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LEWIKTOWN,MONTANA, WEDNESDAY, MAY i\ IfOi
WhatT5he Farmer has and Wha^t He Might Ha^ve
ByAllen L. Benson
Publishedby Permission of the Author
Amongthe most conspicuous of the privileges that the farmer has^nnder capitalism is that of working from 14 to if hours a day during the^planting and reaping season.
Hiswife has the same privilege and usually his children are taken^out of school by the time they are 16 years old and nut to work in order^that it may not appear that their parents are monopolizing an undue pro^^portion of the blessed privilege to work.
Generallyspeaking, almost two out of every three farmers have the^pr.vilege of owning their land, thongh this is a privilege that is rapidly^being taken from them, as is shown by the census figures for the last 60^years. And the movement toward farm tenantry is gaining such head^^way that under existing conditions, not many more generations of farmers^will be required to pay any taxes on land. Thus another of the farmer's^burdens will be unloaded upon the shouli ers of the struggling landlord.
Thefarmer and his wife also have the privilege of working for less^wages than they pay their hired man, as is ..hown by these census figures^for 1900:
Thetotal value of all farm products raised in 1X09 wa$ #4,717,069,
Thenumber of farms was 5,737, -573, each averaging 146.2 acres.
Dividingthe value of the farm products by the number of farms, we^find that the average annual income of each farmer was about $770.
Ahired man six months of the year with wages at $25 a month and^board estimated at jtX a month amounts to #198 and reduces the farmer's^cash in hand to $572.
Allfarm property being valued at $20,439,901.164 and the number^of farms being 5,737,372, it follows that the average value of a farm^from which #770 is annuallv produced is $3,562.
Theannual interest on $3,562 at f per cent is $213.72, which sub^traded from the $570 that the farmer has left after paying the hired man,^leaves $356. 28.
Thefarmer's wife contributing as much as her husband i!.- value^of the wealth produced on the farm and there is no doubt that she does^their joint net product, $356. 28, must be divided by 2, anil the ^juo-^tient, $178,14, divided by 156, the numlier of days in six months, to as^certain the dailv wage of the farmer ami the farmer's wife.
Whichshows that the annual income of the average farmer and his^wife is equivalent to a daily wage of $1.11 each.
Thehired man's income for six months, including board, is equiva^lent to a daily wage of $r
Andthe farmer and wife, instead of working onlv six months fur^what they get, as their hired man does, have to work the whole vear.
Dividethe net annual income of the average farmer and his wife^#356.28- by 313, the number of working days in a vear. and the dailv^wage of the farmer and his wife amounts only to 55 cents each. And, of^course, that is the way it should be figured, because the farmer and his^wife have to work all the year for what they get.
Anda^. n, let the fact be emphasi/ed that these figures were not^made by Socialists. They were compiled by the Tinted States govern^^ment and mav l^e found on pages 217 to 210 of the ^Abstract of the^Twelfth (Census^ as well as in Volume 5, pages 122, 694,696, 6q8 and 700^of the regular reports, references to which are noted in the ^Abstract.
Ofcourse, these figures do not blend very nicely with the ^prosper^ity^ statistics that the |^oliticians prepare when they want the farmer's^votes.
Butthey DO fit in very nicely with the conditions that exist on the^farms, where the farmers and their wives work, year in, year out, to eke^out a very plain sort of existence. Thev also tall v quite accurately w ith^the figures that the census bureau gives out with regard to the rapidity to^which the farmers are losing the ownership of their farms. Yet the gov^^ernment's figures on farm tenantry and farm incomes and the politicians'^^statistics^ on the farmer's glorious ^prosperity^ cannot both be true.^Any observing individual should be able to make a tolerably fair estimate^as to which of the conflicting sets of figures is likely to lie near the truth,^tint this fact mav be of assistance to those who are unable to make up^their minds from their own observations as to the farmer's prosperitv or^poverty: The census figures were not prepared with the expectation that^thev would be generally read and as a matter of fact, they are not gener^^ally read. Only an insignificant few ever delve in the eleven ponderous^census volumes, and hours of study are necessary to find the few impor^tant figures that are buried in the masses of unimportant statistic*. On^the other hand, the politicians who prepare the ^prosperity^ statistics^always desire that they shall have the widest publicity and, as a matter^of fact, they are heralded broadcast over the land.
Now'ince it is plain that there was lying either in one MM or the^other, since the figures are in such violent conflict with each other, is it^likely that the census officials lied when thev prepared figures that^they expo ted few would read, or that the politicians lied w hen thev pre^pared ^statistics^ that thev knew all would read
Asa matter of fact, the farmers are poor and, since thecensut ti gu res^show that they are steadily losing the ownership of their land, it iI plain^that they are growing poorer and will continue to grow poOTOf so I mg as^the existing system of industry be maintained Go at random through^the country, take anv old farmer who has been working all hi,s life, di^vide the value of his present holdings by the number of years he has^been at work and it will he found that the annual sum that the 'armer^and lus wife have been able to save oxer and above the c ost of their mea
greliving expenses constitutes an extren.ely small wage for each.
Inbrief, this is what the farmer has, under capitalism, not mention^^ing the mental anxiety connected with u h poverty, which is perhaps^the most important consideration of all
Thisis what the farmer WOULD h ive under Socialism and what he^WILL have when Socialism comes:
Kveryfarmer would own a house, just as ROME farmers now own^the houses in which they live. A house is not capital, since it is not^wealth used to produce MORE wealth and the ownership of houses^would be vested in individuals, just as thev are now.
Nolongc despoiled of four-fifths of his product, each farmer would^be able to own his own house, and such temporary renting as there might^be from time to time would be for a rental that would represent only the^actual depreciation of the house through wear and natural decay^not a^great item when the fact is considered that with the profits cut out of the^prices of building materials, the cost ot 1 house would be much less than^it is now.
Or,of course, if a majority of the people should decide that it^would l^e more economical for the government! to Imv all the houses that^their owners wished to sell and rent them for a sum barely covering de^preciation, giving the tenant the right ;^^ stay in the house a life-time if^he desired and reserving to his family the right to keep the house as long^as they might wish if a majority of th^way, of course they could do it. locil^governme.it power to terminate a lease^part of the contract and desired to continue^the government be given power to ten nate
peopleshould decide to do this^ism, however, would not give the^o long as the tenant fulfilled his^the contract. Nor would^a lease because of the ina
bilityof the tenant to fulfill the obligat.ans of his contract, provided such^failure was due to sickness or any extr rdinary misfortune. The chronic^loafer, however, would be given short shrift.
Coiningto the land every farmer, as well as every other individual,^for that matter, would be given the right to use, as the site for his home,^a generous plat of land, without charge of any kind. Any individual^could select any site for his home that was not already in use by another^and keep it until he died of old age if he liked, and his family could have
thefirst claim upon it after his death and keep it so long as anv member i men, but 1'^r the purpose i f carrying^of it should desire to live on that par- eular spot. No individual, or j ot giving the serviceJ
monotonousexistence of the farmer's wife. With each farmer receiving^all of his product instead of a fifth of it, it would not be necessary to^work so many hours in order to live even much better than the average^farmer now lives, and the leisure time would be devoted to beautifying^the homes - which would still remain the private property of those who^lived in them or to study and recreation.
Anyonewill agree that this is a beautiful picture of rural life. The^only question now is whether it is possible to make this picture a reality.^Let's see about that.
Wehave the census figures for it that the average laborer produces^about six times as much wealth by his labor as he receives in the form of^wages. Socialists claim that the difference between the value of a lalxr^er's product and the amount of his wage is eaten up by interest, rent and^profits, or wasted in competition.
Supposethat interest, rent, profits and competition were to be de^stroyed. What would happen^ What would be the result to the fanners^and the rest of the wealth-producing class^ Is there anything plainer^than if the wealth thev produced were not wasted in competition, or ab^^sorbed by others in the form of interest, rent and profits that each mem^^ber of the wealth-producing class would be permitted to retain his whole^product and thus be in receipt of an income almost six times as great as^the average toiler now receives
Whereelse could the wealth go if none of it were wasted in compe^^tition anil no one were permitted to take it from the producers
Doesthe picture begin to look more like a real world that is only^waiting for us to step into it
Takeup some of the things that lie close to the farmer's life:^The railroads are now operated to enable certain gentlemen to jug^^gle with their stocks and have marble palaces in New York and Newport^with million dollar summer homes in the Berkshire hills -all these are^made possible by charging those who use the railroads, the farmers^among the rest, three or four prices for freight rates and equally exorbi^^tant prices for traveling.
Supposethe people, through the government, were to own and oper^^ate the railroads, NOT for the purpose of making wealthy any manor
freightand passengers at the coo!
family,however, would be permitted to retain the land upon vkich I^house was located after they no longer desired to live upon it. When the^occupant of a piece of land no longer I j-^ircd to use it, it* control would^again revert to the government, which oaJd place it in use again by anv^one of a do/en simple yet just metho,! that might be adopted. The^house, belonging as it would to the individual, could be sold by him,^renteil for a sum equivalent onlv to de; reciation, or sold to the govern^^ment, if a majority cf the people shou'd so decide for a sum .epresenting^the cost of duplicating it in its existing condition.
Theland could be worked in either of two ways. All that Socialism ^more economically on a large scale than it could be In a horde ^*f small
nowsays of the land question, so far as it pertains to the land the farmer^tills, is that any individual should have the right to till as much laud as^he might need to make a comfortable living without asking anyone's con^^sent or paying anybody for the privilege of using land that was made by^Cod, for all his children, rather th-^r. Sy Cod for a few real-estate specu^lators and land sharks.
Ifthe majority of the farmers should so declare, each could till his^own farm, just as he does now, and keep it until his death, with the right^given to his wife and children to keep it so long as they might care to^use it. If this plan were adopted, anyone would have the right, under^Socialism, to apply for a generous tract of land not in use. and be given^as absolute possession of it so long as he might care to till it, as he^would have if he actually owned it. Not even the government could^force him off the land against his will so long as he wished to use it, ex^cept by condemnation proceedings for public purposes, as is now^done when some public improvement makes it advisable to di^^turb the rights of an individual.
Onthe other hand, if a majority of the farmers should say that they^wished to farm their lands in common, instead of each having a farm by^himself, they could do that way. A Director of Agriculture, for a state^or some specified tract of land acting under the Secretary of Agriculture^in Washington, could direct that certain grains should Ik^ raised in a cer^^tain territory, because the soil and climate were better adapted to the^raising of such grains than anything else. The market would l^e studied,^just as it is now by the agricultural department, and enough of each farm^product raised to aflord a safe margin over the probable demand. Pro^duction could Ik* carried on under a big scale and the greatest product^attained with the least expenditure of lalxir. At the end ot each week,^or each month, each farmer would make affidav it to the nam001 of hours^he had worked since a given date, and the government would forward 1^labor time check in payment. Capitalism has so developed the tendency^to lie that a few perjurers might have to be sent to the penitentiary at^first; but the lying would not be extensive even at the start and would^IOOO disappear. The individual nhoie income has been increased 400 or^500 per cent is not likely to reward the person or j^ers^ms w ho have in^^creased it by loafing at his work, or perjuring himself in order to steal^from tl em. Still. .1 few might du so at the start and they would be^sternly dealt with
Itthe farmers should chooM to till their land in common, thev^might also choose to live in little 1 immunities near the center of their^tracts of land, instead of living far from each other as is now the custom.^V profitable social feature would thus take the PWM Of what is now the
WouldTHAT kelp the farmers any^^The packing companies now exist. NOT for the purpose of perform^^ing a public service by butchering the farmers' hogs, cattle and sheep^and distributing the jiroducts, but for the norm ^ of making the stock^^holders ot the packing ^ ompanies rich. This they do by entering a con^^spiracy to pay the farmers as little as |^ossible for their live stock and^charging the public as much as they can tor drCMOd meat and the by^^products of the packing business, which are numerous and valuable.
Now,meat can be manufactured into merchantable forms much
packers,and the trust is therefore an economical device to the extent^that it saves labor and wealth. But suppose the people, through the^govermeut, were to pack all meat, and manufacture all of the numerous^by-products of the packing business and do it at cost.^Would THAT help the farmers any
Reapiui:narvittc* are unw made. N^ ^T to e table the farmers to cut^their grain, but to enable a few estimable gentlemen to live in mansions^on the Lake Shore drive in Chicago and spend more money in three days^than the average laborer receives in a year. This thev do by pay.ng labor^$24 tor makin, a reaping machine, wasting $40 to sell it, and then sell^^ing it to the farmer tor $120.
Supposethe people, through the government, were to make their^own reapers and thus reduce the cost of reaping wheat
WouldI HA 1 help the farmers any
Allother farm mat hinery is now made by private indiv iduals, who^engaged in business, not because they wanted I ^ perform a service for^the farmers by supplying them with machiner.. 1*11 . rut:* ^ th^^ ranted^to make profits for themselves. This they d . . ^ 1. ^ L i^ n,,,,e^for farm implements than it costs to make and
Supposethe people, through the government, e 1 i....*e all the^machinery that is used on farms, cut out the private caj la! ^t'a ;iroiits^and the wastes in competition and thus reduce the cost of tilling land to^the lowest possible figure
WouldTHAT help the farmers any
Menw ho now buy the farmers' products pay them prices therefore^that do not enable the larmers to obtain from their own labor what anv^other laborer has produced in the same length of time, notwithstanding^the lact that no man's labor is entitled to greater reward than that of a^farmer. This they do because the prices of farm products are fixed by^the necessities of the poorest class of fanners, v, ho ,ire compelled to rush^to the markets and accept prac tically any price that is offered; and in^this, thev are aided by the unjust and unscientific medium of exchange^that we now have.
Supposethe government were to cut out all of thil middleman busi^^ness and pay the farmer with a labor time check that would enable him^to exchange any given number of ^hours ^worth' of his product for the^product of any Other laboier for the same number of hours
WouldI HAT I tip the farmers any
Thepicture is NO I' a mirage. It is the shadow of I coming event^that is cast before us. We can hasten its coming i' we ^vill; we cannot^stop it if we try. But \xt can make present conditions even worse before^they will natiuallv become better if we are detei mined to do so.
Debsand Han ford, Sociaiist National Nominees 1904 !
i2 An Interesting Biographical Sketch of the Career and Lives of Labor's Standard Bearers i2
KugeneV. Debs, Socialist Party^candidate for president, was born^in Terre Haute, Ind., in 1855- :U^'^at the age of 15 years began work^as a railway employe in Vandalia^railroad car shops. Afterwards he^worked as fireman on a freight en^^gine for several years and became a^member of the Hrotherhood of Lo^^comotive Firemen. lie was made^editor of the brotherhood magazine^in 1X77 and three years afterwards^he was chosen general secretary and^treasurer, a position which he occu^^pied for thirteen years, resigning it^in 1803 to organize the American
RailwayP11 ion which was intended^to unite the railwav workers of^America in one great organization.
Within a year the Oreat Northern^Railway strike was fought anil won.^Through this contest the wages of^thousands of workers from St. Paul^to the Pacific coast were saved from^reduction and the railway managers^awoke to the fact that they had a^new power with which to grapple.
InMay 1X94, the famous Pullman^strike occurred. L'nable to affect a^settlement by arbitration, the A. R.^I J., took up the matter in the na^^tional convention in session at Chi^^cago in June. As a result a boycott^was declared against the Pullman
i.irs,to take effect July 1st With^in a few davs the entire railroad^system of the country extending^from Chicago west and south to the^(lulf anil Pacific coast was tied Bp^and the greatest labor strike in the^country's history was on.
OnJuly 2, 1894, Judges Wood I^and Orosscup at Chicago, issued a^sweeping ^omnibus^ injunction.^Mr. Debs and associates were ar^^rested for contempt of court, on al^^leged violation of the injunction^They were tried in September, but^Judge Woods did not render a ver^^dict until December, when he con^demned Vr. Lebs to six months'^imprisonment, and his associates to
three.The case was carried to the^Supreme Court, which sustained^the lower court, and in Mav 1895,^the imprisonment in W oodstock Jail^began. The term expired on Nov^ember 2 ;. 1K95, and on the evening^of that dav the prisoner was ten^dered a reception in Chicago the^like of which that city had never^seen.
Debsand associates were also in^dieted and placed on trial for con^^spiracy, and the trial continued un^^til the evidence of the prosecution^had all been heard, but suddenly^when the defence began to testify,^a juror was taken ill during a tem^^porary adjournment and the trial
terminatedin spite of all efforts of^the defendants to have it continued.^They were anxious ... bring the^General Managers'association into^court and show who were the real^law breakers and destroyers of^property. An acquittal by a jury^upon substantially the same charge^as that upon which they were im^^prisoned for contempt would have^been fatal to Judge Woods.
OnJanuary 1, 1X97, Debs issued^I circular to the members of the^A. R. P., entitled ^Present Condi^lions ami future Duties,^ in which^he reviewed the political, industrial^and economic conditions, and came^out boldly for Socialism. Among
otherthings he said: ^The issue is^Socialism vs capitalism. I am for^Socialism because I am for human^^ity. The time has come to regener^^ate society we are on the eve of a^universal change.
When the \. R. I , mat in na^tional convention in Chicago, in^June, 1X97, that body was merged^into the Social Democracv of Amer^^ica, with Debs as chairman of the^National Lxecutive Hoard. The fol^^lowing year ( 1 S.j.s 1 the Social Dem^^ocratic Partv was started as the re^^sult of a split iu the Social Demo^^cracy. In 1000 Debs was nominated^for President as candidate of the^(Continued on last page)