to be brought about) say whether or not it is a state of things very greatly to be desired. Can any other than an affirmative answer be given? Furthermore, the annihilation of the speculative element of value is likely to have a particular beneficial effect in and near large cities, where now the density of population presents a great and terrible and threatening problem before which hitherto all the wisest and most humane of men have stood gasping and helpless. The importance of that problem may be judged of by those who will take the trouble to read the Rev. James O. S. Huntington’s recent paper on Tenement-House Morality. With a great population eager for better quarters (a population now so crowded in parts of New York City that on the average families of five persons occupy but three rooms, and 290,000 people find “homes” upon a single square mile of land) capitalists could make few better investments than by putting up comfortable houses for rent on vacant city and suburban lots, if from the value of such lots the speculative element were excluded. Houses would compete for men instead of men cutting each other’s throats, as now, in the competition for houses.
Another result of the change that seems certain is that the burden of taxation upon productive industry would be materially lightened. Here also it is impossible to measure the amount of relief which would be given, for no statistics have been compiled with that object in view. The estimates of Professor Harris, based on the census, have in them a good deal of guess-work, but they will answer for present purposes. Taking his figures, the taxes now annually exacted for the support of the government are more than ten per cent. of the wealth annually produced. Such taxes fall very lightly upon land values, being drawn chiefly from commodities and from houses and other real-estate improvements. Being so large they must seriously impede the production of houses, commodities, etc. If such taxes could be completely abolished, is it not probable that the building of houses, the making of commodities, and industry generally would be greatly stimulated? According to Professor Harris’ estimates a land-value tax at four
- The Forum, for July, 1887.
- “Henry George’s Mistake about Land.” The Forum, for July, 1887.
- They are:—
Wealth annually produced 7,300 millions. Annual taxes (National, State, County, Township, and District), 800 millions. Aggregate of Land Values (improvements excluded) 10,000 millions.