I'm currently reading a book about how the social, political and economic relations changed in America from the monarchical system to republicanism to democracy. I've just finished the section about mercantilist monarchism, and, in some ways (maybe just because I live in Chicago), it doesn't feel like we've broken away from the tribal patronage system of those days enough to really test the freedom of capitalism. I see almost more problems coming from not using a more explicit patronage system these days for some relations.
Back then freedom was about being as high on the patronage system as possible, which generally having enough money not to work and wanting not to work. Today, freedom seems to be about having enough money to not work, like back then. Biggest difference as that the rich today funnel their money into more enterprises and want to feel more challenge. Back then, the filthy rich leisure class were supposed to feel an obligation to funnel their money and time into the betterment of those below them and the smooth flow of society.
Look at John Hancock. He inherited a fortune from his uncle then pretty much gave it to people lowe than him on the social strata for patronage reasons, he built all these houses for no reason other than people could work and he pretty uch frittered that fortune away for privately funded social programs and public works.
Then that group of people turned into robber barons and now we have crazy financial stuff like Madoff. Crazy how freedom many times equals the downtrodden and not so well off people becoming less free.
--The_Lex Sat Mar 28 16:47:26 2009
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