"The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant." ~ John Stuart Mill
Mad Scientists, Traps & Tortures, and Skull Island
I consider the State to fit the archetype of the horror story: Evil intruding into Good, Chaos intruding into Order. In the State's case, it is the Political Means (theft and violence) intruding into the Economic Means (peaceable free trade). The State intrudes into Society and always damages it. As The Simpsons' Chief Wiggum so perceptively noted, "I didn't say the government couldn't harm you. I said it couldn't help you."
Horror stories almost always contain certain things: Mad Scientists, a Skull Island lair/base of operations, Henchmen, and Traps & Tortures. Look around, and yep, you'll find them.
Where are the Mad Scientists? Well, my opinion is that the least-noticed Mad Scientists are mainstream economists.
I tormented myself by taking four college classes in mainstream economics. The material was half free-market and half government invention. Sticking those two concepts together makes a monster, one no more workable than David Hedison's head on a fly in the '50s sf/horror flick, The Fly.
Not only were the concepts in the classes unworkable, I found the instructors almost uniformly weird. Most of them were failed mathematicians and twitchy nerds with nearly non-existent social skills.
I was confirmed in my opinion of econ instructors when one of my friends began to teach college economics. He talks about his colleagues as if they have brain damage, or are quasi-autistic. He believes, and I concur, that they are the kind of people who are convinced mainstream economists can and should plan and run the economy, and shovel people around like gravel. If they didn't believe that, they'd all be Austrian economists.
When I suggested his colleagues were minor-league Mad Scientists, he made a face, went "Pfft," and said, "Of course they are."
You can pick up a comic book, or read a comic strip, or watch a cartoon or a movie, or read a book, and you'll find Mad Scientists involved in nearly every science that exists--genetics, nanotechnology, physics. But you'll never find them involved in economics. And that's a shame, because the one place in reality where there are more Mad Scientists than any other is mainstream economics.
According to the free Internet encyclopedia <a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mad_scientist>Wikipedia,</a> a Mad Scientist "is a stock character, often villainous, who usually appears in fiction, usually depicted as a scientist who is insane or at the least very eccentric. He is usually working with some utterly fictional technology in order to forward his evil schemes . . . [they] are typically characterized by obsessive behavior and the employment of extremely dangerous methods."
I wouldn't go so far as to say that definition fits your typical mainstream economist to a T. They're not villains and they don't appear in fiction, but their views are practically insane, they're eccentric, they are obsessed, and their methods are extremely dangerous. That's why I consider them minor-league Mad Scientists.
I would go so far as to say a lot of them believe their views should run the world. If they didn't, there wouldn't be an International Monetary Fund. So it's not too far off the mark to say they want to conquer the world. That puts them in the same league as Brain and Dr. Evil. At least our fictional villains are up front about their plans to Dominate the World. They don't pretend they are benefactors, which is what Would-be World Conquerors do in real life.
Unfortunately, you're never going to see a movie or comic book or cartoon about the Mad Scientists of Econo-World. But they certainly are insane, and most people know it. That's why there's the saying, "If you took all the economists in the world, and laid them in a line, they'd all point in different directions."
Unfortunately, as Would-be World Conquerors go, they're complete bores, worse even than mimes. You're never going to see a movie with some Insane Economist cackling, "Y=C+I+G! BWAHAHAHA! The elasticity of demand is mine! And now I'll rule the world!"
The best-known of the dead Mad Scientists of Econo-World was John Maynard Keynes, who described himself as a self-professed immoralist and gang-rapist. Paul Samuelson, who for decades extolled the virtues of the Soviet system right up to the day it collapsed, is the best-known of not-yet-late Econo-Lunatics.
Those two loons had a profound influence on economics, neither knew what they were talking about, and both believed in the power of the State to run the economy and people's lives. That's hubris, and that makes both Mad Scientists, even if you're not going to see them as cartoon villains like a bulbous-headed mutant mouse like Brain or a two-foot-tall dwarf like Simon Bar Sinister.
My view of the State is that it's Bizarro World, the planet in the Superman comics where everything is turned upside down. Superman looks like Frankenstein in Bizarro World, and the cars have square wheels. It's a good example of a horror story: Chaos intruding into Order.
It is in Bizarro World where disarmed passengers sit helplessly while guys with box cutters fly jet airliners into skyscrapers. That's the State for you. If it wasn't Bizarro World, those hijackers would have been riddled in seconds, four airplanes would have landed safely, and the WTC and the Pentagon would still be whole.
In the real world, we had eminently sane free-market economists like Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard. In Bizarro World, there are Mad Scientists like Keynes and Samuelson, who support the free market turned upside down and perverted into socialism and fascism.
I hate to say this, but these days the military and a lot of the police have turned into Henchmen. The military is supposed to protect us, not invade foreign countries that didn't attack us, in the vain (indeed blasphemous) attempt to destroy them and then rebuild them in our decidedly imperfect image. As for the police, they're supposed to be Peace Officers, not retards who pull people over and give them tickets for not wearing seatbelts, or shoot people down because they can't tell the difference between a cell phone and a pistol.
Our Mad Scientists even have lairs/base of operations in which they hang out. Good thing they're not Babe Lairs like in Wayne's World, because I dread to see these guys reproduce themselves more than they already do.
In fiction, they might be hanging out at Skull Island ; in reality, it's universities or the government . . . hmm . . . I've been to the DMV and City Hall . . . maybe all government buildings should have a skull in front. It'd certainly expose the true nature of the State.
Then we have Traps & Tortures. Wow! Now I know why I can't stand going into any government office--the Traps & Tortures of Skull Island ! I usually have to deal with someone whose brain is shrinking right in front of me! I felt the same way about a lot of my college classes, although they were a lot better than high school. And high school was a lot better than middle school. Nothing is worse than middle school, except prison. Maybe.
Ack--it's true! The State is a horror story! Bureaucracy run amok like the Blob, engulfing everything in is path! Mad Scientists trying to rule everyone through the perversion of science and technology! Nearly every time you deal with the State, you run into Traps & Tortures! Every time the State grows, it's just Skull Island getting bigger and bigger!
It's a relief to know that in horror stories, Chaos always collapses and Order is always restored. Fortunately, in real life, the State always collapses. Unfortunately, a lot of innocent people are hurt before it does. Evil always tries to cheat, but in the long run it cannot beat Good.
Mad Scientists, Skull Island , Traps & Torture . . . your days, as always, are numbered.