The Importance of Cabbages

LONDON – A dear reader challenged us:


“To create a perfect world what type of government would you propose?”


Another put it a different way:


“Again, I’m convinced more than ever, Trump is the only candidate that might have a chance to get us out of the financial and economic mess the United States is in. If Bonner & Partners is unable to recognize this, it tells me their agenda is not to fix America’s problems… but continue the agony…”


diocletian in retirement hrEmperor Diocletian in retirement, talking to his security detail. Famous quotes made on occasion of his decision to become a cabbage farmer: Diocletian: “Cabbages don’t talk back”. Maximianus (a.k.a. “M”, his co-regent as “Augustus of the West” from AD 286 to AD 305): “You’ve lost your marbles, old chap”.  It later turned out that M’s assessment was erroneous. He got bored and came out of retirement after just one year to help his son Maxentius in his fight over the succession, as the “tetrarchy” put in place by Diocletian threatened to splinter. Maximianus  succeeded in sorting things out in favor of his son, but not even two years later he recognized he had made a fateful mistake: Maxentius was actually unfit to rule. Maximianus not only told him so, but actually told everybody. Then he ripped the imperial toga from Maxentius before an assembly of soldiers, expecting the soldiers to side with him (he was an old war horse and battlefield hero after all). That turned out to be a miscalculation – instead was chased out of Italy in disgrace. Should have gone for cabbage farming too!

Engraving by Charlotte Mary Yonge


We answer the first question by responding to the second. No, our agenda is not to fix America’s problems. That’s too tall an order for a free letter! Besides, America’s wounds are mostly self-inflicted – the result of free and fair elections (along with the usual fraud and delusions).

Far be it from us to come upon the scene with morphine and bandages and interfere with the workings of such a grand and elegant democracy! Besides, we’re too busy to fix America’s problems… or design a new government. We have problems of our own. Fences that need to be repaired. Toilets that need to be unclogged. And cabbages that need to be planted.

Alert readers will spot the reference to Emperor Diocletian. After fixing the empire for 20 years – with acts in equal measure of genius, wisdom, and imbecility – Diocletian finally saw the light. He retired, returned to his home on the Dalmatian coast, and planted cabbages!

Cabbages are real. And important. You can eat them. They can keep you alive. Government and its policies, its great causes, its Lincolns and Bonapartes, are confabulations of myths, hallucinations, conceits, and lies.


winterkohlDon’t believe cabbages are important? Well, look at them!

Photo credit: fmh


Pharaoh was a god, the ancient Egyptians believed. So it made sense to scrape huge pieces of rock across the hot desert to honor him. Louis XIV was appointed by God. He had a “divine right” to rule, and if that was so, who could say no to him?

And now, the myth du jour is that God stands shoulder-to-shoulder with 51% of registered voters; no matter what dumb-headed thing they do, they always have Him on their side.


MaximianMaximianus (he who didn’t think much of cabbages), or Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maximianus Herculius Augustus as it said in his passport.


Trump’s Next Deal

Alas, in modern democracy, the majority can’t really know what is going on or why. The world is too big… and infinitely complex. The sacred majority can’t follow the details of public policy, even in its backyard.

Who among the 51% read the enabling act for Obamacare? Imagine trying to keep up with the shifting politics of the Middle East! The voters can’t tell a Shiite from a she-wolf. So, policies are set not by the voters but by the elite – the Deep State.

Under cover of the dense claptrap and folderol, the elite figure out how to game the system. These “foxes,” as the great Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto, called them, soon have the government doing their bidding. Can Donald Trump escape the foxes?

The whispering has already started. The foxes are already reconciled to “The Donald” as the Republican candidate. “We can work with this man,” they say to one another. “We may have to…” they sigh. Their message to Trump: “We can work together.”

And now, Mr. Trump must negotiate the most important deal of his life. The papers report that casino magnate and regular Republican donor Sheldon Adelson is considering a major investment in the Trump team.


Trump and AdelsonSold to the gentleman with the colorful tie!

Photo credit: der Spiegel screenshot


We assume he has worked out the terms; most likely Adelson – an ardent supporter of Israel – will insist on a continuation of the Bush-Clinton foreign policy.

That shouldn’t be much of a problem. Trump has made it clear he doesn’t mind torturing people or killing their families, if that’s what it takes to keep the Deep State in business.

And he is rumored to be considering Newt Gingrich for his running mate. That should reassure the Northern Virginia real estate market; the billions of dollars will continue to flow to the military-security-foreign policy industries and pay for McMansions in Fairfax County.


A Better Government?

And what about at health, education, and welfare? Trump has already suggested an increase in the minimum wage might be in order. “Don’t forget,” the foxes whisper, “zombies vote too!”

Then he quickly backed away from an honest discussion of America’s public debt. Someone must have let him know how it works.   “Hey,” they probably told him, “we gotta fund the Deep State somehow!” Trump, a quick learner, even suggested a tax hike on the rich.

Our guess is that the best deal maker in the world will have no trouble finding a win-win with Washington and Wall Street. Our guess is that Wall Street will have no trouble convincing “The Donald” to continue the Greenspan-Bernanke-Yellen financial policies.

Most likely, the ugly truth hidden in his tax records is that he has a lot less money than his bragging suggests – or a mountain of debt. Just guessing (to be confirmed or disproved by later events), but Trump built his fortune on bold moves, cheap credit, and lucky breaks. It would not be surprising if he were deeply in debt; who isn’t? And now, he needs the Fed’s low interest rates as much as anyone.


Vote Early Zombie at Sharpstown High SchoolThe cronies know that the zombies are voting as well. Arrangements will have to be made.

Photo credit:


But… but…but… No matter who is elected, he will have to come to terms with the real government – the foxes who run the Deep State. But remember our questions for today: This just democracy in action, warts and all, right? Nothing is perfect, right? There is no alternative, right? Right? Wrong!

Of course, there’s a better system. Jefferson had the right idea. And Andrew Mellon. Friedrich Hayek. Ludwig von Mises. Milton Friedman. Murray Rothbard. Ron Paul. Small, limited government… with no unpayable debt… no phony money… no empire… no QE… no ZIRP… no phony War on Terror, no War on Drugs… no War on Poverty…


Thomas_Jefferson_(by_Rembrandt_Peale,_1800)Thomas Jefferson had the right idea about the proper size of government: if you have to have one, keep it as small as possible.

Painting by Rembrandt Peale


No Fannie. No Freddie. No trade deals. No foreign policy. A better government? All we can recommend is a smaller one. With less money to steal… and fewer cronies to steal it.


Addendum: Bonus Picture – The Emperor’s Cabbage Palace


Diocletian's_Palace_(original_appearance)The palace where Diocletian spent his retirement years and planted his cabbages. He had definitely not lost his marbles, au contraire!

Painting via


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.




Dear Readers!

You may have noticed that our header carries ab black flag. This is due to the recent passing of the main author of the Acting Man blog, Heinz Blasnik, under his nom de plume 'Pater Tenebrarum'. We want to thank you for following his blog for meanwhile 11 years and refer you to the 'Acting Man Classics' on the sidebar to get an introduction to his way of seeing economics. In the future, we will keep the blog running with regular uptates from our well known Co-Authors. For that, some financial help would be greatly appreciated. A special thank you to all readers who have already chipped in, your generosity is greatly appreciated. Regardless of that, we are honored by everybody's readership and hope we have managed to add a little value to your life.


Bitcoin address: 12vB2LeWQNjWh59tyfWw23ySqJ9kTfJifA


2 Responses to “Trump’s Biggest Deal”

  • FreemonSandlewould:

    As always from Bonner……. a popcorn fart of a write up with no real content or take away conclusions.

    Trump is an agent of disruption. I like that. I’ll be voting for him. Please quit trying agitprop. It’s getting tiring seeing you “don’t bother showing up to vote” types stubbing your frontal lobes on this.

    • sufganiyah:

      The naivety of Trump voters is astounding. What do you expect him to do?
      Trump is a great entertainer and his purpose is to placate some angry segments of the population. Nothing else. At best, he will be like Reagan – lots of mythology, lots of new debt and no lasting positive long term effect.

      Bonner is 100% right.

Your comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Most read in the last 20 days:

  • The Zombie Ship of Theseus
      The Zombie Ship of Theseus The Ship of Theseus is an old philosophical thought experiment. It asks a question about identity. Suppose you replace all of the boards of a ship with new ones—is it still the same ship? We are not going to try to resolve this millennia-old paradox. Instead, we are going to add one more element, and then tie it to the monetary system. The additional element is what if the replacement boards are adulterated in some way. That is, each new board is warped,...

Support Acting Man

Austrian Theory and Investment


THE GOLD CARTEL: Government Intervention on Gold, the Mega Bubble in Paper and What This Means for Your Future

Realtime Charts


Gold in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from]



Gold in EUR:

[Most Recent Quotes from]



Silver in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from]



Platinum in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from]



USD - Index:

[Most Recent USD from]


Mish Talk

    Buy Silver Now!
    Buy Gold Now!