Stiffing the merchant or workman is a classic aristocratic value. It shows up all the time in 19th century novels. The aristocratic code differed a great deal from the mercantile code. A merchant would move heaven and earth to pay off a debt for goods or services rendered. An aristocrat would move heaven and earth to pay off a debt of honor, a gambling debt, but would rusticate, head out to the country house, to avoid paying wine, clothing and other such bills. On the other hand, an aristocrat wouldn’t abandon a buddy in a fight, so unlike the American rich, the code had a positive side.
kaleberg commented on the blog post GAO Examines Individual Mandate Alternatives – Well, Some of Them
It’s sort of like the Norse settleres in Greenland who wouldn’t eat fish and starved instead. At least the men did. The women went off to join the locals.
George Orwell used the term “bully worship” back in the 1930s. He also noted the stupidity defense, as in the ruling class’s “don’t blame us, we’re just stupid.” Monty Python got a lot of mileage out of the latter.
Back in the 1960s, NYC used to collect commercial trash as well as residential, but the plan was to privatize commercial collection. I learned this listening in on a grown up conversation. A friend of my parents wasn’t too keen on the idea. Privatizing trash collection meant it was going to the “family”. “What family?”, I asked. (Hell, I was a kid.) “Organized crime. The Mafia.” I had heard of them.
He was right on the money. The mob divided up the business, sold “protection”, and heaven help the poor schnook with a truck who just wanted to haul trash. It took decades to get the mob out of commercial trash collection, and few of the magical ponies everyone was promised ever materialized.
Now, the mob wants back in, but it isn’t the old fashioned street guys with muscle. It’s big business. You’ll see the same fixed and rising rates and the same lack of choice you see in cable companies, cell phones and so on. It’s Economics 101. Trash collection is a natural monopoly. I’ll take these guys seriously when I can choose my military protection and stop paying for extras like the war in Iraq.