A long and convoluted allegory about the difference between what you can acquire and what you can keep.
Unspoiler: I got carried away by a totally unnecessary thousand words here so if you don’t feel like reading silly stories about dead monarchs you can skip to the last section that begins “Would you please.” I won’t be mad.
Suppose you are the king of a pre-industrial island nation. You have hopes of hanging on to a glorious empire, but glorious empires are history’s avocados: Everyone wants one and they have unpredictable expiration dates, and if you go after them too often you’ll have trouble paying the rent. Anyway since 71% of the earth is water, and since you are the king of a pre-industrial island nation, a good first checkbox here is to build a lot of wooden boats.
Problem is, all the other nations with hopes of a glorious empire had the same idea. Also you’re the only one that’s an island. Also you already cut down all your trees. Island nation empires are all fun and games until ecology catches up to you.
Did I mention you’re King George III?
You could source timber from the Balkans where nobody hates you yet, but half the kings in the way are not big fans. On top of that it’s costly, and you’re having trouble paying the rent. So you come up with a better plan. Forget the Balkan wood, you’ve got America, the latest and greatest colony, which is just plain replete with wood. So much wood. And those New England white pines make a mighty mast, let your shipbuilders tell you. Why buy the Balkan cow when you can get the colonist milk for free?
You decree that the largest trees in America are property of the king (that’s you), and send surveyors to leave a mark on those suitable trees, until you can come collecting.
And here lies the rub.
You’ve got something valuable, O’ King, but is it really yours?
The American colonial riches appeared like an asset to the king, but the value of an asset is always in relation to something else, in time, space, or possession. Some to ponder: