Menckens Ghost

More About: Government Waste

Plunder under the fiction of the rule of law

By Mencken’s Ghost
December 13, 2012

The 76-page masterpiece, The Law, was written by Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850).  Of the book’s many profundities, the following statement was the most profound, and, sadly, the most relevant to the United States government of today:

It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this:  the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder.

Foolishly thinking that I could be a modern-day Bastiat, I attempted more than a decade ago to organize a political-action group called Honest Americans Against Legal Theft, or HAALT.  My rallying cry was that the nation was doomed to insolvency unless the masses, media and intelligentsia understood that it was immoral and ultimately suicidal for Americans to petition the government to steal from their neighbors so they could get handouts, subsidies, bailouts, and a partridge in a pear tree.

It’s an understatement to say that the idea didn’t resonate with the public.  Heck, they ran screaming in terror in the other direction.  It was amazing how fast they could run, or waddle, considering that most were overweight and were carrying big-screen TVs, granite countertops, Viking stoves, Big Gulps, big Starbucks milkshakes masquerading as coffee, and other stuff that they had bought with counterfeit money printed by the Federal Reserve, known as Bernanke dollars.

Since then, the situation has gotten far worse.  The United States is now a criminal enterprise in which tens of millions of people, organized in hundreds of powerful interest groups (e.g., AARP, farmers, Wall Street banks, defense contractors, public-sector unions, the welfare industry, sports teams), use government force to steal from their fellow Americans instead of embracing liberty, competing in free markets, being industrious and frugal, and relying for help on family, neighbors, church, or fraternal organizations. 

The rule of law has become a fiction.  The law is now used to plunder instead of protect.  Plunder has become so brazen that even the old canards, platitudes, and charades about social justice, fairness, community, and the common good have been cast aside.  Even the professoriate that teaches this claptrap to gullible students has abandoned all pretenses and now openly operates as a fence for government tuition loans and grants, giving worthless degrees to students in exchange for borrowed Bernanke dollars.

Texas Governor Rick Perry is not the brightest politician in even a box of 25-watt politicians, but he was absolutely correct when he said that Social Security and Medicare are Ponzi schemes.  Members of AARP called him an imbecile as they fled in terror at two miles per hour in their motorized wheelchairs, bought with Bernanke dollars, courtesy of some obscure Medicare program.   Members of the media, having obtained worthless journalism degrees and thus having the intelligence of bedbugs, agreed with the members of AARP, without even bothering to understand the genesis of the pejorative “Ponzi” and how such schemes operate until they crash, as they always do.

Actually, Perry was only partly right.  It is not only Social Security and Medicare that are Ponzi schemes.  The entire nation has become a Ponzi scheme.   Those who got in early, such as the so-called “Greatest Generation” and their offspring, the Boomers, did okay.  Granted, some of them didn’t do okay, especially those who bought houses they couldn’t afford or took out multiple mortgages on houses they couldn’t afford, receiving Bernanke dollars in exchange to buy crap they couldn’t afford.  Of course, the bedbugs in the media portrayed them as innocent victims.

On second thought, many of them are victims.  They are victims of government K-12 schools--schools that are forbidden by the two political parties, by teacher unions and by the textbook industry to teach the truth about the two political parties, teacher unions and the textbook industry.  But even more deleterious to their mental health and financial well-being, most Americans of every age are immersed in bull crap every minute, nay, second, of their waking hours.  Almost everything they watch and read is either propaganda, ideological agitprop, juvenile pop culture, or advertisements and commercials that are just as deceitful and vacuous as anything ever blabbered by Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

It’s difficult to decide who has done more to turn free-market capitalism into something uglier than a baboon’s butt.  Is it the trollops in Congress and the White House who seduce business executives and Wall Street bankers in their houses of ill-repute and copulate with them in the bed of crony capitalism?  Or maybe it is the television executives who run more than 40 inane commercials per hour, with the incessant message, Buy, buy, buy! 

The Bernie Madoff imitators in government and industry are so desperate to keep the Ponzi scheme going that they have convinced the rabble that it is their civic duty to not only buy, but to buy on credit.  Conversely, it has become unpatriotic to save.  The lead “news” story during the weeks before and after Thanksgiving was not about the national government being bankrupt or about most Americans being buried in debt.  Instead, teleprompter-reading newscasters chirped in their chirpy voices about Black Friday beginning on Thursday and whether spending would be better than the previous year.  Of course they showed the standard video clips of fat, ugly and brainless shoppers pummeling each other over a pair of gaudy sneakers.

I could wax intellectual about how the Federal Reserve and its banking franchisees are the vehicles for the easy money, limitless credit, and public and private indebtedness--and the ultimate destruction of the USA economy.  But that would be like blaming a car for the driver going off a cliff.  And I could blame politicians for being lying, hypocritical scoundrels, but that would be like blaming a puppet for the sins of the puppeteer.  The fact is that the American people are at fault for letting the vehicles and puppets get out of control.  After all, in a democracy the buck stops with the people. 

The ugly fact is that the American people have wholeheartedly embraced neo-Marxism and neo-fascism.  They embrace the revised Marxian maxim, “From each according to his means and to each according to his greed.”  And they embrace the fascist idea of a strong man distributing favors and money to politically-favored groups at the expense of groups out of favor.

Take income taxes. The tax code makes no distinction between (a) someone who earned his income from hard work, saving, and providing goods and services that other people want; and (b) someone who obtained money by gaming the political system.  Money, whether obtained ethically or unethically, is treated the same:  as something to be taken by those greedy and powerful enough to take it.  There are no moral distinctions in a Marxist/fascist system.

Or take the hundred or so forms of welfare.  Welfare handouts are not restricted to the 7-10% of the population that doesn’t have the mental or physical ability to make a living.  Nor do the handouts come with a requirement that the recipients work in exchange for the money, even if it means sitting at a government office answering a phone.  At least FDR, despite his ignorance of economics, required people to build dams, sewers, roads and other infrastructure in exchange for government money, under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration.  Welfare today is nothing more than Marxian redistribution. Those who claim it is about eliminating poverty are either full of bull crap or have the brains of bedbugs.

Even those who game the welfare system know it is bull crap.  That’s why “Judge Judy” is a popular morality play among those on welfare.  They can instantly identify the gamers. Being smarter than the intelligentsia, they also know the difference between right and wrong, although many of them choose wrong.

Bastiat said that there are two ways to make a living:  from hard work or from plunder.  The majority of Americans have chosen the legal form of the latter.



Mencken’s Ghost is the nom de plume of an Arizona writer who can be reached at


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