Wednesday, October 21, 2015

History: The Year is 1665

I've uploaded year 1665 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Great Plague of London -- 70,000 to 100,000 people are going to die and this isn't the worst outbreak of the Black Death in the 17th century. It's just the worst for London. I also talk about Ebola, briefly.

The Government Control of Capitalism -- A New French Minister of Finance imposes strong central control over the economy and it works! It stops working after he dies, causing Adam Smith to recommend "Leave-me-alone" capitalism 100 years later.

The Great Plague of London

It is a sad commentary that the Black Death is such a normal part of life that it hardly rates a mention when thousands of people die, but this is a large outbreak so let's review. London has never been rid of the Plague but the number of deaths per year has varied wildly from a handful to tens of thousands. Over 100 deaths a week is considered an epidemic, but in April it reaches almost 400. By May, a really serious outbreak is in progress. The population of London scatter. All stray dogs and cats are killed on sight. Rubbish and dung are cleaned off the streets. Bonfires are set to "circulate the air". It does no good. By February of next year 70,000 to 100,000 will be dead. The images of horse-drawn wagons following a crier shouting "Bring out your dead", come from these times. It is believed that the plague was brought to London along with Dutch prisoners who were captured during the recent English-Dutch wars... but really... the Black Death never left. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
It is difficult to get exact numbers of the dead since there was no formal reporting system. Generally the system was a local affair and it worked like this...
"Hey! Who is going to go out and count the dead?"
"How about Bob? He's homeless and needs the work."
"OK, Bob. We'll pay you $5 a report. Go out there and find some dead people and tell us how they died."
Bob hasn't a clue. He's not trained to identify diseases, and the family of the dead are charged a fee when Bob comes around to count, so they have no incentive to tell Bob anything. And even though this outbreak is called "The Great Plague of London" this is nothing compared other outbreaks. In 1656, 150,000 people died in Naples. In Seville from 1647 to 1652, 500,000 were killed. One million died in France, and it goes on and on through the 17th century. Yet, in the modern day we worry about a Dallas nurse exposed to Ebola traveling to Akron to buy a wedding dress. That is a reasonable worry, but if we lived in the 17th century we'd all be crying like little babies. [4] [5] [6]

The Government Control of Capitalism

Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations," will be published in 1776. He will promote laissez-faire (lah-say-FAIR) capitalism, which roughly means ('leave us alone'). The reason "Leave-us-alone" capitalism will become popular in 1776 (and why Adam Smith uses FRENCH to describe it) is because of what is about to happen in France right now. The French Minister of Finance has been spending most of his time spending the wealth of France. After a spectacular multi-year trial, he is sentenced to life in prison. (He deserves it.) As a replacement, the young King Louis the 14th turns to the one man who warned him of the embezzling nobility... Colbert (kohl-BEHR). The new Minster makes the nobles pay the taxes on the books thus balancing the tax burden so that everyone pays something. He sets tariffs to favor local sales of farm goods and improves the local roads to make it easier to sell in town than shipping out of town. The fisheries improve under his direction and when he dies, France will be well on its way to financial independence. You'd think he would be the hero of government regulation of the economy, but you'd be wrong. His special genius is proof positive than any centralized, well-working economic system can eventually be undermined by a gray, mindless bureaucracy willing to use it for its own purposes. [7] [8] [9] [10]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Alexander Hamilton was another strong central government control freak who loved to tinker with the economy and he had a talent for it. Like Colbert, he was unique, but once he let go of the reigns, the system cycled out of control. In 1811, the charter of the First Bank of the United States was no more. The Second Bank of the United States was established in 1816 during "The Era of Good Feelings". We were all one big happy family again. What could go wrong? By the time Andrew Jackson took the Presidency, he was well aware what could go wrong. Jackson killed the Second Bank of the United States and in the process, our national credit went into the toilet. The term "wild-catting" comes from this time when a bank note often came from an unknown bank "out there amongst the wild cats." You'd think we would have learned, but now we have a Third Bank of the United States called the Federal Reserve. To kill it would hurt more than you can imagine. If we were sensible, we could arrange a soft landing for it, but you can forget that noise. Like the Second Bank of the United States, it won't go down without an ugly, expensive, painful fight. [11] [12] [13] [14]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1665, Wikipedia.

No comments:

Post a Comment