Real Political Economy
Like any rational person, I am disgusted by self-righteous politicians, each pretending to be more devout than the rest, all the while grubbing for money (sometimes for campaigns, sometimes for personal use). I recently saw this quotation, which got me to thinking:
Politicians are like diapers since they need to be changed frequently — often for the same reason. — Tom Dobbs [Robin Williams] Man of the Year
In a sense, Dobbs is wrong, at least in the American context, because our politicians are soiled before the game even begins. Even so, I enjoyed the metaphor.
Keynes, in his Treatise on Money, in a footnote at the beginning of Chapter 35, referring to the love of money, as a footnote pointing to the work of the Hungarian psychoanalyst, Sandor Ferenczi, who was famous for his work on that subject. Ferenczi argued that the love of money was a continuation of infants fascination with their own feces.
Ferenczi, Sandor. 1914. “The Ontogenesis of Interest in Money.” In Sex in Psycho-Analysis (Contributions to Psycho-Analysis) (NY: Basic Books, 1950): pp. 319-31.
321-2: “Observation of the behaviour of children and analytic investigation of neurotics … shews that children originally devote their interest without any inhibition to the process of defaecation, and that it affords them pleasure to hold back their stools. The excrementa thus held back are really the first ‘savings’ of the growing being, and as such remain in a constant, unconscious inter-relationship with every bodily activity or mental striving that has anything to do with collecting, hoarding, and saving.”
I long for the day when the United States had honest politicians — well, halfway honest politicians, like George Washington Plunkett, who wrote his famous treatise on honest graft.
Plunkitt, George Washington. “Honest Graft.” in W. L. Riordin. Plunkitt of Tammany Hall (NY, 1948): pp. 3-5, 6-7, 25-7; extracted in Richard Hofstadter, ed., Great Issues in American History. vol. 2. 1864-1957. (NY: Vintage): pp. 253-6.
253: “Everybody is talkin’ these days about Tammany men growin’ rich on graft, but nobody thinks of drawin’ the distinction between honest graft and dishonest graft. There’s all the difference in the world between the two.”
254: “[L]`me tell you that most politicians who are accused of robbin’ the city … didn’t steal a dollar from the city treasury. They just seen their opportunities and took them.”
So long as we are going to continue with the system that selects crooks, let them at least be “honest” crooks, like George Washington Plunkett. Or we could follow Jim Hightower’s suggestion that politicians get dressed up like NASCAR drivers, with colorful labels advertising their corporate sponsors. Let the clowns the clowns!