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INSTEAD OF A BOOK.

to those who raise the wheat from the soil, grind it into flour, and bake it into bread, and not the smallest taste of it to the sharpers who deceive the unthinking masses into granting them a monopoly of the opportunities of performing these industrial operations, which opportunities they in return rent back to the people on condition of receiving the other half of the loaf.

 

 

A DEFENCE OF CAPITAL.

[Liberty, October i, 1881.]

My dear Mr. Tucker:

Why do you "grieve" at a difference of opinion between us? Am I to be bribed to agree with a valued friend by the fear that he will grieve if I do not? Liberty, I should say, imposes no such burden on freedom of thought, but rather rejoices in its fullest exercise.

I did not know that the "no-profit" theory had become so well established, or so generally accepted, as to render ridiculous any proposition not based upon it.

Yet that is the only point I understand you to urge against the measure I proposed. But I never could see that labor, in its unequal struggle for its rights, gained anything by extravagant claims. Whatever contributes to production is entitled to an equitable share in the distribution. In the production of a loaf of bread (the example which you set forth in a magnificent paragraph), the plough performs an important, if not indispensable service, and equitably comes in for a share of the loaf. Is that share to be a slice which compensates only for the wear and tear? It seems to me that it should be slightly thicker, even if no more than "the ninth part of a hair." For suppose one man spends his life in making ploughs to be used by others who sow and harvest wheat. If he furnishes his ploughs only on condition that they be returned to him in as good state as when taken away, how is he to get his bread? Labor, empty-handed, proposes to raise wheat; but it can do nothing without a plough, and asks the loan of one from the man who made it. If this man receives nothing more than his plough again, he receives nothing for the product of his own labor, and is on the way to starvation. What proportion he ought to receive is another question, on which I do not enter here; it may be ever so small, but it should be something.

Capital, we will agree, has hitherto had the lion's share; why condemn a measure which simply proposes to restore to labor a portion at least of what it is entitled to ?

I say nothing on the theory of "natural laws," because I understood you to suggest that point only to waive it.

Cordially yours,

J. M. L. Babcock.[1]

  1. It should be stated that a few years after the date of this discussion Mr. Babcock abandoned the position here taken, became a thorough-going opponent of interest, and has remained such ever since.