The Wickedly Funny Burt Blumert
[This review originally appeared on LewRockwell.com.]
Libertarians tend to be an intense lot. After all, with government making a mess of things economically and constantly infringing on our freedoms, what is there to laugh about? It's a full-time job being outraged. Who has time for anything else? But the dictators and their apparatchiks come and go, and the days, months, and years still march on. Everyone has a life to live and fighting the good fight for liberty while having a laugh or two is the way to a happy, fulfilling existence.
Burt Blumert has been fighting that good fight for decades, all the while poking fun at the government thugs, societal decay, political correctness, the medical-industrial complex, the persecution of Barry Bonds, and anything else that has slid under his skin. Burt's the kind of guy who seems like he was born wise. Thus, it's no surprise that, as David Gordon writes, "He knew almost everyone important in the libertarian movement, as well as in the hard money community of which he was a leading member." Up until Lew Rockwell persuaded Burt to put his views of the world on LewRockwell.com, only Burt's friends and customers benefited from his keen and funny insights.
Thankfully, since November 1, 1999, LRC readers have had the benefit of reading about the world through Blumert's eyes. Bagels, Barry Bonds, & Rotten Politicians is a compilation of Burt's missives, published by the Mises Institute, of which Burt is chairman of the board.
Burt captures the outrage of anyone who must fly frequently, with his piece written just after 9/11, "Revisiting The Friendly Skies." "It was like a WWII newsreel: the endless line of defeated people pushing their luggage," he begins, "inching toward the inevitable checkpoint." Seven-plus years later, the punk economy has made the lines shorter, but we now have a beefed up TSA workforce outfitted in snappy new blue uniforms. And as if metal detectors weren't bad enough, soon all passengers will be electronically strip-searched insuring that only the best and brightest will continue to seek employment with the TSA.
"Adjusting is part of the human condition," Blumert writes in a piece celebrating the TV remote-control device, poking fun at the nonsense that's on television, and skewering various TV personalities such as Wolf Blitzer, Bill O'Reilly, and Bill Maher. Ironically, the leftist Maher has often provided a forum on his show for Burt's pal Ron Paul since Paul ran for president in 2008.
There is probably no more revered profession than doctors. After all, doctors are thought to know everything — just ask them. But an entire section of Burt's book is devoted to why he hates doctors, or at least most of them. In one piece he recounts a story that a friend and medical editor told him about a doctors' strike in Israel. Undertakers protested and stopped the strike because their business was being harmed.
For those who haven't fallen for the siren's call of party politics, but are considering it, Burt's articles on third parties, conventions, and delegates are a must. He has been there and done that, serving on the Libertarian Party National Committee from 1987–89. He was treasurer of the 1984 Libertarian Party presidential campaign and was Ron Paul's campaign chairman in 1988. "Delegates to political conventions rank amongst the lower forms of animal life," Burt writes. "They are mindless adherents who fit Lenin's description of movement followers as 'the swamp.'"
Blumert spent some of his formative years at the racetrack and watching baseball. And while he vigorously defends Barry Bonds, the beloved horse Seabiscuit is no champion in Blumert's view. While Bonds is "true baseball royalty," Seabiscuit "doesn't rate in the top 50." Seabiscuit's match race victory over War Admiral was "more hype than history."
For those having an interest in buying gold, Burt owned and operated Camino Coins for decades, and, as you would expect, a number of the essays in the book concern the yellow metal. Besides providing plenty of good advice, Burt gives a historical perspective to buying gold that precious-metals newbies may not be aware of. It has only been since 1974 that gold ownership has been legal. "Many of the products we handle today would have sent you to prison then," Burt explains. "Markets were rigidly controlled and the gold police were always lurking."
Burt also writes skillfully about movies, books, and the deficiencies of modern culture, but my favorite pieces are about Murray Rothbard. It was my great fortune to have studied under and been friends with Murray, and I am equally blessed to know and be friends with Murray's close friend Burt Blumert. Murray was more aware than anyone of the ongoing evils perpetrated by government and he was never given the proper recognition in academia. But he was constantly happy and loved to laugh. Now I know Murray wasn't a joyous libertarian by himself; he had help from his smart, wickedly funny best friend Burt.