Monday, June 29, 2009

Peter and Paul

Here at mwbh, we have honored today's Feast of Saints Peter and Paul in various ways. Our personal favorite was in 2006.

Some other pairings of the saints’ names came to mind recently, as we shall explain.

"The expression 'rob Peter to pay Paul' goes back at least to John Wycliffe's 'Select English Works,' written in about 1380. Equally old in French, the saying may derive from a 12th-century Latin expression referring to the Apostles: 'As it were that one would crucify Paul in order to redeem Peter.' The words usually mean to take money for one thing and use it for another, especially in paying off debts," according to the "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Fact on File, New York, 1997) ".In 1546, it was included in John Heywood's collection of proverbs: 'To rob Peter to pay Paul.' George Herbert listed it in his collection (1640) as 'Give not Saint Peter so much, to leave Saint Paul nothing.' First attested in the United States in 'Thomas Hutchinson Papers' (1657). The proverb has its counterparts in other languages...

A later explanation attributes the saying to the 19th century, when the estates of St Peter's Church, in Westminster, London, were used to pay for the repairs of St Paul's Cathedral.

There may be a precedent.

It is a slow day in the East Texas town of Madisonville.

It is raining, and the little town looks totally deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt and everybody lives on credit.

On this particular day a rich tourist from the East is driving through town. He enters the only hotel in the sleepy town and lays a hundred dollar bill on the desk stating he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night.

As soon as the man walks up the stairs, the hotel proprietor takes the hundred dollar bill and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher.

The butcher takes the $100 and runs down the street to pay his debt to the pig farmer.

The pig farmer then takes the $100 and heads off to pay his debt to the supplier of feed and fuel.

The guy at the Farmer's Co-op takes the $100 and runs to pay his debt to the local prostitute, who has also been facing hard times and has lately had to offer her "services" on credit.

The hooker runs to the hotel and pays off her debt with the $100 to the hotel proprietor, paying for the rooms that she had rented when she brought clients to that establishment.

The hotel proprietor then lays the $100 bill back on the counter so the Rich traveler will not suspect anything.

At that moment the traveler from the East walks back down the stairs, after inspecting the rooms. He picks up the $100 bill and states that the rooms are not satisfactory. He then pockets the money and walks out the door and leaves town.

No one earned anything. However the whole town is now out of debt, and looks to the future with a lot of optimism.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how the United States Government is conducting business today.

Maybe the appearance of effectiveness is what makes this solution so attractive, don't you think?

Or don't you?

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