Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Sixteen Tons

Tennessee Ernie Ford: "Sixteen Tons"

While I wouldn't describe myself as tanned, rested and ready, I'm rested enough to consider myself ready to resume work: shoulder back to the wheel, nose to the grindstone and all that. Fit of pique passed, eyes clear, spirit restored.

The gentleman with the rich baritone singing the title song was Tennessee Ernie Ford, a star during my childhood. The song itself was his biggest hit, I believe. It was written and first recorded in 1946--the year of my birth--by country singer Merle Travis, but it became a nationwide number one hit in 1955 when Tennessee Ernie sang it.

"One fist of iron, the other of steel, if the right one don't get ya then the left one will". What nine-year-old boy could resist such lyrics? These days, the sad, pussified victims of Frankfurt-School-feminized fanatics, perhaps, but in 1955 the castrators were still stealthily sneaking their way into the schools, so boys were still boys and even if we had no idea what the hell Tennessee Ernie was talking about when he was telling St Peter about owing his soul to the "company store", we we were in full agreement that no "high-toned woman" was gonna make us "walk the line". Play it again, Sam!

Sixty one years later, more and more males are walking the line in a shuffling zombie swarm reminiscent of the overwrought but disturbing ending of the 1938 re-make of the 1919 black-and-white silent film classic J'Accuse!

And sixty one years later, the "company store" has been replaced by the banks and scrip by the credit card. Debt servitude may be less overt, less crude, but it is no less real than it was back in the days of the coal mine wars, dramatized in the 1987 film Matewan, among others.


Debt is deadly to the soul. Bondage to banks is avoidable, but not easily if one has little or no capital. The deck is stacked against those without the power to manipulate it, a power consigned by governments to a banking cartel that controls political discourse.  It is only the very self-disciplined and often self-denying soul that owes no one and owns itself. 

Subsidiarity, self-discipline and self-denial are linked concepts: each and all abhor excess. Using credit, i.e. taking on debt, for purposes of consumption is discouraged or outright avoided. Once upon a time in Christendom, any lending for purposes of consumption was considered usury, a topic that deserves a stand-alone essay; one is upcoming by year's end and the topic may require more than one. An understanding of usury both historically and in its contemporary connotation is fundamental in any education worthy of the name; unfortunately, ignorance of the topic abounds, even among the supposedly well-educated.

As time goes by and a regular writing rhythm is established, our hope here is that instruction about finance can be offered in a manner that is not so dry as to dry up interest in the topic. The Institute wishes to educate and then perhaps agitate, its efforts focused on small, localized and not overly ambitious government, the sort of familial self-reliance that is required for such a governmental system to function well, the providing of a succinct and sound  understanding of monetary systems, financial practices and manageable economies and how to put that understanding into practice. 

Overly ambitious? Probably, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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