DEBATE OF JANUARY 16, 1890.Question: "Resolved, That a discriminating tax ought to be imposed on ground rent."
Brief for the Affirmative.G. B. Henshaw, '90, and W. J. Scott.
Best general references: Henry George's Progress and Poverty; Current Objections considered by S. B. Clark; S. W. Thackeray's Land and the Community.
I. Theoretical argument.
1. There can be no absolute property in land. (a) Land is indispensable to life. (b) Land varies in fertility, accessibility, and desirableness. (c) Land is limited in amount.- S. B. Clark's Current Objections, pp. 12-5. 2. Its use and occupancy must be regulated by a just law. (a) It is within the functions of government. (b) A discriminating tax is the only method.- Clark's Objections, p. 13; Walker's Pol. Econ., p. 393.
II. Practical argument.
A. A discriminating tax would be, (a) practicable, (b) efficient, (c), beneficial to the masses.- 1. By annihilation of selling value and its speculative element. 2. The burden of taxation on productive industry would thus be considerably lightened. 3. By the gradual abolition of poverty-The Land and the Community, pp. 147-173; Lippincott, March 1887, p. 491; George's Progress and Poverty, pp. 389-408; The Nineteenth Century, v. 16, pp. 145-55.
III. Objections answered.
1. It will not ruin nor seriously injure present landholders. 2. Compensation is overruled by controlling principle.- Thackery, pp. 186-197. 3. Difficulties of accomplishment overcome, (a) by gradual change, (b) by granting the necessary power to congress.- Clarke, pp. 39-41, 4. No further centralization of power is involved; (a) the government is already a large landholder.- Thackeray's The Land and the Community, pp. 138, 174-185, George's Progress and Poverty, p. 408.
Brief for the Negative.J. C. Hayes, '90, and E. S. Griffing, '90.
Best general references: Walker, Land and its Rent, p. 143; Popular Science Monthly, February, 1887; Lippincott, January, 1887; Forum, March, 1887; Rae, Contemporary Socialism, p. 443.
I. The economic doctrines underlying the proposal rest upon false proposals. (a) Land no less than other things is a proper subject for private ownership. (b) Labor alone does not create wealth. (c) Labor creates the conditions that make land wealth just as much as it creates the conditions that make other things wealth.- Popular Science Monthly, February, 1887; Walker, Land and its Rent, p. 143; Forum, March, 1887.
II. History shows that the progress of civilization any the division of labor have demanded the substitution of private tenure for common ownership in land.
III. The confiscation of the rental value of land by taxation would in the main be a confiscation of the proceeds of labor.- Ricardo Rae, Contemporary Socialism, p. 446.
IV. Wealth that has grown up under the sanction of the law, it is simply robbery to confiscate. (a) The unearned increment in land is not more hurtful to the community than other forms of unearned increment. (b) If the state would claim the benefit of unearned increase, it must in equity make good also undeserved losses.- Popular Science Monthly. vol. 30, pp. 511-2; Lippincott, January, 1887; Walker, Pol. Econ., p. 395.
V. Such an enlargement of government powers would largely increase political corruption, and would lead to dangerous centralization.- Popular Science Monthly, vol. 50, pp. 513-4.
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