Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, published by Simon & Schuster

If you haven't read Catch-22, read it. It is a solid three and a half star book.

Yossarian is the only seemingly sane man in the US Air Corps during the Italian air campaign of WWII. Which, of course, proves his insanity, because everyone else can't be insane. And being insane means he is not required to fly any more missions. But his concern for his own safety in the face of danger both real and immediate proves the rational working of his mind. Hence he is not insane and must fly more missions. Catch-22. (No mention is made anywhere of Catches 1-21.)

The greatness of Heller's work here is his identifying and labeling the catch. It resonants every day of our lives. A current example is the Senkaku Island dispute between Japan and China. Japan owns the island but the only way they can retain their ownership is by not exercising any of their ownership rights. Catch-22

What I once saw as the humorous eccentricities of Yossarian's world I know see as commonplace, everyday dealings with government bureaucracies, corporations and people. Except for Milo Minderbinder.

I've discovered Milo is a free-market anarchist. His syndicate's cornering of Egyptian Cotton presages the Hunt family silver market positions in the early 1980's. And the hiring of his syndicate by the Germans to defend an important bridge and its additional hiring by the Allies to bomb that same bridge envisions the evolutionary outcome of private businesses like Halliburton and Blackwater Security Consulting being hired to fight wars. Milo laments the syndicate's bombing and strafing of its own air base with the words, “It's in the contract.” Free Markets at work.

George W Parker

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