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A Good Liberal Now, A Mean Liberal Later *

Niccolo Machiavelli has been dead for 5 years now, but his famous book, "The Prince" is finally published this year. The point of the book was to ingratiate Niccolo to the ruler of Florence. It is unknown if the Prince ever received a copy and with Niccolo's death there seemed no point now, but someone was impressed enough to get the book published. It will remain a classic into the modern day, but like many Great Books in the modern day it will be quoted more than read. [1] [2] [3] [4]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
I've read three books that are quoted by smart people who have apparently never read them: Uncle Tom's Cabin, Democracy in America and The Prince. The Prince brings to light many uncomfortable political truths. For example: Being a good liberal requires self-effacing, anonymous do-gooding on behalf of the people. As a religious ideal it can work because God knows what you are doing without having to see it on the news. But in the secular world, government do-gooding must be public, requiring taxes for the sake of the greater good. When the money runs out, the government must be mean for the sake of the greater good. In Germany, during World War II, the government could no longer write the check for social services so the sick and elderly were "painlessly" gassed as a cost-saving measure. In the 1500s Niccolo Machiavelli predicted that government do-gooding would go wrong. Anyone who had read the book would have realized it and not started it in the first place. [5] [6]

"Those who will be kind when they should be cruel will one day be cruel when they should be kind." -- probably from the Midrash.[7]

Fewer "First Fruits" for Rome and Tax Freedom Day

At this time the Church in Rome is almost a world government and a government needs taxes run itself. The "First Fruits" annate is effectively an annual tax of one third off the top of all collections made to the bishoprics around the world. The English bishops are complaining that the tax leaves very little left to serve the needs of the poor and helpless of England. A commission by King Henry the 8th finds that a considerable amount of the wealth of England is being transferred to Rome each year. Therefore, the Parliament passes the Act in Conditional Restraint of Annates which reduces the Church's "tax" to approximately 1.6%. (Don't marry these figures. Just know that the King is putting serious pressure on the Pope.) The Reformation Parliament will impose further restrictions in the years to come. [8] [9] [10]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
In the United States, Tax Freedom Day is when your accumulated income for the year to date equals all estimated taxes for the year. In 2014, that day was April 21st and the total estimated taxes were 30.2%, federal, state and local. For comparison, in 1920 (the Roaring 20's) Tax Freedom Day was February 13th and the annual tax estimate was 12.0%. There were severe limits on taxes in those days but there was a corresponding limit on public services. There was no Social Security so the elderly were forced to depend on their children for help. Actually, they still are. Now the cost is hidden in the taxes and the unused portions mostly paid by minorities who die short of retirement age. At least private, inheritable retirement funds could go to their children rather than a nameless collective. Yet "Social Security über alles" is the motto of the US government and of most voters, it would seem, and saving the retirement of longer-lived... well... non-minority people.[11] [12] [13] [14] [15]

Pizarro and the Fallacy of the Noble Savage

Francisco Pizarro lands near Tumbez in what is modern day Peru. What he finds is confusion as civil war has broken out between the Incan Emperor and his brother. This allows Pizarro to take some advantage. He has already beaten up the rebels on the Island of Puná so he is perceived as supporting the Emperor. With a small army of 200 soldiers facing thousands, Pizarro ascends into the highlands. The Emperor sends a message to Pizarro, thanking him for taking care of those nasty rebels and he replies by essentially saying, "At your service." They agree to meet, each thinking that they have the advantage over the other. Within an hour, the Spaniards have captured the Emperor and routed the Incan troops. [16] [17]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Emperor walked right into it... all because he was following Inca rules and the Spaniards were following Spanish rules... and with Spanish rules there are no "do overs". The Emperor had communications with Pizarro previously and without the normal "white flag" understanding of negotiations both sides were free to take whatever advantage they could. The Inca Emperor thought he had the advantage over Pizarro and if he didn't think that, he would have killed every Spaniard and used Pizarro's head for a bowling ball. Don't think he wouldn't have. The idea that the Incas were somehow "noble savages" is the worst kind of liberal pap. It causes us to leave the rain forest "pristine" and the natives in their "natural habitat" as if they were some sort of monkey and not thinking human beings who might like a cell phone and a flush toilet if you'd just ask them. [18]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1532, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Machiavelli, Niccolo with Marriott, W. K. (translator) The Prince. Sonshi.com. 1532. 2011 [last update] (ONLINE DOCUMENT)
  2. The Prince - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  3. Niccolò Machiavelli - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  4. (1968) "Machiavellian", Words from History (PDF), Books on Words, Boston: Houghton Mifflin. “"Individual Italians were successful as rulers, however. Twenty years after Machiavelli's death, Catherine de Medici, a Florentine princess, became Queen of France (see FINE ITALIAN HAND). Her talent for intrigue caused her enemies to accuse her of following Machiavellian principles. With injustice to the man, the word has come to mean 'crafty, deceitful and unprincipled.'"” 
  5. Alex Shrugged notes: In Uncle Tom's Cabin, Uncle Tom is a slave. He is the very ideal of nobility: never complaining but only caring for the souls of his fellows... even his masters... a saint of the first order but nowadays the ideals he represents are too good, too perfect, too Christian. He was not the proper model for the new Soviet man of the 20th century. The same goes for Democracy in America. The solution seems to be a religious people, policing themselves and thus needing fewer actual police. This was not the model for the new century so these books are selectively quoted, but not read in detail.
  6. Action T4: Background - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 6 March 2015. “60,000 Reichsmark is what this person suffering from a hereditary defect costs the People's community during his lifetime. Fellow citizen, that is your money too.”
  7. Alex Shrugged notes: This quote comes from my memory so consider it a paraphrase. In my search for a citation, the closest I've come is Qohelet Raba (or Kohelet Rabbah) 7:16, and the guy who quoted it said it was from the Talmud, but that's not right. Kohelet Rabbah is part of a major collection of midrashim which are authoritative parables or stories. Kohelet is name for the book Ecclesiastes and thus Kohelet Rabbah are stories relating to the book of Ecclesiastes.
  8. "The Conditional Testraint of Annates, A.D. 1532, 23 Henry VIII, cap. 20.", Documents illustrative of English church history, Documents illustrative of English church history., Macmillan and co., ltd.. “It is therefore ordained, established, and enacted, by authority of this present Parliament, that the unlawful payments of annates, or first-fruits, and all manner contributions for the same, for any archbishopric or bishopric, or for any bulls hereafter to be obtained from the Court of Rome, to or for the aforesaid purpose and intent, shall from henceforth utterly cease, and no such hereafter to be paid for any archbishopric, or bishopric, within this realm, other or otherwise than hereafter in this present Act is declared” 
  9. English Reformation Parliament - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 9 March 2015. “First Act of Annates (the Act in Conditional Restraint of Annates) is passed allowing only 5% of money normally remitted to Rome. Annates were monies (church taxes effectively) that were collected in England and sent to Rome.”
  10. annates - definition of annates. The Free Dictionary (2015). Retrieved on 9 March 2015. “(Roman Catholic Church) RC Church the first year's revenue of a see, an abbacy, or a minor benefice, paid to the pope”
  11. Tax Freedom Day - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 9 March 2015. “Tax Freedom Day is the first day of the year in which a nation as a whole has theoretically earned enough income to pay its taxes. Every dollar that is officially considered income by the government is counted, and every payment to the government that is officially considered a tax is counted. Taxes at all levels of government—local, state and federal—are included.”
  12. Deutschlandlied - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 9 March 2015. “The first line, 'Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, über alles in der Welt' (usually translated into English as 'Germany, Germany above all, above all in the world'), was an appeal to the various German monarchs to give the creation of a united Germany a higher priority than the independence of their small states.”
  13. Seniors and Life Expectancy. about.com (January 23, 2006). Retrieved on 9 March 2015. “Seniors over the age of 85 are the fastest growing segment of the over 65 population. Those over 65 today are predominately white (84%).”
  14. The Next America. Pew Research Center (April 10, 2014). Retrieved on 9 March 2015. “The math of the 20th century simply won’t work in the 21st. Today's young are paying taxes to support a level of benefits for today's old that they have no realistic chance of receiving when they become old. And they know it – just 6% of Millennials say they expect to receive full benefits from Social Security when they retire. Fully half believe they’ll get nothing.”
  15. Alex Shrugged Notes: As I read the US census data for 2001 about 40.5% of male Hispanic workers from age 25 to 64 die and thus presumably never collect Social Security. In comparison, male White workers (as the census designates non-Hispanic Caucasians) 25.2% in the same age range die. As the ratio of white to minorities change, more minorities workers will be supporting white elderly with an unequal chance of collecting Social Security themselves. Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2001
  16. Francisco Pizarro - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 1 March 2015. “In April 1528, he reached northern Peru and found the natives rich with precious metals. This discovery gave Pizarro the motivation to plan a third expedition to conquer Peru, and he returned to Panama to make arrangements, but the Governor refused to grant permission for the project. Pizarro returned to Spain to appeal directly to King Charles I. His plea was successful, and he received not only a license for the proposed expedition but considerable authority over any lands conquered during the venture. He was joined by family and friends, and the expedition left Panama in 1530.”
  17. Kubler, George (November 1945). The Behavior of Atahualpa, 1531-1533. The Hispanic American Historical Review. 25. pp. 413-427. "Within the hour following his entrance into the counter-trap arranged by the Europeans, Atahualpa's rank, status, and power were pulverized by a brusque attack in which the devastating force of Spanish arms swept unchecked through the surrounding masses of Indians.". 
  18. Noble savage - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 9 March 2015. “The term noble savage is a literary stock character that expresses the concept of an idealized indigene, outsider, or 'other' who has not been 'corrupted' by civilization, and therefore symbolizes humanity's innate goodness.”

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