Government: "A Seedy Circus... Perpetually In Debt"

Tyler Durden's picture

Originally posted at Monty Pelerin's World blog,

Larsen E. Whipsnade, aka W. C. Fields

As a card-carrying curmudgeon, I have always been a fan of W. C. Fields. His pessimistic view of the human race and its foibles rivalled that of H. L. Mencken, another favorite. In 1939 W. C. Fields wrote and starred in “You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man.” Wikipedia describes the plot:

Fields plays “Larsen E. Whipsnade”, the owner of a shady carnival that is constantly on the run from the law. The whimsical title comes from a line spoken by Fields about ten minutes into the film. Whipsnade says that his grandfather Litvak’s last words, spoken “just before they sprung the trap”, were: “You can’t cheat an honest man; never give a sucker an even break, or smarten up a chump.” … The character name is obviously a play on “larceny“, a point which Fields reinforces at one point when someone calls him “Larceny Whipsnake”.

Another website, IMBd, described the storyline in this fashion: ”Larson E. Whipsnade runs a seedy circus which is perpetually in debt.” [Note, it is unclear whether the first name coined by Fields was spelled Larsen or Larson. Both appear in various places.]

A Seedy Circus Which Is Perpetually In Debt


I was struck by the latter description. Is there a better phrase to describe modern government than “a seedy circus which is perpetually in debt?” It is perfect.

Government is exhausted. It, like Whipsnade’s circus, is  out of resources, ideas and solutions. Government has painted itself into a fiscal and financial corner from which there is no escape.

As a result of its profligacy, government is no longer able to sustain itself. That is the real reason for the Fed’s quantitative easing program(s). Taxes and traditional government bond sales no longer provide enough money to run the monster. QE, more properly described as counterfeiting, is a euphemism to disguise the insolvency of the government. Without the Federal Reserve, government would have to pare down dramatically. There is not enough money to meet the levels of military spending, social spending, entitlements, debt service and other commitments.

QE was sold as a basis for stimulating the economy. While that may have been a consideration, it wasn’t as important as pretending the government was not bankrupt. Of course no economic recovery has occurred, which most anyone not infected with Statist economics (feel free to substitute Keynesian) predicted.

Government is now hopelessly indebted. It cannot honor its current debt obligations and social promises. Additional debt is issued to cover the debt service on existing debt. This practice is the equivalent of borrowing against your Visa card in order to make an American Express payment. It works for a short period, but it reflects the debt death spiral that has overtaken government. As Herbert Stein intelligently observed: “something that cannot continue will not.”

An economic Armageddon is coming. It is up to government whether this shows up in the form of fire (massive inflation) or ice (a collapse of the economy). Regardless of what the entry phase looks like, the ending is a massive Depression. The problem is beyond governance or economics. Mathematics has assumed control and mathematics is cold, unemotional and relentless.

Government is insolvent. It will ultimately dishonor many of its obligations. The longer it postpones this reckoning, the bigger the defaults will be and the greater the pain.

Larson E. Whipsnade, aka Government

fieldses (2)

Larson E. Whipsnade is now running the failing circus we call government. He is doing his best to con the people in whatever way fits his advantage. Unfortunately, this is not a comedy and our current Whipsnade is hardly a hapless, likeable con man.

Government has been reduced to a smoke-and-mirrors machine. There is little substance left (other than raw tyrannical power) and tools are limited. Those which might be beneficial are politically unpalatable and will not be used.

What we get from government is little different than the routine of the carnival barker. A major difference is the carney only grabs a portion of our wallet. Government is playing with our entire wallet and the future of our children.

Government is now a facade, with guns. It has failed miserably at governance and shifted its focus to survival. It is doing and will do whatever it perceives can enhance its survival chances. Citizens are considered mere marks to be exploited, fodder for the power class to use as they see fit.

Charles Ponzi and Bernie Madoff, two famous hucksters, were mere gnats compared to the schemes that the American public are facing. A desperate and dying dinosaur is trying to avoid its fate and it does not care what it has to do to accomplish this end. The damage it inflicts will make Ponzi and Madoff appear compassionate with respect to how they treated their victims.

George Washington had no delusions about government:

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.

Since the time of our first president government has broken virtually every restraint the Founders imposed. The Constitution is little more than a curious artifact. The Rule of Law is routinely violated and headed for the same historical graveyard. Washington could not imagine the “fearful master” we all face today.

A century-long rampage has seen government break virtually everything it touched. Every program enacted has failed in terms of original and revised goals and objectives. None have stayed within budget. Many have produced results 180 degrees from intended. Many are bankrupt in the sense that they cannot be sustained much longer. Many will be defaulted upon. Finally government has driven itself to the precarious position of so many of the programs it manages. It too is broke and unsustainable.

Government itself is broke and unsustainable. Fittingly, it has reached the same state as most of its programs.

Examples of Con Artistry

Larson E. Whipsnade is now running this failing circus and doing whatever he can to con the people. The issue is no longer whether you can cheat an honest man. The government believes, probably correctly, that they can deceive tens of millions of honest men.

To do so, government is engaged in an unusually blatant propaganda campaign. Economic recovery, so we were told, began in June of 2009. That was a lie. We still haven’t recovered and only the Great Depression took longer than this to recover from (and we are not out of this yet).  There are still 5,000,000 fewer people working today than would be considered normal yet the media echoes the government line as faithfully as Pravda once did.

Incredible statistics are routinely reported with a straight face by bureaucrats. Websites like provide information as to how this is accomplished and the gap between the reported numbers and what they consider the true numbers. Lying with numbers deliberately misleads and is a reflection of the ruthlessness of those in power. But these prevarications, while shameful, likely cause little economic harm. They are intended to keep the masses happy with whomever happens to hold office.

There is other deception in terms of price manipulation which is very harmful. I am not talking about gold price manipulation or other market fixes designed to enrich Wall Street. These are illegal and should be punished to the full extent of the law. Rather I am referring to something more subtle and devastating in its effects on the people of this country.

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akak's picture

Regarding the pic: AnAnonymous was here.

dogbreath's picture

I had a Bouvier de Flandres.  I ran out of the normal premium food I gave him and had to buy DogChow which you have to feed at more than twice the volume  .  Needless to say the volume of his turds were more than twice as big.  He would drop four+ of them piles every day. 

jbvtme's picture

eliminate the pension and the beast will die

cougar_w's picture

I think it has more to do with the actual DogChow. Obviously the beast in this case sounds like an expensive breed and irrespective of that it's a lot easier just to pick up the outputs and then work harder on the inputs than to -- as they say -- starve the beast.

CH1's picture

"Seedy Circus" is true enough, but it misses the fact that they rob every person in the tent - perpetually.

Working people are stripped of half their earnings by these pompous crooks, and yet they want to be thanked and adored for it.

dontgoforit's picture

They want to be thanked and adored BECAUSE of it.  Biden somehow comes to mind with this article, the picture part, at least.

giggler123's picture

Looks to me like someone had a happy meal and decided to leave it half finished

Slightly Insane's picture

Dogbreath - your story about turds is a hoot.  I have a Tibetian Mastiff - goes by the name "Elvis" - (my 8 yr. old named him).  This guy was just north of 85 pounds .... at Thanksgiving he gets all the left overs .... which when you cook 2 - 20# birds is alot.  My dog will eat 10 pounds of turkey scraps in one sitting .... and layout "steamers" all day long.  It's a riot.  The triptofan causes the poor guy to sleep most of the day .... he doesn't even chase the rabbits when he's that full.  Reminds me of a politician feeding at the "public trough" .... just can't get enough until he's had too much. 

dogbreath's picture

I work in the bush as we say.   I came accross a fresh wolf kill about 10 years ago..  This was in winter and our survey line passed by the site by 100 feet or so.   We smelled it first.  there was hardly anything left, a part of the skull and spine and pelvis if I remember.   The smell of  wolf shit dominated yet there wasn't the amount of turds laying around that you would expect from a wolf pack eating an entire 800 lb moose hide hair and all. 

Investor-1's picture

Global debt is the biggest problem we have and a huge treath to peace and stability in our world. That's why I own some gold and silver in the Goldrepublic vaults in Zürich. Just in case!

CaptainSpaulding's picture

That pic is definitely da schitz. Respect for the great William Claude Dunkenfield ( W.C. Fields)

Ignatius's picture

"Government is now a facade, with guns."

An apt phrase that and I can imagine 'ol WC usin'.

Slightly Insane's picture

Few commedians can rival the wit that W.C. had .... I still love watching him when I can.  What a riot!

cougar_w's picture

You can all count on one thing:

Government will not go quietly into that long night.

This is going to become all seven kinds of ugly before it is done.

Be prepared.

machineh's picture

Stick a knife in Obamacare and give it a hard twist.

cougar_w's picture

And that saves the day, right there?

You have much to learn grasshopper.

Slightly Insane's picture

I'ld rather put Obamacare on the grill at 450 F for a few hours .... then baste it in barbeque sauce and feed it to my canines.

jimmytorpedo's picture

By that I take it you mean without the 'care' portion?

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

"We have not begun to fight spite." - John Paul Jones The Elite

cougar_w's picture

Yeah. To really destroy shit takes an insane genius. Someone weened on generations of privilege, who knows the importance of status, and can look down on the other 99.99% of humanity like the maggots we are.

I've heard it said before, we have to kill them before they kill us. But they hold the media and the military in their hands, and they've already got us beat on crazy-as-bat-shit, so I don't know how that is supposed to work out.

Ignatius's picture

I just visited an old friend -- smart guy, actually -- and he thinks things are turning around.

Didn't have the heart to tell him nor the inclination to rant.

markovchainey's picture

The valve must have been sticking, huh Ignatius?  :-)

Slightly Insane's picture

It is turning around ..... like a "floater" in the turd bowl ..... circling the drain as the "flush is in progress".

Room 101's picture

Tyranny is the natural course of events.  The question is whether the tyranny is relatively benevolent or malignant. 

CH1's picture

And tyranny stops the moment that people stop obeying the tyrant.

Rulership is one gigantic Psy-Op.

dontgoforit's picture

Only to begin with the next...tyrant.

q99x2's picture

Ban guns from the UN Mercinaries (previously known as the US Military).

bluskyes's picture

The debt is caused by issuance of debt based currency. Until this is addressed, and understood by the general public, all measures / discussions are futile.

cougar_w's picture

The public?!? You mean the Wal-Mart hopping lottery-playing suburban happy motorist public? That public?

Are you even serious?

The public will never ever evar understand even the first level of money magic. That train never leaves the station ever forever.

If you've got a Plan B we'd all like to hear it.

Crisismode's picture



The debt is caused by issuance of debt based currency. This will never be addressed, nor understood by the general public, therefore all measures / discussions are futile.


Fixed it for you.


bluskyes's picture

Focus on the young people. That's what the establishment does. I give away copies of a book called: "Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?" to kids that I know.

Forget about most old people, they're a waste of time for the most part. Study history, and economics, and call bullshit whenever some stupid geezer opens their mouth and thanks governement for allowing them to breathe today.

CH1's picture

I give away copies of a book called: "Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?" to kids that I know.

On behalf of posterity: Thank you!

Kreditanstalt's picture

And THAT'S why they should be constitutionally FORCED to keep minting pennies!

cougar_w's picture

Good point. Because you put it that way I hope they do.

grunion's picture

Demean the working, make fun of the poor. Your hubris destroys any semblance of what credibility you may have had. A quite limited amount I might add.

Bitch, bitch, bitch. So say something righteous or constructive or even toss a bit of advice for the less informed. but your racket just reminds one of Bill Maher. All blah, blah. No solutions.

I suspect you just enjoy seeing your mindless ranting in print.

Perhaps you like to think you are correctly identifying the culprits but your motives are a mystery and the whole schtick is annoying.

Not understanding "magic money" is not a crime (legal or moral) and can be remedied with a little education.

A lot of nasty words could accurately describe your attitude and I think you might have a future with the Royal Presidency as another of his character assassin minions.

cougar_w's picture

I'm sorry you found it offensive. Although offence might have been the point. This is fight club, after all.

But if you did find it genuinely offensive then you might enjoy some of my fiction. My characters (a humanoid tigress and a humanoid computer) are not "every man" but they embody elements of the human experience as I have seen it over the years.

They are the working poor trying to live in a hostile environment. They are lost and sometimes don't know what to do. They are at best ignored but just as often find themselves subject to casual abuses. However they happen to be incalculably powerful and while one of them is technically the destroyer of the human world she doesn't want to do it, really worries about that, has already done it too many times, and has decided to keep her destructive impulses checked.

People are like that. Sometimes we destroy everything on accident and sometimes we work hard to preserve important things. Our failures emerge most often when we fail to apply the proper amounts of sensible animal instincts and rigorous mathematical logic.

People need to wake up to what it really means to be human.

dontgoforit's picture

There ain't no fuckin' Plan B - that's the point, coug - what's your Plan B?  Guns, ammo and head for the hills?  (no wait, that's actually MY Plan B.)

cougar_w's picture

Not head for the hills, no.

Mine is the Plan B of historical jujitsu: wait for the fall -- help create the fall if you can -- and when the fall starts move forward with as much leverage as you can and fall the thing over a cliff.

jimmytorpedo's picture

I was going for a witty reply but after reading cougars post was ashamed of myself.

but my plan 'A' is guns, ammo and some scuba tanks.

malikai's picture

The problem is beyond governance or economics. Mathematics has assumed control and mathematics is cold, unemotional and relentless.


cougar_w's picture

If mathematics was actually in control we would be 100% confident of the outcome and I for one would sit back and relax.

Except mathematics is not in control at all. Not even a little bit. In fact I heard Mathematics was taken out behind the garage and shot at dawn along with his co-conspirators MarkToMarket and TheRuleOfLaw.

We are off the edge of the map now. Except for the laws of physics the world is become utterly lawless. And frankly I'm a little worried for the continued reign of physics. I think these fuckers are gonna try and become gods immune to natural law. I'm serious. They are showing signs of crawling insanity.

It is very troubling. The roads to any proper way out are all behind us, and every escape ahead seems only more desperate than the last. I am now entirely resigned to the prospect that humanity will take no side road to any kind of solution however late or ill-considered but will stubbornly run itself right over a cliff and into 1,000 years of relentless grief.

What a ride. Crap.

Crisismode's picture



Just think of the current state of affairs as comparable to Rome around 400 AD.

After the fall, that abyss took a helluva long time to crawl out of.


newworldorder's picture

RE: cougar_w


You are correct. At a practical matter, the country is ungovernable in what passed for governance up to about 1990. The tipping point was passed when we hit the "deficits do not matter and the spread the wealth" mantras. The rest of the world will go along for we have the two most powerfull enteties the world needs.

A money printing/money swapping FED and the US Navy, able to keep the commerce/oil lanes open.


Kreditanstalt's picture

MAINTAINING CONFIDENCE.  The public has to lose confidence in the system and the currency for any real change to occur and withhold legitimacy from government - not "this party" or "that party", but big government itself....and THAT isn't happening. 

Even though living standards keep falling but...boiled frog syndrome...

dontgoforit's picture

Boilded frog is a good analogy.  It's a 'con' game after all!