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The Single Tax on Land Values.
IN your issue for July you publish, under the title "Confiscation no Remedy," a letter from W. M. Dickson of Cincinnati, Ohio. Pray grant me the opportunity to answer briefly the objections raised. Your correspondent says: "In his book Henry George clamors boldly for the confiscation of the land; for its seizure by the state without compensation to the owner. But of late, in his paper and speeches, he would reach this confiscation indirectly, by imposing upon land the whole weight of taxation."
Far from having advocated any such measures in "Progress and Poverty" as those here attributed to him, Henry George expressly protests against them. In Book VIII., Chapter II., on page 364, he gives the keynote of his theory: "I do not propose either to purchase or to confiscate private right to property in land. The first would be unjust, the second needless. Let the individuals who now hold it still retain, if they want to, possession of what they are pleased to call their land. Let them continue to call it their land. Let them buy and sell, and bequeath and devise it. We may safely leave them the shell, if we take the kernel. It is not necessary to confiscate land; it is only necessary to confiscate rent." No further comment is needed. Next your correspondent states that at present the land in Ohio, his native State, pays about one-third the taxes, and improvements and personal property twothirds; that to place this whole burden of taxation on land would greatly decrease its value and throw such of it as was not worth the tax on the market. The single tax on land values would undoubtedly act just as described — and that is its object. But your correspondent jumps at the conclusion that, this being so, the farmers would be most injured and would enlist in a body against the tax on land values; and probably knowing that the farmers constitute fifty per cent. of our population, he continues: "Hence, whatever its theoretic merits may be, George's plan is outside of practical politics. It is simply impossible."
The first class may be dismissed at once, have everything to gain and nothing to lose. They would pay their rent to the state in place of paying the landlord, and would be relieved of all the direct personal taxes and the indirect revenue and tariff taxes that they now pay upon everything they consume, from lumber, salt, and woolens through the whole category down to the Bible.
The second class is really part of the first class; for if their farms are mortgaged they do not own them to that extent, but are actually paying rent, and so far belong to the first class, and would enjoy the same advantages under the single tax. Another great and direct gain would be, that to start in life they would not be compelled to invest a large sum of money to buy a farm, but could lease it from the state for a moderate sum annually, and enjoy the same security of tenure as now under private ownership of land. The temptation to buy more land than they can cultivate, for speculative purposes only, thus making themselves landpoor, would also be removed. Insomuch as they own their land clear of all incumbrance, they would belong to the third class.
This third class, holding their land free of all incumbrance, would of course, with the rest of the community, be relieved of all the direct and indirect taxes. Then it should be remembered that they now pay an annual tax not only on their land but also on their improvements. This tax, which now increases every year the more they improve their property, would be entirely removed. And, finally, consider the following:
In the census of 1880 these figures are given for the State of Ohio: Assessed valuation of real estate, $1,093,677,705. And in another part of the same census: (Real) value of farms in Ohio, including land, fences, and buildings, $1,127,497,353.
It will be seen from these figures that all the real estate of the State of Ohio was assessed at less than the real value of all the farms and their improvements, leaving out all city lands and mining lands, which are by far the more valuable. Two reasons or explanations exist for this: first, the undervaluation of improved property, which is practiced everywhere more or less, but especially in the large cities; and, secondly, the entire absence from or nominal valuation upon the taxlists of tracts of unimproved farm lands. These two facts are notorious, and result in the shifting upon the shoulders of the working farmer of taxes that should be paid or shared by land speculators, city property holders, and corporations.
This is a statement, but not an argument. The farmer is as good as any other citizen, but no better, and he is entitled to no special consideration, or special legislation. Nor is land in the country, whether under cultivation or not, any different, economically considered, from land in the city used for building sites. Land is land, and the taxation on its value will fall no heavier on the farmer than upon the manufacturer, or importer, or other citizen. On the contrary, being on land values, most of the tax will be paid where the We therefore confidently assert that, by taking all value is highest-in cities, in mining districts, and upon taxes from improvements, by removing all existing land held under franchises. But your correspondent direct and indirect taxes, by assessing all land at its having from sentimental reasons selected the farmers full value, whether improved or unimproved, and by (of Ohio) as a standard by which to test the justice taxing all land values to the extent of their rental value, of the measure, let us examine the effect the introduc- the taxes of the farmers of the third class also would tion of the single tax upon land values would have upon be less than they are at present, and that they would their condition. for the first time get the full return of their labor. This There are three kinds of farmers in Ohio, as else is self-evident when we consider that under the single where:
tax upon land values the farmer would pay no taxes First. Those who lease their farms and pay rent, in whatever except the rent of his bare land, and that money or in produce. being based upon the natural advantages he enjoyed, Second. Those who fondly believe they own their he could always afford to pay. All this is more ably farms, but who have them mortgaged. discussed in "Progress and Poverty," Book IX.,
Third. Those who own their farms free from all in- Chapter III. cumbrances.
As to believing that the single tax is a cure for all
ills that flesh is heir to, Henry George does not assert, nor has he ever asserted, it. He does believe that the land monopoly is the greatest of all monopolies, and that it should be the first attacked; but the social benefits to be derived from an introduction of the single tax are so numerous and so far-reaching that even a partial enumeration of them seems indeed like setting up a claim for a panacea.
And here is Mr. Dickson's solution of the social question: "The remedy is restraint, pruning, regulation, not confiscation." But this, instead of being a remedy, is exactly what we have been doing for centuries. No! decidedly other measures are necessary.
First of all, we must stop the restraining, pruning, regulating work of those unjust laws which take from one to give to another; which in violation of the spirit of our Constitution create a privileged class. And after that we must give all the same opportunity, to that element land, which is as much a matter of necessity to man as air. This will be doing justice; and this the single tax on land values will accomplish, by killing land speculation and practically restoring the land to the people, without disturbing security of titles or
THE average country road as at present maintained and repaired is a constant source of unnecessary expense to taxpayers and an almost constant vexation to travelers. At its best the dirt road is good for only a few months in the year, and those months the time when the farmer-the man most interested in good country roads — is using his horses on the farm. In the fall, winter, and early spring, when the great bulk of teaming is to be done, the roads are in bad shape, except when kind Providence sends a snow that makes "good sleddin'." Bad roads mean small loads, and small loads mean to the farmer proportionately small profits. I know many and many a farm where the saving in time from hauling larger loads, the saving in wear and tear of horseflesh, wagons, and harness, would over and over again pay for the increased initial cost of a good macadam road.
Made of the best dirt obtainable, applied under intelligent supervision, and kept in order with proper road-making tools, the dirt road never is entirely satisfactory. What, then, can be expected of the quality of roads made of the material most easily obtained, applied by men ignorant of the first principle of roadmaking, working without proper tools, and supervised either by men equally ignorant, or not at all?
The true remedy for poor dirt roads is good macadam; but with no greater expenditure of money than now, the present roads might be vastly improved. The road tax should be paid in cash: the system of loafing out the tax under pretense of "working the roads " should be abolished. This money should be expended under the immediate supervision of one man for each township, selected for a knowledge of road-making, and put under bonds for the faithful performance of his duties. This would introduce into the system the element of responsibility, which is sadly lacking at present, and to the lack of which are due many of the abuses of the present methods. One man hiring his labor where he pleased, and paying cash for a day's
work, would get considerably more done for the money than a dozen or fifteen roadmasters working out the tax in conjunction with their neighbors and fellowfarmers.
Proper tools should be provided to work with. Roadscrapers are almost unknown in many country districts, and plows and shovels are the tools most commonly used. Very good road-scrapers can be bought to-day for only two or three times the cost of a good plow, and two men, two horses, and a road-scraper will do the work of an equal number of horses and ten men with plows and shovels, and do it better.
Only the best obtainable materials should be used in repairing the roads - gravel when possible, and when not, the dirt most nearly approaching it in quality. The use of "gutter-wash," sods, and stones larger than two inches in diameter should be forbidden. I have seen roads, "mended" with sods, that were for weeks impassable at any gait faster than a walk, and I have seen holes in the road-bed filled with large stones that were a nuisance for years.
The roads should be worked at proper times. The need of the dirt road is little repairs often made. The common practice is to do almost all the work just after "corn-planting." This is wrong, for two reasons: it is too late for the best results, and too much is done at one time. Six inches of earth or gravel will make a far better road if put on in layers of, say, two inches at intervals of a month or so, than will the entire amount applied at once. Just as soon as the roads are settled in the spring, and before they have become dry and hard, the scraper should be put to work leveling and filling the ruts worn during the winter, and slightly rounding the road-bed towards the center. The ground being still moist, and not compact as at the usual time of doing this, the work can be done more easily and rapidly and the road will pack better. Later, a light coat of earth or gravel, to be followed by another when the first becomes packed hard, and this in turn by a third if possible. Lastly, in the fall the entire road should be gone over to see that all gutters and bridges are free, that the road may not be washed out by winter storms and spring rains. All mudholes of course should be filled promptly at all times so that no water may stand in the road, and loose stones should be removed at least once a month.
The usual time for cutting brush -August-seen right, but some reform is needed in the way of doing it. The brush should be cut close down to the ground, and not, as often is the case, cut a foot or more above it, leaving long unsightly stubs to sprout the ensuing spring. It should be piled at once, and burned when sufficiently dry. Under the present system I have seen brush cut, left as cut, the next year's growth cut over the top of that, and the resulting tangle abandoned the third year.
With some such system as this I have sketched, the application to the road work of the business rules which govern every progressive farmer in the conduct of his farm, with the work done under the supervision of a responsible man, done at the proper times instead of whenever convenient, with the proper tools and with a proper quality of earth, by men who were compelled to give a day's work for a day's pay, the dirt road could be made not good, but vastly better than it is. But at its best the dirt road is a costly one to repair:
its only redeeming feature is its comparative initial cheapness, and in the long run repairs even this up. Country communities are apt to complain of the first cost of the macadam road, while annually spending millions of dollars and moving countless tons of earth, without having good permanent roads.
R. A. Learned.
The Iowa Experiment.
"How is prohibition working in your State?" is the question oftenest asked the Iowa man abroad. The inquirer as he listens to the story his question invites usually wears upon his face a peculiar expression which translated into words would read, I acquit this man of intent to mislead, but my private opinion is, he 's romancing." A rather skeptical acquaintance of mine in the East recently said to me, "Your story of empty jails, flourishing schools, and homes of thrift and comfort that were not there before, sounds like one of Washington Gladden's fascinating dreams of an ideal 'Christian League'; but don't you think you'd find it rather difficult to verify your statements with facts and figures drawn from official sources ?"
Leaving to others the picturesque features of the subject, let me lay before the readers of THE CENTURY a few suggestive" facts and figures drawn from official sources" some of the results of an investigation suggested by my practical friend's inquiry.
Permit me to say, in passing, that Iowa, far from being "a commonwealth of temperance cranks," as an Eastern journal has it, is a commonwealth of "plain people"- to borrow a phrase from Lincoln; people who do their own thinking, and have their own way of doing, and are daring enough to believe that some things can be done which the wisdom of the conservative East pronounces impossible. Taking advantage of the fact that we have no great centers of population to dictate our policies and load us down, we of Iowa have applied to the State as a whole the identical theory for handling the social evil known as the saloon which Georgia and Illinois apply to counties, and which New York applies to townships; namely, the theory that the majority shall determine whether the evil shall be tolerated and controlled, or prohibited. At a non-partisan election held in the summer of 1882, the question of prohibition vs. toleration was submitted to the people, and the voters of Iowa, by thirty thousand majority, declared they had no longer any use for the saloon. But the constitutional amendment which then carried had not been properly submitted, and was by our Supreme Court declared invalid. A disappointed majority then turned to the State legislature for relief, and in the spring of 1884 a prohibitory law was passed. The legislatures of 1886 and 1888 sustained the law and strengthened it by amendments. Thus steadfastly have the people sustained the prohibition, anti-toleration method of handling the saloon.
"But you will not deny the fact that there have been saloons in Iowa during all these years of prohibition? You cannot truthfully say there are no saloons in your State at the present time?"
The outlawed saloon does still linger on our borders; still maintains a precarious, characterless, hole-in-thewall existence in many of our cities; but its social and
political prestige is gone, and in at least 70 of the 99 counties in the State there cannot be found an open saloon.
Seven years have elapsed since the voters of Iowa formally withdrew their sanction from the saloon. Five years have passed since the voters of Iowa, through their representatives, outlawed the saloon. Is there anything in the present situation to warrant a return to the toleration policy? Let us turn to the figures and see what they say on the subject.
I am indebted to Hon. Frank D. Jackson, Secretary of State, for advance sheets of the "Official Register of Iowa" for 1889. From this source, and by comparison with reports of other years, I discover that the total expense of the counties of Iowa, "on account of criminal prosecutions," was in 1882, the year in which the prohibitory amendment carried, $401,431.18. In 1883 the total expense of criminal prosecutions was reduced to $361,173.78. In 1884, presidential year, there was a slight increase in criminal expenses. In 1885 and 1886, years marked by the return of the outlawed saloon and a consequent reign of lawlessness, there was a large increase, the total in the year last named being $421,024.31. In 1887, the year following the passage of the Clark (enforcement) law, the criminal expenses were reduced to $282,877.66; and in 1888 they aggregated $300,424.06 for ten months.
Compare the record of "leading crimes " in 1888 with the same in 1882. In 1888 there were 94 convictions for assault, 13 for breaking and entering, 47 for burglary, 13 for forgery, 13 for gambling, 42 for keeping a gambling-house, 148 for larceny, 9 for murder, 6 for manslaughter, 190 for keeping a nuisance, 59 for selling intoxicating liquors; total, 634. In 1882 there were 188 convictions for assault, 18 for breaking and entering, 78 for burglary, 30 for forgery, 14 for gambling, 41 for keeping a gambling-house, 215 for larceny, 14 for murder, I for manslaughter, 658 for keeping a nuisance, 25 for unlawfully selling intoxicants; total, 1282 more than double that of 1888.
A few weeks ago I met Warden Barr, of the Anamosa Penitentiary, on his way to Fort Madison with a carload of prisoners, under orders from Governor Larrabee to take these men from the State quarries to the State shops. I learned that the transfer was ordered in response to a loud call from Warden Crossley, of the Fort Madison Penitentiary, for more hands to enable him to comply with certain contracts for labor into which the State had entered with certain manufacturers. The circumstance led me to write Governor Larrabee for information as to the comparative number of prisoners in our penitentiaries this year and in previous years. From our chief executive I learn that the monthly average of prisoners in the two penitentiaries in 1886 was 696; in 1887 it was 667, and in 1888 it was 607. On the last day of September, 1888, the end of the fiscal year, there were but 535 prisoners in both penitentiaries. I am informed by those who have investigated the subject that no other State in the Union, unless it is Vermont, has as small a percentage of convicts as has Iowa at the present time.
But, going back to the counties, what say our judges? Here is a small pamphlet containing the answers of forty-one district and superior-court judges to a number of questions put to them by Governor Larrabee, one of the inquiries being as to the expediency of re
pealing the prohibitory law. I find that of the fortyone, 4 favored repeal, 9 were non-committal, and 28 were of the opinion that the law should stay. Let me quote several specially significant passages from these
Judge Traverse, Bloomfield: "My experience is that, wherever saloons are closed, crime is diminished.” Judge Harvey, Leon: “It has reduced crime at least one-half, and the criminal expenses in like ratio." Judge Lewis, Sioux City: "The law is as well enforced as any other, and has decreased criminal expenses at least two-thirds."
Judge Deemer, Red Oak: "In many of the counties the jail is getting to be almost an unnecessary building, and in the last three counties I visited there was not an occupant."
Judge Carson, Council Bluffs: "When in the senate I favored local option, but I am now satisfied the statute should stand."
intendent Sabin's report to the last Iowa legislature begins thus: "It is gratifying to be able to report a most satisfactory and prosperous condition of education throughout the State. The past two years have been years of increased interest, activity, and growth. . . . The number of school-houses has been increased by about 500, and their aggregate value by more than $550,000. The number of teachers is increased by about 500, while our school population is 10,000 greater than the same as reported two years ago."
Another index of Iowa's increasing prosperity is the showing made by our savings-banks. The reports made to our Auditor of State show that the "total assets and liabilities" of Iowa's savings-banks were, in 1883, $8,419,739.83; in 1885, $9,618,866.97; in 1887, $12,666,347.72. Auditor Lyons informs me that on June 30, 1888, the total assets, etc., of the savings-banks had increased to $14,625,024.84. These figures show that since the adoption of prohibition the resources of these increased over six million dollars, or over 73 per cent. Johnson Brigham.
Judge Thornell, Sidney: "I should regard its repeal depositories of the poor man's surplus earnings have as a calamity."
Judge Bank, Keokuk: "This was the first and only term in my recollection that there was no criminal business transacted in court."
Judge Wilson, Creston: "I was not in favor of the law, thinking that high license would work better. I have carefully watched its workings and am convinced that I was wrong."
Judge Wakefield, Sioux City: "As the saloons were driven out, other business came in to occupy the vacant places."
A Tenor Farm.
WE are a conservative people in New England and there is plenty of idle money among us awaiting safe investment. Flaming prospectuses of riotously rich Western farm lands attract only after insistent iteration; even then, I fancy, they draw comparatively few of the hoarded dollars which have escaped the depres
Judge Wilkinson, Winterset: "Crime and criminal sion in "C. B. and Q.” and “Atchison and Topeka." expenses have been lessened."
Judge Johnson, Oskaloosa : “The effect of the prohibitory law has been to reduce very materially crime and criminal expenses in this district."
Judge Kavanaugh, Des Moines: "It has decreased crime over 50 per cent. and added largely to individual happiness."
Judge Granger, Waukon (now of the Supreme Bench): "The closing of the front door of the saloon, whereby it is destroyed as a place of social resort, has canceled nine-tenths of the drunkenness. . . . Our grand juries have comparatively nothing to do. . . . Our criminal expenses since the closing of the saloons have been comparatively nominal."
But roving correspondents for journals in the large cities about us inform their readers that prohibition is killing, or has killed, Iowa. Let us see for ourselves.
The census of 1880 gave our State a population of 1,624,615. The State census of 1885 put the population at 1,753,980 — an increase of 129,365. The fact that there has been a decided increase in population since the last census (in 1885) is shown by comparison of the vote of 1884 with that of 1888. The total vote of Iowa in 1884 was 377,153, while that of 1888 was 404,130; an increase of 26,977—an estimated increase of 134,885 in four years.
Iowa years ago won, and has never since lost, the honor of having less illiteracy in proportion to population than any other State in the Union. But note the educational progress she has made during these six years of prohibition. In 1883 there were 11,789 schoolhouses in Iowa; in 1884, 11,975; in 1885, 12,285; in 1886, 12,444. The value of these school-houses was, in 1883, $10,473,147; in 1886, $11,360,472. State Super
I have a plan for using these dollars on a Western farm. It is this. Let a company of capitalists buy the most fertile five hundred acres in Dakota, Kansas, or Southern California, anywhere thereabouts where land is good and the climate equable. Let them erect thereupon a set of dwellings and school-buildings, obeying in the process every sanitary law; also gymnasium, theater, and concert-hall. They should thoroughly fence their property with barbed wire. Now to people it. Let agents be sent throughout the United States in search of tenor voices, behind which are robust bodies and good average minds. Contract with the parents or guardians of these voices and bodies for their time and keep for a term of years, say six. After selecting competent agriculturists to run the farm, and a teacher of physical science,- for the farm and the gymnasium are to furnish the before-mentioned voices and bodies with healthy, normal, and discreet exercise,― get a good corps of teachers of the voice, who know their business (alas! alas! our scheme may fail at this point), another to teach music, and set them to the task of developing these voices and bodies into manly and beautiful singers. It can be done. It will pay a large dividend. Why? Because in this country there is a great cry for tenors. Twenty oratorio societies, ten societies giving highclass instrumental concerts, and scores of vocal clubs would keep the product of this tenor farm continually employed eight months out of every twelve, at from two hundred dollars to four hundred dollars per individual per engagement.
There is not one great American tenor singer. There is only one in England who is kindred to us on account of the language he speaks. Our concert audiences yearn to hear a good tenor. Look at a file of Boston Sym
phony or New York Philharmonic programmes for the season of 1887-88; how many tenors are numbered thereon? One in Boston, where twenty-four concerts were given; none in New York. And the Boston singer was a German ! Why is this? Because the right kind of tenors do not exist. Scores of puny, pretty, and weak voices arise to the parlor and church-quartet state of the vocal art, but for some reason go no further. The great need of the country to-day is tenors. Our tenor farm would easily pay twenty per cent.
G. H. Wilson.
IN the valuable and interesting article "The Temperance Question in India," published in the July
When Polly Goes By.
IS but poorly I 'm lodged in a little side-street, Which is seldom disturbed by the hurry of feet, For the flood-tide of life long ago ebbed away From its homely old houses, rain-beaten and gray; And I sit with my pipe in the window and sigh At the buffets of fortune-till Polly goes by.
number of THE CENTURY MAGAZINE, on page 445 there is drawn a comparison between the tenants of "Out Stills " in India and an agent over an Irish estate which is calculated to convey a wrong impression of the management of properties in Ireland. The author says:
He [viz., the highest bidder] has farmed the job, just as a man farms the rents of a landlord holding an Irish estate, and it is his interest to get all the money out of it he can.
Such an arrangement is certainly not the custom in Ireland; and even had it been, it would now be impossible to carry it out, since the tenants have the right to have their rents judicially fixed.
George W. Ruxton,
There's a flaunting of ribbons, a flurry of lace,
Then up jumps my heart and begins to beat fast.
While I throw up the sash and lean breathlessly down
My senses desert me if Polly goes by.
Ah! she must be a witch, and the magical spell
The Elder Galvanism.
A PARABLE FOR NOVELISTS.
M. E. W.
I, PAULUS, who love science more than money,
Dissect a certain sleek, tame household bunny
Comes Paula, liking science less than habit,
Storms calls me monster- wants her old live
Whose heart beats-beats-like ours!
Dora Read Goodale.
BY THE SEA.
OLD SALT. "I jes want ter give ye a pointer, young man. With that ther net sot as it is and them durned scoop nets you 're a-handlin' you 'll never catch a fish around yere in a thousand years."
THE mischief of opinions formed under irritation is that men feel obliged to maintain them even after the irritation is gone.
VOTES should not be counted, but weighed.
THE small writer gives his readers what they wish, the great writer what they want.
To be content with littleness is already a stride towards greatness.
MEN are equally misunderstood, from their speech as well as from their silence; but with this difference: their silence does not represent them; their speech misrepresents them.
J. A. Macon.