Thursday, March 8

Government and the Deadly Cure

Between being caught up in research for future Cheeky History blogs, writing for other sites, and playing golf in mostly sunny Florida there hasn't been time today to write something better than the story that Art Cashin tells in the "Cashin's Comments" newsletter today. So with his permission I submit this wonderful tale of government efficiency, then and now.

By Art Cashin

On this day (or, more correctly....+2....approximately) in 1349, in the midst of the infamous Black Plague epidemic, the forces of government, science and academia came together with a plan to save the people.

As you recall from earlier episodes, the Black Plague had spread from the eastern Mediterranean throughout most of Europe killing millions over the preceding three years.  People searched everywhere for the source of the plague...a heavenly curse; a burden of immigrants; the result of spices in the food.  It was tough to figure however, since whenever they held a conference either the host area caught the plague  or the visitors too many conferences.

Then in the six months preceding this date the death rate leveled off...or seemed to. So in castles and universities and town halls across Europe, great minds pondered the cause of the plague.  And they came pretty close.  The collective governmental/academic wisdom was that the source of the Black Plague was fleas - (absolutely correct).

So the word went out from town to town across Europe - to stop the plague - kill the fleas -by killing all the dogs.  And immediately the slaughter of all dogs began. But like lots of well intentioned governmental/academic ideas it was somewhat wide of the mark...and had unexpected consequences.

The cause was fleas alright but not dog was rat fleas.  And in the 1300's what was the most effective way to hold down the rat guessed  it - dogs.  So by suggesting that townsfolk kill their dogs, the wise authorities had unwittingly allowed the rat population to flourish and thus a new vicious rash of Black Plague began.  Before it was over, three years later, nearly 1 out of 3 people in the world had died of the plague.

To mark this eventful period, take time to review your government's plans for your welfare.  Whether taxes or healthcare, they'll work night and day for a solution.  It may not be as efficient as social security but - what is?  Just remember that these public servants have your best interests at heart.  Don't dwell on the DARK AGES.

Back in those days the seat of government might be filled with rats, vermin and leeches.  Thank goodness those days are over.

Historic footnote...Published sources say that with so many people dying, millions of
estates had to be settled - result...the fallout of the plague was a huge growth
in....the number guessed it....lawyers.

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