that virtually every word is of a single syllable!
John Wilson Bengough
[A booklet published in 1098 by the American Free-Trade League, Boston. The original contains numerous illustrations not reproduced here. ]
Notes and Links
This is a paraphrase of Henry George's introduction to Protection or Free Trade (1888):
There is an illustration at http://www.multiline.com.au/~georgist/econ1.htm
|Why do men work? That they may have the things they need, which we lump in one word and call their Wage. A fair wage is "that which the work is worth," and the one end and aim, both of those who urge Free Trade and of those who urge the High Tax plan, is the same — that those who work may be sure of fair pay. But both plans, since they are at odds, can not serve that end. One of them must be false and wrong.
|wages, human desires
|What is the truth, and is it to be found? Some say no; it is too deep and dark, and is a thing for the Schools. But that is not so; it is a thing for plain men who can think straight. How do the rules taught by Christ bear on the life of a land? We see quite well how they bear on the life of a man — His laws are known and read of all, and it is not hard to tell a good act from a bad one when we see it in the light of Christ's law. Why, then, should it be hard to see what is good or what is bad in the acts of men as a mass? The wrongs we find in the world are the fruit of the laws which states have set up. Right is Right and Wrong is Wrong, and laws that men pass can not make right wrong nor wrong right, and it is clear that if the fruit of a law is bad that law can not be a good one, say what we will.
|justice, Christian ethics,
|In this Book (though it is but a small one) we mean to trace this thing clear through from end to end. This is not done in books of the kind, as a rule. They stop short when they have shown that "Free Trade" is the best plan by which to get the fund for the strong box; or when it has been made out that to put up a wall and a High Tax on goods is the best plan to make work, and thus give men a chance to earn wealth. Let us ask two things: If Free Trade is a good thing as far as it goes (in, say, John Bull's land), why would it not be more so if it went the whole way? And if it is a good thing to put a tax on goods, why would it not be more so, if the tax were made twice as high?
|You see, both sides stop short of the "whole hog," so to speak. This book is a small one, to be sure, but it is a Whole Hog book.
|CHAPTER II: CLEAR THE GROUND
|We note in the first place the plain fact that most lands go in for the High Tax scheme. But to say that this proves the case would be to say too much. Most of the world bows down to sticks and stones, but that does not prove their faith the true one. Is the faith in the "tax on goods" a true one? That is what we are to find out. Some part of the strength of this plan is due, no doubt, to the fact that it pays well in the case of a few, and, of course, these are bound to work for it; and it gets strength, as well, from the feuds and wars that go on in the world. In view of these things, we must be on our guard and go slow and sure, step by step. It is but fair to note, too, that there is not in the world at this hour one case of a land that has true Free Trade — that is, no tax on goods at all.
|special interests, privilege, sales taxes,
|Most of those who work for their bread feel that they do not get all they ought to get; and some of them see quite well that the cause of this is the fact that there are more men than jobs, and they are fain to vote for the plan that claims it can shield them from such a state of things; such, they are told, is the aim of the "High Tax Plan." No such claim seems to be made by those who talk for Free Trade; they do not pose as the great friends of Toil. They seem to have, in truth, hard hearts, for they talk of God's law as the real cause of Want; and on the same ground on which they fight a tax on goods they fight all laws to fix hours of work, rates of pay and so forth. The truth is these men are for Free Trade so far as that has to do with "buy and sell," but they do not seem to think the term has aught to do with the right of a man to work, or how to share up the wealth in a fair and just way when it has been made. Thus, you see, they leave out one half of the truth. It is not strange that, thus set forth, Free Trade must seem the foe of toil, and earn the ill-will of those who work. But, to be fair, we must see to it that we set forth true Free Trade side by side with the true High Tax plan; as only then can we come to a just view of the case.
"Toil" is Bengough's one-syllable word for Labor.
The High Tax plan claims to "shield" those who work. But why, we ask, should this class need a shield? The old, the sick, the lame, and such, are the ones who need care and help, but why talk of aid for those who work, and who must, of course, be the well, the young, those with good brains or strong arms? Does this not strike you as queer, in the first place? If there is a thing that a grown man hates it is to be made a child of. If those who do the work of the world need to be "kept," as it were by whom are they to be so kept? It must be by those who do not work, that is to say, by those who live by alms or by theft, for there are but these three grades of men in all the world, those who work, those who beg and those who steal. Think it out, and see if you can name one more class. Is it not plain that since all must live by means of food, clothes and roofs — that is, "wealth" — and since all wealth on earth is the fruit of work, it must be that those who work "keep" those who do not? Let those who toil think this out, too. Adam was the first son of Toil, but there was no one to "shield" him, was there? The fact is that those who have to live by the sweat of their brows have been made game of by the use of a word which we may well call a trick term. That word is "Protect." It is a good, true word in its right place. It means to shield, to keep, to bless. We all feel that it is a right thing for a man to pro-tect his house, his dear ones, or the land he lives in. That is the true sense of the word. So some cute head hit on this term as the name of the High Tax plan. But it by no means stands for the same sort of thing in that case. In its fair and right use the word means to ward off ills, and to do this for one and all. But does the High Tax ward off ills when it keeps out goods? And does it help and bless those who want the goods when it thus keeps them out or makes them dear? And does it deal with one and all in the same way? What would we think of a man who, as the head of a home, should shield his big boy and give no care at all to his babe? Yet this is the way in which the High Tax plan works and must work, as we shall see. And if so, you will grant that to call it "Protection" is to use a trick name. Do not let a mere name fool you. See how it works; that is the real thing. Put the mere name out of mind, and go on and see what there is in it. Two facts may be found side by side, but it may be there is no real link 'twixt them. A man gets more of a wage in the States than he could get in John Bull's land, that is one fact. Sam goes in for Pro. and John for what he calls Free Trade (but which is Free Trade with a string to it). That is fact two. Well, what then? Is it safe to nail it down at once as a truth that the High Tax is the cause of the high wage and Free Trade of the low? By no means. The high wage in the States does not prove that Sam's plan is sound any more than the great growth of trade in the old land proves that Bull's plan is the right one, for there are other facts which may have to do with it. There are, in short, such hosts of facts that bear on the weal and woe of man, that we must sift them out with care, or we are sure to go wrong. Now, first of all, we must get to know: (1) What "Protective Tariffs" are, and (2) What they do. If we start with what we know to be true, and are quite sure of and then go on step by step with due care, we may trace this thing out through all its twists and turns, and reach the real truth. That is what we now set out to do, and all we ask of him who reads is that he will not trust to our mere "say so," but bring each step we take to the test of his own good sense.
|labor, protecting labor, wealth, charity, theft, fruit, he who produces, three grades of men, protectionists, privilege, God's eldest sons, wages,
|Let us, then, first take a look at the High Tax scheme as a whole, 'ere we take it up bit by bit. What is the idea? It is this: To put such a tax on goods that seek to come into a land, as will tend to keep them out, so that those who make goods of the same kind in said land may "have a chance." The thought is, at base, that each land by rights ought to serve all its own needs; or at least make all the things it can make, and that such things should not be brought in from strange shores, where they may be made by men who work for a less wage. Thus will both Boss and Man have a fair show, the Boss for good trade, and the Man for a good wage.
|tariffs, sales taxes, trade, free trade,
Now, is this a true and sound idea?
|If you say yes, note where this leads you. All lands should bar out the goods of all other lands if they would not go to ruin. If true for any one land, why is this not just as true for each part of that land, each town, yea, each house, till at last you come to this — that each man should make all his own things. That, you say, is mad talk. It may be, but is it not what your "law of truth" leads to? If it is mad, the fault is with your law. It means that you dare not go where it leads; in short, it will not stand the test we spoke of. If you still hold to it, you are bound to say that you think a reign of Peace and Love, in which all men of all climes would be as friends, and give their gifts each to each, with no walls to bar off land from land, would be a bad thing for the race — that trade would die, and ruin sit on the wreck of the world. This is the bog you run into on that line of "truth." Well, what say you? It may be you say "No; I do not think peace and love would be bad for the world. Still, I am for the High Tax and hold it to be the true plan; but you must not go too far with it." But this will not do. The fact that you must stop at some point in this way proves, as we say, that your path is a wrong one from the first. A straight line from the true can not lead to the false. Note the fix you would be in, if with the faith you hold in the High Tax, you went to preach to a tribe of wild men. You would first set forth the love of God, and how men should love and serve each other and do good, even to those who hate them; and then you would go on to say that by the laws of this same God each tribe must build walls to bar out trade on all hands. Don't you think, now, this thing of walls and bars is more like a scheme which man has got up, and has no base in any law of God? Or would you say that what is true of a man is not true of men — that in one sphere love is the true way; in the other strife is the true way?
|trade, civilization, division of labor, peace,
Note once more: You hold to the High Tax plan as the true one. Yet you do not feel that you have done a wrong when you dodge such a tax on what you have in your trunk when you land from a ship. You feel that, as you bought and paid for the thing, it is your own, and you will not pay a tax on it if you can help it. Men who would not steal so much as a pin feel this way, as you know, and it proves that in their hearts they hold that such a tax is not right or just. To break laws of this kind is thought a joke, not a crime; and what are the fruits of such laws but spies, fraud, bribes and false oaths? Do the laws of God bring forth such fruits as these?
|Then, mark how the High Tax idea is at odds with the good sense of man. What would you say of a man who should choose a site for a new town on the score that it was hard to get at? Yet that would be good for the town, would it not, on your plan? You do not praise Cap. Kidd with his black flag, yet if the thief on the high seas made loot of all goods that were on the way to ports where goods of the same kind could be made, would he not do the work now done by the High Tax? How comes it that you share with your Free Trade friend his joy when new roads are built, and new ways found for the growth of trade through the world? If the High Tax idea is the true one you ought to mourn. How comes it that you are as keen as he to see an air ship made that will fly like a bird? Should that come to pass what good will your walls be then to keep out trade? You will have to roof in the whole land. Your cry is "down with the cheap," and you take up the cry, "cheap goods make cheap men." That is why you say we need the wall to keep out the goods made by ill-paid toil. But why do you not act on this view, and break up each new machine that is made which saves work and so makes things cheap? And why do you not stop up gas wells that tend to drive out coal more than the tax on coal does? And why do you talk as though the great thing was to "make" goods, not to get them for use? Are you not at war with plain sense on all these points?
|piracy, theft, infrastructure, technological progress
|CHAPTER IV: TRADE KNOWS NO FLAG
|Men trade as fish swim and birds fly; Trade knows nought of what we call states; it has, to do with men as men, and makes no note of flags at all. We see two Lands side by side each with its own flag and with walls to keep out cheap goods. The idea, of course, is that if these walls were not there it would be bad for both Lands; Trade in each would fall off, men would be thrown out of work, and so forth. Each needs a shield to ward off such ills from its own Trade. But at length it is thought best that they should join and have one flag. This is don by a scratch of a pen; the two Kings sign their names and one steps out. What has this pen scratch to do with Trade? Not a thing. Yet lo! the first move that is made is to pull down the walls. How comes it that a scratch of a King's pen can so change the facts on which the walls were built, if they were facts? There is no change in the Trade of the two lands, though they now have the same flag and King, and if, ere this was done each had need of a shield, they need those shields just as much now. But, of course, good sense tells them 'that the folk of any one Land ought to have Free Trade in their own lines, and since the lines now go round both the joint states they act on this idea'. And of course they find it good for all. But, if so, it would have been just as good for all when they had two flags.
|Look at the U.S. All the States which make up that great Land have Free Trade each with each, as they all own the one flag, but the States as a whole keep up a high wall all round the shores. Now, is it not clear that if Free Trade is good for each State, it would be just as good for them as a whole? And can you doubt that if they broke up and each had a flag of its own they would start at once and put up walls, just as though Trade made note of such a change? The fact is, as all must know, that Trade pays no more heed to the bounds of States than do birds as they fly or fish as they swim.
|The claim would seem to be that the High Tax is the true plan for each land, but when two or more lands see fit to join in one, this does not hold — Free Trade is then the right plan. What, then, will be the fate of this great "truth" in case the time should come, which the poet has sung, when there shall be but one great state, and all men shall join hands? This "Truth" will then make its last bow and leave the world. A strange thing for a Truth to do! Can that be True, which, when the full reign of Peace and Love sets in, there is no need for, and no place for? Can that be a Truth of God which only works well while men are in the low plain of strife and hate and war?
|All that can be said for a wall round any land can be said for a wall round any town in that land; nay, for a wall round each house, if not each man in that town. And yet, this would be just to go back to the days when men were wild. The fact seems to be that the, plan is a wrong one— that, in short, it is not true but false.
|CHAPTER V: TRADE
|Once more, note that this plan is to shut out from our shores all those lines of goods that might be made at home, and let in only those that could not be made by our own folk. Please mark the word "goods." This is the word we all use for the things that we thus strive to keep out — not ills, or wrongs, but "goods." It is well to make note of this, for men speak of trade in the terms they use for war and storm and such dread things. We are told that 'if we do not shield our land by a wall, goods will "swamp" us or "flood" us; that we must "fight" for our own trade, and not stand still while our "foes" dump' cheap goods on our shores and thus ruin us, and so forth.
|Now, what is Trade? It is not like hail, flood and storm; it is a law of man's life as much as his breath, it is the free act of man; the act that marks him off from the brutes. There can be no such thing as trade if there be not men who want to and who try to trade.
|Men o'er the sea seek to trade with us, that is, to give their goods for ours. How do you look at this as a High Tax man? You say they seek to take the bread out of our mouths. Is that so?' Let us look at it a bit. You can lead a horse to a trough, but can you make him drink? And if he won't drink do you need to put a bag on his mouth? These men may wish to send in goods, but if no one cares to buy them, do you need a high wall to keep them out? But there are those in our own land who do want to buy those goods. These are the folks the High Tax hits; these are our "foes" in the case! When we are at war our foe tries the first thing to close our ports. Why? So that we can not get the goods in that we want. He thus deals a blow to our land and he aims it, you see, not at those who send the goods, but at us, who want to buy them. His hope is to starve us out. This is the act of a foe, and just what we might look for, but what say you to the same act on the part of a friend? Yet this is what the High Tax plan comes to, and it seeks this end by a tax on the goods we want, to make them so dear that they will not be brought in. Of course, this harms those who would send the goods, as it hurts their trade, but its chief hurt comes to those who want the goods and can not now get them, but must buy at home and pay far more for, it may be, worse goods. Is this not a queer thing, that we seek to do to our own land in times of peace what our foes seek to do to us in times of war? And please bear in mind that the goods thus sent to our shore are not goods sent in on sale or chance of sale. No. All that are sent in have been bought ere they are sent — bought by those in our own land who want them. And thus it comes to pass that the men who vote and shout for the High Tax plan one and all go in for Free Trade when they want to buy goods, and will do their best to dodge the High Tax though they help to put it on.
|tax evasion, privilege,
|Why does the man who keeps a shop send for goods to the man who makes them o'er the sea? He does not want all those things for his own use. No. There are calls for them from those who live in the place where he has his shop. Why these calls? To meet wants that come up day by day and hour by hour, and which each sane man seeks to meet with the least cost. No man will give five bob for a hat if he can get as good a, hat for half that price, which is the same thing as to say no man will give two days' work to gain what he could get for one day's work. He acts in this way by a law which lies at the root of his soul; and by a law just as deep he seeks to trade. As blood flows through the veins of a man, so trade flows through the veins of a state or a town. It is trade that makes men what they are, and what they have grown to be since the days when they dwelt in trees and in caves, and each man sought to meet all his own wants by his own act and skill. In our day, when each man makes but one form of wealth, or some part of that one form, and trades what he makes for all forms of wealth he needs (that is, gets his wage in cash and buys what he wants), he can live what we call a full life, and trade is the blood of that life. So it is plain that just in so far as you thwart trade, or by any means tend to block it, you by that much drive the race back to the old low plane from which it came up. Trade is the life of the race and the lamp which sheds the light of help and peace through all the world. We can not have too much of it, nor can it be too free. If God did not mean trade to be free as air He would have so made the world that each tribe — or each man — would live in a lone way and deal with no one, but we all know the world is not built on that plan. The whole trend of things is to bring in the day when each shall be for all and none for self. In the face of this well known fact what can we say for such a plan as this of a High Tax on goods? Take this case: Here is a man who sees fit to trade a horse he does not want for two cows he does want. Now, what sense would there be in a law that would say to this man, No, you shall not make such a trade, it is best that you raise your own cows, and let your friend breed a horse of his own. Yet that is just what the law does say to a man if the cows are not on his side of the line that parts his land from the other!
|man seeks, division of labor, civilization, purpose of life,
|Just as a man's lungs and heart work while he walks or while he sleeps, and with no thought or care on his part, so is it with trade, which is the breath and blood of the whole race of man. He would be a fool who would twist a rope round his neck to help his lungs, or a band round his arm to help the flow of his blood, or cram things down his throat which he did not need to "'build up his health." But would he not be as wise as the man who thinks to help any land by ropes and bands of tax tied round Trade, or who seeks by force to make Trade go in lines it would not else choose to go in?
"Ah, Dame Jones, where did you get this tea; it is "very good!"
"I made it."" Yes, I know; it came from your tea-pot. But I mean where did you buy it?"
"I tell you I made it — in China."
And she was quite right, though she had not been in the Far East. It was this way. Dame Jones sat down and made some pairs of socks (though with the aid of the man who bred and fed the sheep, the man who took the wool to the mill, the man who made it into yarn, the man who put it on the cars, the men who ran the train, the man who with his team took it to the store; and so on till it was in the shop where Dame Jones bought it). She sat down to knit, and from the yarn she made some pairs of socks. That fact is what made the tea grow in China, for if Dame Jones and more of her kind did not want tea none would be grown. So she was right to say she "made" the tea.
|he who produces
|But she did not make it more than each of the men I have set down, for she would not have got the wool to make the socks but for their part in the work. They, as much as Dame Jones, you see, produced the socks; and as to the tea, it was not brought forth by the man who grew it in the East. He was but one of a long line, for what good is tea in a field to Dame Jones? It is only in the first stage. It has to go through a lot more hands; for we must count the work of those who pick it, clean it, pack it, ship it, sell it, store it, team it to the shop, and hand it out to the good Dame. That is quite a crowd of folk on land and sea; and each of them has a part in it; nor must we leave out those who in any way serve these while they do the work, shave them, mend their clothes, preach to, or teach them, and so forth. In short, all who do work of head or hand that is of use to the world are producer and that takes in all but those who beg and those who live by theft or fraud. To produce is to bring forth and to bring to. Please make a note of this, for those who keep shops, buy and sell in the marts, and serve in all such ways, are not as a rule thought of when we speak of "work men." The term labor is thought to mean only rough forms of toil. When you find the word toil or work in this book, bear in mind that it means all forms of work that are of any use in any way.
|division of labor, he who produces, labor, three grades of men, theft, labor,
|A tax may be put on goods so as to get funds to pay the cost of the State; or it may be put on so as to keep goods out, and thus to "help trade." The Tax may thus be low or high. The State must, of course, have funds to live on. But this does not mean that it must put a tax on goods. This is not the only plan to be found, nor is it the best.
|tariffs, sales taxes, canons of taxation,
|A tax on goods is, and must be, what we may call a "twist" tax— one that is not paid straight, so that the man can see it when he pays it; it is and must be hid in the price of the goods he buys. A tax on a house is straight; that on a hat is not. And in no case can a twist tax be made to work out in a fair, just way. It is one of the worst plans that could be thought of.
|In the first place see the great cost of it. You must have guards to watch the shore and a whole army of chiefs and clerks to keep track of goods that come in, so that when all is done it may cost one-half the tax to get the other half.
|canons of taxation, administrability of a tax, tax evasion,
|In the next place it is a mean plan, for the men in charge must search each box and trunk and act the spy all the while. And then, as no man thinks it wrong to dodge the tax on what he has paid for, it leads to tricks, and false oaths, frauds and bribes. All that the plan costs goes to swell the price of the goods brought in, and the man who at last buys them pays the whole shot, though he does not know just how much it is. This plan bears with more weight on the poor man than on the rich, which is the worst of it, for, to get funds by this means the State has to tax these things that are in most use, such as tea — so much on the pound, and, as a poor man drinks as much tea as a rich one, he has to pay out of his small wage as much as the rich man out of his great wealth. This is by no means fair, but we need not think it strange when we know that our laws are made for the most part by and for the rich. The scheme is a shrewd one, no doubt of that. If, when a man went to the shop to buy tea, and paid the true price of it, he was then made to plank down the tax as well there would soon be a nice row. He would want to know why the tax was so high and where all the cash went. But, as it is, he does not see the tax. This is the plan by which, as the wag said, though you can pluck the geese you raise the least squawk.
|tax evasion, privilege, burdening the poor, special interests,
|This style of tax helps the rich in this way, too — it makes it so in Some lines of trade, that none but those who have large funds can start at all. Take the tax on cigars. A good hand at the trade could set up in a shop of his own at the cost of but a small sum, if it were not that the law stands in his way and so ties him up with red tape that he can not move.
|special interests, barriers to entry
|It is a strange fact that the big men who bring in goods in a large way and pay the tax on them do not kick at the tax, nor want it off. You do not hear them cry nor squeal. Why? Well, you see, they add the tax to the price, so they get back what they have paid; but more than this, they get a gain on the tax as well as on the cost of the goods. The shop man to whom they sell does the same, and you, who use the goods, pay the whole charge.
As a plan to get the fund to run the State that of a tax on goods will not do. See at the foot of this page what is said by men who are by no means for Free Trade.
"Tariffs for revenue should have no existence."— H. C. Carey, Past, Present and Future, p.472.
"Taxes for the sake of revenue should be imposed directly, because such is the only mode in which the contribution of each individual can be adjusted in proportion to his means." — Prof. E. P. Smith, "Political Economy," pp. 265-8.
"Duties for revenue … are highly unjust. They inflict all the hardships of indirect and unequal taxation without even the purpose of benefiting the consumer." — Prof. R. E. Thompson, "Political Economy, p. 232.
CHAPTER VIII: THE PLAN TO KEEP OUT GOODSThe High Tax plan has in view, not to get funds for the State, but to keep out strange goods and so tend to build up trade at home. This is to be done, of course, in a way that is fair to each and all trades -- to treat them all the same; to aid ail and hurt none. Such is the aim.
Now, we must ask in the first place, Is it well to shield the trade of the land at all? And in the next place, if. so, Is this plan the best by which that can be done? For, of course, this is not the only plan that might be thought of. Let us grant for the time that it is wise to thus shield trade. It can be shown that this can be done at least as well by bounty as by Tax, and with scarce any of the evils of the Tax plan.By the Bounty Plan: --
1. We could give aid to each and all trades, and to each new one as it sprang up.
2. We would not have to give the aid till the trade had shown that it had a right to it.
3. We would know just how much help each got and what had been done to earn it.
4. We could stop the doles when they had been kept up a fair length of time.
5. The doles, while fair to each and all lines of trade, would cost far less than has to be paid by the Tariff plan in the form of high price for goods.
6. We would not need the army of guards, spies, clerks and so forth3 and could save what we now pay them.
7. There would not be the same scope for fraud and lies and false oaths.
8. There would not need to be any rise in the price of goods.Here are at least eight points which the plan of Doles can claim to score. For, in the case of the High Tax plan: --
1. The wit of man can not so fix it as to help all trades in a fair way. What helps one hurts the next. If you put a tax on tools to help the trade that makes tools, you, of course, hurt the trade that has to use such tools, and as new trades spring up this mess grows worse and worse.
2. Aid has now to be lent to new trade. as pap is fed to babes, and it is a case of pay, pay, pay, till the child is grown up. But, strange to say, it does not grow up at all, but with each year of its age, calls for more and more pap.
3 No man on earth, let him be wise as he may, can tell what is paid now to any one trade by the Tax plan, nor what they do for what they get.
5. There is nought so hard to get rid of as a tax once put on goods. It will grow, but it will not come off.
8. A rise in the price of goods is the heart of the whole scheme. If there were no such rise where would the "aid" come in?
It is hard, in short, to know what can be said for this plan. Some few pleas are made, but these have the slight fault that they are not true.
(a) It is said that we who put up the wall do not have to pay the tax on the goods that come in; that is paid by those who send them. There is not one such case which is of any use to our home trades. The tax can only aid the home trades when it puts up the price and thus gives them a chance to get more gain, but the only case in which the man who sends in goods pays the tax is one in which the price does not go up. Here is a man in France who makes a pill. No one else knows how to make it, so he sets the price as he likes at some point twixt what it costs him and what be can charge so as to sell any. If the U. S. puts a tax on pills, it would be for him to send no more pills in, or to pay the tax out of his own purse so that they could still be sold in the States at the old rate. But what good would that do those who make pills there? Or here is a case of a man who has wheat to sell and he deems it best to sell it in a land that is near by. Though he pays the tax on it, there is no rise in the price, as the land he sells in has wheat to spare. What good does this do to the wheat men of the land? A rise in price is what they want.
(b) It is said, too, that a high tax wall does not make things dear, as it tends to cause more mills to spring up, and these fight for the trade and so bring down the price to what it was at first. Why do more mills spring up, if not to share in the gain from the rise in price? No doubt the fight that in due time takes place (if they do not all join in a Trust) brings down the price, but not to a point so low as it would be if the wall had not been put up-if there was no tax on the thing made.
A tax can not fail to raise the price of that on which it is put, in the whole range of goods that are sent in from o'er the sea. It is only in the case of "goods" of a rare kind that this may not take place. If a stamp tax were put on the press it may be the Times would cost no more than it now does, for the firm that owns the Times might choose to keep the price as it is so as to hold those who now read it, and to that end would pay the tax and not charge it in the price. But the Times is a rare sort of "goods."
So much for the tax plan. We see that it is not at all so good as the Dole plan would be, and we have come far short here of all that might be said with truth of its bad points. If it is wise at all to shield the trades of a land let it by all means be done by fair and square doles paid out of a poll tax or a straight tax in some form.
But we have now to ask, Is it, in any case, and by any plan, wise to try to "shield" trades and thus aid them to grow?
CHAPTER IX: IS IT WISE?
For what trades should we set up the shield, for a few or for all? On this point there are two views held. Some say that only new trades should be thus dealt with, to give them a chance to get well on their feet; but the view held by most is that "home" trade as a whole should thus get help.As to the first. It has been found, where tried, that when once these Babes get a taste of pap, they will not let go. But there is no doubt that there is here and there a Work that is hard to start, but which, if once put on its feet, would be a great boon. The thing is to pick these out. No doubt there are men all round us who, if they got the right help -- if they were put at ease, and had time to read and think and plan-would come to be great men, and give back to the world much more than they have got. But the thing would be to find just the right men. Who could pick them out? If it were left to a free fight for the aid we may be sure the right ones would not not win, but it would go to those who had the most cheek or push or help from friends. So it is with aid to trades. No one can tell just which it will pay to help, and in the fight the strong gain the prize. Babe trades have just as much chance as young pigs would have in a scrap round the trough with full grown swine. And in any case it is not more sure that aid will do a young trade good than that it will be wise to give great wealth to a young man as he starts out in life. It oft proves a curse to him.
Since, then, we can by no means pick out the young trades for aid, we must give help td all or none. We come, then, to the next view, that "home" trade at large must have aid.Now, it is clear in the first place that, as the aid is to take the form of a tax on goods sent in, which goods are made or could be made at home, it will be seen that we can only in any case aid some trades -- those, that is to say, which make goods of the kind that is brought in. Here is a man in the live stock trade. He has a big stock farm which he runs at great cost, and which gives work to scores of men. If we are to aid all trades we can not pass by this one. But (in the case of the States) live stock is not brought in at all, it is only sent out. How, then, can a tax on live stock aid this farm? And when we come to trades of the land are in the same of the whole list there are just a tax. So to talk of aid in this way to all is to talk stuff. If our plan was aid by means of Doles we could treat all in a fair way, but it is the Tax plan we have now to deal with.
In face of the hard fact thus set forth, does not the case for the High Tax plan at once fall to the ground? "Oh, no," cry its friends. "Of course the tax can only give help to some trades (those in their goods) but yet this times will be made good all round." What do you think of this plea? Let us put the case in this way: Here is a small town where times are dull. Two smart men live there, and they rise up and one of them says:
What, think you, the folk of the town would say to all this? Would they not say: "You two chaps must take us for fools!" Yet there is as much to be said for this scheme as can be said for the plea that to aid some trades is to aid all.
But let us take it that a High Tax could be made to aid all. It would then do what we see could be done by the plan of Doles we speak of -- that is, each could get a fair share of help from the top to the foot of the list. Well, what then? Let us take such a plan in the case of this same town and see how it would work. Each man there would pay a tax to each trade, but, of course, when he came to count up the whole sum he thus paid he would find it far more than came back to his own hand as his share, or, at most, he would get back no more than be had paid out. It is plain that this would be a case of much cry and no wool. You can see how it works back no more than he had paid out. It is plain that this would be the case of much cry and no wool. You can see how it works out when you think of aid to all; but when, as by the High Tax plan the aid goes but to a few, you do not see the fraud on you quite so well. You see the big Works with the tall stack which sends forth the black smoke and is so hard at it from morn till night, and you say - see there! What a fine thing it is to thus build up a trade and "give work" to such a crowd! But you do not see that a share of that tax goes out of your own pouch and does not come back to it; nor do you see that the waste and loss of such a "plan of aid" adds to the cost of all you have to pay with the part of your wage you have left. It is true a High Tax makes "more work." But so does the rain that wets the hay on a farm.
CHAPTER X: AS TO HOME TRADE
To say "let us keep our marts for our own trades, and bar out the goods that would come to us o'er the sea; let our own land make all the goods it needs, and so keep our cash in our own purse," this (which we hear so oft, and which is thought so wise) is the same as to say, "let us keep our mouths for our own home-made bread," or or "let keep our trips our own legs make."
Our lives are full of wants, and these we seek to meet. If we are sane we seek to meet them in the best way, and that is time, or toil, or both. A man who would walk round a block when he could take a short cut to the place he had in view would be a mere dunce. The man who would not ride though he was in haste, so that he might use his own legs, we would call a fool. So good sense bids us make or buy the things we need in our own land, if it best suits us to do so; if it does not so suit us let us buy where we please. Is not sense our best guide as to the way in which we shall get the things we have need of? If we are to work out this rule to the end, what of all those things which are not to be had at all in our land? Are we to just go in need of them? This is so mad an idea that no one will act on it. Sense tells us once more that the way to get things is to set our hands to the sort of work we can do best, and then trade the things we make (and which we do not need) for the things we need, but can not make. You need salt, let us say. Will you then make it in your own land; dip a pot of brine out of the sea and boil it till all goes off in steam and leaves the salt, or will you trade the boots and coats you can make for the salt which is got from mines in far off lands? It would be just as good sense to say that the world ought to be cut down just to the size of our own land. It is not more wise for a land to try to "make all things it needs" than for a man to do so, and of a truth it is not the way in which God meant us to act.On what grounds is it held, then, that we should keep home trade for home marts? On three:
I. That there is more gain in a trade twixt John Bull and Pat than there would be in the same trade twixt John Bull and Hans is not true. Good sense laughs at it.II. The "real' cost" of a thing is not set by the more or less toil it took to make it, but by the toil it would take to make what you could get it for. A man who could make a pair of boots well and in a short time, if he should try to make a coat, would do the work ill and take far more time. The coat would be dear. It would not be sold at its "real cost" for that would be the worth of what the man could do in the boot line with the same toil and time. A good part of the price would be mere waste of skill in a wrong line, and thus it is with the price of goods made at home that could best be made o'er the sea and got in trade.
You will hear it said that high price makes no odds, since we pay
it to our own folk in our own land. This is nice, but it is said as a
rule by those who sell. Yet it ought to work both ways if it is true.
If it makes no odds that you have to buy at a steep price, it ought
to be just as fair for the law to make the shop men sell at a price
less than cost. But, you tell them that, and hear what they will
CHAPTER XI: GOODS OUT AND IN
"It is a gain to send goods out, a loss to bring then in." So we are told (this is known as the "Balance of Trade" Doctrine). It would be all right, if what we spoke of were pests we were glad to be rid of -- but to say the least it has a queer sound when we speak of "goods." Yet grave men say this as if they meant it, and no doubt they do mean it, and no doubt they do mean it; yet we should think a dog had less than dog sense if he should snarl when you gave him a bone and wag his tail when you took the bone from him.
If each man in the land got in more wealth than he gave out he would be apt to get rich; but it seems that if they all did this at once they would grow poor! Strange, to be sure!Now, if the plan was to put a high tax on all the goods that were sent out and no tax at all on what came in, it would seem more apt to make us all rich, for the land that has the best store of good things must be the best place to live in. But if such a plan were brought up, the High Tax men would raise a great howl. What would they say? Why, that if you did not send goods out you could not get things of more worth to bring in, and so your land would lose more and more. Quite true, but do they not kill their own case when they say that? Their case is, bear in mind, that we grow in wealth only as we send out more than we get in! And of course there is no truth in this. Trade, when it is fair and just, has gain on both sides of it, for each gets what is of more worth to him than what he gives. Each pound of goods sent out means more than a pound (in worth) brought back. If it were true that a land did well when it sent out more than it brought in, then it would reach the top notch of gain if it sent out all its goods and got none back at all! From this point of view there ought to be cause for great joy in the fact that rich girls in the States wed poor lords from John Bull's land, as they take with them huge bags of gold for which nought comes back; and it must be a fine thing, too, that more and more of the men who work farms in the West send rent each year o'er the sea to the swells who own the land and are so kind as to let them work it. If, now, the States could only have a war, and get the worst of it, and be made to pay a big sum to the land that beat them, what a fine spec it would be! It is hard to think that men are to be found who talk such stuff as this and mean it, yet it is true. You may read it in books by men who are said to be quite sane, too. It is a queer twist in thought, that you do well when you sell, but not when you buy.
CHAPTER XII: A TWIST IN THOUGHT, THAT'S ALL
How came this queer form of thought to take root? Why do sane men hold the view that the more goods a land sends out, and the less it brings in, the more rich it grows? That it pays more to sell than to buy? When wild tribes trade they give goods for goods; and this is the way in which some rude forms of trade still go on in our towns, as when men come round for grease and give soap for it. No such man ever thinks that he does well when he gives more soap than the grease he gets is worth. But trade is not now done as a rule in this rough form. Cash, or notes, or bills or some such "sign" for goods are used, and not the things that are dealt in. But to this fact we may trace all the fog that is in the minds' of men on the point we have in hand.Of course, as trade went on, some sign for wealth had to be got. One man might want to give a drove of hogs for a house, but he would not care to drive the pigs for miles, nor could his friend move the house. But with some such thing as gold as a sign of value the trade could be made quite well. To be sure, in the first place they would need to know just how much wealth the unit of gold was worth, so that they could count the worth of things they were to trade; the same as, ere you could tell the length in yards of a rope, you must have a yard stick to fix what you mean by a yard, and the same of weight and bulk, we must first come to one mind on what is meant by a pint; a quart, and so forth. As the world goes on, trade tends more and more to be done through the use of cash, bills, notes of hand, and such things; and as these things are dealt with day by day we get to think of them more than of the goods they stand for; and at length we are apt to get the thought that cash is worth more than the things you give for it, etc. When a man buys a coat and gives the cash for it, the shop man says, "Thank you." Why does not the man say "thank you" for the coat? Whence springs the idea that the cash is worth more than the coat? No doubt from the fact that cash is a thing you can turn into any form of goods at once, for all are swift to sell for cash, but to trade a coat for some thing you may want, say a pair of boots, you must find some one who has the sort of boots you want and who at the same time is in need of the size and sort of coat you have to give. The cash seems worth more than the coat, since you can change it for what you may want with so much more case. If the man who went to the shop for the coat gave, not cash, but eggs and cheese in trade for it, the terms buy and sell would not rise in his mind, he would think of it as a trade, and it may be the shop man would not say "Thank you." In this case they both sell and both buy, and both think of it as a fair deal; but if cash is used, they think one buys and the other sells, and he who sells gets the best of it. It is not so; the cash stands for just the worth of the coat, and the man sells the cash as much, as if it were eggs and cheese. But such is the twist in our thought on this point that we cling to the view that he who sells gets the best of it. So, when we turn our thoughts to the Trade of a land, we still have this idea, and thus think that a land which sells most and buys least is the land that gains. But in truth and fact, it is the man who buys more goods (that is, gets in more goods) than he sells (that is, gives out) who gets rich. If he sells for, say, 10, and with that 10 buys goods worth to him 20, does he not gain? And so with a land. If it gets for its exports that which is worth twice as much in the form of imports, why should we think it a loss? You see where the twist of thought is? When we use the word "sell" we think of cash, and it means not give out goods but get in gold, and when we use the word "buy" it means not get in goods but give out cash. But it comes straight when you keep in mind that it is goods we want and not the "sign" for them.
CHAPTER XIII: AS TO HIGH PAY FOR WORKIs it true that if goods from o'er the sea are let in free, the high wage now paid in our land will go down, since the goods thus brought in are made by men who get a low wage? "Yes, of course!" cry some, and so they vote to keep up the high wall. But, all the same, it is not true. Nor do those who raise this cry show real faith in it, for (in the States) they are most fain to keep out the goods of those lands that pay the best wage -- such as John Bull's land -- and are not so much in dread of the goods of lands like Spain or China, where the pay is so poor.
A low wage does not at all times mean a low cost of the thing made; the men who work on farms in the West are paid far more than the same class in the old land, yet wheat from the West does not cost so much as Mr. Bull's wheat. There is a cause for this, but we only say here it is not to be found in the size of the wage paid.Once more, how comes it to pass that goods made in a high wage land can be sent to low wage lands and sold there at less than the home goods made by "cheap" men?
If a low wage land is to be held in fear by lands where a high wage is paid, how comes it that in the U. S. the slave States did not swamp the free States with their trade? and how is it that John Bull, who pays the best wage in the East, leads the whole trade of that part of the world? The truth is that a high wage as a rule means a low cost of the goods made, for it means brains and skill in the men who do the work. The wage paid is but a part of the cost. In the low wage hand work is done in such crude ways that, tho' the pay be poor, the goods in the end are by no means cheap. Brains and skill find out new ways by which as much work can be done in an hour as would else take a day, and goods thus made are cheap in the end, though a high wage be paid.It must be borne in mind that brains and skill count for much - far more than mere strength of arm. A fool and a smart man if of the same strength may do just the same day's work with a spade, and it would not be wise to pay one more than the other. But in a form of work that calls for thought and skill, as well as strength, the smart man would do much more in the same length of time, and if he were paid more it could not be said the cost of the goods was more. Where men get high pay they live well, and where they live well they do the best work; that is the law at the base of the whole thing.
True, a Boss here and there who can force down the wage of those who work for him in a land where pay is, as a rule, high, will gain by such a scheme; but if it were done by all, and the whole rate of pay were cut down as low as it is in the Far East, it would mean that the land as a whole would sink to the plane of the low wage land.A fall in the rate of pay all round in any land means what? It just means that the share of the loaf which goes to those who make it is less than it was. Say they got one half as things were, they now get one third though the whole size of the loaf is the same. Where, then, does the share they lose go? It goes in the form of more rent to those who own the land!
CHAPTER XIV: DOES A POOR LAND NEED A WALL
Here are two lands side by side. In one there are mines and rich fields and streams on which boats can run, and all that one could wish for, so that it is a great place for trade. The other has few of these gifts. In such a case, say some, the poor land must put a tax on goods or the rich land at its door will kill its trade. Now, is this the case? It is not. There is, in fact, no land that has in its own bounds all things to meet all the needs that may rise; or that can make all forms of wealth at low cost. The best land on earth is sure to be weak in some points, and there are no two just the same. In points in which some are weak others are strong. That is to say, each land finds that some lines of trade will pay well; some will pay less, some not at all. Good sense would say, give chief care to those lines in which your work tells for most, and then trade the goods thus made for the things you need but could not make at such low cost. Thus, both sides to the trade will gain, for in each case they "make the most of their chance." Is it not mad, then, to put clogs on trade, and so have to do at a 1oss what could be got through trade at a gain? Is it not a queer thing, too, that while men in a poor land say they must have a tax wall to shield them since the land is poor, men in a rich land, (one that has all the gifts a land could ask for), call for a tax wall so that they may work out these gifts?
The cry is a wrong and false one in both.
Free trade brings gain to both rich and poor lands, for by this means they give each to each the aid they need, as in the case of the blind man and the lame man who gave aid of eyes for aid of legs. Free trade will give each land more of the things it wants than it could get by the same toil if each did all its own work, just as two men, one of great skill and one of small, can, if they work at a job and each do the parts he can do best, do more than twice as much as one of them could do in the same time.
As has been said the toil and time it takes to make a piece of
goods of any kind does not fix the real cost of the thing. Say a man
made a coat with one day's work, and that a day's work is worth one
pound. Is the cost of the coat one pound? Ere we can say this we must
ask if this man could make coats with more skill and speed than he
could make aught else? If it should turn out that in the time it took
him to make one coat he might have done work in some line in which he
had more skill or more chance, which would have been worth two
pounds, then we must say that the real cost of the coat was two
pounds, and he has, in fact, lost one pound for that day. This is the
law of cost, and a tax on goods which acts as a clog on trade that
must tend to force folks to pay more than they ought for what they
want, or, which is the same thing, to give more of their time and
toil than they need for that which they get.
Free trade is trade of free will, and it would not go on at all but for the fact that there is gain in it to both sides. As 'twixt rich and poor lands, the poor stand to gain more and not less than the rich.
We hear it said by some that Free Trade would be all right if all lands would go in for it, but for one to take up that plan though all the rest kept up their walls would be to court ruin. Look at this and see what it means. It means that if we take down our wall it will be a gain to those who send goods in, not to us for whom they are sent in. So we take up the cry "Find out what they want you to do -- and don't do it!" And we say, "Since such and such a land shuts our goods out, would we not be fools to let their goods in?"These cries spring from the thought that goods sent out are gain, goods brought in are loss -- or, what you sell is gain, what you buy is loss -- the mad idea we have just dealt with. They are no more wise than the cry "Bite off your nose to spite your face" would be. A tax on goods thwarts those who would buy and hurts them more than it does those who would send them the goods they want. And how can it be good sense for a man to knock his own head to get even with one who has dealt him a blow? No one but a child could think thus; nor is it more wise for a state so to act; and it acts just in this way when, for spite, it takes up a plan which brings loss to its own folk.
A queer tale, you say. But not so wild as you may think. To thus burn up goods is mad, true; but to lose them in any way when you need not lose them, is just as mad, is it not? Let us bring this tale of the ten men on the isle to the test of facts. Here let us say, is the U. S. The homes of that land need things of such and such a kind, and so there is a call for that class of goods, which are made in John Bull's land with much skill and at low cost. By the laws of Trade at once the goods flow to the U.S. to meet the call there, and, to pay for them, goods which John Bull can not make so well, flow back. It is a square deal with gain to both sides, let us say six bags of John's goods for six bags of Sam's. But Sam at length goes in for the High Tax plan and puts up a toll gate at his port. He says by means of a tax he will keep out these goods, and so have them made in his own land. They are in due time so made, but now those who need them, if they bring them in from John Bull's mart, must pay the tax, which, let us say, is the price of one bag. They get five bags where they used to get six, and if they buy in the home mart, they get no more than five. Is not this the same as to get six bags and throw one in the sea? John Bull is, no doubt, hurt by such a plan; he will not be able to send so much goods, and so will not be able to bring back so much in trade from Sam's land. The tax may be put up so high that he can send no more goods of that kind at all, but he will still get what he needs and what he can best get from Sam's mart. We say "what he can best get" there; by which we mean what it will pay him to get there more than it would to make; or such things as grain, of which he can not grow a great crop in his own land. John, as a wise man, says, "To be sure, this tax of Sam's hurts my trade with him, but I still have the world at large to trade with more or less, and I will try to make it more. But I must have food, and if needs be, I will get it, or the main part of it, from Sam, as of yore."
But think you he would be as wise a man to say, "No! Sam, by means of this toll-gate, hurts my trade, and makes his own folks throw one bag of goods out of each six into the sea. I will meet him on his own ground; a blow for a blow is my rule, so I, too, will put a tax on goods and thus force my folks to throw a sixth of what they buy into the sea!"God has made all men of one blood, says the Good Book; and no man can say "I do as I please and it is nought to you." Yet the world is so built that, in the end, the man who does good gains by it, and he who does ill wounds his own soul most of all. Those who say that our land should take up the high tax plan-though it is a bad one -- since all other lands have it, are as wrong as if they should say, tell lies, since men as a rule are false; use strong drink since so many get drunk; spurn books, since the great mass of men care not for them.
CHAPTER XV: CART IN FRONT OF HORSE
It must be clear to all fair minds that if there is to be a shield at all, it must be spread o'er the heads of all the trades at which men work. It must be for the farm, the mine and the sheep-fold, as well as for the mill. But, as we have shown, the wit of man can form no such shield; that is to say, can not so fix a tax on goods as to help all and hurt none. So, what it comes to in the long run is, that the trades that can swing most votes get the most aid. It is a wild rush at the trough and the strong hogs will beat the weak ones. The plan, in truth, hurts more trades than it helps, and must do so. Yet the old cry goes on just the same -- "We must have a high wall if we are to build up trade!" and those who raise the cry point to the States and say, "There you see the proof -- mark what it has done for that land! If it were not for the high wall Sam keeps up, his land at this time would be just a lot of farms!"Is this true? No. Why, then, do scores of men who seem to have good sense hold such views? They have heard this cry so long that they have come to take it as true, and have not sat down to get at the facts of the case.
There were in the States scores of Mills and such Works long ere the high tax plan came in vogue. There is the same law of growth in this, as in a child, from the small to the great; first, the rude stage; while the land is poor and new and has few in it, it will have but the rude sort of works, such as the state of life calls for, and the sort of earth or wood to be had at hand will serve to set up; bricks and such rough goods will be made. As the crowd comes in, and the scale of life goes up, new calls will be made and met by works of a kind more in line with the new state of things, and in the end, with dense crowd, large towns and great wealth we will find all lines of Works, from the rude to the height of high art.
All that is said to prove that it is the growth of Mills that brings wealth to a land, and not growth of the wealth of land that brings mills, can be brought to prove that it is the growth of stage art that builds up towns, and yet we know that it is the growth of a town that brings the stage. A small place has no show at all; as it grows in size and wealth it has first a hall in which there are shows from time to time; then it gets a show each week; at length it can keep up a show each night, and a play house is built, then two of them, then three, and so on, till, as in the case of New York, you may count them by the score. But it would be just as true to say that it was the growth of the stage that made New York what it is, as to say that it was the growth of Works (due to the high tax plan) that made the States what they now are. It is a clear case of cart in front of horse.
But if it is true that Works spring up by force of needs as they rise from time to time, and keep pace with the growth of wealth, what is the need of a tax to "nurse" them? If you could not get the men in a small place to bear a tax to keep up a play house for shows that thus the place might be "built up," how comes it that they do not kick at the tax put on goods to "build up" the land they live in?
There is in short, but one safe thing for those who rule the State to do, and that is to keep their hands off trade. Just let them stand to one side and give it free scope; each move they make to "help" it can but do it harm, for at the most all that law can do is to help some trades at the cost of all the rest. There is no more need to nurse and guide trade than to teach birds how to fly and when to go south and when to come back. God, who has set a law in the bird by which it acts, has not left the race of man void of such a sense for trade as a bird has for flight.
A free field in which a man can make the most of his time and strength of hand or head -- that is, work in the line in which he can bring forth the most -- and then have his choice as to how and where he will trade what he thus makes -- that is the right plan. To fence him in with tax bars, and force him to work in lines that would not be his free choice, and that do not pay so well, and this in the name of "aid," is no wise plan. True, such a plan makes more "work," and if it were "work" that was to be sought, all would be well. But no sane man 'wants work, he wants the things that are to be got by work. This point should be borne in mind.
The word "free" is the word we prize most of all the words in our tongue. Men shout it, and sing it, and write it in gold. Let us be free or let us die! they cry. Free to think, free to speak, free to pray in the way we think right, free to come, free to go. But lo! they stop short at Free to trade.
This, they think, is not one of the rights of man. The word so scares the mass of men these days that when they hear it they seem like to take a fit. Strange!
CHAPTER XVI: A STRAIGHT LOOK AT THE "SHIELD"
The first aim of the High Tax plan is to "shield" the home trade; that is to say, it seeks by means of a tax on the goods sent in to raise their price, so that the firms which make the same class of goods at home can raise their price, too, and thus make more than they could if there was no tax.
Of course, the price thus put on must be paid by those who buy the home goods.If the tax fails to raise the price it proves to be no good, for that is what it is for; that is its chief aim.
The rise in price is all they have to look to for gain. But they do not get all of this. It costs them some part of it to get the tax they want put through the House. They have to "see" the men who have votes and square them, and pay all the costs of the game of pull and haul. All this work comes high, and it must be done not once, but it may be year by year. Then there is the loss that must cling to a trade so weak that it must be kept up by the tax, and could not pay at all on its own base. Such trades as a rule are run with great waste, and are not kept up to date, as they would need to be if they had to "hoe their own row." So that, it is but a small part of what the tax adds to the price of the goods that they get in the end.As for those who buy the goods, their case is, of course, much worse. They have to pay (1) the price of the goods plus the tax, plus the charge on the tax. (2) The loss that may come through those who dodge the tax, and sneak goods in free. (3) All it costs to catch and try such crooks; (4) the bribes paid to those who are set to guard the port and get the tax.
A plan that will shield all trades by means of a tax has not yet seen the light of day, nor will such a plan be found while the world lasts.
More, a plan that will shield some trades and not hurt others can
not be made. If it helps one (by a rise in the price of its goods) it
must hurt all trades which have to make use of such goods. A tax on
Steel is a good thing for the Steel Mills, but it harms all forms of
work in which steel must be used; a tax on salt hurts those who cure
fish or feed stock, and so on. Both ends of a teeter board can not be
kept up at the same time.
A plan to be fair should shield all and hurt none. The High Tax plan as it is is a gain but to the few, and this gain grows less with each new trade that gets into the ring, since for each new line that gets aid, more and more have to bear loss, and this is felt through the whole field of trade. If all trades were dealt with in the same way (as, of course, they should be by rights) then things would be in the same state as though none got aid. The plan would be of no use if it were fair. And in fact the good goes out of it at a point far short of aid to all. Say there are 100 lines of trade, half of which are of a kind which you can aid by means of a tax; and let us say that the part of the tax which they can get, that is, less what it costs them, is one fourth. Now in the first place, half of these trades can get no aid at all, since no goods of the kind they deal in are brought in, but they have to help to pay the tax in aid of the rest in the form of a rise in price. The whole tax is 100, and if but one of the trades gets aid (less what it costs) it will get 25. If two get aid, each will get 12/12; if three get aid, each will get 8¼, and so on. When 25 trades come in each will get no aid at all that will be of any use, though in the mean time all the rest will be at a loss. When 26 come in a loss comes in with it, and so on.
One can not find out to a jot just how such a tax works out, but
there is no doubt there is a point at which such "aid" gets to be of
no use; and in the States, they have gone past that point. The high
wall there is a dead weight on the whole trade of the land; it is a
dead weight on those very trades the law seeks to shield and nurse
If the force of a tax on a class of goods is to start up works in that line-and this is what we may count on -- in due time rates will be cut down till the "good thing" that was in it is gone; there then is no great gain to be made by any, though the price that has to be paid by those who buy is more than they would have to pay had there been no tax. As soon as a tax is put on and there is a chance of big gains in any line, there is a rush in to that line, and this tends to pull the gains down. But here and there we note there is some force which serves to head off such a rush. This force takes more than one shape.
As a case in point, take that of the thing we call chrome. There is a tax on chrome in the States, and as luck will have it, one man there owns the only chrome mines that are known. By means of the tax he can, of course, add to the price, and yet there can be no rush in to his line of trade.
Then the same thing may be done by what we call patent rights. There is a tax on wood pulp, and the man who owns the sole right to the plan by which paper is made from this sort of stuff has what we may call a cinch; and no fear of a rush.
Then, once more, the force may take the shape of a trust, or pool or ring, in which a lot of strong firms join hand in hand to crush out those who are in their line, so as to keep up the price.
In each case it is clear that the gains made are not gains from work. If the tax is to be a gain to you (with no fear that it will be cut down) you must own some thing which no one else can get hold of. You then may be said to have your feet on firm rock and can put forth your strength to keep off the crowd that would rush in to share your gain.
Now there ought to be clear thought on this point. Much turns on it. Yet strange to say, there are few who seem to see that a line must be drawn to show that gain from work is not the same as gain from a "cinch." A man who owns a toll gate and does not have to keep up the road may make great gains, yet no one would claim that he does any real work for it. If the same man has a shop in which he makes boots and shoes, that, of course, is a fair form of work, and what he makes at it he earns in a true sense. In such a case, what we claim is that it is not fair to take his whole year's gain from both these lines, though they are put in one purse, and call them the fruit of his toil. In so far as he has hides and tools, wax and thread and so on, he is a capitalist; in so far as he works he is a laborer, and the gains he thus makes are interest and wages. But in so far as he owns the tollgate, he is a monopolist and his gain from that source we call Toll or Rent. He is, in fact, two men in one, for his wealth comes to him in two streams 'twixt which we must draw a clear line. Yet there is a great fog these days on this plain point.
We hear shouts of wrath at Capitalists. It would be as good sense to how at Labor, for they are just two forms of the same thing. Those who raise the shouts thus prove that they have not clear thought, and do not see the line we have drawn 'twixt "work" and "cinch." In so far as men get wealth through their work, no odds how much they get, they do no harm to the rest; but, in so far as they get gain; not through work, but just by means of what they own-the toll they take in some form -- they may do harm, for what they thus get some one else who made the wealth must lose. Now, not a few both work and own-as in the case of the tollgate man I have set forth. But we can see that when we call such a man a "law made thief" we do not take note of what he gets by the trade of boots and shoes, but of that part of his gain which comes from the tollgate he owns.
It is not hard to see that as the whole race of man must live on the ground -- since they can not live in the air nor in the sea -- the man who owns land holds the prime key to wealth. For no wealth at all can be got but from the ground and from that but in one way -- by toil. This is true, as will at once be seen, of wealth in the form of crops, on a farm. And it is just as true of wealth in the form of sheep, cows, pigs and so forth fed and bred on a farm. This is plain to all. But to some it is not quite so clear that wealth is got out of the ground in the town and city. To be sure, it is not got in just the same way; but it comes in just as real a way out of the ground there. For a town must stand on ground, must it not? Is not the ground in a town worth much more per foot than the land of a farm? And why so? This is why: A man can make more out of land in towns. The wealth to be made in trade is as a rule more than is to be made on farms, and the work is not so hard. The chief worth of farm land is in what it will grow. The chief worth of a town lot is its site; that is, the part of the town in which it lies, with the chance for trade there is in it. As a town grows large the chance grows with it, and the lots go up in price, and in each town they range on a scale from low to high. Lots at the heart of a town are best for trade and so are worth much, from there out to the bounds, less and less. Then, some parts of the town have choice sites for homes, and these are of high worth, while less choice sites are worth less. Of each town we may say -- when we note the chance there is for trade, the style of the streets, the cars, the schools, and all things which go to make up a full life, -- it is worth so and so per year to live there. And we find that this "so and so" is, as it were, writ in the land, That is to say, the land is worth just what it is worth to live in the town. In this sense, all that the town can gain in wealth through trade comes out of the land, for, of course, if the land was not there, there could be no town. Now, is it not plain that if John Smith owns the site of the town he can take, by way of toll or rent from all who live in it all that it is worth to live there? If he owns one lot can he not take in the same way, all that lot is worth as a site for trade? And is not this the same thing as for him to take, as the rent of a farm, (in the form, it may be of a share of the crop) all that the farm is worth?
What we call Rent is in each case the Worth of the Chance, be it farm or town lot, and the rent is there all the while, though John Smith works the chance, or lets some one else work it. In one case he gets the rent as well as the gain he makes by his work; in the other he gets the rent and leaves the gain from work to the man who has the use of the land.
The great thing to be borne in mind is that each jot of wealth through the whole world, on farm, in mine, or in town, must be got out of the ground by means of work, and in no way else; and that it is such share of this wealth as goes to those who work to make it, and no more than such share, that forms their "pay" and gives them heart of hope to work on-that, in short builds up trade in the world. So it must be just as clear that such share of the wealth as goes to those who do not in any way help to make it must come off the share of those who do, and is a mere toll on their toil. This is the case with the whole share that goes in the form of Rent. The men who "own" rent do no sort of work for it. They get it as a mere toll on toil, and as the price for the use of the ground. They get it just as the man who owns a toll gate on the high road gets it. What does he give the man who comes up in the rig? He takes a toll, but what does he give? Nought but leave to the man to drive on. So the man who owns the ground gives nought but leave that work may be done.
A man who owns ground and gets rent may, of course, work, too, but, if so, what he gets for his work is a wage. The part he gets in the form of Rent is not a wage, for he does no work for this.
Now, let us see how all this bears on the case of the High Tax plan. Here we find some smart folk in John Bull's land who strive to get rid of what they now have by the name of "Free Trade," and urge that the old plan of a tax on goods be a tax put on grain. This is to "shield" the farms of the old land, and it will do so in so far as it lifts the price of grain. As soon as that is done there will be a rush to the farms, of course, for they will then have a chance to pay. There will be a call for farms. Lands that have of late years been idle will be sought. Then what? Why, of course, the lords of the soil -- those who own the land -- will raise the rent (as the chances grow bright the rent goes up, you see -- that is the rule). John Bull at large will have to pay more for his bread, since the price of grain has had a rise, but the men who work the farms will in a short time be just where they were, since all the fresh gain they make will have to be paid out in fresh rent, The men who will gain by the move in the end are those who toil not nor spin, but who own the land, and sit in their clubs and draw the rent.
To own the ground is the short cut to get rich, and the High Tax plan ever plays into the hands of those who own the ground. The ground may be in the form of town lots or farms, or it may be what we call wild land, it is all the same. In the States they have a tax on boards. Do you think this helps the men whose trade it is to cut down trees and saw them up in mills? That is what it was meant to do, they said. But some shrewd chaps long since got hold of the land on which the trees grew, and it was, in fact, they who got the tax put on. The tax keeps out logs from o'er the lakes, and so, if the mills are not to close down, logs must be bought from the ring, and the tax adds to their price. This is a straight blow to the men who work at this trade, but it is a "snap" for those who own the wild land.
And so it works all through the list.
Should mills spring up by the score, and call for scores and scores more of men to work in them, so that vast stores of new goods would be brought forth, who in the end would gain by it? So long as mills have to stand on ground, and those who own ground have the right by law to own the rent as well, is there need to ask who would gain?
CHAPTER XVII: THE "SHIELD" IS A HARM, NOT A HELP
If mills and so forth can not be built up in a land which has no tax wall, how comes it that in the States they had firms which made iron and cloth goods and so forth ere the first High Tax Act in 1789?
If it is true that a "poor" or "new" or "young" land can not hope to grow in the way of mills and works if it has not a wall to bar out the trade of a land that is near by and is full of big mills and the like, with stores of cash, "hands" that have great skill at their work, and cheap help, how comes it that this has not been the case with the West in the U. S., though it has had no wall to shield it from the East? As the tide of life has swept from East to West, these works have sprung up and have gone with it. They have grown up just as there was call for them, with no aid from tax laws.
In fact, they have grown up in spite of such laws. There is no doubt these laws have hurt the States as a whole. If free trade had gone on from the first the States might rule the marts of the whole world, where now they make but a poor show, and for the most part trade at a loss. When there is tax, tax, tax all round, so that all parts of each piece of goods are made dear, how could such goods hope to meet those made at a much less cost? What is the fact at this time? That most of what the States sends out is raw stuff from the farms, and most of what it brings in goods made in mills and works o'er the sea. There is a trade with Brazil. Goods are brought from there; are goods sent from mills and works in the States to pay for it? No. Wheat and so forth is sent to John Bull, and John squares off the deal with Brazil. He sends goods which Sam buys with his wheat.
This is the queer way in which the high tax plan has "built up the trade of the States with the world at large." It is well known that the "Yank" is as shrewd a man, with as good brains, as can be found on earth. He ought of right to lead the whole race in trade. Yet it is the fact that he does not; he is down near the tail end of the list. Strange, you say. No, just what one might look for when he loads tax weights on all things. To get the trade of the world the first thing to do is to make things cheap, and here this shrewd chap ties his own hands, or puts a clog on his own leg in the race. We hear much just now of how he "dumps" goods in lands o'er the sea. It is true he does a good deal in this line, but is it trade that is square, and that has real gain in it to him? Not at all. For the most part he sells these "dump" goods at cost, or less than cost, just to get rid of them. How can he do this? you ask. Well, you see, the high wall at home gives him the chance to hold his home trade and force the folks there to pay him twice the price the goods are worth, so that he can keep his mills on the go all the while, and when he finds more stuff on hand than the home man can take he "dumps" it o'er the sea in this way at "any old price." This, of course, is a good thing for those who get the goods; let us hope the dear folk in the States like the plan. It seems to be most kind on their part, does it not? "It is grand -- but it is not trade."
Then, too, the Yank's bright, shrewd brain works all the while on new schemes, and brings forth ideas by which work may be done with less toil and cost. If he could but get and hold the trade of the world in these things when he had thought them out, it would be a fine thing for him. But what takes place? Why the tax strings so tie him up that he cannot do it. John Bull takes up these new ideas, and, as he is not bound up with tax bands, makes the class of goods on the plan thought out by his smart friend, cuts down the price, and takes the trade. Once more we must say this looks kind on Sam's part.
If you would see one case in which tax clogs have spoilt a great trade for the States, take ships. Where will you find more brains and skill, or more wood, iron, steel and all that goes to build a ship, than in the States? Why, then, are no ships built there to speak of? Think that out. It tells the whole tale. You will find that all the things that go into a ship from keel to truck, from the wire in her stays to the brass in her log, and all that goes to fit and store her, has to bear a tax load. Thus once more has the kind Yank made a free gift to John Bull of the ship yard trade of the world.
And then note the facts as to the coast trade. The law says that no ship but one which flies the stars and stripes shall sail from port to port on the coast of the States. The rates of freight from New York round the Horn to the ports on the west coast are high. There is no doubt they could be made much less, and yet be fair, if all ships were free to go in for the trade, and this would be a gain to those who own the goods. But ships cost so much to build at home that few are built, and that the rates may be kept up, the "pool" which owns the lines of rails fr6m east to west pay the firm which owns the chief line of ships a large sum each month to keep up its rates. Thus, once more, we see how the high tax scheme plays into the hands of those who own land or right of way, or some "cinch" of the kind.
CHAPTER XVIII: AS TO WAGES
We have seen that the High Tax plan is a clog on work. On the whole, it tends to choke up the spring of wealth. Let us now see what it does for the spread of wealth. All will grant at once that wealth must be spread-that is, it must go, when it is once made, to serve some use, and this is the same as to say it must go in to some hands. If the whole of it goes to one man, to keep for his own, and do with as he wills, then it does not spread at all. Now of course it ought to spread, and men should share it on some right rule or law. What is that law? This: It should go to those who work, and form a fair rate of pay for the work they do by hand or brain.
We have got to such a pitch of skill now that it seems as though there is no end to the wealth that can be made, and this in the face of tax plans that bind and thwart us. But can it be said that the law I have just set forth is in vogue as to the spread of wealth when it is made? How is the loaf cut up? Do those who make it get it in due share? Or do some who do not toil nor spin get a share to which they have no right, and thus in fact rob those who work but get less than they ought to get? How does the High Tax idea bear on this? That is what we will try and find out now.
The point is this: Does the high tax on goods raise or tend to keep up the wage of the man who works; does it, that is to say, help him to get the share of the loaf that is his due? "Yes," say some, "of course it does; for it makes good times for all, and so must raise the pay of those who work, or at the least keep that pay from a fall." This is not proof; it is mere say-so. We have shown that, in fact, a high tax has no such force. It does not make "good times for all," for we do not need to be told that bad times come to lands that have the plan in full swing. And we know that pay does go down, and that there are spells in which men are "out of work," that is, get no share of wealth at all. But note this: It is not true at all times that that which helps or hurts the mass of men helps or hurts each one in the State. Fires and floods hurt some, but may be a means of gain to others. A fall in stocks is a loss to this man, but may mean a great gain to that one.
Trade, as we have seen, is a mode by which wealth is produced (turn back and read once more what was said as to what this long word is meant to stand for), and a high tax on goods, as has been shown, tends to block trade -- that is, to curb the growth of wealth -- to make it less.
Now we pass on to say that, since such a tax plan (as is its aim) puts up the price of goods, it makes the great mass pay more than they ought for what they buy, and gives to the few more than they could have got in a free field for what they sell. It thus plays pranks with the spread of wealth. It is those who thus get more than their fair share that are so loud in praise of the high tax scheme. But though the scheme may be a good one for those who sell goods that are put up in price in this way, how can it get for the plain man who works more than his fair share, or how, in short, can it do aught to make it sure that he gets even his fair share? He does not sell goods; he sells work of brains or of hand. There is no tax on this sort of thing; there is no wall to keep men out. A smith sells his skill to make tools, and he gets worth) of the tools he makes in the form of cash, and with this wage he buys what he needs -- clothes, food and so forth. Now, what good does it do him to put up the price of such things, by means of a tax, since the tax can not raise his wage in the same way? Let us say that, as a rule, he has to work one week to earn the price of a coat. By means of a fresh tax, say that coats rise to twice the cost they were. This is all right for the firms that make coats, but it means that the smith will have to work two weeks to get a coat now.
Where does his gain come in? Would it not be true to say that in such a case the tax has just cut his wage down by half?
It is all very well for the heads of great firms to tell their men that the high tax plan is good for those who toil for a wage; but what would these gents say to a plan that would let goods come in free but put a high tax on men? There would be a fine shout of rage. It would be hard to make them see that such a scheme did them good. With men shut out, up would go the rate of pay, and with goods let in free down would go the price, and groans would rise from these big mills and trusts. But it is a poor rule that will not work both ways.
Now, how can a high tax on goods raise the wage of those who work farms when it does not touch the goods made on farms? Wheat, live stock, and so forth are sent out of the States, not brought in; how then can a tax to keep out goods help farms? It is plain that this plan can not do what must be done, that is, raise the whole wage of farm work. The corn laws which John Bull once had kept out grain and put the price up to a high point, but did it raise the pay of the farm hands? No, it did just one thing -- put more wealth in the purse of the "lord of the soil" in the form of rent.
Facts all round show that a tax on goods can not raise the pay of those who work.
CHAPTER XIX: WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
We have thus set forth full proof that the High Tax scheme is a fraud. It fails at all points the claims made for it. What then, shall be done? Put an end to it, of course. At this there will be a cry: "Oh, no, don't be in haste to do that. Go slow, if it must be done; but to do it at once would be to bring ruin to scores of firms." But if it be not just, why should it not be put an end to at once? Why should we let a gross wrong go on to save loss to the few, when day by day it means loss to the many?
If there is to be a shock to trade when an end is made of this fraud, let that shock be a short and sharp one. It will thus do far less harm than if it is drawn out through a course of years. No man would choose to have his leg cut off by the inch. If short work is made of it the rich will have to bear their fair share of such loss as there may be for the time, but if it is to be done bit by bit the poor will have to take the brunt of it, as the rich will have time to scheme and so fix it.
But all this talk of great loss is vain. It comes from those to whom the fraud is a source of gain. They do not want to let go their prey. But even they are wrong when they think they would lose by Free Trade. All sound trade would gain. It would break up the rings and trusts, and bring down gains that are now got in the wrong way, but would not that be a boon to the land? In the case of the States, it would soon give them the lead in the trade of the world, their ships would sail the seas once more, and a great source of "graft" and bribes would be put an end to.
And what are we to say of such a fact as this-that in the slow old days, when folk had but poor, rude tools to work with, and could not in ten years make as much wealth as we now can in ten months, the lot of the poor was bliss to what it is now? A man in those far off times did not have to work so hard, and got more of the good things of this world for his work, while he did not know at all what the fear of want meant. (See Thorold Rogers' "Five Centuries of Work and Wages.) How comes it that in both Free Trade and High Tax lands at this day we find such a change in the class which is at the base? These men of the old time had to Work but eight hours a day, and no wife or child of theirs had to toil out of the home. How comes it that we at this date are so much worse off? How comes it that there is such a crowd of poor in the midst of such wealth-like the man on the raft with a whole sea round him but not a drop to drink?
To sweep off the High Tax, then, would not in the end help those who work. That is it would not prove a real cure for their ills.
Nor would it in the long run mean a square deal. When wealth is not spread in a fair way, it tends to grow less. Men who work, but do not get, lose heart and tend to cease work. Nor can we say they are wrong to feel so, when they see the growth of the set who do no form of work, but get more and more of a share, which must, of course, come out of the share of those who do work. If the plan now in vogue does not make sure of a fair spread of wealth it tends, in short, to vice, crime and waste. And of a truth there is no need that we break down High Tax walls so that more wealth may be made if we are not at the same time to see that it is spread in a fair way. With the plan we now have that would be but to make bad worse.
And what of "hard times"? The cause of these "bad spells" we are told, is that too much goods is made. If this be so, would not the fall of the High Tax walls, if it led to free scope of brain and hand, mean a great growth of wealth and thus a long term of "hard times"?
CHAPTER XX: FREE TRADE THAT IS NOT FREE
At this point it is the rule for books on this theme to close, for, in fact, this is the end of the case as 'twixt what they call Free Trade and High Tax plan. And, as we look at it, the High Tax is out of court; it has been shown to be a scheme which is a sham from end to end; which does no good (but to the few who pull wires) but robs the poor while it sings sweet songs in their ears.
Yet we must not stop here. We said this was to be a Whole-Hog Book; so we must go right through to the end. For all we have said has been said (by means of long words, to be sure) more times than one could count, and yet we find that lands stick to the High Tax plan, and vast crowds seem to have full faith in it still. The thing these folks need is more light.
You may well ask how it is that such a plain fraud can still live and thrive? It is not that men have no sense, as some say. The fact is, the root of the faith in it is deep down, and that root must be laid bare and shown to be false. This the books we have in mind (on the Free Trade side) do not seek to do.
Ere we go on to dig out this root, let us say that the pleas made by Free Trade men to show those who work that the High Tax is a bad thing for them, do not hit the mark. For what, at most, do they prove? That Free Trade tends to the good of men, and the High Tax tends to their hurt. That seems to be as far as they can go, and this has no real weight with "men of the world." They say, "Yes, they may tend as you say, but that does not prove that they will do so." A brick that leaves a roof tends to fall to the ground, but if there is a broad ledge in the way to stop it, it will not fall to the ground. In the same way the aids that men now have to make wealth (one man now able to do as much in a day as a score of men could once do) tend to get each man more wealth for his share or wage, but will not in fact do so, if, through some cause, there are crowds of men on the search for work and who fight for each job in sight.
Those who plead for Free Trade show that since the tax walls curb the growth of wealth, to take them down would tend to help those who toil, and they "feel quite sure" it would raise their pay. But how can they be sure of this till they have shown that there is nought in the way that might thwart this good and right end? And what is it these "Free Trade" men urge should be done? Not make trade Free, as you might think, but put on a low tax in place of a high one, that is all!
There is not much in this to stir the hearts of men, and it does not do so. There are men of a fair mind who will hear all that is to be said (or read this book up to this point) and say: "No doubt Free Trade has the best case, and the proof seems all right, but yet the hard facts of the day show that as a plan the High Tax works best." This may have a strange sound, but there is sense in it. What it means is, Free Trade as thus set forth does not meet all the facts of the case. And this is true.
One of these facts is that in a "Free Trade" land -- say John Bull's -- the slums are as deep and vile as in any High Tax land. Why should this be if Free Trade gives those who work their fair share of wealth? Such trade has no real right to the name of "Free."
CHAPTER XXI: WHERE "FREE TRADE" IS WEAK
No doubt, if the Tax wall were torn down, pay would go up, for a time. It did so when the Corn Laws were swept off. But this would not last. The case would turn out ere long to be the same as it is in that of the steam loom, which, though it weaves more cloth than the old wheel could do, has not in the end made the lot of the poor one whit less sad. Free Trade would, no doubt cause more wealth to be made, and it would bring down the price of goods. But would those who work get their fair share of the gain, that is the point? A glance at the old Home Land seems to say, no. Why, then, should the poor of France or the States go wild for Free Trade?
The more goods there are made, the more each man who works ought to have, in a fair deal all round. The march of skill has made the world more rich in goods now than in all the past. Yet we have hard times in spells, and not a few starve. And what say the wise men is the cause for this? That the mills have put forth too much! This is what they say in lands which have what they call "Free Trade," too! What these wise men should show is what it is that comes in the way to keep the bread the poor cry for, and would be glad to work for, out of their mouths. Why does not this sort of "Free Trade" "raise the plane of the sea of toil"?
Facts can be so dealt with as to make it seem that the state of those who work is on the mend, that they are, in short, well off to what they used to be. This has some truth in it when we speak of men who have high gifts or great skill or (as some say) good luck. But it is not true of the great mass. They are worse off. A poor man has scarce a chance at all at this day to start in trade on his own hook as once he could have done. To be sure some men grow more rich now than e'er they did in any past age, but side by side with this is the fact that the slums are more deep and wide than ever. Some force is at work, the fruit of which is Trusts and Tramps -- Wealth and Want. 'Twixt these two states there lies a great gulf, and we have proof that to change from High Tax to Free Trade as they have it in the Old Land would not bridge this gulf, nor fill it up, for we see it has not done so in these three score years it has been at work.
CHAPTER XXII: THE REAL STRENGTH OF THE HIGH TAX SCHEME
We may make an end of all the pleas that are put forth for the High Tax plan -- as we have done -- and yet not touch the thought from which it gets its whole strength in the minds of those who hold it. What is that thought? It is that in some way, say as we will, this plan "makes work," and as it is a plain fact that there are more men who seek jobs than there are jobs to be done, that which tends to "make work" must be a great boon.
It is true that (as we have shown) since it leads to waste, the High Tax scheme does "make more work," just as the rain does when it wets the hay on the farm.
Rain in such a case is thought to be a boon by the man who earns his wage by the day, though the man who owns the farm does not take that view.
We read of a King who had a hard heart; and, we are told, bade his slaves make bricks with no straw. Had he lived in these days, and had he dealt with wage slaves, he would have got high praise, for did his plan not "make more work," or tend to make the job last a long time? And if there were scores of men who sought work, would this not have been a good thing for those who held jobs?
It is of no use, then, to prove that "work" is not what we need but the "fruits of work," and that good sense tells us to get what we seek with the least cost of time and toil.
We must deal with this root thought that work is a boon, and that he who lets us work for him ought to have our thanks.
Whence springs this root thought? Out of the fact that men can not now, when they need food or clothes, go and work on their own hooks for these things. In all lands we note that as soon as the time is past when men can do so, and the time comes when they need some one to hire them lest they starve, the High Tax scheme comes to the front and gains the good will of the mass as a plan that "makes work."
Of course no man wants work for its own sake. If he works for fun, then he will do just such work as he can get fun out of. If he works for life (as is the case with most) it is the pay he has in view.
No man will work for nought if he can help it, and the things he makes by his toil is his wage by rights. If his work brings forth nought (as in the case, say, of a man who digs for gold on his own "claim") then he gets no wage. So the man who works for a Boss and in the course of a day makes no new wealth at all, does in fact earn no wage. But as things now go in the world the wage is paid for work done, not for the real worth of that work. A man has "put in" a day and looks for his pay, and gets it, though, had he done the same work as it were on a "claim" of his own, he would have got none. In this way it has come to pass that men in their thought join the two words "work and wage," and not (as in the old, rude days) "toil and the fruit of toil as wage." That is to say, work has come to stand for "pay," and when men praise a scheme that "makes work" they of course mean a scheme that makes a chance to get pay. In some towns they help the poor with a job on the roads. The "work" is a mere form, it may be; it is but a plan to give a dole to those in want.
In face of the facts as they are, there is much to say for this idea that what "makes work" is a good thing. Men may have strong arms, staunch frames, good health and a will to work. All well; and it is true as we have said that work is the one way by which wealth can be made. But what if the man is at sea on a raft? All wealth comes out of the ground, and that he may work a man must be, not on the sea, or in the air) but on the earth. Give a man strength of arm and hope of heart and a bit of ground, and he need ask no one to hire him or to give him pay. He will work out his own wage each day. But since it is the fact that men as a rule can not get at the land (which is held for rent or must be bought at a price they can not pay) what is there left for them but to sell their strength or skill to those who will buy it-that is, to those who will pay them a wage they can live on?
And as those who can thus buy are few and those who wish to sell a great host) we can see how it comes to pass that thanks seem to be due, not to him who does the work, but to him who "makes it," and that the work is thought to be a boon.
Nor is it hard to see how this same thought takes form in the oft-heard view -- to which High Tax men give loud voice -- that our own land ought to do all its own work, and any land which seeks to do any of it for us acts the part of a foe. Hence, of course, the High Tax which keeps these foes and their cheap goods out, must seem to be a plan which tends to make us at home rich.
Yet all this is false, and all that flows from it must be false. "It is work we need-not that the work should bear due fruit, hut that it should get 'pay.'" Such is the cry. Thus, we hear it said of a work that cost a great deal though it was of no use when done - "True, it has done no good; but ah! it made a lot of work for scores of men." If such a thought is not false at the base then fires and floods and wrecks of all sorts must be boons, yet who would say this?
If each man in need of work were free to go at it, all would see that each ounce of the wealth of the world which was burnt up would be a loss to all, and that those who did no work were as bad as thieves. But with the facts as they are -- with work a boon to be sought as one would seek for life-we do not think of it in this way.
CHAPTER XXIII: THERE'S A TH1EF IN THE CASE
The High Tax plan seeks to curb Trade, and Trade is but the thought God put in the heart of man as a means by which the whole race should gain.
All that can be said for this plan could be said with just the same force for a plan to thwart all the new means that are brought out to save toil. This would shut off steam and all the great things it has done, and in all paths of life drive us back to the "stone age."
The mass of wealth of this age and the rate at which that mass grows is so great that all ought to be well off, but all are not. Each new plan to save toil should give more ease to all; but it does not. The man who has eyes does not need to be told this. He can see the deep slums in the rich old lands; and he can note, too, that in such a new land as the States the poor sink while the rich rise.
In no place does the state of those who toil, as a whole, keep pace with the march of the arts which aid the growth of wealth. And in those spots where those who work may from time to time get a bit more of a share, this is not due to those arts. It is due to strikes or threats of strikes.
In view of these facts there is, of course, but one thing to be said. If there is more wealth made and those who help to make it do not get more for their share, there must be some pouch into which goes a share which should not go there. In short, there is a thief at large.
Who is the thief? In what way does he steal the shares of those who work? How can we end his theft? Here we reach the real point of the whole case.
We hear a voice say-"Stop. Do not vex your soul with these things. Those who work are now well off to what they once were. Do they not eat good food and wear good clothes? Do they not have good times as a rule? Just think how the poor slaves had to work, and what hard times they had!"
Ah! how nice, to be sure. But does this make the theft right? Let no such false talk switch us off the track of the thief. This is a Whole-Hog Book.
CHAPTER XXIV: THE THIEF: WHO HE IS, AND HOW HE DOES IT
It has been shown that the High Tax plan robs those who work, but to, put an end to that plan would not solve the case, for it would not touch the Chief Thief -- the man who owns the earth. His rule is to take all that is left -- all but life, and what will just keep the man in a fit state to work. There are not a few small thieves like the High Tax that thrive on the son of toil, but short work can be made of them when the Big Thief is done for. Do you ask, "How can it be theft to own the earth, that is to say, to own land rent? Some of the best of men own land -- do you call them by the base name of thieves?
It is not the men we have to deal with; it is the law by which the land may now be held. That law means theft, and must so mean as long as it stands as it is. The blame is not on the man, be he good or bad, it is on the law which can work in but one way, and that is to take from A what he earns and give it to B, who has done no hand's turn for it. This is to steal; so, for short, we call it theft.
Let us see what the law now is as to land. It treats land just as it treats hats, coats, books, wheat and all the things which we call "goods," and which are made by the skill of man or grown by his care and toil. It says that a man can own land just as he may own a bag of wheat, that is, he may do as he likes with it; he may use it or not use it; he may let some one else use it or not, he may sell it or deal with it just as he wills.
Well, you say, why not?
I will tell you why; land is not in the same class as "goods," and the law has no right to treat it as if it were. Land is not the work of man's hands, nor can he grow it or make it less or more. It is God's earth and His free gift to the whole race, like the air, the light, the sea, and so forth.
Yes, you say, I know all that, but how is land to be put to use if men do not own it? True, men must own it; that 's quite right, -- but not on such terms as those set forth in the law as it now stands. Each man who holds (or owns) a piece of it should, of right, make up to the race what he thus takes from them-he should pay each year what it is worth. If a man owns a hat and sees fit to burn it up he does no great harm to the race, for more hats can be made; but if he owns a piece of the earth -- for which he pays no rent to the rest-and sees fit to hold it out of use, he has cut down the size of the earth by just that much. This is a loss which can not be made up.
No one man can in a true sense be said to "own" land, nor in fact can all the men who live in one age. For those who are to be born in the next age are to have the same rights as men who now live on the earth. Each age has but the use of the earth while here. But if this is true, then no man can get the same sort of right to land as he may to a hat or boots or house, not though all who dwell on earth were to sign the deed. That which is not ours we can not give nor sell.
To own land, then, ought to mean no more than this, that a man may have the sole right to it, to use it or hold it out of use as he sees fit, so long as he pays each year what the bare land is worth. Since the race at large can not have the use of the land while it is in his hands it is but right that they should have the worth of it. When this is paid each year, it is fair all round, and all that the man makes by his own use of the land ought to be his own and free from all forms of tax. In short while it is right that a man should "own" land it is not right that he should also own the land rent.
But this is not the law as it now stands. A man may now hold land and by that fact he owns the rent as well. That is where the wrong is. 'Twixt what he pays for it in a tax to the State (where there is a tax at all), and what he can get for its use from some one who needs it in the form of rent, there is oft a great sum of gain, and thus we have a class that lives on land rent, that is, who get paid to let some one else work. And what is this rent but a part of the wealth which the some one else earns? And how much of it? All of it but such share as will keep the man in a fit state to work and to earn. If this is not theft in the sight of God, what would you call theft? Hence we use the blunt term thief for him who takes goods he does not earn in the, form of rent and by force of law. In past times men used to own slaves and take all the slaves could make, but then they had to keep and feed their slaves; now they own the land on which "free" men must work, and this gives them a right in law to a share of the wealth in the form of rent; nor do they have to keep or feed the new sort of slaves. You see, to bring forth any form of wealth you must have two things, the toil or skill of man, and land. It makes no odds which of these two you own to give you a right to a share of what is made, with no work on your part.
And note this, that the funds which the State needs each year must be paid, out of what is left when the rent which of right is the State's has been paid. Thus, the man who works pays twice, he pays first for the use of land (that is, for leave to work at all) and then he pays for what the State does for him.
When we say that the Big Thief takes "all that is left" we point to the fact' that the growth of land rent keeps pace with the growth of the race. Each move that makes life more bright and fair, or tends to the good of all, sends land rent tip. Free street cars would be a boon in large towns, but what a man might save in fares he would have to pay in land rent. If, in fact, gold fell from the clouds like rain no one would gain but the men who own the land on which it fell.
Rent is not a thing which comes by the will of man, it is the gauge which tells what the chance is worth in each case, and it goes up or down as a town grows or fails. It is there all the while, and is in no case the fruit of toil. By the law as it now stands rent goes to him who owns the land. If the man who works a farm does not own it, he pays the rent to some one else; if he owns the farm he keeps the rent, as well as the wealth his work earns. Land that is in use bears rent just as a tree bears leaves.
If some men own the world on which the whole race must live, and have the right by law to charge for its use while not made to pay a fair rate for the land they thus hold, it is clear that there must be just what we see -- the Rich and the Poor. While this state of things lasts nought that 'we can do can cure the ills of men. High Tax and Low Tax plans both fail to do this, as we have seen. True Free Trade would do it.
CHAPTER XXV: TRUE FREE TRADEThere is no land on earth, where, as yet, true Free Trade has been tried, for, to make Trade free in a real sense we must make land free. That is to say, the right of each man to live on the earth as a son of God, with no fee to pay to any man for that right, must be set down in the law. God made the earth for all, and all must be able to use it. But how is the law to fix it that this may be done?
There are some Ways in which it can not be done.
1. The land can not be cut up so as to give each man his due share. Such a plan is not to be thought of.
We must find a plan which is in line with these two truths:
2. The land can not be held by all in such a sense that no man has the right to the sole use of any part of it.
1. That all men have the same right to life and to the means of life.
1. Would be a great spur to trade, since it would throw down the bars that now keep toil from the source of all wealth; and give new vim to trade, as there would be no tax put on any thing that was built or made or grown.
3. Would put an end once and for all to the ground hog -- the Great Thief that now takes "all that is left."
4. Would pave the way for those steps on the path of right which all good men long to take. With true Free Trade in vogue, each new man would mean new wealth, and a gain to all, and we might then say with truth "there is room and a fair chance for all."
In the term Trade there are two clear parts. When goods are bought and sold, brought in or sent out of a land, that is but one half of it, though it is thought of as if it were the whole. Ere goods can be bought or sold, they must first be made, and no odds what their form may be they are got out of the ground first of all, and then put in shape by the skill of men's hands. This, too, is a part of trade; it is in fact the base of trade. If, then, we are to have Free Trade we must have free land-it must not be held in the clutch of those who will take toll for its use. Free Trade means that there shall be free scope to make things as well as free scope to buy and sell them.
A State can not go on if it has not funds, but much hangs on the plan by which funds are got. It is the food the State lives on, and just as in the case of a man, wrong food is sure to bring forth ills. We have shown that to get funds by means of a tax on goods must be to rob those who work of a part of what they earn. This is not just. It is wrong, and we see the fruits of it on all hands.There are two forms of tax which would be just and fair:
1. If it were worth while to do so, a tax might be put on "style." If rich folks see fit to have coats of arms and such things just to show their wealth, they might be made to show it as well in the form of a tax to be paid each year on their "frills."
2. A tax (so to call it) on land rent. This is not the same as a tax on land. It is on what the land as bare land is worth in each case, and of course it does not touch what may have been built on said land, or done to it in the way of drains, etc.This tax would make a free way to the land for Toil, and as it would kill off the drones who now get a share of the wealth it would tend to a fair spread of wealth in the world. With true Free Trade, each new step in the arts would lift the whole race as it ought to do, but as it now fails to do.
True Free Trade would set free the wage slaves of our day.
CHAPTER XXVI: THE LION IN THE WAYThe way to True Free Trade is clear, but there is a lion in it. At this dread beast men who see the path and know it is the right one to take, shake in their boots. To set the land free, as well as trade in goods, would be to stop the game of those who live on rent, an4 as this means of wealth to those who toil not has gone on a long time, it has in some way got to seem a "right," and men shrink from the thought that it must be put an end to. Of course it is not a "right," but, as we have shown, a "wrong," and it must be brought to an end if men are to be made free in any true sense. Then, it is not only those who live on rent, but a great host of those, too, who; though they earn their bread by work of some kind, yet hold land and hope to make gain in this way as well, who take a firm stand for things as they are. These, for the most part, do not know that to all who work the tax on land rent would be a great gain, which would more than make up for what they would lose in rent. But the drones, who sit on the back of Toil and live on the toll they get for the use of God's earth, would be slain by such a tax. That, in short, is just what it is for. The lion must go so that the race may move on; or the race must sit down and give up hope.
The "rights" of the lion will not bear the light of day. As has been well shown by one whose name is high in the halls of fame, the first deeds were drawn with blood, and not with ink, with sword and not with pen. That is to say, those who held the land in the first place took it by force -- stole it. You can base no sound right on theft. But even if the land had at first been bought from the whole race, the case now would be just as bad, for had the race in that far off day a right to sell our claim to the use of the earth in our day? The law holds, as it has done from the first, that the Crown owns the land and that those who are said to own it do but hold it at the will of the Crown-that is, of ALL. But in the mean while there is no doubt it is fear of the lion in the way that makes those who would fain be the friends of man sing so small when they talk of Free Trade. They do not dare to speak out for the real thing -- Free Land, Free Trade, Free Men!
CHAPTER XXVII: CHOKE OFF THE BIG THIEF FIRST
A great host of ills may spring from one cause, and a cure for all of them may lie in one and the same thing, but it takes some thought to see and grasp this. Men are prone to the idea that each phase of ill in the world of trade needs its own cure, or that there can be no cure but to make the heart of each man right; or for the State to take care of all.
Hence at this day we have a score of "cures" held out, and men who no doubt have the good of the race at heart are at odds as to the thing that ought to be done. But there can be no doubt of one thing-if a man is set on by a lot of thieves and there is one of them who "takes all that is left," his right course is first of all to down that thief. When this is done he will at least have some of his goods safe, and can then get strength to fight off the rest. That is to say, first set the land free, and take the tax off what a man earns, and he will have the means to stop the small drains he now has on his purse. But of what use can it be, to put an end to the small thefts if you leave that big thief who will then but get the more?Up to this time the Trade Union is the one and only shield Toil has had, and this has on the whole been but of small use; while the great mass have not even had this aid. To get their full rights by such means is as hard as for a man in a crowd to get room, and by sheer strength to push back those who press in on him. The whole base of life is wrong, and it must be made right; it is built on the lie that God made the earth for a few to own and rent out to the race at large, when the truth is that the earth was made for all, and that hence the rent of land must be for all.
CHAPTER XXVIII: WHAT WILL YOU DO?The cause of True Free Trade is the cause of the Rights of Man, and as such, where once it is known it goes to the heart, and calls forth all that is best and most God-like in us. To pack it all into a few words -- we must make the earth as free to all as air and light and the warmth of the sun are now free. We may be sure that had Greed and Grasp been able to build walls round the air or the light these would at this day have been held for rent, and the law would back up the "rights" of those who thus held them. And we would find those who sought to get true free trade in air and light, as well as in goods, would have to bear the name of "cranks." Well, though air and light are now free, land is not, and we need it just as much if we are to live. The time has come for the fight. Let us draw our swords and press on. The cause is one we may be proud to fight in, and if need be to die for. What, then, shall we do? Take the first step first. Break down the High Tax wall. Seek to have the tax on goods cut off. Seek to get a law that will give the folks of a town or State the right to tax what they think should bear a tax, and to set free what they think should be free. And while at work in all these ways and in all ways that are on the straight and true path, let each man spread the light with tongue and pen as best he may. Let each take a part in the Free Trade fight which is now on, for this is on the right line, poor as the end it aims at is. Yet it gives a chance to throw light on True Free Trade, and on the path the Bull must tread to get the twist out of the rope that now holds his nose to the post. He must go step by step in the track which leads to the great truth that man may not own land rent, since he may not own men.
CHAPTER XXIX: TO SUM UP
We set out to make a search for the truth as to which of the two plans was best for "those who have to work" -- the High Tax, or what they call Free Trade. We have found that the High Tax plan has no help at all in it for this class, and can but harm them. It is, in short, a scheme by which the few may by law tax the many. We have found that Free Trade as they have it in John Bull's land, though a step in the right line, does not prove to be the boon it was meant to be. And the cause of this we have seen in the fact that though trade is free (that is, there is no tax on most goods brought in) land is not free. The source of wealth is shut off, or held for rent or toll. We have found that land rent is the one thing that goes up, with each step the world takes, that all that art and skill have done to make toil light and wealth great, counts for next to nought for the mass of men; they get no such share of the loaf as they have a right to. Those who hold the land have a right by law to take "all that is left," so that no plan or scheme can ease the lot of the wage slave while that state of things lasts. If it should rain food and clothes and all the forms of wealth we need from the sky, it would not help the man who has no' claim to the land on which they would fall. The end of our search, then, has brought us to this clear truth -- the plan that will aid one and all and be fair and just is True Free Trade, in which the land will be set free as well as the things which are made from the land -- in which men will be free to work as well as to trade. It is in the path of this True Free Trade that the wage slave must go to loose the rope that now binds him to the post. The work first to our hand is to get the tax off goods bit by bit, and with each step in this line get it put more and more on land rent. In due time we will reach the point where land can only be held for use. The day of the ground hog who holds it for a rise will be done; he must use it, or drop it and let some one else have a chance.
Thus have we gone through the whole wage theme from end to end, as we might pass through the dark shaft of a mine. We have with care sought to find out the truth, and we have found it. The full light has now burst on us. It is the light of True Free Trade; 'neath which joy and peace will take the place of age long wrong, and God's will shall be done on earth.