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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

A nice expression

Via Will Wilkinson’s blog, a term I think is ideal for the crazed Keynesian policies now being applied: disaster dirigisme.

10 comments to A nice expression

  • Paul Marks

    I agree that it is a good term.

    As for the political economy of the matter……

    There are two levels.

    The first is the economics of Keynesianism – whether in the original verbal form of J.M. Keynes himself, or the various mathematical pretend science that has grown up since his time.

    In a slump is it a good thing for the government to increase the money supply?

    And.

    In a slump is it a good thing for the government itself to spend more money.

    In practice those who favour an “expansionary monetary policy” (print more money) and those people who favour an “expansionary fiscal policy” (more government spending) tend to be the same people – but there are some people who favour one but not the other.

    As a hard hearted, hate filled, evil……. I oppose both. I do not believe in trying to reinflate a collapsing credit money bubble (at least not unless there is an agreement that there will NOT be additional bank lending built in pyramid style from the bailout money – i.e. the exact opposite of the governments of the world who are so desperate to “get lending started again” so that drug companies can borrow billions to buy other drug companies and other absurd antics).

    And I certainly do not believe in more government spending – indeed it is vital that government spending be radically cut (as Warren Harding did in 1921 – please people do not get Harding and Hoover confused and think that was done in 1921 was done by Herbert “The Forgotten Progressive” Hoover in 1929).

    However, there is a noneconomics factor also – one that made Keynes so much more politically successful than Major Douglas (the inventor of the “multiplyer” fallacy and one of the supporters of the “paradox of thrift” nonsense) and the other monetary cranks.

    Major D. and the others wanted to just hand out money (or vouchers – as Taiwan just did).

    Keynes supported increasing the money supply via complex support for the banks.

    Getting “finance capital” on the side of the big spenders was vital for their political success.

    And much of “finance capital” is still on the side of the big spenders (whether Bush or Obama) – they love their endless subsidies, and are happy to contribute money to their campaigns and to wink at the ritual verbal attacks made on their bonus payments and what not.

    Indeed after so many decades of misinformation the people at the top of Bank of America, Goldman S. and the rest of these entities actually think that their subsidies really are “for the good of everyone”.

    In the old days the top bankers (and so on) knew the thing was a corrupt con (which is why they were careful and limited in their activities), but the present generation……

    Who knows what is going on in their heads.

  • Paul Marks

    I should have typed that the bankers (and other such) MAY think their subsidies are for the good of everyone – I really do not know what is going on in their minds (i.e. whether they are crooks – or whether, perhaps worse, they are totally out of touch with reality).

    Of course there is an argument that fractional reserve bankers have always been a bunch of crooks – but even if that is true, they were (at least in Britain – where not a single bank went bust in the 1930′s) very careful crooks who understood they were playing a very dangerious shell game indeed. The present generation show no sign of such an understanding.

    Looking at such publications as the Financial Times and (you knew it was comming) the Economist, make me wonder if the modern “finance capital” generation know anything about objective reality at all.

  • tomwright

    I just popped “dirigisme” into Google to find out just what the heck that means and how to pronounce it and find, to my surprise, that Google is marking Wikipedia and wiki with banner pages that state “Warning – visiting this web site may harm your computer!”

    So does that mean that Wikipedia is now evil, or is Google?

  • Tom, it’s not just wiki, it’s all searches and all sites – weird.

    Sorry for an OT comment…

  • Laird

    OK, show of hands: how many of you already knew what “dirigisme” meant and didn’t have to look it up? And of those, how many already knew how to pronounce it?

    I have to confess that I couldn’t remember what “dirigisme” meant, either, and had to google it. (FWIW, my computer had no warning about Wikipedia. Maybe they’ve taken it down?) Although “dirigisme” is probably the most accurate description we have for the west’s current political/economic system (and “disaster dirigisme” has a nice alliteration), the word is unknown to so many people that we would have a hard time getting it into common usage. Any time the phrase is used in polite company we will probably have to drop an explanatory footnote. So while it might work well as a literary “wink” to the cognoscenti, I think the phrase would likely serve more as an impediment to communication than as a means of actually conveying an idea.

    My vote is “cute, but impractical”.

  • lukas

    I knew what dirigisme means, but then I currently live in France…

  • tdh

    If we’re going for alliteration, how about “disaster-devising dirigisme”?

    One of the comments on the entry used the term “porkulus package.” The double diminutive is especially endearing (“porcus” already meaning “piglet”). I’ve been looking for a term to replace the propaganda term “stimulus package,” viewing its use in unwitting or half-witting support by purportedly-opposition politicians and the usual newsbimbos as execrable at best. Rather than visualizing the plundering of barrels of salted pork, I prefer the image of a vast swarm of voracious piggies devouring the countryside and reducing it to, um, waste.

    The meaning of dirigisme was obvious from its kinship with “direct,” but the prefix wasn’t to me, so the stem seemed self-contradictory. FWIW, Latin “dirigo” has an apropos “cause to end” meaning, but in a grammatical sense, alas.

  • Sam Duncan

    Tom, it’s not just wiki, it’s all searches and all sites – weird.

    Fox News:

    Computer users doing Google searches during a nearly one-hour period Saturday were greeted with disturbing but erroneous messages that every site turned up in the results might be harmful.

  • tdh

    Useful New-Deal figures, with a relatively small dose of silliness, here.

  • Hindenburg

    ‘Dirigisme’ is French for ‘dirigible of jism.’ So ‘disaster dirigisme’ is a Hindenburg-like event involving a dirigisme.

    You’re welcome.