THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 489, October 19, 2008
"When one endorses the lesser of two
evils, they still have endorsed evil."
Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise
I went to the Maryland Renaissance Festival last Saturday (October 18). It's the last weekend of this year's run, and the weather was perfect, partly sunny and cool, so the grounds were packed. I didn't see much evidence of financial panic there, as people were spending pretty much as I have observed in the last 10 or 12 years I have gone there. I saw at least three people getting "measured" for custom-fitted moccasin-boots (covers the calf), for which the vendor casts your lower leg and foot for a perfect fit, at $400-$500 per pair (depending on how fancy the leather, etc.). Lines at all the food and drink stands (prices being somewhat lower than movie theaters, but higher than fast food places, and more variety and quality than either) were much longer than I had seen over the last several years.
Sure, this is anecdotal, just like the crowds I have seen at malls, gun shows, and other places where people can spend money. Some of this may be a re-directing of discretionary income, as many of my customers that are charitable organizations are having to cut back drastically due to much lower receipts. (Side note: since many, if not most charities get much of their income from government disbursements, donations from the public are their discretionary income, so they're not able to buy from my company. Some have told me that their government goodies are going to be cut back as well. Live by the sword, die by the sword.)
The point of all this is that at least some people are not buying the EVERYBODY PANIC message being sent by the government and their sycophants in the old media. I have heard the same thing on a local talk radio station, where the dominant emotion is not fear, but anger and frustration. A lot of callers, especially those who are small business owners, know that much of this is a scam to gain more power for the federal government and dump a load of freshly-printed money into the hands of people who have shown pretty conclusively that they cannot handle it responsively. Just like the rush to pass the damnable PATRIOT Act, the bailout just had to be passed immediately, or else the markets would take a nosedive. Sort of like what happened anyway. Or because of. Anyone else notice that nearly every time Bush or Paulson (or any other major FedGov player) tries to bolster confidence in the economy, the Dow tanks some more?
My 401(k) was down over 40% as of Friday, and I'm a bit upset about that, but not about to cash out. I'm not young (57), but not planning to retire for at least 6-8 years, either. I'm pretty sure that things will be much better by then. Unless the FedGov keeps trying to fix things.
I'm also quite sick of hearing how this was caused by deregulation. What deregulation are they talking about? The deregulation of letting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac avoid any oversight or limits on risky, if not irresponsible, behavior? Somehow I don't think that is what the misdirection spin doctors are referring to. A pair of interesting opinion pieces on this topic can be found at www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=9719 and at townhall.com/columnists/JohnStossel/2008/10/15/the_reregulation_mantra. Both wings of the Boot On Your Neck party are at fault here; if I had to choose which political hack to remove from office first as a punishment for this mess, I would be racked by indecision. (I have confidence that eventually, I would be able to rack something else to get the ball rolling, as it were.)
Unfortunately, the great masses of people (great in numbers, and little else, it seems) are ready to prove that no politician ever lost by underestimating the mental acuity of the American voter. If that is possible. I have had many conversations over the last several weeks with people all over the political spectrum, who will agree that their faction is no more capable of fixing things than the alleged opposition. But they are going to vote the same way they always have, because they fear that the other side will really screw things up. H.L. Mencken said, "Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to ruleand both commonly succeed, and are right." He also said, "People constantly speak of 'the government' doing this or that, as they might speak of God doing it. But the government is really nothing but a group of men, and usually they are very inferior men." (See more like this at quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quotes_by/h.+l.+mencken.)
So, most voters will continue to do as they always have done, and expect different results. Sound familiar? I, for one, am getting a little tired of this, and especially tired of the nearly constant barrage of political commercials on the radio. If I wanted to hear transparent lies, I could ask my wife to tell me how handsome, young and fit I look. I'd rather have her point out a food stain on my shirt that is below the area I can actually see without a full-length mirror. That is useful information. Some clown telling me how some power-hungry jackass will fix everything and give me stuff (for free!) is not entertaining, much less believable.
And yet many people, if not an actual majority, still believe that any government can do (at least some) things well. Perfect example just came up today, when my neighbor came over with all our mail, delivered to his house incorrectly. His mail, which should have included an insurance settlement, is nowhere to be found. I have lived in this house over 30 years, and still get mail for people half a mile away, while some of mine disappears. UPS, on the other hand, has never let me down.
I had some hopes that this mess would convince more people that the FedGov is just a bunch of screw-ups that are good at getting elected, and little else. (Having affairs and making money from lobbyists' favors don't count, in my book.) I stand corrected, dammit!