Northern Wisconsin Agricultural and Mechanical Association / Transactions of the Northern Wisconsin Agricultural and Mechanical Association, including a full report of the industrial convention held at Neenah, Wisconsin, February, 1886. Together with proceedings of the Association for 1884, to January 1, '86
Vol. XI (1886)
Bright, C. M.
Taxation, pp. 273-306 PDF (6.8 MB)
290 TRANSACTIONS OF THE NORTHERN WISCONSIN capital understand that part of wealth that is used in con- junction with labor, in production -do not receive their just reward. Privileged classes grow richer out of the toil of other classes that grow poorer. Think for a moment of the Vanderbilts accumulating three hundred millions of dollars in two generations. The fact of that immense accumulation is not in itself so bad as the fact that opportunities have made it possible. There are too many opportunities for mak- ing millionnaires, and it is a bad thing for the country that there are, for, for every millionnaire there have got to be a thousand paupers. This is not a socialist cry for the over- throw of the wealthy, or for an equal distribution of pro- perty. It is rather a plea for a change in the condition of things that robs labor and makes millionaires and paupers; that almost in the shadow of the palace builds hovels where pinching want is the ever present guest. It is a plea for an equality in the opportunity to acquire wealth. But this equality can never be so long as there are interests and classes that enjoy special protection and advantages under the law. Such equality never yet was and never will be found in a country where the land is monopolized, because -of the power the ownership of land gives to those who pos- sess it over those who do not. This monopoly takes from labor and capital, labor's assistant in production, the fruits of labor, and. absorbing them, keeps labor down. There is no conflict between labor and capital, for each is dependent upon the other. But there is a conflict, between labor and capital upon the one hand, and land monopoly upon the other -a conflict which so far has been all a one-sided affair. Failure to recognize this truth is the great economic error of the times. It is the error that labor organizations have made, and are making. They work from the wrong point of view, and quarrel with their friend instead of uniting with that friend, and making common cause against the common enemy. It is the error of that class of statesmen who regard the tariff as the regulator of the question of wages and the general prosperity of the people. Equality in opportunity can never be so long as there are advantages which some enjoy at the expense of others.
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