Human Exploitation in the United States

By Norman Thomas | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
REAL ESTATE VS. HOMES

All real wealth, that is all the material things which we enjoy, come from the application of labor to land or the products of land. Even the enjoyment of the more intangible good things of life which of themselves cannot be monopolized by any private ownership, requires some tangible place on which or from which mankind can appreciate them. The glory of the dawn, the majesty of deep woods, the manifold beauties of the ever changing sea—these things may be the common heritage of men, truly possessed, as moralists tell us, by him who has eyes to see rather than by the holder of the title deed; nevertheless, it has taken a long struggle which has not yet resulted in glorious triumph to establish the principle that the propertyless public may have access to forests and ocean.

The development of public parks by the United States Government and by states and municipalities is one of the encouraging signs of the times. Too often these parks in cities, by ocean side, or in the forest, have required that men through taxation should buy back at an exorbitant price that which never should have been alienated from public ownership. It is still true that in our recreations as well as in our working and sleeping hours we pay tribute to the landlord.

Title to land in the United States does not rest upon occupancy and use but upon some legal deed. The great American game of land speculation, to which we have already called attention, must be remembered as an important part of the background not of one chapter but

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