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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/430

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412
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

sity." The writer evidently thinks that to talk as we did of making "sound individuals" without postulating, as a necessary condition thereto, the general adoption of current theories in regard to the nationalization of the land, is useless. We are not, however, quite of his opinion on this point. We are not sure that there would be a larger proportion of sound individuals if the land were nationalized than there is at present. It is easy to say that an era of general prosperity and well-being would set in if these theories prevailed; but the thesis has never been proved, and the world is by no means persuaded that it is true. Fifteen years ago the doctrine excited much more interest than it does today, and was fervently believed in by many who now have either abandoned it altogether, or else have come to attach only a secondary importance to it. Mr. Bostedo believes that there is a "conspiracy of silence" on the subject in the press. If there is, we are not aware of it; we have certainly never joined the conspiracy. What seems to us to be the case is that the public has got tired of a question which was very widely discussed some years ago, but without any very satisfactory result. Our correspondent speaks of this journal as "conservative." We trust we are conservative in a right sense, and liberal in a right sense also. We believe that the principles on which human well-being mainly depends are very old; but we desire at the same time to see the latest results of human thought applied to the improvement of the general condition of mankind. The question whether land should be individually appropriated is manifestly one into which we can not enter to-day; moreover, it is not one which is likely to be settled to every one's satisfaction at any early date. Meantime we think it right to point out, as we did in the article under consideration, that character and general fitness for the work of the world have much, if not everything, to do with happiness and success in life. We all know "sound individuals" when we see them; and we know that they spring from almost every condition of life. A very sound individual, who had endured considerable hardships in his youth, became President of this nation some thirty-five years ago. We want more of that kind, and we should not wait to get the land laws fixed or unfixed before doing what may presently be in our power toward increasing their number through such agencies as education, free and temperate discussion, and righteous government.

One thing pleases us in Mr. Bostedo's letter, and that is his declaration that he does not, like very many of the advocates of the single tax, mix up with his arguments "a great deal of religious dogma and superstition and crude notions of natural rights, etc." Perhaps the large extent to which single-tax writers have resorted to just such faulty modes of. reasoning in the past has something to do with the alleged "conspiracy of silence." That kind of thing has a very silencing effect on people who wish to keep their wits clear and their tempers sweet.