6/14/2008

The Roots of Reaganomics -- Sherwood Forest

“Working like a madman, he ripped the skin from the haunch of the dead beast, cut a slice of the warm flesh, and bolted it as a dog might have done. After that, he went at the carcass more carefully, cutting off the best of the meat and placing it in a pile on the snow, strip after strip of juicy venison. Then, with a cry that was more like a dog's bark, he started up, knife in hand, and faced the tall man whose shadow had fallen across him as he worked…”


“Put the knife down, Sebald,” said the tall man quietly.

“Robin – Robin of Locksley!” Sebald gasped. “Master, I was starved.”

“And like to be hanged,” said Robin of Locksley. “For this is death, Sebald, if a forester find one head of deer taken.”

“If I die of a rope, or of hunger, what difference is there? Sebald asked doggedly. “Look you, Master Robin, when this winter began I had a wife and two little ones. But because I feel ill, a thing no serf may do, Guy of Gisborne turned us out of our hut and gave our shelter to Walter the Bald. A serf who cannot work, said Guy, shall neither eat nor shelter on his lands, and they drove us out, the wife and the children with me, though the little ones were all unfit.”

“True,” said Robin, nodding. “Guy of Gisborne is a hard man, and cruel. But it is death to touch the deer, Sebald.”

“Death? What is death but a kindness?” Sebald asked. “For so my wife found it when the cold wrapped her round and she fell asleep, never to wake more in this world. So the child Freda found it, for a least she will hunger no more, and now only the boy Waltheof is left me, and he a-crying with bitter hunger. By the Rood, Master Robin, if I hang, I hang with a full belly, and the boy shall have one more good meal!”

There was a look of pity in Robin’s eyes. “Where is the boy?” he asked.

“There” – Sebald pointed along the way he had come – “in the hollow of a dead elm, wrapped in such rags as I could find him that he might not die of the cold.”
“Then you harbour in the forest?” Robin asked.
Sebald nodded. “Else I must go back to Guy of Gisborne, being his man,” he answered. “And to go backs means lashes on the back, and labour from morn to night, with more lashes at the end of it, since I am all unhandy and slow, and so they call me the dolt, Master Robin. I tell you” – his voice rose to sudden fierceness – “there is no justice…”

from The Adventures of Robin Hood
by E. Charles Vivan

More on Robin Hood.

8 comments:

Roadkill said...

Sunny,

Nice fable. Here’s another one:

A chemistry professor was teaching in a large college that had some exchange students in the class. One day while the class was in the lab the Prof noticed one young man (an exchange student) who kept rubbing his back, and stretching as if his back hurt.

The professor asked the young man what was the matter. The student told him he had a bullet lodged in his back. He had been shot while fighting communists in his native country who were trying to overthrow his country's government and install a new communist government. In the midst of his story he looked at the professor and asked a strange question. He asked, 'Do you know how to catch wild pigs?'

The professor thought it was a joke and asked for the punch line. The young man said this was no joke. 'You catch wild pigs by finding a suitable place in the woods and putting corn on the ground. The pigs find it and begin to come everyday to eat the free corn. When they are used to coming every day, you put a fence down one side of the place where they are used to coming. When they get used to the fence, they begin to eat the corn again and you put up another side of the fence.

They get used to that and start to eat again. You continue until you have all four sides of the fence up with a gate in the last side. The pigs, who are used to the free corn, start to come through the gate to eat, you slam the gate on them and catch the whole herd.

Suddenly the wild pigs have lost their freedom. They run around and around inside the fence, but they are caught. Soon they go back to eating the free corn. They are so used to it that they have forgotten how to forage in the woods for themselves, so they accept their captivity.

The young man then told the professor that is exactly what he sees happening to America. The government keeps pushing us toward socialism and keeps spreading the free corn out in the form of programs such as supplemental income, tax credit for unearned income, tobacco subsidies, dairy subsidies, payments not to plant crops (CRP), welfare, medicine, drugs, etc. While we continually lose our freedoms - just a little at a time.

Bon appetit!

Hope Monger said...

Sunny, I like your fable better.
You can always cut a hole in the fence, Road Kill. You can rarely "slay" the Evil Master.

Sunny B. said...

RK:

Interesting story, but I have a few questions:

1. The bullet in the back is a "red" herring correct? He could have been a peasant from South American fighting right wing death squads or union member shot by a government troops or a striking miner shoot by the company goon. So that part of your story is focused on throwing in a sympathy slant. Jesus, Ghandi, MLK, Jr., etc. could have ties to state power elites who wanted the voices of the downtrodden and oppressed silenced.

2. Is it a good thing or a bad thing to install communist governments? All communist governments don't seem to behave the same way. Likewise, all government saying they are democracies don't behave the saem way. My opinion is that whatever government you pick will have its degrees of good and badness. I don't actually believe it's the government system that is good or bad. Rather it's the people who run them. A kitchen knife is a harmless object, if left in the knife drawer. It's a useful tool in the hands of a butcher or someone carving a Thanksgiving Day turkey. It's a murder weapon it the hands of a power mad psycho or a Cuban crime of passion.

2. When you write "While we continually lose our freedoms," I read a platitude that rallys lots of emotion. However, I don't see any evidence to bad it up. What freedoms have you actually lost? Evidently there must be a growing list.

3. The subsidies you mention seem to be the result of a political system the evolves out of what we call "democracy." Surely, our elected officials have went overboard on some subsidies and have skipped on others. I see those subsidies are politcal safety needs to cushion the fall of failure. We still have the potential to succeed as individuals. However, maybe we individually would be more careful -- if we knew the safety net wasn't there.

4. Can you really catch pigs that way?

5. I don't believe in feeding the birds and deer that hangout around my house. I provide water in bird baths in front and back of the house. I d don't believe in feeding the birds artifically. They need to survive on their own. As for the water, there's a lake about a 100 yards away. I save them flying time and it's fun to watch them bathe. Likewise, I don't fertilize or put any type of chemical on my lawn. There are bugs a plenty and the dandilions provide lots of seeds to eat.

6. Why where the communists trying to take over the country of the foreign exchange student? Was his dad a land baron or member of some death squad?

I believe part of Reaganomics involved dealings with Iran during the 1980 election and financial Central American death squads in a fashion the was against Constitutional law.

Roadkill said...

Sunny,

1. Sure, he could have been any of those things. He could also have been a member of a religious group in Texas that was shot by the FBI, or a member of the Weather Underground shot while planting a pipe bomb under a car. But in my fable he was shot by communists, because most people murdered by their own governments in the past 100 years have died at the hands of communists.

2. Its generally a bad thing to install communist governments, unless you are part of the ruling clique or thugocracy that installed it. That way you have a better chance of surviving and skimming off what little wealth is left before the onset of persistent poverty and want such as we see in Cuba, North Korea, the old Soviet Union and its satellite states, and of course, Maoist China. As part of the Communist inner circle, you also have a better chance of avoiding re-education camps, gulags, purges, show trials, and government-caused famines.

3. I have lost the freedom to gather the fruits of my labor without first paying 50% of it to the government. I have lost the freedom to use my land as I want to without first being subjected to dozens of zoning, environmental, and use laws and regulations. I have had my freedom to support candidates of my choice significantly curtailed by campaign finance laws. My church has had its tax-exempt status threatened by its adherence to dogmatic pro-life and anti-homosexual hiring practices. I have to wear my seat belt under penalty of law, smoke only in designated areas, water my lawn and wash my car only on certain days, and be careful not to leave recyclables in my trash lest the trash guys dime me out. A million big and little laws and regulations that seek to get me to live the way the lawmaking elites want me to live. And yes, it is an ever-growing list.

4. Those of us who succeed are paying exorbitantly to cushion the failure of others. The problem with this scheme is exactly what you allude to: the risk-takers rely on the careful, successful citizens to indemnify their fecklessness. Look at the people who knowingly build houses in flood plains or hurricane alleys, get wiped out, and then want the government to help them rebuild. Look at the basket cases in New Orleans who have been unable to get themselves back on their feet after three years – despite massive government aid and assistance. Maybe a little suffering on the part of a few of these freeloaders would encourage their friends to some good old American self-reliance. Emerson would certainly approve.

5. I don’t know if pigs can really be caught that way. It’s a parable, you know, a morality tale like your Robbing Hood story. But I have heard of farmers taking axes out into fields where deer feed, to chop wood during the summer, and the deer get used to it and don’t run away. Then in the fall the farmer just exchanges his axe for a gun and gets an easy shot at an animal that has lost its fear of humans. Kind of like citizens losing their fear of government.

6. A government big enough to give to you everything you want, it big enough to take from you everything you have.

7. I don’t know the particulars of the student’s family situation. But if he was South Vietnamese, perhaps his father was a school teacher who was being sent to a re-education camp. If a Kulak, perhaps his father was a farmer who was resisting collectivization. If he was White Russian, perhaps his father had been captured by the Nazi’s and was now being sent to the gulag due to his western contamination. Its all hard to say, though, since it’s a parable.

8. Reaganomics referred to economic policy, not foreign policy, and the Iran-Contra scheme was not constitutionally forbidden, per se. It was, however, in direct violation of statute and congressional intent, and as such was properly investigated as a violation of law. The indictments and convictions were warranted, I believe.

9. Fortunately, the Nicaraguan contras and other anti-communists were able to beat back the communist regimes and insurgencies in Central and South America, and now virtually all of Latin America is democratic – with the possible exception of Venezuela.

Sunny B. said...

Roadkill:

Don't forget Rudy Ridge. There's another example of government entrapment and murder.

Government is more of a barber than a brain surgeon. The larger and more diverse the population, the duller the scissor become. I don't pretend to have all the answers to the great, long-running debate on how the world should be run. I just live here.

No one on this blog has argued for the implementation of tyrannical regimes that do their dirty deeds under the banner of communism. Certainly we can agree that dirty deeds have been done by all stripes of political workings and religious groups. I don't that Marx or Jesus or Mohammad would approve of much that has been done in their name.

Why people build on the flood plane and live below sea level is beyond me. As I've stated before, you could let these people suffer and learn from their mistakes -- if it wasn't for those dare cameras capturing it and showing it on the 24X7 news. With every day that passes, it gets harder and harder to cover up these things. Most politicians seek job security and few have the guts or cold heartedness to let the unfortunate and lazy die alongside the road to prosperity. Don't you think it would improve the collective morale, if people were allowed to starve to death in the streets and we left their bodies along the road to be picked by crows and churned by maggots? This has been taboo since long before Homer wrote the Iliad.

Do you consider programs like the GI Bill, of student loans and grants or federal home loan subsidies to be more communist handouts? They seem to have helped strengthen the middle class and keep people from getting entangled in the safety net for the bottom feeders of the social structure.

Have you ever benefited from some of these social programs? Is it possible that you would not be reading these works today, if you or your parents or grandparents hadn't benefited from some of these programs? I know I would be boring you with my opinions today, if it weren't for some of these programs.

As far as Emerson goes, he was pretty much a light weight cult figure of his day. -- The Oprah Winfrey of the 1800s who spawn such lazy whiners as Henry David Thoreau -- who couldn't each bail his lazy ass out of jail.

You don't have to wear a seat belt. You can pay the fine or fight it in court. I think you would be able to win on the grounds that it is a law that doesn't make sense -- based on the fact the motorcyclists don't have to wear seatbelts or wear a helmet. Whoever said this was a "free country" was mistaken. There have always been rules and regulations that certain groups of people didn't agree with.

Anonymous said...

Roadkill, are you suggesting that people that are oppressed by tyrants don't try and fight the powers that be unless their vision is clearly focused on instilling a democracy? Come to think of it, revolutions probably start in the middle class, since things don't change that much for those on the bottom rungs of the ladder.

Roadkill said...

Sunny,

You and I have got to get together sometime downtown in New Richmond. I suspect that we have much more in common than comes across from our point-counterpoint on this blog.

I would say that government is much more a butcher than a brain surgeon, and that the cleaver gets duller the larger the population. There are many things that only government can do for us (currency, mail, roads, national defense), but the problem is that politicians would like government to do much more for us (welfare state programs of all kinds). Its all about creating a culture of dependency on government, with the elite politicians calling the shots and doling out the largesse. Well, that just makes us fenced-in piggies.

All government is suspect in my book. Jefferson had it right: the government that governs best governs least.

We in this country do not let people die in the streets from hunger or any other calamity. There is no time in our history that such a scenario was evident. But life has been tough from time to time, and our people have responded. Not the government, necessarily, but the people. Remember, its not only government that can respond to the suffering of people; charitable people and religious groups have, can, and will do much of the same good work – without the waste and without the demands of subservience.

Yes, the GI bill and many other programs have been helpful. But remember, when government subsidizes things like education, home mortgages, and agriculture, we not only get more of it but we get it more expensively (current administrator salaries at UW are close to $500,000, and tuition keeps going up year after year). Loans are one thing; grants and subsidies are another. The former breed self-reliance, the latter dependency.

Hey, go easy on Emerson (and Thoreau). They are artists. And Thoreau did live on his own for a whole year in the wilderness of Waldon Pond.

Anonymous:

You are right on: revolutions are the work of the middle class (or higher). The American Revolution was driven by merchants and others of the upper classes. The French, Mexican, and Russian revolutions were planned and choreographed by educated, upper class types. Castro and Ho Chi Min were both university educated, as is Osama bin Laden. Few if any revolutions start in the proletariat; the masses are just the tools of the revolutionaries who want to shoot their way into political power and impose their will on the people. The bottom rungs usually don’t see any improvements in their condition, and often see things get significantly worse.

Sunny B. said...

RK:

Why do you think the middle class tends to lead the revolution? Does you suppose it is the rung where the entrepreneur lives? Revolution would reflect the entrepreneurial spirit of trying something new and different.

Concerning the collective model, it seemed to work for the North American Indians -- especially in the Eastern US. The had nations, lands and laws and were able to co-exist. The European concept of indivdiual land ownership conflicted with the communal concept. Although, I believe there were places in Europe were communal property ownship was common.

I had to take a shot at Emerson just for fun. He didn't write weighty tomes and that probably diminishes him in the eyes of the weighty philosophers. It's like jazz and blues music. Jazz musicans know a thousand chords and play for three people; blues musicians know three chords and play for a 1,000 people.

I like to get together in NR. Shoot me an e-mail at atbl1@yahoo.com and we'll figure something out.