Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Case Against Libertarianism and Free Marketers

I haven't touched this blog in quite a long time, as is obvious. However, the health care debate, the emergence of the Tea Party, Texas educational revisionism, and living in Louisiana have prompted me to rekindle my blogging.

I have a simple goal at the moment: to dismantle the libertarian/free market ethos; to reveal the ugly motives behind such selfish thinking; and to make the case that we need, and desire at root, a society that is heavily invested in protecting civil liberties by protecting citizens from each other and from markets.

I hope I get in trouble.

Overall, I do agree with some libertarian principles about protecting individual rights to choose how to live. However, it is clear to me that this right should not include hurting other people. I agree that private enterprise is a good thing, but I think private enterprise works best when the government makes sure that, say, banks can't use complex financial instruments to create short term gains that will destroy the economy in the long run. Anyway, the wealthy in this country get wealthy precisely because the public infrastructure of roads, highways, engineering, armed forces, education, food subsidies, and the like creates a labor force, a consumer market, and the security that enables them to get wealthy. A free market cannot pave most of the roads in the country, build extensive highways, provide education to all, or make a population healthy enough to participate fully in these things. Thus, taxes are good.

My arguments will be based around two premises. I believe that the greedy motive behind America's romance with libertarian is profit-seeking and glorification. Both these things are actually inconsistent with most American, Western, democratic, and even Christian values.

1) PROFIT: Libertarians, free-marketers, Tea Party members, and the like want to get away with doing horrible things to other people in the name of personal gain--usually financial, sexual, or violent. Getting away includes avoiding legal punishment as well as avoiding consequences for the actions that benefit them.

For example, take Loving, Texas, a failing rural county that saw an influx of libertarians during the 2000s who believed they could turn it into a libertarian dream. A 2006 New York Times article detailed how this group sought to "stop enforcement of laws prohibiting victimless acts among consenting adults such as dueling, gambling, incest, price-gouging, cannibalism and drug handling." [1]

Naturally, a leader of that group, Steven Michael, pleaded guilty to child pornography in 2009.[2] I do see a parallel between this group's belief that they deserve access to child porn--which can only be used to hurt children and make adult men feel good--and their brandishing of assault rifles, which can only be used to kill people. Actually, I see that desire at the root of the gun debate, but I will have to be more specific about it later.

On a more financial front, please look no further than libertarian ridiculousness about the financial contract of slavery, such as Ron Paul's assertion in 2007 that the Civil War was a needless bloodbath that could have been prevented by the US Goverment buying out the slaves' contracts.[3] Perhaps this was a joke, but it does point to a libertarian tendency to side with management in atrocities such as slave labor.

2) GLORIFICATION: Libertarians, free-marketers, Tea Party members, and the like want to redefine the things they have done in their lives to fit heroic narratives. This is especially true of rich people, who obviously want to view their wealth as a virtue rather than perhaps just a plain old accumulation of capital.

(Sometimes these rich people have worked for their money. Often, they have inherited it or have had it handed to them relatively easily. Other times, they have stolen it. It may be, but is not necessarily, a result of working harder than others, being a good person, or contributing to society.)

More importantly, this glorification seeks to turn the profit seeking motive into something worth celebrating. Thus, historical crimes like the pillaging, raping, and enslavement of Native Americans and African Americans become free market triumphs that we should put on a flag publicly, and privately talk about in terms of, say, "we all know that black welfare mothers are crackheads who don't deserve a dime of my hard earned money, statistics show" or other phrases that drunk men in Louisiana like to whisper to me at bars, assuming that I will agree with them just because I am white too.

Of course, these are general arguments. The specifics will come with my entries. However, the narrative that this country rose to prominence on free enterprise is missing a good deal, particularly in term of the characterization of that free enterprise.

We all know that America got wealthy on slavery first, then sweatshop labor: the ultimate free market labor solutions. We no longer value these things, yet the Texas conservative rewriting of textbooks eliminated conversations about civil rights, Latino history in Texas, and even Thomas Jefferson's Enlightenment philosophies and slavery peccadilloes. Or, we can look at Tea Party signs that show obvious and unavoidable racism in their treatment of Obama and obvious and unavoidable belligerence in their claims that poor people deserve their poverty, not a helping hand out of it. (Just Google Tea Party Signs and see what comes up.)

Perhaps Thomas Jefferson is at the root of this problem. No, I don't mean that he caused it. Rather, he was stuck between free markets and ideal government, slave labor and liberty, justice and injustice. It would be stupid to dismiss the man completely, just as it would be stupid to glorify him as being the ideal American. With Free Marketers, Libertarians, and Tea Partiers, I think they are simplifying America's problems, their potential solutions, AND America's strengths.

Seeking to withhold taxes on principle or to keep hard working Americans from receiving adequate health care is just as dishonest as seeking to legalize child porn.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Complainy Pants

I just released a new project. Complainy Pants is a public online complaint board. Users login and write their complaints on anything they want: sex and love, politics and government, other people, etc. If you use your Facebook or Twitter account, your complaint will cross-post to those services. Better yet, you can invite friends and have them vote for your complaint. Anyone can join.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Write a letter of support! Free letter generator to Free Rod Blagojevich

Stop the witchhunt now!

Send a letter supporting the innocent Rod Blagojevich to the people who matter: President Bush, President-elect Barack Obama, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, or Federal Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Just enter your details, and we take care of the rest!

Click here, or click the image below to launch the Free Rod Blagojevich letter generator in a new window.

write a letter now

Monday, November 3, 2008

How We're Going to Vote: Special Interests

Although this list below doesn't tally up every American, Poli Tsk Tsk Tsk's unofficial assessment of special interests groups calls the election overwhelmingly for John McCain and Sarah Palin. You heard it here first.

The Retarded
: The McCain/Palin ticket has won the retarded vote according to the New York Times today, which sites Palin's son down syndrome as a primary reason. [1] Researchers are checking into whether the retarded might be the only ones to vote Republican this fall. +7pts

Real Americans: Based upon Palin's speech last week [2], it's clear that Real Americans will overwhelmingly vote Republican. However, it's not quite clear just whom this group consists of. +13pts

Fake Americans: Researchers have been unable to poll Fake Americans, given that none of them have telephone land lines. Nevertheless, we expect that most Fake Americans will vote Democratic. +7pts

Terrorists: Republicans have spent the last 7 years courting the terrorist vote through their contributions to the rise of Al Qaeda in Iraq and the continued dominance of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Thus, the official endorsement of John McCain by Al Qaeda last week [4] and the expected trouncing of Obama by McCain in terrorist circles. +11pts

Scranton, PA:
Joe Biden is from here. Hillary Clinton pretends to be from here. And despite the fact that it's in the Alabama part of Pennsylvania, Scranton is going to go blue all the well -- well, except for the blue collar workers who lost their jobs to free market economics but still believe in Republican policies. +3pts

British Douchebags:
Christopher Hitchens endorsed Obama. [5] Need I say more? +1pt

American Douchebags:
That's right all you jerks. +14pts

Women Who Love Having Abortions
: All of you are going to hell. +0.00000001 pts.

Americans Who Hate Having Health Care (It's a Choice):
Don't tread on me with your "physological" concerns. +16pts

Gays in the Military:
Surprised? +9 pts

Self-proclaimed Messiahs:
Anything to bring about Armageddon. +19pts


REPUBLICANS: 70.00000000
DEMOCRATS :30.00000001

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator

Yes, the American people have learned from experience that it's not the content of your resume but the quality of your character that will make you a good president.

This page uses a modified script from www.blazonry.com, a site with free scripts, examples, tutorials and web developer resources. Script Copyright (c) 1998-2007 Astonish Inc. All rights reserved.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Vote Goya: 11 reasons why

Why are we voting for Goya in 2008?
  1. Washington outsider
  2. Young and attractive
  3. Foreign policy experience: has eaten Mexican, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Italian, Jewish, Japanese, Korean, Peruvian, Jamaican, Polish, Spanish, and Afghani food
  4. Health care plan: free vets for everyone . . . it's better than what we have now . . Dental consists of a rawhide for every American
  5. Lactose intolerant: no worries of tainted Chinese milk, and angry about tainted pet food
  6. Homeland security: barks loudly
  7. In touch with the people: started life as an orphan, adopted by struggling artists
  8. Fitness: four walks a day, minimum, for all Americans
  9. Family values: likes to cuddle, eat around the table
  10. Economical: never lets scraps go to waste
  11. Feel good: believes in love and licks above all else