The reason why, in spite of the increase of productive power, wages constantly tend to a minimum which will give but a bare living, is that with increase in productive power, rent tends to even greater increase, thus producing a constant tendency to the forcing down of wages.

The mere laborer has thus no more interest in the general advance of productive power than the Cuban slave has in advance of the price of sugar.

The simple theory which I have outlined . . . explains this conjunction of poverty with wealth, of low wages with high productive power . . . .  It explains why interest and wages are higher in new than in older communities, though the average, as well as the aggregate, production of wealth is less.  It explains why improvements which increase the productive power of labor and capital increase the reward of neither.  It explains what is commonly called the conflict between labor and capital, while proving the real harmony of interest between them.

Is it not a notorious fact, known to the most ignorant; that new countries, where the aggregate wealth is small, but where land is cheap, are always better countries for the laboring classes than the rich countries, where land is dear? Wherever you find land relatively low, will you not find wages relatively high? And wherever land is high, will you not find wages low? As land increases in value, poverty deepens and pauperism appears. In the new settlements, where land is cheap, you will find no beggars, and the inequalities in condition are very slight.  In the great cities, where land is so valuable that it is measured by the foot, you will find the extremes of poverty and of luxury.  And this disparity in condition between the two extremes of the social scale may always be measured by the price of land.  Land in New York is more valuable than in San Francisco and in New York, the San Franciscan may see squalor and misery that will make him stand aghast.  Land is more valuable in London than in New York; and in London, there is squalor and destitution worse than that of New York.

For land is the habitation of man, the, storehouse upon which he must draw for all his needs . . . .  Material progress cannot rid us of our dependence upon land; it can but add to the power of producing wealth from land; and hence, when land is monopolized, it might go on to infinity without increasing wages or improving the condition of those who have but their labor.  It can but add to the value of land and the power which its possession gives.  Everywhere, in all times, among all peoples, the possession of land is the base of aristocracy, the foundation of great fortunes, the source of power.  As said the Brahmins, ages ago-

"To whomsoever the soil at any time belongs, to him belong the fruits of it.. White parasols and elephants mad with pride are the flowers of a grant of land." .

(Return to full frame:  Progress and Poverty)