Thursday, September 29, 2016

History: The Year is 1881

I've uploaded year 1881 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Scramble for Africa and Venezuela -- Africa is partitioned by the Europeans... mostly because of the tariff wars are killing the economy of Europe. I talk about Venezuela and what happens after you kick the evil foreigners out and replace them with local evil authoritarians.

The President has been Shot! By a Lawyer! -- Garfield takes two in the back. I talk about the government spoils system and corruption.

In Other News -- Pillsbury, the first cabaret, and Kansas goes dry.

The Scramble for Africa and Venezuela

To this point European presence on the African continent has been limited to a few islands, trading posts, and larger areas including French Algeria, the Congo and the British Cape Colony. But Sir Henry Stanley (who found Dr. Livingston but probably did not say "Dr. Livingstone, I presume") has mapped the interior of Africa and given it a new name: "The Dark Continent." Europeans have a better idea of the resources to be exploited and they want to stake out their claim. The question is, "Why now?" Well... the Long Depression has been really... long. Tariff wars and protectionist policies between European countries have made trade goods very expensive. That makes tariff-free Africa very attractive, and with diamonds and gold available for the taking (except for a few annoying African Zulus, or Dutch Boers wandering around) the race is on. There is a potential for war between the Europeans so in a couple of years they will agree to carve up Africa in a more friendly manner... friendly to Europeans... less friendly to actual Africans. Thus the shape of modern African nations will be defined by the Europeans without regard to whether the borders make any sense to the Africans who must live within them. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The "Scramble for Africa" in a modern context refers to the exploitation of oil and other resources on the African continent. The controversy is usually framed as a battle between good and evil. The USA gives aid to Africa, but there are moral strings attached. For China it's just business. I could explain this issue quickly using 4-letter words, but I won't, so bear with me. Labor is cheap in some countries because it doesn't take much money there to pay for food and a nice place to sleep. This allows foreign companies to build infrastructure and pay the workers a lot less. Then socialist agitators tell the workers that their labor and natural resources are being stolen! POWER TO THE PEOPLE! But once the foreign devils are forced to leave, everything comes apart. The Venezuelan government nationalized the oil companies. The People were supposed to get rich, but the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money... and toilet paper! Union agreements specify that workplace restrooms shall be fully stocked with TP, but the workers are stealing it. The owner is facing a union strike, so he buys black-market TP. Then the Secret Police confiscate it in the name of the people, and everyone is just out of luck. Venezuela blames the USA for this crisis. [8] [9] [10]

The President has been Shot! By a Lawyer!

President Garfield was the "dark-horse" candidate at the Republican nominating convention starting with 60 votes and building from there. During the campaign, the Republicans blamed the South for everything but a rainy day. The South wanted lower tariffs which would improve cotton sales and make goods easier to buy. Republicans wanted to protect American jobs. America First! (Yeah. I know. The Long Depression is going to get a lot longer.) Hello Mr. President... and good-bye. At this time, "the spoils system" means that cushy government jobs are handed out to political cronies. (Not like today. Huh?) But Garfield actually thinks before he hands out these jobs. Then he receives a letter from a Chicago lawyer named John who expects a job too. John's 1st choice is Ambassador to Vienna. Yes. You guessed it. He is a nut and frankly, he is not much of a lawyer. (In those days, my dog could have passed the Bar in Chicago.) His application is DENIED! John buys a Bulldog revolver. Call it a snub-nose .44 with ivory grips. (He wants it to look good in a museum.) He waits at the train station for the President, walks up from behind and plugs Garfield twice: once in the shoulder and once about midway up the spine. The bullet misses the spinal cord and lodges in the pancreas. It takes Garfield 11 weeks to die... probably from infection. Surgical instruments were not normally sterilized. Chester Arthur is now President. [11] [12] [13]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Who? Chester Arthur was a supporter of the spoils system that led to so much overt government corruption. (Not like today. Right?) When President Arthur took his oath of office there was an ongoing investigation and trial of government officials who accepted bribes in exchange for lucrative postal delivery contracts. (Yes. The US Postal Service had a delivery service that was partly privatized.) The fear was that the new President would kill the investigation and trial. (Imagine that.) But in fact he fired a number of government officials based on suspicion alone. He brought some reform to government because the courts sure couldn't do the job. Despite evidence and the discovery of defendants attempting to bribe jury members, not a single conviction was upheld. And what happened to John the Assassin? He wrote letters to Republican leaders in order to reunite the Party. The jury returned a guilty verdict, so he called them all jackasses. (Apparently, that insanity plea didn't work.) After his appeal was rejected, he danced to the gallows and recited a poem entitled "I am Going to the Lordy." His request for an orchestra was denied. I assume everyone listened politely. They put a black hood over his head, pulled the handle and hanged him. [14]

In Other News

  • Pillsbury opens the largest flour mill in the world. It has a capacity of 5,000 barrels a day when 500 is considered a large operation. The mill won't always operate at full capacity, though. [15]
  • The "Black Cat" cabaret opens in Paris. Cheap wine, bad decor and a variety show marks the first cabaret. The owners and clientele are raising a "middle finger" to conventional society. [11] [16]
  • Kansas becomes the first "dry" state. The Methodists push a law to prohibit the sale of alcohol. Hey. If your state was host to the Chisholm Trail and the "Queen of Cowtowns" (Dodge City) you'd prohibit drinking too. The law will be repealed in 1948. [11] [17]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1881, Wikipedia.

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