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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 56


page 15


Glory be to God in the Highest and on Earth Peace!

Nature gives us our own bodies and the surface of the earth. One is as necessary to existance as the other. Chattel slavery denies freedom of the body. Individual ownership of the land denies the freedom of the earth. The last is finally more destructive of human happiness than the first. All the infinite variety of things that men produce for themselves, whether potatoes or watch springs are, in the last analysis, the result, not of labor alone, but of the two factors labor and land; Labor exerted upon Land. (Capital is really labor, the stored tip results of labor.) Laborers and land owners must, therefore, divide all production between them; land owners taking one portion and laborers the remainder. When you observe that everywhere land values or rents are steadily rising, while wages and interest remain about the same, do you not see the meaning? The increased productive power of workingmen, that comes from increased population, division of labor steam power and the mighty inventions of this century, mostly increases rent, adds to the selling price of ground, while it adds little to the incomes of the workers. That is, land owners are taking an enormously increasing share. Land values in England during the past 400 years have increased very greatly. Agricultural lands perhaps fifty times, mineral lands much more, and mercantile lands, the lands of cities, more than one thousand times, while the inequalities of conditions are constantly growing wider. Can you not see the connection?

When it was known that the sandy lands of Florida would produce enormous crops of oranges, wages did not rise, but the bare unimproved land was soon selling at $20 to $40 or even $60 an acre. The vast oil wealth of western Pennsylvania that supplies the world, has not increased wages there or bettered the condition of the workmen, but that sterile mountain land in some places is sold at $3,000 or $4,000 an acre. Steam has added to the powers of workingmen everywhere enormously, yet, as in Florida and Pennsylvania, it increases mainly the share of the land owner. But when gold was discovered in California in 1848, the land there was not yet monopolized and wages rose to $20 a day for the lowest kind of labor. Land being a monopoly in the hands of private owners will for ever prevent the advancement of labor.

The land of the United States belongs to the whole people of the United States, and the rental value of it should be a common fund for the benefit of all. Rent when taken by individuals is in effect simply robbery. By properly taxing land, abolishing the heavy burden of all other taxes we get this great revenue, at the same time destroying speculative rent or land prices, thus opening up all unused lands, both in city and country, to the free access of all. Workingmen may thus employ themselves without being robbed by blackmailing landlords; and this ability to employ themselves will make wages always tend upward as they naturally should.

This philosophy comes in contact with fixed habits of thought; but oh! let us urge you brethren, to study the land question. Read George's Social Problems and Progress and Poverty, but commence by reading chapter 7 of "The Land Question." It is the great and coming question, and when The Knights of Labor unite upon this, the day of their deliverance is at hand, the jubilee trumpet shortly shall sound.

The Committee of 3135.