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they know that competition on the ocean does not secure business, but, knowing the unpopularity of the word, they call helpful constitutional regulation “subsidy” to enlist such prejudice against it. Proper regulation gives preference at market rates; subsidies must cut rates without certainty of preference. Again, they prate of monopoly and wish us to ignore the menace of vast portent which has grown up on the seas. We are faced upon the ocean by a monopoly of shipbuilding, of commerce and of the arts and accessories of navigation, together with inordinate naval power. In many cases the disposition and price received by the producer are fixed by the carrier, so essentially necessary are trade connections and distributing agencies to the great maritime fleets of the present day, and, of course, such powers are used in every way possible to advance the material interests of the country of their flag.
The coasting trade is in no sense a monopoly. Any American who has a vessel, large or small, can engage in it. The ridiculous claim that remission of tolls is in the nature of a subsidy falls in the face of the fact that rates quoted for future delivery via the Canal are at certain figures, plus the Canal tolls, if exacted.
If constitutional regulation of commerce is to be adopted, we must adopt not only the policies of Jefferson for such regulation, but so great is our prostration that supreme effort is required to rehabilitate our marine, and hence constructive statesmanship should adopt policies broadened along similar lines to utilize possibilities for preference not available in Jefferson's time.
Preference in canal use squares with the preference of our early laws and is no more a subsidy than it was then. Thus discriminating duties offering lower duties or no duties on goods brought in American vessels, differential tonnage taxes offering lower taxes on American vessels and discriminating tolls, offering lower tolls or no tolls on American vessels, are no more a subsidy than is putting an article on the free list a subsidy to the foreign maker, whose product drives a domestic product out of the home market, which our maker is taxed to maintain.
Article II of the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty as several times stated gives us full power to provide for the regulation and management of the Canal. Since American opponents are quick to grasp at strained interpretations we must throw, light upon the meaning of regulation.
Since the Clayton-Bulwer Canal had to be regulated as well, we find in Article V of that instrument as a basis for the withdrawal of protection:
If the persons or company undertaking or managing the Canal had established regulations concerning traffic by making unfair discriminations or by imposing oppressive exactions or unreasonable tolls.
Certainly regulation as contemplated there covered the imposition of tolls and the laying down of conditions of traffic.
And we see this is the same idea of regulation as was had by the makers of our Constitution and our earlier laws.
The interpretation of regulation speaks just as clearly to-day as when even Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton were in accord as to its meaning.
A later exposition is that of the late Justice Field of the Supreme Court of the United States :
To regulate commerce is to prescribe the rules by which it shall be governed—that is, the conditions under which it shall be conducted, to determine how far it shall be free and untrammeled, how far it shall be burdened by duties and imposts and how far it shall be prohibited.
We have control of the Canal, we prescribe rules for its belligerent use and then are left, outside the obligations of extending impartial belligerent use to enjoy the rights incident to construction, with full power to use the Canal to our advantage just as every other nation in the world would do.
While under our favored nation treaties we shall in general accord equal tolls to the vessels of other nations, there is nothing to prevent our making reciprocal concessions to other nations. On no other score could Senator Root have justified his negotiation of the tripartite treaty between Panama, Columbia and the United States.