Saturday, January 19, 2019

My armies are costing me a fortune. What can I do?

A question us monkeys often face, given how long it takes to grow bananas. In 1814, Dr. José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia y Velasco (Dr. Francia for short) persuaded Paraguay’s Congress to appoint him Consul with absolute power. He did two things to save money for his army: first, he abolished higher education. That saved a few bob. Then, in a really neat trick, he only paid soldiers on the borders when they returned to the capital. If they died on the job, well, no one was going to come collecting a salary. This could really add up, and within a few years he had an army of 1800 soldiers, and a navy of 100 canoes, sloops and flatboats. Apparently that was a lot. I don’t know what a sloop or a flatboat is, but if you have enough of them, that’s probably a good thing.

Francia was lucky enough to live in a time when his countryfolk had no idea what he was up to. To this day many think he was a hero. There’s even a museum to him. Everyone loves a thrifty leader!



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