of English trade. The Protectionist assertion that the increase of wealth in Free Trade countries has been caused entirely by railways and other mechanical improvements, is disproved by three facts. 4
(a.) A sudden and otherwise inexplicable advance in trade has taken place immediately after every dose of Free Trade legislation 6
(b.) The mechanical factor, when working with-Free Trade, produced a less result 7
(c) The progress has been less in America than in England. 8
(ii.) By placing the Wage-receivers in a better position to obtain their proper share in the division of wealth. 9
Free Trade effects this by making Trade Unions more efficient and more intelligent. 10
Illustration of the greater power of Trade Unions in New South Wales than in Victoria, and in England than in America 11
(iii.) A real advance in Wages has in fact taken place in England since the introduction of Free Trade. 13page break
Free Trade and Steady Wages 15 to 19
Free Trade has a direct effect in steadying Wages by widening the area of production. This equalises markets, cheapens the articles of common use, and lessens the danger of commercial crises.
Summary.—Neither Free Trade nor Protection can directly raise Wages, but Free Trade benefits the Workman indirectly by increasing the fund from which Wages are paid, and strengthening the Workman in claiming his share. Free Trade, however, does directly steady Wages and reduce prices.
Free Trade and Social Grievances 19 to 22
In regard to other Working Class grievances Free Trade is neutral. Free Trade is only an expedient of Commerce to increase Production. Its maxims have no application to the Distribution of Wealth. 20
The distinction between the field of Production and the field of Distribution is that in the former there is a competition of equal units, the latter of unequal units 21
Wages are not and ought not to be determined by competition 22
Free Trade does not justify a reign of reckless competition. Competition is a force of nature, like a flood or a gale, which man must dominate.
Free Trade and Social Improvement 22 to 25
Free Trade assists the tendencies at work towards improvement 23
These are—a better knowledge of markets, co-operation, and the diffusion of well-being 25
Free Trade and Legislation 26 to 31
Many existing inequalities can be removed by legislation 27
Free Trade is not opposed to State Interference.
The limits of State action explained 28
Remedial legislation is independent either of Protection or Free Trade 29
Legislation should be directed towards the Housing of the Poor, Providing Recreation, National Insurance, Adjustment of Taxation, Improvement of Administration. The final remedy, however, is a wider and more active morality, which Legislation alone can secure.
Conclusion.—Those who advocate protection have a real grievance, but they are seeking a wrong remedy.
Appendix.—Tables showing Wages paid in the Cotton, Woollen, Worsted, and Iron Trades during the last thirty years.
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