Taking the King’s Shilling

By | March 21, 2019 | 0 Comments

The image shows a young man saying goodbye to his girlfriend and enlisting in the British Army. During the 18th and 19th centuries, a shilling coin was given by a recruiter as an incentive for a new recruit in the British Army or Royal Navy. A shilling was a significant amount of money for a poor person. Sometimes recruiters would get a young man drunk, place a coin in his pocket, and abduct him.

When the man awoke in a barracks or aboard ship, the coin would be pointed out as evidence of his enlistment. He might object that he had been drunk or had not understood the implications of military service. But try explaining that to a sergeant or a petty officer. Infractions were met with severe punishments including flogging, while desertion was punishable by death.

If you took the king’s shilling, you were subject to the orders of the king’s officers. Kings have many officers who issue many orders. That’s what kings do. This was unfair if the enlistment was involuntary, but fair or not, it was a fact. The king had the power to enforce his will on those who had taken his shilling.

● Kings used to wear fur-trimmed robes. Now the “elite” go around in business suits. But the difference is in appearance, not reality.

● Kings used to wear crowns on their heads. Now the “elite” go around as though they had haloes over their heads. But the effect is similar.

● Kings used to sit on thrones. Now the “elite” sit on office chairs. But they still look down on ordinary people.

● Kings used to inherit power. Now the “elite” achieve it by attending the “best” universities and knowing the “right” people. But it is still power over ordinary people, whom the “elite” hold in contempt.

● Kings used to believe their “blood” entitled them to rule the ignorant peasants. Now the “elite” believe their “superior education” and their “advanced ideas” entitle them to rule us ignorant peasants ‒ the “deplorables,” the “irredeemables,” the “bitter clingers” who hold onto their religion and their guns.

● Kings used to believe they ruled by “divine right,” which implied that they were subject to God’s laws. Now the “elite” believe they rule by their own right, which removes all constraints.

● Kings used to set aside huge areas of land so they could enjoy hunting, while ordinary people went hungry and lacked firewood. Now the “elite” set aside huge areas of land, so the ordinary people cannot use it to produce the energy they need.

● Kings used to encourage the production of wealth so they could tax it and enjoy riches. Now the “elite” discourage the production of wealth so they can control people and enjoy power.

● Kings used to spend vast sums to increase their pleasure. Now the “elite” spend vast sums to increase their power by putting shillings in people’s pockets.

Do we really understand the implications of “progressive” energy policies, especially the “Green New Deal”? No more internal-combustion engines? No more air travel? Only high-speed trains and bicycles? Add free college and free universal health care, and you have a really effervescent mixture. But once the bubbles evaporate, it becomes unpalatable all too quickly.

President Obama set aside millions of acres, which now can never be used for energy development. A supporter noted that it would have the most effect in the West, “…where the federal government owns so much of the land.” If the federal government already owned much of the land in western states, is it a source of boasting that the government now exerts even wider control?

Yes, the natural wonders must be protected. But beyond a certain point, preventing the use of vast areas of wilderness becomes indistinguishable from a medieval king reserving vast forests for his enjoyment of hunting, while peasants froze for lack of firewood and starved for lack of meat.

If it was wrong for a king to enjoy the forest with his nobles while peasants lacked a source of energy, why is it any less wrong for our government to do the same? Why is it permissible for huge areas to be reserved for the few with the ability to drive their Mercedes SUVs there and enjoy the beauty, while the rest of us pay exorbitant fuel prices that enrich Middle East oil sheiks who hate us?

What part of the Constitution empowers the government to control the 18% of the economy represented by health care? What part empowers the government to tell doctors what treatments their patients can – and cannot – receive? But if we have, in effect, scrapped the Constitution, in what sense are we a republic and not a monarchy?

Beyond a certain point, all this becomes indistinguishable from a medieval king, who was believed to own all the land in the nation. And all of his subjects, rich or poor, held a piece of land only as a vassal of the king − and held it only so long as the king was satisfied with his vassals’ service to him. In effect, everyone except the king was a tenant, not an owner. Are we not well on our way along that road? If you paid off your home mortgage but still owe a huge property tax annually, in what sense do your own your home, rather than paying rent to the king?

Some may call these developments “progressive,” but in reality they mark a regression to an earlier, less free time. Beyond a certain point, are we not empowering the federal government to become the tyrant against whom we rebelled in 1776? Recall the words of the Declaration of Independence, which set forth our complaints against George III:

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

How, precisely, is our bloated federal government different in any significant way? If anything, it is even more intrusive than the government against which we rebelled. George III was mentally ill in his later years. But even he would never have tried to control everything from light bulbs and toilets, to dishwashing detergent and shower heads, to salt shakers and sodas – much less what kind of treatments doctors could prescribe.

King George III would have found such activities both beyond his grasp and beneath his dignity. But to the current “elite,” absolutely nothing is beyond their grasp or beneath their dignity. They lust to control every aspect of life, in the name of environmentalism, or political correctness, or whatever excuse is expedient.

Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of soup. He had contempt for his birthright, but at least he satisfied his hunger. We are selling our birthright of freedom, and we are likely to wind up poorer and hungrier as well. Before we take the king’s shilling, we should make sure the king is competent to achieve his aims − and most important, we should make sure we agree with those aims.

But if we want to keep what is left of our freedoms, we should tell the king to keep his shilling. After all, it isn’t really the king’s shilling. The king has no shillings of his own – he got them by taxing us. In short, the king is bribing us to give up our freedoms one by one – by giving us back a few of our own shillings. How bad a deal is that?

And then we should ask ourselves why we have a king in the first place.

Contact: dstol@prodigy.net. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.


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