A License To Live
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- Things as They Are (1909)
"SAY, Master Renter," said Snap the first time he got me alone, "isn't that rent you told me about like the dog license?"
"Why, yes, in some ways. How do you mean?" I asked.
"I heard the collector tell you that fifty cents had to be paid for me to live."
"Yes," I answered. "He said that was because dogs kill sheep and go mad."
"Would you kill sheep and go mad, if you didn't pay rent?"
"Maybe," said I. "I suppose I'd be an anarchist." Then, to turn the subject, I added, "But, if I didn't pay fifty cents for you, you'd be shot."
"Then Mr. Monopole will shoot you if you don't pay rent? "
"Why, no," I answered, " he won't shoot me, but he might as well: he will put me off the farm. Then I'll be a tramp."
"Do they shoot tramps?"
"No," I said, "they only shoot strikers so far; but they put tramps in jail."
"Mr. Monopole couldn't put you anywhere: he's too weak and fat. Besides, I'd bite him."
"You're a good dog," I said. "Monopole certainly couldn't put me off alone; but all the people in the country would help a land lord, if necessary, to get his rights,—that is, to get his lan—I mean to say, to put me off."
"Then all the people in the country are land lords except you?" asked Snap.
"Dear, no," I said. "Only about one in every eight owns any land; and, even of those, the most, instead of paying rent to a land lord, pay interest to a mortgagee."
"Then -why would they help?"
"Because they, or, rather, the masters of their ancestors, made the law that way."
"I don't see that that's any reason," said Snap, "but I have an unreasoning mind. What's interest?"
"Interest," I said, "is what we pay for the use of bills that we get from the bank."
"Why don't you make them yourself?"
"Because the law allows only people who have fifty thousand dollars to issue money."
"Who made that law?" asked the dog.
"Why, we did," I said. I knew he was going to ask why. So I added, "You know, 'To him that hath shall be given.'"
"Do you think, then," said Snap, "you'll be given any brains?"
"It isn't my fault," I said desperately. "I'm only one of those that made the law that way."
Said Snap: "If I were you, I'd rather be shot like a striker than help in such laws. What is a striker, anyway?"
"A striker," I told him, "is a man who won't work for the wages he can get. "
Snap scratched his head with his hind leg. "Do people get paid for working?" he asked. "I thought you said that you paid Mr. Monopole for being allowed to work."
That's just like a dog. Dogs and women shouldn't be allowed to talk, when they can't vote; and you can't make them understand our political economy.