Silly season.

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.

Posted at 8:35 am in Current events, Popculch |
 

34 responses to “Silly season.”

  1. coozledad said on December 28, 2010 at 9:03 am

    “Man’s first duty is to himself” Sounds like the battle cry of masturbation.
    Gives a richer meaning to the titles The Fountainhead and Atlas Rubbed One Out Shrugged.

  2. Deborah said on December 28, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Coozledad how do you get such a great comment first thing?

  3. coozledad said on December 28, 2010 at 9:40 am

    Drink.

  4. brian stouder said on December 28, 2010 at 10:13 am

    The Sarah-versus-the-rightwing-S’Mores-deniers was interesting (except for the A. Lincoln misattribution*). As 2011 comes upon the teabaggers (so to speak), they will have to cut loose from her, or else follow their goddess into the volcano.

    Anyway, maybe Sarah’s next best seller will be titled The joys of an Unexamined Life, or The Happy Huckster

    *given Cooze’s riff, gotta be careful how you say that!

  5. Joe Kobiela said on December 28, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Bassett,
    Wish we could have met. Hope they treated you well, the mueseum is great when you get a chance to see it. Curently in Lexington K.Y. Spent Sunday Morning in Savanah Georgia, would have liked to stay a while and check out that town, looked friendly.
    Pilot Joe

  6. Peter said on December 28, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Well Cooz, you know what Woody Allen said: “Masturbation is sex with the person you love the most”.

  7. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 28, 2010 at 10:27 am

    Even the old Indiana township trustee model would be too much for minarchist libertarians. The problem with private charity is that it’s even less responsive to social change than government is. Church folk not infrequently discuss amongst themselves why Christian charity fell so far behind the needs of society in the 19th century, and my argument is always that the Industrial Revolution & modern urban development just blew past the capacity of small discrete parish efforts to reach those in their locale.

    Churches could do a better job dialoguing and interacting with the civic social safety net, but there’s no way to have a society beyond a certain (agrarian) scale without a significant element of welfare state. IMHO.

  8. Linda said on December 28, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Nancy, you left out an important piece. Roarke blew up the *public project* because ignoramuses didn’t perfectly follow his vision. Even if you are taking other folk’s money, you are entitled to YOUR vision. This makes libertarians perfectly like teenagers.

    Most hard-line ideologues have this in common: they can always fall back on the idea that *if* their ideology were perfectly implemented, it would work. And those dumb mortals never do it right.

  9. LAMary said on December 28, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Love the photoshop horrors. Kimora Lee Simmons outdoes Oprah when it comes to having her body shape photoshop corrected to the size she would like to be. Kimora goes from what looks like a size 12 to a 0. Oprah will only go from about an 18 to a 12 or 10. Neither of them is bothered by the fact they’re regularly seen on television unphotoshopped so the moving image is completely different from the still image. Sarah Jessica Parker doesn’t disappont either. The creepy old lady hands are banished.

    Can’t wait for OWN. The Oprah network. I’m thinking daily giveaways of CASHMERE SWEATERRRRRZZZZZZ!

  10. nancy said on December 28, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Our own beloved Hank:

    Granting an hour-long, prime-time interview to her friend Barbara Walters earlier this month, Oprah Winfrey spoke of self-sacrifice in such a way that the taping ought to have taken place in the garden of Gethsemane.

  11. John (not McCain) said on December 28, 2010 at 11:03 am

    “His moral obligation is to do what he wishes.”

    Even Satanists add a bit after that about not harming other people, which means that Libertarians are less moral than Satanists.

    Somebody witty needs to turn that into a soundbite that sticks.

  12. mark said on December 28, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Well, the first passage is a pretty good critique of libertarianism. The rest…

    Hong Kong would be a better real life example of radical free marketism than Somalia. Libertarianism requires law to enforce contracts and prevent violence. Lots of abuses in the dizzying climb of Hong Kong, but the end result far surpassed, in standards of living, education, wealth, etc., the highly planned societies of the same era. But along the way, the abuses and excesses were many.

    The internet, I think, has been something of a modern experiment in libertarianism. Largely unregulated, growing faster than anyone could have imagined (or planned) and largely a gigantic success built upon private, selfish endeavors. Many excesses and abuses along the way- fraud, identity theft, information harvesting, domain name hoarding, etc. Solutions to those problems, imperfect and incomplete, have also been largely private sector- like spam filters and Pay Pal.

    Now portions of the government want to regulate the internet. That hasn’t been discussed here yet, but I’m curious what people think. Does anyone view internet regulation as a pressing need for government action? Does everyone think the motivation to regulate is purely benevolent? Will a regulated internet grow and evolve as quickly as the unregulated and be as creative?

    After posting I saw this: http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/general_politics/december_2010/just_21_want_fcc_to_regulate_internet_most_fear_regulation_would_promote_political_agenda

    I don’t give it a lot of weight because I don’t think there is much understanding of what “regulate” will mean. I do think it is interesting that regulation was most opposed by those who use the internet the most.

  13. moe99 said on December 28, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Coozledad, I’ve always said that onanism is its own reward.

  14. brian stouder said on December 28, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Does anyone view internet regulation as a pressing need for government action?

    I don’t know about “pressing”, but indeed, criminal acts done on the internet (theft, bullying/libel, voyeurism and the like) must be actively fought, including with new laws as the bad guys create new methods.

    Does everyone think the motivation to regulate is purely benevolent?

    The use of the word “purely” dictates one answer, while common sense and real-world considerations dictate another.

    Will a regulated internet grow and evolve as quickly as the unregulated and be as creative?

    I suppose you’re referring to this “Net Neutrality” thing, which – as far as I understand it – amounts to the rules of the game for the (fee-charging) service providers, and not specifically for content producers (other than when the content producer and the service provider is one-and-the-same). I think the net will continue to grow and evolve and be as creative (or hackneyed) as ever, regardless whether Comcast and Viacom and Verizon (et al) knock each other’s brains out in the fight to establish a monopoly

    I do think it is interesting that regulation was most opposed by those who use the internet the most.

    That would be the pajama-wearing cranky folks with nothing else to do but wait for their next set of marching (or screeching) orders from Uncle Rush or Shit-for-brains-Sean, etc

  15. coozledad said on December 28, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Moe: What’s the name of that masturbation song Bernadette Peters did on Saturday Night Live back in the day?

  16. mark said on December 28, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Yes, brian, every issue can be resolved by ridiculing the people who disagree. Why respond to an idea or concern if you can just diminish the people who hold them?

  17. alex said on December 28, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Bernadette Peters’ solo act.

  18. brian stouder said on December 28, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Mark – I do sincerely apologize for the wisecrack at the end of my comment.

    We might agree that that poll was a little hinky, yes?

    If you and I were asked “Should the government regulate the internet?”, what would we answer?
    My first impulse is “NO!”, but on second thought, I don’t want kiddie porn and copyright violations and marauding hackers to rest easy in the knowledge that All Is Fair!!

    My second impulse is “YES, of course!” – but I don’t want to give a blank check to people who would zap all who disagree with their point of view.

    And, I’ve heard the radio lip-flappers trying to whip up just such a scare; hence my petty swipe at the end of the post.

  19. mark said on December 28, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    brian- Appreciate the response and I agree that the poll is ‘hinky’. I thought that those who use the internet the most might have greatest knowledge of it’s problems, historical and current. I think it is very unclear what “regulation” is intended so opinions about how desirable that will be are of questionable value. Regulation by other governments has generally been to restrict access to information, which may be what people are thinking when they respond.

  20. nancy said on December 28, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Here’s what I think:

    I think the internet had a much stronger case for laissez-faire before it became as essential as electricity or a car. But now that more of us are virtually required to use it, that it’s become such an integral part of the economy, it’s time for some adult supervision, not necessarily the government. I think the existing structures — iCANN, etc. — have done a pretty good job so far, but we should always be re-evaluating. Left unattended, we run a very real risk of the internet becoming a sewer of criminal activity and other bad behavior. And I’m not even opposed to leaving that part alone, but I am in favor of making sure less-savvy users are protected as much as possible. Not all of us know what a phishing attempt is. Porn should be harder — not impossible — to access, at least the first time. And while I love the app-store approach of Apple, I don’t really relish a return to AOL-style fencing.

  21. prospero said on December 28, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Libertarianism.Julian Assange want’a proection from the law

  22. coozledad said on December 28, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Thanks, Alex.
    I’d like to hear Ute Lemper sing that one, too.

  23. alex said on December 28, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Hinky is too polite a term for that Rasmussen poll. All it tells us is all that any such poll tells us which is that a majority of people are woefully uninformed. Ask “Do UFOs exist?” and you’ll get roughly the same breakdown.

  24. moe99 said on December 28, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Coozledad, Here’s Bernadette Peters on the Tonight Show:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eJnnEvaBIk&feature=related

  25. Jolene said on December 28, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    I am not an expert on Internet regulations, but, as I understand it, the “regulation” that’s been discussed in the news recently doesn’t have anything to do w/ policing content or punishing bad actors. It has to do w/ whether the service providers can charge different content distributors (e.g., eBay, Amazon, Netflix) different rates depending on usage levels and such. It’s about the allocation of bandwidth rather than decency or criminality.

  26. coozledad said on December 28, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Thanks, Moe.
    “You save on cologne!” still cracks me up.

  27. Deborah said on December 28, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Moe, that was a great clip of Bernadette Peters on the Tonight show. Great talent, both Peters and Carson. I miss that kind of stuff, it’s just not the same anymore. What an old fart I am.

    I haven’t given it a lot of thought but I think comparing regulation of the internet to regulating real life is a bit of apples and oranges, but I see the point about criminal activity regarding identity theft and child porn and the like, eventually all gets tainted. There’s a dark side to everything, unfortunately.

  28. Rana said on December 28, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Jolene, that’s my understanding of it too. The concern’s not about allowing a “wild west” atmosphere for stalkers, cyberpedophiles, and others of similar ilk; rather it’s that certain big corporations are bidding for favored nation status and trying to create a situation where smaller competitors can’t offer the same service in terms of bandwidth or speed. Given that we’ve already got a lot of weight on the scales in favor of the increasing corporatization of off-line business, I don’t really like the idea of it happening online as well. I avoid the big companies like Verizon and Comcast where I can, because their service is shitty and their prices high, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult. Each has its own territory carved out, and if you move into a city that’s Verizon land, it’s a near-monopoly; that’s what they want for the internet.

  29. jcburns said on December 28, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Exactly right, it’s about the favored nation status.

    The classic definition of the internet involves complete, complete transparency in bit-transportation. Everyone’s data is pumped about without any regard to source, destination, or content.

    And that’s how I think it should be. If there’s ‘adult supervision,’ it should occur somewhere other than at the level of moving the bits around. And you sure don’t want Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, (or Google, Apple, Microsoft) turned into cops of any kind. They have way too much corporate self-interest, and way too many of their own bits to move around.

  30. Linda said on December 28, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Let’s be real: net neutrality is not a fight about whether or not the internet will be
    regulated, but whether the rules of the road will be decided by commercial traffic carriers or
    the FCC. One is dictated pretty much entirely by how much money they can make,
    while the other may not be spotless, but at least can be influenced by people we
    elect to–and can remove from–office.

  31. Sue said on December 28, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    jcburns & co:
    Someone’s financial interests are in need of protection. After interest protection has been established, someone’s financial enhancement is going to be in need of protection. After enhancement protection has been established, someone’s financial status quo is going to be in need of protection.
    Notice that in keeping with our Supreme Court, I say someone and not some company, because companies are persons too, in need of all protections available.
    As you can guess, I’m not keen on the way things seem to be going.

  32. coozledad said on December 29, 2010 at 9:35 am

    I tried to post this over at Roy’s today, but, well: Fuck JS Kit!

    Shorter Cheetos Goldberg:
    Goodbye Gomer Pyle
    Though I never knew you at all
    You kept your mouth shut
    And you never waxed your balls…
    Unlike Uncle Arthur
    He was always cracking wise
    HE’D never go to Sgt. Carter
    If he needed some advice.
    And it seems to me you kept your life
    like a Kathryn Jean Lopez
    Your most basic human needs
    inside your manly chest
    And I would have liked to have known you
    but it was just a show,
    But I can’t seem to keep that straight
    Not that anyone would know.

  33. brian stouder said on December 29, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Reminds me of an old joke about Rock Hudson and Jim Neighbors, but, in order to avoid starting out 2011 on suspension hereabouts, we’ll skip it!

  34. Personal said on January 1, 2011 at 2:38 am

    There is a wrong equation between “dynamiting his own project, since his vision for the structure had been altered without his permission” = “don’t compromise”.
    Exactly the opposite: his project altered without his permission seems a lack of compromise and some people don’t want to accept it any more. The wrong equation causes the “Lord of the Flies” badge pinned to the wrong lapel.