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Mon Aug 27, 2012, 06:30 PM

plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose


". . . . Within a few months of the King's (Charles V in 1380) death, France experienced the explosion of working-class revolt that had already swept through Florence and Flanders. In addition to oppressive taxes, a rising rancor of the poor against the rich and a conscious demand by the lowest class for greater rights in the system supplied the impulse. Concentration of wealth was moving upward in the 14th century and enlarging the proportion of the poor, while the catastrophes of the century reduced large numbers to misery and want. The poor had remained manageable as long as their minimum subsistence could be maintained by charity, but the situation changed when urban populations were swelled by the flotsam of war and plague and infused by a new aggressiveness in the plague's wake.

"As the masters became richer, the workers sank to the level of day labor, with little prospect of advancement. Membership in the guilds was shut off to the ordinary journeyman and reserved under complicated requirements and fees for sons and relatives of the master class. In many trades, work was farmed out to workers in their homes, often at lower wages to their wives and children, whose employment was forbidden in the guilds. Obligatory religious holidays, which numbered 120 to 150 a year, kept earnings down. Although forbidden to strike and, in some towns, to assemble, workers formed associations of their own to press for higher wages. They had their own dues and treasuries and connections across frontiers through which jobs and lodgings could be secured for members, and which doubtless served as channels for agitation."

Barbara Tuchman, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century, (1978 Ballantine books paperback), p. 365.

Charles V was king of France from 1364 to 1380. France was at war the Hundred Years War during Charles V's entire reign. To pay the costs of war, Charles V taxed the poor and middle class without mercy. His taxes were so oppressive that, because of them, he feared eternal damnation on his death bed and ordered that the obligation to pay the taxes end.

History repeats itself over and over. I won't mention the French Revolution again. But we never learn.

History shows that Ryan's plan to deprive the poor of the tiny bit of charity we give them would be disastrous.

We have to defeat the Republicans and stop fighting these never-ending, imperialistic wars. The Republicans' plans with regard to welfare, Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security are irrational and, if history is a guide, could well destroy the peace that we have enjoyed for such a long time in our country.

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