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Monday, September 05, 2005


The unmentionable odour of death Offends the September night

Item: Jude Wanniski, a populariser of supply-side economics, died last week. Wanniski's masterwork The Way the World Works synthesized the economic thinking of fiscal firebrand Arthur Laffer (Wanniski first sketched the notorious curve that came to bear Laffer's name) and monetary theorist Robert Mundell (1999 Nobel Laureate in Economics) and threw in his own idea of the efficient political market to produce a model that he believed could explain, well, the world. As a former customer, I can testify that his consultancy business did a pretty honking good job of explaining the markets; I benefited from his advice to the tune of thousands of dollars. And for helping remind the world one more time that taxes are sand in the gears of production and trade, he deserves the thanks of mankind. He had literally thousands of original ideas, not all of which I could endorse, exactly, but he was a force for good, and a loss to the world.

Item: then again, it may be as well that Wanniski never lived to see this hellish conjunction of two of his most, erm, original ideas: opposition to the war in Iraq, and support of Louis Farrakhan. Aren't the streets of New Orleans filled with tainted water enough, that The Less Than Honorable Louis has to start pissing on the corpses of the dead in this way? Go sit on the Washington Monument, bowtie-boy.

Item: Not just him. Every kind of scum-sucking nematode has drivelled out some statement or other linking the hurricane to their own silly little holy wars. Pride of place of the Roll of Shame goes to the Juergen Trittin, a German Green politician (loves plants, can't stand people) who claimed that Katrina happened because the Wicked Dubya Administration didn't get the Kyoto accord ratified. (Remember? The agreement that the US Senate voted 95-0 against, the one that would cost trillions of dollars and lower the average global temperature in 2100 by approximately 1 degree celsius? That Kyoto?) As many in the blogosphere have remarked, it's a crying shame President McKinley didn't have one of them Kyoto accords; would've stopped the 1900 Galveston hurricane fer sure.

It's an ill wind, they say, that blows no good. This was an ill wind.

There's a drinking game we used to play as undergraduates: I've never. You go round the table, each one in turn stands up and says "I've never..." (as it may be) "...gone over Niagara Falls in a barrel", and anyone who has done this thing has to stand up and drink. (Of course, the trick is to deny various unusual sex acts and watch who stands up. There is usually someone who will admit to almost anything if they can get a drink out of it).

We didn't, when we were playing this game, say I've never... and I never will. Because when you're nineteen and life is all about sports and alcohol and hotties in leggings and that foodstuff of the gods that my room-mate invented, the Box o' Meat, and the worst thing you can imagine is having to sometimes do a write-up or a spot of calculus... I never will is not in your vocabulary.

(I never will again I understood, even then. A friend of mine from primary school had dropped dead from some poorly-explained virus: meningitis, I guess. He was a loss to humanity: a natural leader of men. And by that I mean: sassed the teachers non-stop and founded the Official School Goofy Club (motto: "lassies in fishnet tights are fun!") of which I'm proud and honored to say I was a member. Did I mention he was eleven years old when he died?)

But none of us undergrads ever thought that any new experience might be barred to us for ever. By a particular girl, sure, but there were plenty more out there. A given door might be closed, but the building would always be there, wouldn't it?

For me, the phrase I never will entered my vocabulary about four years ago.

I've never gazed up at the Twin Towers and I never will.

I've never seen New Orleans -

I can't bear to finish that sentence.

God willing, I never will.

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