Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/245

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

shape of money of the realm or that for which it is exchangeable—viz., food products—or the capital may take the form of ready manufactured brain, blood, nerves, and muscles.

No labor is possible without the power to work, and the power to work must be stored up in the human frame, and a sufficient supply of protoplasm housed to maintain human energy, in order to make labor possible. What else is this than capital—"wealth devoted to the production of more wealth"?

The definition of labor given by Mr. George "includes all human exertion in the production of wealth." Supposing wageworkers were limited to this definition as the standard for gauging the value of their services, what would become of those employed in unremunerative industries or in those of an experimental nature? It would mean that the time they had spent in the manufacture or construction of anything which on completion was found to be unsuccessful, could not be classed as labor, and for which they could make no claim—a decision which Mr. George would scarcely be prepared to allow as just.

I must now call your attention to another fallacy which is too gross to overlook, especially as it occurs in other schools of reform outside of the single-tax party. It is that of ascertaining some law applicable to a rude or elementary society, such as Robinson Crusoe and his man Friday on a desert island, and applying the same law to society in an advanced state.

Reasoning by analogy is often a very dangerous proceeding, especially when used by the unskillful. In order to show that capital is really a very useless thing and quite unessential to life, Mr. George cites instances where a number of men begin life on an island and commence without capital by picking berries, catching fish, and killing game. This may be all true in a small community, providing there happen to be the necessary game and fish and berries, the possible absence of which Mr. George overlooks. But where can a city like New York provide itself with sufficient game, fish, and berries to support life without the use of capital? Mr. George tells us that the fundamental truth, that in all economic reasoning must be firmly grasped and never let go, is, that all society in its most highly developed forms is but an elaboration of society in its rudest beginnings, and that principles obvious in the simple relations of men are merely disguised, and not abrogated or reversed, by the more intricate relations that result from the division of labor and the use of complex tools and methods." (Progress and Poverty, page 29.) For a complete refutation of this "fundamental truth" we have an argument furnished by Mr. George himself. In his efforts to demolish the Malthusian theory, he says in Chapter II of Book II: "The globe may be surveyed and history may be reviewed in vain for any