Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Follow the Law

The educated looking fellow above is one John Law born this day 1671 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was born into a family of goldsmiths and bankers, and amazingly enough was not Jewish, though there is an old joke that goes, "what is the difference between a Jew and a Scotsman?" Answer "Nothing." Terrible joke I know, but most jokes are. When he was about 25 years old, M. Law killed another fellow in a duel over a woman (what else?), and had to eventually show Scotland a clean pair of heels. He spent the next ten years shuffling between France and the Netherlands, dealing in finances, and gambling a lot, before he got his big break. The French economy was in the crapper, and Law was called upon to use his "system" to try and repair it. He did a lot of good, and helped increase industry in France by 60%, he also helped France increase the number of ships engaged in export from sixteen to three hundred. His idea was to replace gold with paper money, and it was a great idea, but it was about 300 years of its time, and France was just not quite ready from prime time. All of it ended in tears (as these things tend to do) and "The Mississippi Bubble" was the disaster that he helped to create, and what led him to have to flee France with the hounds baying for his blood. He was apparently a heavy gamble, and was so good at mental calculation that he was known to win games because of his ability to calculate the odds. However, after his flight from France he spent the rest of his life kicking about Europe gambling, but was unable to regain his former prosperity, (guess that is justice). I know he is not the most clear hero of the day, but just because his ideas were too advanced for the time he was living in, and a lot of people got burned by them, does not mean he isn't somewhat heroic. So, for those advanced ideas that a lot of us use everyday without really knowing the full details, John Law (April 21st 1671-March 21st 1729, at the age of 57, of pneumonia), you are my (237th) hero of the day.

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