|Some things are best done badly
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"You Americans don't understand anything. You have to come to Argentina and live here for a few years. Then, you'll understand America."
We had to ask. "Huh?"
"When you're here you can see more clearly how things really work...and don't work. You see the real nature of things...especially government. Believe me, you Americans have all sorts of delusions. A government "by, for and of the people?" Or, as Hilary Clinton put it, "the government is all of us." Not quite. And when you've been here for a while...you see your own institutions more clearly."
The speaker was a friend of ours. An American himself, from Alabama, who has lived in Argentina for 30 years. He lived through the hyperinflation of the '80s...the boom of the '90s...the crash of the '00s...
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He saw corrupt presidents. Honest presidents. Competent presidents. Bumbling presidents. Lots of presidents. In a two week period...in 2001...Argentina had 4 different presidents. Each one tried to stop the financial meltdown. None could.
"Hey, that's nothing," continued our friend. "During the military regime we had 4 defacto presidents in a single day.
"I remember when I got here. I felt so superior. Because our system in the United States works so much better. But now I see it differently. Because I now know that there are some things that are better when they don't work so well. I'll tell you a story to illustrate.
"Two guys die. A German and an Argentine. Both of them go to Hell. But after they've been there for a couple weeks...the German guy is in a gutter...all bruised...with sores and burns all over his body.
"The Argentine still looks pretty good. When the German sees him, he says:
"Hey, how come you're still in good shape. They get us up at 5am...and the little devils start to torture us by beating us with iron rods. Then, at 8am....they turn us over to the real devils. They whip us with barbed wire and then put cattle prods to our private parts. Then, they throw buckets of sh*t on us...and water-board us all afternoon.
"Aren't you getting the same treatment?"
"Well, yes," says the Argentine, "but you're in the German section of Hell. We're in the Argentine section. The rules are the same. But they're not applied in the same way.
"The little devils are supposed to get us up at 5am so they can begin torturing us. But they don't get up that early. And they don't come to work very often. They're all unionized so they go on strike all the time. And then, the real devils are meant to whip us with barbed wire, but there's a shortage of metal...so they don't have any whips.
"They put the cattle prods on us sometimes too...but the power doesn't work. Or the cattle prods are missing. Nobody seems to know why. And they're also supposed to throw buckets of sh*t on us too. But sometimes they're out of sh*t...and other times they can't find the buckets.
"As for waterboarding...the plumbing isn't working either. So they strap us to the rack and pretend to dunk us....and warn us that when they get the plumbing working we're not going to like it very much.
"But so far it isn't bad."
The Japanese faced huge logistical challenges when they bombed Pearl Harbor. Who thanks the staff officers who overcame them? Imagine what a feat of monetary engineering was accomplished by Gideon Gono, when he flooded the Zimbabwe economy with 100 Quadzillion dollars; but does anyone stop him in the street and commend him? And who stops for a moment of silent prayer...thanking General Custer's right hand man, Luitenant Simpson, who helped him find the Little Big Horn?
Some things are best done badly or not at all, we conclude. If you're sent to the gallows, you hope that the rope-maker was having a really bad day. And if your central banks have their hearts set on a program of financial doomsday...you hope they're incompetent, not just stupid.
Bill Bonner is the President & Founder of Agora Inc, an international publisher of financial and special interest books and newsletters.
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