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(4) The remission of all taxes but that on land values would give far greater security of possession to the user of land than the present system. Under the present system, which professes to give private property and land, the farmers of Ontario are losing their farms. Under the system I propose it would be impossible for an industrious and intelligent man to lose possession of his land except through some calamity.
(5) This system of land tenure conditioned on the payment of rent into the public till is eminently just. This is the very heart of the whole problem, not only of economics, but of ethics. It is the impregnable stronghold of the new school of political economy. Let us not be sentimental here. Let us not be any longer bound by the fetters of traditionalism. Remember that to-day civilization is being weighed in the balances, and is found horribly wanting. To sentimentalize, to equivocate, or to delay is to invite destruction. We cannot afford to give any weight, if we would be scientific, to the plea of private property in land, which the law of God forbids. Let me here call your attention to a distinction which every man is supposed to make, but which, as a matter of fact, very few make. It is the distinction between legality and morality, between man's decree and God's decree, between that which is mutable and that which is immutable. We use the word "right" very loosely. A given act may be legally right, while it is morally wrong; or it may be morally right, when it is legally wrong. Private property in land illustrates this antagonism. Look at the facts in the light of this syllogism, and see if I am not right. All men have an equal right to life. All men derive their subsistence from land. Therefore, every man has an equal right to access to land. When you give a man private property in land, you give him the right to collect the unearned increment,- that is, the rent; and, when you do this, the equal right to life of the man who must use that land is infringed. And, when he is not allowed to produce a dollar's worth of wealth without paying some land-owner for the privilege, his freedom is gone, he is a slave. Free land is the condition of free men. The right of ownership in land is a legal right which violates an inalienable moral right, and he who denies this moral right is not a truly moral man. Such a man ignores the very soul of the moral law. You see we stand on a rock basis of eternal truth, which neither criticism nor legislation can ever destroy; and on that basis we would build the social structure broad and high, while orthodox political economy and orthodox theology insist, to
their own shame, that the social structure shall be built on the sands of mere conventionalism. Well, depend upon it, the winds of cyclonic revolution are beginning to blow, the fountains of the great deep are beginning to break up, and the windows of heaven are opening; and, where the destructive powers of the infuriated Demos will rest, God only knows. I am not surer of anything in existence than I am of the ethical soundness and immutability of the principle which requires the exclusive taxation of land values for public uses.
Let us now come more distinctly to the economic side of the problem. How would the taxation of land values affect the production and distribution of wealth? I reply, Beneficently. It would open the way for greatly increased production; and, inasmuch as neither the capitalists nor the government could appropriate or confiscate the product of labor, and as there would no longer be any landlord to appropriate it, there would result an equitable distribution of wealth, so that supply and demand would always balance, thus preserving the equilibrium of economic forces and conditioning the free play of moral and religious forces.
(1) The taking of land values for public uses would exterminate thousands upon thousands of economic and social parasites.
(2) It would throw open to use millions of acres of land now held out of use for purposes of speculation or which are only partially used at the present time. The effect of this on production is quite apparent.
(3) It would raise both prices and wages. The normal tendency is for prices to fall and wages to rise relatively, but under existing conditions the laws of nature are not allowed to operate.
(4) It would break up inequalities in wealth and social position which are ruinous to the organic unity of the social body. Why should thirty-one thousand people own more than one-half the wealth of the United States? Why should ten per cent. of the people of Great Britain get more of the wealth annually produced than the other ninety per cent.?
(5) It would simplify government, reduce its cost, increase its efficiency, and emancipate it from the galling shackles of the money power. Every one of these benefits would contribute to the abolition of involuntary poverty.
In conclusion, how would the taking of land values for public uses affect those who are in poverty because of physical inability? It
would so affect this class as to reduce their number, both absolutely and relatively, in a few years to an insignificant minimum. In this connection let us remember that we are not to count simply on the economic advantages to be derived from the system, but on the assertion of that principle of eternal right which lies behind it, and to which the system gives potential and actual expression. Thus, while considering the beneficent effect of the principle on the production and distribution of wealth, we must not overlook the extent to which it would regenerate the morals of society and rejuvenate the dead theology of the churches. It is particularly for the latter reasons that I am a single taxer. The following points in connection with the abolition of poverty among the physically incapable are worthy of attention :
(1) Thousands of people who are now dependent on public charity because of inability to work would not have been so dependent, had they not in the past been overworked and underfed, and compelled to live in unsanitary conditions which would ruin the health of the strongest. These causes of physical break-down being removed, the consequent poverty will disappear.
(2) If many of those who are now physically incapable and dependent had received their dues, they might now have enough to keep them in tolerable comfort the rest of their days.
(3) Under the improved conditions of society resulting from the adoption of the system we propose, the moral tone of the masses would be so elevated; and Christianity rendered so much more effective, that the people would become more industrious as a whole, more cleanly in their habits, more intelligent, and consequently more healthful in body and soul, thus warding off the danger of premature physical break-down.
(4) With the economic and moral improvement of society the relatives of the physically incapable would not only be more able, but more desirous, of attending to the needs of their loved ones in their homes or by paying for it in public institutions, thus still further lessening the number dependent on public charity.
(5) The resultant development of the altruistic spirit would make it a matter of public pleasure for society to interest itself in the welfare of the few unfortunate cases that might occur. A system which . can present such strong economic and moral claims as the above is surely deserving of the support of every right-thinking man. What will you do with it?
Municipal and County Charities.
THE WORK OF THE STATE CHARITIES AID ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK.
BY HOMER FOLKS, SECRETARY.
The State Charities Aid Association of New York was organized in 1872, for the purpose of doing whatever could be done to improve the condition of the inmates of public charitable institutions in the State of New York. By public institutions are meant all that are maintained and controlled by the State, or by cities, counties, or towns. The Association has at present active Visiting Committees in forty-five of the sixty counties of the State, including all the larger counties. The duty of these committees is to visit all public charitable institutions in their respective counties, to report their condition to the headquarters of the Association in New York City, to take whatever steps may seem to be wise toward the improvement of local institutions, and to assist the central organization in securing the adoption of legislative or other reforms affecting the State as a whole. The board of managers, with fifteen members, is elected annually from members of the Association residing in or near New York City. It has immediate charge of legislation, and is responsible for directing and developing the work of the Association. The total membership of the Association at the present time is about 750.
Naturally, the various county committees of the Association find various ways in which they can assist the local authorities. In one county the committee helps to create a public sentiment in favor of the erection of a cottage hospital in connection with the poorIn another the committee assists the superintendents of the poor in the selection of homes for dependent children and in visit
ing children who have been placed in homes. In another the committee assists in securing the appointment of a trained nurse in the hospital wards of the poorhouse. In another the committee appears before the board of supervisors to urge a larger appropriation for supplies. In fact, the active committees of the Association are in close touch with the work of local officials charged with the relief of the poor, and stand ready to do whatever a group of representative citizens can do to assist and support these officials in their work.
If, as oftentimes happens, the county committees report some abuse or evil 'common to all parts of the State, the remedy is sought by concerted effort to secure remedial legislation. Thus, ten years ago, in view of the continued complaints from all parts of the State as to the wretched care which the insane were receiving in poorhouses or in local asylums connected with poorhouses, the Association undertook to secure legislation providing for the removal of all insane throughout the State to State hospitals for the insane. After several years of unceasing activity, this legislation was secured, and also an appropriation from the legislature sufficient to increase the capacity of the State hospitals to enable them to receive the insane from the county asylums. The large counties of New York, Kings, and Monroe, were exempted from the mandatory provisions of the original statute; but by later legislation the county asylums of these counties were reorganized as State institutions, and to-day all the dependent insane in the State of New York are wholly supported by the State in State hospitals under expert supervision, and at a total expense of a little less than $5,000,000 per year, raised by a special tax of 1 mills upon all taxable property. Again, the various county committees reported that the epileptics were in a most wretched condition in the various poorhouses and in the insane asylums. The Association, in co-operation with the State Board of Charities, and after efforts extending over four years, secured the establishment of the Craig Colony for epileptics.
In New York City the Association has secured a complete reorganization of the public charitable institutions during the past three years. The former Department of Charities and Correction, which had charge of the sick, the destitute, the insane, and the criminal, has been broken up into three parts. The asylums for the insane have been transferred to the State, and reorganized as a State