Humanoid Action

A mini-treatise on economics and things like that



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Editor's note. It was with considerable trepidation that I agreed to post this latest communique from Mr. Henry Gallagher Fields, in view of the vast commotion engendered by his last foray. Sad to report, in the wake of the disaster, donations to TLD for the year following fell by an alarming 60 percent, from $27 to $11. (I've rounded off a bit.)

However, both Mr. Fields and I have labored strenuously — he as author, I as editor — to ensure that this present essay exemplifies the ultimate in pellucid, lapidarian, responsible, and sober analysis. (I trust Mr. Fields will forgive me if I observe that, St. Patrick's Day having occurred so recently, the sober part posed a special challenge.) Trembling, I have even ventured to embed the usual comments link in the text. However, those readers inclined to detonate should be aware that I will be joining Mr. Fields as he returns to his redoubt in deepest Tibet, where all forms of electricity and electronics are strictly prohibited in favor of giant brass gongs and the like. I'll try to check back sometime in 2016, if travel is still possible at that time. — Nicholas Strakon


Being a non-voter, and not partial to government, I rarely focus on the antics of America's solons and their media minions except when in need of a little levity. But somehow I have found myself following what passes as "the news" in the more progressive media — such as MSNBC with such luminaries as Mr. Ed, the Reverend Al, Miz Maddow, and pseudo-proletarian Philly Chris of the Thrilled Leg (with his beach chateau on Nantucket Island) — who depict for us what America should be like and may be like in the future. It has provided me a whole new perspective, which I will try to convey to my readers, should any of those exist. But I must point out that, as objective as I try to be, I sometimes revert to my old prejudices, being as how I am not yet fully re-educated. I hope no one will make too much of that, since it would put me in deep kimchee should the glorious new society ever be fully implemented.

Let me start with the sequestration, which we are told will reduce the federal budget by either $85 billion or $42 billion — the media mavens just can't seem to decide. But they seem almost certain that whatever the amount, the reduction will somehow cause children to go hungry, millions of workers to be without a job, and the country to be rendered unable to defend itself from the honor guard of the Crown Prince of Liechtenstein. (Progressives seem to have gotten in tune with the warfare state since Generalissimo 0 started running the empire's wars.) As the issue is being portrayed, it appears that the dinosaurs were fortunate to have been hit by a killer asteroid before the Proto-reptilian Creatures' Republic began grazing on similarly primitive economic strictures. (If you didn't catch the hint: yes, we're talking antediluvian here.)

Anyhow, our media panjandrums are solemnly lecturing us, without respite, that in a depression, recession, economic downturn, or however one wants to describe America's current dysfunctional economy, it is essential to spend ever more and more money, and certainly not make any reductions, in order to prime the economic pump. So sayeth the sagacious Lord Keynes, who unlike the other great lizards remains a thoroughly modern megalosaurus. But, of course, President Dubya ran up huge deficits for his wacky wars and domestic spending, and ended up being blamed for the crash to begin with. Exactly how more spending will extract America from a dismal state caused by a president who himself engaged in runaway spending is a question for which there would seem to be no answer, but that's no problem, since few progressive media folks, in their brilliance and sophistication, are tempted to ask the question.

Although Republicans were quite willing to facilitate President Dubya's runaway spending, they have toughened up a little with the Big 0 in power. As the media folks continually moan, the congressional Republicans — those seditious Ayn Rand radicals! — refuse to recognize who won the last election and thus prostrate themselves in response to every twitch of Pharaoh's little finger — "So let it be written; so let it be done!" — which is how, we are instructed, a democracy is supposed to work. That each of the congressional Republicans won his own election, too, is an objection that would only ever occur to a drunken gun-totin' Klansman.

In order to get around those obstructionist, skinflint Republican Tea Party members in the House, progressive folks proposed that the Big 0 take advantage of a loophole in the law enabling the Treasury Department to mint commemorative coins: the law fails to specify a limit on their denomination. So the progressives proposed that the Big 0's administration address the massive federal debt by having the Treasury mint platinum coins with a face value of a trillion dollars and deposit them at the Fed, and use the cash in the new account to cover the government's bills. Now, there was nothing novel about that gimmick since crats of all flavors can always come up with an appropriate loophole, or claim such a loophole exists, in order to allow the government to do anything it desires. And it's always all perfectly legal, which is the marvel of America's "living Constitution."

While Old H.G. fantasized how that approach could be expanded to allow everyone in America to become instant trillionaires, the greatest living economist, Nobel Laureate Krugman, pointed out that the approach would not really require the minting of any physical coins; instead, the government could simply could rely on imaginary coins and say that they'd transferred those to the Fed. I'm cloudy on the chronology, so I can't immediately say whether Lord Krugman took as his inspiration the imaginary girlfriend of that Notre Dame football star or not. But I don't mean to suggest that milord would have been unable to come up with the scheme on his own.

If Lord Krugman's imaginary approach would work for a government and those favored big bankers who are too big to fail, Old H.G. wondered why it couldn't work for a regular citizen. It's possible, one supposes, that they'd have to be imaginary citizens. After mulling the epistemological conundrum over in his mind for a while, your obedient servant finally concluded that it should be left to the Platos and Kants of our age. I must leave it up to my more persistent readers to winkle out the undisclosed locations of those wizards.

Writing of the above mysteries reminds yr. obt. svt. of a necessary digression. Recently, Elizabeth Warren the Native American economic prodigy — and, it turns out, a U.S. senator now! — asked why the federally imposed minimum wage isn't $22 an hour, keeping up with the increase in worker productivity since 1960. Finally, a Democrat with an exquisite and profound understanding of how markets work! What Old H.G. doesn't understand, though, is Miz Warren's inordinate caution. If the government could raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $22 with no adverse effects on marginally productive employees, why be constrained by any nonsense about productivity? If for some abstruse reason we must pay attention to productivity, why use 1960 as the baseline? Let's base it on the productivity demonstrated by workers and peasants in the Stone Age and develop a properly compassionate and humanitarian minimum wage of, I don't know, $100,000 an hour. Some people are pushing Miz Warren for president in 2016, but brilliant and aboriginal as she is, I'm afraid she's just too conservative for me. [*]

Now let us finish with the question of ingenious coinage. It soon became apparent that there was no need for trillion-dollar coins, real or imaginary, when there was a central bank with the authority to create limitless amounts of fiat money and with Helicopter Ben at the helm. Now, Helicopter Ben isn't any starry-eyed radical or utopian but a sound follower of Milton Friedman; a bona fide conservative is he. Pursuing his "QE ad infinitum," Helicopter Ben is increasing the money supply by $85 billion a month, which actually, given the fractional-reserve banking system, can expand the money supply by far more. A few irascible folks have even noted that those monthly amounts exceed the total of the terrible, cruel, heartless sequester, which might go so far as to furlough bureaucrats for a couple of days this year, thus wreaking havoc with the world as we know it.

But while our illuminated leaders tell us that the economy faces total devastation if the sequestration is fully implemented, they likewise trumpet that the economy is currently humming along thanks to Helicopter Ben's money and the Big 0's stimuli — as they complain that those stimuli were cut short or prevented by troglodytic Republican extremists. Advanced Keynesian economics is just as much a puzzle to Old H.G. as the Zimbabwean School of economic analysis. Yr. obt. svt. suspects that those two elevated systems of thought may have a few things in common; but we must press on. The stock market has soared to new peaks, housing is up, and even the unemployment rate is down. The Big 0 proclaims that there is no debt problem, so that solves that.

In short, everything is hunky-dory and will be getting better every day in every way if it is not destroyed by sadistic Republican spendophobes (or should that be "investmentphobes," given the advances of Newspeak?) who relish causing misery for the poor while shielding the ill-gotten wealth of the plutocracy — that is, any unenlightened citizen who is sufficiently arrogant, or just plain lucky, to make more than $50,000 a year. (Enlightened, socially conscious billionaires who produce green energy to save the polar bears as well as the planet as a whole, of course, deserve the largest government subsidies possible, especially if they make large contributions to similarly enlightened politicians.)

As the media carefully remind us, all economists with a scintilla of intelligence and honesty (thus excluding that insignificant micro-minority whose school of thought is named — N.B.!!! — after the homeland of the infamous dictator who brought the world the Holocaust) believe that "austerity" will lead to poverty, as illustrated by the current case of Europe, and that spending, more spending, and more spending still will lead to prosperity. Denying that spending and money creation have rescued America from a terrible depression is comparable to denying that anthropogenic global warming is catastrophic for humans and polar bears alike. (Since Old H.G. always tries to report the rest of the story, he has to point out that one thing that "austerity" in practice usually means is higher taxes — a goal which is the sacred and sublime dream of our all-wise policymakers! It is all much too complicated for simple-minded H.G., who hereby throws up his hands. Doubtless there will soon come to pass some law or regulation preventing such dolts as yr. obt. svt. from confusing unwary readers on the Internet.)

All the good news on the economy only makes the hate-mongering crackpots gnash their teeth trying to find fault with the current, albeit slow, move toward nirvana under the guidance of President 0. The nattering nay-sayers dare to say that America has simply entered another bubble, like the housing bubble and the dot-com bubble before that, which is bound to burst. They refuse to learn that history does not repeat itself and that we are living in a totally different age — most important, we are now led by the Big 0 — and that, if things did go astray, it would only provide conclusive proof of the need for more government regulation if not outright total government control of the economy so that finally we could have production for use, not (excuse the profanity) profit — a motive leading to such unspeakable atrocities as the production of sugar-laden drinks that force even liberal New Yorkers to become immensely fat and ultimately die from liver failure.

The media have even clued in Old H.G. to why we see such hatred of the Obama Recovery despite the manifest economic improvements. The major factor is obviously racism — the absolute hatred of a Black man's being successful. That especially afflicts white males, of mostly low intelligence, who are addicted to guns, the Bible, and heterosexuality. They believe they are losing their privileged positions in society — which is hardly the case — and thus fear the carefully engineered fairness that the Big 0 administers. Leading those white male bozos are the plutocrats (100 percent gentile, of course, except for certain Romney donors), who manipulate the smelly mob of six-pack dilberts out of a greedy desire to maintain their ill-gotten wealth — based as it is on the vagaries of the market without any appropriate guidance from the government. And then there are the Republican politicians who are too angry to accept the fact that they lost the last election, and instead of salaaming to the Big 0's proposals — as they should according to the established principles of democracy — try to rally the forces of greed and hatred to bring down the president in a way not seen since the slaveholders tried to destroy America in the Civil War.

Fortunately for America, those malevolent elements are no longer powerful enough to completely attain their goals, being countered by a righteous coalition of Latino immigrants, African Americans, union members, Gays, and liberated women, who have all grimly struggled their way closer to fully exercising the democratic right of majority rule, despite outdated constitutional shackles — such as the existence of a Congress — that hinder their glorious march. The more-farsighted of the Republicans are beginning to realize the futility of their current position and are trying to modernize the party so that it will accept higher taxes, increased government spending, homosexual marriage, subsidized mass immigration and unlimited citizenship, inclusion of the despised minorities, climate control and green energy, and whatever other bright notions may be inserted into the progressive agenda in the future, so that the Republican Party can regain relevance and cease standing athwart history murmuring, "Could you please maybe consider slowing down just a little?"

While being relevant is vital for most, Old H.G. has been irrelevant for his entire life so far, and after learning about the current relevant progressive agenda, has decided that irrelevance is probably the most rational position to take.  Ω

March 23, 2013

Published in 2013 by WTM Enterprises.

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* Miz Warren claims to be a bona fide American Indian, descended from both the Cherokee and the Delaware nations, conclusively demonstrating that descent by adducing her high cheekbones, family lore (although it is disputed), and the recipes she contributed to the noted American Aboriginal cookbook Pow Wow Chow, published in 1984. It might be added that the American Indian identity, which Miz Warren diligently checked on her employment form, was an asset in obtaining a job that paid heap big wampum in the tight academic job market. Accordingly, a 1997 piece in the Fordham Law Review described Miz Warren as the "first woman of color" hired by Harvard Law School!

Now, this may not come as an excessive surprise to my readers — I am referring, of course, to my command of Stone Age econometrics — what did you think I meant? — but scientists have proved that Old H.G. and his kin are partly Neanderthal, a group blatantly discriminated against by the majority homo sapiens sapiens for many thousands of years. We are even ridiculed today by fashionable liberals, who deny us any affirmative-action benefits or even a check-box to mark.

Editor's note. Spurred by Mr. Fields's expression of grievances, WTM Enterprises, publisher of The Last Ditch, is determined to redress at least one racist denial of deserved respect for the Neanderthal Nation and its profound and beautiful culture: We hope to release both the print and Kindle versions of Big-Brow Chow sometime in 2018. — NS

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