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Ode to an Economics Troll

Troll sat alone on his seat of stone,
And critiqued what the Austrians did enthrone;
For Hayek had got his triangle backwards, clear
But a rebuttal was hard to come by.
        Done by! Gum by!
In a cave in the hills he dwelt alone,
And a rebuttal was hard to come by.

Up came Bob with his big boots on.
Said he to Troll: "Pray, what is yon?
It looks like Prices n' Production o' my nuncle Fritz.
As should be a-lyin' in the graveyard.
        Caveyard! Paveyard!
This many a year has Fritz been gone,
And I thought his books were lyin' in the graveyard."

"My lad," said Troll, "Hayek’s triangle you extol
But what be a theory with a logical hole?
Thy nuncle was dead as a lump o' lead,
Afore I wrote my Critique.
        Weak! Shriek!
He can spare a share for a poor old troll,
For he don't need his theory whole."

Said Bob: "I don't see why the likes o' thee
Without axin' leave should go makin' free
With the books or the larning o' the Austrian's kin;
So hand the old book over!
        Rover! Trover!
Though dead he be, it belongs to he;
So hand the old book over!"

"For a couple o' pins," says Troll, and grins,
"I'll refute thee too, and gnaw thy work’s withins.
A bit o' fresh theory will go down sweet!
I'll try my polemics on thee now.
        Hee now! See now!
I'm tired o' gnawing old books and skins;
I've a mind to refute mod' Austrians now."

But just as he thought his reputation wrought,
He found his hands had hold of naught.
Before he could mind, Bob slipped behind
And gave him the boot to larn him.
        Warn him! Darn him!
A bump o' the boot on the seat, Bob thought,
Would be the way to larn him.

But harder than stone is the flesh and bone
Of a troll that sits in the hills alone.
As well set your boot to the axiomatic root,
For the seat of a troll don't feel it.
        Peel it! Heal it!
Old Troll laughed, when he heard Bob groan,
And he knew the young Austrian could feel it.

Bob's reputation is game, since home he came,
And his doctorate degree is lasting lame;
But Troll don’t care, and he’s still there
With the rebuttal he boned from its owner.
        Doner! Loner!
Troll’s old seat is still the same,
And the rebuttal he boned from its owner!

You see, Bob pushed his analysis to caveman days,
But Troll insisted that value in the future lays.
Value is always subjective, not intrinsic at all,
And supply is not the same as stock, he explained.
        Reigned! Deigned!
The Economics Troll won, Hayek’s triangle he did raze,
As Axiomatic Theory prevailed, Austrianism waned.

(with apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien)

For reference, this poem mentions the following literature:

Prices and Production by Friedrich Hayek, 1935

Critique of Austrian Economics by Victor Aguilar, 2004

A Reply to Aguilar by Robert Murphy, 2007

A Rejoinder to Mr. Murphy by Victor Aguilar, 2007

Capitulation by Robert Murphy, 2007

Gold Does Not Have Intrinsic Value by Victor Aguilar, 2008

Free Online Poetry - Some of It Actually Rhymes!

A Sinking Ship Drowns All the Rats

A sinking ship drowns all the rats.
It used to be, a rising tide lifts all boats,
But not now, when we're all eating cats!
And the SEC picks out the sacrificial goats.

Hayek said, higher-order goods are volatile,
Engineers are laid off first, salesmen last,
But now everybody the economy does rile,
Even restaurants fail as the people do fast.

Issuing the world's reserve currency was
Like writing checks that no one cashed.
Instead they bought our T-bills because
We had nothing to sell.  But it didn't last.

China is now worried about the T-Bill.
If we stiff them, their army might come,
And if their treasury we cannot fill,
Wen Jiabao will break Obama's thumb!

But not to worry!  Obama says he'll cut
The federal deficit in half.  Just in time
For the election, we'll jump out of that rut,
And the juggernaut will turn on a dime.

Yeah, right!  And maybe aliens will come
And rescue us all with their technology.
Does Obama really think we're that dumb?
To have bought a pie in the sky, we must be.

Words…  They meant something once.

Liberal used to mean a belief in liberty,
Rugged individualism.  But now they ask,
What can the government do for me?

Conservatives used to defend our tradition,
Distrusting untried schemes.  But after 9-11,
It took them a week to void the Constitution.

Property rights used to mean one could dispose
Of one’s property as one liked; sell it to anyone.
But no more; we need permission before it goes.

Libertarian used to mean a belief in our freedoms,
Now “libertarian socialist” is how Marxists describe
Themselves in their profiles on political forums.

Words; they meant something at one time,
But now it’s all doublespeak and subterfuge,
Stripped of meaning, words aren’t worth a dime.

Note:  See my Critique of Burczak about property rights.

Gold!  Gold!  Gold!  Gold!

Gold!  Gold!  Gold!  Gold!
The yellow metal has intrinsic value,
At least that’s what we are told.

Gary North says it’s so, and he would know.
He’s the investment guru of LewRockwell.com,
So it cannot – must not! – be a job of snow.  No!

“A 50% drop in GDP during the first half of 2009.
Gloom!  Doom!” cries Karl Denninger.  But why,
Did he ban from Market Ticker this poem of mine?

“In coin shops all political truth can be found.”
So says Jeffrey Tucker.  But how does he explain,
Why our golden investments have all run aground?

Zounds!  $850, $250, $1000 and $700 in thirty years.
Gold prices are volatile, at least that much is clear,
I don’t get this dizzy after a whole case of beers!

Gold bugs claim:  They’ve made millions since 1983.
But they’re living in plywood shacks in northern Idaho.
Should we believe what they tell us, or what we see?

In Moses’ time they danced around a golden calf,
Now teabaggers say, “Gold is money made by God.”
Not much has changed.  What a laugh!
Hard Times Make Monkeys Eat Red Peppers

Steak or the seafood restaurant?  I can’t decide!
That was 1999.  Now to buy some pork and beans,
I hop on my bicycle and to the grocery store I ride.

The Chinese restaurant was my favorite, I liked their duck,
Now I snare them at night while dodging the park ranger,
I wouldn’t want to get arrested; that would sure suck!

Through the airport in a business suit I once did stride,
Now I spend the night sleeping on the hard plastic chairs,
Pretending to be waiting for planes I cannot afford to ride.

“Our budget is red,” the mayor wails, “whatever can I do?”
Now traffic cameras flash and cops look for taillight cracks,
The mayor found a solution:  The workingman he’d screw.

Children walk up and down store aisles for hours on end,
While their mother searches for work; a job she needs,
For to daycare her children she cannot afford to send.

Does the government care about her?  No, not at all,
They’ve got billions for the bankers and automakers,
But nothing for her, who sits on the curb and bawls.

50 Ways to Leave the Euro

“The problem is all inside your head”
She said to me
“The answer is easy if you
Take it logically
I’d like to help you in your struggle
To be free
There must be fifty ways
To leave the Euro”

She said, “It’s really not my habit to intrude
Furthermore, I hope my meaning
Won’t be lost or misconstrued
But I’ll repeat myself
At the risk of being crude
There must be fifty ways
To leave the Euro
Fifty ways to leave the Euro”

Just get up and go, Papandreou
Show Merkel who’s boss, Venizelos
What you built now goes, Papademos
The tie that binds now rends, Athens

Paid Goldman Sachs a hefty fee
So your debt level we couldn’t see
But now you talk of austerity?
Just set yourself free

She said, “It grieves me so
To see you in such pain
I wish there was something I could do
To make you smile again”
I said, “I appreciate that
And would you please explain
About the fifty ways?”

Just get up and go, Papandreou
Show Merkel who’s boss, Venizelos
What you built now goes, Papademos
The tie that binds now rends, Athens

Paid Goldman Sachs a hefty fee
So your debt level we couldn’t see
But now you talk of austerity?
Just set yourself free

(With apologies to Paul Simon.)

Karl Denninger deleted my Gold! poem and banned me the first time I posted it on Market Ticker forum in November 2008.  A month later I tried again and he left my post up but banned me and my IP address, which was an internet café.  Click here to read my e-mail exchange with Mr. Denninger.  I have since added a new third verse to my poem in his honor.

Denninger is a frequent contributor to www.321gold.com and is a blogger at Market Ticker.  I looked up Denninger’s archives at Market Ticker to see what sort of posts meet his high standards and found this whopper on 23 December 2008, marked in red text to draw attention to itself, even in the blizzard of boldface and underlining that marks Denninger’s rants:

“WARNING TO BANKING EXECUTIVES: If you do not return the bonuses, stock options and country club memberships bought with taxpayer bailout money, YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS will be made public in a manner designed to "incite" a reaction by the public. (Special emphasis on the word "incite!)

“You have until Friday, December 26, 2008 to return the money. There will be no negotiating, no obeying of court orders of protection, no way to prevent being dealt with harshly.

“I don't care about your employment contracts, I don't care about your civil rights and I sure as **** don't care about the law or the courts.

“You guys have ****ed this country for the last time. It's time for you to be paid back and I intend to see that you receive your payback.”

How does Denninger get away with posting death threats in bright red text like this?  Easy.  He knows that his semi-illiterate followers will only read the simple words in bright colors and boldface so, in bland gray text, he adds some weasel words about how this was really written by somebody else (Wink!  Wink!) and Denninger is shocked (Shocked, I tell you, shocked!) that anybody would mention v- v- v- violence.  Horrors!  Of course, if he is really so shocked, then why did he re-print the threat in bright red text for everybody to see?  And why do his weasel words also say that such threats are "entirely predictable" and "unlikely to be an isolated incident?"

Karl Denninger is basically a nutcase with a long history of writing threatening letters to elected officials and to people in the financial community.  On 22 December 2008 he sent a threatening letter to every member of Congress, apparently unaware that they were in recess.  On 19 November 2008 he demanded that “____ needs to be locked up - or BBQd and eaten - for penning this article,” and then quotes a serious discussion of economic policy.  While I do not agree with everything this gentleman has written either, it was penned in good faith and certainly does NOT justify death threats.  I would never ban anybody for opposing my view that gold does not have intrinsic value, but I DO believe that anybody who posts death threats on the internet should be banned.

The only actual theory that I could locate in Denninger’s rants was his citing Kondratieff on 13 December 2008.  I have already dismissed Kondratieff’s long wave theory in my paper, Michael Roller – Prophet of Doom, so there is no need to belabor that point here.

Incidentally, the prediction mentioned in my poem that GDP would fall by 50% was made on 18 December 2008.  Let’s hold him to it next July!  Denninger writes (boldface and underlining in original):

“Government has already added another $2 trillion to the debt tab which means that they have added more than 10% to the amount of contraction necessary in nine months time, and they are still adding to the bill!

“This lunacy must stop.  If it does not by mid 2009 we will be so far underwater that we could literally see GDP cut in half, which would be a depression far worse than the 1930s.”

Edit:  On 21 December 2010, Karl Denninger endorsed the National Emergency Employment Defense Act by Dennis Kucinich, which I critique here.