In the late 1780s, France fell into a massive financial crisis. The country’s finance minister, Calonne, thought his strategy of “mass public spending” would strengthen France’s economy and would destroy the inevitable economic crash. He was wrong. In fact, he did the absolute opposite. His plan depended on the global banking market and borrowing a ridiculous amount of loans. Once 1786 came around, Calonne could no longer raise loans. The only answer to fix his enormous problem was to raise France’s taxes. For everyone. This radical move was violently rejected by the nobles. Why? Because they have never had to pay taxes before. Even King Louis XVI hated the idea, but he saw no other option. He assembled the Assembly of Notables for the first time in 160 years. He believed they would pass these new tax reforms because, well, the King himself handpicked the members! To the King’s dismay and shock, the reforms did not pass and nothing got accomplished in the meeting.
This irony reminded me of the United States’ Congress. They assemble in order to solve the country’s problems and make the necessary reforms, yet the joke is they never get anything done.