How weird the discussion on Macro Follies has been. I will assume that the 98% who don’t buy in are less obtuse than some of those who have. This was from someone by name of Rob Tye.
Steve Kates writes
It was, in fact, the early classics who pointed out that in an area ruled
by some member of the nobility that the common people would be better off if
the local member of the landed aristocracy was an absentee landlord.
The exact opposite, then, of “the foot of a master is the best manure”
This latter point genuinely does have classical precedents – being repeated
in agricultural manuals in various forms since the time of Cato.
But if we consider Xenophon (Economicus (XII, 20) :
The King of Persia….. asked one of those who were considered knowing
about horses what would fatten a horse soonest, it is said that he answered
‘the master’s eye.’
We might well suspect this contrary point to have a prehistoric, Babylonian
Thus it would be useful if Steve Kates could cite who, in the “early
classics”, was involved in overturning perhaps 3,000 years of wisdom?
In the particular case I cited earlier, the absentee landlord, Clanranald,
wasted all the vast profits of the industry, and more besides, alongside the
Prince Regent at Brighton gambling tables. The bust bankrupted him.
I have not studied the biographies of those promoting the classic economic
writers much, but I seem to recall McCulloch made his living as a young man
arranging the affairs of absentee landlords in the West Highlands.
So I feel a need to declair [sic] an interest, on behalf of the late Mr McCulloch.
Rob Tye, York, UK
Such erudition. Such inanity. This was my reply:
Interesting proverbial quote from Rob Tye. It doesn’t mean what he seems to think it means as this list of proverbs with manure in them shows. Where Rob writes “master” the proper reading is “farmer”. If there is any constant theme, it is very much a form of discussing how private ownership and the entrepreneur make an enterprise go better.
But really, in going back to my original point, why not just see the common sense of what the classical economists would say. Doesn’t it at least make sense that having your landlord and his retinue (ie a plague of locusts) absent leaves more for distribution amongst the rest?
14 Proverbs with Manure.
1. Making money selling manure is better than losing money selling musk.
2. The master’s foot is manure for the estate.
3. The best manure is under the farmer’s shoe.
4. The foot of the farmer manures the field.
5. The foot of the owner is the best manure for his land.
6. The master’s eye and foot are the best manure for the field.
7. Better make profit out of manure than losses with musk.
8. Manure is the farmer’s gold.
9. The horse loves oats; the earth, manure; and the governor, tribute.
10. Does sheep manure turn to caramel?
11. Making money on manure is better than losing money on musk.
12. Manure and diligence makes the farmer rich.
13. Lime and lime without manure makes the farmer rich and the son poor.
14. There is no better manure than the farmer’s foot.