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Question: Resolved, That a properly adjusted tax on land should be substituted for the present system of taxation.
Brief for the affirmative:
J. CUMMINGS and R. L. O'BRIEN.
Best General References: Spencer's Social Statistics, ch. IX; Progress and Poverty; American Soc. Sci. Ass'n, Report for 1890; Ricardo's chapters on rent; Mill, Bk. V, ch. III, sec. 2.
I. Our present system of taxation is so bad as to demand radical change: it is indirect, wasteful, confused, shifting, unjust to the poor, and promotive of dishonesty: Carey, Vol. III, ch. XLIII, secs. 5, 7, 9, and 10; D. A. Wells, Cobden Club Essays, 1871-72, p. 504; D. A. Wells, Lectures at Harvard, March 24th and 31st, 1890; Tucker, "Evils of Indirect Taxation," Forum, Feb. '86; Nathan Matthews, Jr. "Double Taxation," Qr. Jl. of Econ. Vol. IV, p. 339; Quincey, "Double Taxation in Massachusetts."
II. A tax on land values would be direct, economically collected, simple, incapable of being shifted, just and easily borne: Am. So. Sci. Ass'n, discussion by E. Benjamin Andrews, S. B. Clarke, Lewis F. Post, W. L. Garrison, and James R. Carret.
III. Land being a gift of nature and not the product of labor, is the inheritance of men, consequently not a fit subject for private appropriation: its site value is created by society and not by the individual owners: Political Science, Vol. XXXVI, p. 348; Barry. "Moloch of Monopolies," Forum, June 1889; vide "Best general references."
IV. The land tax system can be brought about without any social convulsion: Progress and Poverty, Bk. VIII, ch. II; S. B. Clarke, A Reply to Criticisms.
V. In operation it would (a) prevent speculation in land, (b) lower taxes on food, (c) reduce the capitalized value of land, (d) lead to a more effective use of land, and (e) relieve the extreme competition of the labor market: Labor Movement, ch. XXIII, p. 561 et seq; Sherman's articles in Forum, Sept., '89, Nov. '90, Jan., '91.
Brief for the negative:
J. L. DODGE and H. D. LENTZ.
Best general references: The Single Tax discussion, Am. Ass'n at Saratoga, Sept. 5. 1890; Forum, III, 15-28, 433-42; J. B. Miller, Progress and Robery; G. B. Stebbins, Progress from Poverty, 19th Cent. Mag. Vol. XX.
I. The Single Land Tax is unjust;
a. it would place the whole burden of taxation on a small portion of the community; b. it would prevent the poor from owning desirable land, P, 6 L. T. Dis.; c. it would violate the fundamental principles of taxation-universality, equality, ability to pay.
II. It is unconstitutional; a. it is it is contrary to fundamental principles of law: Blackstone's Conmt. I, p. 129; Kent II, p. 1, Elliott's Debates; b. it violates the rights of private property, (98 N. Y. 105), U. S. Const. Amend. V, XIV; c. it is not uniform taxation, U. S. Const. II 3.
III. It is revolutionary and socialistic in its tendencies; a. inaugurates government ownership of land; b. abolishes entire revenue system; c. gives too much power to central government.
IV. It would not accomplish the ends desired; the practical working is not understood; would not yield sufficient revenue; would not remove present hardships, N. Amer. Rev. 104, p. 109; Century, vol. 40, pp. 386, 390, 396, 405.
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