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rent for breathing or bathing, as it is for those few families to grab the land and call it theirs. As a matter of fact we are charged for breathing, for without a sufficient space of land to breathe on we cannot get good air to breathe.
If a man claimed the sea, or the air, or the light as his, you would laugh at his presumption. Now, I ask you to point out to me any reason for private ownership of land which will not act as well as a reason for private ownership of sea and air.
So we may agree that no man can have any right to the land. And if a man can have no right to the land, how can he have a right to sell the land? And if I buy a piece of land from one who has no right to sell it, how can I call that land mine?
Take a case. William the Conqueror stole an estate from Harold (to whom it did not belong) and gave it to a Norman baron. During the Wars of the Roses said baron lost it to another baron, or to the Crown. Later on the estate is confiscated by Charles II and given to a bastard son of his. The descendants of that bastard son take to gambling and lose the estate to the Jews. The Jews sell it to a wealthy cotton-lord. But the land is stolen property, and the cotton-lord is a receiver of stolen property.
Suppose a footpad knocked down a traveler and stole his watch, gave the watch to his sweetheart, who sold it to a Jew, who sold it again to a sailor, and suppose the traveler came forward and claimed his watch. Would the law let the sailor keep it? No. But if the footpad had been made a peer for stealing it that would have made a difference.
You may say, of course, that the law of the land has confirmed the old nobility in the possession of their stolen property. That is quite true. But it is equally true that the law was made by the landowners themselves. In the eighteenth century the big landowners robbed the small landowners in a shameful and wholesale way. Within a space of about eighty years no less than 7,000,000 acres were enclosed ! "
And when we suggest that the land of England should be restored to the English people, from whom it was stolen, these land-robbers have the impudence to raise the cry of plunder.”
Here, for instance, is an extract from a Tory evening paper, cut out by me some years ago :
The'impudent agitators who suggest the confiscation of the land are dumb as to the rights and services of the landowner. They ignore the facts that the land is his, and that if he administers the estate he chiefly creates its value.”
The land is not his." Man has a right only to what his labor makes. No man makes " the land.
The nobleman does not-in most cases-administer his estate,
The estate is managed by farmers, who pay the nobleman a heavy rent for being allowed to do his work.
Therefore the landlord does not "create the value" of the estate. The value of an estate consists in the industry of those who work upon it. To say that Lord Blankdash has farm lands or town property worth £50,000 a year means that he has the legal power to take that money from the factory, hands and farm-workers for the use of that which is as much theirs as his.
I suppose you are aware that no "value" can be got out of an estate without labor. If you doubt this, take a nine-acre field, fence it in, and wait until it grows crops. You know it will never grow crops unless some one plows it and sows it.
No: even if you have land and capital you cannot raise a single ear of corn without labor. Take your nine-acre field. Put in a steam plow, a sack of seed, a harrow, and a bank-book, and wait for crops. You will not get a stalk of corn. A poor laborer with a broken shovel and a piece of thorn-bush will raise more wheat in his little patch of back garden than all the capital of England could get out of all the acres of Europe without labor.
But read the following report of a land company, taken from the Pall Mall Gazette in 1891:
'SWAZILAND GOLD EXPLORATION AND LAND COMPANY. “The annual general meeting of this company was held this afternoon at Winchester House. Mr. E. A. Pontifex, the chairman, presided, and moved the adoption of the report. He said that since the last meeting practically nothing had been done. They had been waiting for more prosperous times. They were an exploring and land, not a mining, company, with a view to inducing others to form subsidiary companies for working the property. At the present moment the formation of companies was practically a dead letter; and it would be useless to point out to promoters where operations could be carried on, as they would be unable to raise the necessary funds to carry on the works. They had reduced the expenses to the lowest possible limit, the directors having foregone their fees, and the total amount being only £400 a year. They were awaiting better times, and the advent of railways, before endeavoring to work the riches they believed were contained in the 156 square miles of territory which they possessed. Since their last meeting, the High Court of Swaziland, sitting at Kremersdorp, had confirmed the concession originally made by the late King Umbandine, and it was held to by the king's successors and the Boer republic and the English government, which now prevails in Swaziland. Nor was it likely that any further call would be made until the arrival of more enterprising times."
The italics are mine. The company owns 156 square miles of land; and it does not pay them a cent: Why? Because there is no labor on it. The company are waiting for railways. Why? Because railways will carry people out there. Mines, farms, towns, will come into existence. The pick and the plow will go to work, and then-then the Swaziland square miles will be valuable. In other words, the men who make the wealth in Swaziland will have to pay a lot of it to the English company as rent for the land the company have “acquired!
The case above given is clear enough for the capacity of a child. There is the whole problem made plain. Labor and capital: Labor and land. One hundred and fifty-six square miles of land, and not a shilling return. Not so much as comes back from the land on which is built an Ancoats slum cottage. But a man lives in the cottage; and he works, and part of his earnings goes unto the “owner" of the land. Do you see it now, Mr. Smith ?
Have you ever considered the question of house rent? Suppose you own a cottage in a country village, and I own a cottage of the same size in a busy town, close to a big railway and a number of factories. You know that I shall get more rent for my house than you will get for yours. Why?
Because my house stands on more desirable land. The railway company would buy it. And then it is near to places of work, and workmen will pay more for it, especially as houses are
But did I make the railway? Did I build the factories ? Did I do anything to make the wealth of the town, or the "value" of the land. Not I. The workers did that, and so I am paid for what they did. That is to say, I am allowed, by raising my rent, to put a tax upon their industry.
The poor wretches in the East End of London pay from 3s. to 6s. a week for one small room in a weather-worn and dirty "house, in a narrow and unhealthy street; and rents in Manchester are high. This is owing to the value of the land. That is to say, the people are forced by stress of circumstances not only to live in the rotten nests of these pestilential rookeries, but have no option but to give the extortionate prices demanded by landlords whose bowels of compassion are dried up, and whose souls are shrunken by the fires of avarice.
Land is " valuable”-that is, tenants will submit to be cheated-in all centers of industry. The skill, the energy, and the orderliness of the workers create an “industrial center." Speculators buy land near that center, and as business and work draw people thereto in search of a living, the “speculator raises his prices and grows rich, and his land and houses are "valuable.” This is according to the law. It constitutes a dis.
honest and an unreasonable tax on labor, but it is lawful. There is in it neither principle nor humanity-but it is the law; and the difficulty of improving the dwellings of the people lies in the fact that you cannot alter this law without damaging the sacred rights of property.
Do you ever think about these things? Do you know the difference between the land law and the patent laws and copyright?
A nobleman owns an estate, He draws £30,000 in rent from it annually. He and his family before him have drawn that rent for five or six centuries, and the land is still his.
But if John Smith of Oldham invents a new loom and patents it, his patent right expires in fourteen years. For fourteen years he may reap the fruits of his cleverness. At the end of that time anyone may work his patent without charge. It has become public property. This is the law. Or John Smith of Oldham writes a book.
The book is copyrighted for forty years, or for the life of the author and seven years after.
While it is copyrighted no one can print the book without John's leave, and so John may make money by his cleverness. But at the end of that time the copyright lapses and the book becomes public property. Anyone may print it then.
Now you see the difference between land law and patent law. The landlord's patent never runs out. The land never becomes public property. The rent is perpetual. And yet the landlord did not make the land; whereas John Smith did invent the loom.
Mr. Smith, if you are a practical, hard-headed man, I think I may leave you to study the land question for yourself.
RENT AND INTEREST. The Lord will enter into judgment with the elders of his people. It is ye that have eaten up the vineyard : the spoil of the poor is in your houses; what mean ye that ye crush my people, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord, the Lord of Hosts. — Isaiah.
Morality and political economy unite in repelling the individual who consumes without producing.- De Balzac.
The guilty thieves of Europe, the real sources of all deadly war in it, are the capitalists—that is to say, people who live by percentages or the labor of others; instead of by fair wages for their own.
All social evils and religious errors arise out of the pillage of the laborer by the idler; the idler leaving him only enough to live on (and even that miserably), and taking all the rest of the produce of his work to spend in his own luxury, or in the toys with which he beguiles his idleness.-Ruskin.
The requisites of production are two; Labor, and appropriate natural objects.-J. S, Mill
The produce of labor constitutes natural recompense, or wages of labor.-Adam Smith.
We have now to consider a very important question, viz., have the rich any right to their riches?
I have already laid it down as my guiding principle that a man has a right to all the wealth that he creates by the exercise of his own unaided faculties, and to no more.
If you look into my pamphlet, “The Pope's Socialism," page 4, you will find the following paragraph:
"No man has any right to be rich. No man ever yet became rich by fair means. No man ever became rich by his own industry."
That statement, "no man ever became rich by his own industry," has puzzled many of my readers, and I shall explain it. I shall explain it because, if no man can become rich by his own industry, then no man has a right to be rich.
How do men grow rich? In these days the three chief sources of wealth are: 1. Rent. 2. Interest. 3. Profits.
First, rent. Who earns it? We will take two examples: ground rent, aud property ront.
The Duke of Plaza Toro owns an estate. The rent roll is £30,000 a year. Where does the money come from?
The estate is let out to farmers, at so much per acre. These farmers pay the duke his £30,000 a year. Where do the farmers
The farmers sell their crops, and out of the purchase money pay the rent. How are the crops raised ? The crops are raised by the agricultural laborers, under the direction of the farmers.
That is to say, that the rent is earned by labor--by the labor of the farmer and his men. The duke does nothing. The duke did not make the land, nor does he raise the crops. He has therefore no right to take the rent at all. The man who gets rich on ground rent gets rich on the labor of others.
Mr. Bounderby owns a row of houses. The rental of the street amounts to £400 a year. Where does the money come from?
The rent is paid by the tenants of the houses. It is paid with money they have earned by their labor, or with money which they have obtained from other men who earned it by their labor, and it is paid to Mr. Bounderby for the use of his houses.
How did Mr. Bounderby get his houses? He either bought them with money which he did not earn by his own industry, or he paid for the material and the building with money which he did not earn by his own industry.
Two things are quite certain. First, that Mr. Bounderby did not build the houses with his own hands, nor make the bricks