In Shakespeare, marriages are the beginning of tragedy. And the marriage of Mary and Matthew on "Downton Abbey" might be just that. The shift from great harmony to escalating tension has happened quickly.
At first Matthew, who had invested his inheritance in the family affairs, wanted nothing to do with the business aspects. Then he reviewed the books and was stunned by the waste and mismanagement. He has gone on a mission, which Mary rightly fears, to impose modern financial controls on how the family business operates, including the fees charged for rentals.
Soon enough Matthew might come to view so many employed as servants as also waste. There could be layoffs at Downton Abbey. Bates could well be released from prison and find no job to return to. Also, paternalism toward the workforce could end. When Mrs. Hughes feared she had cancer, Cora, the Earl's wife, told her not to worry about anything. In sickness and health and in dying, she had a home at the Abbey.
In short, the way of modern accounting could wipe away the values of the elite in England. They could become as much of crass penny-pinchers as their American counterparts across the ocean.