Theatre of the Absurd

by Don Boudreaux on June 13, 2011

in Books, Politics

Here’s a letter to Washington DC’s WTOP radio:

In today’s 3pm hour you reported on the “pilgrimage” (your reporter’s word) that many Americans make every summer to DC “to witness democracy in action first hand.”

Your reporter’s reverential tone implies that tourists to DC behold here something hallowed.  I disagree.  Too much of what tourists to DC witness first hand is theater – marble and monuments meant to mobilize the spirit; buildings and boulevards built to bedazzle; ceremonies and celebrations suggesting the sacred.  But behind it all are venal politicians grasping for more power and hoping that the stage-props scattered about DC will dupe ordinary people to buy into the ridiculous notion that government officials are saints whose genius is matched only by their grand goodwill.

In fact it’s mostly fraudulent – the gaudy ornaments of the power-hungry hungrily and cynically enchanting their victims with the illusion of earthly salvation by flesh-and-blood saints.  As dramatist David Mamet writes in his new book The Secret Knowledge, “Having spent my life in the theatre, I knew that people could be formed into an audience, that is, a group which surrenders for two hours, part of its rationality, in order to enjoy an illusion.  As I began reading and thinking about politics I saw, to my horror, how easily people could also assemble themselves into a mob, which would either attract or be called into being by those who profited from the surrender of reason and liberty – and these people are called politicians.”*

DC is a stage on which the greedy fool credulous audiences into self-destructive subservience.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

* David Mamet, The Secret Knowledge (New York: Sentinel, 2011), p. 9.

UPDATE: Here’s Frank Chodorov, writing in 1954, on Washington, DC – an essay very much worth reading.  The opening few paragraphs:

It’s June in Washington. It’s June all over the country, of course, but to the capital city the month has special significance. It inaugurates the annual trek of gaping sightseers from all over the country to this American mecca.

Soon the vacationing schoolteachers will be ah-ing and ohing before the wondrous temples of government, while prizewinning high school students will pay their worshipful respects to the pompous dignitaries and official hirelings who carry on the affairs of state. Honeymooning couples, already taking one another for granted, will transfer their admiration and adoration to the indicia of political power, while farmers, satiated with the wonders of nature in their native habitats, will be propitiating the gods of government in their air-conditioned apses. In summer, it is the proper thing for Americans to come to Washington and view with awe.

If you were to ask these visitors, they would tell you that they came here only to admire the beauty of the town. And, to be fair, this is a beautiful town. Why shouldn’t it be? It is like a harlot who never soils her hands with useful work, and whose only occupation, outside of harlotry, is to preen and primp—at the expense of her admirers. Washington is, and ought to be, the most beautiful city in the country; it is also the most useless.

Putting aside the aesthetic thrill which these gapers get out of the visit, they cannot but carry away with them an overpowering impression of the glory and grandeur of the government domiciled here. It must be a wondrous government that operates in this wondrous environment. And when they get back home they will tell of the invigorating, almost healing, experience of having seen the anointed and brushed the robes of greatness; even as did those who in ancient times visited Rome. They will have visited the holy of holies. And all their lives thereafter they will tell, and magnify the tale, of their almost sacred pilgrimage.

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{ 109 comments }

DG Lesvic June 13, 2011 at 11:43 pm

Of course everything you say is true on a logical level, and, yet,

be there a man with heart so dead, who to himself hath not said….

Now admit it, deep down inside, doesn’t even hard headed Don Boudreaux thrill at the symbols of this terribly flawed but unique nation?

I can tell you that this little Jewboy does.

DG Lesvic June 14, 2011 at 12:28 am

I think that should have been

Breathe there a man with soul so dead…

And wasn’t that from The Man Without a Country by Steven Vincent Benet?

America has taken a lot of heat from the “Dumb Jews” I titled my book after, but there are some of us, and I’m sure the aforementioned David Mamet is one, for whom another little Jewboy and a big fat beautiful shiksa, Irving Berlin and Kate Smith, said it for all of us with God Bless America.

Rent This Is the Army to see that, and, for any Jew, Gentile, Muslim, or whatever, for any real American, the thrill of a lifetime.

Right, Methinkers?

Methinks1776 June 14, 2011 at 9:20 am

No, DG. I never liked D.C. or its sickening symbols. I’d had my fill of those before I got here, thanks.

Mr. Methinks and I refer to it as “the swamp”. That’s not America to us.

When I want to find the real America, I talk to the average honest, hardworking American who takes care of his family, looks out for his friends and never hesitates to help a stranger (a fact that never fails to astound our family visiting from other parts of the world). Free people who not only achieve for themselves but who, in the process, help others rise up as well. This, to us, is America and it is nowhere to be found in The Swamp. So, indeed, God Bless America, but not The Swamp.

MarketJohnson June 14, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Where can I submit my application to become a “real American”? Wasilla?

Methinks1776 June 14, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Anywhere but The Swamp. I would have thought that was obvious, but I have no problem spelling it out for the slower, more intellectually challenged among us.

MarketJohnson June 14, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Your inability to have any kind of discourse without being extremely condescending leads me to believe that

a) I am not the one who is intellectually challenged of the two of us.
b) You belong here, where all your biases can be confirmed, and where your world view has everyone’s stamp of approval.

It’s an economic circle jerk.

Methinks1776 June 14, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Were you trying to be ironic or are you just too stupid to notice?

Mike June 13, 2011 at 11:45 pm

Oh, YES! I couldn’t agree more. I’m often telling poeple about how an improperly understood patriotism is a vice. The farce of our democracy is an interactive one. Complete with fireworks and flag waving.

Dale June 13, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Poetic and verbose. An ironic meta-commentary on the politician’s craft, perhaps?

Scott G June 13, 2011 at 11:57 pm

It just dawned on me why DC has more power than any city, county or state government: it has greater monopoly power.

A clear example of this is seen in this video of Steve Jobs presenting his company’s plans to build a new office building in Cupertino, CA:

http://www.studiohayek.com/2011/06/competition-between-city-service.html

Steve is able to keep the politicians at bay because he can move his company to Mountain View (the city north of Cupertino) and still make a lot of money.

Politicians in DC have the power they do because individuals are not likely to leave the U.S. The cost of putting up with DC is less than the cost of moving to another country, (at least right now).

In other words, governments are like businesses which compete with each other by providing services and attracting customers. This seems like such a simple and valuable concept. Is it correct?

Why don’t you talk more about this? Why not mention seasteading and Paul Romer startup cities in more of your letters?

Further it seems like you don’t mention Hayek very often. Why is that? I’m particularly interested in hearing your thoughts about Hayek’s opening paragraph in Law, Legislation and Liberty.

“When Montesquieu and the framers of the American Constitution articulated the conception of a limiting constitution that had grown up in England, they set a pattern which liberal constitutionalism has followed ever since. Their chief aim was to provide institutional safeguards of individual freedom; and the device in which they placed their faith was the separation of powers. In the form in which we know this division of power between the legislature, the judiciary, and the administration, it has not achieved what it was meant to achieve. Governments everywhere have obtained by constitutional means powers which those men had meant to deny them. The first attempt to secure individual liberty by constitution has evidently failed.”

My thoughts about this opening paragraphs are located here:
http://www.studiohayek.com/2011/06/understanding-and-moving-past-hayeks.html

I essentially suggest the idea of competing constitutional republics as a way of creating a better world. What do you think about this idea?

Scott G June 13, 2011 at 11:58 pm

It just dawned on me why DC has more power than any city, county or state government: it has greater monopoly power.

A clear example of this is seen in this video of Steve Jobs presenting his company’s plans to build a new office building in Cupertino, CA:

http://www.studiohayek.com/2011/06/competition-between-city-service.html

Steve is able to keep the politicians at bay because he can move his company to Mountain View (the city north of Cupertino) and still make a lot of money.

Politicians in DC have the power they do because individuals are not likely to leave the U.S. The cost of putting up with DC is less than the cost of moving to another country, (at least right now).

In other words, governments are like businesses which compete with each other by providing services and attracting customers. This seems like such a simple and valuable concept. Is it correct?

Why don’t you talk more about this? Why not mention seasteading and Paul Romer startup cities in more of your letters?

Ryan Vann June 14, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Don’t worry, they will be sure to make the tax farm parameters ever more enclosing soon enough.

Scott G June 13, 2011 at 11:59 pm

Further it seems like you don’t mention Hayek very often. Why is that? I’m particularly interested in hearing your thoughts about Hayek’s opening paragraph in Law, Legislation and Liberty.

“When Montesquieu and the framers of the American Constitution articulated the conception of a limiting constitution that had grown up in England, they set a pattern which liberal constitutionalism has followed ever since. Their chief aim was to provide institutional safeguards of individual freedom; and the device in which they placed their faith was the separation of powers. In the form in which we know this division of power between the legislature, the judiciary, and the administration, it has not achieved what it was meant to achieve. Governments everywhere have obtained by constitutional means powers which those men had meant to deny them. The first attempt to secure individual liberty by constitution has evidently failed.”

My thoughts about this opening paragraphs are located here:
http://www.studiohayek.com/2011/06/understanding-and-moving-past-hayeks.html

I essentially suggest the idea of competing constitutional republics as a way of creating a better world. What do you think about this idea?

Dan June 14, 2011 at 12:52 am

Indeed, the Constitution has been perverted and parsed into submission. Yet, some of the protections remain. I would simply suggest alterations. An alteration to taxation provisions. An alteration to the highly exploited revisionism of commerce clause and ‘welfare’ statements. Competing Constitutional Republics are just as unlikley as alterations to the Constitution may be. But, the competing states were suppposed to be the very thing you suggest. There will never be any society that completely repels the natural behavior of men to circumvent and/or pervert societal rules or man-made laws to obtain power over others. Currently, the theme is compassion for the ‘poor’ and political identities by entitlements and demogaguery of those who oppose the entitlements. Obviously, the entitlements are bribes. It is Illegal to bribe, but it is legal to offer up those bribes as ‘help’ in the form of 99 weeks of unemployment, free medical care, welfare, bicycle helmets, bus rides or ‘light rail’ (not light in costs or continued govt obligations to subsidized their operations as they are not solvent on their own price of ridership), SS (which I would gladly give up any ‘contributions’ to), medicare, etc.,……..

Scott G June 14, 2011 at 1:35 am

But doesn’t public choice economics show that amending a constitution is a flawed solution? I would suggest that we instead teach less about amending the constitution and more about the benefits of competition among states and businesses.

vikingvista June 14, 2011 at 2:11 am

Teach about solutions that DON’T involve government or other forms of violence. Teach of voluntary emergent orders, and what they might accomplish.

Dan June 14, 2011 at 2:36 am

‘Teaching’, indeed! The lefitist liberals infiltrated and put forth their concentrated effortst to teach the march toward marxism some time ago.
I don’t discount ‘voluntary emergent order’, but I do question the ability of moving the populace from the security of govt, in form of SS, medicare, or my feeling of security from the US Military.

vikingvista June 14, 2011 at 3:04 am

“my feeling of security from the US military”

And teach people to rationally dissect their feelings for the state.

Scott G June 14, 2011 at 11:05 am

I agree that teaching about voluntary emergent orders would be valuable, however I’m not sure everyone would want to learn about that just after stepping off their left-wing and right-wing ships. I think we need more competition among teachers – some should experiment with teaching about competitive constitutions and others about voluntarism.

Dan June 14, 2011 at 9:51 pm

@vv
Problem with libertarianism is that an overwhelming majority, like it or not (and you could do a Bill Maher, or some other elitist version of how thins should be), are not libertarians.
Some aspects of our society can move directly into an emergent order direction, but it will take a while to shed the ‘fears of being without govt protections’.
If the absence of statist military is what you seek, you are living in as much of a fantasy land as muirgeo and his Corp. Are bad and govt rescuestheday, more Obama, crap.
Sitting on the porch with a laptop bitching about govt is the likelihood for Libertarians who think we can move directly into ‘emergent order’ from where we are today.
It will not happen.
So, how do you get as close as possible? How do you reverse the progressive movement toward Marxism?
Not with ‘give me Libertarianism or give me death’ and elitist condescending toward those not in your sphere of thought.
Tired of explaining? Ok!understood. But, the position is not fully thought out with best argument if you ohave not yet fully articulated your position with clarity and in 30 secs or less for even the person who has only an education of high school.
Aside from a violent revolutio, not gonna happen soon.

I respect your positions and evident knowledge. But, at the present time there are few under 50 who can share your strong position and easily discuss them with stiff opposing views.

Scott G has it right.

vikingvista June 15, 2011 at 2:39 am

“Libertarians who think we can move directly into ‘emergent order’ from where we are today.”

Dan,

You are fooling yourself. I have a fairly good idea of what the world will look like when the sun rises tomorrow, and I don’t despair that oppression will not be instantly lifted from the “land of the free”, or that those who claim to love freedom continue to insist upon the metaphysical necessity of bullying of innocents. It is a shallow argument that is based upon such a silly straw man as instantaneous change. But that is not your greatest mistake. Nor is your greatest mistake in deceiving yourself that you can know which way to go, without knowing where it is that you are going. No, your greatest intellectual vice, is in demanding that others take the same blind path as you.

dan June 15, 2011 at 6:54 pm

I don’t think I demand much of anything. Only, that I am not convinced. I do believe greater individual freedom and less govt is key to greater prosperity and greater opportunity to seek happiness. Just not convinced that some aspects can be wiped clean.
Again, it would be foolish for me challenge you intellectually. I have read your posts. I will lose. There is a long, long way to go for a more Libertarian style living. I would be greatful if the public discourse were more between statist ‘Conservative’ minded folk like Michele Bachmann and then Libertarians like yourself. But, we are from it.
I am only 5 yrs into recovering from a ‘Leaning Democrat, don’t trust Republicans’ living in Union town Detroit, ‘didn’t know what ‘supply and demand’ is’ person.
From your postings, I see that you have decades on me. But, I won’t jump into your boat, should you allow me after having been deceived for so long, already, without discovering myself more ‘truths’.
‘Nor is your greatest mistake in deceiving yourself that you can know which way to go, without knowing where it is that you are going’-VV
I tend to look before I leap. And, the unkown may be adventurous, but I am cautious, if now weary.
How could I know where the Libertarian style of society would take me? Never been there.
It is as conjured up in fantasy as is the utopia that Muirgeo dreams of. But, I would want to move toward the Libertarian before continuing down the Muirgeo path. We are on the Muirgeo path and its getting darker and uglier.

dan June 15, 2011 at 7:00 pm

@VV
By the way, thanks for responding. Always informative and educational. This is Not sarcasm. I enjoy it.

vikingvista June 16, 2011 at 12:14 am

Let me put it another way…

If you take the time to figure out the end game, it may very well change the way you act today. If your end is a contradiction, then you are acting blindly.

Dan June 16, 2011 at 2:40 am

Wanna try for third line of rationalizing?

The end game of US is same as any other civ, a story in a book.
My end game……….. Few regrets on that which I cherish most.
And, I am discovering more and more that being oblivious to the events unfolding might have been better……..

vikingvista June 16, 2011 at 2:53 am

“being oblivious to the events unfolding might have been better…”

Once you take the red pill, you never see the Matrix the same way again.

carlsoane June 15, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Who would ratify these Constitutions? The individual states? If so, you might end up turning the United States into a patchwork of different federations. If you created a completely free market in Constitutions, then you might end up with different individuals in the same household operating under a different set of laws.

vikingvista June 16, 2011 at 2:53 am

“you might end up with different individuals in the same household operating under a different set of laws”

So?

carlsoane June 16, 2011 at 7:46 am

You’d have law enforcement problems. How would you enforce a domestic violence dispute? What if the violence only violated the laws of one party to the violence? What about a child abuse case? Which parent’s laws would apply to the child? These answers would have to be negotiated in international treaties and there would have to be international agencies (or deputized agencies) capable of enforcing them.

vikingvista June 19, 2011 at 7:40 pm

Enforcement would go to whomever the parties had commissioned. Responsibility for dispute resolution would fall upon those organizations. You mention international treaties and somehow still are unaware that this “problem” is neither new nor without solutions. Imposing a monopoly set of rules upon everyone in the world is not necessary, advisable, or even the case.

MWG June 14, 2011 at 12:00 am

It’s ironic that some of the worst dictators around the world are more honest then some of the ‘best’ politicians in the US.

A dictator will beat the masses into submission and nobody has any illusions about the fact that he seeks power. A US politician will seek power (and make no mistake that many would love the kind of power only seen by a dictator) and disguise it in the mask of public service.

Gil June 14, 2011 at 12:45 am

So wish you were born in one of those Dictatorship instead of in the U.S.?

Dan June 14, 2011 at 12:53 am

Hugo Chavez once quipped ‘if we are not careful (to Castro), we will find ourselves to the right of him’ about Barak Obama.

Richard Stands June 14, 2011 at 1:52 am

“People should have freedom in their pilgrimages and tours. They should come and visit historical monuments and sites – let’s say the sites around Iran – where they can easily engage in wide- scale contacts with others.”

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

MWG June 14, 2011 at 3:07 am

Because I think politicians are more dishonest than dictators I must want to live under a dictatorship. Way to connect the dots there Gil.

Gil June 14, 2011 at 3:35 am

If Democracies are worst then Dictatorships have to be better by extension.

MWG June 14, 2011 at 4:32 am

I said democracies are worse than dictators?

Gil June 14, 2011 at 10:33 am

Up above when you said Dictators are more honest.

MWG June 14, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Dictators are more honest =/= Democracies are worst then Dictatorships

Gil June 14, 2011 at 12:45 am

What of the public fascination with the marriage of Prince William and Kate?

kyle8 June 14, 2011 at 10:36 pm

I am going to go out on a limb here and guess, abject stupidity?

Greg Webb June 14, 2011 at 12:49 am

Don, I am not impressed with politicians or their props. But, I like many things about Washington, DC. I am not, nor do I think many people are, fooled by politicians or their symbols of power.

Sailingbum June 14, 2011 at 7:54 am

Enough “people” were fooled to elect the boy king we presently suffer..

Dan June 14, 2011 at 12:55 am

The last thing I want is ‘democracy’. Always leads to mob rule. Unions excercise this ‘democracy’ and those who do not agree are not allowed to work.

vikingvista June 14, 2011 at 2:16 am

Amen. Take the violence out of democracy, and you’ll find that most democracy militants are no longer interested in it.

Gil June 14, 2011 at 3:37 am

Yeah Dictatorships have a much higher standard of human rights don’t they?

Ghengis Khak June 14, 2011 at 3:58 am

You realize that there are more than these 2 ways for a society to organize, right?

Gil June 14, 2011 at 10:31 am

Essentially no. Either someone claims a monopoly over land or you some sort representative system that a lot of countries currently have.

dsylexic June 14, 2011 at 10:11 am

monarchy isnt that bad.read hans herman hoppe -democracy the god that failed.

Gil June 14, 2011 at 10:31 am

History doesn’t look good for Hoppe.

vikingvista June 14, 2011 at 10:31 am

Hoppe’s point in the comparison is rather that democracy isn’t that good. He is not at all a monarchist.

Gil June 14, 2011 at 10:28 pm

His argument has been monarchs would be better because they would have a greater long-term outlook than politicians.

kyle8 June 14, 2011 at 10:39 pm

Not sure anymore. If one put all of the biggest issues facing the nation in the last twenty years to a direct vote by the American people, Judging from what I have seen of polling numbers, we would not now be in three wars, we would not have had huge bailouts and huge stimulus bills, and we would have had a more liberty oriented outcome on many social issues.

Dan June 15, 2011 at 1:26 am

@kyle8
Medicare and SS would still be in play. Not much to liberty, there. Forced participation is not conducive to liberty.

Richard Stands June 14, 2011 at 1:15 am

Who would submit to being commanded by a wizard who was not an imposing green disembodied head floating amongst smoke and fireballs?

“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” You might realize he’s also just a man (who requires your effort to support himself).

vikingvista June 14, 2011 at 2:24 am

You speak of Zardoz.

Richard Stands June 14, 2011 at 2:56 am

Zed is dead, baby. Until now, I hadn’t realized that was the inspiration for Tarantino’s line for Willis.

Scott G June 14, 2011 at 1:28 am

Don,

Yes “DC is a stage” from which millions of Americans watch and listen. Why not step onto that DC stage yourself and educate those millions?

Why not point out in front of millions of people why Barack Obama’s understanding of economics is wrong?

Scott

Dan June 14, 2011 at 1:32 am

Mark Levin spoke (tongue in cheek) about offering up 50grand for a debate……….
Gingrich debate with Obama would destroy Obama…..but libs would not care…………its about independents….. Romney would put up the same Ambiguous populism and sound just like Obama minus the marxist leanings.

Scott G June 14, 2011 at 1:43 am

I think Don Boudreaux could put on a killer mock debate with Obama. Hire an Obama impersonator or even an Obama puppet, buy a high quality camera and microphone, some studio lighting and make Obama look like a fool.

Call it “The Fight of the New Millennium”.

nick griffin June 14, 2011 at 2:43 am

What a brilliantly written letter–facts beautifully woven together with insight.

muirgeo June 14, 2011 at 3:01 am

“DC is a stage on which the greedy fool credulous audiences into self-destructive subservience”
Don

And for the modern day so called capitalist DC provides a far greater return on their investment dollar than any other option. But every last one of them will consider themselves a capitalist.. a free market supporter… are they any less despicable then the politicians they buy? But one who is critical of “corporations” and so called capitalist is a communist according to the libertarian…. oh the confusion… for where are the good capitalist they support? Capitalism and capitalist are all around us yet no where to be found but they are the best people ever around if only they did exist…. except the free market corrupts these people and itself…. oh what a libertarian believes … pure and simple… makes so much sense… just what the real world needs.

MWG June 14, 2011 at 3:11 am

So much pure unadulterated bullshit in one comment. It would be a massive waste of time for anyone here to even attempt a reply.

Gordon Richens June 14, 2011 at 8:02 am

Some doctors are competent. Some are just herb-peddling quacks. They all call themselves doctors. Where’s the confusion?

Ken June 14, 2011 at 10:40 am

muirgeo,

“And for the modern day so called capitalist DC provides a far greater return on their investment dollar than any other option. But every last one of them will consider themselves a capitalist”

In your infinite foolishness, these are always the people you talk about when bashing capitalism. It’s nice to know you actually know the difference. Which just points out that you are a dishonest partisan hack.

“And for the modern day so called capitalist DC provides a far greater return on their investment dollar than any other option. ”

No. That’s why they are railed against constantly on this site. Who here cheers for GM? who here cheers for SEIU or the UAW?

“But one who is critical of “corporations” and so called capitalist is a communist according to the libertarian”

That’s because you ALWAYS conflate corporations with crony capitalism, which you identify above as NOT capitalism. Yet by your own admission this isn’t so. Your entire campaign against corporations on this site against is just a fraud.

“for where are the good capitalist they support?

They’re not so hard to find. You’re just a lazy ass. Try BB&T. They abided by traditional banking practices, so stayed strong, and were punished for it in 2008 during the financial ruin of other banks. Also check out Microsoft before the government forced them into capital cronyism, when politicians insist they whet their beak in Microsoft’s profits.

How about the tens of thousands of small businesses employing millions around the country? The independent contractor who employs only his brother? Or are all of these people lobbying congress for handouts?

“Capitalism and capitalist are all around us yet no where to be found but they are the best people ever around if only they did exist…. except the free market corrupts these people and itself…. oh what a libertarian believes … pure and simple… makes so much sense… just what the real world needs.”

Capitalists are all around us. You’ve just turned a blind eye to them because any recognition that they exist and the good they bring undermine your government first ethos.

As you recognize in your own words above, free markets don’t corrupt. “Investing” in DC as you put it corrupts. In other words government corrupts.

What a dumbass. You correctly identify that government corrupts the market, then say how evil markets are. Have you any concept of logic at all?

Regards,
Ken

Ken June 14, 2011 at 11:26 am

muirgeo,

“‘CDSs and CDOs became such profitable products because of the government. ‘

OK that does it. There are some commenters here that are so illogical I just don’t bother to reply to them… You’ve just made the list with that stupid comment you ignorant dope…. get lost!”

You also said the above to me in response to the fact that government made CDSs and CDOs profitable, yet today you acknowledge that government “investing” has a fantastic rate of return, like investing in CDSs and CDOs. It’s like you’re some kind of partisan hack completely oblivious to your own lies, distortions and dishonesties.

You tell me to get lost for being illogical for pointing out how government can make some companies extremely profitable. Then today you make the explicit point that government can make some companies completely profitable. Then draw the illogical conclusion that no capitalists can exist because there are some who use political connections (like GM) rather than produce quality products (like Toyota). You draw the illogical conclusion that since political entrepreneurs exist, there can be no market entrepreneurs, mainly because you’re a piece of shit.

You’re a true hack. It’s truly a joy to catch you in your own dishonesty.

Regards,
Ken

Methinks1776 June 14, 2011 at 1:44 pm

“‘CDSs and CDOs became such profitable products because of the government. ‘

Profitable? Ummm…..what?

Ken June 14, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Until it collapsed of course. On the way up though, government distortion of demand made them profitable.

Methinks1776 June 14, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Ken,

It’s complicated, but, IMO, the government was not the primary reason for the existence of CDS and CDO’s and it certainly wasn’t making them “profitable”. Yes, government involvement in the housing market did drive certain (most, I think) perversions in the mortgage markets. However, CDO’s were profitable because there was demand for ABS and leverage and CDS worked fine until the tail event occurred (why it was ever considered a tail event is another question). CDS is a teeny option and it is well known that Black-Scholes is very inaccurate at pricing teeny options (i.e. tail risk).

Basically, Wall Street managed to take financial engineering too far and it blew up in its face. Shit, as they say, happens. There’s nothing I love more than to point to government when it’s at fault, but the government neither created nor made these derivatives profitable. It simply doesn’t have that kind of power.

Bailing out counterparties of firms that blew up and the the risk shifting thanks to regulation (from Wall Street to the taxpayer) for the past hundred years is absolutely thanks to government. Would the firms have taken such huge risks without government? I don’t think so. They certainly didn’t when they were partnerships with no way to access taxpayer funds. IMO, the derivatives instruments themselves were not the problem, the attitude toward risk was.

Ken June 14, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Methinks,

It’s not just the buying and selling of those products that made them so profitable. It was also the origination of loans that would be packaged in them that would be profitable. Fannie agreed to purchase loans, which by government mandate it had to, that were higher risk. Countrywide, as well as other mortgage brokers, sold high risk loans to consumers that qualified for lower risk loans because the origination fees for high risk loans were higher than for low risk loans.

In other words, government inflated demand for higher risk loans that would be bundled in these products. These higher risk loans brought in higher fees, thus higher profits.

Regards,
Ken

Stone Glasgow June 14, 2011 at 10:13 pm

AIG selling CDOs is like me running around town offering to pay everyone $100 if a zombie apocalypse invades the town. No one really thinks the zombies are coming, including me, so I sell them for a buck a piece, get rich, and go broke when the zombies show up.

If I then run crying to government for a bailout and tell them “Look i’ve sold all of these zombie default obligations, and I can’t pay! Who knew? We are friends, right? Save me!!!”

If the government pays, that’s horrible. The fact that I sold my ZDOs is nothing new.

Dan June 14, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Ken nailed it. CDO’s were not necessary for the implosion of our economy via housing. CDO’s were product of financial ingenuity from Wall Street after the Federal govt made demands from the lending institutions to make loans to LMI borrowers w/o any concern for the consequences of what the new govt mandate on making loans to all comers would evolve into.
Don’t like what we are saying….. Go back and investigate… Then give Sowell a little try on the issue. Govt set the field and baited the players thru coercion. The players played in their own best interest. Lenders , GSE’s, borrowers, govt, traders……. All players….. All helped…. But govt started the game.

Methinks1776 June 14, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Ken,

I totally agree with you that government inflated demand and did all the things you wrote about in your post. It not only inflated demand but perverted the entire mortgage market. I believe I read that in the 1920′s and 30′s, mortgages were five to ten years and required at least a 35% downpayment, about 40% of the population owned their homes, and most houses were mortgage free. Fast forward to today’s mess. That’s an indication of how much the government has perverted the market

But asset backed securities (ABS) had nothing to do with the government. In the 1970′s Salomon Brothers discovered that if you strip a Treasury of its coupons and sold each coupon as a zero coupon bond, you could make more money than if you traded the whole bond. That realization gave birth to the Collateralized Mortgage Obligation (CMO) in the 1980′s (this is the desk Michael Lewis was on on at Salomon Brothers in the book “Liar’s Poker”). The CMO was an ABS of mortgages – a pass-through security of the underlying cash flows. This financial innovation led to all of the other ABS, including the Collateralized Debt Obligations (which, in fact, included all kinds of loans – not just mortgages). In the midst of these innovations, the Credit Default Swap (CDS) was born. But, the CDS is not an ABS at all. It is insurance against default. The problem for CDS was that the companies writing these options weren’t capitalized enough. Because a CDS is a teeny option, the task of figuring out how capitalized you need to be is excruciatingly difficult.

The financial engineering became endlessly complicated – and more difficult to price. For instance, many of the CDO’s didn’t have a fixed portfolio. The CDO manager bought and sold cash flows in and out of the portfolio. So, even if you could price the underlying assets (cash flows) at a point in time, they could change tomorrow. You really had no idea what you had. To complicate it even more, the manager of the CDO could buy other CDOs. So, that’s a CDO of CDOs.

Then, they figured out that you could create synthetic CDOs. A short CDS plus a long Treasury bill approximated the risk of the underlying cash flow.

With these innovations, Wall Street had enough ammo to blow itself up without the help of the government. And these innovations did also play a not so small role in increasing demand for mortgages – including sub-prime, Alt-A and all the rest of the garbage. So, government is absolutely at fault, but financial engineering also played a role – I don’t know how big a role vs. government, but it played a role.

Degenerate gamblers blow up all the time and there are plenty of horribly constructed derivatives traded by ordinary moms and pops in their retirement portfolios (Ultra-long and Ultra-short ETFs are particularly bad). They certainly pervert the market as well. This isn’t new. But, when they blow up, they teach people lessons. Unforgettable lessons. Bailing them out teaches theme unforgettable lessons too – ones we wish they’d forget.

So, I don’t think that we can say that it was government that made CDS and the alphabet soup of ABS profitable or even that it is the primary reason they exist. That is the only point on which I disagree with you.

Methinks1776 June 14, 2011 at 10:33 pm

AIG selling CDOs is like me running around town offering to pay everyone $100 if a zombie apocalypse invades the town.

AIG did not sell CDOs (Collateralized Mortgage Obligations). AIG sold CDS (Credit Default Swaps). A CDO is a pass-through security that “passes through” the underlying cash flows to the CDO purchaser. CDS is default insurance.

It is not at all unreasonable for AIG, an insurance company, to sell insurance. The problem is they mispriced it.

The government didn’t save AIG. The Fed saved AIG’s counterparties – a collection of investment banks and foreign banks. In other words, our Fed used OUR tax dollars to bail out institutions it is not legally able to funnel OUR taxes too. The AIG collapse was the pretext under which the Fed sent your money to bail out investment banks and foreign banks.

BTW, the IMF is about to use OUR money to bail out the EU by bailing out Greece. America is bailing out the world. People should be really pissed off about this.

Ken June 14, 2011 at 11:40 pm

Methinks,

Thanks for your explanations.

Also, I’m wondering how these products came into existence. I do have some questions, though, and would greatly appreciate an answer if you know.

Were these products around before government started distorting the market? If so, was Wall Street on its way to blowing themselves up? If not, do you think given enough time Wall street would have blown itself up or do you think that the government distortion was the only way this would have happened?

If these products didn’t show up till government started distorting the market, can you for sure say the whole mess wasn’t directly caused by government? In this situation, do you think these products were developed as a direct result of government distortion?

It seems to me that the only way we cannot lay this at the government’s feet is if these products existed before government distortion and Wall Street was all ready on their way to blowing themselves up and only did it faster due to gov.

Regards,
Ken

Dan June 15, 2011 at 12:46 am

1992……..that is when govt began coercing lending institution into loans of LMI borrowers. New regulations and regulators began to look for quotas on LMI borrowers. Congressional hearings started in….. ’96?…… Janet Reno threatened lenders with prosecution on the basis of discriminatory practices by conclusions drawn out of statistical reports. Stats that were incomplete and used to promote an agenda.
http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?desktop_uri=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DivmL-lXNy64&v=ivmL-lXNy64&gl=US

http://www.nytimes.com/1994/08/26/opinion/justice-cracks-down-on-redlining.html

Methinks1776 June 15, 2011 at 9:43 am

Ken,

Were these products around before government started distorting the market?

That’s a toughie since government began distorting the market at least 100 years ago. What I can say is that the initial innovation (stripping the Treasury bond of its coupons and selling each coupon as an individual security) was not related to government distortions. Certainly not in the mortgage markets. Of course, all kinds of credit can be securitized – car loans, revolving credit, bank loans – and it was. The mortgage market, however, dwarfs all but the Treasury market. It’s a behemoth at over $14 Trillion! So, the innovations were most naturally applied to the largest U.S. fixed income market. I think you are correct that it wouldn’t have been as large without persistent and growing government involvement. Would continued financial innovation been worth it if there weren’t such a huge, liquid market to apply them in? This is hard to answer because we don’t know what the fixed income markets would have looked like if the mortgage market were not such a behemoth. Certainly, derivative innovations continue in the much smaller commodities and equities markets, so, I tend to think they would.

If so, was Wall Street on its way to blowing themselves up?

Yes. When you stop paying attention to risk, you’re always on your way to blowing yourself up. BTW, these blow-ups on Wall Street are not at all uncommon. Hedge funds, market makers, even investment banks blow themselves up with regularity. It’s just that they aren’t usually as big as investment banks (which grew so large partially thanks to regulation erecting barriers to competitors). There is a culture of risk on Wall Street like nowhere I’ve ever seen. I think Wall Street is capable of blowing itself up without government help.

I do think the government was primarily responsible for the mortgage debacle because it a.) distorted the mortgage market with not only the actions of the GSEs, but also the guarantees through the GSEs b.) distorted the ratings by creating the oligopoly ratings agencies c.) encouraged sub-prime lending in the name of increasing homeownership. The innovations in derivatives on the part of Wall Street helped drive down credit spreads, but they could not change laws or back Fan and Fred with taxpayer funds or create idiotic regulation. Only government can do that. Just as in commodity markets, a trader cannot manipulate the market, but the government can very successfully do so by changing the rules (and it has – think Hunt brothers).

It seems to me that the only way we cannot lay this at the government’s feet is if these products existed before government distortion and Wall Street was all ready on their way to blowing themselves up and only did it faster due to gov.

But, now, I think we’re talking about two different things. The first is innovation – yes, I think Wall Street firms are continually creating new things to trade. That innovation and that drive happens irrespective of government and, yes, the culture of risk and…well…occasional stupidity, firms blow up and would do so with or without government distorting anything. Government neither creates nor makes these innovations profitable.

By “lay this at the feet of government”, I’m assuming you mean the insanity in the mortgage market and the eventual collapse. IMO, the root of the housing bubble is government. But, nobody was pointing a gun to Lloyd Blankfein’s head telling him to take enough risk to blow up Government Sachs. Nobody was pointing a gun to AIG’s head telling it to underprice risk. So, I don’t think the government is was or has ever been the driving force behind financial innovation or the collapse of some Wall Street firms.

You may be interested to know that – especially within Goldman Sachs – the drive to create new (and very poorly constructed) derivatives continues at an accelerated pace since 2008. Wall Street wants new stuff to trade. Derivatives are incredibly useful for hedging. They serve a very important purpose. But, a lot of these new creations exist purely because they can be traded – that is, traders can place large, super leveraged bets. The leverage in these poorly constructed new derivatives (in which the risk is not well understood) is enough to bring down the entire market in a manner that made the mortgage debacle seem like a walk in the park. That increased drive to take even more risk has been fueled by the big banks too big to fail status. They are effectively moving toward placing massive bets with, essentially, tax dollars – except, if they win, they get to keep the gains and we get to pay for all of their losses.

Methinks1776 June 15, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Ken,

Mr. Methinks just reminded me that Goldman Sachs nearly went bust in the 1920′s betting on a closed-end fund. That most ordinary and boring of retail investor products and one that has been around since well before open-end mutual funds were even a thought.

It’s also worth noting that investment banks have blown themselves up in the past and either died or were bought out by other I-banks. Of course, they weren’t public and so large then (for the most part). The banks still gamble like private partnerships, but now they’re public. Stupid, IMO.

Ken June 15, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Methinks,

Thanks for your response. I understand your point that individuals or even firms can blow themselves up by making bad bets. I also understand your point that gov has been distorting the markets for more than 100 years. As you mentioned, the 5-10 year ARM were quite common up until the 30′s. The gov then through the precursor to what would ultimately become Fannie, incentivized the 30 year fixed mortgage.

Your answers above provided solid information. While I’m aware that new products will be invented that will hurt some, I’m just curious if EVERYONE will make bad bets without massive market distortions. Also, while I know that gov has been distorting the real estate market for at least 100 years, something special seems to have happened in the last decade or two. While I’ve heard of individuals and whole companies blowing themselves up without any help from anyone, have you ever heard of an entire industry blowing themselves up without gov distortion?

“They are effectively moving toward placing massive bets with, essentially, tax dollars – except, if they win, they get to keep the gains and we get to pay for all of their losses.”

This is what worries me the most AND what I find most infuriating. I am very angry that no one is in jail over the housing meltdown, yet, and it’s infuriating that politicians insulate themselves from legal action. Chris Dodd and Barney Frank, as well as Angelo Mozilo and James Johnson, at the least, should be in prison. None are really in any trouble. Mozilo settled for a mere fraction of the money he sucked out of the market (altogether having to pay only $87M and avoided having to admit any wrong doing).

Regards,
Ken

Methinks1776 June 15, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Ken,

I’m just curious if EVERYONE will make bad bets without massive market distortions.

Oh, heck no! Only government has the power to create these monstrous perversions.

But, in fairness, everyone didn’t this time either. Just enough of the very large AAA rated institutions – which are the only institutions that trade fixed income. You need a lot of capital to trade fixed income. You just don’t hear about the firms that survived and thrived – bar one. John Paulson, who manages $35 Billion in his hedge fund, shorted the housing market just before it went bust and made a large fortune. Other firms that were involved with the ABS market in one way or another were never in trouble because they were always conscious of risk (the one Mr. Methinks worked for, for instance). And the Methinks family didn’t buy a house during the whole run-up either thinking it was crazy – and I’m certain we weren’t alone.

I am very angry that no one is in jail over the housing meltdown, yet, and it’s infuriating that politicians insulate themselves from legal action.

I am totally against any jail time for simply taking huge risks (government players I haven’t thought about much). That opens up another can of worms in our march toward a police state in a country that jails more of its population than any other civilized country. Their punishment should have been to allow them to crash and burn. The fact that they weren’t afforded this meeting with reality is a real disaster.

Ken June 16, 2011 at 2:10 am

Methinks,

“I am totally against any jail time for simply taking huge risks”

The four I mentioned didn’t just “[take] huge risks”. They committed fraud, actively lying to shareholders and taxpayers.

I agree that people shouldn’t go to jail simply for failing, either through incompetence or taking to much risk at the wrong time. While I’m sure many players in this debacle fit that bill to a T, others worked to defraud customers, business partners, shareholders, and tax payers to line their pockets with tens of millions of dollars.

Regards,
Ken

Methinks1776 June 16, 2011 at 6:03 am

Ken,

I’m not that familiar with the details of Angelo Mozillo and co., but I do obviously agree that fraud should be prosecuted.

Methinks1776 June 14, 2011 at 10:35 pm

“AIG did not sell CDOs (Collateralized Mortgage Obligations)”

Sorry, that should be “Collateralized Debt Obligations”.

Dan June 15, 2011 at 12:49 am

Andrew cuomo…. 1998….. Affirmative action in lending….
The loan process and risk, then backed by GSE’s should never resort to anything but financial qualifications.

brotio June 14, 2011 at 12:57 pm

But one who is critical of “corporations” and so called capitalist is a communist according to the libertarian

So says the only corporatist patron of the Cafe. You’re a socialist of the fascist, or communist stripe because you only bash corporations in word. But, you routinely support welfare for corporations, and you are the >B<only regular here who does.

How would you vote, if allowed, on the Anti-circumcision Law proposed by San Francisco?

Ken June 14, 2011 at 1:00 pm

brotio,

Don’t forget that muirgeo constantly refers the US as a social democracy collective.

Regards,
Ken

vikingvista June 14, 2011 at 3:17 am

I guess Mamet is no longer interested in Hollywood work.

BCanuck June 14, 2011 at 7:07 am

All the monuments, statues and grand boulevards ….
It’s amazing what you can do with other people’s money.

nailheadtom June 14, 2011 at 7:22 am

DC was created in an age when communication was by word of mouth or written post. Quorums were required for the accomplishment of the “democratic process”. That was in the 18th century. Today we have telephones, television, radio, email, fax, etc. In fact, no Washington official or bureaucrat need leave his cubicle to seek the assistance of a colleague in frustrating the desires of a citizen. Recognition of over 200 years of technological progress requires that we return the political camp followers gathered on the banks of the Potomac to their origins in the villages and hamlets of the republic where they are near those they purport to represent and distributed to the disadvantage of the lobbying industry. Washington itself can do what it does best, be the storehouse of the George Catlin collection at the National Museum of Art.

Methinks1776 June 14, 2011 at 8:58 am

….to seek the assistance of a colleague in frustrating the desires of a citizen.

Well put, sir. I like the turn of phrase.

Stone Glasgow June 14, 2011 at 10:14 pm

*like*

vidyohs June 14, 2011 at 9:47 am

The essay by Frank Chodorov is excellent and hits on many if not all my consistent themes in debunking government.

1. The vast immovable dead weight of the bureaucracy that quickly learned to act in its favor, knowing full well exposure is the least of fears and deniability available to all, due to the plausible explanation that intentions became corrupted by the chain of command.
“There are elected officials here too, but the aura that surrounds them is not comparable with that which surrounds the bureaucrats. The former must descend from the clouds at election time and simulate the life of ordinary men. The bureaucrat always stands aloof. He is a special person, educated and trained for the priesthood, and his adeptness with the exotic rituals of government sets him off from the rest of mankind. He wields power without benefit of votes. He is anonymous, ubiquitous, indispensable. And, in a way, he enjoys immortality; administrations and congressmen come and go, but the bureaucracy goes on forever. It is the soul of that superperson called government.”

2. Government is just an agreement among men, a legal myth invested with the people’s belief and the people’s money. There is nothing sacrosanct about the myth or the people who are employed on the behalf of that myth.
“Now comes the crux of the debunking formula: What is government? It is a body of people—just ordinary mortals— whose primary purpose is to get on in life with the least possible exertion. Wielding power seems to them the way to accomplish this purpose. In that way, they are relieved of the stress and strain of the competitive world; and there is the added ego compensation which the exercise of power yields. The effect of this ego pay can be detected in the manner of even the lowliest in government service, such as post office clerks and receptionists.

This last point, that government consists of people—just ordinary mortals—who have gotten hold of power, and nothing else, needs to be widely advertised. Apologists of power like to hide that fact in the fiction that government is a superentity quite independent of its component parts, and that it has a soul of its own and a capacity for giving things which ordinary people do not have. It is a golden calf needing only worship. If people can be got to accept that paganism—that is what the annual trek to Washington is expected to do—then it is easy to put over on them any skulduggery that these mediocrities can think of.”

3. All of this glamorization (conditioning) to awe us and cow us into willing submission is, today, done using our own money against us, and using exactly the same techniques and media developed and used by the elite minds in the advertising business. It becomes virtually impossible for an individual or a small group to compete with the government in the arena of propaganda or counter propaganda. Your parents were conditioned, therefore you will be conditioned through the process of enculturation.
“Politically speaking, it is good business to glamorize and glorify this modern Jerusalem. For, it is a certainty that only a fraction of the would-be worshippers get to Washington each year; and it is a certainty that each one who does partake of the religiosity of political power becomes a missionary to the folks back home. Thus, the country is made conscious of the fact that the government is great, good, glorious, and superhuman.”

I was just entering High School when I first saw clearly the use of symbolism by the powers that be to condition the students to pride in obedience, that of course began with obedience and conformity to what the school powers wanted and directed. All of it is interwoven so cleverly with symbolism involving city, region, state, nation, religion, politics, and race, to the point that most people never see it, accept their enculturation, and react strongly, sometimes violently, towards those who expose it for what it is.

Even here, on a blog populated by Cafe customers who are many cuts above the average in intelligence and education, one does not challenge conventional wisdom and enculturation without generating some degree of hostility and negative response.

muirgeo June 14, 2011 at 10:45 am

In that ugly deliberative body on capital hill slaves became free men, women were given the right to vote and social security was passed.

The Other Eric June 14, 2011 at 11:10 am

Your lack of cognition is showing…

That ‘deliberative body’ has a deeper history of segregation, of anti-sedition laws, fighting against the ‘evils’ of mixed marriage, of countless attempts at censorship, of supporting imperialism and more. Hell, who do you think kept women from voting when individual states had already passed suffrage?

You don’t see the irony, but many readers here will, of citing social security as a “good” law. It’s vile legislation, copied from an example from the Kaiser. I know you think it’s meant to protect people but have you ever read it, or the justifications for it?

The same hand that signed that bill sent Americans to internment camps.

Ken June 14, 2011 at 12:59 pm

muirgeo,

The Union Army and Lincoln and the slaves themselves freed the slaves. Many in that “deliberative body” never declared war on the confederacy, since many of them were a part of the confederacy. It’s like you don’t know history.

Social security turns young people into slaves for older people. It deprives wealth from people who need it the most, young people trying to build a life for themselves and families and transfers that wealth to the most affluent segment of our society, old people. This shouldn’t be a surprise. After all old people have had a lifetime to save and accumulate wealth.

And never forget that same “deliberative body on capital hill” is responsible for Fannie Mae, TARP, the “stimulus”, the PATRIOT Act, warrantless wiretaps, etc.

Regards,
Ken

Mao_Dung June 14, 2011 at 10:53 am

There is an appropriate time and place for cynicism about politicians, government officials, economists, et al. But, you overdo it until the point of your criticisms being farcical and obnoxious. I had a wise, old political science professor once who cautioned against excessive cynicism of politicians such that they are all venal, lack integrity, etc. There are plenty of incompetent people in all fields, unfortunately. It may be said that politics attracts more of the power-hungry types, and business may attract more of the money-hungry types. Excess of either trait presents problems.

If one were to think that all business people were corrupt, then what does that say about capitalism which allows these corrupt people to succeed in their self-serving, unethical, dishonest, kleptocratic works. So, for society and for any economic system to work, if it can work, necessitates that the preponderance of people be decent, reasonable, reasonably virtuous types.

Truly, you’ve displayed a hatred for you fellow man or woman that is hard to miss or to accept. You’re distaste for democracy is evident as well. What you really want is for the rich and powerful OUTSIDE of government to call all the shots. That would give the Donald Trumps of the world even more power than they already possess due to their economic power and their controlling shadow over the legal system that is greased with their money. No thank you. The often inept government that we currently have is far preferable.

This is the only comment I plan to make in this thread. If Observer Guy Troll or someone else co-opts my name, may they rot in hell.

Ryan Vann June 14, 2011 at 1:29 pm

How to establish a valid point tip 101: reference a professor you once took a course with years ago.

Mao_Dung June 14, 2011 at 3:13 pm

You comment was demeaning and added nothing to the discussion. Thank you.

Randy June 14, 2011 at 11:20 am

The thing is, MD, that the people you apparently despise have never stolen anything from me, while the political organization (which I do despise) steals from me each and every day. I don’t really understand why this fact has no impact on your paradigm, but I think it safe to assume that you believe you have a stake in the political enterprise. My assumption is that the political enterprise exists to exploit people like me… that is, my assumption is that your assumption is thay you have a stake in a system that exploits people like me.

The Other Eric June 14, 2011 at 11:21 am

Mao wrote, “So, for society and for any economic system to work, if it can work, necessitates that the preponderance of people be decent, reasonable, reasonably virtuous types.”

No it does not, because it cannot. If people were reasonable and virtuous world history would be a mighty slim book.

For open market democracy to work safeguards in institutions that support free exchange are required. The US is more free, more open and works better than most countries not because our citizens are virtuous. it’s because our government is limited and our individual rights are protected by law and institutional systems. We keep chipping away at that system, screwing it up, vesting more and more unchecked power in executives and bureaucrats, and that is our fault.

Don’s disgust at the trappings of power comes not from a yearning for corporate kleptocracy, but from the experience of reality.

Randy June 14, 2011 at 11:23 am

Well said.

Mao_Dung June 16, 2011 at 2:48 am

My nipples are hard!

Frankie Barbella June 14, 2011 at 12:48 pm

What I found great about this post is that Don mentioned one of the most under appreciated authors of the last century, Frank Chodorov. I highly recommend all of his books which can be found at mises.org and google books.

Chris June 14, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Don….hope you don’t take offense….but Frank nailed it a bit better.

Observer Guy1 June 14, 2011 at 1:24 pm

I believe more than ever Americans should make that annual trek to DC. What a wonderful opportunity to witness firsthand those institutions responsible for depriving us of our liberty and recklessly spending the country into fiscal ruin. They can view the ivory and marble towers where federal regulators lie in wait, hatching schemes to demand this and ban that. Visitors can also stroll down K-Street and see those who wield even more power than the elected.

Yes everyone should pay their annual respects to DC and know that as Washington grows in abundance, our liberty shrinks into obsolescence.

Randy June 14, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Reminds me of a friend I toured parts of Europe with. She had the same understanding of the castles, cathedrals, and art – monuments to systems of exploitation.

Molon Lobe June 14, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Most visitors never visit the Congress. Thry go to the monuments or museums. They know what lurks in the capitol and the white house.

True patriots see the Liberty Bell, the Alamo, Breed’s Hill, Ft Sumter, Kitty Hawk.

The place where politicians conduct their business in smoke filled rooms? No those who faint at the words of a politician usually give their money to the first Elmer Gantry they meet and vote for the first Adolph who promises “justice.”

vikingvista June 14, 2011 at 9:43 pm

I go on holloween. It’s the scariest house of horrors I’ve yet found.

Mao_Dung June 16, 2011 at 2:46 am

Hhhmmmmmmmm………..jelly filled doughnuts……. They feel soooooo right!

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