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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/10480/madmen-and-government-regulations/

Madmen and Government Regulations

August 18, 2009 by

The AMC’s Madmen, themed around New York advertising executives in the 1960s, captivates viewers for its plots, fashions, shocking levels of political incorrectness, and, most of all, because of the way its draws viewers so closely into a world of the early 1960s that they never knew.

It seems like time travel, like all of this is really happening. It’s so realistic that 20-something bloggers constantly talk about how “dead on” the show is, as if they would even know. The whole show has become such a culture phenom that it defines for the whole generation the way it views the postwar/pre-Woodstock era of America.

Having some affection for those fashions and times, I was prepared to like the show, and there is no question that the production values are the tops. But hidden inside the show turns out to be another agenda, which seems designed to glorify the regulatory state that came after the times featured in the show. FULL ARTICLE

{ 23 comments }

Barry Loberfeld August 18, 2009 at 7:53 am

RE “fastening a noose” around business:

If Big Business was the devil of Progressive rhetoric, it was nonetheless the beneficiary of Progressive policy. How did Progressivism’s means lead to such a corrupt end? How did a movement that advocated greater democracy, that insisted that the “National Government must step in and discriminate … on behalf of equality and the average man” (Croly), bring about the rise of bureaucracies that were removed from democratic review and “invariably controlled by leaders of the regulated industry” (Kolko)? Along with the chasm between the myth and the market, an illuminating answer can be found in Dewey’s own definition of democracy: “that form of social organization, extending to all areas and ways of living, in which the powers of individuals shall … [be] directed” — by the State, which can justly be described as the god of Progressive belief.

FROM HERE

2nd Amendment August 18, 2009 at 8:16 am

“I’m still waiting for a show about the real madmen of the era, those who imagined that fastening a noose around the whole of business culture was the only way to get us to behave in a civilized way.”

Who is going to civilize those who want to “civilize” us ? Where’s their noose ?

If weak citizens must be regulated and “civilized”, how come the all powerful government goes unaccountable and unchecked ?

It’s not about regulation of civilizing, it’s about command and control, domination, power and this is the exact opposite of civilized.

It’s funny that the most barbarian part of mankind is the one doing the “civilizing”.

All this is a crazy making experience.

Mark K August 18, 2009 at 8:29 am

I had come to the same conclusions about the show as Mr. Tucker. The entertainment industry is simply incapable of art that does not advance their marxist agenda. A celebration of freedom is just not on the menu–the message is always there, heavy-handed and didactic.

The disturbing things on the show no doubt happened from time to time, but the artist’s trick is to conceal the good and exaggerate the bad.

Heard so much about it and bought the first season on DVD–not sure if I will even finish watching the whole season. Lots of potential, but liberalism makes bad art–its predictable, ham-fisted, and two-dimensional. The human condition is rich, complex, and ambiguous. What passes for mainstream art these days fails on all three counts.

Current August 18, 2009 at 8:44 am

In the UK they made a couple of very successful TV cops shows set in the 1970s and early 1980s, “Life on Mars” and “Ashes to Ashes”. A prominent police officers from that time said about them, their depiction of policing “has got nothing to do with real policing in the 1970s. It could not be more inaccurate in terms of procedure, the way they talk or the way they dress. In all the time I was in the CID in the 1970s I never saw a copper in a leather bomber jacket and I never heard an officer call anyone ‘guv’. … Actually, there were a few police officers in London who started to behave like Regan and Carter in The Sweeney, but that was a case of life following art, not the other way round.”

This is the reality of TV. Depictions of the past aren’t based on history, their based on earlier TV shows.

Rafael August 18, 2009 at 9:12 am

I suggest we don’t overdo the historical nostalgia. Your points are well taken, about the growth of some forms (most of them relatively innocuous) of government intervention since 1960. But more egregious intrusions have been eliminated since then. The patriarchy was formed precisely because these WASP men from Ivy League schools were friends with the political overlords, who in turn ruled the economy from on high via Keynesian demand management. Never again will Americans submit to so much strangulation of the economy as at that time, and that is the true reason why the boozy, incompetent, chauvinistic blockheads who people the show Mad Men will never again maintain an artificial monopoly on commercial success in America. The true tale is one of throwing off a corporatist state that created the stultifying and undynamic privileged hierarchy in the show. This notion of the nanny state appearing out of nowhere to rescue us from a laissez faire 1960s is stretching the facts quite a bit.

HayeksHeroes August 18, 2009 at 10:58 am

The rise of attorneys probably had as much to do with the restrictive society we live in today. As corporations grew, they needed an ever expanding legal depts. Law Schools popped up, but not everyone wanted to practice corporate law. All new areas of the law appeared. The fact is that the government can pass all the laws they want, but they don’t mean anything if they are not enforced. Lawyers became the enforcers because they saw how much money could be made. Billions were made off tobacco and sexual harassment. Are we any better off? I can’t date my secretary, I have to wait until five to get a drink and my clothes don’t smell of stale smoke.

Mark K August 18, 2009 at 11:00 am

The ‘blockheads’ who people madmen never maintained a stultifying hierarchy–they are actors. Its a tv show, not a real ad agency.

HayeksHeroes August 18, 2009 at 11:01 am

The rise of attorneys probably had as much to do with the restrictive society we live in today. As corporations grew, they needed an ever expanding legal depts. Law Schools popped up, but not everyone wanted to practice corporate law. All new areas of the law appeared. The fact is that the government can pass all the laws they want, but they don’t mean anything if they are not enforced. Lawyers became the enforcers because they saw how much money could be made. Billions were made off tobacco and sexual harassment. Are we any better off? I can’t date my secretary, I have to wait until five to get a drink, my clothes don’t smell of stale smoke, my wife does not have the option to be a housewife and no wealth has been produced by this litigation.

JustiniantheGreat August 18, 2009 at 1:07 pm

HayeksHeroes

The rise of attorneys probably had as much to do with the restrictive society we live in today. As corporations grew, they needed an ever expanding legal depts. Law Schools popped up, but not everyone wanted to practice corporate law. All new areas of the law appeared. The fact is that the government can pass all the laws they want, but they don’t mean anything if they are not enforced. Lawyers became the enforcers because they saw how much money could be made. Billions were made off tobacco and sexual harassment. Are we any better off? I can’t date my secretary, I have to wait until five to get a drink and my clothes don’t smell of stale smoke.

Hey, buddy, you don’t drink until five or date your secretary because you choose not to. As a lawyer who has enjoyed professional closeness to staff and bacchanalian lunches that would make any madman blush, I can tell you that it is you, not lawyers, who have ruined things.

Just like you cannot blame the fellow on the watchtower at the concentration camp, you can’t blame us attorneys for making a living working the law. The State passes laws to enrich the few, that is true; but what defenses would you have, dear sir, if there were no attorneys to defend you?

Corporations hire attorneys to protect against the State. An imperfect situation, for sure, but perform a little counterfactual analysis and you’ll soon figure out that it could be a lot worse. A lot.

Pablo August 18, 2009 at 1:30 pm

I completely disagree with Mr. Tucker´s appreciation of the series. In fact, there is an episode in which the OCD driven boss Bertram Cooper suggests the main character Don Draper to read Ayn Rand´s Atlas shrugged. Although many times Ive read critiscism of Rand in this web site I can´t think of a show where you explicitly here from Libertarian authors. Needless to say that the show has its flaws. But, the show is far from Mr. Tucker´s description. My suggestion is watch the show, period. There isn´t any agenda for what I can tell.

Russ August 18, 2009 at 3:01 pm

JustiniantheGreat wrote:

“…Corporations hire attorneys to protect against the State….”

They also hire attorneys and lobbyists to get unearned benefits (corporate welfare) from the State. Big businesses tend not to favor free enterprise; they prefer to use the State to lock in the status quo.

Back to the topic of Mad Men… can’t you guys just watch TV shows for relaxation and escapism, like the rest of us? Must you subject every TV show to the libertarian version of Political Correctness Analysis? Damn, but that’s tedious!

Pablo August 18, 2009 at 3:10 pm

@ Russ,

I completely agree!

jgo August 18, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Yawwwn.

Mrhuh August 18, 2009 at 7:00 pm

If you’re sick to death of “Madmen”, then go to the movies to watch “The Goods” a capitalist comedy if there ever was one.

Tom Blanton August 18, 2009 at 7:21 pm

Mr. Tucker’s article on the Madmen show reveals more about him than it reveals about the show. It sounds as if Mr. Tucker is secretly glad that the regulatory state stepped in and made things more to his liking.

Apparently, Mr. Tucker doesn’t remember much about sixties culture. I doubt if he remembers watching newscasters smoke while doing their shows – or Jackie Gleason smoking AND drinking as the scantily clad June Taylor Dancers performed on his variety show.

If anything, Madmen shows that life went on and people prospered in a world without whining bowtied guys overly concerned with the behavior of others.

HayeksHeroes August 18, 2009 at 8:14 pm

“Hey, buddy, you don’t drink until five or date your secretary because you choose not to. As a lawyer who has enjoyed professional closeness to staff and bacchanalian lunches that would make any madman blush, I can tell you that it is you, not lawyers, who have ruined things.

Just like you cannot blame the fellow on the watchtower at the concentration camp, you can’t blame us attorneys for making a living working the law. The State passes laws to enrich the few, that is true; but what defenses would you have, dear sir, if there were no attorneys to defend you?

Corporations hire attorneys to protect against the State. An imperfect situation, for sure, but perform a little counterfactual analysis and you’ll soon figure out that it could be a lot worse. A lot.”

Pelosi, Reid, Frank, Obama, Biden all have one thing in common. If we had more small business owners instead of parasitic lawyers in Congress, which consume wealth, but do not generate it, then we’d be a richer and happier country.

HayeksHeroes August 18, 2009 at 8:29 pm

“…Corporations hire attorneys to protect against the State…

Corporations hire attorneys to collude with the State. Ask GE and the Pharmaceutical companies.

HayeksHeroes August 18, 2009 at 8:37 pm

Just like you cannot blame the fellow on the watchtower at the concentration camp, you can’t blame us attorneys for making a living working the law…

Didn’t we just deport Demjanjuk for being on the watchtower?

Lawyers should be like nightwatchmen, not KGB agents, sticking their noses into everything. Then again how else could we support 1.43 million lawyers in this country, one lawyer for every 209 people?

There are more lawyers than doctors. There are 853,000 doctors in the US. If we had 1.43 million doctors and 853,000 lawyers we’d be healthier and happier.

John M August 18, 2009 at 8:56 pm

Mr. Tucker,

I usually love your pieces and almost always agree with everything you say, but I am afraid we have to part ways with our analysis of MadMen.

First, as Pablo pointed out, the show actually has promoted Ayn Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged.

Second, if anything the show glorifies the smoking/drinking environmental and makes it seem glam and sexy. There are characters (eg Peggy Olson and Pete Campbell) who dont smoke and turn out to be very successful. This shows how before the smoking bans that those who didn’t smoke didn’t seem at all bothered by it, and in fact were able to out compete those who did smoke/drink for promotions.

Third, the attack against women int he workplace in also unfounded. Every woman in the series who has asserted herself (eg Peggy Olson) has been rewarded for it. The housewives of the show are also notably perceived to be less intelligent, showing that only stupid women would choose not to work for a living.

Fourth, there is an episode where Don Draper (the main character) is confronted by a group of pinko pot smoking commies. They bash him for being a “mad man” and he basically tells them to quit complaining and get a job.

There are many more examples I could use to make my point but I think you get the drift. In the end, the perception of the show is in the eye of the beholder. MadMen happens to be my favorite show and I think it does a good job at re-enacting the 60s era very objectively with no deliberate bias either way.
Third,

HayekHeroes August 18, 2009 at 10:30 pm

I like your analysis John M. For the most part you are right. Madmen’s writers are mostly women, 7 to 2 men, plus the producer Weiner. I am hoping he can keep them honest. If their liberal ways run like their mascara onto the page, then it might be a downward spiral for the show. We can only hope for the best.

Here is a link to some insight on the show.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204908604574332284143366134.html

Robert August 19, 2009 at 2:52 am

Mr. Tucker,

I think you’re overreacting here. I’ve watched the entire series and as a libertarian, I’m usually pretty sensitive to the Marxist/statist/anti-capitalist agenda as it tends to seep into much of popular entertainment. Watching Mad Men, I never got the sense that the writers were subtly pushing for a statist agenda, but I could be wrong.

In fact, it seems to be the opposite. Take for instance Peggy Olson. She is able to succeed in a very sexist environment because of her talent. To me, the show is saying: “women don’t need anti-discrimination laws, they just need to prove that they can do the work of men.” I think you’d have a point if she failed despite her obvious talent and hard work, but that isn’t the case.

Yes, things like smoking, excessive drinking, cars without seatbelts, etc., are dangerous. But can you point to any examples in the show when the state is called upon to tame these dangers?

Is it possible that you’re looking a little too hard to find the message you’re expecting to get from Hollywood?

Vanmind August 19, 2009 at 9:27 am

Mentioning Rand is one more reason to dismiss the show.

I remember in the piece of dirty state propaganda called “Apollo 13,” they had one character who wasn’t all clean-cut and admirable like the rest. This guy was fat, sweaty, and — OMG! — smoked right there in the middle of the flight control center. The character, of course, was the one token “capitalist” in the crowd, the “please view this person as a bad guy” flunky from the company that made the Apollo engines. They even had a scene, after the course-correction burn the astronauts did, where they made sure to show how heartless the “capitalist” was — as everyone else on Earth was busy being concerned about the safety of those brave astronauts, this so-called creepy manufacturer was portrayed as being concerned only with the performance of the engine.

Franklin August 19, 2009 at 6:37 pm

“I doubt if he remembers watching… Jackie Gleason smoking AND drinking as the scantily clad June Taylor Dancers performed on his variety show.”

Thanks to Tom for the memory, the good old days. Jackie really did seem like the coolest SOB to ever shoot pool. Even as a little kid I couldn’t wait to see those chicks swinging those legs. I’ll take them anyday over Shakira contorting like Gumby and convulsing like Linda Blair in _The Exorcist_.
I digress.

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