Friday, May 07, 2010

WHAT TO DO ON THOSE RARE OCCASIONS WHEN LIBERTARIANS FEEL BAD ABOUT SOMEONE ELSE. Megan McArdle's heartstrings (or, perhaps more accurately, heartthreads, or body-cavity-strings) are tugged by some well-circulated and absolutely horrible footage of cops storm-troopering a family home in pursuit of a drug bust. She characterizes the folly of drug war justifications thus :
Have you ever had one of those arguments in a bar that start around eleven and wind up when the bartender kicks you out? It starts off on some perfectly reasonable topic, but as the hours and the drinks mount up, the participants are forced to stake out some clear logical positions, and in doing so, crawl farther and farther out along the limb they are defending . . . until suddenly you reach a point at which one of the debaters can either abandon their initial committment, or endorse the slaughter of 30,000 Guatamalan orphans. And there's this long pause, and then he says, "Look, it's not like I want to kill those orphans . . . "
This reminded me of the Iraq War, in which thousands of people were killed, often under conditions similar to those portrayed in the tape, or worse. (And some of them might have been orphans -- at least, for a few minutes before they expired.)

McArdle was on the other end of the barroom justification then. Later she admitted she might have been wrong about it (though, she insisted, that didn't mean the anti-war hippies were right). In subsequent posts she saw that Iraq was "improving," which she suggested meant the carnage may have been worth it:
The improvement may not last. And even if it does, there's still a fine argument to be made that the suffering which preceded it made the invasion a terrible, terrible idea. But the current strategy of ignoring the news from Iraq, or quibbling with it, doesn't lay a sound foundation for making that argument.
Maybe someone from Conservatarian HQ can ease her mind by explaining that even inappropriate drug raids help lift property values, and make neighborhoods more attractive to members of the Producer class. In libertarian land, there's a solution for every problem -- so long as the problem is how you feel about something horrible happening to someone else. And it always is.

Oh, almost forgot:
As an empirical matter, I believe that national health care is going to kill a lot more people every year than the Iraq War when fully realized.

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