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Sun

30

Nov

2008

I’m A Bad Libertarian
Sunday, 30 November 2008 07:42
by Tom Chartier

After much soul searching I have come to a harsh realization. Please no snickering, catcalls or rotten tomatoes as I confess. This one hurts deep.

I am… wait… I must compose myself… Ok. My name is Tom Chartier and I am a Bad Libertarian.

Phew… That was tough. Now you know. I’m sure some of you suspected and comments were made in hushed voices during back alley cigarette breaks. Tom Chartier is a poseur. He’s a fake! A fraud! The Elmer Gantry of Libertarianism! Well… I never achieved Elmer’s success.

Please Gentle Readers forgive me. Lord knows I’ve tried. Alas, the best laid plans of mice and men usually get all uh… FUBAR. Where did I go wrong? Well, maybe I need to examine the main criterion for a good Libertarian.

First a good Libertarian is anti-war. Hm… I did play with toy soldiers when I was a kid. I built plastic models of fighter planes, bomber planes, tanks, battleships and submarines. Could this have been my downfall? Well… maybe but as much as I was fascinated by the machinery the fact is I’m not to keen on what it is used for. What’s that you say? I disapprove of “freedom?” Hell no! And that’s the point. A baby with its head blown off by US made ordinance is beyond criminal regardless of whose baby it was. And that my friends is what the great US Military-Industrial Complex does all in the name of “freedom” when really it’s all about power and war profiteering.

Nope. Don’t like wars. So I guess I meet that Libertarian criterion.


How about being anti-state? Yikes… I sense trouble here. As a rule I have more than a healthy distrust of government. Ok, I concede, there needs to be some order and governance. As an old punk I should be all gung-ho for anarchy but anarchy is what “governs” Iraq. Maybe Iraq is somebody’s ideal society but it ain’t mine! Nevertheless a whole Bandini Mountain of laws and programs run by the state for our welfare, security and benefit makes me smell Ricky Rat and all his vermin offspring.

What does it take to get elected to office in a democracy? Qualifications? Bovine biscuits! All that’s required is glitz, glitter and a heaping spoonful of balderdash. Wrap up the RNC edition of your Senatorial SUX 2010 in a flashy ad campaign and all too many will clamor for one… or two… or three! And these “elected” nimrods are going to make laws to control our lives?

Putain de merde de vache!

Ok… I guess I qualify as a Libertarian on the anti-state issue.

How about the Free Market? This may have been my downfall. I know didly squat about economics. But then let’s be honest here, who does? The geniuses on Wall Street? Congress? The chairman of the Federal Reserve? Alan Greenspan? The Bush Family Dynasty? Don’t make me laugh! None of these de-evolved cretins knows any more than I on the matter of economics. If they did, the US would still be on the gold standard and not taking out Chinese loans hand over fists of furry with no intention or ability to pay them off.

Do you have the money to afford that new Lockheed Martin laser-guided Scooter of Mass Destruction, Bart? No? Well then you can’t buy it. Gosh, maybe I know more about economics than I thought. I certainly know more than all too many of the experts.

But alas… I have not read Ludwig von Mises or Murray Rothbard. Jumpin’ Jiminy! That is a sin as far as the good Libertarian is concerned. Austrian economics? Uh… well… I can find Austria on the map and know all about the Anschluss. Guess that doesn’t really count though.

The other problem I have with the Libertarian Free Market is this. I loathe Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buys, MacDonald’s and even Piggly Wiggly. The problem there is corporations result when the market is totally free. With corporations we enjoy… offshore outsourcing of manufacturing. That means some guy in Asia who will work for next to nothing gets jobs that should go to Americans. It also means the death penalty to the mom and pop businesses. How can they compete? Usually they can’t. What happened to Uncle Bill’s hardware and Fishing Supplies? Oh, Home Depot and Sports Chalet replaced that. Bill now works the floor of the Loew’s in the plumbing department at $9 per hour. He’s surly, doesn’t care and pounds down a six-pack a night. Joe the Plumber didn’t have any openings on his staff for Bill.

I guess I have trouble with the totally free market, not that I have a better solution. But I’m none too thrilled by the strip malls all looking the same and owned by nameless faceless corporations. They have destroyed the American dream and replaced service, adventure and good neighborly shops with Pop Tarts.

So… does this make me a bad Libertarian? Maybe, but I’ll let Lew Rockwell director of the Mises Institute and Jacob Hornberger of the Future Freedom Foundation decide.

Now, at this point I’d say I’m safe with two out of three requirements. And the third is debatable. After all, on this I do agree… State meddling with the Free Market infringes on all our freedoms. Maybe when the State decided to toss out the gold standard in favor of “petrodollars” also known as “fiat money” maybe that killed the Free Market? Dunno. I’ll leave that debate for the minds of people who have not spent three decades playing punk rock.

Am I cool with three out of three now?

Ok… now this one really scares me. I think this is the stumbling block over which I have slipped and busted my nose. I have not… and I shudder at the humiliation… gotten around to those two Ayn Rand books, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. I have them. I just haven’t been able to squeeze them in between such crowd pleasers as Robert Fisk’s Pity The Nation, Patrick Cockburn’s Muqtada and Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.

Hey wait a minute! Wasn’t Ayn Rand’s philosophy “Objectivism” not Libertarianism? You see? I’m totally confused. Maybe I’m just intimidated by Galt’s Speech.

However, I admit the error of my ways. The shame I feel I cannot put into words. I swear I’ll read Ayn Rand! Soon!

And possibly the worst offense of all is that I have been AWOL two years in a row from the Future Freedom Foundation conference… and I was even conscripted! No excuse. I’ll admit to being a tad fearful that FFF founder Jacob Hornberger demanded my attendance as a ruse for some devious scheme of indoctrination. He promised me room 101 and that makes me very uncomfortable. There’s something about room 101 that strikes me as double plus un-good but I just can’t seem to recall what it is. Anyway, now I’m on the run and laying low.

My name is Tom Chartier and I am a Bad Libertarian.





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Rad Geek said:

0
On Big Business
You write: The other problem I have with the Libertarian Free Market is this. I loathe Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buys, MacDonald’s and even Piggly Wiggly. The problem there is corporations result when the market is totally free. With corporations we enjoy… offshore outsourcing of manufacturing. [...] I guess I have trouble with the totally free market, not that I have a better solution. But I’m none too thrilled by the strip malls all looking the same and owned by nameless faceless corporations.

What makes you think that the success of big-box retailers like Wal-Mart, Target or Best Buy is the result of the free market? Certainly they're prosperous in the market that we have, but as you know, the market that we have is not free.

In particular, big-box retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy benefit massively from -- in fact, they probably depend on -- government hand-outs for big, centralized corporations in the name of "development" and "economic growth." For example, in order to build those giant big box stores, they need large, contiguous blocks of land near an interstate highway exit. They often get those large blocks of well-positioned land at artificially low prices because the city government uses eminent domain to seize it, either in the process of building the highway or else as an independent project for "development" purposes. In a freed market, they wouldn't have that.

Big chains like Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy also need big systems of warehouses, cross-country trucking, etc., and for all of that, they need big interstate highways. Which happen to be built, maintained, and subsidized by the government. In a freed market, there would be no government-subsidized highway system, and they'd actually have to pay the full cost of their shipping and distribution networks.

They also typically depend on being able to get very low-cost goods exported from textile mills, plastic factories, etc. overseas, in places like Communist China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and so on. Those goods are often cheap because labor is extremely cheap. But labor is extremely cheap because labor markets in those countries are unfree, because those governments happen to be comfortable with extreme brutality in order to keep small-time farmers and industrial workers poor, subservient, and desperate for any way to get cash. In a freed market, workers overseas would be much better off, much less desperate for cash, much more free to leave abusive or exploitative bosses to find new livelihoods, and generally able to command much higher prices for their labor. As a result, Wal-Mart's comparative advantage in importing from developing countries would make for much less of a comparative advantage in competing with smaller, local shops -- because goods from developing countries would no larger be made artificially cheap by the intervention of violently anti-worker governments.

As Roderick Long has argued (http://www.cato-unbound.org/20...ation-now/): "In a free market, firms would be smaller and less hierarchical, more local and more numerous (and many would probably be employee-owned); prices would be lower and wages higher; and corporate power would be in shambles. Small wonder that big business, despite often paying lip service to free market ideals, tends to systematically oppose them in practice."
 
December 06, 2008 | url
Votes: +0

Rad Geek said:

0
On Anarchy
You write: As an old punk I should be all gung-ho for anarchy but anarchy is what "governs" Iraq.

Oh, come on, really? Iraq is in a state of civil war, not a state of anarchy. Civil war is what you have when a strip of land has too many governments (or would-be governments) fighting with each other over which one gets to do the governing. Anarchy is what you have when the have no governments at all. Iraq, which is currently being contested by the armed forces of the most powerful government in the world, a nominally independent puppet government propped up by those occupying armed forces, fractious provincial governments (especially in Kurdistan), occasional incursions from Turkey and Iran, roving sectarian death squads closely associated with various armed factions like SCIRI, the Sadrist movement, various tribally-based Sunni warlord-gangsters, Al-Qaeda, etc., all instituting police-state measures wherever they have strong enough control to do so, and all of them fighting with each other over who will be able to come out on top as rulers of Iraq, or--failing that--how they will be able to carve up Iraq into fiefs under their military control. That's not anarchy; it's just a bunch of warring states trying to get their hands on parts of the same country. No surprise: the situation there was created by a war between feuding governments and a military occupation.

Anarchy means no governments and no rulers -- a consensual society based on free association, without wars, taxes, occupations, government prohibitions, government police, government curfews, or any of the rest. Maybe that's achievable in this world, and maybe it's not, but possible or impossible, it's important to keep in mind what it is we're talking about. Anarchy means lawlessness, not disorder; and it certainly doesn't mean having so many would-be law-makers in one place that they end up fighting over who gets to make the laws!
 
December 06, 2008 | url
Votes: +0

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