A Pileup of Perversion

 

Had we but world enough and time…
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires and more slow.

– Andrew Marvell

 

american-voterBehold… the terrifying transformation of the American voter

Illustration by Brian Bolland

 

BALTIMORE – Bloomberg tells us that people are being driven crazy by the election… Here’s the report:

 

More than half of you – on both sides of the aisle – say the 2016 election is a major source of stress, according to a new survey from the American Psychological Association.

“Historically, work, money, and the economy are the top three,” said clinical psychologist Lynn Bufka, part of the APA’s Stress in America team that has been conducting surveys of what freaks us out the most for 10 years. “Now it’s [the election] right up there.”

 

We read the Diary mailbag. We know our Dear Readers are troubled, too. Half are mad because they think we are soft on Hillary. Half are mad because we are hard on Donald. And the other half expect us to come out of the closet any day with an endorsement of Gary Johnson.

“Big Nurse” Hillary makes us cringe. And “Big Dope” Donald makes us laugh. Which one would do most harm? You decide. But could there be any better argument against popular democracy?

God help us if either of them wins the presidential race…

 

Nihilist Insurance

So much attention is being absorbed by the presidential campaign that Martians could land on the White House lawn and no one would notice. Instead, pollsters would ask how they intend to vote.

Meanwhile, day after day, the clouds thicken and the economic picture darkens. And day after day, no one cares. Corporate profits are down for the fifth quarter in a row. Profit margins are tightening. China is sinking. Deutsche Bank is wobbling. But U.S. stocks continue bouncing around near the top of their ranges.

 

Lawrence Summers, ObamaPompous windbag Larry Summers, here seen with his former butler…

Cartoon by Danziger

 

Pompous know-it-all Larry Summers has proposed a plan to make sure the sun always shines. Bloomberg:

 

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers floated the idea of continuous purchases of stocks as a potential ingredient in a recipe for the developed world to strengthen economies struggling with subdued growth and inflation.

Among the proposals that deserve “serious reflection” is the purchase of a “wider range of assets on a sustained and continuing basis,” Summers said in a lecture at a Bank of Japan conference in Tokyo Friday. “I’m not prepared to make a policy recommendation at this point,” he told reporters later.

 

The Financial Times is sun-struck, too. A recent article by Dan McCrum tells us that gold is nothing but “a fashion victim” and a “bag of gold coins buried in the garden offers a sort of nihilist insurance policy.”

Why would a nihilist want an insurance policy – and against what would he be insuring himself? We don’t know. McCrum doesn’t explain. Instead, he spends a whole column in the “pink paper” entirely missing the point.

 

nihilism_stencilGold, the “fashion victim” and  “nihilist insurance policy”?  Leave it to the statism – drenched Financial Times to find new ways of trolling gold investors.

Money is one of the great innovations of mankind. And for thousands of years, gold proved very useful as money. It allowed exchanges between people who didn’t know each other, didn’t speak the same language, didn’t worship the same gods or sup at the same table.

Not only did it allow for the movement of real wealth across frontiers, but it also permitted wealth to move across time. You could grow wheat one year, sell it for a gold coin and enjoy the fruits of your labor 20 years later.

Money – mainly, but not only, gold money – made modern economies possible. And now, real money – gold – may be the only way to protect yourself from Summers, Yellen, Clinton, Trump, et al.

 

Pileup of Perversion

But we only bring it up as a way of sashaying smoothly back into politics. You already know what perverted the economy: fake money. It was as though someone had doctored the world’s measuring tapes, tampered with its clocks, reversed the street signs, and inverted the seasons.

The information we were supposed to get from prices – carried by money – was all wrong. Errors increased. Miscalculations proliferated. Accidents happened.

And now – what is the 2016 election if not a giant pileup of perversion, error, miscalculation, and accident? What is the cause?

No one knows for sure. But we have a prime suspect: the same fake money that perverted and corrupted the economy. Conservatism is fundamentally the recognition that there are limits – to time, resources, skills, and good judgment.

We don’t have an infinite amount of world or time. And we used to depend on real conservatives to help us avoid wasting precious time and money on phony wars, crony projects, or claptrap programs. But take away the limits, and conservatism no longer makes sense.

Why make the tough choice between a War on Poverty at home or a War in the Middle East if you don’t need to? Why balance the budget if you can borrow as much as you want… and interest rates still go down? Why take the punch bowl of monetary stimulus away if the party can go on forever?

 

cheneyThe complete Cheney quote (it was addressed to Paul O’Neill, then treasury secretary)

 

“Deficits don’t matter,” claimed new “conservative” Dick Cheney. With no gold to check the growth of credit, debt ran wild. With no old-time, foot-dragging, tradition-hugging, moss-backed conservatives to hold it back, the government went wild.

With no limits on what they could get away with, the cronies went wild, too. And with no real conservative left to challenge Hillary Clinton’s Deep State fantasies, the election of 2016 turned into a grotesque farce.

 

sinphony_grotesque_by_offermoord-d65mmd4….and there he was, sitting on a small bench near the fence. He was hunched over, staring at the ground, his face expressionless. He remained absolutely still for some time, neither moving nor making a sound. I looked at my watch. 20 minutes had passed since my arrival; was he even aware of my presence? Suddenly he looked up, acknowledging me with a barely perceptible nod. He looked away again, until his gaze came to rest on the barred windows of the main building. Then he finally spoke,  for the first time in more than five years. “Grotesque”, he said, in a raspy whisper. “Grotesque…” He turned, looking into my eyes again. “Grotesque”, he repeated. It seemed a perfectly reasonable thing to say, all things considered. [ed note: inspired by a scene in the late T. Bernhard’s novel Wittgenstein’s Nephew]

Illustration by mildab

 

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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