The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Jun 5, 2015

- By Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner
Paris, France

Dear Diary,

The question on the table is whether your editor is a 'dolt' or not...

Reading the mail, we find opinions mixed. And even we can't make up our mind.

Some readers are sure that wanting a depression is just about the dumbest thing they have ever heard. Others are more open minded; maybe a depression really would be a good, quick and clean, way to clear out the dead wood.

But we don't really have to worry about it. The dead wood is in charge, in Washington and at central banks all around the world. And it is not about to permit an episode of creative destruction - not when it is what needs to be destroyed. Instead, it will rage, rage, rage against the dying of the light...and cause even worse mischief.

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But that's a subject for another day.

Today, we pause to note that the Dow fell 170 points yesterday, forming a top over the last 30 days. The Dow is back under 18,000. What happens next is anybody's guess, but we could anticipate a dilly-dallying pattern throughout the summer, leaving the autumn available for a decisive crash. Caution,this is not the first year we've expected it.

On this subject, we notice that often - when we venture onto subjects other than finance - readers will complain. "You should stick to finance," they write, "something you know something about."

Today, we reassure readers that we don't know anything about finance either. So, with an equal measure of ignorance, we take up a three part series on something only distantly related to finance: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

What prompted this was Senator Rand Paul's performance in the Capitol last weekend. Singlehandedly, he blocked an extension of the NSA's snooping program.

You can divide Congress into two groups. There are the fools, who are just not clever enough to understand what is going on, and there are the knaves, who are too clever by half. Between the two of them, the cronies have a field day, duping the former and conniving with the latter.

Rand Paul's father, Ron, never fit in to either group. Maybe Rand doesn't fit either.

Ron Paul couldn't be bought. And he was smart enough to see that the do-gooders weren't doing any good at all - except for themselves.

If we had a beef with Ron it was that he lacked cynicism. We often wanted to ask: 'what's a nice guy like you doing in a place like this?' It was as if he didn't see the sordid scenes going on around him... and wouldn't stoop to notice the sleazy motives of his fellow representatives. He was always for liberty and the US Constitution, and that was it. He thought he had been elected to defend the liberty of his constituent voters.

Of course, what they really wanted something else - power, status, and other peoples' money. But Ron ignored it, like one ignores the character flaws of an old friend, and continued his lonely mission.

Surely, Rand must have learned from watching his father. But what? He grew up in a political world - full of stuffed shirts and empty heads. Did he learn how to work with this crumbly, second-rate clay and shape it into the world both he and Ron wanted? Or did he learn how to get along by going along...and maybe become more successful, at least in Washington's terms, than his father?

We had our doubts. It seemed that the apple had fallen and then rolled far from the tree. But then, this past weekend, despite howls of protests, Rand did his father's work.

The Patriot Act was an embarrassment from the get-go. How could people who valued their liberty give it up so readily? The terrorist threat was gaudy and spectacular, but never serious. Americans are more likely to be killed by their own children than by terrorists. Statistically, they are more likely to starve to death. Or die after falling over their own furniture. And for every America killed by a terrorist, there are about 100 who are gunned down, run over, or tazered to death by their own police.

Still, eavesdropping was sold to the public as a way to head off terrorist attacks. But how many attacks did it thwart? Zero. The Washington Times:

    FBI agents can't point to any major terrorism cases they've cracked thanks to the key snooping powers in the Patriot Act, the Justice Department's inspector general said in a report Thursday that could complicate efforts to keep key parts of the law operating.

    Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said that between 2004 and 2009, the FBI tripled its use of bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows government agents to compel businesses to turn over records and documents, and increasingly scooped up records of Americans who had no ties to official terrorism investigations.
So we salute Rand Paul. Good on you, Rand. In the long march to a police state, the feds were forced to take a small step back.

This example made us think about other people doing good work. (Who says we are always negative!) There are millions and millions of people who do good work every day. Few of them get their names in the paper. They clean their homes. They drive trucks and analyze stocks. They weld steel and teach children. The saints are all around us, unnoticed.

Bill Bonner is the President & Founder of Agora Inc, an international publisher of financial and special interest books and newsletters.

Disclaimer: The views mentioned above are of the author only. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Equitymaster do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendation on any course of action to be followed by the reader. Please read the detailed Terms of Use of the web site.

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