done to them if their rights are to be denied because you are not compensated?” Whatever way one turns the objection, the only real question appears to be whether the natural right of all men to the land and the inalienability of the governmental power to regulate its use are proved. If they are proved, such regulation as may be required to equalize natural opportunities cannot justly be prevented by failure to provide compensation for the present landholders.
To make sure, let us imagine two concrete cases which shall present the landholder’s claim in as strong a light as possible. (1) Suppose a blacksmith to have saved from his hard toil $1,000, with which he has purchased a small house and lot of land, the house worth $500 and the land now worth $500. Plainly this house and lot stand to him precisely as did the $1,000 in the savings bank. They represent his labor, his thrift, his pluck, his temperance. Suppose now, George’s plan goes into effect, and then the blacksmith dies leaving orphan children with no other means of support than the proceeds of that house and lot, which will now realize but $600, the new system of taxation having wiped out $400 of the value of the land. Is this just? (2) Suppose a farmer to be in possession of outlying land which he has had no occasion to use and which was purchased by his grandfather from the government, all that the government asked having been paid for it. For nearly a hundred years the government has held the purchase-money, has had the use of it, has had the chance to invest it at compound interest, so that now as against the government it may be deemed to have increased many fold. Meantime, by the growth of population, the land has become very valuable, so that were the farmer to sell it he would receive many times as much as his grandfather gave for it. Is it just that the government should now virtually take away that land without returning at least what it received therefor with fair interest? Consider the facts of these two cases well and see whether the question of justice which they raise does not depend upon remoter considerations. Suppose a wealthy capitalist were to bring an action of ejectment against the blacksmith’s orphans, claiming that he had a better title. Would not the only question be whether he did have a better title? Can the decision of that question be affected in any manner by the hard case of the orphans or by the sterling virtues of their father? Everybody knows that such considerations must be rigor-