The equal right of all men to the use of land is as clear as their equal right to breathe the air-it is a right proclaimed by the fact of their existence. For we cannot suppose that some men have a right to be in this world and others no right . . . .
. . . any one human being, could he concentrate in himself the individual rights to the land of any country, could expel therefrom all the rest of its inhabitants; and could he thus concentrate the individual rights 'to the whole surface of the globe, he alone of all the teeming population of the earth would have the right to live.
And what upon this supposition would occur is, upon a smaller scale, realized in actual fact . . . . The comparative handful of proprietors who own the surface of the British Islands would be doing only what English law gives them full power to do, and what many of them have done on a smaller scale already, were they to exclude the millions of British people from their native, islands. And such an exclusion . . . would not be a whit more repugnant to natural right than the spectacle now presented, of the vast body of the British people being compelled to pay such enormous sums to a few of their number for the privilege of being permitted to live upon and use the land which they so fondly call their Own; which is endeared to them by memories so tender and so glorious, and for which they are held in duty bound, if need be, to spill their blood and lay down their lives . . . .
Place one hundred men on an island from which there is no escape, and whether you make one of these men the absolute owner of the other ninety-nine, or the absolute owner of the soil of the island, will make no difference either to him or to them.
It was not nobility that gave land, but the possession of land that gave nobility.
What I . . . propose, as the simple yet sovereign remedy, which will raise wages, increase the earnings of capital . . . give remunerative employment to whoever wishes it. . . is-to appropriate rent by taxation.
Now, insomuch as the taxation of rent, or land values, must necessarily be increased just as we abolish other taxes, we may put the proposition into practical form by proposing-
To abolish all taxation save that upon land values.
Taxation which lessens the reward of the producer necessarily lessens the incentive to production . . . . Thus taxation which diminishes the earnings of the laborer or the returns of the capitalist tends to render the one less industrious and intelligent, the other less disposed to save and invest. Taxation which falls upon the processes of production interposes an artificial obstacle to the creation of wealth.
Tax manufactures, and the effect is to check manufacturing; tax improvements, and the effect is to lessen improvement; tax commerce, and the effect is to prevent exchange; tax capital, and the effect is to drive it away. But the whole value of land may be taken in taxation, and the only effect will be to stimulate industry, to open new opportunities to capital, and to increase the production of wealth.
The tax on land values . . . may be assessed and collected with a definiteness that partakes of the immovable and unconcealable character of the land itself . . . . Were all taxes placed upon land values, irrespective of improvements, the scheme of taxation would be so simple and clear, and public attention would be so directed to it, that the valuation of taxation could and would be made with the same certainty that a real estate agent can determine the price a seller can get for a lot.
The tax upon land values . . . falls only upon those who receive from society a peculiar and valuable benefit, and upon them in proportion to the benefit they receive. It is the taking by the community, for the use of the community, of that value which is the creation of the community . . . . When all rent is taken by taxation for the needs of the community . . . no citizen will have an advantage over any other citizen save as is given by his industry, skill, and intelligence; and each will obtain what he fairly earns. Then, but not till then, will labor get its full reward, and capital its natural return.
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