Late Night Open Thread: Consider The Jerkstore

The Way We Live Now, circa 2012, via Nick Paumgarten, in the New Yorker:

The Jerkstore opened for business during the Bush-Gore Presidential race. It’s an e-mail chain started by a prison-lock magnate in the Midwest, an adherent of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, who felt that our representatives in Washington had lost sight of fundamental free-market principles. He liked to compare the United States (flatteringly) to the Roman Empire, and to call anyone who disagreed with him, including Barack Obama, “economically illiterate.” …

The campaign seemed to be following a Carter-Reagan script. He predicted a landslide for Romney. On Election Day, he had half a dozen steak-dinner bets in hand. As night fell, and the counting began, he wrote, gleefully, “It’s morning in America!” Then he went silent. The night ended with a dispatch: “The people have spoken. I tried.” And then: “I’m crying.”…
*****

The man at the bar began to tick off reasons that a guy in his line of work might not greet a second Obama Administration with enthusiasm: for starters, there was the likelihood of higher taxes, greater regulation, and fiscal-cliff procrastination, and therefore of less money, in the short run, and economic Armageddon, in the long run. He wasn’t averse to paying higher taxes—and found it “ridiculous” that Romney got away with paying only fourteen per cent. (“Still, it’s legal.”) “Nobody cares about the difference between thirty-six and thirty-nine per cent, if that extra three per cent goes to the right things,” he said. “But we’ve spent six trillion dollars and don’t have one building to show for it that you can hang anyone’s name on.”

Truly, a tiny parable for our imperfect era. For what shall it profit a Jerk, if an economic meltdown is averted and millions of lives made better, yet there is no plinth to elevate someone’s narcissism?

63 replies
  1. 1
    BGinCHI says:

    First they came for the jerks, and I said go ahead….

  2. 2
    jl says:

    Was that man at the bar The Donald?

  3. 3
    slackerjax says:

    Insert Ozmandias comment here…

  4. 4
    Soonergrunt says:

    Nobody cares about the difference between thirty-six and thirty-nine per cent, if that extra three per cent goes to the right things doesn’t go to the wrong people,” he said.

    Edited for truthfulness.

  5. 5
    Felonius Monk says:

    I did go and read the whole article. They still sound like a bunch of useless jerk-offs to me. What an old friend mine use to refer to collectively as the Masturbators of America.

  6. 6
    Warren Terra says:

    “But we’ve spent six trillion dollars and don’t have one building to show for it that you can hang anyone’s name on.”…

    It is I suppose worth pointing out that – contrary to what he said, and contrary to what seems to be the popular belief – the stimulus paid for an awful lot of buildings and other projects we can be proud of. That’s a link to a subscriber-only article in Harper’s, but the main points are that (1) we got an awful lot of good infrastructure from the stimulus, and (2) a failure of branding means that Obama gets virtually no credit for it.

  7. 7
    Another Halocene Human says:

    Aren’t the Austrians a bad joke by now?

    Loved SKYFALL.

  8. 8
    Mark S. says:

    I read the article and I still don’t have any fucking clue who this guy is, or why I should care.

  9. 9
    weichi says:

    A Hayek-and-Friedman-loving *prison lock* magnate? Seriously?

  10. 10

    …yes. I think that’s the unifying element I see in the bizarre non-arguments of this article. Helping people does not exist to them. It’s not even that the money is spent on the wrong folks. Spending money to help others is throwing money away, to them.

  11. 11
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Six trillion? Where did that number come from?

  12. 12
    Yutsano says:

    @FlipYrWhig: His butt, would be my guess.

  13. 13
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Yutsano: Maybe he’s taking the annual budget deficit for each year and adding the stimulus?

  14. 14

    @FlipYrWhig:
    I’m guessing ‘the deficits of Obama’s entire presidency so far’. Season lightly with Wingnut Myths for that total, but it’s not wildly off. The GOP have done their level best to prevent the budget from being balanced, after all.

  15. 15
    slag says:

    @Warren Terra: In the early days, I saw tons of signs around construction and other sites that indicated they received funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. I was at a theatrical performance that credited the ARRA as one of its sponsors (to the raucous cheers of the crowd, I might add).

    Unless you live in an alternate universe, you have to know that the ARRA benefitted you in some way. The problem appears to be that many of us are living in an alternate universe.

  16. 16
    burnspbesq says:

    He’s probably right for all the wrong reasons, but the guy has a semblance of a valid point. The trillions of dollars we pissed away in Afghanistan and Iraq didn’t fix any potholes, upgrade any of our power grid or water-supply infrastructure, make any power plants run cleaner, buy any computers for any schools, etc., etc.

  17. 17
    Bruuuuce says:

    @burnspbesq: The trillions of dollars we pissed away in Afghanistan and Iraq didn’t fix any potholes, upgrade any of our power grid or water-supply infrastructure, make any power plants run cleaner, buy any computers for any schools, etc., etc.

    How do we know? Maybe that’s EXACTLY what the thieves who stole the pallets of cash in Iraq did with it.

    ::washes mouth out for even thinking that::

  18. 18
    El Cid says:

    I for one think we could build a pretty fucking impressive building for six trillion dollars. But whose name would go on it?

  19. 19
    Ruckus says:

    @slag:
    Unless you live in an alternate universe, you have to know that the ARRA benefitted you in some way. The problem appears to be that many of us are living in an alternate universe.

    I believe the real reason is that it must be hard to have forward vision with one’s head stuck up their ass. It is after all why conservatives are always looking backwards.

  20. 20
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    A freedom-loving libertarian who helps keep people in prison! i think that itself could be the punchline.

    And you know the saddest thing of all? Saying that a 3% tax increase would not be that big a deal would pretty much disqualify him from holding office as a Republican, as soon as the Club for Growth caught up to him.

  21. 21
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @El Cid:

    But whose name would go on it?

    Reagan, of course.

  22. 22
    Warren Terra says:

    @slag:
    I saw the signs too. The problems are:
    (1) The signs adorned construction projects, not construction results – so even if people noticed the signs when the work was ongoing, they’ll soon forget because the work is over and there are no significant signs on the buildings.
    (2) There was some thematic unity to the WPA construction projects, so that even today you can look at a school or a library and recognize it for a likely WPA product. The Stimulus projects were completely varied and bear no such recognizable fingerprint.

  23. 23
    burnspbesq says:

    @Bruuuuce:

    ::washes mouth out for even thinking that::

    Sheesh. The only man standing between us and the end of civilization as we know it is Max Wittek, and you’re going there?

  24. 24
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @burnspbesq: Who’s Max Wittek?

  25. 25
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    an adherent of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, who felt that our representatives in Washington had lost sight of fundamental free-market principles.

    Well, there’s your problem. Adam Smith would disown those two asshats.

  26. 26
    Bruuuuce says:

    @burnspbesq:

    The only man standing between us and the end of civilization as we know it is Max Wittek

    I cannot tell you how unbelievably grateful I am that you didn’t say “Tim Tebow” there.

    Now, if you’d said Rasheed Wallace…

  27. 27

    Anyone else remember “Around The Plynth” by the Faces? Some nasty slidework on that one.

  28. 28
    wasabi gasp says:

    @El Cid: Anatoliĭ Lъudьvigovich Bzyp (formerly Horrendo Slapp, Jimperson Zibb, Duncan Dönitz, Otto Graf von Pfmidtnöchtler-Pízsmőgy, Mumphrey, et al.)

  29. 29
    freelancer says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    Loved SKYFALL.

    Saw it today, thought it was decent. I just have realized, I do not like Bond movies. They jump around the place too damn much, the maguffins are usually meaningless, and it’s all a bit too slick. It is seriously just me, I’m sure, but even a great Bond movie like this or Goldeneye, Goldfinger, The Man with the Golden Gun, etc; they can be entertaining, but mostly I’m bored stiff. Give me Bourne or Tinker, Tailor any day over Ian Fleming.

    Not a hater, just realized that even though Skyfall was okay, yet universally lauded by Bond lovers, the series is not my cup of tea and I don’t think it ever has been.

  30. 30
    Elizabelle says:

    @wasabi gasp:

    very funny.

    Did you see “The Dust Bowl”? I missed about an hour; checking PBS site now.

    Forgot that Kansas and Oklahoma share a border. What a sad place.

  31. 31
    MikeJ says:

    @Elizabelle: Watching the 10pm airing now. Pretty good. Pity that people in KS and TX are gonna have to live through all that again.

    I liked the chalkboard gag on the Simpsons tonight. “I want to secede but I don’t know what state I’m in.”

  32. 32

    @Bob In Portland:

    Love the Faces with Rod Stewart and loved that song. Back in high school when I was teaching myself to play slide, I could do a fair cover of it.

  33. 33
    Alison says:

    @Elizabelle: Just finished watching it, and damn. I mean, I knew a little about it, as we all do from history classes and The Grapes of Wrath and such, but as with so many elements of our past I had no idea how little I really knew. Just gutting and awful – the stories about little kids dying from lung infections, and the cattle being killed off en masse…lordy.

  34. 34
    TheMightyTrowel says:

    OT: It’s taken an Ivy League BA, an MA and PhD from Oxbridge two post docs and a year as tenured faculty at a major international research university but I have finally FINALLY figured out how to make box and whisker plots in excel.

    God my life is boring.

  35. 35
    mandarama says:

    @El Cid:

    I for one think we could build a pretty fucking impressive building for six trillion dollars. But whose name would go on it?

    Tony Stark’s?

    What. O’Reilly wants to pretend Ward and June once existed; I can have some Avengers.

  36. 36
    👽 Martin says:

    @Warren Terra: We should at least name the US Embassy in Baghdad after George Bush. That was roughly 1/3 of that $6T right there. Seems the least we could do.

  37. 37
    👽 Martin says:

    @TheMightyTrowel: Nah. Excel just completely sucks ass.

  38. 38
    MikeJ says:

    @TheMightyTrowel: If you’d like to use SPSS instead of excel the plot is pretty easy.

    Of course SPSS itself has made more than one undergrad[1] gouge his eyes out, so it’s a trade off.

    [1] generally just sociology students though.

  39. 39
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @TheMightyTrowel: Now that fine education has provided one thing that mine did not, WTF is a “box and whisker plot”. At first I thought it was two graph types, a Google search disabused me of this and once I saw an example, it was “Oh, that’s what they call those plots”.

  40. 40
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @MikeJ: SPSS? APL is more fun.

    ETA: I still think I’ve got my old SPSS manuals.

  41. 41
    Jay S says:

    Consider the Jerkstore

    … they toil not, neither do they spin? That can’t be right, can it?

  42. 42
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @freelancer: I don’t like the old movies. Even when entertaining they’re hateful. And I don’t like the books.

    But this was a nice slick piece of entertainment with some damn nice aesthetically pleasing shots, which most action movies these days don’t bother with. IMO, I got my money’s worth.

    Also, Bond’s automatic weapons fire shield is pretty damn entertaining.

  43. 43
    balconesfault says:

    @Warren Terra: Yep – no centralized Federal Government control over the projects – no unified theme.

    Then again, what would a Kenyan socialist post-modern building look like?

  44. 44
    TheMightyTrowel says:

    @MikeJ: SPSS… shudder.

  45. 45
    JohnK says:

    “I truly thought (and how wrong I was) that Ronald Reagan with Milton Friedman had sunk the decisive stake into the Keynesian brain trust in the 1980’s. But nope. These Keynesians are like the Zombies in ‘Night of the Living Dead.’ There are millions of them walking around spewing their government spending/stimulus nonsense.”

    They are doing it wrong, I blame Krugman.

  46. 46
    Comrade Nimrod Humperdink says:

    This is only vaguely related to the thread, but I just saw this via Wonkette, and would like to know when our esteemed Ms Cracker will be rushing out to get one. Words. I don’t have any.

  47. 47
    bjacques says:

    @Comrade Nimrod Humperdink: Where are the rotating knives? But I’m sure you can make something like this for a couple of thousand, tops.

  48. 48
    Joel says:

    These guys really are high functioning morons. But alas…

  49. 49
    Randy P says:

    I’m glad to see the love for Skyfall here on BJ. I haven’t seen it, but I love Daniel Craig and I get the impression in the wider world that makes me somewhat of an oddball. I thought “Cowboys and Aliens” was a lot of fun, especially when both he and Harrison Ford were both onscreen brooding at each other.

  50. 50
    Baud says:

    But we’ve spent six trillion dollars and don’t have one building to show for it that you can hang anyone’s name on.

    The minute Obama leaves office in January 2017, I’m starting a petition to change the name of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to Barack Obama Washington National Airport.

    Just cuz I like seeing wingnuts go apeshit…

  51. 51
    Schlemizel says:

    @Baud:

    ARE YOU KIDDING? Do you have any idea how much money it would cost to rename an airport? Why, St. Ronald would be rolling over in is grave at such a needless expense as renaming an airport, simply wasting the peop . . .

    Oh why do I bother talking to you people when all you do is point at me and laugh?

  52. 52
    kay says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    No, they’re just morons, but they’re not alone. They never put it together. They never put together massive unemployment and extended unemployment benefits and increased food stamps (and food stamp rolls) and more people on Medicaid and “money spent”. They don’t understand what “safety net” means.

    They saw it in action, but they’re too dumb to put it together.

    I sometimes think Obama and Congress should have allowed bread lines to form, because apparently people are too fucking stupid to realize that it isn’t 1935 and we HAD the safety net in place. They need to SEE suffering or the money was “wasted”.

    What do they think happened to people when it went to 17% unemployment? Where do they think the aid came from? It came from funding safety net programs.

  53. 53
    WereBear says:

    I’m reminded of the shift I made, moving from working with giant corporations in NYC to small, owner run companies on Long Island.

    Inevitably, the owner would be a male blowhard who was in the right place, at the right time, with some relative’s money. Deep down, they knew they were not the Galtian Geniuses they liked to think of themselves as; and the more they knew that, the more they were desperate to act as though it were so.

  54. 54
    Kirbster says:

    @Elizabelle:

    I watched part one of “The Dust Bowl” last night as well. It looks remarkably like the History Channel documentary “Worst Hard Time,” based on the book of the same name by Timothy Egan. In fact, Mr. Egan is one of the commentators on “The Dust Bowl,” and I swear I’ve seen many of the elderly interviewees on the other program too. Of course, being a Ken Burns/PBS project means that “The Dust Bowl” will be seen by a much larger audience.

  55. 55
    Sly says:

    I’m sure we can find tons of shit named after Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms, and John Eastland to rechristen before we get to Washington National Airport.

    And the U.S.S. Barack H. Obama (CVN-74) certainly comes first.

  56. 56
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    No buildings to show for it? I guess he hasn’t seen the new US Embassy in Baghdad.

  57. 57

    @freelancer:
    Whether that’s good or bad, the Bond series has become exactly the thing the books parodied.

    @MikeJ:
    Your comment confuses me, maybe because I haven’t seen the show. Are you suggesting there’s going to be another Dust Bowl, perhaps due to global warming? There isn’t. It was the product of bad agricultural practices we’ve stopped doing, not drought.

  58. 58
    Taylor says:

    @Schlemizel:

    ARE YOU KIDDING? Do you have any idea how much money it would cost to rename an airport?

    He didn’t serve. How would he know?

    /snark

  59. 59
    Patricia Kayden says:

    You are very funny, Anne. Great post, but I had to smile at the part where the Jerk first predicted a Romney landslide, then went silent and then wrote, “I’m crying”.

    I was crying too on Election Night, but alas, mine were tears of joy. You see, the Jerk and I have something in common.

  60. 60
    jake the snake says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    As usual things are more complicated than that.
    We had a period of unually high rainfall, which
    abetted the poor agricultural practices, then a period of low rainfull, which exposed those poor practices.
    As always, I am skeptical that we have learned out lesson
    well enough.

  61. 61
    McJulie says:

    @freelancer: Hahahaha. It took me forever to realize I just didn’t like Bond movies very much. I kept watching them because they seemed like something I ought to like — vaguely SFish adventure — but in the end they just leave me cold. He’s a misogynist sociopath, by character design. I don’t care what happens to him.

  62. 62
    Elizabelle says:

    @Baud:

    Once Nancy Reagan passes on, I really hope we can revert to the previous name, Washington National Airport.

    It describes both the city it serves, and honors the nation’s first president.

    I speak as a local resident. Believe me, there was no groundswell for renaming the airport.

    That name change was forced upon us by Republicans in the US House, led by Bob Barr of Georgia.

    And then those same blowhards forced Metrorail to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars during an economic downturn to change all the signage, because Metro was not moving fast enough to honor their hero.

    Please let it go back to its simpler, descriptive name.

  63. 63
    LanceThruster says:

    @Elizabelle:

    x2

    Here in SoCal we at least have the descriptive, “Ronald Reagan – SOB” (i.e. State Office Building)

    xD

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