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Running a republic under the economic laws of a monarchy must of necessity result in producing the same conditions - great wealth for some and great poverty for the rest. This may be a government by the people, but it certainly is no longer a government for the people. Heretofore individual greed has had full swing in the United States, and naturally enough the ablest returned in possession of everything worth grabbing. And naturally enough, too, if a republic means a country owned by all its people, it cannot be a republic if it is owned by only a few. All the power of a country is bound to be in the hands of those who own it. If its wealth is in the hands of a few, its power is there with it. In the hands of a few it must be, if it would be a kingdom or empire. In the hands of all it must be, if it would be a republic. To insist on having the personal liberty that goes with a republic, and at the same time not to set a limit to the resources an individual can own, is a contradiction. A republic has economic laws that are essential to her existence. Any others mean her destruction. And it is utterly out of the question for any political party to improve the conditions of the people, while they use the present economic laws as the basis of their proposed legislation.
You must begin at the foundation. Individual greed should be made to respect the right of others to exist, and made to conform itself to laws that are as necessary to the life of a republic as is the ballot itself. The ballot, in fact, has lost its power. It is the key to a house we have lost possession of, and if we would regain possession and make the ballot something more than a mere symbol of a thing that is dead, we have no choice but to resort to the one process by which the resources of the country can be returned to its people, and the blight of poverty and pauperism that is settling down on the country and is becoming permanent can be removed - namely, confiscation.
Man, in the beginning, seeing annihilation staring him in the face, combined and gave us the Government of the Tribe; out of that developed the Despotic form; out of that developed the Constitutional Monarchy, out of which developed the Republic, the highest type of them all; and this work of development must ever go on, if we would not lapse into former conditions.
The founders of the republic could not have expected their work to so soon come to the Chinese halt that has overtaken it, until we now find ourselves floating on an ebbing sea back to the shores we thought we had forever left behind.
The founders of the republic met the needs of their hour, and expelled the foreigner. We have failed to meet the need of our hour in not discarding the economic laws that were of that foreigner's bringing; the economic laws of the monarchist and despotic forms of government, that is making this republic a republic only in name: the economic laws of the monarchist and despotic forms of government that has built up an aristocracy of wealth here as they have there, that must of necessity depend here for its existence as it does there, on the enslavement of the people. Do not let a mere word further deceive you. The word republic means a free people - we are slaves. For great revenue, be it of king or millionaire, has the same magician's wand - the overladen back of the enslaved toiler.
In the face of our boasted intelligence what an appalling sight does this country offer to the All-seeing Eye. An abundance of everything and people starving by the thousands. When our lawmakers in Washington learned that the death penalty was to be inflicted on those who were convicted of treason for trying to overthrow the established government in Hawaii, they said it must not be done, and busied themselves to save those people's lives. And during all their agitation to save these men who were to suffer a punishment that is meted out to such by all governments, thousands of their own people were perishing for the want of something to eat - not inhuman or hard-hearted, but simply do not see how they can prevent it. There is no law by which they can stop starvation. The legislator in a monarchy knows that poverty is inseparable from that form of government and are reconciled to it.
Our legislators are reconciled to the same conditions. They do not see the incongruity of conforming the legislation of a republic to the economic laws of a monarchy. They do not know what a government by the people and for the people means. If they did, they would know that there was something wrong when one man has $50,000,00 while another has not enough to get his shoes cobbled: and another has 50,000 acres of land, while others must be buried four in a grave.
And none of the political parties shows a way of escape out of this miserable state of affairs, as a brief review of their positions will show.
We once had the Free States and the Slave States, and these two terms were designative of two sections into which the country was then divided on the question of slavery. To-day we have "Free Coinage of Silver," "Protection," and "Free Trade." These three terms, Free Coinage of Silver, Protection, and Free Trade, are as truly designative of three different sections into which the country is divided to-day on economic or industrial questions as were the terms Free States and Slave States designative of two sections in the past. Thus the preponderating interest in one section is the mining of silver, and this interest is represented by the Populist Party, who demands the coinage of more Silver. The preponderating interest of the second section, or East, is manufactures, and is represented by the Republican Party, who demands protection. The preponderating interest of the third section, or South, is agriculture, and is represented by the Democratic Party, who demands free trade. This is substantially correct, although the Populists seem to be as strong in the agricultural South as in the silver-producing West. The Populist Party, indeed, originated among, the agriculturists of the South, and was the outgrowth of discontent among the farmers; and in saying that Populism has its stronghold in the West, or silver-producing section, we simply mean that the farmers' organization has been captured by the silver interest. They seem to think that their own prosperity is linked with that of the silver producers, and that the free coinage of silver means the salvation of both. With this political manoeuvering, however, we have nothing to do. There are three political parties in the field, each with the preponderating interest of some section in charge, which it is bound to see through regardless of the interests of the other two. The industrial rivalry that is going on throughout the whole world has entered these United States, and each of the three different sections are struggling to obtain legislation favorable to itself, with the same indifference to the interests of the others that is shown by France to England or by England to the United States. Even the naked savage has found that it is a good thing to have something to sell, and our agriculturists are brought into competition with territory the New World over where a plow or harvester was unknown ten years ago; instead of having a monopoly in the European markets, as was the case a few years ago, where they could dispose of their surplus, they are now compelled to feed it to their hogs, which, as a source of profit, ranks even now with the thing they are fed on.
But we are not depending on foreign markets for enough to eat and wear. Those things are here, not there. We may have lost the foreigner as a customer, but what prevents us from eating that which he refuses to buy. We look back a hundred or more years, and cry out in horror at the inhumanity of those then in power, in allowing human beings to be burned alive and living creatures to be torn to pieces on the rack. Those who will look back to these times will be no less astounded at the inhumanity and imbecility of those now in power in allowing starvation while food is actually rotting for the want of consumers. The question, then, is, can we not formulate a policy that will work harmoniously throughout the whole country for the benefit of all sections and every individual? Can we not find some way out of the swamp into which the masterful greed of a few and the dense stupidity of their legislative tools have mired us?
If we cannot, then let us submit, with the best grace possible to our masters who know how to lay on the lash when their dividends are at stake.
The resources of the United States have hardly been touched upon; but in less than a hundred years individual greed has done its work, and the people are bankrupt. They have been legislated out of everything, and the one function of our government, as at present conducted, is to see that this legislation is enforced. Yes, it is beyond the reach of contradiction that this government, that was founded in the interests of All, has degenerated into a merciless taskmaster, ever ready to beat into submission the slaves of the country, when their few owners give the word.
But this treatment should be expected. It goes with ownership. Give me the ownership of men, and all else goes with the title - how I shall clothe, feed, and lodge them, and how I shall keep them on the grind. Of course, the wise ones will say, Was it not our own chosen representatives who made all those laws that gave our resources and the people themselves over to the favored few, and must not we, the principals, grin and bear it, and live up to whatever contracts those representatives, our agents, made in our name?
It is not, however, how we were despoiled, but how we are to recover the plunder, that is interesting us just now. Is there a way out of the night of despair? is the question that should be met, and, if possible, answered. Finding a way out of a difficulty is one thing, however, and having the courage to take it is another. Modern surgery has discovered much, but without the courage to use the knife mankind would not have been the gainer. The prayer meeting has its uses, but those who expect to obtain political or industrial deliverance in that quarter can set out their rain-gauges and go there; but those who know the nature of the fellow who has been grabbing all in sight will make him let go in the old-time way by using a force superior to his own - a force that he will feel when it comes down, supposing the power to feel is left in him.
We have no hatred of the rich - nor love of the poor, for that matter. They are both fishers for gain, and one gets it, and the other don't; but his basket is just as large. But we are a lover of justice, and if one is too much for the other would handicap him, and thereby make the struggle for existence more even for both. The weakling, will always be a weakling, whatever laws are passed for his benefit, and the drudgery of the world will ever be his portion; from it he can never escape, but he is entitled to his life, and if the able denies him, what is necessary to it, then Justice must step in and take his part.
Volumes could be padded in showing how this can be done, but we can demonstrate in this brief work how poverty can be obliterated as a feature of our national life, and if it does not make justice more even-handed for all, and the people of this country as prosperous as any on earth, then the fault must be in the plan itself, and not in the resources which we possess, for of those we have enough to empty every poorhouse in the land, and eighty-five per cent. of the jails and penitentiaries.
Let our wrongs be righted without physical force, by all means. History, however, has no encouragement for such a hope. The contentions with those on top have ever been of the blood-red order. Power once obtained has never been surrendered only through conquest. The ballot should do much, and had it been in use in the past history might have had less of blood in it, as it should have less of it in the future. But the ballot for a long number of years has, like a great many stomachs of late, been working on wind - the wind of the Protectionist, the wind of the Free Trader, and the wind of the latest cure-all, the fellow who is hunting a market for his silver.
If something substantial to work on is not soon given to this man with the ballot, he will drop it - and then let the blame of it rest with the fools and rascals who have been deluding him so long.
The average man makes a better soldier than he does a voter. He can get the range of an object easier than he can comprehend an economic truth - this one, for instance: If the capitalists have obtained possession of the money issued in the past, what is to prevent them from getting possession of all that will be issued in the future? His answer will be to issue more. He has been told so by his political mentor. When the man with the ballot loses confidence in this mentor, he will start a game of his own, and then the jig will be up with that idiot. We use the word idiot advisedly here. When a tax was assessed against the incomes of the rich, this driveler would score a point gained in favor of the people. This claim of itself shows the institution to which he should be consigned.
Victoria, Empress and Queen, rules a country where, pauperism is steadily on the increase, and the potter's field received the bodies of eighty of her subjects that were frozen to death in London in four days of January last. Yet the rich have been paying an income tax in that country for generations past.
When the rich merchant, or rich anything else, insures what he is dealing in, he adds the cost of his policy to the thing he sells. The income tax is but another premium, and he tags that on where he pinned the other. The laborer has always paid the expenses of the rich, and always will. The laborer can never dictate terms to the rich. The labor leaders even have come to recognize the hopelessness of the unequal contest. The power of the rich to do as they like can never be destroyed while they are allowed to retain the riches that gives them this power. A readjustment and a limit set to the amount an individual can own is the only remedy. And the sooner that unassailable truth is recognized and acted upon, the sooner will you get rid of the lobbiest and the pauper.