Chicago Politics on a Global Stage?


Columnist Ron Hart on anti-market politics in the U.S. and the dangers of "Crony Capitolism":

Korean automaker Hyundai registered record sales in August. Chinese telecom manufacturer Huawei might soon pass Cisco in sales. Brazil's jet maker Embraer is, according to Cessna CEO Jack Pelton "scaring us to death." And more IPOs are happening away from America's overly regulated capital markets. In addition, India has heart bypass surgery outcomes equal to the U.S. at half the cost, and Singapore is willing to pay U.S. biotech research stars about $715,000 in annual salaries.

In short, we do not have a monopoly on capitalism. We risk losing out to a world market that moves faster and with more resolve today than ever before. Our new political class does not seem to care that innovation and capitalism are fleeing.

Whole thing here.

Hart's recent collection of columns, There's No Such Thing as a Pretty Good Alligator Wrestler, is on sale here.

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  1. Is this serious? Because if you think the markets in any of those countries – Brazil, China, or Korea – are freer or less subject to cronyism than the US, please just put down the keyboard and do not come back until you have learned the first thing about any of them.

    1. That isn’t the point. We’re becoming equally corrupt and more regulated, and that’s why we’re losing.

    2. 1. Ban stem cell research
      2. Watch R & D money leave the country
      3. ????????
      4. Get re-elected by moronic fundies

      1. Your first premise is wrong. Stem cell research was not banned. Quite rightly, government funding of said research was ended.

        1. I’m not sure that’s completely accurate. The fundung of fetal stem cell research was stopped. The government continued to fund stem cell research. My opinion, if it was something more than political we’d be seeing results now. We aren’t, it’s crap. Personally, I really do not like government funding research period. Politics and science have no more business being mixed than politics and religion. We American tax payers have pumped billions into phoney climate research, as it that alone shouldn’t be enough to anger real Americans, seeing the phoney research being used as a very effective tool being used to overthrow our constitutional republican form of government certainly should be.

        2. Not quite, if you’re referring to Bush’s policy change early in his term. Government funding of fetal stem cell research was instituted for the first time – pre-Bush, the government had not funded such research. (He did limit the funding to existing cell lines.)

          It was a compromise for which he got zero credit, however. (As here we see: everyone remembers it wrongly, as “bad anti-science Bush banned stem-cell research!!!”)

      2. There wasa ban put on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research for new lines while providing funding for existing lines. Stem cell research in general was not banned in any way shape or form.

        Scientism zealots are getting really tiresome.

    3. You are actually pointing to a totally different kind of corruption.

      In those places you just pay off officials. If the officials demand to much they will not be paid.

      In the US the officials are ideologues. They actively try to choose who wins or loses. They don’t take money but ratehr try to engenire the market to thier liking.

      Of course they have no idea so innovation suffers. In those other nations anyone who pays the base rate bribe gets a chance to compete and innovate.

      I don’t like either system and would prefer one based on property rights and liberty but in terms of market efficiency and producing better outcomes the corruption of those other nations works better then our form of corruption.

      Hands down if we keep doing what we are doing we will get our asses handed to us in the market place.

      1. ^^^ paid off a Russian cop just outside of Red Square.

        I wanted to get a picture of us handing him the money, but thought it might be unwise.

        We are fucking up our competitiveness in the world market on so many levels I don’t even want to consider it.

  2. Umm, no MB. The government should not make it worse in the US – we can kiss even more jobs goodbye when it is too expensive to do business in this country.

    1. Chad thinks we can raise energy costs and add VATs, without harming productivity or economic growth.

      I want some of what he’s been shooting up. Must be good shit.

      1. Chad needs to read some economics books. Maybe Economics in One Lesson by Hazlitt.

        1. Chad’s too busy ‘baitin to the works of John Maynard to be bothered with real economics.

  3. Well said Mr Hart!

  4. Clearly Hart is not saying those countries are not corrupt. He is intimating that we are moving toward their way of doing business. And they might beat us at it soon. He is dead on right. It is a sad state of affairs.

    1. Agreed, and it’s disappointing to see these countries being intelligent enough to understand how necessary capitalism is while our crop of sleeper agent children of the corn spoiled brainless socialist zombie morons that democrats have so lovingly nutured from little seedlings is ripe just in time to make us the fools of the world, adopting the system of rule the rest of the world has either abandoned, is moving away from, or set to the side to make room for some capitalism. Not us though, no, we must move back into the 20th century so they can have their little childish games.

      Very disappointing to say the least.

      1. sleeper agent children of the corn spoiled brainless socialist zombie morons

        Now this is excellent abuse. You sir, are an artist, a prince of invective. If I were wearing a hat, I’d take it off.

  5. I Googled Hart, he is in the top 100 fin. advisors published by the Wall St Journal and Barrons. He worked for Goldman..I am pretty sure his point is well thought out.

    He is a humor writer mostly, this is a bit staid for his P J O’Rourke like style.

    1. A couple of his articles I read really were quite funny.It’s interesting to know he knows his stuff too.

      Not too confident in the readership over at the New Hearld, though. Did you read some of the comments over there at the site this article linked to. Maybe they better hire some zombie hunters.

  6. Government [read: Obama, first black president] is taking more money than pimps muscle from their sub-contractors, and we are all out there turning tricks for them.

    Do I really need to say it?

    1. this is a bit problematic as well:

      At least a pimp protects his hookers, which is yet another economic reality that escapes this administration.

  7. Ron Hart sucks.

    Fuck off, sockpuppet legions!

    1. Slurp! Slurp!

      1. What does that even mean?

        1. Good question. I don’t have an answer. A fascination with sockpuppets may lead to dementia.

          1. Perhaps dementia leads to a fascination with sockpuppets.

  8. Hart to Hart was the zenith of american television.

    1. What was the Sony or Toshiba?

    2. The Zenith was fine TV set. Ours had tubes in it, we kept a couple spares in case the ol’ girl blew one.

  9. his P J O’Rourke like style.

    I realize O’Rourke has gone downhill in the past few years, but this sort of slur is just gratuitously mean.

    1. When O’Rourke posited that a revolution of liberty can be assessed by the hot chicks in tow, I stopped listening.

  10. P Brooks, the sad and angry frustrated writer thinks he can advance his cause by nit picking others.

    Hart is very well liked, I think the masses have spoken.

    1. The people stink on ice.

        1. That said, Hart’s column was OK.

  11. Hart is in our paper in LA now, he has struck a cord with readers here.

    P Dribble, you clearly have it out for him and come off as dickish.

    Why must libertarians eat their young?

    No wonder we never win elections while having the best ideas.

    1. You obviously haven’t tried your young. Rub ’em down with a little garlic and mint leaf before broiling. You’ll swear it’s the finest lamb you’ve ever had.

  12. Humor works as a method to advance the libertarian cause. Hart does it the best right now. Who is better writing a column like his?


    1. Can’t argue with that.

      So ..tell me how you’re wearing whatever it is you’re wearing..

  13. Even though corrupt, these other countries to not have costly regulations and unions to deal with like the USA. We have the tri-fecta of bs to deal with here. Hart is dead on and funny as hell usually.

    Go torture a kitten PDick.

    1. So the US should increase the power of its crony capital corporations to the point where those pesky labor and environmental laws can be repealed and then we can beat the crony capitalists in China, Korea and India.

      1. [slap] What [slap] this means [slap] is [slap] it is more important [slap] than ever for you [slap] to get a brain[slap], my mush headed [slap] hippie [slap] progeny!

        [slap] [slap] [slap]

  14. Correction:

    Even though corrupt, these other countries do not have costly regulations and unions to deal with like the USA. We have the tri-fecta of bs to deal with here. Hart is dead on and funny as hell usually.

    Go torture a kitten P short Dick.



      What you do in your spare time is your business.

  16. “Crony capitolism” is right… the nation’s capitol IS full of cronies.

    Now, capitAlism…

    1. Yeah, I also thought the spelling was kinda clever.

      1. AND prophetic. Fits Fearless Leader 2.0 to a proverbial tee.

      2. Hey yeah, I think you just coined a a useful expression. Capitolism as distinct from capitalism. Capitolism should be used to describe the system of corporatism/economic fascism we enjoy in this country.

        1. “Capitolism” is too clever to work… and way hard to get across when speaking. Maybe as an inside joke… or Libertarian bat-signal.

        2. It fits whoever has the majority of power at any given moment, DW. Right now, it’s the gang of criminals known as The Obama Administration; a year ago, it was the gang of criminals known as The Bush Administration.

          1. Any suggestions on how to break the cycle?

            It feels like we’re being tag-teamed here. Seems I remember one before Bush called Clinton, Curiously enough during Bush Clinton was still riding around in Air Force one, but with Bush.

            What’s next, Bush and Clinton hanging out with Obama on weekends practicing their championship wrestling moves.

  17. Reality is a bitch:”India has heart bypass surgery outcomes equal to the U.S. at half the cost” What? We have the best hc here and the best price and the best outcome and everywhere else is horrible and….

    1. What’s the cost of malpractice insurance in India?

      1. Just sayin’, Texas has tort reform law and It has made no difference in the cost of health care.

        1. I don’t doubt that tort reform has made no difference in TX. I’m a psychotherapist in NC where suits against providers like me are relatively uncommon. Nevertheless, I pay the same for malpractice insurance as everyone else in 48 states. (My insurer has a surcharge for “any risk located in California or New York.”, which are regarded as tort lawyer’s heaven.)
          In addition, highly mobile health care providers are trained and practice throughout the nation. There is a throughly ingrained culture of defensive practice. Changing this culture will require a great deal more than tort reform in one state.

          1. NCDan, Why is there no effort by health care practitioners to cut the umbilical cord between themselves and insurance companies? I know that in my area (Fort Worth) there is a limited number of child psychologists and they take cash only. I think we can have better outcomes/service and rates in the long term. I have often wondered why health care providers simply become LLC groups with dispute mediation contracts and avoid malpractice insurance. When I stated Texas has tort reform law and It has made no difference in the cost of health care. I should clarify that the savings were not been passed down to the consumer but physicians were pleased.

            1. Color me sckeptical. Unless physicians have a cartel, competition should reduce fees if their insurance costs dropped as a result of tort reform.

              Of course, other factors are driving up rates as well, but to say it made “no difference” would require a comparison of health care cost trends between Texas and other states before and after reform. You havn’t provided that.

              1. “Unless physicians have a cartel” Hazel you are not suggesting price fixing are you?!

                “amednews: FTC finds price-fixing at physician IPAs, suggests legal”

                “amednews: California IPA settles price-fixing charges by FTC :: June”

            2. “””Why is there no effort by health care practitioners to cut the umbilical cord between themselves and insurance companies?””

              1. Because it’s their lifeline. 2. Because the government doesn’t pay cash.

              Insurance allows us services we can’t afford on our own. I’m not surprised that there would be a limited number of child psych providers that take cash only.

              1. Vic, I think you already know insurance companies don’t pay cash. They pay you x amount, after x quantity of days and only if you file correctly and promptly. Of course, insurance companies are your lifeline and so is crack to the addict. Yes, the government does not pay cash but guess what? People do. ” Insurance allows us services we can’t afford on our own.” We know that is untrue (except for catastrophes) unless you have a HSA. We do know that most people have no idea of the true cost of their doctor visits.

    2. What is the income of heart surgeons in India? Or, say, the average income of MDs in India?
      What are the regs and resulting costs for medical facilities?
      What is the land cost for the hospitals in India?
      What sort of records are they required by reg to keep?
      What are the pay scales for nurses and other support personnel?
      Let’s just say you’re offering an innuendo based on skimpy data.

      1. Sorry, it is fact: “an estimated 6 million Americans will travel abroad for surgery, according to a 2008 Deloitte study. “Medical care in countries such as India, … a 24-hour personal “patient concierge” is also provided, a level of service that’s standard among many of the top medical travel planning companies”

        1. How much do you want to bet that most Indians don’t have health insurance.

          1. Health insurance companies are out of the picture completely for the most part. That is why it works. Insurance companies interfere with treatments.

  18. Don’t worry son, one of these days you’ll write a real insightful kneeslapper like Bob Herbert does twice a week.

  19. Slurp! Slurp!

  20. Just askin’ in this case.

    What is “Slurp! Slurp!” and how does it fit into this thread?

    1. :::phew::: I’m not the only one that didn’t get it.

      1. I’ve seen it before and thought it was odd.

  21. P Brooks (or other Hart detractors), what exactly do you hate about Hart? Admittedly, he’s not a brilliant stylist, but he’s almost always on target.

    Compared to the vast majority of chattering cheesedicks out there, I’ve found his columns pretty worthwhile.

    1. That wasn’t the real P Brooks. The real P Brooks retired 10 years ago and lives like a prince in Patagonia.

      1. Hi Naga! Missed you 😉

  22. Penguin-

    I find Hart to be weak (to say the least), trite, and basically unreadable. He doesn’t suck as much as Chapman; he’s got that going for him.

    The inevitable tedious stampede of fans/sockpuppets every time his stuff gets linked here is what really annoys me. Why this should be, I cannot say.

    1. If you have a petition, I’ll sign it.

  23. I kind of view him as a Dave Barry / O’Rourke “lite” columnist. Not quite as funny, but with a decent amount of wit and insight.

    Maybe it’s just a matter of expectations. Set yours to “Bad Chapman Column” or “Bad Friday Funny”, and Hart will start looking really good.

  24. Hart = Marmaduke (with a typewriter)?

  25. Who needs the free market when you have bitch-boy Obama and his magic wand to solve all problems?

    More than a few retarded fetuses in this country I wouldn’t mind seeing getting some extra health care.

    1. Does euthanasia count as health care?

      1. A woman has a right to chose.
        Three generations of imbeciles are enough
        What right does Sarah Palin have to burden our community with Trig?

      2. You call it ‘murder’, I call it abortion.

  26. The reason the Administration was reluctant to let the banks pay back TARP is because they are all underfunded and insolvent. They still need capital desperately, and it’s going to look really goddamn bad when the markets take another turn down and all these banks need back the money they were so eager to dispose of in order to pay out some bigger bonuses to their crappy executives.

    Nitpicking here maybe, but there are about 3 million other things to criticize about the Obama Administration before you get to its kid gloves treatment of the financial industry.

    1. You talk about bad banks failing like it’s a bad thing. If only the Bush admin had let that happen the economy would be recovering by now.

      1. I sort of half agree with you here … yes the banks should have been allowed to fail, but I think the economy would have suffered a much worse short-term collapse, which would have set the stage for sustainable long-term growth. After 30 years of bubbles, we need to “hit bottom” in a sense. So far we haven’t.

        What I meant to take issue with in Hart’s column is the idea that the banks are some kind of helpless pack of damsels in distress, being crushed under the iron heel of those anti-finance rough riders in the Obama admin.

        I would rather live in a world without bailouts. But given that bailouts are the order of the day (for as long as political will allows), I would rather not allow these companies to discharge capital (which they obviously still need) for the sole purpose of paying their employees more. If they’re going to fuck the taxpayers, I’d rather they fuck them just a little bit instead of as hard as humanly possible.

        1. Some of us like it rough.

      2. To put it another way, if I thought that allowing the banks to pay back TARP now would actually make them less likely to get bailed out in the future, I’d be all for it. But I don’t think that’s what the banks have in mind. And it’s certainly not the kind of narrative Ron Hart is spinning.

      3. Something about saving banks and the Bush family. Remember daddy Bush and the savings and loan crisis of the 80’s?

    2. Re: Graphite,

      The reason the Administration was reluctant to let the banks pay back TARP is because they are all underfunded and insolvent.

      If this were true, it would mean the Administration is made of fools and nincompoops that have some sort of personal problems with the idea of being PAID BACK.

      If I lend money an the guy is willing to pay me back earlier, why would I care about the soundness of his finances? I am getting paid back!

      The real reason the Administration did not want the money back is because they could not keep the racket up if they had nothing to extort the banks with. Think in Chicago terms and you will see the rationale behind the Administration’s actions.

      1. The banks are in on the racket. They are not being “extorted,” you are.

        1. Think AIG, graphite.

          Who were AIG’s counter parties on the CDS’s? The banks. Especially Goldman Sachs.

          GS got face value on the AIG paper it was holding, because AIG got bailed out. If AIG had gone bankrupt, it would not have.

          GS paid back the bailout money it received with the money it got from AIG (and possibly other banks as well). But AIG will never pay back the bailout money it got.

          The other back door is Fannie and Freddie. Now on the hook for a cool $400 billion.

          Either way, the banks are getting bailed out. Just not in a way they will ever have to repay.

          1. Ok, I still don’t see how this translates into “the poor banks are being treated unfairly by President Obama” or “we should let them repay the TARP despite the almost-certain knowledge that they will remain undercapitalized and will come back to ask for another bailout as soon as they get into the slightest trouble again.”

            1. we should let them repay the TARP despite the almost-certain knowledge that they will remain undercapitalized and will come back to ask for another bailout as soon as they get into the slightest trouble again.

              Unless we’re really planning to really really cut them loose this time. Given the bail-anything-and-everything-out ideology of the current Treasury Secretary, I doubt it.

              1. Oh, the point is that they really won’t need another bailout, because they already got backdoor bailouts from the GSEs and from AIG.

                But, yes, you are correct that Obama isn’t exactly being a big meanie to the banks.

        2. +1

          Clearly someone is being reasonable

          1. Where?

            1. I don’t see anyone being reasonable!

              1. I’d have to look up that word.

                1. Hey, Olbermann… be a buddy? Look on and find out why my leg is still tingly?

  27. The company this magazine keeps, I’m sure it’s more odious now than it was a while back. Your fear of poor bastards asking for a raise has made you jump into bed with very very odd company.

    1. You wouldn’t believe the company WE keep…

      1. Hah! You think you’re so great!

        1. We’re older than any of you upstarts, AND we’re loyal to The Cause. Top THAT.

  28. “While opposing offshore drilling at home, the Obama administration found $2 billion of U.S. Export Import Bank money for a Brazilian oil company for drilling off Brazil’s coast. Why? Leading Democratic donor and pseudo-Bond villain George Soros owned a large position in the Petrobras Oil Company. I can envision Soros stroking his hairless cat and saying “exxccceellent.””

    As someone herepointed out a few weeks back, the George Soros who lobbies against the US tapping its petrolium resources is the same George who holds a major investment in Petrobras(and a self-admitted teen looter of the homes of Jews sent to the death camps).

    1. *ding!*

      Good points, Clint.

    2. I thought foreign nationals were prohibited by law from donating to US political campaigns.

      1. Oh, that’s just a formality.

        1. Indeed, why not? Foreign national are prohibited from being US presidents too.

      2. Me and Bill did pretty well getting around that formality…

      3. It’s no big deal. Everyone does it.

      4. More precisely, US political campaigns are not allowed to take money from foreign contributors.

        You’re probably thinking of Soros’ 527-org contributions, but that’s a bit indirect for him to be getting political favors like that.

        1. Wasn’t there something about Gore and nuns giving him funneled money, or something? It’s a bit hazy…

          1. I wouldn’t be surprised. I’ve met some turpitudinous liberal nuns in my time.

  29. What I meant to take issue with in Hart’s column is the idea that the banks are some kind of helpless pack of damsels in distress, being crushed under the iron heel of those anti-finance rough riders in the Obama admin.

    It’s professional wrestling. Obama the Magnificent heaves the evil moneylenders out of the ring, then chases them up the aisle brandishing a chair. Once they’re out of sight, they all fall down in a pile and laugh their asses off, while smoking cigars and guzzling champagne.

    1. Yes, exactly. The banks are repaying their salary-capping direct bailouts, but they are receiving indirect bailotus via AIG and the GSEs that they won’t have to repay at all. Nobody expects the GSEs to repay the $400 billion they are in the hole, or AIG to repay the $180 billion (last I checked) it’s in the hole.

      In September 2008 Goldman Sachs got $10 billion in TARP funds, in march it has received $12.9 billion from AIG. By June it had paid back the TARP funds. You figure it out.

  30. They fine-tuned the bailout; now, the fed loans gives money to the banks so they can buy Treasury Bills and collect the interest. Taaah- daaaaaah! the banks are making money.

    1. What interest? The fed rate is 0%.

  31. Ohh P Dicks, angry and envious is no way to wade through life. You still have your diary, you stll are allowed to write in there right?

  32. And P Dickhead will always have his letters to Penthouse. A collection of angry yet loving letters to himself.

    Like the rest, I love Hart’s column. Only because they are on point, witty, and different than anything else I read. He is like the libertarian Jon Stewart.

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