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Blog of Mass Destruction

Bleeding Us To Good Health

By The Reverend Published: June 20, 2011

For 2000 years, the most common medical practice performed by doctors was bloodletting.

Bloodletting was based on an ancient system of medicine in which blood and other bodily fluid were considered to be "humors" the proper balance of which maintained health.

"Bleeding" a patient to health was modeled on the process of menstruation. Hippocrates believed that menstruation functioned to "purge women of bad humors".

Even after the "humors" theory of sickness fell out of favor......

...the practice was continued by surgeons and barber-surgeons. Though the bloodletting was often recommended by physicians, it was carried out by barbers. This division of labour led to the distinction between physicians and surgeons. The red-and-white-striped pole of the barbershop, still in use today, is derived from this practice: the red represents the blood being drawn, the white represents the tourniquet used, and the pole itself represents the stick squeezed in the patient's hand to dilate the veins. Bloodletting was used to "treat" a wide range of diseases, becoming a standard treatment for almost every ailment, and was practiced prophylactically as well as therapeutically.

You might be thinking at this point.....what? What the hell is The Reverend babbling about now? What's this got to do with anything?

Please....humor me.

Fast forward to today. How would you react if your family physician recommended a little bloodletting to help cure your, say, allergies? You know, just drain a pint or so every few days to get rid of those pesky sniffles and watery eyes. Wouldn't your response be something like, "I beg your pardon?" Or, if I were the patient, the cruder, "Doc, have you lost your goddamn mind?"

Our reaction to a doctor, or barber, conducting a little medical bloodletting today would be shock and bewilderment because we now know that bloodletting doesn't work to cure human sickness or disease.
Most likely we would be on the phone reporting the doctor for malpractice as soon as we left his office.

Ancient bloodletting is an analogy for today's popular national "cure" for the Great Recession.

So-called experts, most of the Village establishment, all of conservatism and a portion of the Democratic Party have embraced economic austerity as the cure for what ails our national economy. Even European nations brought to their economic knees by the Great American Bankster scam are prescribing heavy doses of spending cuts to cure their ills.

However, cutting government spending in the midst of a severe economic downturn in which demand for goods and services has fallen off a cliff......will only make the patient sicker.....only make weak economies weaker...only worsen demand.

In the last 12 months, the U.S. has cut 261,000 public sector jobs. Those 261,000 Americans no longer have the means to stimulate overall market demand with their purchases.....which, in turn, deepens the recession. In other words, the cure is making the patient sicker.

The same is true with government spending in general. Demanding huge cuts in government spending for fiscal year 2012, like the $280 billion Republicans have written in their ransom note to Obama during the tense debt ceiling hostage negotiations, is a surefire way of weakening the recuperating national economic patient. If House GOP'ers get their way, the $280 billion that would be circulating throughout the economic body will be withdrawn, tens of thousand more workers will be laid off, and though definitely stern and austere measures,.....would lead to an even weaker economy with even less demand for goods and services.

This is where the "spiraling" red and white barbershop pole part factors in. Continuing to cut government spending in the middle of a deep recession where aggregate market demand remains too low will only result in more downward spiraling of market demand.....causing yet more layoffs, even less market infinitum.

No matter how often you hear the Serious and the Professionals go on and on about how essential it is right now to cut, cut, cut government spending in order to save the national economic patient, doing so will only put the patient in the intensive care ward. Choking the ability of the government to carry out it's role as "spender of last resort" when the conditions in our economy absolutely call for more akin to practicing the primitive art of bloodletting.

For cynical political spin doctors from the conservative school of "look over there"....economic bloodletting is the best insurance policy against 4 more years of Dr. Dark Knight in the White House. If the economic health of the national patient deteriorates between now and next much so that voters turn against President Obama and return the White House to the Republican bloodletters.....then the spending cut induced economic coma which will result will be the cure the GOP doctors ordered.

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