My Blog List

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Benefit Versus Ability to Pay

I wrote on the question of Taxation based on ability to Pay or Fee for Service in 2015. It laid out the role of Edwin R.A. Seligman (1861-1939) who was a young disciple of Henry George. This subject comes up again as the question of "Benefit versus ability to Pay" that is the subject of this piece. This piece is a follow on the last post on

Nature's Tax Collectors

Who I identify with Pirates

In that piece I noted that according to the author, taxes should be:

  • Taxes are a duty of citizenship.
  • Taxes should be proportionate to the "faculty" or ability to pay of taxpayers.

Nature's Tax Collectors or Oligarchs?

What I didn't completely understand when I wrote the previous post in 2015 was the role of rent seeking, privilege, or the privateering that goes into the income of the wealthy and connected. Fortunately a number of my friends and a great man and his disciples, Henry George, Edwin Seligman and Thomas G. Shearman captured the extreme peril of not taxing privilege.

If you don't regulate or tax unearned income from privilege, then you get corruption, bad economic outcomes and oligarchs.

The Benefit of Unearned Income

People have been conditioned into embracing bogus ideas. There is a strong effort to forget the former and embrace the following pseudo-principles, that aren't really as old as they are argued to be. "Classical Economics" never really taught them. And Neo-liberalism teaches them, but they are propaganda:

  1. Those who benefit from a thing should pay for it.
  2. No one should pay for another person's benefits.
  3. A person earns whatever he gains, however he gains.
  4. The exception is the poor, who never deserve to keep what they earn.
  5. Taxation is the government stealing from the privileged.
  6. Taxation should be a "fee for service," and no more.

But guess what, rent seeking means that:

  1. The wealthy benefit from a well fed, healthy and prosperous customers, renters and employees.
  2. Almost everyone is paying for the benefits of the wealthy.
  3. Unearned income means unearned. Income derived from privileges and properties like land, corporate, contract or monopoly is only partly early earned. But for the most part is almost entirely unearned. Most great wealth earn money from money, debt or ownership instruments. Pirates and privateers don't always deserve to keep what they took.
  4. The people who deserve to keep their income are those who labor, sell, and work for a living.
    And those who are poor, ill, young or aged, deserve our support.
  5. Privateering rent seekers are essentially stealing from government. Hence me calling them pirates.
  6. Taxation is about regulating excessive issues of private money and privilege not just a "fee for service."

Benefit Versus Ability to Pay or Taxing Unearned Income

Related to the tax shiftability concern [See Progressive Versus Regressive] is the debate over whether the Single Tax was based on the “benefit theory of taxation,” where one is taxed on the benefits received from holding a land parcel vs. the “faculty” or “ability to pay theory,” where a tax on land gains is only collected when the taxpayer can easily pay the tax (without losing his land or going into debt to pay the tax). But that question is resolved when sees this as a tax on privilege and for regulating money.

The tax needs to be based on ability to pay. And it has to provide enough revenue to prevent inflation and regulate the money supply [see Money Privilege and Loot] The 1890 Plank says:

"To carry out these principles we are in favor of raising all public revenues for national, state, county and municipal purposes by a single tax upon land values, irrespective of Improvements, and of the abolition of all forms of direct and Indirect taxation." [Georgist Constitution]

Although many Georgists believe the Single Tax to be a form of property taxation, Henry George objected to property taxes because they targeted both land use (i.e., labor) and land ownership (i.e., potential ground rents) at the same time. George was concerned that, because a property tax is a direct tax on all aspects of land use and ownership, and demands a tax whether or not the landowner has access to the gain and is able to pay, that the tax would end up being falling on labor/wages. Any tax that can be shifted to ordinary people is not very progressive or fair and just. Thus what George was talking about was:

"not a tax on land, and therefore would not fall on the use of land and become a tax on labor."

Not a tax on land but on the:

"premium which the user of land must pay to the owner, either in purchase money or rent, for permission to use valuable land."

Which means that it was intended as a tax on what we now call capital gains. Thus anyone arguing over ability to pay/facility" versus paying for benefits, is missing the point. Taxation is also for the sake of regulating privilege. And also for making sure that such taxes were not shifted to consumers, workers or rent payers. More importantly, that such taxes weren't grabbed by Tongue eating Trolls.

Sources and Further reading

For those with Facebook:

Rick's pages:
Cooperative Individualism webpage []]
Georgist Constitution
His copy is on facebook:
Where he explains the tax is on unearned economic rent:

Natures Tax Collectors or Rent Seekers?

Nature's Tax Collectors

As noted Henry George put considerable effort working out principles of taxation. He wrote an opus about tax reform and gathered a huge following of progressives under the populist wing of the Democratic Party. Two of those were scholars and lawyers who would go on to support his movement after he died in 1897. After Henry George died in 1897 Shearman and Seligman went their separate ways. Though both articulated clear Gerogist Principles. They differed on some particulars.

"Henry George’s lawyer, Thomas G. Shearman, in “Natural Taxation” (1898) [referred to] certain kinds of people (rent-seekers)" as “nature’s tax collectors,”

A Grossly Unfair Tax system taxes unearned takings

Shearman noted that:

"if government failed to heavily tax (really, retrieve or reclaim) their unearned takings (while leaving their wages untaxed), a grossly unfair tax system would result."

It should be noted that the word rent and the word tax were once pretty much the same thing. The ability to collect rent was once a feudal right associated with barons, counts, dukes and kings. Economic rent is a privilege. Private collection of economic rent is privateering. During the late middle ages, sovereigns began to farm out taxation to "tax farmers" who collected taxes (rent) in return for a cut. There is a case to be made that tax farming was one of the reasons for the French Revolution. But that is another essay for another day.


That term applies because it is private persons performing government functions. Privateers were originally pirates authorized to wage war on an enemy by stealing from them on the high seas. But as I explain in a series of articles on the East India Companies took privateering to a whole new level by privatizing war and colonialization in the East Indias. One of their first acts was to usurp the Mogul ability to tax people in the province of Bengal (now Bangladesh and neighboring provinces in India). Pirates and wealthy adventurers (legal pirates) are after loot.

Economic Rent

The easiest way to loot is to get the government to put property into their greedy little hands. The technical term for this is Rent seeking. Economic rent is the premium owners of vital public property charge for using vital public goods. Such people set themselves up with the privilege to provide a monopoly service that rewards themselves heavily. They are like the tongue lice that eat a fish's tongue, except they "eat" and acquire or usurp governmental powers. Sitting pretty such people live on economic rent.

Examples of Shearman’s concept that rent-seekers are “nature’s tax collectors:”

"Part of the rent a tenant pays to a landlord is a tax, and is really intended for the government so it can provide for the health, education, training, retirement, etc. of the tenant, but the tax is shifted onto the tenant if not collected by government from the landlord."

Of Course landlords and other rentiers don't see any mutual responsible to tenants, labor or those paying them economic rent.

An Ideology of Loot

My Friend Rick DiMare writes:

"Under neoliberal theory we’ve been duped into believing that rent-seekers (i.e., landlords, lenders, employers and speculators) are entitled to keep most or all their income, whether earned as a wage, or taken as unearned income.... We’re taught that government is terribly inefficient and inept when it comes to providing social services."

The con of Neoliberalism

This is a bait and switch argument, as the rentiers and their shills who make this argument don't feel any need to provide social services efficiently or at all. But it is the kind of deflection and distraction that pays people to shill for them. Part of economic rent is used to buy an ideology that justifies privateering. This ideology is rightly named neoliberalism. Although a more accurate term would be "faux liberalism" because it isn't intended to work as a body of policies and theory. It is just intended to justify the accumulation of loot by the privateers. The real justification for neoliberal policies is simply the Nietzchean "Will to Power" and unadulterated Darwinism sometimes justified by grossly heterodox theologies. [Ironically these are usually some of the same people who preach against Darwin].

For the Public Good becomes for Private Loot


Land Property Power

"Part of the capital/land gain paid for an inflated land parcel by a land buyer"... ought to be "a tax which belongs to government for the benefit of the public at large, and ... not intended for the landlord or land speculator, so tax unfairness ... result[s when] ... land gain is not collected from the landlord by government."

That is just one example,

Banking Money Power:

"Part of the interest a borrower pays to a lender is a tax paid by the borrower to the government, but is intercepted or privatized by the lender if the government fails to collect the lender’s net unearned income.

Natures Bounty belongs to all of us

natural resources in private hands such as oil, trees, etc... all have a component that by natural right belongs to the public at large, or at the very least to the people who work to extract those resources, process, move and sell them. The ideology of privateering shields owners from any social responsibility. The ideology demonizes any public benefit as "socialism" and thus distracts people from even appreciating that they have a right to any reward beyond the peanuts thrown to them by monopolists or employers under their control. Nature's bounty should belong to all of us. But privateers covet and covet such properties in order to extract value from them they can convert to loot.

There are beautiful mansions in Britain that belong to people who using the British East India Company as their vehicle, systematically looted India. Castles and Mansions, world wide are built with loot gained from taking a good idea and building it into a vast and gargantuan fortunes. Much of that wealth is turned into treasure and unavailable to anyone. Pirates literally would bury their treasure. Modern looters bury their treasure in offshore banks.

Shifting Taxes to Rent

An unfair tax system is setup so that even taxes ostensibly intended to punish or control excessive wealth get shifted from the pirate captains to the crew. Avoiding that becomes difficult because of the armies of shills the wealthy will hire to gaslight the subject. But also because most people, even many Georgist, don't really understand the progressive principles behind taxing unearned rent, making taxes affordable and the principle of Shiftability. Sometimes what is intended as a luxury tax or punishment for bad behavior becomes ineffective at stopping the behavior but oppresses labor and capital instead. Moreover, much of what makes some people phenomenally rich is hidden private taxation. Rick notes:

"in addition to actual (overt) taxes on wages paid by an employee, an employee also pays a hidden (covert) tax whenever forced to accept a low or unfair wage for work performed (because of the employer’s monopoly advantage over land, corporate privilege, capital, etc.). Of course, the employer is entitled to a wage, which may be substantially higher than that of employees, but the employer should not be allowed to keep unearned net income or profits produced, nor should the employer be allowed to pay the net income to shareholders in the form of dividends. If this unearned income is not taxed or reclaimed by government, the tax system will be unfair, and the tax will have been shifted onto to ordinary consumers and the poor. A general “inflation tax” is shifted onto ordinary consumers if Congress does’t tax income received in Federal Reserve notes using highly progressive tax rates (under the currency-regulating Springer income tax)."

The only taxes that are not shiftable are:

  1. Taxes on unearned income, i.e., Henry George’s “single tax,” which includes taxes on net rental income, net interest income, dividends, net corporate profits, capital/land gains, gambling winnings, etc.
  2. Taxes on luxury goods
  3. Taxes on estates, prior to 1916 known as legacy, succession or inheritance taxes

Further Reading

For those with Facebook:

Rick's pages:

Genuine Tax Reform I: Principles

Principles of fairness in Taxation

We just saw a parody of tax "reform" in the Republican's Tax bill in 2017. Anyone can call anything "reform." But to be actual reform one has to be applying strategies that minimize public misery and optimize the public good. If we want to avoid corruption, we need to define what the parameters (boundaries & rules) of tax reform are about.

  • Taxes should encourage actual capital investment*,
  • Facility or Ability to Pay, be affordable to the ones paying them,
  • regulate behavior, (encourage beneficial spending/discourage waste, fraud and harmful behavior)
  • not hurt people.

Additionally Taxation must take into account:

If they meet those criteria then one can say they are fair. Once we understand these principles we can debate the details and come up with a tax system that is fair and sustainable. When taxes don't meet those criteria they are oppressive.

Sources and Further Readings

Unearned Wealth

Disambiguating Actual Capital From Simple Wealth and The Trouble with Capitalism
Critiquing PikettyCapital Versus Unearned Wealth
Facility Versus Ability to Pay
Henry George Quotes:

For those with Facebook:

Rick's pages:

Progressive Versus Regressive Taxation

Marginal Taxes

Progressive taxation is a tax burden that increases as the taxable amount increases and reflects the taxpayer's ability to pay the tax. Progressive taxation is also referred to as marginal taxation.

For example if there are three tax brackets and a person is wealthy. Example Say:

  • first bracket is from 0-15,000$ @ zero tax,
  • the second from 15,000$ to 30,000$ @ 5% tax
  • the third is from 30,000$ to 100,000$ at 10% tax.


If I make 100,000$, then I pay zero on my first 15,000.00. 5% x 15,000 or 750$ on my next 15,000 and $7000.00 on the third bracket. My total tax burden would be 7750.00$. That is called "marginal taxation".

Shiftability and Incidence

But that is not the only feature of progressivity. My friend Rick explains:

"Whether a tax is “progressive” or “regressive” is" [also] "related to the tax shiftability issue.... Stated differently, a regressive tax is one that can be shifted onto ordinary consumers and the poor, and a progressive tax is one that stays put when levied on a taker of unearned income."

The reformer economist Henry George and his disciples laid out basic principles of fair taxation, starting with the issue of Shiftability. He believed that government should avoid taxes which could be shifted onto consumers and wage earners.

"His main goal with his Single Tax (on unearned income only) was to avoid taxes which could be shifted unto consumers and wage-earners, except that he condoned a tax on consumers of luxury goods and services, because if the tax targeted only luxury items, it would not be shifted onto ordinary consumers."

The most obvious example of this:

"a general sales tax on grocery items would be shifted onto ordinary consumers and the poor, whereas a restaurant or meal-preparation tax would likely not." [Rick DiMare]

Another Example:

For example, a 50-cent per gallon tax on gasoline will not detract from the net profits or dividend pay-outs of oil companies, but WILL be passed on or “shifted to” the consumer. In other words, the incidence of the tax, or who ultimately pays the tax, is the consumer and the poor. The same goes for sales taxes, property taxes, tariffs, imposts, duties, excise taxes, and one of the U.S. income taxes (the Springer income tax which targets wages).

The general principle is that when a tax can be shifted to others, it may be collected by a grocer or landlord, but it is the renter or person buying groceries who is paying it. George died in 1897 and his disciples sometimes argued over details, but all were seeking to implement his principles. His disciple, and tax scholar Edwin Seligman:

"referred to George’s tax shiftability concerns as the “tax incidence,” and if you’re interested in exploring further, he well-explained the concept in “The Shifting and Incidence of Taxation” (1899)."


Because George referred to all of Nature's bounty as "land." I agree that what he meant by the Single Tax is as my colleague Rick DiMare Calls it:

"The most accurate modern meaning of “Single Tax” would refer to a single global uniform tax on unearned income, broadly interpreted to include all forms of income that are unearned, but would not refer to any tax on wages." [...or actual capital]

Sources and Further Readings

For those with Facebook:

Rick's pages:

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Abusive Contracts and Privateering

Incomplete Contracts And Large Scale Swindles

I've been using the theme of piracy and privateering to describe our current economic system This is because at the heart of modern dysfunction is elitism and a "privateering spirit." There are people who actually normalize the swindling but it is a sick ideology whether you call it "neoliberalism", "conservatism" or "libertarianism." At heart these people are pirates. But they are a special kind of pirate. They use privilege to Grift, make themselves oligarchs and legalize theft and contract abuse, privateering.

I started this post back last September but I wanted to examine a bit of history and read the Nobel prize winning research on contract theory, and digest what I was reading.

Monday, December 25, 2017

An Ideology of Piratical Banking

Accounting Money, Piracy and Credit

The theme of piracy and privateering describes our current economic system, both as a humorous metaphor and verifiable fact.  I've been referring to the GOP as the Grifters, Oligarchs and Pirates party for a reason. And that reason is that they've become, over time an ideology of legalized piracy.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Propaganda and Totalitarianism, Kakistocracy and Kleptocracy

This Tax Bill is a naked exercise in plutocracy. It's passage was ugly. Uglier was today's televised Cabinet meeting. Cabinet members praising Trump, making up non existent progress and genuflecting to their King. Things are bizaare right now. And at the basis of it is Trump and his movement are following the dictators handbook. Today they are pretending that this tax bill doesn't add 1.5 trillion to our debt and promises to cut earned services for the vast majority of people of this country.

What Trump is Doing

Trump and his minions use propaganda pretty openly, systematically. The GOP thinks that they can get away with it because they are gaslighting, conditioning and bullying people into submitting to their power and influence.


These methods condition people through gaslighting which is the employment of:

  • Denial
  • Misdirection
  • Contradiction
  • Lying


People are conditioned to believe propaganda by negative or positive reinforcement. Trolls, authorities and others echo the messages and make it unpleasant to disagree with the lies or point out contradiction. Violence, administrative punishment, are all forms of negative reinforcement. And at the same time people are praised or rewarded for going along with the program. Conditioning also exploits peoples desires and fears. It is easy to condition a person to hate foreigners or minorities because they are already primed for that at a primitive level of the mind.


Nobody gets away with gaslighting propaganda without help from otherwise trustworthy authorities. Everytime a news presenter gives credence to lies, he is normalizing them and reinforcing their hold on people's minds.

Trump's tweets:

His tweets have four basic purposes:

  • Pre-emptive Framing -- Trump comes out with his gaslighting before the news hits on his crimes with;
  • Diversion
  • Deflection
  • Trial Balloon

Gaslighting the Tax bill

The tax bill is being sold via gaslighting and propaganda. Trump is pretending that this bill will benefit people it won't benefit. It will give people some tax breaks, but it takes from them more than it gives them. I'll update with links later because explaining how they are lying about this would take from the prime lesson, that they are lying to you.

Further Reading

Roger Stone:

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Republican Money

Who is Sovereign Over our Economy?

We are being told that the government doesn't have enough money for the things people need and that the only sane alternative is austerity for the common folks. Of course the people telling this are granting themselves privileges and additional control over the money supply and economic resources. We are told our taxes are onerous in order to pay for those things. But then their tax cutting proposals involve austerity and hurt 98% of us while enabling them to pocket more money, buy back stock and maybe buy an extra Yacht without paying taxes. They are obviously lying, but even beyond that dishonest hypocrisy. The premise is a lie. Economists have known since Alfred Maynard Keynes, (at least) that austerity hurts the economy and that government spending stimulates it.

A Sovereign Republic

In A Republic, the economy is "our thing" [see: Definitions], Res-Publica. In a Republic, Supreme power is held by the people through their representatives. Therefore because the money power, which in any state belongs to the sovereign therefore theoretically must belong to the people.


We are supposed to be sovereign over our own currency. Unfortunately, ever since the realization that there is never enough Gold or silver in the world to inflate an economy, countries have relied on borrowing for their money. The result is that few societies are in fact sovereign over their own money supply. In some cases it is because banks control the money supply and not the national treasury. In others it is because external countries do.

There are all sorts of theoretical movements that would change this. But most are confusing because they confuse how things actually are with how they should be. But the first step is to decouple money from privateering. The people of a region need to have some control over their money supply. Balancing Budgets is not responsible behavior, but printing money recklessly isn't either. So what should we do?

Irresponsible Money

A considerable body of theory has developed over time that demonstrates fallacies in how the money supply is created and used. Ignoring any part of that body of experience leads to disaster. Let me summarize some of that body:

  • Commodity Money is unstable and leads to treasure accumulation and hoarding. Gresham's law states that "bad money" drives out good money." But it only applies to money as a commodity with some intrinsic value. People seek to save treasure for use in hard times. Money as Treasure tends to wind up in treasure chests and looted and buried by pirates. Gold and Silver Standards fail to stabilize for that reason.
  • Money as Private Debt not only is equally unstable but when accompanied with interest it drives wealth into the hands of those who are owed and increases inequality. Private note money started as banknotes backed by gold or silver coin. The bankers would usually print more notes than the Gold or Silver they had in their vaults. The result was periodic "panics" followed by depressions as folks didn't have any money. Debt money results in people owing more than they can pay back. It bankrupts individuals and whole countries. Governments need to be able to count on people being able to pay their taxes. For that reason interest free debt should be part of government funding. Interest bearing notes only make sense for investments that generate revenue directly.
  • Printing money without some sort of backing leads to inflation. Horrid examples like the Weimar Republic show what happens when one tries to inflate ones way out of private debt.

The Best Money is Sovereign Money

The conclusion from these observations is that money as notes issued by a treasury for the benefit of the people as a whole, is probably the best money,...

The Economy has to balance

But there are caveats. The government can't just print money in any quantity without consequence. Money has to be backed by economic activity. It is an investment in the economy by the Government. Benjamin Franklin suggested that notes be printed backed by real estate. But he didn't really understand that notes that are used in one place have to have similar value elsewhere.

Money has to be a unit of account backed by the ability to buy things and pay bills and taxes. That means it has to be "legal tender" for all debts public and private, and of a universal and fixed value.

The people have to be sovereign over its value. When money is issued to pay for bridges and roads, to keep farmers farming and merchants selling, it benefits the whole economy. But whenever the Government spends money into existence it is creating privilege, so that privilege has to either be taxed back or it will be leverage into more privilege and power.

Private Debt Money is Disaster Money

Studies show that private debt drives the business cycle more than public debt. Worse, private debt is driven up when money is scarce and wealth is concentrated. When people can no longer borrow, they can no longer buy, invest and they lose wealth they earned previously due to debt. Thus whenever we are using note money we have to use taxation to tax back excess money and reduce hoarding and to reduce the depredations created by inequality. That implies progressive taxation.

When whole nations are treated like scofflaw debtors, that drives austerity. Austerity creates degrading spirals of dysfunction. Nations need to ensure that money, created, goes into actual capital and actual labor. The value of the money in a country reflects the prosperity of that country and all its people. It also drives it.

No Need for fear of Deficits

If a Republic does not control its own money supply, then something is wrong with that Republic. It has become a tyranny run for "private separate advantage." In our current times, there is a degree of tyranny in much of the world, due to this being the case. We are so used to it we take it for granted. Those who have the strongest opinions about this feel jealousy, personalize and miscast the nature of this tyranny. It is not personal, it is a systemic problem. We could eliminate sovereign and individual debt issues worldwide by the simple expedient of allowing a part (or all) of national and state debt, everywhere, to be floated via the money supply rather than converted into bonds. Let the money float the economy, then tax back some of the benefits.

The Money Power should not be delegated

If a republic lacks power over its money supply then it is not fully Sovereign. However, Republics, all through history have not had power over their money supply, either because merchants would only accept gold or silver as payment, or because those who controlled the Gold or Silver had leant them money that was owed and the money they used was little better than IOU notes backed by debt owned by the State's Oligarchs or King. The use of commodity money and debt money is a drag on the world's economy. Debt is useful as an instrument for saving, but the money supply should be as sovereign as the term "all debts private and public" implies. Budgets should balance over the long term - a balance of non-interest bearing notes outstanding that is necessary to drive the economy.

Of course for Money to be fully Republican, the republicans have to be democratic republicans not Plutocratic ones.

Related Posts:
The Collective in the Federalist Papers
Von Mises:

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Money Privilege and loot

There are three kinds of property that determine society's prosperity. These are Land, Capital and labor.

  • Land
  • “The entire material universe exclusive of people and their products.”
  • Capital
  • “Wealth used in the process of production, which includes wealth in the course of exchange.”
  • Labor
  • “All human exertion in the production of wealth and services.”

These are the kinds of property that produce wealth.

Wealth and Treasure

However, for individuals, especially Westerners, what seems to be important is portable wealth. The more portable the better. The acquisitiveness of western people's is world in-famous. Tales of indigenous people pouring molten gold down the throats of captured conquistadors illustrate how others sometimes reacted to European adventurers seeking gold.

Treasure and Loot

Treasure acquired by theft, usurpation, conversion or warfare is also known as loot. Piracy and warfare, in search of exchange goods, led to colonialization, creation of factories for growing trade goods, and later to factories for automated production. All this was designed to create loot for the pirate captains. The west coined a word for legalized piracy, it was called privateering. It is said that if you scratch the history of almost any family, you find pirates and crooks as the founders. If English speaking people look down on Mafia, it's not because we never had our own. It was known as the English Aristocracy, and later, the brotherhood of the coast. The first Navies for both the Brits and the USA were pirate fleets. Spanish & Portuguese power was driven by privateering. It was called colonialism, but it was really an outgrowth of piracy. The Spanish had no claim to America, they came in to loot it. The Dutch and other European Powers all sailed the world in search of riches. When they engaged in labor or capital expenditure, it was after loot, not the greater good.

Security Versus Loot

People derive their sustenance and prosperity from a combination of ownership/rule and labor. Lincoln noted that capital comes from mixing labor with items taken from nature's bounty. "Labor is prior to Capital." Wealth is produced by such labor. Wealth is fixed to land; houses, buildings, improvements to property in general and put back into producing things. Wealth devoted to production is capital. When people own their own tools and property the result is widely spread modest prosperity. A society with a large middle class is secure and prosperous. There is room for wealthy people in a healthy society.

Wealth versus Greed

Wealth that is portable and exchangeable is known as "treasure". It may be used as capital, exchanged for consumable goods, or used to buy land properties. Henry George conceded that those who create wealth through capital have a right to enjoy the fruits of their labor. He considered the fruits of exertion or capital to be "earned income." Economic rent is unearned income. When people monopolize property and then charge rent to use it, that too is mostly unearned. Wealth acquired by fraud, usurpation or theft is also unearned. Indeed it is unmerited.

Yet vast wealth comes from lending, either directly or through investment. Accounting wealth involves the creation of theoretical instruments that produce fixed amounts of returns, "interest". Sometimes that wealth has nothing to do with reality except as a demand on others. When individuals do it, it's called usury, when States do it, it's called war, embargoes, or invasion. In any case, it's bad news, and has been known as such for centuries:

Aristotle is attributed to explaining it:

“The most hated sort, and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. And this term interest, which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money because the offspring resembles the parent. Wherefore of any modes of getting wealth this is the most unnatural.” [Quantum of Power]


Pioneers in Economics laid out the benefits of a well governed economic system years ago. But people prefer to fight, play king of the hill, and lord it over others. A well governed system under Democratic, Republican and Commonwealth principles is boring compared to one where people are always fighting. So there are always folks who prefer to be pirates and have it all, manipulate crews to fight for them, then bury the loot because they don't know what to do with it otherwise. Private people acting as government are privateers. Privateers are like the Tongue Eating Louse that eats the tongue of a fish and then takes a bite out of everything the fish tries to eat. Privateers create corporations that tried to rule the world: Rhodes in Rhodesia, the East India Company, J. P. Morgan. They become oligarchs because they are rarely competent to rule a country. They want loot, they don't really want the common-wealth of a country, the common business of a republic or a federation, or the annoyances of democracy.

Now the privateers of the United States are trying to implement oligarchy by dominating the GOP and raising one of their number to the Presidency.

I've got a lot more to say, but that's enough for this post.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Right's Dirty Little Secret

"Free Things == Lower Taxes

The right wing in the United States have a number of dirty little secrets. But the biggest dirty secret, is that the wealthy are dependent on government welfare for their wealth and privilege. They love to talk about the mob "demanding Free Things", but it is all projection as it is our wealthy and connected who assume privilege and demand "free things" from Government. Case in point is the con about our Corporate taxes being "higher" than other countries. The truth is that:

  1. Our effective tax rate is already among the lowest.
  2. The cons point to the nominal rate, but the nominal rate is based on the principle of marginal taxation, which differentiates between actual capital, encourages it, and loot, which should be taxed. When they point to closing "loopholes" that is a distraction, as taxes should always be on net income after legitimate expenses and compensation, and most "loopholes" are legitimate except when they are purchased by corporate lobbyists.

  3. The economy does better when the nominal rate is higher!
  4. Our economy has done better when the nominal rate was even higher. Corporations do not hire people, pay higher compensation or any good deeds in any quantity, out of the goodness of their hearts. Lowering the rates means more stock buy backs, dividends and more money for the CEO, but almost none will "trickle down". The hucksters advancing this fraud are lying.

  5. If you want higher pay for employees, then subsidize payroll and punish substandard wages.
  6. Don't give more money to Oligarchs. It is a simple as that. If you want corporations to be better citizens, put it in the law and punish them financially when they break it. If you don't want them to cheat, hold cheaters liable, incentivize whistle blowers and auditors, and make it profitable to do the right thing. Simple things like a finder fee on reporting fraud. Of course our current corporate climate incentivizes bad behavior.

So the first dirty little secret is that the corporate culture in our country thinks they own the government and can loot the treasury with impunity.

Allying with Nasties

The second dirty little secret is that the business right allies with those who will distract the general public and let them loot with impunity. Thus they have traditionally supported hard right causes, sometimes because it is in the financial interest of the CEOs, but more often because economic power is easily converted to political power and political power buys more loot than productive capital does. After all actual capital has to be spent to produce any gains. A politician can be bought for a few thousand dollars. Imagine making a million dollars and only spending 1000$? It's no wonder that whenever we get oligarchic ownership of business we get oligarchic features in our government.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Mafia State Patriarchs, Oligarchs, Poligarchs

Masha Gessen writes in the New Yorker, an Article titled:

"The Poligarchs, Oligarchs, and Stooges of the Paradise Papers":

The subtitle of which is:

In Russia, Vladimir Putin has created a mafia state, with him as the patriarch.

I liken these dictators and wannabe dictators to Pirate Captains, but Mafia Dons works as well. The analogy M. Gessen uses compares them to Mafia organizations, which makes sense, since the Sea Dogs of Britain, the Netherlands, France and Spain are the Mafioso of those lands. Gessen draws on the work of Bálint Magyar, who compares them to Mafioso. Marauding Invader's works as well. The analogies to Vandals and Goths might apply too, except these people are integrated into their societies and emerge from within.

A Hierarchy of Fear, Oppression and Tyranny

Gessen describes a hierarchy of Putin's Russia, with it's "Poligarchs", who always have a chief, an extended family. The chief is the patriarch, who provides unified direction and keeps the bloodthirsty "family" members from offing each other. A Poligarch is a political chief. Gessen writes:

"The word “poligarch” combines “political” and “oligarchy”; the poligarchs are first endowed with political power, which they use to procure material wealth."

But in the Polygarch Scheme, the oligarchs get their wealth and power from those with power, and in return must do as they are told. In Putin's Russia, Hitler's maxim of not nationalizing Industry, but nationalizing the Industrialists, has become a reality. Oligarchs either bend to Putin's rule, or they find themselves losing everything. Politicians can draw wealth and hidden power from the Oligarchs, and the Oligarchs exercise power from behind the scenes.

And Always the Stooges

And below them are the stooges. Always the Stooges.

He also writes on the Paradise Papers, which details the corrupt money relationships between Putin, his pet politicians "polygarchs", and oligarchs. All of whom are bound by secret stashes of money in Caribbean and Mediterranean Islands.

The point is that Trump wants that system for here.

For more on this read:

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

If Trump were Mexican

I was trying to get into Mexico. Somehow I was trying to get over the wall into Mexico, but there were police and military Guarding the boarder to keep the Gringo's out. I couldn't do it. But then you know how it is...

I was suddenly in Mexico. But it was too late. The People's paradise of Mexico had just elected Donaldo el Trompetista and the Gazpacho were everywhere in their red Vans blowing their Trumpets. We ran til they stopped along the road and took out their red bowls, ate Gazpacho soup and took a siesta. We stopped at the Tavern and the La Resistencia started drinking Sangría azul. Our fight was between the red and the blue here too!

His cry "Make Mexico Great Again!" And "Throw the Gringos out was very popular. But today the fighting was done. Mañana! I needed a break anyway.

I wandered around the country, and all the common folks were out wearing traditional garb and saying "how did we elect such a maleducado our president?" And I heard him on the TV in the Cafe:

Trump: "I really respect my country! I want to make it great again!"
Trump: "I think you need a strong leader, and I'm here to lead you!"
And the Announcer said:
"We've already had too many Caudillos. We don't need another."
Trump: "Get him out of here!"
That is when I remembered, Trump is our Caudillo, and woke up sweating. The Mexicans have already had their share of cheesy Caudillos. This one is our mess.

That is what I get for eating Gazpacho soup late at night.

Please Vote. We don't need a Caudillo!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Voter Turnaway not Low Turnout

Normalizing Voter Suppression

First published 11/16/2017, draft dates to 12/2016, updated 1/4/2018

Snopes initially told us that there was no evidence that three hundred thousand voters were turned away at the polls due to voter ID requirements. I published this post rage-posting after seeing that. Politifact rated it as false based on the lack of evidence that all 300,000 of the people barred from voting due to insufficient voting were actually turned away. Snopes changed their rating to unproven based on the following:

"ruling gauged that roughly 300,000 registered voters in Wisconsin did not possess sufficient identification to vote at the time that the ruling was issued in April 2014, but it did not suggest that all 300,000 had tried and failed to vote"

Given that turnout in the USA is often abysmal, it is likely that the suppression was more or less 300,000 as people who were in doubt over whether they had sufficient ID stayed home. Of course some people may have gotten the ID they needed. The claim of 300,000 was exaggerated, but given that 27,000 votes made the difference in the count, there is no doubt that it played a major role in the election.

The Nation Article

I was right

I wrote at the time:

We will never know how many were turned away, so the honest answer is "unverifiable." Blame the voter critics count people discouraged due to improper ID or caged, as "no-shows", most just don't show up. There is no doubt that approximately 16,800 in Milwaukee County and Madison’s Dane County. Extrapolated to the rest of the state the numbers probably come out to nearly 300,000.

Adding Voter ID, to closing polling places, removing people from the rolls arbitrarly by "caging," sending postcards to 100,000 voters. Anyone who didn't answer the post card was removed from the roles. This is a tried and true method to remove valid voters, as many people only vote in Presidential races and may not see a post card sent to them as anything important to respond to. They also remove people convicted of Felonies. [], and there are claims of people with similar names to felons being removed as well. Add this to targeted ads it is easy to see how voter suppression played a major role in Republican dominance of the State.

As I noted back in November:

When people know they'll be turned away when they show up to vote, many will simply not show up. Election dates and times are designed to suppress the votes of working people. Republicans don't like attributes of democracy, because they claim that most of us are too stupid to act like anything but a mob when we are allowed to assemble. Since that attitude also justifies manipulating voters, they wind up the ones stoking fear, anger and bigotry in mobs. We Democrats believe in participation. Republicans used to. Voter suppression is designed to intimidate people not to show up and vote. They want to turn away voters, but they don't want to appear to be so.

But what they are doing is voter turn away. The problem in states like this is this not so much low voter turnout. We combat it by turnout. They combat turnout by voter suppression:

It's not just Wisconsin. And these are only the overt acts. As we see in places like Virginia, with the parody of a recount that just occurred there, there is official election official misconduct going on. Difficult to prove, but obvious. We need uniform rules for election judging; ballots, protected rolls, process protections, bi(multi) partisan judging, audits and permanent record paper trails.

Further Reading and Sources

More on Voting Issues
Brennan Center:
American Progress:


Monday, October 16, 2017

Trump's Practice of the Big Lie

The Big lie is an old technique. I've written about it so many times in blog posts and similar I hardly need my references anymore: Orwell, Hannah Arendt, and of course the practitioners; Hitler, Stalin, Orwell, etc... The practitioners of the big lie are cagey about what they are doing. They will talk about it, but always in the context of defaming opponents. But Hannah Arendt:

Trump isn't that different from those who came before him. He calls his version of the Big Lie "Truthful Hyperbole". To him if it is supposed to be true one day, or he thinks he might be able to make it true. Then it is "Truthful Hypberbole." He calls it "truthful" because he can carry off the affectation of "truthiness" while telling his abusive lie. Lies are lies, not hyperbole. But to Trump...

...well who knows?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Mnuchin Subverts These United States

Steve Mnuchin stated;

"We can't have the Federal Government keep subsidizing the states."

Which is a very unconstitutional thing to say for two reasons:

  1. The States fund the Federal Government.

    The Federal Government is a Federation of "The several states" and it has always been the regulatory arm of "them." So this is a very anti "states rights" statement... and abusive.

  2. The States ceded the power to coin money in the Constitution and the power to issue notes as money. This was a delegation for the sake of efficiency and common-wealth.

Therefore the money power rests with the Federal Government, which in the Constitutional Government scheme is in service to These, not their tyrannical overseer. The Federal Government under the 14th amendment has some oversight rights as the collective will of the whole body of the people of the United States, but because states don't have the independent power to issue notes to pay their debts it should be the role of the Treasury through a well constituted Federal Reserve to front the money. Then taxes can collect any unmerited or unearned incomes from their spending on infrastructure and other citizens needs. Mnuchin's schema would treat them like Greece, allowing taxes and Wall Street to siphon off wealth and then punishing them for the vanishing tax receipts from a vanishing tax base. It would push all the costs of government onto States while continuing to let Wall Street eat the revenues.

Mnuchin's plan treats States as Colonies. He and Trump seem to be testing it on Puerto Rico. The combination of centralization and wealth siphoning by loan is toxic. We need to stop him. Mnuchin's idea is poisonous.

I've got a lot more to say so I may update this post later with more information.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Still Wrong the Day it was Decided

Updated Commentary on Wrong the Day it was decided

The trouble with divining "original intent" is that it can lead to anachronistic interpretations and faulty reasoning beyond simply anachronism fallacy! The trouble with the terms "cannonical" and "anti-cannonical", is that they try to apply religious terminology to what is essentially a human endeavor. Legal systems are designed to bind society to the wisdom and prescriptions of accepted law. But human interpretation is still necessary and so, just as the Plessy Versus Fergussen or Dredd Scott decision were later overturned; our understanding of law can and must change as society evolves. The constitution is a dead document unless we who live apply its principles as well as its dictates rationally and are able to use legal process to change those that must change. In some cases that might mean the amendment process, in others it is a matter of definition. The author of "Wrong the Day it was Decided" sought in the concept of "Constitutional Historicism" to bring principles of textual analysis to judicial decision making.

Monday, October 9, 2017

A right to Vote but not to have your vote counted

It goes back to Bush V Gore

In 2000 and 2001 the Supreme Court affirmed the corrupt process of Florida and other states in Bush Versus Gore. In Bush Versus Gore, they conceded that they could stop a recount despite it being obvious that votes were not being counted:

“there could be no question that there were uncounted "legal votes"” [Bush V Gore]

Nevertheless they held that actually counting those "uncounted legal votes" violated the "equal protection clause of the constitution. Part of their justification was lack of time, due to SCOTUS stopping the recounts earlier. But the real corrupt heart of Bush Versus Gore, is something that is itself eitter unconstitutional or poorly constituted because they held that:

“ The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States unless and until the state legislature chooses a statewide election as the means to implement its power to appoint members of the electoral college. U. S. Const., Art. II, § 1 ” [Bush V Gore]

So while the constitution states that no one can be denied a right to vote "on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude, or sex;" there is no requirement for that vote to be counted in electing the President per Bush Versus Gore. The decision was so badly decided that all subsequent examples of corrupt election process are all predicated on it. The same corrupt Justices who decided it would decide that bribery is speech.

SCOTUS could over-rule the State Supreme Court on the grounds that their SCOTUS ordering a recount violated "the equal protection clause" despite the reality that the Constitution does give those powers and responsibilities to the States and they didn't have standing in the first place. They could over-rule our own Constitution and the State Constitution to disestablish existing laws while inventing new theories of bribery=speech. They'd go on to over-rule 100+ year old corruption laws on equally specious grounds. Sandra Day O'Connor ruled with the majority on this case, she later regretted it. But it gave us 8 years of Bush and that gave us a Court even more corrupt than the one she was on. It also gave us a fraudulent war, massive economic fraud and speculation and an economic collapse.

This decision started me on being alarmed about our politics. The alarm has only grown as the GOP has become more and more authoritarian and the Corrupt Court ratified their actions.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

To Govern utilities well local government must be involved

Governing Utilities well has requirements

To Govern utilities well:

  1. Local Government must be involved in their management.
  2. Utilities need to be part of Emergency Management.
  3. We need republican forms to ensure they are well governed.
  4. Republican Government is not "Socialism

Local Government is application of Principles of Subsidiarity

The Principle of Democratic Subsidiarity is based on the notion that:

“Subsidiarity is an organizing principle that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority.”

In Application in democratic societies, it is why the Constitution guarantees a "Republican form of Government to the States" and why the states should guarantee republican forms to local government. In application to public utility it why large monopolies and centralized utilities fail to deliver well. Utilities should be organized on republican forms with local governance. Central Governance is good for general, universal principles, but not for their specific application. One of the drawbacks of centralization is the converse of subsidiarity principles, that central government is often incompetent to handle local matters.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Corporations Hoarding Loot

Our Blindness towards Hoarding

Today I listened to an "economist" on Bloomberg talk about the slow US economy and how "neither fiscal nor monetary policy" could spur more growth. For him and the businesses he serves this is 'caused' by excessive "government regulation." We've been hearing this claim since the late 70s and from the 80s to about 2008 policy makers bought it. It is not true. But nobody debated him when he started. Now that the Trickle Down Crowd ideas have been refuted, they claim nobody knows what to do. None of that is true! What causes recessions and depressions is looting and the hoarding of that loot!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Twitler and the Hurricane Maria

Cold Comfort

Twitler reacted to the disaster in Puerto Rico by declaring war on Football players, North Korea, Republicans and ....

Puerto Rico!

Meanwhile the people of Puerto Rico are still without food, water, medicine, energy or basic support from our Federal Government. His FEMA director finally said something, goaded by Hillary Clinton, all the living Presidents and a lot of bad publicity. He said ships were on their way. He lied. The Comfort was still in port and won't be in Puerto Rico for a week. Supplies sit on the docks. Trump won't waive the Jones Act. Turns out Trump lost money on a Golf Course in Puerto Rico. Twitler seems to be punishing Puerto Rico for his own incompetence or petty hate.

Please Visit:

Maria Fund

I'm glad they didn't repeal ACA protections but we live in truly insane times. And 35% of us only believe whatever Trump and his flying monkey's tell them, true or false, it is only true if Trump likes it. And he does take revenge.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Gerrymandering in Redistricting is Bad Constitution

The real issue with redistricting and gerrymandering is that it reflects a poorly constituted system of Government.

Our system was designed in a way that disregarded principles of geography and demographics in organizing the Federal Government. It was a kludge that reflected the fears of small states and institutions like slavery. To fix gerrymandering we must constitute the country in a way that respects the rights of people to representation of individuals and the communities they live in.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Democratic Facts

I'm still reading the book Democracy in Chains by Nancy MacLean. This is taking longer than I expected, for two reasons,

  1. It is long and detailed.
  2. It is about James Buchanan, so fact checking means reading his writings and some of the sources.

Waging Totalitarian War on the 90%

It is also about how conservative doctrine has become totalitarian.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Confusing Capital with Rental Opportunities

I keep running into the same faulty arguments that hinge on the same devious argument. They heap all kinds of wealth formation under the title "capital formation" and so deliberately mislead people. Now:

Capital in the Twenty First Century, by Thomas Piketty,

Does define most forms of wealth, for simplicity sake, as capital; but he did that to simplify his argument. The word capital is also misused in finance and accounting (deliberately) to refer to financial wealth. To use that simplification in formal economics however is misleading. Capital, strictly speaking is:

"wealth that is used in production, including wealth that is in the course of exchange."

That meaning excludes wealth that is used to generate rents, financial wealth, labor and "nature's bounty"; land and mineral resources. Usually those selling capitalism use the later definition for the sales, but the former definition for the reality.

And there is a reason for that.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Esotericism and the Books on the Shelf

A new translation of the Zohar, puts it in reach of modern English Speakers. The work is an apocryphal work, purportedly written around the same time as parts of the Talmud, but actually possibly not written down til the late 13th century, it represents oral teachings handed down and later written down by Rabbi's and their disciples. Who knows how many? The Zohar, like much of Mahayana Buddhism, Tendai and Nichiren Teachings, represents the work of teachers following a contemplative tradition. The Jewish Authors may not have been monks (Buddhist or Christian) but their insights are part of a tradition of meditation and contemplation with roots from before either Christianity or Judaism took their present form. That is what makes the work interesting to me. This translation of the Zohar can be useful to anyone studying religion, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim or non Jew. Arthur Green, in is review of the book illustrates some of why that is true. My book (if I ever finish it) explains why. At the very least folks should read his article:

Zohar Kabbalah & Mainstream Judaism

Thursday, September 7, 2017

How Government is and isn't a Business

People in this country are really confused about how Government should function. Many think it should be run like a business. Indeed Government should be run like a well run business. But more importantly a well run business is a well governed business.

The reason people are confused about the relationship between business and government is that businesses are governing entities! When Government is run for the sake of Oligarchs only, it is tyranny and privateering!

The Lockean Definition of Tyranny is government for "private, separate advantage.":

We give the people within them the privilege of governing property, their own affairs and in return a sane society expects them to operate within the parameters of that title or charter. This corporate privilege allows Businesses to be run for the private separate advantage of the owners and senior management, within restrictions set by law. When everyone behaves it works for the greater good. When they don't, you get tyranny and privateering.

Government is a business of all the businesses, all the many factions and associations of the people within its jurisdiction. So it has to be run for the people's business, like a virtuous business, and not like a pirate camp.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Libertarian Bait and Switch -- The role of James M Buchanan

I'm wading through a rather large book named "Democracy in Chains" by Nancy MacLean. The book focuses on James M. Buchanan, the Koch Brothers and their role in allowing elitist activsts to use exoteric movements to promote esoteric causes via deception and manipulation. Her book focuses on how the Far right expresses itself through movements that are basically projects of program offices based in far right institutions. She fills in much of the story of how the University of Virginia helped birth a deeply subversive movement when it founded "Thomas Jefferson Center for Studies in Political Economy." It follows familiar territories and provides missing pieces to the puzzle of how this all was integrated. She helps demonstrate how:

"What we think of as dysfunction is the result of years of strategic effort." [Review]

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Trump Goes Full Nixon

Trump gave a policy speech last night. He sounded so incoherent I fell asleep. Before he gave it I figured he might try something old as new (see: "Will Trump Create an American East India Company"). As bad as that idea was and yes the Robert Clive idea may be completely mercenary and privateering (and therefore so Trump) but at least it would have shown some imagination. He went Nixon instead. Incoherent and tricky.

He made three points that, like his Watergate-like corrupt politics remind me of 1969. His speech was pure Nixon:

Monday, August 21, 2017

Will Trump Create an American East India Company?

Trump is going to give a policy speech tonight. If he promises to keep troops in Afghanistan and the Mideast he'll be doing what every other flaccid spine Politician does to avoid humiliation, with one of these wars. I suspect he has another idea in mind; to privatize the war. Trump is a privateer, and as I wrote previously; Privatization is a tool of Privateering, and has been since a group of "adventurers" (pirates) and businessmen (same) petitioned for the Creation of the East India Company around 1600. This would duck responsibility for human life by offshoring it and shucking it off to yet another International Company.

I believe that Trump is going to try to establish an "American East India Company" to privatize our Efforts in the middle east ala Blackwater and Erik Prince's other freebooting efforts.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Freebooting, Vikings, Pirates and "it's just business"

Before we had the Mafia there was the "Brotherhood of the Coast". The Brotherhood of the Coast might go back all the way to the Knights Templar or much further. Piracy and freebooting along the coast of the North Atlantic are an ancient trdition. Freebooting has a long tradition in the North Atlantic that runs from the Bronze Age thru the Vikings, and to modern times.

Vikings Attack on Lindisfarne

Wikipedia dates the Viking age to a raid on Lindisfarne in 793:

"...the Viking Age began on 8 June 793[3] when Vikings destroyed the abbey on Lindisfarne, a centre of learning that was famous across the continent. Monks were killed in the abbey, thrown into the sea to drown, or carried away as slaves along with the church treasures."

But Scandinavians were spotted in Britain before the attack on Lindisfarne.

"Three Viking ships had beached in Portland Bay four years earlier (although due to a scribal error the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle dates this event to 787 rather than 789), but that incursion may have been a trading expedition that went wrong rather than a piratical raid. Lindisfarne was different."

Lindisfarne was different because it was not only looting it was privateering/war.

"The Viking devastation of Northumbria's Holy Island was reported by the Northumbrian scholar Alcuin of York, who wrote:

And it frightened the Anglo Saxon establishment

"Never before in Britain has such a terror appeared".[]"

Looking at other materials on the middle and dark ages, one finds that long before Lindisfarne there were pirates operating out of the Pictish lands (Scotland) and among the Britons and Irish themselves. And that the Angles, Saxons and Jutes, all practiced longship burials long before the Viking age officially happened. Those burials ceased when the Anglo Saxons became formally Christian. The Angles and Saxons were converted by a common effort from both Ireland and Rome. But Rome, through its agency in the Frankish Empire, was not just going after British Gauls and Germans, but Germans in Germany.

Thus While going "a viking" was a wonderful way to make money the motivation for the viking attacks may well have been self defensive war.

Charlemagne's attack on Saxony

The bulk of attacks occurred as Denmark was defending itself against Charlemagne and waging a defensive war against the Franks. The vikings weren't "pirates" they were waging war on behalf of governments (and were led by nobles so were part of government). They were "privateers" not "pirates."

In Charlemagne

This also can be said to be the beginning of a tradition of freebooting that continues to this day. Now those Vikings rapidly had gone from peaceful trading sea captains to ruthless warriors seeking loot, and the reasons are obvious to modern historians. They were at war with Christian Europe. Charlemagne had attacked Saxony and was at war with the North Germans. To the Norse, Christians were at war with them. Charlemagne had ruthlessly conquered and forcibly converted Saxon Germany and were a threat to their survival as a culture. []

Some Official histories tell us that the evil Vikings appeared out of nowhere and piracy went away when they became Christian. That is Bull. When William the Conqueror cross over from Normandy to England and marched to Hastings to fight the last Anglo-Saxon king, he sailed the channel in boats identical to Vikings ships in design. Why? Because the Normans were, mostly, descendants of Viking invaders. But it gets richer, there are links to piracy among the Celtic peoples of Britain, the Anglo-Saxons themselves and piracy never ended with the arrival of the Normans. The Normans gave way to British Pirates who predated across the Atlantic. Sir Francis Drake of fame in founding Virginia was a pirate. Some of his captains were also.

More importantly, the East India Company, was founded by high ranking pirates and was explicitly a piratical organization. The British Royal Navy has pirate origins. The United States Navy as well. The East India Company,

But of course when piracy is practiced by States (aristocrats are usually the leader of a small state) then the distinction between a brigand, a pirate, a warrior or a "privateer" is one of POV. The Northmen "pirates" were doing something perfectly legal (and lucrative) in fighting their enemies. It's no coincidence that the Viking age ended with the end of a period of warming in the North of Europe and the conversion of the last of the Vikings to Christianity. Christianity put a chill on all kinds of piracy by pagans, and Christian nobles enslaved the common people and weren't interested in free and bold vikings roaming untamed. They wanted good Peasants who paid taxes or fought in their wars.


But of course the viking age was followed by Crusades in the middle east and the Mediterranean, so maybe the Vikings didn't entirely give up. Maybe the end of the little warming just sent them south to greener (or at least warmer) pastures. Indeed the Christian descendants of Vikings became "Normans." And of course the Normans, Franks and other violent buccaneers were the ancestors of the Royal Houses of Europe (including Russia):

Wikipedia quotes "The 11th century Benedictine monk and historian, Goffredo Malaterra" who characterised the Normans thus []:

"Specially marked by cunning, despising their own inheritance in the hope of winning a greater, eager after both gain and dominion, given to imitation of all kinds, holding a certain mean between lavishness and greediness, that is, perhaps uniting, as they certainly did, these two seemingly opposite qualities. Their chief men were specially lavish through their desire of good report. They were, moreover, a race skillful in flattery, given to the study of eloquence, so that the very boys were orators, a race altogether unbridled unless held firmly down by the yoke of justice. They were enduring of toil, hunger, and cold whenever fortune laid it on them, given to hunting and hawking, delighting in the pleasure of horses, and of all the weapons and garb of war."[]

And of course the Normans were all over the mediterranean Sea, conquering Sicily, Cyprus, looting, burning, conquering, destroying; allying with Turks against Armenians, with Byzantines against Turks, and generally causing havok in the name of acquisition all over Europe. So I guess the Vikings didn't really all get subjected to serfs. Some of them just went off trying to make names for themselves by freebooting all over the known world. And of course they filled orders like the Templars, Hospitaliers and similar that continued operation. So we can see that the tradition of pirates and privateers goes back, way back.

But of course privateering got it's rebirth with "Good Queen Bess" and her efforts to fend of the Spaniards. The British used local ship captains and let them loose on the Spaniards. But even before Sir Francis Drake and Good Queen Bess, privateers or pirates were active all over the Mediterranean in regard to the wars between the Turks and Christian Europe. The

Sources and Further Readings

This is one post of a series.

Post Script

I started this post more than 6 years ago as I developed the realization that piracy was alive and well, and embodied in the Corporate Form. It sat while I read articles, dug into the subject and learned that my intuition and observation was only the tip of an iceberg. So I finally finished the draft post that started the whole thing!