A Critical Examination of Socialism eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 284 pages of information about A Critical Examination of Socialism.

In the first place, then, we saw that the theoretical attack on interest, on the ground that it is income which is not earned by the recipients, but is virtually taken by the few from the products of the labour of the many, is chimerical in its moral and false in its economic implications.

We saw, in the second place, coming down to the practical aspects of the question, that interest is the only form in which the owners of capital can enjoy their wealth at all, without drying up the sources from which most modern wealth springs, thus bringing ruin to the community no less than to themselves.

We saw, in the third place, that, quite apart from the welfare of the community, interest constitutes, for the owners of wealth themselves, the means of enjoying it which mainly makes it desirable, and the object for the sake of which, at any given moment, the master spirits of industry are engaged in producing and increasing it.

The reader must observe, however, that this conclusion is here stated in general terms only.  It has not been contended—­for this question has not been touched upon—­that interest may not, when received in certain amounts, be justifiably made the subject of some special taxation.  Any such question must be decided by reference to special circumstances, and cannot be discussed apart from them.  Nor has it been contended that, within certain limits, the power of bequest is not susceptible of modification without impairing the energies of the few or the general prosperity of the many.  The sole point insisted on here is this:  that any special tax on interest, or any tampering with the powers of bequest, begins to be disastrous to all classes alike, if it renders, and in proportion as it renders to any appreciable degree, the natural rewards of the great producers of wealth less desirable in their own eyes than they are and otherwise would be.

FOOTNOTES: 

[23] Mr. G. Wilshire, in his detailed criticism of my American speeches, states twice over the modern socialistic doctrine as to this point.  The maker or inheritor of capital, he says, could, under socialism, “buy all the automobiles he wanted, all the diamonds, all the champagne; or he could build a palace.  In other words, he could spend his income in consumable goods, but he could not invest either in productive machinery or in land.”

[24] This is merely saying that all economic effort has, for its ultimate aim, a desirable state of consciousness, which might be contemptible if it really depended on looking on at dances, or refined if it depended on the cultivation of flowers, or listening to great singers, or witnessing the performance of great plays, or on the enlargement of the mind by travel.

CHAPTER XV

EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY

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A Critical Examination of Socialism from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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