« VorigeDoorgaan »
Since formulating the plans in my book I have decided to change my point of starting. For this contingency, indeed, I have always
, been prepared ; and the reason which actuated me was the receipt in December 1908 of news from San Francisco stating that no whale ships will go into the Arctic Ocean in the spring. Accordingly, when I am able to start, I propose to take down the Mackenzie River sufficient supplies for at least three years, to be placed in October upon the ice off Pullen Island on the 135th meridian. In my last expedition I started from Athabasca Landing on the 22nd of July ; whereas I should have left there during the second week in May, as all boats going north leave at this time, but I had been prevented from leaving England till the 15th of June. The start from England should be made not later than the third week in April. I anticipate no difficulty in reaching Pullen Island with my supplies by the first week in August, and when the frost sets in about October, these supplies will be placed on the ice, and the expedition formally begun. By this route I shall, before starting, have an opportunity of finishing the map of the Mackenzie Delta, which I have begun, and as, during the months of August and September, plenty of fish are obtainable, the wait at Pullen Island will not involve my supplies being requisitioned before the expedition commences. At my destination, Spitzbergen, supplies will await me.
There are two reasons for selecting this direction. The first is that, if there be any land in the unknown region, I should, in virtue of the argument drawn from atmospheric conditions, expect to find it somewhere to the north and west of Grant Land. The drift found by Commander Peary, north of Grant Land and Greenland, running in an easterly direction, might seem to militate against what I have before laid down ; unless this current be explained by the existence of land. It might be accounted for, too, by the continual flow which I have described. A second reason for choosing this route is based on our knowledge of the New Siberian Islands, which are obviously not so suitable as a base to make for as Spitzbergen. For it would be very much harder to place supplies upon this archipelago (the most northerly island of which is roughly 500 miles from any settlement) than upon Spitzbergen, which can be visited every year.
Assuming, from the drift of the Jeannette and her relics, that there is a drift round the Arctic Ocean at an average of about two miles per day, it seems reasonable that the drift in the shortest route across the centre of the ocean will be at an average of 1.2 miles per day. The distance from Pullen Island to Spitzbergen is about 1800 miles, while the distance from Point Barrow to Iceland is 2500 miles. The first buoy mentioned above accomplished the latter distance in seventy months' drifting, therefore at the average rate of 1.2 miles per day ; 13 but as the drift south of Spitzbergen is known to be faster than that north of it, the average drift of this buoy before reaching Spitzbergen should be put at not more than one mile per day.
12 Dr. Nansen's Farthest North, vol. i., p. 20. 13 Geographical Journal, vol. xxxi., p. 286.
If a buoy or a ship can drift in the ice at this rate, a sledge expedition can do the same; therefore a sledge expedition would actually drift in three years over 1000 miles, leaving only 800 miles to be covered by travelling, or less than one mile per day. It seems certain, therefore, that with the greater facilities for moving supplies which a sledge expedition has over a ship, the former is the better mode of exploring the centre of the Arctic Ocean, with the prospect of accomplishing such exploration within reasonable time.
ALFRED H. HARRISON.
THE TAXATION OF LAND VALUES
A REPLY TO MR. HAROLD COX
On the other hand, his [Lord Salisbury's) remarks on the taxation of ground values show that he is unable or unwilling to appreciate the reasons why economic rent should be subject to a special tax. Leaving altogether aside disputed questions about the origin of property in land, we have this broad fact to go upon, that economic rent is a special product created by the industry and energy of the whole community, and ought not therefore to be allowed to remain in private hands. No doubt there would be hardship amounting to injustice if the whole of the economic rent of this kingdom were suddenly resumed by the nation ; but there is no injustice in gradually imposing special taxation on rents until they are entirely absorbed. The question of the taxation of ground rents therefore stands quite apart from all other problems in taxation. Under existing circumstances in England it may be necessary and even desirable to have other taxes besides the tax on rent, and these taxes ought certainly to be adjusted so that they fall fairly on every class in the community. But a tax on rent is, as I have just said, a thing apart. It is not, indeed, properly a tax at all, but merely a retention by the State of part of that rent which in justice belongs altogether to the community.-HAROLD Cox, in The Standard (New York), 21st of December 1889.
WHILE the proposal to tax land values in the Budget of this year fills Mr. Cox with the gravest apprehension, it is regarded by an increasing number of people engaged in industry and commerce with all the equanimity and approval which the principle inspired in him twenty years ago. The members of the business community have been impressed by the view that it contains something essential for their prosperity. Some of their enterprises are impeded by rates, by taxes, or by the unduly heavy charges exacted for the use of land, others are headed off and dissipated by the impossibility of acquiring land for their fufilment. There is also a scarcity of good customers, of good tenants for houses, shops and offices, of people in a position to make a demand for all the commodities and services which business men are anxious to supply. Producers and consumers, merchants and their customers, suffer the same things under our systems of taxation and land tenure, and thus directly and indirectly the foundations of each man's prosperity are undermined. The taxation of land values has been quietly and persistently presented to them as a remedy for these evils. Many have been convinced of its soundness,
and are demanding that the Government should embody the principle in a practical measure. Mr. Cox says that this demand,' this popular clamour, is based upon a series of delusions.'
Before examining the arguments with which he supports this view, it will be well to deal with and dismiss certain personal references which occur more than once in the course of his article. He mentions Henry George, the late Bailie John Ferguson, and others, as men who proclaimed that in their opinion the total value of the land should ultimately be appropriated for public purposes. This statement may cause alarm in the minds of those who do not perceive how little relevant it is to the practical proposals which are being discussed at the present moment, or which are likely to be discussed for many generations. What does it matter to-day that Mr. Cox twenty years ago said all that these men are reprobated for saying? Whatever object Mr. Cox has in recalling these things, there is no cause for alarm. The taxation of land values has made for security and stability in the colonies, and it is hardly conceivable that there will be any wild revolution in this country, any precipitate and tragic abdication of their seats by the landowners, or any rash and universal seizure of the land by the landless people. Mr. Cox refers sarcastically to the 'polite language employed by the land taxers,' to their “inflammatory rhetoric.' It is doubtful, however, if any great movement for reform, any movement for fundamentally and substantially readjusting the relations of different classes and individuals to each other in this or any other country, has been marked by so little personal bitterness and by so few personal attacks. This is due, perhaps, in large measure, to the reasonableness and justice of the principle, features in it which have led its supporters to attack a system and not a class or individual, and at the same time have modified the opposition of the landowners whose position almost compels them to resist it.
There is little ground for Mr. Cox's renewed attack on Henry George, because he moved' thousands of people in this country' by his rhetoric, and persuaded “them that he had discovered the key to social salvation.' He admits this a few sentences later when he says that the English people require something more than rhetoric to influence them, and that the land taxers have furnished them with arguments which are superficially quite attractive.' He does not explain, however, the difference between rhetoric and superficially attractive arguments. Whatever it be, it is certain that neither one nor the other has moved so many of our colonies to adopt the taxation of land values, so many of our municipal and other local councils to demand from Parliament the power to adopt the same system, nor, finally, have they persuaded both Houses of Parliament to accept the principle. George's logic has been confirmed by the logic of events in every department of civilised life, in business, in politics, and in
morals. But even if it is admitted that George resorts to rhetoric to enforce his arguments, was the action not lawful ? Political economy has long been regarded as a dismal subject, and the men who have done something to illumine and render it interesting deserve credit and not censure. There are numerous and respectable precedents for this. There is the ancient instance of Lucretius who in a similar position went much further, saying that as his subject was obscure and dreary for the ordinary man who avoided it, he had resolved to set it before his readers in pleasant Pierian verses and to sweeten it with a touch of the Muses' honey that he might keep their attention. But George did not require to be rhetorical or poetic in order to gain & wider influence than other economists. His analysis and exposition of the subject only required to be clear, simple and consistent to distinguish them from those of most writers on the subje
Take Mr. Cox's methods for example. Referring to the land taxers, he says : Their first argument is that land differs from all other things which are the subjects of private property. This statement is true, but it does not carry us very far.' Having made this admission he devotes the remainder of his article, except one passage which destroys his own case, to asserting and trying to prove that land should be treated exactly like other things from which it is essentially different. Even in these two sentences there is a lack of precise statement and a too great anxiety to beg the question. No one, not even Mr. Cox, admits that land is a subject of private property, and it was quite unnecessary to blunt the edge of his admission by saying that it did not carry us very far. This conclusion ought to have come at the end of his proof, for the land taxers affirm that it carries us all the way. This habit of doubling on one's reasoning, of subtly using inconsistent and contradictory arguments, puzzles, fatigues and repels the simple man, and there is not the slightest cause for surprise if he prefers clearness and consistency. Before the end of the paragraph, of which these are the first two sentences, Mr. Cox ignores the distinction which he draws here between land and other things. He takes the case of two men who each save a hundred pounds out of their earnings, and because one buys Consols and the other a freehold ground rent, he asserts that to put a special tax upon the purchaser of the ground rent which the purchaser of Consols is not asked to pay is partially to confiscate the property of landowners for the benefit of non-landowners. The peculiar attributes of land certainly do not justify this peculiar interpretation of the rules of equity.'
This style of argument is much too hasty. To assume that the fundamental and all-pervading distinction between land and capital, between ground rent and Consols, is completely obliterated and covered by the fact that Governments have made both the subjects of sale and purchase, is a transparent fallacy. The distinction cannot be repressed. It breaks out in practice, it breaks out in Mr. Cox's Vol. LXV--No. 886