No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life. There may be countless trails and bridges and demigods who would gladly carry you across; but only at the price of pawning and forgoing yourself. There is one path in the world that none can walk but you. Where does it lead? Don’t ask, walk!
Friedrich Nietzsche (1873), Schopenhauer as Educator
Hat-tip to the ever excellent Maria Popova at BrainPickings and this post on Nietzsche.
The Economist draws bleak parallels for the independently-minded between today and the 1930s of George Orwell’s Keep The Aspidistra Flying.
“Keep the Aspidistra Flying” foreshadows the dilemma that befalls today’s millennials. With so little room for manoeuvre and such high penalties for non-compliance, their quiet conformity belies a devastating loss of freedom, a crushing of the spirit that only their great-grandparents could relate to.
When Terry Gilliam’s dystopian, retro-futuristic vision first came out (in 1985), I was blown away. So much so, I watched it twice in succession, in a tiny cinema in Stratford-upon-Avon that doubled as some sort of tourist attraction during the day.
As you might expect from Gilliam, the film is a visual delight.
With strong echoes of Orwell’s 1984, its quirky humour highlights, rather than softens, the darkness of an omniscient – but woefully inefficient – bureaucracy. And like 1984, Brazil was written as a satire of its own time. Anyone who has ever argued with a “computer-says-no” bureaucrat will know this world.
The hapless dreamer of a protagonist – Sam Lowry – is played by a young Jonathan Pryce, better known these days for wily, mendacious characters like Game of Thrones’ High Sparrow and Taboo’s Sir Stuart Strange or Wolf Hall’s Cardinal Wolsey.
It is strange, bleak and beautiful.
Here’s the trailer…
And here’s Gilliam talking about the film …
A reminder, or call to arms, from Seth:
They (whoever ‘they’ is) made it easy for you to raise your hand. They made it easy for you to put your words online, your song in the cloud, your building designs, business plans and videos out in the world. They made it easy for you to be generous, to connect, and to lead.
Read the ever pithy and relevant Seth, here.
Photo by James Bold on Unsplash
The Bagehot column in this week’s Economist contemplates an Atlas Shrugged-like future for Britain.
The combined result of Brexit and Corbyn could be the dystopia that Rand warned about: a stagnant society driven by resentment of the successful. The flight of talent will not only have a knock-on effect on the wider economy, as high earners who would have spent money in London or Leeds start moving to Paris or Frankfurt. It will also reduce the state’s revenues, since the top 1% of earners pay almost 30% of income tax and the top 10% pay nearly 60%.
Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:King_Alfred_Statue,_Winchester.jpg
The Adam Smith Institute’s Eamonn Butler posts a useful reminder:
But taxes, tariffs, quotas, regulations, licences, trade restrictions and all the rest do not cost business. They cost people. People like you and me, even those of us with no business interests. And they cost us far more than the £x price-sticker suggests.
It’s too easy to assume that “business” or “the rich” or just simply “they” can afford it, or even deserve it, whatever the “it” of the moment happens to be.
As Butler says,
Most businesses are small businesses, as small as one person, and most of a country’s commerce goes through these small operations. Something that costs “business” in fact costs millions of these same people, from the local farmer to the budding software developer.
Read the full post, here.
Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash
The UK’s accounts had an unexpected monthly surplus in July – the first July surplus since 2002 – driven by unexpectedly large tax receipts from self-employed individuals (see The Telegraph, here).
Such news helps highlight the growing importance of self-employment and the Sovereign Professional.
Of course, because of the B2B nature of their work, many Sovereign Professionals will actually be employees of their own limited companies and related tax payments will not form part of these figures.
Photo by Lauren Mancke on Unsplash