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of this tract may still further impress the impossibility of maintaining any hard and fast lines between them, either as regards their characteristics and importance in developed societies, or the defensibility of their private ownership or the arguments for their nationalisation.
“Capital." To return from our digression: When we consider what is usually called capital, we are as much at a loss to disentangle it from land as we are to find land which does not partake of the attributes of capital.
For though capital is commonly defined as wealth produced by human labor, and destined, not for the immediate satisfaction of human wants, but for transformation into, or production of, the means of such satisfaction in the future ; yet railways, docks, canals, mines, etc., which are classed as capital among the instruments of production, are really only somewhat elaborate modifications of land. The buildings and the plant with which they are worked are further removed from the form of land, but we lump the lot as capital. All farming improvements, all industrial buildings, all shops, all machinery, raw material, live and dead stock of every kind, are called capital. And just as there is a purely social element in the value of land, so are there purely social elements in the value of capital ; and its value, in all its forms, depends upon its accessibility and fitness here and now, and not on the labor it has cost. The New River Company's Water Shares have their present enormous value, not because Sir Hugh Myddleton's venture was costly, but because London has become great. The usefulness of fixed and unchangeable forms of capital increases and decreases through external causes, just as does that of land. If instruments of production must be classified, the best division of them is into immovables and movables ; the annual value of buildings, railways, mines, quarries, waterworks, gasworks, durable fixed machinery, and many other forms of so-called capital, manifestly agreeing with that of land in fluctuating according to the causes the effects of which are generalised in the Law of Rent" of abstract economics.
Besides industrial capital, there is a considerable amount of what has conveniently been called "consumers' capital.” Dwelling-houses, and all their domestic machinery and conveniences are as necessary for production as land and factories; for though the worker uses them in his character of consumer, they are necessary to maintain him in efficiency for his work. All private stores of food and clothing, all forms of personal property, may likewise be classed as consumers' capital. It will, however, be evident that, in classing these as capital, the signification of that name is becoming very vague and indefinite.
Finally, we have such purely non-material and social kinds of capital as banking and credit organisations, inventions, and other devices for extending and intensifying our power over Nature ; social forces of immense importance for the carrying on of wealth production, largely capable of social ownership, not entirely capable of private monopoly, but at present appropriated by some individuals more than by others.
What is the Estimated Value of our National Stock of
the above-named form of Wealth ? In December, 1889, Mr. Robert Giffen attempted to compute the capital value of realised property in the United Kingdom as it was in the year 1885. The following table is reproduced from that furnished by him, the figures being corrected according to the official Returns of Income Tax Assessments for 1891-92. The estimate of the value of the capital is arrived at by taking what Mr. Giffen considered a suitable number of years' purchase of the income :-
Years' Purchase. Value. Under : Schedule A
Lands, rent-charges, tithes, &c. £ 57,694,820 26 £1,500,065,320 Land with houses on it
140,584,063 15 2,108,760,945 Other profits from land
30,621,780 Schedule BFarmers' profits
464,966,7441 Schedule C
Interest from Public Government
25 633,270,050 Sehedule DQuarries, mines, ironworks, &c.
53,032,2081 Gas Works
5,119,992 25 127,999,8001 Water Works
71,353,9401 Canals, &c.
69,814,4001 Fishings and shootings
13,972,8201 Markets, tolls, &c.
12,371,3401 Public Companies
1,208,773,7401 Foreign and Colonial Investments* 15,313,421
306,268,4201 Railways in United Kingdom
1,020,457,5081 Railways out of do.*
147,359,0001 Interest paid out of Local Rates, &c. 5,694,076 25 142,351,900 Other similar profits
36,494,340 Trades and Professions (taking
one-fifth of the gross incomes
37,915,239 15 568,728,5851 Trades and Professions omitted
from assessment, say 20 per
7,583,048 15 113,745,7201 İncome from capital of non-taxpayers
75,000,000 5 375,000,0001 Foreign Investments, not
included under Schedules C and D*
70,000,000 IO 700,000,000 Movables, not yielding income
1,000,000,000+ Government and Local Public Property, say
550,000,000+ Total estimated capital value
20 20 20 20 20 20
* These claims constitute part of the social question of other nations than our
The amount in the last case is conjectural, but based on Mr. Giffen's statistics. † These amounts being conjectural, are reproduced with small additions from Mr. Giffen's estimates for 1885.
I Of these totals, which make up the “industrial capital” of the country, amounting to $4,553,844,225, no less than £2,698,790,896 is under Joint Stock management.
“ Land” and “ Capital ” Indistinguishable. It may be noticed that there is no attempt in this table to distinguish between what Land Nationalisers might think should be classed as land, and what they would admit to be capital. The common sense of the ordinary business man and statistician recognises that such distinction is impracticable and arbitrary. To the business man they are both equally forms of property, merely different kinds of investments - that is, arrangements for obtaining a revenue from the labor of others. The practical statesman sees in them simply sources of income, and assesses them equally to income tax. Indeed, that famous tax of 20 per cent. on rent, of which the English Land Restoration League and many. Radicals are demanding the revival, was not imposed* as a land tax at all, but formed part of the incidence of a general tax of four shillings in the pound on the annual value of ALL REALISED PROPERTY AND SALEABLE INTERESTS, excepting only farm stock and household furniture. Will not the Land Nationalisers take this hint, and include all unearned incomes in their “Single Tax" Programme?
Who own all this Land and Capital? Who, then, are the Landlords and the Capitalists amongst us ? They are those persons who own the instruments of wealth-production and enjoy the profits of them. In England, as in all developed industrial societies, almost the whole of the land and industrial capital, and most of the consumers' capital (chiefly consisting of dwelling houses), is at present owned and controlled by one set of people, while it is another set of people who produce wealth by using them.
Capitalists.” A glance at Mr. Giffen's table will show how little of the material wealth of England is available for immediate enjoyment or consumption, and how large a proportion is in the form of machinery to aid labor in the supply of our wants from day to day. The value of movable personal property, not employed as instruments of production, must be less than one-tenth of the total. Dwelling-houses, and the land attached to them, may amount to about two-tenths
But occupying ownership of these properties is the exception, and most of them are used by their owners an investment yielding rent, paid out of the earnings of working occupiers. The whole of the remainder consists of land and capital employed for wealth-production in agriculture, mining, transport, and other industries, trades, and professions.
* It was an “Aid” (or tax upon realised property) imposed primarily upon all persons “having any Estate in ready Monies, or in any Debts whatsoever owing to them, within this Realm or without, or having any Estate in Goods, Wares, Merchandizes, or other Chattels or personal Estate whatsoever Stock upon Lands and such Goods as are and for Household Stuff”
at the rate of " four Shillings in the Pound according to the true Yearly Value thereof," computed at per cent. of their capital value (see the Act of Parliament of 1692, 4 William and Mary, cap. I., sec. 2), including also the emoluments of public officers, at that time regarded as saleable property (sec. 3), and finally " to the end a further Aid and Supply for their Majesties' Occasions may be raised," a similar tax is imposed on Lands "according to the true yearly Value thereof at a Rack Rent” (sec. 4).
Four-fifths of our national wealth, we may safely say, consists of such instruments. The wants of the community are supplied from year to year, and week to week, by the reciprocal services of the active workers who use and administer them.
The worker, of whatever kind, is paid by a wage, a salary, a professional income, or profits due to his skill'in organising or directing industry, the amount of which is determined by competition between himself and other workers. The owners of the instruments of production receive as rent and interest such an amount of the value of the produce as equalises the normal income of the workers in each calling ; that is to say, they obtain from the workers who are using their land and capital a toll equal to the difference between the product of industry engaged in with any particular instrument of land or capital, and the product of the like industry engaged in with the least efficient instrument actually employed anywhere at the time.
Some of the workers are, it is true, themselves capitalists, that is to say, own larger or smaller amounts of land and capital ; and many capitalists work. How many, and how much ? Here are some facts gathered from the Report of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue for 1890-91, and other reliable sources.
“ Landlords.” The landlords (i.e., persons owning more than a field or a tenement each) number only 180,524. Out of a population of 37,000,000, one two-hundredth part of the population owns ten-elevenths of the total area.*
Five-sixths of the properties assessed to land and house tax are owned by persons whose incomes exceed £ 400 a year.t
Not four per cent. of persons dying (of whom one-half are adults) leave behind them £ 300 worth of property, including personal effects not of the nature of land or industrial capital. I
One-half of the wealth of the kingdom is held by persons who leave at death at least £20,000, exclusive of land and houses. These persons form a class somewhat over 25,000 in number./l
How much land and capital do the manual labor class own ? Supposing that they were the owners of the whole of the deposits (1891) in the P.O. Savings Bankss £71,608,002 Trustee
42,875,565 the Consols purċhased for small holders by the Post Offices *5,087,765 the nominal capital (1890) of the Building SocietiesI... 52,482,577
* Mulhall's “ Dictionary of Statistics,” p. 266.
Inland Revenue Report (Abatements and Exemptions, Schedule A). | See Probate Duty Returns.
See Mulhall's Dictionary of Statistics,” pp: 278, 279. Also “ Facts for Socialists,” published by the Fabian Society ; price id.
$ See “Statistical Abstract.
See “Statistical Abstract,” and “ Report of Registrar of Friendly Societies." The “Co-operative Annual” gives a higher figure for the Stores Capital, but includes that of the Civil Service and other middle-class societies.
The nominal capital (1890) of the Trade Unions, Co
vident Societies... 15,261,216
8,873,082 they would own land and capital valued at ... ... £196,188,207 that is to say, barely more than one-sixtieth part of the land and capital with which they work. The number of persons "employed at wages " in the industries of the kingdom, is estimated at about fourteen millions, including over four million women. The share of the able-bodied manual workers, in property, then, must average not more than £ 14 per head of those in employment, producing less than twelve shillings a year interest. What the value of the capital owned by workers above the manual labor class_may be, can only be conjectured. But we know from the Income Tax returns that out of the total of 164 millions of separate incomes, only if millions amount to £ 150 a year and upwards; and we have noticed how small is the number of persons owning large amounts of property in the instruments of production.
What sort of a System is this ? Labor politicians, Land Nationalisers, Conservatives, Radicals, all who interest themselves in social science as the study of the wellbeing of man, will agree with us that
The Use of Land and Capital should be to serve as instruments for the active, the energetic, the industrious, the intelligent of mankind to produce wealth for themselves and those who are necessarily dependent on them, and to maintain the conditions of healthy existence for the society which they compose. And will they not also agree with us that it is
The Abuse of Land and Capital that they should be made by the laws of any people a "property" often owned by entirely idle and unprofitable persons, who may exact hire for them from those who are working for the maintenance of social existence, or may even refuse the would be workers access to these indispensable instruments of industry? For what are the effects ?
If the access be refused—land kept out of cultivation ; tillage turned into sheepwalks, and sheepwalks into shootings; natural sources of wealth locked up from use; the pleasant places of the earth, the mountains, the moors, the woodlands, the sea shores, parked and preserved and placarded, that the few may have space for their pride, while the many must crowd into squalid cities and dismal agricultural towns, and take their holidays in herds on the few beaten tracks left free for them. In commerce-rings, corners, syndicates, pools, and monopolies, and all the fearful social loss and waste of under-production ; lock-outs, short time, and other expedients of the reckless selfishness of capitalists who are nursing the market for private ends.