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Shell Game

February 18th, 2009 by Inspector · 6 Comments · Business

I don’t normally watch The Daily Show, but I caught part of an episode by accident today. In it, Jon Stewart was grilling a former Republican congressman about his opposition to Obama’s massive “bailout.”

Stewart had this Republican on the ropes because he was able to control the language of their discussion and this hapless Republican didn’t recognize what was going on. Stewart criticized him for being “pro-free market” while at the same time being in favor of “regulation” of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Showing how much we can trust Republicans, the man’s only response was that he was in fact in favor of “regulation.”

Peeling back this dishonest language, the plain fact is that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are government entities. (The former congressman even said as much earlier in the discussion!) They are most emphatically NOT representative of “the free market,” and a desire to reign in the government’s entities – Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae – is absolutely not in any way a “regulation of the free market.” It is entirely the opposite.

But this utterly despicable Orwellian switcheroo of terms went completely unopposed. Therefore, “regulation of the free market” was allowed to be framed as the agreed solution to the crisis, and concurrently, the problem was implicitly allowed to be blamed on an “unregulated free market.” This is, again, a complete and utter lie, as both men knew that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were the government and not the free market.

Jon Stewart is far from alone in his use of this deception. I’ve heard it used by congressmen, newsmen, and even ordinary people since the beginning of this latest mortgage brouhaha. But it is incorrect, backwards, and, for those who know better, dishonest.

The truth is the exact opposite of what the “regulation” cheerleaders would have us believe: the crisis was caused by overbearing government entities such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which distorted the markets and went wild dumping billions into foolishness. The failure was of these government entities and not in any way a “free market.” What the government failed to “regulate” was not “free markets,” but rather, itself. But because the term “regulate” is traditionally used to refer to government controls, these shysters are playing a shell game of words in which they “solve” a failure of government entities by calling for more government controls on private business.

So if you ever hear anyone use the term “regulation” in this way, be sure to set them straight. Because with it, they can control – and completely reverse – the entire meaning of recent events.


6 Comments so far ↓

  • L-C

    When leftists argue with inconsistent supporters of liberty, they don’t need to employ truth. They can substitute reversed definitions and have their opponents defeat themselves against their arguments, like a fighter with spiked brass knuckles equipped inwards.

    It’s a setup that can only end one way, especially since the confused fool didn’t know quite what he was for or against to begin with.

  • Burgess Laughlin

    I see two essential defining characteristics of a private organization: (1) Its owners can freely set or reset the goals of the organization; and (2) All of the organization’s income comes from trade (sale of products, donations).

    What is the status of Fannie Mae? Governmental, private, or a supposed mixture?

    My understanding from news sources (always a shaky procedure) is that organizations like Fannie Mae are at best “semi-private” in that their income (all, part?) comes from sale of “services” but their owners are required by law to continue performing the functions designated by Congress. The owners cannot, for example, convert their assets into a chain of restaurants selling hamburgers.

    They are thus not private. Correct?

  • Inspector

    L-C, I was also struck by how the former congressman’s inconsistent premises led him to cave into Stewart at every turn.

    Burgess, yes that is correct although I think you may be understating matters. These are actual government entities established by the government which operate according to the mandates laid out by congress. While there have been varying degrees of autonomy over the years, both of these have always answered directly to government agents.

  • madmax

    Stewart is just rehashing and cheerleading for what in effect is the official leftist “narrative.” That is that:

    Bush, Cheney, Greenspan and other Republican “free market ideologues” systematically removed all regulations and oversight of the economy and methodically undermined the regulatory “infrastructure” which had been “thoughtfully” and carefully built by Social Democrats for decades. They did this because they are ideologues and thus cling to their Randian free market philosophy despite the fact that empirical data has repeatedly shown that the free market doesn’t work. But they approach economics with religious faith in free markets and thus have subjected all of us to economic hardship. Thankfully the Obamasiah will now save us.

    This is Leftism 101. And it would be so easy to challenge if not outright destroy it. Easy that is for us. For a Republican, its all but impossible as Stewart continuously proves.

    BTW, why do all these Republicans go on Stewart’s show? Don’t they have any self-esteem? They know they are going to get bombarded with this socialist/egalitarian crap and they also know that they agree with most of it. Are they that starved for attention that they will voluntarily allow Leftists to spit in their face for 10 minutes on TV? Yeah, yeah, I know, its Republicans we’re talking about. But still…

  • Inspector

    Madmax – exactly so; you have nailed the matter on the head. I wanted to yell at the television, as what I was seeing was so *obviously* false and so easily countered. For me, that is. For a Republican who implicitly accepts all of the Leftist premises that he is supposedly against, it was an impossible task.

  • Inspector

    Oh and Burgess – I also found out that Fannie and Freddie were given the power, by the government, to make “purchases” without using any actual assets. (basically, they’re allowed to run a negative balance purchase even if they don’t have the money to back it, writing what are basically blank checks, implicitly backed by the fed) So they are, in effect, spending government money, even if it is in a very roundabout and deniable fashion. So the term “shell game,” it seems, applies to the way their finances worked as well.