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Distribution Of Wealth

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ïnecuscnssion of the tragedy at thp Homestead milis is bringing out some of the serious thonghts of intelligent men in regard to dangers not only f rom contact of capital and labor, like this deplorable one, but from the inevitable resulta that must foUow the congestión of wealth in the hands of a comparatively few. The opinión seems to be rapidly gaining ground that we are to have more ratherthan less of these troubles, and that they are but symptoms of adisease that is becoming deep seated and that threatens the very life of our republic, which outwardly looks so fair. It is also beginning to be recognized that nostrums and quack remedies, such as schemes of profit sharing, co-operation, etc, though they inay do more good than harm, yet they can never cure the general disease which can be reached only by radical remedies. Wliat then is the disease that is racking and torturing this industrial commonwealth? What was its cause, what has been its progresa and what is the remedy? For want of a better name we will cali the disease plutocracy. It comes from the unequal distribution of earnings or wealth, the greater part of which is rapidly being concentrated into the hands of a few. Hundreds are reaping where millions sow; resulting in millionaires on the one hand and tramps on the other, with the pressure on all between becoming greater and greater, The evils of this system are that while in theory the laws are made by the people, practically the masses only obey the laws made by the rich. Money becomes king. The evils of the system are far reaching. Classes and castes are established. The wealthy become arrogant or lead wild and reckless Uves. The poor lose hope, courage and patriotism and accept sullenly their lot as subjects and slaves of the millionaires whó empïoy tïiem ór who hold mortgages over their heads. The cause of this disease is found in the laws and systems which grant public property and privileges to private individuals or corporations. The disease had but little hold upon the country previous to the civil war. There were then no more millionaires than could be counted on one's fingers. During the war of 1861-5 big government contracts laid the basis of some of the large fortunes since accumulated. The protection system was then begun which has ever since been taking money from the pockets of farmers and laborers and putting it into those of the manufacturers. The increased powers of production resulting from improved machinery and methods have increased the influence and power of capital so that millionaires are being turned out more rapidly than ever before. The New York Tribune prínted a list of over 4,000 millionaires a few weeks ago, classifying them according to the sources of their wealth. According to this authority about 30 per cent. made their money chiefly in protected jr.fln?tries, perhaps 50 per cent. mainly as holders of or speculators in land, and the remainder mostly from patent or other monopolies, appreciation of money values, etc. The most of these fortunes are accumulated legally, though often laws are strained after being made to aid such accumulations. But justice would not have distributed wealth in any such fashion. It would leave valuable monopolies in the hands of private persons, but would make the production of property the only title to it. It would erect no barriers to commeroe to compel consumera to buy dear goods of any favored set of producers, but would leave opportunities and privileges open to all alike. The remedy for this disease then cannot be found in laws that will increase restrictions upon trade or grant more privileges to any class. Restrictions must be removed and the indirect methods of taxation which now filch money from the poor and turn it over to the rich must be replaced by a direct system which shall bear no more heavily upon the poor than upon the rich; or, better still, tax the opportunities to production unttl the unearned increment, now largely taken by the wealthy, shall be utilized for the benefit of all. When this is done men will be put upon an equal footing and each will get what he earns and earn what he gets. Large corporations may then exist, but it will be because they can produce most cheaply and not because they will have greater advantage over labor.


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