Tuesday, July 15, 2014


From Reason magazine:
How to Talk to Nonlibertarians
Take a shower and don't stand so close to them when you talk. Just kidding! Do go on, Sheldon Richman:
If libertarians want to change how nonlibertarians think about government, they will need to understand how nonlibertarians think about government. By "nonlibertarians," I mean the majority of people who spend little if any time pondering political theory or what Murray Rothbard called political ethics. They may focus at times on particular government programs and actions, or on proposals for new programs, but rarely about government as an institution.
You mean normal people?
...So how can libertarians speak to these people in a way they will understand? How do we get them to question deeply held beliefs that may never have been articulated? My basic advice is to start by trying to see government as they see it. This may be distasteful, but if you want to persuade people, what else are you going to do? Without this, you might as well be speaking in a foreign language.
I have to say it's amazing they let this be published someplace non-initiates might see it. (I know, fellas, but at least technically Reason magazine is available to the public.) Richman sounds like an alien in a cheesy sci-fi story trying to figure out what is this "love" the humans speak of?

But he does try: He even acknowledges that people worry about losing their job and having no safety net to help them, which must have been a big step for him. Unfortunately:
...The libertarian job is to convince people that, on two counts, government provision is a bad way to secure a good end. First, it is morally wrong because it requires compulsion — the threat of physical violence — starting with taxation. And second, as a consequence of the first feature, state provision is inferior to private provision because it is outside the free and competitive market — a process that, unlike the political realm, ties rewards to customer service and stimulates entrepreneurial discovery, which makes products and services better and cheaper.
I see the problem here: Richman thinks that the littlebrains don't know that the power of the state is terrible. But we do know it, and nonetheless prefer to deal with the welfare state -- yes, even with police and taxes -- than take a chance on rule by corporations, because we also know that people who pitch us "customer service" and "entrepreneurial discovery" as an alternative to our current means of survival are the sort of well-manicured grifters who try to talk senior citizens into giving up their life savings for a fake stock certificate.

With a little patience Richman might be able to polish his act sufficiently that after ten minutes people won't want to throw garbage at him, but I don't think he has it in him -- really, look at this --
In other words, consumers would be safer without government protection. But that counterintuitive claim must be patiently demonstrated, not merely insisted on. (One disadvantage for libertarians is that most people are ignorant of economics.)
-- and imagine the guy trying to win hearts and minds anywhere but FreedomFest and Koch Industries. We all get tired of glad-handers, but these guys don't even seem to like people. And they certainly don't want to offer them anything except the opportunity to be smug shits like themselves -- and they think that's a great come-on because for libertarians that's the tippity-top of the Maslow pyramid. They'll give out toy guns in Harlem to make a point, and give a speech at Howard to make a point -- but it's not the people of Harlem or Howard they're trying to make their points to -- it's the people who already agree with them, and who'll get the press release and say boy, our guys really showed those people.

It's not a formula for political success. Fortunately for them, their sponsors have deep pockets and can buy politicians who'll just straight up lie to them about what they're trying to do.


  1. cleter11:15 PM

    "state provision is inferior to private provision"

    I'll take the line at the DMV over waiting at the WalMart customer service counter.

  2. Ellis_Weiner11:17 PM

    "First, it is morally wrong because it requires compulsion — the threat
    of physical violence — starting with taxation. And second, as a
    consequence of the first feature, state provision is inferior to private
    provision because it is outside the free and competitive market — a
    process that, unlike the political realm, ties rewards to customer
    service and stimulates entrepreneurial discovery, which makes products
    and services better and cheaper."

    Is there a significant difference between this kind of libertarian and a person with autism? I mean this literally. "...compulsion--the threat of physical violence..." No, Sparky, it's called "civilization," in which everyone (even you! Yes, you!) agrees to have and obey laws, not only for my benefit, and yours, but for my protection from you. The idea that there can be any human society "free from" laws, the enforcement of which does not imply "physical violence," is a child's fantasy.

    Second, the idea that "customer service" and the idea of "entrepreneurial discovery" will protect individuals from the predations of corporations, "whose" sole raison d'etre is to make profit, is literally beneath contempt.

    This idiot's essay is like a Bar Mitzvah boy's speech: noble, well-meaning, and limited in credibility by the fact that the little shit is thirteen.

  3. Gromet11:33 PM

    I bet I can steal a bunch of Sheldon's believers with my new Feudalism Movement. Feudalism: EXACTLY like Libertarianism, but battle-tested and good for a thousand-year run.

    Now all I have to do is fantasize like they fantasize, so I can talk to them in a way that articulates deeply held beliefs they don't even know they hold because I'm magic. Then we will need 76 trombones... and 110 coronets right behind... It's gonna be fun! Build tall walls, rape the poor, and crusade all you want, boys!

  4. Spaghetti Lee11:34 PM

    ties rewards to customer service and stimulates entrepreneurial
    discovery, which makes products and services better and cheaper.

    You know, you never hear people complaining about the local artisan cupcake shop or used record store dicking them over. And it's not stores like those that liberals get angry about. The corporations people hate are insurance companies, banks, cable/internet/cell phone providers--all the ones that provide services so essential to modern life that it gives them much more leverage to dick people over: they won't be driven away because the product is so necessary. No, it's not "force" (libertarians literally cannot construct an argument without using that word), but it's functionally similar: people can't resist you because they have no way to harm you. This seems simple enough, but it's too complicated for people whose worldview boils down to Big Evil Monolithic Government vs. Brilliant, Creative, Well-Intentioned Individuals.

    Libertarianism is not, by and large, a different set of opinions: it's a different understanding of what reality is like, one that I find inexplicable. I don't know just how sheltered you have to be to think that the 'free market' consists of the fortunes of corporations rising and falling exactly in time with the general public's perception of them; a general public made up entirely of people who not only have the knowledge to maximize their financial efficacy at all times, but the clout to actually make corporations do what they want.

    OK, enough taking this guy seriously. Pop quiz! Richman's article is funniest when read aloud in __________'s voice. A) Zapp Brannigan, B) The Comic Book Guy, or C) Patrick Warburton?

  5. hellslittlestangel11:37 PM

    You know, to be really convinced of the other guy's argument, I need to sense strongly that he thinks I'm a fucking idiot.

  6. chuckling11:37 PM

    Not really that different than centrist democrats plotting to reach "low information" voters. Fuck em all, and I mean that in the negative sense of "fuck."

  7. Spaghetti Lee11:45 PM

    One of the few intellectually honest libertarians I've ever met said that the only distinction that mattered was that between anarchy and barely-not-anarchy forms of libertarianism. Now for me, that's like choosing between different flavors of sewage, but the point being that once you allow the idea that a military/police force run by a government and funded by the people is necessary to protect civilization from crime and disaster, then you're already admitting that there is such a thing as a 'public good', and it's all downhill from there, so to speak.

    To his credit, he realized that the average citizen being relatively safe from crime and other threats is basically what makes civilization possible. But all that really meant is that he's one of the far larger group of libertarians who want all the good shit modern society has to offer but doesn't have a grasp on how it came to be, who pays for it, and why people think that stuff is worth having. Really, whenever I hear someone describe themselves as a 'minarchist', I think of Ron Swanson: "My ideal government is one man sitting in a room, and he can press a button to decide who to nuke. That's it."

  8. Gromet11:52 PM

    There is no way to lose with A, B, or C.

    Reading your comment it really hit me how thorough the libertarian fantasy is. I guess they imagine the whole human race would suddenly flourish in one endless Burning Man (but with competition?) -- it evidently hasn't even half-occured to Sheldon that what would really happen is about 5 minutes in, Exxon would look around at the brave new world and say, "Hold on... You mean we don't have to follow ANY rules now?"

    Their next sentence would not be "Now's our chance to deliver top-flight customer service, lads." More likely: "We're gonna need guns. A lot of em."

  9. Oh boy, here comes another Chuckling wank on the Dems and how they're just as bad as the 12 year old glibertarians. Aimai sighting in 5, 4, 3, ...

  10. My basic advice is to start by trying to see government as they see it.
    This may be distasteful, but if you want to persuade people, what else
    are you going to do? Without this, you might as well be speaking in a
    foreign language.

    Step 1: Your subject likely views "government" as a series of programs and laws that have a direct impact on his/her life, rather than a theoretical concept to be discussed by their middle-class-or-better white male friends over joints and shots of Goldschlager. While you may be tempted to lecture the poor imbecile on how life experiences have skewed his/her ability to comprehend facts (something to which you are immune, of course), you may have to sink to the littlebrain level and talk about reality. Try to suppress a shudder as you do.

    The libertarian job is to convince people that, on two counts,
    government provision is a bad way to secure a good end. First, it is
    morally wrong because it requires compulsion — the threat of physical
    violence — starting with taxation.

    Step 2: Explain to your subject the concept of taxation. This may seem excessively basic, but as you are dealing with a simpleton who's likely never heard of Cato, s/he probably doesn't understand that tax money comes from taxpayers. Keep your polysyllabic words to a minimum and remember to speak very slowly.

    It may help to explain that, in the grand scheme of things, their problems are very petty. Many are tempted to caution in this area - after all, you may well be dealing with people who have dealt with serious economic problems. Some of them may well have had their parents secure them work that provides only the median national income. Even so, you must be firm. They may be thinking of such trivial concerns as paying their rent, but this is hardly a worthy concern if doing so infringes on the ability of the wealthy (Peace Be Upon Them) to pour money into vanity projects so that they may see their name in the press.

    And second, as a consequence of the first feature, state provision is
    inferior to private provision because it is outside the free and
    competitive market — a process that, unlike the political realm, ties
    rewards to customer service and stimulates entrepreneurial discovery,
    which makes products and services better and cheaper.

    Important tip: Avoid the term "customer service." For some reason, many littlebrains react negatively to it.

    In other words, consumers would be safer without government protection.

    Step 3: At this point, the subject may ask how a lack of regulation will make them safer. An instructive example may be needed. Say that there is a risk of food contamination at their local grocery store. A statist may wish to solve this through coercive means. Explain to the subject that this is unnecessary and the problem will correct itself. Once a certain portion of the surrounding community has been stricken with food-borne illness, everyone will know to avoid that store in the future. It is not uncommon for the simpleton to balk at this, due to their inability to grasp mathematics. Merely explain to them that, statistically speaking, it is unlikely that they or anyone they know would be among the fatalities in such an outbreak.

  11. AlanInSF12:38 AM

    Perhaps Libertarians could demonstrate their commitment by eating only in restaurants that have failed their government sanitation inspections.

  12. AlanInSF12:40 AM

    Sen. Everett Dirksen

  13. montag212:42 AM

    It seems to me that libertarians have just as much as faith, and the same kind of faith, in the perfection of markets as the born-again Christian dispensationalist has in the Rapture.

    The truth, which is far simpler, is that people will always get fucked over by economic powers bigger than they are without some sort of legal--i.e., governmental--protection. The funny thing here--and it is hilarious--is that if one is even a mediocre historian of political economy in this country, one rapidly realizes that virtually all of the most hated "intrusions" by government into the market came about because the markets were gamed by the biggest players and that workers and consumers were being hurt or killed in the process. What was happening, particularly in the Gilded Age, was precisely the opposite of how contemporary libertarians claim free markets behave. In essence, the government was forced into becoming a reactive body by the bad behavior of the riggers of the markets. The FDA came about because people were dying from tainted meat and snake oil full of arsenic and such. The SEC was created because the stock and commodity markets were rife with inside dealing and unregulated debt that destroyed the economy. OSHA happened because greedy fucking capitalists didn't give a fuck about worker safety. The EPA was created because industrialists were happily, merrily, poisoning us all.

    That simple truth is that "the market" so trusted by Richman to always do the right thing never did the right thing, because its only interests were money and the power that accrued with money.

    That may be impossible for ol' Sheldon to understand, but for those of us with a minimal understanding of how markets actually work, it's not complicated.

  14. Spaghetti Lee1:00 AM

    For me it's the inverse argument that makes me scratch my head. Any service that would be totally acceptable even under the most basic social contract theories is exactly the same as "gun to the head." Health care, public schooling, clean water, functioning transportation infrastructure--all exactly the same as being rounded up and put in a death camp before a summary execution. The private sector is never wrong, and the government is never right.

    One of the many disconnects between libertarians and normal people is that the latter have come to the conclusion that the government providing such things is a good thing, and they are willing to pay for it. Or at least, they don't want to take the risk of tearing it all down. As usual, libertarians divide the world into libertarians and uneducated simps who just haven't been informed of their wrongness.

  15. AGoodQuestion1:08 AM

    (One disadvantage for libertarians is that most people are ignorant of economics.)

    As distinct from the majority of libertarians, who are actively delusional about it.

  16. Spaghetti Lee1:08 AM

    It's especially ridiculous given how libertarians talk about the difference between positive and negative rights. "Tyranny of the majority" is a useful concept when talking about the latter: we've come to the conclusion as a society that people can't vote to take other peoples' rights away, that's pretty much what the whole Civil Rights movement was. What it doesn't mean is that you're an oppressed minority if everything doesn't go exactly the way you want it to.

    Libertarians seem to genuinely believe that, that they, personally, have a right to dictate exactly how the government should act, over the objections of any larger group of people, because they're the only ones with the 'right' philosophy. And of course, they don't apply the same standards: Any government program is a corrupt disaster if even one person comes out against it, but corporations must have absolute freedom to pursue their goals no matter how many people it hurts. Yes, being part of a system you don't morally agree with sucks. Welcome to existence. Google, Facebook, and Apple have apparently decided that the future will be a world where everybody has access to everyone else's personal life and constant connectedness will be pretty much a requirement to maintain a social or professional life. I don't remember being consulted on that.

  17. AGoodQuestion1:12 AM

    Comic Book Guy and Glenn Quagmire both work perfectly well.

  18. Formerly_Nom_De_Plume1:13 AM

    (One disadvantage for libertarians is that most people are ignorant of economics.)

    Exactly. Most people think that libertarians are selling them a lot of bullshit. Oh wait, that makes them right.

  19. AGoodQuestion1:23 AM

    Libertarian philosophy makes a distinction between government and private enterprise because you have the choice of opting out of the latter. Which you do, theoretically. That theoretical ability can get pretty distant. You probably don't have a choice in electricity supplier. In a lot of kinds of insurance choice is very limited.

    As to Google, Facebook and Apple, you can only get out from their thumb by unplugging completely. Which isn't an option for a lot of people, and libertarians are just dandy with that.

  20. montag21:24 AM

    A few months ago, I read a quite informative collection of essays titled, Ruling America, which tries to answer a few basic questions concerning money, power and the power centers in the country. One of the most interesting tidbits concerned the Gilded Age and the power of the bankers to control the economy, and the debate that raged among the major bankers as to the role of the government in the economy. Today, we pretty much take for granted that the government plays a significant role, but, then, the argument was that the government should not be allowed to play any role--what would today be seen as a libertarian fundamental. The bankers saw themselves as perfect arbiters of the economy, even though the country had suffered major economic disasters in the 1850s, 1870s, 1880s, 1893 and then the Panic of 1907 (in this latter crash, J.P. Morgan ended up bailing out a bunch of fellow bankers himself, precisely because he could not stand the thought of the government stepping in--it also made him a huge amount of money).

    Today, we have an economic system in place guided by those same hypotheticals (supply-side economics, the Laughable Laffer Less Taxes=More Revenues nonsense, etc.) combined with a rather thorough regulatory capture which causes government to behave just as the bankers did during the Gilded Age, and with similar results. The real world, as you say, doesn't respond in any of the ways the theoreticians claim it should, and the results are predictable.

  21. I know I already dropped a healthy comment brick down there, but there's been something kicking around in my head for a while, and I've been waiting for just the right libertarian twit to let it out. This guy's comment on the free market and consumer safety is too perfect.

    So a few years ago, there was this scandal in the PRC involving the sale of used frying oil. Frying oil is used in a massive number of East Asian dishes, and on a small scale it's very cheap, but for restaurants that may go through gallons of the stuff a day it adds up. A lot of them started to deal with black market dealers who offered them oil at as much as half-off the going rate. The oil in those containers had already been used, siphoned from underneath hotel restaurants (which only use high-quality oil, but are not above accepting a few bucks from some dodgy dude with a van full of plastic jugs). It was commonly referred to as "sewer oil," because...well, that's a pretty apt description of the source. The handful of Western outlets that covered the story focused mostly on how gross it was, but there was a much bigger concern - the stuff contains nephrotoxic impurities. Eat enough of it, and eventually your kidneys shut down.

    I can already hear my well-informed interlocutor throwing out a challenge: "But it wasn't the government that found out about the sewer oil! It was a professor acting of his own accord!" And this is true, for as much good as it did. Now we come to the fun part - the part that was particularly terrifying for me, given that I was not only in the country when the story broke, but living in the part of the country where most of the oil had been sold. The only way to distinguish between high-quality oil and sewer oil is a chemical analysis. The sewer oil does not look, taste or smell any different. Even if you could get into the kitchen, the containers don't give away the game, either. There's no way to tell you've been eating it until years later when it's far too late.

    So we're dealing with a contaminated product that businesses have a strong incentive to use, is impossible for a patron to detect, and leads to an ambiguous diagnosis (as other things can cause kidney failure) only after several years. How the fuck does the free market fix this? If there's a solution other than the big bad coercive government rounding up the product before people take it into their bodies, I haven't figured it out yet. Yes, I know, we're discussing coarse real world problems rather than the philosophical underpinnings of the concept of government. Spend a while living in a place where eating lunch might kill you and then tell me how much your fucking philosophy means.

  22. Tom Hartley1:38 AM

    Fucking government stormtroopers won't let me do what I want. Can't drive as fast as I want. Can't have dolphin meat in my tuna. Can't fire a gun indoors, even if it's my own gun in my own house. Can't kill my boyfriend, no matter how annoying he gets. SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS!

  23. ColBatGuano1:54 AM

    Yeah, not that different except in every single way imaginable.

  24. Wrangler2:06 AM

    It's kind of like the "good guy with a gun" thing, right? When someone proposes that as a solution to mass murder, what they are saying, since the good guy can only react to someone who has already begun shooting people, is that they are okay with at bare minimum one person getting shot for their solution to work. And so it is with these "market corrections".

    The statist solution is paid for with money and, very occasionally, jail time for the most refractory/delinquent/criminal cases. The libertarian solution is paid for with blood and corpses. Obviously, the latter system is the most moral. Obviously.

  25. montag22:10 AM

    It's a very funny take on customer service, as if markets somehow provide something that government cannot. I think what really gets the glibertarians' panties in a knot is that at government institutions, by law, everyone gets treated equally. The glibertarian can't bribe the clerk to go to the head of the line.

    And in today's corporate world, no one gets very good service, because customer service is not perceived as a profit center, but rather as sunk losses to be minimized, and, of course, some of those customer service interactions will result in consumers opting out of the corporations' goods or services, and that means lower revenues, so the tendency today is to make it impossible for consumers to interact with the corporation in any meaningful way.

    Comcast--a corporation with perhaps the worst customer service record in the country--has recently proven the above to be true, although it strenuously places the blame on the customer service agent and not on corporate policy. Now, Comcast wants to merge with Time-Warner, a corporation which has an only slightly less atrocious customer service record (they may well have learned this from their erstwhile partner, AOL, which set records for failing to comply with disconnect orders and continued to bill customers for sometimes years after their service was cancelled).

    This is how the "free market" actually works, not as libertarians imagine it. A corollary of this principle is at work with the current political attempts to close thousands of post offices and Social Security offices, because the only way the free-marketeers can convince the public that government services don't work is to forcibly make them work badly.

  26. "Live free or die, baby!!"

  27. Jay B.2:27 AM

    How to Talk to Libertarians:

    "Look, just fix the fucking network connection and spare me the Rothbard."
    "Seriously, the penis goes inside. I've been there. It's fun. For Christ's sake, just don't talk about Rothbard."
    "Yeah, your childlike belief in the free market reminds me of how my kid talks about Santa and the Green Lantern."
    "Why are you reading an article called 'How to Talk to Nonlibertarians?'. Have you ever talked to anyone, ever?"
    "I'm not kidding. Rothbard should have been thrown in a bag with a rabid dog and the bag should have been sowed shut, then thrown into a river. He's a racist asshole."
    "Just move to Sealand already."

  28. davdoodles2:31 AM

    What is the difference between the libertarian paradise and Somalia?
    Or is there no punchline to this riddle?

  29. montag22:39 AM

    What's ironic is that all the free-marketeers, who believe that the markets
    resolve all problems, and that all markets need to work are rational
    actors all working with equal information making rational choices in
    that marketplace, are stubbornly against any government-imposed requirement to provide that same essential information, and the players in that market are unwilling to share essential information because profitability might be at stake. It's a fundamental flaw in their thinking.

    In the same way, they see no problem in denying us rational actors the
    information we need to make choices when it comes to, say, whether to buy and eat food produced by GMOs.

    Equally, Congress is positively eager to accept the science that GMO
    seed makers offer up to justify their products--no need to investigate
    how the safety and efficacy of those was determined--but climate science
    is just pseudoscience at best.

    What libertarians claim with regard to both the flow and control of information is mostly horseshit. In the real marketplace, information is always closely held if it relates to profitability. As your example amply illustrates, the market doesn't provide the information necessary to make informed choices--and is more likely to withhold that information if its dissemination results in monetary losses.

  30. montag22:49 AM

    Libertarians won't go to Somalia. They'd rather stay here and complain that the United States needs to be more like Somalia.

  31. montag22:57 AM

    Whew... that's, uh... barking mad.

  32. Spaghetti Lee3:16 AM

    Allowing someone who literally can't get their own food to starve to death =/= "aggression", apparently.

    I have slightly more respect for libertarians who justify their madness with "Law of the jungle, baby! Kill or be killed! Adapt or die!" But in my understanding, libertarians in general and Paulites in particular see themselves as the only people who truly love humanity, the only ones who can save it from the pit of slavery and let it soar, and that any non-libertarian position is based not merely on ignorance but active hatred of humankind and a desire to destroy it. Like that dumb-as-shit "R(love)ution" slogan of theirs.

    Rothbard is an intellectual icon in libertarian country. If I ever found myself celebrating the brilliance of a man who said that freedom can't exist without the right to starve your baby, I hope I'd slap myself and check into counseling. But no, merrily they roll along. Because they love humankind, you see. Ever so much.

  33. montag23:56 AM

    All utopians tend to oversimplify (which is why it's prudent when encountering a Utopian, of any stripe, to run quickly in the opposite direction). If one makes the mental effort to describe the parameters of a world in which libertarianism might work, at least in part, it's definitely prehistoric and preindustrial and pre-written word. Even then, it has a low probability of becoming successfully rooted, because in that time, cooperation was absolutely necessary for survival of any group.

    What drives the theory-bound libertarians bonkers is that, in their vision, libertarianism simplifies human interactions, so why wouldn't everyone want that? They choose to ignore the fact that, in a country of 300 million-odd people, and a world of 7.5 billion, the complexity of interactions is far greater than their plans can accommodate. Their tendency, then, is to discard those interactions as either unnecessary or made complex by the presence of government, when the reality is that they are inherently complex and can't be ignored just because they don't fit the formula.

    That said, most of the libertarians out there aren't interested in theory--they're mostly narcissists searching for rationalizations to justify greed and will grab onto anything--such as Rand's Objectivism--that lends the appearance of intellectual rigor to selfish and acquisitive behavior.

  34. I'm a librul who understands how true libertarian economics work quite well. I did my Ph.D. at Mogadishu Tech, fercrissakes.

  35. Spaghetti Lee4:27 AM

    If one makes the mental effort to describe the parameters of a world in which libertarianism might work

    It's been a while since I began reading (and never finished) Dan Simmons' Ilium, but as I recall, it featured a society where the number of humans on earth had been drastically reduced (like maybe a few hundred thousand), and some unknown divine providence/alien superscience had gifted them with robot butlers for everyday tasks and a global portal network that would allow them to travel to anyone else's home, and since there were so few people, pretty much everyone owned a vast amount of territory. Also for unknown reasons, every single person, without fail, lived to be 100 and then died a painless death. There was one scene where a guy was eaten by a dinosaur and woke up in a hospital good as new; you apparently couldn't die if you wanted to.

    That's a good start when it comes to imagining a libertarian-friendly world. And I don't even particularly mind libertarian hoakum showing up in fantasy and sci-fi: in certain constructed worlds it makes some kind of sense, or at least makes for a better story. But if I was a libertarian, I'd be kind of concerned that all of our supposedly brilliant instructive manuals for how real life ought to be had to be set in outer space, an alternate-history Earth, or a facsimile of medieval Europe before they would even function as stories, let alone policy prescriptions.

  36. montag25:10 AM

    As Barry Crimmins said a long while ago, "I wonder what the guy in prison in New Hampshire thinks as he's stamping out those license plates?"

  37. President Cruz is happy for your support!

  38. Robert Hoglein6:41 AM


  39. In other words, consumers would be safer without government protection. But that counterintuitive claim must be patiently demonstrated,

    This is it folks. From now on we must at all times carry a vial of water dipped out of a stream and run through a Britta filter, but not otherwise cleaned.

    When a libertarian tries the government protection is bad line on you, hand them the water and a release form. Explain that you've started a source-to-consumer bottled water company that is 100% free of government interference and you'd be honored if he'd test your product to demonstrate what he's talking about.

    By doing so you'll see that specially handled water really is good for repulsing freakish human parasites.

  40. I know, right? And if he can make it clear that he's not really addressing me, but a pair of boobs Little Brain stereotype he's been nurturing for years because he's had no real contact real humans, that's even better and not at all repulsive.

    But the best part is it this schtick isn't even original and the Reasonids don't know it. It is almost word-for-word like the NeoCon Concern Squad's Very Serious Discussions about how they can talk to the porch monkeys about the benefits of voting for the party that treats them like shit.

  41. Be fair people. Obviously this is the next entry for cartoonishly feeble political view points.

  42. Don't you see?

    Eventually the businesses using the bad oil will kill all their customers, and then they will fail.

    Voila, the Magicke of the Free Market!

  43. mortimer20008:06 AM

    Thankfully, our ignorance of economics can be mitigated by the amazing educating power of the free market, where we can learn how consumers would be safer without government protection firsthand. For example, did your family meat packer infect you with e-coli? Well then, if you're still alive you can take your business to another meat packer, or at least your grieving loved ones can. Consider yourself educated. Did your pain medication give you a heart attack? Well, now you know not to buy drugs from that pharmaceutical company, don't you. Another lesson learned. See, you don't need government to be a smart consumer.

  44. redoubtagain8:06 AM

    This. Also, the DMV isn't trying to upsell me on some bogus "protection plan" that's really instant revenue for a corporation.

  45. Michael8:14 AM

    All wasted breath--they long ago devolved into the "talking at" and "talking past" camps.

  46. mortimer20008:23 AM

    Libertarians don't believe in democracy, period. The idea that a government elected by the governed is responsible to the people who elected it is simply not possible in their religion. Which is why they are big fans of one of the most undemocratic institutions of power every invented: the modern corporation. When it comes to the power of property and who wields it, even their lip-service sacrament of liberty yields to the authoritarian impulse.
    I mean christ, fucking scientology has more integrity as a belief system.

  47. mortimer20008:34 AM

    But the parent should have the legal right not to feed the child, i.e., to allow it to die. The law, therefore, may not properly compel the parent to feed a child or to keep it alive.
    This makes perfect sense only to someone for whom everything is property, where all social interaction of any kind is only a matter of maintaining control of one's property. Hell, libertarians reject the idea that human beings are social by necessity, and form a thing called society in order to live together. Wait a minute. I'm using terms like "human beings" in a discussion about libertarians.

    Never mind.

  48. FlipYrWhig8:35 AM

    To Serf Man

  49. Derelict8:36 AM

    Giardia. Isn't that the airport in Queens, NY, just outside the city?

  50. Its not even worth it to comment on it. Chuckling's shtick is so old that I think I saw its other half rolling around somewhere. Viz:

    A long time ago, there were three kinds of human beings: male, descended from the sun; female, descended from the earth; and androgynous, with both male and female elements, descended from the moon. Each human being was completely round, with four arms and fours legs, two identical faces on opposite sides of a head with four ears, and all else to match. They walked both forwards and backwards and ran by turning cartwheels on their eight limbs, moving in circles like their parents the planets.

    As they were powerful and unruly and threatening to scale the heavens, Zeus devised to cut them into two ‘like a sorb-apple which is halved for pickling,’ and even threatened to cut them into two again, so that they might hop on one leg. Apollo then turned their heads to make them face towards their wound, pulled their skin around to cover up the wound, and tied it together at the navel like a purse. He made sure to leave a few wrinkles on what became known as the abdomen so that they might be reminded of their punishment.

    Obviously the Republicans are the Males, the Democrats are the females, and the androgynes are the independents and low information voters that Chuckling identifies as the one true voter. But, alas, the best laid plans of gods and men gang aft agley:

    After that, human beings longed for their other half so much that they searched for it all over and, when they found it, wrapped themselves around it very tightly and did not let go. As a result, they started dying from hunger and self-neglect, and Zeus took pity on them, and moved their genitals to the front so that those who were previously androgynous could procreate, and those who were previously male could obtain satisfaction and move on to higher things.

  51. OtherJimDonahue8:39 AM

    Roy, you have the best commenters on the Intertubes. Bar none.

  52. Derelict8:40 AM

    Serf and Turf? Page 133.

  53. I think the Libertarian gun nut motto and the libertarian non gun nut mottos are two different things. To the libertarian gun nut "l'etat, c'est moi." The armed individual can take over and provide for himself (and his clan) all the functions that government usually performs. One excuse for the necessity is, well, necessity--such people like to think of themselves as living out on a vast, underexploited, and under policed, frontier. Every man must subsume all functions of government and of private contractors like plumbers or electricians into his own body/life/practice. Meanwhile non gun nut libertarians are just literal parasites and hangers on to corporate power, like lice that cling to pubic hair but imagine that they are an important co-owner of the body.

  54. montag29:02 AM

    And Scientology is a corporation. *shitshudder*

  55. montag29:12 AM

    And, in your new, improved charter schools, science is always spelled "$cience." None of that "science" stuff to cloud your mind with irrelevant data. Now, stop sniveling and take your Vioxx.

    Parents couldn't pay their Bechtel water bill? Suck it up, kid. It won't take but a couple of days to come up with the three bucks for a pint of bottled water. You'll make it. If you show up for work on time.

    Shush, the market knows best.

  56. That someone putting a gun to your head and saying "Do it or I'll kill you" is the only thing that constitutes coercion.

    And if it's some rich fuck's private police force doing it, not even that counts.

  57. montag29:20 AM

    What knits them together, though, is that both factions' are living in a dream world.

  58. See, you don't need government to be a smart consumer.
    Hey, you can also sue. Oh, wait, latter-day schmibertarians also tend to be big fans of "tort reform." Though I'm sure they'd drop that once the competing private courts were up and running.

  59. montag29:28 AM

    Umm, I think those private courts are already in place. They're called WTO and NAFTA trade tribunals....

  60. BigHank539:43 AM

    Oh, no shit. Why don't ordinary people throw off the chains of government oppression and embrace the miracle of libertarian free markets? Because every single one of them has had to deal with both government (tedious, arcane, treats everyone the same) and business (also tedious and arcane, but you can change that...for a price) and most of 'em would rather spend ninety minutes at the DMV than ninety minutes waiting for the cable guy to show up, because after ninety minutes at the DMV you'll be done, and there's only about a 20% chance the cable guy will have even found your house.

  61. By "nonlibertarians," I mean the majority of people who spend little if any time pondering political theoryCuriously enough, that's what I usually mean by "libertarians."
    what Murray Rothbard called political ethics.But which no one else would, given that Rothbard was a psychopath.

    I mean, sweet zombie Bakunin, it's always the shallowest, most mouth-frothing, intellectually-bankrupt jumped-up phonies with these guys. Hayek, Rothbard, Rand, von Mises if they're feeling like really stretching ... What about Tucker? Stirner? Proudhon? There is a fairly rich mine of political theory around anarchism, both individualist and collective (*shudder*). But these Reasonoid poseurs somehow manage to all be "anarcho"-capitalists at best.

    How do we get them to question deeply held beliefs that may never have been articulated?By going first?

    First, it is morally wrong because it requires compulsion — the threat of physical violenceYeah, see, Sheldon, this is what I was getting at above. If you had name-checked, e.g., Kropotkin, I might be willing to consider you merely utopian. But you're a Rothbard-invoking propertarian capitalist, so you don't give a fuck as long as the threat of physical violence comes from a warlord or something with "Inc." after its name.
    state provision is inferior to private provision"But that counterintuitive claim must be patiently demonstrated, not merely insisted on."
    a process that, unlike the political realm, ties rewards to customer service"But that counterintuitive claim must be patiently demonstrated, not merely insisted on."

    Also, when politicians do provide "customer service" in order to be rewarded with re-election, you're right there to shart about "pork" and "government waste."

    One disadvantage for libertarians is that most people are ignorant of economics.
    Yeah, why can't they all be ignorant of economics, and therefore libertarians?

  62. satch9:56 AM

    "They're engineers who think they're theoretical physicists..."

    Not to nitpick or anything, but I think it's the other way around. They are absolutely wedded to their theories of how things should work in a perfect world, and they are forever, sadly, being disappointed by the stupid, unenlightened meat puppets... er, actual human beings who keep interfering with the workings of their perfect economic machines. I'm beginning to see why guys like Glenn Reynolds just can't wait for the singularity.

  63. But even the appeal of that sort of sci-fi relies on the reader identifying with the [mentally unscarred] survivors of the catastrophe that shriveled the population.

    And that's what all libertarian fantasy assumes, really.

    The individual libertarian telling us to throw off the shackles of government oversight never thinks he will be the consumer who buys the car with the pop-off wheels or eats the hot dog that is chock full of salmonella, or the patient at the hospital that's decided it doesn't need to pipe oxygen into every room, or worker who is permanently disabled or killed in a workplace accident...

    Bad things only happen to the sinners and heathens Little Brains and moochers.

    Also, perhaps I'm missing something, but based on your synopsis that book sounds DULL.

  64. BigHank5310:03 AM

    Ah, the faith of libertarians. Libertarianism is easier to understand once you recognize its essential a priori assumptions: that moral worth can in fact be measured, and it can be measured in dollars.

    All else follows as neatly as unfolding one of those origami frogs: Anyone who thinks your money should be spent on a goal that you do not agree with is wrong--it's your money. Anyone who insists on doing so (government) is evil. If something can't be sold, it's worthless. Providing anything for free deprives a seller of a profit, and less money in his pocket decreases his moral worth...all of libertarianism is an attempt to make the real world conform to their repugnant, twisted model of value.

    It's not surprising they don't put that one on display very often. 1 Timothy 6:10 doesn't get talked about much (and the evangelicals are trying to bury it deep, what with the Prosperity Gospel and the Prayer of Jabez, but it's the one verse that everyone knows.

  65. synykyl10:07 AM

    Libertarianism *is* an adolecscent fantasy, but I think you are being a little unfair to Bar Mitzvah boys. They may be naive, but they usually have some compassion for others.

  66. mortimer200010:10 AM

    Yup, Sheldon's a libertarian all right:
    Sheldon Richman is the author of Your Money or Your Life: Why We Must Abolish the Income Tax; Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State, and Separating School & State: How to Liberate America's Families, calling for the abolition, not the reform, of public schooling.

    And a further exploration of the Future of Freedom Foundation where he nests reveals that Sheldon thinks the Hobby Lobby decision granting corporations religious rights didn't go far enough, and the refusal to serve someone because of his or her race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation is an exercise of self-ownership and freedom of nonassociation, among other fun stuff.

    My question, is Sheldon's last name just wishful thinking?

  67. montag210:11 AM

    Everyone has customer service horror stories, but my favorite is from the ancient days of 14400 baud modems, before Qwest became CenturyLink, before U.S. West became Qwest.

    One day, my phone quit--no dial tone, nothing. So, because I'd had a little trouble with transients from lightning strikes welding up the off-hook contacts on the modem, I checked that, disconnected everything, and still nothing.

    So, I got out the voltmeter and checked the socket, then checked the junction, and then went outside and checked for voltage at the service entrance. Still nothing. So, I went to work and used the phone there to call customer service. After a long wait, I got a kid who immediately told me that my line was fine, and that because I didn't pay for the service contract, it would cost me a minimum of $57.50 and hourly time for the service call.

    I told him I'd checked inside the house and it wasn't in the house--it was U.S. West's problem and I expected him to arrange a service call at company expense. "Oh, no, that can't be. Our system says your line is fine." So, I told him, hold that thought and I'll call back in a few minutes. Drove home, got out the dykes and cut the aerial line to the house and tied it off. Drove back to work, called the kid, and said, okay, check the line again. "It's fine, like I said." Umm, how can that be since I cut the aerial line? "YOU CUT OUR LINE???!!!??!!?" Yup, and it's reading okay because you aren't checking the right account.

    So, the kid sent out a repairman. Who didn't show up for a day and a half. When he did finally get there, he apologized and said that the customer service kid sent him to the wrong pair, and it took him that long to find out the right line, since he was basically guessing in the dark among a thousand houses in the neighborhood, and said, you were right, there was a break in the aerial line and he'd fixed that and installed a new service entrance, and he just needed to string new line to the inside junction. While he was doing that, he said that the company had pretty much fired all the old personnel. "In the old days, when a lineman got hurt or couldn't climb any longer, they put him on the customer service desk, because he knew the overall system better than anyone. Now, they've pitched `em all out and paid kids like the one you spoke to a little more than minimum wage to read off questions from the computer screen." Even he didn't work full-time for them and he'd been with them about twenty years--he'd been made an independent contractor.

    So, basically, that told me the future of customer service, almost twenty years ago. It was going to be, at best, an afterthought, in order to squeeze ever more money out of the customer for less and less value. No wonder the U.S. has the crappiest bandwidths at the highest costs.

  68. Closer-to-home examples include the Firestone tire failures in 2000, the Ford Pinto gas tanks, and the GM ignition switches. In each case, the companies involved knew there was a problem, and made the sound, to them, economic decision to deal with catastrophic failures as they happened, since they calculated that that would be cheaper than recalling every unit and fixing the underlying problems. I personally drove a Pinto for seven years until it turned into a pile of rust, and never once was bothered by incineration in a gas tank fire, so I guess that Ford's gamble paid off, right?

  69. That simple truth is that "the market" so trusted by Richman to always do the right thing never did the right thing, because its only interests were money and the power that accrued with money.

    And "The Market" isn't really the nebulous deity the libercons want us to worship. It is a bunch of financially successful sociopaths and their enablers who responded to the risk of lawsuits and fines by passing the cost on to the consumer.

    But when a libertarian learns - for example - yet another car manufacturer has engaged in a little light manslaughter, the libertarian blames government oversight and consumers who didn't break into HQ and find the secret plans that showed the car was a hazard. Never may the manufacturer be faulted.

    Because the libertarians who aren't sociopaths themselves were the sort of dingleberries who ate toads for the class bully when they were little.

  70. "My ideal government is [ME]
    sitting in a room, and [I] can press a button to decide who to nuke.
    That's it."

    There, isn't that better?

  71. But you know what? Our tax problems would be solved if they did!

  72. I can imagine Game Of Thrones being very popular with this crowd...

  73. But you have to wade through so much shit to find that kernel of truth you have to ask: isn't there a better way?

  74. based on your synopsis that book sounds DULL.Well, it also has Greek gods in it. But yeah, it does start pretty slowly, especially the Earth idyll parts. It picks up the pace a little by the time we find out that the great pandemic was the fault of the Global Caliphate trying to exterminate all the world's Jews.

  75. Derelict10:29 AM

    "Would you like to buy the extended service plan on these license plates? If anything goes wrong with them for the next year, they will be repaired or replaced for just a $20 fee."

    But I just paid you $20 for this set. What does the service plan save me?"

    "Well, it's an extended service plan. So, you see, value."

  76. Aw, c'mon... gun nut libertarians would NEVER kill anyone who didn't absolutely deserve it.

  77. Human beings only reproduce (morally) by behaving socially--by interacting with one another in social ways. The idea of any kind of pair bonding or non remunerative relationship--I for you and you for me--such as exists between lovers or between parent and child or (if you are lucky) between siblings is anathema to them. Incomprehensible, even. And that is why you find so many confused libertarian types on the MRA side of thing screetchign siultaneouslythat women are whores and sluts for ever wanting their dates to pick up the tab for dinner (to see whether he is generous) and also that education and remunerative work for women has turned them all into bitches who refuse to let a man open doors for them. Everything is a power play and even romantic or familial relationships must submit to this model in which if I give "more" than I get I am considered a loser. And, at the same time, your right to assert your independence from my financial control or my gestures of authority (by, say, appealing to the government or law) constitute the end of freedom for me.

  78. Mo-om if you'd just let me try out my idea for scattering my clothes all over the living room and leaving plates of moldy food everywhere you'd see how well it works!

  79. montag210:35 AM

    The interesting part about the Pinto debacle was that it wasn't even the gas tank at fault. It was literally a problem created to solve a hitch in the assembly line. In the original design, the tank couldn't be hoisted up from underneath and the straps tightened easily. So, to make that task go more quickly, Ford lengthened the turnbuckles that cinched the straps by several inches. Because the rear bumper was pretty cheesy--just barely strong enough to meet impact standards of the time, it folded down in a rear-end crash and was pushed forward. The bumper contacted the turnbuckles and pushed them up, and they opened the tank like a pair of can openers. If Ford had even just reversed the straps so that the turnbuckles were located on the front of the tank instead of the rear, there might not have been a major problem.

    And still, they built the car that way because the bean-counters had determined that fixing it was more expensive than the expected lawsuits. Of course, that's the whole point of punitive damages--to make the costs of the suits so much more expensive than the fix that the company will do the right thing because it's cheaper. So, our libertarian and corporate friends want to do away with punitive damages through tort reform. Smart, eh? The modern American corporation's motto is: "Fuck everybody."

  80. In Bujold's Vorkosigan series she models an entire planet on these principles. Its called "Jackson's Whole"

    Originally a hijacker base, Jackson's Whole evolved into a government by a series of interlocking crime syndicates known as Houses Major and Houses Minor, the distinction being based on wealth and influence. The heads of the Houses Major, at least, are afforded the title of 'Baron,' although it is unclear which person or what institution bestows that upon them. The wife of a Jacksonian Baron is styled a 'Baronne,' in the French usage, not a Baroness. Presumably, the female leader of a House Major would also be a Baronne.

    Conventional morality does not appear to matter to the planet's power brokers. Anything and everything is for sale, if the price is right. Nothing is illegal, provided you can pay for it. Furthermore, the judicial system in Jackson's Whole is based on a system of "bids" where anyone can purchase justice for the right price. Any party can purchase an arrest form for any individual. The accused party is then forced to outbid the prosecutor in order to get either bail or an acquittal.

    Jackson's Whole is ultra-capitalism at work. Ordinary people are valued by their usefulness. There are no rights except those one can purchase. An individual who does not live under the protection of one of the Houses has the survival prospects of a hunk of dead meat. No doubt there are those who survive in the cracks of society, but for anyone who needs a place to live and money to live on, the only choice is to be useful to some House. The society's closest thing to a sacred institution is "The Deal": agreements, even handshake deals and verbal agreements are honored as written contracts.

    It is on Jackson's Whole that a business flourishes: raising cloned children, removing their brains, and implanting the brains of elderly rich people into new young bodies.

  81. montag210:47 AM

    Hmm, they die from self-inflicted gunshot wounds in sufficient numbers to suggest that you may well be right.

  82. Halloween_Jack10:57 AM

    CBG works for pretty much all wingnut commentators.

  83. tigrismus11:06 AM

    The armed individual can take over and provide for himself (and his clan) all the functions that government usually performs.

    Compulsion is always morally wrong except for when it isn't.

  84. mortimer200011:12 AM

    Shhh. You're giving those Sealand entrepreneurs ideers.

  85. I think thats why they hate images and popular movies about slavery and the civil rights struggle--because they know their fetishization of the free, armed, individual produces either domination or justified revolt and they hate to end up on the side of the striking workers, fighting slaves, or the black panthers. They know that such people are, actually, the epitome of the free, armed, individual but their fighting back against corporations and against private property and capital is an insoluble problem.

  86. Note that he begins by asserting that even looking at something through another person's eyes, even exhibiting a beginning four year old's level of empathy, is "somewhat distasteful." At the very least its apparently quite scary.

  87. The great part is that while starving your infant to death is apparently okay as long as it doesn't involve aggression, Rothbard had a very different attitude toward the police. From an essay on "right-wing populist" positions that he considers consistent with libertarianism:

    Take Back the
    Streets: Crush Criminals.
    And by this I mean, of course, not
    "white collar criminals" or "inside traders" but violent street
    criminals – robbers, muggers, rapists, murderers. Cops must
    be unleashed, and allowed to administer instant punishment, subject
    of course to liability when they are in error.

    So apparently, "liberty" does not include the right not to be murdered by the cops. Unless you're rich, of course.

  88. AngryWarthogBreath11:50 AM

    Could be a teachable moment, couldn't it?

    "You see that guy? The guy the Hound just murdered purely for being ugly?"
    "Yeah, it fuckin' ru..."
    "That is you. Right there. You just got killed. There was no choice that you could have made that did not get you killed."

  89. whetstone12:05 PM

    Whenever I watch Parks & Rec I wonder if they have an intern who has to prepare memos for Ron Swanson's character by reading Reason comment threads.

  90. subject of course to liability when they are in error.

    Oh, of course. Why, just look at how vigorously abusive, lawbreaking police are held to account already.

  91. I can only imagine how the Haitian slave revolt in 1791 must have terrified white Southerners... so much so that they actually came to believe that the revolt was the fault of the emancipation movement, and that the cure for the threat was to make slavery permanent. Fear can have strange effects on the ability to reason.

  92. A one week suspension should be enough.

  93. swkellogg12:24 PM

    "In other words, consumers would be safer without government protection."

    Obliviousness to history,childish idealism, and overestimation of one's abilities rooted in a lack of self-awareness are the defining characteristics of a
    "good faith" libertarian.

    The others are just slightly more literate RW grifters.

    We already lived the jungle kidz, no one seems very interested in going back.
    except naive and/or sociopathic a la carte anarchists such as yourself.

    Murray Rothbard -- jeebus.

    You guys really need to get out more.

  94. whetstone12:32 PM

    I'm still astonished that the precipitating incident at GM were customer complaints* that the ignition switches were "cheap feeling." I am not shitting you: "GM wanted each small-car ignition to 'feel like it was a European sports car or something."

    Apparently one thing that distinguishes a European sports car—I have only driven one thing remotely like that, an old manual BMW, and while it was hell of fun to drive, I was more cognizant of the handling and the speed than the ignition switch—is that the ignition is "smooth."

    So in order to make the ignition more smooth—and because actually making their cars like European sports cars would have required more money—they reduced the physical resistance of the switch. Thus the fatal problem arose.

    *Lord knows how many actual complaints there were. It's possible there were thousands of Chevy Cobalt owners sending nastygrams to GM about how the Cobalt didn't live up to the standards of Enzo Ferrari; I suspect that paranoid marketing people blew up a handful of gripes into a giant disaster. At least that's what my experience of the corporate world leads me to think.

  95. That's some unvarnished E. coli conservatism!

  96. Technically, you can opt out of paying taxes too -- you just have to live below the poverty line.

  97. whetstone12:46 PM

    I say we meet them halfway: we grant these libertarian utopians the jurisdiction of their dreams, on the agreement that we get to film it as a reality show. We'll call it Galt's Gulch or Keeping Up With the Friedmans.

    They get all the guns and drugs they want, all the responsibility for maintaining their own infrastructure and food and whatnot, and we get to watch.

    The way I figure, it can't miss, as you would predict from a combination of Survivor, The Sims, Faces of Death, and Roman gladiator battles.

  98. Well, they weren't wrong. You can't keep your boot halfway on the neck of the people you are oppressing. Its all the way or its not going to work.

  99. No, sadly, it is the name of a celebrity chef.

  100. Oh, you mean the Bundy Ranch?

  101. slavdude1:05 PM

    Wait a minute. I'm using terms like "human beings" in a discussion about libertarians.

    Maybe it's time to update that joke about politicians and sperm (what do they have in common? One in 600 million has a chance of becoming a human being) to change it to libertarians and sperm.

    On second thought, it's not clear that any libertarian would have a chance at becoming a human being.

  102. The problem is, they're still coasting on the positive externalities that come from *situating their autonomous collective inside of a stable first-world country*.

    In a world with finite land, it's impossible to completely escape others' investments (or freeloading).

  103. shocktreatment1:08 PM

    Interesting that libertarians are dead certain that market forces, competition, and that ol' "invisible hand" are the most efficient solution to our societal ills, yet by that very same criteria, capital 'L' liberalism is an utter failure in "government as an institution".

    You'd figure, with all it has going for it, it would be the dominant form of government here on planet Earth. With all the revolutions just in my lifetime, that is since 1960, dozens in Africa, Asia, Central America, many repeats, all of Eastern Europe keestering communism, more Africa, this time in the north... Yet not a single institution of a libertarian regime...

    In fact, outside of thought experiments, the minds of delusionists, and the reason-impaired cohort of the populace, 'libertarianism' has never functioned anywhere, or anytime.

    Go figure!

  104. slavdude1:10 PM

    libertarian gun nut

    I believe the term of art is "ammosexual".

  105. tigrismus1:22 PM

    Libertarians seem to genuinely believe that, that they, personally, have
    a right to dictate exactly how the government should act, over the objections of any larger group of people

    For all their "Tyranny of the Majority" cant, they think they personally have the right to dictate when the objecting group is smaller, too: 77% of people self-identify as Christians, and yet it's somehow not tyrannical for their "right of conscience" to quash the more tangible rights of minorities.

  106. Spaghetti Lee1:29 PM

    Subject of course to liability when they are in error.

    Oh, that makes everything OK then.

  107. Spaghetti Lee1:31 PM

    To be honest I sometimes find Swanson a little too representative of the idiots in congress and various pro-business groups to be funny; hits a little too close to home. I guess that means the writers did their job.

  108. SatanicPanic2:06 PM

    It's a wonder people don't want to sign on for that

  109. montag22:22 PM

    The closest thing to a recent "European sports car" that I've driven--a newish Mini Cooper, now made by BMW--didn't have an ignition switch--or key--at all. Instead, the back of the egg-shaped "key" was magnetically coded to match a bowl-shaped receptacle in the dash. Once in its socket, the electricals turned on and a separate start button was energized.

    I suspect that's more or less standard on recent European cars, so, GM was already years behind the curve in that regard. The greater likelihood was that GM just bought a cheesy switch because it was cheaper, which has been their modus operandi for a long, long time. Recall all the Chevy trucks and vans from the `70s and `80s with brake light feedback through the front turn signal lights? That was due to a wiring harness change that GM implemented to save them fifty cents a unit.

    The real problem is that GM has always designed equipment in the same way as it always has, and unfortunately, that translates to higher labor costs to assemble and to repair, so they cut corners on components. Back in the early `90s, the Transportation Center at UofM did a labor-hour study for the UAW, because GM was complaining about the quality of labor being supplied to GM plants in the Detroit area and saying that their labor costs were just too high. The Transportation Center found that the available UAW labor pool was also used by both Chrysler and Ford, and there were no complaints about costs from them, so they looked elsewhere. They picked four cars, comparable models with comparable options--one a Toyota, one unnamed (likely a Mazda), one Ford and one GM car, and totted up all the labor hours to assemble each of them. They found that the Toyota required something like 18.5 hours, the unnamed Japanese car, 16 hours. The Ford, about 16.5, and the GM car... 44 hours. If all that extra time translated into noticeably superior workmanship and finish, it would have been worth investigating further, but it didn't. The GM car just required a lot more assembly time because of the way it was designed. And this was the sort of thing that went completely ignored while Roger Smith was busily hollowing out the company in his insane quest for more diversity and bigger profits.

    I'm sure they've made improvements in that regard over the last couple of decades, but old habits die hard. GM, for an absurdly long time, held onto a parts numbering system that invited error, for example--sequentially numbering new parts as they were added to the engineering drawings. One typo, and you've accidentally ordered 100,000 heater motors instead of 100,000 1/4" bolts. Both Ford and VW use systems in which the type of part (and in VW's case, what model and what system group the part was first used on) are coded into the part number, so the error trapping is much better.

    All the manufacturers bitch about the NHTSA recall reporting system, but, hell, if the problem is caught quickly and reported promptly, it can actually save money by reducing the number of recalled vehicles (and lots of recalled items produces lots of bad press) and prompts quicker supplier and line changes. Instead, GM just tried to wish the problem away, and it mushroomed. It's just plain stupid to know you've got a major switch that's a piece of shit and then try to bury it. But, that's part of a long-ingrained culture at GM, I think.

  110. realinterrobang2:46 PM

    Not to mention that most non-libertarian people have some sort of rudimentary sense of fairness, and "tedious and arcane, but you can change that...for a price" doesn't sit well with that, particularly since most people are not rich enough to afford the going rates these days.

  111. J Neo Marvin2:55 PM

    Because nobody likes cops, but everybody LOVES rent-a-cops! Yay private enterprise!

  112. montag23:28 PM

    Instant punishment? But not for "white collar criminals?" This fucker must luuuuv Singapore.

    Fuck me to tears, I'd never realized that the libertarian umbrella included this degree of insanity (and, hell, I've been to a picnic, a rodeo and seen "Starship Troopers"). We can thank our lucky stars that none of them have been able to gain a toehold on major political office, because if this winklebutt is any indication, they hate the Bill of Rights.

  113. montag23:37 PM

    Oh, it scared them a bunch--so much so that Jefferson imposed an embargo against them when they declared their independence in 1804(?) that lasted until about midway through the Civil War. I think Jefferson even sided with the French when France demanded reparations to cover the lost asset costs the slaves represented to their owners. IIRC, Haiti didn't manage to pay those off until 1940.

  114. mortimer20003:45 PM

    Dick Dynasty?

  115. Yeah, you have to love how she makes Miles' patriarchal-militaristic home planet and the weirdo gene-fiddling race supremacists seem nice and cuddly by introducing Planet Rand.

    I have to wonder if she had a bad experience in Jackson's Hole.

  116. No, not the Betans, although it is several times pointed out that they created the hermaphrodites as a social experiment which didn't pan out. Yuck.

    I can't think of the name, but everyone is afraid of them because they're technological bad-asses and they have a rep. for torturing people who annoy them.

    There's one novel where Miles is on their planet and the upper-class women go about in hoverbubbles? The men paint their faces? Arrgh.

    However, the lack of non-identified non-white human characters is such the norm I don't even notice unless a random non-white human character is introduced. And then I have to wonder why skin color/race is only mentioned when the person is non-white. "Whites" come in a variety of shades, as well.

  117. StringOnAStick5:30 PM

    Hulu and other forms of net TV are the death knell for cable. Serves the bastards right.

  118. StringOnAStick5:37 PM

    Hey, my husband was a contract programmer at US West at exactly the time you describe. Things were obviously headed seriously downhill then so he moved on, but we got all the stories of how Quest taking over required everyone to turn in their US West coffee cups, mouse pads, etc. for a new Quest model. By a set date, ALL US West branded stuff had to be gone, and showing up in one of the numerous project completion attaboy Tshirts with US West on them meant being sent home and docked for the hours it took you to change. Then there was the banning of open toed shoes for women, known as the Great Banning of Toe Cleavage, followed by CEO (and convicted felon) Nacchio gifting himself with a beautiful stallion at a stadium meeting of the entire country-wide staff, and then revelations that he flew home to the east coast on the new corporate jet every weekend because Denver, ew.

  119. "Hello, customer service. My name is Randy. Please don't ask me where I'm calling from because that will make everyone uncomfortable."

  120. We understand "tedious and arcane" when it's a governmental agency. We don't understand it when it's a civilian contractor who's supposed to be making thing demonstrably better and winds up making things demonstrably worse, which is usually what happens.

  121. StringOnAStick5:55 PM

    Today I finally got around to reading Bob Altemeyer's "The Authoritarians". He has a special section on Libertarians. http://members.shaw.ca/jeanaltemeyer/drbob/TheAuthoritarians.pdf

  122. "Don't tread on me me me me me me me me me me me me me." I could go on.

  123. D) Zippy the Pinhead.

  124. StringOnAStick6:18 PM

    Funny, my wingnut dad told me that the problems at GM are entirely due to the "fact that baby Boomer have no ethics, and are morally inferior." I suspect Roger Smith for one thing isn't a Boomer, nor is he representative of every Boomer who has ever lived, including myself.

  125. cleter6:27 PM

    Shitty Malaise-era GM cars were not designed by Boomers. The Greatest Generation came up with that shit.

  126. cleter6:33 PM

    I was reading it as Wallace Shawn from Princess Bride.

    "In other words, consumers would be safer WITHOUT government protection! AH HAHAHAHAHA!" *falls over dead*

  127. Nice point-by-point breakdown.

  128. I agree with that!

    I like to be here when I can.

  129. I think that IS the punchline.

    It's a rhetorical punchline. It doesn't need a joke.

  130. mgmonklewis11:35 PM

    I would like to watch My Man Godfrey with this comment, and then have it read me long passages from Upton Sinclair's The Jungle.

  131. AGoodQuestion11:49 PM

    To his credit, Ron seems to realize on some level that the world needs Leslie Knopes.

  132. mgmonklewis11:55 PM

    Margaret Dumont. Or Gilbert Gottfried.

  133. mgmonklewis12:01 AM

    Rebranding! Slowly I turned...

    If I had a dollar for every minute of my life I've wasted on pointless rebranding from pointless mergers/acquisitions, I could already retire to my own private floating Libertopian island.

  134. mgmonklewis12:04 AM

    No, but you can catch it there. ZING!

  135. AlanInSF12:39 AM

    If a cop kills someone he shouldn't have, empowered consumers will call a different police department next tiime.

  136. Gromet4:11 AM

    In high school physics, we were endlessly calculating (well, not me, I got bored and took a D) how much force to apply to push a crate up a slope -- but the problem always included the instruction "Do not consider friction in your calculations." Neat! That makes it manageable! And that's libertarianism in a nutshell. "I got the answer!" No, you really didn't. You picked an overly simple formula out of the book and applied it to a situation that exists nowhere in the real world.

    Earlier today I ended up in a discussion with a possible libertarian at a different website. We were discussing a matter of policy, but he showed no interest in staying on topic -- neither the problem nor addressing it with a policy interested him as much as deriving what "theory of government" had spawned the problem necessitating a policy. That's fascinating in itself (to me), but on top of it, in his derivations he also relied on "logical proofs" that were littered with absolutes. The world witnesses few absolutes, so I don't see a point in depending on them to develop a theory -- but he was pretty deeply invested.

    He reminded me a bit of the libertarians I've met in RL; the world doesn't seem to supply them with evidence to weigh on a continual basis so much as logic problems to solve once and for all.

  137. billcinsd10:05 AM

    Are we having Libertarians yet?

  138. billcinsd10:22 AM

    This is a public service announcement
    With guitar
    Know your rights all three of them

    Number one
    You have the right not to be killed
    Murder is a crime!
    Unless it was done by a
    Policeman or aristocrat

  139. Does filtering the water only work with her, or any other celebrity chef as well?

  140. Taxes, throughout history, have always been collected through "compulsion". No society has ever not had some form of tax and has ever not had some form of compulsion.

  141. I spend little if any time pondering what Murray Rothbard calls anything.

  142. lesterthegiantape2:25 AM

    I've come back and read this comment twice in the last couple of days. It really does sum up the whole bag of crazy.

  143. montag23:07 AM

    Thanks. I make a point of highlighting the Gilded Age, because that was the time at which the government had virtually no influence on the markets, a time when the bankers and the industrialists were debating whether or not the government should have any say in the nation's economy (guess what?--they decided it shouldn't), and as a result, the nation, for all but the wealthy, was what we would describe now as a Third World country.

    The nation's history, not liberal accusations, puts the lie to the utopian fantasies of the Sheldon Richmans.