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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)


Page 287


AGRICULTURAL AND MECHANICAL ASSOCIATION. 287
body; the rent to go to the state in lieu of all other forms of
tax. Here is a source of revenue. The land, belonging to
all the people, could be used by an individual only by the
payment of this ground rent. If a man should want the
exclusive right to land enough for a farm he would lease it
for just what it was worth'an acre, a year. If he wants a
business lot in a city, he would lease it by paying for it, and
by paying, his title to occupy it would be as permanent as
it is now. He would own his improvements, and own every-
thing he could earn. But he would not want to pay rent on
much land he could not use. He would hold no land for a
rise in value, for land would have no value except as it
would be used. He would not have to pay so much rent to
the government as to a landlord because the land being all
for rent would not bring so high a price. No man could
make a living off land he did not use, and there would be
no taking one-half the crop by the man who had done none
of the work. The landlord of to-day would have no reason
to complain, for he has had the right to collect rents on the
common property of the people much longer than it should
have been given him. English and other foreign capitalists
who are living off the rents of American land, would find
of a sudden that there is no further use for their kind in this
country.
Tee value that is in any piece of land is given it by the im-
provements that surround it. The value depends upon the
the accident of its location. Land in Chicago is worth one,
two or three thousand dollars a front foot, not because of
anthing its owner has done to make it so, but because Chi-
cago has near three-quarters of a million people. If all
these people, but the man who owns this valuable lot, were
to leave Chicago, this lot would not be worth a dollar. It is
only just, then, that the value made by the people of Chi-
cago should be theirs, and that the man who uses the land
should pay them what its use is worth.
There is not space in a paper of even the length t, which
I am drawing this out, to discuss this question. If it can be
suggestive it will accomplish all I can hope for. And with
this wish in view, let us consider a conundrum or two.


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