That’s me. And you. Nearly all of us, except for a few very rich people.

17Imagine a village in mediaeval Europe. One day, Sir Roger rides into the village with his men-at-arms and demands that the village funds his long-term family feud with his neighbour, Sir William. He wants 40% of the harvest. He doesn’t give a reason other than to say the villagers have been living too high on the hog for too long.

The real reason is that he’s just returned from a foreign war instigated by the King and he’s short of cash. Incidentally, the King only became involved in the war because his cousin, due to marry the King’s sister, invaded a neighbouring country to steal land and gold.

The headman of the village protests. “The harvest has been bad. We don’t have enough food to feed our children.” Sir Roger says, “Give me the grain or I will kill you all.”09

The village has two alternatives. One is to be killed. The other is to give Sir Roger 40% of the harvest. They choose the latter because it’s better for a few to die of starvation than all of them and they are not totally stupid.

So, they give him the harvest, a few of them starve and the rest lead a miserable existence. The following year Sir Roger’s back. The war has gone badly, so this time he wants 75% of the harvest. The villagers give in. One brave soul suggests a revolution and Sir Roger has him hung drawn and quartered ‘pour encourager les autres’ as he says, being ever so slightly French. No one else protests, because they are not totally stupid, but lots of them die and there are fewer people to work the land, so the harvest is miserable and next year Sir Roger has to have 100% of the harvest.

The village is dead. Until more cheap labour arrives from France or Ireland, the land lies fallow.

But Sir Roger still needs money as his cousin has started another war.

Not a problem. He invades a neighbour’s land and picks up one or two fat villages. Of course, he needs more money to fund the invasion, so he takes a few more villages from another neighbour and starts another war.

Fast forward to 2013.

Sir Roger has a bank.  He is very greedy and wants to make more money than he could ever spend. He needs ten houses, five Ferraris and enough gold to choke a brontosaurus. His wife needs sufficient diamonds (sod cheap crystals) to fully populate a vajazzle for the same, by now choking, but intrinsically wealthy dinosaur. 14

But, poor old Sir Roger gets involved in a few dodgy deals and finds he has no money.05

He asks the King – now called The Government – for money. The Government has no money of its own so it gets some from the peasants by taxing the poor and people who save their money under the bed. There is no point in taxing the rich because they are all friends with or related to members of the Government and wouldn’t like it at all. That money is then given to Sir Roger.06

But, it’s not enough.

He asks the Government for more and they tax the peasants again and borrow money from rich people and other banks to give to the rich people who are investors in Sir Roger’s bank. Sir Roger gets a big cash gift for getting them the money so they can buy more houses and Ferraris, which is their right and duty, as it is the right and duty of the peasants to provide such necessities.

13Because the Government has borrowed so much money it has to make the money worth less so that it doesn’t have as much to pay back. Printing more paper money without any gold, or even a secret hoard of Cornish Pasties, to back it up is one way. It’s always better to call this ‘quantitative easing’ so that people don’t get worried that their paper money is not worth the value of the paper.  If they found out that it wasn’t, then they might take their money out of the banks and the whole system of making money for very rich people called ‘banking’ would collapse and then where would we be?

Anyway, because money is worth less, the peasants find that food and utilities are becoming awfully expensive.

The hardest hit are the stupid ones who saved all their lives for retirement and now find their paper money is worthless. A few of the older ones die because it’s winter and they have foolishly chosen to buy food instead of fuel. The Government is happy about this because the less old people the less the pension bill and the more available to give to Sir Roger and his friends – who coincidentally happen to be members of the Government.

The Government reduces the value of their currency – often called by quaint names like the Pound, the Dollar or the Euro – so much that they have to borrow a lot more from very rich people to keep the basic services running in order to avoid revolution. The thing they most fear is revolution, because in a revolution new people become Sir Roger, new people become the Government and the old Sir Rogers and old Government are forced to have only one or two houses and Ferraris. 18Occasionally, they are hung from lamp posts or beheaded as well, which is almost as bad.

As time goes by, the very rich people need to make more money from the money they are loaning since it is worth so much less. They all go to their club, called the International Monetary Fund or the EU or the Federal Reserve and decide that the peasants have had it too good for too long and need to be taught a lesson.

In Europe, lots of countries find that their peasants had had it too good for too long and have to borrow more money that isn’t worth anything to pay back the very rich people for the money they borrowed when nobody realised that paper money wasn’t worth anything at all. Of course, this newly printed money is worth even less than the old money, so the very rich people quite naturally need to make sure they are going to get some of it back before they have even lent it.

MoneyIt takes a little longer in the USA because they don’t have wasteful foreign places like Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain going bust, just Detroit. Or so they believe.

Of course, somebody has to pay.

Quite obviously, it wasn’t the banks that made disastrous investments or lent money they didn’t have to people who could never pay it back. It was the fault of the peasants for wanting a life that was too good for them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe fair and just solution is to take any money the peasants are hoarding, from their private savings and give it to the very rich people. After all, the peasants were stupid enough to save money in banks, so deserve to be deprived of it for the greater good. Of the very rich people.

Cyprus is the first such attempted repatriation. The peasants call it theft when The EU – another club for rich people – wants to forcibly deduct 40% of their life savings from everyone with a bank account on one particular day of the year. They fail to realise – because they are not terribly bright – that the money was never theirs but was always on loan from the very rich people and anyway wasn’t worth anything unless the very rich people said it was.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOf course, some very rich people are given the news days before the peasants are informed, so they can move their money to Switzerland.

The peasants get a little uppity at the idea of donating their savings and start protesting and mumbling darkly about lamp posts, so the Cypriot government bravely votes not to steal their money, but instead to filch it from the life savings of another class of peasants called ‘pensioners’, who are not mobile enough to protest and will probably die quite soon so won’t need any money. This idea is disguised by having a few rich people leave some money in their accounts so that it looks as if only the rich are being stolen from. The very rich have already moved their money, of course.Tourist in Italy

Eventually, lots of governments think, ‘what a good idea, as long as we don’t steal the money from people who can walk or have the strength to lift someone to lamp post level’. They find many creative ways of ensuring that private savings and other assets built up over a lifetime of poorly paid and health-wrecking work are not squandered on the foolish aspirations of peasants or pensioners.

0219The moral of this story is that if you have a very large amount of money you can keep it and the peasants will give you more. But if you have savings or a pension, you don’t deserve to keep them since you are, by definition, stupid and should donate them to those who know how to spend them wisely on Italian cars and genital ornamentation.

1503It’s your way of thanking the very rich people for ham (sorry, horse) burgers, fizzy drinks, pornography, TV game shows, GM foods, democracy (an opportunity to vote for people who aspire to be rich people) and all the other fine things provided by them to keep you happy, in your bovine way.

And remember, the so-called ‘economic crisis’ is entirely your fault in the first place, so be grateful.

You can think about that when you are in the line for that wonderful and almost hot cabbage soup.04

About J.D.Hughes

Disclaimer: The profile photo above was taken when I was (briefly) young and cool. Writer, director and recovered ne'er do well. Simply delightful, but quite unhinged supernatural thrillers, NORTHMAN & AND SOON THE SONG on Amazon and several short stories, all of which contain The Meaning of Life. Or one of them. New novel to be published mid 2020, but on current performance might be posthumously... Likes dogs and probably was one in a past life.
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28 Responses to HEY, YOU PEASANTS… YES, YOU!

  1. Mari Biella says:

    Sadly, J.D., I think this is just about spot-on. Perhaps it’s time for another peasants’ revolt…


    • J.D.Hughes says:

      Mari, I’m building barricades as we speak and dragging my old CND banner and a kaftan out of the cupboard. Just need to grow my hair a little longer…

      I’m surprised by how easily commentators have accepted the principle of robbery as a method of keeping private, insolvent banks afloat. Odd. Not a good portent for the future.


  2. Good grief, you crack me up, J.D. My financial adviser, (my husband) agrees! Our retirement fund (pennies in mason jar) is doing well, as are the Rhododendrons with which it is planted! Apparently we have invested most of it in heavy metal (copper), and it’s doing so well we have had to start a new jar.


  3. J.D.Hughes says:

    🙂 Just wait until the Chinese hear you have copper, Connie! Although, since they control the metals market, they probably know about your jars already! If you hear digging at midnight in your garden and the occasional phrase in Mandarin…


  4. K. S. Bowers says:

    I love this post and not only for its bold and colorfully written truths, but also for its vajazzled brontosaurus. And, I would also like to note that for the imminent revolution, I hereby claim the vajazzled brontosaurus as my sigil. 😀


    • J.D.Hughes says:

      The bronto is yours, K. But please don’t try to retrieve the diamonds without a SWAT team. I’d forgotten the word ‘sigil’. Very Dan Brown – thanks for reminding me 🙂


      • K. S. Bowers says:

        I would never try to retrieve those jewels. Besides, without the ornamentation it would just be a brontosaurs and really, what’s all the fuss about there? Not like we haven’t all seen one of those before. Oo

        You’re welcome! But, uh, I actually, stole it from G. R. R. Martin (I find I can never say his name without growling it). I’ve been spending a lot of time in Westeros lately, getting ready for a new season of Game of Thrones on HBO.


      • J.D.Hughes says:

        I pity Mr Brontosaurus. Diamonds? I think I’m getting old. Thankfully.

        ‘Sigil’ is a marvellous word no matter where it was stolen from and it fits exactly into a paragraph -spoken by my protagonist – that I’m currently failing to understand in my new book . The paragraph looks as if it means something. I wonder what? There. Gone. Now it means something, since I can build a rational sentence around the world ‘sigil’ and not feel my protagonist is trying to trick me with fancy words and quantum theory.


      • K. S. Bowers says:

        Ah. LOL, who knew a vajazzled sauropod could be so helpful with writing? I can’t wait to read this. 🙂


      • J.D.Hughes says:

        Neither can I. Wonder what it’ll be about? I’ll try to fit ‘sauropod’ in somewhere. 🙂


  5. Greg Jasperson says:

    I’d bet none of my economist buddies would disagree,


    • J.D.Hughes says:

      Good to see you here, Greg and thanks for your comment. I hear a distinct sound of a fiddle being played and the smell of burning ideals in the wind. Wonder how long it will take for thieving from customers to be an accepted part of the capital funding of private business?




    • J.D.Hughes says:

      Thanks a lot, Garland! Of course you may use the article in full or as quotes on your website as you suggest. A credit would be great and a link to my blog appreciated.

      It’s weird how the price of gold is flatlining, despite fiat money being almost worthless. Is somebody manipulating the market?


      • Yes, it’s being manipulated! By the banksters! And as they manipulate and accumulate, they belittle those independent souls wise enough to stash a little away for themselves. I direct you to an associates site that has been a thorn in the side of the banksters for many years. It is GATA – the Gold Anti Trust Action committee. For years they were pooh poohed as just wild eyed extremists and now, suddenly, they are considered mainstream. Their site is http://www.gata.org.
        The fact is that gold, and to a lesser extent silver, is being re-accumulated by the central banks of the world because they realize that once the paper money has been totally debased they will need to re-establish an asset based currency acceptable by other nations. Jeez, J.D., don’t get me started …
        Talk soon. Thanks for the grant!
        G. William


      • J.D.Hughes says:

        Thanks a lot for that, my friend. I suspected gold was being bounced up and down and your GATA site confirms that suspicion. Here in the UK our then Chancellor of The Exchequer, Gordon Brown, sold much of our gold early this century at a low price. The price then went up dramatically a short time later. Make of that what you will.


      • Your Chancellor sold low and will end up buying high. Believe it or not, that is to their advantage – too lengthy an explanation for that in a response here but that’s a fact. Of course, your politicians are perhaps no different then ours – they all have two arms and two legs and all four of them reach the ground! American’s can never go wrong by underestimating the intelligence of their elected officials! In your response to Paul Sutton Reeves you reminded me of comedian Will Rogers when discussing politicians: “There are politicians and there are thieves – but then, I repeat myself!”


      • J.D.Hughes says:

        I’d love to know why it’s an advantage to sell low and buy high? Will Rogers had it right. When I hear of a financial action that flies in the face of logic or appears to be generous, I always ask, ‘cui bono’ – who benefits? Invariably, it’s not the people I either like or admire.


  7. Brilliant post, J.D. I agreed with almost every word (and I’m an Economics graduate too!).


  8. Lisa says:

    Yet another great post JD. I had no idea so many people were ripping me off! Well, maybe I did and didnt want to think they were. How long will it be before we’re all penniless and homeless and living in caves?


  9. J.D.Hughes says:

    It won’t be until after my dentist appointment on Friday. I was hoping.

    The very rich are unlikely to make us entirely penniless since we are the market from which they make money. But, in the manner of all dictators they will ensure that we have so much to worry about that we won’t notice how much we are being taken to the cleaners. It was ever so.


    • Ah! But one must remember the French. In 1776 and again in the mid-1800’s (“Les Miserable”, et al) and of course those pesky colonists that didn’t take kindly to the king’s taxes (as given excellent exposure in your essay).
      It is ever so! The rich extort the last pfenning (I’m trying to give some geographic latitude to this response) while extolling the virtue of thrift. It works until it doesn’t! There comes a breaking point for all the “unwashed masses” when they look about and wonder why the wealthy live so comfortably on the sweat of the peasant’s brow. Then comes the revolt and a new social order that will eventually be replaced by a new set of rulers who will begin the usurpation all over again!
      Same feces, different toilet!


      • J.D.Hughes says:

        A great response and an apt final analogy! You are right of course, but I wonder if the difference this time might be the level of relative comfort and affluence to which we have become accustomed. Revolutions only occur when people are very uncomfortable or when an apparently new, aggressive political or religious system promises change. In the West we have a social security net to buy our revolutionary fervour with (almost) guaranteed food and shelter and there is no new belief system on the horizon except Islam.

        In the UK, membership of the European Union has ensured that the concept of nationality has been diluted into a European mish-mash, so it’s improbable that revolution could be built around that idea. It might be different in the US, since you still have a sense of national identity. Not only that, but you have freely available weapons…

        Interesting times.


  10. Frequently, the American citizen looks ta Congress and says, “Where are we going and why are we in this hand-basket?” When we see the gawd-awful mess that our elected officials have made of our economy, we as a people are stricken with a sense of hopelessness and failure. We don’t believe there will ever be a real government that is dependent upon the people of the United States, because we know it is not dependent upon US at all.

    Our elected officials are dependent upon less than 1% of the population. We as a people, are allowed to vote only on the people who’ve achieved the FUNDING to run a big, high-powered campaign. We are never allowed to vote for those who may be perfectly competent and who truly represent US as a people, because we are only offered the choice of voting for those who are lighter than air–those lucky enough to rise to the top in the mad pool of fundraising.

    This is explained beautifully in a TED talk that aired just this last week. The solution to this problem is real AND is doable. The question is: Do the people have the will to do it, or is apathy such a strong fundamental force that it can maintain the status quo?

    This is the link for the talk, if you are interested:
    Lawrence Lessig: We the People, and the Republic we must reclaim http://on.ted.com/dVAm #TED


    • J.D.Hughes says:

      Thank you for that thoughtful post, Connie. It’s not so bad here in terms of who gets elected, but party leaders are usually wealthy nowadays and mainly career politicians rather than conviction politicians. Margaret Thatcher died today and although one might not agree with her domestic policies, I find it difficult to do anything other than mourn her passing. She was the last of the conviction politicians; now we have stuffed shirts and rich men.

      For truth to come about honest men have to raise their heads above the parapet. Unlike you, I’m afraid that the world has lost its honesty and will get the political leaders it deserves. I hope you are right and I’m wrong.

      My friend Juliet McHugh has written a brilliant post on Thatcher here. http://julietmchugh.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/why-i-wont-smile-that-thatcher-died/


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