A Shakespearean Glance at the People and Issues of the Day.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

None Sweat but for Promotion

To business that we love we rise betime
And go to it with delight."

So spoke Antony in Antony and Cleopatra, his own business then being war, but at least he had a job, unlike the unanchored Muslim youth of France who, lacking jobs, provoke a war. And apropros of France, a valuable statistic to bear in mind, as we huddle each evening around the cool televised campfire that once was Paris, is that over the past 30 years, America has created 57 million jobs, while the European Union has created 4 million.

"I am a true laborer; I earn that I eat, get that
I wear, owe no man hate, envy no man's happiness,
glad of other men's good, content with my harm."

Ah, but Corin the Shepherd was lucky to have found employment in As You Like It and not within the EU, where he would have been romanticized through the 20th century as a member of the proletariat, before being left in the 21st without a job, though perhaps with the winter hay and salt lick of a stipend.

"Distribution should undo excess,
And each man have enough."

And who is that channeling Karl Marx but King Lear, who, whatever his other charms, is not a guy to be followed into battle, economic or otherwise.

I note in passing that on a recent trip my wife and I took to still civilized, indeed over-civilized Scotland, the British pound (and I know the Euro to be no different) felt oddly strong, or rather my beseeching dollars at the currency window felt oddly weak. It is at first blush paradoxical that our currency, like our relative cultural level in things like languages and the piano, should remain a bit lower than theirs.

Well, the barriers to fortress Europe are high, and that disruptive thing called growth is held firmly in check by interest rates that, if they do not choke, certainly bind Europeans as tightly as the church collars they no longer wear. By contrast, we Americans spend like drunken sailors, and our money can look a little down at heel as a result, but then we don't believe in money. We believe in growth.

"I can get no remedy against this consumption
of the purse. Borrowing only lingers and lingers
it out, but the disease is incurable."

Falstaff, of course.

Because we believe in growth, lowering rates remains the democratic and American thing to do, letting everyone have money to invest or spend or just flash around as they like. Unfortunately it also reduces the value of our money for our vacationers to Scotland, not to mention our importers of foreign oil. By contrast, raising rates is the European and anti-democratic thing to do - it's what you do in order to preserve the value of the money that's already in the hands of the aristocratic finger-kissing elites, productivity and jobs be damned.

"Thou art not for the fashion of these times,
Where none will sweat but for promotion,
And, having that, do choke their service up."

Orlando, praising his faithful toothless servant Adam in As You Like It.

My own insufficiently instructed theory is that, as Europe tried to commit suicide across the 20th century, America spent, blood aside, a massive amount treasure in wresting the revolver away from Europe's collective temple. So much treasure that, in the end, we had ourselves been wrested away from the fiscal rigor of the pre-First World War era, a rigor encompassed in the gold standard, however it would be encompassed now. And thus it is that our money is weak and our haute culture is sometimes not so haute. That is, why our people aren't as proficient in languages, chess and the piano as we are in software, business productivity and management. Three world wars (going on four) prosecuted at our expense have set back our language study and appreciation of the arts.

Frankly, and to risk a moment of pique in this decorous Shakespearean environment, that's one more thing I blame Europe for, one more thing they cost us over the last 90 years

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