A Social Arrangement

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"I want some room in this world,"said the Baby.

"You haven't any capital to buy it with," said he Emeritus Professor of Social Economics and Political Economy, "so you can't have it."

"Capital," said the Baby, "What's that?"

"Things used to produce more things," replied the E. P. S. E. & P. E.

"That seems clear," said the Baby. "Are there no such things which you call 'capital' in the world?"

"Oh.yes; there is an overabundance of capital. It goes to waste because we can't find employment for it."

"Give me some of it," said the Baby. "I'll use it."

"You can't, for you have no land to use it on," replied the E. P. S. E. & P. E.

"Is everybody working who could use it for me?" persisted the troublesome child.

"No," replied the Professor. "Not exactly. You don't seem to understand the law of Supply and Demand."

"Where did the capital come from?" asked the Baby again.

"Why men made it out of natural material by work.

"If I made some, would I own it?"

"Yes—that is—er—certainly you ought to."

"All right," said the Baby. "My father will work and make some capital and give it to you; so now give me a site for my cradle."

"I told you before," replied the Professor, "there is too much capital already."

"Well, let me have a place to stand and I will do some work."

Said the Professor: "Nobody wants your work."

Said the Baby: "I want it myself. If I don't work, how can I live."

"You can't have it," answered the Social and Political Economist, "there is an overproduction of goods, a large number of persons who want goods, and a large number of workers who have nothing to do."

"I don't understand that," said the Baby.

"Neither do I," said the Professor.

"When I grow up I'll buy some land with the capital I make."

"There won't be any land for sale by the time you grow up. It will be just like England."

"Is all the land there used?"

"Oh dear, no, but it is all valuable, and there is a short supply."

"What makes land valuable ?" asked the Baby.

"The increase of persons there," said the Emeritus Professor, promptly—"even a baby ought to know that."

"Have I given a value to this land by being born?"

"Certainly," replied the E. P. S. E. & P. E.

"Then I want a share of that value which I made," said the Baby.

"But that belongs to the land owners," said the Professor.

As the Baby had no where to live it died. And afterwards the Professor died, and then God asked him some questions about Social and Political Economy.—Bolton Hall in Justice.

  • Bolton Hall, “A Social Arrangement,” The San Jose Letter 4, no. 26 (November 28, 1896): 7.