(This is the penultimate instalment of Rob Slane’s medieval tale of State intervention, read yesterday’s chapter here where the captains of industry colluded to separate the womenfolk from their children.)
Now it came to pass that after the King, together with the barons, merchants and captains of industrie, had spent a deal of resources on advertising and heavy propaganda to entice the womenfolk to leave off from raising their own children, that many of the womenfolk did indeed oblige. And as they did, the profits of the barons, merchants and captains of industrie grew, as did the Royal Treasury and the King’s power and ability to fulfil his every desire.
But there came a time when many amongst the womenfolk complained that they could not afford the cost of paying someone else to raise their own children whilst they went and worked for the barons, merchants and captains of industrie. And as their discontent reached the ears of the King, once again did his countenance fall.
“Oh what is to be done,” he cried. “The womenfolk hath become discontent with their lot, and if nothing is done I fear that they may return to their old ways. Then will the Royal Treasury be diminished. Yet I have grown to like my increased power and the fulfilling of my every desire. Oh what is to be done?”
And so once again the King called his wise men to gather around his throne, but having heard the matter, the eleven were silent, none knowing how to answer the riddle. Then did the twelfth wise man, Cuthbert, speak again:
“Your Majesty,” he said. “If the problem is that the womenfolk cannot afford to pay someone to raise their own children while they go off to work for the barons, merchants and captains of industrie, why then dost your Royal Majesty not offer to cover the cost for them?”
Once again there was an uproar in the court of the King, and the first wise man spoke on behalf of his fellows:
“Sire,” he began, “my Lord Cuthbert hath undoubtedly served thee well, inventing cunning ways to swell the Royal Treasury and increase thy power and ability to fulfil thine every desire. Yet I perceive in this latest scheme, Lord Cuthbert hath taken leave of his senses. Having successfully got most of the womenfolk to leave off from looking after their own children, so that they contribute heartily to the Royal Treasury, Lord Cuthbert now proposeth to redistribute the same taxes back to them to pay for someone else to raise their own children. Is this not the very definition of madness?”
The King nodded his agreement and beckoned the twelfth wise man to explain himself.
“My Lord the King,” he said. “I perceive that thy wise men misunderstand the matter. Tell me, which King will be looked up to by the people as a generous and beneficent ruler: the one which persuadest the womenfolk to leave off looking after their own children and then keepeth all the money they pay into the Royal Treasury to himself, or the one that then subsidisest the raising of their own children by means of a ‘system of vouchers’?”
“Why the second I suppose,” replied the King.
“Thou has answered well,” replied Cuthbert. “But the beneficence of the King need not end there, for Your Majesty could also redistribute money from the Royal Treasury to open his own nurseries and staff them with ‘experts’ in the raising of the children of the womenfolk. Then will Your Royal Majesty hath killed many birds with one stone. Almost all the womenfolk will be paying into your Royal Treasury. They will then receive from His Majesty’s generous ‘system of vouchers’ the ability to give up raising their own children and leave them to be raised by ‘experts’. And Your Majesty would also get the opportunity to mould the minds of the young folk, both in the King’s own nurseries, and by regulating those owned by the barons, merchants and captains of industrie.”
Slowly but surely a broad grin spread itself across the King’s face, and the very next day a Royal Emancipation Proclamation was read out in every square throughout his realm:
“Women of the Kingdom of Grebbleton. His Royal Majesty, King Gondil III, being eager to show favour to the fairer sex, hath of late become mindful of your unfortunate condition whereby, through no fault of your own, you hath not the wherewithal to pay someone to raise your own children. Be it known that this day, your cry hath reached the King’s ears, and in accordance with his grace, mercy and favour, he hath answered your prayer by providing free childcare places through a system of vouchers to every child over one-week-old, for every family that worketh hard in the Kingdom. From this day forward, no woman should ever have to suffer the indignity of raising her own children, nor of struggling to meet the cost of paying someone to raise them for her, but it shall all be paid out of the kindness of his Majesty’s heart from the Royal Treasury.”
Read the final instalment tomorrow on TCW. Will the King quench his thirst for unlimited power?
(Image: Hans Splinter)