Monday, July 12

Spending Your Way Out Of Bankruptcy, And Lying Your Way Out Of Responsibility

WE had a yard sale this weekend, so I'll be recuperating between now and the early stages of rigor mortis. I do recommend it as a cure for any residual hope you may still have for the country.

Just kidding; I'm sure you don't have any, either. Honestly, I'd probably be okay with being governed by the first fifty names in the phone book, whereas the then merely cadaverous, not-yet cadaveric Bill Buckley would have permanently dropped anchor somewhere outside the Three Mile Limit after about twenty minutes. For one thing, I'm actually familiar with the level of competence you could expect, while Buckley would've taken it square in the choppers. And for another, we've all now seen who these people voted for in the intervening forty-five years, while in 1965 Buckley imagined he'd always have the well-deserved cloak of minority status to protect him from the law of consequences. (Although, now that I think on it, back when Buckley said it residential and commercial listings were published in a single section, so what he really meant was he'd rather be governed by fifty owners of AAAAAA Realty, and AAAAA Pest Control, and Your Local AAMCO Transmission Specialist than the Harvard faculty. Though I still say he've set sail for the nearest monarchy within a fortnight. Back when he was more nearly lifelike I used to demand he go dine with the first fifty names in the Boston directory and get back to us if he survived with his witticisms intact; now I'd pay the freight just to see any of these types, but especially Jonah Goldberg, spend a month enjoying the entrepreneurial beneficence of the owner of AAAA Pretty Good Cleaners as his newest Fluffier Trainee.)

Which brings us to the sort of culturo-political crapola that intruded on what quiet time I managed despite having half-literate and barely hygienic Hoosiers paw through our unwanted junk this weekend, because that included the sloppy second of two (paging Andrew Ferguson!) Mitch Daniels humjobs in the Sunday Racist Beacon's Metro section. This one, in the "Behind Closed Doors" column (which used to be the dishy, political- reporter-with-mild-anonymity "insider" section, and is now a sort of intentionally homespun Society page, deliberately shorn of anything remotely smelling of Snoot, written by people who desperately need that next free Republican* buffet) which relayed his Five Favorite Books. The Bantam Menace had been asked to compile his list for, on the Fourth of July, which suggests either that FiveBooks is about something other than literacy, or that they're working their way through governors and have finally gotten to the Lesser Midwest. Anyway, please keep your seat belts fastened:

• Friedrich A. "Pop Quiz" Hayek, The Road To Serfdom

• Milton "Now Utterly Disgraced and Discredited, And With Your Help, Mitch, In Case You Missed It" Friedman, Free to Choose: A Personal Statement

• Charles "Kleagle" Murray, What It Means To Be a Libertarian

• Mancur "Because I Might Get In Trouble If I Named Leo Strauss In Mixed Company" Olson, The Rise and Decline of Nations

• Virginia "The Faith Popcorn of Libertarianism" Postrel, The Future and Its Enemies

Ladies and Gentlemen, the next President of the United States:
This I know had a big effect on me because I had never run for public office before. I surprised myself by choosing to do so and then began thinking and speaking of why and what we were going to do if successful. My entire theme for years has been about making major change in our state. It was some of the books on this list that helped me to see that the real reactionary movements in a country like ours are what we call the left. These really are the forces of status quo: they may travel under different banners or masquerade as something else but these are the folks who are more often than not trying to freeze in place arrangements that worked well for the ‘ins’. So Olson shows you how that happens, Postrel shows you how this happens, Hayek shows you how this happens….

They struggle to put a label on us because we look a little different and we don’t throw around the terms that are usually used in politics. I sometimes use her nomenclature – dynamism versus stasism. And you’re right, despite what I just said, there are plenty of people who we would describe as conservatives these days who are very uncomfortable with the risks and the uncertainties that come with an embrace of competition and change and simple rules. I think in general the Olson-like structures that we have to guard against in our country today tend to be those that favour the large interventionist state we built. I’m including here, by the way, the incumbent businesses who love the way in which it suppresses competition and puts up barriers to entry.

Okay, let's linger for a minute, here. We already knew Daniels was trying to pull his "Shucks I don't wanna be a politician, pause, but okay, if you think I'm the most-forward looking guy in the country I'll let you do the work" routine on a national level this time. What's interesting, in such a dynamic character, is he's still running that game long after the results are in, and trusting that not enough people will ask about, or know, the difference. Certainly not the Racist Beacon, which ignores the real news this week that Indiana's job losses under Miracle Mitch are the 5th worst in the country so its Ace Political Columnist Matt Tully (sorry, kids, it's Print Edition Only, which worked so well for the Times) could explain that if we all pull together and give him unimpeded majorities in both Houses again he can fund All Day Kindergarten like he promised six years ago and become the Education Coyly Un-Announced Presidential Candidate. Y'know, so that everyone would forget what he's actually done to First Grade onwards.

And does Daniels put one and one together from this weighty collection? Does it ever seem to have occurred to him that the trendy insistence of his drug-dealing youth that The Left was the Stasis Quo, and Business the Land of Dynamic Forward Thinking may've collided with Olson's group dynamics over the past four decades (as if it didn't before) and produced, well, Mitch Daniels? Does he note that the majority of his single decade not suckling at the government teat was spent at Eli Lilly, which had hired him for his insider experience? Now the man knocks Lilly for colluding with Big Healthcare. What did he imagine he was getting paid for back then? Research? If this is your goddam essential reading list, why is it the only jobs you've ever created in your life are the extra stenographers hired to help facilitate the lawsuits over your FSSA fuckup?

Honest to fucking God, if you're that big on Dynamism why'd you go to work for Dick Lugar?

What sorta fucking liars are we, that we can no longer recognize lying when it hits us square in the phiz? It's metastasized to liver, lights, and marrow. Somehow or other this week I learned that a) cycling's Team Sky has a Head of Marginal Gains; b) people who appear to've gotten no closer to actual basketball than a pair of plaid Chucks nevertheless insist that LeBron James' new career as a reality-show nitwit bodes well for Teabaggers (don't ask, and, okay, it's the Atlantic, so technically I'm cheating); and c) Indianapolis has something called the High Performance Government Team which, it turns out, is not the jokey name for the City-County Council's staff coed softball team, but is an actual committee tasked with recommending Mayor Gomer "One-Term" Ballard close libraries and parks, the better to give the Pacers more tax dollars. (Didja get that? A team which might be expected to produce High Performance has a Marginal Improvement Group, and a group where Marginal Improvement would be, well, an unprecedented leap forward, has a High Performance Team. And these people walk around loose.)

Oh and yes indeedy--as they say in the Yard Sale game--in the biggest surprise since the generally westward direction of last night's sunset, Indianapolis' Capital Improvement Board--a supra-government non-agency which only last week was $45 mil in the hole--following a year of tough negotiating it had no obligation to undertake, managed to actually talk the Indiana Pacers out of 15 million no-representation taxpayer dollars, which is to say we're only giving them $10 million annually instead of $15. This while letting them keep 100% of the take from non-Pacer events at the fieldhouse we built for them on their demand. And we only had to toss in $3.5 mil for "capital improvements" on the ten-year-old Basketball and Occasional Billy Joel Concert Palace, though this, they explain with a straight face, has the "potential" to "increase by up to $4.7 million" which either means "it could rise to $4.7 million" or "it could rise to $8.2 million"; one never can be quite sure when the locals start trying to use English. The largess is going to be paid for by…oh hell, let's let the un-biased folks at the Racist Beacon explain:
For this year, the board's efforts to cut its spending and increase revenues have provided enough money to make the $10 million payment, said CIB President Ann Lathrop. As of May, the CIB had brought in $3.8 million more in revenue than budgeted and spent $7.5 million less than budgeted.

Much of the additional revenue came from additional sales and income taxes from an expanded sports district passed by the legislature as part of an assistance package last year, and from events such as the Final Four NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Lathrop acknowledged that sustaining those revenue sources, even with the new hotel and convention space, will depend on the economy, but she said the board also is working to cut costs over the long term through things such as information technology consolidation and energy cost savings.

For one thing--I'm just spitballin' here--we could turn out the lights when the Pacers are on offense, as this wouldn't hurt their shooting percentage much.

Anyway, the CIB "finds" $11.3 mil by not picking your pocket quite as quickly, and gives the money to the richest guy in town, while cautioning you that it might not be able to duplicate the one-time swindle next year, because you might be looking. But good luck with that.

And long-term survivors of this blog might recall that the "government" "side" of the "negotiations" was supervised by that same Lt. Col. Gomer Ballard, USMC who was the first recipient of the Teabagger Seal of Really Obnoxious Approval, back in '05, in a state whose spiritual leader and libertarian brainiac wants to be your next President. It sorta makes surviving another Yard Sale seem less than worth it.


* Seriously; I guess Democrats in Indiana can't afford an open bar or something. Not that the Racist Beacon hasn't always been an anti-fluoridationist yellow sheet, but it used to make an effort to appear fair. This week "Behind Closed Doors" led off by savaging Blue Dog Democrat Brad Ellsworth--the party's nominee for Evan Bayh's Sinecure--because his initial, anti-Washington campaign ad fails to mention that he's been a US Representative for the past eighteen months, during which time the Republic fell to ruin thanks to his votes. This is like singling out Ke$ha for being a talentless self-promoter. We've got a governor who runs against Washington despite having personally wrecked the US economy, and the Racist Beacon can't get over how cute his li'l manhood is when it's angry. Dan Fucking Burton has been running against Washington for thirty fucking years, fer chrissakes, and they shilled for him for twenty-six, until he stiffed 'em on a dinner tab or something.


charles pierce said...

I refuse to believe that any sentient primate could make it all the way through one of those books, let alone all five, without having their brains dribble slowly out of each ear.
That might be the dullest shelf in the history of libraries.

Toonces said...

What, no P.G Wodehouse, a nice Stephen King or maybe a Jonathan Kellerman?

A quick look at "" notes these are the authors five favorite books in their "area of speciality." Which kinda explains why that there is one dull list of books.

Heck, I just read an Al Franken from 2003 that was both entertaining and informational. Reminded me why I love him and hate lying conservatives. They should lighten up, already!

Jay B. said...

What's funny to me is how lockstep all those freedom-lovin' libertarians are. You'd think they'd have more than a single answer to EVERY SINGLE QUESTION of governance.

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Grace Nearing said...

so what [Buckley] really meant was he'd rather be governed by fifty owners of AAAAAA Realty, and AAAAA Pest Control, and Your Local AAMCO Transmission Specialist than the Harvard faculty.

Must confess that while in college, I once got really stoned and dialed the number for the first listing in my local phone book. It was simply "A."

I thought it might be the direct line to God.

It wasn't.

R. Porrofatto said...

I'm guessing that your capital "L" libertarian and Thaumaturge of the Indiana Miracle is totally copacetic with government subsidizing sports franchises like the Pacers, or should I say campaign contributors like Herb Simon, just as long as those tax dollars don't go to pay "Rolls-Royce benefits" to the unemployed. If these Hayekers were any more transparent in their hypocrisy their hands really would be invisible, but the eyes of our sadly benighted populace are blinded by the light of television, or something. That's some reading list, too, but I'm sure, as Mephistopheles comes to collect on his contract, Mitch will be heard screaming "I'll burn my books!" well before his one bare hour left to live.

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