Why no Capital Day?
Published: Wed, 09/20/23
I read a post the other day which asked the question: America has a Labour Day, which according to Wikipedia is: ‘A federal holiday in the United States celebrated on the first Monday in September to honor and recognize the American labor movement and the works and contributions of laborers to the development and achievements of the United States.’ Which may be fair enough. However, when is ‘Capital Day’? Which would celebrate the contribution which leveraged capital has made to Western Civilisation.
From a Stav perspective labour is essentially a Trel experience, trading time and effort for sustenance on a day to day basis. Nothing wrong with an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay of course. However, the experience and returns of a day’s work depend very much on how much capital has been invested, and how the surplus value (profits) gets re-invested.
Human beings are very poorly equipped for even basic survival in this world. There are certain environments where it does seem to be just possible to live off the land by hunter gathering, but it is a tough life. Even then, some investment will be made in basic weapons and tools, clothing made from animal skins, etc. Living off the land in Northern climes is not impossible, but it helps a lot if you have appropriate clothes, a tent, a sleeping bag, a knife, a billy can, method of lighting a fire, a bow (or better still a gun and ammunition) for hunting, some fishing hooks, and a supply of high calorie food such as flour or oatmeal. Then remember the Rune Rhyme for Nod: ‘Need makes for a difficult situation, the naked freeze in the frost.’ From earliest times humans invested capital in time, effort, and expertise in making, tools, weapons etc so that survival of the tribe became more, rather than less, likely.
How does capital actually work? Take one man and employ him to move, say pieces of timber, from one place to another. He has no shoes and is poorly fed. How much can he actually achieve? If you have a great many people desperate to earn a few pence a day it may not matter and you might get the job done. Invest in a pair of boots and some kind of back pack for the man and feed him properly and you could easily double or treble his work potential. Invest in some kind of hand cart and he will move 20 or more times as much stuff as he can with his bare hands. Provide a horse drawn truck and teach our man how to drive it and his work capacity increases a couple of hundred fold. Invest capital in modern roads, fuel distribution, modern articulated trucks and train enough people to drive them and one man can move literally hundreds of tons of timber hundreds of miles every day. Give him some help from other men operating fork lifts to load and unload the same truck and the difference between what one barefoot man can carry with his bare hands and what the same man can shift while driving a modern truck is huge.
Does the modern truck driver have a better standard of living than a medieval slave or bonded serf? Certainly the modern man has a lifestyle his pre-industrial counterpart could not have imagined. Does the modern worker get his ‘fair’ share of the value he creates? What really qualifies as a ‘fair’ share is hard to quantify and may not really be the most important issue. If you are dependent for a living upon capital investments made by others then you are always going to be dependent upon those investors to some degree. Your freedom to choose who you work for and what you do for those who you work for is always going to be limited. Even a relatively small scale capital investment can bring with it a high degree of freedom.
Two verses in the Havamal sum up the value of owning your own capital, however modest:
36 A farm of your own is better, even if small everyone’s someone at home; though he has two goats and a coarsely roofed house, that is better than begging.
37 A farm of your own......; a man’s heart bleeds when he has to beg for every single meal.
The term ‘Karl’ means of course both, ‘farmer’ and ‘freeman’.
Is capital and its utilisation, often called ‘capitalism’ a good thing? Responsible and honest investment and use of capital along with a rapidly growing population created Western civilisation as we have known and enjoyed it. I spent two and a half weeks camping this summer with long drop toilets and a 100 yard walk to the stand pipe. I had a good time while being reminded what pre-industrial life was like for most people. The piped water was safe to drink, I had access to a gas cooker, and my smart phone, so I hardly had the full immersion in Regency rural living. Getting home reminded me of the benefits of double glazing, flushing toilets, and electric street lights, to name just a few of the things we can thank modern capitalism for.
Of course some people just don’t know when to stop.
The world’s largest military contractor Lockheed Martin saw its stock value rise by 37% last year and a lot more growth is forecast for the next year. Apparently the ‘escalated geopolitical tensions in the current political atmosphere are ‘the most favorable condition that Lockheed Martin could possibly operate under.’ Never mind the hundreds of thousands of casualties in the ongoing war and the risk of the conflict escalating to thermo-nuclear war, just be pleased for the investors in the arms companies. I am sure they will put the profits to good use, maybe lobbying for even more conflicts around the world. https://twitter.com/mtracey/status/1702758891925246064
It also turns out that Bill Gates bought 1,038,674 shares in BioNTech (Pfizer’spartner for its mRNA Covid shots) in September 2019 for $18.10 per share. As far as I know BioNTech had not previously produced a product which had been of any use to anyone. Then, in November Gates dumped his stock at an average price of $300 per share. Some people have all the luck, I mean it is almost like Gates knew something the rest of us didn’t, but that would be a conspiracy theory. https://twitter.com/Resist_05/status/1702323206982602896?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email
On the BBC radio 4 news there was much wailing and knashing of teeth by the car industry as it has been speculated that the PM might put back the deadline for ceasing to sell new internal combustion engined vehicles to 2035 from the current deadline of 2030. Jacob Rhys-Mogg suggested that this anguish might be prompted by the possible delay in receiving massive government subsidies for building electric vehicles which will never make any commercial sense in the mass market. If it did we would already be driving battery vehicles.
Capitalism and capital has been a force for good and for development. Like all forces it has to be managed and can easily go rogue like an old bull elephant. We are certainly living in interesting times.
PS My theme for the 2024 Stavcamp 5th to 7th of July 2024 in Lincolnshire will be Karl focused. We will look at how to be more free and independent in a world of big capital and how to mitigate the dangers which rogue capitalism presents to us. Full details will published soon.
PPS However, training coming up sooner than next summer:
Salisbury on the 7th of October http://iceandfire.org.uk/salisbury071023.html
Tickton, East Yorkshire on the 4th of November http://iceandfire.org.uk/tickton041123.html
Also, I am determined to get my Monday classes going again http://iceandfire.org.uk/beverleyclasses.html
PPPS I have diaries again this year, if you would like one let me know and I send you one. 15 by 9 cm, a week to view, and includes a pen, no batteries to recharge and not susceptible to network failures. Will send free to a UK address, will need to ask for some postage further afield.