Depravity and Degeneration

BALTIMORE – Finally, it’s over. We were both delighted and appalled by the news. A smile spread over our face… and our steps lightened… as we looked ahead to four years without Hillary Clinton’s know-it-all mug in the news.


no-hillaryPraise be! This mug will be largely missing from the airwaves and the intertubes in coming years. And your caption scribbler PT won’t have to look for a fall-out shelter! We thank the Lord and the American public for this not inconsiderable favor.


But our shoulders stooped, too, as we listened to Donald Trump’s victory announcement. As we predicted, Americans got the president they deserved. Now, “no dream is too big.” No nightmare is out of bounds, either.

Dow futures fell as much as 800 points as news spread and investors thought the end of the world had come [that didn’t last long, ed.]. But here at the Diary, we were serene. We had mocked both candidates and mooned the sacred rite of democracy – the election itself. Why?


– no matter who wins, the insiders make the important decisions.

– but now the voters are complicit in every fool, fraudulent, and criminal act of the government; they are responsible for things they can’t possibly understand or control.

– and the election provides a cloak of respectability under which the Deep State can get away with murder.


Democracy corrupts both voters and votees. Studies show that voters are unable to separate their ballots from their own self-interests. They don’t vote their consciences; they vote their wallets.

Retirees vote for more Social Security and Medicare benefits. The rich vote for lower taxes. The poor vote for more welfare benefits. And the insiders manipulate both the candidates and the voters to get what they want.

Remember our Diary dictum #21: “People are neither always good nor always bad, but always subject to influence.”

The influence exerted by politics is like a huge black moon; plants sprout, women give birth early… and mental defectives howl from the asylums. Even on nice, normal people, the tug of lunatic gravity brings depravity and degeneration. Few voters can resist it. And almost no politicians.

If they are not craven before getting into office, once the newly elected officeholders walk into the sty, it is just a matter of time until they slip up and wallow with the pigs. That is what happened to Ronald Reagan after the Gipper was elected in 1980.


40_ronald_reaganThe Gipper in his halcyon days. Today we tend to look back nostalgically at his reign as a kind of golden age. But he actually spent money like a drunken sailor. Still, he was the only US president under whose administration the number of federal regulations actually declined, along with taxes. The economy thanked him for it by growing strongly once the final Volcker recession was over. Naturally, socialists of all stripes complained incessantly – but not because things were so bad, but because they were so good – comparatively, anyway. They realized their BS wouldn’t fly anymore for quite some time.

Photo credit: ddp images


More Waste and Clownish Perversities

At the time, we were running the National Taxpayers Union, fighting a losing battle against “waste” in Washington. Then, at Reagan’s first inaugural ball, we were urged to pack up.

You guys might as well go home,” said friends. “Reagan’s going to clean this town up.” But Reagan forgot the scrub brush. The pace of new regulations slowed for a while. Tax rates were cut. But the trough was full and the hogs ate more than ever.

Reagan was only in office for a few months when he began to feel the slime and grime upon him. He and key members of his team – who were firmly and honestly committed to cutting back the reach of Big Government – found that almost nobody was on their team. Neither Republicans nor Democrats. Liberals nor Conservatives. Red nor Blue.

Inside the Beltway, practically no one wanted to cut “waste.” They wanted more of it. Every penny spent went into some insider’s pocket. The more wasteful the spending, the more the nomenklatura protected it because more of it remained in Washington’s zip codes.

The wasteful spending increased during Reagan’s two terms. And then, once he was out of the way, the regulatory machine went back to work, too.  We discovered recently, for example, that the Department of Justice actually has a “feather policy.”


sittingHi there, Mr. Sitting Bull. That clearly be one eagle feather too many – off to jail with you!

Image by ERM


For many, many years, the nation got along without one, but in 2012, the lawyers, activists, do-gooders, and hacks got together to decide who would be allowed to possess eagle feathers and who wouldn’t. Not a minute too soon, we suppose.

Then, their policy worked out with the elegance and subtlety of a ball-peen hammer; they brought it down on the head of one poor man. A shaman used an Indian headdress as part of his professional get-up. He had been given the headdress many years earlier. Still, the feds proposed to put him in jail for eight years.

Will Donald J. Trump do what Reagan couldn’t? We doubt it. But every society needs its heroes, its gods, its myths, and its mumbo jumbo. Most importantly, it must decide who gets to kill and steal without consequence.

That’s what politics is all about.

And the American system… for all its clownish perversities… is not the worst in the world.


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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3 Responses to “Will Trump Do What Reagan Couldn’t?”

  • Let’s see; Trump is no Reagon, he’s not a republican, he’s not a conservative, and he’s opposed to neoliberals and neocons. He’s already decimated both the DNC and the RNC, he’s destroyed TPP, he’s ignited a backlash against political correctness, and deescalated potential war with Russia, and he’s not even in office yet. Given his track record so far, I’d say we’re off to a pretty good start to a new way of doing things.

  • Hans:

    If federal governmental unit spending is not seriously
    reduced and debt capped or cut little else will matter much.

    We can not nor will not grow are way out of these, with
    a series of economic crisis looming in less than nineteen years.

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