Responding to a public outcry against the big merchant-banking firms who had monopolies on key commodities and good the goverment convenged a council to investigate. Specifically they wanted public feedback regarding:
1. Were large commercial companies prejudicial to the public interest?
2. Should all the commercial companies be disbanded, or their activities merely limited?
3. How could this limitation be achieved and the abuses by the commerical companies suppressed?
The companies responded by defending unlimited commercial activity nd rejecting any intervention by the state. First, there was a trickle down affect as all of the population profited not just the companies … even the farmers in their fields who sold their crops locally. Second, the state benefited by the taxes due to increased economic activity. Third, if the state intervened “it is the man in the street who complains most loudly.” Fourth, economic power underlied and supported international political power.
Although inflation, over the past 6 years, had doubled the cost of goods the companies discounted that by saying their overseas suppliers were the cause and restricting business activity would not improve the situation. And if the state intervened those overseas markets could very well be lost due to international competition.
The companies ended with, “business cannot operate properly under any constraints whatsoever.”
In the end the Head of State decided any restriction was against the national interest as it was these companies who lent money to the state for strategic, diplomatic, military, and other political purposes.
The investigatory body, of course, was the Diet of Nurenberg constituted by, and under, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 1522.
[Source: Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance by Lisa Jardine.]
Let the snark-fest begin!
[Cross-posted to EuroTribune]