J. S. Tindall

[Reprinted from Land and Freedom, January-February 1931]

The first man who was condemned to labor and live by the sweat of his brow, when applying his labor to the earth and its resources, had as wages his whole product. It was immaterial whether he claimed this product as a landlord, a capitalist or a laborer, the product was his all.

So today to the land-owning farmer, using his own improvements and tools products of his previous labor it is also immaterial whether he accept his crop as wages, rent for land or as interest on his capital; it is his all. But if there were three persons between whom to divide the product, one representing labor, a second representing capital and a third representing land, it would make a vast difference to each just how the crop was divided.

It is plain that if the landlord as rent were to get more, then between them capital and labor must get less.

Now, since the production of commodities is not complete until they are marketed and are in the hands of the consumer, the producer must hire the warehouseman, the railroads, the commission man, the wholesaler and retailer, and in most cases a manufacturer or processer, and pay them out of the price paid by the consumer. Therefore, it makes a vast difference to the producer on what bases they charge him, because he can have only what is left after their charges are paid.

No farmer or other producer, it would appear, has reason to complain about the general wage scale, because working for wages is their line and the labor market is their line and the labor market is practically an open market, where all have equal opportunity to engage in any occupation which pays best.

Nor should any complain of the rates usually charged for the use of capital, because all can invest their capital where it will draw the largest pay, the same as labor. So it appears competition should fairly well equalize the earnings of both in all trades.

But how about land, a factor which both labor and capital must employ if they do anything? Is the supply of land open to competition, and does the law of supply and demand regulate rent the same as it regulates compensation paid labor and capital? What effect does this factor land have on the retail price of products and the share that labor and capital receive? What share of present retail prices represents land rent or interest on capitalized land values?

Labor complains that wages are low as compared to retail prices. The farmer says the same thing about prices paid him for his products.

We all acknowledge that lack of purchasing power is the main cause of industrial depression. Is it not possible that excessive capitalization of land space in our industrial and trade centers, mines, water power, etc., is exacting an undue share that is unearned, thus reducing the purchasing power of labor and true capital?

Perhaps this would be a good field for one of Mr. Hoover's investigating committees.