Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/426
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
which is so much desired lies in the improvement of individual character, with consequent increase of individual power and better adaptation to surrounding conditions." The thing to tell them is to change the surrounding conditions so as to remove the disadvantage. It is true that a small percentage of well-developed individualities, especially if they manage to get possession of some of the special privileges created by law, thrive very well; but this percentage is so small as to be hardly worth considering when studying the welfare of the human race.
You advocate the doctrine of contentment. You would say that an engineer, for example, obtaining for his services five thousand dollars per annum, was thriving very well. Perhaps another person, utterly regardless of his natural individual power, is in possession of an income of one hundred thousand dollars per annum, derived solely from special legal privileges, without rendering any service to society. The latter represents a class who are parasites upon the former. The question is, How much better would the engineer thrive if the legal privileges supporting the parasite class were abolished? Another question suggests itself. Suppose a large number of the individuals of low productive power should follow your advice and become, for example, competent engineers, how well then would good engineers thrive? Would not competition immediately bring down the incomes of engineers? The privileged classes would simply have better educated servants, and would get them for less pay.
You say: "We are far from saying that there is not a vast amount of hardship in the world, and much of it of a kind which in no way benefits those who have to endure it, as, of course, some hardship undoubtedly does. But we want to see a way out that will not cut the nerves of industry and make self-reliance a forgotten virtue. We want to see a way out that will not lessen the sense of individual responsibility or make a man less a man. Show us such a way, and we shall gladly lend every effort in our power toward its realization."
The writer is very glad indeed to feel that he can give you credit for being sincere, and that your attitude toward the single-tax movement results from a misconception of it, notwithstanding the immense amount of circumstantial evidence pointing to the so-called "conspiracy of silence" of the press, due to its subjection to the privileged classes. Believing as I do that you greatly misconceive the single-tax proposition, I can not blame you for not offering its accredited representatives a full hearing in your conservative journal. In the interest of our movement and accepting your invitation, "Show us such a way," etc. I offer the services of myself and others in the movement to endeavor by private and confidential correspondence, or interviews if you prefer, to try to remove from your mind what we very plainly see are gross misapprehensions of our principles and aims. As a scientist you can hardly do less than give the subject this much consideration. As a journalist, however, we can not expect you to admit anything that you regard as visionary' quackery. It is only in the hope that we may so far remove your misconceptions that you will see the propriety of admitting fair presentations of the single-tax proposition in your journal that I am writing you.
I am aware that very many of our advocates mix with their arguments a great deal of religious dogma and superstition and crude notions of "natural rights," etc. The writer, however, claims to be wholly free from these ideas and superstitions, and holds that they are entirely superfluous in presenting the single-tax proposition. I ask only for pure scientific treatment. If the single-tax doctrine can not be logically deduced from the accepted laws of political economy and ethics, or if it can be shown that the conclusions of those sciences invalidate the single-tax proposition, the writer stands ready to abandon it. Yours, etc., L. G. Bostedo.
Chicago, April 12, 1896.
THE time is at hand for the annual migration from the city to the country or the seaside of all whose means enable them to allow themselves that pleasure. There is doubtless something more than fashion in the movement, for fashion is arbitrary and changeful, while the habit we speak of has been steadily growing in generality for the last half century or more. If we seek for the philosophy of it we may reasonably regard it as the expression of a periodical craving of human beings for closer contact with Nature than