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The Signs of the Times, vol. 13

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    “A Generous Proposition” The Signs of the Times 13, 42, p. 665.

    THE Knights of Labor at their late convention at Minneapolis, adopted a report approving a bill to be submitted to Congress “providing that settlers under the Homestead Act may borrow $500 from the Government, secured by the land at three per cent.” Now a settler under the Homestead Act must reside upon and cultivate his land for five years before he can get a title to it. Does this bill of the Knights of Labor propose that the Government shall loan the settler the $500 when he first makes his entry and settles upon the land? That is assuredly the time when he most needs the money. He needs the money then more than at any other time, so that he may have the use of it in opening up his claim until the land itself can be made to render a return. But if they mean that he shall receive the money then, how is it to be “secured by the land”? for the land will not be his for five years. That is only to propose that the Government shall loan the settler, under the Homestead Act, $500 at three per cent., without any security at all. In other words, this action proposes that the Government shall give to every homestead settler one hundred and sixty acres of land, and then give him $500 for taking it. But why not propose that the Government shall give every one of these settlers $500 outright and keep the land? and why confine it to the Homestead settler? Why confine it to settlers at all? Why not give it to every person that wants it? Oh! such a proposition as that would be rather too raw, to make it outright; the Socialism of such a proposition as that would be patent upon its very face; so it must be veiled under the pretense of helping the Homestead settler. The pretense is entirely too thin.SITI November 3, 1887, page 665.1

    There is, however, an alternative to the settler under the Homestead Act by which he can secure title to his claim in less than five years. After dwelling upon and cultivating his claim a certain prescribed time—eighteen months we think—he may secure title by paying $200. Is it then that the Knights propose that the Government shall loan him the $500, so that he may pay for his land and get his title, in order that he may render the land as security for the money? If it is, then the proposition is that the Government shall give the land and $200, so that it may in return get a mortgage on the land as security for the other $300. But that brings us to the same point as before, and to the same question, Why shall not the Government give the $300 outright to every man that wants it? for that is what it amounts to in the end.SITI November 3, 1887, page 665.2

    Why didn’t the Knights ask that the Government should give outright to every man that would ask for it, one hundred and sixty acres of land without any consideration at all in return? Aye, there is the rub. It is not land that they want, it is the ready cash. If they had the land it would require labor to put it in a condition in which they might readily sell it for $500, and that is not what these Knights of Labor want; they want the ready $500, without labor. This is proved by the fact that while we write this, there are 3,000 men in New York on strike to secure the half of Saturday in which to do nothing, while their employers shall pay the regular wages for it. But why set the sum at $500? Why not make it $500,000 at once? for $500,000 can be secured to the Government by one hundred and sixty acres of land that already belongs to the Government, just as well as can $500. There would be a double advantage in this too: (1) It would stop the labored cries of the Knights of Labor; and (2) then the Knight, receiving his $500,000 at three per cent., could loan the money to the oppressive capitalist at six per cent., which would enable the Knight to pay his annual interest to the Government, and then he would have $15,000 of his own upon which to labor while the bloated capitalist was loafing on the $500,000 which he had borrowed from the poor laboring Knight.SITI November 3, 1887, page 665.3

    The truth of the matter is, and there is no use in trying to dodge it, that all these so-called labor movements are, in the last analysis, Socialism. And Socialism, in the last analysis, is Anarchism. J.SITI November 3, 1887, page 665.4