Gulliver on Fiscal Stimulus

I don’t write much about the economy and various remedies for its present ills.  That is for two reasons:  First, I believe economics, especially on the macro side, is so far from being science that it is closer to being a conventicle of witches, with multiple schools promoting various spells and potions.  And second, because I don’t really understand it all (despite having taken my Masters degree in economics.)

Anyway, I stumbled across the following passage in Gulliver’s Travels, which I think sums it up.

When Gulliver visited Laputa, the land of the philosophers, he complained of “cholick”.  He was introduced to “a great physician who was famous for curing that disease by contrary operations of the same instrument, a pair of bellows with a slender muzzle of ivory; this he conveyed 8 inches up the anus, and drawing in the wind, he affirmed he could make the guts as lank as a dried bladder.  But when the disease was more stubborn and violent, he let in the muzzle while the bellows was full of wind, which he discharged into the body of the patient…

“I saw him try both experiments upon a dog; but could not discern any effect from the former.  After the latter, the animal was ready to burst, and made so violent a discharge as was very offensive to me and my companions.  The dog died on the spot, and we left the doctor trying to recover him by the same operation.”

Thus Dean Swift’s eighteenth century view of stimulus and other remedies for financial cholick.

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