The possibility of exchanges of this kind arises, either from the superior industrial skill and commercial enterprise of the nation which 1 Gibbons, p. 8.
thus shows itself to be independent of her local environment, or from the fact that the peoples with whom she trades find a more profitable employment for their energies in the production of raw materials, and the manufacture of special classes of goods for which there are peculiarly favorable conditions. In the early stages of the industrial and commercial development, a country will be likely to find that it is more economical to rely in part upon exchanges of this kind, permitting other and more advanced nations to utilize their acquired skill and machin ery in manufacturing its finer products. But experience has shown that is wise for a. nation to develop as rapidly as possible its own latent powers, to learn the processes of manufacture in use elsewhere, and to invent methods of util izing directly the materials furnished by their environment. Schools of technology, experi mental stations, and commercial high schools, are a legitimate part of the educational policy of a people that desires to put itself in a favorable commercial position. The object aimed at is not a sundering of commercial relations with other nations, but rather the strengthening of those relations, by offering in the markets of the world more and more valuable products. The method will be not so much the duplicating of the best products of the industry of other nations, as the systematic study of the wants of all consumers, including ourselves, recogniz ing that there are wants not adequately sup plied, or capable of indefinite expansion if the appropriate commodities can be supplied.
This suggests wherein lies the real benefit of commerce to a nation, as made up of importers and consumers. The standard of living includes all those commodities that have a marginal util ity above the margin of consumption, and that are so intimately interrelated that the absence of any one would induce consumers to modify their consumption, or to increase their industry sufficiently to restore it. Commerce, by making it possible to secure new commodities on more favorable terms than is permitted by the local environment alone, adds to the consumption a greater or less quantity of each of the new com modities, in accordance with their marginal util ity. The effect is immediately noticeable in
the improvement of the standard of living, not only increasing the number of commodities that it includes, but, what is more important, render ing it more stable, and lessening the probability that serious deduction will be permitted, so long as greater economy in use, or greater energy in production, can prevent it.
The introduction of quick transportation has brought immense quantities of fruit into the markets of every city and village. The use of beet-root for the manufacture of sugar has added a staple product to the world markets. Changes in the methods of working up iron ore into iron and steel have practically given a new material for the construction of buildings, and for a thousand other uses. The building of rail ways, the improvements in ocean steamships, and the introduction of agricultural machinery have brought about a fall in the prices of agri cultural products so great as to amount to a revolution ; and the development of the packing house industry, supplemented by the rise of the frozen-meat trade, has caused a corresponding decline in the price of meat. These are only typical of the far-reaching changes of the past two decades. What is their significance in the general interchange of products among the in habitants of the earth ? That they will be followed by radical changes in the standard of living in many countries, is certain. We may expect that the urgent necessity of finding new and enlarged markets will stimulate commerce with the more backward races, and that cheap ened products for our own population will mod ify our industrial and social life. The changes going on in our midst in the grouping of popu lation, in the development of new and more complex desires, in the increase of leisure by the shortening of the hours of labor, in the en largement of individual capacity by better train ing of muscle and mind, are dependent upon an effective distribution of the products of an effec tive industry.