CONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION? BRING BACK SUMPTUARY LAWS
A Senate decree passed in Venice 1515 noted:
· There is such gross and unnecessary expenditure on meals and banquets, on the adornment of women, and on the decoration of houses, that fortunes are squandered and a bad example is set to those who seek to live modestly.
· To correct that trend, the Venetians passed laws to limit conspicuous consumption. at WEDDING BANQUETS, for example, no more than three kinds of meat could be served. Wild birds and animals, Indian cocks and hens, and doves are strictly forbidden. Oysters may be served only at private meals for up to twenty persons.
· To control personal adornment, women wanting to wear pearls must register them, declaring the number, weight and quality.
· In Florence anyone wanting to wear gold, silver, pearls, precious stones..or cloth of silk brocade had to pay an annual tax. Married women could wear two rings tax-free.
· The rationale of sumptuary legislation in Florence: to restrain the barbarous and irrepressible bestiality of women who force men to spend money on them. On account of these unbearable expenses, men are avoiding matrimony.
I think we need laws like that men aren’t force into unbearable expenses and avoid dates, or maybe just to put brakes on NICK PATERAS, whose second date went like this.
· He needed something to make the blood rush to his heart. No, not falling in love. Something more exciting. So he and date drove to the airport, where they sprinted from desk to desk to find a flight to -- somewhere. They ended up spending the weekend in Port of Spain.
· When they got back, they looked at each other in awe. Right. Isn’t conspicuous consumption an awesome thing?
· Now www.blog.westjet.com invites your comments. I suggest sentencing the couple to 40 hours of community service, but I doubt that’s what West Jet has in mind.
(Info on Renaissance sumptuary laws comes from The Society of Renaissance Florence and Venice: A Documentary History.)