2008, Redux

DUBLIN – “Rugs are oriental. Restaurants are oriental,” one of the boys corrected us over Christmas.

“People from the Orient are Asian.

“And by the way,” he continued, “using the word ‘retard’ is politically incorrect, too. It’s regarded as insensitive.”


full retardHow about “full retard” then? It is well-known though that you should never go full retard.

Image credit: DreamWorks SKG. modified


Sensitivity may be a useful quality. But like government and heroin, it quickly reaches the point of declining marginal utility. But we’ll come back to that… below.

Billionaire speculator George Soros has joined those of us who anticipate another 2008-style crisis.

“Investors need to be very cautious,” he told an economic forum in Sri Lanka yesterday. In particular, Soros reckons China is headed for more trouble.


“China has a major adjustment problem. I would say it amounts to a crisis. When I look at the financial markets there is a serious challenge which reminds me of the crisis we had in 2008.”


1-SSECThe Shanghai Composite Index continued its “new year’s crash” on Monday, falling by another 5.33% – click to enlarge.


After losses last year… and with the Dow down 6.2% so far this year… the insiders are selling. The smart money is clearing out. You have to wonder what kind of money is still buying – the retarded money?

We don’t know. But we suspect we’ll see some direct intervention by the Fed before this phase is over. We suspect it will follow in the footsteps of the Bank of Japan and go “full retard” – buying stocks to keep the market from collapsing.


2-USD CNYGrowing weakness in the yuan is widely held to be the main trigger of recent market troubles – click to enlarge.


We are writing this on Friday. And on Friday, we reach into the archives to fetch out something timelessly offensive.


A Cynic’s Guide to Insensitivity: How to Unleash Your Inner Bigot

[ed. note: this was originally published on January 30, 2004]

“We haven’t insulted anyone lately,” said our friend Addison Wiggin recently. Today, we make up for it. Not that we really want to insult anyone. As another friend, Christoph Amberger, reminds us, pecunia non olet (money has no odor). Whether it comes from an Oriental or a retard, it smells the same.

But we have lately come to the conclusion that we live in a world of delusion. Even our insults are largely phony and preposterous. We look down the list of epithets and slurs on the list of the Racial Slurs Database and laugh. The “slur count” has reached 2,163, and is growing daily. But most are just silly and ridiculous.


mountie-hatYou called me what?

Photo via Struts Fancy Dress


Did you know that it is considered a slur to call Canadians “51st Staters?” Or that in Russia, Jews are known as “cosmopolites”? If that is the best bigots can do, we will soon lose all respect for them.


Bigoted Terminology: Slurs

Long-time readers will recall our mentions of bog-trotters, huns, frogs, canooks, and West Virginians. The words sound so harmless; we use them affectionately, like calling a tall friend “shorty.”

On the list of slurs is “brown sugar” – used for a black woman. Why would that be a slur? We don’t know. Likewise, “Eskimo” is supposed to be a bad word. We don’t know why. Nor do we know why “gypsy” is derogatory. Or why in Britain it is supposed to be offensive to refer to someone from Scotland as a “jock.”


inuit-hunter-iglooInuit hunter in front of his impressive house made of ice and snow (formerly known by the racist slur “igloo”). Sorry for insulting you all these years by referring to you an an Eskimo, Mr. Eskimo.

Photo credit: Ansgar Walk


On the other hand, there are some words even we dare not use. Some are vulgar or mean. And there are some that seem perfectly innocent to us, yet get readers worked up into a lather.

We refer to people from China as “Chinamen.” The phrase seems straightforward enough. But there seems to be a lot of people who don’t like the sound of it. They would prefer to be known as “Chinese people.” Or even as simply “Chinese.”

This troubles us on two levels. First, we are amazed that people think they have the right to police the use of nouns that others use to describe them. If that is the case, we announce herewith that from this moment forward, we want to be known as a “smart-man” or “handsome-man.” We will regard everything else as offensive.

The other problem we have is that the words people find to describe themselves are not merely idle flattery, but also generally dull and barely grammatical. Our grandmother referred to blacks as “darkies” or “colored people” – which at least seemed descriptive. These were not racial slurs back then. No harm nor discrimination was meant by them; they were the polite way to describe African Americans.

The term “pickaninny” was regarded – at least as we recall – as an affectionate, descriptive noun. Less polite people had other words. As early as the 1950s, groups of people began to choose their own collective nouns. “Colored people” was the term American blacks preferred, as evidenced by the title of their group, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.


racial-taunts-headline-620x104The 2013 political correctness gone utterly mad headline of the year: A black Canadian police officer was charged for allegedly “not properly investigating racial slurs” that were actually hurled at himself. No, this is not a joke.


Fifty years later, the term has come back in style, but in an awkward form: “people of color.” The delusion of the world improvers is that if you can control a person’s words, you can control his actions.

So, if you refer to a Jew as a “MOT” (member of the tribe), you might as well be building a road to Auschwitz. So certain are they that words are evil that they have passed laws making some of them illegal.


Bigoted Terminology: The Word Police

But beneath the ban on words is a strong belief in the very thing the word police claim to be against – racism. It exists everywhere, believe the world improvers. Without their vigilant efforts to stamp out words they dislike, bodies will be stacked up like cordwood.

We recall a conversation in the mid-1980s. In Baltimore – a very race-conscious city – we worked with a young black woman who, in all things other than her physical appearance, might have been mistaken for a white person.

A group of us were discussing her work. Someone mentioned she was “black” and all of a sudden we were struck by a curious thought: We had forgotten. Her skin was black as a gypsy’s heart; but we had forgotten that she had African ancestors. Why? It didn’t matter.


GypsiesGypsies and their wagon, somewhere in Romania. Can’t be called gypsies anymore.

Photo credit: Yves Leresche


Even more curious, a new friend – a sinologist – had told us something that made us stop short. She – a French woman, obviously not Chinese – traveled around China on her own. She spoke the language well. She understood the culture. She fit in.

“It’s funny,” she told us. “After the initial shock, people don’t seem to notice I’m not Chinese.”

Which makes us wonder: Is racism a delusion? Or a self-serving myth? Are we not capable of picking out the amusing, endearing, engaging, repulsive, and obnoxious traits of our neighbors… giving them handles that entertain us… yet have no desire to send them to gas chambers or hang them from trees?

We don’t know. But we’ve run out of time wondering. And so, fearing we have left some readers un-insulted, we include a handy list of “slurs” from the Slur Database so readers may find one or two that suit them. Go ahead. Reach out and insult somebody:


Adolf, Ahab, Arab, Angie, Babushka, Bamboo coon, barbarian, boong, bog trotters, beaner, dago, chink, Christ-killers, cracker, Eskimo, euro-trash, flip, gabacho, goat roper, gook, goy, hillbilly, honkey, gypsy, Jap, long nose, kaffir, heeb, mick, mud person, naga, ninny, nip, paddy, papist, raghead, polack, shyster, skunk, slant-eye, spic, slope, swamp honkey, terrie, whitey, wetback, yankee.


Charts by: BigCharts


Chart and image captions by PT


The above article originally appeared at the Diary of a Rogue Economist, written for Bonner & Partners. Bill Bonner founded Agora, Inc in 1978. It has since grown into one of the largest independent newsletter publishing companies in the world. He has also written three New York Times bestselling books, Financial Reckoning Day, Empire of Debt and Mobs, Messiahs and Markets.




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