Gold and Genocide
A writer for The Atlantic wonders why the United States government is hoarding so much gold. It’s a great question: if gold is the barbaric relic, and we’re all Keynesians now, why hold onto nearly 9,000 tons of it? Might the U.S. fear a return of gold’s ascendancy? That’s my theory, but the writer has a different one: “Owning the commodity allows the government to enjoy the aura, if not the substance, of monetary prudence—a state of grace otherwise lacking in budgetary matters these days.” It’s an odd theory. Basically, he’s saying the gold let’s us pretend that we’re fiscally responsible, kinda like the white buildings in Washington let us pretend we’re pure. I don’t buy it, and I don’t think the writer does either. Right after the above quote, he ends the article with an observation that every gold bug repeats every day: “The best reserve-currency system is gold, because no other central bank can print the damn thing.” * * * * * * * The article is a nice little piece, but it has two notable deficiencies. First, this comment, which could only fall from the lips of a spendthrift liberal: “Under current law, income from the sale of gold must be used to reduce the national debt. But nothing would stop Congress from rewriting the regulation to permit other uses.” And there’s no mention of the rumors that Fort Knox doesn’t really have all the gold it claims. I don’t know the validity of the rumors, but Fort Knox is shrouded in secrecy and high security and no independent audits. Such things naturally lead to wild rumors . . . and sometimes, the rumors aren’t so wild. * * * * * * * Another article from The Atlantic: Dark Tourism: Cambodia tries to turn its bloody history into a sightseeing boom. The country wants to combine tyranny with tourism and create “a theme park devoted to the Khmer Rouge.” Yikes. It’s hard to imagine. Will they have cartoon Pol Pots walking around, shaking hands? Ride the Social Engineering Roller Coaster? The Kampuchea Twister? The Genocide Gut Dropper? Actually, not as bad as that, but the article offers a look at one bizarre trait of contemporary man. These are the two most-interesting paragraphs from my weekend reading:
The Cambodian Ministry of Tourism plans to restore 14 Khmer Rouge–era buildings in Anlong Veng, which became the Communists’ last pocket of resistance after Vietnamese troops overthrew the Khmer Rouge in 1979. For years, the town was a fief run by Pol Pot (the dictator formerly known as Saloth Sar) and his deputy Ta Mok (who was known as “The Butcher”). A number of sites from that era will be rebuilt as attractions, including Mok’s lakeside compound, Pol Pot’s house and the bungalow on a cliff where he was eventually imprisoned, a radio station that used to broadcast propaganda, and a munitions warehouse—complete with stockpiles of the anti-personnel mines that not infrequently still rip the legs off local farmers.
The popularity of grisly sites all over the world has grown substantially in recent years. According to professor John Lennon of Glasgow Caledonian University, the author of Dark Tourism: The Attraction of Death and Disaster, a global demand for “authentic” attractions has turned thanatourism into an increasingly profitable sector of the tourism business. More than a million people visit Auschwitz annually, while millions more take in the Tower of London. Today’s Lonely Planeteers flock toward the bridge over the Kwai River, synonymous with the brutality of the Japanese army during World War II, and the Wolf’s Lair, where Hitler survived an assassination attempt in 1944. Tour companies offer package trips to Baghdad, Sarajevo, and Chernobyl.
My apologies that I haven’t weighed in on the Pope-condom controversy. I just thought the thing was so stupid, it’d die out quickly. Here’s what B16 said: “There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection.” So B16 is saying it’s alright for a male prostitute to use a condom? Okay, maybe, hard to say, but who cares? It’s like B16 saying, “If you’re going to put a bullet in that twelve-year-old girl’s skull anyway, it’d be okay to use a non-environmentally-safe bullet.” I mean, male prostitutes? We’re dealing with a sexual act so deviant that it makes everyone outside the prison population blush. If the guy wants to use a condom as part of the deviancy, that’s the least of his problems. I’m not saying that was B16’s point (I don’t think it was), but the mere fact that he put the condom statement into that context is the true indicator of his stance on prophylactics. * * * * * * Request: BYCU Special “Black Wednesday” Edition comes in two days. If you see any interesting drinking-related items, please email them to me. Thanks!Bookmark it: del.icio.us | Reddit | Slashdot | Digg | Facebook | Technorati | Google | StumbleUpon | Window Live | Tailrank | Furl | Netscape | Yahoo | BlinkList