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A country is different from an individual in the fact that there are
certain expenses that are not exactly necessary, and yet which must be
provided for, for the honor of the country. A man who is in money
difficulties can cut down his expenses to the mere cost of food, house,
and clothes. In this way a man is better off than a country. But, on the
other hand, a man can only earn just so much money; he cannot force people
to buy his goods, or pay him better prices; he has to do the best he can
with what he can earn; while a country can, by taxes, force people to give
it the money it needs, and so it is better off than an individual.
Some of the expenses of a country that must be met are the salaries of all
the officers who preserve law and order, the judges, soldiers, sailors,
and the police; the pensions of the old soldiers, and of their families;
the building of forts and warships, and of the guns to arm them; the
making and issuing of money, and the handling and delivering of letters.
Enormous sums of money are necessary to meet these expenses, and they are
raised by taxes. A country has no right to spend more than it earns, any
more than a man has, but there may come times in the history of a country
when extra expenses are necessary, and then the Government taxes the
people to meet them.
This is what President McKinley proposes to do now.
The new tax proposed is to be a revenue tariff on all articles of foreign
manufacture that are brought into this country.
The extra session of Congress is to consider, and, if possible, pass the
Tariff Bill, which it is desired shall go into effect May 1st of this
The bill is being introduced by Congressman Nelson Dingley of Maine, who
is Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in the House of
Representatives. It is known as the Dingley Bill, and, it is said, will
increase the income of the Government over one hundred millions.
It is said by people who are against the bill, that, if it passes, the
cost of living will become much greater. People who are in favor of it say
that by preventing goods of foreign manufacture from being brought into
the country, our own industries will greatly increase and our trade be
There is one section of the bill which will make it very unpopular to many
of our citizens.
This paragraph states that tourists and people visiting foreign countries
shall only be allowed to bring one hundred dollars' worth of wearing
apparel into the country free of duty.
When you think that you can get little more than a whole change of
costume, hat, boots, and gloves complete, for a hundred dollars, and that
people who are rich enough to travel in foreign countries give three and
four times that sum for a single outfit, you can understand just how much
that paragraph is going to be liked.
It is true that the law says that people may bring back with them the
articles they take away, provided they can prove that they took them out
of the country. But think of the worry and annoyance of arguing with the
Custom House officers as to where and when each garment in your trunk was
If it goes into effect, this law will certainly prevent a great many
people from travelling, for the hours of heated argument with the
officials on the dock, on the traveller's return, would undo all the good
of their trip.
The present Custom House system is about as trying to a person's nerves as
anything can be, and not a little of the trouble comes from the fact that
you must not show the slightest annoyance when the officer dives into your
trunk, and punches at the corner which contains your best hat, or feels in
the folds of a delicate silk skirt, leaving marks of dusty fingers behind
him. The least show of temper from you will result in the officer's
claiming his right to have the whole contents of your various trunks
dumped out on the wharf and repacked under his eye.
It is to be hoped that the $100 paragraph may be changed; but with or
without it, it seems as if the passage of the Dingley Bill may be the best
thing for the country.
The bill is called "An Act to provide revenue for the Government, and
encourage the industries of the United States."
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