Fairhope, Alabama

Upton Sinclair: The Consequences of Land Speculation are Tenantry and Debt on the Farms, and Slums and Luxury in the Cities

...I have before me a little book entitled "Enclaves of Economic Rent," by C. W. Huntington....This book is published by Mr. Fiske Warren, a millionaire paper manufacturer who lives at Harvard, Massachusetts, and believes in the Single Tax by way of enclaves....I sought to persuade Mr. Warren that a great crisis was impending; that the inequality of wealth in our society a thing continually growing worse, was bound to bring a smash-up long before mankind had been persuaded to live in enclaves. To this Mr. Warren answered, in substance: "You may be right; but if this civilization collapses, something else will have to be put in its place, and it may be useful to men to have a model of a better community."

...How are these enclaves run? The principle is very simple. The community owns the land, and fixes the site value year by year, and those who occupy the land pay the full rental value of the land they occupy. Improvements of any kind are not taxed; you pay only for the use of what nature and the community have created. The community takes all this wealth and uses it, first to pay all the taxes on the land [and buildings -ds] the remaining money being expended for community purposes, by the democratic vote of all.

What this means in practice you can see from the town of Fairhope, Alabama. Fairhope began nearly thirty years ago, with three hundred and fifty acres, and now has nearly four thousand acres. Its land is estimated to be worth a million dollars. But instead of this wealth being distributed among private owners, in accordance with the guessing power or each individual, the whole rental value is the property of the community, and the whole community prospers by the labors of each one.

What this means in the way of moral values you may judge from one sentence in the little book: and I will follow the example of the book and quote this sentence in the same cold and unemotional fashion: "No resident of Fairhope has been defendant in a criminal case in county court." Perhaps I should add that there is no place except the county court where anyone could be a defendant; there has never been a court or jail or anything of that sort in Fairhope.

Or take the colony of Arden, Delaware, which is just south of Philadelphia. I could not say that no resident of Arden has ever been a defendant in a court — I myself having been one of eleven men who were arrested by a constable from the city of Wilmington, and sent to prison for the crime of playing baseball and tennis on Sunday! It is that kind of humorous story which you read about Arden, and not the serious efforts which are there being made to solve a great and pressing social problem.

In Philadelphia, as in all our great cities, are enormously wealthy families, living on hereditary incomes derived from crowded slums. Here and there among these rich men is one who realizes that he has not earned what he is consuming, and that it has not brought him happiness, and is bringing still less to his children. Such men are casting about for ways to invest their money without breeding idleness and parasitism. Some of them might be grateful to learn about this enclave plan, and to visit the lovely village of Arden, and see what its people are doing to make possible a peaceful and joyous life, even in this land of bootleggers and jazz orchestras. ... read the whole article