Mohamed El-Erian ex-helm of Pacific Investment Management Co., the $1.7 trillion global financial powerhouse backs Varoufakis the Greek ex-Minister of Finance as the person doing the CORRECT things for the country…
If you can trust that the head of PIMCO understands High Finance and Macro Economics — then you ought to trust that his judgement about Keynesian Economics and the actions of Yanis Varoufakis will bear fruit for Greece’s economy Long Term and Short term as well.
Mohamed El-Erian is a rather intelligent Man about all things Finance and here He wrote an article about the issues of the Greek Economy, namely AUSTERITY ECONOMICS, and about the ex-Minister of Finance response to the Creditors Troika, from the vantage point of his erudite view…
Let’s see what he has to say:
“In Defense of Varoufakis”
–By Mohamed El-Erian ex-Head of Pimco the largest Hedge Fund in the world.
LONDON – July 29th 2015
“”From blaming him for the renewed collapse of the Greek economy to accusing him of illegally plotting Greece’s exit from the eurozone, it has become fashionable to disparage Yanis Varoufakis, the country’s former finance minister. While I have never met or spoken to him, I believe that he is getting a bad rap (and increasingly so). In the process, attention is being diverted away from the issues that are central to Greece’s ability to recover and prosper – whether it stays in the eurozone or decides to leave.
That is why it is important to take note of the ideas that Varoufakis continues to espouse. Greeks and others may fault him for pursuing his agenda with too little politesse while in office. But the essence of that agenda was – and remains – largely correct.
Following an impressive election victory by his Syriza party in January, Greece’s prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, appointed Varoufakis to lead the delicate negotiations with the country’s creditors. His mandate was to recast the relationship in two important ways: render its terms more amenable to economic growth and job creation; and restore balance and dignity to the treatment of Greece by its European partners and the International Monetary Fund.
These objectives reflected Greece’s frustrating and disappointing experience under two previous bailout packages administered by “the institutions” (the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the IMF). In pursuing them, Varoufakis felt empowered by the scale of Syriza’s electoral win and compelled by economic logic to press three issues that many economists believe must be addressed if sustained growth is to be restored: less and more intelligent austerity; structural reforms that better meet social objectives; and debt reduction.
These issues remain as relevant today, with Varoufakis out of government, as they were when he was tirelessly advocating for them during visits to European capitals and in tense late-night negotiations in Brussels. Indeed, many observers view the agreement on a third bailout program that Greece reached with its creditors – barely a week after Varoufakis resigned – as simply more of the same. At best, the deal will bring a respite – one that is likely to prove both short and shallow.
In part, the criticism of Varoufakis reflects less the substance of his proposals than the manner in which he approached his interlocutors. Eschewing the traditional duality of frank private discussions and restrained public commentary, he aggressively advocated his case openly and bluntly, and did so in an increasingly personal manner.
Whether deemed naive or belligerent, this approach undeniably upset and angered European politicians. Rather than modifying a policy framework that had failed for five years to deliver on its stated objectives, they dug in their heels, eventually resorting to the economic equivalent of gunboat diplomacy. And they evidently also made it clear to Varoufakis’s boss, Tsipras, that the future of negotiations depended on him casting aside his unconventional minister – which he did, first by assigning someone else to lead the negotiations and then by appointing a new finance minister altogether.
Now that he is out of office, Varoufakis is being blamed for much more than failing to adapt his approach to political reality. Some hold him responsible for the renewed collapse of the Greek economy, the unprecedented shuttering of the banking system, and the imposition of stifling capital controls. Others are calling for criminal investigations, characterizing the work he led on a Plan B (whereby Greece would introduce a new payments system either in parallel or instead of the euro) as tantamount to treason.
But, love him or hate him (and, it seems, very few people who have encountered him feel indifferent), Varoufakis was never the arbiter of Greece’s fate. Yes, he should have adopted a more conciliatory style and shown greater appreciation for the norms of European negotiations; and, yes, he overestimated Greece’s bargaining power, wrongly assuming that pressing the threat of Grexit would compel his European partners to reconsider their long-entrenched positions. But, relative to the macro situation, these are minor issues.
Varoufakis had no control over the economic mess that Syriza inherited when it came to power, including an unemployment rate hovering around 25% and youth joblessness that had been running at more than 50% for a considerable period. He could not influence in any meaningful manner the national narratives that had sunk deep roots in other European countries and thus undermined those countries’ ability to adapt. He could not counter the view among some of the region’s politicians that success for Syriza would embolden and strengthen other non-traditional parties around Europe.
It also would have been irresponsible for Varoufakis not to work behind closed doors on a Plan B. After all, Greece’s eurozone destiny largely was – and remains – in the hands of others (particularly Germany, the ECB, and the IMF). And it is yet to be established whether Varoufakis broke any laws in the way he and his colleagues worked on their contingency plan.
When push came to shove, Varoufakis faced the difficult choice of going along with more of the same, despite knowing that it would fail, or trying to pivot to a new approach. He bravely opted for the latter. While his brash style undermined outcomes, it would be a real tragedy to lose sight of his arguments (which have been made by many others as well).
If Greece is to have any realistic chance of long-term economic recovery and meeting its citizens’ legitimate aspirations, policymakers must recast the country’s austerity program, couple pro-growth reforms with greater social justice, and secure additional debt relief. And if Greece is to remain in the eurozone (still a big if, even after the latest agreement), it must not only earn its peers’ respect; it must be treated with greater respect by them as well.””
The article “In Defense of Varoufakis” by Mohamed El-Erian ex-Head of Pimco the largest Hedge Fund in the world, is a well written piece of Macro Economics analysis and Finance reality, that each and every European Leader ought to read carefully…
Today we are all sworn enemies of debt.
We are considering it evil and a precursor to national slavery.
But that is mainly misguided optimism because we have already fallen for it.
Yet what we have is a global debt trap.
The combination of high debt and low economic growth is inherently unstable.
There’s very little room to maneuver…
And if you think of what has befallen countries like Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal — as runaway Austerity takes control, you can see Why.
Because if all the countries with high debts simultaneously tried to reduce them through sizable spending cuts and tax increases, the collective effect would be a calamity since worldwide consumer purchasing power would plunge, as we’ve seen in Greece.
On the other hand, slower economic growth makes it harder for countries to service their debts, which are still mounting. From 2007 to 2014, worldwide government debt rose $25 trillion or roughly three-quarters, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. It’s not clear how much longer these increases can continue, but even a mild effort to stanch them might founder on opposition from retirees and near-retirees.
Yet for the moment we are sailing along because what makes the debt burden bearable — is the low interest rates, engineered by markets and central banks (the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and Bank of Japan).
But we all know that we are holding up with the skin of our teeth.
So if, for any reason, interest rates rose sharply; or investor sentiment soured — the existing equilibrium could collapse overnight. All governments could face steeper interest costs…
And it happens often times with little if nay warning. Events can spook markets. Climate Change. Wars. Failure of Agreements. Failure to secure Peace Deals. Asteroid impacts. Black swan events. Whatever…
Investors might get spooked from fearful markets and they can sound the horn of retreat, raising the white flag and realizing the much feared losses on their portfolios of government bonds. THe Chinese are already liquidating vast amounts of US sovereign debt in the form of T-bills and long term bonds.
More governments will find it harder to borrow on private markets. Economic prospects would weaken. Country currencies will collapse.
And when the tide goes out the ones who swim without swimming trunks; will be seen by all for what they always were: Naked.
All this exists as a possibility for all countries apart from Greece and the other early victims of the changing tides.
Yet, as with Greece, and it’s calamitous Great Depression and the attendant Austerity — there are really no good choices left.
There are only the less bad, the really Bad, the terrible, and the worse ones. The range of bad choices and bad moves can be endless when you are so deep in the hole.
Yet rule number One is still on: “When in the hole — Stop digging.”
Greece hasn’t got that memo. Yet…
Still for the rest of us that we know this story, the defining characteristic of the global economy is that many nations are simultaneously grappling with similar problems, and the solutions are similarly severely limited.
Mainly because there is no compensating pocket of economic strength to help weaker economies recover.
High debts are so worrisome that some experts suggest inflation as a solution, because inflating the economy diminishes the basic value of debt. Or some want to simply write them down…
As an example the article “Does Europe Need Debt Relief?” asks the question in a rather large way through the insider magazine of the “International Economy.”
But these proposals raise huge practical and philosophical questions. And the fact that they’re being discussed at all, is an accurate measure of acute anxiety.
Yet in the details of how to deal with all this — we have the Greeks to thank for an elementary tutorial in what ails the world economy today. Somehow the willy Greeks managed to get inadvertently in front of the 8 ball and keep on running towards the hole — never quite falling inside of it.
It’s an exhausting race against Time.
And Time is the ultimate Arbitrer.
Because Greece’s central problem is that it has too much debt and no economic growth (none actually) to service the debt. The country is caught in an economic cul-de-sac. It can’t seem to generate growth without spending more or taxing less, which makes the debt worse, while its creditors demand that it controls its debt by spending less, devaluing it’s economy, and taxing more — which in turn undermines growth further.
See Rule Number One above: “When You are deep in the hole — First thing is to Stop digging.”
But we all know that things aren’t that easy…
Because if there was an easy exit from this dilemma, Greece would have found it and taken it — to get out of the hole.
But there isn’t one.
So it’s important now for us to recognize that Greece’s predicament, although extreme, is shared by many major countries, including the United States, Japan, France, the UK, and most large economies around the world and all of the other European nations.
So in an effort towards reducing or stabilizing their high debt levels; they encounter the same stubborn contradiction: The effort to curb debt through higher taxes or lower spending initially weakens economic growth, and weaker growth — aside from its social consequences — increases the debt drastically.
When only a few countries are over-indebted; meaning that they cannot borrow from private markets at reasonable interest rates, this isn’t necessarily true. Countries can dampen domestic consumption and rely on export-led growth to take up the slack and limit unemployment. Nor is debt automatically bad. It has obvious productive uses: to fight severe recessions; to pay for wars and other emergencies; to finance public “investments” in infrastructure and services like roads, schools, research, and social net.
Unfortunately, this standard view of government debt — we’re not talking about household and business debt — does not fully apply now. The reason is that numerous countries face similar problems. That is too many countries are on the brink of debt collapse and that’s the distinctive feature of the current situation.
Just Consider the following three trends:
First, high debt levels are widespread. No one knows what debt level is “right.” It varies by country, and what’s “right” today could be “wrong” tomorrow if investors’ attitudes change about a country’s bonds. Regardless, today’s debt levels are historically high. In 2014, gross debt as a share of GDP was 132% for Italy, 246% for Japan, 95% for France, and 105% for the United States. This is from the reports of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Second, economic growth has slowed in many countries. This is important because faster growth — producing more tax revenues — helps countries service their debts. Slower growth does the opposite. From 1997 to 2006, U.S. economic growth averaged 3.3% annually, says the IMF; from 2010 to 2014, the average was 2.2%. For the euro zone (the countries using the euro), the figures are 2.3% and 0.6%. Even China has slowed down significantly.
Finally, most advanced societies have aging populations. Already, the 65-and-over population is 15 percent of the total in the United States, 22 percent in Germany, and 27 percent in Japan, says the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. As more people qualify for old age and health benefits, there is built-in pressure for higher government spending, translated into higher deficits, and growing debt.
Keynesian Economics, is a complex economic theory, but its central insight is simple enough: If every institution stops spending, economic activity will decline. Self-evident though this may be, this insight has eluded such global economic institutions as the International Monetary Fund, the European Union, as well as Europe’s economic hegemon, Germany, when dealing with the great 7 year depression that has devastated southern Europe, and Greece in particular.
In confronting the economic crisis that began with the 2008 implosion of Wall Street, nations such as Greece and Spain were unable to bolster their economies by devaluing their currencies, which would have made their products more competitive. They didn’t have currencies of their own; they had the euro, over which they had no control. The other way they could have bolstered their economies, at a time when their banks and businesses were reeling and had no capacity to invest, was to follow the Keynesian course of having their governments invest more by enacting a stimulus, as our government did at the outset of Barack Obama’s presidency. But the European Union, steered by Germany, blocked that option by threatening to cut off credit and loans to southern Europe unless those governments enacted major cuts in spending. Austerity was enforced upon the cowed southern governments and weak parliaments, and that’s what the governments of Greece and Spain did — entering an unending vortex of greater depression and unemployment, leading to continuously greater debt and less stability, in turn leading to greater depression and so on…
So the German enforced Austerity led to cuts on all Social Services and government spending and all of the economic activity thus devaluing the Economy as a whole.
The counter-Keynesian “logic” behind these cuts was that, by injecting more fiscal discipline into their systems, these nations would improve their competitiveness and eventually [some day] they would return to prosperity in the long term.
The consequence of these cuts, however, has been exactly what the Keynesians predicted: With both private and public spending drying up, the economies of these nations tanked. And with Germany continuing to insist on even deeper cuts, their economies stayed tanked. Austerity in the long term will kill everybody.
Or as Keynes himself used to say: “It doesn’t really matter because in the long term we are all going to be dead anyway.”
Greece has now experienced seven years of 1929 style Great Depression, with one third of its high value workers long term unemployed, and all unemployment stuck above the 50% mark, and occasionally spiking up to 65% for the young people.
The situation in Spain hasn’t been much better.
Italy follows suit, and France isn’t far behind.
Revolutions happen with far less unemployment and thus we are now on the throes of one…
Of course if you were to hear the talking heads they would say that they didn’t budget for that.
Apparently this outcome came as a surprise to the Troika that imposed the austerity regime — Germany, the EU, and the IMF, that had predicted that Greek unemployment would peak at 12% — but, preferring their pet theory and ideology, to reality — they insisted that more austerity would turn the economy around…
So here we are faced with more Austerity to solve a problem of our own creation.
A “Mea Culpa” hasn’t been heard from any official lips yet.
Only Pope Francis has come out forcefully in favour of ending the idiotic Austerity ideology of Europe but who is listening to a Franciscan Father?
What is to befall all of us if this is a premonition of things to come?
Things are wrong on very many and different levels.
Yet we persist on following through with our stupidities — austerity economics being the major one…
Even the IMF’s research department has done authoritative and interesting work on the effects of fiscal policy and Keynesian economics, demonstrating beyond any reasonable doubt that slashing spending in a depressed economy is a terrible mistake, and that attempts to reduce high levels of debt via austerity are self-defeating.
And the current reality of devastated EUrope bears them out fully.
But the German led Troika and the Gauleiters of the European economies of the South, have slashed spending and demanded crippling austerity from the Greek, Italian, and Spanish debtors anyway; and the results speak for themselves.
Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom and in these United States, Tories and Republicans respectively, have responded to the utter failure of free-market orthodoxy and the remarkably successful predictions of much-hated Keynesians by digging in even deeper, determined to learn nothing from experience.
Pope Francis’ advise isn’t helping on this side of the pond either.
So where do we go from here is anybody’s guess…
Care to venture an educated one?
Living, is the only purpose of our existence.
And the Art of Living is how we do this best…
Living artfully is up to you because we all have different tastes and we don’t live under Stalin or Nixon anymore.
Still there are a bunch of folks out there today harping away at finding purpose in Life and all that jazz…
And they seek to shoehorn people into a kind of new Soviet of Purpose.
And some of them they even hold high fallutin classes, conferences, and seminars, at helping you poor sods to find your purpose.
As if you don’t have anything else to do with your Life besides following a bunch of fools seeking … their purpose for being around.
Damn Stupid if you ask me.
I was invited to speak at one of these Purpose Summits, the other day and then the Folly of it all dawned on me… and I passed.
I passed because I reasoned that we all know our purpose — if we are True to ourselves.
We all know why we are here.
Our purpose is internal and not external.
It’s simply to Love and Be Loved.
And it is shared by all of us.
We get satisfaction by giving satisfaction…
We all know the code.
We know how to do this easily.
And when you are faced with a deficit of Love, you seek to fill up…
You don’t need anyone outside of you telling you the Purpose of your Life.
Not Oprah, not Eckhart Tolle, not Donald Trump, not Rubio or Walker, not Hillary or Bill — Nobody.
Granted there are ideologues that seek to turn you into something else by presenting it as purpose.
And there are some that make money turning you around the purpose mill…
Yet am sure You know better.
So break from your well meaning friend touting Purpose and stop paying money to the seminar theorists and assorted harpies.
And if your seminar Leader tells you that in order to find your purpose you should become something else from what You are … maybe become a Compassionate Nazi, a hardened Liberal, a super Democrat, a soft Republican, a Nihilist, a Christian, a Buddhist, a Muslim, or an Allien — tell her it’s all crap.
And run away from there.
Because you know your purpose.
It’s encoded in your DNA and RNA alike.
The only purpose You have is to Live.
Live well and Live Fully.
Live in accord with the Natural Law, the Divine law, and the Human law.
And that is how You develop the purpose of your Life.
Develop your Art of Living, because this is the only purpose of your existence.
And to measure the truth of that — you need to be Happy.
Because Happiness is the only true index of the quality of your life.
Without happiness, life is dry and meaningless.
With happiness, life immediately becomes fulfilling and wonderful.
Happiness is an infectious feeling that immediately lifts the sagging spirits of people.
And maybe that happiness is what appears to be the purpose of Life, but it isn’t
Your Purpose is to Live and reproduce.
That’s about it.
And don’t forget that the reproduction bit is major fun too.
QED it makes you happy…
Your purpose found.
Happy people keep themselves happy because they know the little ways to appreciate Life, themselves, and the here and now.
It is those living in the moment that notice things.
And the Happy people are the ones who can see the humour, the magic, and the folly, in each moment we trend through this Game we call Life…
And they live in it.
And Love it.
And that is as close as you’ll get to calling it “Love the Life”
Live the Love…
Greece’s Grat Depression of Today is far greater than1929 crash of the US and the resultant Great Depression here.
Yet back then the Great Society Projects and FDR’s initiative to get people employed saved the day whereas today in Europe there is not a shred of ethical and smart Leadership to be found anywhere.
So Greece is left to wallow in the winds of Misfortune and certain famine as a member of the richest conglomeration of countries that world has ever seen.
But one has to question WHY?
Why is this happening on the year of the Lord 2015?
I’ll tell You why…
Let’s start by talking about European banks…
More precisely about German and other Northern European banks.
From ‘02 until the financial crisis in ‘08, Wall Street shoved as much toxic waste down those banks’ throats as they could handle. It wasn’t hard. Like the Japanese banks and pension funds before them, the European banks were hell bent on indiscriminately buying assets from all over the globe.
They were so willing, and had such an appetite, that Wall Street helped hedge funds construct specially engineered products to sell to them, made of the most broken and risky subprime mortgages. These products—the banks called them “monstrosities” and later the media dubbed them as “rigged to fail”—only would have been created if they had reckless buyers, and the European banks were often those buyers.
When a bank buys an asset it is lending money; the seller is the borrower. In buying various assets European banks were doing what banks are supposed to do: lending. But by doing so without caution they were doing exactly what banks are not supposed to do: lending recklessly.
The European banks weren’t lending recklessly to only the U.S. They were also aggressively lending within Europe, including to the governments of Spain, Portugal, and Greece.
In 2008, when the U.S. housing market collapsed, the European banks lost big. They mostly absorbed those losses and focused their attention on Europe, where they kept lending to governments—meaning buying those countries’ debt—even though that was looking like an increasingly foolish thing to do: Many of the southern countries were starting to show worrying signs.
The 2010 bailout was a bailout of the German and French banks in everything but name, because they were the ones holding the overwhelming majority of all sovereign debt of the European countries within and without the Eurozone. All 28 European Union countries were seen as a safe bet but the 19 countries that were within the Eurozone and shared the common currency, were rated as especially safe, and beyond the possibility of failure.
Too secure to become a failure is how the countries that shared the EURO were seen by the bankers of the European countries but not so by their American, the Chinese, and their Japanese counterparts…
So the EUROS rolled through the European Economies sloshing the markets and nullifying the clarity and transparency of the regulators who were clearly asleep at the switch…
The success of the currency was always going to depend on the willingness of countries with more successful economies being prepared to transfer wealth to the weaker economies. A true political union could only be achieved by the creation of a joint European “Transfer” Union. And many countries chose to join in this. At last count there were 19 countries that chose to give up significant parts of their Sovereignty in exchange for the Common Currency. Yet what most European Citizens along with their Prime Ministers, Finance Ministers, and Central bankers, forgot was that the Common Currency was inevitably going to be controlled by the Ministry of Finance of the strongest economy of Europe — Germany — and that was a singular objective of the old guard of the German Reich still involved in running the affairs of the deep state of Germany today…
So the 19 countries that took the euro (sign: €; code: EUR) as the official currency of the eurozone, which consists of 19 of the 28 member states of the European Union: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain — were trading Sovereignty for the Security of a common currency and centralized Monetary Policy coming from Berlin.
Yet as it happens this was a critical blunder as most European politicians failed to follow the History Lessons learned from their youth.
Amongst all others, Greece also chose the loss of sovereignty that comes with joining the single currency. That has led to the appalling situation it faces today of losing control of its economic policy and its national assets, just as Portugal, Spain and Ireland did in their turn. But we should not allow the siren song of the anti-Europeans to blind us to the fact that it was the Euro and not the EU that gave the Banker-wankers and the German financiers this power. And it’s important to note that Great Britain, and other hold-out countries that didn’t join the common currency, do not face any similar loss of sovereign control precisely because they wisely rejected the Euro and its flawed design, in the first instance…
Ever closer union is the logic of the European project and of the single currency area. This forced Union, brought about by the design of the Euro, is now undermining the whole EU. Those countries that are part of the single currency area will inevitably develop political and democratic institutions to guide how their currency is governed. Indeed, it is an urgent necessity that they do so. But there must also be a way out for countries for whom the Euro is now destructive and a way forward for countries that choose not to join but still want to be part of the European partnership.
The coming train wreck was clearly visible; well before the Lehman Brothers collapse across the pond in Wall Street…
Yet a whole generation of European politicians decided to be blinded by indolent hope for a United Europe and force that issue and thus came the push back. The current rise of Euroscepticism across the continent is the direct consequence of Greece’s treatment by the Northern European fiscally strong members and especially Germany. And the EURO is now the dead weight for most all member countries that are all looking at convenient ways to escape from.
What was clearly designed as a project to enhance solidarity and encourage European federalism has done precisely the reverse. Whole countries are sacrificed into the altar of the Gods of the Germanic idea of European Union Federalism, under the “Deutche Uber Alles” mentality — without regard to the future.
By 2010 one of those countries—Greece—could no longer afford to pay its basic bills for food and medicine imports. Over the prior decade Greece had built up massive sovereign debt; a result of too many people buying too many things; too few Greeks paying too few taxes; and too many promises made by too many corrupt politicians; all wrapped up in questionable accounting. Yet despite clear problems, Northern European bankers had been eagerly lending to Greece all along, and kept on going to lend ever more.
That 2010 Greek crisis was temporarily muzzled by an international bailout, which imposed on Greece severe spending constraints. This bailout gave Greece no debt relief, instead lending them more money to help pay off their old loans, allowing the banks to walk away with few losses. It was a bailout of the banks in everything but in name.
This was a failed Austerity Bailout, because the problem was not even temporarily resolved because Greece has struggled immensely since then, with an economic collapse of historic proportion, and unemployment of more than a third of the population; the human costs of which can only be roughly understood, and certainly not felt by anyone who hasn’t lived in the country through this time of trials and tribulations…
Soon enough Greece needed another bailout in 2012, that was another still born failure. This new Failed Bailout package brought even more Austerity and led to massive loss of confidence in the European project.
Evidence of the dismal failure of all these policies is that Greece needed another Bailout as was agreed to be negotiated yet again this past week.
And the Merry Go Round keeps on spinning and the music keeps on playing on the European Luna Park called the EUROzone where the horses are wooden and the games of chance are all rigged for the house to win. The “House” being Germany, is the only one that stands to benefit long term from this vast Hall of Mirrors and House of Miracles, where all the fools get fleeced by the next greater Fool.
Yet while the Greeks have suffered massively, the northern European banks have yet to account financially, legally, or ethically, for their reckless decisions to lend without regard to the creditworthiness of the nation whose bonds they were buying as if they were going out of print…
And they perpetuated this charade and the Merry Go Round by playing musical chairs with the Greek politicians and by bailing out the banks all over again in 2010, rather than the country of Greece.
But what the European “smart as foxes” politicians failed to conceive is that by transferring the future losses of the European Banks from the Greek Crisis to the European public — they in effect were screwing their own people; long term. It was a classic case of bait-and-switch; rife with a nationalist sentiment that has corrupted the dialogue ever since.
Namely the silly Northern European Politicians who wanted to appear Champions of their National Fiscal Policies said in unison: “Don’t look at our reckless banks; look at their reckless borrowing.” Yet what they implied is: ” Don’t look at our hands while we perform this magic trick; look at the beautiful and sexy banks that we have.” And somehow they have managed to hide this magic transfer of “Ultimate Capital” and responsibility for the coming complete collapse of the European Banks — to the backs of their own citizens and the Future generation of Europeans.
One can count now the European Project as dead in the water because the European Union started with an economic agreement on “coal and steel” production and prices, and lots of good intentions. It was, at least in part, an attempt to diminish the rising nationalism that had led to past wars – through shared economic incentives and common goals that will eventually lead to a Federated Union of European States.
The economic unification became a currency union in 1999 with the creation of the euro zone. The common currency the EURO, was adopted despite a lack of political union, a sequence which many at the time described as putting through shared economic incentives, the cart before the horse.
Yet the Euro took off.
And along with the common currency came a wave of regulatory changes that provided the banking sector with more opportunities for growth — and the chance to become the Major Fool. The rule changes enabled the banks to treat the debt of all euro zone countries equally; Greece, as far as the rules were concerned, had the same risk factor as Germany.
How Cool is that kind of Magic…
The markets however that hadn’t absorbed the magic show put on by the Germans, had a different perspective, thus making Greece pay far more in interest rates in order to borrow; than other countries such as Germany and the northern alliance. However the smart banker-wankers smelling arbitrage, and led by the German and the Northern European banks, started seeing easy money, and thus restarted lending to Greece, happily receiving higher fees for the “same risk” as they erroneously perceived it.
It was the beginning to look like Christmas.
And a lot of gifts started gathering under the tree. Not all the gifts were welcome though and a self-fulfilling feedback loop with the banks at the center started emerging. Southern Europe and especially Greece, started borrowing more, allowing them to buy more, which caused them to grow, which collapsed the cost of their borrowing, with led them to borrow more, and so on so forth.
The buying spree benefited everyone, especially the northern European countries. The South boomed as things got built and bought, and the North boomed as factories churned out products to sell to the South. The banks sat in the middle, happily taking the spread, and making money both ways for the roundtrip Capital journey.
What a Ride…
The party was an all out Bachanalia. An orgy of Germanic proportions…
Yet only Bankers and Politicians were invited. All others had to pay the price.
But while the Norther European Banks enjoyed a Roman Orgy of Wealth and Power, the European periphery was mirred in crisis that was heavily exacerbated in Greece some years ago when the New Democracy Karamanlis government was sweet talked into hiding it’s massive debt through a shady deal with Goldman Sachs, that was engineered by Goldman’s current CEO, Lloyd Blankfein. Blankfein and his Goldman team helped Greece hide the true extent of its debt, so the EUropean Union partners will see it as “healthy” and in the process this “deal” almost doubled the Greek Sovereign Debt. And just as with the American subprime crisis, and the current plight of many American cities, Wall Street’s predatory lending played an important although little-recognized role in the Greek and the European Debt Crisis.
The deal was simple. In 2001, Greece was looking for ways to better it’s economy. Goldman Sachs thought that it might be best to just disguise Greece’s mounting financial troubles from the other Eurozone partners hoping to continue borrowing unchecked. The Maastricht Treaty required all eurozone member states to show improvement in their public finances, but Greece was heading in the wrong direction. When Goldman Sachs came to the rescue, arranging a secret loan of 2.8 billion euros for Greece, disguised as an off-the-books “cross-currency swap”—a complicated transaction in which Greece’s foreign-currency debt was converted into a domestic-currency obligation using a fictitious market exchange rate — the trap was set. Greece fell into it easily and Goldmans made billions along with Hedge Fund king Paulson who was supported by Goldmans at an arms length relation in order for the two to make close to a Trillion Dollars out of this Greek stupidity…
But on the face of it the Greeks looked good because as a result of the Goldmans swindle, about 2 percent of Greece’s debt magically disappeared from its national accounts books. Christoforos Sardelis, then head of Greece’s Public Debt Management Agency, later described the deal to Bloomberg Business as “a very sexy story between two sinners.” For its services, Goldman received a whopping 600 million euros ($793 million), according to Spyros Papanicolaou, who took over from Christopher Sardelis in 2005. That came to about 12 percent of Goldman’s revenue from its giant trading and principal-investments unit in 2001—which posted record sales that year. The unit was run by Blankfein.
This is without counting the profits from the hedges and the associated funds.
Then the deal turned sour. After the 9/11 attacks, bond yields plunged, resulting in a big loss for Greece because of the formula Goldman had used to compute the country’s debt repayments under the swap. By 2005, Greece owed almost double what it had put into the deal, pushing its off-the-books debt from 2.8 billion euros to 5.1 billion. In 2005, the deal was restructured and that 5.1 billion euros in debt locked in. Perhaps not incidentally, Mario Draghi, now head of the European Central Bank and a major player in the current Greek drama, was then managing director of Goldman’s international division.
Greece wasn’t the only sinner. Until 2008, European Union accounting rules allowed member nations to manage their debt with so-called off-market rates in swaps, pushed by Goldman and other Wall Street banks. In the late 1990s, JPMorgan enabled Italy to hide its debt by swapping currency at a favorable exchange rate, thereby committing Italy to future payments that didn’t appear on its national accounts as future liabilities.
But Greece was in the worst shape, and Goldman was the biggest enabler. Undoubtedly, Greece suffers from years of corruption and tax avoidance by its wealthy. But Goldman wasn’t an innocent bystander: It padded its profits by leveraging Greece to the hilt—along with much of the rest of the global economy. Other Wall Street banks did the same. When the bubble burst, all that leveraging pulled the world economy to its knees.
Even with the global economy reeling from Wall Street’s excesses, Goldman offered Greece another gimmick. In early November 2009, three months before the country’s debt crisis became global news, a Goldman team proposed a financial instrument that would push the debt from Greece’s healthcare system far into the future. This time, though, Greece didn’t bite.
As we know, Wall Street got bailed out by American taxpayers. And in subsequent years, the banks became profitable again and repaid their bailout loans. Bank shares have gone through the roof. Goldman’s were trading at $53 a share in November 2008; they’re now worth over $200. Executives at Goldman and other Wall Street banks have enjoyed huge pay packages and promotions.
Blankfein, now Goldman’s CEO, raked in $24 million last year alone.
Meanwhile, the people of Greece struggle to buy medicine and food.
Yet the Bankers of Northern Europe, Germany and Wall Street kept the party going fully assured of their fat bonuses, fatter bailouts, and fattest absolution from any liability for their profligacy and for their outright stupidity…
This feedback loop was uniquely European, dependent on the false sense of stability provided by a common currency, which amplified the bankers’ naive belief that a country within the Eurozone, could not default.
This loop kept going until the sheer weight of the debt amassed by Greece became too huge for the markets to ignore. It kept going until the markets, shocked by the U.S. housing crisis, prompted skepticism, which forced Greek borrowing fees to rise. The European banks, in too deep to stop, were still willing to lend, but others less so.
By 2010 this could go on no more. The markets refused to lend more to Greece and a bailout was necessary.
A well orchestrated PR narrative emerged of southern borrowers as the victims of only their own incompetence, sloth, and greed…
But the bailout was primarily focused on saving the Northern banks, not Greece: Rather than forgive a portion of the Greek debt and hand the banks a loss, Greece was to continue paying its bills. New money was lent by a variety of public sector entities (i.e.The European Commission, the IMF, and the European Central Bank) to pay off the old bills. The banks were consequently made whole, with most of the money from the new loans passing through Greece right back to the banks.
For acting as a conduit to a northern European bank bailout, Greece was asked to change its ways—to spend less, tax more, and restructure the public sector.
This did not work. Greece was plunged into an even more dire depression. Two years later it was once again unable to pay its bill and required a new bailout. This time Greece’s debt was cut, roughly by 40 percent, but by then the banks had far less to lose, with many of the loans having already matured and been fully paid.
That first furtive bailout of the banks in 2010 introduced and encouraged a narrative of southern borrowers as the victims of only their own incompetence, sloth, and greed. It allowed the banks to play the role of upset parents to immature children.
That narrative was further encouraged and politicized by passing any future losses from Greece onto the European public, mostly the northern European public, encouraging an us-versus-them mentality. It was policy dressed in nationalism: the antithesis of everything the common currency was supposed to stand for.
Why were the banks, rather than Greece, bailed out in 2010?
Why was Greece asked to change its ways and accused of reckless borrowing, rather than the banks accused of reckless lending?
One argument was that Europe was still not closely aligned enough, their regulators not coordinated enough, to pull off such an operation. The louder argument was that the European banks were too vulnerable, fragile, and essential, to suffer losses. Those losses would have propagated around Europe, collapsing other banks and other countries and, ultimately, breaking up the euro zone.
That argument continued: The banks were too central to the operation and health of the economy, no matter how recklessly they had behaved, to punish with losses. It is an argument one hears during a crisis in order to justify bank bailouts, to justify favoring the creditors over the borrowers.
It is a strong argument—because it appears to be mostly true…
Consequently it is also the strongest and best argument for why banks should be heavily regulated and controlled in the first place: to prevent exactly that sort of behavior—before it destroys their bank along with all the other banks, whole countries, and even complex economies.
Politicians, regulators, and bankers, can calculate the immediate costs of bank failures easily; yet they can’t calculate the costs of whole country failures, nor can they calculate the long-term human toll that follows…
Greece is experiencing immense pain from a Great Economic Depression far greater than that of the United States starting with the crash of the 1929 and extending well into the 1930s and all the way into the Second World War. Poverty, famine, migration, dustbowls, homelessness, suicides, addictions, family failures — all have risen.
A whole generation has been Lost because they have seen their present totally trashed, their near future totally diminished, and their far future diminished even more.
It is a sad instance of a time-old routine…
When lenders and borrowers are at odds, it is the borrowers who are blamed and the borrowers who suffer.
The Reckless Lenders usually keep on dancing upon the Graves of those they used to call valued Customers.
Look at the German and the Swiss Bankers and their behaviour toward the Jews during the Second World War…
Today’s German Bankers are doing the same thing.
Now though we have hopefully the accumulated Wisdom of having lived through that tragic past.
Fast Forward to 2015 and the newly installed Greek Government that came into being riding the cart of Anti-Austerity and National Independence…
It follows that on the 5th of July 2015, in the referendum initiated by the government of PM Alexis Tsipras and the Hellenic Parliament, the Greek people overwhelmingly rejected the Austerity measures imposed by the usurious Creditors, the Germans, and the Troika.
It was a splendid victory for democracy.
However this short lived Victory was followed by an agreement with the afforementioned band of Creditors, that was reached on Monday, 13th of July and that it will clearly lead to fresh austerity measures over several years if not decades.
This completely contradicts the will of the Greek people as expressed in the vibrant NO AUSTERITY as was vocalized by the majority of the Greek Voters during the referendum.
Yet his new Memorandum towards even more dramatic Austerity, was accepted by the Politicians, the Parliamentary Representatives of the Greek People without consultation with the public… During the night of 15th to 16th July, this new despicable “Memorandum” was adopted thanks to the voting support of four right-wing parties (PASOK, Potami, New Democracy, Independent Greeks) that brought their votes to PM Tsipras proposal, while 32 Syriza MPs voted against, and 7 abstained.
This New MEMORANDUM towards an Austerity agreement forces PM Tsipras and the Syriza party, to abandon essential commitments made during the 25th of January 2015 election campaign, which led to its historically significant victory. Syriza has binding responsibilities towards the Greek people and it is tragic that they were not respected, especially since the people very clearly showed their support both on 25 January and 5 July 2015.
The Greek government’s concessions to the creditors include pension cuts, even to people who receive pensions of less than 700 euros per month, and an extension of the retirement age into the waning years of Life; wages will remain restrained; labor relations will become more precarious; there will be an increase in indirect taxes, including those paid by lower income earners; the continuation and acceleration of privatization; the accumulation of new illegitimate debts to repay previous debts; the transfer of valuable Greek assets to an independent fund; further relinquishing of key elements of sovereignty, giving an upper hand to the creditors in matters of legislative power, enabling German controls of the Greek Economy, and even empowering the Bankers to alter the Democratic Will of the People.
Contrary to claims that in return for these detrimental concessions Greece will get three years of respite from debt obligations that will significantly boost its economic activity — it will in fact be placed in a position where it will be impossible to have any economic growth or even to be able to create the primary fiscal surplus that was announced in the plan, because they did not consider the continued hold on household purchasing power and public expenditure.
Harmful consequences are inevitable: in a few months or early next year at the latest, creditors will attack the Greek authorities for failing to comply with their commitments in terms of primary fiscal surplus and will introduce new demands. Neither the Greek people nor their government will have any respite. The creditors will threaten to bring the promised disbursements to a halt if new austerity measures are not implemented. The Greek authorities will be caught up in a spiral of concessions.
The Truth Committee on Public Debt established by the President of the Greek Parliament has documented in its preliminary report made public on 17 and 18 June 2015 that the debt claimed by the present creditors must be considered illegitimate, illegal and odious. The Committee has also shown that its repayment is unsustainable. On the basis of arguments derived from international and domestic law, the Greek government should have taken a sovereign decision to suspend debt repayment for the time that the debt audit takes to run its full course. Such a suspension of debt payment is quite possible. Since February 2015, Greece has paid €7 billion to creditors without receiving the €7.2 billion previously agreed upon in the bailout program that ended on the 30th of June 2015. Other amounts that should have been paid to Greece have not been transferred: the interest earned by the ECB on Greek securities, the projected balance for the recapitalization of banks, etc. If Greece suspends debt payment to its international creditors, it will save nearly €12 billion by the end of 2015 and the creditors would be compelled to make concessions. A radical reduction in the amount of debt could lead the way either to negotiation or to repudiation.
Contrary to the widespread claim that suspending payment would result in exiting the euro, it would have been possible to stay in the Euro if a series of sovereign measures of self-defense and economic recovery such as a strict control on banks, currency, and taxation (see below) had been implemented. It would have been perfectly possible to eschew the ECB’s, the Eurogroup’s and the EC’s unacceptable and illegitimate injunctions. The Tsipras government decided otherwise, and this has led to a tragic subordination to EU supervision, to more austerity and to the selling off of the Greek national heritage.
It is now clear that negotiations cannot convince the European Commission, the IMF, the ECB and the ultra right wing governments in Germany and Northern European countries to take measures that respect the rights of Greek Democracy and it’s citizens as well those of the people in general. The referendum of July 5th, to which those institutions were fiercely opposed, did not convince them. Instead, in contradiction with basic democratic rights, they have radicalized their demands. Without taking strong and sovereign measures of self-defense, the Greek authorities and the Greek people will not be able to put a stop to the human rights violations perpetrated by the creditors.
A host of measures should be taken at the EU level to restore Social Justice, Liberty, and true Democracy, but the periphery has to start safeguarding their People and their National Sovereignty from Project Europe pirates and privateers like the Bankers, the Creditors, and Mr Schauble and Co.
Technically, it is not difficult to do; but it must be noted that with the balance of power prevailing in the European Union, the countries with progressive governments can hope neither to be heard nor supported by the European Commission, the ECB, or the European Stability Mechanism. On the contrary, these institutions as well as the IMF and the Northern European governments under pressure from Germany — the 800 pound gorilla in the room — are actively opposing the current Greek experiment in order to demonstrate to all the people of Europe that there is no alternative to the Banker-Wanker model of governance.
However, if the Greek authorities adopt strong measures to protect their own country — they can gain genuine concessions and can force the Creditors, the Troika, and the Institutions to recognize the Democratic process decisions taken through the vote of the people of Greece.
Parallel to this it is also vital to find an alternative strategy of Finance and Independence leading to LIBERTY by initiating massive popular mobilizations in Greece and other European countries. The Greek authorities could draw on that Massively Popular Front, to thwart the attempts to isolate them — attempts that the forces opposed to change and opposed to social justice, will waste no time in making. In turn, such a stand from the Greek government would empower popular mobilizations and encourage the mobilized people to have confidence in their own strength.
On top of the suspension of the payment of illegitimate, illegal, odious and unsustainable debt, here are a number of Twelve alternative conditions in the agreement between PM Tsipras Greek government and the unruly Creditors, to be urgently submitted to democratic debate, that are likely to help Greece recover:
1. The Greek state is by far the main shareholder of the major Greek banks, representing more than 80% of the Greek banking sector, and it should therefore take full control of the banks in order to protect citizens’ savings and boost domestic loans to support consumption. First, the State should have assumed its majority stake in the banks and turned them into public-sector companies. Then, the State would have organized the orderly liquidation of these banks whilst ensuring the protection of small shareholders and savers, guaranteeing deposits up to 100,000 €. The State would have recovered the cost of cleansing the banks from major private shareholders who have caused the crisis and then abused public support. To do this it would have had to seize part of their assets which reach far beyond the banking sector. A ’bad bank’ should have been created to isolate and hold toxic assets with a view to their liquidation. Those responsible for the banking crisis should have been sued to pay once and for all. The financial sector must be thoroughly cleaned up and made to serve the people and the real economy.
2. The Greek authorities should retrieve control over the central bank. Yannis Stournaras, the current CEO (appointed by the government of Antonis Samaras), invests all his energy in preventing the changes that the people call for. He is a Trojan Horse that serves the interests of large private banks and neoliberal European authorities. The central bank of Greece should be made to serve the interests of the Greek population.
3. The Greek authorities also had the opportunity to create an electronic currency, denominated in euros, for internal use in the country. The public authorities could raise pensions and salaries in the public services and grant humanitarian aid to people by opening credit accounts for them in electronic currency that could be used for several kinds of payment: electricity and water bills, payment for transport and taxes, purchases of food and basic goods, etc. Contrary to a baseless prejudice, even private businesses would do well to voluntarily accept the electronic method of payment as it will allow them to sell their goods and settle payments to the government, including the payment of taxes and the various public services they use. The creation of this additional electronic currency would reduce the country’s needs in euros. Transactions in this electronic currency could be made by mobile phones as is the case today in Kenya, Ecuador, Philippines, etc.
4. The restrictions on capital flows must be maintained while the price of consumer goods must be controlled.
5. The privatization agency must be dissolved and replaced by a national asset management agency with an immediate halt to penurial privatizations; which will be responsible for protecting the public assets while generating revenue.
6. New measures should be adopted to achieve more tax justice, reinforcing those already taken, notably by levying heavy taxes on the richest 10% of the population, particularly the richest 1%, both on their income and on their assets. Similarly, it would be beneficial to significantly increase the tax on big companies’ profits and to withdraw the tax exemptions for shipping company owners, for Large Construction Company owners, and for the Media & TV Barons. Heavier taxes should be imposed on the Orthodox Church, which only paid a few million euros in taxes in 2014 and for the numerous monasteries amassing major real estate and vast donated ecclesiastical wealth.
7. Taxes on new businesses, new families, small income families, small properties, small wealth, and on essential goods and services, should be significantly reduced. This would benefit the majority of the population. A whole series of basic utility services should become free for a period of time — like public transport, electricity, and water to a certain limited level of consumption, etc. These social-justice measures would revive consumption.
8. The fight against tax evasion should be intensified by establishing substantial deterrents. Considerable amounts can thus be recovered.
9. An extensive public plan for job creation should be implemented to rebuild the public services destroyed by years of austerity starting with health and education, in order to pave the way for the necessary ecological transition.
10. This support to the public sector should be accompanied by measures which provide active support to small private ventures, and all StartUps, that are key elements in creating employment and prosperity within the Greek economy.
11. Public domestic borrowing measures may be adopted by issuing public debt securities within national borders. In fact, the State must be able to borrow to improve the living conditions of the population, for example by carrying out public utility works. Some of this work can be financed by the current budget through assertive policy choices, but government borrowing could enable other projects, broader in scope — for example the massive development of public transport to replace private cars; developing the use of renewable energy; creating or reopening local railway services throughout the urban and semi-urban sectors of the country; renovating, rehabilitating or constructing public buildings and social housing while reducing energy consumption and providing quality amenities. Such measures can also finance the ambitious plan for job creation outlined above.
12. It is urgent that a transparent policy of public borrowing be defined. Our proposal is twofold. A. Public borrowing should aim at guaranteeing an improvement in living conditions, discarding the logic of environmental destruction. B. Public borrowing must contribute to a redistribution of wealth and to reducing inequalities. That is why we propose that the financial institutions, large private corporations and wealthy households be legally bound to purchase – commensurate with their wealth and income – non-indexed government bonds at 0% interest. The remaining population can voluntarily acquire government bonds at an interest rate that will ensure a genuine and positive return (e.g. 3%), above inflation. So if the annual inflation is 2%, the interest rate actually paid by the State for the corresponding year will be 5%.
Such a policy of positive discrimination (similar to those adopted against racial oppression in the US, the caste system in India, or gender inequalities) will result in tax justice and less inequality of wealth distribution.
Finally, the Greek authorities should ensure that the Audit Committee as well as other committees working on the memoranda and on war damages can continue their task.
Other additional Capitalist Measures of a Great Society; are measures that can be democratically debated and implemented, on an urgent basis because they will complement these first emergency measures based on the following five pillars:
– Socializing banks and a part of currency creation.
– Preventing tax evasion and establishing a fair tax reform to provide the State with the necessary resources for implementing its policies.
– Protecting public property, including the national heritage, and placing it at the service of the entire community.
– Rehabilitating and developing public services.
– Supporting local private enterprises.
It is also important to launch Greece into a process of structural democratic change with active citizen participation. To achieve this constituent process, Greece must convene an election of a Constituent Assembly to draft a new democratically chosen Constitution. Once the Constituent Assembly – which should operate on the basis of grievances and proposals received from the people – adopts the draft, it will be submitted to popular vote.
Exiting the Euro Zone. After the Greek Parliament adopted the disastrous agreement of 13th July, on the 16th, an alternative must include the possibility of voluntarily exiting the Euro Zone if the Greek people support this prospect. This option is comforted by the Greek Parliament’s capitulation on July 16th and by the very content of the agreement. Moreover the Greek people will soon understand that if they want a future that includes justice and emancipation, Greece must get out of the euro zone. In this case, the above propositions remain valid, especially the socialization of banks similar to the nationalization of France’s banking system after the Liberation. These measures should be combined with a significant monetary reform, inspired by the system implemented by the Belgian government after World War II. This reform will specifically aim at deflating the incomes of those who got rich at the expense of others. The principle is simple: during the changeover to another currency, there should be no automatic parity between the old and the new currency (the existing euro against a new drachma, for example) beyond a certain limit.
The amount exceeding the limit must be blocked in an escrow account and its origin must be justified and authenticated. In principle, any amount exceeding the specified ceiling will be exchanged at a less favourable rate (for example, two former euros against one new drachma). When a criminal origin can be proved, the sum may even be forfeited. Such monetary reform would distribute part of the wealth in a more socially just manner. Another objective of the reform is to reduce the money in circulation in order to fight inflationary trends. To be effective, strict control over capital movements and foreign exchange must be established.
Here’s an example (of course the rates are indicative and may be modified after analyzing the distribution of liquid household savings and the adoption of stringent criteria) :
€1 would be exchanged against 1 new drachma (n.D.) up to 200,000 euros
€1 = 0.7 n. D. between 200,000 and 500,000 euros
€1 = 0.4 n. D. between 500,000 and 1 million euros
€1 = 0.2 n. D. above 1 million euros
If a household owns € 200,000 in cash, it gets 200,000 n.D in exchange.
If it has € 400,000, it gets 200,000 + 140,000 = 340,000 n.D
If it has € 800,000, it gets 200,000 + 210,000 + 120,000 = 530,000 n.D
If it has € 2 million, it gets 200,000 + 210,000 + 200,000 + 200,000 = 810,000 n.D
A genuine alternative logic can be triggered and Greece can finally liberate itself from its creditors’ control.
This will result in multiple positive outcomes for the Greek people and for all the Peoples of Europe; who could start again believing in a change and a Union that favors justice over bankers greed.
Simple because the ever closer union is the logic behind the European project and certainly it is the reason of the single currency zone. However this forced Union, brought about by the design of the Euro, is now undermining the whole EU.
As usual the Road to Hell is paved with Good Intentions. Perdition is now upon us and the Rapture Is Imminent…
Pray You All — pray hard, because, the End is Near.
But maybe the end can be avoided and the Rapture pushed back if those countries that are part of the single currency area the Euro; happen to develop political and democratic institutions fir for a Union of Equals, that can guide how their common currency is governed.
Indeed, it is an urgent necessity that they do so.
But there must also be a way out for countries for whom the Euro is now destructive and far too expensive to exit. And it goes without saying that there has to be a way forward for countries that choose not to join the Euro but still want to be part of the European partnership — to thrive in Unison.
And inside a respectful Union.
Once You begin to see — to really SEE reality — there is only one way of doing this thing anymore.
Austerity has got to go.
And that opens the way towards the Road of Independence for the Greek People and towards rebuilding their Economy and their Banking Sector quickly and effectively.
Only then can True Liberty be regained by the Greek People.
–Thomas Paine 
Published in 1776, Common Sense challenged the authority of the British government and the royal monarchy. The plain language that Paine used spoke to the common people of America and was the first work to openly ask for independence from Great Britain.
Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour; a long habit of not thinking a thing WRONG, gives it a superficial appearance of being RIGHT, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason. As a long and violent abuse of power, is generally the Means of calling the right of it in question (and in Matters too which might never have been thought of, had not the Sufferers been aggravated into the inquiry) and as the King of England hath undertaken in his OWN RIGHT, to support the Parliament in what he calls THEIRS, and as the good people of this country are grievously oppressed by the combination, they have an undoubted privilege to inquire into the pretensions of both, and equally to reject the usurpation of either. In the following sheets, the author hath studiously avoided every thing which is personal among ourselves. Compliments as well as censure to individuals make no part thereof. The wise, and the worthy, need not the triumph of a pamphlet; and those whose sentiments are injudicious, or unfriendly, will cease of themselves unless too much pains are bestowed upon their conversion. The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind. Many circumstances hath, and will arise, which are not local, but universal, and through which the principles of all Lovers of Mankind are affected, and in the Event of which, their Affections are interested. The laying a Country desolate with Fire and Sword, declaring War against the natural rights of all Mankind, and extirpating the Defenders thereof from the Face of the Earth, is the Concern of every Man to whom Nature hath given the Power of feeling; of which Class, regardless of Party Censure, is the AUTHOR.
P. S. The Publication of this new Edition hath been delayed, with a View of taking notice (had it been necessary) of any Attempt to refute the Doctrine of Independence: As no Answer hath yet appeared, it is now presumed that none will, the Time needful for getting such a Performance ready for the Public being considerably past. Who the Author of this Production is, is wholly unnecessary to the Public, as the Object for Attention is the DOCTRINE ITSELF, not the MAN. Yet it may not be unnecessary to say, That he is unconnected with any Party, and under no sort of Influence public or private, but the influence of reason and principle.
Philadelphia, February 14, 1776
Of the Origin and Design of Government in General, with Concise Remarks on the English Constitution
SOME writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness POSITIVELY by uniting our affections, the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.
Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him, out of two evils to choose the least. Wherefore, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expense and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others.
In order to gain a clear and just idea of the design and end of government, let us suppose a small number of persons settled in some sequestered part of the earth, unconnected with the rest; they will then represent the first peopling of any country, or of the world. In this state of natural liberty, society will be their first thought. A thousand motives will excite them thereto; the strength of one man is so unequal to his wants, and his mind so unfitted for perpetual solitude, that he is soon obliged to seek assistance and relief of another, who in his turn requires the same. Four or five united would be able to raise a tolerable dwelling in the midst of a wilderness, but one man might labour out the common period of life without accomplishing any thing; when he had felled his timber he could not remove it, nor erect it after it was removed; hunger in the mean time would urge him to quit his work, and every different want would call him a different way. Disease, nay even misfortune, would be death; for, though neither might be mortal, yet either would disable him from living, and reduce him to a state in which he might rather be said to perish than to die.
Thus necessity, like a gravitating power, would soon form our newly arrived emigrants into society, the reciprocal blessings of which would supersede, and render the obligations of law and government unnecessary while they remained perfectly just to each other; but as nothing but Heaven is impregnable to vice, it will unavoidably happen that in proportion as they surmount the first difficulties of emigration, which bound them together in a common cause, they will begin to relax in their duty and attachment to each other: and this remissness will point out the necessity of establishing some form of government to supply the defect of moral virtue.
Some convenient tree will afford them a State House, under the branches of which the whole Colony may assemble to deliberate on public matters. It is more than probable that their first laws will have the title only of Regulations and be enforced by no other penalty than public disesteem. In this first parliament every man by natural right will have a seat.
But as the Colony encreases, the public concerns will encrease likewise, and the distance at which the members may be separated, will render it too inconvenient for all of them to meet on every occasion as at first, when their number was small, their habitations near, and the public concerns few and trifling. This will point out the convenience of their consenting to leave the legislative part to be managed by a select number chosen from the whole body, who are supposed to have the same concerns at stake which those have who appointed them, and who will act in the same manner as the whole body would act were they present. If the colony continue encreasing, it will become necessary to augment the number of representatives, and that the interest of every part of the colony may be attended to, it will be found best to divide the whole into convenient parts, each part sending its proper number: and that the ELECTED might never form to themselves an interest separate from the ELECTORS, prudence will point out the propriety of having elections often: because as the ELECTED might by that means return and mix again with the general body of the ELECTORS in a few months, their fidelity to the public will be secured by the prudent reflection of not making a rod for themselves. And as this frequent interchange will establish a common interest with every part of the community, they will mutually and naturally support each other, and on this, (not on the unmeaning name of king,) depends the STRENGTH OF GOVERNMENT, AND THE HAPPINESS OF THE GOVERNED.
Here then is the origin and rise of government; namely, a mode rendered necessary by the inability of moral virtue to govern the world; here too is the design and end of government, viz. Freedom and security. And however our eyes may be dazzled with show, or our ears deceived by sound; however prejudice may warp our wills, or interest darken our understanding, the simple voice of nature and reason will say, ’tis right.
I draw my idea of the form of government from a principle in nature which no art can overturn, viz. that the more simple any thing is, the less liable it is to be disordered, and the easier repaired when disordered; and with this maxim in view I offer a few remarks on the so much boasted constitution of England. That it was noble for the dark and slavish times in which it was erected, is granted. When the world was overrun with tyranny the least remove therefrom was a glorious rescue. But that it is imperfect, subject to convulsions, and incapable of producing what it seems to promise is easily demonstrated.
Absolute governments, (tho’ the disgrace of human nature) have this advantage with them, they are simple; if the people suffer, they know the head from which their suffering springs; know likewise the remedy; and are not bewildered by a variety of causes and cures. But the constitution of England is so exceedingly complex, that the nation may suffer for years together without being able to discover in which part the fault lies; some will say in one and some in another, and every political physician will advise a different medicine.
I know it is difficult to get over local or long standing prejudices, yet if we will suffer ourselves to examine the component parts of the English Constitution, we shall find them to be the base remains of two ancient tyrannies, compounded with some new Republican materials.
First. — The remains of Monarchical tyranny in the person of the King.
Secondly. — The remains of Aristocratical tyranny in the persons of the Peers.
Thirdly. — The new Republican materials, in the persons of the Commons, on whose virtue depends the freedom of England.
The two first, by being hereditary, are independent of the People; wherefore in a CONSTITUTIONAL SENSE they contribute nothing towards the freedom of the State.
To say that the constitution of England is an UNION of three powers, reciprocally CHECKING each other, is farcical; either the words have no meaning, or they are flat contradictions.
First. — That the King it not to be trusted without being looked after; or in other words, that a thirst for absolute power is the natural disease of monarchy.
Secondly. — That the Commons, by being appointed for that purpose, are either wiser or more worthy of confidence than the Crown.
But as the same constitution which gives the Commons a power to check the King by withholding the supplies, gives afterwards the King a power to check the Commons, by empowering him to reject their other bills; it again supposes that the King is wiser than those whom it has already supposed to be wiser than him. A mere absurdity!
There is something exceedingly ridiculous in the composition of Monarchy; it first excludes a man from the means of information, yet empowers him to act in cases where the highest judgment is required. The state of a king shuts him from the World, yet the business of a king requires him to know it thoroughly; wherefore the different parts, by unnaturally opposing and destroying each other, prove the whole character to be absurd and useless.
Some writers have explained the English constitution thus: the King, say they, is one, the people another; the Peers are a house in behalf of the King, the commons in behalf of the people; but this hath all the distinctions of a house divided against itself; and though the expressions be pleasantly arranged, yet when examined they appear idle and ambiguous; and it will always happen, that the nicest construction that words are capable of, when applied to the description of something which either cannot exist, or is too incomprehensible to be within the compass of description, will be words of sound only, and though they may amuse the ear, they cannot inform the mind: for this explanation includes a previous question, viz. HOW CAME THE KING BY A POWER WHICH THE PEOPLE ARE AFRAID TO TRUST, AND ALWAYS OBLIGED TO CHECK? Such a power could not be the gift of a wise people, neither can any power, WHICH NEEDS CHECKING, be from God; yet the provision which the constitution makes supposes such a power to exist.
But the provision is unequal to the task; the means either cannot or will not accomplish the end, and the whole affair is a Felo de se: for as the greater weight will always carry up the less, and as all the wheels of a machine are put in motion by one, it only remains to know which power in the constitution has the most weight, for that will govern: and tho’ the others, or a part of them, may clog, or, as the phrase is, check the rapidity of its motion, yet so long as they cannot stop it, their endeavours will be ineffectual: The first moving power will at last have its way, and what it wants in speed is supplied by time.
That the crown is this overbearing part in the English constitution needs not be mentioned, and that it derives its whole consequence merely from being the giver of places and pensions is self-evident; wherefore, though we have been wise enough to shut and lock a door against absolute Monarchy, we at the same time have been foolish enough to put the Crown in possession of the key.
The prejudice of Englishmen, in favour of their own government, by King, Lords and Commons, arises as much or more from national pride than reason. Individuals are undoubtedly safer in England than in some other countries: but the will of the king is as much the law of the land in Britain as in France, with this difference, that instead of proceeding directly from his mouth, it is handed to the people under the formidable shape of an act of parliament. For the fate of Charles the First hath only made kings more subtle — not more just.
Wherefore, laying aside all national pride and prejudice in favour of modes and forms, the plain truth is that IT IS WHOLLY OWING TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE PEOPLE, AND NOT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE GOVERNMENT that the crown is not as oppressive in England as in Turkey.
An inquiry into the CONSTITUTIONAL ERRORS in the English form of government, is at this time highly necessary; for as we are never in a proper condition of doing justice to others, while we continue under the influence of some leading partiality, so neither are we capable of doing it to ourselves while we remain fettered by any obstinate prejudice. And as a man who is attached to a prostitute is unfitted to choose or judge of a wife, so any prepossession in favour of a rotten constitution of government will disable us from discerning a good one.
Of Monarchy and Hereditary Succession
MANKIND being originally equals in the order of creation, the equality could only be destroyed by some subsequent circumstance: the distinctions of rich and poor may in a great measure be accounted for, and that without having recourse to the harsh ill-sounding names of oppression and avarice. Oppression is often the CONSEQUENCE, but seldom or never the MEANS of riches; and tho’ avarice will preserve a man from being necessitously poor, it generally makes him too timorous to be wealthy.
But there is another and great distinction for which no truly natural or religious reason can be assigned, and that is the distinction of men into KINGS and SUBJECTS. Male and female are the distinctions of nature, good and bad the distinctions of Heaven; but how a race of men came into the world so exalted above the rest, and distinguished like some new species, is worth inquiring into, and whether they are the means of happiness or of misery to mankind.
In the early ages of the world, according to the scripture chronology there were no kings; the consequence of which was, there were no wars; it is the pride of kings which throws mankind into confusion. Holland, without a king hath enjoyed more peace for this last century than any of the monarchical governments in Europe. Antiquity favours the same remark; for the quiet and rural lives of the first Patriarchs have a snappy something in them, which vanishes when we come to the history of Jewish royalty.
Government by kings was first introduced into the world by the Heathens, from whom the children of Israel copied the custom. It was the most prosperous invention the Devil ever set on foot for the promotion of idolatry. The Heathens paid divine honours to their deceased kings, and the Christian World hath improved on the plan by doing the same to their living ones. How impious is the title of sacred Majesty applied to a worm, who in the midst of his splendor is crumbling into dust!
As the exalting one man so greatly above the rest cannot be justified on the equal rights of nature, so neither can it be defended on the authority of scripture; for the will of the Almighty as declared by Gideon, and the prophet Samuel, expressly disapproves of government by Kings.
All anti-monarchical parts of scripture have been very smoothly glossed over in monarchical governments, but they undoubtedly merit the attention of countries which have their governments yet to form. “Render unto Cesar the things which are Cesar’s” is the scripture doctrine of courts, yet it is no support of monarchical government, for the Jews at that time were without a king, and in a state of vassalage to the Romans.
Near three thousand years passed away, from the Mosaic account of the creation, till the Jews under a national delusion requested a king. Till then their form of government (except in extraordinary cases where the Almighty interposed) was a kind of Republic, administered by a judge and the elders of the tribes. Kings they had none, and it was held sinful to acknowledge any being under that title but the Lord of Hosts. And when a man seriously reflects on the idolatrous homage which is paid to the persons of kings, he need not wonder that the Almighty, ever jealous of his honour, should disapprove a form of government which so impiously invades the prerogative of Heaven.
Monarchy is ranked in scripture as one of the sins of the Jews, for which a curse in reserve is denounced against them. The history of that transaction is worth attending to.
The children of Israel being oppressed by the Midianites, Gideon marched against them with a small army, and victory thro’ the divine interposition decided in his favour. The Jews, elate with success, and attributing it to the generalship of Gideon, proposed making him a king, saying, “Rule thou over us, thou and thy son, and thy son’s son.” Here was temptation in its fullest extent; not a kingdom only, but an hereditary one; but Gideon in the piety of his soul replied, “I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you. THE LORD SHALL RULE OVER YOU.” Words need not be more explicit: Gideon doth not decline the honour, but denieth their right to give it; neither doth he compliment them with invented declarations of his thanks, but in the positive style of a prophet charges them with disaffection to their proper Sovereign, the King of Heaven.
About one hundred and thirty years after this, they fell again into the same error. The hankering which the Jews had for the idolatrous customs of the Heathens, is something exceedingly unaccountable; but so it was, that laying hold of the misconduct of Samuel’s two sons, who were intrusted with some secular concerns, they came in an abrupt and clamorous manner to Samuel, saying, “Behold thou art old, and they sons walk not in thy ways, now make us a king to judge us like all the other nations.” And here we cannot observe but that their motives were bad, viz. that they might be LIKE unto other nations, i. e. the Heathens, whereas their true glory lay in being as much UNLIKE them as possible. “But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, give us a King to judge us; and Samuel prayed unto the Lord, and the Lord said unto Samuel, hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee, for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, THAT I SHOULD NOT REIGN OVER THEM. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other Gods: so do they also unto thee. Now therefore hearken unto their voice, howbeit, protest solemnly unto them and show them the manner of the King that shall reign over them,” i.e. not of any particular King, but the general manner of the Kings of the earth whom Israel was so eagerly copying after. And notwithstanding the great distance of time and difference of manners, the character is still in fashion. “And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people, that asked of him a King. And he said, This shall be the manner of the King that shall reign over you. He will take your sons and appoint them for himself for his chariots and to be his horsemen, and some shall run before his chariots” (this description agrees with the present mode of impressing men) “and he will appoint him captains over thousands and captains over fifties, will set them to clear his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots, And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers” (this describes the expense and luxury as well as the oppression of Kings) “and he will take your fields and your vineyards, and your olive yards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give them to his officers and to his servants” (by which we see that bribery, corruption, and favouritism, are the standing vices of Kings) “and he will take the tenth of your men servants, and your maid servants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work: and he will take the tenth of your sheep, and ye shall be his servants, and ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shell have chosen, AND THE LORD WILL NOT HEAR YOU IN THAT DAY.” This accounts for the continuation of Monarchy; neither do the characters of the few good kings which have lived since, either sanctify the title, or blot out the sinfulness of the origin; the high encomium of David takes no notice of him OFFICIALLY AS A KING, but only as a MAN after God’s own heart. “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel, and they said, Nay, but we will have a king over us, that we may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us, and go out before us and fight our battles.” Samuel continued to reason with them but to no purpose; he set before them their ingratitude, but all would not avail; and seeing them fully bent on their folly, he cried out, “I will call unto the Lord, and he shall send thunder and rain” (which was then a punishment, being in the time of wheat harvest) “that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is great which ye have done in the sight of the Lord, IN ASKING YOU A KING. So Samuel called unto the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day, and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel. And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God that we die not, for WE HAVE ADDED UNTO OUR SINS THIS EVIL, TO ASK A KING.” These portions of scripture are direct and positive. They admit of no equivocal construction. That the Almighty hath here entered his protest against monarchical government is true, or the scripture is false. And a man hath good reason to believe that there is as much of kingcraft as priestcraft in withholding the scripture from the public in popish countries. For monarchy in every instance is the popery of government.
To the evil of monarchy we have added that of hereditary succession; and as the first is a degradation and lessening of ourselves, so the second, claimed as a matter of right, is an insult and imposition on posterity. For all men being originally equals, no one by birth could have a right to set up his own family in perpetual preference to all others for ever, and tho’ himself might deserve some decent degree of honours of his contemporaries, yet his descendants might be far too unworthy to inherit them. One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in Kings, is that nature disapproves it, otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule, by giving mankind an ASS FOR A LION.
Secondly, as no man at first could possess any other public honors than were bestowed upon him, so the givers of those honors could have no power to give away the right of posterity, and though they might say “We choose you for our head,” they could not without manifest injustice to their children say “that your children and your children’s children shall reign over ours forever.” Because such an unwise, unjust, unnatural compact might (perhaps) in the next succession put them under the government of a rogue or a fool. Most wise men in their private sentiments have ever treated hereditary right with contempt; yet it is one of those evils which when once established is not easily removed: many submit from fear, others from superstition, and the more powerful part shares with the king the plunder of the rest.
This is supposing the present race of kings in the world to have had an honorable origin: whereas it is more than probable, that, could we take off the dark covering of antiquity and trace them to their first rise, we should find the first of them nothing better than the principal ruffian of some restless gang, whose savage manners of pre-eminence in subtilty obtained him the title of chief among plunderers; and who by increasing in power and extending his depredations, overawed the quiet and defenseless to purchase their safety by frequent contributions. Yet his electors could have no idea of giving hereditary right to his descendants, because such a perpetual exclusion of themselves was incompatible with the free and restrained principles they professed to live by. Wherefore, hereditary succession in the early ages of monarchy could not take place as a matter of claim, but as something casual or complemental; but as few or no records were extant in those days, the traditionary history stuff’d with fables, it was very easy, after the lapse of a few generations, to trump up some superstitious tale conveniently timed, Mahomet-like, to cram hereditary right down the throats of the vulgar. Perhaps the disorders which threatened, or seemed to threaten, on the decease of a leader and the choice of a new one (for elections among ruffians could not be very orderly) induced many at first to favour hereditary pretensions; by which means it happened, as it hath happened since, that what at first was submitted to as a convenience was afterwards claimed as a right.
England since the conquest hath known some few good monarchs, but groaned beneath a much larger number of bad ones: yet no man in his senses can say that their claim under William the Conqueror is a very honourable one. A French bastard landing with an armed Banditti and establishing himself king of England against the consent of the natives, is in plain terms a very paltry rascally original. It certainly hath no divinity in it. However it is needless to spend much time in exposing the folly of hereditary right; if there are any so weak as to believe it, let them promiscuously worship the Ass and the Lion, and welcome. I shall neither copy their humility, nor disturb their devotion.
Yet I should be glad to ask how they suppose kings came at first? The question admits but of three answers, viz. either by lot, by election, or by usurpation. If the first king was taken by lot, it establishes a precedent for the next, which excludes hereditary succession. Saul was by lot, yet the succession was not hereditary, neither does it appear from that transaction that there was any intention it ever should. If the first king of any country was by election, that likewise establishes a precedent for the next; for to say, that the right of all future generations is taken away, by the act of the first electors, in their choice not only of a king but of a family of kings for ever, hath no parallel in or out of scripture but the doctrine of original sin, which supposes the free will of all men lost in Adam; and from such comparison, and it will admit of no other, hereditary succession can derive no glory. for as in Adam all sinned, and as in the first electors all men obeyed; as in the one all mankind were subjected to Satan, and in the other to sovereignty; as our innocence was lost in the first, and our authority in the last; and as both disable us from re-assuming some former state and privilege, it unanswerably follows that original sin and hereditary succession are parallels. Dishonourable rank! inglorious connection! yet the most subtle sophist cannot produce a juster simile.
As to usurpation, no man will be so hardy as to defend it; and that William the Conqueror was an usurper is a fact not to be contradicted. The plain truth is, that the antiquity of English monarchy will not bear looking into.
But it is not so much the absurdity as the evil of hereditary succession which concerns mankind. Did it ensure a race of good and wise men it would have the seal of divine authority, but as it opens a door to the FOOLISH, the WICKED, and the IMPROPER, it hath in it the nature of oppression. Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent. Selected from the rest of mankind, their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed in the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.
Another evil which attends hereditary succession is, that the throne is subject to be possessed by a minor at any age; all which time the regency acting under the cover of a king have every opportunity and inducement to betray their trust. The same national misfortune happens when a king worn out with age and infirmity enters the last stage of human weakness. In both these cases the public becomes a prey to every miscreant who can tamper successfully with the follies either of age or infancy.
The most plausible plea which hath ever been offered in favor of hereditary succession is, that it preserves a nation from civil wars; and were this true, it would be weighty; whereas it is the most bare-faced falsity ever imposed upon mankind. The whole history of England disowns the fact. Thirty kings and two minors have reigned in that distracted kingdom since the conquest, in which time there has been (including the revolution) no less than eight civil wars and nineteen Rebellions. Wherefore instead of making for peace, it makes against it, and destroys the very foundation it seems to stand upon.
The contest for monarchy and succession, between the houses of York and Lancaster, laid England in a scene of blood for many years. Twelve pitched battles besides skirmishes and sieges were fought between Henry and Edward. Twice was Henry prisoner to Edward, who in his turn was prisoner to Henry. And so uncertain is the fate of war and the temper of a nation, when nothing but personal matters are the ground of a quarrel, that Henry was taken in triumph from a prison to a palace, and Edward obliged to fly from a palace to a foreign land; yet, as sudden transitions of temper are seldom lasting, Henry in his turn was driven from the throne, and Edward re-called to succeed him. The parliament always following the strongest side.
This contest began in the reign of Henry the Sixth, and was not entirely extinguished till Henry the Seventh, in whom the families were united. Including a period of 67 years, viz. from 1422 to 1489.
In short, monarchy and succession have laid (not this or that kingdom only) but the world in blood and ashes. ‘Tis a form of government which the word of God bears testimony against, and blood will attend it.
If we enquire into the business of a King, we shall find that in some countries they may have none; and after sauntering away their lives without pleasure to themselves or advantage to the nation, withdraw from the scene, and leave their successors to tread the same idle round. In absolute monarchies the whole weight of business civil and military lies on the King; the children of Israel in their request for a king urged this plea, “that he may judge us, and go out before us and fight our battles.” But in countries where he is neither a Judge nor a General, as in England, a man would be puzzled to know what IS his business.
The nearer any government approaches to a Republic, the less business there is for a King. It is somewhat difficult to find a proper name for the government of England. Sir William Meredith calls it a Republic; but in its present state it is unworthy of the name, because the corrupt influence of the Crown, by having all the places in its disposal, hath so effectually swallowed up the power, and eaten out the virtue of the House of Commons (the Republican part in the constitution) that the government of England is nearly as monarchical as that of France or Spain. Men fall out with names without understanding them. For ’tis the Republican and not the Monarchical part of the Constitution of England which Englishmen glory in, viz. the liberty of choosing an House of Commons from out of their own body — and it is easy to see that when Republican virtues fail, slavery ensues. Why is the constitution of England sickly, but because monarchy hath poisoned the Republic; the Crown hath engrossed the Commons.
In England a King hath little more to do than to make war and give away places; which, in plain terms, is to empoverish the nation and set it together by the ears. A pretty business indeed for a man to be allowed eight hundred thousand sterling a year for, and worshipped into the bargain! Of more worth is one honest man to society, and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived.
Thoughts on the Present State of American Affairs
IN the following pages I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense: and have no other preliminaries to settle with the reader, than that he will divest himself of prejudice and prepossession, and suffer his reason and his feelings to determine for themselves that he will put on, or rather that he will not put off, the true character of a man, and generously enlarge his views beyond the present day.
Volumes have been written on the subject of the struggle between England and America. Men of all ranks have embarked in the controversy, from different motives, and with various designs; but all have been ineffectual, and the period of debate is closed. Arms as the last resource decide the contest; the appeal was the choice of the King, and the Continent has accepted the challenge.
It hath been reported of the late Mr. Pelham (who tho’ an able minister was not without his faults) that on his being attacked in the House of Commons on the score that his measures were only of a temporary kind, replied, “THEY WILL LAST MY TIME.” Should a thought so fatal and unmanly possess the Colonies in the present contest, the name of ancestors will be remembered by future generations with detestation.
The Sun never shined on a cause of greater worth. ‘Tis not the affair of a City, a County, a Province, or a Kingdom; but of a Continent — of at least one-eighth part of the habitable Globe. ‘Tis not the concern of a day, a year, or an age; posterity are virtually involved in the contest, and will be more or less affected even to the end of time, by the proceedings now. Now is the seed-time of Continental union, faith and honour. The least fracture now will be like a name engraved with the point of a pin on the tender rind of a young oak; the wound would enlarge with the tree, and posterity read in it full grown characters.
By referring the matter from argument to arms, a new era for politics is struck — a new method of thinking hath arisen. All plans, proposals, &c. prior to the nineteenth of April, i.e. to the commencement of hostilities, are like the almanacks of the last year; which tho’ proper then, are superseded and useless now. Whatever was advanced by the advocates on either side of the question then, terminated in one and the same point, viz. a union with Great Britain; the only difference between the parties was the method of effecting it; the one proposing force, the other friendship; but it hath so far happened that the first hath failed, and the second hath withdrawn her influence.
As much hath been said of the advantages of reconciliation, which, like an agreeable dream, hath passed away and left us as we were, it is but right that we should examine the contrary side of the argument, and enquire into some of the many material injuries which these Colonies sustain, and always will sustain, by being connected with and dependent on Great Britain. To examine that connection and dependence, on the principles of nature and common sense, to see what we have to trust to, if separated, and what we are to expect, if dependent.
I have heard it asserted by some, that as America has flourished under her former connection with Great Britain, the same connection is necessary towards her future happiness, and will always have the same effect. Nothing can be more fallacious than this kind of argument. We may as well assert that because a child has thrived upon milk, that it is never to have meat, or that the first twenty years of our lives is to become a precedent for the next twenty. But even this is admitting more than is true; for I answer roundly that America would have flourished as much, and probably much more, had no European power taken any notice of her. The commerce by which she hath enriched herself are the necessaries of life, and will always have a market while eating is the custom of Europe.
But she has protected us, say some. That she hath engrossed us is true, and defended the Continent at our expense as well as her own, is admitted; and she would have defended Turkey from the same motive, viz. — for the sake of trade and dominion.
Alas! we have been long led away by ancient prejudices and made large sacrifices to superstition. We have boasted the protection of Great Britain, without considering, that her motive was INTEREST not ATTACHMENT; and that she did not protect us from OUR ENEMIES on OUR ACCOUNT; but from HER ENEMIES on HER OWN ACCOUNT, from those who had no quarrel with us on any OTHER ACCOUNT, and who will always be our enemies on the SAME ACCOUNT. Let Britain waive her pretensions to the Continent, or the Continent throw off the dependence, and we should be at peace with France and Spain, were they at war with Britain. The miseries of Hanover last war ought to warn us against connections.
It hath lately been asserted in parliament, that the Colonies have no relation to each other but through the Parent Country, i.e. that Pennsylvania and the Jerseys and so on for the rest, are sister Colonies by the way of England; this is certainly a very roundabout way of proving relationship, but it is the nearest and only true way of proving enmity (or enemyship, if I may so call it.) France and Spain never were, nor perhaps ever will be, our enemies as AMERICANS, but as our being the SUBJECTS OF GREAT BRITAIN.
But Britain is the parent country, say some. Then the more shame upon her conduct. Even brutes do not devour their young, nor savages make war upon their families. Wherefore, the assertion, if true, turns to her reproach; but it happens not to be true, or only partly so, and the phrase PARENT OR MOTHER COUNTRY hath been jesuitically adopted by the King and his parasites, with a low papistical design of gaining an unfair bias on the credulous weakness of our minds. Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America. This new World hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from EVERY PART of Europe. Hither have they fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.
In this extensive quarter of the globe, we forget the narrow limits of three hundred and sixty miles (the extent of England) and carry our friendship on a larger scale; we claim brotherhood with every European Christian, and triumph in the generosity of the sentiment.
It is pleasant to observe by what regular gradations we surmount the force of local prejudices, as we enlarge our acquaintance with the World. A man born in any town in England divided into parishes, will naturally associate most with his fellow parishioners (because their interests in many cases will be common) and distinguish him by the name of NEIGHBOR; if he meet him but a few miles from home, he drops the narrow idea of a street, and salutes him by the name of TOWNSMAN; if he travel out of the county and meet him in any other, he forgets the minor divisions of street and town, and calls him COUNTRYMAN, i.e. COUNTYMAN; but if in their foreign excursions they should associate in France, or any other part of EUROPE, their local remembrance would be enlarged into that of ENGLISHMEN. And by a just parity of reasoning, all Europeans meeting in America, or any other quarter of the globe, are COUNTRYMEN; for England, Holland, Germany, or Sweden, when compared with the whole, stand in the same places on the larger scale, which the divisions of street, town, and county do on the smaller ones; Distinctions too limited for Continental minds. Not one third of the inhabitants, even of this province, [Pennsylvania], are of English descent. Wherefore, I reprobate the phrase of Parent or Mother Country applied to England only, as being false, selfish, narrow and ungenerous.
But, admitting that we were all of English descent, what does it amount to? Nothing. Britain, being now an open enemy, extinguishes every other name and title: and to say that reconciliation is our duty, is truly farcical. The first king of England, of the present line (William the Conqueror) was a Frenchman, and half the peers of England are descendants from the same country; wherefore, by the same method of reasoning, England ought to be governed by France.
Much hath been said of the united strength of Britain and the Colonies, that in conjunction they might bid defiance to the world. But this is mere presumption; the fate of war is uncertain, neither do the expressions mean anything; for this continent would never suffer itself to be drained of inhabitants, to support the British arms in either Asia, Africa, or Europe.
Besides, what have we to do with setting the world at defiance? Our plan is commerce, and that, well attended to, will secure us the peace and friendship of all Europe; because it is the interest of all Europe to have America a free port. Her trade will always be a protection, and her barrenness of gold and silver secure her from invaders.
I challenge the warmest advocate for reconciliation to show a single advantage that this continent can reap by being connected with Great Britain. I repeat the challenge; not a single advantage is derived. Our corn will fetch its price in any market in Europe, and our imported goods must be paid for buy them where we will.
But the injuries and disadvantages which we sustain by that connection, are without number; and our duty to mankind at large, as well as to ourselves, instruct us to renounce the alliance: because, any submission to, or dependence on, Great Britain, tends directly to involve this Continent in European wars and quarrels, and set us at variance with nations who would otherwise seek our friendship, and against whom we have neither anger nor complaint. As Europe is our market for trade, we ought to form no partial connection with any part of it. It is the true interest of America to steer clear of European contentions, which she never can do, while, by her dependence on Britain, she is made the makeweight in the scale of British politics.
Europe is too thickly planted with Kingdoms to be long at peace, and whenever a war breaks out between England and any foreign power, the trade of America goes to ruin, BECAUSE OF HER CONNECTION WITH BRITAIN. The next war may not turn out like the last, and should it not, the advocates for reconciliation now will be wishing for separation then, because neutrality in that case would be a safer convoy than a man of war. Every thing that is right or reasonable pleads for separation. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, ‘TIS TIME TO PART. Even the distance at which the Almighty hath placed England and America is a strong and natural proof that the authority of the one over the other, was never the design of Heaven. The time likewise at which the Continent was discovered, adds weight to the argument, and the manner in which it was peopled, encreases the force of it. The Reformation was preceded by the discovery of America: As if the Almighty graciously meant to open a sanctuary to the persecuted in future years, when home should afford neither friendship nor safety.
The authority of Great Britain over this continent, is a form of government, which sooner or later must have an end: And a serious mind can draw no true pleasure by looking forward, under the painful and positive conviction that what he calls “the present constitution” is merely temporary. As parents, we can have no joy, knowing that this government is not sufficiently lasting to ensure any thing which we may bequeath to posterity: And by a plain method of argument, as we are running the next generation into debt, we ought to do the work of it, otherwise we use them meanly and pitifully. In order to discover the line of our duty rightly, we should take our children in our hand, and fix our station a few years farther into life; that eminence will present a prospect which a few present fears and prejudices conceal from our sight.
Though I would carefully avoid giving unnecessary offence, yet I am inclined to believe, that all those who espouse the doctrine of reconciliation, may be included within the following descriptions. Interested men, who are not to be trusted, weak men who CANNOT see, prejudiced men who will not see, and a certain set of moderate men who think better of the European world than it deserves; and this last class, by an ill-judged deliberation, will be the cause of more calamities to this Continent than all the other three.
It is the good fortune of many to live distant from the scene of present sorrow; the evil is not sufficiently brought to their doors to make them feel the precariousness with which all American property is possessed. But let our imaginations transport us a few moments to Boston; that seat of wretchedness will teach us wisdom, and instruct us for ever to renounce a power in whom we can have no trust. The inhabitants of that unfortunate city who but a few months ago were in ease and affluence, have now no other alternative than to stay and starve, or turn out to beg. Endangered by the fire of their friends if they continue within the city and plundered by the soldiery if they leave it, in their present situation they are prisoners without the hope of redemption, and in a general attack for their relief they would be exposed to the fury of both armies.
Men of passive tempers look somewhat lightly over the offences of Great Britain, and, still hoping for the best, are apt to call out, “Come, come, we shall be friends again for all this.” But examine the passions and feelings of mankind: bring the doctrine of reconciliation to the touchstone of nature, and then tell me whether you can hereafter love, honour, and faithfully serve the power that hath carried fire and sword into your land? If you cannot do all these, then are you only deceiving yourselves, and by your delay bringing ruin upon posterity. Your future connection with Britain, whom you can neither love nor honour, will be forced and unnatural, and being formed only on the plan of present convenience, will in a little time fall into a relapse more wretched than the first. But if you say, you can still pass the violations over, then I ask, hath your house been burnt? Hath your property been destroyed before your face? Are your wife and children destitute of a bed to lie on, or bread to live on? Have you lost a parent or a child by their hands, and yourself the ruined and wretched survivor? If you have not, then are you not a judge of those who have. But if you have, and can still shake hands with the murderers, then are you unworthy the name of husband, father, friend or lover, and whatever may be your rank or title in life, you have the heart of a coward, and the spirit of a sycophant.
This is not inflaming or exaggerating matters, but trying them by those feelings and affections which nature justifies, and without which, we should be incapable of discharging the social duties of life, or enjoying the felicities of it. I mean not to exhibit horror for the purpose of provoking revenge, but to awaken us from fatal and unmanly slumbers, that we may pursue determinately some fixed object. It is not in the power of Britain or of Europe to conquer America, if she do not conquer herself by delayand timidity. The present winter is worth an age if rightly employed, but if lost or neglected, the whole continent will partake of the misfortune; and there is no punishment which that man will not deserve, be he who, or what, or where he will, that may be the means of sacrificing a season so precious and useful.
It is repugnant to reason, to the universal order of things to all examples from former ages, to suppose, that this continent can longer remain subject to any external power. The most sanguine in Britain does not think so. The utmost stretch of human wisdom cannot, at this time, compass a plan short of separation, which can promise the continent even a year’s security. Reconciliation is now a falacious dream. Nature hath deserted the connexion, and Art cannot supply her place. For, as Milton wisely expresses, “never can true reconcilement grow where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep.”
Every quiet method for peace hath been ineffectual. Our prayers have been rejected with disdain; and only tended to convince us, that nothing flatters vanity, or confirms obstinacy in Kings more than repeated petitioning — and nothing hath contributed more than that very measure to make the Kings of Europe absolute: Witness Denmark and Sweden. Wherefore, since nothing but blows will do, for God’s sake, let us come to a final separation, and not leave the next generation to be cutting throats, under the violated unmeaning names of parent and child.
To say, they will never attempt it again is idle and visionary, we thought so at the repeal of the stamp act, yet a year or two undeceived us; as well may we suppose that nations, which have been once defeated, will never renew the quarrel.
As to government matters, it is not in the power of Britain to do this continent justice: The business of it will soon be too weighty, and intricate, to be managed with any tolerable degree of convenience, by a power, so distant from us, and so very ignorant of us; for if they cannot conquer us, they cannot govern us. To be always running three or four thousand miles with a tale or a petition, waiting four or five months for an answer, which when obtained requires five or six more to explain it in, will in a few years be looked upon as folly and childishness — There was a time when it was proper, and there is a proper time for it to cease.
Small islands not capable of protecting themselves, are the proper objects for kingdoms to take under their care; but there is something very absurd, in supposing a continent to be perpetually governed by an island. In no instance hath nature made the satellite larger than its primary planet, and as England and America, with respect to each other, reverses the common order of nature, it is evident they belong to different systems: England to Europe, America to itself.
I am not induced by motives of pride, party, or resentment to espouse the doctrine of separation and independence; I am clearly, positively, and conscientiously persuaded that it is the true interest of this continent to be so; that every thing short of that is mere patchwork, that it can afford no lasting felicity, — that it is leaving the sword to our children, and shrinking back at a time, when, a little more, a little farther, would have rendered this continent the glory of the earth.
As Britain hath not manifested the least inclination towards a compromise, we may be assured that no terms can be obtained worthy the acceptance of the continent, or any ways equal to the expense of blood and treasure we have been already put to.
The object, contended for, ought always to bear some just proportion to the expense. The removal of North, or the whole detestable junto, is a matter unworthy the millions we have expended. A temporary stoppage of trade, was an inconvenience, which would have sufficiently balanced the repeal of all the acts complained of, had such repeals been obtained; but if the whole continent must take up arms, if every man must be a soldier, it is scarcely worth our while to fight against a contemptible ministry only. Dearly, dearly, do we pay for the repeal of the acts, if that is all we fight for; for in a just estimation, it is as great a folly to pay a Bunker-hill price for law, as for land. As I have always considered the independency of this continent, as an event, which sooner or later must arrive, so from the late rapid progress of the continent to maturity, the event could not be far off. Wherefore, on the breaking out of hostilities, it was not worth the while to have disputed a matter, which time would have finally redressed, unless we meant to be in earnest; otherwise, it is like wasting an estate on a suit at law, to regulate the trespasses of a tenant, whose lease is just expiring. No man was a warmer wisher for reconciliation than myself, before the fatal nineteenth of April 1775, but the moment the event of that day was made known, I rejected the hardened, sullen tempered Pharaoh of England for ever; and disdain the wretch, that with the pretended title of FATHER OF HIS PEOPLE, can unfeelingly hear of their slaughter, and composedly sleep with their blood upon his soul.
But admitting that matters were now made up, what would be the event? I answer, the ruin of the continent. And that for several reasons.
The powers of governing still remaining in the hands of the king, he will have a negative over the whole legislation of this continent. And as he hath shewn himself such an inveterate enemy to liberty, and discovered such a thirst for arbitrary power; is he, or is he not, a proper man to say to these colonies, “You shall make no laws but what I please.” And is there any inhabitant in America so ignorant, as not to know, that according to what is called the present constitution, that this continent can make no laws but what the king gives it leave to; and is there any man so unwise, as not to see, that (considering what has happened) he will suffer no law to be made here, but such as suit hispurpose. We may be as effectually enslaved by the want of laws in America, as by submitting to laws made for us in England. After matters are made up (as it is called) can there be any doubt, but the whole power of the crown will be exerted, to keep this continent as low and humble as possible? Instead of going forward we shall go backward, or be perpetually quarrelling or ridiculously petitioning. — We are already greater than the king wishes us to be, and will he not hereafter endeavour to make us less? To bring the matter to one point. Is the power who is jealous of our prosperity, a proper power to govern us? Whoever says No to this question is an independent, for independency means no more, than, whether we shall make our own laws, or, whether the king, the greatest enemy this continent hath, or can have, shall tell us, “there shall be no laws but such as I like.”
But the king you will say has a negative in England; the people there can make no laws without his consent. In point of right and good order, there is something very ridiculous, that a youth of twenty-one (which hath often happened) shall say to several millions of people, older and wiser than himself, I forbid this or that act of yours to be law. But in this place I decline this sort of reply, though I will never cease to expose the absurdity of it, and only answer, that England being the King’s residence, and America not so, make quite another case. The king’s negative here is ten times more dangerous and fatal than it can be in England, for there he will scarcely refuse his consent to a bill for putting England into as strong a state of defence as possible, and in America he would never suffer such a bill to be passed.
America is only a secondary object in the system of British politics, England consults the good of thiscountry, no farther than it answers her own purpose. Wherefore, her own interest leads her to suppress the growth of ours in every case which doth not promote her advantage, or in the least interferes with it. A pretty state we should soon be in under such a second-hand government, considering what has happened! Men do not change from enemies to friends by the alteration of a name: And in order to shew that reconciliation now is a dangerous doctrine, I affirm, that it would be policy in the king at this time, to repeal the acts for the sake of reinstating himself in the government of the provinces; in order that HE MAY ACCOMPLISH BY CRAFT AND SUBTILITY, IN THE LONG RUN, WHAT HE CANNOT DO BY FORCE AND VIOLENCE IN THE SHORT ONE. Reconciliation and ruin are nearly related.
Secondly. That as even the best terms, which we can expect to obtain, can amount to no more than a temporary expedient, or a kind of government by guardianship, which can last no longer than till the colonies come of age, so the general face and state of things, in the interim, will be unsettled and unpromising. Emigrants of property will not choose to come to a country whose form of government hangs but by a thread, and who is every day tottering on the brink of commotion and disturbance; and numbers of the present inhabitants would lay hold of the interval, to dispose of their effects, and quit the continent.
But the most powerful of all arguments, is, that nothing but independence, i. e. a continental form of government, can keep the peace of the continent and preserve it inviolate from civil wars. I dread the event of a reconciliation with Britain now, as it is more than probable, that it will followed by a revolt somewhere or other, the consequences of which may be far more fatal than all the malice of Britain.
Thousands are already ruined by British barbarity; (thousands more will probably suffer the same fate.) Those men have other feelings than us who have nothing suffered. All they now possess is liberty, what they before enjoyed is sacrificed to its service, and having nothing more to lose, they disdain submission. Besides, the general temper of the colonies, towards a British government, will be like that of a youth, who is nearly out of his time; they will care very little about her. And a government which cannot preserve the peace, is no government at all, and in that case we pay our money for nothing; and pray what is it that Britain can do, whose power will be wholly on paper, should a civil tumult break out the very day after reconciliation? I have heard some men say, many of whom I believe spoke without thinking, that they dreaded an independence, fearing that it would produce civil wars. It is but seldom that our first thoughts are truly correct, and that is the case here; for there are ten times more to dread from a patched up connexion than from independence. I make the sufferers case my own, and I protest, that were I driven from house and home, my property destroyed, and my circumstances ruined, that as a man, sensible of injuries, I could never relish the doctrine of reconciliation, or consider myself bound thereby.
The colonies have manifested such a spirit of good order and obedience to continental government, as is sufficient to make every reasonable person easy and happy on that head. No man can assign the least pretence for his fears, on any other grounds, that such as are truly childish and ridiculous, viz. that one colony will be striving for superiority over another.
Where there are no distinctions there can be no superiority, perfect equality affords no temptation. The republics of Europe are all (and we may say always) in peace. Holland and Swisserland are without wars, foreign or domestic: Monarchical governments, it is true, are never long at rest; the crown itself is a temptation to enterprizing ruffians at home; and that degree of pride and insolence ever attendant on regal authority, swells into a rupture with foreign powers, in instances, where a republican government, by being formed on more natural principles, would negotiate the mistake.
If there is any true cause of fear respecting independence, it is because no plan is yet laid down. Men do not see their way out — Wherefore, as an opening into that business, I offer the following hints; at the same time modestly affirming, that I have no other opinion of them myself, than that they may be the means of giving rise to something better. Could the straggling thoughts of individuals be collected, they would frequently form materials for wise and able men to improve into useful matter.
Let the assemblies be annual, with a President only. The representation more equal. Their business wholly domestic, and subject to the authority of a Continental Congress.
Let each colony be divided into six, eight, or ten, convenient districts, each district to send a proper number of delegates to Congress, so that each colony send at least thirty. The whole number in Congress will be least 390. Each Congress to sit and to choose a president by the following method. When the delegates are met, let a colony be taken from the whole thirteen colonies by lot, after which, let the whole Congress choose (by ballot) a president from out of the delegates of thatprovince. In the next Congress, let a colony be taken by lot from twelve only, omitting that colony from which the president was taken in the former Congress, and so proceeding on till the whole thirteen shall have had their proper rotation. And in order that nothing may pass into a law but what is satisfactorily just, not less than three fifths of the Congress to be called a majority. — He that will promote discord, under a government so equally formed as this, would have joined Lucifer in his revolt.
But as there is a peculiar delicacy, from whom, or in what manner, this business must first arise, and as it seems most agreeable and consistent that it should come from some intermediate body between the governed and the governors, that is, between the Congress and the people, let a CONTINENTAL CONFERENCE be held, in the following manner, and for the following purpose.
A committee of twenty-six members of Congress, viz. two for each colony. Two members for each House of Assembly, or Provincial Convention; and five representatives of the people at large, to be chosen in the capital city or town of each province, for, and in behalf of the whole province, by as many qualified voters as shall think proper to attend from all parts of the province for that purpose; or, if more convenient, the representatives may be chosen in two or three of the most populous parts thereof. In this conference, thus assembled, will be united, the two grand principles of business,knowledge and power. The members of Congress, Assemblies, or Conventions, by having had experience in national concerns, will be able and useful counsellors, and the whole, being impowered by the people, will have a truly legal authority.
The conferring members being met, let their business be to frame a CONTINENTAL CHARTER, or Charter of the United Colonies; (answering to what is called the Magna Charta of England) fixing the number and manner of choosing members of Congress, members of Assembly, with their date of sitting, and drawing the line of business and jurisdiction between them: (Always remembering, that our strength is continental, not provincial:) Securing freedom and property to all men, and above all things, the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; with such other matter as is necessary for a charter to contain. Immediately after which, the said Conference to dissolve, and the bodies which shall be chosen comformable to the said charter, to be the legislators and governors of this continent for the time being: Whose peace and happiness, may God preserve, Amen.
Should any body of men be hereafter delegated for this or some similar purpose, I offer them the following extracts from that wise observer on governments Dragonetti. “The science” says he “of the politician consists in fixing the true point of happiness and freedom. Those men would deserve the gratitude of ages, who should discover a mode of government that contained the greatest sum of individual happiness, with the least national expense.” —“Dragonetti on virtue and rewards.”
But where says some is the King of America? I’ll tell you Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Britain. Yet that we may not appear to be defective even in earthly honors, let a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the charter; let it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve as monarchy, that in America THE LAW IS KING. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be King; and there ought to be no other. But lest any ill use should afterwards arise, let the crown at the conclusion of the ceremony be demolished, and scattered among the people whose right it is.
A government of our own is our natural right: And when a man seriously reflects on the precariousness of human affairs, he will become convinced, that it is infinitely wiser and safer, to form a constitution of our own in a cool deliberate manner, while we have it in our power, than to trust such an interesting event to time and chance. If we omit it now, some, Massanello may hereafter arise, who laying hold of popular disquietudes, may collect together the desperate and discontented, and by assuming to themselves the powers of government, may sweep away the liberties of the continent like a deluge. Should the government of America return again into the hands of Britain, the tottering situation of things, will be a temptation for some desperate adventurer to try his fortune; and in such a case, what relief can Britain give? Ere she could hear the news, the fatal business might be done; and ourselves suffering like the wretched Britons under the oppression of the Conqueror. Ye that oppose independence now, ye know not what ye do; ye are opening a door to eternal tyranny, by keeping vacant the seat of government. There are thousands, and tens of thousands, who would think it glorious to expel from the continent, that barbarous and hellish power, which hath stirred up the Indians and Negroes to destroy us, the cruelty hath a double guilt, it is dealing brutally by us, and treacherously by them.
To talk of friendship with those in whom our reason forbids us to have faith, and our affections wounded through a thousand pores instruct us to detest, is madness and folly. Every day wears out the little remains of kindred between us and them, and can there be any reason to hope, that as the relationship expires, the affection will increase, or that we shall agree better, when we have ten times more and greater concerns to quarrel over than ever?
Ye that tell us of harmony and reconciliation, can ye restore to us the time that is past? Can ye give to prostitution its former innocence? Neither can ye reconcile Britain and America. The last cord now is broken, the people of England are presenting addresses against us. There are injuries which nature cannot forgive; she would cease to be nature if she did. As well can the lover forgive the ravisher of his mistress, as the continent forgive the murders of Britain. The Almighty hath implanted in us these unextinguishable feelings for good and wise purposes. They are the guardians of his image in our hearts. They distinguish us from the herd of common animals. The social compact would dissolve, and justice be extirpated from the earth, or have only a casual existence were we callous to the touches of affection. The robber, and the murderer, would often escape unpunished, did not the injuries which our tempers sustain, provoke us into justice.
O ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression. Freedom hath been hunted round the globe. Asia, and Africa, have long expelled her. — Europe regards her like a stranger, and England hath given her warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind.
Of the Present Ability of America: with some Miscellaneous Reflections
I HAVE never met with a man, either in England or America, who hath not confessed his opinion, that a separation between the countries would take place one time or other: And there is no instance in which we have shown less judgment, than in endeavoring to describe, what we call, the ripeness or fitness of the continent for independence.
As all men allow the measure, and vary only in their opinion of the time, let us, in order to remove mistakes, take a general survey of things, and endeavor if possible to find out the VERY time. But I need not go far, the inquiry ceases at once, for the TIME HATH FOUND US. The general concurrence, the glorious union of all things, proves the fact.
‘Tis not in numbers but in unity that our great strength lies: yet our present numbers are sufficient to repel the force of all the world. The Continent hath at this time the largest body of armed and disciplined men of any power under Heaven: and is just arrived at that pitch of strength, in which no single colony is able to support itself, and the whole, when united, is able to do any thing. Our land force is more than sufficient, and as to Naval affairs, we cannot be insensible that Britain would never suffer an American man of war to be built, while the Continent remained in her hands. Wherefore, we should be no forwarder an hundred years hence in that branch than we are now; but the truth is, we should be less so, because the timber of the Country is every day diminishing, and that which will remain at last, will be far off or difficult to procure.
Were the Continent crowded with inhabitants, her sufferings under the present circumstances would be intolerable. The more seaport-towns we had, the more should we have both to defend and to lose. Our present numbers are so happily proportioned to our wants, that no man need be idle. The diminution of trade affords an army, and the necessities of an army create a new trade.
Debts we have none: and whatever we may contract on this account will serve as a glorious memento of our virtue. Can we but leave posterity with a settled form of government, an independent constitution of its own, the purchase at any price will be cheap. But to expend millions for the sake of getting a few vile acts repealed, and routing the present ministry only, is unworthy the charge, and is using posterity with the utmost cruelty; because it is leaving them the great work to do, and a debt upon their backs from which they derive no advantage. Such a thought’s unworthy a man of honour, and is the true characteristic of a narrow heart and a piddling politician.
The debt we may contract doth not deserve our regard if the work be but accomplished. No nation ought to be without a debt. A national debt is a national bond; and when it bears no interest, is in no case a grievance. Britain is oppressed with a debt of upwards of one hundred and forty millions sterling, for which she pays upwards of four millions interest. And as a compensation for her debt, she has a large navy; America is without a debt, and without a navy; yet for the twentieth part of the English national debt, could have a navy as large again. The navy of England is not worth at this time more than three millions and a half sterling.
The first and second editions of this pamphlet were published without the following calculations, which are now given as a proof that the above estimation of the navy is a just one. See Entic’s “Naval History,” Intro., p. 56.
The charge of building a ship of each rate, and furnishing her with masts, yards, sails, and rigging, together with a proportion of eight months boatswain’s and carpenter’s sea-stores, as calculated by Mr. Burchett, Secretary to the navy.
For a ship of 100 guns, ...... 35,553 £ 90 " .......... 29,886 80 " .......... 23,638 70 " .......... 17,785 60 " .......... 14,197 50 " .......... 10,606 40 " .......... 7,558 30 " .......... 5,846 20 " .......... 3,710
And hence it is easy to sum up the value, or cost, rather, of the whole British navy, which, in the year 1757, when it was at its greatest glory, consisted of the following ships and guns.
Ships Guns Cost of One Cost of All 6 ... 100 .... 35,553 £ .... 213,318 £ 12 ... 90 ..... 29,886 ...... 358,632 12 ... 80 ..... 23,638 ...... 283,656 43 ... 70 ..... 17,785 ...... 764,755 35 ... 60 ..... 14,197 ...... 496,895 40 ... 50 ..... 10,605 ...... 424,240 45 ... 40 ...... 7,558 ...... 340,110 58 ... 20 ...... 3,710 ...... 215,180 85 sloops, bombs, and fireships, one with another at 2,000 ... 170,000 Cost, ..... 3,266,786 £ Remains for guns, ....... 233,214 Total, ..... 3,500,000 £
No country on the globe is so happily situated, or so internally capable of raising a fleet as America. Tar, timber, iron, and cordage are her natural produce. We need go abroad for nothing. Whereas the Dutch, who make large profits by hiring out their ships of war to the Spaniards and Portuguese, are obliged to import most of the materials they use. We ought to view the building a fleet as an article of commerce, it being the natural manufactory of this country. ‘Tis the best money we can lay out. A navy when finished is worth more than it cost: And is that nice point in national policy, in which commerce and protection are united. Let us build; if we want them not, we can sell; and by that means replace our paper currency with ready gold and silver.
In point of manning a fleet, people in general run into great errors; it is not necessary that one-fourth part should be sailors. The Terrible privateer, captain Death, stood the hottest engagement of any ship last war, yet had not twenty sailors on board, though her complement of men was upwards of two hundred. A few able and social sailors will soon instruct a sufficient number of active landsmen in the common work of a ship. Wherefore we never can be more capable of beginning on maritime matters than now, while our timber is standing, our fisheries blocked up, and our sailors and shipwrights out of employ. Men of war, of seventy and eighty guns, were built forty years ago in New England, and why not the same now? Ship building is America’s greatest pride, and in which she will, in time, excel the whole world. The great empires of the east are mainly inland, and consequently excluded from the possibility of rivalling her. Africa is in a state of barbarism; and no power in Europe hath either such an extent of coast, or such an internal supply of materials. Where nature hath given the one, she hath withheld the other; to America only hath she been liberal to both. The vast empire of Russia is almost shut out from the sea; wherefore her boundless forests, her tar, iron and cordage are only articles of commerce.
In point of safety, ought we to be without a fleet? We are not the little people now which we were sixty years ago; at that time we might have trusted our property in the streets, or fields rather, and slept securely without locks or bolts to our doors and windows. The case is now altered, and our methods of defence ought to improve with our increase of property. A common pirate, twelve months ago, might have come up the Delaware, and laid the city of Philadelphia under contribution for what sum he pleased; and the same might have happened to other places. Nay, any daring fellow, in a brig of fourteen or sixteen guns, might have robbed the whole Continent, and carried off half a million of money. These are circumstances which demand our attention, and point out the necessity of naval protection.
Some perhaps will say, that after we have made it up with Britain, she will protect us. Can they be so unwise as to mean that she will keep a navy in our harbors for that purpose? Common sense will tell us that the power which hath endeavoured to subdue us, is of all others the most improper to defend us. Conquest may be effected under the pretence of friendship; and ourselves, after a long and brave resistance, be at last cheated into slavery. And if her ships are not to be admitted into our harbours, I would ask, how is she going to protect us? A navy three or four thousand miles off can be of little use, and on sudden emergencies, none at all. Wherefore if we must hereafter protect ourselves, why not do it for ourselves? Why do it for another?
The English list of ships of war is long and formidable, but not a tenth part of them are at any time fit for service, numbers of them are not in being; yet their names are pompously continued in the list; if only a plank be left of the ship; and not a fifth part of such as are fit for service can be spared on any one station at one time. The East and West Indies, Mediterranean, Africa, and other parts, over which Britain extends her claim, make large demands upon her navy. From a mixture of prejudice and inattention we have contracted a false notion respecting the navy of England, and have talked as if we should have the whole of it to encounter at once, and for that reason supposed that we must have one as large; which not being instantly practicable, has been made use of by a set of disguised Tories to discourage our beginning thereon. Nothing can be further from truth than this; for if America had only a twentieth part of the naval force of Britain, she would be by far an over-match for her; because, as we neither have, nor claim any foreign dominion, our whole force would be employed on our own coast, where we should, in the long run, have two to one the advantage of those who had three or four thousand miles to sail over before they could attack us, and the same distance to return in order to refit and recruit. And although Britain, by her fleet, hath a check over our trade to Europe, we have as large a one over her trade to the West Indies, which, by laying in the neighborhood of the Continent, lies entirely at its mercy.
Some method might be fallen on to keep up a naval force in time of peace, if we should judge it necessary to support a constant navy. If premiums were to be given to merchants to build and employ in their service ships mounted with twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty guns (the premiums to be in proportion to the loss of bulk to the merchant), fifty or sixty of those ships, with a few guardships on constant duty, would keep up a sufficient navy, and that without burdening ourselves with the evil so loudly complained of in England, of suffering their fleet in time of peace to lie rotting in the docks. To unite the sinews of commerce and defence is sound policy; for when our strength and our riches play into each other’s hand, we need fear no external enemy.
In almost every article of defence we abound. Hemp flourishes even to rankness so that we need not want cordage. Our iron is superior to that of other countries. Our small arms equal to any in the world. Cannon we can cast at pleasure. Saltpetre and gunpowder we are every day producing. Our knowledge is hourly improving. Resolution is our inherent character, and courage hath never yet forsaken us. Wherefore, what is it that we want? Why is it that we hesitate? From Britain we can expect nothing but ruin. If she is once admitted to the government of America again, this Continent will not be worth living in. Jealousies will be always arising; insurrections will be constantly happening; and who will go forth to quell them? Who will venture his life to reduce his own countrymen to a foreign obedience? The difference between Pennsylvania and Connecticut, respecting some unlocated lands, shows the insignificance of a British government, and fully proves that nothing but Continental authority can regulate Continental matters.
Another reason why the present time is preferable to all others is, that the fewer our numbers are, the more land there is yet unoccupied, which, instead of being lavished by the king on his worthless dependents, may be hereafter applied, not only to the discharge of the present debt, but to the constant support of government. No nation under Heaven hath such an advantage as this.
The infant state of the Colonies, as it is called, so far from being against, is an argument in favour of independence. We are sufficiently numerous, and were we more so we might be less united. ‘Tis a matter worthy of observation that the more a country is peopled, the smaller their armies are. In military numbers, the ancients far exceeded the moderns; and the reason is evident, for trade being the consequence of population, men became too much absorbed thereby to attend to anything else. Commerce diminishes the spirit both of patriotism and military defence. And history sufficiently informs us that the bravest achievements were always accomplished in the non-age of a nation. With the increase of commerce England hath lost its spirit. The city of London, notwithstanding its numbers, submits to continued insults with the patience of a coward. The more men have to lose, the less willing are they to venture. The rich are in general slaves to fear, and submit to courtly power with the trembling duplicity of a spaniel.
Youth is the seed-time of good habits as well in nations as in individuals. It might be difficult, if not impossible, to form the Continent into one government half a century hence. The vast variety of interests, occasioned by an increase of trade and population, would create confusion. Colony would be against colony. Each being able would scorn each other’s assistance; and while the proud and foolish gloried in their little distinctions the wise would lament that the union had not been formed before. Wherefore the present time is the true time for establishing it. The intimacy which is contracted in infancy, and the friendship which is formed in misfortune, are of all others the most lasting and unalterable. Our present union is marked with both these characters; we are young, and we have been distressed; but our concord hath withstood our troubles, and fixes a memorable era for posterity to glory in.
The present time, likewise, is that peculiar time which never happens to a nation but once, viz., the time of forming itself into a government. Most nations have let slip the opportunity, and by that means have been compelled to receive laws from their conquerors, instead of making laws for themselves. First, they had a king, and then a form of government; whereas the articles or charter of government should be formed first, and men delegated to execute them afterwards; but from the errors of other nations let us learn wisdom, and lay hold of the present opportunity — TO BEGIN GOVERNMENT AT THE RIGHT END.
When William the Conqueror subdued England, he gave them law at the point of the sword; and, until we consent that the seat of government in America be legally and authoritatively occupied, we shall be in danger of having it filled by some fortunate ruffian, who may treat us in the same manner, and then, where will be our freedom? Where our property?
As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensable duty of government to protect all conscientious professors thereof, and I know of no other business which government hath to do therewith. Let a man throw aside that narrowness of soul, that selfishness of principle, which the niggards of all professions are so unwilling to part with, and he will be at once delivered of his fears on that head. Suspicion is the companion of mean souls, and the bane of all good society. For myself, I fully and conscientiously believe that it is the will of the Almighty that there should be a diversity of religious opinions among us. It affords a larger field for our Christian kindness; were we all of one way of thinking, our religious dispositions would want matter for probation; and on this liberal principle I look on the various denominations among us to be like children of the same family, differing only in what is called their Christian names.
In page  I threw out a few thoughts on the propriety of a Continental Charter (for I only presume to offer hints, not plans) and in this place I take the liberty of re-mentioning the subject, by observing that a charter is to be understood as a bond of solemn obligation, which the whole enters into, to support the right of every separate part, whether of religion, professional freedom, or property. A firm bargain and a right reckoning make long friends.
I have heretofore likewise mentioned the necessity of a large and equal representation; and there is no political matter which more deserves our attention. A small number of electors, or a small number of representatives, are equally dangerous. But if the number of the representatives be not only small, but unequal, the danger is increased. As an instance of this, I mention the following: when the petition of the associators was before the House of Assembly of Pennsylvania, twenty-eight members only were present; all the Bucks county members, being eight, voted against it, and had seven of the Chester members done the same, this whole province had been governed by two counties only; and this danger it is always exposed to. The unwarrantable stretch likewise, which that house made in their last sitting, to gain an undue authority over the delegates of that province, ought to warn the people at large how they trust power out of their own hands. A set of instructions for their delegates were put together, which in point of sense and business would have dishonoured a school-boy, and after being approved by a few, a very few, without doors, were carried into the house, and there passed IN BEHALF OF THE WHOLE COLONY; whereas, did the whole colony know with what ill will that house had entered on some necessary public measures, they would not hesitate a moment to think them unworthy of such a trust.
Immediate necessity makes many things convenient, which if continued would grow into oppressions. Expedience and right are different things. When the calamities of America required a consultation, there was no method so ready, or at that time so proper, as to appoint persons from the several houses of assembly for that purpose; and the wisdom with which they have proceeded hath preserved this Continent from ruin. But as it is more than probable that we shall never be without a CONGRESS, every well wisher to good order must own that the mode for choosing members of that body deserves consideration. And I put it as a question to those who make a study of mankind, whether representation and election is not too great a power for one and the same body of men to possess? When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.
It is from our enemies that we often gain excellent maxims, and are frequently surprised into reason by their mistakes. Mr. Cornwall (one of the Lords of the Treasury) treated the petition of the New York Assembly with contempt, because THAT house, he said, consisted but of twenty-six members, which trifling number, he argued, could not with decency be put for the whole. We thank him for his involuntary honesty.
To CONCLUDE, however strange it may appear to some, or however unwilling they may be to think so, matters not, but many strong and striking reasons may be given to show that nothing can settle our affairs so expeditiously as an open and determined declaration for independence. Some of which are,
First. — It is the custom of Nations, when any two are at war, for some other powers, not engaged in the quarrel, to step in as mediators, and bring about the preliminaries of a peace; But while America calls herself the subject of Great Britain, no power, however well disposed she may be, can offer her mediation. Wherefore, in our present state we may quarrel on for ever.
Secondly. — It is unreasonable to suppose that France or Spain will give us any kind of assistance, if we mean only to make use of that assistance for the purpose of repairing the breach, and strengthening the connection between Britain and America; because, those powers would be sufferers by the consequences.
Thirdly. — While we profess ourselves the subjects of Britain, we must, in the eyes of foreign nations, be considered as Rebels. The precedent is somewhat dangerous to their peace, for men to be in arms under the name of subjects; we, on the spot, can solve the paradox; but to unite resistance and subjection requires an idea much too refined for common understanding.
Fourthly. — Were a manifesto to be published, and despatched to foreign Courts, setting forth the miseries we have endured, and the peaceful methods which we have ineffectually used for redress; declaring at the same time that not being able longer to live happily or safely under the cruel disposition of the British Court, we had been driven to the necessity of breaking off all connections with her; at the same time, assuring all such Courts of our peaceable disposition towards them, and of our desire of entering into trade with them; such a memorial would produce more good effects to this Continent than if a ship were freighted with petitions to Britain.
Under our present denomination of British subjects, we can neither be received nor heard abroad; the custom of all Courts is against us, and will be so, until by an independence we take rank with other nations.
These proceedings may at first seem strange and difficult, but like all other steps which we have already passed over, will in a little time become familiar and agreeable; and until an independence is declared, the Continent will feel itself like a man who continues putting off some unpleasant business from day to day, yet knows it must be done, hates to set about it, wishes it over, and is continually haunted with the thoughts of its necessity.
SINCE the publication of the first edition of this pamphlet, or rather, on the same day on which it came out, the king’s speech made its appearance in this city. Had the spirit of prophecy directed the birth of this production, it could not have brought it forth at a more seasonable juncture, or at a more necessary time. The bloody-mindedness of the one, shows the necessity of pursuing the doctrine of the other. Men read by way of revenge. And the speech, instead of terrifying, prepared a way for the manly principles of independence.
Ceremony, and even silence, from whatever motives they may arise, have a hurtful tendency when they give the least degree of countenance to base and wicked performances, wherefore, if this maxim be admitted, it naturally follows, that the king’s speech, IS being a piece of finished villany, deserved and still deserves, a general execration, both by the Congress and the people.
Yet, as the domestic tranquillity of a nation, depends greatly on the chastity of what might properly be called NATIONAL MANNERS, it is often better to pass some things over in silent disdain, than to make use of such new methods of dislike, as might introduce the least innovation on that guardian of our peace and safety. And, perhaps, it is chiefly owing to this prudent delicacy, that the king’s speech hath not before now suffered a public execution. The speech, if it may be called one, is nothing better than a wilful audacious libel against the truth, the common good, and the existence of mankind; and is a formal and pompous method of offering up human sacrifices to the pride of tyrants.
But this general massacre of mankind, is one of the privileges and the certain consequences of kings, for as nature knows them not, they know not her, and although they are beings of our own creating, they know not us, and are become the gods of their creators. The speech hath one good quality, which is, that it is not calculated to deceive, neither can we, even if we would, be deceived by it. Brutality and tyranny appear on the face of it. It leaves us at no loss: And every line convinces, even in the moment of reading, that he who hunts the woods for prey, the naked and untutored Indian, is less savage than the king of Britain. Sir John Dalrymple, the putative father of a whining jesuitical piece, fallaciously called, “The address of the people of England to the inhabitants of America,” hath perhaps from a vain supposition that the people here were to be frightened at the pomp and description of a king, given (though very unwisely on his part) the real character of the present one: “But,” says this writer, “if you are inclined to pay compliments to an administration, which we do not complain of (meaning the Marquis of Rockingham’s at the repeal of the Stamp Act) it is very unfair in you to withhold them from that prince, by whose NOD ALONE they were permitted to do any thing.” This is toryism with a witness! Here is idolatry even without a mask: And he who can calmly hear and digest such doctrine, hath forfeited his claim to rationality an apostate from the order of manhood and ought to be considered as one who hath not only given up the proper dignity of man, but sunk himself beneath the rank of animals, and contemptibly crawls through the world like a worm.
However, it matters very little now what the king of England either says or does; he hath wickedly broken through every moral and human obligation, trampled nature and conscience beneath his feet, and by a steady and constitutional spirit of insolence and cruelty procured for himself an universal hatred. It is now the interest of America to provide for herself. She hath already a large and young family, whom it is more her duty to take care of, than to be granting away her property to support a power who is become a reproach to the names of men and christians, whose office it is to watch the morals of a nation, of whatsoever sect or denomination ye are of, as well as ye who are more immediately the guardians of the public liberty, if ye wish to preserve your native country uncontaminated by European corruption, ye must in secret wish a separation. But leaving the moral part to private reflection, I shall chiefly confine my further remarks to the following heads:
First, That it is the interest of America to be separated from Britain.
Secondly, Which is the easiest and most practicable plan, RECONCILIATION or INDEPENDENCE? with some occasional remarks.
In support of the first, I could, if I judged it proper, produce the opinion of some of the ablest and most experienced men on this continent: and whose sentiments on that head, are not yet publicly known. It is in reality a self-evident position: for no nation in a state of foreign dependence, limited in its commerce, and cramped and fettered in its legislative powers, can ever arrive at any material eminence. America doth not yet know what opulence is; and although the progress which she hath made stands unparalleled in the history of other nations, it is but childhood compared with what she would be capable of arriving at, had she, as she ought to have, the legislative powers in her own hands. England is at this time proudly coveting what would do her no good were she to accomplish it; and the continent hesitating on a matter which will be her final ruin if neglected. It is the commerce and not the conquest of America by which England is to be benefited, and that would in a great measure continue, were the countries as independent of each other as France and Spain; because the specious errors of those who speak without reflecting. And among the many which I have heard, the following seems the most general, viz. that had this rupture happened forty or fifty years hence, instead of now, the continent would have been more able to have shaken off the dependence. To which I reply, that our military ability, at this time, arises from the experience gained in the last war, and which in forty or fifty years’ time, would be totally extinct. The continent would not, by that time, have a quitrent reserved thereon will always lessen, and in time will wholly support, the yearly expense of government. It matters not how long the debt is in paying, so that the lands when sold be applied to the discharge of it, and for the execution of which the Congress for the time being will be the continental trustees.
I proceed now to the second head, viz. Which is the easiest and most practicable plan, reconciliation or independence; with some occasional remarks.
He who takes nature for his guide, is not easily beaten out of his argument, and on that ground, I answer generally that independence being a single simple line, contained within ourselves; and reconciliation, a matter exceedingly perplexed and complicated, and in which a treacherous capricious court is to interfere, gives the answer without a doubt.
The present state of America is truly alarming to every man who is capable of reflection. Without law, without government, without any other mode of power than what is founded on, and granted by, courtesy. Held together by an unexampled occurrence of sentiment, which is nevertheless subject to change, and which every secret enemy is endeavoring to dissolve. Our present condition is, Legislation without law; wisdom without a plan; a constitution without a name; and, what is strangely astonishing, perfect independence contending for dependence. The instance is without a precedent, the case never existed before, and who can tell what may be the event? The property of no man is secure in the present un-braced system of things. The mind of the multitude is left at random, and seeing no fixed object before them, they pursue such as fancy or opinion presents. Nothing is criminal; there is no such thing as treason, wherefore, every one thinks himself at liberty to act as he pleases. The Tories would not have dared to assemble offensively, had they known that their lives, by that act, were forfeited to the laws of the state. A line of distinction should be drawn between English soldiers taken in battle, and inhabitants of America taken in arms. The first are prisoners, but the latter traitors. The one forfeits his liberty, the other his head.
Notwithstanding our wisdom, there is a visible feebleness in some of our proceedings which gives encouragement to dissensions. The continental belt is too loosely buckled: And if something is not done in time, it will be too late to do any thing, and we shall fall into a state, in which neither reconciliation nor independence will be practicable. The king and his worthless adherents are got at their old game of dividing the continent, and there are not wanting among us printers who will be busy in spreading specious falsehoods. The artful and hypocritical letter which appeared a few months ago in two of the New York papers, and likewise in two others, is an evidence that there are men who want both judgment and honesty.
It is easy getting into holes and corners, and talking of reconciliation: But do such men seriously consider how difficult the task is, and how dangerous it may prove, should the continent divide thereon? Do they take within their view all the various orders of men whose situation and circumstances, as well as their own, are to be considered therein? Do they put themselves in the place of the sufferer whose all is already gone, and of the soldier, who hath quitted all for the defence of his country? If their ill-judged moderation be suited to their own private situations only, regardless of others, the event will convince them that “they are reckoning without their host.”
Put us, say some, on the footing we were in the year 1763: To which I answer, the request is not now in the power of Britain to comply with, neither will she propose it; but if it were, and even should be granted, I ask, as a reasonable question, By what means is such a corrupt and faithless court to be kept to its engagements? Another parliament, nay, even the present, may hereafter repeal the obligation, on the pretence of its being violently obtained, or not wisely granted; and, in that case, Where is our redress? No going to law with nations; cannon are the barristers of crowns; and the sword, not of justice, but of war, decides the suit. To be on the footing of 1763, it is not sufficient, that the laws only be put in the same state, but, that our circumstances likewise be put in the same state; our burnt and destroyed towns repaired or built up, our private losses made good, our public debts (contracted for defence) discharged; otherwise we shall be millions worse than we were at that enviable period. Such a request, had it been complied with a year ago, would have won the heart and soul of the continent, but now it is too late. “The Rubicon is passed.” Besides, the taking up arms, merely to enforce the repeal of a pecuniary law, seems as unwarrantable by the divine law, and as repugnant to human feelings, as the taking up arms to enforce obedience thereto. The object, on either side, doth not justify the means; for the lives of men are too valuable to be cast away on such trifles. It is the violence which is done and threatened to our persons; the destruction of our property by an armed force; the invasion of our country by fire and sword, which conscientiously qualifies the use of arms: and the instant in which such mode of defence became necessary, all subjection to Britain ought to have ceased; and the independence of America should have been considered as dating its era from, and published by, the first musket that was fired against her. This line is a line of consistency; neither drawn by caprice, nor extended by ambition; but produced by a chain of events, of which the colonies were not the authors.
I shall conclude these remarks, with the following timely and well-intended hints. We ought to reflect, that there are three different ways by which an independency may hereafter be effected, and that one of those three, will, one day or other, be the fate of America, viz. By the legal voice of the people in Congress; by a military power, or by a mob: It may not always happen that our soldiers are citizens, and the multitude a body of reasonable men; virtue, as I have already remarked, is not hereditary, neither is it perpetual. Should an independency be brought about by the first of those means, we have every opportunity and every encouragement before us, to form the noblest, purest constitution on the face of the earth. We have it in our power to begin the world over again. A situation, similar to the present, hath not happened since the days of Noah until now.
The birthday of a new world is at hand, and a race of men, perhaps as numerous as all Europe contains, are to receive their portion of freedom from the events of a few months. The reflection is awful, and in this point of view, how trifling, how ridiculous, do the little paltry cavilings of a few weak or interested men appear, when weighed against the business of a world.
Should we neglect the present favorable and inviting period, and independence be hereafter effected by any other means, we must charge the consequence to ourselves, or to those rather whose narrow and prejudiced souls are habitually opposing the measure, without either inquiring or reflecting. There are reasons to be given in support of independence which men should rather privately think of, than be publicly told of. We ought not now to be debating whether we shall be independent or not, but anxious to accomplish it on a firm, secure, and honorable basis, and uneasy rather that it is not yet began upon. Every day convinces us of its necessity. Even the Tories (if such beings yet remain among us) should, of all men, be the most solicitous to promote it; for as the appointment of committees at first protected them from popular rage, so, a wise and well established form of government will be the only certain means of continuing it securely to them. Wherefore, if they have not virtue enough to be WHIGS, they ought to have prudence enough to wish for independence.
In short, independence is the only bond that tie and keep us together. We shall then see our object, and our ears will be legally shut against the schemes of an intriguing, as well as cruel, enemy. We shall then, too, be on a proper footing to treat with Britain; for there is reason to conclude, that the pride of that court will be less hurt by treating with the American States for terms of peace, than with those, whom she denominates “rebellious subjects,” for terms of accommodation. It is our delaying in that, encourages her to hope for conquest, and our backwardness tends only to prolong the war. As we have, without any good effect therefrom, withheld our trade to obtain a redress of our grievances, let us now try the alternative, by independently redressing them ourselves, and then offering to open the trade. The mercantile and reasonable part of England, will be still with us; because, peace, with trade, is preferable to war without it. And if this offer be not accepted, other courts may be applied to.
On these grounds I rest the matter. And as no offer hath yet been made to refute the doctrine contained in the former editions of this pamphlet, it is a negative proof, that either the doctrine cannot be refuted, or, that the party in favor of it are too numerous to be opposed. WHEREFORE, instead of gazing at each other with suspicious or doubtful curiosity, let each of us hold out to his neighbor the hearty hand of friendship, and unite in drawing a line, which, like an act of oblivion, shall bury in forgetfulness every former dissension. Let the names of Whig and Tory be extinct; and let none other be heard among us, than those of a good citizen, an open and resolute friend, and a virtuous supporter of the RIGHTS of MANKIND, and of the FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES OF AMERICA.
There is a passage in Isaiah that goes something like this: “For the Spirit of Becoming has bidden me, Go, post a watchman, let him declare what he observes.”
Greece is set to get another punitive Austerity clad memorandum… under the guise of getting €7 billion as a “bridge loan” from the EU, towards a negotiation for a new round of a series of sovereignty threatening concessions in the form of “German Bailouts.”
Beware Argives Bearing Gifts…
Surely Europe is blundering towards Versailles all over again.
But one asks why?
Stringing along the mice to the trap of Slavery has never been more visible.
And maybe never has been this easy either.
Inexplicable how this train-wreck keeps on coming … ever so slowly, creeping on top of all of us.
Killing the “passengers” onboard is almost certain.
Yet it will surely affect all of us too.
Echoes of the “Peace Treaty of Versailles” are ringing in my ears…
You need to know some History to understand my point though.
Or you can be daft and believe that History never repeats itself.
There is of course the middle point where History gets repeated always and every time it gets lighter and lighter like a humorous version of the first instance.
And whether this Greek Drama unfolding still is a drama, a comedy, or an outright farce — depends on where you live, if you are involved, and how you feel about the people suffering through it.
Greeks being perennially dramatic creatures are of course not above the understanding of the thin line between Drama and Comedy…
And as you probably know their Olympian Gods reflected all that human drama and it’s intercourse with comedy, quite well.
Yet today modern Greeks, have replaced their faith from the Gods of Mt Olympus, to the Gods of the Banks and the Creditors, and their Masters have become the Banker-wankers, and the funny Germans, straight out of the Ministry of Silly Walks and Silly Talks.
And the European Leaders are full of “Silly Talks” too — having endless bureaucratic talks, meetings, and discussions. Life in Europe has become a constant painful bore, and an austerity crisis with no end, and a Dramatic performance of Theatrical Brinkmanship of unimaginable proportions and stupidity — ad infinitum.
And with all other things being equal, this situation resembles whatever happened in 1919 that resulted into bringing the German Nazis and Hitler to power. And fat lots of good that did to all of us. All of the world ended pear shaped and not just old bureaucratic Europe. Yet one has to admit that today’s German Leaders although emulating their generally well dressed National Socialists of the 1930’s — they don’t have the sartorial finishes, nor the fashion dimension of the Third Reich, and they certainly don’t share their decisive inhumanity. And that last one, might be a really really bad thing…
Because One can recognize undisguised Evil for what it is, but one can’t see the corrupt and “pseudo-compassionate” serially backstabbing bureaucratic evil and it’s bearers as such a threat. Yet most countries die by a thousand little cuts that hemorrhage them to death — rather than by a single decisive blow to the head, or a single stitch to the very heart of a nation. So the later type of Evil is surely far more effective than the first.
Therefore one can’t take the German negotiators very seriously today, when watching their overall transparent insincerity, or their humiliating stupidity — but one can be invariably entertained as they enact their “Silly Walks” and “Silly Talks” as prescribed by the relevant “Ministries of Silly Walks” & the “Ministry of Silly Talks” — enshrined in the German Reichstag administration of today same as in the Brussels bureaucracy.
Unfortunately, these daft people don’t know Humour even if it spit in their face — but they also don’t know Magnanimity even if she were to bite their arses, like the Gadfly of history always does to those that forget her…
And as Herodotus the Father of History gave us the vibe to know that potent Leaders Last for Ever, whereas the Nimbys are forgotten in the sands of history — so has Thucydides and Xenophon admonished us to be magnanimous in Victory and Defeat because History is long and Karma is a bitch…
But if you think of these sources of History as too old … or too Greek — then take your que from Lao Zhu and Adam Smith, to get your fix on Economic History and State Leadership.
Or go straight to the First World War of 1915, and it’s aftermath when Lord Maynard Keynes was the only voice of Reason, who said that Economic Chaos will follow the punitive and humiliating Treaty of Versailles. He saw that the Treaty of Versailles is the tool that will send Germany back to the absolutist leadership of the Hun Nazis — essentially relegating the nation and the whole of Europe back to the time of the Roman conquest after Julius Caesar and the widespread wars that brought down “Pax-Romana” and spelled the end of the Roman Empire itself…
Back in 1919 fresh from the First World War, John Maynard Keynes went to the Palace of Versailles outside Paris, where Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles with the Allies, officially ending World War I. The English economist John Maynard Keynes, who had attended the peace conference but then left in protest of the suggested “Treaty of Versailles” was one of the most outspoken critics of the punitive agreement set to humiliate Germany fully. In his book “The Economic Consequences of the Peace” published in December 1919, Keynes predicted that the stiff war reparations and other harsh terms imposed on Germany by the treaty, would not only lead to the financial collapse of the country, but in turn it would have serious economic and political repercussions for Europe and the world, resulting in another major conflagration to engulf all of Europe and more…
He was proven right sooner than even himself thought of…
By the fall of 1918, it was apparent to the leaders of Germany that defeat was inevitable in World War I. After four years of terrible attrition, Germany no longer had the men or resources to resist the Allies, who had been given a tremendous boost by the infusion of American manpower and supplies. In order to avert an Allied invasion of Germany, the German government contacted U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in October 1918 and asked him to arrange a general armistice. Earlier that year, Wilson had proclaimed his “Fourteen Points,” which proposed terms for a “just and stable peace” between Germany and its enemies. The Germans asked that the armistice be established along these terms, and the Allies more or less complied, assuring Germany of a fair and unselfish final peace treaty. On November 11, 1918, the “Armistice” was signed and went into effect, whereby all fighting in the bloody World War One, came to a crawling end in the trenches of Europe and all beyond…
In January 1919, John Maynard Keynes traveled to the Paris Peace Conference as the chief representative of the British Treasury. The brilliant 35-year-old economist had previously won acclaim for his work with the Indian currency and his management of British finances during the war. In Paris, he sat on an economic council and advised British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, but the important peacemaking decisions were out of his hands, and President Wilson, Prime Minister Lloyd George, and French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau wielded the real authority.
Sadly, Germany had no real role, or significant contribution in the negotiations deciding its fate, and leading to the Treaty of Versailles, whereas the lesser Allied powers also had little responsibility in the drafting or the enforcement of the final Treaty of Versailles.
And it soon became apparent that the proposed treaty would bear only a faint resemblance to the “Fourteen Points” that had been proposed by U.S. President Wilson and that were initially embraced by the German leaders and public consensus alike.
The then U.S. President Wilson, a great idealist, similarly had very few negotiating skills, and he soon buckled under the pressure of French leader George Clemenceau, who hoped to punish Germany as severely as the Germans had punished France, in the Treaty of Frankfurt that ended the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. Tit of Tat was how the French leader saw Life of Leadership…
Very French indeed.
Yet the British leader Lloyd George, took the middle ground between the two men, but unfortunately — he backed the French plan to force Germany to pay reparations for damages inflicted on Allied civilians and their property. Since the treaty officially held Germany responsible for the outbreak of World War I, whereas in reality it was only partially responsible — the Allies would not have to pay reparations for damages they inflicted on German civilians, and they stood to make a windfall profit from the First World War and the resultant Treaty of Versailles.
That selfish psychology of the Victors who wanted to become “Creditors” was basically totally WRONG, and in retrospect it proved to be the Most Important Cause of the Second World War and the undoing of the Peace to End All Wars…
Still back in 1919 — the Peace Treaty that began to emerge was a thinly veiled “Carthaginian Peace” an agreement that accomplished only the French Leader Clemenceau’ hopes to crush France’s old rival Germany and extract a heavy tribute for decades to come… According to the Peace Treaty’s terms, Germany was to be humiliated fully. First it was tasked to relinquish 10 percent of its territory. Second, it was to be disarmed fully. And third, it was to turn all of its overseas empire over to the Allies.
However, most detrimental to Germany’s immediate future, was the complete confiscation of all of its foreign financial holdings and its merchant carrier fleet.
Echoes of that can be seen today with Germany and the Creditors of Greece demanding all of these thinly veiled conditions, as guarantees of the Third bailout the country is set to receive. Today Creditors’ conditions, include the heavy taxation of Greece’s merchant carrier fleet — in effect robbing the country of it’s only competitive advantage and turning its only industrial asset of worldwide importance — over to the “Creditors.”
But back in 1919 and the subsequent years — the German economy, already devastated by the war, was further crippled, as the stiff war reparations demanded; and ensured, that it would not return to its feet any time soon…
Soon enough this brought Hitler to power and the ultra Nationalist NAZI party through the Democratic means the Peace Treaty of Versailles was meant to promote in Germany and in the rest of Europe.
We all know how well this worked out…
In 1919 a final reparations figure was not agreed upon in the Treaty of Versailles, but estimates placed the amount in excess of $30 billion, far beyond Germany’s capacity to pay in 1919 or even in 1940.
To ascertain the terms of the 1919 “Bailout” the Treaty of Versailles insisted that Germany would be subject to full scale invasion and occupation by the Allies — if it were to fall behind on her payments.
Awfully smart eh?
John Keynes, however was the only negotiating man from the side of the Victors, taking part in the Peace Treaty team; that was horrified, and utterly enraged, by the terms of the emerging treaty. And thus he rushed into action and presented a plan to the Allied leaders in which the German government would be given a substantial loan, thus allowing it to buy food and materials while beginning reparations payments immediately. Lloyd George approved the “Keynes Plan,” but President Wilson turned it down, because he feared it would not receive congressional approval. In a private letter to a friend, Keynes called the idealistic American president “the greatest fraud on earth.”
So exactly 96 years ago on this July 28th Keynes erupted in protest against the stupidity of the formulation of the incoming Treaty of Versailles.
Thus the principal representative of the British Treasury at the Paris Peace Conference, John Maynard Keynes, resigned under duress on July 28th of 1919, in protest at the scale of the demands, warning correctly that it was stoking the fires for another war in the near future.
‘Germany will not be able to formulate correct policy if it cannot finance itself,’ Keynes presciently warned.
On June 5, 1919, Keynes wrote a note to Lloyd George informing the prime minister that he was resigning his post in protest of the impending “devastation of Europe.” http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_Peace_Conference,_1919
The Germans initially refused to sign the Treaty of Versailles, and it took an ultimatum from the Allies to bring the German delegation back to Paris on June 28. It was five years to the day since the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, which began the chain of events that led to the outbreak of World War I. Clemenceau chose the location for the signing of the treaty: the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles Palace, site of the signing of the Treaty of Frankfurt that ended the Franco-Prussian War. At the ceremony, General Jan Christiaan Smuts, soon to be president of South Africa, was the only Allied leader to protest formally the Treaty of Versailles, saying it would do grave injury to the industrial revival of Europe.
At Smuts’ urging, Keynes began work on “The Economic Consequences of the Peace.” It was published in December 1919 and was widely read in Leadership circles. In his book, Keynes made a grim prophecy that would have particular relevance to the next generation of Europeans: “If we aim at the impoverishment of Central Europe, vengeance, I dare say, will not limp. Nothing can then delay for very long the forces of Reaction and the despairing convulsions of Revolution, before which the horrors of the later German war will fade into nothing, and which will destroy, whoever is victor, the civilisation and the progress of our generation.”
Germany soon fell hopelessly behind in its reparations payments, and in 1923 France and Belgium occupied the industrial Ruhr region as a means of forcing payment. In protest, workers and employers closed down the factories in the region. Catastrophic inflation ensued, and Germany’s fragile economy began quickly to collapse. By the time the crash came in November 1923, a lifetime of savings could not buy a loaf of bread. That month, the Nazi Party led by Adolf Hitler launched an abortive coup against Germany’s government. The Nazis were crushed and Hitler was imprisoned, but many resentful Germans sympathized with the Nazis and their hatred of the Treaty of Versailles.
When the Wall Street Crash came in 1929, the German nascent Democracy known as the “Weimar Republic” spiraled into economic chaos, through the unsustainable and job killing sovereign debt, resulting from the enforced Austerity and the resultant poverty, that the Treaty of Versailles guaranteed to set upon Germany — thereby mortgaging it’s whole economic future to her past errors, and continuing her losses of the war…
You can imagine what the Bank of England calls ‘quantitative easing’ today, and what we experience through the Federal Reserve’s Monetary Policy largesse now, that was started in Germany in 1929, with the printing of abundant money to pay off the first world war sovereign debt. However the Money supply “M1″ was not managed properly, as both the Bank Of England and the U.S. Federal Reserve are doing diligently today — thus the Monetary Easing in Germany came to be uncontrolled, thereby triggering “Runaway Inflation” to the point where ten billion Deutsche Marks, would not even buy a loaf of bread, a pack of cigarettes, or even a coffee.
This caused the economic collapse of the “Weimar Republic” and much disruption in the ordinary Germans and it made the country a pariah like Zimbabwe is today. Less than a decade later, Hitler would exploit the unemployed people, the austerity and the continued bitterness among ordinary Germans, in order to seize control of the German state, and declare himself Chancellor. Under his tutelage and force, during the 1930s, the Treaty of Versailles was significantly revised, and altered in Germany’s favor, but by then it was too late for all of Europe. The belated amendment could not stop the rise of German militarism, and the subsequent outbreak of World War II, and soon enough the Victors of the First World War, found themselves crying in their cups…
In the late 1930s, John Maynard Keynes had already gained a reputation as the world’s foremost economist by advocating large-scale government economic planning to keep unemployment low and markets healthy. It did help that his predictions came true with increasing and unfailing alacrity. Today, all major capitalist nations adhere to the key principles of Keynesian economics, but the lessons are lost on Germany amongst others in the European leadership…
Keynes, died in 1946… having seen all his terrible predictions come fully and finally true — through the nightmare of the bloodiest war of history — the Second World War.
Just as Keynes legacy was validated by Reason and Experience of History — the Victorious Allies, this time around didn’t seek to punish Germany and the other Losers of the Second World War, but instead instituted the “Marshal Plan” in order to rebuild all of the shattered economies of Europe, with major emphasis on the belligerent and fully destroyed Germany.
This was a first time in Europe since the Carthaginian Peace Treaties of 509 BC, and of 279 BC, that the Victors chose to not punish the Losers with extreme punitive damages after the End of the Wars…
John Maynard Keynes can be Thanked for this change of Heart amongst the Victors of the Second World War; and his words sound prophetic even today as we are dealing with the European Sovereign Crisis: “This is a Treaty that the Victors have No Right to demand — and that the Vanquished have No Right to Accept.”
This was a very good Start and a significant Change of Heart in 1945 that under the mental influence of John Maynard Keynes, the Allies chose a different path. They opted for a long term Peace and Prosperity, because along with the ghosts of the Treaty of Versailles, Keynes intellectual Leadership and Economic Reasoning in it’s full application, allowed us to have a democratic Germany, and a long lasting period of Peace in Europe for seventy years.
That is until today in 2015 that the Germans apparently forgot HISTORY’S GRAVE LESSON: “Magnanimity in Victory… is Victory itself”
But should You have an inkling to get your “news” from a disinterested observer — then go back to 1377, when Ibn Khaldun published his historical treatise on Leadership and State Affairs Management from a historical perspective. His perspective is clear and keen, and his view is unmolested by private interest, political, or ideological bend, and it’s even free from religious paternalism.
All in all — Ibn Khaldun is a very disinterested and spirited observer and a far better Man than our friend Niccolo Machiavelli.
And much like Maynard Keynes in the first and second World Wars was the leading Economic light — Ibn Khaldun stole the thunder of all his contemporaries and wrote the best Economic Treatise of Macroeconomic policy in the “The Muquaddimah” that was published in Cairo, in the late 14th century, and it was a slow but certain blockbuster since it became the requisite reading for any Minister of the Ottoman and the European empires in the centuries that followed. So in that famed Opus Magnus, Ibn Khaldun explained, about as well as anyone else has since, what happens to a country when the burden on the People is unsustainable and the tax collectors get too greedy…
Ibn Khaldun wrote “The Muqaddimah” also known as the Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun (Arabic: مقدّمة ابن خلدون, meaning in English: Ibn Khaldun’s Introduction) or Ibn Khaldun’s Prolegomena (Greek: Προλεγόμενα), is a book written by the North African Maghrebi historian, Ibn Khaldun in 1377, which records an early view of universal history as it pertains to Leaders and their Peoples.
Some modern thinkers view it as the first work dealing with Philosophical Realpolitic matters, with basic Leadership, and with a mixture of Politics, Economics, Statecraft, General Leadership, Sociology, Demography, Geography, Strategy, Diplomacy, Cultural History, Social Evolution, Pre-Darwinism, Ecology, Realpolitic, and MacroEconomics. The Muqaddimah also deals with Islamic theology, political theory of statecraft, and it also covers the natural sciences of earth, physics, medicine, biology, and chemistry.
Ibn Khaldun was not just a more modern Aristotelian observer and a keen noticer of patterns and a “cloud reader” — but was a polymath and a serious traveller who involved himself in the affairs of Man and State…
Ibn Khaldun wrote the work in 1377 as the introductory chapter and the first book of his long planned “Maximum Knowledge” work of World History, the “Kitab al-Ibar” otherwise known as the Book of Lessons; full title:Kitābu l-ʻibar waDiwānul-Mubtada’ wal-Ħabarfītarikhi l-ʻarab wal-Barbar wa man ʻĀsarahum minĐawīAsh-Sha’nl-Akbār, ie: “Book of Lessons, Record of Beginnings and Events in the history of the Arabs and Berbers and their Powerful Contemporaries,” but during his early lifetime the short and concise “The Muqaddimah” became the most important independent work on these subjects and on its own right. That’s a powerful reminder for us writers that being concise is a far better strategy than trying to write like James Joyce writing “Finnegan’s Wake”
In “The Muqaddimah” Ibn Khaldun writes his History basically about all the matters of the People and the Nations as it reflects on the affairs of State Management and State Economic Policy. And on the subject of runaway Austerity Economics he writes: “Eventually, the taxes will weigh heavily upon the subjects and overburden them. … The result is that the interests of the subjects in enterprises disappears, since when they compare expenditures and taxes with their income and gain and see the little profit they make, they lose all hope. Therefore, many of them refrain from all economic activity. The result is that the total tax revenue goes way down. … More Tax Collecting Violence follows and Attacks on people’s property become constant. Once the attacks on people’s property become commonplace, they remove the incentive of anyone to acquire and gain property. … Eventually it is the state that suffers from all these acts, inasmuch as civilization… because it is all ruined when people have lost all incentive to do anything or even work towards any goal. The whole nation soon perishes…”
Ibn Khaldun is very clear on the subject ad he recites many examples of foolish rulers who destroyed their nations through this method of Mismanagement. And yet today we see this method of Economic Mismanagement being applied to all of the hurt economies of Europe and the periphery. As for Greece forget it. It is really a shambles. And it is now being Blitzkrieged through another round of Austerity attacks and nightly bombings of it’s moribund economy.
Can the “creditors” be that foolish?
Or maybe it is an Intentional Collective Punitive policy applied in some form of Economic War, in order to destroy the Spirit of the People and turn them into slaves?
Maybe, if we listen to Ibn Khaldun extorting us back to Reality from the 14th Century observations of the previous THousand Years History — then we will understand about the Science of Subjugation of a whole People. And maybe then we will be clear eyed enough to understand that, that is the very plan of the “German Creditors” towards Greece today.
Complete Subjugation through economic slavery of the last independent people of Europe. The Greeks.
There is no other explanation and it clearly is not about being repaid the old Sovereign debt, because everyone in positions of Authority knows that according to John Maynard Keynes: “No Debtor Nation ever became more creditworthy by being forced to accept less income…”
“People, firms, or even countries, faced with an unbearable ratio of debt to income certainly do not need more debt and less income.”
And our friend John Maynard Keynes became prescient on this well before the horrendous “Peace Treaty Of Versailles” was even signed by Germany back in 1919…
The Germans simply were forced to sign an abominable “Memorandum” that they had No Right to Sign, and the Victorious allies had No Right to demand of them.
But who remembers the Treaty Memorandum of Versailles today, almost a century later?
An Abomination of a Treaty Memorandum that predictably brought Hitler to power and engulfed Europe in the stupidest war ever. The Second World War that was supposed to be another war to end all wars.
We All Know How Well That Plan Worked Out…
Yet that combination is precisely what has been repeatedly prescribed for Greece — with Germany leading all the other creditors, the IMF, and the EU, demanding ever-increasing Austerity, and ever-rising tax rates, so that the dwindling number of remaining Greek taxpayers will become ever more impoverished and will be saddled with ever-increasing debts that are shifted from the country to the people.
This is not only an unsustainable economic system because of it’s general stupidity — but because through simple accounting it cannot generate anything but ever diminishing returns; since in today’s Greece, the number of employed adults fell by more than a million from 2008 to 2014 — that is over 23 % — even as the working age population fell by almost half a Million people through brain drain and general emigration under threat of famine. And this phenomenon is intensified and it rivals the bloody migration of the Irish during the periods of the potato famines back in the 19th century. Consider these numbers growing fast in Greece that is a country of almost 10 million citizens…
Reducing drastically the Tax base is not an Econometrics problem — it is an Existential problem. And driving people off the land forcefully in order to seek “food” in a distant land is a Catastrophe for a small nation that is akin to GENOCIDE practiced through economic means.
Has anyone read the magnus opus of another writer titled “Mein Campf” ?
Perhaps You should read it because it describes this plan of ECONOMIC GENOCIDE rather well, and perhaps because many Creditors have read it and espoused the views within. I know that people like Wolfgang Shauble and Frau Merkel have this book on their night table too but what I don’t know; is if the IMF heads also subscribe to this ideology.
As for Greece being able to Existentially survive this round of Austerity and Taxation without Representation?
What Do You Think?
Does this sound like a problem likely to be alleviated by higher tax rates on labor?
The industrial production index of 2010 being 100, fell from 119.3 in 2007 to 85.3 this May — the lowest since 1978.
Does this sound like a problem likely to be alleviated by higher tax rates on business or investors?
Yet today’s Creditor nations wrongly assume that instructing Greek tax collectors to snatch a larger percentage of a shrinking economy has improved the government’s budget —albeit at the expense of the budgets of Greek families and firms. Measured as a share of GDP, revenues did indeed rise from 40.2 percent of GDP in 2007 to 45.8 percent in 2014. But the Greek economy shrunk by 25 percent. Since 40.2 percent of €100 is larger than 45.8 percent of €75, real revenues actually fell by 14.4 percent. By grinding down taxable payrolls, profits, and sales, punitive tax rates left the government with less real revenue, not more.
More than five years have passed since May 2010, when Greece was enticed to borrow €73 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Commission (EC) and European Central Bank (ECB) with painful Austerity and Over-Taxation strings attached.
That 2010 program, said the IMF, “had two broad aims: to make fiscal policy and the fiscal and debt position sustainable, and to improve competitiveness.” There was no emphasis on improving domestic economic growth or employment — just “competitiveness” in trade. The IMF speculated that “restoring confidence” would “lead to a growth recovery” in 2012. When that didn’t happen, another €154 billion in loans was provided. And the IMF blamed the bad “investment climate” on a “lack of confidence,” rather than any lack of after-tax income or Money Supply in the Economy.
Much like back in 1919 John Maynard Keynes fought for economic Reality, today’s prominent U.S. economists also recognize the Disaster and blame the seven-year depression in Greece on savage cutbacks in government spending and on super Taxation imposed by Germany.
“The contraction in government spending has been predictably devastating,” wrote Joseph Stiglitz in February.
And Paul Krugman later openly criticized the period “from 2009 to 2015, the years of major spending cuts” in Southern Europe.
But because the Economy tanked, as a proportion of GDP the Greek government “spending” rose from 44.9 percent of GDP in 2006 to 53.7 percent from 2009 to 2012 and to 60.1 percent in 2013. That 2009-2013 “fiscal stimulus” was precisely when the economy contracted — by 4.4 percent in 2009, 5.4 percent in 2010, 8.9 percent in 2011, 6.6 percent in 2012 and 3.9 percent in 2013, and continued to contract till today and beyond…
By contrast, the economy grew slightly in 2014 when government spending was “only” half of GDP. That is, the economy fell when government’s share rose, and the economy rose when government’s share fell.
What is rarely or never mentioned in the typically one-sided misperception of spending “austerity” is the other side of the budget — namely, taxes. Honerous Taxation without Representation…
Making Tea in the harbour of Athens is not such a bad idea right about now.
The latest Greek efforts to appease creditors would raise corporate tax again to 28 percent, raise the 5 percent “solidarity surcharge” on personal incomes, and discourage tourism by raising the VAT on restaurants and island shopping.
Looked at separately, each of these suffocating tax rates might appear almost reasonable. Looked at together, they are totally unreasonable. To offer a Greek employee an extra €100 requires that €42 be first subtracted for Social Security tax, and then up to €46 more subtracted for income tax. Out of the original €100 of marginal labor cost, the remaining €14 of after-tax income going to a skilled worker could only buy about €10 worth of goods after value-added tax is paid.
The tax wedge between what employers pay for labor and what workers have left to spend, after taxes, is 43.4 percent for a Greek family of four with average earnings — the highest in the OECD and more than double the comparable U.S. wedge of 20.6 percent.
This demoralizing tax wedge, which grows even larger at higher incomes, clearly depresses hiring and working in the formal economy. It also helps explain why a third of the Greek labor force is self-employed, making tax avoidance easier.
AND THIS IN CONSIDERATION THAT GREECE TODAY IS BY FAR THE POOREST COUNTRY IN EUROPE.
Poorer than Albania in real economic numbers of today’s values.
Are you able to conceive of it?
Little wonder then that Greece has been suffering a massive brain drain — with hundreds of thousands of the best and brightest Doctors, Engineers, PHDs, Economists, and all the educated young talents — emigrating during the recent years of the Great Depression” that befell the little country.
But since most smart people including most of the Specialist Doctors of the small country, have left for abroad…
There probably isn’t anybody left of rigorous intellectual value, to negotiate a decent treaty with the “Creditors.”
And there isn’t anyone left to fight the setting rot either.
Since 2007, at least a fourth of the remaining Greek economy survived by going underground, but that “shadow economy” ran on cash and banks are now sternly rationing cash withdrawals and transfers to delay capital flight.
You may believe that Greece’s economic pain is mostly the doing of heartless and inept decision makers in Brussels, Frankfurt and Berlin.
You may believe that the Greeks’ inefficiency, profligacy, and fecklessness, have all been so extreme that cutting them any kind of slack, will destroy the credibility of the euro and single handedly bring down European Civilization as we know it.
Or if that’s not far fetched enough — you may believe that Austerity, Poverty, and this new “Treaty of Versailles” against Greece, will eventually work by some miracle… maybe through the intervention of Jesus Christ…
Second Comings being an integral part of Greece’s peculiarly strong Christian Faith — this is entirely possible; albeit not very probable or credible where public sovereign debt is concerned.
One signs the Treaty of Death….
Me thinks that either way you cut it; by this point in history — you can probably agree that it was a mistake for Greece to join the EURO; the European common currency back in 2001.
Maybe you think it was a mistake because doing so put the Greeks at the mercy of a bunch of austerity-crazed Northern European German led politicians with Undemocratic and rather Autocratic Prussian proclivities.
Or maybe You understand that for an independent Nation State, having it’s own currency and Monetary Policy is an inalienable BirthRight.
Or maybe you think it was a mistake to join the EURO, because the Greeks were fabricating their Accounting and their GDP vs Debt ratios, in order to get in to the eurozone; and thus now have no business pretending to be part of a modern developed and expensively advanced economy. Especially since they have zero industry to prop up their exports and their balance of payments…
Yet, no matter what your point of view — I’m guessing that there isn’t anyone who would argue, that Greece and Europe would be in a worse off position today, if the Greek drachmas had not been traded in for the new Deutche-Mark, the super valued, and sugar coated, Euro.
So why exactly are Greece and its European creditors still trying these silly talks, and the silly walks, and are going through all these silly exercises and convulsions — against all odds, and against all good and common sense, just in order to keep the country in the eurozone?
And this question needs to be answered.
Mind You, I don’t mean it entirely as a rhetorical question either…
So please — I’d really like somebody to tell me…
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Greece should have declared itself a bank.
It would have a Clear Reason to be Saved from Ruin…
Then Things would have been far easier.
Because it would have been bailed out to no end without questions or even pay-back terms ever asked.
Whereas today it is neither Too Big to Fail nor too Small to Bail
Yet all Levity aside…
The Greek Drama is unfolding with No End in Sight.
Now the second best plan is to make it’s own Monetary Policy and behave like a Bank to
Keep in mind that having your own Monetary Policy and Coin of the Realm is the defining
BirthRight of an Independent and Sovereign Nation.
But it appears that the Greek Politicians do not want to have that and instead prefer an enslaved
nation of their own choosing…
Maybe because Slaves are easy to rule and lord it over…
And maybe because the Slave Masters from outside and their minions, the local minor politicians; need not be any good either.
But the people are wise and voted “NO” and yet that resounding negative response towards European Despotism has been turned onto it’s head and it has become another Slave Contract with Germany for another 30 years.
How is that a Democracy and not a Coup D’Etat ?
Let’s be careful to not
I recommend that everyone concerned go see the film “Twelve Years a Slave” to see how You turn a Free Man or a whole Free People to certain bloody slavery.
Liberating oneself isn’t easy but is far preferable to Enslavement to the Huns, and to the Banker-Wankers.
Let Freedom Ring…
So my friends, start Running to get to Freedom…
And rest assured that Liberty will soon follow along with all her other sisters; Success, Independence, Benevolence, Strength, and Magnanimity.
Winning the race to Liberty is always easier starting out as a Free Nation — Whereas winning your Freedom once enslaved is so much harder.
And that would have been a far better plan to today’s certain Grexit via another failed Bailout, leading to the enslavement of the people for another twelve or more years.
” Who am I.”
Morality is the demon…
“Ήθος ανθρώπω δαίμων”
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