The World Chaos: A Way Out

Silas S. Taber

[Reprinted from Land and Freedom, July-August 1927]

THE people of San Diego should be congratulated in regard to their daily instruction in respect to "land values."

I doubt if the people of any other city are better versed in the cause, development and importance of land values, for, thanks to the full page advertising, it is daily hammered into our minds, that increased population means increased land values ; that increased civic enterprise means increased land values; that ninety per cent, of all great fortunes are based in land values.

Our citizens are familiar with the fact that land values are simply ground rents, capitalized: what the Political Economists call the unearned increment, because entirely unearned by the site or landowner. As a well-known illustration, a small corner lot down town was leased about forty years ago, for $35 per month. At the present time the ground rental runs to $2,000 per month, with no effort on the part of the owner.

Now, while our citizens are kept well informed, that ground rent is a social product, due to population and civic enterprise; they are not kept so well informed in regard to the fact that our tax system, like that of many other countries, allows about four-fifths of this social revenue to flow into the pockets of private landowners, thus inducing land speculation, necessitating taxation of industry and creating, in the last analysis, that whole train of evils we term in short, the world chaos.

Our tax system nullifies the laws of distribution. Community created value is given to the fortunate few, while the many are robbed to make up the loss. Present tax laws become in effect, a yearly method of transferring a good portion of the earnings of land-users to the pockets of landowners.

The transfer of taxes from industry to land values can be accomplished without the slightest friction, as in Sydney, N.S.W., a city of a million inhabitants.

With this system comes the Golden Rule into our economic life; whatsoever the government does to its citizens in creating land values, just so do the citizens render the government an exact money equivalent. The old slogan, "Equal opportunity for all, special privilege to none," becomes a vital living truth instead of a dead aphorism. Justice and equity becomes the cornerstone of our national wellbeing; and the sneaking, prying governmental espionage into our private affairs, that induces perjury and false swearing will be abolished. Thus shall our nation again be entitled to respect, in the maintenance of those ideals of individual liberty and freedom of production, that have been the inspiration of all progressive leaders of the past; thus, shall three of the dreaded Horse men, Famine, Pestilence and War, be banished from the earth.