Some speak as if the abolition of rent were to be an immediate result of the abolition of interest, apparently taking the ground that rent is a product of the selling price of land and the interest of money. But according to the accepted theory of economists (the only one that I have learned to understand), rent is the independent factor, and the selling price is the product of rent and interest.
I have also seen it claimed that under liberty there will be no great cities, and therefore no city prices for land. I can understand that liberty will make the masses richer, so that they will be better able to choose the home which pleases them; and that it will make them saner, so that they will better appreciate the attractions of country life. But cities will still offer the greatest opportunities for making money, and many social and aesthetic advantages. I cannot believe, therefore, that great cities will disappear.
As to the freeing of vacant land, I do not remember to have heard that this would destroy any but "speculative" rent. There might perhaps be a greater relief at first, while the vacant land was being taken up. But certainly within a short time—within a year, I should say—all land which had any special advantage over ordinary farming land would be occupied, and these special advantages would be in the hands of the occupiers.
On the other hand, it must be remembered that, if any economic rent is left, every advance in prosperity will naturally tend to increase this rent. And liberty is to cause an advance in prosperity.
Again, when vacant land is free, cities can be settled more compactly. This will intensify the peculiar advantages of city life, and thereby in- crease the demand for city and suburban land. The effect of free vacant land would, I imagine, be closely analogous to that of rapid transit, which was expected to decrease rent, but has instead increased it.
How, then, is economic rent to be got out of the way?
Stephen T. Byington.
Liberty has never stood with those who profess to show on strictly economic grounds that economic rent must disappear or even decrease as a result of the application of the Anarchistic principle. It sees no chance for that factor in the human constitution which makes competition such a powerful influence—namely, the disposition to buy in the cheapest market—to act directly upon economic rent in a way to reduce it. This disposition to buy cheap, which in a free market is fatal to all other forms of usury, is on the contrary the mainstay of economic rent, whether the market be free or restricted. When, through freedom of banking, it shall become possible to furnish money at cost, no one will pay for money more than cost; and hence interest on money, as well as on all capital consisting of commodities which money will buy and to the production of which there is no natural limit, will necessarily disappear. But the occupant of land who is enabled, by its superiority, to undersell his neighbor and at the same time to reap, through his greater volume of business, more profit than
his neighbor, enjoys this economic rent precisely because of