Page:Instead of a Book, Tucker.djvu/221

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
205
MONEY AND INTEREST.

and suppose an unearned bonus for a lease, whereas rent of leased land is merely incidental to real rent, which is the superiority in location or fertility of one piece of land over another, irrespective of leasing. Mr. George would laugh at such an argument if offered in justification of the receipt and enjoyment of unearned increment or economic rent by the landlord. But he himself makes an equally ridiculous and precisely parallel argument in defence of the usurer when he says, in answer to those who assert that interest is the price of monopoly: "You misconceive; you clearly have borrowing and lending exclusively in mind, and suppose an unearned bonus for a loan, whereas interest on borrowed capital is merely incidental to real interest, which is the increase that capital yields, irrespective of borrowing and lending."

The truth in both cases is just this,—that nature furnishes man immense forces with which to work in the shape of land and capital, that in a state of freedom these forces benefit each individual to the extent that he avails himself of them, and that any man or class getting a monopoly of either or both will put all other men in subjection and live in luxury on the products of their labor. But to justify a monopoly of either of these forces by the existence of the force itself, or to argue that without a monopoly of it any individual could get an income by lending it instead of by working with it, is equally absurd whether the argument be resorted to in the case of land or in the case of capital, in the case of rent or in the case of interest. If any one chooses to call the advantages of these forces to mankind rent in one case and interest in the other, I do not know that there is any serious objection to his doing so, provided he will remember that in practical economic discussion rent stands for the absorption of the advantages of land by the landlord, and interest for the absorption of the advantages of capital by the usurer.

The remainder of Mr. George's article rests entirely upon the time argument. Several new Hodge-Podge combinations are supposed by way of illustration, but in none of them is there any attempt to justify interest except as a reward of time. The inherent absurdity of this justification having been demonstrated above, all that is based upon it falls with it. The superstructure is a logical ruin; it remains only to clear away the débris.

Hodge's boiling water is made a type of all those products of labor which afterwards increase in utility purely by natural forces, such as cattle, corn, etc.; and it may be admitted that,

if time would add exchangeable value to the water while boil-