Confiscation An Outline
Those Palaces on the Nob Hills of these United States; are the toadstools of the decay that is going on in this Republic today. - Page 42.
The Emancipation Proclamation has only 718 words.
Lincoln's address at Gettysburg has only 266 Words.
The works of Thomas Paine were not only one of the important factors that brought success to the struggle for Independence, but they were also largely instrumental in the Declaration itself being made. And those works, what were they? - mere pamphlets.
Shakespeare, whose writings are said to be an education in themselves, can be had in a volume not twice the size of "Progress and Poverty."
Why, then, cannot a scheme of political economy, even when it is a radical departure from our present system, be sufficiently outlined for working purposes in a volume of this size, and also written so that it shall be intelligible to those to whom all such works should in a Republic be addressed; namely, the voter, who alone has the power to bring about the desired change?
The late Professor Tyndall was both an original investigator of natural phenomena and a teacher who could make his discoveries plain to the ordinary mind as he could to the scientist working in the same field as himself.
Discovering a truth in Nature or in political economies is work only half done if the discoverer wishes to make it known to those in whose interest he claims to be working.
Labor, iron labor, makes the scholar, says Emerson.
Labor, iron labor, gave Tyndall the faculty that, made him intelligible and interesting to the young, and the right to preside at a meeting of Humboldts.
But there is pride of intellect as well as pride of riches, and none shows this pride as do the writers on political economy who have made it the "dismal science," instead of having made it the A, B, C of our mental furniture, as it should be with the people of a republic.
Making a good use of our means in our home and business affairs is good economics.
Making a poor use of them is bad economics.
That is all there is to this word, whether it is our private affairs or those of the nation that are being considered.
If we live up to our laws, and yet want and privation exist while there is more than sufficient for all, then the fault must, be in those laws.
Making a scapegoat of the foreigner for those conditions because he will not buy our wheat, or use a metal that we have an overplus of, places us side by side with the witch-burner of old. We are just as ignorant in one way, as he was in another.
At his door who has been writing on this subject does the blame of this universal ignorance of it belong. He takes up this plain, simple subject, and becomes an intellectual aristocrat and a snob of exclusiveness from that time on, and, like the aristocrat of wealth, will have nothing further to do with the common people, cutting off all former connections by turning out a mass of intellectual mud that, only leisure and education can penetrate. And dear to him is the dignity of bulk, the dignity of paunch, using, as he does, twenty words where three would do better work. The living and the dead if his species are alike in this hunt for the "Absolutely Pure" to puff out their little dough.
Dissecting "Co-operation," the writer of Progress and Poverty must drag the poor remains through over 800 words - almost enough to bury the single tax theory itself. Co-operation means getting rid of the middleman. With organized labor it, means keeping out all whose admittance would cause a surplus of labor among those who have organized to prevent that as well as injustice by the employer. But what has become of that middleman and black-balled laborer? One is ruined and the other is a helpless chip that is drifting into - some State prison for forty years.
Co-operation is the savior of some, but the ruination of others, and her plea of justifiable homicide cannot be accepted while this earth has more than enough for her own.
Not a God-like wisdom, nor the assumption of it, is needed to either conceive a remedy for our present troubles, or to formulate laws for its application. Plain sense we most all have, let us use it, then, and we will have no further use for either the bookworm or the logic chopper.
Running a republic under the economic laws of a monarchy must of necessity result in producing the same conditions - great wealth for some and great poverty for the rest. This may be a government by the people, but it certainly is no longer a government for the people. Heretofore individual greed has had full swing in the United States, and naturally enough the ablest returned in possession of everything worth grabbing. And naturally enough, too, if a republic means a country owned by all its people, it cannot be a republic if it is owned by only a few. All the power of a country is bound to be in the hands of those who own it. If its wealth is in the hands of a few, its power is there with it. In the hands of a few it must be, if it would be a kingdom or empire. In the hands of all it must be, if it would be a republic. To insist on having the personal liberty that goes with a republic, and at the same time not to set a limit to the resources an individual can own, is a contradiction. A republic has economic laws that are essential to her existence. Any others mean her destruction. And it is utterly out of the question for any political party to improve the conditions of the people, while they use the present economic laws as the basis of their proposed legislation.
You must begin at the foundation. Individual greed should be made to respect the right of others to exist, and made to conform itself to laws that are as necessary to the life of a republic as is the ballot itself. The ballot, in fact, has lost its power. It is the key to a house we have lost possession of, and if we would regain possession and make the ballot something more than a mere symbol of a thing that is dead, we have no choice but to resort to the one process by which the resources of the country can be returned to its people, and the blight of poverty and pauperism that is settling down on the country and is becoming permanent can be removed - namely, confiscation.
Man, in the beginning, seeing annihilation staring him in the face, combined and gave us the Government of the Tribe; out of that developed the Despotic form; out of that developed the Constitutional Monarchy, out of which developed the Republic, the highest type of them all; and this work of development must ever go on, if we would not lapse into former conditions.
The founders of the republic could not have expected their work to so soon come to the Chinese halt that has overtaken it, until we now find ourselves floating on an ebbing sea back to the shores we thought we had forever left behind.
The founders of the republic met the needs of their hour, and expelled the foreigner. We have failed to meet the need of our hour in not discarding the economic laws that were of that foreigner's bringing; the economic laws of the monarchist and despotic forms of government, that is making this republic a republic only in name: the economic laws of the monarchist and despotic forms of government that has built up an aristocracy of wealth here as they have there, that must of necessity depend here for its existence as it does there, on the enslavement of the people. Do not let a mere word further deceive you. The word republic means a free people - we are slaves. For great revenue, be it of king or millionaire, has the same magician's wand - the overladen back of the enslaved toiler.
In the face of our boasted intelligence what an appalling sight does this country offer to the All-seeing Eye. An abundance of everything and people starving by the thousands. When our lawmakers in Washington learned that the death penalty was to be inflicted on those who were convicted of treason for trying to overthrow the established government in Hawaii, they said it must not be done, and busied themselves to save those people's lives. And during all their agitation to save these men who were to suffer a punishment that is meted out to such by all governments, thousands of their own people were perishing for the want of something to eat - not inhuman or hard-hearted, but simply do not see how they can prevent it. There is no law by which they can stop starvation. The legislator in a monarchy knows that poverty is inseparable from that form of government and are reconciled to it.
Our legislators are reconciled to the same conditions. They do not see the incongruity of conforming the legislation of a republic to the economic laws of a monarchy. They do not know what a government by the people and for the people means. If they did, they would know that there was something wrong when one man has $50,000,00 while another has not enough to get his shoes cobbled: and another has 50,000 acres of land, while others must be buried four in a grave.
And none of the political parties shows a way of escape out of this miserable state of affairs, as a brief review of their positions will show.
We once had the Free States and the Slave States, and these two terms were designative of two sections into which the country was then divided on the question of slavery. To-day we have "Free Coinage of Silver," "Protection," and "Free Trade." These three terms, Free Coinage of Silver, Protection, and Free Trade, are as truly designative of three different sections into which the country is divided to-day on economic or industrial questions as were the terms Free States and Slave States designative of two sections in the past. Thus the preponderating interest in one section is the mining of silver, and this interest is represented by the Populist Party, who demands the coinage of more Silver. The preponderating interest of the second section, or East, is manufactures, and is represented by the Republican Party, who demands protection. The preponderating interest of the third section, or South, is agriculture, and is represented by the Democratic Party, who demands free trade. This is substantially correct, although the Populists seem to be as strong in the agricultural South as in the silver-producing West. The Populist Party, indeed, originated among, the agriculturists of the South, and was the outgrowth of discontent among the farmers; and in saying that Populism has its stronghold in the West, or silver-producing section, we simply mean that the farmers' organization has been captured by the silver interest. They seem to think that their own prosperity is linked with that of the silver producers, and that the free coinage of silver means the salvation of both. With this political manoeuvering, however, we have nothing to do. There are three political parties in the field, each with the preponderating interest of some section in charge, which it is bound to see through regardless of the interests of the other two. The industrial rivalry that is going on throughout the whole world has entered these United States, and each of the three different sections are struggling to obtain legislation favorable to itself, with the same indifference to the interests of the others that is shown by France to England or by England to the United States. Even the naked savage has found that it is a good thing to have something to sell, and our agriculturists are brought into competition with territory the New World over where a plow or harvester was unknown ten years ago; instead of having a monopoly in the European markets, as was the case a few years ago, where they could dispose of their surplus, they are now compelled to feed it to their hogs, which, as a source of profit, ranks even now with the thing they are fed on.
But we are not depending on foreign markets for enough to eat and wear. Those things are here, not there. We may have lost the foreigner as a customer, but what prevents us from eating that which he refuses to buy. We look back a hundred or more years, and cry out in horror at the inhumanity of those then in power, in allowing human beings to be burned alive and living creatures to be torn to pieces on the rack. Those who will look back to these times will be no less astounded at the inhumanity and imbecility of those now in power in allowing starvation while food is actually rotting for the want of consumers. The question, then, is, can we not formulate a policy that will work harmoniously throughout the whole country for the benefit of all sections and every individual? Can we not find some way out of the swamp into which the masterful greed of a few and the dense stupidity of their legislative tools have mired us?
If we cannot, then let us submit, with the best grace possible to our masters who know how to lay on the lash when their dividends are at stake.
The resources of the United States have hardly been touched upon; but in less than a hundred years individual greed has done its work, and the people are bankrupt. They have been legislated out of everything, and the one function of our government, as at present conducted, is to see that this legislation is enforced. Yes, it is beyond the reach of contradiction that this government, that was founded in the interests of All, has degenerated into a merciless taskmaster, ever ready to beat into submission the slaves of the country, when their few owners give the word.
But this treatment should be expected. It goes with ownership. Give me the ownership of men, and all else goes with the title - how I shall clothe, feed, and lodge them, and how I shall keep them on the grind. Of course, the wise ones will say, Was it not our own chosen representatives who made all those laws that gave our resources and the people themselves over to the favored few, and must not we, the principals, grin and bear it, and live up to whatever contracts those representatives, our agents, made in our name?
It is not, however, how we were despoiled, but how we are to recover the plunder, that is interesting us just now. Is there a way out of the night of despair? is the question that should be met, and, if possible, answered. Finding a way out of a difficulty is one thing, however, and having the courage to take it is another. Modern surgery has discovered much, but without the courage to use the knife mankind would not have been the gainer. The prayer meeting has its uses, but those who expect to obtain political or industrial deliverance in that quarter can set out their rain-gauges and go there; but those who know the nature of the fellow who has been grabbing all in sight will make him let go in the old-time way by using a force superior to his own - a force that he will feel when it comes down, supposing the power to feel is left in him.
We have no hatred of the rich - nor love of the poor, for that matter. They are both fishers for gain, and one gets it, and the other don't; but his basket is just as large. But we are a lover of justice, and if one is too much for the other would handicap him, and thereby make the struggle for existence more even for both. The weakling, will always be a weakling, whatever laws are passed for his benefit, and the drudgery of the world will ever be his portion; from it he can never escape, but he is entitled to his life, and if the able denies him, what is necessary to it, then Justice must step in and take his part.
Volumes could be padded in showing how this can be done, but we can demonstrate in this brief work how poverty can be obliterated as a feature of our national life, and if it does not make justice more even-handed for all, and the people of this country as prosperous as any on earth, then the fault must be in the plan itself, and not in the resources which we possess, for of those we have enough to empty every poorhouse in the land, and eighty-five per cent. of the jails and penitentiaries.
Let our wrongs be righted without physical force, by all means. History, however, has no encouragement for such a hope. The contentions with those on top have ever been of the blood-red order. Power once obtained has never been surrendered only through conquest. The ballot should do much, and had it been in use in the past history might have had less of blood in it, as it should have less of it in the future. But the ballot for a long number of years has, like a great many stomachs of late, been working on wind - the wind of the Protectionist, the wind of the Free Trader, and the wind of the latest cure-all, the fellow who is hunting a market for his silver.
If something substantial to work on is not soon given to this man with the ballot, he will drop it - and then let the blame of it rest with the fools and rascals who have been deluding him so long.
The average man makes a better soldier than he does a voter. He can get the range of an object easier than he can comprehend an economic truth - this one, for instance: If the capitalists have obtained possession of the money issued in the past, what is to prevent them from getting possession of all that will be issued in the future? His answer will be to issue more. He has been told so by his political mentor. When the man with the ballot loses confidence in this mentor, he will start a game of his own, and then the jig will be up with that idiot. We use the word idiot advisedly here. When a tax was assessed against the incomes of the rich, this driveler would score a point gained in favor of the people. This claim of itself shows the institution to which he should be consigned.
Victoria, Empress and Queen, rules a country where, pauperism is steadily on the increase, and the potter's field received the bodies of eighty of her subjects that were frozen to death in London in four days of January last. Yet the rich have been paying an income tax in that country for generations past.
When the rich merchant, or rich anything else, insures what he is dealing in, he adds the cost of his policy to the thing he sells. The income tax is but another premium, and he tags that on where he pinned the other. The laborer has always paid the expenses of the rich, and always will. The laborer can never dictate terms to the rich. The labor leaders even have come to recognize the hopelessness of the unequal contest. The power of the rich to do as they like can never be destroyed while they are allowed to retain the riches that gives them this power. A readjustment and a limit set to the amount an individual can own is the only remedy. And the sooner that unassailable truth is recognized and acted upon, the sooner will you get rid of the lobbiest and the pauper.
We need more money per capita: say some more would-be leaders, who have found the only way out of the land of bondage. Increase the currency to $50 per capita, and business and prosperity will once more fill the land. Money has become scarcer, they continue, and therefore dearer. Those who contracted monetary obligations last week find that they are now paying more for the use of that money than it was worth when the debt was made.
This is a hardship on the borrower, and can be prevented by increasing the amount of money in circulation.
This is the very essence of what is claimed by those who are for increasing the volume of money in circulation. Money has changed in value, and those who are mortgaged, or otherwise under interest-paying obligations, have found that money is scarcer, in this instance through contraction of the currency, and therefore harder to get.
There should certainly be enough money issued for the smooth carrying on of the country's business, and when they determine the amount necessary, it should be put in circulation at once. But stopping money from fluctuating value is another thing.
The man who buys a barrel of flour one day for $4.00 may find that it is worth only $3.50 the day after. The man who borrows money at 7 per cent. one day may find it worth only 6 1/2 the day after.
To prevent these fluctuations in the value of either money or commodities is a legislative feat beyond the power of mortal man. And when we see our Legislator trying to regulate the value of anything that one man has to sell to another, are no longer surprised at his trying to regulate the weather by exploding powder in the air. Our Mark Twains and Bill Nyes are flat indeed, when compared to that straight-faced clown, the American legislator, who would give an unchangable value to either the shoes we wear or the money we use.
This whole question of currency has as little to do with the prevailing misery as the missing button off your vest would have to do with your being frozen to death. England not only has enough money to carry on her own business, but also has $15,000,000,000 to lend to outsiders. It is not the wealth of a country, but how it is distributed that tells the story.
The single taxers of whom Henry George is the great apostle, are also claiming the floor, but a patient hearing finds the distressed turning away for relief that the single taxer can not give. They are cultivating a century plant, and while we are waiting for it to bloom three generations of human beings will have met their millionaire masters and taken their place in the line that leads to the soup house and the pauper's grave.
The masterly logic of these reformers is the work of serene-tempered and well-fed men, whose cosy library with windows facing to the south, and the open fire-place with its soothing and cheerful glow, is conducive to the developing of a red-tape reform that must be an inspiring subject for discussion at an afternoon tea. Because they are well fed is the reason why they can play a waiting game, but the despairing and maddened people, for whose benefit this single tax contract, with its long deferred payment, is being drawn up, will have as little use for it as they will have for the plate-glass window when their bread riots begin.
The land owner alone is the one these one-horse-chaise reformers would start their Dobbin after. The large landowner should be cut down in his holdings, and their plan is just the one to fix him and make him let go. They will tax him in such a way that he cannot pay, and then they have got him, they tell us, as they leisurely jog along over their pleasant highway.
Now, why this dilly-dallying with the large land-owner, or any one else, that has something that he should surrender for the general good?
When the owning of 50,000 acres of land by one man is wrong, then it is wrong to let him own it, and if there was one drop of the John Brown blood in this crew of house-gown and plush-slipper reformers, they would go into the enemy's camp, and never let up on their open warfare until what belonged to the people was returned to them.
Taxing an enemy to make him give up his plunder!
When hunger and plenty is found side by side what solution can there be but to set a limit to what the overendowed can tag with his name, and to put his forfeited surplus where the underfed can, with reasonable labor, get possession of it.
If the single taxer is given plenty of time, he will accomplish something, undoubtedly, but the whole thing will be over long before poor old Dobbin gets on to the scene.
The millionaire land-owner and the millionaire capitalist are as much out of place in a republic as is the man with a title; and the laws which permitted the growth of the first two are the primary cause of the disgraceful conditions that exist in this Republic to-day. When we know that people in actual want are to be found in every section of the United States, we ought to be able to say that it is Nature that has failed us for the time being; but it is not Nature, but the wretched laws of man's own making that are at fault. Had we the economic laws that belong to a republic, instead of those that belong to a despotism, the foreign markets could be entirely closed to us, and all our people would still have enough of all things that are necessary to life. And those able men who have gone into the domain of natural philosophy, to see what they could find to advance and benefit the human race, have found so much, and brought about such a change in the industrial world, that they have completely bewildered our political philosophers, who have been utterly unable to make room for the labor-saving inventions and discoveries of those men, until the confusion and distress resulting from the incompetence of our political philosophers to adjust the laws to meet the changed conditions are beginning to make us look upon the inventors as our enemies, instead of our benefactors.
The work of the world consists principally in raising food and manufacturing the things we wear, and the forwarding of both to the consumer. And the great inventions of the McCormicks, Howes, Fultons, Stephensons, and rest have made this work so easy that the labor done in two months now is equivalent to the labor done in twelve months a few years ago. That is why they are great inventions. Yet our law-makers are still legislating for conditions that disappeared with the ox-goad, hand loom, lapstone, and sickle, and are continually trying to devise ways and means by which the labor of the country can be kept employed the year round. What doing? When they find out how to make you wear twenty pairs of shoes at a time, they will have found out how to keep the shoe factories running the year round, not before.
The natural philosopher can overcome physical difficulties; the political philosopher cannot overcome economic ones.
We would reside on a certain hill were it not for the climb. A Hallidie lays his cable, and puts us at the top without further trouble. We find Egypt cutting into our cotton market, Argentine into our wheat market, France and Germany have shut their doors against our meats, and England will not approve of silver. Many throughout this country find their very bread falling short through these conditions abroad, and the sufferers call in our political economists to help them to at least keep the necessaries of life within their reach.
Of the various nostrums prescribed by these political quacks, two have been thoroughly tried, but the aggravating results have only cut the eye-teeth of the humbugged; and when they take the field themselves as political economists they will have a preparation of their own that will be bitter enough to the taste of those to whom they will apply it.
What rainbow-chasers these McKinleys, Wilsons, and J. P. Joneses are! Do they not see this country with its limitless resources? Do they not see the surfeited millionaire, and the hungry laborer with his starving dependents? Do they not see that they must break down the one if they would build up the other? Do not these miserable bunglers see that this noble ship of the fathers is foundering because of her uneven load?
See the imbeciles rushing hither and thither in frantic despair! This, one with his wad of wool to stop a leak that does not exist; that one with his tears and kisses falling on the silver charm that hangs about his neck; this other at the masthead high shouting to foreign Shores for help we do not need.
Never did the black flag of a Caesar or a Napoleon III. bear down on a richer-laden prey than this helpless hulk and its jabbering crew.
Through Confiscation, and Confiscation alone, can we restore the conditions that are necessary to the life of the Republic.
Confiscation is a forbidding word. We associate it with the sheriff's writ, and with the idea of distress in some form, and with bloody war itself, its greatest field of operation. It is one of the few words in the vocabulary of Might. Without Might there would be no such word, and the weak have ever been the prey of both. But it is a plain word. As plain as are the conditions under which we are now living. There is no mistaking its meaning. And having the same momentous work ahead of us - of gaining our freedom, and throwing off the yoke of our latest master - as that which confronted the founders of the Republic, we cannot go to a nursery rhyme for a word to describe that work.
It is the way in which Might is to restore our lost liberties and resources that is of the gravest concern to all, and not the word used to describe the result of what Might shall do.
Justice is due. But how is it to arrive? By way of the ballot, or over the same bloodstained road in use before the ballot was discovered?
If the plundered and starving have lost faith in the ballot, and sheer want has brutalized them until they see no way but the brute's way of saving themselves, then place the horror of it all at the doors of incompetence and grasping greed where it belongs.
It is a plain word. As plain as are the conditions under which we are now living. As plain as is the wide-spread want and hunger that is in this land to-day, while there is more than enough for all.
And those who have gained possession of our resources are responsible for this hunger, and are enemies just as much as if they were invaders. Whatever progress external foes could make in landing on these shores would be only temporary, and not a blow could they strike, or a step make, without our knowing it. Not so the millionaire. His is the work of the thief in the night and we know nothing till his work is done. And then, because we would resort to the same process of recovery that we would in the case of any common enemy, we hold back, forsooth, because that process is called Confiscation.
Those whom we find to be inimical to the life of the republic will look upon an anarchist as a cooing dove compared to the man who would advocate Confiscation. They have nothing to fear from the anarchist, except a stray bomb now and then, for they know full well that the "plain" people will always stand between them and that wild-eyed dreamer of the impractical.
What those favored people think, however, does not interest us. What is of more concern to us, and to all others who have no doubt but what there is something wrong in the present scheme of things, is that the doctrine of Confiscation should be first understood before it is rejected. If it is found to conflict with law and order; if it is found to obstruct in any way the material welfare necessary to any man, woman, or child in the United States; if if takes from any man, woman, or child in these United States a solitary privilege or right that is essential to their well being; if it makes one more tramp, convict, or outcast of the street; if it fills one more pauper's bed or potter's grave, then our Search is not ended, for it is only another delusion, and of them we have more than enough already.
If, on the other hand, it does away with hunger and rags in a land of plenty. Does away with the cause of ignorance, namely poverty. Does away with the cause of eighty-five per cent. of crime, namely, poverty. Does away with the cause of strikes and rioting, namely, poverty. Destroys the power of one man to bribe one or fifty, and with his thumb at his nose defies the law to reach him. Makes robbery of the people by way of the lobby a thing of the past, and makes unnecessary a third house for the investigation of the other two, a stage we have already reached. Does away with the millionaire and his charity - the beggar and his need of it. Gives the conditions which makes individual and national improvement possible, and securing every such national improvement by making all the people its willing defenders, which they are far from being now in their hunger and wretchedness. Makes employment easy to obtain, with just wages in return for the labor done, putting within the reach of all, those comforts and luxuries, which, in this age of the world with its skill for quick and easy production, should be looked upon as a matter of course, but which in fact are unknown to a large part of the working people of the country.
If Confiscation, then, can do all this, why should it not be made to supersede all other policies that have been tried, and all those that are now courting public favor, but which, like the rest are based upon unrepublican economic laws, and must end, therefore, like the rest, in failure and disappointment?
With our resources restored to the people, which can be done only through Confiscation, prosperity would diffuse itself throughout the country as easily as the sun scatters its light.
We will now outline, as briefly as we may, what will be the effects of Confiscation, and what Confiscation means. It means the limiting of every individual fortune in the United States to $100,000.
And the excess of every fortune now exceeding that amount to be confiscated and turned into the public treasury. No exceptions to be made as to persons or the thing owned. Money, land, buildings, bonds, stocks, everything - wherever an excess is found, confiscate.
The anarchist! It is justice and the intelligence of the people that these new tyrants dread. The equity of this reform should be evident to every one who knows that this government was originally established for the good of all. And the time has now come when the work commenced in 1776 should be again resumed, and our latest masters got rid of some way or other.
But, it will be asked, will not a fifty times millionaire give employment to as many men as will 500 men with $100,000 each. No. Not even if madam and himself are at home from toadying up and down through Europe in search of a princeling. (Stop this fad of the spoiled darlings of fortune and you stop a leak through which over $1,000,000,000 of American money has already disappeared. We will sustain this with facts in its proper place.) One million dollars divided among ten men will do ten times more good than if owned by one man. One million dollars owned by one man is like one million acres owned by one man. He will certainly make some kind of use of his acres, but the very best he can do will be as nothing compared to the use a thousand men or more can make of them. It is the same with a million of money. And an enterprise calling for one million dollars of capital can be carried on just as well if that capital is owned by fifty men, as it could if it is owned by one man. We will have more to say on this point before we are done.
The American millionaire has also the power to squander outside of our own territory that which is much needed in his country. And the thousands in money which he sends to Europe for something to hang on his walls would pay for a much needed improvement in some city or town in the country where the money was made.
The American millionaire is a detriment to his own country any way you take him, although a great many people are thoughtless enough to say that we cannot get along without the millionaire. The capital which he controls will be still here after he is legislated out of office, just as it is when Father Time gathers him in.
He not only injures our country by taking its capital away, but he checks development by tying up the resources which he has got title to. He incloses thousands of acres for a few deer or some such to browse in when the whole should be thrown open, and those in need of homes allowed to settle it. There can be no doubt but what this is a great waste of land when we remember how rapidly those reservations were settled when they were thrown open within the last few years. Those large inclosures may or may not contain land suitable for those in need of homes, but a look through the foothills and mountains of California will show that homes can be made among the rocks and canyons even - when people are forced to it. And it is this power of millionaire to compel us to takes his refuse that we have to do with here, and not with the quality of the land in his game preserves. Strip him of this power and you make the "decoration for his wall." the "deer park," and the "princeling" impossible, and the people will once more have come into their own. Let him retain it and he will soon drive us to beat the bush for game that he himself will bag, as he has already bagged the wealth we produced. Let him retain it, and his sixty miles of fencing may or may not inclose worthless land, but it will not be the land, but the idea represented by the deer inside, that will set us to thinking of the aristocratic parasite and of the pauperism and slavery that is a part of his belongings where-ever he is found. Let him retain it a little while longer, and the soldier, who is steadily working his way on to the scene, will be here, and then the power to help ourselves will be gone, for the grip will be at our throats.
Those who are watching the mighty drama that is slowly unfolding itself on the world's stage of to-day, saw during the strike of last summer with what astounding ease a great people can be subjugated by a few disciplined men. And we no longer labor under the mistake of thinking that because they are our own people they will not shoot to kill. Put your brother - aye, your son - into a uniform, and he needs but the word to snuff you out as quick as he would a red handed Apache. He has been drilled to believe that he himself would be snuffed out if he disobeyed. And this result of disobedience is ever present with the man in uniform, and has been engraved into his very soul, for his only God is the drum-head court-martial. This is the creature that has made the aristocratic parasite a fixture in Europe, and he is all that is needed to make the same curse a fixture in our own country, and every attempt to increase his number should be resisted with all the means in our power, until the plunder he is wanted to guard shall have found its way back to its rightful owners.
We will now show how the principle of Confiscation should work in the case of railroads. This class of property, by the way, should never have been given over to private ownership to begin with. They are for the convenience of the public, just as much as any harbor or navigation ever was. And if it was right that the founders of the Republic should, in the interests of the country's commerce, deny the right of private ownership in our navigable waters, then it was wrong to concede the right of private ownership in railroads. As for the capital to build them with, it was just as easy to get it for that purpose as it was to get capital to dredge harbors, build lighthouses, build forts or the Stanford University. The first railroad, or even the twentieth, never suggested to the leaders of those times any idea of what this rival of the winds and tides would develop into in a few short years. Individual greed has so little time, to spare from the building of its own nest that politics in the United States, where the common good should be the aim of all legislation, has become a hand-to-mouth affair, and the morrow must shift for itself. Busy hunting for spoil, like our own incompetents of to-day, the legislators of the past cared nothing for the morrow; and, without knowing what they were doing really, surrendered a principle to the railroad projectors that was but a spark at the time, but which has spread until we find the blaze devouring us to-day. The statecraft that never found time to look beyond the ringing of the curfew bells would have starved to death had it to compete with those who were then working the lobby, while it was splitting hairs over the Constitution and accepting the "stuff" that would do it "the most good." No class of property shows the justice, and therefore the need, of Confiscation as much as railroads. No class of property has done as much toward absorbing and transferring the whole country into the hands of a comparatively few men as railroads. But when Confiscation gets through with these monarchs of all they survey, the town or section through which these railroads run will not find themselves like a sucked orange by the wayside.
Taking the Southern Pacific Railroad, we find that it runs through Madera County, California, but it is doubtful if ten cents worth of its securities are owned there. Madera County, then, has property within her borders that earns an income, not one cent of which goes to the county where it was earned. The property is there, but the income from it is taken elsewhere. This is the one great flaw in our present economic life, and is the very root of our present troubles.
The income from property is taken from the locality where it was earned. And the farmer's wagon sinks to the hubs for want of money to build good roads. And the laborer is robbed of the income that his labor earned, and he sinks his manhood at the soup-house door. We repeat it: The great defect in our economic life is the taking of the income from the locality where it was earned, and from the laborer, the source of of it all. This does not mean that the laborer must spend his income or wages where it was made. It does not mean that the income from property must be spent in the particular locality where the property is located. It does not mean, in short, that there shall be any restrictions placed upon the individual in any way outside of limiting him to the ownership of $100,000. With that he can do as he likes, and go where he likes - title-hunting if he wishes, when he will be sure to find many bargains, for it is our impression that there will be a slump in that market when the American millionaire is no longer found among the bidders.
To the United States Government must be left the winding up of the affairs of the railroads, and all other paper-represented property, as it is obvious that she can do it much better than the many States of which the country is composed; and the before mentioned excess shall then be turned over to the different counties where the railroads are located, each county to receive in proportion to the value of the railroad property within her limits, and not according to the number of miles.
President Huntington does not own all the stocks and bonds of the Southern Pacific, but for illustration sake we will assume that he does. Is it not plain then that Confiscation, when it gets through with this railroad owner, will have made the counties where it is located its owners, both of the property itself and the income which it earns? Is this Government ownership of railroads? That term as now understood means buying the railroad, and it is the millionaire we are trying to get rid of, but he is still here if you take his railroads and give him something better. We have already said that private ownership should not have been allowed, and we would now confiscate them without any reservation whatever if it were not for the thousands of small investors in their securities and as these small investors must not be injured, we are compelled to leave the railroads in the hands of private owners, as buying out even these small owners would cause a national debt such as we had better steer clear of. But it is not essential to the welfare of the people that the Government should own the railroads. The point we wish to bring out is, that the wealth and resources of the country has found lodgment in a few hands, whereas it should be scattered among all the people, and as long as they are getting the benefit it will matter little to them whether they own it in their Governmental capacity or as individuals, and the counties even are not to hold on to the forfeited excess, but must dispose of it as fast as the people are able to buy.
But Huntington not owning all the securities of the railroad of which he is president, we send for persons and papers and confiscate as fast as the excess turns up, and distribute as described above. "Oh my! Oh my!" comes a voice from out of the woods. "Is not this robbery?" No; nor armed revolution either, but a peaceable solution of the question. Who owns this earth anyway?
When persons and papers are sent for, and one of the interrogated is found to possess, say, $100,000 in money and securities, $100,000 of real estate, and $100,000 of other good things the right of choice Should be given him as to the $100,000 he wishes to retain. For the limiting of every individual fortune to $100,000 does not mean $100,000 of one kind of property and $100,000 of another kind, etc., but $100,000 all told.
Those of our own country are, of course, amenable to our laws, but many of the securities of the road under consideration are owned abroad, and persons and papers there are not responsive to our subpoenas. If it brings disaster to a country to lose income made there, are we not close to one of the causes of the wretched want that is confined to no section of this land as we draw nearer to the man abroad, who is fattening from income that is drawn from all over this country?
Repudiation is unnecessary here. Simply stop the interest on all American securities owned out of the country.
This we have a perfect right to do, and when it is done the foreign holders will be on their way here as fast as the first ship can take them. The despised steerage and all will be full of him.
Here we are once more obliged to use a word that is as hateful to us as it must be to every one who has probed the wounds of this bleeding country in the hope of finding their cause. And probe where we will, and how we will, it is Bonds; always Bonds - the interest bearing bonds. And standing around are the hyena millionaires, from far and near, lapping their income from the dying form whose first breath was the immortal Declaration.
Gas Bonds, Water Bonds, Sugar Bonds, Flour Bonds, Telegraph Bonds, Railroad Bonds, Bonds, Bonds, Bonds.
School District Bonds, Road Bonds, Municipal Bonds, County Bonds, State Bonds, and United States Bonds - chief offender among them all, whose issue is left to the sweet will of one man - the political freak now in the White House.
 The railroad, of course, pays taxes to the county, but it would have to pay taxes even if it had no income.
- (V. editor)
But we always get the money when the foreigner gets the bonds. That is a lie. Here is some sample evidence of it.
When our parasite hears of another large jewel reaching London from the African mines, he says he must have it for madam's tiara, and taking a small matter of $500,000 or so of securities, he goes over, and when we next see him the securities are gone. But has he money in their place? None whatever. Madam's tiara is safe, but this country is not one cent of money the richer by the transaction.
And when it is time for a husband for Miss Parasite, the two old birds start over with bulging grip to get a mate for the sweet damsel - for she is sweet, as they all are, bless them, whether they belong to the millionaire's brood or to the laborer's - and it freezes our blood when we think of what is sure to happen if the dread machine gets to work here as it did over the way - to get, we say, a mate for the damsel, and when he is found there must be money down and this money is obtained in exchange for the bonds, and remains in the same country where the bonds and titles are.
This has been a losing transaction all round, for, alas, the dear one herself goes over in a few days, and when we next hear of her she will be calling on her big brother to go and thrash the whelp that our money purchased.
It does not look like business to make purchases abroad with income producing property. But when they buy, say $50,000,000 of government bonds at a clip, as did the late Wm. H. Vanderbilt, they turn the interest as fast as it comes in into more income producers, and this leaves their cash-till comparatively empty, so that when they need money quick, for there is much competition among this gentry, as in the case of a big jewel or a princeling, they have no option but to be up and away, and our securities being pie to them over there they grab a lot, and then the rush begins.
Nevertheless there must not be the semblance of injustice done to these foreign investors in our securities when they arrive here to make terms. We have the right to stop the interest, but the securities themselves we must redeem. But redeeming them all at once in gold being out of the question, and as that is the only kind of coin that is now acceptable to the foreigners, they must either wait until we get enough of gold, or until they think better of silver, and are willing to take that metal in part payment, and in the meantime while they are making up their mind, about it they must accept the best we are able to give them, namely non-interest bearing bonds.
It is against the grain to bring the unsavory Bond on to the boards again. But looking at him closely, as he now appears, You will notice that he is well broken and as we have no better we must use him to bring in the rest of the untamed band to which he once belonged. Neither should our visitors complain about this form of payment. If all of our obligations from abroad were paid in coin, assuming that we had enough, it would fill Europe with idle money, and as we have always been a good customer, and always prompt in our payments, they should be reasonable, and admit that it is no worse to have idle bonds than it is to have idle money, so long as final payment is assured. Neither should they expect, par value for what did not, in many cases, cost them fifty cents on the dollar. We will pay them market value no more. And do not imagine that these people have been kept waiting very long to find out these terms. For so positive are these leeches, here and elsewhere, of being able to maintain their hold that those we have just finished with will not make a move to come here until the New Bill of Human Rights has become the law of the land.
And this foreigner whom we are done with, so far as his power to injure us goes, is the counterpart of our own millionaire, and the scowl with which he leaves these shores means another crunch of the iron heel on the necks of his own slaves, and it is only the magnitude of the work that is before us, which none but the blind will deny, in the subduing of our own masters, that makes it a sad necessity to refuse aid to the oppressed the world over. One thing is certain however: whether Bunker Hill led to the fall of the Bastile or not, the liberation of the slave in the New World will show way to his liberation in the Old, and in this way do we render him a service, even if we cannot see our way to help him in any other.
The foregoing should make plain how the principle of Confiscation will work in the case of railroads, and all other paper-represented property that can be, and is, owned elsewhere than where the property itself is found.
And there is no need of interfering with or changing any of the functions of the different branches of our Government in order to make Confiscation a part of our organic law any more than there would be to increase the duty on imported wool and to collect it. The machineries of the law making, judicial, and executive branches of our Government, are sufficient for any calls that Confiscation can make on them. Any other construction that may be put on what has been said heretofore or may be said hereafter, is all error. If insisted on, what then? Have we run up against the impassable? It is sufficient to say that what is ours is ours to change when the need is evident, and the Constitution itself is not, an exception to the truth of this.
The laws regulating the rising and the setting of the sun are not of our creating, and we cannot hasten or retard its coming and going one iota of time, and we do not live in the age when it could be done.
But the Constitution is a man-made thing, and when growth has made it a straight jacket then the time for ripping has come.
Once more resuming our pursuit of the millionaire whom we have dispossessed of his railroad plunder, we find the chase taking us into town, where Confiscation will find many problems which it alone can solve - where it will find his sixteen story building, for his hours of plotting, and his suburban palace for his hours of ease, and the hiving humanity between over whom he had to walk to reach either. Those palaces on the Nob hills of these United States are the toadstools of the decay that is going on in this Republic to-day.
The master crime of all ages was the building of those pyramids on the Egyptian sands, for they were useless, but the whim and the slaves and the lash of power were there, and the pyramids went up.
Let us see to it that the power of our pyramid builders is destroyed before it gets beyond five million dollar palaces.
When we apply the principle of Confiscation to the millionaire merchant and turn his excess into the public treasury, it will be no more destructive of the business of which he has had all the profits than it was of the railroads. There will be more business done in the same line than ever, but more will be doing it, and consequently more will share in the profits. But if our object is to break up these fabulous fortunes, which mean certain death to our liberties, and whose blight has paralyzed progress and development, there should be no reason why we should not allow the present owners to take a hand in the breaking up. If the merchant, or other millionaire, would rather divide his millions among his relatives (barring his wife and minors) and friends, than to resign it over to the public treasury, let him do so. Our aim will be attained whichever happens, which is simply to bring about a better distribution of the wealth of this country, and we know of no way of making this even distribution that will compare with Confiscation. Socialism, in all its forms, means the surrendering of individual liberty, and is a retrograde movement, and the outcome of it can be nothing more or less than despotism of the very worst kind.
Socialism enlarges the power of one individual over another. This is incompatible with the liberty that goes with a republic. Confiscation says, $100,000 is enough. When you are found with more, it will be considered as proof that you have been taking an unfair advantage of some one, and the surplus makes you dangerous to the welfare of a republic, and is therefore forfeited. There will be nothing more disagreeable, so far as the right of the individual goes, in the enforcing of this proposed law than there is in the collection of taxes on incomes. Cutting a fortune down to the $100,000 limit may be considered a very disagreeable thing indeed, but when we are reminded that it is all done for the common good, we become reconciled at once, for we feel in our heart of hearts that the altar at which we can cheerfully make whatever sacrifices we are called upon to make, is the altar of our brother's welfare.
The millionaire merchant will doubtless take advantage of his right to divide his business among his relatives and friends. Naturally they would give him the management, but the instinct to be master is strong within us all, and this would soon break up and scatter that dangerous accumulation. Then there would be more Market streets and Broadways. Every dollar of business that would be taken from the one or two principal thoroughfares, which is all that is now found in any of the cities, would mean an increase of value in the property of the street where this transfer business is carried on. And this increase in the value of city property would continue on out to the city's limits; and the limits themselves would be extended further out to find room for habitable homes for the human beings that are supposed to live in the tenements. There can be no question but what merchandising would spread itself more over the cities if this limited ownership of capital was in force; and this spreading out will give employment to all in bringing about the change; and prosperity, such as goes with plenty of work, will take the place of the wretched misery and want that now fill all the soup-house infected cities of the country. There will be no impairment in the value or need of the big "dailies" that are published in these centres of population. They will simply be owned by more people and read by more, and the improvement in the times being of a stable and permanent character their circulation will be free from the rise and fall with which they are now only to well acquainted, and the cheap-John business into which so many have gone, in the last few years, wheedling the ten cents and the dollars out of the child-like poor for worthless truck, can be thrown into the waste basket with the last offer of money for a Wall Street editorial. It is a mistake, by the way, to think we are a nation of readers. Man is an interesting animal where-ever found, the desire to know what he has done and is doing is strong in us all, but even the little county paper is beyond the reach of many. The writer, who is a common toiler like the rest, finds the moving world a sealed book to him, for he cannot spare the needed dollar, and live. And those editors who will fiercely rend and tear, with all the power of their trained brains and skilled pens, at this vital need of our times may live to see the day when they too will believe this world is round, and that calling the original believers fools, thieves, scoundrels, rascals, and enemies to civilization was a repetition of an old mistake. It will be the day when they can be our guides, philosophers, and friends without the itching palm stuck out behind. It will be the day when we can accept, without doubt or a curl of the lip, the admonition. from the sixteen stories of steel, because we will then know, that the conscience of the man within is not itself all awry.
To whatever cause the existing rot is chargeable the editor, at least of all others, had the power to stop or check it, and failure to meet this great responsibility shows that the strut of this great personage is assumed, and that, like the rest, his necessities have been used by the master to bend and break him till he no longer dare call his soul his own.
We can expect the screech of this helpless tool to fill the land as his desperate master nags him on in the revolution that is coming.
The mammoth hotel where the parasite of greater or lesser degree sojourns, where the popping corks of the costly imported champagne is heard, can still be a hotel, but the profits of its millions of invested capital must no longer he taken away by one or two men and it therefore must have many more owners than it has now. It, too, must go to the people, if its millionaire owner can find no more relations to share with and begins to suspect his "friends" of having had a hand in bringing about the upheaval. And if the "plain" people never expect to enjoy the material results of the inventive wit of man as they are focused within its luxurious interior, they at least have some reason for being satisfied when they know that the profits will stay where they were made and help those who made them. This reference to hotels brings to mind a corroborative fact that proves the charge we make when we say that all these colossal fortunes are nothing more than the accumulations of able rascality of some form or other: bilking, cornering, lobbying, watering stock, or charging all the traffic will bear.
The Palace Hotel in San Francisco was built by a speculator and floater of mining shares, and cost millions that he cashed in, after cleaning out the simple minded laborer and servant girl, whom he deluded, with all the art known to his tribe, into believing that there was still more for their rainy day if they would only invest the little they already had.
The law makes a felon of the rascal with the bogus gold brick, but that clumsy worker in the field of robbery does not get the returns which the scienced work of his brother professional brings in; therefore, when outraged law gives this petty malefactor the knock-out blow, the satisfied spectators, chattering about the majesty of something, depart and the curtain is rung down on another exhibition of what the American people are said to like - namely, humbug. Let us say in passing, that the American does not like humbug. Take the average of him as he is found in the little world in which the routine work of his life is done and you will find him alert and close enough to deal with, and that in all things in which he has his experience to rely on humbug (swindling) is practically impossible. But when he gets outside of that experience, then, like the experienced traveler, he patiently submits to imposition when resistance might mean a loss greater than the original. But even the traveler must have enough to continue on with, and when imposition reaches that stage resistance begins. So it will be with the man who is said to like humbug (robbery), when he finds humbug (slavery) closing in on him. He too will resist. He did before and the rightful owners gained possession, as this same man, who is said to like humbug, will again recover possession of what is being so stealthily taken from him.
When outraged law is asked to administer justice to the scoundrel who has deluded thousands into buying worthless mining shares or some such swindling bait, the victims are told that the whole swindle has been legitimized by the great seal of the state, and that their loss is the profits of a business conducted by a licensed trader.
The man with the bogus gold brick goes to jail. The man with the bogus gold mine goes free.
Why this difference when the principle in the two crimes is the same? Is it because the millionaire swindler has, in fact, been given rights under the law that is denied to the smaller fry? Or is it because the larger bird of prey makes enough to go all around? Certain it is, however, that Labor in its contests with Capital never got a decision in its favor yet - in time to be of any service.
These wholesalers found the concubining of justice herself a necessity to the success of their rascalities and the delays and decisions of this harlot are but the echoes of her paramour's orders. And at no time does the debasement of this whited sepulchre display itself more than when the miserable and friendless criminal whose crime is, assuredly, nothing more than the natural and to be expected outcome of the wrong and inexcusable crime developing conditions under which he is compelled to live, is at her altar for Justice, which She renders in ringing tones such as are never heard when Her paramour or his hirelings are before Her.
When Labor does finally get a decision it is as worthless to it as is its pass-book on the gutted savings bank.
Make the millionaire an extinct species, and the above assertion will not have logic to sustain it, and our courts will not be making terrible "examples" of the friendless, while the thief who ruins thousands is allowed to go free.
There must be a radical change made in our laws if we ever expect to stop the sharks from preying on us. Our laws, like a hole in a fence, makes access easy, and the endless raids will never cease until the holes are stopped up. Constant watching, even with the light from former experiences, will all count for nothing while those holes and breaks are left open. The persistent work of the crew of sharpers that has the Nicaragua canal steal in tow shows this necessity for a change in the economic laws of the country. Duplicating the scheme by which the Huntingtons and Oakes Ameses robbed the people they submitted their prospectus for endorsement, and, lo, this whole coast grovels in the dust to these new Moseses, who are to show them the way out of the wilderness into which their original, Huntington, has led them.
The canal should be built. But the estimated cost of the whole enterprise was $66,000,000 according to their own expert, whose report, eight years ago, was published in "Harper's Weekly" - (published as news, by the way, but was an advertisement, and paid for as such. And that Julian Ralph stuff that appeared in that same weekly lately is more of that peculiar kind of news that is being constantly ground out by the capitalistic sharks to catch the unwary, and was paid for by Spreckels - another Moses, that has come to the succor of our beleaguered coast. The "Journal of Civilization" is a fit organ for the millionaire corruptionist and the civilization that he is degrading) - and although they have gone over the ground again and again since that report was made, the maximum estimate is still well inside $100,000,000. Yet they now want to issue $100,000,000 in stock; want the people to guarantee principal and interest on $70,000,000 of bonds, and the right to issue $30,000,000 of bonds themselves. No wonder it was called a steal on the floor of the Senate. The public treasury will ever be the objective point of such wholesalers until the inducement is removed. Humanity, Honor, Patriotism, each and all are powerless before this all conquering appetite of Individual Greed.
What can such people as they care for this people, their country and its benign form of government? What use have such as they for a government that denies them the title that distinguishes their kind over the sea?
Ay, what is to prevent them from using the vast power that goes with the wealth they are absorbing day by day, and to gratify the one unsatisfied wish of their purse-proud and selfish souls, and establish an Empire in place of the Republic? The Republic is but a shell and their work would be easy.
The sophistry about the inalienable right of one man to crush another has had its day, and their hypocritical wail about civilization and this inalienable right, when these conscienceless rascals find their race is run, will be like the yelling of remorseless wolves that have been trapped and kicked into the vanishing distance.
Understanding the principle of Confiscation, it will be easily seen how it must work in every individual case; and, therefore, it is needless to dwell on or elaborate its workings when it is applied to banks, breweries, sugar refineries, water works, gas works, street railways, etc.
It will not destroy capital or business. It may lessen the value of real estate on the principal streets in large cities, and fall in values is not certain even there. It will trouble no one, however, if it does; not the present owner, even, for the value of property in favored localities is so great now that, however much one man can own now, he can own but a fraction of it under the proposed change. The owner of, say, a $400,000 building and lot on such a street as we are now considering may find a shrinkage of $100,000. This will give him two partners instead of three. The shrinkage, therefore, will be to his liking; for, be it known, the aristocrat is a proud bird, and likes to flock by itself. And any designs against these two partners will be so fruitless of results to himself that a word in his ear now and then by his friends and well-wishers, about the public treasury, will end in his cultivating, such a lamblike submission to the new dispensation that his eloquence, born of the new light and an awakened conscience, will make his titled sister over the way give up her bauble when he shows her the cost of its pomp to the struggling poor.
Such will be the effect of the change on a man who now carries the law in his pocket, when he hasn't it under his feet.
Moving the laborer so far away from the centre of the city, and where there is room to build habitable homes, will be a serious objection, it will be urged. They cannot get to their work on time without getting up at all hours. They can just have time to snatch a bite and be away again. And the whole of Sunday must be given to sleep they cannot get at any other time.
They will be strangers in the near-by theatre, and the near-by library will be given up to the spider and his web, and the little garden of flowers that the once half-starved women have made a delight will be unknown to the worn out bread-winner, who will be the same old slave we premised to unshackle. Better clothes surely, and his home shows what it is to be a citizen of a republic that is a republic in fact as well as in name; but he has only time to snatch a bite and be away again.
Will it never occur to those critics that we are here dealing with the greatest creation of the Almighty, and of all time - civilized man; and that we must make the conditions fit him, and not he the the conditions.
Everything he eats, wears, and uses in twelve months can be produced in two. Why, then, should he be compelled to labor twelve months for that which can be produced or made in one-sixth of that time? The reason is plain. When two laborers make an exchange there is wholesale robbery committed by the non-producing and idle parasites, while the fruits of Labor are on the way to those who alone are entitled to the whole. "And I," says the millionaire, "say this robbery must go on, for I am an impossibility without it." That gnawing canker never had any doubts as to where his surfeit comes from. And now that it has become a question of life and death with those he has been plundering, he should be dragged to the bar of justice and compelled to disgorge. And then labor, too, can come in on the eight and nine o'clock train, and be no later for its work than is the banker and the rest of his class that have had Labor under their heels so long.
The capacity of the modern world to produce has entirely outstripped her capacity to consume, and trying to solve the economic problems of the day, by further denial or ignoring of this fact, that should be self-evident, will be to build a structure with only half the foundation laid, and the inevitable collapse is bound to follow.
There will always he plenty of room in the heart of a city for those who must live close to their work.
But the inventor has made night work, except by the parasitical leeches, unnecessary to the masses, a few hours of daylight being more than sufficient to supply all the needs of the country. We are not insisting, be it understood, on a four-hour or eight-hour system of labor. No industry or occupation will be hampered or meddled with by doing justice to the laborer in the way proposed. The railroad employee, printer, baker, factory hand, etc., can work on as now, but they must be compensated with just wages for the labor done. This will enable them to retire before decrepitude comes on, and orders are left for the poorhouse ambulance to call on its way out.
If every city occupied three times the ground they now do, they would be gainers in all ways, and the moral degradation into which large sections of them have sunk would disappear with the conditions that produced them.
The capacity of Europe to feed her people is being crowded, we are told, and then our flag is again run-up, and during the whole exhibition the Chinese system of bunking is quietly fastening itself in every city of consequence in the country. When those sorely pressed people, whose very existence is being threatened by these foreigners of a degraded civilization, awaken to the extremity of their danger, the bunking system and its introducers will find perjury and the habeus corpus mill powerless to save them. Mark this, however. The big capitalist imported the Chinaman, and his powerful influence has defeated all attempts to remove him. It follows, then, that we must break up the big capitalist, if we ever expect to get at the thing behind him.
We are not indifferent to the hardships of the oppressed of other nations, but we cannot get out of our own perplexities by saying that we are more favored in some way than are others. There are rocks ahead of ourselves, and watching others going to pieces and firing congratulatory guns will not help them or save us from, a like fate.
Whatever is in the near future for Europe, we, at least, have nothing to fear as to the capacity of our country to support all her people. And as it is with room for producing, so it is with room in which to live. There is plenty of both, and we should show ourselves worthy of the legacy left us by that handful of brave men who established liberty in our country, and insist on getting plenty of both before the armed hireling appears and it is too late.
We will now apply the principle of Confiscation to land, and we will see that Confiscation alone can undo the wrong that has of late become apparent to even the law makers in Washington. Up to within three years or so there were two ways by which farming lands could be obtained from the Government - by homesteading and preempting.
It is unnecessary to give the laws of either, but so fast was this class of land going that Congress repealed the preemption law. In other words, the amount you could obtain was cut down one half - from 320 acres to 160. What was more significant still of their barn door work after the horse was gone, they made the owning of 160 acres, regardless from whom it was got, private purchase or Government, a bar to the taking up of Government farm land. Prior to the repeal every citizen, and those intending to become citizens, had certain land rights, and owning half a State did not impair them; which all goes to show that even this free and easy-going Government thought it about time to call a halt. But that was all it did do. As it was not necessary to give the laws under which the homesteader and preemptor got title, neither is it necessary to here ask how some men became owners of all the way from 1,000 to 60,000 acres, every acre of which was Government land years after California became a State. (We are using California facts. The rest of the Western part of the United States has an abundance of the same kind.) Suffice it to say, that they now own them; and suffice it too, that Confiscation is the only way by which we can dispossess them of plunder, that the welfare of the country demands should be returned? In Confiscation alone will the people find a servant who will not condone the past, but will follow up this breed of the grabber and restore what it finds, as it has already done with others of his tribe.
It will be the re-discovering of America.
Never did kind and beneficent laws show what men, with the right kind of stuff in them, could do, as did our land laws. Men who now own territory as large as some of the Eastern States started in without a dollar. They had something better. They had consciences that was good for any tests that the scoundrels could put them to. Never did gangs of "floaters" help the political boss and ward-heeler rob the public treasury with greater success than did this other brand of the bastard citizen help his boss to hog the public domain.
In the fertile valley of the Sacramento, land that would give one hundred and sixty acre homes to ten thousand families (fifty thousand people) is owned by one hundred individuals, all average of sixteen thousand acres to each owner. This is but a fraction of the valley and leaves out the owners of less than sixteen thousand acres.
In the great San Joaquin valley, the laborer in search of work can walk for days in one direction alongside of fencing that incloses land belonging to one firm. And this immense fortune-in land was obtained by robbery, just as the other millionaire fortunes were obtained.
In the land office we see the miserable tool and his master.
In the legislative halls we see the miserable tool and his master.
And we see the leaves on Liberty's Tree droop and wither as these deadly borers do their work under the bark below.
Up among the peaks and valleys of the Sierra Nevada lies the town of Mariposa, settled by gold seekers whose rich findings gave world wide fame to this hamlet among the mountains. Aluvial gold and quartz bearing gold was scattered with lavish hand through the surrounding hills, and in the beds of the summer-dried streams. Generous laws of their own making, gave ample room, and the eager workers toiled on, forgetting the past hardships of the long journey where so many fell by the way, and the rugged hills became endeared to them as they marked out the shaded spots on their shelving sides where their coming dear ones could look down on the busy scene below. But the camp follower with ready knife never finished the wounded brave quicker than did the "land grant" swindler finish Mariposa when her riches became the theme of every gold camp throughout the world. And to-day the big hearted and stalwart miner goes to fever-laden Africa and ice-bound Alaska, when there are whole mountains of the best mineral bearing land in the world in his own country, but which our present laws forbid him to touch.
Our people should no more bow to a Mexican land grant title than to a superstition of their cave-dwelling ancestors.
What matters it, however, in what way these colossal robberies were committed; by coffee-stained lie from Mexico, or perjured oath of faithless citizen; it has been done, and it is time for the undoing.
Man developed the school house, and for this each is indebted to the other, and the mutual debt is acknowledged by making the school free to all.
The Creator developed the Earth from chaos to the habitable home of man, free to all, but this debt is not acknowledged, and the many are driven into the highway by the few.
Give us all the conveniences of modern life, railroads, telegraphs, etc., etc., etc., but give us back the land, that is our natural heritage as much as is the water we drink or the air we breath.
Give us back this birthright, or take your railroads, and so on, and your civilization, and sink them deep in the depths of hell, for the starving have no use for them, and we'll take the savage state that knows no hunger except in the time of famine.
Limit the ownership of land, be it arable, grazing, timber, or any other kind, to 160 acres. As no one shall own more than $100,000 worth of property all told, this 160 acres will have to be reduced as we get near to the centres of population. This will still give the owner of such convenient land an advantage over those living further out, who will always be willing to exchange should the first rather follow the coarser grades of farming to dairying or gardening.
Neither is there any reason why the owning of great sections of timber land by one or two men should be necessary to the running of sawmills and supplying the people with lumber. The mills are capable of doing just as good work if the fifty quarter sections are owned by fifty men as they are if owned by one man. And the waste of timber seen on every hand wherever you find a mill owned and operated by capitalists would have been unknown if there had been an individual owner to each quarter section. The wanton waste of this breed of the capitalist, in his hurry to pile up, would have been impossible had his mill been a "custom" mill, to saw the timber from your quarter section and mine instead of his fifty or five hundred. And the poor unskilled laborer would not have to go to make room for the chinaman, or that member of a worthless tribe who sold his "claim" to the "company" for so much and the promise of a job. The small owner cannot afford the waste of the large one. His income will not be so great that he can afford to waste the principal from which it comes. As to any friction about whose turn it is to run his timber through, it is only necessary to say that the business will be then carried on by those who are now doing the labor, and it will be no worse to accept wages from the man on the neighboring claim for helping him to make lumber than it was to accept wages from the man who was dethroned, and he will probably pay you as much as you could make running your own logs through.
If this is not satisfactory, sell out at once to one of the many that are waiting to buy, and go, for you will not find anything in what we are advocating that interferes in the least with the liberty of the individual. Some may think differently, but then they are the ones who brought all eyes to the window to see what was going on in the street.
And as you travel on you will miss the once eager dog at the farm house by the way, and no palsied hand will be lifting the corner of the curtain as you are passing by, for the tramp has disappeared, and the rare survivor and incurable will be doing it on bread and water, for he must be a useless thing not to have drawn his last breath with his compatriot at the other end of the scale.
The farmer who has children that are not of age when the new arrangement goes into force will see great hardship in the 160-acre law. He intended to give this piece of land to one son and that piece to another, and so on. He would give each of these sons more, but some one else owns the rest of the country thereabouts, and these, say, 160-acre tracts, are the best he can do. Leaving out of the question whether his sons can locate alongside of himself or not, and confining ourselves to their chance of being able to get 160 acres, which is the vital point in the whole matter, he must see that, if he must surrender his excess and all others must do the same, there would be more land to take up than there are people to take it. We are in a Republic, Mr. Farmer, and the interest of the many who have called at your door call on you to disgorge with the rest.
When we come to the land in the mountains we find that it averages poor, yet the 160-acre law must be applied there also. To allow more would be to give an opening to the smart one, who would take advantage as he has always done; and as the country is pretty well tired of him we will save future complications by tying him down to 160 acres like the rest. The mountain farmer or rancher, with rare exceptions, gets his income from the raising of pork or beef animals, which are rarely confined to the owner's premises, but are allowed to roam and graze where they will, at times as far as forty and fifty miles away from where they belong. And as the mountaineer makes little if any provisions for the barn feeding of his animals, outside of one or two milk cows and his few work animals, and these last only through the work season and the bad weather of whatever winter the locality may have, he will not find his business of raising meat for the market curtailed in any respect. Should he need more hay or grain ground, or ground for orchards or gardens, be will always find it inside of his 160-acre inclosure, for there are none yet among them who knows the possibilities of a 160-acre ranch under the plow. And as none has yet been forced to put the plow into outside ground, it can be taken for granted that they never will.
Where, then, is the reason why this class of farmers should be allowed title to more land than the others? The range or grazing ground among the hills and along the water courses will still be open to their animals, and instead of the proposed change injuring their business, it will, in these days of cheap barb-wire, stop the would-be cattle king and speculative grabber from crippling or destroying it altogether, a fate not unknown to some who have tried in a small way to make a living from cattle raising.
There is, therefore, no reason why the farmer in the hills should be allowed more land than his less favored brother in the valleys and plains below. He must fall into line with the rest; and, as he takes his place at the foot the assembled multitude of liberated slaves, sees a gleam of scorn in the eyes of the once mighty railroad king as this poor relation is thrust upon his notice.
But it is not in a brave people to humiliate a fallen enemy, and the order to break ranks is given, and the ex-slave and ex-master mingle together, and depart to work out a destiny common to both.
In the preceding pages we have briefly tried to show that Confiscation is the only peaceable way that is now open to us by which the people can again obtain possession of their country. And we have tried to convey an idea of how its principle should be applied, and we will now turn our attention to its workings, and show, as briefly as possible, how easy it is for the people to be prosperous when they have control of their country's resources.
There is not a railroad in the country that would not be taxed to its utmost in carrying settlers to the forfeited lands; and the work of the land agent and boomer, the uphill work of the town or section in trying to build themselves up by advertising far and near, and the hauling of cars full of exhibition pumpkins crossways and lengthways of the land, would be needless. Government land, be it County, State or United States, never requires booming in these days of the anxious home-seeker, and never will again.
At present when a new section becomes attractive there is a rush into it, and then the rush slacks up with an air-brake suddenness. The speculator has got there and pitched his tent, and his $100 to $500 acre signs - part down, the rest at 8 per cent. - has taken possession, and the stream is turned aside and goes elsewhere. And then the pumpkin, with its 8 per cent. tags plastered all over it, is put aboard and hauled through the country on its mission of deceiving the innocent.
With the land speculator out of the way, and no expenses outside of office fees, there would be a steady increase of population wherever there is agricultural land, until the last acre is in possession of an actual settler, whose home would be on the place. (The principle which allows a man living in New York, or somewhere else, to own land in California, or somewhere else, should set every law-maker to scratching his head to see if he cannot get an idea out of it.)
And do not plague yourselves about the numerosity of the new settler, and where the whole of him is to find a market. We are trying to get rid of the pauper, and whoever heard of a farm, free of the 8 per cent. night-mare, being the breeding place of such as he? Whatever else happens to the farmer he at least is sure of enough to eat. Wheat may be down; cattle without buyers; eggs a drug; potatoes left to rot in the ground, milk wasting like water, and not ten cents in money on the premises, but the owner is not starving. The dude may not see a brother in him, and he will be denied entrance to the Inner Circle when Major domo McAllister sees him in the rear. But he has weight, and looks as if trying to get away with this year's crop, to make room for the next, agrees with him; and if he thinks now and again of the days of the hungry tramp it must be that the undertaking has proportions he little dreamed of.
But he will have a market. What causes him to need one? This. That he may be able to get that which he does not produce or make himself. And is there not some one else producing or making those very things, and who needs what the farmer alone produces or makes? If yes, then we have found the whole secret of what we call business - two producers or makers of different articles making an exchange one with the other. Stop that exchange, and there would be no manufacturing; we would all be living off raw nature once more, and our ball-games would give way to the pelting of cocoanuts and hanging by our tails.
The opening of these forfeited lands would be the salvation of that pitiable creature, the victim of the 8 per cent. grind. The homeless wanderer can get shade and shelter from the burning sun and driving storm, and with these is content, for he has long since resigned ambition to those who are willing to continue the hopeless struggle; but the man, on the 8 per cent. treadmill, who has not yet acknowledged defeat, has no way of escape from the glare of the master's eye, except by self-murder or the pauper's grave. There is nothing that excites our hatred against the infamous laws of our times as much as does the sight of this brave man struggling against the fate that is crushing him, and whose patriotism will soon be kindred to that of the Russian serfs, if it does not go to the other extreme and make him a nihilist or some other brand of the political desperado. It was from this quarter, forget it not, that the old flint locks came, "whose report was heard around the world," and the serf will never be his model, for the old spirit has still enough of life left for another blaze, as these new oppressors will find to their awful cost.
The burdens which these people are staggering under can be easily imagined when it is known that they have been paying interest on mortgages for years that the places would not now sell for, even after they were improved by years of labor and the outlay of much money. In the San Joaquin valley, for instance, there are homesteads by the thousands that will not sell for what they are mortgaged for, and the extraordinary spectacle was witnessed in the city of San Francisco last year of a bank having to close because it could not sell out the valley farmers for the mortgages due it. Of course these farmers obtained money from the bank, and the justice of the bank's claim is not what we are now trying to get at, but to show that if we had the laws that belong to a republic the people would not be the victims of bankers or any one else. Had they been allowed in the first place to take possession of all unimproved land without having to give up the savings of years to some land grabber, whose theft was authorized and sustained by law, and then loaded down with interest obligations, they would have had no more trouble in keeping their land than they would in keeping an arm or a leg.