The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79
The object of this pamphlet is to show in a measure the evils of the Private Profit System, and the remedy that the Independent Labour Party may easily apply when the Party has a majority in Parliament. The limited progress made by mankind throughout the ages has been made in spite of cruel and prodigious waste, and the continual retarding influence of individual selfishness. In our daily intercourse we associate the payment of Rent with Land, Interest with the medium of exchange, and private profits with manufacture, trade and commerce.
Politically, we conclude that when the land, the medium of exchange, and the industries, are eventually owned by the State, the annual profits and benefits accruing therefrom, will belong to all the people for their use, pleasure and convenience in proportion to the total product and the population. So long as we permit the private ownership of the land, the money and the industries by a few people, we must be prepared to pay excessive rent, interest and private profits. The great masses of the people are beginning to understand page 2 that private ownership carries with it private profits, and that the scramble in acquiring surplus private profits for individual use is degrading, and lies at the root and core of "man's inhumanity to man."
We have had legislation intended to restrict the rate of interest charged, a Fair Rent Bill has been proposed, but not a word is said about the enormous volume of private profits taken from the people in connection with manufactures, trade and commerce. The reason is that the industrial and commercial fields are guarded with vigilance as a special preserve for the small employing class engaged in private enterprise. Under Private Enterprise every one so engaged is allowed to charge what the trade will permit. There is no restriction or definite check on the taking of profits. Our neighbours' necessity is the only limit to the imposition of this class of taxation. The charge of private profits is in reality a private tax, customary no doubt, but nevertheless it is a tax imposed by a few of the people on the many, without serious consideration on the one hand, or protest on the other. The ratio stands at about one taker of wealth for every ten makers of wealth. The miseries of the wide, wide world are caused mainly by this page 3 special unrestricted private taxing privilege in the form of Rent, Interest and Profits.
Under private enterprise all the profits are absorbed by the private owners. Under State or Municipal enterprise, the limited surplus profits are returned to the people.
Under Socialist enterprise, using a National medium of exchange, every penny of the profits would be saved for the enrichment of the whole of the people. Which do we want: No profits, some profits, or all the profits?
However, as the land, the medium of exchange and the industries are gradually nationalized, the taking of private rent, interest and profits will be reduced proportionately. The redeeming feature is that the masses of the people are coming rapidly to a realization of the fact that the control of the "means of life, liberty and happiness," by a few of the people for private and selfish purposes, is not in the best interests of either the people or the State, consequently, we unhesitatingly assert that this private control must be curtailed and finally abolished.