I simply refuse to pay close attention to wonk-circle chitchat during a holiday week, but I gather this piece on the current fashion for libertarianism was the subject at hand yesterday.
I read it. It made sense. It seemed fair. Of course, libertarians hated it. I gather they thought it got mean toward the end. I’m taking that as a sign it was pretty good. This passage got to the gist pretty well:
There are reasons our current society evolved out of a libertarian document like the Constitution. The Federal Reserve was created after the panic of 1907 to help the government reduce economic uncertainty. The Civil Rights Act was necessary because “states’ rights” had become a cover for unconstitutional practices. The welfare system evolved because private charity didn’t suffice. Challenges to the libertopian vision yield two responses: One is that an economy free from regulation will grow so quickly that it will lift everyone out of poverty. The second is that if somehow a poor person is still poor, charity will take care of them. If there is not enough charity, their families will take care of them. If they have no families to take care of them—well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
Of course, we’ll never get there. And that’s the point. Libertarians can espouse minarchy all they want, since they’ll never have to prove it works.
I like that because it restates what I’ve been saying for years: Being a libertarian means never having to say, “So help me God” on swearing-in day. Today we have a few exceptions, but not enough to change libertarianism from a philosophy to a party. All you need to know is that Ron Paul is pro-life to know what a joke it is. Sorry, ladies — your liberty stops when you get knocked up.
And also, this:
It’s no coincidence that most libertarians discover the philosophy as teenagers. At best, libertarianism means pursuing your own self-interest, as long as you don’t hurt anyone else. At worst, as in Ayn Rand’s teachings, it’s an explicit celebration of narcissism. “Man’s first duty is to himself,” says the young architect Howard Roark in his climactic speech in The Fountainhead. “His moral obligation is to do what he wishes.” Roark utters these words after dynamiting his own project, since his vision for the structure had been altered without his permission. The message: Never compromise. If you don’t get your way, blow things up. And there’s the problem. If everyone refused to compromise his vision, there would be no cooperation. There would be no collective responsibility. The result wouldn’t be a city on a hill. It would be a port town in Somalia. In a world of scarce resources, everyone pursuing their own self-interest would yield not Atlas Shrugged but Lord of the Flies. And even if you did somehow achieve Libertopia, you’d be surrounded by assholes.
(I think someone saw that video.)
OK, then. I have to say, with all my complaining yesterday, I do love the pace of this week. Fifty percent of the world is on vacation. No one calls. I can sleep late. Why yesterday, I even took time for a luncheon graze through Costco — they had all the party dips and spreads out for sample. I bought a bottle of champagne just to be a good customer. And then reflected that my life is pathetic, and all I need is a Christmas sweater to tip all the way over into total nerd-dom.
A quick skip to the bloggage? Sure:
Lesbians — they’re just like us! They go on vacation, wear silly hats, and shop at Hermes.
Of all the things that would upset the right about $P, it took…s’mores? We live in Crazytown.
Take that disembodied hand off my knee, or the best of the year’s worst Photoshops.
Think I’ll go do some more pretend work.