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Hibbard, Benjamin Horace, 1870-1955 / The history of agriculture in Dane County, Wisconsin

Chapter VI: Land values,   pp. 192-202 PDF (2.3 MB)

Page 192

                        CHAPTER VI.
                        LAND VALUES.
  In discussing the values of land at the various periods it is nec-
essary to deal with data gathered from many scattered sources
and differing widely in trustworthiness. Anyone who has given
the question of real-estate values serious consideration is aware
of the fact that the subject is a slippery one. Politicians, and
even historians, talk glibly about the rise and fall, or the stability
of farm values, without giving any basis for the generalizations,
and if the present treatment does nothing more than to show
unmistakably the character of the matter that must be wrestled
with before dogmatic statements should be made, it is felt that
some purpose has been served. Not that it is impossible to
arrive at definite results: by no means; but that unusual care
must be taken, and the figures must be criticised, corroborated,
and subjected to conscientious analysis before conclusions worthy
of the name can be reached. To begin with, it seems desirable
to pass in review some of the more weighty obstacles which con-
front the man who has occasion to pass judgment on the value
of a farm as compared to the difficulties in valuing personal prop-
erty. It may be said that in the case of valuations for assess-
ment of taxes it is the latter, not the former kind of property
that causes the trouble. Very well; but the question of finding
personal property and of putting a fair price on it when once it
is brought to light are two very distinct propositions.
  The kinds of personal property which are considered fit sub-
jects for taxation are. almost without exception, such things as
are daily bought and sold on the market. Perhaps an importer
of fine woolens may hoodwink the custom house officer into list-
ing it for a third of its actual value, but this is a fault to be
charged to the clumsiness of the system as well as to intrinsic dif-

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