Wednesday, September 19, 2012



At dinner with friends the other night I made the mistake of talking about politics. It was a solid lefty crowd, so I thought I was on fairly safe ground mouthing the usual partisan platitudes about the election etc. Somehow the conversation drifted around to economics and the subject of monetarism, of all things, came up. Milton Friedman may have been misguided in some matters, I opined, but he clearly was a gifted and important economist.

"NO!" thundered the host. "Friedman was (and I quote directly) "...among the great charlatans of mid-20th century thought... the true lunatic, which I believe Friedman actually is,... can be identified easily. For the lunatic, everything proves everything else. The lunatic is all idee fixee, and whatever he comes across proves everything else. It makes no difference what the ultimate conclusion is... the lunatic lacks common sense, he takes liberties with what works, he seems inspired at times."

He wasn't done.

"Many people want everyone to make nice and get back to what is imagined as politics as they used to be - a concept sort of like the free market. It simply cannot happen the way the economy is run now. But this redistribution of wealth in favor of the very rich has been at least 30 years in the making. The loss of solid middle class and lower middle class jobs has been at least 45 years in the making. Make no mistake. They will come for the upper tier jobs sooner or later."

The problem with economy in his view is with...

"the 1%-ers. They are anti-Americans, they have their own government that resides globally. They are like the Mafia except their activities are legalized. But they are, by any estimation extortive, belittling, manipulative, and cruel."

And finally,

"Most revolutions, and I'm not limiting myself to "violent" revolutions, are the product of middle and even upper-middle class ferment. As the historians say: the uneducated make rebellions; the educated make revolutions. For every Mao there is a Chou. For every war paint-wearing colonist at the original Boston Tea Party, there was a Madison or Jefferson. Castro's father was quite prosperous. 

So this is a man, quite gifted intellectually, who believes that anyone who disagrees with his world view is either stupid or evil or more likely both. He believes that the current state of affairs is the product of an evil cabal of the wealthy (including me by his standards) and that  the ultimate solution lies in violence.

My advice to him is go. Go live under the tyranny of one of those revolutionary societies you admire so much. Let me know how you like it, if they let you out.

The fact that he ostensibly represents the left wing of the political spectrum is immaterial. He is the true extremist, with more in common with his fellow fanatics at the other end than the rest of us. They are the 1%ers we truly need to fear.


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