“Why do you always refer to yourself with the royal ‘we?'” the Barefoot One asked us last night. “It is because we are pompous, self-important, arrogant, and slightly elitist,” we answered without hesitation. Actually, we are only slightly arrogant and a tad elitist. We use the royal “we” purely as a matter of self-effacing style, and because the Markets and Money has always used the third person. It’s just tradition and habit more than anything else.
We assure you that we are a simple, vulgar, grasping, self-absorbed middle-class, gun-toting, bible thumping American at heart. For example, when we read Kris Sayce’s note today about Telstra being a pig, it reminded us of going to pig pickins when we lived in North Carolina. That’s when you stick a big hog on a spit and slow roast him for a few days until the meat is so tender any one can come right up and pick the pork of the big for eating. You would probably want to ad barbeque sauce, though. It would be bad form not too.
Our point is…well, that we take our work seriously, but not ourselves. And that we try to stay honest when it comes to what we know about the world. There are a lot of known unknowns and unknown unknowns in our mind, and we freely admit it. Which brings us to a note we got a note yesterday about our post on the G-20 summit.
We (writing in the first-person on this occasion) wrote the following, “As far as I know, there are very few circumstances under any law where it’s okay to destroy other people’s property, regardless of what you think the justice of your cause is.” To which a commenter replied, “If I was an Iraqi, a Serb, an Afghan, a Palestinian or Lebanese I think that I would be surprised to hear an American say something like that.”
Ouch, or so it would seem. If we were sixteen years old, this kind of comment would wound our self-confidence and maybe even shame us. But we are 33 years old, shameless, and possess the rational faculty of judgment, which it is our God-given right and obligation to exercise. So instead of being clever and petulant, we’ll point out what we think are the two flaws in this line of thinking.
But before we do that, a pause for serenity. Let us call for a moment of togetherness. Circle December 22nd on your calendar. A California couple is calling for a “global orgasm for peace” on that day. “The orgasm gives out an incredible feeling of peace during it and after it,” says Paul Reffell. “Your mind is like a blank. It’s like a meditative state. And mass meditations have been shown to make a change.” Let us meditate on that in the privacy of our own homes. In the meantime, we return to blank minds and our reader comments.
First, the reader assumes he knows what Iraqis, Serbs, Afghans, Palestinians and Lebanese think about America and Americans. Good on ya!
We have no such talent to speak what’s on the minds of people we’ve never met. Nor do we have a desire to put our words into their minds. However, maybe our correspondent is a mind reader, or a savant, or simply has the confidence to speak on behalf of hundreds of millions of people he has never met. We salute his daring, but would never try and emulate it.
There are at least three or four other logical problems we could humbly point out. But we’ll settle for one. Just because we are American does not mean we share the prejudices of our 300 million countrymen or our elected officials. We are American, yet we don’t love Nascar. We are American, yet we don’t drive a car. We are American, yet we don’t live in America. True, we share some prejudices with our countrymen and not others. We are pretty sure, for example, that the President and Dick Cheney like barbecue, too. We are not giving up barbecue because it makes us guilty by association in the minds of some readers.
But really, are we to be held accountable for the actions of our government? Is our argument about the sanctity of private property less valid because we type it with an American accent? Should we just shut up and hang our heads in shame, silenced by the vocal disapproval of the crowd, one hundred thousand Indonesians, and a world full of George Bush haters?
One of the people we interviewed at the G-20 asked us if we were Canadian, or at least told people that we were Canadian because, “it’s a scary time to be an American.” We told him we weren’t scared of being an American at all, though we’ve copped a lot of abuse for it the last four years living abroad.
We told him we were proud to be an American and that if a man can’t explain to critics the difference between personal liberty and public policy, he doesn’t deserve the right of free speech. In a nutshell, we don’t think your laws should trump our desires, anymore than our desires should govern your behaviour.
So we’ll feel free to tell people how we think things should be—generally free and open—without trying to shame anyone into silence. We like a good, honest, open debate. And you, dear reader, can feel free to tell us to go to hell! Just don’t pass a law sending us there!
And if you’d like to read more on the DR’s basic philosophy of live, question, and let live, check out Bill Bonner’s comments. Bill was listening to a debate between a free man, an idiot, and a world improver at the recent New Orleans Investment Conference.
Stepping off our soap-box, here’s another reader comment.
“The problem with my fellow Aussies is that, like our American cousins, they too have so dumbed down in the education stakes that most have no idea what true freedom really is or means. The US was formed as a republic – to protect the people from the saps that eventually run government. The US never was a ‘demokracy’ ie; tyranny of the masses/lowest common denominator.
A constitutional republic protects the rights of the individual from trespass by the ballot box. Simple.
Compulsory voting makes a mockery of freedom but caters to the belief of the lumpen that they actually have a say in things. Pish posh.
Democracy: Two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.
Representative democracy: Two thousand wolves and one thousand sheep electing two wolves and a sheep who vote on what to have for dinner.
Constitutional republic: Two thousand wolves and one thousand sheep electing two wolves and a sheep who vote on what to have for dinner, but are restricted by a Constitution that says they cannot eat sheep. The Supreme Court then votes 5 wolves to 4 sheep that mutton does not count as sheep.
Liberty: Well-armed sheep contesting the above votes.
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” – C. S. Lewis
“The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.”
– Winston Churchill
“If voting could change anything it would be illegal.”