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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 290


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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