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[169] calamity in a town than to have some remorseful multi-millionaire turn his whole property into dollars and sprinkle them broadcast in the public streets. The tramps and waifs of the nation would rapidly gather in that town, and all honest and frugal life would be at an end. To invest the money in novel enterprises, even for the public good, might be almost as hopeless; because the whole theory of social progress is still so imperfectly worked out that the first attempts must for years be failures. No wonder that the rich man, even if conscientious, is puzzled, and, if fresh from the reading of Howells's Altruria, yet postpones his actual experiments until Edward Bellamy and Henry George have reconciled their warring projects.

What socialists find it hard to recognize is that personal wealth rarely comes by accident, but in most cases by natural leadership, by skill, or by inheritance from skill. Of course the rich man uses the laws of nature and the general progress of society, but the trouble is that he often uses them with an ability which his neighbors cannot supply in his place. Corporations do not pay salaries of twenty thousand dollars because it amuses them, but because the man whom they pay is worth that

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William Dean Howells (1)
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