Guest Post: Learning To Laugh At the State

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by James Miller of the Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada

Guest Post: Learning To Laugh At the State

I’ll be the first to admit the incredible aggravation I feel whenever liberty is trampled upon by the state’s obedient minions.  Everywhere you look, government has its gun cocked back and ready to fire at any deviation from its violently imposed rules of order.  A four year old can’t even open a lemonade stand without first bowing down and receiving a permit from bureaucrats obsessed with micromanaging private life.  The state’s stranglehold on freedom is as horrendous as it is disheartening.

The worst part is that the trend shows no signs of slowing down, let alone reversing.  Politicians are always developing some harebrained scheme to mold society in such a way to circumvent the individual in favor of total dictation.  If it isn’t politicians, then it’s an army of unelected bureaucrats acting as mini-dictators.  As the late Swedish economist Gustav Cassel once lectured:

The leadership of the state in economic affairs which advocates of Planned Economy want to establish is, as we have seen, necessarily connected with a bewildering mass of governmental interferences of a steadily cumulative nature. The arbitrariness, the mistakes and the inevitable contradictions of such policy will, as daily experience shows, only strengthen the demand for a more rational coordination of the different measures and, therefore, for unified leadership. For this reason Planned Economy will always tend to develop into Dictatorship

Government interference into economic affairs almost never alleviates the problem it set out to solve.  The unintended, and perhaps intended, consequences only rally more calls for further intervention.  Because of its countless edicts, the majority of people who reside in Western economies have no concept of how and why markets function as they do.  They have mistaken crony capitalism or socialism for genuine capitalism.  While mistaken, this distrust of the market has been the lifeblood of the parasitic state.

What the welfare state, with the help of compulsory public schooling, has effectively done is embedded a generation of people with the idea that government is a cornucopia so there is no need to think realistically about the future.  Suppressed interest rates, food stamps, unemployment benefits, public housing and the like are presented as cost-free.  Their purpose was to create a bloc of dependents unable to grasp the truth that government has to function off of stolen resources.  They have little understanding of the basic economic fact that production must precede consumption.  In short, government encourages collectively higher time preferences so voters can feel an immediate feeling of euphoria while saying “hell to the future.”

Indeed, for those who understand economics and the broader study of human action called praxeology, the future seems bleak.  Wars are waging around the world with more on the way.  Thanks to the continuous easy money policies of central banks, relative prices and financial incentives have been distorted to the point where the malinvestments of the last bubble can’t be liquidated before new ones start popping up.  The practice of fractional reserve banking is appearing more insolvent by the day (though it was never solvent in the first place).

With so many black clouds on the horizon, the whole situation appears hopeless at times.  To quote famed journalist H.L. Mencken

Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.

Mencken’s sentiments were as spot on in his day as they are to modern times.  Anyone who thinks morality rests upon not harming others who have done you no harm should be appalled at the degree of rising statism around the world.  That isn’t to say violent revolution is viable option of objection.  The state is widespread violence in professional form.  Politicians and bureaucrats can’t run an economy efficiently but they can see to it that mass graves are filled with corpses.

Peaceful dissent and education have proven to be effective strategies for undermining the state precisely because the ruling class hates nothing more than enlightened criticism.  This is why educating others to their virtual enslavement through such methods as pamphleteering has been clamped down upon by tyrannical regimes.  As Murray Rothbard points out,

Through a process of educating the public to the truth, they will give back to the people knowledge of the blessings of liberty and of the myths and illusions fostered by the State.

In addition to rousing the people to the truth, the opposition movement has another vital string to its bow: the unnatural lives lived by the despots and their hierarchy of favorites. For their lives are miserable and fearful and not happy. Tyrants live in constant and perpetual fear of the well-deserved hatred they know is borne them by every one of their subjects… Eventually, as enlightenment spreads among the public, the privileged favorites will begin to realize the true misery of their lot, for all their wealth can be seized from them at any moment should they fall out of step in the race for the favors of the king.

In the long run, as Ludwig von Mises always pointed out, “no government can maintain itself in power if it does not have public opinion behind it.”  Becoming knowledgeable to the degree at which you are being exploited, along with helping others do the same, is the springboard to liberty.

Almost as important is another crucial task: to laugh at the state.  Yes, it is really that simple.  Maintaining one’s sanity hinges upon finding humor within the outrageous hoops politicians and their media apologists will jump through in order to justify their actions.  Because politics attempts to circumvent economic principles, the childlike logic behind any excuse for market intervention can be incredibly easy to identify and disaffirm as pure fantasy.

For example, as Bloomberg recently reported, the British government ran a larger budget deficit than expected last May.  According to the Office of National Statistics, the budget saw a shortfall of 17.9 billion pounds while spending was up 7.9%.  Anyone able to employ the slightest bit of reason would figure the increase in spending would have something to do with the enlarged deficit.  Yet, as the Bloomberg article explains, such a deficit “may provide ammunition to the opposition Labour Party, which says the government is making the recession worse by trying to cut the deficit too quickly.”  So because an increase in government expenditures resulted in an increase in the budget deficit, more spending is required?  Talk about logical fallacy!

Or consider the recent ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union which found that the mandating of six weeks of paid vacation to Europeans also means that if a vacationer happens to get sick, he or she is legally entitled to more time off.  From the judgment:

The purpose of entitlement to paid annual leave is to enable the worker to rest and enjoy a period of relaxation and leisure,

In light of such a ruling, is it still any wonder why many European economies are still mired with high unemployment rates and liberalizing labor reforms are difficult to implement?  Who wants to be an entrepreneur when the cost of labor has been inflated so high by various government edicts?  But even though it builds upon impoverishing labor policy, the Court of Justice’s ruling is laughable for being demonstrative of the juvenile understanding held by some on the ill effects of government entitlements.

And nothing brings a heartier laugh than a good political campaign rife with ideology flip flopping and grandiose but unsubstantial campaign speeches.  For the observer that correctly views politics as a mugger’s game, the verbal gymnastics which candidates engage in to appear as of sound mind and resolute can be downright hilarious.  The U.S. presidential race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney promises to be no different.

With the Affordable Care Act a.k.a. Obamacare recently given the green light by the highest court in the land, the contest for the office of the president just got more interesting.  Back in a 2009 interview with George Stephanopoulos, President Obama made sure to point out that the individual mandate within the Affordable Care Act which forces almost all Americans to purchase health insurance was not a tax.  From the interview transcript:

STEPHANOPOULOS:  …during the campaign.  Under this mandate, the government is forcing people to spend money, fining you if you don’t. How is that not a tax?

OBAMA:  Well, hold on a second, George. Here — here’s what’s happening.  ….we’ve done everything we can and you actually can afford health insurance, but you’ve just decided, you know what, I want to take my chances.  And then you get hit by a bus and you and I have to pay for the emergency room care, that’s…

STEPHANOPOULOS:  That may be, but it’s still a tax increase.

OBAMA:  No.  That’s not true, George.  The — for us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase.

Now that the individual mandate was held up as a tax under Congress’ taxing power, the President must go on the campaign trail after breaking a 2008 campaign promise where he told middle class Americans he wouldn’t raise their taxes.  The irony being that Obamacare may end up being the biggest tax increase on the middle class in the country’s history.  It will be entertaining to see the President defend his “middle class warrior” image after the IRS hires 4,000 more agents to shakedown the American people even more than they presently are.

Even funnier is the fact that on Mitt Romney’s campaign website, he promises

to nominate judges in the mold of Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito. These justices hold dear what the great Chief Justice John Marshall called “the basis on which the whole American fabric has been erected”: a written Constitution, with real and determinate meaning.

The irony here is that it is because of Chief Justice Roberts’ siding with the liberal wing of the Court, Obamacare was upheld.  Since the Republican nomination race, Romney has lambasted the Affordable Care Act even though he passed its equivalent while Governor of Massachusetts.  Yet there are still some American voters who really believe Romney is the stalwart of limited government while he and Obama are both having their campaign chests filled by Wall Street.  What both candidates represent is the preserving of the status quo of the state acting as a beneficiary to well-established special interests.

Amusement ultimately comes in recognizing politics for what it truly is: a circus inhabited by well dressed thieves.  It puts on a show for an audience that is forced to attend and hand over a portion of their earnings to a collective pot called the “public treasury.”  The candidates are clowns who have no principles other than to disparage their opponents to the point where voters put them in office on Election Day just to avoid the other guys.  They come up with ad hoc responses to justify how to gain better access to your wallet or control your life.  Bureaucrats are more of the same as demonstrated by a woman from New Mexico who was recently jailed for failing to return a book and DVD on time to her local library or another from South Carolina who was charged $50 by the highway department for the cleaning of a bloodstain on a street after her son’s fatal car accident where he was struck and killed by a drunk driver.

These stories admittedly strike a nerve but they should be looked at as both a reason to undermine the state’s grasp on society and to show others the bumbling nature at which it operates.  Bureaucracies always tend toward following their own rules, as Gary North puts it, “to the point of absurdity.”

Mises once wrote:

Occasionally I entertained the hope that my writings would bear practical fruit and show the way for policy. Constantly I have been looking for evidence of a change in ideology. But…I have come to realize that my theories explain the degeneration of a great civilization; they do not prevent it. I set out to be a reformer, but only became the historian of decline.

The rise of totalitarianism is disheartening but it can be fought on an intellectual level through inspiring others.  In the end, if the majority of people can be swayed to vote for whatever snake oil salesman is running for political office, it is definitely possible to open their minds to liberty and to the fact that unless they are closely connected with the ruling establishment, they are being ripped off.  It is by no means an easy battle.  But as the state grows, its violent presence will only become more visible and its planning schemes more idiotic.  This is already apparent with such unproductive bureaucracies as the Transportation Security Administration.  The other day in the parking lot of my local grocery store, I saw a TSA agent leaving and shouted a not-so-pleasant remark about his employer.  As he glimpsed back at me with a confused look, I smirked knowing full well he got the message that at least someone looks down upon him for the sexually harassing, officer of brutality he is.

Yes, there are still horrific instances such as a young man being beat nearly to death at the hands of Pennsylvanian (my home state) state troopers for committing no crime besides not pulling over immediately.  But for liberty-seekers versed in sound economics and ethics, truth and morality are on your side.  Apologists for government intervention have as good of a chance of disproving the laws of supply and demand as they do of gravity.  By being armed with an understanding of the law of scarcity, you are better prepared for the future and can enjoy yourself while laughing at the endless supply of asinine proposals emanating out of the brains of politicians, their enforcers, and even those considered leading intellectuals of the day. The state, with all of its coercive power, can’t take that away.

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Abraxas's picture

"The state, with all of its coercive power, can’t take that away."

 Unfortunately, if the State is malicious enough, yes, they can take even that away. The "1984" is no longer fiction.

ACP's picture

Yup, the State can do anything it wants when it ignores the Law.

Especially with our new Warlord Government.

Poetic injustice's picture

They make laws, so your point is moot. Of course, those laws are to protect interests of state and rich, not individuals.
So you could argue they are discriminatory laws, but Supreme Court (snark snark) will find no fault in those laws.

That's why America is not greatest country in the world anymore.

ACP's picture

I wasn't actually referring to anything the Supreme Court did recently.

strannick's picture

The Ivory Tower university must receive its share of the blame for fostering the authoritarian state. It is at the university where youth are taught that academics know best, even though such ones never accomplish anything in the actual real world where things are done and consequences occur.

One would think a Central Banker should prove he can profitably manage a corner store before being given the keys to mamnons kingdom. In this academic magical fairy land, there is no truth, just lots of different equally valid truths, where everyone gets a blue ribbon for trying. Of course at the same time a progressive agenda is pushed constantly, and any deviation is ridiculed and marginallized by the self proclaimed enlightened professorial class.

 Maybe the Kyhmer Rouge got at least that right, when they sent all the uncalloused handed eggheads to the rice paddies so they could finally do something productive with themselves for the first time in their pencil necked lives.

Dr. Sandi's picture

Damned right. All that education is wasted on really stupid people.

All ANY human needs to know is how to eat, shit, sleep and kill stuff that allows them to continute to eat, shit and sleep.

Does all that education make us any better than our caveman ancestors? I say no.

Each and every one of us could certainly design and build a fuel injection system for our car without a bunch of damned education.

We could easily create a big screen TV from with native talent and stuff we have in the garage.

And of course, we could all raise enough food to feed ourselves and a thousand other people just with our own hard work, natural abilities and good looks.

Fuck book learning. It's totally useless in a world where each and every one of us on the Internet is ten times smarter than those losers who spend all their time learning how things work and trying to apply that knowledge to making the world a little better through their individual contribution to the collected knowledge of mankind.

Learning is useless and anti-American.

Let's just dismantle the wasteful, smart-assed schools.


Keep the sports teams of course.


Colonel's picture

 Nobody could have seen that housing bubble if the intelligentsia didn't see it right?

BigJim's picture

I suspect Strannick was referring to some of the 'softer' subjects - economics, political 'science', for instance - rather than those that unequivocally yield benefits to humankind (engineering, medicine, etc).

Dr. Sandi's picture

Imprecise writing is the something of something or other.

Ookspay's picture

The hardest part of being a slave is constantly being told what to do. We are all owned, bought and sold now. We will be provided necessary education, training, housing, medicine and sustenance, anything more, consider it a bonus.

CH1's picture

We are expected to play the role of defectives.

strannick's picture

Porn and drugs will probably be thrown in on the list too. And also maybe a hamster wheel for excersize which will simultaneously help power the grid.

Questan1913's picture


What an aswesome and inspiring message of hope for the future you bring to the comments section this evening!  Thank you for being at the forefront of the movement to take back America.

Ookspay's picture

"Hope"? Surely you jest. LMFAO!

Questan1913's picture


The State can only take away that which assenting individuals, such as yourself allow it to.

hedgeless_horseman's picture



Learning to laugh at the State, indeed!

By being armed with an understanding of the law of scarcity, you are better prepared for the future and can enjoy yourself while laughing at the endless supply of asinine proposals emanating out of the brains of politicians, their enforcers, and even those considered leading intellectuals of the day.

Asinine proposals?  Like nearly 1 in 5 Americans using SNAP to buy, "food," at Wal-Mart?  

Not us.  We canned peaches this weekend, went to the art museum, attended church, and exercised.  We were reminded at the art museum that governments have been behaving this exact same way for thousands of years.  I was also reminded of what happens if I eat too many peaches before running.

Ignatius's picture

HH: "We were reminded at the art museum that governments have been behaving this exact same way for thousands of years."

Ding. Ding. Ding... winner!

The perfect illustration of the value of a 'liberal' education via some art history (that's 'liberal' in the original,  broad sense of the word).

IAmNotMark's picture

Thank you for the picture and the story.

I'm laughing at the state, even if I see them for what they are. 

I'm not as self sufficent as you, and I feel the parasite on my back everytime I see my paycheck,...but I am preparing in my own way.

And I continue to enjoy my life.

mharry's picture

We're currently deluged with strawberries, raspberries are coming next. It was quaint when the neighbors projects creeped into our yard, but now it's becoming a burden. They also happen to be 10 times better than the crap at the stores. We've started freezing the ones we can't give away. The problem is you can't live on fruit alone, as you noted. I could always wander a couple of hundred yards away into the woods and murder Bambi, I guess.

This is the end's picture

I have a question for the Tylers and the ZH community. If we only had one person in Congress that would help us what - if anything - could that member do? Remember one member cannot launch an audit or an investigation of the Fed, he/she could ask Bernanke questions when he testifies before Congress. I don't know but if you had one member who would help us what would you ask them to do?


HungrySeagull's picture

Very simple.

Have them give up the large salary and perks.

Have them live as the poorest among us do.

Then go to DC and do the work they were sent to do.

That sir, is the hardest of all things.

535 against 300 million. Half of which are unfit.

hedgeless_horseman's picture



what - if anything - could that member do?

Buy a video camera and run a simple sting operation on all those that try to bribe him or her.  Remember ACORN?  It would be the most productive two years of any congressman in the history of this great nation.  The next time someone wanted to bribe a congressman, they might think twice.

mofreedom's picture

It's over, they have the bigger guns.  Gandhi or death.  Sure, Gandhi was an angry evil bastard, but he ken peace was was the way and it sure beats working and sweatin and the hunger is euphoric.

sosoome's picture

Get rid of the 16th and 17th amendments and the federal reserve act.


Ookspay's picture

Set up a Jonestown style kool-aid stand on the steps of the capital. 535 red solo cups. "Come drink my little babies, don't be afraid."

Fuck 'em all!

El's picture

I would ask them to become another Ron Paul and: refuse to deal with or accept anything from lobbyists and special interest groups; to always vote based upon Constitutional principles; to be incorruptible; and to speak out about what is going on in this country as loudly and as often as possible. To not compromise, as Rand Paul has done.

Ron Paul has been a sole voice in the wilderness for so long, and while he may not have been able to end the Federal Reserve, and while the legislation he has introduced may not have made it into law, he has most certainly been a catalyst for liberty minded folks everywhere. The numbers are growing, and I sincerely believe his comment that when the numbers reach a certain point, there will be no stopping the liberty movement. Those are the things I would ask of that one person in Congress who would help us.

booboo's picture

Just don't LOL or they might consider it interstate commerce and tax your ass with a baton.

F. Bastiat's picture

Live in truth. Eff 'em.

HungrySeagull's picture

Those who opened a Lemonade Stand in Chicago were gunned down.

They do know who did it and have arrested same.

The problem lies with Chicago and their constant working against our Constitutional Rights; of which we have little to none as we progress.

otto skorzeny's picture

at least the mob had the guts to come up and shoot you at point blank range-these punks drive by and indiscriminately hose down the crowd. Richie left Rahm a big pile of shit Rahm is just starting to sink into- not that I feel sorry for the slick little hebe. wait til this fall and the teachers go on strike- the predominately black Chi-town teacher's union vs Pocket Rahm and his pseudo-austerity budget(meaning cut everybody to the bone except the cops and firefighting heroes)

potlatch's picture

I made it as far as the lemonade stand example.  Rotary Club boiler plate.

mofreedom's picture

You laugh, you DIE where I come from, and what the hell's a peach though they look good.

rational's picture

I don't have to learn how to laugh at these ridiculous posts, it comes naturally

otto skorzeny's picture

did you watch the Penn State police vid link dumbass-it's a real eye opener.

catch edge ghost's picture

Yeah. I can't laugh though. I only oscillate between hopeless preparation and hopelessness. They have removed from me ambition, and I don't even miss it except for a moment when I wake from my dreams.

Nothing left now but some vague sense of duty to pretend to be able to protect those I love while the shithouse burns itself out.

mofreedom's picture

Blow up some of the fireworks my people made and get on with your life until we come and take you all over, in about two months.

snaphooker's picture

"There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious,makes you sick at heart,that you can't take part.You can't even passively take part." Mario Savio

This is the end's picture

But in order to get the 16th and 17th amendments repealed and the federal reserve act we would need to uncover the illegal activities of the fed. How can one member of Congress start peeling that onion? It has to start with something. I always thought it would be after a financial collapse that people would demand investigations but after 1929 and 1987 and 2008 that doesn't seem to do it. A long journey begins with one step. What could one member of Congress do?

sosoome's picture

Oh. i thought we were playing pretend. If the question is literal, see koolaid stand ^.


StychoKiller's picture

Amend EVERY bill to include an expiration date.

poor fella's picture

"If it isn’t politicians, then it’s an army of unelected bureaucrats acting as mini-dictators."

This movie (streamable on netflix) will drive you closer to the edge, I personally cannot wait for reset, this shit is out of control. The people will work it out (because they have to), but the system is damned.. IF we're lucky. - about the FDA, National Cancer Inst, and Human Health Services stealing patents while prosecuting the doctor whose work they talk down.

rotagen's picture

Laughing Buddha.  That's me.  I laugh at this piss poor generation every day and do what I can to keep myself out of the loop of insanity.  It's amazing what can be done with the right priorities and right actions.  But yes, when it comes down to something like the government forcing me to buy health insurance or take chemotherapy, that's when my guns come out.  First war americans have had worth fighting.  That's because the revolutionary war was lost at Jekkyl Island.

brodix's picture

Government is like a gun. When it's in your hands, it's good. When it's in the other guy's hands, it's bad. Life is a bitch and then you die. Grow up and quit whining. No one cares.

yochananmichael's picture

 anyone else notice the Irony of the Verizon "Suzie" commercials?

 A real Suzie could never get her business of the ground.

geekgrrl's picture

No, I missed that. I stopped paying for propaganda in 2001.

yochananmichael's picture

it's disingenuous to say that a 70 page bill inspired a 2700 page bill

jumbo maverick's picture

Yes I'm laughing. Every day I laugh at them. I am so disgusted in them that all I can do is laugh. I mean who won't laugh at a monkey fucking a football?
But there will come a time when I won't be laughing. I'll get mean then. Even if I'm the only man on the planet that gets mean I don't care. I'll get real mean and things won't be funny anymore.

Dick Gazinia's picture

I hear that.  I can hit a pumpkin at 600 yards with a .308.  I know of a few pumpkin-headed mother fuckers who are gonna have a bad day when the line gets crossed.  What am I saying?  The line got crossed and danced on years ago.  Where did I put that ammo?