The Political Class Crosses the Rubicon
by James Ostrowski by James Ostrowski
Many of us are at a loss for words to describe the significance of the billionaire banker bailout. We wish Murray Rothbard was still here to paint a vivid picture for us.
My father would teach us that swearing is what people do when they lack the ability to express themselves clearly. I plead guilty as I have been swearing like a sailor at Congress the last few days.
I can’t help but think back to Caesar and the Rubicon. I think this bailout is the modern Rubicon of the political class. This is the point of no return. As Mises taught us, this massive intervention will accelerate the amazing growth of the power, size and scope of the federal government which will soon lead to escalating and cascading crises that could bring down the regime.
One consequence of the bailout has been overlooked. It will now be impossible to argue against any new spending program that favors non-billionaires and non-millionaires. “If we bailed out Wall Street, why can’t we help __________.” You will hear that line ad nauseum until the kleptocracy collapses under the own weight of its own greed.
So, objectively, the corporate state regime has set in motion its own destruction. The subjective conditions for radical change have also been established. The radical libertarian view of the state as a gang of criminals will no longer be a hard sell. It is now apparent to any honest and thinking person not blinded by being on the dole that the corporate state is a bunch of criminals, degenerates, and hoodlums. They just pulled off the biggest armed robbery in human history right before our eyes. Worse yet, it can no longer be denied that these thugs steal from the poor and give to the rich! Since the libertarians have led the opposition to the bailout, we have in one week erased the lie that we are apologists for the rich.
The corporate state’s false god, democracy, has also suffered a mortal wound. We all know that the crooks in Congress were besieged by calls, emails, faxes and personal visits against the billionaire banker bailout. These were ignored.
Let’s be clear about what happened here. This was the greatest single outpouring of populist feeling against a bill in living memory and the Congress last week said to the American people: screw you! The people beseeched Congress not to make this mistake and the Congress responded like Caesar:
“I am constant as the northern star, Of whose true-fix’d and resting quality There is no fellow in the firmament.”
The message is clear. If we play by their rules, we will lose. If we “win,” they will just replay the game again and again until they win.
This week, the political class, drunk with hubris, crossed their own Rubicon. They had been tempted by a vision of hundreds of millions of sheep on the other side waiting to be sheared and slaughtered.
In this chess game, it’s the "sheep’s" move. I have played a little chess in my time so I suggest this move: render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s. Brutus said:
There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures.
~ Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218—224
October 6, 2008
James Ostrowski is an attorney in Buffalo, New York and author of Political Class Dismissed: Essays Against Politics, Including "What’s Wrong With Buffalo." See his website.