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belongs to the people collectively, will be more difficul
to prove. So distinguished a citizen as ex-President Cool
idge fails to comprehend this; otherwise he would not hav
written as he did of the Wendel family, who accumulate
about $75,000,000jyorth' 3 of choice New York real estate
principally land values:



" It took three generations of thrift, industry and intel-
ligence to accumulate this property."

It does not dawn on most people that land has a value
separate and distinct and apart from the improvements
in or on it. It is remarkable how many people believe that
land has no value unless it is used, and that it is the erec-
tion of buildings or other utilization of land that gives
land its value.

Our fifth proposition, namely, that the Single Tax is
the one and only method to establish the equal right of
each individual to his share of the earth, will be more dif-
ficult to prove. This proposition, I believe, is the one which
most people who sympathize with us fail to grasp.

I hear some of you saying: "We cannot bother to teach
Fundamental economics to the man in the street. It is
too big a task; it will take too long. Moreover, it is not
necessary. All you have to do is to teach the leaders, and
the people will follow."

This, it seems to me, is a half truth. It is the fact, of
course, that no great reform to date in the history of the
world has been born in the brain of the disinherited and
the unwashed.

We did not abolish chattel slavery at the demand of
the slaves; on the contrary, history tells us that many
blacks preferred to remain in slavery, and some even fought
on the Southern side during our Civil War.

Prohibition was not introduced in answer to the insistent
demand of the American people, even though forty-six
out of forty-eight States ratified the Eighteenth Amend-
ment. It was a band of religious zealots and hard-headed
ausiness men seeking greater production from labor who
carried prohibition.

Woman suffrage was not granted at the instigation of
the great majority of women. Last year, 11 years after
the adoption of the amendment, less than 25% of the
women took the trouble to exercise their right of franchise
in New York City.

But if it be true that no great reform has ever been in-
troduced at the insistent demand of the oppressed, the
converse is also true.

No great reform was ever accomplished, particularly
in a democracy such as the United States, unless there
was behind it a substantial, influential minority.

The Single Tax, after fifty-two years, is still far from
laving attracted such a minority. Here is our great work:
to get behind our movement a larger, more substantial
thinking minority than we have yet converted.

Jefferson recognized the need for creating a thinking
citizenship, and was an outstanding advocate of a system
of free public schooling, to prepare the future citizens to
Derform their duties in a democracy. We are beginning
to realize today how lamentably we have failed in this

This condition, however, is not peculiar to our age.
Carlyle, in the Victorian era, recognized jt when he wrote:

"England contains forty million inhabitants, mostly fools."
The World War showed the average mental age of 5,000,-

000 American soldiers to be thirteen years and two months.
The mental age of the colored soldier was ten years and
two months.

Our tabloids and trashy novels, with their millions of
readers; our silly movies, are visible proof, if proof were
needed, of the poor mental development of the man in
the street. In New York City we have one tabloid which
boasts a daily circulation of 1,320,000, although it has
been in existence only twelve years. By contrast, the New
York Times, now thirty-five years under its present manage-
ment, has been able to attain a daily circulation only one-
third as great.

The Nation, the New Republic and other progressive
magazines and newspapers can continue only so long as
they are subsidized. "Middletown" and "Main Street"
are true pictures of the American scene.

I began my address with a reference to the present eco-
nomic crisis. I examined eleven of the more important
cures which had been proposed for its amelioration. I
showed with broad strokes of the brush how one and all
were ineffective and doomed to failure because one and
all ignored cause.

To this audience I need not expatiate on the merits of
the Single Tax as the sovereign remedy for our sufferings.
You see clearly that the present land system, which per-
mits a small land-owning class to charge rent for the use
of the earth, without giving anything in return, is the pri-
mary wrong from which all other wrongs spring.

"Where some get something for doing nothing, others
get nothing for doing something," says our friend

When we state that this burden must be lifted from
the backs of labor and capital we are met by the individual
who says: "Yes, the Single Tax is good so far as it goes,
but it doesn't go far enough."

Any man who speaks in this manner simply betrays
his own ignorance. If the private appropriation of eco-
nomic rent is the curse from which we are suffering, its
public appropriation must be our cure.

The Single Tax is the only method yet devised by the
brain of man whereby publicly created economic rent
can become public instead of private property. Any one,
then, who claims that the Single Tax is a mere palliative
reveals his own ignorance of what ails society economically
speaking, or fails to recognize the Single Tax as the sover-
eign remedy for that ailment.

Although the Single Tax is an ethical reform, and might
properly look to the Church for active support, we shall,

1 believe, get no assistance from that quarter. All history
portrays organized religion on the side of those who sought
to maintain the status quo.

The Church, and by the Church I mean all organized
religion, of whatsoever denomination, is a special benefi-



ciary of the existing system of dishonest taxation. It is
itself a large landlord, one of the largest.

I say it is a special beneficiary for the reason that, un-
like the ordinary landowner, who at least pays some land
rent, the Church is entirely exempt from taxation.

"The taxation of church property," says James F. Mor-
ton in his booklet "Exempting the Church," page 84, is
demanded "by every consideration of sound public policy,
common sense, democracy and justice."

I view the Single Tax primarily as a moral reform to
reestablish the equal right of all mankind to their earth.
The fiscal advantage of the Single Tax, while not to be
ignored, may be discussed before boards of trade, chambers
of commerce, legislative bodies and the like, but the appeal
to the mass must, I believe, be an emotional one to its
inherent sense of justice.

The ballot is the method whereby those who believe
in our philosophy may have the opportunity to register
their belief. Incidentally, it is also one of the most effective
methods whereby our adherents may give expression to
the philosophy.

As the Single Tax will require only a change in our tax-
ing machinery, which is subject to regulation by the
several State Legislatures, we need concern ourselves only
with the election of Senators and Assemblymen.

We should ever remain independent and free from all
other political parties. We should come before the elec-
torate steadily with one issue and only one issue:

"How soon are you going to stop permitting landlords
to charge you for staying in this country?"

If the picture I have painted is a dark one, there is,
nevertheless, I believe, hope for a brighter future. The
ignorance, the dullness, the stupidity and the indifference
of such a large percentage of our fellow citizens indicate,
to my mind, that they are sick, physically and mentally.
Now the chronically sick person is, as a rule, incapable
of grasping progressive ideas. He is generally biased,
prejudiced and too absorbed in his own difficulties to give
time and thought to an objective movement such as eco-
nomic reform. He lacks perspective, that is, he is unable
"to see life steadily and see it whole." The sick man is
lacking also in "awareness," that is, in the ability to look
around him and take note of what is wrong. His imagina-
tion is impaired and he is incapable of picturing a better
world order than the one in which he finds himself.

Within the past twenty years two movements have been
born in the United States which, I confidently feel, will
improve the coming generations and make easier the task
of economic regeneration. Both of these movements are
still in their infancies, but seem destined to play a tremen-
dous indirect part in hastening the advent of the rational
economic order which we advocate. One is the Health
Movement, which has for its objective the creation of
a finer and nobler human being, on the physical plane.

The other is the Progressive Educational Movement,

which completely revolutionizes our theory of education
and our school system. The youth of the future, I venture
to predict, who will come under the influence of these two
movements will possess a degree of awareness which has
been denied all past generations of mankind.

With a greater awareness will come a greater demand for
knowledge of what is the cause of our economic maladjust-
ment, and a greater determination to correct the economic
system, regardless of how fundamental be these changes
in our economic conceptions.

* * * * *

Have you ever stopped to consider how any great reform
comes into being? First one or two or three great souls
in various parts of the earth get what George called "the
ecstatic vision. " They see the great wrong to be righted,
the great forward step to be made in the march of mankind.
They expound their views, but are ignored or ridiculed,
save by a handful. They die "unwept, unhonored and

Their followers grasp the flickering light and painfully
carry it on. They expound the new idea more vigorously.
They are called fanatics, "lunatic fringe;" in ancient times
they were burned at the stake or excommunicated; in
modern times they are ignored or ridiculed. Nevertheless,
the new idea slowly makes headway. After a while a few
so called "respectables" begin to notice it. A few more
begin to subscribe to the idea, but seek to temper it with
reservations, or qualifications, or limitations. Finally,
something occurs in society, something only remotely
related to the new idea, that forces society to accept the]
new reform.

Ever thereafter the powers that be say:

"Why, we always favored this idea."

This too, it seems, will be the story of our movement.

L. and F. a Credit to Cause

THE premier Single Tax publication of the United U
States, Brother Joseph Dana Miller's LAND AND
FREEDOM, September-October number, is at hand, with a
rich table of contents. The editor's "Comment and Re-
flection," as always, is a special feature. The budget de-
bates in the British Parliament are reviewed by Mervyn
J. Stewart. There is a very interesting Australian
letter by Percy R. Meggy ; and from Land and Liberty (tc
the English movement what LAND AND FREEDOM is to ours)
is taken a report of the speech of Chancellor Philip Snowder
on the budget, with its provision for land-value taxation
and there is much other interesting matter. Included is
an "On to Baltimore" article on the approaching Henn
George Congress, well calculated to tempt the faithfu
to attend. No Single Taxer can be other than proud tc
present a copy of LAND AND FREEDOM to one upon whon
he would like to make a favorable impression regarding
the Single Tax movement. Fairhope Courier.



The Correct vs. the Swope Plan for

"The Stabilization of Industry"


In the article " Gerard Swope's ' Stabilization of Industry'
Not So Stable," in LAND AND FREEDOM for November-
December, 1931, criticism was levelled at the proposals of
Mr. Swope's plan, and the charge made that the plan did
not offer nor in any way attempt to offer, much less secure,
work for the men that, as Mr. Swope said in the opening
paragraph of his address to the National Electrical Manu-
facturers' Association at the Hotel Commodore, New York
City, on September 16, 1931, "are able to work, are com-
>etent workers" and "who above all things desire to
work" but "cannot find work to do."

The article referred to points to the fact that the prob-
em Mr. Swope poses in the opening paragraph of his address
as above quoted is an economic, not an industrial one,
md to the further fact that the proposals in the plan,
namely, "A Workmen's Compensation Act," "Life and
Disability Insurance," "Pensions" and "Unemployment
nsurance, " all to be provided by industry, not by govern-
ment (the worker paying one-half the cost, the consumer
the other half), are industrial remedies or attempts at
emedies and therefore impotent, indeed not even really
ntended, to obtain the relief that Mr. Swope's opening
paragraph points to as imperative.

Is it not time that industry and labor both awoke to the
act that the problems that confront them are basically
economic, not industrial? Is it not time that they, industry
and labor, both realize that their substance, their product,
heir wealth, their thrift, their every effort and invention
s being drained from them by the alchemy of land owner-
hip and absorbed by the rent of land?

Less than ten per cent of the population absorbs more
han sixty per cent of all wealth and production in the
:ountry, leaving less than forty per cent of production
to be divided among more than ninety per cent of the popu-

Less than ten per cent of the population owns all the
and and natural resources in the country, and finally gets
ill the rent royalties, special dividends and interest that
uch ownership commands. Does it require a mathema-
ician to figure what the process of wealth abstrac-
ion is?

The power to collect rent for the use of land and for
he natural resources of the earth, privately exercised, is
.he power to milk Industry and Labor of their product;
t is the power to hold land and natural resources out of
ise until such payments as it deems sufficient are paid
ir an obligation to pay them is assumed.

Is it any wonder that land is idle? Is it any wonder that
Business is stagnant? Is it any wonder that industry suf-
ers? Is it any wonder that there is unemployment? Idle

land means idle men; idle men means less consumption,
less demand for commodities, less business, further decrease
in the demand for labor, still greater unemployment.

Thus the vicious circle starts with idle land and idle
natural resources, all of which are absolutely owned and
controlled by less than ten per cent of the population, who
through their ownership of all land squeeze out of ninety
per cent of the population over sixty per cent of all their
product. What help are Workmen's Compensation Acts,
Life and Disability Insurance, Pensions and Unemploy-
ment Insurance to the man that is out of work now and
cannot find it? About as much as a customer without
money or credit is to the idle merchant!

Tax the value of land and natural resources and see how
fast these will be put into use; how fast and to what great
extent they will employ labor and capital, and how fast
unemployment and idle capital will disappear, and with
them low wages, low interest, poor business, hard times
and industrial depression.

A tax on land and natural resources has the opposite
effect of a tax on wealth, industry, production, buildings
or labor products. A tax on the latter tends to make them
go into hiding or to disappear altogether; at best it is a
burden to the individual taxed and to the community.
A tax on land value and on the value of natural resources
forces these into use, creates employment, enhances busi-
ness and establishes prosperity.

Land-value taxes being sufficient to defray all the legiti-
mate requirements of government, it will then, too, become
possible to reduce and eventually abolish altogether all
the burdensome taxation on industry, building enterprises
and incomes, all tariffs, tolls and taxes that now hamper
and hamstring human effort and thrift.

If Mr. Swope really is disturbed at the aspect that "men
who are able to work, who are competent workers, who
above all things desire to work, cannot find work to do,"
and really means ultimately to eliminate that "disturb-
ing aspect," there is the remedy the remedy that will
achieve the desired result and that will permanently main-
tain it!

Nor is it the worker merely, the man out of employment,
that is to be ultimately considered. Industry itself is
stagnated; business men, manufacturers, storekeepers,
merchants, all are similarly situated, comparatively, as
is the man out of employment. Capital is idle and no one
seems to know how to put it to work; interest is not col-
lectible; wealth is not secure.

Mr. Swope no doubt wants the evil that is producing
the entire business depression "first ameliorated" and
"ultimately eliminated." But how? His scheme is not



even intended to do either. It would pay Mr. Swope and
Industry to pause and heed.

Society, civilization, are on trial. Shall the structure
that has taken thousands of years to build, our heritage
of ages of effort, of striving, of suffering for ideals that have
become sacred, all be sacrificed now to shortsightedness
and to greed? Shall individualism, liberty, freedom of
thought and of action, the home, morality, culture, all be
cast into the discard?

Is democracy to make way for untried and unproved
schemes that have only unreasoned might and unscru-
pulous power behind them?

Yes.^Mr. Swope, "it surely will be done," as you pre-
dict in your address. But what?

Denmark's Land- Value Tax




This being the case, it is of course difficult to tell the
economic effects of the change in taxation that is so small,
especially in the country districts. Even before the reform
we had taxation levied upon land value, especially in the
country districts. In face of the Danish crown's going into
par in 1926, and the general reduction in the prices of prod-
ucts in the world market, it is difficult to discern the effects
of the taxation of land values. Of course the world depres-
sion is hampering industrial development in Denmark as
elsewhere. The decreased buying power of our customers in
England and Germany is also keeping the prices of our
products lower than they normally would be.

Though prices are steadily declining, our production
is increasing. Our production of butter and bacon, our
most important articles of export, is interesting, as filed
for the years 1922-1930:


T is now nearly five years since the act of March, 1926,
regarding land-value taxation was carried through the
Danish Parliament and signed by the^King. The act was
carried in the face of opposition by the city landowners,
who tried to prevent it by sending out pamphlets in which
landowners big and little in country and city were told
they were going to be ruined. But nevertheless the act
was forthwith put into force. What are the results of these
years of experience?

Of course no one claims that Denmark now has the Single
Tax. Far from it. This measure was only the second small
instalment of taxation of land values, the first being a
national land-value tax put into force in 1924 taking the
small amount of 1.50 kroner per 1,000 kroner land value.

The significance of the reform is best illustrated by giv-
ing the percentages in accordance with which the tax on
land value is levied. The latest official information from the
Danish Statistical Department is at hand for the financial
years 1930-1931, comprising the local as well as the State
taxes :


In the
capital per
1,000 kroner


Provincial Country

towns per districts per

1,000 kroner 1,000 kroner

6.51 15.51

7.18 16.53

The total amount levied is for the years shown in the
following table:

Capital Provincial Country Total

1,000,000 1,000,000 1,000,000 1,000,000

kroner kroner kroner kroner

1930-31 9.9 4.4 48.9 63.2

1931-32.. 10.5 4.9 49.0 64.4

Population 1930 723,000 788,000 2,040,000 3,551,000

The total amount of land-value taxes corresponds to
very nearly 10 per cent of the total amount of taxes in
Denmark, a little more in the country districts, and some-
what less in the towns.


1,000,000 kilograms

f 190


delivered at

bacon factories

1,000,000 kilograms


The production of butter from 1922 to 1926 was increased
by 25 per cent, and from 1926 to 1930 by 27 percent. The
increase in mill. kg. of hogs delivered from 1922 to 1926
has been 105.4, and from 1926 to 1930 149.2 mill. kg.

The Danish bacon has in a few years outdistanced all
countries in the English market in quantity as well as
quality. Owing to the declining prices the value of the
export has not risen in the same proportion as the quantity.
At present the decline in prices is very marked. The index
for exported articles in 1926 was 212, and is now for the
month of October, 1931, only 96. The corresponding figures
for the value of export surplus of agricultural products in
1926 are 847.9 mill kroner, and in 1930 930.6 mill kroner.

These figures show more than anything else can the
solid development of Danish agriculture that apparently
proceeds unhampered by the general world depression.
Of course it is hard times for Danish agriculture as it is
for agriculture everywhere. But what are the causes?

(1) The high prices which have been paid for farms in
times of inflation from 1912 to 1926. These prices do not
now correspond to the prices paid for agricultural products
The farms, the land on which farming is done, must be
reduced in price before normal times can be reached.

(2) The enormous load of taxes which in great part
are shifted to the farmer's shoulders because he is com
pelled to take the prices for his products that the world
market affords.

(3) The high prices of industrial products used on the
farm, in the main caused by the high tariff on such prod



ucts. The abolition of the tariff would give him greater
equality between agricultural and industrial pursuits.

These causes retarding the future development of agri-
culture can only be abolished by the collection of the eco-
nomic rent and the abolition of taxes on industry and its
products and the introduction of real free trade.

In regard to industrial production, the Institute of His-
tory and Political Economy has compiled indices for pro-
duction as well as employment which show progress not
as great as that attained by agricultural pursuits:


Index for

Index for

















It will be noted that the index for production has
increased from 100 to 150, while the index for employment
has increased only from 100 to 126. The production per
worker is larger in 1929 than in 1922. There is -a steady
gain during the entire period.

In building activity the result has been especially
encouraging for the years in which taxation of land values
has been in operation. For the cities and towns in Denmark
the figures given below show the number of apartments
built in the years 1922-30, that is before land-value taxes
were introduced:










Number of


1922 = 100


The building activity was exceedingly lively in 1930,
and that rate is kept up in 1931. There is no doubt that
housing conditions have improved from 1926. At the same
time the number of persons living in care of local authorities
has declined. It is a very encouraging fact that the con-
gested streets in the inner circles of the capital are decreas-
ing in population and new streets are being built on the
outskirts of the city. The capital's suburban towns are
increasing in population by leaps and bounds. Similar

Online LibraryOutdoor Advertising Association of AmericaLand and freedom (Volume 32) → online text (page 3 of 54)