Wednesday, August 26, 2009

That Sinking Feeling

The rotund fellow above is Sir Robert Walpole born this day, 1676, in Norfolk, England. Regarded as the first "Prime Minister" of England, Sir Robert struck my fancy long ago in my previous life as an intellectual. Coming to power in 1721, after the bursting of the South Sea Bubble, Sir Robert is credited with helping pull England out of a serious financial crisis. Everyone needs a Walpole around, especially in today's credit environment. He is the first Minister to reside at No. 10 Downing Street, turning it down as an outright gift, Walpole accepted it as only the residence of the First Lord of the Treasury. He was a central figure in my studies as a graduate student, and his idea of a "sinking fund" to help pay the nation's debt is, in my opinion, bloody brilliant. Setting aside a fund of money solely intended to pay down the national debt is an idea that many of us non governments should think about doing. Trick is you have to dedicate yourself to religiously putting money into the fund, and not piss about with borrowing against it. A simple, but still brilliant idea that is still just as brilliant today as it was back then. Sir Bobby was not universally loved by any stretch of the imagination, and in some respects he could be considered a source of the first ever political parody campaign. Waged by such famous writers as Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Samuel Johnson, and Henry Fielding. If a true measure of a man can be determined by the ability of his enemies, the Walpole was a giant (in more that the straining the waistcoat buttons to popping sense). So for making the words "Prime Minister" mean something before steakhouses made it popular, and for creating the wonderful "sinking fund" idea, Sir Robert Walpole (August 26th, 1676-March 18th, 1745), you are my hero of the day.


chall said...

Maybe getting the sinking fund as a concept for "people's debt" then?!? Maybe it is already in place.... just that "regular people" don't know about it since debt seems to be so much more fun than the obsolete savings.

tideliar said...

How about a "sinking" fund? I got one of those!