Poetry and Prose

Rent – Edmund Vance Cooke

You may tinker with the tariff and make some simple gains,
You may put on tolls or take ’em off, inducing party pains;
You may monkey with the money, but the lack of it remains,
For the Mother of monopoly is laughing as she reigns.

“Rent! rent! who is it pays the rent? ”
A dozen days in every month the worker’s back is bent;
Figure it in dollar bills or work it by percent,
But with his dozen days he pays just rent, rent, rent.

You may “minimum” the wages, you may let the women vote,
You may regulate the railroads with a legal antidote,
You may jail some Rockefeller, or may get a Morgan’s goat,
But the Mother of Monopoly is laughing in her throat.

“Rent! rent! who is it pays the rent? ”
A hundred days in every year a business profit’s spent;
Figure it in “overhead,” or state it by percent,
But all your hundred days are gone for rent, rent, rent.

You may institute foundations, you may educate the dubs,
You may libralize the bread line, and establish Slumy Clubs;
You may ostracize the Demon-Rum and eugenize the cubs,
But the Mother of Monopoly is smiling at your snubs.

“Rent! rent! who is it pays the rent?”
A score of years in life you spent to get one document;
From your cradle to your coffin you must bow to its assent,
And that’s your little, old receipt for rent, rent, rent.

I look across the rented world and idle land I see,
Whose owner doesn’t work it, for he’s working you and me,
And on the first of every month all tenants bow the knee,
And pay the rent of vacant land, in great or small degree

The worker’s hands are busy and the business back is bent;
The idle lands advance in price and every single cent,
Of that advance is paid by us in rent, rent, rent.


The Earth – Ella Wheeler Wilcox

The earth is yours and mine,
Our God’s bequest,
This testament divine
Who dare contest?

Usurpers of the earth !
We claim our share.
We are of royal birth.
Beware ! Beware !

Unloose the hand of greed
From God’s fair land,
We claim but what we need-
That, we demand.


That Fool-Killer Discouraged – Owen Columbus (1914)

“What’s that” asked the fool-killer

“That’s an unemployed man in a vacant lot” said I

“Why don’t you have him work on the lot and produce something?” said the fool-killer.

“Because”, I said, “we suffer from over-production already; and besides, the owner of the lot wont let him work on it.”

“I must get my club,” said the fool-killer.

“Hold on,” I said. “Pretty soon we will arrest the man, because he does not do anything; then the judge will fine him because he has no money; and we will keep him idle in jail because he was idle out of jail; and the workers will tax themselves to pay for all that.”

The fool-killer gasped, “I must order a Gattling gun.”

“Don’t go off half-cocked,” I said. “Those are our laws.”

“Who made those fool laws?”

“Everybody, civilised men,” said I

“The men that pay the taxes?” asked the fool-killer.

“Why, yes”

“I must swear in some deputies,” said the fool-killer.

“Stop,” I said, “no one speaks like that about the laws; they are the accumulated wisdom of the ages, and must be treated with respect.”

“Why don’t someone tell the truth, and say the laws are stupid and wicked?” asked the fool-killer.

“We will kill such fools as speak the truth about such things,” said I


The Wealth of Land – Papersky

Beneath the waning fitful moon and on the shrinking strand
It should be clear to everyone: the only wealth is land.
For gold is dross and shares may fall and income’s earned in hand
But solidly on every side spreads out the wealth of land.

You plough it or improve it, the value then increases
Run sheep on all the pasture and the land brings forth their fleeces
With railroads, roads and factories, a nephew’s house, a niece’s,
The wealth that comes from land is always wealth that never ceases.

So tax the land judiciously and set the world to rights
For it’s as true today as it was true for lords and knights
The answer to prosperity, so spell it out in lights
The source of growth for everyone, the land and all its sights.

Beyond the tides that come and go, beyond the new-washed sand
There stands the world’s foundation, its only wealth, the land,
We cherish it and build on it and try to understand
Our dreams, our hopes, our futures growing from the wealth of land.

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