The Caldwell Imprint (Amarillo, Tex.), No. 2, Ed. 1 Wednesday, November 6, 1907 Page: 2 of 4
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TO METHODISTS SPECIALLY
And to The World Generally
A Message of Peace on Eartl)
And Good Will to Mer)
HENRY GEORGE TO N. Y. CHRISTIAN ADVOCATE
Prove Mc now sayeth the Lord of Hosts if I will not open you tke
windows of Heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not ho
room enough to receive it. Bible
I shall briefly state the fundamental principles of what we
who advocate it call the 'single tax. We propose to abolish all
taxes save one single tax levied on the value of land irrespective
of the value or the improvements in or on it.
' What we propose is not a tax on real estate for real estate
includes improvements. Nor is it a tax on land for we would
not tax all land but only land having a value irrespective of its
improvements and would tax that in proportion to that value. '
Our plan involves the imposition of no new tax since wc
already tax land values in taxing real estate. To carry it out we
have only to abolish all taxes save the tax on real estate and to
abolish all of that which now falls on buildings or improvements
leaving only that part of it which now falls on the value of the
bare land increasing that so as to take as nearly as may be the
the whole of economic rent or what is sometimes styled the "un-
earned increment of land values.'
That the value of the land alone would suffice to provide
all needed public revenues municipal county state and national
there is no doubt.
To show briefly why we urge this change let me treat ( 1 )
of its expendiency and (2) of its justice.
From the single tax we may expect these advantages:
1. It would dispense with a wr!ole army of tax gatherers and
other officials which present taxes require and place in the treasury
a much larger proportion of what is taken from the people while by
making government simpler and cheaper it would tend to make it
purer. It would get rid of taxes which necessarily promote fraud
perjury bribery and corruption which lead men into temptation
and tax what the nation can least afford to spare honesty and con-
science. Since land lies out-of-doors and cannot be removed and
its value is the most readily ascertained cf all values the tax to
which we would resort can be collected with the minimum of cost
and the least strain on public morals.
2. It would enormously increase the production of wealth
(a) By removal of the burdens that now weigh upon industry
and thrift. If we tax houses there will be fewer and poorer houses;
if we tax machinery there will be less machinery; if we tax trade
there will be less trade; if we tax capital there will be less capital; if
we tax savings there will be less savings. All the taxes therefore
that we should abolish are those that repress industry and lessen
wealth. But if we tax land values there will be no less land.
(b) On the contrary the taxation of land values has the effect
of making land more easily available by industry since it makes it
more difficult for owners of valuable land which they themselves do
not care to use to hold it idle for a larger future price. While the
abolition of taxes on labor and the products of labor would free the
active element of production the taking of land values by taxation
would free the passive element by destroying speculative land values
and preventing the holding out of use of land needed for use. If one
will but look around to-day and see the unused or but half-used land
the idle labor the unemployed or poorly employed capital he will
get some idea of how enormous would be the production of wealth
were all the forces of production free to engage.
(c) The taxation of the processes and products of labor on
one hand and the insufficient taxation of land values on the other
produce an unjust distribution of wealth which is building up in the
hands of a few fortunes more monstrous than the world has ever
before seen while the masses of our perple are steadily becoming
relatively poorer. These taxes necessarily fall on the poor more
heavily than the rich; by increasing prices.vthey necessitate a larger
capital in all businesses and consequently give an advantage to large
capitals; and they give and in some cases ave designed to give.special
advantages and monopolies to combinations and trusts. On the
other hand the insufficient taxation of lal'fl values enables men to
make large fortunes by land speculation and the increase in ground
values fortunes which do not represent any addition by them to the
general wealth of the community but merely the appropriation by
some of what the labor of others creates.
This unjust distribution of wealth develops on the one hand a
class idle and wasteful because they are too rich and on the other
hand a class idle and wasteful because they are too poor-'-it deprives
men of capital and opportunities which would make them more ef-
ficient producers. It thus greatly diminishes production.
(d) The unjust distribution which is giviug us the hundred-
fold "millionaire on the one side and the tramp and pauper on the
other generates thieves gamblers social parasites of all kinds and
requires large expenditure of money and energy in watchmen police-
men courts prisons and other means of defense and repression. It
kindles a greed of gain and a worship of wealth and produces a bit-
ter struggle for existence which fostors drunkedness. increases insan-
ity and causes men whose energies ought to be devoted to honest
production to spend their time and strength in cheating andgrabbiug
from each other. Besides the moral loss all this involves an enor-
mous economic loss which the single tax would save.
(e) The taxes we should abolish fall most heavily on the
poorer agricultural districts and would tend to drive population and
wealth from them to the great cities. The tax we would increase
would destroy that monopoly of land which is the great cause of that
distribution of population which is crowding the people too closely
together in some places aud scattering them too far apart in other
places. Families live on top of one another in cities because of the
enormous speculative prices at which vacant lots are held. In the
country they are scattered too far apart for social intercourse and
convenience because instead of each taking what land he can use
every one who can grabs all he can get in hope of profiting by its
increase of value and the next man must pass farther on. Thus we
have scores of families living under a single roof and other families
living in dugouts on the praries afar from neighborssome living too
close to each other for moral mental or physical health and others
too far seperated for the stimulating and refining influences of society.
The wastes in health in mental vigor and in unnecessary transpor-
tation result in great economic losses which the single tax would
Let us turn to the moral side and consider che question of
justice. 1 ' '
The right of property does not rest cn human laws; they
have often ignored and violated it. It rests on natural laws
that is to say the laws of God. It is clear and absolute and
every violation of it whether committed by a man or by a na-
tion is a violation of the command "Thou shalt not steal.' The
man who catches a fish grows an apple raises a calf builds a
house makes a coat paints a picture constructs a machine has
to any such thing an exclusive right of ownership which carries
with it the right to give sell or bequeathe that thing.
But who made the earth that any man can claim such
ownership of it or any part of it or the right to give sell or be-
queath it? Since the earth was not made by us but is only a
temporary dwelling-place on which one generation of men follows
another; since we find ourselves here are manifestly here with
equal permission of the Creator it is manifest that no one can have
any exclusive right of ownership in land and that the fights of all
men to land must be equal and inalienable. There must be an
exclusive right of possession of land for the man who uses it must
have secure possession of land in order to reap the products of his
labor. But his right of possession must be limited by the equal
right of all and should therefore be conditioned on the payment to
the community by the possessor of an equivalent ror any special
privilege thus accorded him.
When we tax houses crops money furniture capital or
wealth in any of its forms we take from individuals what rightfully
belongs to them. We violate the right of property and in the
name of the state commit robbery. But when we tax ground
values we take from individuals what does not belong to them
but belongs to the community and which cannot be left to indi-
viduals without the robbery of other individuals.
Think what the value of land is. It has no reference to the
cost of production as has the value of houses horses ships
clothes or other things produced by labor for land is not produced
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The Caldwell Imprint (Amarillo, Tex.), No. 2, Ed. 1 Wednesday, November 6, 1907, newspaper, November 6, 1907; Amarillo, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth288995/m1/2/: accessed June 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .