Interdum stultus opportuna loquitur...

Friday, August 27, 2004

On Purpose? Surely Not.

Note - from June 24th 2009, this blog has migrated from Blogger to a self-hosted version. Click here to go straight there.

One thing I'd better make clear up front; I think politicians are vermin. All of them, be they socialist, conservative, 'Third Way", Christian Democrat - whateverrrrr.
Worse than brokerage analysts. Worse than Jessica Reif Cohen and Henry Blodget, combined. Even worse than Abby Joseph Cohen. Worse than the hellspawn offspring of the unholy mating of Larry Kudlow and Abby Cohen.
In the olden times (before 1918), politicians were to the economy as tapeworm in a family pet; they absorbed about 5% of the economy, but on the whole were not genuinely threatening to the long-term well-being of the host.
Sure, every now and then one of them would get particularly uppity and would start a war, into which maelstrom he would send a bunch of working class young men (the people who, by dint of inherent stupidity and lack of education, could be whipped into a martial frenzy). But if you were a chap of middling intellect you could avoid the war - the only price was the scorn of middle aged women... the other group who get all "martial" in time of war, sending white feathers to smart folks who decided to sit out the carnage.
Then something happened; politics became a career.
The entire American Revolution centred around the "unacceptbility" of a taxation regime that took less than 3% of income. THREE per centum. THREE parts per hundred. THREE cents in the dollar.
Remember how we - the West - spent trillions of dollars to fend of the supposedly expansionist scourge of ... gasp... Communism? We created NATO, which scared the patootie out of the Reds... so they built the Warsaw Pact as a defensive measure.
We built more nukes than you need to completely annihilate the planet, and we had already shown that we were preapred to use them on civilians. (And of course, we are the good guys).
We invaded little places like Viet Nam and butchered millions of the poor little buggers, dumped hundreds of tonnes of defoliant on their vegetation, left millions of land mines all over the place to maim subsequent generations... and lost anyway (but we're the good guys, remember).
For what, again?
Because they were prepared to experiment with the ownership of capital. Nothing more.
Imagine if those trillions had been spent on something useful, rather than the geopolitical equivalent of a pissing contest.
The Socialist experiment was doomed (Ludwig von Mises showed that - unequivocally - in the 1920s), but if you genuinely believe in "freedom", ou permit them to give it a shot. After all, it's their capital, n'est-ce pas?
The Russkies had their Revolution - led by, and mostly involving, a bunch of middle-class ideologues who thought they were an intellectual vanguard. Isn't it always the way? Think Lenin/Trotsky... Perle/Wolfowitz.
The Soviets regretted it pretty swiftly - you can tell, because they had to ramp up the propaganda pretty much within a decade.
That shows that the supposed benefits of Socialism were not penetrating the public mind in any tangible way. The broad mass of people were not getting better off.
As I have always said, the moment a system needs to propagandise its achievements to its population, it is doomed. DOOMED, I tells ya.
Why? Simple, silly! If people are being made better off, they already know about it. There's no need to tell them.
That's why political campaigns are never aimed at the upper-middle class. Never, ever, ever. The educated know that they don't need to give a rat's arse about who is in power. Even if they cause a hyperinflation, the upper-middle class make out better than the masses.
Anyway, back to the domino theory. Socialism was supposedly going to thrash its way through the Asian subcontinent, so we were required to go drop burning death from the skies onto their peasantry. That'll learn 'em to go having ideas about installing a different set of fat bastards at the top, we thought.
The central lie of all political systems is that changing the political structure will help most people. Regardless of whether it's a large change - the entire system - or a small one (Howard versus Latham, or Bush/Kerry).
It is taboo to tell folks that most people will be (relatively) poor. Always and everywhere. It has always been that way, and will always (until we overcome scarcity, which I think we will once we stop blowing each other up).
Two hundred odd years ago, the citizens of the American colonies revolted over a tax regime that is trivial by today's standards. Today, taxes (direct and indirect) take HALF of all earned income.
And what does that rapine get us? Not a hell of a lot. Government doesn't give us rising living standards - commerce does. In fact, government is a massive drag on commerce, and perverts its outcomes as a result of the vile nexus between industry and politics.
The way politics is currently played, the political-military-industrial nexus will be the ruin of our civilisation. No question about it. It's almost as if it is being done on purpose.