In success, they now see more the hand of fraud and cunning than the qualities of exertion and merit. Their disillusionment is known and appreciated in high places and is well-voiced in the following words of John A. Hobson, Lecturer in Economics, Oxford University:
"Though there are still many comfortably-situated men and women who believe that, on the whole, industrial conditions are such as to apportion the 'good things in life' in accordance with the deserts of the recipients, this belief is rarely held either by those whose circumstances give them a close and wide acquaintance with the 'hard facts of life,' or by those who have brought intellectual analysis to bear upon the processes by which distribution of wealth is affected. The political economy, not only of 'the masses,' as voiced by Karl Marx, Henry George and their followers, but also of the classes, through the mouths of academic teachers, is full of frank avowals of the deep injustices which underlie the existing apportionment of wealth. The following words of J. G. Hill may be taken as a representative expression of this feeling: 'The very idea of distributive justice or any proportionality between success and merit, or between success and exertion, is, in the present state of society, so manifestly chimerical as to be relegated to the region of romance.'"
When you pick up a special privilege and examine it, — whether it be a franchise, a rebate, a tax or a tariff, — you have in your hands someone's special preserve. He is hurt if you criticise, and you are hurt if you don't. The social organism is filled with these special preserves. They are a prolific source of economic inequality. They leave no place for a buffer in the successive distributions of labor brought about by the successive discoveries in the arts and of mechanics and tools. When the natural resources are someone's preserve and are closed to retreat, those crowded out of employment by machines and tools cannot fall back, — they must stagnate and starve, or else go forward. And "forward" here means to turn backward upon the preserves.
-- in The Painter and Decorator, a union journal, 1907