Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/343

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331
PROBLEMS OF PROPERTY.

a large basket of rice and a quarter of the meat whenever a domestic animal is slaughtered; and he exacts a small toll from every caravan that passes through his domain. His office is hereditary, as is also that of his prime minister, who is called Pomein. The chief himself administers justice; but in important cases he calls a council, which meets either around the fire in the house or in the open air. These chiefs seem to be quite independent, and only indirectly under the influence of the Chinese Government. The relations between the Kacheen and the Burmese are of constant hostility, frequently breaking out in murderous outrages. The country of this people is a broad strip of land extending from the Snowy Mountains of the north, between the valleys of the Tapeng and the Irrawaddy, to about the twenty-fourth parallel of latitude.

 
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PROBLEMS OF PROPERTY.
By GEORGE ILES.

THE problems of property form an interesting department of social science. They involve questions as to the growth and distribution of wealth, the province of government with respect thereto, and similar inquiries scarcely susceptible of treatment by formal scientific methods. Still, the subject is one of sufficient importance to warrant a brief sketch of it appearing in the magazine which was the first to give the American public a scientific exposition of the principles of sociology.

The institution of property is, in many quarters of the world, finding active criticism. German and French socialism, Russian nihilism, the Irish Land League, and weighty utterances by the leaders of thought in Europe and America, all declare that the institution of property requires reconsideration and reform. It is very commonplace, indeed, to say that respect for the rights of property insures the chief stimulus to industry, intelligence, and thrift; yet, in the complexity of modern life, the distribution of wealth has become so unequal that discussion of how justice may be feasibly and safely introduced into the laws and customs affecting property is of urgent importance. The natural differences among men in the way of aptitude and ability are always wide enough to cause a variety in human fortunes sufficiently trying to the less capable classes of mankind, were there at work no other cause for disparity in worldly success. When, however, in addition to having to accept the smaller reward in the smaller sphere, the man of but moderate or little ability has to suffer the restrictions which come from the artificial enactments of law and society, discontent easily takes root in his heart and flourishes.