Tag: Political philosophy

The Threat of Liberty

Via Reason, I found this article which digs into the spate of vehemently anti-Libertarians screeds which have been recently popping up on liberal websites and publications. Salon became a hard-core anti-libertarian site so gradually I hardly even noticed. Slate has been shifting against libertarians. The New Republic published a rancid little article trying to dig into the supposed libertarian ideals of Glenn Greenwald, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. LGF and Balloon Juice have been screaming about us for years with a horde of liberals in their wake blaming libertarians for the financial crisis, the government shutdown, income inequality, global warming and the failure of the Cubs to win the World Series.

It’s odd that so much ire is now focused on libertarians. The Libertarian Party has precisely zero elected officials at the national level. The most libertarian member of Congress is probably Rand Paul, who is pro-Life and somewhat culturally conservative. And these “libertarians are destroying the country” articles alternate with “libertarians are a fringe movement and have no real power” articles. Apparently, we’re invisible but powerful. We’re silent guardians, watchful protecters.

Libertarians are Batman.

I don’t agree with everything that is in Borders’ article but I think he finds the real reason for the anti-Libertarian screeching:

Progressivism’s cracks have finally been exposed. Progressives will urge that Obama is not the change they hoped for. But the Affordable Care Act should have been progressivism’s shining moment. Of course, it was anything but. First the president lies to the population, then joins his party in forcing Americans to swallow the bitter pill of Obamacare. He then unleashes the technocrats and gives contracts to his crony buddies to create a $500 million non-functioning Web site (and that’s just the start of the crony bonanza). The president then assures everyone that the wasted resources, high premiums, and diminished options are for the greater good. People start to get wise to it. Progressivism’s cracks are exposed. Add the failure of Cash for Clunkers, the failure of Solyndra, all the bailouts of banking cartels, and the “rescue” of the auto manufacturers and unions. The list goes on and on. The more progressive technocrats try to do, the more they botch it. Of course, something similar can be said about all the faith-based initiatives of the Republican years: you know, like the creation of the TSA, the War in Iraq, “stimulus” packages, and all manner of pork barrel projects. Progressive purists will try to argue that all of this has been a series of pragmatic patches to a failing system. For America to truly be great, they say, Republicans must not be so “obstructionist.” But President Obama, with his pen and his phone, has seized dictatorial power. Apparently, the ends justify the means. This is the foundation of progressive ideology. And it’s failing.

For all the lip service progressives pay to the “problem” of income inequality, they consistently back the most illiberal and inegalitarian policies. Is there anything fair about showering taxpayer resources upon this energy company or that—and making their CEOs’ wealth more secure in the process? Is there anything equitable about shoring up the U.S. banking cartel with permanent legislation like Dodd-Frank? And what chosen “one-percenters” are benefitting from the crony-infested Obamacare legislation, which rains goodies down on drug-makers, healthcare providers, and insurance companies in equal measure? On the other hand, while libertarians don’t mind the sort of inequality that comes from people successfully creating happy customers, wealth, and jobs, we really—no really—don’t like collusion between business interests and government power.

Exactly. Barack Obama’s election was supposed to herald the final triumph of progressivism. We were supposed to get New Deal II (remember Time’s cover with Obama as FDR?). We would see single payer healthcare, the end of global warming, the end of income inequality, abortions for everyone, impoverishment of the wealthy. And it would be so awesome and amazing that the American people would never again turn aside from the One Truth Path. This was when the rise of the oceans would begin to slow and the planet would begin to heal. We were the ones we had been waiting for.

Now, we’re five years in. Obamacare is a mess, at best. The economy is stagnant, at best. Income inequality is rising, cronyism is greater than ever, big money is more powerful than ever. The Democratic Congress got tossed out on their ear. Obama narrowly won re-election but his poll numbers are approaching Bush levels.

And so the progressives, faced with the failure of their last great push toward paradise, need to blame someone. Because it certainly can’t be their calcified ideas or their bumbling messiah.

The progressives would like to blame Republicans for their failure to create a progressive utopia but … that doesn’t really go very far. The Republicans are basically Democrat Lite these days with a little religion thrown in. And the Democrats’ biggest failures — Obamacare, the stimulus and Dodd-Frank — took place when the Republicans were still in their “clown car on fire” stage. They can complain about Fox News all they want, but in the end … it’s just Fox News.

Moreover, while the American people are turning away from the Democrats, they aren’t exactly turning toward the Republicans. More than ever, Americans are getting sick of both parties. Congressional control has been more volatile in the last 20 years than it was in the previous 80. The electorate has taken turns thwacking each party at the polls. And millions are abandoning both parties for independence.

So in the absence of the usual villains, they are turning toward libertarians. For a long time, I’ve been tweeting a response to the anti-libertarian idiocy: to many people, libertarianism is whatever it is they don’t like. The progressives really don’t like the way the political winds are blowing. It’s a rude shock in the Age of Obama. So whatever the nature of the opposition — the Tea Party, religious conservatives, moderates, Occupiers, Koch Brothers, constitutionalists, Green Party, rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass-kickers, shit-kickers and Methodists — at the bottom, it’s really got to be those evil libertarians and especially their Koch Brothers fifth column.

And maybe they’re a little bit right. I won’t say that Americans are becoming libertarian, per se. Medicare and Social Security enjoy massive support and our country is very socially conservative, in morals if not in law. But the country is moving in a liberty-ish direction: against the war on drugs, live-and-let-live on culture issues, deeply cynical of big grand government programs. Libertarians are still on the fringe, but the fringe has been growing very large in the last few elections.

And that’s the real problem for progressives. Progressives think of themselves of the future, but they are really the past. The future of politics is not some illusory progressive center. The American people have seen where that leads — crony capitalism, rising inequality and corruption. No, the future is the fringe. The two main parties will always dominate, but a growing chunk of America wants nothing to do with them. They would rather build broad coalitions around specific issues: NSA surveillance, taxation, government spending, school choice, SOPA/PIPA. On all of these issues, we see growing trans-partisan coalitions that are not terribly interested in the politics qua politics but interested in the right thing being done no matter who is in charge. If the party currently in power won’t do the right thing, then *thwack*. Out you go. Let’s give the other guys a chance to not be stupid.

So, yeah, libertarians deserve some blame. And we’re easy to kick since we’ve been around a while. But in the end, libertarians are just the leading edge of a growing political movement — a movement that ranges from hard-core conservative to hippy-dippy liberal – that is saying, “To hell with both of yous.”

Chasing Libertarianism Into A Corner

One of the problems I have with my libertarianism — indeed, a big reason I often describe myself as a conservative-libertarian — is the tendency of some libertarians to chase the philosophy into intellectual cul-de-sacs. All political philosophies have a tendency to favor ever “purer” strains. But because libertarians define our philosophy as one of personal liberty, we have a tendency to think that the only acceptable policies are those with maximum personal liberty. Any practical objections tend to be swept under the rug with a few unconnected words about “free markets”.

I’m not explaining this well. Let me illustrate with an unrelated example.

When I was in college, I took a philosophy class with a feminist professor. When we got to the portion on feminism, we were discussing third wavers who thought that women in an oppressive society fundamentally could not consent to sex, that all sex was therefore rape and therefore women should not have sex. My response was that any philosophy that countenanced, at least in theory, the potential extinction of the human race was fundamentally immoral. I said that these were the deranged ramblings of someone who had drunk too deeply of the feminist well. They had taken good ideas (women shouldn’t be second class citizens) and purified them to a bizarre extreme.

A more germane example: a number of libertarians oppose environmental regulation on the grounds that if my neighbor is polluting my land, he is violating my property rights and this should settled in the courts. That sounds good if you only consider the ideology. But as a practical matter, it is a recipe for disaster. First, it’s not always clear that pollution has happened. The residents of Love Canal had no idea why they were getting so many birth defects and miscarriages. By the time they did figure it out, there had been immense suffering already. Second, it’s not always clear who is responsible for ills caused by pollution. In the Woburn Massachusetts case, it wasn’t clear who poured chemicals into the river that sickened the children. The jury was asked to decide the lawsuit based on a series of bewildering technical questions. Third, even in cases where the culprit is clear, you are frequently talking about powerful businesses with armies of lawyers who can drag a case on for decades. The Exxon Valdez lawsuits dragged on for twenty years. You can imagine how bad it is when the polluter is the government itself or when you’re dealing with the decade-old pollution of a business that no longer exists. Fourth, the ability of such a system to prevent pollution is dubious since it’s not always clear that Substance X will produce Harm Y for a long time. Finally, it seems absolutely appalling to countenance reparations for birth defects, miscarriages, severe illnesses and deaths rather than just preventing them in the first place in the name of free markets.

Does this mean the government isn’t over-zealous in fighting pollution? It frequently is and often chases its own ideology into banning minimally dangerous substances. Does this mean government always makes the right decisions? Of course not; the aforementioned Love Canal community was built on land the local government was warned was dangerous. Does it sometimes carve out exemptions for big polluters while hurting little guys? Absolutely; see what happened after the lead toy debacle. But at some point, we have to accept these limitations rather than get seduced by the seductive appeal of bottomless liberty.

(Another good example, on the Civil Rights Act, is illustrated here by James Joyner.)

I bring up this subject because there is a debate going on at Reason between Ronald Bailey and Jeffrey Singer over mandated vaccinations. Singer’s op-ed, which you can find here, crosses as me the rambling of someone drunk on libertarian ideals. It’s a series of libertarian statement strung together in the hope that it makes an argument. And it winds up saying bizarre things like this:

The phenomenon of herd immunity allows many unvaccinated people to avoid disease because they free ride off the significant portion of the population that is immunized and doesn’t, therefore, spread a given disease. Economists point out that free riding is an unavoidable fact of life: people free ride when they purchase a new, improved, and cheaper product that was “pre-tested” on more affluent people who wanted to be the first to own it; people free ride when they use word-of-mouth reviews to buy goods or services, or to see a film; those who choose not to carry concealed weapons free ride a degree of personal safety off the small percentage of the public that carries concealed weapons. So long as a person being free-ridden is getting a desired value for an acceptable price, and is not being harmed by the free riding, it really shouldn’t matter to that person. Achieving a society without free riders is not only unnecessary, it is impossible.

Well, duh. But we should try our best to limit the free riders to people who can not be vaccinated — people who are immunocompromised, for example. And while we can’t force 100% compliance, we can do as much as we can to get the immunization numbers into the 90-95+% numbers necessary to establish the herd immunity that protects the millions who have no choice but to free ride. Or people for whom the vaccine didn’t take.

On this subject, I find myself agreeing with Bailey: your freedom to swing your fists ends where someone else’s nose begins. I find it very difficult to countenance any version of a “free society” that includes the freedom to run around potentially spreading dangerous and deadly diseases. Most people are smarter than their government. But you don’t need a large percentage to be dumber to have, as we now do, huge outbreaks of entirely preventable diseases that are leaving dead and hurt children in their wake. Are those children to be human sacrifices to our idealized notion of freedom?

If we were talking about sexual transmitted diseases, I would agree with Singer. But these are diseases that can be spread by casual contact. They can be spread by people who are already vaccinated. They can be spread by people who never catch the disease themselves. This isn’t the moral equivalent of seat-belt law; this is the moral equivalent of laws against drunk driving.

Vaccinations are one of the greatest achievements in human history. They have destroyed smallpox and put hepatitis A and B, rotavirus, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella and some forms of meningitis on the run. These diseases used to kill and maim millions. Their eradication is far too great an achievement to trust to the ideology-addled hope that people will act in their own enlightened self-interest.

Because too many people don’t.

Why Don’t You Move to … Nowhere! Hahahahaha!

Yesterday, Salon published what must be the dumbest critique of libertarianism I’ve read that doesn’t use the word “Somalia”.

Why are there no libertarian countries? If libertarians are correct in claiming that they understand how best to organize a modern society, how is it that not a single country in the world in the early twenty-first century is organized along libertarian lines?

First of all, libertarians don’t claim we know best how to organize a modern society. We claim that modern societies are better at organizing themselves. The entire basis of libertarianism is one of restraining power, not acquiring it. Because politics is filled with people who desire power, this tends to crowd us out. It’s hard to get elected on a platform of “I will leave you the hell alone”.

Libertarians are at a particular disadvantage because we hate politics for politics’ sake. We have little interest in the petty political games that make up much of politics (and about 90% of Salon’s coverage of it) but empower greedy grasping power-hungry individuals.

Let’s just take a look at a few stories that are percolating right now. In the IRS scandal, we are seeing a large effort to target organizations based on their political views. To the libertarian, this would be simple: identify the people who abused power and fire them; overhaul the tax code to give the IRS less power; get the government out of the business of deciding which organization are and are not tax-exempt. But to the media, including Salon, this is about whether the Republicans can “get” Obama or whether they are “overplaying their hand”. Are they pushing too far? How will this affect the 2014 election?

Another purely political shitstorm is brewing over the appointment of judges. Obama, frustrated with the Senate not doing their job and bringing the courts to a standstill, has nominated three new judges for the DC circuit. For the libertarian, this is pretty simple. We have the same attitude we did when the Democrats refused to consider Bush appointees: the President has the duty to nominate judges and the Senate has the responsibility to vet them.

But to the political parties, this is yet another way to play political bullshit games. When Bush was President, the Democrats screamed about extreme appointees and the Republicans fulminated about judgeships going unfilled. Now the parties have completely reversed. And the media are happily playing along, speculating about whether Obama is “packing” the courts or not.

This is what politics is about, not creating a unifying vision for how to guide society or how to create an ideal state. And libertarians, because we don’t care for power or its adherents, tend to avoid this crap. It does mean we don’t tend to walk in the halls of power and hold high positions.

But it doesn’t mean we don’t have influence, as we will soon see. Let’s not mistake “not being in power” for “not having an influence”.

When you ask libertarians if they can point to a libertarian country, you are likely to get a baffled look, followed, in a few moments, by something like this reply: While there is no purely libertarian country, there are countries which have pursued policies of which libertarians would approve: Chile, with its experiment in privatized Social Security, for example, and Sweden, a big-government nation which, however, gives a role to vouchers in schooling.

Oh, it’s a lot more than that. Libertarian ideas helped Hong Kong get rich while the rest of China wallowed in poverty. Libertarian ideas made the West strong while the Communist Bloc fell into ruin. Lind will get into the Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Index in a moment in a very selective and idiotic way. I will pre-empt him by looking at it in a more objective and thorough way. Look at countries with the greatest economic freedom. You will find it is dominated by wealthy countries: Canada, Scandinavia, USA, Australia, Germany, the UK. And, in fact, most of those countries have moved dramatically toward more economic freedom, with the worldwide index increasing 2 points since 1996. And that was after the fall of communism. The simple fact is that the countries that have pursue libertarian ideals are wealthier, happier, healthier places than those that have pursued collectivist numbskullery.

Let’s just take one example almost at random. Lind uncorks this stupid statement:

Libertarian theorists have the luxury of mixing and matching policies to create an imaginary utopia. A real country must function simultaneously in different realms—defense and the economy, law enforcement and some kind of system of support for the poor. Being able to point to one truly libertarian country would provide at least some evidence that libertarianism can work in the real world.

Some political philosophies pass this test. For much of the global center-left, the ideal for several generations has been Nordic social democracy—what the late liberal economist Robert Heilbroner described as “a slightly idealized Sweden.”

Sweden, you say? Do you know that Sweden, over the last 17 years, has massively improved its economic freedom index from 61 to 72? That it may soon be more economically free than the United States? And that Sweden incorporates many of the socially liberal ideas that form the other pillar of libertarianism (one Lind completely ignores)? How about Canada? Canada has increased its economic freedom index from 69 to 79 over last 17 years. Canada is, in fact, the sixth most economically free country in the world right now.

I cite these two examples specifically because they get to another problem with his critique. “Libertarianism” covers a very broad range of ideas. I know libertarians who oppose abortion. I know libertarians who think we shouldn’t legalize drugs. I know libertarians who believe in universal healthcare and social safety nets. Most libertarians believe in sensible environmental regulation and making sure kids get an education.

What marks libertarianism out is not a platform, but a way of thinking. It is a philosophy of being suspicious of government and favoring liberty if it is practical. But it is, by no means, purist. Very few libertarians believe in anarchy. But this is apparently beyond the ken of perennially political bullshit obsessed Salon.

Lind claims that there is no country that is truly “libertarian”. But show me a country that is pure “Nordic social democracy”. There are various flavors that approach some Platonic Ideal of that, I guess. But I would posit that most of the Nordic countries would fail to be true “Nordic social democracies” the way Lind defines it. Sweden is the source of the “Swedish model” approach to prostitution that has been a fiasco. It is also currently enjoying rioting and disruption from unassimilated immigrants. Finland has restrictions on abortion but also practices a very different (and highly successful) education model than liberals prefer. And all five of the traditional Nordic countries have very high Economic Freedom Indices and all five have seen them increase over the last twenty years. That they have universal healthcare does not mean they are not embracing many libertarian ideas.

Oh, but the article gets even worse. I’ve been talking about the Economic Freedom Index to show how you use it properly in a political debate. I did that because Lind is about to cover himself in excrement using it incorrectly. He looks at some of the highest ranked countries, notes they are successful but then dismisses their success for completely arbitrary reasons. Just for fun, I will play this game with his “Nordic social democracy” ideal.

Even worse, the economic-freedom country rankings are biased toward city-states and small countries.

Because it’s not like liberals never compare us to Monaco.

For example, in the latest ranking of economic liberty by the Heritage Foundation, the top five nations are Hong Kong (a city, not a country), Singapore (a city-state), Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland (small-population countries).

With the exception of Switzerland, four out of the top five were small British overseas colonies which played interstitial roles in the larger British empire. Even though they are formally sovereign today, these places remain fragments of larger defense systems and larger markets. They are able to engage in free riding on the provision of public goods, like security and huge consumer populations, by other, bigger states.

Australia and New Zealand depended for protection first on the British empire and now on the United States. Its fabled militias to the contrary, Switzerland might not have maintained its independence for long if Nazi Germany had won World War II.

Of the five Nordic social democracies, three are part of NATO and heavily dependent on NATO resources for the defense. Its fabled neutrality to the contrary, Sweden might not have maintained its independence for long if Nazi Germany had won World War II (during which Sweden also the most economically free power in Europe, incidentally). There was a powerful pro-Nazi movement in Sweden during the war.

In fact, almost all of the massive social welfare states have been enabled by massive military spending by the United States. Very few of them maintain anything resembling a modern military and none maintain the kind of presence that would have staved off the Soviet Union, the kind of presence that currently keeps pirates at bay and that neutralizes any expansionary ambitions from China and Russia. It’s easy to have a Nordic Social Democracy when your defense duties are being paid for by someone else.

These countries play specialized roles in much larger regional and global markets, rather as cities or regions do in a large nation-state like the U.S. Hong Kong and Singapore remain essentially entrepots for international trade. Switzerland is an international banking and tax haven. What works for them would not work for a giant nation-state like the U.S. (number 10 on the Heritage list of economic freedom) or even medium-sized countries like Germany (number 19) or Japan (number 24).

None of the Nordic Social Democracies have a population of more than 10 million. They are all playing specialized roles in much larger regional and global markets. Norway has massive fossil fuel reserves; Iceland almost destroyed itself with banking and is no backing to fishing; Sweden’s economy seems dependent on exporting crappy IKEA furniture. What works for them would not work for a giant nation-state like the US.

And then there is Mauritius.

And then there’s Cuba.

According to the Heritage Foundation, the U.S. has less economic freedom than Mauritius, another small island country, this one off the southeast coast of Africa. At number 8, Mauritius is two rungs above the U.S., at number 10 in the global index of economic liberty.

Cuba has guaranteed universal healthcare and first-rate gun control.

According to the CIA World Fact book, the U.S. spends more than Mauritius—5.4 percent of GDP in 2009 compared to only 3.7 percent in Mauritius in 2010. For the price of that extra expenditure, which is chiefly public, the U.S. has a literacy rate of 99 percent, compared to only 88.5 percent in economically-freer Mauritius.

Infant mortality? In economically-more-free Mauritius there are about 11 deaths per 1,000 live births—compared to 5.9 in the economically-less-free U.S. Maternal mortality in Mauritius is at 60 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to 21 in the U.S. Economic liberty comes at a price in human survival, it would seem. Oh, well—at least Mauritius is economically free!

Cuba has an (official) infant mortality rate of 4.8 compared to the 2.7 for Singapore and Hong Kong. Cuba suffers from massive civil liberties repression. Oh, well-at least Cuba has universal healthcare!

Look, I can play this game all day. The simple point is that there isn’t any country out there that practices idealized “Nordic Social Democracy” either. And those that are close have been moving away from that model toward greater economic and personal liberty. Or they’ve been moving toward bankruptcy.

Look, every libertarian knows there is no such thing as a perfect libertarian state. The very phrase is an oxymoron because libertarianism is a responsive political philosophy, not an active one. We don’t have grand plans for remaking the universe. What we do is identify things the government is screwing up and try to make it stop. We are not a bunch of silly self-important men sitting behind desks and telling people what to do. We are an unceasing crowd of people surrounding the capitals of the world with pitchforks and torches on standby.

Politics is a tug-of-war not between liberals and conservatives or Republicans and Democrats, but between Those Who Want to Tell You What to Do and Those Who Don’t. The vast majority of politicians and the vast majority of the boot-licking media at such as Salon are in the the former camp. Everyone else is in the latter to some degree or other. Sometimes they are in it only for an issue like abortion. Sometimes they are in it only for an issues like free trade. But just about everyone who is politically aware spends some time in the libertarian camp. Everyone is a least lib-curious. The one thing I have found, in eight years of blogging as libertarian, is that, with almost everyone, I can find something in the libertarian philosophy that they agree. Lind supports some libertarian ideas, even if he doesn’t realize it. Does he oppose crony capitalism? Does he believe in personal freedom? Does he think we’re jailing too many people? Well, my friend, welcome to Libertarian Land! Mind the barbed wire.

Libertarians don’t want power. We want to keep it in check. This is apparently a novel concept.

Even with those caveats however, libertarian ideas are and have been very influential in the real world. They are wound into the very fabric of this nation. Our Constitution is the only one that recognizes such idealized and universal personal liberty. No other country has as deep and thorough a belief in Freedom of Speech as ours. Combine that with the high economic liberty ranking we have — even after 12 years of Bush-Obama — and you’re doing pretty well. Certainly better than the NSD models that are quickly bankrupting the entirety of Europe.

The entire world has moving more libertarian in fits and starts. Wars and violence are at historic lows (libertarians generally oppose war). Personal freedom is at historic highs. Over the last decade, the expansion of economic freedom has lifted hundreds of millions of people — most of them of a different race than your typical libertarian — out of poverty. Countries like Australia and Canada have found ways to combine economic freedom with a more extensive social safety net — a flavor of libertarianism even if it isn’t the pure University of Chicago stuff.

In the end, Lind’s screed crosses me as yet another one of the “Aaah! Libertarians!” screeds I’ve gotten used to reading from ignorant lazy writers devoted to sad outdated political philosophies. The only lasting value it has is that maybe Mauritius will become the “libertarian ideal” instead of Somalia.

Is fascism making a comeback?

While the European elite are all happy that someone cock blocked Bunga Bunga Berlusconi, and they playing like Ole Beppo is just a fun thing, I am afraid that things are really much, much worse. Take a look at Beppo Grillo’s English version blog, or better yet, read the Italian version, and you find that the clown actually loves Mussolini, hates the Jews, thinks Iran is a great country, Islam an awesome religion, and that fascism was not all that bad a deal, because hey they tried to fix the problem of the Jews and the trains ran on time

It is not a coincidence that another European election in one of the countries getting hammered by the EU’s collectivist nanny state policies is again flirting with fascism. It happened to the Greeks as well just recently, it looks like it might happen in Spain, and it has even been happening in Germany which is not even one of the PIIGS countries. This is not an accident. The EU, run by the elite that are not accountable to anyone anywhere has been spreading the misery that their new collectivism always brings, has been a disaster. The Euros are all tired of the fraud and failures of their collectivist system, but the problem is that they are so wed to that collectivist shit that they are going to trade soft fascism for the real thing.

Remember that fascism rose in the 20s because of the economic crisis these countries where in. From Greece, to Spain, to Italy, we have economies in shambles and people desperate for things to be fixed. And people in Europe are so desperate for things to be fixed that in countries where things are falling apart they turn to people like Grillo and Golden Dawn, any of which look to be far worse than their current masters. As desperation strikes and people lose their faith in the old guard, they are willing to ignore all the nasty shit that comes along with anyone that is charismatic and promises them change. That’s why even Grillo’s love of Mussolini, his connection to Iran, and his outright scary hatred of Jews was not enough to make these people do a double take. And Grillo is so confident that he can do even better that he has banked his hopes on another election, instead of a compromise government at this time.

The scary thing is that our political class is replete with idiots that love the very same failed European system that led to these elections. The people pulling all the levers of power at this time are so enamored with the way Europe is run that they are trying to turn us into the same. No wonder we are treated to things like this from them. We can rehash the same arguments about how this stuff always goes wrong but the fact is that it can still get far worse than even people like me are able to imagine.

Bill Maher Is (Still) An Arrogant Liberal Troll

So this aired on his show. Liberals, if you want to know why a lot of conservatives don’t like you, watch this and watch the reaction to it. Do you really wonder why people won’t vote for arrogant condescending twerps who look down on them?

Let’s set aside the condescending attitude toward the South and what was unquestionably a cherry-picked sample. Maher and his defenders are claiming the point of this is the old “What’s the Matter with Kansas” theme: they are wondering why people in Mississippi vote against their supposed economic interests. In their world, the poor people of Mississippi should be supporting massive welfare spending and gigantic tax hikes on rich people. And they would, were it not for the Republicans bamboozling them into voting on morality and religion. And now that Obama is President, their racism has only exacerbated this disconnect.


I have always despised the “Kansas question” because it fundamentally assumes that all poor people should have the same approach to politics: a burning desire to plunder their neighbors. It would never even occur to Bill Maher and Pelosi Junior that some people in this world, despite poverty, might see socialism as wrong and immoral. That they would rather be poor than rich on the backs of others. That they would rather live in a free market that gives them affordable goods and the chance, however small, of success than live in an unfree market that guarantees poverty. The manifest failures of socialism have obscured an important truth about it: socialism doesn’t just not work, it is immoral. It destroys the moral core of a nation, rots out its industry and replaces independence with dependence. Maybe you have to be a “dumb, uneducated southern hick” to understand this fundamental truth.

Aside from that, Maher manages, in a span of about 30 seconds, to spew an astonishing volume of economic, political and historical illiteracy. The idea that we do not already live in a heavily socialistic society is ridiculous. A massive fraction of federal and state spending is wealth transfer. Government pays over half the healthcare bills. Since the 1960’s, we have spent trillions fighting poverty. Under the evil poor-hating George W. Bush, taxes on poor people were reduce to zero or negative rates.

Socialist paradise? We already live in one. And here’s the thing. Look at those people and those homes. Does it look like our rampant socialism is doing them any good?

The most successful anti-poverty program of the last 50 years was the Republican-led and Clinton-signed welfare reform of the mid-90’s. It saw the first serious drop in poverty since we began the “War on Poverty” and moved millions from dependence to work. And liberal fucktards like Maher opposed it vehemently. They denounced it as a plot by uncaring Republicans to leave people starving in the streets.

Maher also manages to forget that Southerners voted almost exclusively Democrat for 120 years. From the end of the Civil War to the mid-90’s, the South was a uniform block of Democratic voters. It was the Southern hatred of Republicans that enabled the creation of the New Deal and the Great Society. Fat lot of good their unwavering support did them.

Maher mocks one of the interviewees for saying the voting for Republicans might work someday. What a stupid thing for him to chortle about. Liberals like Maher have been making that excuse for socialism and anti-free-market ideology for half a century.

You want to help poor people? Break the education monopoly that condemns them to bad schools. End corporate welfare and regulatory capture that empower politically-connected business to steamroll the rights of poorer citizens through atrocities like eminent domain. Break the hyper-regulations that close off industries to competition (watch Stossel’s doc below on taxi medallions or read up on CPSIA). And overhaul our tax system so that jobs can be brought back to or created in this country.

But let’s not sit in our comfy studios and analyze poor Southerners like they are some species of unevolved ape. That might make someone feel good about himself. But I think he already feels way better about himself than he deserves.

Class warriors think they have a new angle, but it is a big fail

This morning I was watching some post SOTU interviews to catch up on the reactions to the speech. I turned off the TV before the speech ended, because there is just so much bullshit I can take in one sitting, and went to bed, a more productive use of my time, by far. So there they had a panel discussing the aftermath, and on it was with some lady from some institute for progressive something or another. She was quite outmatched by the others. But she did drop a bombshell that remained unchallenged, and she sure felt she had scored a big win because of that. I want to address this, because her argument and line of thinking was so easy to take apart.

Basically when it was brought up, she made the case that democrats should not let republicans win the argument Obama made about all the “injustices” – there you have that marxist drivel again, even when you try to pretend you are an optimist like Reagan – he wants to address. Those that identify this as base class warfare rhetoric and point out that what democrats are basically really doing is counting on this rhetoric to galvanize enough jealous and envious people into giving them the go-ahead to steal even more money from the productive sector, to keep their big government efforts going, did not sit well with her. To her this was a just struggle, and she thought she was quite clever to link it to the struggle to build this great nation. Something Obama spend a long amount of time paying lip service to in his speech as well.

Her defense of class warfare was based on drawing a parallel between the choices made by our forefathers and the ones that the class warriors, I am sure she doesn’t like that term, but I am calling it what it is, tell us they want made. Their premise is that the forefathers created our democracy in order to prevent the European aristocracy and oligarchy from being the driving force in America. I agreed with her on that premise, to some extent, even if she was got a lot wrong – I am certain that what our forefathers concocted was a republic, specifically because of the inherent dangers of a pure democracy where the majority would be free to impose their will on the minority – to insure a just society, but she was way, way off base. This concept of three wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for dinner, sound familiar? And then she dropped the bombshell and concluded this line of thinking by making the ludicrous argument that what the people opposing Obama referred to as class warfare were trying to do the same. That’s because, after all, the democrats where fighting the power of the rich, which are a manifestation of aristocracy or oligarchy, which basically had turned America into an unjust society!

How clever! Except, it is transparently bullshit. I could go into a long ass diatribe about how these class warriors fighting the rich, aristocracies, and oligarchies have always played out, but suffice it to say that that this is unnecessary, because the premise that they are fighting the rich, the aristocracies, and oligarchies, is pure unadulterated bullshit. I could also wax philosophical about how the left is trying to recreate the European experiment, which is still rooted in a society where the credentialed elite rule the masses, by fiat, and represents the ultimate class conscious society. But I will just stick to pointing out that what the class warriors are really fighting against, is what they perceive as the current centers of power. And what they intend, the reason they fight, despite the claim that they are trying to address an injustice and level the field, is to replace the current people in power with themselves. That’s what their struggle is about. That’s what marxism and every other spun off collectivist ideology that came from it has been all about. This battle to replace the existing power centers with themselves played itself out everywhere that the class warriors did their thing. From the revolution in Russia that gave us 70 years of the USSR to the one in China, Korea, Cuba, and every other third world shit hole that embraced this cancerous ideology, the fight was to kick the people in power out and take over that power. In every single instance, whoever was in charge that the class warriors wanted gone, was replaced by a singular individual or a gang of tyrants, which did far worse things than their predecessors. The injustices got even more pronounced after that.

And what we have here going on with the ne breed of class warriors, is more of the same. This lady’s argument that the democrats should tell people that what they are doing is not class warfare, but a noble struggle, one that emulates the virtues and values of the forefathers that set up the republic, and addresses the injustice between the suddenly aristocratic rich and the common man, is bullshit. A huge, smelly pile of bullshit. A whopper of epic proportions. These leftists have no problem with rich people, or for that matter aristocracies. Most of them are super rich. Practically every single one of them belongs to the credentialed class and thinks they are far, far above the stupid common man. They have all the answers, and we all need to do what they tell us. So when they tell you that what they are doing is battle the powerful rich and to level the field, it is a lie. They don’t have any problem with the rich: they have a problem with any rich people that do not go along with their vision of a big government nanny state run by an oligarchy/aristocracy of the approved/credentialed leftists. This fight isn’t against an aristocracy or oligarchy of the rich, but a fight to replace the current people in power – which hilariously is themselves – with an oligarchy or aristocracy composed of those they approve of. And have no doubt our new people will be powerful, and rich. Castro and Chavez claim to be men of the people but they have the wealth of the entire nation they are raping at their disposal.

I guess, to paraphrase some Orwell, some rich people are created more equally than others. That absurd distinction is why Mitt Romney is a bad rich guy. But John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, George Soros, and Warren Buffet, to name a few, all are not bad rich people. Or for that matter even considered rich or worthy of being called such. Romney’s crime is that now that he is running as a republican, he isn’t a big supporter of the nanny state the left sees as a means to ensconce itself in perpetual power. That makes him earning millions and paying what the law says he should on these earnings from investments, unjust. Those “rich people” that say they are fine with the class warriors call for government to jack the rates up, while making backroom deals that allow them to not only be exempt from the new financial burdens these onerous regulations impose on people trying to get rich, but often double their earnings because government rigs the game in their favor, are not the good guys. Crony capitalism sucks. Warren Buffet telling us he is fine with higher income, estate, and even investment taxes, knowing full well that his investments will make a killing, in excess of whatever he would have to pay now, once people trying to avoid getting whacked seek some redress. And when that all comes with a huge bonus, like that big government scratching his back, by killing a deal that then sets up more of his investments to make oodles of cash, in return for his support of their power grab masquerading as a battle to redress injustice, we should be angered. It shouldn’t us think Buffet is a good guy, and it certainly shouldn’t lead to people thinking that these crooks are doing a decent thing.

It has forever bothered me that so many people fail to realize that this class warfare rhetoric is bullshit. These democrats are playing them. They do not plan to address any injustice at all! If that was the case we wouldn’t be burdened with the nonsense of the last 5 decades which have only served to make the injustices they proclaim to be addressing worse. What power is there to derive from declaring a war on poverty, racism, sexism, and so on, when you actually fix the issue? No, what the class warriors are after is to shift the power from those that have it now to them and those they approve off. That’s what the fight against big oil in favor of green energy – more like red, but I digress – is all about. That’s why Buffet and Kerry are good guys, but Romney and the Koch brothers are greedy and evil. That’s why Immelt’s GE is a good company, and Immelt gets to sit on a panel, but Ford gets told they will get the full force of the government on their back if they dare put out a commercial where they point out they didn’t get bought out, at tax payer’s expense, so democrats could secure power & wealth for one of their constituent blocks. That’s why Obama tells us flushing billions down the toilet on idiotic ventures like Solyndra or fining the energy industry for not doing something that is physically impossible is considered an “investment”, while anything done for evil oil companies are “subsidies” and in dire need of ending. That’s why they tell us government creates jobs and we need to let them funnel close to a trillion dollars to their friends, lobbyists, special interests, and campaign coffers, then blame the fact things are going south faster on everything but their idiotic wealth redistribution based social engineering policies.

What people need to understand is that the only injustice these democrats seek to address is the one where they don’t control everything. After all, they are the credentialed smart ones, and they know better than the rubes. So they should both be calling the shots and getting the rewards for doing that. That’s why Obama delivered a speech last night where big left leaning government was going to solve all the world’s problems. And these are the reasons why people should wise up. At the beginning of the last century the fellow travelers of our current crop of class warriors used the same arguments, banking on the jealousy and envy of the majority to propel them to success, through violent revolution. Now they have abandoned most of that violence – unless it is union related, I guess – because it is a dead give away of what is to follow. But the goals remain the same. And based on historical evidence, the end results will be the same too. Sooner than later. It’s the whole theory that if you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water he will get it, but if you do it to it incrementally, the dumb thing gets cooked.

Class warfare is a disgusting excuse used by power hungry scam artist to fool people into letting them do what they otherwise would never go along with. Class warriors have never fixed any injustices, history shos us that they only managed to create more of them.

Some more perspective

One of the arguments that the left pushes in their quest to make government control and run healthcare is that evil for profit corporations in the insurance industry screw people over. Of course, knowing how inefficient and ineffective government is at anything it undertakes due to my interactions with it, I am usually flabbergasted that they feel government will do a better job. Seriously, when the “social justice”, “war on poverty” big government can’t do it right and billions are squandered, why would anyone think a big government bureaucracy will do anything else?

The federal government’s largest housing construction program for the poor has squandered hundreds of millions of dollars on stalled or abandoned projects and routinely failed to crack down on derelict developers or the local housing agencies that funded them.

Nationwide, nearly 700 projects awarded $400 million have been idling for years, a Washington Post investigation found. Some have languished for a decade or longer even as much of the country struggles with record-high foreclosures and a dramatic loss of affordable housing.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees the nation’s housing fund, has largely looked the other way: It does not track the pace of construction and often fails to spot defunct deals, instead trusting local agencies to police projects.

The result is a trail of failed developments in every corner of the country. Fields where apartment complexes were promised are empty and neglected. Houses that were supposed to be renovated are boarded up and crumbling, eyesores in decaying neighborhoods.

That’s the future of healthcare too. Except the numbers will be in the trillions, and the fields won’t be empty, but full of graves of people that were “helped” by government run healthcare. I know how the left will defend this! Its healthcare, so this is real “serial”, and they will definitively do it right because of that, and they will make sure the right people are in charge! Heh! Epic fail.

What’s the definition of insanity again?

Isn’t it doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different and contrary result? Well, if that’s the case, then the Euros are insane. The Euro is getting hammered and the S&P has downgraded Greece’s rating 2 notches yet again – they obviously are certain a Greek default is a question of when, not if – with several other southern European countries heading the same way, and what do they do? Well, they double down on the stupid and are looking to provide more bailouts for the Greeks. What is the damned incentive for the Greeks to live in their means after that?

Shit, go ahead and keep running debt up and spending money you don’t have on the big collectivist state Greeks! What are these other losers gonna do? Cut you off? Watch the EU crumble around them? Nah, they are so desperate to keep the fantasy of the EU and the collectivist nanny state alive, for as long as possible, that they are simply not going to even blink at the fact that the Greeks are thumbing their noses at them and their demands for austerity measures. It’s a free ride for all of you, man. And Italy, Spain, Portugal, and even Ireland are on notice not to try to hard to fix their fiscal madhouses either. Spend like there isn’t going to be an end to the free money ride! More bennies for the slackers! Retirement at 50 for everyone but government employees: they can retire at 45! 25 hour work weeks for all! Free healthcare till you get old enough that they figure euthanizing you is the humane thing to do! And most important of all, have Uncle Sam keep paying for your defense and the bank bailouts!

Seriously, this is where we are it seems too. It’s going to be an ugly few decades with the nanny states basically unraveling across the globe. The people that want the free ride ain’t gonna give it up. There are rich people to fleece, don’t ya know! Hold on to your horses.