Industrial Problems Explained through
Lessons drawn from Passing Events
by Judson Grenell
Ch. XXIII, XXIV and XXV, only
Chapter XXIII—The Moral Status of the Single Tax.
Most of the criticisms passed upon the remarks of Alfred S. Niles and Lawson Purdy at the dinner of the commercial organizations of Detroit, given at the Cadillac, served mainly to show the ignorance of the critics. It is unnecessary to say that an after-dinner speech on such an important topic as taxation does not give a speaker time to formulate a system of political economy that will take in every phase of the subject. Of necessity some things must be left to the common sense of the listener. But it is a fact—and Michael Brennan emphasized it in his few remarks that evening—that the average merchant and manufacturer is a very ignorant person, when it comes to the science of taxation. And the critic who attempts a criticism on what a reporter thinks a speaker is saying on a subject which neither reporter nor critic has ever studied, is not liable to hit the mark.
The fact is that Mr. Purdy made the only criticism on Mr. Niles’ speech that is necessary. He said truthfully that the idea of exempting from taxation machinery only, is too narrow to have a very great following outside of the manufacturing classes themselves. But what Mr. Niles said as to the impetus given manufacturing by exempting it from taxation is beyond denial. The figures speak for themselves. It emphasizes the fact, too, that the margin on which manufacturers work is very small, and that it takes a very large business to enable an employer to retire before he reaches three score years with a modest competence. Yet if he has a patent, which gives him a monopoly of some line of trade, it is very different. But that is another story.
Mr. Purdy was bolder and more thorough than Mr. Niles. He advocated the exemption from taxation of pretty much all kinds of property except real estate. He would go to farm and factory and exempt the farmer’s live stock, as well as the manufacturer’s machinery; to the counting house and exempt the banker’s money; to the warehouse and store and exempt the wholesaler’s and retailer’s stock of merchandise. All these interests he would unite against the owner of land, and this latter personage would be made to bear the burden of governmental expenses.
It is very natural for the land owner to come forward and inquire why he should be singled out for any such “vicious” attack. Why should “his” property be expected to pay everything? Didn’t he come by it as honestly as the others did theirs? Isn’t his as necessary for the prosperity of the people? What would the public do without land? “Confiscation I” “Robbery!” he cries, and to the unthinking it looks very much like it.
The putting of only such taxes on the land as would support a government economically managed, is called the single tax limited. It would leave to the landlord a certain percentage of what Samuel J. Tilden first called the “unearned increment.” To take all of this unearned increment and expend it for the benefit of all the people is called the single tax unlimited. Single taxers are divided into these two schools. They do not differ on principles, but, like Thos. G. Shearman, the single taxers limited think it will work for the best interests of all to leave some of the unearned increment in the hands of the land holding class.
Let us consider the moral question involved. If it is immoral, and is doing an injustice to tax one class of property only, letting all other kinds escape, the single tax should never be allowed to gain a foothold, even if some good might follow its adoption. The moral question is worth considering—is the most essential part of the problem, in fact. To do an immoral thing is to outrage justice, and will surely bring in its train greater evils than it abolishes.
Land is not the product of labor. Land value is not the product of the individual laborer. Ownership does not create land value. The land has been here always, in some form, and the land value that has come is due to causes entirely outside the ownership. The owners of the site of the Majestic building, for example—a site which brought $660,000 for about a third of an acre— created no more of the land value attaching to it than the average citizen. Yet because of warranty deeds handed down for several generations, none of whom contributed to the value more than those who had no legal claim, they are enabled to take tribute from the citizens of Detroit each year in the sum of $20,000 to $30,000. It is this value created by the community as a whole, from which taxes should be drawn. It leaves the products of labor free from all exactions, so long as this land value is sufficient to pay the expenses of a government economically administered. And when the sum demanded exceeds this land value, it is pretty good evidence that the municipality is dipping into expenses it had better leave alone.
In the discussion of this question this matter of the creation of land values by the community, and not by the individual owner of any particular piece, must be kept continually in mind. To lose sight of it is to lose sight of the great difference between this and other kinds of “property.” All other evidences of wealth are the product of human industry. It has taken human exertion to produce it. Machinery, merchandise, goods, houses, live stock—all of these owe their existence to the skill, intelligence and industry of human beings. They are here because someone, somewhere, by manual or by mental exertion—which latter is as physical as the act of the blacksmith—expended strength and vitality to produce it. And when these various artisans came together they produced, in addition to this wealth, another value sufficient to provide them those essentials that go with civilization. To take their labor products and leave this other value in the hands of a class that had no more to do in producing it than themselves, is to allow of a robbery that accounts for poverty in the midst of progress. It is an immoral act.
As a fiscal reform the single tax is impregnable. As a reform founded on justice and good morals it is equally unassailable. It leaves to the creator of wealth all of his possessions, it takes from the owner of values created by the community, only that part that belongs to society as a whole. It is true that people have worked hard, sold their products and put money in land. Those who have done this because they wanted the land for use. still have control of the land, and the single tax will not take it from them. Those who have bought vacant property for the purpose of speculation, expecting that coming generations will pay them toll for the privilege of using it, are outside the pale of consideration, for they do not want to give value received. They are after something for nothing.
Local option in taxation will enable a community to experiment in the line of relieving wealth the creation of labor from taxation. When tried it will probably be found that the owners of land in use are benefited as well as the owners of wealth, which is the product of human exertion. It will be such a stimulant to industry that much vacant land will immediately come into the market. The class holding land for speculation only, without any particular interest in having it improved and occupied, but desiring to keep it until increased population compels the payment of a big bonus for its possession, will certainly not be benefited by any scheme of taxation that places taxes where they belong.
Chapter XXIV—Who Pays the Taxes?
Prof. C. A. Kent, in the role of a defender of the rich man in the matter of paying taxes, is an appropriate figure. Then, too, the time and place he recently chose was in perfect harmony. He was addressing the Men’s Club in a church supported almost entirely by those who, though not millionaires, can truthfully be called rich, even if they do not place themselves in that class. And that they were in sympathy with the stand taken by the great pleader for the rich, is shown by the fact that no one, when he concluded, attempted an answer. He had proved his point, to their satisfaction at least, and it was useless to continue the discussion.
“The rich men pay the mass of the taxes,” Mr. Kent is quoted as saying, and he insisted that under present conditions they were paying more than their share. Besides, they support the churches and colleges, he said. Society is divided into two classes, employers and laborers. The employers are the rich, the laborers are the poor. Yet he acknowledged that there was a feeling in the community that rich men were an evil to be got rid of. As a matter of fact, said Mr. Kent, people were poor because they did not save, but wasted.
The equitable placement of taxes is one of the most important problems in any community. If the rich, as held by Mr. Kent, are paying more than their share, it is something that should be remedied, and the sooner it is done the better for all concerned. Because one is rich is no reason why he should be made to bear burdens that belong to others.
In the United States it takes something over a thousand million dollars a year to meet national, state and municipal expenses. The greater part of this vast sum is collected by indirect methods. The late Thos. G. Shearman divided tax collecting into “straight” and “crooked.” Indirect—crooked—taxes are levied and collected in such a manner that the persons paying them are ignorant of the fact. Indirect taxes are the favorite methods of all who are unwilling to let their victims know what is going on. The customs tax collector is never seen by the person who pays the tax. The collector’s deals are with the first owner of the thing taxed, and not with the final payer. When a bale of goods—woolens, for example—enters one of the ports of the United States a customs inspector demands the original bill, and in proportion to the cost of the goods he adds the percentage demanded by the government. This becomes a part of the price the same as the freightage and insurance across the ocean, and by the wholesaler is added to the sum total to be charged for handling. When it reaches the store of the retailer, he adds to this price the cost of his handling, which in turn is paid by the buyer—the consumer.
In all indirect taxes, then, the burden falls on the consumer, and it falls on him simply because he has no one to shift it to. The importer, the wholesaler, the retailer—each in turn has added the tax to the original cost charged by the foreign manufacturer. In no instance do any one of them pay the tax. They have passed the burden along, with an added percentage, until finally the consumer meets the expense out of the result of his own labor.
Do the rich pay any more than their share of customs duties? They are larger consumers than the poor, to be sure; their living expenses foot into dollars where those of others remain in the dimes. Yet it is impossible to see how they are paying more than their share. Indeed, the other proposition is easier of proof. And for this reason: The goods consumed by the poor pay a higher tax than those consumed by the rich. Still sticking to woolens, the duties imposed on high priced goods are much less than those imposed on the poorer grades. The low taxed but high priced goods are worn by the rich; the low priced but high taxed goods are worn by the poor. The poorer the goods, the higher the tax.
In no case are internal revenue taxes paid by those who go to the government and buy the stamps that eventually appear upon their goods. The cigarmaker—the employer—adds the price of the stamps to the cost of the cigars; the brewer adds it to the price of his beer; the maker of proprietary medicines and articles considers the stamps a part of his cost of manufacture. In every instance the smoker of cigars, the drinker of beer, the purchaser of patent medicines for his own consumption pays the tax.
But the internal revenue tax is free from one objection that can. with truthfulness be urged against import duties. Whatever the tax, it does not add to the cost of other manufactures not taxed. This the import duties do. In fact this is one of the objects of duties on many classes of goods manufactured in this country. The duty enables the American manufacturer to charge a higher price than he could were competition not restricted. So in this case at least, an import duty if high enough to exclude foreign manufacturers, adds nothing to government revenues, while increasing the cost of living.
It cannot be truthfully claimed that the rich pay more than their share of these taxes, either. In any case they can be evaded by not consuming the thing taxed. The poor man can dispense with his glass of beer, and the rich man with his expensive liquor, if they desire. Still this kind of evasion would really be of no help to the poor. For as it would not reduce the sum total to be raised by taxation, the government would be under the necessity of shifting it to something else wage-workers consumed.
Taxes on goods on the shelves of merchants are not paid by the merchants. The same can be said with a tax on manufacturers’ plants, raw materials and goods in process of manufacture. In the first place the merchant adds the tax to the price of the goods; in the second place the manufacturer adds the tax to the cost of manufacture. In both instances the charge is carried along until eventually paid by the consumer.
Taxes on houses are paid by those who occupy the premises. If owned and occupied by the same individual, that person pays the tax. If owned by one person and rented to another, the one who pays the rent pays the tax. When there was a tax in France on windows, houses were built with as few windows as possible. The windowless house rented for less than the one with plenty of light. If Detroit should put a tax on chimneys, immediately architects would figure on building houses with as few chimneys as possible. And the house with three or four chimneys would rent for more than those with but one. In both cases the renter would pay this tax.
There is one tax that cannot be shifted. That is the tax on land values. When any community has given value to a piece of land, and the assessor has done his duty in assessing it at its true cash value, the owner cannot shift the burden. He must pay it himself. Were the tax on area, it would be different. If, for example, Detroit taxed land at a certain price per square foot, whether situated on Woodward avenue in the center of the city, or on Michigan avenue at the limits, then the tax would be borne by the person occupying the premises. He could not escape it by moving from any one locality, for all localities would alike bear the burden. But so long as there is any difference in land value, and it is so taxed, the would-be occupier has the choice of high priced or low priced land, and this choice of location prevents the owner of the best located land charging any price he pleases. Whether the taxes are high or low they add nothing to the value of the location, and do not enter as a factor in the rent charged.
Besides the tax on land values, other direct methods of taxation are a tax on incomes and on successions. The first, however, leads to perjury and inequitable taxation; the second to all manner of scheming to dispose of or hide property in order that it may escape both the probate judge’s and the assessor’s eyes. In no case can either be collected with absolute justice to all concerned.
In what way do the rich pay more than their share of these various taxes? As consumers, it has been shown that in some instances they pay less than their share, where the tax on the goods consumed by the poor are at a higher percentage than on those consumed by the rich. At any rate they pay only in proportion to their consumption, and the stomach and back of the rich are not more commodious nor broader than those of the poor. As manufacturers or importers or merchants they pay no taxes; the taxes on their goods are shifted to the backs—literally—of their customers. As landlords, every penny of taxes on buildings and improvements are shifted to their tenants. They pay taxes only on what they themselves occupy.
It is an easy matter to prove the rich do not pay their share of the taxes. A few years ago I had occasion to investigate the assessors’ books in Detroit, and I found that the holdings of the small property holders were assessed anywheres from 30 to 60 per cent nearer their true cash value than the holdings of the rich. At that time the assessors did not bother about charging the holders of valuable vacant land by the foot front, but were content to lump it at so much per acre. Thus the small property owners were made to bear double burdens. Were these rich paying their share?
In the latter part of January, 1902, the final report of the executor of the estate of the late John Ward, as published, gave the value of the estate as $223,765 in personal and $550,625 in real property. Mr. Ward was a well known business man, and perhaps the largest individual lender of money on real estate securities in Detroit. While the aggregate of his estate was not as geat as it had been estimated, it was still enough to show that Mr. Ward was a very wealthy man.
“In the light of the disclosures contained in the executor’s final report, it is surprising, or perhaps not surprising, to learn that Mr. Ward in his life did not pay taxes on the basis of any such personal assessment as $223,000,” says the Evening News. And it continues: “In 1898 and 1899 his personal property was assessed at $16,500, about one-fourteenth of its value at the time of his death. In 1900 the personal property of the Ward estate was assessed at $67,750, or less than one-third of its real value.”
There has not been a single instance in Detroit in which a rich man’s estate, when disclosed in the probate court, has not been shown to be worth much more than for what it was assessed. Often the figures have swelled into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. When divided among the heirs it has almost as suddenly disappeared—from the assessor’s rolls. How was it that for so many years these rich estates were not assessed?
As I write I have before me a clipping from a recent number of the Detroit Tribune showing how the Illinois state board of equalization has just added to the tax rolls of Chicago $77,745,180 taxed corporations, thanks to the Teachers’ Association of that city, who were anxious that the taxes be increased in order that they might get a raise of salary. One corporation alone, the People’s Gas Company, which was assessed last year for $2,500,000, was raised to $63,000,000. Have the rich in this instance been paying their share of the taxes?
How the railroads of Michigan have for years fought every attempt to compel them to pay taxes in proportion to their holdings is an old story. Governor Pingree went to his grave with the battle only half won. And while the last legislature did tardy justice to the holders of other assessable property by increasing the amount to be paid by the railroads hereafter, it is more than suspected that between the tax commission and the state auditors there will be found a way—with such valuable help as the lawyers in Prof. Kent’s class are always ready to give—whereby these burdens will be again shifted to the shoulders of others.
And now the Honorable Tom L. Johnson, mayor of Cleveland, in his fight for equal taxation, has shown that the railroads of Ohio are assessed for only 21.9 per cent of their market value; and if they were assessed for only 60 per cent of their value, they would rate for $204,000,000 more than at present, and would pay to the counties $5,933,765 instead of $2,149,980, as in 1900. And while the assessment of the great corporations averaged less than 22 per cent of their market value, the assessment of farms is shown to average 60 per cent or over of their true cash value. Are the rich in these instances paying their share of the taxes?
One thousand persons and corporations own over half of the real estate of the city of Detroit. As a rule those who own land and buildings also own personal property. But though these 1,000 persons and corporations own half of the city, they by no means pay half the taxes. Taxes can only be paid by the production of wealth in excess of the cost of living. This is done by the 60,000 or more wage-workers who in addition to their own living create enough surplus value to pay not only the taxes, but the living expenses of those who do not work. The real taxpayers in every community are the men, women and children who, by honest toil, create wealth. The man who steps up to the tax receiver’s office and gets his receipt plays the least important part in the economy of taxation.
Chapter XXV—The Newspapers, the Public and the Single Tax.
The progress of any reform is echoed in the utterances of the daily press of the world. As a rule, newspapers are established for the purpose of making an income on the capital invested. As business enterprises, subsisting on public approval, they are always ready to print the sentiments the public favor. Readers of newspapers patronize those publications that in a measure echo their own opinions, hence the variety of journals to suit the multitudinous tastes of society.
A paper established, and on a paying basis, at once becomes a conservative organ, with its utterances well guarded, and editors and reporters are allowed to boom fads that happen to spring into prominence, only so far as there may be public approval. There is good reason, therefore, for established papers being conservative, carefully guarding their editorial columns and keeping them free from anything that might disturb the public faith in their infallibility, or the public belief that the course suggested or advocated is the best for the community. This is why the old newspaper is seldom the great leader of thought into new channels; it is but the reflection of what is going on in the public mind.
It was to be expected, therefore, that, when Henry George’s “Progress and Poverty” first appeared, the newspapers should look upon it with disapproval as to its “wild theories,” as stated by The Churchman, while remarking its “wonderful interest and power,” as acknowledged by the San Francisco Examiner. It was a pretty good book to read, but a pretty poor book to believe in. Hovering around the single tax, like guardian angels, were good devils and bad devils, but the good ones were weak little fellows, connected and concerned with minor points, while the bad ones looked after those chapters that disrupted “the very foundations of society”—vested interests and private property in land.
“We have to consider Mr. George’s position as essentially unsound,” said the New York Nation, in the early ’80s, “although we find many admirable passages, and a notable spirit of candor pervading his work.”
In the opinion of the New York Examiner and Chronicle, an influential national organ of the Baptists, “Progress and Poverty” was “the most pernicious treatise on political economy that has been published for many a day.” And the Chicago Advance made the sage statement that “the author appears to be a kind of communist, yet he means well, and means it earnestly, and says much that is worth thinking about.”
Equally forcible was the criticism of the Alta-Californian. “Its premises are false, and its reasoning fallacious,” it said, “while its conclusions would put an end to progress and subvert civilization.”
The English papers were chary in their remarks, as befitted their conservatism, but the Statist found room to say that “since Proudhon enunciated to the world the famous proposition, ‘property is robbery,’ no writer of any pretentions to cultivation of mind, or even education, except, perhaps, Karl Marx, has put forth such an astonishing proposal as that of the author of “Progress and Poverty.” If he is able to convince many of his countrymen of the practicability, to say nothing of the expediency, and less than nothing of the justice, of such a mad doctrine as this, the United States will sooner or later be torn by a civil war.”
These extracts could be extended indefinitely, but a sufficient number have been given to show how the newspapers of 1880 and 1881 stood in regard to the theories so clearly stated in “Progress and Poverty.”
And doubtless in the main they correctly reflected public opinion. While people were grappling with the problem of poverty, yet until the secret of wealth accompanied with want had been clearly revealed by Mr. George in language within the understanding of the masses, there was lacking that essential thing to unite thinking minds on a program having justice and equity for its base, and, leaving the wrongs of the past to take care of themselves, begin a new era of civilization, based on equal and exact justice to all in the economic world.
Passing over a decade of mental clashing, a change is observed in the attitude of the newspapers toward the single tax. These great vehicles of intelligence and news were still reflecting public opinion. What the public desired, they advocated; what the public abhored, they treated with disgust and distrust. Their aim was to please, but how could they please if not treating with respect those theories the public were beginning to consider not entirely wrong? With their hands on the public pulse, the managing editors watch the trend of events. And thus it came about in the early ’90s that such a powerful and conservative paper as the New York Times remarked editorially: “We have no hesitation in declaring our belief that the ideal taxation lies in the single tax laid exclusively on the rental value of land, independent of improvements.”
It was somewhere about the same time that the New York Tribune severely criticised the taxing of personal property. “If the whole system was swept away and the needed revenue derived from real estate alone,” it said, “there would be a great equalization of burdens, and a general relief for capital employed in productive industries and the operations of business.” And the New York Sun of August 26, 1891, said: “The best and surest subject of taxation is the thing that perforce stays in one place; that is the land.”
As far back as 1893, the Detroit Evening News, in criticising the remarks of Prof. R. A. Seligman in the Political Science Quarterly, on the science of taxation, remarked:
There is a science of taxation and only one. * * * The free gifts of nature belong to all mankind, to all men alike, to no one class any more than to another. The surface of the earth is the free gift of nature, as much as the light of heaven, or the surface of the waters, or the air we breathe. * * * The land belongs to all the people. * * * They and not the landlords are entitled to all the rents. If the state would assume its own it would not need to tax. It would have enough and to spare without taxation. It would be able and willing to confer its benefits as divine providence confers its blessings, without money and without price. This is the only science of taxation there is.
In the same year B. O. Flower, then editor of the Arena, wrote:
The land, which by a just and equitable system of taxation on rental values would become a beneficent source of wealth and happiness to all the people, has fallen very largely into the clutches of landlords and speculators, and thus again the few fatten on unearned increment, while the many suffer. * * * I believe that taxation on land values is fundamentally right; that it is perfectly consistent with the highest justice and the law of freedom.
Take another step of ten years forward, with the twentieth century gazing on in open-mouthed wonder, as befits an infant. How is the single tax in the public mind and conscience today? It is no longer a “pernicious theory,” but some of the most profound minds of the old and new century openly advocate it. Fewer men have lived that were mentally brighter than Thos. G. Shearman; still he devoted his wealth to propagating the doctrine of the one tax. One of the foremost political philosophers of Massachusetts is Charles Francis Adams, yet his letter in 1901 on the justice and feasibility of the single tax was published in every influential journal in that commonwealth. And paper after paper now has no hesitancy in boldly advocating this great fiscal reform that holds within its womb so much happiness for the human race.
Would legislative bodies ever pass laws looking to the eventual dropping of all other systems of taxation but the single tax, if the theories of Henry George had not become a part of the public thought of the day? Australia has started the movement, and Colorado has taken it up. The people of that state are to be given the opportunity to try it if they so desire, and having once gained a foothold on this continent, nothing can stay its progress. It will establish conditions that will lead to justice without the necessity of leaguing all the machinery of government to production—a coupling that will be dangerous, and ineffective to prevent injustice.
The newspapers of today are hardly yet aware that the United States is no longer a county where landowners are in the majority. Many do not realize the stupendous fact that the tenant class is now the prevailing class, and that consequently in defending the interests of the tenants they are inviting the patronage of the majority of the community. But it so happens that the landlord class is able to invest dollars in defending their interests, while the tenant class have hard work to provide pennies.
Because newspapers do not take up at once reforms that are self-evident to the thinking mind, it must not be inferred that newspapers and newspaper publishers are without principle. Such an idea is far from the truth. Many a paper has refused to bow its head to some wave of public folly that has suddenly swept over the country; and this at great pecuniary loss. Not a few publishers have advocated great moral principles at a sacrifice. Many an editor has stood manfully by his ideas of right and expediency, and has by sheer will power forced his employers to allow the advocacy of things that for the time being brought pecuniary loss. But no paper can, as a business proposition, indefinitely run counter to public opinion. Its very existence depends on having a self-sustaining constituency.
As the number of people believing in the single tax has increased, more and more room has been given, in the public press, to its airing; sometimes to its advocacy. No economic discussion can now be carried on without its champions being heard, and they are so thoroughly grounded in the truth of the doctrine that those values created by the community are the proper sources from which to draw the expenses—the taxes, necessitated by community life—and are withal so enthusiastic and so earnest, that it is little wonder the press has caught some of the afflatus and is anxious to show its good will.
The time is fast approaching when the justice and equity of the single tax will be no more disputed than is the justice of the abolition of human slavery, or the correctness of the multiplication table. And as generally acknowledged will be the truth of the assertion that the taxation of land values equal to the values created by the community is amply sufficient to meet all the demands of a government economically administered. There is a close relation between taxation, prosperity and happiness, and the time is coming when it will be seen that a simple fiscal reform will give to wealth producers the power to keep their own and take away from the non-producing classes the privilege of keeping that which they have had no hand in creating.
The aim of existence is happiness. This is true of the devout believer in the hereafter, and of the pronounced agnostic. Some confine their efforts to this world; others seek to penetrate to the land beyond the silent sea and lay up riches in good deeds for the hereafter. There is happiness in suffering, if with the suffering is the belief that out of it will come good. Since the world began, down through the ages is seen a heroic line of courageous men and women who have braved death for their opinions, and from whose sufferings have sprung a rich heritage of happiness for their posterity. And should not the newspaper proprietor who takes up a reform when it is unpopular, because of public ignorance, and sticks to it and carries it through its infancy, and at last sees it able to walk alone while growing lusty and strong, be entitled to the gratitude of the public? Every paper on whose editorial staff there have been brains enough to grasp the great truth promulgated by “Progress and Poverty,” and whose proprietors were brave enough to allow the exploitation of the doctrine of the single tax, has done the world incalculable good, helping to sow the seed that will in due time bring forth a harvest rich in human happiness.
The Law of Prices
Now while all prices are at all times as high as the traffic will bear, competition tends to hold prices of commodities down to the cost of production, and if competition could do its work, then the prices of all commodities would be determined by the wages of those engaged in their production, and would result in a wondrous voluntary system of universal industrial cooperation on an individualistic basis, as superior to the devices of men as the kingdom of God is superior to a Spanish-American revolution.
Competition cannot permanently reduce prices below the sum of wages, rent, interest and taxes; these are the elements of price and must be recovered from the consumer. Thus we see that the consumer should be given credit for bearing on his back the tax burden of the world.
This explains the labor statistics, why wages are only one-fifth of the retail price of commodities, and the futility of attempting to establish industrial equity without first appropriating ground rent by the single tax on land value.—Charles Moeller.
As To Property.
The institution of property, when limited to its essential elements, consists in the recognition, in each person, of a right to the exclusive disposal of what they have produced by their own exertions, or received either by gift or by fair agreement, without force or fraud, from those who produced it. The foundation of the whole is, the right of producers to what they themselves have produced.—John Stuart Mill’s “Principals of Political Economy”