British 'Cultural' Capital Controls Interfere With Commerce

CNN reports that government of the United Kingdom is forbidding a buyer who paid 146,500 pounds formerly known as sterling for a watercolor painting from taking it to his home (archived) outside of Britain. According to the Kingdom's government it hopes that the ban will encourage the buyer, who purchased the piece as the highest bidder at Christie's auction house would make the decision to sell the painting on to a buyer intending to keep the watercolor in the United Kingdom. This is in spite of the fact that no such buyer for the artwork was interested in outbidding the actual purchaser in an auction. The export ban was put into place by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey.

While overt blanket capital controls as have recently been implemented in Greece and Cyprus tend to get more mainstream attention, but less overt capitals tend to be prevalent in countries with their own currency and central bank. Among the more common of these stealth capital controls are anti money-laundering and know your customer schemes which through government pressure placed on banks can restrict the flow of capital both inside and outside of a country. When paired with restrictions on the amount of cash a person is permitted to carry or possess that are enforced at border checkpoints and searches in the name of a "war on drugs" the AML/KYC measures effectively work as crisis level capital controls. Similarly bans on importing certain classes of product as Argentina has can force currency to be spent internally on a product, even if is inferior to others available on international markets.

Because particular art objects are scarce, they can serve as a store of value. The buyer of the watercolor in question, because of the auction format, demonstrated that of all possible buyers he was the one willing to give the seller the most in exchange for it. Ed Vaizey and his Ministry of Culture did not at auction demonstrate a willingness to pay to keep the piece in Britain so he had to resort to abusing legal force to deny the actual buyer the right to use what he had purchased in the way he sees best. Vaizey instead wants to part the buyer and his purchase through a sale as has happened previously when 'cultural' export bans have been applied to artifacts in the United Kingdom.

This incident in the United Kingdom is just one more example of how Britain in 2015 has more in common with Stalin's Soviet Union than it has with the Kingdom of Elizabeth I, Victoria, or Churchill.

3 thoughts on “British 'Cultural' Capital Controls Interfere With Commerce

  1. The owner of this painting should publicly burn it, and post the burning on YouTube, just like Arthur Hind burned the only known second example of the British Guiana One-Cent Magenta with his cigar match in front of the man who sold it to him, with the words, "Now there is only one". There is no law mandating that the painting be kept in any particular condition, including the state of ashes.

    The totalitarians must be shown that they do not control anything, and there is a rising level of reflexive disobedience, especially in the area of absurd and rights violating "Planning Permission" in the UK, where for example, you must get permission of the State to cut down trees you own on your own property. People are simply ignoring the "law" and cutting down trees they own with a complete disregard for the "law" and the consequences, which in any case, are small fines.

    These are the death throes of the State, flailing about as it desperately tries to maintain the illusion of control in the face of a citizenry that is increasingly disregarding and scorning them on every side.

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