1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 05
“But it doesn’t matter. I would have to apply to both King Albrecht and King Ferdinand II for permission to issue currency. Besides, the point of this evening is to remove money from the accounts, not add it.”
“In that case, as we said before, buy equipment and sell it on credit rather than simply giving loans,” said Judy the Elder.
This would tie up his money quite well and had the added advantage of making corruption rather more difficult. If he just gave out the money, some people were going to take it and run. That had happened to the up-timers more than once as they tried to get the New US industry going. If he gave them the equipment, they would at least have to find a buyer for it before running off with the money. Of course, it wouldn’t prevent some thief in Silesia from taking his stuff and running into Poland hoping for a better deal. So shipping equipment rather than sending money was no replacement for due diligence.
Sarah and Judy had opinions about who he should buy from, which businesses were stable enough to provide the goods he would be ordering for delivery over the next year or so.
“Unfortunately,” Karl said, “the Oder is the only major river into Silesia. It runs through Brandenburg.”
“And that’s a problem?” Judy the Younger asked.
Karl blinked. Judy was a very clever girl, but she had some blind spots. Anything farther than Magdeburg might as well be in China. “Brandenburg is ruled by Emperor Gustav’s brother-in-law, Frederic William. The one who, along with John George of Saxony, refused to come to Gustav Adolf’s aid when he was attacked by France and the League of Ostend.”
“We trade with France, for goodness sake,” said Judy.
“True enough. But Fredric William has decided that, since he is not part of the USE, he is under no obligation to allow free trade with the provinces of the USE. As usual, he is in need of money. This time to hire an army to hold his brother-in-law at bay. So, his tariffs on goods from the USE are quite high. And that’s how things are going to remain, until Gustav gets around to dealing with his recalcitrant relative.”
The Bohemian situation was a bit better. Bohemia had a border with the USE, but it was a long slog over bad roads. The main river corridors in Bohemia flowed through Saxony, which John George would no doubt find a major headache when Gustav got around to him. And Prince Karl Eusebius von Liechtenstein, having studied war under his father and uncles and having lived in Grantville, was quite confident that Gustav would sooner or later be free to deal with both of them. Which belief failed to fill Karl with joy. If he honestly thought there was anything he could do to restore the Holy Roman Empire, he’d do it. But he didn’t think that. He didn’t see a damned thing anyone could do to stop the Swede — or Wallenstein, for that matter. And if some of the things that the Vatican II conference had said about freedom of conscience and the importance of respecting other faiths were true, then God didn’t want the HRE restored. If the Good Lord didn’t want conversion by the sword, the HRE had been doing it wrong. But that wasn’t all the Holy Roman Empire did. It also protected Europe from being forced away from Christianity itself . . . to Islam.
Anyway . . . Karl pulled his thoughts away from that over-trodden path, back to the matter at hand. For right now it was going to be almost impossible to ship large stocks of goods to Silesia or even Bohemia. Small things were not that much of an issue, but caravans of goods would never get to their destination, or would get there with half their goods gone as tolls.
“Instruction sets,” Sarah Wendell said out of the blue. “There are a lot of things that you can build with nothing but instruction sets, even simple steam engines. And even more that you can build using a few components and forms. It will be slower and more expensive, but it will get you started.”
“Yes. I’ve already done some of that,” Karl acknowledged. “I’d like to do more but I’m not sure what needs to be done.”
“So set up the Bohemia and Silesia Advancement Corporation,” Sarah said. “Hire some researchers — all sorts of researchers — and put together a prototyping and testing shop. Then have them come up with cheat sheets specific to your family’s lands in Bohemia and Silesia. What sort of natural resources are there?”
“Quite a bit of coal and copper. According to the encyclopedias, and from our experience as well.”
“So, coking plants to get you coke, coal tar and all sorts of stuff. You have the foamed rosin process for making copper and bronze parts. Copper wire for electricity, coal for steam to generate the electricity. Which gives you electrolytic refining.”
“That’s very good, but it will take time to set up.”
“Yes. But not necessarily to pay for. If you pay in advance by funding the company and moving the money out of your accounts to the company’s, you give the company a sound financial footing and it will be better able to hire people,” Sarah said. “And skilled people are harder and harder to find. The pros can mostly write their own ticket.”
“Which gives you an excellent reason for not pulling the money out, because to pull the money out so soon would destroy confidence in the company,” Judy the Younger said. “You want an up-timer on the board, for confidence,” she added in a thoughtful voice. “It can’t be Mom or Dad. They work for the government. And it can’t be Sarah, because she’s going to work for the Fed as soon as she graduates. That just leaves me.” Judy smiled brightly.
“Better would be David Bartley or the Partow twins,” Sarah said repressively. “Even better than that would be Mr. Marcantonio or one of the up-time teachers at the high school. I doubt you can get Mr. Reardon or anyone like that. Aside from the public relations aspect, having an up-timer, especially one with a somewhat technical background, will be a help in terms of telling what can and can’t be done.”