Capitalism Baptism Caught on Tape

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Here's a confrontation between Bureaucrash and the Yes Men that occurred after the would-be pranksters exited Cato:

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  1. I can’t tell which set of douchebags looked lamer, so I guess this was a draw?

  2. There’s no way I can root for giggling dudes in jester hats.

  3. Painfully unfunny.

  4. WTF was that about?

  5. They took it pretty well, assuming the powder easily brushes off. If it doesn’t, they took it amazingly well.

    I like Bureaucrash, but they missed an opportunity to pose as left-wing fellow travelers or reporters and get the Yes Men to say silly things.

  6. Two tribes of monkeys encounter one another in the thick brush of the lunatic fringe.

  7. Not terribly clever or funny.

    And, to be honest, I kind of like the Yes Men, if only because I like the idea of having “jesters” of capitalism around. Libertarianism, to me, is about opposing unaccountable centralization, whether it be governmental or corporate. Being a slave to companies that own the government is no better than being a slave to the government, IMHO.

  8. Warren – you just described how Florida operates.

    Look for ProGLib and Jimmydageek.

    hier can you read all about it!

  9. That was even worse than those truth.org ads.

  10. Why didn’t they challenge each other to a light-sabre fight?

    I look forward to more instances of Citizen Journalism raising the level of discourse.

  11. Nothing is more comedicly painful than speech and debate nerds trying to be funny. Left or Right, they all suck.

  12. Postmodern,

    My problem with these guys isn’t their politics, or the fact that they question the motives of big corporations (something any free-market capitalist should encourage). My problem is with their dishonest tactics (giving false identities, re-editing interviews to make the interviewee look bad, etc).

  13. Bureaucrash fell flat, because the Yes Men handled themselves with grace.

  14. I hate to say that I agree with joe here, but I have to.

    Not that I endorse the Yes Men’s tactics of misrepresenting themselves and their purpose, and especially of dishonestly editing their interviewees responses to fit their own pre-rigged scripts. That is despicable and Moore-onic.

    (I have stopped reading my own post after lamely [but accurately] insulting Michael Moore.)

  15. Bureaucrash fell flat, because the Yes Men handled themselves with grace.

    Shitty material didn’t help.

    Like him or not, Cohen pulls it off because he has impeccable timing and comedic sensibilities. Something all these performance art/comedic, political/prankster troops don’t have. All the ones I’ve seen are as hackneyed and grating as a local improv troop.

    Scratch that. Nothing is as hackneyed and grating as a local improv troop.

  16. “Billionaires for Bush” were pretty funny.

    “Libertaaaaarians! Don’t they work for us, dear?”

  17. Who was who there?

    Also, what happened?

    Oh, and what were they saying?

  18. Just one more reason to dislike (or, better yet, ignore) Bureaucrash. Happy to say I’ve been calling it like it is since the beginning, and even happier to see some folks finally coming around.

  19. Dunno, their “Free Trade Versus Fair Trade” coke sales at the anti-GATT protests in Cancun were deliciously subversive.

  20. “Lunatic fringe,” “gratingly unfunny”, etc., etc. This coming from the 40-something-year old kids who have nothing better to do than hang out on the Reason blog site and talk about how the government is taking away their porn.

    Shame on you bureaucrash for trying your darndest. The idiots here when they were kids your age were getting high in mommy and daddy’s basement.

  21. Bureaucrash,

    Thanks for your efforts in the cause of liberty! And nice anti-Che shirt. Anyone know where I can get a shirt or poster with the “No” symbol imposed over his face and Real rebels don’t support centralized state authority underneath?

  22. Rick Barton,

    I believe they sell them on their website.

  23. Postmodern Sleaze:

    I like the idea of having “jesters” of capitalism around. Libertarianism, to me, is about opposing unaccountable centralization, whether it be governmental or corporate. Being a slave to companies that own the government is no better than being a slave to the government.

    Ok-This seems in need of some deconstruction:

    I like the idea of having “jesters” of capitalism around.

    Capitalism is economic freedom, and one of the nice things about it is that there are no coercive restrictions against “jesters” of the market place or different of its participants. In fact, there is a market demand for that manner of jesters!

    Libertarianism, to me, is about opposing unaccountable centralization, whether it be governmental or corporate.

    But that’s missing the point! Corporate centralization IS accountable in that consumers can choose not to patronize it. And it’s exactly government interference and protection that cuts the efficiency of the ability of consumers to hold corporations accountable. But with government institutions, there can even be political majorities, which develop that reward and reinforce unaccountable centralization.

    Being a slave to companies that own the government is no better than being a slave to the government.

    That seems possible in theory, but the fact that companies exist might indicate that there is some degree of liberty present. But the point is still in the right direction so let’s join Bureaucrash in opposing the ability of corporations to impose coercive will on others.

  24. joe:

    Bureaucrash fell flat, because the Yes Men handled themselves with grace.

    Yeah, but it seemed like a grace owing to bewilderment.

  25. Here’s the Bureaucrash site:

    http://bureaucrash.com/

  26. I’ve posted this experience of mine before but it seems appropriate for this thread so…

    A few weeks ago on the 16th St mall here in Denver I spotted a group of “anarchists” and started rapping to em about anarcho-capitalism and commenting that their apparel was charmingly evocative of old school punk and “Oh by the way, did you guys know that Joey Ramone did a favorable song about the stock market?” I getting some serious hostility as I walk over to snag a gyro salad. As I walk back and reinsert myself among them, a couple of em start regaling me with stories of how their spiked wristbands can rip the flesh offa people’s faces. I act as annoyingly non-intimidated as I can and one of em spits on the ground next to me and informs me that what ever I do to the salad, their gonna do to me…So remembering Richard Pryor, I kiss my gyro salad!

  27. joe,

    I said: “Yeah, but it seemed like a grace owing to bewilderment.”

    Ok-maybe that was a tad harsh.

  28. rb, that was dick gregory, not richard pryor. do they all look alike to you?

  29. Barton,

    Funny story. Where in Colorado do you live?

  30. Rick Barton,

    The Yes Men walk around doing the same sort of things as Bureaucrash. I doubt they were the slightest bit bewildered by the experience of watching someone try to pull off a politicized practical joke.

    They displayed grace, because they knew what was going on and didn’t fall for it.

  31. edna,

    You’re right, that was Dick Gregory. My bad. Thanks! Yeah, all comedians do tend to look alike to me. It’s weird.

  32. Grand Chalupa,

    Thanks. I live in the Denver Metro area. There’re a few of us here in Colorado. Including my friend, fyodor! And his incredible band:

    http://www.littlefyodor.com/mainpage.html

    Do you live in Colorado too, Grand Chalupa?

  33. joe,

    The guy just looked a little bewildered to me.

    BTW, I wasn’t hep that Bureaucrash did stunt gorilla theater too.

  34. Tell fyodor we miss him.

  35. I’m a student at CU-Boulder. I posted some of my frustrations with the politics of the school over on the thread “Hayek’s Academic Triumph”.

    Don’t you have a radio show around here?

  36. colorado is the state with nederland and the dead guy. you are blessed, mr. barton.

    i still don’t know what the hell this tape is about or why anyone should give an aerial intercourse in a hirstute sweetened toroid.

  37. joe,

    You got it. I’ll tell him.

  38. Grand Chalupa,

    Ah yes, CU Boulder. What are you taking? My son and daughter both went there. But my son’s getting his Masters at CU Denver. I never miss a thread with Hayek it the title. Now I have another reason to go back and read that thread.

    I don’t have a radio show, but I call talk radio lots. I’m continually amazed how often, when I ask a question or make a comment at a public event, or when I’m occasioned to give a talk, that folks recognize my voice from talk radio.

  39. edna,

    That’s for sure the first time that anyone’s mentioned the frozen guy in Nederland when I told em that I’m from Denver. But we have other famous deceased inhabitants. Colorado is one of the world’s premier treasure troves of dinosaur fossils! I’ve found some of em, myself.

    Now I already mentioned the states #1 attraction-fyodor’s band. But note as well that Denver boasts the 2nd highest per/capita consumption of books among the nations large metro areas. (San Francisco is #1.)

  40. Barton,

    I’m double majoring in Math and Linguistics.

    Where do you give talks? What do you do for a living, if you don’t mind me asking?

  41. Is this what people without girlfriends do with their free time?

  42. “Corporate centralization IS accountable in that consumers can choose not to patronize it.”

    Sure, if they survive the poison toothpaste, or if that centralized company hasn’t wiped out all other buying options, or if they haven’t (ala riaa) bought every available politician to ensure no deviation or consumer education

    How juvenile is the idea thatsimply choosing not to buy a company’s product suddenly makes that company respoinsible…it’s magical thinking, and would only work if a significant number took their heads out of their own asses.

    A system that means product safety is contingent on accidental discovery and publication of wrongdoing is simply not logical or desirable. Corporations that get so big that they are governments unto themselves are notexamples of the “free market,” they are many small dicatatorships that can’t be voted away.

    Human nature prevents any possibility of a true free market scenario.

  43. Jennifer, you rock! If there any alterations to be made to our society I doubt a pure free-market or pure socialism is the answer.

    I wonder if limits to sizes of association would do the trick ( unfortunately, the enforcement of that would have its own can of worms ). This idea comes from my perception that misdeeds seem to increase proportionate to the size of the number of people working on a goal. Likewise path-dependence is less intense because smaller organizations can change rapidly.

  44. Grand Chalupa,

    Math and Linguistics sounds like an interesting and challenging combination. Do you plan to utilize he former in the latter?

    I have occasionally given book review talks at different venues. The more frequent of them have included a literary group at a Bahia Center (I’m not a Bahia), and the meetings of a contemporary issues discussion group of a Reform Jewish Congregation (I’m not Jewish). I also sometimes give talks advocating libertarianism, and I gave a talk presenting a philosophical defense of naturalism/atheism at a Church in Boulder. To make money, I trade stock options for myself.

  45. Jennifer,

    I’m can tell by what you’ve written that you’re not our frequent “Feral Genius” commenter of the same name. You’ve crammed a lot of misunderstanding into one post:

    Sure, if they survive the poison toothpaste,

    Poisoning customers tends to be kinda bad for business. The fact that customers have choice not to patronize acts as a factor toward accountability even before that fact. Far before government safely regulations, American products had a reputation for being safe. That UTL sticker- or what ever it was, meant that the product passed the electric industry’s own standards. The different frequency of electricity that we used vs the Europeans (maybe still do) was a result of safety concerns. Consumer electrocution rates were much higher (maybe still are) in Europe) Also, since the more free-enterprise a system is, the more affluent it tends to be so that safety becomes more affordable and more of a consumer choice.

    or if that centralized company hasn’t wiped out all other buying options

    First off, the evidence is that capitalism, without government intervention, doesn’t tend to produce much in the way of monopoly. One of the reasons for this is that when companies try to set their prices so low to drive out their competition as to take losses, they are vulnerable to new competition entering the market place that hasn’t had to endure these losses. (This dynamic and much more is explained in “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal” Chapter 6) This works as long as government doesn’t erect barriers to entry into the market place. Sadly, it often has. Government has been the real problem here.

    if they haven’t (ala riaa) bought every available politician

    You’re confused. The ability to buy politicians is anti-free market. If you want to do some good, join us in opposing the legal ability of politicians sell favors.

    How juvenile is the idea that simply choosing not to buy a company’s product suddenly makes that company respoinsible

    Not omly is it not juvinile, the evidence shows that it’s the way free enterprize works. And remember, it’s not just making the choice not to buy, it’s the threat of the choice.

    A system that means product safety is contingent on accidental discovery

    No. It’s a system that has a built in incentive to promote product safety and gives the consumers the ability to punish what they don’t like thru non-patronage.

    Corporations that get so big that they are governments unto themselves

    Unless they have the help of government, they will never be anything like “governments unto themselves”. Corporations can’t force us to do anythig and the only way that they can get big is if they purvey products/services that people really dig.

    they are many small dicatatorships that can’t be voted away.

    Not without the help of the state-not even close. If you don’t like a corporation, you may choose not to patronize it. Try not patronizing the government when you don’t like it. The majority of Americans want an end to the war. But Democrats who were voted into office won’t stop funding it cuz they want it to continue till the next election. In this government matter, as with so many government matters, the will of the mapjority of folks is not being brought to fruition.

    Human nature prevents any possibility of a true free market scenario.

    Human nature is a powerful argument for the free market. The only alternative is initiation of force. And the initiation of force is the what’s wrong in the first place. Human nature makes it dangerous to give folks the legal ability to initiate force. Human nature means that we ought to restrict government to the protection of life and property.

  46. Stoney Baloney:

    I wonder if limits to sizes of association would do the trick

    I don’t think it’s the size of the associations , it’s the force behind them. The reason that there seems to be sizable participation in the worst problems is that the participation is forced thru the power of the state. Look at the many of us who “support” the war in Iraq thru our taxes. It’s cuz we don’t have a choice!

  47. Grand Chalupa,

    I forgot to include that I’ve also given book review talks on non-religious books (with maybe one or two exceptions) to a Catholic parishioners book club.(I’m not Catholic)

  48. Rick Barton,

    Sounds like quite an interesting life. Let me know if you’re going to be giving any talks in the area soon. Do you have training in economics or any kind of social science?

    I’m fascinated by linguistics, but I have a deep conservative distaste for ever working in academia, which has been amplified by my time at CU. I may go to graduate school for math and look for something in the financial sector. I’m keeping my options pretty open for now.

  49. Grand Chalupa,

    Thanks, I’ll let you know if I do for sure. Only a couple of Undergrad level micro and macro econ classes and a few other social science classes and a stat class wihich included SS applications. Other than that, I’m pretty much self-taught in the social sciences.. I’ve also done a lot of reading of libertarian oriented authors and still do. Good luck in your academic pursuits. It sounds like you’re in a good position in that you, at least, have lotsa options to keep open.

  50. Appreciate the kind words.

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