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THE LAND QUESTION., Issue 15698, 12 January 1915
THE LAND QUESTION.
in iTO THE Kim OK. Sir.—ln last Monday's issue of the ' livening Star ' appeared a letter signed " Land Reform,” which I consider deals with the most important of all questions affecting the. welfare of nations. I un-c->juivocally condemn the private ownership of land, or what is known as the freehold tenure. i can liken the private landlord system to nothing less than a giant in to pus sucking the blood of the nation'. Tliisystem of private landlordism exploits, the clas- known as capitalists as well as the workers, creates unemployment, robs all classes except the owners of land of the result of the work of their brains and labor. Take, for instance, the case of a shopkeeper who rents a shop and start' a business therein. He rents his shop, say, for a. term of 14 years at £1 per week. At the expiry of his lease, by his energy, business capacity, and brains and labor, he has quadrupled his income. The landlord. who has done nothing for the 14 years but received the weekly rent, raises the rent to i 32 per week—just double what the tenant paid for it previously, thus depriving the shopkeeper of his rightful earnings and the. full product of his Labor. The tenant has sometimes been obliged to pass this increase on to his customers, in order to hold his own with rivals in the same trade, and is wrongly blamed for exploiting the consumer, as it is the landlord who is responsible, as ho forms the class now spoken of as the ” idle rich.” This system of holding the land is neither more nor less than the leasehold under private ownership if the owner has more than .sufficient land to support himself and family and leases the rest of his property for private gain. It tends to j aggregation, as the private money lender will only lend on this security, so that he mav be in a position to take and sell the land of his customers nr mortgagees in order that he may be repaid the money he has advanced on the holding. If the interest on loan due to him is not forthcoming he forecloses, and as he does not care whether the person he sells to has a large tract of land, aggregation is naturally bound to follow. In this Dominion of Xew Zealand nearly the whole of the land is now held under the freehold tenure, which not only deprives the people of their rightful inheritance, but takes away from the bondholders of London the best part of their seuu-
nty, as the unimproved value of the land goes into the pockets of private people, instead of into the coffers of the Government, it is monopoly in its worst form. It creates unemployment and its attendant evils, and takes from the nation the true source of wealth. .Mr IT. D. Bedford, lecturer of economics at the Otago University. during the last election campaign, when he spoke at the Labor rally at the Garrison Hall, showed the utter fallacy of what is known to-day as the capitalistic system of ; the precious metals of gold and silver ; ranking as the sure wealth of any nation, • He particularly mentioned the case of 1 Spain some hundreds of years ago being the richest country as far as gold goes, but whose inhabitants were practically 1 poorer than any other nation. I would like to especially draw the attention of the working classes and the Labor leaders to the importance of the question of Jancl ownership. During the late Mr Seddon's time a lot of settlers who had practically no capital were enabled to .settle on the land on different kinds of leasehold tenure of the State with great benefit, to themselves and the Dominion at largo, and some of them are in a must, prosperous condition to-day. The cry of the Labor leaders of to-day is to socialise the industries, and give the. workers the full product of their labors, instead of the present system of wages, which is only a. small part of the result of j their labor. I maintain this can only be done in one way : By making the land accessible to all under State ownership.. Our great financiers admit that when we as a people raise a, loan, we pay it back in goods produced in this country, thus admitting that the land produce is the true wealth. If land is locked up and inaccessible to the majority of the population depression, unemployment, and taxation for charitable aid and other purposes is bound to he heavy; whereas if the land is accessible, to all who are willing to ’.cork it a rich, contented, and prosperous nation will arise like unto the Israelites of old. who were practically what is known 10-day as Socialists. Therefore, fellow-workers arise and work for this cause, and become members of the Land Values League, thus helping to free yourselves from the system of bond wages slaves, and sweeping aside like a mighty tide the system of private landlordism, which absorbed in the last five- years the enormous sum of £51,612.000 unimproved land values increase, which has been created by the people of the Dominion, faking our national debt at £90,000,000, and the interest thereon at 5 per rent., tliis sum is sufficient to pay five years’ interest on our national debt, and leave a sum of £36,862.000 to the State. Therefore, let the battle cry of Labor be “ The land for the people,” when all shall have equality of opportunity.—l am. etc., IVide'slwsiKe Laborer. January 11.
THE LAND QUESTION., Issue 15698, 12 January 1915
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