Tolkien and the fiscal cliff

What the dragon Smaug has in common with Americans for Tax Reform.

Jeff Weintraub points out that Tolkien, in The Hobbit, foresaw Grover Norquist’s constituency:

When the dragon Smaug discovers that one cup has been removed from his vast golden hoard, how does he respond? He falls into “the sort of rage that is only seen when rich folk that have more than they can enjoy suddenly lose something that they have long had but never used or wanted.”

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

12 thoughts on “Tolkien and the fiscal cliff”

    1. Well, if he didn’t know how to spell his own name correctly (e before i, as in “Kleiman,”) that’s hardly my fault. But I’ve made the change.

      1. “The name “Tolkien” (pron.: Tol-keen; equal stress on both syllables) is believed to be of German origin; Toll-kühn: foolishly brave, or stupidly clever – hence the pseudonym “Oxymore” which he occasionally used. ”

        The sentence I quoted is from the first section “Childhood and Youth”. I seem to remember Tolkien writing letters about his name to inquiring fans, but I lack the energy to go through the Letters of JRR in search of this particular needle.

        1. Maybe the Tolkien Society could get together with a group I know of which consists of a group of state employees who have been recognized for their excellent work. The Tolkien collectors and the Keen Toll Collectors might enjoy meeting one another.

  1. Incidentally, I believe that Smaug is a prevision of Ron Paul – an aged, destructive, manipulative, gold-obsessed creature that has successfully annihilated all trace of civil society anywhere in his immediate vicinity, and has a positive loathing of any sort of diversity.

    1. I picture Smaug as more the federal government. Ever more wealthy, thanks to stolen wealth; He creates no wealth himself, after all, it was all taken from others.

      1. This is an interesting misunderstanding about government. In fact, places with governments are always more prosperous than places without.

        1. I know of no place without governments, though one or two places suffer under multiple competing governments. Much better to be under the thumb of one mafia gang, than to find yourself in the middle of a gang war.

          You might prefer to be under the thumb of no mafia gang at all, but they don’t offer you that option.

          1. “You might prefer… no mafia gang at all, but they don’t offer you that option.”

            Who is “they”? Lacking a stable, predictable government, you get warlords — because “they” can be any random person who craves power, has weapons, can attract supporters, and lacks scruples.

            Constantly equating the U.S. government to a mafia gang is reckless and irresponsible. By this kind of reasoning, there is no real difference between President G W Bush (to take Obama out of it) and Stalin, Mao, or … Franco.

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