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The Gambling Gremlins

Those Good Fairies Who Want to Make Us Rich With Their Magic Wands.

Market Worship. The trolls are always rhapsodizing about the “magic of the marketplace.” And it is absolutely true that, under the right circumstances, markets are a wonderful means getting assets as well as goods and services to where they are needed and desired. They are the blood stream of the economic organism. But that is not why conservatives love them. The constant ebb and flow of prices means they are a wonderful place to speculate. Markets easily become casinos. Indeed, when you hear about the “marketplace” in the news media, it is the market as casino they are talking about. Who is winning and who is losing.

The Financial Fairies. And we simple elves are urged to participate. The friendly financial fairies of the media rush to give us advice, so very, very anxious are they to help us get rich in the grand lottery of the marketplace. But those kindly-seeming financial fairies are really gambling gremlins, and the wealth they seek to increase is theirs, not ours. They have the ability to manipulate the market, and one of the ways they do that is by telling us how to place our bets. They assure us that we will get rich if we only just buy the stuff they have and would love to sell: sell at the inflated prices that will result when we eager fools rush out to buy. And they have information that we do not have, all of which means that over the long run, they will win and we will lose.

The gambling economy has grown so enormous that it threatens to overwhelm the real economy, to drown it in a tsunami of irresponsible speculation. Indeed, that is essentially what happened when the housing bubble collapsed.

Super-Elves. But the investment fable, although the oldest of the current narratives the plutocrats use to keep the lower orders quiet, it has become secondary to the rousing tale of the “super managers.” The rich, we are told, are so much more wealthy than us because they are so much smarter. Trolls are no longer in fashion; rich folks get that way by working harder and smarter than the rest of us. Trolls? What trolls? Nobody here but us Super-Elves.

[Next: The Thrilling Tale of the Super-Elves.]