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Limit the ownership of land, be it arable, grazing, timber, or any other kind, to 160 acres. As no one shall own more than $100,000 worth of property all told, this 160 acres will have to be reduced as we get near to the centres of population. This will still give the owner of such convenient land an advantage over those living further out, who will always be willing to exchange should the first rather follow the coarser grades of farming to dairying or gardening.
Neither is there any reason why the owning of great sections of timber land by one or two men should be necessary to the running of sawmills and supplying the people with lumber. The mills are capable of doing just as good work if the fifty quarter sections are owned by fifty men as they are if owned by one man. And the waste of timber seen on every hand wherever you find a mill owned and operated by capitalists would have been unknown if there had been an individual owner to each quarter section. The wanton waste of this breed of the capitalist, in his hurry to pile up, would have been impossible had his mill been a "custom" mill, to saw the timber from your quarter section and mine instead of his fifty or five hundred. And the poor unskilled laborer would not have to go to make room for the chinaman, or that member of a worthless tribe who sold his "claim" to the "company" for so much and the promise of a job. The small owner cannot afford the waste of the large one. His income will not be so great that he can afford to waste the principal from which it comes. As to any friction about whose turn it is to run his timber through, it is only necessary to say that the business will be then carried on by those who are now doing the labor, and it will be no worse to accept wages from the man on the neighboring claim for helping him to make lumber than it was to accept wages from the man who was dethroned, and he will probably pay you as much as you could make running your own logs through.
If this is not satisfactory, sell out at once to one of the many that are waiting to buy, and go, for you will not find anything in what we are advocating that interferes in the least with the liberty of the individual. Some may think differently, but then they are the ones who brought all eyes to the window to see what was going on in the street.
And as you travel on you will miss the once eager dog at the farm house by the way, and no palsied hand will be lifting the corner of the curtain as you are passing by, for the tramp has disappeared, and the rare survivor and incurable will be doing it on bread and water, for he must be a useless thing not to have drawn his last breath with his compatriot at the other end of the scale.
The farmer who has children that are not of age when the new arrangement goes into force will see great hardship in the 160-acre law. He intended to give this piece of land to one son and that piece to another, and so on. He would give each of these sons more, but some one else owns the rest of the country thereabouts, and these, say, 160-acre tracts, are the best he can do. Leaving out of the question whether his sons can locate alongside of himself or not, and confining ourselves to their chance of being able to get 160 acres, which is the vital point in the whole matter, he must see that, if he must surrender his excess and all others must do the same, there would be more land to take up than there are people to take it. We are in a Republic, Mr. Farmer, and the interest of the many who have called at your door call on you to disgorge with the rest.
When we come to the land in the mountains we find that it averages poor, yet the 160-acre law must be applied there also. To allow more would be to give an opening to the smart one, who would take advantage as he has always done; and as the country is pretty well tired of him we will save future complications by tying him down to 160 acres like the rest. The mountain farmer or rancher, with rare exceptions, gets his income from the raising of pork or beef animals, which are rarely confined to the owner's premises, but are allowed to roam and graze where they will, at times as far as forty and fifty miles away from where they belong. And as the mountaineer makes little if any provisions for the barn feeding of his animals, outside of one or two milk cows and his few work animals, and these last only through the work season and the bad weather of whatever winter the locality may have, he will not find his business of raising meat for the market curtailed in any respect. Should he need more hay or grain ground, or ground for orchards or gardens, be will always find it inside of his 160-acre inclosure, for there are none yet among them who knows the possibilities of a 160-acre ranch under the plow. And as none has yet been forced to put the plow into outside ground, it can be taken for granted that they never will.
Where, then, is the reason why this class of farmers should be allowed title to more land than the others? The range or grazing ground among the hills and along the water courses will still be open to their animals, and instead of the proposed change injuring their business, it will, in these days of cheap barb-wire, stop the would-be cattle king and speculative grabber from crippling or destroying it altogether, a fate not unknown to some who have tried in a small way to make a living from cattle raising.
There is, therefore, no reason why the farmer in the hills should be allowed more land than his less favored brother in the valleys and plains below. He must fall into line with the rest; and, as he takes his place at the foot the assembled multitude of liberated slaves, sees a gleam of scorn in the eyes of the once mighty railroad king as this poor relation is thrust upon his notice.
But it is not in a brave people to humiliate a fallen enemy, and the order to break ranks is given, and the ex-slave and ex-master mingle together, and depart to work out a destiny common to both.
In the preceding pages we have briefly tried to show that Confiscation is the only peaceable way that is now open to us by which the people can again obtain possession of their country. And we have tried to convey an idea of how its principle should be applied, and we will now turn our attention to its workings, and show, as briefly as possible, how easy it is for the people to be prosperous when they have control of their country's resources.
There is not a railroad in the country that would not be taxed to its utmost in carrying settlers to the forfeited lands; and the work of the land agent and boomer, the uphill work of the town or section in trying to build themselves up by advertising far and near, and the hauling of cars full of exhibition pumpkins crossways and lengthways of the land, would be needless. Government land, be it County, State or United States, never requires booming in these days of the anxious home-seeker, and never will again.
At present when a new section becomes attractive there is a rush into it, and then the rush slacks up with an air-brake suddenness. The speculator has got there and pitched his tent, and his $100 to $500 acre signs - part down, the rest at 8 per cent. - has taken possession, and the stream is turned aside and goes elsewhere. And then the pumpkin, with its 8 per cent. tags plastered all over it, is put aboard and hauled through the country on its mission of deceiving the innocent.
With the land speculator out of the way, and no expenses outside of office fees, there would be a steady increase of population wherever there is agricultural land, until the last acre is in possession of an actual settler, whose home would be on the place. (The principle which allows a man living in New York, or somewhere else, to own land in California, or somewhere else, should set every law-maker to scratching his head to see if he cannot get an idea out of it.)
And do not plague yourselves about the numerosity of the new settler, and where the whole of him is to find a market. We are trying to get rid of the pauper, and whoever heard of a farm, free of the 8 per cent. night-mare, being the breeding place of such as he? Whatever else happens to the farmer he at least is sure of enough to eat. Wheat may be down; cattle without buyers; eggs a drug; potatoes left to rot in the ground, milk wasting like water, and not ten cents in money on the premises, but the owner is not starving. The dude may not see a brother in him, and he will be denied entrance to the Inner Circle when Major domo McAllister sees him in the rear. But he has weight, and looks as if trying to get away with this year's crop, to make room for the next, agrees with him; and if he thinks now and again of the days of the hungry tramp it must be that the undertaking has proportions he little dreamed of.
But he will have a market. What causes him to need one? This. That he may be able to get that which he does not produce or make himself. And is there not some one else producing or making those very things, and who needs what the farmer alone produces or makes? If yes, then we have found the whole secret of what we call business - two producers or makers of different articles making an exchange one with the other. Stop that exchange, and there would be no manufacturing; we would all be living off raw nature once more, and our ball-games would give way to the pelting of cocoanuts and hanging by our tails.