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Rent the Payment for the Use of Land 1

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RENT THE PAYMENT FOR THE USE OF LAND 1. Popular use of the term.—According to the everyday use of the word, rent is the compensation paid for the use of any kind of property, whether movable or fixed. The swain, on the Fourth of July, inquires anxiously of the man at the village boat house how much rent he will have to pay for a boat in which to take his sweetheart out on the water. Mr. Commuter, seeking a habitation in the suburbs, speaks of rent when he refers to the hire of a house. In the farming communities, the tenant declares he pays a heavy rent when he gives the owner of the land one-half the product of the land. On fashionable shopping streets, the stores of haberdashers and mil liners are to be found in large numbers; these tenants describe their leases as requiring a monthly payment of rent. In some instances, as in the case of the machines used to make shoes, concerns hire machines instead of purchasing them, the term rent is used to express the nature of the payment.

The same dictionary that so extends the use of the word rent, declares a renter to be one who rents an estate or a tenement. Hence, the statement of Marshall that rent is the income derived from the ownership of land, tho the term is stretched so as to include the income derived from the letting of houses, and even of such things as boats, pianos and sewing machines, implies that there may be objections to the wide use so commonly made of the word. While it is true that the word landlord has a double m.eaning, —on the one hand,"mine host of the inn," and on the other hand, a person from whom lands or tenements are held—it is the latter sense in which the term is generally applied. For the purposes of economics, however, rent means the payment made for the use of land.

2. Examples of rent.—The most striking examples of rent are to be found in the large cities. The Single Tax advocates have used this fact to arouse marked interest in the fabulous sums that go annually into private pockets. We do not intend to consider at this point the social effects of rent, but it would be well to' note here the influence of population upon the amortized values of the rents demanded in the centers of population.

On May 1, 1911, the Chicago Tribune described a long-time lease made in that city for a lot less than twenty feet wide and but eighty feet in length. The annual rental for the first five years was $60,000, and thereafter $65,000. If this rent were capitalized at four per cent, the value of the lot would be $1,625,000, or $1,015 per square foot. In London, the ancestors of the present Duke of Bedford acquired, a century or,two ago, large holdings on what was then the edge of the town. These have been disposed of at high prices, the sales being hastened by the proposal of Lloyd George that incomes from landed estates should be taxed heavily. The Astor family of New York is famous for its holdings of Manhattan prop erty. The increase in values since the days of John. Jacob Astor are enormous. The present representa tives of tile family estate are the recipients of the accumulating increments due to the presence of a vigorous and energetic population upon a small but strategically located island.

The problem of rents does not end here. A writer, in an unpublished portion of the Report of the United States Commission on Industrial Relations for 1915, says: Forty years ago practically- all of the Texas farmers owned their farms. Today over half rent the land, and the trend toward concentration appears to be steady. In Okla homa large blocks of land originally owned by Indians have been wrested from them by white men, following the removal of restrictions. . . . In the last forty-years period, in the area under investigation (Texas and Oklahoma) the rise of an absentee landlord class has been rapid. The reasons, briefly stated, are: (1) the one-crop system; (2) excessive valuation of lands; (3) indirect use of force to compel sale of small holdings; (1) seasonal depression of crop prices; (5) the town trend of home-owning farmers.

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