14A047 A Walk in Boston by Jim Davies, 10/9/2014    


Cities have their charms, but on the whole you can mark me down as a country boy; yet one day last week I had occasion to visit this great metropolis. Here's what it taught me.

About to board the bus in Concord, NH, I encountered a very tall man, better dressed than most around us, so I asked if he was our driver. "No," he replied, "but the government owns this bus, you know!" Not quite what I'd expected to hear, so I debated briefly whether the DOT number painted on its flank really meant that the shareholders of Concord Coach Lines had forfeited their property, and asked "Are you a Libertarian, or something?" Thanks to the Free State Project, one meets good people more frequently here.

Once in Boston and after running my errands, I did a walkabout, for the day was fine.

The retailers were unsatisfactory. Several gave me the clear impression that my patronage was not vital to their wellbeing. The old, reliable principle that no company has more valuable assets than its customers seems, in Beantown, to have been replaced by the view that sales assistants are public servants, for whose attention I should be grateful. One was a huge, black, cheerful fellow in Radio Shack; my watch was playing up so I asked if he could change its battery. No, he replied, sorry, I can sell you the battery but to install it you need to call at a watch store. Thanks much; back in Newport, NH, another (small, white) Radio Shack assistant who obviously loved taking electrical things apart (and putting them together again, which is the tricky bit) did the job in two minutes flat and thanked me for the trade. Score another for New Hampshire.

There was one exception, though; thanks to Ted Kennedy the old elevated I-93 "Expressway" was replaced in the 90s by burying it underground in the Big Dig; he leaned on his buddies in D.C. and so ripped a healthy chunk of the total $22 billion cost off you, the generous American taxpayer. Thank you! The city center is much more pleasant, with a well-tended green ribbon of parkway winding its way through the tower blocks. One part of it was paved for an open air market, and one vendor sold fresh veggies. Never was a display of produce more appealing! I spent 50 cents on an ear of corn - my favorite emergency lunch - and have never munched on a bigger, juicier, sweeter ear.

The tall office buildings are awesome, though I did get to wonder about what their occupants did all day; particularly about the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Understandably, La Yellen needs half a dozen clever Keynseyans to advise her when to adjust the printing press - but hundreds upon hundreds of them? In Boston alone, merely one of twelve? The building itself is shaped roughly like a wad of $100 bills, stood on end and suspended by a clothes peg at each side, with a large gaping hole directly under the wad. Very impressive. It seems to say to the rest of the world approaching Boston Harbor, "See what a magnificent empire we have built, with currency supported by nothing whatsoever." In-your-face arrogance, nicely expressed by architectural symbolism.

I meandered over to Boston Common, another pleasant splash of green, and noticed first the large number of mostly black men sitting on the benches, fully absorbed by those little palm-sized thingies made by Apple, Samsung and others. Perhaps they were checking their stock portfolios, or (so I'm advised) polishing their resumés and searching the Net for jobs; but I did gain the impression that they were playing videogames. If so, such is the unemployed underclass; such is the fruit of the minimum wage, so beloved of the Democrats, those champions of the poor and downtrodden. Is it better for them to waste their lives in electronic fantasy lands, or to beg on the street (as a few were)? Neither of the above, in the coming zero government society; for every one will find employment at some price. The labor market will clear, for there will be no laws to stop it.

Next on the Common, I noticed the gray squirrels. They are far more sociable than those in the sticks. Twice, I saw someone entice one to take a morsel from his very fingers, and the man/rodent interaction was delightful.

Lastly before plunging back into the concrete canyons, I paused by a memorial to the Boston Massacre of 1770. A bas-relief portrayal of the murder of Crispus Attucks by soldiers of the "legitimate" government of the day prompted me to observe to a fellow tourist that such is what governments do, when people resist them. That started a nice chat for a quarter of an hour. Is violence necessary to throw over a government? - not, of course, that Crispus was armed, but what resulted was a war. And then a new government, which in a couple of centuries has become vastly more intrusive and oppressive than that of His Late Majesty, King George III. How very much better simply to stop working for them. "Withdraw support," as de la Boëtie advised, "and you will see the Colossus fall of his own weight and break into pieces."

Before returning home I had to check that the Tea Party was still in progress, and sure enough, there it was, as elegant a sailing ship as ever facilitated mercantilist trade. The exhibition in Boston Harbor prolongs the myth that Americans somehow oppose taxes, so as to confuse the kiddies growing up in each successive generation. But not for much longer.

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