Kellas Campbell's drawings of cats, birds and other creatures.


Brexit is a return to the Poor Laws of the 1600-1800s

In Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith talks about how laws restricting the movement of people came about after the dissolution of the monasteries, which had till then taken care of the poor. Now this responsibility was thrust upon the parishes. They, of course, didn’t want to support every Joe Schmo who mosied into their town and claimed poverty, so they passed various laws to ensure newcomers would not be a drain upon the parish. These laws were encouraged by local corporate monopolies, who didn’t want competition.

The laws mutated until eventually, only very rich people could move about, as only they could afford the huge down-payments parishes required. Parishes were so afraid of any newcomer becoming a burden (an understandable fear for poor and sparsely populated parishes), that they enacted laws which ended up costing them far more than the occasional parasite.

For example, a labourer, if he saw the opportunity for better money in the next parish over, could not take advantage of it. This restriction on the movement of labour and skills increased prices and lowered the quality of what goods there were. Higher prices on basics didn’t affect rich people (and there were no such restrictions on the movement of stock, so merchants got richer while the poor stayed poor) — they affected regular parish people who had exchanged the threat of a potential small burden for a real and large one.

Adam Smith wrote in the 1700s, when movement was thus restricted: "To remove a man who has committed no misdemeanour, from the parish where he chooses to reside, is an evident violation of natural liberty and justice. The common people of England, however, so jealous of their liberty, but like the common people of most other countries, never rightly understanding wherein it consists, have now, for more than a century together, suffered themselves to be exposed to this oppression without a remedy.”

So, with Brexit, the Tories have exposed the UK to this oppression again. An oppression that previously took centuries to take full form due to parishes’ misguided attempts at addressing a misunderstood problem has been enacted in one fell swoop. And this time the perpetrators are politicians who understand very well what they're doing; they're pretending that restricting the liberties of the poor and middle classes will actually be for their (our!) benefit.

The rich won’t suffer — nobody will stop them and their money from going wherever they want. And so the real divide — that between the poor and the filthy rich across all borders — will increase. The politicians will be so deep into their BS, though, that the divide is border based, that it’s England vs the EU, they’ll just keep finding new bogeymen to blame. And meanwhile, they’ll be planning to cash out and get out before the divide leads to a complete societal break-down. Remember, their right to retire to a Caribbean island won’t be restricted.

Take away Adam Smith quote: 

"The common people of England, however, so jealous of their liberty, but like the common people of most other countries, never rightly understand wherein it consists...."

Charlie hard at work