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Short-Term Palliatives And The 5 Terrible Tendencies Of Government

Tyler Durden's picture





 

Excerpted from Seth Klarman's Baupost 2012 Letter to investors,

Absent an immediate crisis - and sometimes in the face of one - governments will often struggle to meet great challenges. Michael Boskin, former chairman of George H. W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors, recently described five tendencies of governments that should sound familiar. They include:

(1) Waiting until forced to act, often too late and with great harm;

(2) Systematically ignoring long-run costs to provide short-term benefits;

(3) Trying unsuccessfully to circumvent the laws of economics;

(4) Ignoring the laws of arithmetic, selectively counting some effects while excluding others; and

(5) Enacting programs or spending money in a crisis or boom where especially large unintended consequences become apparent only when the economy returns to normal.

This is a truly damning indictment of government arrogance, ineptitude, and overreach in the economy and beyond.

The short-term palliatives we are currently pursuing go against everything a long-term oriented society should aspire to achieve. Today’s policies encourage spending over saving, reward the profligate over the prudent, and support the failing at the expense of the successful. The antidote now being dispensed puts us squarely in uncharted territory in which the risks are outside the range of historical experience. There is no obvious exit and no path to normalcy.

Growing entitlements are popular with voters and with those whom they elect, for obvious reasons: because the bill never seems to come due. But come due it will. According to the law of economics named after the late economist and author Herbert Stein, if something cannot go on forever, it will stop. The result, which we are beginning to see already, is an acrimonious debate that divides rather than unites. Instead of efforts to expand the national pie through large investments in scientific and medical research and repair or replacement of our crumbling infrastructure, for example, we waste our breath bickering over the fairness of how we will share a flat-to-shrinking one.

Our spending is completely out of control, and, as of now, it seems as if the situation will have to become calamitous before we act. Let’s hope that it won’t then be too late.

 


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Thu, 01/31/2013 - 14:30 | Link to Comment unrulian
unrulian's picture

(6) Enriching themselves and their families

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 14:39 | Link to Comment Ahmeexnal
Thu, 01/31/2013 - 14:54 | Link to Comment ACP
ACP's picture

(7) What's that? A photo depicting the destruction of the White House? Looks like a terrorist threat to me!!!

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 20:58 | Link to Comment mightycluck
mightycluck's picture

I was reading the IRS opinion on Bronze insurance premiums costing $20,000 for a family of 5. And found this acidic opinion. The links look real, so I assume it is accurate.

http://confoundedinterest.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/the-costly-bronze-pol...

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 16:18 | Link to Comment Solon the Destroyer
Solon the Destroyer's picture

The one thing Government will plan long term for is its continued existence, if not growth...

Professor Fekete has a new article up this week providing an alternate explanation as to why Germany is repatriating its gold.  He also asks why the US still has bases in Germany and speculates that the bullion is so slowly heading back not because of their own citizens' demands... but at the urging of the USA!

http://www.professorfekete.com/articles/AEFAmericanBasesGermanyGoldBasis.pdf

 

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 22:27 | Link to Comment EscapingProgress
EscapingProgress's picture

"When a self-governing people confer upon their government the power to take money from some and give it to others, the process will not stop until the last bone of the last taxpayer is picked bare." - Kershner's First Law

"Throughout history periods of sound money have been marked by moral advance and prosperity. Conversely, periods of unsound money have been accompanied by moral decline." - Kershner's Second Law

Mon, 02/04/2013 - 01:14 | Link to Comment jonjon831983
jonjon831983's picture

Just read it... interesting view.

 

The US wants the gold to go back to Germany as a final line of defence to have Germany sell off the gold and keep the gold prices lower.

The flip side in the article is if Germany decides to do a Gold DM against the wishes of US.  a la the unannounced creation of the DM post-WW2.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 14:30 | Link to Comment PSEUDOLOGOI
PSEUDOLOGOI's picture

(0) Enriching themselves and their families

fixed it for ya!

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 14:42 | Link to Comment francis_sawyer
francis_sawyer's picture

EXTREMELY operative word... 'families'... [Hardly anyone on ZH quite 'grasps' that concept because they're too busy fulfilling their FIRST life ambition of wanting to TEACH THE WORLD TO SING]...

~~~

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ib-Qiyklq-Q

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 14:59 | Link to Comment otto skorzeny
otto skorzeny's picture

we're still living with the results of the "do whatever it takes to makes you feel good" 70's

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 15:25 | Link to Comment francis_sawyer
francis_sawyer's picture

youda thought the'd have died from COKE INHALATION by now...

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 16:50 | Link to Comment zebrasquid
zebrasquid's picture

Right ohhnn..

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 14:30 | Link to Comment JustPrintMoreDuh
JustPrintMoreDuh's picture

Silly ... it is already too late.  Enjoy the freak show.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 15:00 | Link to Comment kralizec
kralizec's picture

Popcorn ready.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 14:32 | Link to Comment Chupacabra-322
Chupacabra-322's picture

(1) Existing

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 14:32 | Link to Comment q99x2
q99x2's picture

This is not the time or place for hope.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 14:31 | Link to Comment traderjoe
traderjoe's picture

It's already too late. We have passed the event horizon.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 14:40 | Link to Comment ebworthen
ebworthen's picture

"Let’s hope that it won’t then be too late."

Too late.

The U.S.S.A has been on this path since 1913, and FDR.

Reduce entitltments?  Not a chance.  Sorry, you taxed me for over 30 years, you can't move the goal posts or pull the rug out from under me - especially not after bailing out Wall Street.  No way.

And, try and reduce food stamps and welfare and medicare and see what happens when millions upon millions of youth and their families are hungry, cold, and sick or dying. 

Crossed the Rubicon we have; sold out to China for the sake of mammon lusters in Wall Street and professional Mandarins in Washington D.C.

TOO LATE.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 16:37 | Link to Comment Totentänzerlied
Totentänzerlied's picture

"Reduce entitltments?  Not a chance.  Sorry, you taxed me for over 30 years, you can't move the goal posts or pull the rug out from under me - especially not after bailing out Wall Street.  No way."

When it comes to government, the concept of "fairness" only works one way, from you to it. When the government disburses "benefits" it is giving you a gift. It can, and will, stop this gift-giving, whenever the incremental benefit to state power no longer justifies the cost of buying off the plebs. You don't get to tell the state what to do.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 16:43 | Link to Comment ebworthen
ebworthen's picture

Until the corrupt state collapses in on itself; that's the point.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 14:36 | Link to Comment Manthong
Manthong's picture

One of my favorite sci-fi movie scenes.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 14:38 | Link to Comment unrulian
unrulian's picture

I have a love/hate relationship with the ZH targeted ads...love the hot chicks, gold/silver, tactical gear ads....but damn, they know me better than i know myself.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 14:46 | Link to Comment CommunityStandard
CommunityStandard's picture

Your browsing and shopping history determines your ads.  I have climbing gear ads right now since I go rock climbing and was looking up hangboards the other day.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 15:02 | Link to Comment Handyman
Handyman's picture

Firefox ad blocker plugin.

Makes it easier to check ZH at work without the babes on the screen.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 15:05 | Link to Comment Dr. Richard Head
Dr. Richard Head's picture

And I have guitar tuners that allow for calibration of Hertz to 432Hz as opposed to 440Hz. 

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 14:53 | Link to Comment otto skorzeny
otto skorzeny's picture

mine are identical-doppelganger?

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 16:13 | Link to Comment flattrader
flattrader's picture

Firefox Add On Ghostery stops the ad crap and tracking effectively.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 16:39 | Link to Comment eaglerock
eaglerock's picture

Must be why I get the ads for Low T pills!

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 20:40 | Link to Comment Bohm Squad
Bohm Squad's picture

Don't ever shop for hardwood flooring...lookin' into that adblocker thing.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 14:38 | Link to Comment Whiner
Whiner's picture

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.
Alexander Fraser Tytler
What's the disappointing surprise? Invest with history. It rhymes and repeats. The 5000 year currency is a good start. Shorting bond for a time will work. Big pantry. Firearms. AG stocks. A little pile of UTES.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 15:46 | Link to Comment TotalCarp
TotalCarp's picture

Spot on. Democracy turned out to be impediment to liberty! Who would have thunk?!?

In all seriousness it is almost comical how the events are unfolding, as you point out history certainly rhymes. You been reading armstrongeconomics lately?

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 16:40 | Link to Comment Totentänzerlied
Totentänzerlied's picture

"Spot on. Democracy turned out to be impediment to liberty! Who would have thunk?!?"

/////////SARC/////////

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 19:57 | Link to Comment falak pema
falak pema's picture

the best form of liberty in that mindframe is : Julius Caesar; super efficient and VERY free; but just HE! 

No place for other man's freedom there. Your mindset represents the type of person who will learn history the hard way...

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 14:40 | Link to Comment hawk nation
hawk nation's picture

That the great thing about prepping and properly hedging with pm's there's no reason to fear the future

I personally am looking forward to going back to our founding principals

 

all these fucking beurorats and politicians wont show up when there is no money to plunder

 

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 14:44 | Link to Comment Joe Davola
Joe Davola's picture

The landscape (literally and figuratively) will look much different before we can return to our founding principals.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 14:57 | Link to Comment A Lunatic
A Lunatic's picture

There's nothing stopping you from "going back to the founding principles" right now. In fact if more people were to do so, perhaps there could be some form of resolution, rather than the revolution we are facing.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 15:05 | Link to Comment CH1
CH1's picture

the great thing about prepping and properly hedging with pm's...

Yes, but never leave "good friends and neighbors" off your list. Or good communications.

Really.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 14:52 | Link to Comment Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture

6) Causing a crisis so that they can later solve.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 14:54 | Link to Comment otto skorzeny
otto skorzeny's picture

until they can't solve it-humans are a fickle tribe

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 14:56 | Link to Comment otto skorzeny
otto skorzeny's picture

I prefer  a variation in German "Abrecht Macht Frei"- will be seen as you enter FEMA camps

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 15:04 | Link to Comment Poetic injustice
Poetic injustice's picture

"Arbeit macht frei".

Untershrift: Grammarnazi.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 15:12 | Link to Comment otto skorzeny
otto skorzeny's picture

sorry about the typo Adolf

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 15:21 | Link to Comment Joe Davola
Joe Davola's picture

Didn't there used to be a commenter named "Arbitrage Macht Frei"

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 15:01 | Link to Comment Kalki
Kalki's picture

(1) Waiting until forced to act, often too late and with great harm;

(2) Systematically ignoring long-run costs to provide short-term benefits;

(3) Trying unsuccessfully to circumvent the laws of economics;

(4) Ignoring the laws of arithmetic, selectively counting some effects while excluding others; and

 

1+2+3+4 can be sumarized with: Going against natural law.

 

Kalki

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 15:00 | Link to Comment davidsmith
davidsmith's picture

Uh, isn't this the very blah blah blah causing people to stop reading ZH?  Post RESEARCH, not POLEMICS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 15:03 | Link to Comment Dr. Richard Head
Dr. Richard Head's picture

The conclusion at the end is a statist argument at its best.  "Instead of efforts to expand the national pie through large investments in scientific and medical research and repair or replacement of our crumbling infrastructure, for example, we waste our breath bickering over the fairness of how we will share a flat-to-shrinking one."  This is a misnomer and slight of hand trick statists tend to play.  They state the problems with outright authority and then stick in the idea that government somehow has the answer.  If the government would just invest their stolen loot the right way is the common refrain. 

I call bullshit.

The main core problem of this country is the idea that a collective group of boobs in some big fucking pretty building has the ability to allocate debt in the right areas of the economy instead of letting individual choices prevail.  The government is in the business of finding the most profitable areas of the economy and stripping resources off of it in order to give it to their friends.  The platitutdes that are devoted to the reasoning behind this investment and that investment misses the core problem of central planning and allows for the plebes to fight amongst themselves as to where the stolen loot should go. 

Divide and conquer, along with the "look over here" argument.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 15:09 | Link to Comment CH1
CH1's picture

Well said, Doc.

Thanks.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 15:14 | Link to Comment Joe Davola
Joe Davola's picture

Where's this building with the group of pretty boobs in it?

Oh, damn dyslexia acting up again.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 15:21 | Link to Comment Chupacabra-322
Chupacabra-322's picture

@ Dr. Dick Head,

Translated:

FASCISM.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 19:49 | Link to Comment falak pema
falak pema's picture

why don't you begin at the beginning : One man one vote elects government. The people who then sit and decide in name of people who voted them in. Its called democracy and its called republic.

If that doesn't work then the people relect better ones...etc. Etc. If that doesn't work then its the end of demo and rep...its called dictatorship, oligarchy of fascism or whatever. There is NO reason that a republic in this day and age goes back there; to dictatorship...No reason, if the people want it to stay as republic...Take back the government of the people, people! 

Don't JUNK the republic and democracy! The collective boobs ARE the people...wake up!

If the US feels the people do not have the right, or the ability,  to elect its leaders then its over; you are back to the age of feudalism.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 15:06 | Link to Comment Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

"......it seems as if the situation will have to become calamitous before we act."

Don't look now, but we are already there. The actions of the Fed and the politicians are just an attempt to cover up this fact.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 15:06 | Link to Comment Cortez
Cortez's picture

(6) It's 6am on a Sunday morning and our economy can't find anymore cocaine. 

What's next?

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 15:19 | Link to Comment Dr. Richard Head
Dr. Richard Head's picture

Blow jobs in exchange for more cocaine?

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 16:47 | Link to Comment Cortez
Cortez's picture

The economy already gave out several "blow jobs" in exchange for cocaine.  The bubbles over the past decade were the "blow jobs."  Since 2009, Bernanke is basically mainlining cocaine right into the economy's "vein" using QE.

What's next? 

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 15:16 | Link to Comment Racer
Racer's picture

"former chairman of George H. W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors"

Why the hell didn't he DO something when he had the chance instead of empty words now!

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 15:49 | Link to Comment falak pema
falak pema's picture

here is one tendancy in local government that seems to be working  : Governor Moonbean shines! 

It seems to be working and it ain't libertarian policy :

S&P California Bond Rating Upgrade - Business Insider

Fri, 02/01/2013 - 00:05 | Link to Comment Stuck on Zero
Stuck on Zero's picture

Why this arbitrary number of five?  ZHers can increase that to 50 by lunch.

 

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 16:00 | Link to Comment earleflorida
earleflorida's picture

to late... war is already knocking in/down humanities backdoor!

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 16:56 | Link to Comment Totentänzerlied
Totentänzerlied's picture

(1) Waiting until forced to act, often too late and with great harm"

This is totally fantastical delusional bullshit. The author obviously thinks his audience is comprised of morons.

The state acts to further its own interests: self-preservation and growth.

The author's implicit minor premise is that the government, concerning its citizens' welfare, is "well-meaning but inept".

No. The government, as the chief instrument of state power, may find that its best interests happen to involve things which benefit, or may seem to benefit, the citizenry. That is the only connection.

E.G.: Setting up a social safety net to prevent revolutions and implement social programs intended to modify, ultimately, the society itself.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 18:20 | Link to Comment madcows
madcows's picture

1. Corruption

2. Graft.

3. Egotism.

4.  Arrogance.

5.  Power-hungry

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 20:30 | Link to Comment are we there yet
are we there yet's picture

All governments grow until some outside force stops them or they over consume their tax base. Alll governements grow in size, power, and corruption, until they can't.

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 20:35 | Link to Comment SKY85hawk
SKY85hawk's picture

Colin Lokey gave zero-hedge credit for the 'Components of GDP by quarter - revised'  in http://seekingalpha.com/article/1145711-reality-bites-economy-begins-to-...

Adding up the 6 componets does total -.17%, I think that is wrong.  Anyone that remembers high school algebra KNOWS you can’t add individual percentages and get a valid %-change. 
One must add up the multiple components for Last-month and This-month and then calculate %-change on the Total. 
Do you have the underlying numbers that the gummint used? 
The real GDP change might be very interesting!

Fri, 02/01/2013 - 12:13 | Link to Comment JeffB
JeffB's picture

And those with the resources and the inclination can rather easily take advantage of those tendencies to bring about societal changes they desire, such as perhaps a New World Order.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-01-31/guest-post-linchpin-lie-how-global-collapse-will-be-sold-masses

 

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!