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of wild land. In 1910 this was increased to four per cer
in 1917 to five per cent. The Tory government in 1932
decreased this to three per cent.

Are these legislative setbacks due to the people's dis-
satisfaction with the exemption of buildings and the
higher taxation of land values? Hardly! In plebiscite
after plebiscite the people of the various municipalities
have shown that they did not wish improvements
burdened. Before Port Alberni (2,000 population) im-
posed a tax on buildings in 1933, over three-fourths of



LAND AND FREEDOM



147



the property owners signed a petition asking the city
council not to tax buildings. But the city council did!
For the city councils and the provincial parliament are
the bodies that have the power of taxation- not the
people directly. A plebiscite has never gone against the
Single Tax principle in British Columbia. And yet the
trend of legislation is constantly against it. An excellent
argument for the initiative and for that confidence in the
people themselves that Jefferson so often expressed!

Has the Single Tax failed to raise the revenues because
of a lack of land values? No! Even where buildings are
exempt from taxation for municipal purposes, land sites
in the business districts still have appreciable value.
Probably less than one-half of the ground rent is actually
being taken in taxation

Is it that a legal restriction on the rate of taxation is
such that the councils cannot tax land values high enough
to raise revenue without taxing improvements? No! In
no municipality, even where buildings are exempt, has
the present 35 mill rate limitation for general purposes
been any where near approached. Out of New West-
minster's total tax rate of 56 mills in 1933 only 5.5
mills were levied for general purposes, leaving 29.5
mills which could be added to the general rate if desired.

nd New Westminster does not tax buildings at all.

Is it because of the low percentage of tax collections?
! The municipalities with full exemption of buildings
in no worse condition so far as tax collections are con-
erned than those that tax buildings. New Westminster,
vith the full exemption of buildings, has the highest per-

itage of tax collections in the province.
* * *

Then why is the Single Tax so unpopular among cer-
tain public officials and civic leaders that inroads can be
made on the progress already made?

The answer is that the Single Tax has failed because
it has worked too well. Although in reality but small
steps have been made toward the full Single Tax, the
measure of land value taxation so far applied has brought
a large part of the vacant land on the tax books out of
the hands of speculators and into the hands of the people.
This has meant, for the land speculator, an "oversupply
of land sites" which has tended to keep down specula-
tive land prices, thus tending to destroy the "profits"
in a most lucrative form of "investment."

About seven or eight years ago Mayor T. S. Annandale
of New Westminster was determined to tax improve-
ments and led a fight in that direction. He had land in
a nearby suburb which he couldn't sell when cheaper
land could be had in the city due to the taxation of land
values!

A high public official of Vancouver (who did not wish
to be quoted!) told of the depressing effect of all the tax-
forfeited land on the real estate market. So long as the
city had abundance of vacant land on its books which
it was willing to let out to users at moderate charges



the "marketability" of private land holdings was de-
stroyed! To remedy this evil situation on behalf of the
land speculators (pardon me, "investors"), this public
official recommended that land sites on the tax books be
held for sale at the full assessed value not for just one
or two years' back taxes. This would make it possible
to prevent a "flood of the market" and enable land-
holders to realize on their investments. His recommen-
dation was, of course, followed.

An official in Port Alberni told how the Canadian
Pacific Railroad had threatened to let a large tract of un-
used land go for taxes if the taxes on it were not reduced.
Failing to see that forcing land out of the hands of the
CPR was a good thing in itself, the politicians sought
to get a reduction in the taxes and succeeded! Al-
though it is clear that vacant land holders will expect to
get back in unearned increment more than they pay in
taxes, the tax eating political parasites are willing to sell
the people's birthright for what is, to the people, but a
mess of pottage.

Picturesque former Mayor John Alexander Kendall
of Port Alberni made a single-handed fight to retain the
full exemption of improvements in 1932. A veritable rock
in the current, he proclaimed that he would "see Hell
freeze over" before he would consent to the taxation of
buildings. While he stemmed the tide for a year, in 1933
he was defeated for mayor and despite the plebiscite of
the previous year against the taxation of buildings a levy
was not made on them.

The truth is that the benefits from the application of
the Single Tax principle in British Columbia have been
all that a student of Henry George might expect, con-
sidering the incompleteness of the measures adopted.
But the people have not been brought to realize the real
importance of these benefits, let alone the importance
of the principle from which they flow.

The hostility to the Single Tax on the part of Robert
Baird, Inspector of Municipalities of the province since
1914, has had much to do with lack of sympathy shown
by municipal officials. Mr. Baird's recommendations
and reports during his twenty years' incumbency have
been consistently opposed to the Single Tax. He has ad-
vocated some compulsory taxation of buildings and a
wider base of taxation. Had this key position been held
by a man who appreciated the social significance of the
Single Tax principle, a different story might now be told
in British Columbia.

But entirely aside from this individual factor, the educa-
tional work in the fundamental principles underlying
the Single Tax programme has not kept pace with legis-
lative progress. The people have instinctively felt the
justice of exempting improvements but leaders who could
and would crystalize public sentiment have been lack-
ing. And leadership has been lacking because the basic
educational work has not reached nearly enough people;



148



LAND AND FREEDOM



in a word, because Henry George has not been read and
studied and discussed.

* * *

Then, you may ask, is the Single Tax movement in
British Columbia in a weaker position today than in 1889
when Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Turnbull first
started The Single Tax Advocate in New Westminster?
Than in 1891 when John Cunningham Brown (convert
of The Advocate), Robert MacPherson, and Thomas
Forster as members of the provincial parliament secured
the fifty per cent exemption of buildings in all munici-
palities throughout the province?

Patrick Edward Dove in "The Theory of Human Pro-
gression" has told us that political truth "must grow;
it must be suggested, misunderstood, denied, discussed,
adopted in part, rejected in part, re-discussed, further
adopted, and so on."

New Westminster is an example of a community that
discussed the Single Tax principle, adopted it in part, re-
jected it in part, and further adopted it. From the time
of its founding until 1889 it levied no tax on buildings.
For twenty -three years then, until 1912, it taxed build-
ings. For another twenty-three years, through the cur-
rent year, it has re-continued its previous policy of not
penalizing building.

Mayor F. J. Hume, youthful and handsome native son
of New Westminster, an electrical engineer by profession,
believes that going back to the taxation of buildings
would be a bad thing for the development of the com-
munity. Should the provincial parliament attempt to
make the taxation of improvements compulsory, he states
that such a move would be vigorously opposed by the
people as a whole and by their public officials. In a re-
cent article on New Westminster Mayor Hume pointed out:

The Single Tax has made it easy for the businessman and producer
to establish themselves. I feel that the Single Tax has also had a
tendency to reduce unemployment crises and the seasonal slump in
this City as the manufacturer and merchant do not have to carry in
their overhead expenses the dead weight of a large investment in high
priced land, nor do they have to maintain taxes on their buildings,
machinery, and equipment. Hence the factories and mercantile
houses of New Westminster have been able to keep operating when in
other cities a number would have had to partially or completely close
down. Every encouragement is given to every bona fide prospective
industry.

That the policy of encouraging home ownership, busi-
ness, and commerce is a good one is attested to by the
growth of the Port of New Westminster to the third
largest in the Dominion of Canada in point of exports.
No charge of any description is levied on cargo by the
Port Authority. Furthermore, the harbor dues of only
two cents per net registered ton as against three cents
in Vancouver has operated to invite deep sea ships to avail
themselves of the Port's facilities. The number of deep
sea ships entering this Port have risen steadily from 13
in 1921 to 248 in 1929, 297 in 1930, 301 in 1931, 311 in
1932, and 409 in 1933 with prospects of around 500 in 1934



Vancouver had but approximately 1,000 deep sea ships
in 1933.

Here are some of the comments of other officials and
citizens of New Westminster on the operation of the local
Single Tax:

A. J. Bowell, City Comptroller: "The sentiment of
the people is decidedly against taxing improvements."

J. E. Paulding, home owner: "I first learned my Henry
George at Nottingham, England, where I was technical
instructor of the blind. I thought his programme very
reasonable. Certainly Henry George's prophecy has come
true. Progress has brought benefits but to the few-
speculators who were out for money. Others have had
to pinch and starve for what a few get. In another way
Henry George's prophecy has come true. In New West-
minster, where his principle is applied, there are more
home owners than in any place I've lived before, more
than in London where no one owns his own home. Home
owners here are strong for the Single Tax. There are
lower taxes on homes here than in other cities where build-
ings are taxed. Land prices are lower too."

S. I. Hearst, home owner: "I don't approve of the
improvement tax at all."

A fireman, home owner: "It's a good thing for me.
Without the tax on buildings a man builds a better house
say a $3,000 house instead of a $2,000 one."

F. E. Howey, merchant: "I have no use for any
who speculates in land."

Harry Stewardson, Building Inspector: "I'm sure the
Single Tax is a good thing. Nearly all people in this town
own their own homes. Having no tax on buildings is quite
an inducement. Permanently situated people will get
their own homes as rapidly as they can. I think it is a
mistake to think of taxing buildings. Before the exemp-
tion of improvements, houses looked like last year's birds
nests. People wouldn't paint their houses for fear the
tax assessor would raise their taxes. As soon as improve-
ments were exempted you never saw such a difference!"

T. H. Grant, assistant manager, David Spencer depart- \
ment store: " If you tax improvements people won't build
so much. This means less jobs. David Spencer has been
doing a steady business for the past five years. Ne
Westminster has steady pay rolls. Pay rolls buy gr
ceries. "

Mr. Stride, photographer: "Of course a man shoulc
be penalized for beautifying his place. If you tax buil
ings you make the enterprising home builder pay the
taxes for the man who only builds a shack."

Walter Dodd, Board of Education: "I don't think
New Westminster will accept compulsory taxation of im-
provements without a howl."

The movement in British Columbia is stronger today I
because of the truths that New Westminster and other
communities in the province demonstrate to whomsoever
will look.



ouse

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LAND AND FREEDOM



149



No! The Single Tax lines that have been drawn across
the page of history in British Columbia can never be en-
tirely erased. They are an indelible impression that will
always remain to guide lovers of humanity and freedom.
The movement in British Columbia is fortunate today
in having in its active ranks three of the original leaders
who in the late eighties and early nineties made possible
the advances that have been so far achieved. Let the
names of Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Turnbull, and
Thomas Fqrster be honored for the victories they have
won and for the victories that will yet be possible, for what
they are doing today in the ripened experience of their
three score and ten!

IDAHO

Oscar Geiger was one of the first to act upon the realiza-
tion that we must begin our educational work from the
ground up. He realized that to seek the adoption of the
Single Tax without the people being grounded in its
fundamentals is like trying to put on the roof of a house
before its foundation is laid.

Mr. R. B. Wilson of Emmett, Idaho, realized this too.
Both Mr. Geiger and Mr. Wilson came to see that the
only way to teach Henry George is to teach. It was not
enough to give one talk or hand out a pamphlet or even
to get a person to read a book. Only through the class
room method could the full scope of the philosophy and
rogra.mme of Henry George be brought to the minds of
se interested.

After graduating from Normal School back in Valpa-
in the nineties (where he and "Billy" Mathews and
ney Haughey raised old Ned with their Single Tax),

r. Wilson became a country school teacher. He's an
orchard grower now, but the old teaching habit never left
him. He has now conducted three classes in Political
Economy, the first in Boise in November, 1932, average
attendance 15; the second in Linder (near Boise) in March,
1933, average attendance 35; and the third in Emmett in
the fall of 1933, average attendance 6.

Prof. Wilson, S. T., gave ten lectures in the first class.
It was held in the Labor Temple, free to Labor men with
a charge of fifty cents a lecture to outsiders. This charge
paid an average of $2.00 a night toward Mr. Wilson's
expenses.

The second class was given nine lectures. Forty-two
enrolled at first all farmers from the surrounding country.
Two dropped out because of their opposition to the
teacher's point of view. The remaining forty attended
as regularly as possible, the average attendance being 35.
A charge of fifty cents was made each attendant for the
course. Practically the whole of the $20 was collected
the first night. One farmer, who could not pay in cash
however, paid in two bushels of shelled corn about a
dollar's worth. There were eight or ten women in the
class. Six students were of high school age. It consisted




of men and women of all beliefs, creeds, and political
affiliations from hide-bound Republicans to Coin Harvey
fans. About half owned their own farms but only one
of the students had a farm that was not mortgaged. About
fifteen came through as Croasdale converts. At least fif-
teen more were favorable to the Single Tax. There were
five or six who couldn't see the light. No reading matter
is assigned in the courses given, though a good number
get "Progress and Poverty" and read it.

The third class ran up against an epidemic of the flu
and had to close at the end of four lessons. One of those
who attended, however, came through as a convert and
read "Progress and Poverty." Mr. Wilson enriches his
lectures with anecdotes that would be a credit to Mark
Twain and which serve to illustrate his points.

Mr. Wilson, who received the Democratic nomination
for State Senator from his district, has a two to one chance
of winning. . . . Hon. Dow Dunning, dean of the
Single Tax movement in Idaho, and President of the
Idaho Single Tax League, lost in his campaign for the legis-
lature. He campaigned for the Single Tax and against
the NRA, the AAA, etc. . . . Dr. Stratton of Sal-
mon City, Idaho, was candidate for the Democratic
nomination for the United States Senate in 1932, losing
to Senator James P. Pope. Both are Henry George men
but Dr. Stratton made an open Single Tax-Free Trade
campaign. . . . Don Reed, former State Senator
and convert of Dow Dunning and Dr. Stratton, are in
control of the Democratic Party in Lemhi County.

Other active Single Taxers in Boise Include Allen B.
Eaton, attorney with ^he NRA; Frank E. Johnesse (Mrs.
Johnesse is Secretary of the State Democratic Committee) ;
Lawrence O. Nichols, president of the Idaho State Federa-
tion of Labor; and John R. Smead, attorney. At Eagle,
Idaho, are the families of John P. Kuster and William
Globed The death of Gus M. Paulson at Wilder, Idaho,
former Chicago Single Tape Club member, is a great loss.

Mr. Dunning, Mr. Wilson, and Mr. Monroe had an
interview with Senator William E. Boraji on Monday
afternoon, Aug. 27. The Senator promised to find an
opportunity for calling public attention to the fact that
Henry George offered a logical solution to the problems
of depression and t^he maldistribution of wealth. He said
that he believed the Henry George programme would go
a long way toward solving our problems, but that he did
not believe it would leave nothing further to be done. He
denounced the sales tax as "abominable" but did not
believe Judge Ralston's proposed amendment to repeal
the sales tax in California would be adopted. While the
Senator says he can se^e the picture of a new civilization
that Henry George portrayed he does not see how it can
be brought about. He believes that revolution is inevit-
able in this country and that though it may not come in
his life time there is no way to avert it.

So there!



150



LAND AND FREEDOM



Natural Law in the

Economic World

ADDRESS OF OSCAR H. GEIGER AT THE HENRY
GEORGE CONGRESS, N. Y. CITY, SEPT. 13, 1927

NATURAL LAW is the uniform occurrence of Natural
phenomena in the same way under the same con-
ditions.

The Law of Attraction of Gravitation is a Natural Law.
We know that, because it acts the same at all times under
the same conditions.

We know now why apples fall to the ground, but apples
fell to the ground for a million years and one of them had
to hit Sir Isaac Newton on the head for us to find out why
they fall.

The Law of Attraction of Gravitation does not merely
control the falling of apples to the ground. It applies
to all matter, and as stated in textbooks, reads: Every
body attack every other body with a force that varies
directly as the product of the masses of the two bodies, and
inversely as the square of the distance between them.

That sounds formidable, and it is. All Natural Laws
are formidable; perhaps that is why they are so little
understood.

Not to understand Natural Law, however, is not to
understand Nature, for only through Natural Law can
Nature be understood. This is generally recognized in
Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry and Biology, but it is
very little, if at all, known in the Social Sciences, and this
is rather unfortunate for the Social Sciences, as Natural
Law operates equally in this field as it does in all fields
of being and living. Whether it is apples falling to the
ground or mankind living on the ground. Natural Law
operates to govern both phenomena.

As men gather and settle on some spot on earth in re-
sponse to their gregarious instinct to live together and to
produce the things they need, two values appear, each
separate and distinct, one attaching itself to the things
that men produce, and one to the land on which they live
and work.

The value that attaches itself to the things that men
produce is an objective value; it is strictly a labor, or man
value, and is a value that man can control. It is high
or low in the measure that the product is scarce or plenti-
ful in relation to the demand for it. If high, greater pro-
duction is encouraged; if low, production can be curtailed.
This value is governed by the Natural Law of Supply
and Demand.

The value that attaches itself to the land on which men
live and produce is not in the control of the individual;
it is entirely subjective. The individual in his produc-
tion of wealth has no thought of this value, and could not
control it if he had. It is a value that arises out of the
fact of his mere being and producing in company with
other individuals.



No individual effort can raise or lower this value. It
depends solely and entirely on the presence and activity
of the community, and embodies both the expression
of man's need for land and the service that society renders
to the individual. This value rises and falls only with the
movement and productivity of population. It is high
in thickly settled and industrious communities, and low
where population is sparce and production poor. This
value is a social or community value; it is governed by
the Law of Rent.

These two values, Product Value and Land Value,
appear everywhere that men live and produce wealth;
they rise or fall everywhere the same under the same con-
ditions; they are Natural phenomena; and they in every
way meet the requirements of Natural Law the Law of
Supply and Demand in the case of Product Value, and the
Law of Rent in the case of Land Value. Are these Laws
then not Natural Laws? If they are not, then neither
is the Law of Attraction of Gravitation a Natural Law.
If they are Natural Laws, they cannot be disregarded <
without meeting the consequences.

If we assume that men are freemen and have an equal ',
right to life and liberty, then, out of the fact that Product
Value is Labor Value or Man Value, it follows that men
have the right to keep and enjoy the results of their indi-
vidual toil or effort, and to freely exchange or sell or be-
queath their product, and that they cannot, except by
the violation of Natural Law, be deprived of it.

Society is an entity, as is evidenced by the fact that a
value arises out of its existence, and also by the fact that
it has needs and wants, and must raise money to defray i
expenditures, and by the further fact that it creates a fund
which fully equals all its legitimate requirements. Who
but a professor of economics would fail to recognize in ,
this the working of a Natural Law? It is a violation of
Natural Law to deprive the individual of his product-
Wealth. It is equally a violation of Natural Law to de-
prive society of its product Rent. The violation of
Natural Law does not remain unpunished.

Whether the Darwinian Theory or the Biblical Story
of Creation is correct, man must live by the sweat of his
brow; he must render service, he must till the soil, reap
the fruits, dig in the mines, and build on the earth. It
is on the Earth that he has his being, and out of the Earth
that he gets his living. Again assuming that men are:
freemen with equal rights to life, it follows that they have j
equal rights of access to the Earth.

Of all the Laws in the field of Social Science, the most
fundamental and far reaching (and perhaps, therefore,
the least understood in the science of Political Economy)
is the Law of Equality; the Law that, being of like kind, :
like origin, like needs, and like means to supply those
needs, men are equal and have equal rights to supply those
needs out of the only source from which those needs can ,
be supplied, the Earth. And the most flagrant and
vicious violation of Natural Law is the private appropria-



LAND AND FREEDOM



151



tion of land, which denies man free access to the Earth
and enables its proprietors or appropriators, to dictate
the terms under which the landless may remain and pro-
duce on the Earth which the Lord, their God, gaveth them!

The appropriation of the land by the few diverts into
the pockets of the owners of land the Rent which is the
product of the community, and which is intended by
Nature to defray communal expenses; and this appro-
priation of Community Value by individuals results in
the appropriation of Individual Values by the community
by way of Tariffs, Assessments, Tolls and Taxes, and thus
begins the vicious circle of the Violation of Natural Law,
which has brought all misery to mankind.

If there is any one principle more important than any
other principle in the economic affairs of men, it is that
the Earth is the birthright of all mankind, and that all
have an equal right to its use; and if there is any one viola-



Online LibraryOutdoor Advertising Association of AmericaLand and freedom (Volume 34) → online text (page 36 of 48)