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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 53

Land and Labour

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Land and Labour.

A few months ago, Mr Edward Wilson lectured in the Athenæum Hall in Dunedin, on the subject of "Labour_and_how Represented." At the present time no question of greater importance can occupy the attention of the labouring classes. Recent legislation has shortened the duration of Parliaments, lowered the franchise, and thereby lodged in the hands of working men a power, which if wisely exercised, will determine in no small degree our rate of progress, our national wealth, and our domestic happiness in the immediate future. That this should be so, it is necessary, however, that the popular desire expressed at the ballot-boxes should have clear and definite aims, and that those aims should be faithfully represented in the Parliament of the Colony.

The representation of labour is then a matter of vast importance, and in considering it as such we are led to ask the question, how has labour been represented in the past? By Labour, I mean not the aggregate of the labouring power of the country, but rather that large section of the community who receive from employers as an equivalent for their services what is popularly understood as the "current rate of wages." I am aware this is indefinite—I am aware that many of the employers themselves barely receive the "current rate of wages," and that many of the wage-earning class are in receipt of a remuneration far in excess of the general average. This arises from the complex character of our social arrangements, and is so far exceptional as not to obscure the general idea as to what is meant by "wages" and the "wage earning class." This definition being accepted, it will at once be seen that there is another class to be represented, namely, the "capitalist class." The one is the seller of labour, and the other is the buyer of labour and in this as in every other mercantile transaction the interests of the buyer and the interests of the seller are diametrically opposed.

There has been an effort made to show that those interests are identical, that what injures the one class will ultimately injure the other, and what is good for one class will redound to the general happiness. This is no doubt true. Evil is both evanescent and retributive, and good is the vital force in the social organism. This is a sort of broad generalization based on the observed tendency of things towards what Spencer calls equilibrium. But is this grand principle before the eyes of every capitalist, when he buys the labour of his fellow-man? Does his mind revert to the great social advantages which accrue from a just distribution of wealth, when engaging his servant? Is he solicitous that the remuneration he gives shall be such as will tend to develope a manly independence, and that the intellectual and moral faculties shall not be stunted in their growth by the chilling hand page 4 of poverty? Does he follow out the maxim of his professed master and do as he would be done by, when he fixes the rate of wages? Is it not rather his immediate interest to get the article he wants as cheaply as possible, wholly regardless of the wretchedness he entails on the labourer or his family? And is it not notorious that a man's business capacity is measured by his success in buying cheap and selling dear? that is he uses a false balance at both ends of the transaction,

The plain truth of the matter is that the stored-up energies, mental and physical of our working men are according to our present system, bought and sold on the huxtering principle we employ when we purchase a yard of calico or a bag of potatoes: the only difference in the transaction lies in this, that the labourer's necessities are imperative and immediate. He is forced to sell his powers at whatever sacrifice. This is where the evil lies. The Vendee and Vendor do not occupy the same plane. The one makes his own terms, and can afford to wait until they are accepted; the other cannot afford to wait, he must live and those depending upon him: he must accept. And this is the position of the great majority of the people.

We now come back to the question, how have these been represented in the past, and what particular interest have they in representation. In considering these questions we trust the working men will not be led astray by identity of interests. What is wanted just now is a more equitable division of products. The labourer should not be kept in the position that he is forced to sell out his whole stock-in-trade—his labouring powers—at a ruinous sacrifice; and it is the height of folly to suppose that the party who has such a power over him, will legislate on his behalf. If working men want to be represented, they must be represented by working men, or by men whose speech and action in the past, leaves no shadow of doubt as to their line of policy. Has this been the case in the past? We trow not. Various interests have been represented in the past. The Commercial interest, the Agricultural interest, the Pastoral interest, and the Shipping interest; but has the Labouring interest been represented? A broad principle is supposed to underlie true representation, namely, that it should be based on population and not on wealth, and every liberal will affirm this to be a true principle. But what does this principle avail to the labourers of a country so long as circumstances bind them to the chariot wheels of Capital, and marshals them to the polling booths in its interest. So long as they have to look up to the " big man of the district," who will have sufficient influence to get them a Railway, a Bridge, or a Road so that they may have work.' and he increased wealth, increased value to his property, and therefore increased power over the very men who gave him his seat in Parliament. This indicates the vicious circle of political action at the present time, and one is inclined to ask, who has been benefited by this expenditure of public money? It is easy to estimate the advantages derived by the working man be he Navvy, Agricultural Labourer, Mechanic, or Merchant's Shopman. He has simply been allowed to live, and the remuneration he has received has not been determined on any principle of general utility, nor measured by the productiveness of the work he has been engaged on. Indeed it has been subject in a great measure to the will or caprice of the Contractor, the Landowner, or the Merchant who employed him. Each of those however has been benefited by the public work over and above living, and next year will probably seize a few thousand acres of the public estate, and push the Labourers further back into the ranks of servitude. I will here state what will be made clearer towards the close of this paper, that I have page 5 no quarrel with the Capitalist whose wealth is legitimately employed in the production of more wealth; that is in fashioning the natural products of the earth to the use of man. On the contrary. I propose to show that such a man no less than the Labourer, is robbed of what fairly belongs to him. But this in no way affects the truth now insisted on, that the Labourer from his necessitous circumstances is not only robbed, but frequently humiliated and degraded.

It is beside the question to point to a few of the more saving and industrious of the workers, who have been enabled after years of toil, and penury, to purchase a small piece of land and thereby secure their independence. This in the past has been very difficult of attainment, has been acheived by comparatively few of the people, and as population increases, the soil is increased in value by the labourers and thereby rendered more and more unattainable by them. For every yard of railway, for every mile of metalled roadway, for every bridge, and every house, and every hedge, which the toiling labourers rear on the soil, they rear at the same time a barrier to their own progress; because they are enriching the soil with a value far in excess of the paltry recompense they receive for their labour. The man's whole energies are taxed to make both ends meet, and while he is engaged in this sometimes hopeless task, the powerful grip of wealth is tightening on the ground whereon he stands. He is giving it a value for which his wages are no equivalent. With every succeeding day his labour has increased its price, and therefore raised it beyond his means; and when he is voting for the "big man of the district," who will get him some work during the winter, he is at the same time Inscribing a deed of enslavement for himself and family.

It is hardly necessary to enter into an elaborate argument to prove this, because it is self-evident that if a man can only subsist by applying his energies to the soil, and if that soil belongs to another, he lives at the mercy of that other—he is a serf, be he Englishman or Russian, and the rule which determines the reward for his services, is the rule that is applied to all slave labour, namely, the avarice and self interest of the Landowner.

But it may be said, this only applies to agricultural labourers or tenants. A civilized people does not live by bread alone. We are a commercial and manufacturing community. We have abundant natural products in this Colony, that will give employment to skilled labour for centuries to come. We have got to plant the germs of National life in all its varied forms. The comforts, conveniencies, and luxuries of civilization have to be extracted from our hills and valleys. Machinery and the power to use it must be brought to bear on our hidden treasures and fashion them into useful forms. We have got to build cities, to construct harbours and launch fleets on the seas. Population must be poured into the Colony-The hills must be levelled, and the rough places made plain before the advancing iron horse, whose hot breath must be felt in every corner of the country. New forms of industry will arise as population increase and the energies of the artisan the mechanic, and the labourer in every branch of industry, will demand a price that will yield comfort and independence to all. What is wanted is capital and population to develope the natural resources of the country.

This is the alluring picture, the deceitful mirage that is ever held up before the eyes of the working man. It represents a promised land that he never sets his foot in. In no country in the world, and at no period, can it be said that wages have advanced with the increase of capital and population. On the contrary, page 6 wages have ever tended to decline as wealth and population increased, and at the present time, the most wealthy and the most thickly populated countries of Europe are the countries where wages tend to a minimum. The progress of colonization illustrates the same truth. During the earlier period of settlement, wages are at the highest, but as wealth and population increase, the reward of labour declines. And this is not caused by the population increasing in greater ratio than the wealth. In nearly all cases the aggregate wealth would give a greater proportion to the individual than before. The cause of this anomaly is the most important problem which Society has got to solve, because it is the cause of ignorance, pov-verty and crime. To the labourer, the mechanic, the tradesman and the small farmer, it is of pressing importance. If the root of the social organism is diseased, the lower branches will soon be infected. The labourers of a country cannot sink into poverty without dragging the middle class down to a lower level. The struggle going on in Ireland confirms this, and should be an instructive warning to the people of this Colony. We are building up new institutions in a new country, and it is for us to see that we have full freedom, and that no one, or no class, be handicapped in the race for wealth. If we do that, we will find that this question demands our first consideration, namely, how it is that wages diminish in a growing community where the aggregate wealth advances faster than the population.

Political economists surveying thickly populated countries where industrial activity is most intense; where poverty reaches its lowest, and riches its highest point, have formulated two laws to account for the diminishing rate of wages. The first of these is, that wages are paid out of capital, and that therefore the rate of wages is determined by the number amongst whom the capital is divided. The second law is the complement to the first; It is that population tends to increase faster than the means of subsistence: in other words, the pressure of numbers on the wages-fund of a country is such as to keep wages down to the lowest point at which labourers can subsist.

It is unnecessary to allude to the almost universal acceptance of these doctrines by the most eminent minds of our age. Translated in terms of biological science, the principle is known as the survival of the fittest. It implies an enormous waste of human life, and was considered to be a complete explanation of the cause of poverty. It would appear however that a more careful analysis, and a fuller experience will considerably modify this doctrine. In a new work on political economy which I have had the good fortune to read, and which has been of considerable advantage to me in preparing this paper, these two laws are assailed with-great vigour of language and wealth of illustration. I allude to a work entitled "Progress and Poverty." an enquiry into the cause of Industrial Depressions, and of the cause of increased Want with increased Wealth. The author is Mr. Henry-George, once an American working man, now Professor of Political Economy in the University of San Francisco, and a perusal of it will convince the reader that Mr. George is not only learned, but is an intellectual athlete of the first order.

I cannot pretend to summarise the arguments used, but I may state shortly that Mr. George combats the doctrine that wages are paid out of capital. He a-firms that labour expended upon a natural agent renders that agent a marketable commodity, and in all cases the value is attached to the agent before the labour is paid for.

Suppose a man has £5000 and be wishes to build a ship. He employs a dozen carpenters who make the keel in a week, and at the weeks end he says them their page 7 wages His capital is now £5000 in cash less the amount paid for wages, but he has got the keel of a ship which is a marketable commodity of greater value than the wages paid out, consequently his capital has not been diminished by the payment of wages, it has been increased, and so in all cases. Labour is not limited by the wages fund of a country, it makes that fund, and every days work of the labourer has added new wealth to what already existed. Labourers hen are not rubbish in the path of progress. They are not the devourers of capital, they are the producers of capital, and the more labourers the more wealth.

The existence of man during geologic periods, shows, he contends, that if the law of population is operative, its progress must be very slow and an analogy drawn from nature will also show, that the lower the scale of being the greater the prolificness. The higher in the scale of being, the less fertile; in other words "the Law of Population is subordinate to the Law of Intellectual Development.

Failing then to find the cause of poverty in those two laws, he turns to examine the laws which govern the distribution of wealth, in order to find an answer to the problem.

Here I leave the debateable land, and enter on the solid ground on which all political economists take their stand, and the question now is, when wealth is produced, on what principle is it divided, and among whom is it divided?

There are three factors in the production of wealth, namely, the natural agent, the labour used, and the capital employed. The amount paid for the use of the natural agent is called rent. What goes for labour is termed wages, and what goes for capital is called interest. It is a question however, whether capital is a necesary element in production. I am aware it is a useful element, and will in a great measure determine the amount of production, but the earliest settlers on the globe started with their bare arms only and the soil on which to operate.

It is evident then that land, the natural agent, must be the prime factor in production and rent is the "price of a monopoly paid to an individual for the use of a natural agent, which he can neither produce nor increase." Land then being the prime factor, what determines the amount of the produce which goes for rent? What is the law of rent, and what causes it.

Rent according to "Ricardo" is "that portion of the produce of the earth which is paid to the landlord for the use of the original and indestructible powers of the soil." and is regulated by the difference in the productiveness of the land in use.—I will illustrate.

Here are three tracts of country indicating a decreasing fertility.

No. 1. yields 60 Bushels to acre.
No. 2. yields 40 Bushels to acre.
No. 3. yields 20 Bushels to acre.
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No, I. is the most fertile and we shall suppose that it is all sold and still land i required. In such a case what will be the rent asked for No. 1? The rent will be all the difference in the production between No. 1. and the best land for which no rent is paid; that is No. 2. in the diagram, or in other words the rent will be 20 bushels, or the value of 20 bushels.

But as population increases it will be found necessary to occupy No. 2. in the same way, and the "margin of cultivation" is accordingly pushed back to the poor land that is marked No. 3. Rent now commences on No. 2, and is determined by the difference in the production between it and No. 3, namely, 20 bushels, while the rent of No, 1. rises to 40 bushels.

It will thus be seen that as population advances on the less fertile soils, the reward of labour diminishes while rent increases. For the sake of clearness I will again state it thus:—

Here is a tract of country resting on the margin of a navagable river having a splendid harbour, majestic forests and fertile valleys. Beneath the surface nature has stored up in abundance the heavier elements of productive power. Coal, iron, copper and other minerals. Some 4 miles distant from the shore the hills stand close together and bear on their shoulders a beautiful lake, and the rays of the sun supplies it yearly with the power of millions of men. And all this tract of country with all its natural capabilities, is owned by one or a few men, As you proceed into the interior, and after passing the limits of ownership nature gets less generous the natural advantages get less and less, and at last you meet with absolute sterility. A few settlers begin to arrive, and the first has the choice whether to pay to the owner a certain sum for these natural advantages, or settle on the less productive land which lies beyond the line of ownership. If he accepts the former, he pays to the owner an amount equal to the difference of production between the productive and the less productive land. For the time being, and in order to adopt the language of political economists, I will call this less productive land the "margin of cultivation." It is the best land that is open to the labourer, without the payment of rent. It may be said that there is no inducement to settle on the more productive land if the whole difference of produce is given in rent. But there is. Man is a social animal; he enjoys many comforts, many conveniences, and the immense advantages of social intercourse for which his mind is continually craving, by living alongside of his fellow man. The next settler acts upon the same principle, and the next, and the next. Other things being equal, the social instinct keeps them together; population gradually increases; the first few huts give place to a village; trade and commerce take root in the soil, and the natural storerooms which lay hidden beneath the hills are broken into, and their untold wealth brought to light.

Our original proprietor we may suppose during these few years may have done nothing but smoked his pipe in a mud hut, or boosed in the village inn. The produce from his land is now enormously increased. What is the price he now asks? He just asks the same terms, the difference between the advantages his land offers, and that which can be obtained from the land for which no rent is paid. Still population increases; natural advantages combine with social enjoyment. The village gives place to the town, warehouses are built, docks are constructed and vessels are launched into them; manufactories are started, iron arms nerved by the power of steam, work ceaselessly in the mines, and throw the trea- page 9 sures to the surface; a productive power is drawn from the lake on the hills, and the electric current links the city with other portions of the world.

Land is now sold, or rather the monopoly is sold by inches. To line the surface with soverigns would not purchase it, and still our original proprietor is smoking his pipe, and enjoying his glass of beer, and still his terms are the same, namely, "All that part of the production which his land will give, over what the same application will get from the least productive land in use."

But population still keeps growing. It has now leaped the boundaries of the estate and occupied the less productive land. The vicious principle of private ownership has been extended to this land also. In the language of political economy the "margin of cultivation is lowered, "and now lies at very poor land.

What are our landlords terms now? It is the same principle but the terms are different. He now claims all the produce which his land gives above what can be had by similar application from the poor land, (No 3 in the diagram) that now forms the margin of cultivation. What is the result? Wages immediately fall, because wages are measured by the returns from the poorest land in use, that is the best land that can be had without the payment of rent. And the fall is felt through all the avenues of industry, because industry has been touched at the base of operations and the ill-requited labourers whose supplies have been curtailed, rush into other departments of labour, and in a short time the wages in those departments reach the level indicated by the now lowered margin of cultivation.

Our landlord has never yet taken that pipe out of his mouth, nevertheless he is now in possession of all the luxuries of civilization. He is now the "big man of the district." He has a "stake in the country," and is bound to be solicitous for its advancement. He owns vast tracks of land in various parts of the country. He controls the Legislature, and taxes property of All sorts to put a railway through his land. The working man—whom Tory Journals pat on the back and call the "practical man," not given to theorize—throws his hat in the air and shouts with delight when he is returned at the top of the poll, Young men keep silence in his presence, and old men stand up when he passes by. He has a castle in the country, and a marble mansion in town, but as Mr. George remarks, "there is an alms-house behind it," and there are men faint for want of work, and little children are crying in the street for want of bread.

The Law of Rent then is something for every man and woman to remember. It is the leading question in the political catechism, and has been stated thus. "The rent of land is determined by the excess of the produce over that which the sam application can secure from the least productive land in use."

It will be apparent that immediately this law is apprehended, the laws that govern wages and interest come into view. "If Tom, Dick, and Harry get an orange and Tom gets for his share All the juicy portion, it is easily seen what Dick and Harry gets. It will be noted that whenever wages are low, interest, the reward of capital is also low, and rent is high."

The law which regulates the reward of labour, the second factor in production, is the next question to be remembered. It has been stated thus. "Wages depend upon the margin of production, or upon the produce which labour can obtain at the highest point of natural productiveness open to it without the payment of rent."

When these laws are fairly recognised, the cause of poverty will be apparent, because it will be seen that the rate of wages is determined by what labour can page 10 produce at the margin of cultivation where land is of little or no value; and as population increases, and as new inventions are introduced into a country, this point descends to still less productive soils, and wages accordingly fall while rent proportionally rises.

Nor is this disproportion between the reward of labour and the claims of the land owner lessened by scientific discovery, or the use of labour-saving machinery. These but increase the evil, because greater production implies a greater demand and with every new discovery the margin of cultivation is liable to be lowered to a point of still greater sterility. Wages it is true may in some cases not fall, because the efficiency of the machine may compensate for the greater inferiority of the soil, but the whole increase of the production from land previously occupied will go to rent—the labourer will not be benefited—the inequality will be greater than before.

This explains how it is that rent tends to rise as wages tend to fall. It is unnecessary to fall back on the Malthusian law to account for poverty; that doctrine may or may not be true. If true, that truth will be made clearer by restatement and fuller exposition; if false, the sooner it dies the better. Of this I am certain, that in our system of distribution we have the efficient cause of poverty, and that with such a system neither prudential nor positive checks on the population would be of much avail. When Malthus propounded the law known by his name, the population was then pressing against the means of subsistence. Since then the productive power of machinery has increased a thousand fold, while population has not trebled, and still population is pressing against the means of subsistence and if the population was lowered to-morrow, the discoveries of science, new inventions and improved modes of production, would still cause a demand for land. The margin of cultivation would still be liable to be lowered, and wages would be measured by the returns from that lowered margin.

Let us presume the population to be stationary within certain limits, and that wages are fixed at what is known as the standard of comfort. Suppose a new invention is introduced that does the work of one sixth of the population, one of two things will take place: either one sixth of the population will be thrown out of employment and the production remain as before, or the production will be increased with the usual result. The labourer is not in a position to get his share in the increased production. Some at least are thrown out of work, the margin of cultivation would be lowered, rent would go up and wages remain as before, " because the new invention would take so much more out of the extended margin. The whole benefit would go to rent—the inequality must still exist."

Suppose the productive power of a country was doubled to-morrow, and this amounts to the same thing as if the population was lowered one half, the result would be the same, This illustration I shall give in Mr. George's own words. He says:—" In the very centres of our civilization to-day are want and suffering enough to make sick at heart whoever does not close his eyes and steel his nerves, Dare we turn to the Creator and ask him to relieve it. Suppose the prayer were heard and at the behest with which the universe sprang into being, there should glow in the sun a greater power, new virtue fill the air, fresh vigour the soil; that for every blade of grass that now grows two should spring up, and the seed that now increases fifty-fold should increase a hundred-fold! Would poverty be abated or want relieved? Manifestly no! whatever benefit would accrue would page 11 be but temporary. The new powers streaming through the Material Universe could only be utilized through land, and land being private property the class that now monopolize the bounty of the Creator, would monopolize all the new bounty. Land owners would alone be benefited; rents would increase, but wages would still tend to the starvation point."

It is not difficult to characterize a system such as this. Life is short and I for one have not time to search the vocabulary for polished modes of expression—I shall call it "robbery." We know that wealth is the reward of labour and labour-only, and the man that appropriates the results of anothers labour is not an honest man, and the system that allows him to do so however venerable it may be, or however "practical" as Tory newspapers call it, it is an unjust system and must come to an end. What are our duties then in regard to this subject. Does individual conduct illustrate what our social action should be? I think it does When an individual finds that he has been systematically robbed he does two things; first he takes means to prevent a repetition of the theft, and second, he endeavours to recover as much of the stolen property as possible.

If the property exists, and if it is within reach, justice no less than self-interest demands restitution, and every Honest man would render what assistance he could in bringing the culprit to book. But what would he think if he found a man ever endeavouring to dissuade him from such a course, one who was continually speaking of the difficulties of seizure, pointing out that a great part of his property was already gone; that it was now too late to secure the remainder against further depredation; that it would be very impolitic to do so because the pilferer-was rich and he might assist him in some other way; that it was all very well [unclear: au-] theory to lock his doors, but that under the present circumstances it was wholly "impracticable," and that the best thing he could do would be to give every facility for further robbery, and endeavour to get rid of his property as soon as possible-Would he not have very good reasons for suspecting such a man to be interested in the swindle? Would he not conclude that the man's moral sense was blunted, that he was not a man to be trusted, and that it would be wise in the future to avoid his company and despise his advice. Well, this is the language of our local press and indeed of the press in general when speaking of the nationalization of land. They do not attempt to say the principle is wrong; they cannot say that,. but they say it is a Utopian idea—a wild theory—a visionary scheme, and laugh complacently into the face of the landless man, expressing assurance that he has too good sense to harbour such impracticable notions, and picture what a miserable wretch he would be without the hope of a bit of land. It is to be hoped that the "landless man" will soon have too good sense to be laughed out of his birthright in this way.

To say that a thing is impracticable and beset with difficulties is a poor argument against the demands of justice. Tory notions of what is practicable will not weigh much against human rights, and the right of every man and woman to the use of the soil can never be abrogated, because it is inscribed on the same charter which gives them the right to exist. If then men are desirous to be relieved from want; if they wish to cultivate their higher faculties; if they wish to stand upright on the broad sides of the world and feel that dignity which only independence can give, they will throw their block vote at elections against the barbarous custom of selling for a few pieces of metal, a perpetual monopoly in the natural elements of wealth, and if a man or a newspaper declare their action to be page 12 impolitic or impracticable and begin to raise up difficulties, such an one must be told to step back from the ranks of honest men, and take his place as an aider and a better of a monstrous wrong. No Selling of land. No Monopoly in the natural elements of Wealth is the first principle to be fought for in the Re-presentation of Labour.

The next question is, how are we to deal with those who already hold a monopoly in natural agents? How is Society to enter into possession of the wealth which arises neither from the labour nor capital of the owner, but indirectly from the labour and capital expended by Society?

First we notice that this monopoly was never sold by the people. In all countries this wrong was committed by a section of the people for a section of the people. A title to exclusive property in land is not based on a natural right, but on an act of parliament, and an act of parliament can render it void. It is unnecessary to go to extreme measures however, even if we had the power. All that is required is to send round the Tax Collector. The taxation of land values—the confiscation of the whole of the increment of rent which population gives to land is the next point to be insisted on in the Representation of Labour.

The third object to be aimed at is the imposition of a progressive tax on all large estates—a tax increasing in power in proportion to the size of the estate—a tax that will not only make it unprofitable, but will make it a positive loss for a man to hold exclusive ownership in a large section of land. And the fourth point to be insisted on, is the setting apart a portion of the revenue arising from the taxation of land for the purpose of re-purchasing what has already been sold.'

These are the four main principles involved in the Representation of Labour. They not only interest labour properly so called, they interest the whole of the trading community as well, because their prosperity is increased by the producing and consuming power of the classes immediately below them.

It is useless to ask the "big man of the district" to represent these principles. It does not take an eloquent or a deeply learned man to advocate them in the parliament of the colony; because it is hopeless to convert landholders and land speculators by argument. All that is wanted is an honest man having an average share of common sense, and a determination to do what he can to carry out the principles at stake.

To say that this is a wild and visionary scheme notwithstanding the immense areas of land still held by the crown in this colony, is to draw a political herring of the rankest odour across the nose of labour. If it is a visionary scheme here, what must it be in old countries like England, where poverty and revolution are forcing the problem before the eyes of statesmen.

What does Mr. Gladstone say? Does he call it a visionary scheme? In his speech at West Calder, Midlothian, Nov, 27, 1879, he said:—" Now Gentleman to a proposal of that kind I am not going to object upon the ground that it would be inconsistent with the priviliges of landed proprietors. In my opinion if it is known to be for the welfare of the community at large, the Legislature is perfectly entitled to buy out the landed proprietors. * * * I freely own that compulsory expropriation is a thing which for an adequate public object is in itself admissible and so far sound in principle."

It wi11 be noted that the policy here advocated is in some respects similar to the page 13 land policy of Sir George Grey's Government, and one of the leading features of the Local Government Bill introduced by Sir George last year, was the setting apart of certain lands for communal purposes. It is a policy which gets the sanction of every eminent mind at the present day. It is the policy which the democratic spirit of the age is demanding in the name of justice in every corner of Europe. A new civilization born of liberty and independence follows in its train, and already on the political horizon may be seen the dawning glory of the coming splendour.

Are the people of this Colony who consider themselves the friends of progress to help perpetuate this monstrous wrong? Are we going to continue a system that not only robs the living but robs generations yet unborn? Are we going to place our children in the mire of poverty, and prepare a struggle for them in the future similar to that now engaged in by the people of Ireland? Are we to give them a liberal education and prepare them for the enjoyment of freedom, and then sell their right to the use of the earth to a few individuals? Have we felt the burden of life so little that we are willing to transmit an additional load to them? And can we expect that they will reach that moral and intellectual status which we profess so much to admire, when they are engage I in an arena like combatants of old in a life and death struggle against fearful odds? The path of progress is not so difficult to find as some suppose, it runs parallel with justice; and if we are to advance, and if our institutions are to have stability, we must advance on the lines of justice to all. Justice only can give permanence to our institutions, and justice requires that the natural elements of the globe shall be free to all,

The advantages accruing from State ownership of land are so enormous, that it is difficult to realise them. It is different from the ownership of Railways, Telegraph lines, or of property of any kind which is the product of labour; because such property is subject to deterioration, and consequently is ever requiring renewal. Land on the other hand is ever increasing in value. In old countries as in new, with every succeeding generation of men it is increasing at an enormous rate.

During the last 30 years the value of a building section in London rose in price from £40,000 to £83,000. The landlord who lived at the West End had only to recline in his easy-chair and complacently watch the process. Suburban property until recently has also rapidly advanced in price, and in the Colonies it increases sometimes twenty-fold in a few years.

In 1836 the land rents of England amounted to about £45,000,000, recently they had risen to £67,000,000; and what has caused the increase? Has the land-owners done anything to increase the value of the soil? They have done nothing; and yet they demand that an additional £22,000,000 shall annually be paid to them by the toilers of England, and this unrighteous demand has been so long complied with, that it is now popularly considered to be just.

The people of New Zealand will do well to mark the importance of these figures; because if we advance socially on our present lines, they point to the doom that awaits our posterity—a doom that is inevitable even if every man in the colony had now a farm of his own. If such were the case, it would be found here as in England, that the power of capital would soon diminish the number of farms, and increase the size of the estates; and at no distant date the evils of landlordism would again confront a poverty-stricken people.

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There is no escape from these evils but by making the state the landlord. Let "the Government act on behalf of the people, as trustees now act in the matter of private estates, and the whole of the increment of wealth which population gives to land would be thrown into the coffers of the state, and come back to the people in a perennial and ever increasing stream.

The impetus which would thus be given to every industrial process would be immense. Taxation in all its present forms could be dispensed with. The customs department might be abolished. Free trade would become a reality and not merely a name, and our open harbours welcome to our shores every product which nature had denied us.

Natural elements being free and wealth abundant and equitably apportioned, there would be no need of a protective tariff. The labourer would not clamour for a custom-house to block the path of commerce, because the increasing wealth in the hands of the State would offer ready employment and bounteous reward, and every foreign addition to his store would be welcomed as a luxury which his prosperous condition had brought to his table.

All civilizations in the past have been fostered wherever nature has been most prolific—where natural conditions enabled man to supply his wants with little effort and gave him leisure for reflection. The valley of the Ganges and the valley of the Nile are the most remarkable in this respect. Modern forms of productive power, such as steam and electricity, are natural forces operating in a similar direction. It is nature assisting the man, relieving him from the most exhausting forms of toil, and at the same time developing his intellectual faculties. In social conditions such as I have alluded to, what might we not expect from the intellectual activity which would accompany the general prosperity, New discoveries and new inventions in labour-saving machinery would be more than ever brought into the service of man. The lamp of science would pierce still further into the mysteries of nature, and her forces would minister to his wants, and lay her treasures at his feet in richer abundance, To a thoughtful man nothing gives larger promise for the future than a knowledge of the enormous forces of nature that play around him wild and untamed. They are his future slaves, and a rapid advance of intellectual power would hasten their conquest and lay them subject at his feet. Even the hurricane might be found to be a friend in disguise as the lightning has already been.

Nor would the moral effects be less. The creation of libraries, the erection of Schools, and the well paid and efficient schoolmaster, would all tend to elevate purify and enoble the mind. Ignorance is truly said to be the mother of crime, but not more so than poverty, and especially poverty in the midst of riches. Inequality in position invariably gives rise to a sense of injustice. We are here for a short time only; we have a lease oi the world for the few years we occupy it. Why then should the terms of lease be so different? Why should the struggle for existence be of such a terrible nature with the mass of mankind, as to call forth the worst passions of their nature; greed, envy, cunning, sharpness—business habits as it is so called—which frequently means untruthfulness, dishonesty, and often murder? In the midst of increasing wealth why should want smother the charitable promptings of the heart? In the midst of general abundance why should a man be induced by the pleading of his stomach or the destitution of his children to defraud his employer or steal from his neighbour, and this while the page 15 trouble of others consist in not knowing how to increase the rounds of their pleasure Inequality is the curse of the present age not only for the poor but also for the rich, and is thoroughly opposed to the christian spirit. M. Emile de Laveleye says "Christianity is a religion of equality; the gospel is the good news brought to the poor, and Christ is no friend to the rich. His immediate desciples and the religious orders that have attempted to follow strictly his teachings have lived on terms of equality. If Christanity were taught and understood in consonance with the spirit of its founder, the present social organisation would not last a day." And Emanuel Fichte says, "Christianity carries still in itself an undisputed power of renovation, until now it has only acted on individuals and indirectly by them on the State. But he who has recognised all the power of the doctrine of Christ either as a thinker or as a believer, will not doubt that one day it must become the internal organizing strength of the state, and then only shall it appear in all the depth of its principle and all the richness of its blessing."

There can be no morality without freedom. Liberty lies at the root of every conception of right conduct, and there can be no true liberty until the elements of nature are free to all. On this point Mr. Herbert Spencer remarks:—"Briefly reviewing the argument, we see that the right of each man to the use of the earth limited only by the like rights of his fellow men is immediately deducible from the law of equal freedom. We see that the maintenance of this right, necessarily forbids private property in land. We find lastly that the theory of the heir-ship of all men to the soil, is consistent with the highest civilization, and that however difficult it may be to embody that theory in fact, equity sternly commands it to be done;" and Mr. George says:—

"It is something grander than benevolence, something more august than charity—it is justice herself that demands of us to right this wrong—justice that will not be put off—justice that with the scales carries the sword. Shall we ward the stroke with liturgies and prayers; shall we avert the decrees of immutable law by raising churches, when hungry infants moan, and weary mothers weep?

Though it may take the language of prayer, it is blasphemy that attributes to the inscrutable decrees of Providence the suffering and brutishness that come of poverty; that turns with folded hands to the All-Father, and lays on him the responsibility for the want and crime of our great cities. We degrade the Everlasting; we slander the Just One. A merciful man would have better ordered the world. A just man would crush with his foot such an ulcerous anthill. It is not the Almighty, but we who are responsible for the vice and misery that fester amid our civilization. The Creator showers upon us his gifts—more than enough for all, but like swine scrambling for food we tread them in the mire—tread them in the mire while we tear and rend each other.

This is not merely a deduction of political economy, it is a fact of experience. We know it because we have seen it. Within our own time, under our very eyes, that Power which is above all, and in all, and through all; that Power of which the whole Universe is but the manifestation; that Power which make the all things and without which is not anything made that is made, has increased the bounty which men may enjoy as truly as though the fertility of nature had been increased.

Into the mind of one came the thought that harnessed steam for the services of mankind. To the inner ear of another was whispered the secret that compels the lightning to bear a message round the globe. In every direction have the laws of matter been revealed; in every department of industry have arisen arms of iron page 16 and fingers of steel, whose effects upon the production of wealth have been precisely the same as an increase in the fertility of nature. What has been the result? Simply that land owners get all the gain. The wonderful discoveries and inventions of our century have neither increased wages nor lightened toil. The effect has simply been to make the few rich, the many more helpless. * * * Can this state of things continue? Turn to history and on every page may be read the lesson that such wrong never goes unpunished. Nay the pillars of the State are trembling even now, and the very foundations of society begin to quiver with pent-up forces that glow underneath. * * * The fiat has gone forth, with steam and electricity and the new powers born of progress, forces have entered the world, that will either compel us to a higher plane, or overwhelm us as civilization after civilization have been overwhelmed before.* * * Between democratic ideas and the aristocratic adjustments of society there is an irreconcileable conflict. Here in the United States as there in Europe, it may be seen arising. We cannot go on permitting men to vote, and forcing them to tramp. We cannot go on educating boys and girls in our public schools, and then refuse them the right to earn an honest living. We cannot go on prating of the inalienable rights of men, and then denying their inalienable rights to the bounty of the Creator. Even now in the old bottles the new wine begins to ferment, and elemental forces gather for the strife.

"Sons of Labour! keep ye moving
Onward in the march of mind;
Every step your paths improving,
Leaving olden tracks behind.

Every soul-enslaving fetter,
Burst and break and cast away,
That the world may be the better,
For your needs some other day,

Be no longer led like cattle,
Custom-bound to feudal laws;
Glorious is the mental battle,
Waged in Freedom's sacred cause."