In the 10th and 11th Centuries, waves of marauding Vikings were paid off by frightened kings in an effort to keep the Vikings from attacking their lands. The tribute was known as Danegeld, or literally “Dane’s gold,” although most payments were made in many thousands of pounds of silver. It didn’t take long for the Vikings to realize that they could raise more money faster by merely threatening to attack, rather than actually attacking and taking the silver by force.
Almost a thousand years later, Rudyard Kipling explained the dangers of Danegeld in his poem of the same name:
It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
To call upon a neighbour and to say: –
“We invaded you last night–we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away.”
And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you’ve only to pay ‘em the Dane-geld
And then you’ll get rid of the Dane!
It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say: –
“Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away.”
And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.
It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say: –
“We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that pays it is lost!”
This is why we don’t negotiate with terrorists, and it explains why Neville Chamberlain failed with Hitler, and why President Carter failed with North Korea and the Agreed Framework.
But there is an additional danger that comes with Danegeld. Once you have become addicted to the money of Danegeld, the person paying it has power over you and can tell you what to do if you want another payment, as typified in this story from the Associated Press:
A group of Republican senators is questioning high salaries and expensive travel bills for executives at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, raising issues that could jeopardize millions in federal funding for the national charity.
The four senators said they were concerned that the chief executive of a charity that has been closing local clubs for lack of funding was compensated nearly $1 million in 2008. They also questioned why in the same year officials spent $4.3 million on travel, $1.6 million on conferences, conventions and meetings, and $544,000 in lobbying fees.
“The question is whether or not a very top-heavy organization might be siphoning off federal dollars that should be going to help kids,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.
The issues they raise could threaten the reputation of a popular charity that supports 4,300 local Boys & Girls Clubs serving about 4.8 million children. The timing threatens a bill moving through the Senate that would provide up to $425 million in federal money to the national organization over the next five years.
The Boys & Girls Club is a great idea, and they do a good work with many of the youth of this nation, but they shouldn’t be paid a dime of taxpayer money. Any funding of the Boys & Girls Clubs should come from voluntary private donations. Yes, that means that there would be less money for the charity, but it would free the people from the silver-gilded chains of control of the U.S. Senate.
And to the millions of Americans who are likewise controlled by the Danegeld of federal aid, cast off your chains and breathe the fresh air of freedom!