Politics Brings Out the Fools in Nearly All of Us

by Don Boudreaux on August 24, 2008

in Politics, Reality Is Not Optional, Religion

Here’s a letter that I sent today to the Washington Post:

George Will is correct: most of Barack Obama’s economic ideas are idiotic (“Little Rhetoric Riding Hood,” August 24).  But, along with many of John McCain’s equally moronic ideas, they sell big-time – which is the very reason these candidates persistently deliver such preposterous lines.

Washington is no less diligent than is Hollywood at satisfying the public’s demand for heroic adventures, epic fantasies, and fairy tales.  Each production stars supercilious superstars portraying characters boasting magical powers and godly goodness.

The only difference between Hollywood and Washington is that, while audiences understand Hollywood’s leading men and women to be acting, this same ability to distinguish fantasy from fact disappears when the executive producer is Uncle Sam.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments

comments

24 comments    Share Share    Print    Email

{ 24 comments }

Crusader August 24, 2008 at 3:27 pm

Politicians never made a living overestimating the collective intelligence of the "body politic". *spit*

muirgeo August 24, 2008 at 4:55 pm

I e-mailed this too George Will. I didn't bother with microprocessors, agricultural technology, bioengineering techniques, the lunar landing, Tang or the internet.

"About 20 percent of America's energy comes from nuclear energy produced using fuel rods, which, when spent, can be reprocessed into fresh fuel."…

"But it is liberals such as Obama who think that any new technological marvel or other social delight can be summoned into existence by a sufficient appropriation." George Will

Mr. Will would you now like to tell your audience where nuclear power came from?

Idiotface August 24, 2008 at 7:41 pm

From Wikipedia: "The original orange flavored Tang was formulated by General Foods Corporation in 1957 and first marketed (in powdered form) in 1959." NASA only helped market it.

jorod August 24, 2008 at 7:53 pm

People understand little about economics and less about business.

Martin Brock August 24, 2008 at 8:05 pm

Exactly.

muirgeo August 24, 2008 at 8:15 pm

From Wikipedia: "The original orange flavored Tang was formulated by General Foods Corporation in 1957 and first marketed (in powdered form) in 1959." NASA only helped market it.

Posted by: Idiotface

Oh Ok then scratch a the Tang but you still have minor things like nuclear power, microprocessors, internet, ag and biotech advances and a lunar landing.

idiotface August 24, 2008 at 10:07 pm

The lunar landing happened almost 30 years ago, and where has the gov't taken space flight since?

Unit August 24, 2008 at 10:45 pm

Some people think the lunar landing was a huge waste of money that could have been better spent here on earth. I thought Muirgeo would be one of those.

Nuclear power? It's probably illegal for the private sector to do much there.

The internet? Did the gov't create Google?

The Albatross August 24, 2008 at 10:51 pm

I took a course from a professor involved in the lunar landing, and nearly everything came from private contractors. Compare this to the Soviet experience, where their government built N-1 rockets exploded, because they were nothing more than a bunch of old German V-2 (or A-4 for you purists) jacketed together. You take 32 pirated German engines compared to 5 Rocketdyne F-4s (it maybe F-2 or F-3 my memory is failing) in a Saturn V. Nuclear power was made possible by General Electric, and in British warships it was courtesy of Rolls-Royse. As for microprocessors, I believe it was a few companies that made it possible (not some government labs). Sure there are government contracts, but private industry makes these things possible. Compare this to the government development of our inter-war torpedo which failed tremendously in the opening stages of WWII (as in not going off). Within 18 months the private sector had a seeking electric torpedo which turned the tide. Government research is pathetic. They have been pouring money into fusion and electric cars, and what do we have?—Nothing! I saw the fusion reactor at Princeton, and the bloody thing still does not work. Government research may get you a few Potemkin Villages, but I would put my money on the Skunk Works any day. Invest in some government program and you will have a long wait, but then again you will end up with lots of corporate welfare, which I thought we were all against.

The Albatross August 24, 2008 at 11:13 pm

I should add,
The jet engine was designed by Sir Frank Whittle, who lost his patent because he could not afford the five pounds to renew it—at least that is what I remember from his biography. He was a tinkerer who accomplished much without government funding. I am also reminded of Samuel Langley, who despite government support, failed miserably in his attempt at powered flight. He would be bested by a bunch of bicycle men from Ohio called Wright. Somehow, I place more faith in private folk than any silly government program. I could be wrong, but (if history is any guide), then future progress will not come from any government program.

maximus August 24, 2008 at 11:58 pm

"As for microprocessors, I believe it was a few companies that made it possible (not some government labs)."

According to a Time Magazine article dated 6/24/01 an engineer named Ted Hoff at Intel Corp. did between 1969-1971,(this is what most textbooks say). But the article points to someone who actually did in 1968 and was awarded the patent in 2001.

maximus August 24, 2008 at 11:59 pm

"As for microprocessors, I believe it was a few companies that made it possible (not some government labs)."

According to a Time Magazine article dated 6/24/01 an engineer named Ted Hoff at Intel Corp. did between 1969-1971,(this is what most textbooks say). But the article points to someone who actually did in 1968 and was awarded the patent in 2001.

Oil Shock August 25, 2008 at 12:28 am
muirgeo August 25, 2008 at 3:31 am

Hey you all with ideologies of armor who dislike seeing them chinked with reason and facts get a break. I'm leaving the board again.

But just for two weeks to trek here.

Yep nothing better then having the liberty to walk anywhere I want on those public lands we all co-own up in the Alaskan Arctic. Private property is a great thing so is public property. Interestingly our initial route to circumnavigate Sheep Mountain had some land sales or leases to The Red Dog Mine go across it.
When our group asked permission to pass the same route they've done for years the liberty was denied by this mining corporation. Maybe it was for a good reason or maybe because they saw it was a Sierra Club group but none the less our liberty to roam was denied by a corporation not by the government. Fortunately there's plenty of space to re-route to.

Liberty is a great thing and good governance will maximize it. Without such every route would be blocked with a hideous PRIVATE PROPERTY NO TRESPASSING sign.

LowcountryJoe August 25, 2008 at 5:44 am

I am pretty sure that number 15 to the list is lurking within the text somewhere.

John Smith August 25, 2008 at 10:05 am

Fantastic letter Mr. Boudreaux!!!

This is economics I can understand. :-)

Gamut August 25, 2008 at 10:06 am

Nobody is denying that government can "put a man on the moon", or "build a fusion reactor" (at some immense cost). But government cannot, and never has, made any of these things affordable and useful. I also have no doubt that they could build the world's largest solar panel, but it won't do a thing to make solar energy more efficient or economically viable. That comes with industrial processes, that take all of the might of industry to converge while achieving other ends.

Jim Gannon August 25, 2008 at 10:37 am

Don, you're my superstar with godly goodness. Is that wrong?

Kevin S. August 25, 2008 at 1:33 pm

"Yep nothing better then having the liberty to walk anywhere I want on those public lands we all co-own up in the Alaskan Arctic."-muirgeo

Perhaps you could show a little appreciation for our ancestors who paid for that land and your current fellow residents who are paying for its management. Enjoy the subsidy. You wouldn't mind if the other 300 million of us joined you up there, would you?

"Interestingly our initial route to circumnavigate Sheep Mountain had some land sales or leases to The Red Dog Mine go across it. When our group asked permission to pass the same route they've done for years the liberty was denied by this mining corporation."-muirgeo

Maybe someday you will have the opportunity to purchase affordable goods manufactured from the minerals extracted from the Red Dog Mine.

Sorry for the off-topic comment

vidyohs August 25, 2008 at 5:21 pm

muirduck,

Probably the reason the Red Dog Mine denied your group access was specifically because you were Sierra Club, a group of fanatics not above, nay, often eagar to commit acts of destruction and sabotage.

Here is a little lesson in economics:

I was talking to a friend of mine's little girl the other day. I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up and she replied, "I want to be President!" Both of her parents are liberal Democrats, aka socialists, and were standing there. So then I asked her, "If you were President what would be the first thing you would do?"

She replied, "I'd give houses to all the homeless people."

"Wow – what a worthy goal." I told her, "You don't have to wait until you're President to do that. You can come over to my house and mow, pull weeds, and sweep my yard, and I'll pay you $50. Then I'll take you over to the grocery store where this homeless guy hangs out, and you can give him the $50 to use toward a new house."

Since she is only 6, she thought that over for a few seconds. While her Mom glared at me, the daughter looked me straight in the eye and asked, "Why doesn't the homeless guy come over and do the work, and you can just pay him the $50?"

And I said, "Welcome to conservatism."

Her folks still aren't talking to me.

vidyohs August 25, 2008 at 5:41 pm

LCJ,

"I am pretty sure that number 15 to the list is lurking within the text somewhere.

Posted by: LowcountryJoe | Aug 25, 2008 5:44:31 AM"

As the official chronicler of muirpidity I am in accord with you, but only because we all know muirduck's religious belief in socialism.

So, we know that, to muirduck, "good governance" means collectivism aka Stalin, Castro, Chavez, Mao, Allende, Ho Chi Minh, FDR, LBJ, JC, and Billary style. Which of course makes his statement worthy of catalouging as #19.

But, in good conscience I can't do it, because the statement is correct in that "good governance" would indeed maximize liberty.

To me, "good governance" means a minimal government that deals basically on the contract level with individuals, and leaves us alone to organize and run our lives based upon natural law. I see that "good governance" as maximizing liberty.

I am sure that everyone on this cafe has their own idea of what "good governance" means, and how it would maximize liberty.

In fact this little paragraph is an excellent example of the way socialists learn to write and speak. Sounds good, if you don't listen and think.

I guess that is why the left hates people who are independent thinkers, and not mice following the socialist piper, like muirduck. (Hmm, would this make him a fowlmouse?)

John V August 25, 2008 at 8:07 pm

Muirgeo,

Still fighting the bad, strawman fight.

You've posted here too long to give such inane answers. You'd think you'd at least discuss honestly and not with silly marginal arguments.

Sam Grove August 27, 2008 at 12:25 pm

There you have it. George enjoys subsidies for his recreational choices. There he goes hiking in the Alaskan wilderness where he won't be meeting any of the poorer folk who help pay for his access to an area they will likely never be able to afford to visit.

Personally, I prefer to go to private RV site where we pay more, but I can get a hot shower and often WiFi as well. Their campgrounds also are better maintained…possibly because they don't have to wait for congress to allocate funds for such mundane purposes.

As for his dislike for 'private property' sign, there are also many wilderness areas that are posted off limits because the government is holding them for other purposes than the recreational entertainment of well paid professionals.

It is also true that many private interests actually invite the public to come an enjoy their facilities:
One of San Francisco's most popular tourist attractions is privately owned and goes to great lengths to get the public to enjoy its facility. There are many such places in the U.S.

Sam Grove August 27, 2008 at 12:48 pm

The irony:
George believes he would not be able to have the same recreational choices available to him without taxpayer subsidy; that he would not be able to afford them. A large part of the reason he can't personally afford them is because he has to pay for the cost of government.

He does not consider that the only reason he can enjoy subsidies is because, in the end, he must pay for them, all of them.

Previous post:

Next post: