A Review of Labor and Other Capital
| Resources Relating to|
WRITTEN FOR THE UNIVERCOELUM
BY J. K. INGALLS
"Labor And Other Capital,—The rights of each secured, and the wrongs of both eradicated. Or an exposition of the cause why few are wealthy and many poor, and the delineation of a system, which, without infringing the rights of property, will give to labor its just reward. By Edward Kellogg."
This volume was looked for with deep interest, as an exposition of existing evils, by a practical business man, as an indication that in the various professions and callings, the choicest minds are becoming aware of the social injustice that is being inflicted on the laborer, and possess the sympathy and courage to arouse the public thought to a sense of the wrong, and the measures necessary for a remedy. It fully answers our expectation as an Essay, though it by no means makes good the claim set up on the title page; a fault, by the way. in no wise peculiar to this book.
All truth is, in some respects relative. The immediate cause of evil may justly be regarded as the real source, until a farther reaching philosophy discovers it to be but secondary, and perhaps only one of the family of forces, which produce the result, and rest on some prior and more comprehensive error. This is illustrated in the work before us. No person can gainsay the truthfulness of the authors representations, or question that the evils are referable directly to the cause assigned. Had he pressed his inquiries a little farther, he could not have failed to see. that the cause he assigns as the origin of social evils, is itself but an effect, which it is impossible to remove, except by removing the injustice from whence it springs. Considered from this high stand point, which commands a view of the innumerable influences which govern social and individual action, and produce harmonious and antagonistic conditions, the book may be regarded us an important accession to the Reform literature, and at the same time, as a signal failure; for, while with distinguished talent it exposes the wrongs of labor, and clearly traces them to their direct cause, it betrays on every page the " fragmentary Reformer," who has one cause for all derangements, and one remedy for all diseases. The value of the Author's contribution, however, should not be judged by the manner in which he realizes his specified object. A Columbus, in attempting to discover a western passage to the Indies, may discover a New World instead. So the theorist. especially if he be a practical man, will make us acquainted with things most important to be known though he will in all probability, be farther and farther from realizing his abstraction, if he proceed scientifically in his investigations. While therefore we feel no disposition to endorse the theory of the book, or admit that the pretensions are logically established, it may be said, that the work is one of great value, and particularly needed at this time.
The limits of this paper will not permit an extensive review of the Author's manner of treating his subject. With the general arrangement little fault can be found. At first the title appears objectionable, and unfortunate. "Labor and other Capital," has an unpleasant sound to the ear, like "Slaves and other Chattels;" yet it is true in our present social condition that labor is capital, and subject to sale and purchase, and loan and hire. Naturally, however, it is a strange enough relation of terms. To talk of "causes and other effects," of "mind and other bodies," of "God and other creatures." would sound rather singular; and yet these are the natural relations of labor and capital; the one is the creator, the other the created; the one is the cause, the other the effect.
But we are not disposed to quarrel with tastes. Neither is it possible to note many things to be approved or dissented from. This notice must be chiefly confined to the illustrations given of the influence of" interest and rent," on all useful classes, but more particularly upon the producers; and to an investigation of the plan offered for the removal of all existing inequalities. For the former no better method can be adopted than to give extracts from the book, to which particular attention is solicited.
- "In all ages and nations, philanthropic men have endeavored to devise some means of securing to labor a better compensation. Labor saving machines have been invented; associations have been formed for the purpose of producing with less labor, the earnings to be equitably distributed according to the work performed. But these benevolent efforts have failed of any^general success. The reason is this: they can not withdraw their labor or their products from the influence of the national laws which govern distribution. Every few years, there is a season of great distress, and more than usual poverty among producers. This distress is seldom occasioned by a scarcity of products. More frequently the manufacturer has goods which he can not sell the farmer has grain for which there is no market. While this superabundance continues. the laborer can find no employment. Himself and family are destitute of food. clothing and shelter, and hive no means of paying for them. If all this suffering and want be caused by over-production, public measures should be taken to avert the calamity, by preventing an excess of labor. When the amount of surplus products is a subject of national lamentation, the producers are often destitute while capitalists, who do little or nothing toward production or distribution, are supplied with all the comforts and luxuries of life, at half, or less than half, the usual price." * * * *
- "Our government professes to found its laws on republican principles, which should secure to every individual a fair equivalent for his labor; yet probably one half of the wealth of the nation is accumulated in the possession of but about two and a half per cent. of the population, who to say the most, have not done more labor toward the production of the wealth than the average of the ninety-seven and a half per cent., among whom is distributed the other half of the wealth.—[Intro. p. 17, 19.
In the place of so much talk about giving labor an equivalent, it may be suggested, whether it be not more natural and republican, to give every man the right to labor, and consequently to own the products, than to attempt to remedy the wrong involved in the denial of this right, by arbitrary laws to secure an equivalent for what we allow the laborer to be plundered of? But here is an illustration which will show the result of the legal rate of interest, or rather the natural result of the disfranchisement of labor.
- "A. B. and C. are young men, who have just come of age. C. is heir to $10.000, while A. and B. are mechanics without capital. C. contracts with A. and B. to build a house, which shall cost 85,000, on a lot worth $5,000. C. leases this property to A. and B., and charges them seven per cent. upon its cost, clear of insurance. taxes and repairs. payable once a quarter. This will accumulate a sum equal to the principal in ten years. In this period, then, A. and B. are compelled to buy another lot, build upon it another as good a house, and pay the lot and house to C. for the use of the one they occupy. In twenty years they must pay C. three houses and lots; in thirty years they must pay him seven; in forty fifteen; in fifty thirty-one; in sixty sixty-three; in seventy years, one hundred and twenty-seven houses. The one hundred and twenty-seven lots will cost $635.000, and the buildings an equal amount, making together $1,270,000, which is paid for seventy years, rent of one house and lot, worth only $10,000. At the expiration of the lease, the original house must be returned to the owner, as well as the rest. [So that A. and B., the producers of the one hundred and twenty-seven houses. and the value of the lots, will own, in old age, neither house, nor lot.] If, instead of being invested in the house and lot, the $10,000 were loaned at seven per cent., and the interest collected and re-loaned quarterly, the money would accumulate precisely as the property."
- "Take another example. At the age of twenty-one, D. leases E. a well improved farm, at seven per cent. interest, payable in land, as interest on money is payable in money. At the close of the year, E. pays D. seven acres, as good as that rented, and with a pro rata, proportion of buildings. He makes payments half yearly in land, and pays interest on the land so paid. In ten years, E. must pay one farm; in twenty years three farms; in thirty years seven farms, and in seventy years, one hundred and twenty-seven farms as good as the original one-leased. These farms E. must earn by the labor of seventy years, and pay to D. for the use of one farm."
Justice requires it to be remarked, that these suppositions are hardly admissable. No one man could retain the use of the house or the farm and their " accruing rents," without reducing other laborers to similar terms; and therefore it can not be said that one man earns one hundred and twenty-seven farms. He could earn really no more the last ten years than tie first. and does not in fact pay more. The order would stand thus:
1 man, for one farm, 70 years, would pay 7 farms. 1 man, for one farm, 60 years, would pay 6 farms. 2 men, each one farm, 50 years, would pay 10 farms 4 men, each one farm, 40 years, would pay 16 farms 8 men, each one farm, 30 years, would pay 24 farms 16 men, each one farm, 20 years, would pay 32 farms 32 men, each one farm, 10 years, would pay 32 farms
Altogether 64 men would earn the 127 farms.
The result to the lender, however, is the same; and the effect on labor is equally depressing as the author intended to represent it; he only misstated the power of the laborer. A man might earn the one farm the first ten years; but no man could earn the sixty-three required the last term.
- "The following statement shows the effect upon producers of a rate of six per cent, interest on capital. The yearly income of our most wealthy citizen, from dividends on State, Bank. and other stocks, money loaned on bonds and mortgages, and rents of property, is said to amount to $2,000,000. Supposing the gain of a farmer to be one hundred dollars, after paying all necessary expenses, and it would require the use of twenty thousand farms, and the surplus earnings of twenty thousand farmers and their families to clear S2.000.000 a year. However difficult it might be to trace the ways and means by which this income if gathered, it takes just $2,000,000, worth of the surplus products of labor to pay the legal accumulation. Allowing able-bodied men to earn one dollar per day, for an average of two hundred and seventy-five days in the year. it would annually hire seven thousand two hundred and seventy-six men. Allow the receiver of this income to expend yearly, for his own support, the earnings of seventy-three men, and he will still receive a clear gain of 31,980,000 yearly, the entire earnings of seven thousand two hundred and three men. At six per cent. the interest on this gain, would make an addition, the next year of $118,800, which would pay for the labor of four hundred and thirty-two men, in addition."
- "Suppose Mr. A. instead to be worth thirty-three and a third million bushels of wheat. Let him lend the wheat instead of the money at six per cent., and the interest will be precisely two millions of bushels. The borrowers must sow, reap, and thrash out this amount, transport it to New York, and put it into Mr. A's store-houses, to pay the interest for one year. What a pile of wheat is this for one man's use, gained too, without his sowing or harvesting a bushel!"
Of the effect of our present monetary system to accumulate the wealth of a nation in the hands of a few individuals, and by the cities, and business locations. our author has many apt illustrations. It is certainly worthy the attention of our farmers and mechanics to inquire why the property, real and personal, in city and country, has been covered with bonds and mortgages, and is yearly taxed, a tithe of its value to minister to the lust of avarice. We quote farther.
- "One dollar, loaned at six per cent. interest, for a period of three hundred and sixty years, would accumulate more than double the assessed value of the whole State of New-fork. At seven per cent. for the same time, the dollar would accumulate a greater sum than the valuation of the whole United States. In this time $100,000 borrowed of a foreign nation, would require in payment, the sum of $6,971,947,673,600.000; a much larger sum than the valuation of the property of the whole world. These calculations make it evident that six and seven per cent. can not, and ought not, to be paid by any nation."
- "The Southern and the Western States depend upon the yearly products of their labor for their wealth; they are greatly impoverishtd by the amount of interest that they are compelled to pay to our Northern and Eastern cities for the use of money. A very large amount of the capital stocks of Western and Southern banks and State bonds are owned by capitalists in Northern cities, or by foreigners. The interest on these is constantly transferring the earnings of the people of these States to a few capitalists in the large cities or in foreign nations."
The following is a good illustration of the operations of trap present system upon the manufacturer; and as a consequence upon the labor which he employs.
- "A manufacturer makes a package of a hundred pieces of cloth, and sends them to market. Six months pass before the goods can be sold, and he loses three pieces as the interest on. the ninety-seven which remains. At the end of the six months, the commission merchant sells them on a credit of eight months, and the manufacturer must lose four pieces more. But he is now in great need of money, and must have the note cashed. But interest having risen (by a well understood contrivance of the banks and monied men) he must sell the note in market at two per cent. a month discount, thus losing sixteen pieces instead of four. Add these to the first three, and it will make nineteen pieces paid to others out of the hundred, to enable him i to keep eighty-one pieces for fourteen months. These are a total loss to the manufacturer. Besides, he has to pay cartage, storage, commission, and transportation. The proceeds of the nineteen pieces of goods go into the hands of the money lender."
Only a few more extracts can be given showing the general bearing of this evil:
- "In new and thinly settled countries, where fertile lands are at low prices, the people do not starve, even when they are charged ten, twenty, or even thirty per cent. per annum, on borrowed money, but these rates of interest concentrate the property rapidly in the hands of the few, and break up and keep hundreds of thousands of families poor. They can, however, generally find employment, by which they can obtain their food. But as countries grow older, the population more dense, lands higher in fest wrong to O. ; because. although he work diligently all his price, and concentrated into fewer hands, manufactories are established in which hundreds of workmen labor for their daily support. They are carried on by individuals, firms, or incorporated companies. If money become scarce, and interest increase, the prices of goods must inevitably fall, the wages of the workmen are reduced, and numbers are thrown out of employment. If the scarcity of money and high rate of interest continue, the manufacturers too must break."
- "Let twelve different nations, however, fix twelve different rates of interest, maintaining the rates uniform, the first at one per cent., the second at two per cent., and so on to twelve per cent., and the concentration of wealth in few hands, in the different nations, would increase in nearly the same ratio with the rates of interest. The ratio would be exact, except for the profligacy and extravagance of many of the rich, and the benevolence of others. This general principle will hold good, whether the country be new, rich and fertile, or old and poor, because the accumulation is according to the rate per cent."
- "All the per centage collected for the rent on property, or as an interest on money, must be paid by sales of the yearly productions of labor, which remain, over and above the support of the producers. If a few very rich men, in any civilized nation, should live frugally, and their children should do the same, in the course of a few generations, they would reduce to poverty nearly every other individual in the nation. Consequently, under present monetary laws, extravagance in the rich, and the frequent imbecility of their children, are great advantages to producers. The second evil is therefore necessary to modify the overwhelming power of the first."
After what has been shown, the reader will be astonished, no doubt, to learn, that our author still contends for the right of capital to divide with labor the product of toil. Another extract evincing this opinion and our general comments shall follow.
- "The following illustration shows how tenants of land are affected by high rates of interest on money. N. owns a farm and cultivates it, he is therefore the rightful owner of the products If, however, N. lets the farm to O., and O. cultivates it, then N and O., are joint owners of the products. This principle, that labor and capital are together entitled to the products is in accordance with the laws of nations, and must continue to be so as long as the rights of property are recognized by civil authority."
Here we have the whole argument, these hundreds of pages contain, to make good one of his principal positions, that money has justly the power to accumulate interest for an income. The last declaration is mere assertion. Nations have flourished, and protected the rights of property, whose laws forbade the taking of usury among themselves.. But if interest laws are necessary as claimed. then the law which fixes six per cent. as the rate, gives six times the security to property, as that which reduces it to one per cent.! Besides the author does not show all the reverence for the examples of the past as would seem to be implied in this paragraph I for he says, in another place, " that all nations and political parties, while professing to legislate for the protection of industry; have always supported and increased capital and depressed labor." He must quote us authority which he at least respects. He proceeds:
- "The question which arises for settlement is, what proportion rightfully belongs to the capital, and what to the laborer— (strange enough, he makes no effort to solve this problem, after stating it with so much distinctness) what proportion of products N. should receive for the use of the farm, and what proportion O. should receive for his labor in cultivating it. It will be said at once that the proportion is a matter of agreement between them; and whatever N. agrees to take and O. to pay, is the right proportion. * * * But if the rate of interest be such that O. is obliged to pay nearly the whole surplus products of the farm to N. as rent, the contract is a manifest wrong to O.; because, although he work diligently all his life, the legal standard keeps him forever poor, while N. by the action of the same standard, without labor, will constantly increase in wealth."
- "We declare that all men are born free and equal; but N. may be born heir to a dozen farms, while O. may be born without property; and under present laws, by labor alone, can never acquire it. Therefore N. is actually born to live in luxury without labor, and O. is born to be his servant. Even O.'s children are born servants to N. and his posterity. * * * This method works rapidly, and securely, because it extorts consent as it operates."
[concluded Next Week.]
"Labor And Other Capital,—The rights of each secured, and the wrongs of both eradicated. Or an exposition of the cause I why few are wealthy and many poor, and the delineation of a system, which, without infringing the rights of property. will give to labor its just reward. By Edward Kellogg."
To Exhibit the inconsistency of the position that Capital is entitled to divide with Labor, which is so glaringly manifest throughout this volume, it is not necessary to travel out of the author's range of thought. Had he not started with the erroneous proposition as a basis, that "Monetary Laws are the most important subjects for legislation;" had he taken a moment's reflection to consider the importance of recognizing and guaranteeing man's natural rights, he would have arrived at results very different, and much more consistent with the very useful array of facts which he has presented to illustrate the evil working of the present system. For instance. in the case above, where is the origin of the difficulty? Certainly not in leaving N. and O. to make such bargain as they choose. If there is any wrong, it consists in the system of legislation which makes one man dependent on another for a place to labor, and not in the rate of usance which such dependence creates. It is readily conceived that the government may refuse to guarantee N. in the inheritance of a dozen farms to the exclusion from God's earth of a dozen men. But while it makes good this unnatural claim, it is not easily shown how it may interfere in the terms he shall make with the disinherited, who must have access to the soil or die. The error lies in the acknowledgment that capital may justly earn an income, and in establishing such unjust relations as compel a portion to labor and support others in luxury and idleness.
It is not true, moreover. that the rate of interest affects the rent of lands and houses: but the reverse. The amount of interest paid on capital will be found to correspond very nearly to the restriction laid on the laborer in the price at which real estate is held ; for it needs no argument to prove that land is falsely assumed to be property or capital, and that every dollar charged for its occupation or cultivation, is just so much restriction on man's natural right and duty. If it is objected, that money bears a higher rate in new countries than in old, the reply is, that the aggregate amount will sustain the proportion, as much less is loaned in one case than the other. Eight or ten, or even a higher rate may be paid on a few hundreds, by the labor of one man, while he will find it more difficult to pay even three or four per cent on as many thousands. The idea of an income from property, without labor, depends chiefly now on a monopoly of the laud; and without this, even the author's "one and one-tenth per cent" could not be sustained a day.
For there is no power in wealth to increase; on the contrary, it tends constantly to decay. All the accumulated surplus wealth of the past ages could not save any considerable portion of the race from starvation for one year, was the labor of the present withheld for that length of time. Besides, if man had free access to the earth. and the common advantages which the past has transmitted, there would be no need of hiring money, even under existing monetary regulations, which are admitted to be wrong. So that with all his gold, the miser would have to labor or starve: with all his bank paper and state bonds, the broker would have to yield society some equivalent for what he consumed. By keeping his property from the general use, he could not increase its amount or value, but must see it constantly diminish in both; in amount, by natural decay; in value, by the improvements and discoveries constantly going on.
To illustrate: A man has a finely constructed machine, which may be rendered very serviceable to the community, but he is not satisfied with a simple return of value for value, but proposes that society shall pay him "an income," equal, in ten or a dozen years, to the original cost, and in the succeeding periods to double, quadruple, &c. If, however, he was given no arbitrary advantage over the rest of his fellow men, they would not accede to his proposition. The same avenues being open to them, they would contrive to do without his machine, until a better could be constructed. In the meanwhile his property would be growing old, and when it was superseded by a superior invention would become almost valueless. This is true of all things, legitimately property. The precious metals are not exceptions, as would be soon proved, were it not for those arbitrary regulations, which authorize and encourage most unjust monopolies. As it is, nothing is subject to such changes as money. The uses to which gold and silver can be put and retain their present comparative value, are trifling, and any considerable increase to the general stock would depreciate their value and power. In all their forms, moreover, they are subject to actual wear and decay, email though it be.
The proposition of our author to reduce the rate from seven to one per cent, is good in itself; the same as we would regard a resolution to restrain robbery, six days out of seven, commendable in a government authorizing such barbarous transactions. If it should be contended that robbery, seven days of the week, was naturally wrong, but restricted to one was perfectly just, there would naturally arise a question of consistency. At present rates, a man, with an economical family, will be enabled to live without labor, on the income of some ten or twelve thousand dollars. This, according to our author's logic, is a great injustice to the laboring classes ; but for a man who has some eighty or ninety thousand. it would not only be no injustice for him to live without labor, but the income so accruing would be his by natural right, and should be secured by law. The truth seems however to have flashed upon his mind, in his summing up the benefits of his proposed scheme, for he"says, that then, man shall be restored to nearly his natural rights. His favorite argument, and a very forcible one it is, against tho present rates of interest, is the fact that no increase of property can equal their accumulation. A section is devoted to show that in Massachusetts and. New York the increase of property for a term of years has been no more than " one and four tenths per cent." Why even all this should be given to the owner of the products of past labor, and nothing to present labor, is not readily seen. Besides it must be remembered that much capital has been brought from other places into both these states, and also that the increased value of many things is merely fictitious, as the whole value placed upon land, which has greatly increased. Rut allowing it to increase at one per cent per annum, any given length of time, and admitting that capital is entitled to the whole increase, even then, one per cent interest would be unjust, because it must be hired on short terms, when the interest becomes compounded, and thus increases in a duplicate geometrical ratio. The following quotation shows his conviction that two per cent would be too high.
"A rate of interest of even two per cent per annum, would put it out of the power of a people to fulfil their contracts. It would be equivalent to compelling the laboring classes to double the capital of a nation in favor of capitalists once in thirty four and a half years." His own estimation of the time money will double at different rates, fixes seventy years as the period it will double at one per cent. Substitute then seventy years, in the place of thirty four and a half, and the objection is only diminished, not obviated. In the example of Mr. A., whose income, at six per cent, equals the labor of seven thousand men and more, there would at one per cent be an income equal to the labor of twelve hundred men. No reason can be urged why the labor of twelve hundred men should be given to one, by a social arrangement, any more than why he should be allowed to appropriate the labor of seven thousand. The one is wrong by the same principle that the other is. The simple fact that no increase can be equal to the series in a duplicate geometrical ratio, proves the injustice of interest altogether. The property of the world can not be doubled in seventy years; much less could it be multiplied in one hundred and forty years, fourfold; or eight-fold in two hundred and ten. Let a calculation of the amount of one cent, for a term of six thousand years be made, at one per cent per annum, and it would exceed $12,1100,000,000,000,000,000,000, a sum many millions of times larger than the estimated wealth of the whole world. What a pity father Adam had not let out a few coppers, for the benefit of the present generation of his posterity! But then, who would have paid the interest!
When Dr. Franklin's bequest of certain sums to the cities of Boston, Philadelphia, &c, as a fund to be loaned at low rates of interest to industrious young men, was refused : the councils acted wisely, for within a given time it would have absorbed the whole capital of the places, of the nation, and of the world j but it is strange that men who had foresight enough to discover this, could not see the injustice they were doing to the mass of the people in sanctioning a system which involved the same results, in a still more objectionable form. But they found the system in existence, and had not the courage to expose its deformities. It is one of the principal errors of this book, however, which supposes the rate of interest to depend on legal enactments, regulating the charges. Money can be obtained often at a much lower than the legal rate; and it is not uncommon for treble the legal rate to be paid at times of commercial distress The rate will depend on two things,—the necessity of having, and the ability to pay. Thus the rent of land will generally bear a close relation to the rent for money, and vise versa, although at times of great depression, interest will increase, and rent of houses and land diminish; because there is no longer the ability to meet the extortion, and the revulsions of business render certain locations no longer desirable.
No confidence is to be placed in any scheme, which does not rest on the immutable principles of natural justice, and first removes the arbitrary wrongs from which unequal relations have flown. It would be well to reduce the pernicious results, if possible; but then it is one of the peculiarities of the system, that it " extorts consent as it operates." Could the bell once be placed upon the cat, it would give the mice much greater security; will puss be likely to submit, however, to any such arrangement. Mr. Kellogg's plan is for government to make a currency which shall always equal the wants of business. The money is to be exchanged at any time for the safety fund notes, bearing one or more per cent interest, and secured by mortgage on real estate to twice the amount. Now were the land in the possession of the people, this might work, to say the least; but when it is reflected that about forty men own more than one half of many of the states; and when, according to our author s own showing, less than one in forty own more than the other thirty nine, and as we suppose, that two, out of the remaining thirty nine, own more than the other thirty seven, it will be seen that one out of more than thirteen own three quarters sf all the wealth, and probably more than this proportion of all the land, while at least a dozen own no more than one quarter, a large majority of whom own nothing at all.
As the new currency therefore could not reduce the nominal value of rents, but rather increase them, inasmuch as it would give the land monopolist a monopoly of the money as well as the soil, the same unequal relations would remain, even if they did not increase. Tho price of real estate would increase at least six-fold, so that the man, with a hundred acres of extra land, would be able to live in luxury and idleness, while the owner of ten thousand dollars would starve, unless he labored 'with his own hands. This increased value of real estate would operate to just such an extent as an obstruction to the cultivation of the soil, and forever put it out of the power of the masses to become owners of what they need for homes and the purposes of husbandry. Only land monopolists could obtain the new money in considerable quantities, and though they would be required to pay but one per cent, per annum, they would be enabled to extort from the landless any rate they could agree upon among themselves, and the government could not relieve the oppressed, because it could not lend its money only on landed security. Besides it is not the landed proprietors who wish to engage in business, and as it would require five or six times the capital to do business then, that it does now, the soil, the money, and all business facilities, would be confined to land owners and those they favored, and those who found it possible to submit to their extortions. It would be vain to think of regulating this thing by law. Our usury laws are evaded now, and they would be then; and if they were not suspended, as in the case of the banks being released from their obligation to redeem their paper, their violation would be winked at, as now. The prime unjust relation which severs man from the earth, would not be changed, but strengthened; and as our author justly remarks, "the circumstances under which contracts are made, render them very unjust towards laborers. Suppose one of the contracting parties to be on laud, and the other in water, where he must drown, unless he receive assistance from the first: although he might be well aware that his friend on shore was practising a grevious extortion, yet under the circumstances, he would be glad to make any possible agreement to be rescued." Now this is precisely the condition in which the landless poor stand to those who have a monopoly of the earth, from which must be evolved by human toil all the elements of life. This condition he does not propose to change, but to give those who have a monopoly of the land, a monopoly of money also.
The land, if proportioned among men according to their needs, would cease to be regarded as property, which it is not; as it can not be created or consumed by human labor, or extravagance. The price of land depends wholly upon the necessity man has for it, occasioned by monopoly. If I have as much as I can properly cultivate, no more is of the least value to me, except by possession I am unable to extort unfavorable conditions from some one who has need of it. There is in Nature no need, but treble the amount the race can occupy; consequently there is no value to the soil; and if Mr. Kellogg's plan could ever succeed in establishing equitable relations, the money would become valueless, inasmuch as the security would be of no value.
Another favorite proposition of our Author will show that the evil of usury flows from unequal conditions, primarily, and not the unequal conditions from usury. The value of Bank notes, he claims are in the value of the bonds and mortgages. and other security which the Bank obtains of the public. But who would pay interest on property that was unproductive? Now nothing is productive except the soil and human labor; so that if labor had its rights, and the soil was justly apportioned, though one man had all the money in the world, it would not avail him any thing for purposes of oppression; because it is only a convenience, not a necessity. We might as well say that Chattel Slavery had been caused by usury, because it is to be found inseparably connected with it, as to say that wages slavery is effused, primarily, by usury. since they exist together, and react upon each other. The fact is, that the oppression of the many by the few has existed where usance for money was unknown. This is exemplified in the history of the Jewish nation, where a monopoly of "houses and lands," and other unequal social conditions, ultimately established usury in defiance of their most sacred laws. For fifteen hundred years, usury was discountenanced in the Christian Church, and the man, who would take interest for money loaned, was stigmatized as a Jew Within the last Century, the nobility of Europe would have considered it an indelible stain upon their escutcheons. And yet in all these periods, Sent was regarded honorable and just to both Lord and tenant. Usury, therefore, is only the application to a business and commercial age, of the business which established rents for a feudal and barbarous age.
It is to be objected to the plan proposed, that the only security it adopts is prohibited by the very necessities of man's nature. No more has he the right to put his house into the hazard of a transaction, than he has the right to pledge the lives and liberties of himself, his wife and children. For by our Author's own admission, the man, born to the possession of a dozen farms, is born to live in luxury without labor, while those who are born without land, are born servants to him, and their posterity to his posterity. Now by what logic can it be shown that any man may thus tamper with the future condition of his family? And what but a Vandal Law would sanction such inhuman transactions? This is repeatedly done under our present system of land traffic, land monopoly, and bond and mortgage securities, which the new plan does not propose to obviate, but to make still more common.
The Race must be brought into equal, just and harmonious relations, ere any great advancement can be made. The first social effort must be to break down those arbitrary regulations which debar Man from his rights and duties, and place a tax upon their exercise by building up unprincipled and irresponsible monopolies. Until this ground work is done, and the foundation of the future social structure laid secure in the immutable principles of reciprocal and universal justice, neither political, financial or social experiments, will have any other effect than to convince man that no superstructure can stand that is not based upon the rock of eternal Truth, the prime laws of Equity, Justice, and Fraternity.
With regard to the question of a "legal tender," we do not feel inclined to speak. It is discussed ably in this book. We are not sure, however, that the wrong does not rest in the assumption of government to make any one thing a legal tender to the exclusion of all others. thereby making it liable to monopoly and corruption. But when farther impressed more may be written on this point.
That there are great evils attending our "Currency," none can doubt. That this book ably exposes these evils is cheerfully conceded. That there are many suggestions in the plan worthy of consideration, is also true. But it must not be admitted that he has always referred the evils to their ultimate cause, or presented either a desirable or feasible scheme, as a whole for their removal. The world has experienced enough of the operation of "plans," schemes," and "systems," whereby the shrewd and strong have managed to realize the "lion's share," of the products of an industry in which they have not shared. It is, we trust, about ready to come back to first principles, and hereafter follow what natural right and the " common weal" dictate, rather than the plans which have emanated from man's fertile imagination. and which the unprincipled and selfish are sure to turn to account. It is now day. Society, by putting aside these arbitrary rules, will open the way for a natural arrangement Experiments and systems are no longer needed. Empiricism can never cure. Only return to natural principles, and incontrovertible Right. and it may forever after dispense with Quacks and Schemers. Any book that has a tendency to throw light on the nature of relations and things should be prized. Any one which attempts to cover up and palliate evil, should be disregarded.
J. K. I.
- Joshua King Ingalls, “A Review: Labor and Other Capital,” Univercoelum and Spiritual Philosopher 3, no. 21 (April 21, 1849): 321-323.
- Joshua King Ingalls, “A Review: Labor and Other Capital,” Univercoelum and Spiritual Philosopher 3, no. 22 (April 28, 1849): 337-339.