Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/409

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PROFITS OF BUSINESS NOT TOO LARGE.

fully as skillful as Mr. Carnegie, and yet are not worth ten thousand dollars apiece. How did it happen? They had to depend upon their own resources, while the Government gave Mr. Carnegie the power to tax every consumer of iron and steel. Another set of men are rich because they taxed the consumers of sugar, another made their millions by the duty on glass, another built railroads at the expense of the nation, and another swindled corporate stockholders and robbed the people generally. Yet, in the face of these facts, Mr. Mann would have us believe that great wealth is the product of honest industry and consummate skill, and that the millionaires are our real benefactors.

The way in which the middlemen and the railroad kings help the farmer is cleverly illustrated by Mr. Mann; but the farmer, he adds, is so unreasonable as to find fault with them, simply because they have made more money than he has. In other words, the farmers' complaints arise from envy—they have no real grievance.

A superficial knowledge of human nature, without being acquainted with the facts in the case, would discredit the statement. Men do not seriously complain without a reason; a person making a thousand dollars a year is not envious because a neighbor makes two or three thousand. The village merchant who by fair dealing has accumulated twenty or fifty thousand dollars is not hated by his customers and townsmen. The possessor of a legitimate fortune is invariably respected. Let us now turn to the facts. In 1860 there were practically no tenant farmers in the country, now twenty-five per cent are renters. Before the war, the farmers owned seventy per cent of the wealth of the nation; in 1890 they owned thirty-five per cent, and paid sixty-five per cent of the taxes. More than thirty per cent of the farms are mortgaged, and the average rate of interest will exceed eight per cent.

When the farmer could no longer be blinded by political prejudice, he realized his condition and forthwith discovered that, while he had been paying the taxes and growing poorer and poorer, another class had been growing richer and richer; they were few in numbers but all-powerful; they not only controlled the business of the country, but the legislation; they were the real rulers of the republic. Is it any wonder, then, that the farmers complain, that they have organized for protection? That they have been so slow to move in their own behalf and so conservative is certainly surprising.

Mr. Mann somewhat rashly assumes that the rich pay their portion of the taxes, and that their wealth would not be in existence had they not produced it. It is generally conceded that the rich do not pay their just share of the public burdens. All eco-