Seven years ago at VFR I addressed a question Lawrence Auster – may God rest his soul, the dear man – had posed about fixing health care in the United States. Obamacare was then only a rumor. Now it seems to be already on its last legs, and the Trump Administration is preparing to kill it somehow or other, and replace it with something better. The White House strategists are reported to be reading us Reactionaries. So I thought I’d trot this out again.
In Completing the Groundwork of a Hierarchy of Sovereign Corporations, I suggested that we have all long lived under the government of a stack of sovereign corporations, in each of which we each own an effectual single share; and that a transition to a feudal stack of such sovereign corporations could be effected if these shares were split into two classes of dividend paying shares: D for denizens and C for denizens who are also citizens [for more on the similarities and differences between D and C shares, please review that post].
What would happen if such D and C shares were issued, one of each class to each citizen?
The thing need not be that difficult, in principle.
Consider first that you are already at once a denizen, participant and – provided you are not merely a stranger passing through – a member of a village or neighbourhood, of its county or city, of its province or state, and of its nation. All of us, throughout the world, live this way without a second thought. We each of us bear duties to and enjoy privileges under each of these sorts of sovereign entities. So has it been since the dawn of civilization.
Villages, counties, provinces and nations have furthermore been always ordered, and have always been legal agents. They have acted, owned property, engaged in commercial transactions (even if only so far as to collect taxes or fees and then pay their officers), negotiated agreements, granted benefices, levied penalties, and so forth. They have, i.e., been actual entities – i.e., entities that act – and for a thousand years at least have been treated as corporations (with the sole proprietorships of royal or lordly domains construed as ‘corporations sole’). They have been construed as corporations on account of the fact that they were understood to be real, albeit invisible, bodies.
“Higher education is not about knowledge or skills,” says Upstate Consolation University Executive Deputy Chancellor of the Committee on Investor Communications Marl Flaybiter from behind the large mahogany desk in his office overlooking West Campus’s scenic Green Parking Lot; “no – higher education is about respect.” A few years ago, on being appointed to his incumbency, Flaybiter began noticing how little respect graduating degree-holders from UCU were receiving when they entered the job market and presented their credentials to prospective employers. While escorting potential investors around Uppchoock-on-the-Lake, the small, northerly city where his institution is located, Flaybiter observed that many of the service personnel in the local coffee bars and chain restaurants were recent UCU graduates.
Flaybiter counts off the many types of prestigious UCU-granted degrees held by these disrespectfully under-employed new alumni: “At least three of those kids – bright kids – had come out of our Social Justice and Sustainability Programs; five or six had bachelor’s or bachelorette’s degrees in Women’s Studies, and others came from Adventure Education, Puppet Arts, Safe Space Organizing, Slut-March Planning, and Critical White-Privilege Sciences.” Flaybiter pauses to shake his head sorrowfully. “I just couldn’t bear to see those kids – I mean, those young people – so shamefully disrespected by having to work as baristas, cashiers, waiters, and waitresses while living in their parents’ basements and going to work in their pajamas.” As Flaybiter sees it, “The mismatch between the education and the job is, well, a tragedy, not just for the kids, and not just for the pajamas, but for the community.”
Liberty is not the basis of rightly ordered society, as liberals think. Liberty is rather a byproduct of a rightly ordered society.
A society that lacks liberty – that, i.e., contravenes the doctrine of subsidiarity (which mandates the devolution to each organ of the social hierarchy (thus, in the limit, to individuals) all the powers each of them can well handle, or delegate in their turn) – is not just, to be sure. That injustice however lies, not in its lack of liberty, but in the fact that it is wrongly ordered to begin with.
George Inness (May 1, 1825 – August 3, 1894) belonged to the second generation of the so-called Hudson River or Hudson River Valley School, the first distinctively American school of painting. In his early work, Inness advances the “luminist” tendency of his precursors (Thomas Cole, Asher Durand, Frederic Church, Albert Bierstadt, and others); and like them, he is almost exclusively a landscape painter, interested in the effects of light on mountain, valley, plain, lake, ocean, and sky. In his later work, Inness innovates in the direction of Impressionism. The Hudson River painters were American Romantics, steeped in the nature-philosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson and his followers, but also conversant with the late-medieval tradition of reading nature as the outward sign of the supernatural (think Jakob Boehme), a tendency that culminates in the strange but influential writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. Inness occasionally identified himself as a Swedenborgian.
I’ve written for years about the coming Phase Change, such as the one that overtook the Warsaw Pact. Such social phase changes are mediated by preference cascades. According to Kevin Baker writing at Quora:
The concept of the Preference Cascade is credited to Turkish economist Timur Kuran. Glenn Reynolds described the idea in a 2002 op-ed, Patriotism and Preferences. In short, average people behave the way they think they ought to, even though that behavior might not reflect their own personal feelings. Given a sufficient “A-HA!” moment when they discover that their personal feelings are shared by a large portion of the population their behavior may change dramatically.
The boy who cried that the Emperor was naked triggered a preference cascade. The Fall of Late Classical Civilization (in Persia, the Levant, Africa, and Iberia) to Islam might have been due to a preference cascade. Ditto for the Bronze Age Collapse. Many collapses are due to preference cascades, including – obviously – financial panics. When the morale of a great army or of a whole nation suddenly vanishes all at once, it is due to a preference cascade. Great Awakenings and mass conversions are mediated by preference cascades.
The American Revolution happened because of a preference cascade. So did the French, and the Soviet, and the Glorious. All the great epochs began and ended with preference cascades.
Numerous commentators are interpreting the recent Brexit vote, the sudden rise of the European reactionary Right, and the Trump phenomenon as evidence of a radical rightward preference cascade.
If there were no borders between nations, that kept them from bleeding into each other, they would tend to assimilate. In the limit, and except for variations arising from climate and geology, they’d all be just the same. At that point, they’d have nothing of value to exchange with each other. Nor then would they, any of them, do anything better than any of the others. There would be then no such thing as comparative advantage. There would be no trade, properly speaking. Nor would there be tourism. There would be only transportation.
It would be cheap, perhaps, and perhaps efficient. But it would not be valuable. It would not, that is, be much good.
I’ve been writing the last year or two about tariffs, transaction taxes, tolls and tonlieux as just and fitting ways – and, indeed, economically efficient ways, Pareto optimal ways, ways that should gladden the hearts of Austrians and Chicago Scholars – for a sovereign to farm revenue from the domains under his sway. Implicit in all that talk of justice, fitness, optimality, and so forth, is the presupposition that the sovereign has the right to collect such revenues – that, i.e., it is not wrong per se for him to collect them, but rather, possibly, quite correct and proper, and true to the ontological and moral facts of the matter.
Notice then that collections of such transaction taxes are effected by free and uncoerced exchanges by his customers of something they possess for something the sovereign possesses. To put it bluntly, such revenues are collected from sales by the sovereign of something he owns: the control over who shall participate his realms, and on what terms. It is that ownership which confers upon the sovereign the rights of ownership, such as the right to transfer title, to sell, let, give, bequeath, rent, permit, tax – and by extension to exert any sort of control, rule, command, etc.
Homo economicus gets a bad rap, as being insensible of the finer things in life: love, charity, worship, beauty, and so forth. He is supposed to be interested only in profit for himself.
In fact, the notion is far more comprehensive. Included in the calculus of what is profitable to economic man is his evaluation of what is morally best, spiritually best, and so forth. We all weigh our decisions in this manner, balancing our desires to fulfill obligations, to meet duties, to care for our bodies and for those whom we love, to tend the garden, make some profitable trades, respond to customers, go to church, and so forth. Economic life is not about spending and getting money, it is about allocating time. And the question ever before each of us is always the same: what is the right thing to do now, mutatis mutandis? I.e., given my overall schedule of preferences for all the possible things that I could do – including doing nothing – what is optimal?
Homo economicus is often profane and wicked and debased and ignoble, to be sure; but only because he is Fallen, and then only insofar as he has not been baptized and converted to a new and righteous and truer mind, so that his preferences are still whacked by idolatry and falsehood and unbelief, thus queering and ruining all his evaluations. The homo economicus that people gripe about is miscalled. His true name is homo irreligiosus.