Where a later elaboration
improves the original.
Free Markets, Intervention Issues.
Aesop's simplistic Fable becomes Philosophical: a Model for Economics;
In Piers Plowman,
Poem by William Langland
Learn what happened after the mice acknowledged that their plan would not work, to save themselves by belling the cat. The idea was to construct an alarm to sound whenever the cat approached. Then the mice in the vicinity could escape. But no-one was willing to risk himself to do the belling. No-one emerged to do the deed.
William Langland was an Englishman in about 1377. He wrote a long poem, "Piers Plowman," and in it is a creative addition to Aesop's "Who Will Bell The Cat?"
But that addition - a kind of a post script - has been largely forgotten and the only tale we remember is Aesop's. It ends when noone will step up to implement the plan.
The Langland addition focuses on philosophy -- the consolation, in a way. What might have happened if the mice actually had succeeded in belling the cat - was it worse than what they were already enduring. If the cat had been saddled with a bell, so it could not catch its mice, would the population of mice so increase that everyone in the community would suffer. Would not many cats then come to enjoy the feast. And those new cats would not be wearing bells. Is it more in the common interest to allow a degree of death and destruction to a few, so the many can survive. Is the solution to watch out for one's own, one's own family, see that they are as safe as can be, and let others do the same.
- tolerate limited damage or death to a few, so that the larger group may live.
- Update 2014 to its sensible application to current events, contain the cat -- trying to do away with it is fruitless -- by wise preparations of the mice, at http://hellofodderhellobuyer.blogspot.com/2014/04/obama-and-belling-rus-cat-piers-plowman.html
A group of mice gets together to address a common problem of attacks on their numbers by the local feline, and decide that the solution is to bell the cat.
Most versions stop with the original from Aesop's fables, the mice unable to find anyone with the will or ability to take on the risk of belling the cat for the greater good, so the idea falls apart. See Aesop's Fables, Belling the Cat, at ://www.pagebypagebooks.com/Aesop/Aesops_Fables/Belling_the_Cat_p1.html/ Aesop had a way of being brief.
Piers Plowman's character's post script:
The story, however, goes on in the later version by William Langland, in about 1377 - but his creativity does not get reported. The reported part also refers to no mouse man enough to bell the cat. See ://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bell+the+cat,+who+will/.
The unreported part of William Langland's version is more important: William Langland, 1332-1400. This is from his "Prologue to the Vision of Piers Plowman, Version B,} at History Guide, ://www.historyguide.org/ancient/langland.html/
Read slowly, absorb. Do a "find" for "mouse" to get to this section on belling the cat, because the Prologue is long: Fair use bits here. In the story, there is a mouse who continues with wisdom after the group finds it is unable to get someone to bell the cat. The wise mouse gets them to consider what would have happened, had they prevailed against this particular cat:
To each his own interpretation of anything, but try this:
If the damage from a death-dealer is contained, and only the survival of some is at stake, a relatively small group, then apply the rule of tough. Leave the cat alone. A few will die, but the group will live.
If the damage extends too far, to the wellbeing of all, the demise of the entire community and repercussions thereafter, there may have to be a different result.
Then, see an absolutely ridiculous version of belling the cat: drippy, soft, foolishly surface, watered-down version for kids with no thoughts allowed to enter between their ears, at ://www.kidsfront.com/stories-for-kids/bell_the_cat.html
This little tale is also a (would you believe) hymn to the free market, to be wary of interventions that could lead to worse.
So is the mouse's idea to limit any intervention that could be implemented, so it is truly temporary, lest greater evils result? He says that evern if the mice could kill this cat, another arises, is the idea, so be realistic.
Regulate when needed, clearly needed for the really greater good,. not just to protect a few who were in the wrong place in the wrong time. Each to watch well his own in that case. Fair enough. Here: criteria met. Regulate, find the whatever means needed and available. Bonuses? May be unstoppable in retrospect, because of contract law. But recoup, Obama, recoup it.
Is that it? That works. Do it. A cat out there? Better is a little loss, than a long sorrow.
Fair use finis.