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January 7, 2013

Goldfinger Would Envy Latest Taxpayer Shakedown

“It has become fashionable to despair of our supposed recent lack of technological progress. All the big inventions ofmodern society — jet engines, television, nuclear weapons — were on the scene by the early 1960s.”

“Proponents of this view should watch the classic James Bond movie Goldfinger.” Made in 1964, this entertaining (and politically incorrect) thriller features an egomaniac financier intent on irradiating the U.S. government’s official gold holdings to drive up the price and make what he estimates will be a profit of about $180 million (about $1.3 billion in today’s money).”

“Goldfinger’s technology — including a dirty nuclear device and nerve gas delivered by aircraft — seems very modern in some ways. The physical equipment of the mid-1960s is very similar to what today’s villains have at their disposal.”

“Yet Goldfinger’s economics are completely anachronistic. A modern archvillain would create the conditions for a major financial crisis, and walk away with cash compensation while sticking the rest of us with the kind of tax bill that came due this week. This isn’t fiction: Our recent fiscal-cliff experience and the next round of the debt-ceiling debacle (due around the end of February) are the direct result of irresponsible behavior in the financial sector.”

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