Rubber is now necessary for our existence, as without it, our telephone, telegraph and railroad systems would fall, the flow of food to cities would be checked and starvation result to hundreds of thousands. We import millions of pounds, and the supply is so limited that the price has doubled, and we find that the native of South America is destroying the rubber trees, so we must protect these plants and raise more. White men must go there to do it, and if the native government does not guard him and his property, it must give place to a white man's government which will protect this industry.*
Meanwhile, discoverers and inventors are at work to increase the supply. It is conceived possible to establish a great rubber-growing industry in the Philippine Islands, and officers are exploring lands suitable for growing forests of rubber trees. At the present writing the Department of Agriculture intimates that our future rubber interests in our new Far Eastern possessions will be worth all that we ever paid for their acquisition. From Borneo and other parts of the East Indies there comes a new product a a good substitute for India rubber. It is called gutta-jootatong, and it is used in combination with guttapercha with excellent results. It is a thick, sticky, whitish substance, resembling marshmallow candy. Some 14,000,000 pounds of this were imported last year. When it is realized that one rubber company in this country sold $30,000,000 worth of rubber shoes and boots, and another sold $15,000,000 of other rubber articles, and when we realize the equally enormous quantities used in tires and hose, it is evident that we must control the production or we will soon suffer.
* Collier's Weekly for January 23, 1904, says: "Rubber is getting scarce, owing to the rapid growth of manufacturing interests, and to the gradual exhaustion of the supply of crude rubber. The rubber scrap heap is becoming an important factor in the situation. Last year we imported 24,659,394 pounds of scrap India-rubber, and used as much more from the scrap piles of this country. The imported scrap rubber was worth more than a million and a half dollars".
Paper was a luxury a few years ago, but the complications of civilization have made it a necessity. The paper makers in the United States are being put to their wits' ends to secure the necessary soft woods and fibrous materials. The nearby supplies will be exhausted in time, and, indeed, we are already going further and further from home for materials. In a little time it will be necessary to go to the tropics for the immense quantities of fibrous stuffs yearly wasted or even burned. In our efforts to help ourselves by cultivating more of these stuffs, we will benefit the natives more than they could themselves, a clear case of mutual aid. Break the union and both would suffer. It is reported that more than 2,000,000 tons of waste sugar cane in the Hawaiian Islands are annually available for certain kinds of paper. If we abandon these possessions this necessary supply is cut off, and it is doubtful whether our corn stalks can be marketed, though recent inventions can utilize them to make pulp.
Uruguay is an illustration of our dependence upon the products of another people. Though we have enormous quantities of hides to be made up into leather for our factories, we have not enough by any means, and we now import the extra amount from South America, as we have for nearly a century. From Uruguay alone we get millions of dollars' worth every year, while the flesh goes to Europe. English shoe makers were greatly injured by a leather famine resulting from the huge quantities used in the Russian-Japanese war. A like calamity could visit us.