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The Moneysburg Address

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Remarks rumored to have been delivered by Justice Antonin Scalia at an Opus Dei gathering on July 4, 2011

Eleven score and fifteen years ago our Incorporators brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in free markets, and dedicated to the proposition that all corporate persons are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great financial and legal crisis, testing whether those markets, or any markets so conceived and so dedicated, can long remain totally free. We are met on an inflated balance sheet of that crisis. We have come to extend a mighty portion of assets, as a book value preserving holding place for corporate persons who finessed enormous fortunes through beggaring men and women so that those corporate persons might prosper. It is altogether fitting and proper that we, the free market acolytes of corporate persons, should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot hypothecate — we cannot market rate — we cannot estimate – these assets. The financially engineered persons, living free on the indebtedness and taxes of men and women, are the true heroes who innovated here. They have hypothecated and traded these derivatives far beyond our poor imaginations to do more than extend and pretend. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us their nominal trustees, rather, to be dedicated to the unfinished work that they who morally hazarded and secreted away so much have thus far so nobly advanced. It is for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining — that from these free and mighty and untaxed persons we take increased devotion to that cause for which every day they insist on the last full measure of Constitutional personhood — that we here highly resolve that these legal persons shall not have incorporated in multiple jurisdictions in vain — that our free markets, under Mammon, shall have a new birth of corporate freedoms — and that government of the persons, by the persons, for the persons shall not perish from the earth.

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91 comments

    1. Jim Tarrant

      Of course, this is a satire and a pretty good one at that. What it is not is anything written by Antonin Scalia, at least not the one on the Supreme Court.

        1. Cedric Regula

          Next, we free the slaves. Up to 9.2% unemployment already!

          Then we’ll let them vote. The girls too. But only once per pre-framed and approved issue. And you have to be over the age of 18 and under the age of expired.

          1. Cedric Regula

            I was a little worried that they might scour the obituaries and funnel campaign contributions thru Bear, Lehman, Enron and Worldcom. But maybe that won’t happen.

      1. JEHR

        What! You don’t recognize the Gettysburg Address? Shame on you!!! I’m not even American and we had to memorize it, stand up and say it and sit down and write it without recourse to original. I’m flabbergasted!

        I suggest you google it and read it over 16 times. It’s the best literature you are likely to read today.

        1. Foppe

          Thanks, but I’m enjoying David Harvey’s Cosmopolitanism and the Geographies of Freedom too much. :)

      1. attempter

        The speech is fake, but corporatism is no joke at all, however much the corporatists on these threads continue to lie about it. The speech depicts the mindset of Scalia and others with precision.

        1. Anonymous Jones

          Oh, please. This is third rate satire.

          It doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of how damaging Scalia’s biased Nostalgism is to most citizens of this country.

          Frankly, this piece is incoherent and seemingly not based on any of the *really* preposterous things Scalia casually asserts in his opinions.

          It seems clearly to have been drafted by someone who has not studied the man’s opinions. This little fact tends to undercut the efficacy of the piece. Hard to appreciate satire when you know the author is completely ignorant of anything resembling a full picture. Get back to me after you actually waded through the language of the opinions.

          Scalia should be excoriated. This bunk just serves to make his detractors look like fools.

      2. ambrit

        Much less the Opus Dei folks. Imagine the fun the McCarthyites could have had with them back then. We personally knew a Catholic family that had a cross burned in their front yard here in Mississipi back in the ’60s.
        And, oh yes, the word you’re looking for is Parody.

  1. hapa

    my parents took me to moneysburg as a kid. i particularly enjoyed the lighted diorama reenactment of 3 seconds of trading, having dropped acid like a friend said to.

    my father told me it was a great moment in the history of free enterprise. for my mother, who grew up in the global south where they call it ‘the war of neoliberal deception,’ it was a bittersweet moment of nostalgia for a lost quality of lifestyle.

      1. stevesewall

        Right, lollard, there is good stuff going here. And Yves will remembered for this one.

  2. LRT

    It would really help if, instead of all this stuff, people would just say how they would like society to function in their preferred universe, and in particular, how they would see it being kept on the rails and functioning as they would like.

    Its the problem one always has with academics who rant about something called socialism. One asks, and how will people get housing? Will they buy houses? Rent them? Use the classifieds to find them? Where will their money come from? Who will own industries? Will there still be companies?

    I have no idea what answer any of the radical dissenters here and elsewhere would give to these questions. attempter has in mind some kind of small scale food gardening, though exactly what happens between December and April when the ground is covered with snow, who knows? Will there still be large movements of crops around the country? Where will wheat be grown? Milled? Baked into bread? Will there still be armed forces? Lockheed, will it still exist? Owned and run by who? Doctors, hospitals, teachers, how will that be structured?

    You see the problem. If you don’t have answers to these questions, how is it possible to take the thing seriously other than at the level of its an expression of emotion?

    1. Foppe

      Huh? Capitalism is coherent, and organized in a top-down fashion, with a ‘plan’ thought out from the beginning? Your post seems to rest on a most peculiar set of implicit assumptions.

      1. Sufferin' Succotash

        The most peculiar assumption is that there are no choices besides the “capitalism” we have now and a “socialist” strawman straight out of Ayn Rand.
        The next step is to conflate “market forces”–which turn out to be synonymous with whatever Paul Ryan’s drinking buddies want–with Laws of Nature. Anything else is a first step on the Road to Serfdom which ends at the Totalitarian Ant Heap [cue scary portentous music].

        1. Foppe

          Oh, yeah, that too. Sorry, don’t live in the US, so Rand isn’t exactly a part of my cultural background. I tend to forget she even existed most of the time, along with L. Ron Hubbard.

          Anyway, it’s nice how, following Rand/Ryan’s plans for the past 30 years or so, the US (along with a bunch of other countries at a somewhat slower pace) now actually is on the Road to Serfdom. I’ve never actually read it, but I’m curious: how accurately did the author prophecy these developments?

          1. LeeAnne

            Ayn Rand isn’t part of any cultural background. It is a part of the great propaganda experiment that is the ruin of checks and balances in governance in the US.

            Gregory Peck, the Hollywood archetype for the free principled educated self-made sexy American male was a very enjoyable movie.

            It took the 1960s and screwball right wing Christian fanatics to elevate the novel to a political economic theory.

          2. F. Beard

            It took the 1960s and screwball right wing Christian fanatics to elevate the novel to a political economic theory. Lee Ann

            Sorry but you are wrong. Any Christian who actually reads the Bible will find Ayn Rand’s philosophy repugnant.

            Of course, it may well be that right wing Christians don’t read the Bible.

          1. hermanas

            I endorse Camus in the his dispute with Sartre that Sisyphus could enjoy his labors.

          1. LeeAnne

            correction to the above, but minor. It was Gary Cooper -ditto Gregory Peck as archtype.

            “The novel was made into a Hollywood film in 1949. Rand wrote the screenplay, and Gary Cooper played Roark.” Wiki

    2. pj

      How about if we just initiate respectable laws and then enforce ‘em?

      Most of the problems we have in life are caused by folks who want to cheat their way to the top.

    3. Just Tired

      LRT, you just don’t get it. The exercise consists of observing things, just as you have, but then pointing out that everything is theoretically impossible. I’d call it reverse de-engineering.

    4. attempter

      attempter has in mind some kind of small scale food gardening

      You’re either a liar or have the worst reading comprehension of anyone I’ve ever come across, if that’s what you think I’ve advocated. You’d better go read it again.

      http://attempter.wordpress.com/series-on-food-sovereignty/

      …though exactly what happens between December and April when the ground is covered with snow, who knows? Will there still be large movements of crops around the country? Where will wheat be grown? Milled? Baked into bread?

      My goodness, how did people survive for tens of thousands of years with non-corporate agriculture?

      Or do you have one of those new-fangled Bibles where creation begins with synthetic fertilizer?

      Lockheed, will it still exist?

      No.

      1. Cedric Regula

        Monks made the grain harvest into very strong beer and stored it at the monastery in the winter months. You can make mead from honey too!

        1. Cedric Regula

          Actually, I’m not worried about living in AZ anymore. Killer bees made it here from S. America, and I realized I can make Killer Bee Mead. Cool!

          Not sure where craazyman is gonna get his red wine, tho.

    5. aletheia33

      if your questions are sincere, there are plenty of places around the blogosphere and around the world where intelligent people are working on the answers and visioning how it could all work together. if you truly want to know, the next society is already being constructed and its builders are delighted to keep you updated.

    6. F. Beard

      You see the problem. If you don’t have answers to these questions, how is it possible to take the thing seriously other than at the level of its an expression of emotion? LRT

      The problem is obvious: The population has been driven into debt slavery and their jobs stolen via a government backed counterfeiting cartel, the banking system.

      The solution is obvious too: Abolish the banking cartel and bailout the entire population.

      Nothing radical is required – just restitution for theft and the abolition of the means by which it occurred.

  3. timotheus

    I can’t believe people didn’t recognize the obvious satirical reference in line 1. No wonder the jokes in the WSJ aren’t funny.

  4. Rex

    “Eleven score and fifteen years ago”

    Lessee, 11 * 20 = 220 + 15 = 235, 2011 – 235 = 1776!

    Yay! Nice math. Happy belated 4th!

    But with 10% capitalization we get 23.5 years,
    2011 – 23.5 = mid 1987. The previous big crash.
    Ain’t numbers great.

    I know, just go with it.

  5. Norman

    Satire or what? Regardless of the political bent, they all require a labor force. It would be an interesting exercise to see what the opinions would be if the roles are reversed. In this day of speed, that is one item, an important item, that is missing in the equation. Food for thought!

  6. readerOfTeaLeaves

    It is for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining — that from these free and mighty and untaxed persons we take increased devotion to that cause for which every day they insist on the last full measure of Constitutional personhood — that we here highly resolve that these legal persons shall not have incorporated in multiple jurisdictions in vain…

    Just one tiny question from the peanut gallery… Scalia may have given the talk, but can we just be clear that the News Corp and Citi and BoA tax attorneys and taxHavenFunctionaries did okay the text first…?

    I mean, I just can’t think Scalia would’ve given it without first sending for review to those Incorporated Persons to whom he is most dedicated…?

    1. Just Tired

      Being of Italian descent, I often wonder if the attacks on Justice Scalia are mostly politically incorrect jokes about my people((Italians are still fair game BTW). There is another man of the law, also of Italian descent, and his name is professor Lino Gralia. Both would be described by liberals as conservative nut cases. Mr. Gralia however dares to propose an antidote to his Supreme court counter-part — it’s called the legislature. Professor Gralia dares to suggest that Justice Scalia’s so-called misguided interpretations of the constitutional implications of the law could be cured by the stroke of the pen — otherwise called legislators doing the job for which they were elected. Get over it folks. You want the law to mean something different — tell the fools who write them to do some editing!

      1. F. Beard

        Being of Italian descent, I often wonder if the attacks on Justice Scalia are mostly politically incorrect jokes about my people((Italians are still fair game BTW). Just Tired

        I think you are mistaken. It never occurrence to me till now that Scalia was Italian.

      2. Sufferin' Succotash

        As a member of the anti-Italian lynch mob (with an ancestor named Bonetti BTW)I can only admire the creativity with which victim status is claimed for Justice Scalia.
        I’m also wondering how many strokes of the pen it would take to undo Bush v. Gore or Citizens United.

        1. Just Tired

          So Big A made the others who voted with him in Bush v. Gore an offer they couldn’t refuse?? The beat goes on!

          1. Sufferin' Succotash

            Gosh, you don’t mean to tell me that Tony’s really a made guy!?
            You learn something new every day.
            In that case, I’d better zip it before I commit another hate crime by venturing to criticize the Honorable Justice.

          2. Just Tired

            I shoulda not had to tell you. Kinda like Murpy’s Law: Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean your NOT being followed, we have Pistalaglione’s Law: Just because you don’t believe in stereotyping doesn’t mean we ain’t all Wiseguys.

        2. Just Tired

          BTW, SS, constitutionally speaking, shouldn’t you be more angry at those Electoral College villains since they were the one’s who actually did in your pal Al. Of course, your response will be that Big A alone would have reversed their vote too. As far as Citizens is concerned, a corporation is a creation of the State and there is no constitutional guarantee that they can even exist…and if they don’t exist, you don’t have to be Yogi Berra to know that they ain’t got no rights if they ain’t there in the first place. A stroke of the pen…

      3. exprof

        I agree Just Tired. And with just 50 strokes of the pen you can get a constitutional amendment passed every time Scalia makes a faulty interpretation of it. What could be simpler?

  7. Steve

    This should be pretty obvious black humor for anyone who has read the Gettysburg Address (not all, I realize). I think the lack of recognition of it being humor shows how depressing the situation has become.

  8. Philip Pilkington

    There are rumours going around that Scalia is an Opus Dei member.

    We had a serious problem with Opus Dei in Ireland for many years. They took all my great aunt’s money and there were rumours that they used to have members among some quite powerful people. They used to recruit in colleges. When people came to Dublin from the surrounding country they often felt lonely and Opus Dei would sweep in and try and tie them in for life.

    Not too much of a problem these days (I think), my understanding is that their main base of operations is in Latin America now. Can’t complain, but that still doesn’t bring back my great aunt’s money… Thieving bastards!

    1. ambrit

      Mr Pilkington;
      Would it be outre to suggest that Judge Scalia is a modern Jan Tetzel?
      Tetzel was made an inquisitor for Poland in 1509. Considering how like Opus Dei is to the original Office for the Propagation of the Faith, the new watchword should be; “But no one expects Opus Dei!” Ta da!
      Sorry about your aunts’ legacy.

      1. Sufferin' Succotash

        This wouldn’t by any chance have been the same J. Tetzel who was seen peddling plenary indulgences to poor peasants in Saxony around 1517 or so.
        I seem to recall reading something about some anally retentive Scripture professor at Wittenburg U. named Luther who got really ticked off about that.

        1. ambrit

          Dear Prof;
          Indeed it would be the same Jan “Ecce Homo” Tetzel. His was an early example of Diabolic Regulatory Capture. As for that Luther cat, he showed just how anally retentive he was when he denounced all those ‘revolting’ peasants later on. Those were the days when political and religious dialogue was ‘impassioned’ and ‘robust.’

      2. Dean

        I believe the “Opus Dei” is a reference to a certain quote by a Wall Street CEO. For the record, Opus Dei translates to “the work of God”.

        It seems more of a jibe at Wall Street that The Catholics, particularly in light of the Catholic Pope’s writing on economics.

        Indeed, Scalia seems almost diametrically opposed to the economics endorsed by the Pope in Caritas in Veritate (Love in Truth).

        1. ambrit

          Dear Dean;
          All things of this earth, being mortal, are imperfect. The Church is not a monolithic institution, and never really was. Today we have the Latin Mass movement, the Charismatic Catholic movement, the Social Justice movement, etc. etc.
          Hence, Judge Scalia can propound an egregiously reactionary social philosophy with a ‘pure heart’ and no feeling of apostasy at all. It’s like being a Thark. You can be from the Dead Sea Bottoms or the abandoned cities of the highlands. No matter where on Barsoom you come from, you will be assured that you are one of the Green Race.

  9. brian

    nothing sadder than a person of high intelligence so lacking in any moral compass and/or so anxious to ingratiate themselves to the wealthy and powerful for what?
    status?
    material wealth?
    when their skills could easily provide a life of comfort by other means
    in the end the only justice is history judges them as at best a footnote
    i am reminded of sir richard rich
    who perjured himself and betrayed thomas moore

    1. exprof

      Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts won’t even be remembered for 20 years after they retire. Occasionally one of their horrible opinions will be dug up and laughed at with a shaking of the head at the horrible judgment they had.

  10. Tao Jonesing

    @LRT,

    “It would really help if, instead of all this stuff, people would just say how they would like society to function in their preferred universe, and in particular, how they would see it being kept on the rails and functioning as they would like.”

    First, you do realize that you are responding to satire, don’t you? I can’t imagine you would have responded to Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal by saying “Hey, it would really help if, instead of all this stuff, people would just say what they’d do with the Irish instead.”

    Second, people here have been talking about solutions for years. If you missed that conversation, the fault lies with you. Or maybe you just didn’t like the proposed solutions? Maybe you’re really asking us to propose a solution that works for you better than the current criminal FIRE sector, whose systemic control fraud, which brought us to this juncture, continues unabated and is accelerating in some areas? If you think defending the status quo is defending capitalism, you need to have your head examined. What you are defending is the biggest criminal syndicate of all time. The fact that the syndicate is making more money off of capitalism than anybody else does not mean that the syndicate is a producer.

  11. Justicia

    Great parody but, as always, life manages to trump art every time — Annals from the Age of Corporate Feudalism:

    “Fish Commission To Lease Waterways for Gas Drilling”

    “The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission said it plans to lease portions of its 43,000 acres of waterways for natural gas exploration to generate money to rebuild more than a dozen dams that are in danger of collapse.

    Donegal Lake, a popular trout-fishing area in Donegal Township, will be the first commission property in Southwestern Pennsylvania to be drilled for Marcellus shale natural gas, according to commission spokesman Eric Levis.

    The commission estimates it will need $78 million to repair the 16 dams, which are classified as high risk because they cannot hold 50 percent of the maximum precipitation that a region could receive.”

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/s_746067.html

  12. dbk

    Rhetorically, this is a pointed satire which is presented in the form of a parody of one of the best-known speeches in U.S. history. And it isn’t just the opening line – it’s the cadences and the text’s entire periodic structure that have been re-created.

    @LRT
    “It would really help if, instead of all this stuff, people would just say how they would like society to function in their preferred universe, and in particular, how they would see it being kept on the rails and functioning as they would like.”

    Okay, I’ll rise to the bait. My preferred universe would be one in which the guiding principles of human existence were equitability and sustainability; one in which the CEOs of hedge firms earned 40x times what workers do rather than 400x; one in which even the poorest and the weakest were accorded respect; one in which the ethos of humanity prevailed over that of … er, not to put too fine a point on it, “naked capitalism.”

    And yes, I would be willing to pay very dearly for these values, and to forego many of the trappings of 21st century Western individualistic capitalism to achieve these objectives: universal education to the highest level an individual is capable of attaining; universal health care to ensure that each individual lives, and dies, in dignity; an environment free of life-threatening pollutants to drinking water, food, the seas, the air; untainted elections at every level; regulation of all bodies that tend towards depriving human beings of the above.

    In short:
    “…commitment to create a world fit for children, in which sustainable human development … is founded on principles of democracy, equality, non-discrimination, peace and social justice and the universality, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelatedness of all human rights, including the right to development.”
    -UN Declaration “A World Fit for Children” (2002).

    1. Dan Duncan

      Gosh, thanks for explaining this dbk. We couldn’t have “gotten it” without your help.

      Rhetorically (of course), I must point out one thing:

      It’s not a f*cking parody. [I won't bore the audience with a tedious explanation of what a Parody is....Look it up yourself.]

      I suppose I could have let it go…but you just had to begin your comment with the achingly pretentious explanation…so that we could all follow along.….

      Only to f*ck it all up.

      Pretentiously Erroneous: Rhetorically with a perfectly-pitched cadence within a periodic structure, it’s the placement one’s self–unwittingly—at the ass-end of an unrecognized self-parody.

    2. Jim Tarrant

      @LRT. My feelings exactly and, in truth, a universe most fair-minded Americans would probably agree with. Unfortunately, of course, the ruling elite is diametrically opposed to everything you just wrote.

  13. hermanas

    IMHO future historians will look back at this budget split, evenly divided between the healing arts and the killing arts and it’s resolution with wonder.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Would it be too much to ask that all government officials live in log cabins if we taxpayers have to pay for them?

    1. ambrit

      Sir;
      I think the Republicans, much as they like buggery, would feel uncomfortable with the image that would convey.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Good point…I didn’t think about it. Not sure if Lincoln had to be concerned about it, but if it will work better, we will make them co-ed log cabins.

  15. Paul Tioxon

    This is truly fair and balanced bashing of the right wing and Obama. Let’s see, Scalia is Lincoln like and Obama is a Republican failure. Not fair, you need to find a democrat in this metaphor. May I suggest Obama applying the JKF speech at American University in it essence as follows:

    “Our problems are MARKET DRIVEN – - therefore, they can be solved by THE MARKET. And THE MARKETS can be as big as THEY want. No problem of human destiny is beyond THE MARKET. Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable – - BUT THE MARKET CAN DO IT BETTER.”

    This offers a true fair and balanced exposition of what makes the American Uniform Commercial Code the envy of capital markets everywhere. God Bless Wall St. Taxes must be destroyed!!

  16. Seth

    Great satirical piece. I’m just waiting for the “Scott Dread” decision in which Scalia will paraphrase Roger Taney to write: “Men and women have no rights which a corporation is obliged to respect.”

  17. LRT

    Of course I understand this is satire, my point is, this is ill directed and childish. The issue is, how are we to live, how are we to structure our economies, and how, having done that, are we to keep them that way.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You need to get familiar with Otpor. Humor is one of their most important tools.

      1. Skippy

        LOLZERS…

        Otpor steered clear of the traditional opposition tactics of marches and rallies — partly out of necessity, because the group didn’t have enough people to pull them off. Instead of political parties’ gravity and bombast, Otpor adopted the sensibility of a TV show its leaders had grown up watching: Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Its daily work consisted of street theater and pranks that made the government look silly and won coverage from opposition media. Wit was perhaps not always achieved, but it was always the aim.

        The most famous stunt involved an oil barrel painted with Milosevic’s picture. Otpor rolled it down a busy street, asking people to insert a coin in a slot for the privilege of whacking Milosevic with a bat. This was Otpor’s favorite kind of prank, a dilemma action: It left the regime damned either way. If the government had let the barrel roll, it would have looked weak. But when the police stepped in, the optics were no better: The Otpor members fled, and the opposition TV the next day showed pictures of the police “arresting” a barrel and loading it into the police van. The country sniggered at these pranks — and signed up for Otpor.

        http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/02/16/revolution_u?page=full

        Skippy…Full of WIN[!]. To be *snickered* to death, a punch line, is their Greatest Fear!

        PS…the good old days…sigh.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe1a1wHxTyo&feature=related

      2. monday1929

        Yves, now we are “raical dissenters”. For wanting the law enforced, or for having a sense of humor?
        I think we have been paid a compliment, or been added to a watch list, or both.
        Thanks for the smile.

    2. Paul Tioxon

      Since we have no juice with the republican caucus, what do you mean “how we structure our economy”. No one is negotiating with us about the economy. Maybe you have some power that you are not sharing with us? Is that nice?

  18. anon48

    “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here…”

    Hopefully true – ten years from now after the their cages have been locked and keys thrown away.

    Anyway late to the game- nice job, I really needed a good belly laugh after the tough day today. Thanks!!!

  19. Skippy

    Sigh…as I was informed today on CNBC Squabox (squab-”loose, fat flesh”) via the (Thugliklan) Scoot Garrett and (Lamocrat) Jim Hines. The battle line being drawn is … Property Authority is issued by God or Government …FTW…Ass Tears!

    Too me, this is, a direct attack on LAW it self, who’s law[s comes first stuff, talk about monsters under the bed!

    Skippy…SCOTUS opines making more sense now…eh. Barbwire crowns for the lot…as they deliberate….methinks, sick of the guises.

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