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fundamental natural and social conditions-as, for example, mineral deposits, locations, and the like some form of taxation, or more exactly joint landlordship, is not only advisable from the viewpoint of public revenue but is indispensable for the purpose of preserving even a reasonable standard of equity in distribu
R. B. BRINSMADE: I wish first to pay a tribute to the frank and very able paper of Professor Davenport. I only wish that his paper, along with the supplemental criticisms of Professors Carver and Robinson, could be published in every trade-union paper of the United States, for I feel sure it would do much to counteract, in trade-union circles, the distrust of professional economists as helpers in the great movement for social reform and industrial equity. Professor Davenport, however, is evidently unfamiliar with the practical proposals of the singletaxers in his inference that they consider chiefly agricultural land values. Such a rendering, I believe, has no basis even in "Progress and Poverty", and if one reads "Natural Taxation" and the "A. B. C. of Taxation", the works respectively of T. G. Shearman and C. B. Fillebrown, the practical textbooks of the reform, the mistake is yet more evident.
Single-taxers propose to raise revenue from land value alone, but as they include in their term "land" not only farms but forests, mineral deposits, town sites, and public utility franchises (for the use of land and waterways and resources), I believe they cover all the sources of Professor Carver's "findings" (or legitimate unearned increments) except patents. The practical method of assessment of these various types of land value is suggested in my article entitled "Natural Taxation of Mining and Timber Land", published in Conservation for May, 1909, and in the Mining World for November 20, 1909.
The gains from monopolistic patent rights can be justified as both a return to the inventor for his brain work and as an inducement for him to record, for the benefit of society, his discovery, which, if kept secret, might otherwise die with him. On this basis undoubtedly our patent law has been abused, but it can be easily amended at any time to make it conform to practical justice. Land rent, however, on the other hand inevitably arises in any competitive society, and the only question before the social reformer is, who shall be allowed to absorb it? Shall it
all go to society or shall individual land holders get the whole or part of it? If one had heard today only the paper of Professor Adams and its criticism, he would have thought that taxation was a mere matter of fiscal adjustment. When one considers, however, that our present national and local governments spend about two billion dollars annually or at least one tenth of our total wealth production, it may be seen that taxation has become probably the chief factor in deciding how wealth shall be distributed among the different classes of society. Professor Davenport thinks that a direct land-value tax might be a social danger, but could anything be more demoralizing than our present indirect national taxation? In the many communities in which I have resided, the idea of the average voter of the chief purpose of a federal congressman is that he should act as a sluiceway to divert the stream of national expenditure into his local community. Would there be such a pressure on a congressman for public buildings, river and harbor works, pensions, etc., if his constituents understood that they were paying for them? Now, most voters think that a national grant is like money from home or a legacy from grandmother.
How the single tax would alter for the better the development of our natural resources can only be appreciated by a practical producer. For fifteen years I have been in practice as a mining engineer in many countries. I have been everywhere astounded that our laws still permit land-gamblers to hold up would-be developers to an extent now feasible in few foreign states. The conservation movement is but the first step toward the restoration of our land to the people. The long tolerance of present taxation absurdities by our producers is due to their ignorance of economic science. When the significance of Professor Davenport's paper becomes once known generally, there will be some fur flying among speculators, monopolists, and their dupes and lackeys.
As to Professor Robinson's idea that society has a right only to the future unearned increment, I wish to dissent. It is probably true that it would be impractical to recover the land rent paid in the past, but the recovery of that to be paid in the future (which is capitalized as the present selling value of land) is quite a different matter.
The abolition of the private appropriation of economic rent is analogous to that of chattel slavery. The latter was abolished in Brazil, without money payments to slave owners, by the de
vice of gradual emancipation during a generation. In the same way, Mr. Fillebrown proposes to increase the land value tax 1 per cent annually for thirty years, while decreasing other taxes proportionately. This would suffice to throw the whole burden of government upon land values, raising the 20 per cent of rent now absorbed by taxation to the 50 per cent required for the whole expense of government. This would still leave 50 per cent in the hands of the land holders, which might be considered partly as a commission for rent collection, partly as a bonus for the risk of land development, partly as a margin covering incorrect assessment, and partly as a reserve available for society, through additional taxation, in case of sudden emergencies like earthquakes, famine, pestilence, or war. It is probable that all rent, beyond that needed to cover the actual requirements of the last paragraph, will gradually be absorbed by the future single tax society to cover the increased expenses of a developing social integration.
AN ATTEMPT TO DEFINE SOCIALISM
Definitions of socialism are almost as numerous as the combatants for and against socialism. Unbelievers claim the same right as believers to define the term, as Mark Twain said people should spell according to the dictates of their own conscience. The results are confusion and misunderstanding, muddy thinking and a woeful working at cross purposes in matters of national importance. So bewildering is the babel of voices that some people deny that socialism can be defined at all.
Preparatory to this symposium I inquired the opinion of some leading economists and publicists upon the meaning of the term and among the replies are the following:
Professor John H. Gray says: "You seem to have tackled a phantom, a will-o'-the-wisp. The term has no fixed or well-defined meaning. In the eyes of the interests socialism means any proposition to take away any power, legal or illegal, good or bad, that the interests now suppose themselves to possess."
Professor Davis R. Dewey writes: "It has never seemed to me possible to define the word so as to make it serviceable for general discussion. Socialism represents a movement. I do not see that it admits of sharper definition than Christianity, or barbarism, or culture........The discussion has gone too far and the term is too widespread to bring down to any definition."
Professor Simon Patten declares, "I cannot define socialism. It seems to me to be a composite of several thought movements, each of which has separate causes."
However, I am glad to report that this despair and bafflement are not universal-not even characteristic. The great majority of those I have asked, all of them qualified to speak with authority, not only give a definition, but their definitions come remarkably close together. They show little of those wide variations as to the meaning of the term which distinguish the speeches of politicians on the stump and propagandists on the rampage. The briefest is by Professor T. N. Carver, to whom "Socialism is the public ownership and operation of all the means of production." This is closely allied with the definition given by Mr. Wm. Jennings Bryan in an essay of which his secretary kindly
sends me a copy as answer to my inquiry. "Socialism", writes Mr. Bryan, "is the collective ownership, through the state, of all the means of production and distribution." If Mr. Bryan's ownership be taken to include management, as other sentences in his essays indicate it does, and if Professor Carver considers that distribution is, as an economic process, only a stage of production, then Harvard and Nebraska are practically in agreement.
Professor Henry R. Seager elaborates this a little. "Socialism", he says, "is a proposed reorganization of industrial society which would substitute for the private ownership of land and the instruments of production public ownership, and for the private direction and management of industry, direction and management through public officials."
Notice that this definition does not specify that all the means of production be owned by the public. Similarly, Professor Carl E. Parry stipulates, "the common ownership and operation of substantially all productive instruments.” The same point is made by a thoughtful advocate of socialism, Mr. W. J. Ghent, whose definition runs as follows: "Socialism is the collective ownership and democratic management of the social means of production for the common good." "Not ALL the means", he continues, "for it is entirely probable that many of the smaller industries may justly, and with due regard for social efficiency, be left in private hands."1
Professor Richard T. Ely, in a definition originally given in his work "Socialism and Social Reform"-a definition which he tells me he would not change today—adds another idea. "Socialism", he says, "is that contemplated system of society which proposes the abolition of private property in the great material instruments of production, and the substitution therefor of collective property; and advocates the collective management of production, together with the distribution of social income by society, and private property in the larger proportion of this social income."
Probably the definitions before quoted may be taken to imply the idea fully expressed in the last clause of Mr. Ely's definition, that socialism contemplates private property in the larger proportion of social income. Others reach the same goal by considering the proposals of socialism with regard to the institution of property as fundamental. Professor David Kinley considers. that socialism "in essence calls for a new law of property, to the 1 W. J. Ghent, Socialism and Success, p. 217.