A Rant From the Dyspeptic Right

The following is a letter from one of COHA’s most persistent sages in response to a recent publication, “Ghost Economics Spooks Uribe’s Colombia” by COHA Research Fellow Rachel Godfrey Wood. We bring you this letter in the name of open political dialogue and to encourage further responses of its caliber.

It is always difficult to determine which COHA release is the silliest, but we might have found the week’s winner in ”Ghost Economics”. Following the COHA stylebook, which might be characterized as Inflated Le Monde, the writer makes her case in a tangle of labyrinthine sentences, which end in bloopers that would never occur if she were required to rely upon simple declarative sentences. Those simple sentences, surely, would serve to convey virtually any thought produced in the COHA bunker. Admittedly, though, they also might expose the weightlessness of the thought they carry

I limit myself to two examples:

1. In the section titled, DMG Way, the final sentence ends. “…if at all.” However, as one crawls back up through that intestinal sentence, it is not possible to find an antecedent for the dangling excressence.

2. What is Being Revealed provides the following: “. . . his failure to take any significant action against DMG for so long appears bizarre if not downright strange.” In the great chain of strangeness, bizarre is higher than merely strange. The rhetorical whump of the construction works via the mechanics of ascent: put simply, strange and bizarre must switch places in order to achieve the desired effect.

There are more, but you get the idea. And, as I write above, simple sentences save the writer from such clunkers.

The gravamen of the essay, however, is offensive on a higher plane than mere syntax. It makes the case that the success of the less heavily regulated Columbian economy (less heavily regulated by Latin American standards, that is) is to blame for the people’s gullibility in thinking that they can get something for nothing.

Surely though, the success of Ponzi schemes across the world, in every economy except the most strangled, indicates a human weakness more profound than a minor infection of optimism caused by capitalism. It certainly is true that there are no Ponzi schemes in the fully regulated North Korean economy. Even COHA, though, is unlikely to consider that a happy alternative to capitalism. Actually, such schemes and their myriad variations appear in every economy that allows any breathing room to the individual.

Indeed, if one wanted to find institutional causes for the something-for-nothing mindset, why not look at national lotteries? They sell tickets to easy street; the poor buy them, but they never go anywhere. But, really, lotteries are not the cause either. The cause is not institutional. There is no ideological cause or cure for humankind’s often self-deluding optimism.

The COHA solution to misplaced optimism is to give authority to our betters who, via a maze of government regulations and regulators, will protect us from the harm resulting from excessive optimism. Thus, when confronted by the success of the relatively free Columbian economy versus the suffocation of the commodity-rich Peruvian one, you avert your eyes. You search for nits like, Ponzi schemes, to prove that economic success is really harm, and that economic failure is virtue.

The test of your theories exists in homes from Brazilia to Bangor: the majority of people scrubbing floors have escaped from more regulated economies to come to less regulated ones. They do not read your tangled sentences because they are too busy voting with their feet.