A Finance Committee
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- Things as They Are (1909)
"CHRIS, there's too many of you shoe makers. "
"How do you make that out, Pat? "
"Why, there's too many shoes; and it's you that makes them. Look at those boxes of them: they can't be sold. "
"I think," says Chris, "it's you hat-makers there's too many of. Look at the stock of hats in every shop, going out of fashion before they are used."
"Well," says Pat, "what are you grumbling about? You're wearing a shabby enough hat"—
"It's no worse than your boots," says Chris.
Pat scratched his head. "No," he said, "but there is overproduction of boots. I heard that in Mr. Rockefeller's 'School of Social Economics.' "
"I think," says Chris, "it's a lack of circulating medium. I read that in 'Coin's Financial School.'"
"Stuff!" says Pat. "I'll trade you a hat for a pair of boots; that is, when I get some fur to make it out of and find time to make it I have to work twelve hours a day now."
"Well, I'd like to trade; but, you see, I have to sell every pair of these shoes at the lowest price I can get for them, to get some clothes for the children. I made the grocer take out his bill in shoes last week, because I haven't any money; but I can't spare any more. The rent is due this week. "
"Gad," says Pat, "I'll try that on my land lord. I'll make him take hats. I don't believe he'll do it, though; for he gets his rent in advance. Guess he'll put me out first. Then how will I sell hats, or trade them, either, with no place to live at all, at all?"
"Mine would put me out for sure," says Chris.
"Sure, I thought you owned this shanty?" says Pat.
"So I do own the shanty, but I pay ground rent; that is, I put up the shanty myself. The land lord claims that he owns it now."
"Why don't you move over to the field opposite, and"—
"Why, the owner there would charge me all I could make, just the same as this one."
"Well, if you get him to take a pair of shoes or so, what will he give you for them?"
"Oh, if he takes the shoes, he won't put me out."
"I'll take the shoes; and I won't put you out, either," says Pat.
"Don't talk nonsense. You don't own the land. He does."
"How did he get it?"
"Bought it, same as you will have to buy my shoes?"
"From the one that made it, same as you; made the shoes? "
"Well, no," says Chris, "I suppose he bought it from some one that got it from the Indians 'Crows' they called them. I hear tell they were Chinese originally."
"Sure the Indians didn't make it, nor even fence it in. I don't believe the Indians owned it anyhow, any more than the crows that flew over it."
"Well, anyway, he has it now, and the lots opposite, too. The people here wanted to dig the sand out of them, but he wouldn't let them at any price. If he had, the people around here would be doing well. It's hardly taxed at all, either; and I have to pay a lot on this bit of a shed. D—n the land lord! He does nothing but collect the rent. Here he is now. Mr. Onus, I ain't got the rent yet."
"Ain't got the rent? If you ain't got the rent, Chris, you'll get the sack. Why don't you go out and peddle your shoes? I never saw so many people around here with bad shoes."
"Well, you see, sir, it's their rent day, too; and no one seems to have any money for bread, let alone shoes."
"Well, now, I'll tell you what it is, my man," says the land owner, "I'll wait till Monday, and not a day longer. I've heard all about you. You spend your time thinking and stirring up your neighbours, instead of working hard, as every man ought to. You're a kind of anarchist."
"Say, Pat," says Chris, "do you know what I think? There's an overproduction; of land owners. Why don't we vote to tax those fellows out of their boots?"
"Faith, I would," says Pat, as he showed: his toes. "It's long enough they've taxed us out of ours."