Newspaper Page Text
THE ARGUS, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 1907.
SINGLE TAX A REMEDY FOR PRESENT DAY EVILS
Rock Island, September 9. Editor
The Argus: Iu the issue of your paper
dated the 5th inst., I notice an editorial
headed, "A Town Without Taxes,'
which goes on to say, that the town of
Faleide, Norway, has set aside a tract
of land for revenue purposes, aud "in
consequence of this source of com
mercial wealth, there are no taxes ii.
Faleide," and railways and telephones
and education are free. You then as
the people of Rock Island and Illinoi';,
"who step up annually to unload a
year's savings at the treasurer's wi i
dow to think of it!" But have you
ever thought how much better th
whole of Norway would be, if each
town were alloted a tract of land for
revenue purposes, in the proportion of
its population? In other words, would
Norway not be a more prosperous
country, if none or its inhabitants was
required to pay taxes, and if all had
free telephones and railways?
Also, would not the United States
be a better and more prosperous coun
try, if we had these advantaged? And
we can have these advantages, and yet
other advantages, if we will but take
them. In order to take them, we nee 1
only take hat which rightfully belong
to the people. You speak wisely, when
you say, "Shall we be wise in time,
and secure these coal lands, (whic'i
still remain part of the public domain
in this country) by wise laws, for tho
benefit of the whole people, or shall wj
permit them too, to pass into t lie hands
of the trusts, which, when another coal
famine conies, may charge us what th-
traffic will bear?" Yea. you spe.il;
wisely, but not well enough.
It is not enough to point out adva i-
tages to the public, but to point out
also, the way in which the public can
gain these advantages, with the lea-it
How to I'orontnll Trunin.
If you will permit me in your col
limns, to do so, I shall try to call atten
tion to the best way whereby the pub
lic can forestall the trust. How can
the public through wise laws, seem"
the timber and coal lands, which tlu
trust has not yet been able to grab?
At first it may seem a knotty problem.
but it is really so simple, that its very
simplicity prevents the people from
secinr how easily its knots may be un
done. Not only can the people tak"
the t'nMier and coal lands which sti'I
remi- i; ntside the grasping paws o
the 1 1 '.!.-! .:. but they can take also those
. trust has already "cinched,"
-t they can force the trusts In
Uremely reasonable ratei,
" the end, amount to tin:
N'o. President Roosevelt-
ill not bring about sueli
the trust, it might let go of a bunch i and this enables it to raise prices to
of mines, which would otherwise burn the maximum of what the public can;
or at !'
can do, ii i .
the people '
man discov. i
st that our president
, 1. is to point out to
, oad, which a great
flie only road. It ;s
useless to look for another, for there
is none. The road I speak of, is the
single tax. . Do we want to wret
from the coal trust, the coal lands
which it is -holding out of use? The
single tax will do it, since the single
tax will make it most unprofitable for
anyone to hold land of any kind with
out putting it to good use. Do wo
want to bust the timber trust? We
can force the timber barons to let go
of the lands which they are now hold
ing out of use, by making them pay
their full share of taxes, thus making
it highly unprofitable for them to hoi
onto it. The single tax can do it, and
it is up to the people.
Do we want to bust the steel trusr?
By means of the single tax we cat:
force it to pay ivs full share of taxe
a hole in its pocketbook. And how
simple it is to do all this! All that is
necessary, is for the people to say th3
word. But it will be necessary for the
people to speak loudly, because the
trusts will make an awful racket, in
trying to drown out the sound of the
public voice. But when t he public
has spoken, then indeed can the pub
lic have free telephones and railways.
What good does it do the public to
have a telegrapher's strike ever so
often just on accounf of a gigantic
I'ahllc Xot tbe Gainer.
What good docs it do for the public
to get an increase of wages, when with
each increase of wages, the trusts
raise the prices of all commodities?
Why not take from the trusts the pow
er, which enables them to raise the
prices in proportion, as they are force 1
by strikes and unions to increase
wages? What good does it do labor
to imagine that it is fighting eapit ii.
when in reality it is fighting, not cap
ital, but private ownership of land?
But let me explain, before I go further,
what the single tax is. , The single tax
is a tax on land equal to the full rental
value of the land, irrespective of tlr:
improvements thereon, or the use to
which the land is put. This tax on
land values to be accompanied by the
repeal of all taxes now levied on the
products and processes of industry,
which taxes fall on, and are eventually
paid by the consumer and which, sin-'.e
they take from the earnings of labor,
are an infringement on the right ct
In other words, the single tax is tha
substitution of a single direct tax for
the multiplicity of indirect taxes now
levied. The single tax will "kill" tax
dodgers, for a tax on land cannot bo
evaded since the land cannot be car
ried off or hidden, or its value sworn
away. Its collection will be simple
and easy and the justice of the single
tax canvot be questioned, since it is
merely the taking by the community,
for the use of the community, th.i.
value, which the community' by its
presence creates. It is the carrying
to perfection of government of the
people, by the people and for the
people, not in name only, but in fact
Under the present system of taxation
we fine a man for making improve
ments and who will say that this doe-.
not act as a check on the making of
A man owns a lot and pays a certa-
tax thereon. Some day he builds
house on his lot, with the result that
the next day the tax collector sweeps
down upon him and increases his taxes
because he built a house and thereby
added to the wealth of the community.
A farmer owns a hundred acres of
unimproved land and pays a certain
tax thereon; one day he builds a house
and a barn and tills his ground and
raises a crop and down comes the tax
collector and increases his taxes be
cause he improved his land and made
two blades of grass grow where none
grew before. A man owns a patch of
ground and pays a certain tax and
when he builds a factory thereon,
down comes the tax collector and in
creases his taxes, for no other reason
than that he has added to the aggre
gate of the nations wealth.
The single tax will not fine a man
for improving his holdings since the
tax is on the rental value of the tin-
afford to pay for coal, while on the
other hand the trust pays almost no
taxes on the land which it is with
holding from use. Under the single
tax the trust could keep on holding it.1
coal lands from use if it so choose.
but it would have to pay the public
for the privilege of so doing, a tax
equal to the full rental to it, of such
Would I-ower Price.
Is there anyone who can not readily
see that the coal trust wouiu. eunnr
let go of it or hasten to open them
up and work them? And in either
case the result would be a healthy
drop in the price of coal and at the
same time a demand for more men
to work the newly opened coal fields.
Would this cause the wages of the
employes of the coal trust to drop?
Perhaps a little, but not in proportion
to the drop in the price of coal, for
their employers would have to pay
them the best wages they possibly
could in order to get men to work for
them. This would be true of all in
dustries and could H'c not afford to
have our wages cut in half if nec
essary, provided mat tne price or an
commodities were to fall to one-thirl
of what they are now? Would we not
be the gainers.? The competition now
is between workman and workman for
the wages of an employer but under
the single tax the competition would
be between employer and employer.
for the labor of the workman. What
is true of the coal trust is true of all
other industries. "All roads lead to
Take whatever industry you will
and you can trace clearly the fact thr-t
wages always tend to the minimum,
to the private ownership by a few of
that storehouse of nature which is in
tended to supply the needs of all. Were
it not for the private ownership of
land, the Standard Oil trust could not
have a monopoly of oil nor could the
coal trust claim, through the niediui.i
of George F. Baer that it has a divine
right to monopolize the coal fields.. I
will quote from "page 32S, Protection
or Free Trade" by Henry George, to
show that land monopoly, or in other
words the private ownership of land
is the power which enables, and some
times even forces the capitalist 'o
Need GIveM l.evernjte.
The quotation: That a rich em
ployer "squeezes" needy workmen
may be true. But does this squeezing
power result from his riches, or their
need? No matter how rich an em
ployer might be, how would it be pos
sible for him to squeeze workmen,
who could make a good living for
themselves without going into his em
ployment? The competition of work
man with workman for employment,
which is the real cause that enables,
and even in most cases forces, the
employer to squeeze his workme.i,
arises from the fact that men, debar
red from the natural opportunities to
employ themselves, are compelled to
bid against one another for the wages
of an employer. Abolish the monopoly
that forbids anen to employ them
selves, and capital could not possib'y
oppress labor. In no case could th?
capitalist obtain labor, for less than
the laborer could get by employing
himself. Once remove the cause of
that injustice which deprives the la
borer of the capital his toil creates.
tng capital, but land monopoly, which
by the unthinking is mistaken for
capital. If a capitalist Is a landowner,
It is as a landowner, and not as a cap
italist, that he is enabled to take by
force from labor, that which labor has
produced. Assuming that I am a cap
italist, who own a tract of land where
on I have built a factory, which turns
out every year a certain amount of
wealth. This wealth is divided into
three parts. The first goes to 'the
laborer; the second goes to me as v
capitalist, and the third goes to me,
but this time not as to a capitalist,
but as to a landowner.
Three factors unite iu production
labor, capital and land. Three par
ties, the laborer, the capitalist and
the landowner, divide that which is
produced. (To quote Henry Georg.;,
P. 220, "Progress and Poverty"): "IT,
with an increase of production the
by the growth of the community, is
it just, that a few should divide
the increased value, which is brought
about by the presence of all?
"The right or property," which our
constitution guarantees us, is violate 1
every day, and every minute of tho
day; for the right of properly can
rightfully attach only to things which
are the products of labor, and not to
that, which nature had created,
aeons before the advent of man.
Man is older than the state, and nature
is older than either. Our presence on
earth, testifies to the fact that God
has placed us Jicre and it testifies
also to the fact that He intended us
to have, not an equal share of his
bounties to "men, but an equal oppor
tunity to all, to get an equal share.
Very truly docs Henry George say,
on page S;:G. of "Progress and Pover
ty," that: "Whatever mav tie sni.t .if
laborer gets no more and the capital-,, ne institution of private property in
ist gets no more, it is a necessary iu- land it ,s ,)ain that K cannot be ,5.
improved land only and not on tho and the sharp distinction between
improvements he may make thereon
How would the single tax efTect th3
trusts? The coal trust is holding out
or if it would seem more profitable to ( of use thousands of acres of coal lands,
capitalist and laborer would in fact
cease to exist.
I think that the foregoing is suffi
cient to show that labor is not fignt-
ference that the landowner reaps the
whole gain. And the facts agree wita
tho inference. Though neither wageb
nor interest anywhere increase us ma
terial progress goes on, yet the in
variable accompanyment and mark of
material progress is the increase of
rent the rise of land values. The in
crease of rent explains why wages
and interest do not increase.. The
cause which gives to the landowner
is the cause, which denies to the la
borer and capitalist. It is not the
total produce, but the net produc;,
after rent has been taken from it, that
determines what can be divided as
wages and interest. Hence the rate
of wages is everywhere fixed, not s
much by the productiveness of labor,
as by the value of land."
Now the rate of wages being fixed
primarily by the value of land, it fol
lows naturally that it is the owner ot
land, to whom we must look for an
explanation of the comparatively low-
rate of wages, rather than to the cap
italist. For a capitalist who is not a
land owner, (if you can find auy
such, can get as a return to his capi
tal, only what the current interest
rate will bring him. If the interest
rate is low, he can get only ;t :e! i
tively low return; if the interest rat::
is high, his return will be rclativel
high. Now since wages and interest
do not increase as material progress
goes on, while land values do in
crease, it is a necessary inference
that the surplus created by improved
methods of production, goes to tho
landowners. If a capitalist is also a
landowner, it is by virtue of his land
ownership that he is enabled to taUc?
the surplus created by iniprovod
methods of production, besides taking
also the return to his invested capita!.
t lteiilly nil luvextuiriit.
By invested capital, I mean only
that which is invested in things pro
duced by labor, such as houses, ma-j
chinery, and works of any kind, for
that part of his capital, which is "in
vested" in land, is not really invested,
since it goes in the form of purchase
money or rent, to secure the right of
possession, to the land needed to carry
on his business, and brings no return
The landowner is the dog-in-the-manger
who does not produce, but who, by-
virtue of his ownership of land, can
take from labor, that which labor ha.-?
produced. But you will say that
money invested in land, does bring a
return. True, but it brings no return
to labor and none to capital, and we
cannot ignore the distinction betweo l
that which is invested In the products
of labor and that which is invested in
the things created by nature, yhen
a man invests in laud, he secures by
his investment, a lien on future pro
duction, for his land will not incrcas-3
in value, excepting with the growth of
the community. Now since the in
crease of land values are caused solely
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fended on the score of justice. Th
equal right of all men to the use of
land is as clear as their equal risht
to breathe the air it is a right pro
claimed by the fact of their existence
For we cannot' suppose that some men
have a right to be in this world and
others no right. If we are all her?
by the equal permission of the create--'
we are all here with an equal riglit
to the enjoyment of his bounty witti
an equal right to the use of all that
nature so impartially offers. This is
a right which is natural and inaliena
ble; it is a right which vests in every
human being as he enters the world,
and which during his continuence in
the world, can be limited only by th:
equal rights of others.
Ciiuitot Grant Om m-rxlilp.
"There is no power on earth which
can rightfully make a grant of exclu
sive ownership in land. If all exist
ing men were to unite to grant away
their equal rights, they could not grant
away the rights of those who follow
them. For what are we but tenants
for a day? Have we made the earth,
that we should determine the lights
of those, who after us shall tenant
it in their turn?"
"in the sweat of thy face thou shalt
eat bread." But this does not mean
that some shall eat brtad by the sweit
of their brows, whilst a few oihers,
shall eat bread by the sweat of th :
brows of others. From what I have
said, one might perhaps be lead to
believe that I desired to wipe out
great corporations. Not so. This is
the age of great combinations, an 1
they are but a step forward in tho
march of progress and eh i!izatio.i.
When I say, "wipe out monopoly," I
do not mean that the great corpora
tions should be dissolved. But take
away that great monopoly in land, an 1
the other so-called monopolies, be
come a blessing instead ot a curse.
Take away from the great corpor i
tions, the agent which gives them the
power to bleed the people, and the
evils which now beset us, must quick
Why do we build million dollar
churches, when within their shadows
we see breeding the twin vipers, vie i
I have said that wages and intere-.l
do not increase as material progress
goes on, but this must not be take.i
literally, for unions and strikes have
done much to increase wages. But
has the condition of labor, (I use tho
word labor to indicate anyone wlu
produces or aids in production, by
hand or brain), been in any way im
proved? Has not each raise of wages, servel
to increase the cost to the consumer
of all commodities? Now when we
consider that the laborer is the con
sumer, how has he benefited by his
increased wages? It is undoubteuK
true, that each raise of wages, has
served to increase the cost of all com
modities, for all industries are in r.
way correlative, "and an increase in
the cost of production in one industry,
affects all others more or less. As
surely as water seeks its own love'.
the upward flight of the cost of couv
niodities, has nullified the advance of
Merely Treat Symptom.
Why treat symptoms, by means of
strikes? Look a little deeper and
find, and remove the cause, of what
now seems to the masses of men an
inexplicable phenomena. We have
heard enough about the light between
capital and labor, for wc see that
there is no fight between capital an 1
labor. What harm has real capita!
ever done to labor.
Is capital not merely so much a .
cumulated wealth, which is used to
aid in future production? But thcro
is a fight between labor and the pri
vate ownership of land. No matte
how high the wages of labor soar, the
private ownership of land will enable
the owners of land, to force eapitc-.I
for its own protection, to raise the
price of commodities proportionately.
If the capitalist be also a landowner,
he will bo enabled to take from labor,
that which labor has produced, by
virtue of his landownership; that
which, in another case, where the car-
ltalist is not also the landowner, th ;
capitalist must pay to satisfy the de
mands of the landowner.
It is this, which prevents the non
landowning capitalist from reducing
his prices, and therefore the laudwn
ing capitalist is enabled to collect
also his share as a landowner, be
sides the it turn he gets as a capital
ist. It is this which condemns men
to the wages of slavery, when the
are able to work: and to starvation
when they are unable to work.
Man is a land animal, and without
land he cannot exist; and it follow--!
naturally. bar if the lana whereon
and wherefrom all must live, is ownel
by a few. the few can compel tho
many to work for them, just as surely
as if the few, held the many in chattlo
What is industrial slavery? Noth
ing more nor less than ciiattle slavery,
with the advantage on the side of the
slave owner; for an owner of chattlo
slaves must feed them in good times
and bad times, whereas the owner of
industrial slaves is free to turn them
out in bad times to starve. Consider:
What labor wants is a more equal dis
tribution of the products of labor, an-I
the only way in which this can be se
cured, is to remove the agent, whioi
forces the capitalist for his own pro
tection, to take from the laborer the
product of his labor, in order to satis
fy the demands of the non-producing
The single tax is the only method.
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of taking from the non-producing land
owner, and giv ing to the laborer an I
the capitalist who between them cre
ate it, that unearned increment, which
the non-producing landowner now
commands. Think of it. people .f
Hock Island and Kock Island county
and the state ol Illinois. Think of it
people of the United Stales, you can
have the advantages which the Nor
wegian town enjoys, and yet other ad
vantages, if you will but take that
which rightfully belongs to you. Yo-i
can abolish poverty, and with povcrtv.
vice, if you will but abolish the great
monopoly in land; the curse whic'i
plants the brothel in the shadow '
the church; the curse which forces i;
to build penitentiaries, as we buil 1
public schools; the curse which is tlvj
cause of the recurring periods of in
dustrial depression, the next of which
is due iu 1913. Very respectfully,
GEOIlCJi: J. KNAPP.
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