Folly Triumphant

by Hugo Salinas Price, Plata The world today is in the hands of a set of quacks who pass themselves off as “Economists”; their pseudo-economic science is nothing but ancient superstition dressed in modern garb. Yesterday they sold us “Indulgences”, today they sell State Bonds. The whole spectacle should be riotously funny except for the fact that these quacks and their coterie of flatterers who grant them awards, distinctions and Nobel Prizes have driven the world to the brink of destruction. We behold a spectacle worthy of the satire of the great Erasmus of Rotterdam, who wrote his immortal “In Praise Folly” in 1511. His treatise became the world’s first “Best Seller” – all literate Europe read it and laughed. Laughter is an enormously effective demolisher of pomposity, as the semiologist Humberto Eco pointed out in his book “The Name of the Rose”. Would that we had an Erasmus around , to make the world laugh itself silly at the antics of the quacks who pass themselves off as Economists, Central Bankers and Finance Ministers in the world today. Erasmus poked fun at his 16th Century world, saying that the supreme goddess who ruled it was “Folly”: she determines all events. An interesting and important exceptional case of the defeat of Folly, or Quackery as I should like to call it, presented itself in London in the middle of the 19th Century. Perhaps the most frightening threat that faced 19th Century Europe was the ever-present possibility of the plague of cholera, which took off tens and hundreds of thousands of Europeans in sudden, unexplained outbreaks in its populous cities. A city-dweller might leave his neighborhood for a weekend in the country, and return to find that 10% of his neighbors were being carted off in boxes to the graveyard. The prevailing idea was that cholera was airborne; stench denoted sickness, and in London in the 1850’s there were stinking places aplenty. preparedness war collapse There was no central sewage; human excrement was deposited in the cesspools under the cellars of buildings; the cesspools frequently overflowed into the cellars and courtyards in poorer neighborhoods. Cesspools were periodically emptied by “night-soil men”, and the contents was carted off to the fields, but it was a costly operation. What sewers there were, discharged into the Thames as a grand sewer, which produced such an unbearable stench that, one memorable Summer, Parliament was forced to adjourn. The reigning medical quacks had convinced the civil authorities that cholera was airborne and refused to contemplate any other cause as possible. Think of Draghi. Or Ms. Yellen. Or Ben. They will simply not listen to reason. QE to Infinity – the mark of the quack. In 1836 a young man of humble origin walked 200 miles from the North of England to London, in order to become a doctor. He was an unprepossessing genius. His name was John Snow. By 1853 he had developed a reliable technique for relieving pain safely in surgical procedures, using ether or chloroform. Queen Victoria, about to have her eighth child, was interested. Snow was summoned and he administered chloroform to the Queen in labor, with success. The humble John Snow thus reached the pinnacle of prestige in the medical community. But success did not diminish Snow’s inborn genius for investigation. In the Summer of 1854, cholera struck the area of London’s Soho. People began to die by the hundreds. The civil authorities blamed the plague on the stench prevailing in the area. This theory did not make sense to Snow. Does Draghi make sense? Snow thought that if the mortal illness came from the intestines – the intestines practically dissolved in violent diarrhea leading to death in a matter of hours – therefore, the disease had to enter the body through the mouth, not through the air. His opinion was ridiculed. Continue Reading>>>

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