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Once more resuming our pursuit of the millionaire whom we have dispossessed of his railroad plunder, we find the chase taking us into town, where Confiscation will find many problems which it alone can solve - where it will find his sixteen story building, for his hours of plotting, and his suburban palace for his hours of ease, and the hiving humanity between over whom he had to walk to reach either. Those palaces on the Nob hills of these United States are the toadstools of the decay that is going on in this Republic to-day.
The master crime of all ages was the building of those pyramids on the Egyptian sands, for they were useless, but the whim and the slaves and the lash of power were there, and the pyramids went up.
Let us see to it that the power of our pyramid builders is destroyed before it gets beyond five million dollar palaces.
When we apply the principle of Confiscation to the millionaire merchant and turn his excess into the public treasury, it will be no more destructive of the business of which he has had all the profits than it was of the railroads. There will be more business done in the same line than ever, but more will be doing it, and consequently more will share in the profits. But if our object is to break up these fabulous fortunes, which mean certain death to our liberties, and whose blight has paralyzed progress and development, there should be no reason why we should not allow the present owners to take a hand in the breaking up. If the merchant, or other millionaire, would rather divide his millions among his relatives (barring his wife and minors) and friends, than to resign it over to the public treasury, let him do so. Our aim will be attained whichever happens, which is simply to bring about a better distribution of the wealth of this country, and we know of no way of making this even distribution that will compare with Confiscation. Socialism, in all its forms, means the surrendering of individual liberty, and is a retrograde movement, and the outcome of it can be nothing more or less than despotism of the very worst kind.
Socialism enlarges the power of one individual over another. This is incompatible with the liberty that goes with a republic. Confiscation says, $100,000 is enough. When you are found with more, it will be considered as proof that you have been taking an unfair advantage of some one, and the surplus makes you dangerous to the welfare of a republic, and is therefore forfeited. There will be nothing more disagreeable, so far as the right of the individual goes, in the enforcing of this proposed law than there is in the collection of taxes on incomes. Cutting a fortune down to the $100,000 limit may be considered a very disagreeable thing indeed, but when we are reminded that it is all done for the common good, we become reconciled at once, for we feel in our heart of hearts that the altar at which we can cheerfully make whatever sacrifices we are called upon to make, is the altar of our brother's welfare.
The millionaire merchant will doubtless take advantage of his right to divide his business among his relatives and friends. Naturally they would give him the management, but the instinct to be master is strong within us all, and this would soon break up and scatter that dangerous accumulation. Then there would be more Market streets and Broadways. Every dollar of business that would be taken from the one or two principal thoroughfares, which is all that is now found in any of the cities, would mean an increase of value in the property of the street where this transfer business is carried on. And this increase in the value of city property would continue on out to the city's limits; and the limits themselves would be extended further out to find room for habitable homes for the human beings that are supposed to live in the tenements. There can be no question but what merchandising would spread itself more over the cities if this limited ownership of capital was in force; and this spreading out will give employment to all in bringing about the change; and prosperity, such as goes with plenty of work, will take the place of the wretched misery and want that now fill all the soup-house infected cities of the country. There will be no impairment in the value or need of the big "dailies" that are published in these centres of population. They will simply be owned by more people and read by more, and the improvement in the times being of a stable and permanent character their circulation will be free from the rise and fall with which they are now only to well acquainted, and the cheap-John business into which so many have gone, in the last few years, wheedling the ten cents and the dollars out of the child-like poor for worthless truck, can be thrown into the waste basket with the last offer of money for a Wall Street editorial. It is a mistake, by the way, to think we are a nation of readers. Man is an interesting animal where-ever found, the desire to know what he has done and is doing is strong in us all, but even the little county paper is beyond the reach of many. The writer, who is a common toiler like the rest, finds the moving world a sealed book to him, for he cannot spare the needed dollar, and live. And those editors who will fiercely rend and tear, with all the power of their trained brains and skilled pens, at this vital need of our times may live to see the day when they too will believe this world is round, and that calling the original believers fools, thieves, scoundrels, rascals, and enemies to civilization was a repetition of an old mistake. It will be the day when they can be our guides, philosophers, and friends without the itching palm stuck out behind. It will be the day when we can accept, without doubt or a curl of the lip, the admonition. from the sixteen stories of steel, because we will then know, that the conscience of the man within is not itself all awry.
To whatever cause the existing rot is chargeable the editor, at least of all others, had the power to stop or check it, and failure to meet this great responsibility shows that the strut of this great personage is assumed, and that, like the rest, his necessities have been used by the master to bend and break him till he no longer dare call his soul his own.
We can expect the screech of this helpless tool to fill the land as his desperate master nags him on in the revolution that is coming.