“How’s it feel to be the man?”- Ben Folds
So turns out until very recently the American Coast Guard reported to the treasury department. That doesn’t make sense.
What does the Coast Guard have to do with the treasury?
I didn’t even know this strange fact until I read Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. He told me a lot of things I didn’t know about the starting of America. Interesting to hear blow-by-blow descriptions of the decisions made from the biographical perspective of someone who was living at the time.
They were not at all sure that they were going to win over big ole Britain. It was not at all a sure thing. But they did achieve victory and started a new country.
Back when they were fighting the British all the shipments that came into America were British ships. Pretty much.
So it benefited the war effort for Americans to be pirates and take the cargo from the British ships. A lot of people thought that was a great idea. They got free stuff.
But then–surprise! –America won. Those ships that were sailing into American sports were not British anymore. They were American ships or ships bringing goods to America and taking away American goods. Our new country wanted to protect these ships. America did know that trade would make them strong.
After the war ended and America was setting up a government, Alexander Hamilton founded the treasury department. He needed to get revenue in the treasury as soon as possible.
I know the feeling.
For a nation, one of the best ways to get money is to have tariffs on commerce. People don’t like personal taxes for sure. So commerce is a great way to generate money.
Hamilton needed to generate money from these ships sailing in an out of America. He needed to protect those ships from piracy.
This was not an easy shift for the American pirates. Before they were sticking it to the man.
Now the tables had turned. And they were the man. Maybe they didn’t feel like they were the man but this new country that they had started needed them not to steal from it.
It was a choice:
Benefit from sticking it to the man, and preserve the status of rebellious victim
Making something is a lot harder. And there is no guarantee of success.
I could be pretty sure that I could be a successful troublemaker, if that was my goal.
Hamilton, Washington, Jefferson and many others worked to create something, getting paid in dollars while dollars didn’t even have meaning.
Makes me look at their faces on the dollars I use a little differently. Meaning is there to be made.