They Can Always Eat Cake

When taxes are too high,
people go hungry.
When the government is too intrusive,
people lose their spirit.

Act for the people’s benefit.
Trust them; leave them alone.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 75, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

I think I will keep it short today. What even needs to be said about today’s chapter?

I was having tea with a friend, today; and, as is usually the case, whenever you are spending time with me, the topic was politics. My friend suggested that the powers that be should learn from history, particularly the history of the French revolution. Ah, yes, Marie Antoinette, “Let them eat cake.” Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable. But sadly, as is also usually (always?) the case, violent revolution never does end well.

But, I assured my friend, if assured is really the word I should be using, “I have little doubt the political class has a few tricks left to play on us.” Whenever violent revolution seems all but inevitable, they will merely unleash some virus on the world’s population (for which they have been inoculated), and kill off at least half of it. And, the surviving population will no doubt be more acquiescent. That will buy them some more time. After all, don’t the intelligentsia claim our population is too great? The Earth can’t support all these people. That is why people go hungry! It can’t be that taxes are too high! Why, we only use those taxes so we can provide for the people. The ungrateful masses of people, how dare they even think about revolting against their benevolent rulers. The nerve of these unwashed and unworthy people, losing their spirit over a bit of intrusion in their lives. Why, they owe us everything!

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