Money & The Economy

“Everything Seems Upside Down!”

A friend lamented to me recently, “The whole world seems upside down. What should be considered bad is now good, and vice versa.” He went on to detail how laws of economics are violated domestically, expecting an outcome different than the natural law of cause and effect would dictate. I concurred with him, and found myself reflecting on some of the wisdom of yesteryear that is ignored, thought impertinent to a new “enlightened” era, or not applicable to our advanced society.

UnknownCertainly some of the challenges facing our nation and our society currently can be seen through the lens of proven wisdom. In this light I thought I’d pick a few of those nuggets of anecdotal verity that have been validated by history to provide a little sagacious insight for the context of what our politicians have been inflicting upon the nation.

Winston Churchill once declared, “For a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.” With 20 new taxes added with the passage of Obamacare, and the significant increase of six other taxes with the passage of the “fiscal cliff” Continuing Resolution two years ago, it seems our government is attempting what Churchill described, with incredulity. Even the great communist Vladimir Lenin understood this principle. “The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation.”

For a quasi free-market economy, we’re stuck in a moribund GDP growth rate that is constrained by the yearly removal of over $3 trillion of capital from the citizenry. The surefire way to reduce activity is to tax it, which not only stifles the respective economic activity (such as the investment of capital) but removes significant assets from the private sector. In light of government’s spending and taxation excesses of the past few years, Churchill’s statement seems, well, “Churchillian.”

quote-government-s-view-of-the-economy-could-be-summed-up-in-a-few-short-phrases-if-it-moves-tax-it-if-ronald-reagan-151737The “great communicator” Ronald Reagan, observed the practices of government, and summarized, “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” If that doesn’t capture the mindset of our government over the past several years, I don’t know what does. The spendthrift ideology that gave us a decimated Detroit, a nearly bankrupt California, and bankrupt cities across the nation, has sought to impose the same centralized governmental control on a national level in the name of “social justice,” with devastatingly destructive results. If America is to return to financial greatness, it will be by reversing the expansive trend of economic fascism, where government has control of the means of production.

The brilliant Austrian economist, Friedrich Hayek understood this threat. Said he, “While an equality of rights under a limited government is possible and an essential condition of individual freedom, a claim for equality of material position can be met only by a government with totalitarian powers.” The best thing government can do is create an environment that is conducive to growth, with reduced taxes and a regulatory environment that facilitates private sector growth. That is far from our present reality.

George Bernard Shaw, although a self-avowed socialist, was nonetheless bright enough to observe, “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.” That is until Paul runs out of money, as Margaret Thatcher’s logical postulate avers, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” Since economic fascism is just a few steps removed from socialism, the outcome is only separated by a few degrees of economic ruin.

In his inimitable cynical style, writer and journalist P.J. O’Rourke once wrote, “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free!” Although Obamacare fell short of the drafter’s goal of a single-payer plan, we’re observing the results of our massive step toward it. As the Washington Times reported in October, “The Affordable Care Act was supposed to make health care more affordable, but a study of insurance policies before and after Obamacare shows that average premiums have skyrocketed, for some groups by as much as 78 percent.”

quote-government-big-enough-to-supply-everything-you-need-is-big-enough-is-big-enough-to-take-everything-thomas-jefferson-370415Thomas Jefferson warned over 200 years ago, that, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have.” It appears increasingly that’s the kind of government we’re headed toward. He further warned, “My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.” This bodes ill for us all with the increasingly strident notion that the government should regulate every aspect of our lives, from what we drive and what we eat, to how much energy we consume.

Perhaps the best idea for governing was uttered over 2000 years ago by Cicero. He said, “The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.” I wonder if Roman leaders wish they would have listened to him.

My friend was regrettably correct; the whole world does seem upside down. If we fail to learn from history, and the wisdom of yesteryear, are we destined to repeat the failures and collapses of history? It’s entirely up to us!

Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at

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Richard Larsen

AP award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at

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One Comment

  1. So the upshot really is that government is not merely incompetent and rapacious, but stupid and dangerous to have around. If the least government is regarded as a “necessary evil,” why would any right-thinking person indulge it? Evil is evil; if you know the good but pet evil anyway, that makes you evil for that choice.

    Human government is nothing but a bunch of violent gangsters ruling by force and threat of force, with a monopoly on force against those they presume to rule, and thus able to rob and kill and force others to commit murder for them on a massive scale (“war,” which can only be waged by rulers over other people — of nations — against the people of other nations; what’s wrong with this picture? The rulers themselves don’t risk their personal treasure and blood, but YOURS — and YOU LET THEM and think that’s being “patriotic”!), merely so they can maintain and expand their power and control and criminally-gotten — stolen — wealth. Human government is a parasite that eventually kills its host: YOU and everyone else under it. EVERY government in history has reached this critical mass and collapsed. It is unavoidable; it is the nature of the beast.

    Who in their right mind NEEDS that? Is your neighbor so awful you MUST pay someone to rule you in order to assure your neighbor is also ruled and robbed? Does that make either your neighbor a better neighbor to you, or you a better neighbor to them? Who wins? (HINT: not you, not your neighbor. But your overlords. Who you have just made yourself and your neighbor slave to.)

    Who among human beings has a right to rule other human beings?

    Who among human beings is qualified to rule other human beings?

    If you want someone to rule and rob you so that your neighbor can be equally ruled and robbed, ostensibly to your benefit, what does that make you?

    If people are lazy, stupid, and evil, what is government? It is a group of people. And they DON’T have YOUR welfare or best interests at heart. THEY are in power precisely to parasitize YOU. And YOU blindly go along with it — because it’s what you’ve been taught to believe is good and necessary all your life.

    Envy and fear: the idiot twins of craven evil who lust for power and control over others.

    “Government” was a lie invented by those idiot twins for those more powerful and/or clever idiot twins who could by force or wile convince their envious, fearful neighbors — infested with the idiot twins themselves — to let them bring “order” to the “chaos” of allowing their neighbor to live his own life and make his own decisions.

    “Who will rule” (“Who will lead us? Where are the good leaders?”)? Anyone you and the mob allow to. It’s the QUESTION that’s illustrative of your envy and fear. Why do you even entertain that question?!

    Why do you need human rulers (or “leaders”)? Because you are envious and fearful, and want some strongman to give you what you didn’t earn and soothe your fears that someone else has something you don’t, but want, but can’t get any other way. Only this makes human government a “necessary evil.”

    We DON’T “need” human rulers. There’s no such thing as a “necessary evil.” When we finally learn and believe THAT, then we will begin to live well and responsibly with ourselves and our neighbors.

    Endlessly repeating a proven error, hoping for a different (“better”) result, is the definition of insanity. Can we please stop this treadmill? Please?

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