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Land Nationalization (S344a: 1881)

Editor Charles H. Smith’s Note: A letter to the Editor of The Radical (London), printed on page 6 of its 26 November 1881 issue. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S344A.htm

To the Editor of "The Radical."

    Sir,--I wonder that any one writing in The Radical can propose (as does Mr. Wilson in your issue of Nov. 12th), that all landowners should receive perpetual annuities equal to the rentals of their estates, except in the case of those whose rentals exceed £20,000. What would be the state of things we should thus provide for our successors? A country in which perhaps half a million of its inhabitants would be supported in luxury and idleness by the labours of the rest of the community. For the annuities would of course be divided among the families of the present landowners, and again among their families; and these annuities being perpetual would always be paid to some one, and would thus form a perpetual tax of about one hundred millions sterling, paid to keep a large portion of the population in idleness, for no purpose whatever but to injure themselves morally, and every one else physically!

    Mr. Armfield’s proposal is even worse. For he would first pay all present landowners the full value of their land, and thus create a similar body of idle receivers of public money for ever--and then get this money back from those to whom the land was in some way allotted (how allotted or sold is not stated), by the most unequal and unfair mode possible, a land-tax at a fixed sum per acre, totally irrespective of all difference in the value of land! Really, before people ventilate their opinions on this great question, they might try and understand what their proposals really lead to. No scheme whatever that recognises and actually provides for the perpetual existence of a large portion of the population living in idleness on the labours of the rest, is worthy of a moment’s consideration by Radicals.

Alfred R. Wallace.

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