vious gains or losses, there would be two cases to consider—one in which society gives compensation to private holders, and the other in which it reclaims the land by outright confiscation. In the first case it would plainly be unjust to ask society to assume the burden of any "earned decrease." Suppose, for example, that A and B each own land of which the maximum value has been one hundred dollars, and that when society, or the state, buys the land, A's is at its maximum, while B's has fallen to fifty dollars. Can B claim that he should receive as much as A because his (B's) land has once been worth as much as A's, when it is now worth to the buyer only half as much? But in the second case—where confiscation is the hypothesis—it would be clearly inconsistent in society to assume the loss of the "earned decrease." Using the same example as above, if A gets nothing, can B, whose land is worth fifty dollars less, claim that he ought to get fifty dollars because the said land has fallen that much in value? The truth is, that what Mr. Benton calls the "earned decrease" is in most cases only a reduction, according to its size, of the "unearned increment"; that the former is nearly always less than the latter, and serves only to cancel part of it. Sometimes, however, social fluctuations destroy values which have been produced by actually expended labor. This fact, it seems to me, Mr. Benton should have brought more prominently into view; it affords the best foundation for his argument.
The deduction drawn by Mr. Benton from the example which he gives to show how worthless land is in some parts of New England is a very peculiar one. He says: "A friend of mine bought a productive farm of one hundred and sixty acres in Massachusetts a few years ago, with a good house, barn, and other fixtures upon it—and he did not pay the price that the barn alone cost. . . . This means getting the land itself for less than nothing, which is on better terms than Henry George's creed calls for." Has it not occurred to Mr. Benton that his friend may have paid for the land, and got the barn and other improvements for nothing? "Surface improvements" may, and often do, become absolutely valueless; but it is hard to conceive, so long as they have not reached this condition, that the ground on which they are fixed should be worth nothing.
The statement that neither Mill nor Spencer has offered any solution of the problem of dealing with the "unearned increment" is scarcely justified by the facts. Mr. Benton should read Mill's "Principles of Political Economy" and Spencer's "Social Statics" a little more closely. In the former he may refer to Book V, Chapter II, section 5. As to the latter, I am sorry to say that I haven't the book at hand, and can not give him the exact reference, but if he will have the patience to search for it he will find that Spencer also has a plan.
|George P. Garrison.|
|Austin, Texas, July 10, 1888.|
WE ventured in our last number a few remarks on the unsatisfactory results, in this city, of the political management of education. Evidence is now forthcoming that in England the cause of popular education has been no better served by state interference than it has been in this country. A Royal Commission that was lately appointed to inquire into the condition of education in Great Britain has made its report, and in that report there occurs what we can only interpret as a distinct admission of the superiority of voluntary effort over state control in the sphere of education. The report is not in our possession, but the following quotation from it appears in an English newspaper: "If it were needful to strike a balance between the efficiency of the two systems of board and voluntary school management, the evidence would lead us to divide the honors. The system of management transacted outside the school is most vigorously conducted by the school board, dispensing the money of the rate-payers; but in the closer supervision of the school, and effective sympathy between managers and teachers, or managers and scholars, the commission pronounce in favor of the efficiency of voluntary management. In the combination of the advantages of both systems we look for progress in the future." We confess to being at a loss as to what, precisely, is meant by "the system of management transacted in-