A Government Program That Went Badly Awry
Historian Art Cashin:
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 did…so…not 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 fleas…it was rat fleas. And in the 1300’s what was the most effective way to hold down the rat population…you 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 and global outbreak 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.
(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 of…..you guessed it…..lawyers.)
(Historic Note II…All that property shuffling also transformed how we deal with property and real estate. Recall – the word – “mortgage” comes from the French and means “death contract”.)
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.
Looking for a modern-day parallel, FDR’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” come to mind, especially Johnson’s “War On Poverty” that destroyed families and left today’s poverty rate almost exactly where it was in 1965.
Add to this list Barack Obama’s attempt to “fundamentally transform” America which caused vast numbers of the American people to lose not only their jobs but all hope of ever working again. Thank goodness we now have a president implementing policies that are giving those same people a new birth of freedom and new found hope of a better future.
People want work more than food stamps and welfare checks because work gives them pride of accomplishment and a positive image of their identity. No welfare program can do that. Welfare does just the opposite. Welfare lures people into a stagnant state of torpor, bitter resentment and hopelessness.