PROTECTION, AND ITS RELATION TO RENT.
[Liberty, October 27, 1888.]
To the Editor of Liberty:
Referring to your favored reply of October 13, I fail to find an answer to the question as to the result of the attempt of two rival protectors to secure to different persons the same territory. I cannot see how, under such conditions, a physical conflict can be avoided, (1) nor is it clear why the best and cheapest protector will be most patronized if he is not at the same time the strongest. It would be the power rather than the quality of protection that would secure patronage. (2) But if the tyrant by sophistry could convince the masses, as he now does, that his policy is to their benefit and could obtain their support, Anarchy would inevitably lead to despotism. (3) The present State, to my mind, is indeed the natural outgrowth of Anarchy, its absurd character being due to shortsighted intelligence and sustained by a copious amount of sophistry. (4) My remarks about equity do certainly not refer to what is now termed equity, but to the genuine article.
The statement that the value of the protection in the possession of land equals its economic rent I consider true, even if there is no direct labor of protection involved.
By rent I mean, of course, that which Ricardo terms rent,—i.e., the difference between the productivity of a particular piece of land and the marginal productivity; the excess of the value of a product over the value of the labor producing it.
The observation regarding the sentimental value of protection is certainly out of place, since in economic discussion none other than exchange value can be considered. (5) Even in a society in which the policeman is superfluous, the value of protection in the possession of land can be shown to be equal to its economic rent. The right of possession to land consists in an agreement of the people to forego the special advantages which the use of such lands affords to an undisturbed possessor. It represents a giving-up, by the community, of that which they could obtain for themselves,—the cost of the community being certainly that which they have relinquished, and equals in value the special advantage which is the cause of rent. In view of this, it seems to me that affording this protection is to the community an expense equal to the rent. (6) Moreover, assuming that owing to the favorable locality or fertility (eliminating a difference of skill or other merit) the production on that land of one year's labor (say three hundred days) will exchange for five hundred days' of other men's labor who must work without such special advantages, it will be difficult to show that the occupier of that land is equitably entitled to this \exchange value. (7) Those who buy his products really produce and actually pay the excess of two hundred days' labor. Are they not entitled to a distribution of this rent which they, in the course of exchange, have paid to him? If the people of a community are endowed with intelligent egoism, they cannot give that protection to any one who is not willing to pay the rent; and, if the occupier refuses to do so, the right of occupation will simply be given to one who is willing. (8) This is no invasion, but a bargain, (9) What right has he to expect the community to secure him an opportunity to make inequitable exchanges, (10) when others arewilling to pay the full value of the advantages offered, whereby equity