Baltimore Evening Sun (31 December 1913): 6.
Astounding headline from the oleaginous Towel:
MAYOR PRESTON IS MODEST
Why not a whole series of marvels, to wit:
- COL. HOOK IS SPEECHLESS
- LEVERING DANCES TANGO
- ANDERSON SOUSED AGAIN
All that remains is for the Hon. Cy Cummings to introduce the barnacled and sclerotic old local option bill.—Adv.
Some anonymous moralist, raging and roaring in today’s Letter Column, works himself into a lather over a cartoon I printed in this place a fortnight ago—a cartoon showing a deacon knocked galley-west by the, salacious words issuing from the horn of a phonograph (or pornograph), the caption thereon being “His Pastor’s Voice.” I quote:
With his usual bad taste, he drags sacred things into the mud, and belittles himself, if it is possible to diminish a moral vacuum, by attempting to minimize the power and usefulness of the pulpit.
With all due respect, Bosh, my dear! I attempted no such belittling. In point of fact, my plain intention (plain, that is, to all persons of sound mind) was to lampoon and make a mock of the squeamishness of the deacon. Far from being opposed to a reasonable salacity in the pulpit, I am strongly in favor of it, and have promoted it to some slight extent by supplying various local clergyman with copies of the Maryland Suffrage News and the latest publications of the vice crusaders.
When I say salacity, of course, I do not mean grossness. What I argue for is simply that spicy plain-speaking which all of us enjoy, even though most of us are such liars and hypocrites that we deny it. Whenever the pulpit has been a genulne social power, it has been free from all kittenish pruderies. The pastors of Puritan New England, for example, preached straight from the shoulder, calling a spade a spade. Many of their sermons, indeed, were of such high gameness that their more delicate hearers swooned. But who will deny that the hearty fellows who survived were both edified and delighted?
The Hon. William H. Anderson’s one failing is a total lack of æsthetic sense. He has no appreciation whatever for the booze arts.—Adv.
The Hon. Charles J. Ogle takes up the defense of the Single Tax in today’s Letter Column, and to even worse effect than the Hon. D. Bachrach. First he argues that the increase in the value of a dwelling house should not be taxed, on the ground that it represents “labor products,” and “the ownership of labor products is absolute”—and then he argues that it is the competition for favorable sites—i. e., for land—that fixes “the cost of production.” In other words, the unearned increment on houses arises in exactly the same way that the unearned increment on land aruses, and yet the latter should be taxed and the former should not be taxed.
Going further, the hon. gent. argues that the concentration of all taxes upon land alone would vastly decrease my living expenses, since I would be thus relieved of the heavy burden of indirect taxes I now pay—e. g., on champagne, Havana cigars and precious stones. But isn’t it a fact that the expenses of the Government would continue just the same, and that I would have to pay them just the same—or, to be exact, my share of them? True enough, I would pay them all in one lump, as my contribution to my landlord’s taxes, instead of in concealed driblets, as at present—but what difference would that make to me? Even supposing my landlord actually paid them all himself, what wouid be my permanent gain? Who would pay them after he went broke? And how long would it take him to go broke?
The ultimate aim of the Single Taxers, if I make no mistake, is the nationalization of the land. That is to say, they propose to tax land so heavily that all, or most if it, will have to be seized for unpaid taxes. But supposing this benign aim to be consummated, how would it profit the ordinary citizen? He would pay no taxes, of course, but wouldn’t he have to pay rent to the Government to help meet the expenses of the Government? And wouldn’t that rent be substantially equal to the taxes he now pays? If not, why not?
I have heard Single Taxers answer this question by arguing that the wiping out of the present parasitical land-owning class would relieve, to the extent of its annual income, the burden upon the producing class—a palpable echo of Socialism. But does the Hon, Mr. Ogle actually stand up in meeting and maintain that the blowing up of one device of parasitism would abolish parasitism itself? Does he think, by the administration of this one heroic Peruna to repeal the natural law that the strong shall prevail over the weak, that the lucky shall fatten on the unlucky, that dog shall eat dog? If so, let him read his Darwin, and reading it, ponder on’t.
Let it be understood clearly that I do not argue against the morality of confiscation. When it comes to a question of self-preservation, all the rules of morals are reduced to feeble jokes. Even the Ten Commandments are of no force or effect in the face of dire necessity. Every one of them may be broken on occasion and without sin. If any permanent good could be accomplished by it, I would certainly raise no objection to taking the Hon. John D. Rockefeller’s money away from him. But would such pillage make the world better, or promote human progress in future? I doubt it. The one eternal lust in man is the lust to loot his fellow-men. That lust is just as respectable when it appears in the Hon. Mr. Rockefeller as when it appears in the Socialists and Single Taxers. In truth, it is actually more respectable, for John has both the appetite and the reach, whereas the Socialists and Single Taxers have only the appetite.
Wait for the grand deacon-bake! Refined, mirth-provoking sport! See the hares turn upon the hounds!
Steer clear of bichloride, beloved! It kills, true enough, but by inches, by half inches, even by quarter inches. A nasty, lingering, painful death! If you simply must be going, why not try a smoother route? For example, go to some bridge crossing a railroad, tie one end of a rope to your feet and the other end to the bridge and then jump into space. Soon or late a train will come along and give you the lethal wallop. Or jump head-first into an asphalt cauldron. Or run your motorcycle full tilt into the Courthouse. Or bounce into the Mayor’s office yelling “Hurrah for the Sunpaper!”