And the Enlightened Tyrants Will Lead Us

Is freedom getting in the way of progress?

In a recent interview with a Spanish newspaper, famed director Woody Allen reportedly declared himself "pleased" with President Barack Obama's presidency.

"I think he's brilliant. The Republican Party should get out of his way and stop trying to hurt him," Allen explained. Then he waded into thorny terrain by saying, "It would be good ... if he could be a dictator for a few years because he could do a lot of good things quickly."

Allen, who, one hopes, was joking, doesn't speak for anyone but himself (and perhaps Soon Yi Previn-Farrow-Allen) yet makes a good point.

Aside from the occasional genocide, oppression, evil, and torture, etc., it is inarguable that public policy could be implemented more rapidly in an autocracy. Think of how many uninsured Americans we could have helped. Think of the environmental benefits. Democratic institutions are imperfect and chaotic, and man's selfish behavior is constantly gumming up progress.

Just ask widely read liberal New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who pointed out (twice in recent months) that despotism can be advantageous if "enlightened" tyrants (in this case, environmentalists) would run the show.

"One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks," according to Friedman. "But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages."

Of course, some form or another of Friedman's rationale has been used in nearly every embryonic dictatorship. Now, if only Venezuela and Sudan funded more solar farms, Friedman could embrace their progressive forms of governance, as well.

Friedman isn't alone. The lure of enlightened autocracy is why MSNBC's Chris Matthews can casually ask, as he did on his show this week, why the oil industry hasn't been nationalized yet. It is why Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan can stand in front of the Supreme Court, as she did last year, and defend book banning (for the administration, via bipartisan legislation).

The idea drives people like Donald Berwick, a professor at both Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health and Obama's pick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Berwick will be charged with managing government health care programs.

It is true that Berwick is smarter than you and I. He can prove it with a hat trick of Harvard degrees. But his advocacy for state monopolies and top-down control borders on religious zealotry.

As The American Spectator reported in 2008, in a speech celebrating the anniversary of the U.K.'s National Health Service, Berwick asserted not only that the socialized systems were excellent but also—and you might have believed he was talking about Gandhi or, at least, Angelina Jolie—that they were "generous, hopeful, confident, joyous, and just."

Britain's rationing probably doesn't seem exceptionally "joyous" for many of that nation's elderly (the evidence is not pretty) or "generous" to those who pay a disproportionate amount of the tab. Yet Berwick's most revealing assertion was that he does not "believe that the individual health care consumer can enforce through choice the proper configurations of a system as massive and complex as health care. That is for leaders to do."

Health care choice is too complicated for you. When you're buying your kid medicine, for instance, you're woefully oblivious to the "proper configurations of the system" as a whole. This is a problem. You're not thinking about the group, my friend.

And seeing as Americans wrestle with an array of intricate societal systems—from energy, education, technology, food, farming, communications, finance, and so forth—we're going to need strong leadership in a number of areas, apparently.

It seems that the negative externalities of our freewheeling ways have become too much for some of the enlightened to bear. Progressivism is the belief that we have too much freedom with which to make too many stupid choices.

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  • Jordan Elliot||

    "But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages."

    Fuck this idiot with a big, rubber dick. Then break it off and beat him with it.

    What a buffoon.

  • ||

    Shut the HELL UP you moron !

    Stop criticising China with your ideological quasi religious stupid dogmatism.

    China is a great country, just see by yourself : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJBnHMpHGRY

  • ||

    Oh no. The Chi-com trolls smelled someone criticizing the CCP. I guess you can't criticize them inside or outside of China. BTW, people don't criticize China per se as they criticize the government. If you can't tell the difference between a country and a government,spare us your propaganda.

  • ||

    clearly you didn't click the link.

  • ||

    Wow. Samuel does a damn good Chicom impersonation.

  • #||

    And this is just like how the intelligencia in the US was infatuated with mussoulini in the 1930s... who cared if he was a dictator who trampled on rights? He made the trains run on time. Just look at all that progress.

  • Nitori Kawashiro||

    You haven't seen QI recently have you? Mussolini did not make the trains run on time. But if he was Obama (TM) he would have done.

  • ||

    Mussolini did not make the trains run on time.

    No need to make the trains run on time when you can just lock up anyone who complains when they don't.

    -jcr

  • ||

    That's why politicians push so hard for high speed rail. You can't make trains run on time if they don't exist.

  • nekoxgirl||

    Seriously, why would anyone want to hold China up as a shining example of good government. Isn't that the country that runs over protestors with tanks, doesn't let people use the internet, and pollutes so much that some of their major rivers are completely dead?

  • ||

    Enlightened?? Tell that to the farmers disposessed by dams that would cause the greenies to turn purple if they were suggested by the unenlightened American government. Perhaps the hapless tourist who gives a Bible to a local and winds up in prison might have a different term than enlightened.

  • Rabbit Scribe||

    It's just remotely possible that the admiration expressed for the totalitarian Chinese government on this Libertarian website was tongue-in-cheek...

  • ||

    "We just need the right people in charge!!!!"

    *vomits in mouth*

    Well since everyone is hell bent on being doomed to repeat history, I think I'm gonna get blind drunk this afternoon...

  • Jordan Elliot||

    I think that it may be some type of fail-safe that's coded in to our DNA by the aliens that created us to protect them/give them continuous amusement.

    (No, I do not believe were were engineered by aliens. Though, it is just as plausible as any "God did it" theory. Perhaps even moreso.)

  • ||

    It's definitely a more amusing theory.

  • God||

    Says you.

  • Zeb||

    Aliens existing is certainly less far fetched than God.

  • ||

    Aliens existing is certainly less far fetched than God.

    Saying the inverse tells us exactly the same information.

    Dragons are more likely then unicorns

    Unicorns are more likely then dragons.

    Worthless.

  • ||

    But what is more important, as well as completely factual, is that dragons are cooler than unicorns.

    Right?

  • Unicorn||

    Sit on this, bub! Did the The One ride Vermithrax Pejorative in the painting?

  • ||

    Unless the unicorns are farting rainbows, that would be cool

  • Wegie||

    But of course.

  • ||

    Technically any reasonable reading of the bible says God is an Alien.

    I don't recall any passage in there that says God was born on earth. And the fact that the bible claims he made the earth makes it impossible for god to be born on it.

  • Nitori Kawashiro||

    Ooh, another god-questioning comment! This will last a while. And maybe Christopher Hitchens was right when he said that the earth is an intergalactic penal colony and lunatic asylum. At least there is much evidence to suggest that's true. (Although since I'm totally, totally, totally not racist Obama is not evidence of it. Absolutely not)

  • ||

  • ||

    I just don't get this desire to control things and this idea that certain kinds of experts should be making decisions for everyone else. It doesn't work, and the power needed to do it is one of the greatest threats to life that exists.

  • Zeb||

    Even if it did work, it ignores the fact that different people value different things and favor different outcomes.

  • ||

    Which is one of the reasons it doesn't work.

  • TallDave||

    Sure it does. You just haven't learned the most important lesson in life: Thomas Friedman's favored values and outcomes are the only right ones.

    That's the first problem our new enlightened Friedocracy will correct. The pliers and blowtorch crew will be along shortly.

  • ||

    "We just need the right people in charge!!!!"

    Actually in the case of China what they needed was the right poeple in charge to not kill and/or imprison its citizens when they defied the state.

  • ||

    Well since everyone is hell bent on being doomed to repeat history...

    You have it wrong. We're not going to repeat history. We're going to create new, unique, and original ways of screwing things up.

  • ||

    Or just inventing new names for the same screw ups.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks," according to Friedman. "But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages."

    Send Friedman on a one way trip to China and let him live the rest of his life over there.

    That should make him delirously happy.

  • ||

    "One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks," Jeeze, ya fuckin' think???

  • Michael Ejercito||

    "One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks," according to Friedman. "But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages."


    A lot of Germans thought Hitler was enlightened.

    A lot of Russians thought Lenin was enlightened.

    A lot of Italians thought Mussolini was enlightened.

  • Zeb||

    A lot of Americans though each of those fuckers was enlightened too. Not a good precedent to follow.

  • ||

    Michael, you forgot a couple.

    A lot of Soviets thought Stalin was enlightened.

    A lot of Chinese thought Mao was enlightened.

    A lot of Cambodians thought Pol Pot was enlightened.

    Is anyone seeing the similarity between enlightened leftist governments and mass murder? Hmm???

  • ||

    The enlightened despot theory works when it circumvents bureaucracy. The problem I have is that Obama is an enlightened bureaucrat.

  • Wegie||

    Nope, just another shit for brains.

  • ||

    Send Friedman on a one way trip to China and let him live the rest of his life over there.

    Actually, any foreigner willing to sing the praises of the government can do just fine in China, North Korea, or Cuba.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Jesus Christ. To think, I own two of this asshole's books.

  • People Power Hour||

    It REALLY sucks to be you.... :-)

  • ||

    There's nothing wrong with reading others' ideas, even if they're ridiculous. It can help to understand how people come to those points of view, and helps inform your debate with those you disagree.

    Now, reading anything uncritically is a bad idea, but I've read the Communist Manifesto and I'm better able to argue against it because of it.

  • Brett L||

    But paying money for a new copy of a living author's book encourages them to write more and rewards them for spouting bullshit.

  • #||

    well thats why i only buy these things used

  • ||

    In my defense, both books were gifts.

  • TallDave||

    The key is adapting ideas to their proper use.

    Case in point: you now have an ample supply of toilet paper.

  • ||

    Kill Your self. NOW.

  • Zeb||

    Sounds productive.

  • ||

    Nah.

  • ||

    "The Lexus and the Olive tree" is a good book.

    Also the guy who wrote "Guns Germs and Steel" which is an awesome book also wrote "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed" which is a pile of shit.

  • ||

    I've got that one and "Longitudes and Attitudes".

    He got really tiresome by 1/3 of the way through the latter.

  • TallDave||

    Tru dat.

    "The Third Chimpanzee" is quite good as well.

  • LBJ's Ghost||

    I agree with his views on free trade but his global warming hysteria makes me nauseous. He should have stuck to writing about globalization.

  • ||

    The second page didn't load for me, what was the last sentence?

  • ||

    "That's why Chairman Mao is my Hero. And NOW, you know the rest of the story."

  • Pip||

    +1

  • ||

    The End

  • The only nice one on thisforum||

    "But rarely do we see it this bluntly articulated."

  • ||

    Yet another hole in this argument (and yes, I'm purposely bypassing the easy ones about individuals and heterogeneity in the definition of "good") is this:

    Even if the country in question were undeniably improved in the short term by enlightened autocratic action, then what? Would the enlightened autocrat hand over power? Because evidence of that happening throughout history is scant. Or would his absolute power then corrupt? Just because someone is principled now does not mean that they should become all-powerful. People change as a function of time.

  • Mango Punch||

    Have you ever heard of George Washington?

  • ||

    The Simón Bolivar of North America?

  • West Texas Boy||

    I don't think it's an exact comparison. Washington was offered autocratic power - could have been the first American king, even - and turned it down. He never actually was a dictator, just really popular and really powerful relative to everyone else in the government, but still subject to the constraints of whatever facilities (Constitution, Continental Congress) he was serving under.

  • ||

    still subject to the constraints of whatever facilities (Constitution, Continental Congress) he was serving under.

    The reason I consider Washington a great man is because he was subject to the constraints of his own conscience. Stepping down after two terms was a fine precedent to set.

    -jcr

  • ||

    >The reason I consider Washington a great man is because he was subject to the constraints of his own conscience. Stepping down after two terms was a fine precedent to set.

    When he was told in 1783 that George Washington was returning to his farm, George III is said to have remarked:
    "If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world."

  • ||

    "Progressivism is the belief that we have too much freedom with which to make too many stupid choices."

    And yet sometimes--even around here--we seem to be giving some of Progressivism's most effective arguments a free ride.

    Progressivism isn't just awful because it brings about worse outcomes than the free alternative.

    The rights and liberties they want to march out back and shoot belong to people. And we need to call the Progressives out on those "good intentions" too--their intentions are not good.

    They don't care about the people's rights and liberties they have to mow over to get what they want. ...and the problem with mowing over people's right and liberties isn't only that it brings about worse outcomes--it's that mowing people underneath you to get what you want is morally pathetic.

    Those who want to mow people's rights under don't care about people. Their intentions are bad. If they cared about people, they wouldn't want to treat them that way.

  • Jack-A-Pope||

    "Those who want to mow people's rights under don't care about people. Their intentions are bad. If they cared about people, they wouldn't want to treat them that way."

    Amen, brother. The starting point of all statists is a disrespect for the political dignity of other people. I do tire of progressives and their ilk being given credit for good intentions. No matter how politely they go about trying to run other people's lives, they are still trying to run other people's lives.

  • ||

    Progressivism isn't just awful because it brings about worse outcomes than the free alternative.

    It pretty much is.

    Morality is informed by prosperity, not the other way around.

  • Jack-A-Pope||

    Morality is informed by prosperity, not the other way around.

    Are you saying that morality is a luxury made possible by prosperity?

  • Jeffersonian||

    I think this is the crux of the matter. If we were just theorizing about how wonderful things would be if the Central State ran everything and could make a plausible case for it, it would be one thing. But we have a bloody century filled with 200 million corpses in evidence as to where that road leads.

    There's no need to simply assume that progressives are well-intentioned.

  • ||

    The rights and liberties they want to march out back and shoot belong to people.

    But it's for their own good.

  • E3LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST||

    now, if that is true that Woody Allen said that...then I just lost a lot of respect for him.

  • ||

    you had respect for Woody Allen ?

  • ||

    You had respect for Woody Allen?? What are you a catholic priest?

  • ||

    WINNER!!!

  • Wegie||

    Yeah, bend over!

  • David E. Gallaher||

    The last "good" dictator was Julius Caesar, and, just as he was "getting in the groove," he was stabbed in the back by "powerful special interests."

  • Joshua||

    I would say that Augustus wasn't any worse than Julius.

  • ||

    I think that is because Julius stuck his magical penis into Augustus and bestowed upon him the power of a good dicktator.

  • Cicero's Ghost||

    He did have some lovely things to say about me, and his assassins were always first class professionals.

  • ||

    It is true that Berwick is smarter than you and I. He can prove it with a hat trick of Harvard degrees.

    Your premise is faulty; your argument is nonsense.

  • d||

    Adjust your snark detection settings a bit.

  • Tango Mike||

    Seriously? A photo like that and no alt-text?

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Any alt-text they put on a photo of Obama would automatically be racist, donchya' know?

  • ||

    Just showing him in comparison to a WHITE Superman isn't racist?

  • Coeus||

    You'd have preferred Meteor Man?

  • ||

    It is bad enough that Friedman thinks enlightened despotism is a good idea. But that he thinks the Chinese, a government that practices forced abortions, has a huge gulag system, and has been responsible for the death of tens of millions of its own citizens in the last 50 years including slaughtering thousands of them on world wide TV at Tienamen Square, are a "reasonably enlightened group of people" is just sickening. He should have been fired for writing that.

  • LarryA||

    a government that practices forced abortions, has a huge gulag system, and has been responsible for the death of tens of millions of its own citizens in the last 50 years including slaughtering thousands of them on world wide TV at Tienamen Square

    To progressives those are features, not bugs.

  • ||

    To be fair, that forced abortions action sounds tempting. But do i get a time machine too? I'd really want to used my quota of forced abortions like 50-60 years ago....

  • Pip||

    He's from St. Louis Park, MN. He went to St. Louis Park High School. They are world famous for producing idiots.

  • Joshua||

    But St. Louis Park isn't all bad. They have a pretty nice Costco & the Pei Wei is good too.

  • Madbiker||

    Would any of you be surprised and/or frightened that my soon-to-be-former employer has assigned Friedman's piece of tripe book The World is Flat as summer reading for all faculty?

    I hope my soon-to-be-former colleagues in the English department will see through the shoddy rhetoric and mixed metaphors, but I doubt it.

  • The Mossy Spaniard||

    I signed up for an ECON class this semester to satisfy a Poli Sci elective. When I went to purchase the book, I noticed it was co-authored by Paul Krugman. I immediately dropped the class, and decided to take Music Apprection (and read "Man, Economy, and State") instead.

  • nekoxgirl||

    That's why I don't trust all the supposively "free trade" with China pumped by people like Friedman. Can someone in a communist country really participate in a free market? Is the labor in China really reflecting the market value of said labor or do they just work for those rates because if they tried to sell their labor at a higher rate, they'd end up getting disappeared? As long as the Communist Party is running the country, can they really ever been capitalists?

  • ||

    Freidman isn’t saying that autocracy is a good idea, only that it has its advantages.

    Also, he doesn’t call the Chinese leadership “enlightened” but rather “relatively enlightened” .

    So, you guys are overreacting, as usual.

  • ||

    No Dan. RTFA. He said "reasonably enlightened". That is different than "relatively enlightened". And what the fuck is "relatively enlightened" about a regime that routine murders political dissidents, has jailed and executed tens of thousands of members of a harmless cult, occupied Tibet, has forced abortions and sells the organs of its prisoners?

  • ||

    OK, misread that. But I do think he's talking about China's current leadership as opposed to Mao or whoever.

  • ||

    Look, there is no defending calling the current Chinese leadership "enlightened" in any context. They are just awful. Friedman should be ashamed of himself.

  • ||

    They probably are awful in many ways, but would you deny that they are getting things done? China is quickly positioning itself as the #2 world superpower.

  • ||

    So you think it is okay to murder people as long as it "gets things done"? If you are a murderous despot, people shouldn't commend you on your accomplishments. Why is that so hard for liberals to understand?

  • ||

    John, you've described pretty much every society in history.

  • ||

    WTF is that supposed to mean? The US doesn't run gulags and we don't murder people for being members of the Fulong Gong. Yet this country seems to run okay. So does Western Europe and Japan for that matter and they don't do those things either.

    Admiring the Chinese ability to get things done is sick Dan. I mean seriously sick. You really ought to consider what being a progressive is doing to your values if you honestly admire the Chinese government.

  • ||

    Come on, John, the US has more people in prison than anywhere, we still employ the death penalty and we're currently involved in two more wars of aggression than China is.

    Not to mention that China is a major trading partner of ours...you can say you don't admire China all you want, but I'd bet your house is full of Chinese made products.

  • ||

    Shut up Dan. The US is not perfect but if you think that our government is anywhere near the level of moral depravity of the Chinese, you are just a troll.

    And having a product built in China is not the same thing as saying their government is enlightened and admiring their system.

  • ||

    OK, we'll let the Tibetans know that the Chinese aren't involved in a war of aggression. That'll make them feel better. The reason the Chinese aren't involved in wars of aggression is that they have the good sense to pick on pacifist in tiny, almost unarmed locales.

  • LBJ's Ghost||

    Is there a translation in Chinese for the term "due process" ?

  • Mango Punch||

    Dan T. why do you hate TIBET?

  • Mango Punch||

    Dan T. HATES TIBET!

  • ||

    If we had a BILLION fucking slave laborers we would be the super fucking number one superpower. You are an asshole.

  • ||

    You're right, we don't have slave laborers, we just engage in "free trade" with countries that do.

    Because we're so much better.

  • TXLimey||

    But at least our trains will run on time...

  • ||

    Can you name any time in the history of this country when we didn't? Can you name any time in the history of any other country when they didn't trade with countries with "slave labor" using any current liberal meaning of the word?

  • M Burns||

    I was watching a documentary on the History Channel last night. Erwin Rommel. Now there was a man who knew how to get things done.

  • ||

    Same with Albert Sphere. That man knew how to get buildings built and make the trains run on time.

  • Mango Punch||

    Dan T. HATES TIBET

  • Ragin Cajun||

    Albert Sphere sounds like what happens to Gore when introduced into a vacuum. I think John meant Albert Speer.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    I don't think Gore needs any help from a vacum to assume a spherical shape.

    He's been working toward it all on his own for some time now.

  • CrackerBarrel||

    "Getting things done" is not necessarily praise. Don't you think that *what* is getting done is what really matters? Robert Mugabe has been getting a lot of things done, hasn't he?

  • Joshua||

    China is going to implode within 3 years. oh - and if you have 20% of the world's population, celebrating just NOW becoming #2 is hardly impressive.

  • ||

    The problem is how "getting things done" is defined. If you are a nationalist and what is primarily important is state power, then yes they are 'getting things done'.

  • LarryA||

    Also, he doesn’t call the Chinese leadership “enlightened” but rather “relatively enlightened.”

    Right. They’re more enlightened than North Korea. That makes all the difference.

  • ||

    *Slam Dunk*

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: DanT,

    Freidman isn’t saying that autocracy is a good idea, only that it has its advantages.

    And . . . you agree with that?

  • Paul||

    Freidman isn’t saying that autocracy is a good idea, only that it has its advantages.

    Name one.

    Yeah, overreacting we are to dictatorship. What could go wrong?

  • d||

    Good to see that Harasanyi is in his element again (not writing about cutting baby boys' penises, and such).

  • Jack-A-Pope||

    Friedman would have done better to use Singapore as an example of an enlightened dictatorship rather than China.

  • Socrates||

    Singapore is not a dictatorship. It is parliamentary.

  • Slowburnaz||

    Wow... people actually continued reading past this gem?:

    "Aside from the occasional genocide, oppression, evil, and torture, etc., it is inarguable that public policy could be implemented more rapidly in an autocracy."

  • ||

    Yeah, and except for his eating habits, Jeffrey Dahmer was a pretty nice guy.

  • CatoTheElder||

    The problem is that "genocide, oppression, evil, and torture" are "implemented more rapidly in an autocracy". And, contrary to Friedman, in socialist autocracies - of either the nationalist or internationalist variety - they occur far more often than not.

  • ||

    And doesn't this as starkly as possible illustrate the divide between, not the left and the right, but between both the left and the right and those of us who actually believe in liberty? It's not just that both ends of the so called political spectrum are advocates of expediency, they advocate it even in the face of the horrors perpetrated on humanity throughout history in the name of expediency.

  • Federal Dog||

    "It is true that Berwick is smarter than you and I. He can prove it with a hat trick of Harvard degrees."

    I cannot believe that this stupid shit appears even on this site. All a Harvard degree means is that someone, for whatever reason, got admitted and minimally acquitted himself of basic course work.

    I would have thought that by now, people would have started to understand that a Harvard degree is readily purchased and in no way signals intellectual superiority.

  • LarryA||

    Please check your irony meter.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Minimal response on the irony meter, but the sarcasm meter is pegged.

  • Federal Dog||

    D'oh! I'll read twice before posting next time.

  • ||

    I think they are being sarcastic in saying that. Clearly Berwick isn't smarter than anyone. If he is, then the concept of "intelligence" really has no meaning.

  • ||

    You can be 'book smart' while remaining ignorant about what matters.

  • Pip||

    My brother was offered a full ride to Harvard. He chose UCLA instead. He said Harvard was over-rated and UCLA was on the cutting edge of his chosen field. He is now a very, very successful man.

  • Mango Punch||

    And how do YOU feel about that?

  • Pip||

    Fantastic! He goes to Europe a lot on business and sends me back really neat items. Great guy.

  • ||

    Seems as though I recently read some education guru state that Hillsdale College was rated higher in serious circles for quality undergrads produced.

  • Stretchy||

    Harvard is the perfect place for future government employees. It shows they're willing to pay 10 times as much for a product that isn't objectively any better than they could receive elsewhere. But, the name brand recognition and, social climbing prospects are unparalleled.

  • Lord Humongous||

    That's actually a really good point.

  • cynical||

    So it's like the Apple of universities.

  • Chad||

    Ahh, someone who hasn't figured out what Harvard's real value proposition is.

    Hint: They teach you the same things that Directional State U does. It ain't the education.

  • CatoTheElder||

    No. He's very smart. Okay, maybe not really smarter than you or I, but only smart intellectuals and utter morons believe this bullshit, and morons don't get Ivy League degrees.

    Resolution of cognitive dissonance requires substantial intellectual capacity. Bernick has to have a really, really big brain to continue belief in an ideology while rationalizing how it actually offers the salvation to the world's problems when it is transparently obvious to lesser minds that it is a chief cause of the world's problems.

  • LBJ's Ghost||

    Ok so Bernick might beat me at trivial pursuit but I doubt he could run a hot dog stand.

  • ||

    "I would have thought that by now, people would have started to understand that a Harvard degree is readily purchased and in no way signals intellectual superiority."

    So I take it you're a Yalie then?

    I appreciated the sarcasm, but everybody who's cappin' on Harvard--seriously?

    So Harvard doesn't meet your high standards, tell me, does it at least make your top 20?

    Okay, so you don't think it's great--but it's still pretty good school, isn't it? Nothing to be ashamed of?

  • ||

    I think it is something to be ashamed of. It is not that there are not plenty of very bright people who graduate from there. There are. It is that the school seems to add little or no value to the intelligence that its students bring to it. If you are brilliant and a Harvard grad, you are brilliant in spite of the Harvard education not because of it. In fact, I would wager there are a lot of people who could have been brilliant but are not because of the nonsense fed to them by places like Harvard. -

  • Contrarian P||

    Harvard is basically just like any other school...you learn in accordance with your own effort and aptitude, not because of some magical property of that school. It may give you a bit of an advantage because of name recognition, but that's about it.

  • Chad||

    No, there is a tremendous difference between Harvard and a typical university...one of extreme value. It isn't the education, though.

    The reason you are where you are in life is probably because you still haven't figured out that what Harvard offers is worth more than education and hard work combined.

  • Contrarian P||

    Chad, I'm a licensed physician and took the same entrance exams all those Harvard grads did to get into medical school. So I suppose yes, you're right that where I am in life has everything to do with the fact that I didn't listen to nimrods like yourself who believe that where a person gets an education is more important than what is learned or that person's ability and willingness to work hard.

  • Chad||

    I have the same degree as all those Harvard PhDs, too...from a darned good school actually. But not that good. Harvard offers something that whatever school you attended cannot.

    Connections.

    That is what you are paying for when you got to an elite university.

    Send your kids to State U, and they will learn the same things as the kids at Harvard. If they do well, they will get the same degrees. But they won't meet the same people. The State U student's peers, twenty years on, will mostly be respectable middle-class folk. The Harvard student's peers, on the other hand, will largely be executives, legislators, and successful professionals. Likewise, the Harvard U kid will almost certainly have his foot in the door of some firm, with a guardian angel from management looking over his shoulder, before he or she even graduates. These kinds of connections are priceless.

    This is also why parents fight to send their kids to the "best" K12 schools. What makes them the "best" is that they are full of students with rich, educated parents, which rubs off on most of the kids. It has nothing to do with what is taught.

    One of my biggest mistakes in life was not figuring this out until I had missed some choice opportunities. Who you know really does matter as much or more than what you know, and as a young college student, I made the mistake of assuming that learning a lot was why I was there.

  • ||

    Heh heh. I sense much class envy in this one. It explains much, Dr. P.

    Dr. Maximus is in full agreement with Dr. P, Chad.

  • Chad||

    Thanks for admitting that class exists here in America. Indeed, our social mobility is bad and getting worse...and is far worse than those evil "socialist" nations in Europe.

    If you are born poor or working class here, you will probably remain where you started. So much for "merit".

  • ||

    Thanks for admitting that class exists here in America.

    Distinctions exist in ANY society Chad and along lines more than economic. Intelligence, appearance, ethnicity, culture, occupational and political are just a few of the many ways a populance can draw lines of class of its denizens. Name one, just one, Chad, that makes no such distinctions in its society.

    Indeed, our social mobility is bad and getting worse...and is far worse than those evil "socialist" nations in Europe.

    Really? Why is it "bad"? Is this the usual "Rich are getting richer and poor are getting poorer" strawman again? Learned helplessness and widening economic disparity, Chad, is the result of any statist utopian policy. Hard work and merit matters. There is truth in "It's not what you know, it's who you know." That adage applies to ANY society as well Chad, and it extends beyond just socio-economic boundaries. IIRC, you yourself alluded to your humble beginnings. Did you get to where you are today by just sitting on your ass and whining?

    If you are born poor or working class here, you will probably remain where you started. So much for "merit".

    Again, how did you elevate yourself? There is some truth to the nuture part of the debate of Nature v. Nurture. However, are you suggesting that every member of your community has the capacity to reach the level you have? I submit this country offers more opportunity for it's citizens than any other, provided government doesn't stifle it first. Why are so many immigrants wanting to be here? Economic opportunity. Can you explain to me how boatloads of Vietnamese immigrants and Cubans, with barely a dime to their name, in a few years both master the English language and own businesses? It's drive, determination, and merit that make the difference Chad, coupled with inherent ability. My own family is an excellent example. Both sides of the family came from very humble beginnings, worked hard with the talents they had, accepted whatever limitations they had, succeeded both in their respective vocations and invested prudently. They were able to send their son to med school because of it, and like Dr. P, I had both the inherent ability and the drive to succeed. Overcoming adversity is one of America's hallmarks Chad. You seem so hostile towards it, like you are self-hating for succeeding in life. That I find to be very troubling.

  • Chad||

    Groovus, you do not seem to know what social and economic mobility are or how they are measured. They are measures of how likely your earnings are to be different than your parents. If they are low, that means if your daddy is poor, you are highly likely to be poor, and your if your daddy is rich, you probably will to. The measures differ from nation to nation, and not only do we not do so well, but we are getting worse and are worse than most of the "socialist" nations you despise. A poor Swede is more likely to become a rich one than a similar American, despite all the "freedom" we have here. Doesn't that bother you? Don't you want to question why we have been getting worse by this measure ever since your beloved Reagan took office?
    Doesn't it even concern you a whit that perhaps all of the right-of-center policies we have adopted might have something to do with it, and just perhaps it occurs when the rich get filthy richer while everyone else stagnates?

    Probably not, because you're a libertarian, and whatever outcome the completely-not-free market we have spews out MUST, by definition, be the right one.

    You can't defeat data with anedotes.

    http://www.economicmobility.or.....ca?id=0005

    Of course, in any country you can always find examples of people who have broken through...but why does America have fewer?

    The answer is YOU.

  • Socrates||

    You apparently haven't lived in Europe. I have and your conclusions do not match life.

  • ||

    So we should live in a society were success is based on "who you know" and not based on merit....oh wait.

  • Chad||

    The fact is, those evil "socialist" nations you loathe are more of a meritocracy than your beloved USA.

    What are you going to do about it?

  • Contrarian P||

    Sorry, but nearly all (upwards of 80%) of millionaires are first generation rich. And that's well documented, not anecdotal evidence. I looked at your website and I'm not really able to find where they obtained their data, as to document mobility would require a longitudinal study over several generations of a representative sample. I am therefore highly suspicious of their conclusions.

  • Contrarian P||

    Hmmm...I'm a licensed physician at a pretty prestigious hospital making well upwards of the median income and I've got people beating down my door with job offers. Not sure what good those "connections" would do me. But then again, maybe I'd know some legislators? Or be invited to some ritzy parties? Sorry, but I'm fine with knowing middle class people as well as those who are well off. I certainly haven't suffered for it.

    I will agree that who you know does matter somewhat, but the ability to see opportunity others don't and to work hard matters much, much more. If you look at the richest people in America, one thing is conspicuous in its absence: degrees from Harvard. What that is there in abundance are the qualities I mentioned.

    If you invested the cost of the differential between the cost of a Harvard degree and "State U", your child would be a millionaire by the time he or she retired. Maybe your "priceless" connections are better than that, I don't know, but in general what I have seen from kids that hang around with the rich is that they end up deeply in debt trying to emulate the lifestyle of their peers. Perhaps you should reconsider your definition of success, which really seems to be quite narrow.

  • Jack-A-Pope||

    I like to think of the progress of a society as a vector quantity.

    Dictatorships maximize the magnitude of the vector in the short-term. One voice, one vector, maximum magnitude. The problem with dictatorships is the direction in which the vector points. If there is an obvious direction for the society to take, say in times of war, a dictatorship is a great form of government because it is maxes the effectiveness of the society's efforts. Most of the time, though, a dictatorship steers society in a direction which maximizes the short-term advantage to the dictator, but disadvantages the society.

    Representative governments, on-the-other-hand, choose a better direction for the total vector of society's progress, but do so at the expense of the its short-term magnitude since the individual voices in society pull the vector in different directions.

  • Hugo Chavez||

    YOU LIE!

  • Jack-A-Pope||

    Well, I may have misplaced some words...

  • Jersey Patriot||

    China is set for a massive crash. To counter collapsing foreign demand, China ramped up its internal lending by an amount completely unprecedented in the history of finance. It also enacted a stimulus package of $600b. This set off a gigantic stock bubble and property bubble (at the same time). China is desperately trying to cool it off, but can't raise interest rates or the yuan will strengthen against the euro and dollar and cause even further export declines.

    Everyone should read Mike Whitney's article at Counterpunch.org today. It's a horror show.

  • ||

    I'm in on this prediction. India, not China, is the Asian superpower of the future.

    Right now, by the way, the U.S. is still, by any measure, the premier economic and military power in the world. By a long shot. We're actively trying to screw that up, of course.

  • Apu Nahasapeemapetilon PhD||

    And to think, started all it did with the advent and rise of the Kwik-E-Mart!

  • Jack-A-Pope||

    All the talk of China becoming the dominant power in the world reminds me so very much of all the talk that the Soviet Union was the inevitable dominant power and that communism was the inevitable future of all humanity that was repeated endlessly right up until the collapse of the USSR.

  • ||

    Me to. Liberals love authoritarian governments. Every decade they fall in love with a new one and convince themselves that this or that government will show all the free countries how things are really done.

    It is really sick.

  • ||

    China has a better shot. They keep the trappings of Communism but don't really buy into the B.S.

  • pmains||

    As the yuan/renminbi appreciated roughly 20% vs. the dollar over a period of 5 years, there was no corresponding change in the trade surplus. Rather, China's trade surplus with the US continued to rise. It plummeted, though, as a result of the recession. Let's please put to rest the myth that China's exchange rate is what's driving our trade deficit with them or is holding up their economy.

    You're right on about them creating giant bubbles, though.

  • ||

    Man, how can you not Godwin this shit?

  • melman||

    you know who else was a dictator good at getting things done?

  • Jack-A-Pope||

    George Bush. He personally kept us safe from terrorism for 7 years.

  • Jack-A-Pope||

    ... and he was FIRM and RESOLUTE.

  • Jack-A-Pope||

    ... and he will look good from an historical perspective.

  • ||

    Well when you think about it both heaven and hell are absolute monarchies. The one at top does make a difference. Problem is that whole power corrupts thing.

  • ||

    No succession problem there, and in the one case, the place is run perfectly by a perfect being. If we get that option here, maybe the discussion would be different. But people ain't even remotely perfect and should never be trusted with much power.

  • CJ||

    In the end Satan is confined in Hell, not ruler of it. In the present, he's more a ruler of the world who moves invisibly throughout it, twisting people's minds and blinding them to truth.

    Contrast with Hades from Greek mythology and single-L Hel from Norse mythology, which are monarchies.

  • Kroneborge||

    But, maybe the progressives are right. I mean we elected Bush and then Obama. Maybe most people are sheep, and what they need is a good strong dicator to decide things.

    I mean 98% relect rate for memembers in congress???

    Or maybe we could get all the note sheep to take over a small country somewhere.

    Isn't that how America got started?

  • Pip||

    "I mean 98% relect rate for memembers in congress???"

    Not this year.

  • ||

    Sadly, kings, emperors, dictators chiefs shamans and despots are the default political system of the human race. It doesn't surprise me that there will always be those who dream of having one who they agree with to dispose of all that messy dissent in order to get all the important stuff done. Liberals and conservatives all push to have power consolidated at the top... They may not agree on shit except when their guy is in office they want him to be powerful...
    That's why I'm a libertarian

  • For the Horde!||

    I dunno Shamans make good dictators, see Thrall.

  • Scorpion King||

    So do assassins.

  • CJ||

    Or maybe we could get all the note sheep to take over a small country somewhere.

    Isn't that how America got started?

    At times I wish it were possible to purchase a section of land back from the United States, then declare independence.

  • wingnutx||

    Imposing a fairness doctrine for the internet sounds like "enlightened" tyranny to me.

  • Rich||

    Cass Sunstein admits he finds the notion of "voluntary" to be *complicated*. November 2012 cannot get here soon enough.

  • Old Mexican||

    "One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks," according to Friedman. "But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages."

    I just wish Friedman wasn't talking in fuzzy-speak and let everybody know exactly what is a reasonably enlightened person and where lies the threshold between being "reasonably enlightened" and not being it.

  • JD||

    For all the noise about how the right wing is scary these days, it's the American left that's really scaring me, with this barely-veiled praise for dictatorships.

  • ||

    Friedman's statement is not entirely wrong. The premise that China's current rulers are any kind of enlightened is definitely wrong, but as I've said before, I would prefer a libertarian monarchy to a statist democracy, and I stand by that statement. I am concerned with liberty, not democracy.

  • ||

    Live free or die, biotch!

  • ||

    I think "libertarian monarchy" is an oxymoron. In any sort of monarchy rights would be "granted" by the monarch. In our democracy our rights are still considered inherent, even though we seem to be trying to rid ourselves of them as fast as possible through our elected representatives and the monstrous bureaucracy they've built (with our tacit, if not active, approval).

  • ||

    I think the point is that personal liberty and democracy aren't synonyms. Our system, for instance, does weaken the political power of the individual for the purpose of maximizing that individual's (and others') other liberties.

  • Rich||

    1) Does it take being led into the Dark Ages for people to realize these clowns are not "enlightened"?

    2) Would Friedman be willing to turn the reins over to the Dalai Lama? (“Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.”)

  • ||

    Woody Allen joking? Hardly. He hasn't been funny since 1976.

  • ||

    Before the tidal wave of denunciation begins for my comment above, let me ask you: would you not prefer an absolute dictatorship run by, say, Ron Paul, to the current system where we get to vote for the statist on the left or the statist on the right?

  • Zeb||

    Well, maybe not Ron Paul, but a dictatorship run by me would be OK with me.
    I see your point and sympathize, but such a system is bound to deteriorate, I would think. The amount of power inherent in a dictatorship is bound to be used eventually, even if it is a few generations down the road.
    The advantage of some democracy in the political system is not that the will of the people gets done or anything like that. It is simply that it puts enough randomness and confusion into the system that no one can get too much power or fuck things up too badly (at least that is the hope).

  • ||

    Oh, I definitely support personal dictatorship. Every individual should be absolute dictator of his or her own mind, body, and property and rule it with an iron fist.

  • ||

    The problem with democracy is that it leaks into every area of life. People start thinking that your body and your property should be controlled democratically.

  • ||

    Erik von kuehnelt-Leddihn was excellent on this.

    I.e., the question of how one rules versus who rules. Democracy being simply a method of making decisions (majority/mob rule), not a guarantee on how good those decisions are. That depends on context and the people in question.

    One of the problems with democracy is that, particularly in our age, democratic character is seen to legitimize oppression of individuals. Or as Herbert Spencer said, we've gone from divine right of Kings to divine right of Parliaments.

  • mr simple||

    No. First, libertarian and monarchy are at odds with each other. Libertarian is returning power to the people and decentralizing authority. So any theoretical libertarian monarchy would not last long and still be libertarian
    Secondly, look at the founding fathers and contrast their idealism while forming his country and the constitution with their actions while in power. There is no real person good enough to wield that kind of power.

  • ||

    It is more correct to say Libertarianism is about returning power to the person, rather than "the people."

  • ||

    What the fuck is up with that second page?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  • ||

    libertarian monarchy

    Umm...

    Oh, never mind.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Libertarian monarchy.

    Private ownership of the State? Well, at least there would be a better chance of competent management.

  • ||

    "Fuck this idiot with a big, rubber dick. Then break it off and beat him with it."

    That cannot be repeated enough times.

  • ||

    It's ironic how you take Friedman to task regarding the "elightened autocracy" when a major theme found here at H&R is that you all know better how the country should be run than the stupid masses who actually elect the leaders...

  • Warty||

    It seemed worse than it really was – blood was pouring down from the tip of my left thumb onto my palm and staining the cuff of my white oxford shirt. But it really wasn’t a deep would or anything, the hammer of the Glock 19 9mm handgun has simply ripped off a patch of skin when I fired it. I was obviously holding it wrong by putting my thumb back there; it didn’t occur to me in the heat of the moment that the hammer would pull back when the bullet was discharged. It did, and when it snapped back into place it took a small patch of skin with it. It was a mess, but the adrenaline made sure that at least for now it didn’t hurt much. I guess I should have taken the time to learn how to shoot the thing but no crying over spilt milk.

  • gunney||

    the hammer of the Glock 19 9mm handgun has simply ripped off a patch of skin when I fired it

    Serves you right for not getting a 1911 with a good beavertail.

  • ||

    Outdoor Channel's Handgun just showed the proper way to hold an automatic handgun vs. a revolver. Weakhand thumb FORWARD with auto, weakhand thumb behind with revolver. Now, let's all learn proper gun handling and then use our weapons effectively on relatively or reasonably enlightened fuckwads.

  • Brett L||

    I prefer the single hand grip. If you need two hands, the pistol is too big. Unless you're fighting Moros in The Phlllipines. Then you want the 1911.

  • gunney||

    It might be good to have a 1911 when facing down fanatical ragheads wielding scimitars.

  • Pip||

    " I guess I should have taken the time to learn how to shoot the thing but no crying over spilt milk blood.

    FIFY

  • ||

    Uh, a Glock has no hammer. It is fired by a striker, which is basically an oversize firing pin completely enclosed by the slide.

  • Warty||

    Heh.

  • melman||

    having opinions on how things should be run is not equal to torturing & executing people who disagree with you

  • Brett L||

    Right. And we try to convince them through reasoned argumentation and example... or shame them with snark and dick jokes. But we rarely affirmatively prescribe anything except repeal of state power and painful venereal disease for those who wield it.

  • ||

    Dan T is correct. Like my mom always used to say, a stopped cock is right twice a day.

  • Tulpa's Mommy||

    Son, I have been re-examining the wisdom of that lately.

  • ||

    Well, no. The prevailing view here is that NO ONE is fit to "run" the country. A free country doesn't require any "running". It runs itself.

  • ||

    Of course, we don't want anyone "running the country", which is a fairly fundamental tenet of libertarianism. Even sock puppets know that.

  • Cabeza de Vaca||

    I like Ludwig Von Mises's response when he asked what would be the first thing he would do if he was made dictator. His response was he would resign.

  • Cabeza de Vaca||

    *he WAS asked*

  • ||

    Dictators don't resign. They either die of old age or get assassinated.

  • Pinochet||

    Why do you bother to have an opinion when you don't know what you are talking about?

  • ||

    Incidentally, I am quite disturbed by this new trend among some leftists to openly admire or espouse authoritarian means to their sacred ends. It's happened in the past, when communism was more in vogue, but it's distressing to see it now, after even more historical examples against the case are on the record.

  • Pip||

    It's the Obama lovers. My siter is one and she was quoting Mao on her facebook page. Something to the effect that Mao had said that Women hold up half of the sky. I commented that was ironic given that he killed them by the tens of millions, adding, but then, he was kind of short.

    It began I think with that woman Obama nominated for a cabinet post who was caught on tape spouting Mao. Because the Right really came down on her, the Progressives backlashed by quoting Mao even more.

  • ||

    And now Reason is imitating them by having a Draw Mohammed Day.

  • cynical||

    No, he said "Mao", not "Mo"

  • ||

    Mao's been big with this crowd since the 1960s - after the Soviet Union increasingly bureaucratized/was discredited (Hungary, Prague Spring) and the Chinese attacked them from the left.

  • Mo||

    "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." George W. Bush

  • ||

    Stupid joke for a president to make, but neither Friedman nor Allen appear to be joking.

    Of course, Bush did work to expand executive powers, so he's part of the recent history of government escaping from its constitutional bonds. Frankly, leftists should love him for the assist.

  • Mo||

    The thing is neither Woody Allen nor Friedman are in any position to make it happen. GWB was.

    "Woody Allen says something stupid" is hardly something that warrants multiple days of coverage.

  • ||

    How exactly would GWB have made himself dictator? Do you think the military, Congress, Supreme Court and the American people would have just gone along with such a scheme? Jesus, that is just retarded.

  • Mo||

    I'm not saying that he could or would. However, it's a lot more disturbing to hear the president say, "Things would be easier if I were dictator," than it is to hear a washed up director and a NY Times columnist say, "Things would be easier if X was a dictator."

    Aside from hacktastic partisanship, I'm not quite sure why you would have a bug up your ass about Woody Allen saying that things would be easier if Obama were dictator, but brushing off Bush's comments.

    I doubt you would react so calmly if Obama said the same thing.

  • ||

    Because Bush was joking and Allen wasn't. If Bush were serious, I would be very disturbed. But since he wasn't, I don't care. Allen really seems to long for a dictator. Since he is nothing but an old pervert and doesn't have any position of responsibility or power, it is not a big deal. But it does make him a moron.

  • ||

    Uh, things would have been easier (for Bush) if Bush were a dictator. There's nothing wrong with that statement whether it's a joke or it's serious.

    Note that Allen said it would be good if Obama were dictator. That's an entirely different statement.

  • ||

    And there is something disturbing about the growing number of people on the left who seem to long for some kind of authoritarian dictatorship to solve all our problems. Allen and Friedman were not joking. They really would support making Obama a dictator, if only for a few days. And they are not alone in thinking that. And that is disturbing as hell.

  • Julius Caesar||

    The dictator gig can be hazardous to one's health.

    Does Obamacare recognize dictatorship as a health hazard?

  • ||

    That was a good joke.

    Just like Obama's joke about being named auto executive of the year by Car & Driver. Laugh or cry, your pick.

  • ||

    Both jokes are offensive, but, as much as I hated Bush, I don't really think he was indicating a desire to be a dictator. Unfortunately, it's in vogue to expand executive power and has been for quite some time.

  • Leftist||

    Who says we don't? Just because we publicly denounced him, doesn't mean we don't like what he did for us. Take Obamacare and all the potential for control: you really think Republicans secretly don't love this too?

  • ||

    I'm sure Friedman would agree that Bush was more enlightened then the current Chinese leadership. Right? Even if he would, now way he would have written such an article during the Bush administration.

  • ||

    "...you all know better how the country should be run than the stupid masses who actually elect the leaders..."

    Dan Dan Dan...

    Is it wrong for a farmer to think he knows more about hygiene than the pig rolling in its own shit?

  • Pip||

    Pigs don't roll in their shit you idiot. Pigs are very clean animals that way. Same with dogs.

  • Chris||

    my dog eats his own poop

  • ||

    Yeah, mine scoots his ass across the carpet maintaining that anal cleanliness.

  • Coeus||

    This is a joke, right? I've seen numerous dogs roll in shit.

  • ||

    George Washington was an enlightened tyrant.

    There have been events in the past in which poeple who could have ruled with an iron fist choose not to. Thomas Friedman is correct in identifying the bottom up market reforms in china as one such event. He goes afoul when assumes such events are the norm for tyrants and to rely on them is folly.

    His whole new paradigm of thinking can be reduced to hoping for King Solomon to save us. It is not going to happen. And in fact with the China example it would not have happened if individuals had not defied the state in the first place.

    Thomas Friedman thinks china changed because of enlightened tyrants. This is not the case. Its people changed and the tyrants simply chose not kill everyone. One can hardly called such a state enlightened.

  • Jack-A-Pope||

    The world knows how not to do communism. China is trying to ride a tiger: relaxing economic controls enough to generate some wealth while maintaining iron-fisted political control. I imagine China's leaders have all kinds of contingencies to deal with anyone whose economic success makes them a little too uppity. I can't imagine that China will relax its control enough to genuinely challenge the US as the world's biggest Big Dog.

    Of course, there do seem to be a lot of people in the US who want the US to be weaker.

  • Barack Obama||

    It's for your own good.

  • Zeb||

    This shit is really fucking lame and contributes nothing. Please stop.

  • Ravi Matral||

    Agreed.

  • Jack-A-Pope||

    Lame? Do you really think that if China becomes powerful enough to start coercing Japan, India and the rest of its neighbors that it won't have a profound effect on the rest of the world.

  • ||

    Unfortunately Big Dog is going to be going on a starvation diet all too soon.

  • ||

    I can't imagine that China will relax its control enough to genuinely challenge the US as the world's biggest Big Dog.

    Of course, there do seem to be a lot of people in the US who want the US to be weaker.

    China will fail if it does not keep and extend the liberties of its people.

    The US will fail if it does not keep and extend the liberties of its people.

    The two really have nothing to do with each other. Measuring one countries dick with another does not interest me.

  • Jack-A-Pope||

    Being the Big Dog gives a country control over its own destiny. If you think that the relative powers of countries don't matter to the preservation of liberty, then you are a complete fool who has no understanding of the world.

  • Jack-A-Pope||

    China will fail if it does not keep and extend the liberties of its people.

    The US will fail if it does not keep and extend the liberties of its people.

    The two really have nothing to do with each other.

    Seriously, that is about as ignorant as Friedman's statements about enlightened tyranny.

  • ||

    Being the Big Dog gives a country control over its own destiny.

    That's not all it's cracked up to be. The embarrassment is all the more painful after you're not Big Dog anymore. Ask the British.

  • Jack-A-Pope||

    Being the Big Dog is ok. Losing Big Dog capability without acknowledging the loss is embarrassing. The British seem to have accepted their loss of stature. I'm not sure the French have yet.

  • ||

    you all know better how the country should be run

    It's inconceivable that the country (comprised if individuals freely acting in their own interests) could run itself.

    Unsurprising.

  • ||

    ...comprised Of individuals...

  • ||

    Cass Sunstein admits he finds the notion of "voluntary" to be *complicated* confusing.

  • ||

    the tyrants simply chose not kill everyone. One can hardly called such a state enlightened.

    Actually, by the standards of Marxist totalitarian regimes, that is quite enlightened.

  • ||

    Yeah...towards the end i started to fall apart...after a second reading i wished i had not put that last line in there.

    My point was that the tyrants really did not do anything all that great. They took no risk yet got huge rewards. The real heroes were the ones who defied the state in the first place.

    The china example in regards to Freidmans argument lacks the fact that the reforms came bottom up from farmers trying to figure out how not to starve to death and did so against the wishes of the state. Friedmans narrative makes the assumption some great bureaucrat figured it all out then implemented the market reforms in China which is not the case at all.

  • Jack-A-Pope||

    The important reform was that the tyrants, for whatever reason, decided to relax their grip. Chinese farmers have been trying not to starve to death for thousands of years -- nothing new about that -- and the Chinese have been known for centuries in the Orient as shrewd businessmen. Ethnic Chinese tend to have a disproportionate share of the economic pie in countries with significant ethnic Chinese populations.

    I don't know if it is still the case, but it used to be that Malaysia had laws requiring that businesses in Malaysia be majority owned by ethnic Malaysians that were similar to European laws before WWII restricting Jewish ownership of businesses. The impetus of the laws was the same -- to try to reduce the economic influence of an economically successful minority.

    Marxism fits Chinese culture quite well, but the inability of the USSR to compete with the West, in general, and the US, in particular I'm sure, was not lost on the Chinese leadership. They could see that they would always be a second rate country unless they made some changes. Like most thugs and political leaders, they did what they thought would bring them more power.

    I think it is a fantasy to think that some substantial cultural shift took place in Chinese populace as a whole. The yoke was simply loosened and the Chinese did what they naturally do. What the end game will be is not yet apparent.

    Of course, facing down the tanks in Tiananmen took real courage as did smuggling out tapes of the slave labor camps, but neither had any lasting effect on the regime.

  • Gello||

    This article is terrible.

  • Vanguard||

    Bow to your Philosopher Kings!

  • Raw Meat||

    Harsanyi's article do not belong on Reason. He is anything but libertarian, and his ideas are hardly developed in his "articles".

    I ask Reason: what does this sort of writing do to promote liberty?

  • Tony||

    I'd say the same about most of their posts. It's more about being on the hate Obama bandwagon than promoting libertarian ideas.

  • ||

    What you know and understand about libertarian ideas wouldn't fill a thimble.

  • Tony||

    I don't think there's much to understand, and nobody's disabused me of that notion on here.

  • ||

    Way to prove my point, moron.

  • Tony||

    And every time someone goes on a rant about "progressives" and their nefarious dictatorial schemes, it proves my point that libertarians are taking their marching orders from Glenn Beck.

  • ||

    It's fascinating how stupid you are. Do you, like, practice or something?

  • ||

    Kung-Fool.

  • Woodrow Wilson||

    Beck has followed my career closely and cites the fruits of my labors. Beck's fears are not entirely unfounded. But thank you for sticking up for me and our monstrous ideology, Tony! You will be rewarded justly in Hell!

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    What if we don't listen to/watch Glenn Beck, Tony?

    Oh, and fuck progressivism.

  • Shorter Tony||

    "I don't think, therefore I am."

  • Longer Shorter Tony||

    "I don't think, therefore I am entitled to try and spread my nonsense to you people who think too much for your own good."

  • Contrarian P||

    So in other words, when it's an opinion you disagree with, it's the "hate on Obama bandwagon". I'm surprised you didn't throw in the charge of racism in there too. Seriously, the only unreasoning bandwagon in town is the one of which you seem to be a part, the one that elected a man with no track record, few qualifications, and no real campaign platform other than "hope and change" and "not George Bush" to the most powerful office in the world, then persists in supporting that man's agenda regardless of how unfair, unjust, or unconstitutional it might be.

  • Tony||

    As intellectually fruitful as refighting the 2008 election in 2010 is, I'll pass. He won, get over it. He's a hell of a lot better than his predecessor on fairness, justice, constitutionality, and everything else, so get Glenn's dick out of your mouth, put down the rip-off gold coins you bought from him, and stop trying to pretend you're some above-it-all libertarian when all you're doing is parroting cheap FOX News hate Obama bullshit.

  • Shorter Tony||

    "Let a real queen show you how it's done!"

  • Really Short Tony||

    blug gromp

  • West Texas Boy||

    That is so awesome!

  • Contrarian P||

    Tony, I've never watched a single Glenn Beck show, I've worked in finance so I realize that gold is a lousy investment and don't own any, and I'm quite capable of forming my own opinion. The fact that you yourself are parroting every delusional Democrat's rants about the Tea Party demonstrates how shallow your argument is. Oh, I just noticed you didn't have an argument.

    Just to humor me though, since Obama is so much more fair, just, and all that, please enlighten me as to all the illegal policies of the Bush administration that he's reversed. For the life of me, I can't think of any that are significant.

  • Laeroy the Turkey||

    One investment I would never consider is the dressing industry. After all, who eats turkey without dressing? Here I am on this farm, got a great gig, I eat when I want to, sleep when I want to, nobody seems to mind if I get fat. Everything is different now. People love me now, and are not after my head like the old days. You can trust that this thing is going to last! What day is it by the way? What is this Thanksgiving you keep mentioning?

  • CJ||

    Even if I could think of a Bush policy or action I didn't like that Obama has managed to eliminate--war still ongoing, bailouts still happening, wiretapping still in effect, Patriot Act still in force--being "a lot better" than Bush isn't an accomplishment so much as what should be expected of most any being capable of thought.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    That was not an answer to Contrarian's post, Tony. It was just more Go Team Blue bullshit.

  • Wegie||

    What's not to hate???

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    If McCain were president, I'd be on the McCain hatewagon. Just like you would be, Tony.

  • ||

    you're just still angry about his ron paul column.

  • Contrarian P||

    Yeah, you're right, pointing out that there are those in this country who have no objection, nay, who would advocate a dictatorship, so long as the tyrant espoused doctrines in accord with their views, then arguing that those individuals are not only misguided, but dangerous, has nothing to do with promoting liberty.

  • ||

    If that dictatorship promotes liberty, then yes its advocates do have something to do with promoting liberty.

  • ||

    And if dirt were dollars we'd all be rich. How, even as a thought exercise, could a dictatorship promote liberty?

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Dictatorship: a country, government, or the form of government in which absolute power is exercised by a dictator.

    Liberty: freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control.

  • AlmightyJB||

    What do Tom Freidman, Paul Krugman, and Hollywood Aholes have in common?

    I'm tired of reading articles about the stupid crap they spew.

  • Ravi Matral||

    Agreed.

  • ||

    Maybe you shouldn't read them, let alone comment on them. You need to conserve your strength.

  • AlmightyJB||

    What do Tom Freidman, Paul Krugman, and Hollywood Aholes have in common?

    I'm tired of reading articles about the stupid crap they spew.

  • dfd||

    Well... then why not simply stop reading articles about the stupid crap they spew?

  • Ravi Matral||

    The title of Harsanyi's book is "Nanny State: How Food Fascists, Teetotaling Do-Gooders, Priggish Moralists, and other Boneheaded Bureaucrats are Turning America into a Nation of Children"

    Now how is it that he can turn out an elitist, bureaucratic artice like this and still maintain the position he holds in his book?

    He can't. This article, and Harsanyi's

    at large, are nothing more than pointless rhetoric of a confused "olitical "theorist".

  • ||

    I really like the photo that went along with this. Now you just need a side-by-side of Bruce Wayne kicking Superman's ass from the awesome Libertarian graphic novel, "The Dark Knight Returns".

  • ||

    Revealing quotes in the article, but old news as far as the subject. Daniel Webster, on two separate speeches in Congress during the debates on the Nullification Acts - in the 1840's IIRC - said:

    "There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters."

    "Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions."

    Only question to be answered is, how much longer are we going to put up with this arrogant tyranical crap? Vote 'em all out; don't replace them.

  • West Texas Boy||

    If those are real quotes (I'm too lazy to go look), they are fucking awesome. THIS is what professional politicians are all about.

  • Lord Jubjub||

    I ran across an essay by C.S. Lewis that basically said:

    It is not that we do not deserve to be slaves; it is that no one deserves to be a master.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    He won, get over it. He's a hell of a lot better than his predecessor on fairness, justice, constitutionality[...]

    IF he is all those things, why then ask everybody to "get over it"?

  • ||

    He won, get over it. He's a hell of a lot better than his predecessor on fairness, justice, constitutionality, and everything else

    Tony has brought self-parody to a heretofore unimagineable level.

  • The Shark||

    I really get tired of Tony jumping me. I feel so used.

  • ||

    "Only question to be answered is, how much longer are we going to put up with this arrogant tyranical crap? Vote 'em all out; don't replace them."

    Here in the UK, we have been trying to do this for years but they don't take the hint.

    This time, no party got enough votes so they put TWO of 'em in!!!

  • T||

    He's a hell of a lot better than his predecessor on fairness, justice, constitutionality, and everything else

    See, here's what baffles me: Obama has the exact same policies as GW Bush on most substantive issues. Yet Tony and the rest of the fanatical donks will claim he's better on these issues. WTF? I don't get it.

  • Tony and the Donks||

    TEAM BLUE! TEAM BLUE! TEAM BLUE!

  • ||

    Obama talks prettier. And he's a negro. (a term I use for humorous effect only). Sort of.

  • Coeus||

    Fuck that. There's nothing wrong with that word.

  • ||

    I realize that there's nothing wrong with it, but it's goofy, retarded, old fashioned word that someone like, say, Harry Reid might use in an off the record conversation.

  • ||

    For your information, Harry pronounces it "darkie".

  • Chad||

    Yeah, like health care, financial reform, and cap-and-trade.

  • ||

    Health Care
    Bush - Medicare Part D : Obama - Obamacare
    Financial Reform
    Bush - TARP : Obama - Stimulus Bill
    Cap & Trade
    Bush - Nothing : Obama - Nothing

    Yes, the differences are monumental. See wars, internment, war on drugs, wiretapping for further enormous differences. And please continue to enjoy the continuing road to utopia under Bushbama II.

  • Robert||

    Murray Rothbard appreciated Werner Ehrhard's lack of democratic constraints in abolishing price controls.

  • Robert||

    Or was Werner the EST guy? I get Ehrhards mixed up.

  • ||

    One of them was killed. At Daytona if memory serves.

  • Progressive Messiah||

    Losertards! Know that America has entered into a new age of Progress. Know that the time has finally come for the one true leader of America to take his place at the head of his people! Under my guidance, America will flourish, and the People shall rejoice and pay homage to their new... Guardian!

    Know that you, too, shall kneel before me, losertards. You, too, shall soon acknowledge my authority - for I shall be your companion... your provider... and your master!

  • Walter Duranty||

    Friedman is spot on. If you want to improve the world, sometimes you just have to focus on what's right, not what's true.

  • ||

    You've got one post defending Obama's lesbian socialist with zero experience as a judge Supreme Court pick, and another article making the case for tyranny. Cool, I just wanted to see if Reason was still ridiculous, see you again in 6 months the next time I visit, by which time you will no doubt be advancing the argument that GULAGs actually maximize freedom and drumming up support for Perez Hilton as the next Supreme Court pick!

  • I can haz reedin comprehshun?||

    "and another article making the case for tyranny"

    You might get more mileage out of Reason if you understood the concept of "sarcasm".

  • ||

    In the heterosexual community it is considered extremely poor form to pretend one is just joking when one isn't.

    "it is inarguable that public policy could be implemented more rapidly in an autocracy...Think of the environmental benefits. "

    Harsanyi's point is well taken: polls show that Chinese are in fact happier with the direction their government is heading than the so-called liberal democracies. Democracies do in fact present some serious problems that dictatorships do in fact solve. The incarceration rate of Nazi Germany at its highest prewar rate was a quarter of America's current incarceration rate and the top income tax rate was 14%.

    I get to say that because I don't pretend to be a libertarian publication like Reason does.

    But back to Reason running posts "soft" supporting Obama's socialist lesbian with no judicial experience who has written of "reallocating" freedom of expression and, well, the basic everyday stuff lesbian socialists tend to write as Supreme Court judge: why?

  • pmains||

    Jerry Seinfeld once joked that aliens would see humans following dogs around and picking up their poop. This would lead them to the logical inference that we are their slaves rather than their masters.

    That's about how informed your criticism of Harsanyi is.

  • Silly's Boy Toy||

    In the heterosexual community it is considered extremely poor form to pretend one is just joking when one isn't.

    How would you know?

  • Chad||

    Sorry guys, been busy. Are you all ready to follow me around like the dogs that you are?

    Let's march!

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    "Let's march!"

    Hmm, that has a dictatorial ring to it. Maybe we should all wear matching outfits. Brown, maybe. Nice neutral color for clothing. Easily made in mass quantities. Loose-fitting, comfortable, lots of pockets, wash'n'wear. The kind of clothing suitable for eviscerating the proletariat.

    What size are you, Chad?

  • TallDave||

    Friedman is a fucking idiot. Outsider the cities, China is an ungodly hellhole where people live on about $2/day.

    A friend of a friend does some merc work for the PRC. It's common out in the hinterlands for crime (such as the infamous needle stabbings in crowds) to be punished by rounding up local troublemakers and executing them. Meanwhile, North Korean immigrant women sex slaves are traded around like cattle.

    Does that sound very fucking enlightened to you?

  • yak||

    That depends. Do the sex slaves use condoms?

  • Chad||

    Wow! Anyone else watching Rand Paul dodge Maddow's questions over and over and over again. So much for libertarians having the courage of their convictions.

    Paul simply will NOT say that he believes that private businesses should be able to discriminate against minorities, even though this is obviously his position and a direct consequence of libertarian philosophy. Rachel keeps asking him, and he keeps answering different questions, or blathering about how the government shouldn't discriminate.

    Too bad your hero only proves you guys have no balls. If you believe it, say it. If you disagree, then you are admitting there is a hole in your ideology, and it all crumbles from there.

  • ||

    Chad|5.19.10 @ 9:17PM|#
    "Paul simply will NOT say that he believes that private businesses should be able to discriminate against minorities, even though this is obviously his position and a direct consequence of libertarian philosophy."

    "And you can't disprove it!"
    Kieth what's-his-name.
    Gee, I'll bet they didn't get him to tell them when he stopped beating his wife, either!
    Thanks, Chad for once more showing a enviable skill in constructing men of straw! The bar is at a whole new lower level!

  • Tony||

    It's a pretty simple question. Your stupid ideology apparently just can't handle it.

  • ||

    Tony|5.19.10 @ 10:23PM|#
    "It's a pretty simple question. Your stupid ideology apparently just can't handle it."
    So, tony, when did your ideology allow you to answer when you stopped beating your spouse?

  • Tony||

    He said in plain English that private businesses have a first amendment right to discriminate if they want.

  • Chad||

    So, Ron. Does Rand actually believe that businesses should be able to discriminate, or does he admit that libertarian philosophy is wrong sometimes?

    It is one or the other.

    And from the way he was dodging, it was utterly transparent what his opinion is.

  • ||

    Chad|5.19.10 @ 10:47PM|#
    "So, Ron. Does Rand actually believe that businesses should be able to discriminate,"
    So, Chad, I'm guessing he believes private business *can* 'discriminate' as all employers to, and that those that do for silly reasons will go bust. But then your ignorance doesn't allow other than shallow thinking, does it? When did you stop beating your spouse?

    "or does he admit that libertarian philosophy is wrong sometimes?"
    Uh, well, nothing you stated/inferred/hinted at says anything about "wrong".

    "It is one or the other."
    False dichotomy; you're an ignoramus.

    "And from the way he was dodging, it was utterly transparent what his opinion is."
    Yes, what is obvious is that he is smarter than either the interviewer or you.

  • ||

    It's a loaded question. I don't know what Rand believes, but its clear that businesses should be free to associate and trade with whoever they want. And that includes not trading with whoever they want, for whatever reason. And why is that a problem?

  • Chad||

    Come on, guys. Say it loud and clear.

    LIBERTARIANS BELIEVE THAT BUSINESSES SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO THROW BLACKS TO THE BACK OF THE BUS AND FORCE THEM TO USE SEPERATE FOUNTAINS.

    Say it loud. Scream it. If you can't, your whole ideology is a lie.

    And Ron, if you have no idea what Rand was thinking, your dumber than a brick. He was obviously hemming, hawing and dodging precisely because his opinion was the libertarian standard, and there was no way he was going to say it on TV no matter how hard pressed.

  • ||

    Okay, the buses were run by city GOVERNMENT!!! They were not private enterprises. Yes, libertarians believe that any private business owner should be able to conduct his business however he see's fit and serve or not serve whomever he chooses. It is so completely baffling to me that "progressives" simply can not grasp the difference between private property and public property, private policy and public policy. You know, if you don't believe in private property or that we have the right to own anything, just, fucking, come out and say that. If you believe the your self and by extension, what you own is owned by the state and by society, come out and say that.

  • ||

    "LIBERTARIANS BELIEVE THAT BUSINESSES SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO THROW BLACKS TO THE BACK OF THE BUS AND FORCE THEM TO USE SEPERATE FOUNTAINS."

    Compared to the 37,000+ white women who are raped annually in America by black men - a feature of liberal democracy - I'm not sure that having separate fountains and bussing is a greater evil.

    LIBERALS ACTIVELY ENCOURAGE AND COLLUDE IN THE RAPING OF 37,000+ WHITE WOMEN BY BLACK MEN EVERY YEAR.

    Scream it. Show the whole world what a super awesomely liberal dude you are by coming clean with your pro-rape views. I'm supposed to give a sh!t about the hurt feelings of a black asked to move to the back of a bus that could potentially happen, but you don't care about mass organized ethnic rape of white women by black men which is a fact that is happening as we speak? Err, no. Nice try.

  • ||

    You honestly don't have a clue, do you. Those were government laws, not the choice of local businesses. I know a man whose father was forced by the Jim Crow laws to put in the separate bathrooms and fountains, at much expense. The second they could no longer be arrested for it, they desegregated the facility.

    One of the great liberal successes has been rewriting the history of civil rights so that government was the savior, not the problem. If equal protection under the law had been the rule, private discrimination wouldn't have mattered. The problem wasn't the drinking fountain, it was that a white man could assault a black man and not be arrested; that a white man could vote and a black man couldn't. These weren't business problems, this was corrupt government. And the problem exists in some form to this day (see driving while black).

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    And "your" a dumbshit, Chad, for saying libertarians = Jim Crow-loving racists.

    Go fuck yourself.

  • Wegie||

    Rand Paul is not a Libertarian, he is just another thumper, warmonger.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    I don't blame him for dodging Maddow's loaded, biased questions. Why anyone would appear on her show, is quite puzzling.

  • Wegie||

    "It is true that Berwick is smarter than you and I."
    Speak only for yourself asshole!

  • ||

    An autocracy? If Karl Rove ever gets his "permanent majority," perhaps we'll get one in the United States.

  • Tim||

    The article starts out quoting woody allen, who isnt a politician and has no power suggesting a dictatorship.
    George Bush once said it would be good to have a king (dictator) if he got to be the king! Where was the right wing denouncation of this? If a republican president suggests a dictatorship, silence from you guys. If a left-wing disgraced has-been actor suggests it, you get your panties in a bunch

  • John Henry||

    This is unrelated to the article at hand, but: for the love of christ, stop putting single sentences of an article on a second page. I know impressions are valuable, but it's just a shitty maneuver.

  • ||

    You know, Thomas Jefferson is my political hero, and I'm from Australia. I'm strongly in favour of both drug legalisation and the deregulation of existing economic markets, and if you think that's a rare combination in America its almost unheard of here.

    Yet reading articles and most of all comment threads like this only reinforces my sense that most self-described Libertarians are insufferably intellectually smug assholes, many of whom don't seem to realise that being smart is a necessary but not sufficient defense against having a tenuous grasp of reality.

  • wffwe||

    Yet reading articles and most of all comment threads like this only reinforces my sense that most self-described Libertarians are insufferably intellectually replica IWC smug assholes, many of whom don't seem to realise that being smart is a necessary but not sufficient defense against having a tenuous grasp of reality.

  • John Mountfort||

    Harsanyi seems unaware that there is no free market for health care in this country. It is rigged by regulatory barriers to entry, by professional associations that keep the supply of doctors too low, by an insurance system that has completely destroyed financial accountability. The idea that a government health plan would eliminate the efficiencies of a free market is ridiculous. We pay a lot more than countries whose governments have a much more intrusive approach than we are going to have.

    But, of course, the health care issue is just a shifty way of getting at the main point: which is to accuse progressives of doing what the right wing has been doing all along. Progressives might daydream about the simplicity of autocracy, but it is the right wing that actually seeks the means to accomplish it by destroying the pragmatic center of the middle class and replacing it with a growing underclass of left-behinders who seek symbolic satisfactions in vapid political/moral causes because they know they'll get nothing better.

    It is typical of the blindered view of people such as Harsanyi that they refuse to understand that taking a huge financial monkey off people's backs is the only way to preserve the conditions in which choice is even relevant to people.

    People who work two jobs so they can have health care are not a solid foundation for a democracy or a culture. People need leisure for politics, children need parents who have time, relatively free from pressing anxieties, to spend with them. The results of a mindless commitment to freeing corporations (some people's superficial idea of a free market) are all too clear: destruction of the middle class (in another generation a quarter of our most sterling citizens will have "second" homes in Shanghai), moral decay resulting from corporate exploitation of our most vulnerable citizens, the loss of faith in creditors and debtors, and host of other wonderful things besides.

    It is time for some reason to be applied to the way we view free markets. Ideological robo-thinking just doesn't cut it anymore.

  • Triatomic Tortoise||

    David continues to write BS like a typical Tea Bagger. So much time is wasted.

  • ปลวก||

    I guess you can't criticize them inside or outside of China.

  • RAN||

    George Bush once said it would be good to have a king (dictator) if he got to be the king! Where was the right wing denouncation of this? If a republican president suggests a dictatorship. | RAN ran ran แรน แรน แรน |

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