How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 24

How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 24

          “We’ve had to come up with all that money,” he continued after a moment, “and so far we’ve managed to. But at the same time, we’ve had to meet all Mother Church’s other fiscal needs, and they haven’t magically vanished. There’s a limit to the cuts we can make in other areas in order to pay for our military buildup, and all of them together aren’t going to come even close to making up the shortfall in our revenues. Not the way our finances are currently structured.”

“So what do we do to change that structure?” Clyntahn demanded flatly.

“First, I’m afraid,” Duchairn said, “we’re going to have to impose direct taxation on the Temple Lands.”

Clyntahn’s face tightened further, and Trynair’s eyes widened in alarm. The Knights of the Temple Lands, the secular rulers of the Temple Lands, were also the vicars of Mother Church. They’d never paid a single mark of taxes, and the mere threat of having to do so now could be guaranteed to create all manner of resentment. Their subjects were supposed to pay taxes to them, plus their tithes to Mother Church; they weren’t supposed to pay taxes to anyone.

“They’ll scream bloody murder!” Trynair protested.

“No,” Clyntahn said harshly. “They won’t.”

The Chancellor had been about to say something more. Now he closed his mouth and looked at the Grand Inquisitor, instead.

“You were saying, Rhobair?” Clyntahn prompted, not giving Trynair so much as a glance.

“I think it’s entirely possible we’re going to have to begin disposing of some of Mother Church’s property, as well.” The Treasurer shrugged. “I don’t like the thought, but Mother Church and the various orders have extensive holdings all over both Havens and Howard.” In fact, as all four of them knew, the Church of God Awaiting was the biggest landholder in the entire world . . . by a huge margin. “We should be able to raise quite a lot of money without ever touching her main holdings in the Temple Lands.”

Trynair looked almost as distressed by that notion as by the idea of taxing the Knights of the Temple Lands, but once again Clyntahn’s expression didn’t even waver.

“I’m sure you’re not done with the bad-tasting medicine yet, Rhobair. Spit it out,” he said.

“I’ve already warned all of our archbishops to anticipate an increase in their archbishoprics’ tithes,” Duchairn replied flatly. “At this time, it looks to me as if we’ll have to raise them at a minimum from twenty percent to twenty-five percent. It may go all the way to thirty in the end.”

That disturbed Trynair and Maigwair less than any of his other proposals, he noted, despite the severe impact it was going to have on the people being forced to pay those increased tithes. Clyntahn, on the other hand, seemed as impervious to its implications as he’d been to all the others.

          “Those are all ways to raise money,” he observed. “What about ways to save money?”

          “There aren’t a lot more of those available to us without cutting unacceptably into core expenditures.” Duchairn met Clyntahn’s eyes levelly across the conference table. “I’ve already drastically reduced subsidies to all of the orders, cut back on our classroom support for the teaching orders, and cut funding for the Pasqualate hospitals by ten percent.”

          “And you could save even more by cutting funding for Thirsk’s precious ‘pensions,'” Clyntahn grated. “Or by stopping coddling people too lazy to work for a living right here in Zion itself!”

          “Mother Church committed herself to pay those pensions,” Duchairn replied unflinchingly. “If we simply decide we’re not going to after all, why should anyone trust us to meet any of our other obligations? And what effect do you think our decision not to provide for the widows and orphans of men who’ve died in Mother Church’s service after we’ve promised to would have on the loyalty of the rest of Mother Church’s sons and daughters, Zhaspahr? I realize you’re the Grand Inquisitor, and I’ll defer to your judgment if you insist, but that decision would strike at the very things all godly men hold most dear in this world: their responsibilities to their families and loved ones. If you threaten that, you undermine everything they hold fast to not simply in this world, but in the next.”

          Clyntahn’s jaw muscles bunched, but Duchairn went on in that same level, steady voice.

          “As for my ‘coddling people too lazy to work,’ this is something you and I have already discussed. Mother Church has a responsibility to look after her children, and it’s one we’ve ignored far too long. Every single mark I’ve spent here in Zion this winter — every mark I might spend here next winter, or the winter after that — would be a single drop of water in the Great Western Ocean compared to the costs of this jihad. It’s going to get lost in the bookkeeping when my clerks round their accounts, Zhaspahr. That’s how insignificant it is compared to all our other expenses. And I’ve been out there, out in the city. I’ve seen how people are reacting to the shelters and soup kitchens. I’m sure your own inquisitors have been reporting to you and Wyllym about that, as well. Do you really think the paltry sums we’re spending on that aren’t a worthwhile investment in terms of the city’s willingness to not simply endure but support what we’re demanding of them and their sons and husbands and fathers?”

          Their gazes locked, and tension hovered like smoke in the chamber’s corners. For a moment, Duchairn thought Clyntahn’s rage was going to push him over the line they’d drawn a year ago, the compromise which had bought Duchairn’s acquiescence — his silence — where the Grand Inquisitor’s pogroms and punishments were concerned. In Clyntahn’s more reasonable moments, he probably did recognize it was necessary for the Church to show a kinder, more gentle face rather than relying solely on the Inquisition’s iron fist. That didn’t mean he liked it, though, and his resentment over the “diversion of resources” was exceeded only by his contempt for Duchairn’s weakness. For the Treasurer’s effort to salve his own conscience by showing his compassion to all the world.

          If it came to an open confrontation between them, Duchairn knew exactly how badly it was going to end. There were some things he was no longer prepared to sacrifice, however, and after a moment, it was Clyntahn who looked away.

          “Have it your own way,” he grunted, as if it were a matter of no importance, and Duchairn felt his taut nerves relax ever so slightly.

          “I agree there’s no real point in cutting that small an amount out of our expenditures,” Trynair said. “But do you think we’ll be able to rebuild the fleet even if we do everything you’ve just described, Rhobair?”

          “That’s really a better question for Allayn than for me. I know how much we’ve already spent. I can make some estimates about how much it will cost to replace what we’ve lost. The good news in that respect is that now that we’ve got an experienced labor force assembled and all the plans worked out, we can probably build new ships more cheaply than we built the first ones. But Allayn’s already been shifting the Guard’s funding from naval expenditures to army expenditures. I don’t see any way we’re going to be able to meet his projections for things like the new muskets and the new field artillery if we’re simultaneously going to have to rebuild the navy.”

          “Well, Allayn?” Clyntahn asked unpleasantly.

          “This all came at me just as quickly and unexpectedly as it came at any of the rest of you, Zhaspahr,” Maigwair said in an unusually firm tone. “I’m going to have to look at the numbers, especially after we find out how accurate Searose’s estimate of our losses really is. It’s always possible they weren’t as great as he thinks they were. At any rate, until I have some hard figures, there’s no way to know how much rebuilding we’re actually going to have to do.

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30 Responses to How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 24

  1. PharMed2016 says:

    Can’t wait for the actual book to come out. Read the synopsis and it looks like this book we might see what exactly is laying beneath the church!

  2. Tithes of 25-30%? On top of whatever the governments are collecting? In a pre-fiat-currency economy where the money supply depends on how much gold and silver has been mined?

    I’m not an economist, but this sounds like a recipe for runaway deflation.

  3. tootall says:

    The snips are too short!!… And… thanks for what we do get.

  4. Peter says:

    More support for my earlier contention. The CoG is weakening itself drastically. The weaknesses already begun will start to compound. Sureptitious assassination of Inquisitors will probably begin before the winter’s out. Clyntahn will know real fear before another year passes – and possibly before winter passes. How will he respond.

  5. Scott says:

    Downsizing! Privatisation! Fiat currency will be next. *grin*
    Seriously though they are in serious economic trouble.
    OT, it looks like A rising Thunder will be out 6 March 2012, according to Amazon.

  6. Bret Hooper says:

    Lockswriter writes right! Tithe is an archaic term for tenth, now used only to refer to a 10% flat tax demanded (albeit not always collected) by a church or other religious organization), so a tithe of more (or less) than 10% is an oxymoron. DW is obviously using that oxymoron to emphasize how excessively CoGA is extracting money from the common people.

    Speaking of CoGA, it claims orthodoxy. Now that is a strange term. The Greek prefix ‘ortho-‘ means right or correct, and we all know what a doxy is, so presumably ‘orthodoxy’ refers to selecting or patronizing the right prostitute.

  7. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @5 – Bret Hooper

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who was jarred by the misuse of the term “tithe.” Making 10% equal 20%, 25%, or possibly 30% sounds like government accounting, though.

    “Ortho” also means “straight”, so “orthodoxy” could mean a doxy with good posture, or it could subtly refer to a doxy’s sexual orientation. (Of course, the latter definition could terribly confuse the definition of “heterodoxy”.)

  8. Matthew says:

    @1 Their economy isn’t dependent on gold or silver in the ground. I’m betting that most of the taxes and tithes that are collected are collected in the form of grain, rice, cloth, and other dry goods. The accounting that Duchairn does is more so that people know what percentage of those goods go where, not that anyone is lugging around gigantic chests of gold.

  9. ET1swaw says:

    Was the pre-jihad tithe ten or twenty percent on Safehold (it is in one of the books (I think book 1) but I can’t find it nor remember it)? They are planning a tax hike of up to 20% on economies that already can’t meet the original and are tanking as they speak! Only so much blood in a stone.

    Shades of ancient noble priveledge, church nobles will no longer be tax exempt! Even after the windfall of all those estates of all those purged families, Go4 is actually going to soak priests and above to pay out from their own pockets. And they thought the reformers were a problem! That’s not the game they signed up for: not only is Charis holding men of the cloth accountable for their actions, now the Go4 is asking them to give back some of their loot (I mean bribes, blackmail, embezzlement, and stolen goods BELONG to the clergy that reaped them! Right?)!!!!

    Other than Siddarmark or Silkiah, who is going to purchase those CoGA lands? Even Charis hasn’t pulled a Henry VIII or nationalized CoGA properties in the Empire. And any buyers have got to be wondering if they will be able to keep the properties after the CoGA is out of their current hardship.

    Clyntahn needs another bloody shirt to wave. Coris?sp? better get Hektor’s kids out of his reach soon!! Then again he could kill Thirsk and blaim Charis (multiple birds with one stone: gets a martyr, punishes Thirsk for knowing better thsn Clyntahn and his favorites, gets access to those Charis POWs Thirsk has been protecting, can probably cook the books on pay and benefits without Thirsk to blow the whistle, and ultimately disposes of someone that Clyntahn just doesn’t like).

    Looks like Duchairn won’t let Clyntahn cut too much further into what CoGA is supposed to be doing to fund his jihad (and it IS Clyntahn’s Jihad now).

    The Inquisition looks to be coming out into the light as enforcers, tax collectors, and economic vampires. The gloves seem to be coming off. And from what I’ve read in other posts serfdom and slavery are due a major increase as what little middle class exists falls afowl.

  10. PeterZ says:

    I would like to add that, as has been posted here, the average worker spends about 90% of his wage just to live. That is 90% at a 20% church tax (tithe). So, if incomes are taxed another 5%-10%, where pray tell will these poor people get the money?

    If the Temple is building shelters and workers keep none of their money after all taxes, perhaps those workers will come to Zion? How long before the population of the destitute in Zion will be huge? Who will control that mob and who might in his ignorance of all things economic tell them to eat cake?

  11. Maggie says:

    Does anyone remember “Mortons’ Fork”? I have a feeling that it’s about to become “Clyntahns’ Fork”!

  12. JeffM says:

    If no one has any money, who does Duchairn think will be buying all of the Church property? Siddarmark? Charisian proxies? ;)

  13. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Well Jeff, how do you think Clyntahn would respond if Duchairn said that the Church has no way to pay for Clyntahn’s Holy War?

    I suspect that Duchairn is aware that attempting to sell Church property might not work well, but he knows how Clyntahn would react.

  14. PeterZ says:

    @2 Lockswriter, deflation is when the supply of money grows smaller than the pool of resources it may purchase. The value of money will rise (1 mark buys more goods) as its relative supply falls. The CoGA tithe has acted as a value added tax at all stages of production and transportation. The revenue of each participant is taxed at 20%. Increase that percentage and things just don’t become 20% more expensive, the raw materials become 20% more expensive, the labor to make the goods become 20% more expensive and the transportation expenses and the merchant expenses et cetera.

    So while money is being taxed from the system, the price increases will tend to descrease the supply of goods and services. Since not everyone will be successful in raising their prices, they will stop producing. When they stop producing, they are forced to consume less. I am suggesting that many crafstsmen who cannot raise prices may work farms or mines or those trades that are successful at increasing costs.

    Odds are that this does not cause deflation. I suspect some sort of stagflation; where employment weakens at the same time as prices increase substantially. This scenario will tempt Clyntahn to insert price and wage controls which will make things worse, much worse. He will be tempted because he will see revenues rise but not as fast as expenses and do the apparantly logical thing to curb those rising expenses.

    To your point, Maggie, I think you are right on. However, Clyntahn may find his fork feeds him an increasing amount of food that satisfies him less and less.

  15. TimC says:

    I see Duchairn wishes to raise the tax rates of millionaires and billionaires,owners of corporate ice yachts and coal mining corporations. At least when he does so it will protect the food stamp program. Paying for this increasingly unpopular war is getting to be a pain I feel.

  16. hank says:

    @9 Serfs and slaves make terribly a inefficient labor force. Why work any harder than you have to if you get no increased reward? IE, when the guy with the whip isn’t there, slack off. NOT the direction the Church neads things to go!

  17. Nimitz13 says:

    With the tax on the Knights of the Temple Lands, Trynair’s political support just went out the window. We’ll soon be down to a Group of THREE, and Maigwair will be next. It’s looking more and more like the CoGA will be led by only one of them, Clyntahn we HOPE for the future of Safehold, as he’d undermine support for the CoGA while Duchairn would cleanse and revitalize it. NOT what Merlin wants.

    30% “tithe?” As has been pointed out, that means STARVATION for many, and will result in non-compliance wherever possible and REBELLION when it means the difference between life and death. It’s about to become open season on the tax-collecting inquisition. Not many priests will be joining the Order of Schueler for a while! (Although there will be plenty of vacancies.)

    Smuggling is about to become RAMPANT in Harchong and the Desnarian Empire as they’re likely to provide Charisian traders under other country’s flags into their ports, at least until the Charisian navy comes calling. It’s really going to ramp up in Silkiah to provide goods to all the countries around the Gulf of Dohlar: Dohlar, Harchong, and the Temple Lands. Siddarmark will be shipping to the Temple Lands and the “Buffer countries” in between them so fast that the smoke from the axles will cause the wheels fall off the wagons! The only countries that were enforcing the embargo are about to quit doing so, whether their rulers want to or not. Survival trumps politics every time. It REALLY trumps extreme politics!

    It may be cheaper to build a new ship NOW, but the Desnarian shipyards are about to become kindling. Harchong may follow, and if Cayleb and Merlin really want to press the issue, Thirsk and his ships may soon be splinters floating in the waters of Gorath Bay with the shipyards burning behind them. If operation Buttercup in the Honorverse taught us anything, when you have a crushing advantage, USE it! (Although the butcher bill to take out those ports under the defensive emplacements will be ugly, especially facing Thirsk.) Taking out those shipyards (and the ships guarding them) will make it IMPOSSIBLE for the church to fund or maintain any significant sea power for years. But the plot would get a bit boring so I don’t expect Charis to take them all out.

    Interesting hint that the army was being built up, and now won’t be. Hmm… I was thinking Charis didn’t need or want to attack the mainland, except to eliminate shipyards and punish those nations who support the CoGA with quick raids like they did in Emerald, especially if they’re letting Charisian ships into their ports under different flags due to the 30% “tithes.”

  18. KimS says:

    The built up CoGA army will now be used to take those profitable kingdoms starting with Desnair. Kill the goose! When the CoGA turns its attention to Siddarmark, the Siddarmark elite will openly join with Charis. If Clyntahn is deposed I would see ‘peace’ with Clyntahn being labelled as under the influence of Shan-Wei. Then the CoGA will point to all the ‘evil’ he was behind. To include the first actions against Charis.

  19. Jeff Ehlers says:

    #6, #7: Jokes aside, ‘orthodoxy’ has its roots in Greek, “orth-” + “doxa” (opinion). In other words, it literally means “right opinion”.

    #10: Actually, “let them eat cake” wasn’t what everyone thinks it was. Marie Antoinette was saying, “there’s no bread? Well, give them cake instead so they don’t starve.” It was still a remarkably ignorant thing to say, though.

  20. Robert H. Woodman says:

    I wonder if Clyntahn at some point will decide that Duchairn is deliberately sabotaging the jihad by withholding adequate funds. He will then depose Duchairn and begin extracting/extorting as much money as he thinks he needs to build both a navy and an army.

    I would like to see some more land action at some point soon. Charis can bleed dry the CoGA of money by destroying the Navy of God and all of the Church’s ports, but at some point, Charis needs to invade the Temple Lands and destroy the Temple Knights in battle.

  21. robert says:

    It is the old guns and butter situation that we have been dealing with for the past 10 years. How come leaders can’t understand, as they did in WW II, that it is guns OR butter.

    Maggie is right, and even John Morton would have cringed at the folly that G04 is about to engage in.

  22. PeterZ says:

    @19 Indeed so, Jeff. At the time cake flour as actually cheaper than bread flour as the demand for bread was far greater than for cake. Marie was actually thinking and trying to solve the probelm but did not understand what would happen to prices as cake flour was substituted for bread flour. She assumed that the price differential was structural. Ignorant but nearly the ignorance that has been ascribed to her.

  23. tootall says:

    Is it possible that our church treasurer is aware of all the problems he’s about to cause? And THIS is the beginning of his undermining of the Grand Inquisitor?

    #6-#7- And here I thought ortho was a pesticide-and that orthodoxy was about preventing sex with undesirables—-shows how little I know.

  24. PeterZ says:

    @23 Tactics, definition: (1)the art of controling the menu of options available to one’s opponent or (2)tic-tacs after one works them over in one’s mouth and spits them out.

    Both definitons aply to what Rohbair is in the process of doing to Vicar Zashpar.

  25. Kevin says:

    The tithe of twenty to twenty-five percent is probably in reference to what the Archbishops must send on to the temple. It makes no sense for a central worldwide government, the church, to move all taxation to it’s coffers when much of that will have to be spent back in the archbishoprics it was taken from. It makes more sense for each Archbishop to use the 80% for the costs of running the monasteries, convents, purchasing food, paying staff, and the humanitarian efforts they choose to sponsor. That is probably how Archbishops have been pulling so much personal wealth out of the system, by limiting church involvement in the Archbishopric and putting that money directly into their own pockets. I think that Duchairn’s proposal to sell lands owned by the church in sovereign countries such as Harchong, Dohlar, Siddermark and other nations will also work fairly well. I am sure that the church has prime real estate especially as kingdoms have literally grown around the parcels of property since the day of creation. Remember the brethren’s monastery in Tellesburg, the monetary value of that property has to be rather high given it’s location. The church may not have had to pay taxes on the property, but that won’t change the potential value to someone else. Also, the subsidies, wages, and the cost of all the purchased materials for the naval buildup have been flowing away from the temple into the nations of Haven and Howard. There should be enough surplus in those nations for quite a bit of interest in purchasing the lands. Of course, it will be much easier to sell property in those lands who haven’t bothered to suffer through the embargo on Charisian goods, I’m sure that Clynthan will just love that.

  26. laclongquan says:

    Find money all you want but the kicker is actual production.

    To the Group, their production methods are still the usual slave and medieval production. That’s why they need to import so much from Charis: they cannot satisfy their own demands with their own methods.

    But with the embargo, the route of Charis goods into the continent is severely limited, therefore the actual amount of goods moving in is lesser than before. If nothing else, Charis merchant fleet got distracted quite a bit by war efforts to provide enough lift to smuggle goods into the continent. So the bottomline is the amount of goods present in continent’s markets might be lower than before.

    However, the Church is pouring money out into government project like building ships and casting guns. Money are present in market in larger number than before, in the hands of workers, government contractors… That’s the bottom line for money factor.

    All in all it point toward a running away inflation situation.

  27. And everybody who’s building ships or guns isn’t farming, herding, fishing, repairing plows, shoeing horses, etc.

    @14 Yeah, now I’m thinking stagflation rather than deflation. Money is in short supply (unless your business connects to the war machine) but everything else is in even shorter supply.

  28. PeterZ says:

    @25 On further reflection you are probably correct, Kevin. Taxes then are not increasing yet, simply the amount the episcopate will be spending in their areas. That would suggests your initial point may be correct, Lockswriter. The money supply will shrink faster than production, taken out of local circulation by the G4. The goods available will be less valuable priced in the remaining Marks for all locations not benefiting from the military buildup.

    In those areas where the G4 funds are directed the opposite will be true. Much more money and far fewer consumer goods, which makes Nimitz13 point about smuggling dead on for Harchong. Desnair doesn’t need smugglers, they have Silkiah nearby with as wide a variety of Charisian goods as a cash rich port city (Jahras) could want.

    All in all I am really reconsidering the need to devestate the Jahras ship yards. It appears to be producing nothing but harbor queens and a money funnel into Charis. The Duke of Kohlman and the Baron Jahras both appear to be content with that state of affairs so long as they get their cut. So long as the Desnairian Navy remains within the Gulf of Jahras, they will never develop into a blue water navy that threatens the ICN.

  29. PeterZ says:

    Correction for 28. ” ..simply the amount the episcopate will be sending from their areas (to Zion).”

  30. Bret Hooper says:

    @19 Jeff: You are, of course, ortho, but I think my derivation is more fun.

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