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clearly in mind there is no trouble about explaining this phenomenon of idle land. It seems like the acme of absurdity to say so, but as an industry there is not one cent of money in farming. All the profits are in the rise of land values. No matter, therefore, how great the pressure on production, no matter how much an increase of the food-supply is needed, these immense stretches of land remain idle because it does not pay to cultivate them. They are held at a monopoly price so far ahead of their earning capacity that the capital charges eat up too much of the income. Obviously, too, this is quite irrespective of the price of farm-products, for as prices go up, land values go up ahead of them; thus any attempt to make farming profitable by raising prices-like the proposal for three-dollar wheat-becomes the proverbial game of outrunning the constable. I observed that California, for instance, has carried collective marketing to a point far beyond most of the West, and her agricultural industries are in a position to command good prices and get them; yet good land is priced there at eight hundred and a thousand dollars an acre, which no one can possibly pretend is a capital measure of its earning capacity or anything like it. It is a monopoly price based on speculative value. Therefore one proposing to become a working farmer even in California cannot make his land earn fair returns on what he pays for it. California was very courteous to me, and I do not wish to single her out unfavorably; so I hasten to say that the fault is not with the California landlords, but with the absence of a land policy in the United States.
In other words, farming as an industry is a failure. As an investment only has it any financial soundness. Probably one farmer in three is paying for the privilege of working his farm, and trusting to the rise in land values to "square" him in the long run. In fact, the landholding mo
nopoly of the West does not really want farmers or settlers. It asks for them, advertises for them, but only by a polite and well-understood fiction. What it really wants is customers, investors; and investors only have a chance of profit. All of which is very well in its way, but meanwhile agriculture goes mostly on three legs, and agriculture, after all, is the thing one has to look to in view of a foodsupply. One can not get a food-supply out of investments in idle land.
One notably disabling consequence of this fine game of fast and loose with the economics of the soil is the rapid rise of tenant-farming. What first called my attention to the apparent prevalence of tenants was the slack and broken-down appearance of many farm properties. It seemed a simple inference that no one in his right mind would treat his own property that way, so I began inquiries. I then made the curious discovery that at the present ratio between costs and earnings it pays better to rent a farm than to own one; and, besides, a man of small means cannot hope to buy a farm and pay for it out of its earnings, because any possible rise in the value of farm-products is capitalized long before it becomes effective.
Tenant-farming increased, according to the census reports, from twenty-five per cent. in 1880 to thirty-seven per cent. in 1910. I have already mentioned that forty-five per cent. of our farm-land is idle; well, forty-two per cent. of the remainder is worked by tenants, and twentyone per cent. by nominal owners who have more or less a tenant status, since they operate under mortgage. This is a bad showing. But why should I comment upon it when I can clip convincing paragraphs from the report of the Industrial Relations Commission, and save ink and brain-fag? Speaking specifically of tenantfarming in the Southwest, they say:
The prevailing system of tenancy in the
This is the opinion of the Department of Agriculture in the case of about five hundred farms investigated in a farm-management survey six years ago. Half these farms were operated by their owners and half by tenants. Computing capital income for the first group at five per cent., the average service income was $408. In the second group tenants received a service income of $870, and the landlords a capital income of three and a half per cent. Allowing a capital income of three and a half per cent. for the first group instead of five, the service income would come to about the same as for the tenants in the second group.
Southwest is share tenancy, under which the tenant furnishes his own seed, tools and teams, and pays to the landlord one-third of the grain and one-fourth of the cotton. There is, however, a constant tendency to increase the landlord's share, through the payment either of cash bonuses or of a higher percentage of the product. Under this system tenants, as a class, earn only a bare living through the work of themselves and their entire families.
So it would se seem from appearances. They are as wretched as any European peasantry that I have ever seen. The report also states:
A very large proportion of the tenants are hopelessly in debt and are charged exorbitant rates of interest. Over 95 per cent. of the tenants borrow from some source, and about 75 per cent. borrow regularly year after year. The average interest rate on all farm loans is 10 per cent., while small tenants in Texas pay 15 per cent. or more. In Oklahoma the conditions are even worse, in spite of the enactment of laws against usury.
Furthermore, over 80 per cent. of the tenants are regularly in debt to the stores from which they secure their supplies, and pay exorbitantly for this credit. The average rate of interest on store credit is conservatively put at 20 per cent. and in many cases ranges as high as 60 per cent.
The leases are largely in the form of oral contracts which run for only one year and which make no provision for compensation to the tenant for any improvements which may be made upon the property. As a result, tenants are restrained from making improvements, and in many cases do not properly provide for the upkeep of the property.
with the most exploited of sweat-shop workers."
Just so; and forty-two per cent. of our farm-land is being cultivated by tenant labor.
Several measures are being urged in the West for the relief of the land-tenure problem, all of them involving some form of confiscation, as is obviously necessary when dealing with any closed monopoly. The most radical proposal is for out-andout nationalization; that the state should acquire and hold all the land, and all farmers should be tenants of the state. Another, admitting the principle of private ownership, advocates a small-holdings plan somewhat resembling the one which England trifled with a few years ago as a political sop to the land-reform party. The trouble with it is that as it leaves the way open for alienation, it does not destroy the speculative value of the land. Stein. did better when he confiscated the Prussian estates and cut them up into small holdings, because he prohibited alienation. A Bauer-gut, or peasant property, had to remain a Bauer-gut; there was no such thing as buying up a batch of them and combining them into a landed estate.
Still another policy is presented by the disciples of Quesnay, Turgot, and Henry George, who seem, by the way, to be looking up in numbers and influence throughout the West. Their plan is to eviscerate land speculation by use of the taxing power; by exempting all labor products, and levying taxes against nothing but the social value of land-the confiscation of ground rent, in short. This might be disturbing in the cities, though its advocates say not; but unquestionably it would solve the problem of farm-land tenure, and that is the side of it that chiefly interests the West.
However, it is not important to dwell And much more to the same effect, on this or that remedy, for as soon as a which I shall spare the reader because social disorder is really understood it is the whole matter can be summed up in already more than half cured. Diagnosis this one sentence, sharp and strong, from is the important thing, and no doubt the the heavy hand of Farm-Loan Commis- West has at last its finger firmly on the sioner Herbert Quick, "The tenant cause that has put its staple industry in a farmer, as a class, is on an economic level bad way. The many special measures of
public control that are now being proposed
in Congress and the newspapers serve to strengthen the West in the logic of its analysis. Does shortage in coal production justify seizure of coal-producing lands? Well, then, why does not shortage in food production justify seizure of foodproducing lands? If hoarding food is to be made a crime, how about hoarding the source of food; how about hoarding almost half the available food-source of the United States? If the principle of the excess-profits tax is sound, why exempt the one business of landowning, especially since its profits are so immense and unearned by any kind of work on the part of the one who gets them? If railways and public-service enterprises can come under state regulation on a basis of investment value, how is it that speculative land prices, based on monopoly value, are regarded as legitimate capitalization?"
I do not pretend to be able to answer these questions, nor shall I care to try. The point is only that they are being asked with great unanimity and insistence. The purpose of this paper is merely to show
as well as an outsider may what the West is thinking about; and as first and foremost it seemed to me to be thinking of its problem of land-tenure, I have tried to report the general terms of the problem as they see it.
My only comment is that at this turn of affairs no line of thought could be more useful in serving a larger purpose than even the immediate one of rescuing and reëstablishing a great industry. It comes along just in time to light up the immense difference, the great gulf fixed, between economic democracy and political democracy, the kind of democracy that our politicians all talk about and that we have gone to war to uphold. Perhaps it may be the mission of the West to make this difference clear to the world. There could be none more worthy. But, at all events, I think it will be impossible for the West to listen to much more vague and fluent recommendation of mere political democracy without turning, perhaps in some impatience, and saying, "But we have had political democracy in this country for one hundred and forty years."
1 To show how wide-spread the sense of this economic disorder is, and how far beyond the purview of the politician it reaches, when the Secretary of Agriculture talked about the possibility of conscripting farm labor for idle land, the United Mine-Workers, who cannot be assumed to have many points of economic contact with farmers, protested, saying that such a course would only "increase the value of idle lands to the further enrichment of landlords, create a still larger class of landless men," and tend to the ultimate establishment of "a landed aristocracy and a miserable peasantry."
Freedom of Speech
By HARVEY O'HIGGINS
T is probably the poet who has done it. He celebrates the land "where, girt with friends or foes, a man may speak the thing he will." He does not add, “and suffer the consequences." He appears to overlook, for example, the libel laws. He writes as if freedom of speech included freedom from the consequences of speech. And many among us, in the last few troubled months, seem to have assumed the same theory of freedom.
There never has been a country in which speech enjoyed any such immunity. In the poet's England, neither in peace nor war, could a man speak the thing he would without being held responsible for his utterance. There, as here, if he uttered a libel, he could be prosecuted for it and prevented from repeating it. He could be punished for giving voice publicly to blasphemies or obscenities, for speaking in contempt of court, for inciting to a breach of the peace, and so forth. He enjoyed freedom of speech only as he enjoyed freedom of action. If he offended against the laws either by speech or action, he could be punished, and he could be prevented from repeating the offense. His right to freedom of speech was a right merely to say the thing he would say without first submitting it to the censorship of authority.
The same restrictions have always been put upon the freedom of the press in the most liberal democracies, and the man who printed a libel could always be punished for publishing it and prevented by a court injunction from repeating it. His freedom ran only as far as this: he could not, by court order or any other process of law, be prevented from publishing it the first time. He could be prevented from circulating it after it had been published and adjudged a libel. He
could be prevented from sending it through the mails if the post-office authorities considered it a misuse of the mails to send it. But he had the right to print it once and take the consequences; to print it again, if he wished to be punished again; and finally to spend his life in jail if he pleased rather than give up his right to reprint it. In the freest of countries, in the most peaceful of times, freedom of speech and freedom of the press were never more than the limited freedom to say what you pleased and print what you pleased and take the consequences.
One of the consequences in war-time is likely to be a charge of treason. What you say or what you print may be construed as "giving aid and comfort to the enemy." You may do it innocently, you may do it purposely. To punish you, after you have given the enemy aid, does not further the purposes of war, and most of the European countries have established. censorships of the press, the mail, and the telegraph to prevent the enemy from getting aid or comfort either from the innocent or the guilty. Here, in this country, we have been unwilling to give our Government the right to censor and suppress our utterances in official secrecy. We have preserved our peace-time right to say what we please and take the consequences. We have enlarged the official power to deny the use of the mails to publications that give aid and comfort to the enemy; but that power cannot move until the offense has been openly committed, so that public opinion may act as a restraint upon arbitrary authority. We have permitted a sort of censorship of enemy utterances in our alien press. Our loyal native press has submitted to a modified censorship voluntarily. But, on the
whole, we have preserved the principles of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, with only a slight increase of the restrictions put upon such freedom in our freest days before the war.
And the cry that is now raised for freedom of speech and freedom of the press is raised by persons who have enjoyed those freedoms and been judged guilty of abusing them. What they demand, apparently, is the right to continue
to circulate utterances that have been held inimical to the interests of the community. They demand not only freedom of speech. but freedom from the consequences of speech. They cry not for liberty, but for immunity from the responsibilities of liberty.
They expect to be not only free, but privileged, exempt, irresponsible, and protected by some holy right of sanctuary in a temple of established freedom which they shall be free to defile.
The Story of an Architect
HEN I was ten or eleven years old I was playing by myself on the beach at East Hampton. It was the first summer that my family had spent there, and I had not met many of the boys; so I went down alone to the beach in the pleasant July afternoon and began to build sand castles. I had worked alone for an hour or two, very well contented with my success, building up as well as I could the towers and steep roofs which I remembered from Howard Pyle's drawings in "Prince Otto," when a pleasant-faced young man came along and, sitting down beside me, watched me work. Presently, when he found me in trouble with the structural difficulties connected with the use of wet sand as high retaining walls, he asked me if I would let him help me, and did it in so quiet and tactful a way that instead of being scared off, I was pleased to have a grown-up play with me. I was more than pleased when I found that he was a real master of the art of building sand castles. Towers, strengthened by supporting sticks of wood driven deep into the sand, grew to unexpected heights; roofs, inlaid with seaweed, looked like roofs instead of like shapeless mounds of sand; deep-recessed windows in unexpected places afforded wonderful points of vantage from which the defenders of the castle could repel their assailants. Finally
a castle was completed the like of which I had never seen before, and which still remains in my memory the most wonderful architectural creation that I have ever
I do not remember if it was that afternoon or during one of the other afternoons when we built castles together that he told me he was an architect; told me what architecture was, and asked me why I, too, did not become an architect. It was the first time I had even heard of the profession, for it was little known and less regarded in the days of my childhood.
I think it was fortunate for me that my first acquaintance in what has since become my profession was a man so earnest, kindly, capable, and enthusiastic as the young fellow who used to walk the three miles from his house at Wainscott to play with me. His interest in me and his apparent desire to have me become an architect did not cease with building sand castles. For a number of years after that he used to send me from time to time. copies of the "American Architect" containing illustrations of drawings he had made or of houses he had built. He died when he was a man of only thirty and I was about fourteen. It has always been a regret to me that he could not have lived to fulfil the promise which his early work. showed, and I was very glad to learn a