Economic Planning and the Tariff: An Essay on Social Philosophy

By James Gerald Smith | Go to book overview

APPENDIX I
ECONOMISTS PETITION AGAINST THE SIGNING OF THE HAWLEY-SMOOT TARIFF ACT

THE text of a petition, signed by over a thousand economists representing forty-six States and one hundred and seventy-nine universities of the United States, made to Congress and President Hoover when the Hawley- Smoot Tariff bill was pending, 1929-1930.

The undersigned American economists and teachers of economics strongly urge that any measure which provides for a general upward revision of tariff rates be denied passage by Congress, or if passed, be vetoed by the President.

We are convinced that increased restrictive duties would be a mistake. They would operate, in general, to increase the prices which domestic consumers would have to pay. By raising prices, they would encourage concerns with higher costs to undertake production, thus compelling the consumer to subsidize waste and inefficiency in industry. At the same time they would force him to pay higher rates of profit to established firms which enjoyed lower production costs.

A higher level of duties, such as is contemplated by the Hawley-Smoot bill, would therefore raise the cost of living and injure the great majority of our citizens.

Few people could hope to gain from such a change. Miners, construction, transportation and public utility workers, professional people and those employed in banks, hotels, newspaper offices, in the wholesale and retail trades and scores of other occupations would clearly lose since they produce no products which could be specially favored by tariff barriers.

The vast majority of farmers, also, would lose. Their cotton, pork, lard and wheat are export crops and are sold in the world market. They have no important competition in the home market. They cannot benefit, therefore, from any tariff which is imposed upon the basic commodities which they produce. They would lose through the increased duties on manufactured goods, however, and in a double fashion.

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