Monday, May 15, 2006

Bolton Hall - Snap, the Philosopher Dog

Three Fables from Things as They Are (1899), by Bolton Hall

Philosopher Dog.

I SUPPOSE I must have been half asleep when I heard Snap whine, "Yeow arn yow ell." It sounded like, "You aren't very well. " Strange! I listened again. However, I am fond of Snap, and sometimes talk to him. So I said: "No, I'm not well. Monopole is after the rent of the farm, and I haven't got the money."
"Rent?" said Snap, quite distinctly. "What's rent?"
"Why," said I, "it's what we pay to be allowed to live on any part of the earth that's good for anything. "
"Oh!" said Snap, "you know I caught a rabbit yesterday. He was so fat he could hardly run, so I know all the rabbits will be fat. You aren't as plump as Mr. Monopole."
"No," said I. "You see Monopole's my land lord. I pay him for letting me work this farm."
"Why do you do that?"
"Well," I said, "it's hard to make it clear to an unreasoning mind; but, you see, the King of England granted—that is, eh, —the Indians long ago—er—the people o—I mean that generations past agreed—Oh, say, you couldn't understand that you're a dumb animal."
"Dumb animal!" said Snap, indignantly. " It's you that's dumb. I have yelled at you every night for six years, an you have never even answered me till now. "
"I thought you were baying at the moon," said I, politely.
"Baying! Stuff! Dogs don't bay at the moon. The light keeps me awake, so that I feel the rheumatism, and I yell at you to get me a warm bed. Don't men keep yelling when they are uncomfortable?"
"Well, no," I said. "They mostly say: it's due to hard times, and that there's no good grumbling."
"What did you say dogs are?" said Snap. "Manimals, was it?"
"No, dumb animals," I said.
"I heard you barking at night one November. Were you baying at the moon?"
"No, you stupid beast. I was shouting for Sound Money and Protection."
"Did you get the Sound Money?"
"Oh, yes, we got it all right."
"Then," says Snap, "why don't you pay your rent with it?"
"Well, I didn't exactly get it myself; but the country did."
"And do you own some of the country?"
"N-o, but we all get the Protection."
"What's that?"
"Why," I said, "I will try to be simple. It's a way of keeping people from eating or wearing English things."
"Are English things poison, that you keep people from eating them?"
"Oh, no, they are just as good as ours; but they cost less."
"Then you certainly are rather simple not to use them. Willie has a guinea pig shut up in that little pen in the front yard, so that it can't get at the English clover. Is that Protection?"
"No, that's restriction," I said.
"But if the clover were shut out from the guinea pig, instead of the guinea pig shut in from the clover, would that be Protection?"
"It seems—but we were talking about the landlord," I answered.
"Is Willie the guinea pig's landlord, then?"
"Something like that, " I said, although I had never thought of it before.
"Would the guinea pig stay there if it were as big and wise as you?"
"No, of course not."
"Then is Mr. Monopole bigger and wiser than you?"
"Oh bother! Don't you know old Monopole yourself?"
"If he's no wiser than you, I'm sorry for him," said Snap. "Is"—
"Say, Maria, this dog won't let me rest. I wish you'd put him in the barn."
As Snap was pulled out, I heard him yell out angrily: "Barking at the moon, indeed! Why, the moon is two hundred and forty thousand miles off; but it's not as much off as the master."
Snap thinks too much. Such dogs are dangerous.

A License to Live.

"SAY, Master Renter," said Snap the first time he got me alone, "isn't that rent you told me about like the dog license?"
"Why, yes, in some ways. How do you mean?" I asked.
"I heard the collector tell you that fifty cents had to be paid for me to live."
"Yes," I answered. "He said that was because dogs kill sheep and go mad."
"Would you kill sheep and go mad, if you didn't pay rent?"
"Maybe," said I. "I suppose I'd be an anarchist." Then, to turn the subject, I added, "But, if I didn't pay fifty cents for you, you'd be shot."
"Then Mr. Monopole will shoot you if you don't pay rent? "
"Why, no," I answered, " he won't shoot me, but he might as well: he will put me off the farm. Then I'll be a tramp."
"Do they shoot tramps?"
"No," I said, "they only shoot strikers so far; but they put tramps in jail."
"Mr. Monopole couldn't put you anywhere: he's too weak and fat. Besides, I'd bite him."
"You're a good dog," I said. "Monopole certainly couldn't put me off alone; but all the people in the country would help a land lord, if necessary, to get his rights,—that is, to get his lan—I mean to say, to put me off."
"Then all the people in the country are land lords except you?" asked Snap.
"Dear, no," I said. "Only about one in every eight owns any land; and, even of those, the most, instead of paying rent to a land lord, pay interest to a mortgagee."
"Then -why would they help?"
"Because they, or, rather, the masters of their ancestors, made the law that way."
"I don't see that that's any reason," said Snap, "but I have an unreasoning mind. What's interest?"
"Interest," I said, "is what we pay for the use of bills that we get from the bank."
"Why don't you make them yourself?"
"Because the law allows only people who have fifty thousand dollars to issue money."
"Who made that law?" asked the dog.
"Why, we did," I said. I knew he was going to ask why. So I added, "You know, 'To him that hath shall be given.'"
"Do you think, then," said Snap, "you'll be given any brains?"
"It isn't my fault," I said desperately. "I'm only one of those that made the law that way."
Said Snap: "If I were you, I'd rather be shot like a striker than help in such laws. What is a striker, anyway?"
"A striker," I told him, "is a man who won't work for the wages he can get. "
Snap scratched his head with his hind leg. "Do people get paid for working?" he asked. "I thought you said that you paid Mr. Monopole for being allowed to work."
That's just like a dog. Dogs and women shouldn't be allowed to talk, when they can't vote; and you can't make them understand our political economy.

Is Thy Tenant a Dog?

"WHAT'S wages?" asked Snap.
"Wages are—They are some of the wealth a workingman makes, which he gets for making it."
"What is wealth?"
"Wealth, of course, " I said, "is anything which people want, produced from land by work."
"Oh! But I thought it was you workingmen who made all things. Why don't you keep them all?"
"Because workingmen are like draft animals: they don't appreciate their power, and they don't unite. They distrust one another."
"I wouldn't do that. But, then, I'm only a stupid beast. What are you?"
"I'm—I'm—looking out for myself," I said.
"When I caught the rabbit, you gave me the skin and bones. Was that my wages?"
"I suppose so."
"If I'd caught him on your land, I'd have owed you another rabbit for rent, wouldn't I?"
"Yes, but you got him on Monopole's land. He owns all the land here. He would charge you rent, only he doesn't know you catch rabbits. "
"If the crop of rabbits failed so I couldn't catch two a day, then how could I pay?"
"I guess you'd have to dig potatoes at night with your paws: like me at the harvest time," I added bitterly.
"Why, then," says Snap, "the rent gives employment and diversified industries."
"Yes, like the tariff, " I said. "But, then, it accumulates capital."
"What's capital?" asked the dog.
Said I: "Capital is that part of wealth used to produce more wealth. When I gave you your breakfast, which enabled you to run all day after the rabbit, that was an advance of capital."
"I see," says Snap. "Then, if you'd charged me interest, you would have kept the bones, and I'd have had to starve on the skin.
"I'd have to feed you anyhow, because I own you."
"Does old Monopole have to feed you?"
"No," I said, "of course not."
"Then hadn't you better get old Monopole to own you?"
"Nonsense!" I said angrily. "This is a free country."
"Why," says Snap, hotly, "you told me Monopole owned it."
"Yes," I answered. "But the men are fr—that is, men can't own a man in the United States."
" What's a man?"
"A man is a reasonable animal."
Snap rolled over laughing, and laughed himself into a fit. I don't know what he was laughing at, but I don't like dogs with fits.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Shawn. I love this. It would probably make a good pamphlet. I especially liked the part about how it would be protection if you kept the clover out, instead of the rabbit in. And free banking crankery to boot!

Kevin Carson, via public computer.