1900s >> 1909 >> no-60-august-1909

The Forum: Concerning Rates and Taxes

Mr. John Rhind (Old Trafford) writes:

(1) I have often heard it stated in the SOCIALIST STANDARD, as well as by members of your Party, that the working classes do not pay rates in the form of rent. I fail to see the truth of that statement in view of the fact that my landlord has raised my rent in consequence of the local rates being increased.
(2) Again, do not the workers pay taxes (national) in the form of additional charges being made on such commodities as beer, spirits and tobacco, when, as recently, the duty on these things has risen ?
(3) If rent is a portion of surplus-value, as you maintain, can it be rightly said that I, for instance, do not pay rent ? My experience is that I receive so much in wages and out of this I pay rent. Do you deny this?—JOHN RHIND
[We have numbered the items for convenience sake.—ed. “S.S.”]

As to No. 1 (first correcting the point of the use of the plural—working classes. Our correspondent does not see this in the “S.S.”) Mr. Rhind also fails to see that landlords do not and cannot charge a rental at will, hut only as the state of the house-room market allows. Of course the landlords are always on the look out for opportunities to get increased rentals, and the plea of the burden of higher rents will often serve to catch a “flat.” On the other hand an increased demand for house-room will enable the landlord to demand more, while the rates bogey is paraded as the reason. In some of the suburbs of London, such as Walthamstow, West Ham, and Tottenham, rentals have been lowered although rates have been rising. Mr. Chiozza Money, in his “Riches and Poverty” (p. 79), says, and gives supporting opinions for the contention, that the rates are, finally, a charge upon the landowner.

(2) No, the workers do not pay the taxes (national), that is to say are not, by so much, out of pocket; for if in some cases it can be shown that the imposts have the effect of raising the price of commodities, these latter if consumed by the workers enter into the cost of production of labour-power. As a consequence, and in the long run, such wages have to be paid as will meet this cost.

As to the extra duties imposed by the present budget upon beer, spirits and tobacco, we are of opinion that the last has not been heard, by any means, upon this matter. It were well to note that the price of alcoholic liquors has not risen all over the country, and that the Press reports cases where retailers have defied the orders of the brewers to raise the price; these same retailers, of course, doing a roaring trade in consequence. The tobacco trade is, to-day, very largely monopolised, its controllers being in a position, at least for a time, to raise prices, and they are, of course, only too glad of the opportunity to do so when, as at present, with the excuse of the increased duties they seem justified, and the least outcry is to be expected. Their power to exact higher prices is, however, curbed by the tendency of demand to slacken as prices rise. This point is emphasised in the recent manifesto of the brewers on the new budget duties, wherein they show the intimate connection of an increase in prices with a decrease in sales.

The attention of our correspondent is further directed to the following quotation (from the Star of July 19th), which speaks for itself.

“Notices have been received by the retailers announcing that the price of Messrs. Wills’s ‘Gold Flake’ cigarettetes is to revert to the old figure.
When the Budget was announced, the price to the consumer was raised to 3Concerning Rates and Taxes

Mr. John Rhind (Old Trafford) writes:
1) I have often heard it stated in the SOCIALIST STANDARD, as well as by members of your Party, that the working classes do not pay rates in the form of rent. I fail to see the truth of that statement in view of the fact that my landlord has raised my rent in consequence of the local rates being increased.
2) Again, do not the workers pay taxes (national) in the form of additional charges being made on such commodities as beer, spirits and tobacco, when, as recently, the duty on these things has risen ?
3) If rent is a portion of surplus-value, as you maintain, can it be rightly said that I, for instance, do not pay rent ? My experience is that I receive so much in wages and out of this I pay rent. Do you deny this?—JOHN RHIND
[We have numbered the items for convenience sake.—ed. “S.S.”]

As to No. 1 (first correcting the point of the use of the plural—working classes. Our correspondent does not see this in the”S.S.”) Mr. Rhind also fails to see that landlords do not and cannot, charge a rental at will, hut only as the state of the house-room market allows. Of course the landlords are always on the look out for opportunities to get increased rentals, and the plea of the burden of higher rents will often serve to catch a “flat.” On the other hand an increased demand for house-room will enable the landlord to demand more, while the rates bogey is paraded as the reason. In some of the suburbs of London, such as Walthamstow, West Ham, and Tottenham, rentals have been lowered although rates have been rising. Mr. Chiozza Money, in his ” Riches and Poverty ” (p. 79), says, and gives supporting opinions for the contention, that the rates are, finally, a charge upon the landowner.

2) No, the workers do not pay the taxes (national), that is to say are not, by so much, out of pocket; for if in some cases it can be shown that the imposts have the effect of raising the price of commodities, these latter if consumed by the workers enter into the cost of production of labour-power. As a consequence, and in the long run, such wages have to be paid as will meet this cost.

As to the extra duties imposed by the present budget upon beer, spirits and tobacco, we are of opinion that the last has not been heard, by any means, upon this matter. It were well to note that the price of alcoholic liquors has not risen all over the country, and that the Press reports cases where retailers have defied the orders of the brewers to raise the price; these same retailers, of course, doing a roaring trade in consequence. The tobacco trade is, to-day, very largely monopolised, its controllers being in a position, at least for a time, to raise prices, and they are, of course, only too glad of the opportunity to do so when, as at present, with the excuse of the increased duties they seem justified, and the least outcry is to be expected. Their power to exact higher prices is, however, curbed by the tendency of demand to slacken as prices rise. This point is emphasised in the recent manifesto of the brewers on the new budget duties, wherein they show the intimate connection of an increase in prices with a decrease in sales.

The attention of our correspondent is further directed to the following quotation (from the Star of July 19th), which speaks for itself.

“Notices have been received by the retailers announcing that the price of Messrs. Wills’s ‘Gold Flake’ cigarettetes is to revert to the old figure.
When the Budget was announced, the price to the consumer was raised to 3½d., but the result has not justified expectation, for the price is now to go back to 3d.
It is probable that other brands of cigarettes will come into line and revert to the old retail prices.”

(3) Do we deny that our correspondent pays rent ? Not likely ! We are not in possession of the facts. However, taking our questioner as representative, he most certainly pays away part of his wages as “rent,” which in this ease is clearly the price of house-room. Now such rent is not all surplus-value, and we have never stated that it is such. Ground-rent, received by the ground-landlord, is distinctly “a portion of surplus-value.” Mr. Rhind’s difficulty is that he has only a confused notion of our position, and space is lacking for us to dual more fully with the matter here. He will find our position regarding taxation in general more fully explained in the October 1904 number of the SOCIALIST STANDARD, while the particular question of the rates is dealt with at length in the issue of June, 1905.—EDITOR “S.S.”

d., but the result has not justified expectation, for the price is now to go back to 3d.
It is probable that other brands of cigarettes will come into line and revert to the old retail prices.”

(3) Do we deny that our correspondent pays rent ? Not likely ! We are not in possession of the facts. However, taking our questioner as representative, he most certainly pays away part of his wages as “rent,” which in this case is clearly the price of house-room. Now such rent is not all surplus-value, and we have never stated that it is such. Ground-rent, received by the ground-landlord, is distinctly “a portion of surplus-value.” Mr. Rhind’s difficulty is that he has only a confused notion of our position, and space is lacking for us to dual more fully with the matter here. He will find our position regarding taxation in general more fully explained in the October 1904 number of the SOCIALIST STANDARD, while the particular question of the rates is dealt with at length in the issue of June, 1905.—EDITOR “S.S.”

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