Re: "Have you ever put something apparently useless to good use"
"Only some of my former co-workers. Sometimes you need to establish a lessor 'pour encorager les autres'"
I feel the need to point out that Voltaire was, as usual, being ironic/sarcastic. He wrote that from time to time the English executed an admiral "pour encourager les autrres", because executing Bing was basically a cover up for political incompetence. Voltaire wasn't in favour of executing anybody. Read Candide.
He was using the phrase in the sense of "beatings will continue till morale improves".