Weekend thoughts from the Sage of Baltimore

PT privacy thinkers, wealth creators and offshore philosophers like us are constantly amazed by the bizarre and insane things happening in the world. We only need to turn on CNN, BBC or Fox News to be amazed.

Amazement, I believe, is a source of infinite richness. When we were children, we could easily be amazed at all the things the world had to offer. It’s something that we lose as we grow up, unfortunately. “I’ve seen it all before,” is a typical attitude.

The thing these days is that I am amazed not so much by what the world has to offer (a lot) but by how stupid some – dare I say most – of its inhabitants are.

Fortunately, readers of The Q Wealth Report can sit back with a certain smugness and quiet inner confidence because we know what’s going on. Well, sort of.

We can laugh, for example, about the swine flu saga, which officially passed off the radar a few days ago and is now a non-issue. I don’t normally have time for internet jokes but I saw a great internet floater yesterday with some real and photoshopped images of face masks making fun of the whole swine flu fiasco. I can send it to anyone who is interested.

But what was behind Swine flu? A huge transfer of wealth, that’s what. Some people lost (small Mexican restaurant owners), some people (those selling snake oil, vaccines, face masks and state health services for example) certainly gained. More than that, I don’t know. I don’t get in to conspiracy theories. Or as libertarian writer H.L. Mencken said,

“The fact that I have no remedy for all the sorrows of the world is no reason for my accepting yours. It simply supports the strong probability that yours is a fake.”

On that note, here are a few more thoughts from Mencken for the weekend. Mencken, for those who don’t know him, was an American journalist and newspaper man known as the Sage of Baltimore. Wikipedia calls him “one of the most influential American writers and prose stylists of the first half of the 20th century.”

Mencken On Taxes

Unquestionably, there is progress. The average American now pays out twice as much in taxes as he formerly got in wages.

Mencken On Change

The world always makes the assumption that the exposure of an error is identical with the discovery of truth – that the error and the truth are simply opposite. They are nothing of the sort. What the world turns to, when it is cure of one error, is usually simply another error, and maybe one worse than the first one.

Mencken On Democracy

[Democracy is] based upon propositions that are palpably not true and what is not true, as everyone knows, is always immensely more fascinating and satisfying to the vast majority of men than what is true. They turn, in all the great emergencies of life, to the ancient promises, transparently false but immensely comforting, and of all those ancient promises there is none more comforting than the one to the effect that the lowly shall inherit the earth.

Mencken On God:

It is impossible to imagine the universe run by a wise, just and omnipotent God, but it is quite easy to imagine it run by a board of gods. If such a board actually exists it operates precisely like the board of a corporation that is losing money.

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