I am starting off with a warning. This post is a rant. It means nothing and it means everything. It’s a rambling assemblage of “I’m as mad as hell, and I can’t take it anymore,” and if it ends up making any sense at all, it will be one of those happy accidents.
In my last post, trying to cut through all of over-the-top rhetoric that was intended to counter Donald Trump’s overt-the-top rhetoric, I posted a letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison in which he discusses the land hoarding by the French elite while the country was experiencing tough economic times. Here’s an excerpt that I’ve formatted (I am not using a quote block because my theme makes them hard to read – and it should be more than skimmed over)
“The property of this country is absolutely concentered in a very few hands, having revenues of from half a million of guineas a year downwards. These employ the flower of the country as servants, some of them having as many as 200 domestics, not labouring. They employ also a great number of manufacturers, and tradesmen, and lastly the class of labouring husbandmen. But after all these comes the most numerous of all the classes, that is, the poor who cannot find work. I asked myself what could be the reason that so many should be permitted to beg who are willing to work, in a country where there is a very considerable proportion of uncultivated lands? These lands are kept idle mostly for the aske of game. It should seem then that it must be because of the enormous wealth of the proprietors which places them above attention to the increase of their revenues by permitting these lands to be laboured.
“I am conscious that an equal division of property is impracticable. But the consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislators cannot invent too many devices for subdividing property, only taking care to let their subdivisions go hand in hand with the natural affections of the human mind. The descent of property of every kind therefore to all the children, or to all the brothers and sisters, or other relations in equal degree is a politic measure, and a practicable one. Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise. Whenever there is in any country, uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for man to labour and live on. If, for the encouragement of industry we allow it to be appropriated, we must take care that other employment be furnished to those excluded from the appropriation. If we do not the fundamental right to labour the earth returns to the unemployed. It is too soon yet in our country to say that every man who cannot find employment but who can find uncultivated land, shall be at liberty to cultivate it, paying a moderate rent. But it is not too soon to provide by every possible means that as few as possible shall be without a little portion of land. The small landholders are the most precious part of a state.”
This letter packs a multitude of philosophy in such a short and concise space as to be completely mind-blowing. (For reference, if you’re unclear about natural law, read treatises by John Locke. This blog post of mine links to a course from CATO about John Locke for a quick rundown, but it isn’t that great of a substitute for reading his works).
I was pretty happy with my arguments. The people matter. Not just rich guys with campaign cash.
Then my personality quirk of pondering some things a little too much kicked in. Some people don’t think at all. Me? No! My mind is always busy, and more secure than a steel trap. Noting escapes. I never “get over” anything. I have to put it away, lock it up in a closet up there. But sometimes the slightest little nudge can jar one of the numerous overstuffed doors up there and a skeleton or two come flying out, with all the passion still attached.
I thought about the letter and other TJ writings. Some might say it’s easy to pull out one letter that could be nothing more than just one time musings about certain things. But this sort of philosophy is what ruled Jefferson from start to finish.
Then I thought about the Great Recession and its cause. And I imagined Mr. Jefferson would be rolling over in his grave at thought of what the government has done. The inflation targeting regime violates natural law in a myriad of ways as to be breathtaking and it’s just accepted as if that is the ONLY way to do monetary policy.
Here’s another politician, who was also President, talking about the same effects, what is plainly evil:
“The man who has purchased any article, say a horse, on credit, at 100 dollars, when there are 200 millions circulating in the country, if the quantity be reduced to 100 millions by the arrival of pay-day, will find the horse but sufficient to pay half the debt; and the other half must either be paid out of his other means, and thereby become a clear loss to him; or go unpaid, and thereby become a clear loss to his creditor. What I have here said of a single case of the purchase of a horse, will hold good in every case of a debt existing at the time a reduction in the quantity of money occurs, by whomsoever, and for whatsoever it may have been contracted. It may be said, that what the debtor loses, the creditor gains by this operation; but on examination this will be found true only to a very limited extent. It is more generally true that all lose by it. The creditor, by losing more of his debts, than he gains by the increased value of those he collects; the debtor by either parting with more of his property to pay his debts, than he received in contracting them; or, by entirely breaking up in his business, and thereby being thrown upon the world in idleness.
“The general distress thus created, will, to be sure, be temporary, because whatever change may occur in the quantity of money in any community, time will adjust the derangement produced; but while that adjustment is progressing, all suffer more or less, and very many lose everything that renders life desirable. Why, then, shall we suffer a severe difficulty, even though it be but temporary, unless we receive some equivalent for it?”
We’ve known about this fact regarding the quantity of money since at least 1839 when this speech was delivered, yet there are so many fingers pointing when this kind of thing actually happens, it’s as if we just yesterday came out of the forest, saw the moon for the first time and started throwing rocks at it. Duh!
After this, as the day wore on, I happened to open up this article about the largest funder of the anti-Trump super PACs. Nice picture there, except being the posterchild for lookin’ out for number one and everything else that is wrong with this world, it makes me want to puke.
I am not sure how much worse the state of politics and the state of simply trying to exist can get. Perhaps if I can’t beat the insanity, I will join it – involuntarily, of course.