The question is whether he is correct or not in that contention. A solution of this question is not helped by saying that every one makes a profit now and is going to make a larger one hereafter if we continue to progress.
Another objection is that the value of land generally is not more than, nor so much as, the values in labor and capital that have been put upon it since its first settlement. But labor and capital, when applied to land, no more make stable changes therein than when applied to any other matter. After a time the form which they give to land and the changes they make in it, under the influence of natural forces, lose their distinctness, and eventually the land relapses to its natural condition unless additional labor and capital are laid out upon it. This is the tendency at all times. Hence it is immaterial how much labor and capital have been expended in the past upon a given parcel of land unless it can be shown that its present market value was caused wholly or partly thereby. Upon so much of present market value as can be shown to be due to this cause there would be no tax under George’s plan.
It will serve no useful purpose to comment further upon objections. Enough has been said to make it clear that George’s argument has not been understood. That being so, it would be strange if critics did not go astray in their objections.
Has every man, as against all other men, a natural right to land unlimited, save by the equal rights of others? Is it the primary function of government to secure to all its people their natural rights, including the right to land? Can government do this unless it is possessed of an inalienable power to regulate at will the use of land in any manner that may be adapted to that end? Is the legal institution of private property in land inconsistent with such inalienable power, and with such natural right? Will the exaction and application to common uses of economic rent secure the right? These are the questions upon which the justice of the proposed legislation depends. Till they shall have been understood, considered, and argued by those competent to the task, it will never truly be said that George has been refuted. Meantime, with unquestionable sincerity, with remarkable energy and ability, and with the confidence which comes from unanswered reasoning, he is teaching the discontented masses of the people that they have a real grievance.
Samuel B. Clarke.