Monday, October 7, 2013

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained


This posting has absolutely nothing to do with the Battle of Lepanto, the 442nd anniversary of which is today.

In Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe, or, The Peer and the Peri, a couple of lords — members of the House of Peers — help build up their nerve to speak to Phyllis (an Arcadian shepherdess) by singing a song composed primarily of aphorisms about, well, building up one’s nerve.  Like all G&S ditties, it is clever and moderately satiric.  The bottom line is, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Now, we consider ourselves as democratic as the next person.  We have spent decades attempting to restructure the social order so as to secure to ordinary people the means of obtaining and maintaining the chief prop of personal and individual sovereignty: private property in capital.

That being said, it cannot be denied that Americans have an absolute fascination for “royals,” particularly “royals” that are British.  Next are European “royals” in general.  After that are the Russian nobility, Swiss admirals, oriental royalty, and then those African panjandrums.  No matter — it’s the “royal” label that gets the attention, regardless of the merit or lack thereof of the individual holding the title.  Americans lap it up.

That being the case, when we saw an article about the Kingof the Netherlands trying to pitch the necessity of the austerity program to a populace accustomed to having the State take care of everything, it resonated.  Yes, we know the “king” is simply a figurehead, an expensive tourist attraction.  That doesn’t matter.  Occasionally when the “monarch” (a grossly inaccurate term, by the way; it means “sole ruler,” and is not a synonym for “king” or “queen”) speaks, people just might listen — if only to maintain the illusion that “royalty” means anything any more aside from increased tourist revenue.

Naturally, we were compelled to comment.  We announced that His Grace (we refused to use the imperial “majesty”) to give us a call.  Austerity may be good and necessary, but it won’t fill the gap.  Consistent with Say’s Law of Markets (that Keynes misstated and then attacked — a straw man argument, like most of Keynes’s work), only by making people productive (or, more accurately, giving them the opportunity and means to be productive) can people participate in economic, and thus civil, life.

Monetary and tax reform are essential and must go in tandem, or the effort will be futile.  Financing of all feasible new capital must shift to future savings instead of past savings, taxes should be levied only to meet legitimate government expenditures, and the tax system should encourage payment of dividends instead of retention and not tax a core income sufficient to cover ordinary domestic needs.

Finally — and without this, the whole thing will eventually fall apart — there must be widespread capital ownership.  This is essential to the restoration and maintenance of Say’s Law of Markets.  One possible program, that would be very easy to implement in a country like the Netherlands, is Capital Homesteading.  We finished with the announcement that if His Grace would give us a call, we’d personally send him a complimentary copy of Capital Homesteading for Every Citizen — if he’ll read it and give it serious consideration.

Could you get any more democratic than that?

#30#

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