I stumbled across this in a 106 year old weekly newspaper called "The Public." I think it has relevance for much of Stamford's land. The numbers might have changed, but the pattern hasn't. Gains on land value DON'T come out of thin air, and we ought to think clearly and thoughtfully about who is rightly entitled to them. (I didn't say "legally entitled" -- laws evolve; they may not exactly keep up with justice or logic.) How much does Stamford collect in a transfer tax? (And I'm not saying that a transfer tax is a just way, either. But that doesn't minimize the seriousness or importance of the questions.)
"Here are some very interesting papers—to me," observed Davenport,
socially taking them up. "They are the abstract and deed of the
Holbrook farm, out in Turtle township. I bought the farm on Tuesday,
held it two days, sold it on Thursday and made $2,000."
"That's more money than I make in a year," said he.
"It's more than I make in two days," answered Morris, laughing. Perhaps he was not wholly blind to the operations going on behind Bowman's high, white scholarly forehead, and rather enjoyed the situation.
"It's easy money for you, Morris, but somebody sweat for it," the minister could not help saying.
"Yes, I have thought of that," said Davenport. "But with me it's come easy, go easy."
"In that case I don't know that you could do better than let $50 of it go toward the piano for the Sunday school," suggested Bowman, only half in earnest.
"I'll do it," said Davenport, and wrote Bowman a check for the amount. "Bui did you ever stop to think just who it was that sweat for that money? Not the man who has just bought the farm, for he will make money on the investment. Not Holbrook, who has just sold the farm, for he bought the land for $30 an acre and sold it for $100, and has lived off It for a quarter of a century besides, and lived well. Not the first white man that owned it, for he got the tract and thousands of acres besides from the Indians for a barrel of cheap whisky. Not the Indians, for they never did anything for it except to hunt over it."
"I should say the people who sweat for that money were the laborers who have worked on the land all these years and improved it."
"No, for they received a due wage for their labor. Now, I'll tell you who it was. Not to go back too far, it was the people who made the State of Illinois, guaranteeing protection to life and property. It was the people who built the cities of this and neighboring States, creating a market for the wheat and corn and stock which came off that farm. It was the railroads which made it possible to carry this wheat and corn and stock to a market. It was the men who made the steel which made the railroads possible. These people, thousands upon thousands in number, sweat for that money, as I see it."
Remember Leona Helmsley's statement? "We don't pay taxes. The little people pay taxes." She wasn't talking tax evasion -- she was describing how we've structured ourselves.