Oh, Joyful, Joyful Coronation Day

I was awakened this morning by bright sunlight that penetrated the shade on my bedroom window. A bright, sunny winter day is not an unusual occurrence in southeast Louisiana, where I live, but today’s brightness and sunniness were the brightest and sunniest I have ever seen. Something has changed.

I went out to tend the birds as I normally do. Released from the main henhouse, the birds burst forth creating their usual happy cacophony of liberation, only this time as the roosters crowed, the hens clucked, the ducks quacked, and the geese honked, they crowed, clucked, quacked, and honked with an ecstatic exuberance I have never heard before. Something has changed.

In the distance, I spied a lone hawk. Of all the predators that menace the birds, especially the small ones as they range freely during the daytime, the hawks are the most fearsome. Over they years, they have taken a terrible toll. But today, notwithstanding the hundreds of yards that separated me from the raptor, I discerned for the first time a benign glint in his steely eyes. Something has changed.

As I went about my chores, I realized that despite my many criticisms of Keynesian economics over the years, Paul Krugman’s “depression economics” might actually bear fruit at last. If the hens and the roosters, the ducks and the drakes, the geese and the gander all pitch in and do their part, there can be a positive multiplier effect. Something has changed.

Not until I had completed my chores and returned to the kitchen did I realize that I, too, was no longer the same. The chronic aches and pains that plague me had disappeared. Moreover, the spiritual outlook that more than one psychiatrist had diagnosed as anxiety and depression (before Tom Szasz convinced me that I simply lack the gumption to cope with life’s workaday problems) had evaporated, and my heart was filled with gladness and newfound longing for the glorious future I am now convinced awaits me—as indeed it awaits all mankind, regardless of race, creed, sexual preference, or previous condition of servitude. Something has changed.

I do not follow the news closely. Years ago, I discovered that no matter what the news media reported, I could recall their having reported the same thing ten or twenty or thirty or forty years earlier, so it seemed pointless to waste time absorbing information about events that differ only in the specific names and dates that fill in the blanks today. Nevertheless, I am aware, as todo el mundo are, that today in the imperial capital, a new emperor is being crowned. The media report that he will be acknowledged as a new Sun King, only more splendid by far than the original Roi Soleil.  Louis XIV, they say, looks like small potatoes in comparison with the new emperor. Obviously, something has changed.

And it’s not simply that the new emperor rules the entire world, whereas his piddling predecessor ruled only France and Navarre. It’s a more spiritual difference. Almost fifty years ago, we Americans crowned another handsome young king, who raised our spirits by assuring us that a rising tide lifts all boats, but his youthful wit was no match for the assassins’ bullets. Old Louis knew how to deal with court intrigues, gathering the aristocrats in Versailles where he could keep a close watch on them. Unlike our new emperor, however, old Louis would never have made the cut as a male model. So, clearly, something has changed.

Le Roi Soleil had some enemies, too, whereas the new emperor basks in the glow of universal adoration. And why not? Has he not explained to us in words too simple and plain to be misunderstood that we are all in this together, whatever “this” may happen to be? And we might be wise to get ourselves ready for some mighty exciting times—stimulating times, you might say. Face it: we’re all in this stimulus together.  Under the old emperor, Bush II, only the aristocrats and the hangers-on at the court got rich. Now, though, if the economy should faint from the stress of excessive stimulus, we may console ourselves that we are all in this together. Something has changed.

Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute, author or editor of over fourteen Independent books, and Editor at Large of Independent’s quarterly journal The Independent Review.
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