May 30, 2011

WILL AMERICA SEE EUROPE-STYLE RIOTS? Newsweek sounds hopeful, but in America, unlike Europe, it’s usually the taxpayers who are behind the revolutions, not the parasites.

UPDATE: Reader William Stoddard emails:

I have to say I find the 18th-century analogy that Newsweek offers fairly plausible; it’s one of my possible historical models. But I think they have the actors wrong. Consider what things were like in France under the ancien régime, the dominant Great Power of the time:

* Rule by two cooperative elites, the noblesse d’epée and the noblesse du robe, the latter of whom were the intellectual, political, and legal class of the day, with both groups profiting from massive government subsidies and tax exemptions denied to the commoners

* Massively unbalanced government budgets, with the rulers spending money several years before they collected it in taxes

* Early experiments with printing-press money under John Law, which gave rise to the South Sea Bubble, which was, I believe, the first to be called by that name

If we are headed for revolutionary times, I have my own theory as to who will be the aristos fleeing from the embrace of Mme. la Guillotine: the people who’ve visibly profited from their control of government offices and budgets.

Indeed.