Hatin' on Libertarians

Thomas Frank chastises "Beltway libertarians" in today's Wall Street Journal for "rationalizing" and "giving a pious shine" to corporate lobbying, corporate welfare, public-to-private wealth transfers in Washington, the influence of K Street, and how policymakers who push through federal handouts to favored industries are often later rewarded with high-paying jobs in said industries.

Frank's criticism of libertarians would be spot-on . . . if libertarians were actually defending this stuff. Maybe Frank can give us some specific examples of libertarians who have argued that any of the items listed above are part of the "free market." I don't know of many. In fact, I'm pretty sure most of us Beltway libertarians have been pretty critical of all that.

From the other side of the political spectrum (well, sort of—I have a hard time distinguishing neocons from liberals these days), neocon star wordsmith David Brooks tells the New Yorker's George Packer that "anti-government" philosophy similar to the one embraced by the Republicans during the 1994 Gingrich revolution is . . . fundamentally un-American.

No, really.

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  • joe||

    Frank doesn't claim that libertarians argue for those things, Radley. He argues that their political arguments make them more common.

    You know, like when you accuse of liberals of perpetuating poverty through bad urban and tax policy.

  • ||

    Who is Thomas Frank, and what possible reason is there for me to pay attention to him? The WSJ editorial page sucks, and it cannot all be blamed on Rupert Murdoch.

  • Episiarch||

    How does melioristic translate into government? Improving the world can be done without government, Brooks, you stupid cunt. In fact, it mostly is.

  • ||

    Like democracy, the WSJ page sucks except when you compare it to the alternatives.

  • ||

    That's pretty much my take on Larry Kudlow. Talks like a libertarian, but lobbies for Wall Street at the expense of the free market principals he claims to espouse.

  • Radley Balko||

    joe,

    How exactly does arguing for a smaller, more restricted, less influential federal government, arguing against corporate welfare, and arguing against earmarks, R&D boondoggles, and rent seeking make any of the problems Frank lists more likely to happen?

    If we drastically reduced the size of the federal government, there would be less influence to peddle. When you deregulate, the federal government has less power to set regs that benefit well-funded, well-connected corporations at the expense of smaller players.

  • Ali||

    Radley,

    But who's going to protect us from the big evil corporations and private interests?

  • Ali||

    The answer, of course, is big government. So in between big government and bog corporation, your average citizen is squeeze in between the two. Sort of like having a middle seat on an airplane between two fat dudes, who sleep throughout the trip and would never let you even to breath or leave your seat to use the lavatory.

  • ||

    Frank's criticism of libertarians would be spot-on . . . if libertarians were actually defending this stuff.

    Like, if the American Enterprise Institute actually gave two shits about "enterprise" in "America?"

  • ||

    Ali, yeah, but there's a skinnier corporation across the aisle you can sit next to (if the big guy on your left hasn't thrown him off the plane).

  • joe||

    Radley,

    Why don't you read the column you linked to? Frank's case really isn't that difficult to understand.

    If you wish to address that argument, good for you.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    There was a time when nobody acknowledged that libertarians existed, much less categorized them into groups like Beltway Libertarians which may be the same species as Cosmotarians, not sure.

    That said, I always appreciate it more when someone actually has concrete examples of how Beltway Libertarians are clamoring for corporate welfare.

    ....libertarian nonprofits that line the city's streets....

    Shouldn't that be singular? Oh wait, there are two of them. Or did Cato buy up an entire block of Pa Avenue?

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Frank's case really isn't that difficult to understand.

    Neither was Radley's, but you didn't get it. No surprise there I suppose.

  • ||

    It's not about "libertarians clamoring for corporate welfare."

    There is an actual argument made in that column, and that's not it.

  • ||

    Please, guy who didn't read the column but has an opinion about it anyway, tell me more about what I'm not understanding.

  • Episiarch||

    Go joe! Antagonize everyone!

  • ||

    Go Episiarch!

    Make sure there aren't any threads about subjects other than me!

  • Guy Montag||

    Radley,

    TWC beat me to the punch. Are "Beltway libertarians" the same as Cosmotarians?

    Also, do you have a theory as to why your most frequent responder keeps accusing you, and everybody else, of not reading when he disagrees with them or they of him?

  • ||

    I wonder, how many posts will it take before somebody responds to the argument actually made in Frank's column.

    I'll say 40.

  • Episiarch||

    Hey, if you want to be a dick to both Radley and the mild-mannered TWC, go for it, joe--it amuses me and gives you something to do.

  • ||

    By skewing society's rewards so lopsidedly to the top in the country's richest cities, Mr. Brook writes, the tax-reducing, market-minded economic policies of the last few decades have priced all sorts of high-minded occupations to the bottom of the middle class: teaching, the arts, and, of course, nonprofit work.

    Define "Society's Rewards" for me, Pastor Frank.
    Fekkin Commie.

  • ||

    A feller who can't even get along with TWC is just downright anti-social.

  • Guy Montag||

    TWC,

    I am with you on the puzzlement of the phrase ....libertarian nonprofits that line the city's streets...., for an additional reason, since no jurisdiction is required to grant any special tax status to not-for-profit entities. Seems his complaint should be lodged elsewhere.

  • ||

    "How exactly does arguing for a smaller, more restricted, less influential federal government, arguing against corporate welfare, and arguing against earmarks, R&D boondoggles, and rent seeking make any of the problems Frank lists more likely to happen?"

    Radly,

    You have to understand that from Franks' twisted point of view everything happens because of some government action. Where a rational person sees hard working productive people being able to keep more of what they earn Frank sees the government, through its inaction, designating winners. In Franks' world there is no difference between a company that succeeds because of regulations that harm its competitors or subsidies that it gets from the government and a company that succeeds in the market after the government stops regulating and handing out subsidies. In both cases they succeed only because the government chose to let them succeed; one through direct action the other through declining to take action. In Franks view, therefore, libertarians are not lobbying for freedom and free markets, they are just shilling for the companies that would benefit from such a state.

    It is a bizarre and narcissistic way to look at the world but it is a view endemic among left wing intellectuals like Franks. It is the same view that looks at tax cuts as the same as welfare. The government has a right to and owns all of your income and any decrease in the amount of that income they take is no different than giving you welfare.

  • fyodor||

    The gist of Frank's argument is here:

    Selling out is not a threat to the market order; selling out is how the market gets its way. Just look at the city in which all these remarks were made. Private-sector Washington is one of the wealthiest places in America. Public-service Washington lags considerably behind. The chance of ditching the one for the other is what accounts for everything from the power of K Street to the infamous "revolving door," by which a public servant takes a cushy corporate job after engineering some extravagant government favor for the corporation in question - or its clients.

    Rich says "selling out" is intrinsic to libertarian philosophy (which is nonsense) and then goes from there to implying that the next logical step is corporate welfare fueled by the lure of corporate favors.

    Well y'know, to give this ridiculous argument the benefit of the doubt, one may argue (though for reasons I'll get to, Frank doesn't quite say this) that the more wealth is generated by a society, the greater the temptation for corruption in the body that governs that society. Maybe true. Maybe. But to get there, you have to have generate more wealth in the first place, which is generally considered a good thing (and which is why Frank can't make that argument!). Given a choice, I'll take more wealth and the (possible) incumbent temptation to corrupt that system than the opposite. This argument is almost like saying stay poor so people won't want to steal your money! And if a free market is what succeeded in getting us that wealth, then that will act as a curb on the society in question allowing that free market to be corrupted by rent-seekers.

  • ||

    "Having spent years urging lawmakers to wreck the social order that once made occupations like theirs tenable, they will cling stubbornly to their free-market idol all the way down.:"

    That is the part that really got me. What, we should tax all of the productive people to death so journalists and teachers can afford to live in Georgetown? WTF? And just when exactly was there a social order where journalists and intellectuals were paid as much as capitalists? Isn't the reason eggheads like Frank hate capitalism is because it rewards the under-educated bourgeois who make things and do things at the expense of people like him?

  • ||

    Many of the people Mr. Brook talks to in such cities haven't given up on these pursuits because they're "sellouts"; they've given up because they want proper health care or decent housing or good schools for their kids.

    In other words, these high-minded new bohemians want other people to help pay for the stuff they want.

    Just like everybody else.

  • ||

    Maybe Frank is pissed because he can't outbid a currency trader for a really spiffy apartment on Park Avenue, and he feels the government should allocate him one.

  • fyodor||

    Did I beat 40, joe?

    I actually started that post before you made your second post. Unfortunately, the popularity of Hit & Run makes quick snarks more timely that reasoned (drink?) arguments.

    And there's more I could say, but I was trying to keep it short!!

  • joe||

    I was wrong. P Brooks, Comment #21.

    fyodor,

    You don't think the libertarian argument that the pursuit of wealth in a market economy > the pursuit of the public good, can lead to people "selling out" - that is, pursuing more profitable jobs in the business world, rather than working in the non-profit center?

    I once saw self-proclaimed-libertarian Jonah Goldbert proclaim "The best think I could do to help the poor is buy a Lexus," and I don't think that sentiments is at all uncommon among libertarians.

  • ||

    er, "sector," not "center."

    and "Goldberg," not "Goldbert."

  • ||

    What a turd twat.
    Yes, you fucking retard, libertarians are all hell-bent on "wrecking the social order" and we all bow down nightly to our cast-iron "free market idol."
    How does shit like this get into a reputable newspaper?

  • ||

    The problem is that those who push through such measures always cloak their actions with small government rhetoric. And hell, these days it's almost, almost fashionable to call yourself a libertarian. The Republican brand is so broken at this point that all those corporate lobbyists had to go somewhere.

    Frank is clearly aware of the hypocrisy, as he briefly mentions in the first paragraphs (while simultaneously using other absurd characitures of libertarians) but then cleverly shifts the tone to encompass all. And all this based on a panel discussion from "one of the lesser libertarian nonprofits in the city"? The America's Future Foundation? Seriously? You would think with all the libertarian non-profits lining the streets in Washington that he could have picked on one that the average libertarian would have actually heard of.

    As for Brooks, he would be hilarious if he wasn't so terrifying.

  • Guy Montag||

    P Brooks,

    Interesting set of occupations that he uses in your quote.

    Teaching is pretty heavily in the public sector. However, there are plenty of teachers in specialties, like professional development, technical fields, etc. who do very well but somehow never get counted, or they get lost in the flood of public-sector activity.

    "The Arts"? Huh? Is he complaining about the guy playing the fiddle in the Crystal City METRO, or is he talking about his NEA recipient buddies? Perhaps he can raise hell with the coctail crowd about not buying enough "art" from the artists of his choice?

    "Non-profit work"? Something change there since Dr. Thomas Sowell published his extensive research, with the conclusion that non-profits were the most racialially discriminating business entities in the country? Is he griping about public funding of non-profits? Is he complaining that so many volunteers don't get paid?

    Perhaps he should look at the change in 1099 numbers and see if he wants to complain about people who used to be poor not being poor any more. People who used to be corporate becoming independant, etc.

  • ||

    How does shit like this get into a reputable newspaper?

    It's just the Wall Street Journal.

  • libertarianman||

    The best thing I could do to help the poor would be to start a business that either gave them jobs or gave them the knowledge to become financially independent. But then again, I'd never argue that these types of proposals are mutually exclusive to forms of charity. Or that charity is also not a good thing in some cases.

  • Guy Montag||

    Private-sector Washington is one of the wealthiest places in America. Public-service Washington lags considerably behind.

    He calls this a problem, I call it progress.

  • joe||

    How many times have I seen libertarians describe the lobbying activities of industry as "defensive?" They just want to protect themselves from the mean ol' government.

    Were I someone considering corporate lobbying but questioning the ethics of it, that would be a very appealing argument.

  • ||

    You don't think the libertarian argument that the pursuit of wealth in a market economy > the pursuit of the public good, can lead to people "selling out" - that is, pursuing more profitable jobs in the business world, rather than working in the non-profit center?

    I would phrase it as voluntary exchange for profit > the pursuit of a public good through government coercion.

    And I don't think libertarian thought, real or otherwise, leads to anyone selling out. People like money...even liberals.

    And Jonah Goldberg? Yeah, he's right at the top of the libertarian credibility list along with Neil Boortz and Glenn Beck.

    Like I said, it's almost, almost fashionable.

  • ||

    I'd like to very much agree with John's comment at 11:42am. I've encountered people like this as well.

    Franks, like some others, really harp on the words "self-interest" as a way to really stick it to libertarians when discussing being any kind of moralists. Some commenter(s) present on this thread have said so much. They can go suck it.

  • ||

    joe, the ethics depends on what the industry is "lobbying" for. But surely you know that.

  • ||

    How many times have I seen libertarians describe the lobbying activities of industry as "defensive?"

    joe, I think most libertarians describe the lobbying activities of industry as the inevitable outcome of a mixed economy, where the government doles out favors and punishments based on political whims. And no libertarian will support that.

  • ||

    Guy-

    I'm surprised Frank left "editorial page whiners" off his little list of preferred social benefactors. He most likely prefers to think of himself as an "Educator."

  • thoreau||

    Frank writes:

    By skewing society's rewards so lopsidedly to the top in the country's richest cities, Mr. Brook writes, the tax-reducing, market-minded economic policies of the last few decades have priced all sorts of high-minded occupations to the bottom of the middle class: teaching, the arts, and, of course, nonprofit work.

    Many of the people Mr. Brook talks to in such cities haven't given up on these pursuits because they're "sellouts"; they've given up because they want proper health care or decent housing or good schools for their kids.



    One can argue that libertarian economic ideas aren't actually responsible for making it difficult to pursue such occupations. One can argue that such occupations aren't as difficult as Frank makes them out to be. However wrong Frank may or may not be, he does not seem to be explicitly blaming libertarians for corporate welfare and other things of that sort.

    In other words, it seems that Balko mischaracterized Frank's argument.

  • ||

    the libertarian argument that the pursuit of wealth in a market economy > the pursuit of the public good,

    I don't think that's a libertarian argument, joe. There's nothing unlibertarian about pursuing the public good, so long as you don't coerce others into doing so.

    Obviously most people are going to flock to activities that make them more wealthy -- that's true whether you're living in Libertopia, the Soviet Union, or in this country.

  • Old Bull Lee||

    He seems to have libertarians confused with the old left-wing view of Republicans as just being pro-big business at the expense of everyone else, especially precious benevolent big government.

    Then again, one man's corporate welfare is another politican's way to take credit for creating jobs.

  • ||

    "The Arts"? Huh? Is he complaining about the guy playing the fiddle in the Crystal City METRO, or is he talking about his NEA recipient buddies?

    Nah. He must be talking about Steven Spielberg or Rockstar Games. Or is that not "art" enough for him?

  • Steven Horwitz||

    Joe writes:

    You don't think the libertarian argument that the pursuit of wealth in a market economy > the pursuit of the public good, can lead to people "selling out" - that is, pursuing more profitable jobs in the business world, rather than working in the non-profit center?

    Joe deftly slides over several important distinctions here which makes his argument seem more plausible than it is.

    1. Libertarians do not think that the pursuit of private wealth is more important than pursuing the public good. We think the former is a necessary but not sufficient path to the latter, and that direct pursuit of the latter usually ends up making people WORSE off rather than better. I'm all in favor of pursuing the public good if that means "making the world a better place for all, esp. the worst off," but to claim that's contradictory with the pursuit of private wealth is to beg the question.

    2. Libertarians do not also object (other than some fringe Randians perhaps) to "pursuing the public good" by working for a non-profit. There is NOTHING intrinsic in libertarianism that says working for a think-tank or another organ of civil society is ethically wrong or counter-productive to liberty. Nor is there any ethical imperative (nor consequentialist preference) for working "for profit." Joe needs to read Hayek on the distinction between "orders" and "organizations."

    3. "The public good" is not the same as "the public sector." Libertarians can rightly object to working for the latter, but not the former.

    Bottom line, Frank's argument is a series of strawmen and ambiguous wording. As is Joe's.

  • fyodor||

    You don't think the libertarian argument that the pursuit of wealth in a market economy > the pursuit of the public good, can lead to people "selling out"

    joe,

    I think the "pursuit of the public good" is a nebulous thing and I understand why someone says buying a Lexus is the best thing they can do for the poor. Maybe it's true, maybe it's not.

    But please note, Goldbert did NOT say that convincing Congress to subsidize his Lexus was the best thing he could do for the poor!!!

    Okay, what is "selling out" anyway? I take it to mean sacrificing principle for personal gain. joe, ANY person who holds ANY principle based philosophy is EQUALLY subject to that. If you think libertarianism is ESPECIALLY subject to that, well, make that argument! Frank didn't!

    FWIW, personally, libertarianism is about freedom, period. Self-interest and wealth maximization are secondary benefits and secondary factors. People have the RIGHT to pursue their own self-interest and thus they SHOULD HAVE the FREEDOM to do so! As for more general philosophical questions regarding whether one "should" do that, I consider those questions to be outside of what libertarianism even addresses and thus different libertarians will have different things to say about them.

    Now, if you're saying that by saying "A" I'm encouraging "B" because "B" is supposedly enabled by "A", well first of all I don't think people need my support of a limited government and a free market to justify pursuing their own self-interest. Secondly, the logical extension would be to blame liberals for Communists. No, let's address each individual's arguments on their own merit, okay? And let's not take statments from some libertarians that address matters tangentially at best related to libertarianism per se to be intrinsic to liberterianism when they're not.

  • ||

    The difference, in brief:

    The moral libertarian's argument of "self interest" boils down to how you classify the motives behind the actions that people already take, including charitable donations, volunteer work, and risking your life to save someone from a fire.

    Opponents like Frank (and *ahem* others) make it sound like we're advocating that everyone be conventionally selfish and have an attitude of "fuck everyone else!," and that will somehow yeild the best result.

    Anyway, I'm leaving on vacation! Oh, and I'll drop a coin in the bum's cup on my way down the street, out of my own self interest.

  • ||

    the libertarian argument that the pursuit of wealth in a market economy > the pursuit of the public good

    Why those are mutually exclusive in your mind says loads about your political philosophy.

  • ||

    I once saw self-proclaimed-libertarian Jonah Goldbert proclaim "The best think I could do to help the poor is buy a Lexus," and I don't think that sentiments is at all uncommon among libertarians.

    Who got hurt the most when the feds instituted a luxury tax in the early '90s?

    For the answer, go here.
    Or here.

    Buying luxuries does help the poor. Admitting that all too obvious fact makes you selfish.

    Sheesh.

  • Guy Montag||

    P Brooks,

    Perhaps Mr. Frank can 'educate' in another field? Those CCNA teachers seem to make a pretty good living, as do the ASE instructors. Loads of things between.

    I really don't think he needs to be teaching anything with "journalism" in the title.

    In other news, thoreau agrees with joe.

  • fyodor||

    In other words, it seems that Balko mischaracterized Frank's argument.

    thoreau, I think it's in the passage I quoted that Frank makes a direct connection between the "sell-out" he claims to be intrinsic to libertarianism and the lures that lead to corporate welfare. He may not say ALL corporate welfare is thus derived, but he does seem to say that the one leads to the other.

    And joe backs him up.

  • joe||

    Stretch,

    I would phrase it as voluntary exchange for profit > the pursuit of a public good through government coercion.

    I agree, this is a better description of the principled libertarian argument. The problem is, the consequences of ideas are often at odds with the intent and vision of those who promote those ideas.

    People grab onto degenerated versions of noble principles for their own purposes all the time.

    Citizen Nothing, of course I know that. Which is why I chose my language carefully.

  • T||

    How many times have I seen libertarians describe the lobbying activities of industry as "defensive?" They just want to protect themselves from the mean ol' government.

    I dunno about libertarians, but I see that from public-choice economists. Lobbying is one of the few games where if you don't play, you can lose big.

    the libertarian argument that the pursuit of wealth in a market economy > the pursuit of the public good

    Thus proving yet again that you have missed the point completely. The pursuit of wealth is the pursuit of the public good. For reference, see Adam Smith on the subject of bakers and butchers.

  • ||

    I admit it, joe. You're far too subtle for the likes of me.

  • ||

    Chris Potter,

    There's nothing unlibertarian about pursuing the public good, so long as you don't coerce others into doing so.

    Come now, Chris. I've been here for a while, you know. Are you actually claiming that libertarians DON'T idealize "productive, wealth-creating enterprise" over "working for the public good," or "the pursuit of self-interest" over "the pusuit of the common good?"

  • Guy Montag||

    Example of good defensive lobbying that failed: CAFE standards opposed by the auto industry.

    Example of bad defensive lobbying that succeedes: CAFE standards proposed by the anti-freedom envirowacko corner of Leftietopia.

  • Radley Balko||

    Thoreau,

    There's much about Frank's column that's objectionable. I should have been clearer, but I was referring specifically to this passage:

    Personally, I would take this hard line one step further: Selling out is not a threat to the market order; selling out is how the market gets its way. Just look at the city in which all these remarks were made. Private-sector Washington is one of the wealthiest places in America. Public-service Washington lags considerably behind. The chance of ditching the one for the other is what accounts for everything from the power of K Street to the infamous "revolving door," by which a public servant takes a cushy corporate job after engineering some extravagant government favor for the corporation in question - or its clients.

    The libertarian nonprofits that line the city's streets often serve merely to rationalize this operation after the fact, giving a pious shine to the policies that are made in this unholy manner.


    The two libertarian non-profits I've worked for most certainly haven't tried to rationalize or "give a pious" shine to K Street power, revolving doors, or giving cushy jobs to policymakers after they procure government favors for corporations.

  • ||

    RTFA,
    Balko is once again spot on. Frank is wringing his hands over the non-existent angst felt by non-existing libertarians over a non-existing dilemma. And the punchline, that they are "selling out" and therefore promoting what they claim to oppose, is completely unsupported.

  • ||

    the idea that "there's something special about nonprofits," scoffed one forthright fellow - "well, that's crap. Nonprofits are an artifice of the law, and what's special about them is not that they do different things or that they are organized in a special way, it's that they don't pay taxes."

    On the individual level, there is no meaningful distinction between "profit" and "non-profit." Unless you are working for free, you still get a paycheck. And if you want a bigger paycheck, you can go work for somebody else.

  • ||

    Steven Horowitz,

    I'M not sliding over those distinctions - I admit them, readily. I'm acknowledging that, in the real world, people don't always follow arguments to the conclusions those putting them forward would wish.

    Yes, I readilty admit that a principled and rigorous reading of libertarian ideas is as you describe, just as a princiopled and rigorous reading of liberal ideas would preclude, for example, race-baiting by black demogogues. My point is that people take intellectual shortcuts when it's in their interest to do so, and that certain libertarian ideas, short-cutted, can easily be used to defend unprincipled corporatism, apathy to the common good, and the pursuit of self-interest unmoored from any obligations.

  • fyodor||

    Radley, how dare you and your non-profits not live up to the stereotypes in Frank's and joe's heads!!!

  • ||

    Hank Reardon would spit in Tom Frank's face and punch David Brooks in the nose.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Radley: To be fair, Frank isn't necessarily accusing libertarians of directly favoring this state of affairs. He might think we're just useful idiots for the corporate powers that be. Even though we oppose the revolving door and the rest, he might argue, we still support policies that allow private-sector work to be more lucrative than public-sector work, and on Planet Frank that disparity "accounts for" the power of K Street. (If only we paid our politicians and bureaucrats enough, then everyone would want to work for the government all the time, and no one would have a reason to be corrupt!)

  • ||

    Virtue is its own reward.

  • fyodor||

    And if you want a bigger paycheck, you can go work for somebody else.

    OR if you want more job satisfaction!!

    A lot of Frank's and joe's confusion may be due to a myth I've heard occasionally that libertarianism (or "capitalism") believes in no motive other than the profit motive.

    Which of course is as ridiculous as you can get. What would you even DO with all your money if you valued nothing else????

  • ||

    Jamie Kelly, not getting it, writes,

    Why those are mutually exclusive in your mind says loads about your political philosophy.

    Jamie, why do you think that I chose the terms "THE PURSUIT OF self interests" and "THE PURSUIT OF the common good," rather than just writing "self interest" and "the common good?"

    If you can answer that question, you cease to misunderstand what I wrote.

  • ||

    Apparently, Jesse Walker doesn't understand the principles of libertarianism very well, either, because he just made exactly the same argument.

  • Old Bull Lee||

    We wouldn't be seen as "useful idiots for the corporate powers that be" if they'd realize there is plenty of libertarian opposition to the same corporate welfare that someone like Ralph Nader rails against.

    The thing is, it's not so much about being against the corporate receivers as against the public givers who are giving them our money.

  • Guy Montag||

    JW,

    He might think we're just useful idiots for the corporate powers that be.

    That is exactly what 'Emmanuel Goldstein' says about Libertarians whenever they are metioned on his show Off the Hook (Pacifica Radio Network, WBAI, in Manhattan). At least, that is how he reacted every time I heard it mentioned on that show from around 1988 until I stopped listening much around 2006.

    If he adds anything it is something like 'the Libertarians just want the government to get weak enough for the corporations to take over.'

  • ||

    fyodor-

    The part about job satisfaction was right there. In my head.

  • fyodor||

    Jesse and Radley: I would say Frank's language seems to conflate the distinction between the different things you are accusing him of. So one could easily see one or the other. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and choose Jesse's interpretation, but it's not like he makes that clear! And he may be saying that "selling-out" is so intrinsic to libertarianism that there's no need to make a distinction!

  • Guy Montag||

    What would you even DO with all your money if you valued nothing else????

    I know the Big L answer to this one!

    If it is fiat money, you buy gold!!!!

    Perhaps tin, in the future.

  • Guy Montag||

    fydor,

    "Selling out" is defined asnot doing what the loudest Leftist near you wants you to do.

  • fyodor||

    P Brooks,

    I hate it when I leave things in my head!! :-)

    Yeah I didn't think we were disagreeing, but I thought that point needed to be overtly made!!

  • ||

    The problem is, the consequences of ideas are often at odds with the intent and vision of those who promote those ideas.

    People grab onto degenerated versions of noble principles for their own purposes all the time.


    Sure they do, Joe, but that doesn't mean that the noble principles themselves are at fault.

    Frank's argument basically breaks down to libertarian ideas are used by some "libertarians" to promote unlibertarian agendas, therefore libertarian ideas are bad.

    Of course, he doesn't make any of those distinctions, but that is an accurate description of the process he's commenting on.

  • ||

    joe,

    So if a poor person robs a rich person because he thinks everyone should have the same amount of money, should we blame liberals for promoting the idea of equality?

    Any religion, any ideology, however noble, can be warped so as to justify evil deeds.

  • ||

    T,

    The pursuit of wealth is the pursuit of the public good.

    Really?

    Even when "the pursuit of wealth" involves taking a $200k job at a K Street lobbyist? What if the lobby shot that offers you the highest salary works to, I don't know, fill in your own list of horribles here.

    It is exactly this degenerated, simplistic contraction of libertarians' ideas that I have been talking about.

    And not a single other commenter noticed. I think there's a reason for that.

  • ||

    Stretch,

    Sure they do, Joe, but that doesn't mean that the noble principles themselves are at fault.

    True enough. I don't think liberal ideas about the political empowerment of oppressed racial minorities are "at fault" for black demogoguery, either, and yet they've been used that way, and to some extent, it doesn't even require that the ideas be twisted to get you at least half-way there.

    Which doesn't show that those ideas are themselves invalid, but it is a warning of sorts.

  • ||

    joe | May 21, 2008, 12:26pm | #
    Apparently, Jesse Walker doesn't understand the principles of libertarianism very well, either, because he just made exactly the same argument.


    joe,
    The reason your hat doesn't fit anymore, is that Jesse Walker's anvil of irony is embedded in your head. Guess you didn't notice when that happened.

  • ||

    Personally, I would take this hard line one step further: Selling out is not a threat to the market order; selling out is how the market gets its way. Just look at the city in which all these remarks were made. Private-sector Washington is one of the wealthiest places in America. Public-service Washington lags considerably behind. The chance of ditching the one for the other is what accounts for everything from the power of K Street to the infamous "revolving door," by which a public servant takes a cushy corporate job after engineering some extravagant government favor for the corporation in question - or its clients.

    Lobbying firms are a very small employer in metro DC. Most of the big money around here is made working for government contractors, especially all those hi-tech firms out near Dulles Airport. But those jobs exist only because of leviathan, not because of market forces. Dry up the swamp, and there would be a lot of bright minds available for productive work.

  • fyodor||

    Guy Montag,

    LOL, but then, the whole source of Frank's smug mirth and scorn is that he discovered libertarians (supposedly) discussing the issue every bit as passionately as your typical do-gooder.

    One would think the libbers should probably know better, but oh well. Maybe these panel discussions served as group therapy for those needing reassurance that their lesser paid work in non-profits was worth it. Takes all kinds.

  • ||

    joe,

    All right. So, are you willing to say that Frank's article really says nothing bad about libertarianism? Because if we interpret it the way you say we should, it's a pretty toothless attack.

  • ||

    Chris Potter,

    So if a poor person robs a rich person because he thinks everyone should have the same amount of money, should we blame liberals for promoting the idea of equality?

    Not liberal ideas, but if liberals are robbing rich people, or if robbers are becoming more common as they selectively quote liberal ideas to justify their robbery, then it might be worth questioning whether some liberals should dial back or be a little more responsible with their rhetoric.

    I'd say the equivalent of "The pursuit of wealth is the pursuit of the public good," would be "The redistribution of wealth is the pursuit of justice."

    Any religion, any ideology, however noble, can be warped so as to justify evil deeds.

    Yes, even yours.

  • Steven Horwitz||

    Sorry but if people choose to abuse libertarian ideas for corporatist ends, that is not in and of itself an argument against libertarian ideas, which is exactly what Frank wants to make it. No sale.

    And you know that he'd be the first to complain when some libertarian says that "Stalinism is Marxism," which more or less amounts to the same mistake.

  • robc||

    joe,

    Apparently, Jesse Walker doesn't understand the principles of libertarianism very well, either, because he just made exactly the same argument.

    I refer you to Radley's first post, which answer this very well.

    Or as I would put it: If we support incremental change towards libertarianism, we may be useful idiots. If we pass hard-core changes, there is no power available for us to be useful idiots towards.

  • ||

    Chris Potter,

    So, are you willing to say that Frank's article really says nothing bad about libertarianism?

    Libertarianism as a coherent and principled set of ideas, or libertarianism as a political movement and intellectual ouvre?

  • Elemenope||

    What would you even DO with all your money if you valued nothing else?

    Dude, *invest it to make MORE money*, of course! How long have you been at this Capitalism thing, anyway? :)

  • ||

    "Even when "the pursuit of wealth" involves taking a $200k job at a K Street lobbyist? What if the lobby shot that offers you the highest salary works to, I don't know, fill in your own list of horribles here."


    What if that 200K a year job is lobbying for the Sierra Club? Something tells me you won't look at that as one of the "list of horribles". I would argue that someone who lobbies for industry and does the daily work of keeping the crazies from the Sierra club from shutting down the economy as contributing to the public good. You I would imgaine disagree with that assessment, which really means that all your are saying is "it is horrible for people to take 200K a year jobs on K street defending positions with which I disagree."

  • Jesse Walker||

    I would say Frank's language seems to conflate the distinction between the different things you are accusing him of. So one could easily see one or the other.

    I agree. The text supports Radley's reading; it also supports the alternative reading I suggested. Maybe Frank thinks libertarians are Useful Idiots for the corporate state; maybe he thinks we're Conscious Agents; maybe he just hasn't put a lot of thought into it, because his understanding of libertarianism is derived not from seriously engaging libertarian ideas but from his memories of what he believed as a sort-of-pro-market Reaganite in his teens. If I had to guess, I'd vote for option number three.

    (Remember when Frank spent his time complaining that academics pay more attention to Madonna than to his favorite punk bands? Those were the days...)

  • ||

    "The redistribution of wealth is the pursuit of justice."

    Thank you, Mr. Rawls! No go back to your grave.

  • Elemenope||

    If we support incremental change towards libertarianism, we may be useful idiots. If we pass hard-core changes, there is no power available for us to be useful idiots towards.

    But seeing as how the Non-Agression Principle sort of precludes most forms of violent revolution, we are stuck, in this society, with incremental change being the only legitimate option.

    Which makes us useful idiots, at least part of the time. On this I believe that Frank and Joe are actually right.

    Unless you've been noticing some super secret place where people are making radical changes towards Libertopia, or have plans to peacefully achieve the same in our very own political system...in which case I'd like to subscribe to your newsletter!

  • ||

    John,

    That's a fince argument. It's also completely missing from the statement "the pursuit of self-interest is the pursuit of the common good." As a matter of fact, it's not, not even from a principled libertarian point of view.

    Frank's point is that one can grab onto the pro-corporate, pro-wealth, pro-self-interest language of libertariansim to justify getting rich in an anti-social manner, and to blow off the pursuit of even libertarian princioples.

  • ||

    I'd say the equivalent of "The pursuit of wealth is the pursuit of the public good," would be "The redistribution of wealth is the pursuit of justice."

    Yes, in that the former is not really part of libertarian thought, and the latter is not really part of liberal thought.

    The pursuit of wealth is clearly not identical to the pursuit of the public good (however nebulous the latter is). Robert Mugabe and the Myanmar junta have been pursuing wealth for quite some time now, and I don't think they've done much for the public good. Even in the relatively free market here in the US, there are perverse incentives as well, for instance Michael Moore getting rich making propaganda films that have only harmed the public good.

  • ||

    Yes, in that the former is not really part of libertarian thought, and the latter is not really part of liberal thought.

    If "the pursuit of wealth is the pursuit of the common good" is so contrary to libertarian thought, Chris, why did none of the libertarians raise an objection until I goaded you into it? There is, at least, a sympathy there.

    And you are wrong, both of those are completely at home within their appropriate schools of thought. They are just truncated, and fail to account for nuance.

  • ||

    The public good = what is good for all 300,000,000 Americans = political and economic liberty.
    That is the only definition of "public good."

  • robc||

    lmnop,

    My plan is to always treat the good as the enemy of the perfect.

    It makes for a short newsletter.

    Its why when joe asks me what my Plan B is, I always answer that my Plan B is to vote for Plan A.

  • fyodor||

    Frank's point is that one can grab onto the pro-corporate, pro-wealth, pro-self-interest language of libertariansim to justify getting rich in an anti-social manner, and to blow off the pursuit of even libertarian princioples.

    But it's a silly point because one can be disengenuous about ANY principles one "grabs onto."

  • robc||

    I admit my plan isnt very useful for "getting things done", but politicians who "get things done" are the most dangerous type.

  • ||

    The MO of everything Frank has ever written is "you don't agree with me, you must be insane". What's The Matter With Kansas is without a doubt the worst book on public policy to come out in the last ten years and one of the worst ever.

    Frank is incapable of understanding anyone else's point of view. It is beyond Frank's mental ability to understand that someone could support and respect the free market but chose not to pursue it. Frank seems to be saying that think tank libertarians are somehow living some duplicitous life by working for a non-profit while lauding the benefits of capitalism. It is the equivalent of saying that anyone who supports gay rights is a hypocrite because they are not out going all Larry Craig in airport bathrooms.

  • Episiarch||

    I think the real question here is how many libertarians can dance on the head of a pin. Because that's what this discussion seems to have devolved into.

  • robc||

    Epi,

    42. duh.

  • thoreau||

    Radley-

    Fair point. I guess that this sentence:

    The libertarian nonprofits that line the city's streets often serve merely to rationalize this operation after the fact, giving a pious shine to the policies that are made in this unholy manner.


    Is an accusation that libertarians are shills, spinners, or useful idiots for the revolving door.

    I should have read the column more carefully.

    As to the substance of the allegation, well, I think there are instances where some libertarians could be characterized as "useful idiots" but the accusation needs refining and substantiation to be useful.

  • ||

    fyodor,

    High-minded, complicated ideas virtually always get truncated and mis-shapen in the process of permeating mass culture.

    Heck, Jamie Kelly doesn't think there would be anyone made worse off under a strict libertarian regime, and T thinks that there is no need for any modifiers on the statement "the pursuit of wealth is the pursuit of the common good."

    You are right that this is not unique to libertarian ideas, but libertarians ought to be particularly interested in how their ideas in particular can be twisted and misused.

  • ||

    I think the real question here is how many libertarians can dance on the head of a pin.

    Zero, because libertarians' only purpose in life is to increase their wealth. Now if someone was paying them to dance on the pin, it might be different.

  • fyodor||

    There is, at least, a sympathy there.

    Oh jeez, joe, you're telling us what we think?

    I didn't need your goading to say that libertarianism is first and foremost about freedom.

    What people do with that freedom is their own business.

    As far as what most contributes to this fuzzy notion of "the common good," I don't claim to know and different libertarians will say different things, as I said from the start. I certainly understand the logic that self-interested purchases in the market place are the most effective means to help the poor, but I don't claim to know if it's true or not. It's a bit of a fuzzy notion itself because it begs questions such as which poor, compared to what, etc.

  • fyodor||

    but libertarians ought to be particularly interested in how their ideas in particular can be twisted and misused.

    And that's why I argue with people like you and Frank who are making a point of twisting them and making them out to be misused!

    On other boards I discuss matters such as this within libertarian circles.

  • ||

    Oh jeez, joe, you're telling us what we think?

    I'm telling you, plural, what you write. Yes, I'm repeating back statements libertarians have made as evidence of their thoughs. Shoot me.

    What people do with that freedom is their own business. Yes, or no: does libertarianism express any ideas, particularly in the area of one's professional life, about what is better and what is worse, for people to do? Is libertarianism completely silent to the question of whether it is better to be an entrepreneur or a freegan? Please note, there is nothing in these questions related to the question of government.

  • ||

    Jamie Kelly doesn't think there would be anyone made worse off under a strict libertarian regime

    Spare me the "regime" crap, joe.
    And I didn't say nobody would be made worse off. If they're accustomed to getting something for nothing, then yeah -- the tit-suckers would be left crying for mama's milk. I don't care if you're an artist or a corporate CEO. Your "need" to be "better off" is not a claim to my wallet.

  • ||

    If "the pursuit of wealth is the pursuit of the common good" is so contrary to libertarian thought, Chris, why did none of the libertarians raise an objection until I goaded you into it? There is, at least, a sympathy there.

    Some ideas are so ridiculous and obviously false that they don't need to be refuted (especially when there are more coherent arguments going on at the same time).

    Tell me, joe, if you were having a lively discussion on a liberal blog, and someone posted something like, "Government should nationalize the entire private sector and ban money", would you feel it necessary to point out the flaws in that argument?

  • ||

    And that's why I argue with people like you and Frank who are making a point of twisting them and making them out to be misused!

    I am doing no such thing, and have repeatedly stated that we are talking about truncated, distorted versions of libertarian ideas.

  • fyodor||

    Heck, Jamie Kelly doesn't think there would be anyone made worse off under a strict libertarian regime, and T thinks that there is no need for any modifiers on the statement "the pursuit of wealth is the pursuit of the common good."

    I don't entirely agree with those notions (assuming you've represented them correctly, which I lack the time to corroborate), but neither notion strikes me as nefarious or problematic as neither supports infringements on liberty. I.e., where's the big problem you're warning me about?

  • robc||

    joe,

    No and Yes. BTW, what the hell is a freegan?

  • ||

    Does libertarianism express any ideas, particularly in the area of one's professional life, about what is better and what is worse, for people to do?

    No, as long as it's not by force or fraud.

  • ||

    And I didn't say nobody would be made worse off. If they're accustomed to getting something for nothing, then yeah -- the tit-suckers would be left crying for mama's milk.

    Nice consistency there, Aristotle. Here, this is what you wrote: The public good = what is good for all 300,000,000 Americans = political and economic liberty.


    fyodor, people with minds that operate on this level are interpretting libertarian ideas. There is a waiter at a resort in the Catskills who thinks the message of "Atlast Shrugged" is "Some people matter, Baby, and some people don't."

  • fyodor||

    Well joe, the argument, for it to have any validity, would seem to be that such truncation is inherent and/or particular to libertarianism. I addressed such notions earlier. What sense does it make to back off from stating what I see as the truth because someone might misunderstand me? Anything I say (or don't say!) might be misunderstood and used for purposes I don't agree with!!!

  • ||

    Chris,

    Tell me, joe, if you were having a lively discussion on a liberal blog, and someone posted something like, "Government should nationalize the entire private sector and ban money", would you feel it necessary to point out the flaws in that argument?'

    Hell, yeah. More relevantly, would you?

    I guess none of my ideas are not "so ridiculous and obviously false that they don't need to be refuted."

  • ||

    Nice consistency there, Aristotle.

    Sure there, Platonicus Dumbshittius. Your problem is that you think "economic liberty" = a right to a certain standard of living.

  • ||

    again, joe's subtlety has left me befuddled. He's narrowed down his point so far that there's nothing left but a black hole of duh.

  • ||

    neither notion strikes me as nefarious or problematic as neither supports infringements on liberty.

    Uh, the easiest routes to wealth all support infringements on liberty. cf Mugabe and the Myanmar regime, for instance.

  • ||

    There is a waiter at a resort in the Catskills who thinks the message of "Atlast Shrugged" is "Some people matter, Baby, and some people don't."

    I see you get your grand opinions about Objectivism from 10-cent chick flicks.

  • Guy Montag||

    Why does "lobbyist" seem to be used as some sort of new profanity these days? Presenting the government with grievances is the right of all citizens. That is all that the lobbyist is, a voice from a group of citizens to the legislature.

    I think it is in one of those Constitutional amendments that even the Leftists concede to as written.

    Of course, if they represent well, they get paid well. Which is all well and fine when they are doing things preferred by the Mr. Franks of the world. Otherwise they are horrid, vile souls beings.

    Heaven Mother Nature forbid that they have had some sort background that makes them an expert in the issue that they are now being paid to promote!

  • fyodor||

    There is a waiter at a resort in the Catskills who thinks the message of "Atlast Shrugged" is "Some people matter, Baby, and some people don't."

    And somewhere there's another waiter who thinks the point of social programs is that the rich are all fucked-up and we should get rid of the lot of them.

    SO FUCKING WHAT????

    I don't see the logic of tarnishing what one person says with how someone else stupidly misinterprets them.

  • robc||

    Chris Potter,

    Throwing a coup and then ruling a country with an iron fist seems like hard work to me. Much easier to get wealthy some other way.

    If all you care about is wealth, the Mugabe route isnt the way to go. Now, if you are interested in power....

  • ||

    Speaking of cynical, manipulative, duplicitous non-profiteers, how much money does the head of the American Red Cross make annually?

  • ||

    Really?

    Libertarian thought states that there it is not better to be an entrepreneur than to take vows of poverty? That society is not made better by people choosing the former? That adopting and anti-consumerist lifestyle is not worse for society overall?

    Bull.

    Shit.

    I have a news flash for some of you; libertarianism is pro-capitalism. No, really, libertarian political theory actually DOES argue that the pursuit of profit through economic activity in the market is GOOD, not merely that people should be free from coercion.

    No, seriously.

  • Fluffy||

    Yes, or no: does libertarianism express any ideas, particularly in the area of one's professional life, about what is better and what is worse, for people to do? Is libertarianism completely silent to the question of whether it is better to be an entrepreneur or a freegan? Please note, there is nothing in these questions related to the question of government.

    Which libertarianism?

    Objectivists would say it is better to be an entrepreneur, because Objectivism contains a hierarchy of human virtues that allow one to assess moral praise or blame outside of purely political contexts.

    So, if Objectivists are a type of libertarian [and they might say they aren't, and joe might say they aren't], then there is a type of libertarian which would say that one activity is better than another.

    Politics is a subset of ethics, and an application of it, and not the whole shebang.

  • fyodor||

    Anyway, joe, if that waiter beats someone up because he thinks Ayn Rand convinced him that some people don't matter, throw the fucker in jail!

    On strictly libertarian boards, I never hear such neanderthal talk as that.

  • Guy Montag||

    I think the real question here is how many libertarians can dance on the head of a pin.

    Same answer as to the car question how fast do you want to go?

    A. How much money you got?

  • ||

    fyodor,

    SO FUCKING WHAT????

    So, if your interest in your ideas extends any distance beyond considering them to be an interesting parlour game - if you'd actually like to see your ideas influence the world outside your head in a manner consistent with your beliefs - than you should be aware of the pitfalls, and the misuses to which they are being put.

  • ||

    Hell, yeah. More relevantly, would you?

    I don't think I'd bother with it even here. Life is too short to acknowledge that kind of foolishness.

    I guess none of my ideas are not "so ridiculous and obviously false that they don't need to be refuted."

    Was that double negative intentional? Because, yes, I don't think your ideas are ridiculous or obviously false.

    I think you're just a well-intentioned person who was deprived of the truth of libertarianism at a critical point in your develop, and now you lash out in anger at that which you secretly wish you'd embraced.

    Or, maybe not.

  • Dave T||

    I've seen many people choose a lower paying job in the public sector over pursuing a higher paying job in the private sector. Unfortunately, their motives weren't because they believed in the "public good", their motives were that they get to work a lot less hours and do a hell of lot less hard work. Excuse me if I don't feel too badly for the public sector in Washington DC. That said, there are also a hell of a lot of overpaid admins who happen to hold the shining golden ticket that is a security clearance.

  • ||

    Yes, Chris, I so misunderstand libertarianism that I made the same argument as Jesse Walker.

    *sniff, I don't have a response, so I'll just note that you're not in the club*

    Loud and clear. That's usually what happens.

  • robc||

    joe,

    You dont have to answer the freegan question. dictionary.com wasnt familiar with the word, but google was. I clicked thru....***shudder***...my libertarianism still supports people being freegans if they so desire.

  • Fluffy||

    Libertarian thought states that there it is not better to be an entrepreneur than to take vows of poverty? That society is not made better by people choosing the former? That adopting and anti-consumerist lifestyle is not worse for society overall?

    Again, which libertarianism?

    Objectivists would not deign to discuss the good of society at all.

    No, really, libertarian political theory actually DOES argue that the pursuit of profit through economic activity in the market is GOOD, not merely that people should be free from coercion.

    Strictly speaking, Objectivists would say that the pursuit of profit through economic activity in the market is good because it represents the expression of certain individual human virtues. It would not say that it's good because it's good for society. So choosing an anti-consumerist lifestyle could also be good, if it allowed for the expression of similar or alternate virtues. A man who pursues an anti-consumerist lifestyle because he is creating great sculptures that for one reason or another don't sell may very well be quite virtuous under the "rules" of Objectivism. And the guy who is making seven figures as a lobbyist may be a douchebag. I think Wesley Mouch is the archetype of a lobbyist, after all.

  • ||

    There is a waiter at a resort in the Catskills who thinks the message of "Atlast Shrugged" is "Some people matter, Baby, and some people don't."

    Baby? Baby? What is this Baby? Galt never say Baby, Rand not write Baby, so why he say Baby?

  • Kyle||

    I have a news flash for some of you; libertarianism is pro-capitalism. No, really, libertarian political theory actually DOES argue that the pursuit of profit through economic activity in the market is GOOD, not merely that people should be free from coercion.

    wait... what?

  • ||

    robc,

    my libertarianism still supports people being freegans if they so desire. I'm sure it does. One of the fundamental precepts of libertarianism is that people should be free to do things that others don't approve of.

    That's just not the only one.

  • ||

    I think someone sold joe a defective decoder ring.

  • First Little Pig||

    I am quite late to the thread but I do have one small thing to add.

    I have long thought that those who profess libertarianism and who do not contribute to charity or perform charitable works are hypocrites since there are community needs and if they are not met, then society will command government meet them. The best way to limit government is to resolve community concerns without it.

    I live in a town without a government. We residents perform the tasks a government would through volunteers and cooperation and for those things that we cannot do for ourselves, they go undone.

  • fyodor||

    But joe, like I say, ANYTHING I say (or don't say) may be used against my wishes and preferences. THAT'S why it makes no sense to...oh fuck it, I've explained myself already.

  • ||

    Dave T,

    I'm one of those public sector people. I have no doubt that there are gov. employees who feel slighted because they don't get paid as much as a private sector employee, but I haven't run into any.

    I could get a private sector job any time I want, even in this economy. Recruiters are constantly bugging me. Working an actual 40 hour week has a dollar value for me and it is pretty high.

  • Fluffy||

    So, if your interest in your ideas extends any distance beyond considering them to be an interesting parlour game - if you'd actually like to see your ideas influence the world outside your head in a manner consistent with your beliefs - than you should be aware of the pitfalls, and the misuses to which they are being put.

    Nope, sorry, wrong, uh-uh.

    The only person responsible for misunderstanding a reasonably clearly expressed idea is the person who misunderstands.

    It is clearly not incumbent upon me to ask, at any moment in time, "Gee, how will John McCain misunderstand and misuse my idea?"

  • Guy Montag||

    Isn't it a good thing that the government provides us with this forum so that the anti-freedom, anti-liberty voices can be heard without the fear of Big Capitalist cracking down on us?

    Something like this could never be created by the privateer-robber-baron-Capitalists.

    First PBS and NPR, now H&R. Such progress in less than a century!

    Oh, wait . . .

  • Episiarch||

    again, joe's subtlety has left me befuddled. He's narrowed down his point so far that there's nothing left but a black hole of duh.

    I think you're confused because what is being argued about now has shifted from joe saying "Frank has a point" to "I am merely pointing out that some people look at libertarians like Frank does" to "you need to be careful how people interpret your ideology".

    Which is beyond fucking hilarious coming from a leftist.

    Oh noes someone might read Rand and...do what?

  • ||

    "It is clearly not incumbent upon me to ask, at any moment in time, "Gee, how will John McCain misunderstand and misuse my idea?"

    But is it incumbent to ask the same question concerning Bob Barr?

  • ||

    Fluffy,

    Strictly speaking, Objectivists would say that the pursuit of profit through economic activity in the market is good because it represents the expression of certain individual human virtues. They say this, but also that the pursuit of profit through economic activity in the market generates technological and material advancement that are good for society (though they'd find some other way to express that thought). Similarly, they chastise "second-handers" for actions which, allegedly, impede that material advancement.

    So even among the Objectivists, there are arguments other than non-interference.

  • ||

    Fluffy,

    The only person responsible for misunderstanding a reasonably clearly expressed idea is the person who misunderstands.

    It is clearly not incumbent upon me to ask, at any moment in time, "Gee, how will John McCain misunderstand and misuse my idea?"


    I guess that depends on whether your interests extend beyond holding the "right" ideas yourself.

    Hey, if all you care about is being right and the world can go to hell, fine. If you actually care about politics and society, and think libertarianism should be implemented and have a meaningful effect on the world, then you might want to consider something beyond the purity of your own thought.

  • ||

    joe,

    I did read the article, but essentially the last paragraph is a pretty accurate summary of his point:

    "To their credit, the nonprofit libertarians I watched the other night did not ask for sympathy. Their own doctrine won't permit it. Having spent years urging lawmakers to wreck the social order that once made occupations like theirs tenable, they will cling stubbornly to their free-market idol all the way down."

    It's boilerplate stuff, really and the use of the word "cling" again is a bit ironic.

    To me, if people working for not-for-profit lobbying groups in DC aren't making as nice a living as they might be able to in another sector, that doesn't exactly bring me to tears. Even if they happen to be "libertarian" not-for-profits.

  • ||

    *sniff, I don't have a response, so I'll just note that you're not in the club*

    Huh? I don't get what you're referring to here.

    No, you're not in the club, but I imagine that's because you don't want to be. I was just saying that I think you bring good things to the table when you're here. You can be a bit headstrong at times, but hey, aren't we all.

    Smile, joe, Reason loves you.

  • ||

    Amen, Chris.
    I'm still trying to figure out which Reason staffer plays "joe".

  • charlie||

    Gee, how could anyone think Beltway libertarians were sell-outs pushing faux-privatization schemes that benefit the corporate elite?

    Why, could it be the Cato Institutes's shilling for Bush's social security "privatization" that would have simply forced the public to invest in politically-connected Wall Street investment banks?

    Or could it be Reason's pushing for a "privatized" prison industry (http://www.reason.org/corrections/)?

    So many questions...

  • ||

    Voros,

    I trust you believe in the profit motive.

    If the effect of the incentive system isn't just to make libertarians working in the non-profit sector a little less rich, but to make the founts of libertarian thought less effective, less prevalent, and less influential, what would that mean for what libetarianism strives to achieve?

  • ||

    Ah, the Kochtopus finally rears its head!
    Now the fun REALLY begins!

  • ||

    "They say this, but also that the pursuit the ability to pursue profit through economic activity in the market generates is the necessary condition for technological and material advancements that are good for society"

    That's what they say, joe.

  • Episiarch||

    I'm still trying to figure out which Reason staffer plays "joe".

    Let's guess. I say Welch.

  • ||

    Episiarch,

    I'm certain joe is his own man, but following your line of speculation, he's been posting here since at least late 2002. So that would rule out anyone who hasn't been here all that time, which pretty much leaves Gillespie and Jesse Walker.

  • ||

    I say Welch.

    Too much respect for Rand.

  • ||

    "I say Welch."

    Too easy. I'm figuring it's how Moynihan keeps in touch with his liberal side.

  • robc||

    joe,

    I think its important that you remember the 2nd of robc's rules of libertarianism:

    #2: No two libertarians agree on anything.

    Asking "what libertarians believe/hold as principles, etc" and expecting it to apply to anyone beyond the specific person asking is a clear misunderstanding of Rule #2.

  • ||

    robc,

    So, what your saying is, Rich is right, and there really are libertarians who support government favoritism towards corporations?

    I knew it!

    ;-)

  • ||

    libertarian argument that the pursuit of wealth in a market economy > the pursuit of the public good

    This is missing some pieces...

    The (Randian) principled pursuit of wealth in a free economy > (=?) the pursuit of the public good.

    It is very important that a moral component and a non-coercive component be included in an discussion on how individual gain is good for all. Various corporatist actions, particularly those which seek to use coercion to accumulate wealth, are diametrically opposed to the concept of wealth=public good.

    As far as lobbyists goes, those who lobby against government coercion are in line with what I presented above. Those who lobby for government coercion are not practicing Randian (for lack of a better word) principles.

  • robc||

    joe,

    They arent libertarians because they disagree with me.

    Drink!

  • Episiarch||

    Too much respect for Rand.

    That's why it's so brilliant!

  • Orange Line Special||

    One of Radley Balko's dumbest posts yet.

    For an example of Reason "libertarians" supporting corporate welfare, look no further than their continual support for IllegalImmigration. Note that a principled position would be to support OpenMigration but only with a minimized welfare state.

    That's not what Reason does: they support illegal and/or MassiveImmigration knowing that the welfare state will continue.

  • ||

    Nah, if joe was a long-term prank/devil's advocate he'd not only be more consistent (the "laid-back funny" joe vs. "I'll show you filthy libertarians a thing or two!" joe fluctuation) but also almost impossible to goad into profanity-laced invective when proven wrong or backed into a corner. joe's real, he's too annoying not to be. (Annoying in a mostly good way.)

    Me, on the other hand... totally fake.

  • Steven Horwitz||

    Jamie Kelly gets it right above.

    When libertarians, or at least I, say that the pursuit of profit in the market is "good," it's "good" because we are assuming that people, in general, wish to have the material benefits it produces.

    However, libertarianism/free markets could and would work just fine in a world of ascetics who believed in living minimally. It would provide them with what THEY want.

    The real case for markets and liberty is that they forward social coordination, or the ability of people to achieve the ends they wish to achieve, through voluntary social cooperation.

    There are no "economic ends." All economic ends are means to something else. If that "something else" is the simple life, then markets can deliver that too.

  • robc||

    I agree with Steven Horwitz, therefore neither he nor I can be libertarians.

    Drink!

  • Episiarch||

    So Cesar is behind NutraSweet as well? He must be the hardest working man in sockpuppetry!

  • Colin Clout||

    For any civilization to be successful it seems to me that a certain percentage of the population needs to be focused on wealth maximization and this of course requires the freedom to be focused in that way.

  • Fluffy||

    They say this, but also that the pursuit of profit through economic activity in the market generates technological and material advancement that are good for society (though they'd find some other way to express that thought).

    I think they would say that technological and material advancement benefits everyone, but they would definitely not say that this benefit was the moral justification of freedom. And they would probably avoid formulations like "good for society" altogether, since they would say that only individuals can experience benefit or harm, and that therefore the concept of something being good for the collective noun "society" is a non sequitur.

    I think part of the problem is that the discussion here is being framed as "private profit" vs. "public good", and that's not really a very useful dichotomy to use when discussing Objectivism.

    It's not useful because Objectivism doesn't believe that the public good is a concept that makes any sense. It's also not useful because the activity that makes the most money at any given moment in time might not be the same as the activity that is the most moral using Objectivism's highly judgmental ethics. Peter Keating made more profit than Howard Roark for a long, long time, after all.

    Objectivism /= libertarianism, but it's still sitting there as this big gorilla in the room, and virtually everything about it militates against Frank's argument.

  • ||

    Even when "the pursuit of wealth" involves taking a $200k job at a K Street lobbyist? What if the lobby shot that offers you the highest salary works to, I don't know, fill in your own list of horribles here.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that the Kill All Jews And Niggers Lobby isn't very strong and can't offer me a $200K/year job. And if they could, I suspect that the Don't Kill Anyone Lobby would have a stronger counter-offer.

  • ||

    All economic ends are means to something else. If that "something else" is the simple life, then markets can deliver that too.

    It's what gets some of us confused with off-the-grid, communal-living hippies.
    You know the old saying: You CAN be a communist in a capitalist country, but never a capitalist in a communist country.

  • ||

    libertarianism is pro-capitalism...libertarian political theory actually DOES argue that the pursuit of profit through economic activity in the market is GOOD

    Only that is not what capitalism is. Capitalism is private ownership of the factors of production/property. Those owners can then maximize their own utility through whatever means they choose. Accounting profits may or may not matter to them.

  • ||

    One of Radley Balko's dumbest posts yet.

    Apparently, irony is not a fatal disease.

    Seriously, now. Most libertarians think that social approbation is the best way to deal with annoying behavior in the absence of laws. Lonewackoff is not even a troll, he's a spambot advertising his retarded blog. All he does is drive-by insults against the board, the editors, and other commenters. Just as there must be some behind the scenes filtering of "Che@p V1a@ara!" posts, I see nothing "unlibertarian" about banning this idiot.

    To take away the economic incentive of him driving page hits, I urge everyone on this board to never respond, even with an insult, to anything he has to say ever again. I hereby pledge that his idiocy will never result in another page hit on my part.

    (Yes, yes... I could filter, but I don't like doing that. Besides, like all spambots, he changes his screen name to defeat those systems.)

  • ||

    You know, I'm beginning to suspect that joe is not a libertarian. The pack should reject him for breeding purposes.

  • Guy Montag||

    Episiarch,

    I was going to guess Radley, but could not bring myself to believe it, although it would be brilliant if he could play a character so far removed from himself.

    I am guessing that the role of joe was outsourced to The New Republic and has been played by various interns under the close supervision of Lee Siegel, while Mr. Siegel was not under suspension, of course. Outside chance that The Nation is sharing the work, but I think they are the prime contractor 'Mr. Nice Guy'.

  • ||

    I am a self-described libertarian think tank, lobbying myn ass off for a flat tax.

    In actual fact, I am:

    A- a stinking filthy Commie, because I want to do away with the oil depletion allowance, and impose a back-door windfall profits tax on ExxonMobil

    B- a stinking filthy Capitalist tool, who wants to grind the poor into the dirt by disallowing the deduction for charitable contributions.

    You decide...

  • ed||

    No two libertarians agree on anything

    That's why all objectivists are libertarians but not the other way around. Libertarianism has no rigorously defined philosophy. In fact it's more of an anti-philosophy, as in anti-government, anti-authority, etc. It tends to be against more than it's for. That's why it's so appealing to anarchists who cannot comprehend the proper role of government in a free society. And why Radley's "isolated incident" series (ironically titled given the number of warrants served that actually do go bad) is so popular.

  • Guy Montag||

    ed,

    Every libertarian is different, except me, I am the same. But I am not like the bog Ls, they are joiners, I am much more independant.

    BTW, I am socially liberal because I don't care.

  • lunchstealer||

    His big fallacy seems to be this.

    libertarians like the profit motive. Therefore libertarians should dislike not-for-profit ventures. Libertarians do work for non-profits and form non-profits, therefore libertarians are inconsistent.

    His problem is that liking the profit motive does not ipso facto mean disliking motives other than profit.

  • Guy Montag||

    But I am not like the bog BIG Ls,

    oops

    May the spelling Rands have mercy on me.

  • joe||

    but they would definitely not say that this benefit was the moral justification of freedom

    Sure, they don't identify this as "the" moral justificaiton, but they do dwell on it, from a practical point of view.

    And they do like to dump moralistic arguments on people for hindering these advances.

  • ||

    Pro Libertate | May 21, 2008, 2:00pm | #

    You know, I'm beginning to suspect that joe is not a libertarian. The pack should reject him for breeding purposes.


    What red spot on my feathers? I don't have any red spot on my feathers.

    Get away from me!

  • Guy Montag||

    lunchstealer,

    That Radicals for Capitalism writer fellow (I hear he is popular at reason) talks about that in his C-SPAN interview from a few months ago.

  • ||

    Pro Libertate,
    Get your pecker of joe's red spot.

  • ||

    OFF ... fuck!

  • Guy Montag||

    I have yet to hear or read any self-identified l/Libertarian give any grief to anybody, or the notion of, providing services without monitary compensation. Never Ever!

    Lots of raising hell about people being forced or coerced into the above, but never for doing it for whatever reason they like.

    Have never heard that from the true Objectivists either.

    The only time I hear these things is from the folks who are non l/L or O as accusations and bad premises for scripted 'arguments'.

  • ||

    Jamie,

    Normally formulated as "Fuck OFF!" but I salute your inventiveness.

  • Jesse Walker||

    For an example of Reason "libertarians" supporting corporate welfare, look no further than their continual support for IllegalImmigration.

    Yes: If you redefine "corporate welfare" to mean "freedom of movement and freedom of contract," then Reason supports corporate welfare. Also, if you redefine "the Gulag" to mean "ice cream," most of us will have to admit that the Gulag is swell.

  • ||

    Jesse Walker,

    you


    are


    the


    threadwinner!

  • ||

    OT for Epi (and other lovers of fine cinema),

    Those damn bastards.

  • Guy Montag||

    I second the Jamie Kelly pronouncement.

  • Episiarch||

    Oh for fuck's sake NutraSweet.

    Actually I don't care that much. Highlander is a not-too-well constructed movie that is fucking awesome when you're 14. See also: Red Dawn and Porky's.

  • Guy Montag||

    E,

    It is still awsome and I am, like, totally old now.

  • Guy Montag||

    SOOOOOOOooooooo, now that we have dispensed with the obligatory 'discuss the topic' nonsense, can we get on to the real purpose of every thread on H&R?

  • ||

    Episiarch,

    I object. I still like Highlander but think that Red Dawn sucked back then and sucks now and that Porky's is silly.

    This is not to say that the Highlander sequels weren't god awful. They were and they are.

  • ||

    Red Dawn = worst first date movie ever. She never spoke to me again.

    The other was Robocop which really only contributed to it being the worst date ever (she also never spoke to me again, but at least she didn't go to the same high school with me.)

    ***Friday Open Thread: Worst Date Ever***

    I acknowledge all its flaws, but I still love Highlander. It's my 2nd favorite hungover movie, the first being the incomparable Conan the Barbarian.

    Episiarch! What is best in life?

  • Episiarch||

    How old were you when Red Dawn came out, ProL? You needed to be between probably 10 and 17 to really dig it.

  • Guy Montag||

    PL,

    Okay, okay okay and I still like Red Dawn, but let's get back to the task at hand.

  • Episiarch||

    To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women!

  • Guy Montag||

    HEY!

    Okay, worst date ever is getting close. Have you forgotten what we are supposed to be doing now?

  • Episiarch||

    You seem to go on a lot of worst dates ever, NutraSweet. Maybe you should try dating men, or your mom.

  • Guy Montag||

    Ugh!

  • ||

    Red Dawn was released 10 August 1984. I had been 14 for 20 days and had read all of Heinlein to that point, all of the Mack Bolan Executioners, all of The Destroyer novels. I thought the movie was awesome and often fantasized about having a girlfriend proficient with small arms and an RPG ala Lea Thompson.

    I grew out of it before I fucked up my life by joining the military. (Authority and I don't play well.)

  • joe||

    800,000? I thought there were a billion screaming Chinamen.

  • ||

    ***Friday Open Thread: Worst Date Ever***

    "E.T."
    I was in eighth grade, got me some sweet tit-grab during that flick. I don't even rememeber the movie.
    "Porky's" -- taught me splooge-ability.
    "Red Dawn" -- even back then, when I was 16, I thought it was fucking stupid.
    WOLVERIIIIIINES!
    "AVENGE ME!!!!" screamed by the dad from Pretty in Pink. WTF?

  • ||

    Eight hundred thousand?

    I thought there were a billion screaming Chinamen.

  • ||

    Er, million.

  • dhex||

    red dawn is still amazing. anyone who thinks otherwise needs to be put down with a hearty cry of "WOLVERINES!"

  • ||

    No, no Epi. RD was worst first date movie (relative to the girl I bought.) RB was just the movie of my worst date ever. Maybe you should keep notes if you aren't going to pay attention.

    Maybe you should try dating men

    Wow. If you hit on me any harder, it'd leave a bruise. For the last time: NO MEANS NO!

  • Guy Montag||

    Worst date ever:

    A SSG I met during a 2 week exercise agreed to travel, by train, from up-State NY to Arlington, VA to visit me for the weekend at a fine hotel while I was performing my Annual Training duty there.

    It was a nightmare.

    She was hot but dressed horribly in civilian clothes. Was cussing like a sailor, yes a soldier cussing like a sailor!! in front of the children of my fellow Embassy Suites guests, and everybody else we met along the way. Could not keep the names of the memorials/monuments straight, as if she had never seen them in a book (perhaps books are illegal in the North? idunno), plus was amazed that the Washington Monument "switched sides of the train" as we rode the METRO to downtown DC.

    At the Hardrock Cafe, she could not distinguish the difference between a cover and an original on the "background" music in the place and would have a fit about who was singing.

    Not only was it a horrible date, but I felt extra bad since it took her over 12 hours to get there and the same to go back.

    There, happy? Now, let's get down to business.

  • Guy Montag||

    ACK! Alexendria, VA, not Arlington.

  • Elemenope||

    You CAN be a communist in a capitalist country [except in the USA during the '20s, '50s or '70s], but never a capitalist in a communist country [except China].

    An excellent saying. I'll have to remember that one.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Frank doesn't have much of a point, but I don't think Radley characterizes it very well. The "useful idiot" meme is closer to the mark, but even that seems off.

    Franks seems to be saying that libertarian ideals do not protect you from being exploited by anti-libertarian forces who seek government favor. And that the self-justification for allowing yourself to be exploited in that way is the libertarian idea that you are not being exploited, but are freely choosing for you own self-interest.

    Or something.

  • Episiarch||

    Wow. If you hit on me any harder, it'd leave a bruise. For the last time: NO MEANS NO!

    Don't crush my hopes dude!

    Unfortunately I don't have any bad date stories as I was more a "pick up chicks at parties" type. Don't need to pay for dinner or anything else and you're more likely to get laid.

  • Guy Montag||

    Now, about finding me a girlfriend who can weld . . .

    HINT HINT

  • Neu Mejican||

    You CAN be a communist in a capitalist country ..., but never or a capitalist in a communist country.

    ...as long as you have political freedom/power.

  • ||

    Worst date: drove halfway to Delara's house, forgot the directions, called her, relayed where I'd gone, only to be told "That sounds like how you get to Kendra's house."

    Oops.

    Never tried to juggle again.

  • Colin Clout||

    What was the point of the Soviet soldiers attacking the school?

  • Mike Laursen||

    Apparently, Jesse Walker doesn't understand the principles of libertarianism very well, either, because he just made exactly the same argument.

    Geez, it's one thing when joe gets all snotty with we mere Hit & Run commenters. It's kinda sad to see the actual Hit & Run posters stooping to respond to joe when he gets this way.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Red Dawn = worst first date movie ever.

    Hands down the worst date movie ever is The Accused

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Accused_%281988_film%29

    I know a guy who took a girl to it on their first date

  • ||

    Episiarch,

    It was released when I was 17, but I probably didn't see it until I was 18. I thought it was totally stupid at the time and remain of that opinion.

    Conan, on the other hand, kicked major ass. Watch it now--it's actually a good movie. Too bad the plans for a third film got tabled. Damn Gray Davis!

  • ||

    What was the point of the Soviet soldiers attacking the school?

    Don't you mean the teachers' union?

  • Guy Montag||

    What was the point of the Soviet soldiers attacking the school?

    Was Soviet and Cuban paratroopers. Appeared to be the closest thing for them to attack on the way to their objective since they landed right by the school.

    Was close to the scene of a pistol being pulled from the cold, dead hand of a guy right under his cold, dead hand bumpersticker.

  • ||

    Hands down the worst date movie ever is The Accused

    Well, unless your girlfriend likes being gang-raped. Don't ASSUME, because you make a SUM out of ASE.

  • Guy Montag||

    Worst date movie ever: Deathtrap

  • ||

    "let it turn, let it turn..."
    Patrick Swayze can suck my veiny dick. That line was so fucking cheesy.

  • ||

    You don't think the libertarian argument that the pursuit of wealth in a market economy > the pursuit of the public good

    The libertarian argument would be more along the lines of: pursuit of wealth in a market economy = the pursuit of the public good

    Except that libertarians define "public good" as "increasing the happiness and liberty of the citizenry, based on each citizen's assessment of happiness and liberty"

    While liberals define "public good" as "using government coercion to do things to favored political classes that the liberal thinks will benefit said classes, without necessarily consulting said classes"

    Obviously, the equation with the equal sign in it doesn't compute if you use the latter definition.

  • ||

    prolefeed,
    What are you talking about?

  • ||

    oh, right ...

  • ||

    No, worst first date movie ever is Dead Ringers. It stars Jeremy Irons who plays a double role as a pair of identical twin sadistic gynocologists. No kidding.

  • Guy Montag||

    prolefeed,

    The phrase "With an Iron Fist We will bring Happiness to the World" could be the next liberal catchphrase?

  • ||

    Worst Date Ever

    First mistake was a common one. I took out a friend of the girl I was actually interested in. And even though it wasn't a completely blind date set up by the friend, I hadn't actually met the girl but a few times and never spoke to her. I pick her at at the friend's house and I presented with a sullen goth girl who called herself "Jinx." Much less attractive than I originally thought when I got close enough to see through the make-up. She was immediately turned off by the pick-up truck I was driving.

    We went to dinner somewhere (I have been racking my brains for years to remember where) and then went to a movie. She refused to talk most of the time, maybe 25 words over dinner only after I began treating her like a hostile witness in court. I'm being nice and polite, kneejerk responses to unhappy women from dealing with my manic-depressive mother. At the movies, she refuses to tell me anything she would actually like to see and I settle on Robocop as something nice and noisy to pass the time until I could get her home. She walks out about half-way through and glares at me in the parking lot until I get her to admit she wanted to go home.

    The windows are down in the truck and we are taking a dark riverside road to take her home. A bat flies in through her open window and the forward motion of the truck breaks its neck on the back window. The bat falls dead directly into her lap. She begins to scream and bucks to get the bat out of her lap. I slam on the brakes and skid to a stop. I get her to tell me what's happened and we look for the bat, but can't find it. This bat is all my fault and my politeness has drained away. I drive faster and faster to get her home and away from me. Near her house and under streetlights, I see her holding the bat up by its wingtips and making it bounce around and dance.

    When I dropped her off, she took the bat with her.

  • Fluffy||

    I always justified the paratroopers at the school this way:

    It's a mountainous area. The paratroopers are trying to seize nearby passes. They need a flat landing zone, and the school playing field is very useful for that. They're securing the area to bring in gliders to land on the soccer field. That means they have to shoot whatever they see until no one is around and the area is secured.

    I know, it's BS. But hey, it's just a silly fun movie.

    And I actually think Porky's is pretty socially and historically aware for a film from that particular genre.

  • Episiarch||

    Worst date: drove halfway to Delara's house, forgot the directions, called her, relayed where I'd gone, only to be told "That sounds like how you get to Kendra's house."

    joe, if you're going to lie, make up better chick names. I recommend "Barbie" and "Carmen".

  • ||

    John,

    Wow, you might be right. "Gynecological Tools For Mutant Women" is not a scene that's going to get a lot of guys laid.

  • robc||

    Guy may have the winner.

    The Fly (Jeff Goldblum version) doesnt work out too well.

  • ||

    Thomas Frank is the idiot who wrote the book What's the Matter with Kansas?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What%27s_the_Matter_with_Kansas%3F

    His basic thesis is that small government types are fools who don't realize that their best interest lies in ever expanding government and taxation.

  • ||

    By the way, Conan for the 360 sucks donkey balls.

  • Episiarch||

    One need not justify the paratroopers; after all, their only purpose was as a shock at how merciless the enemy was. Don't look for logic, look for Milius' excellent ability to push your buttons.

    Note that two of the movies we are talking about here were written and directed by John Milius.

  • ||

    Worst date movie ever:

    "The English Patient."

    A girl I asked out insisted that I take her. I later dumped her body in the woods.

  • ||

    John Milius is also one or the creators of Rome, which kicks ass.

  • ||

    I later dumped her body in the woods.

    So did you like the movie or not?

  • robc||

    I was 16 when Highlander came out, probably 17 by the time I saw it.

    The directors cut on the DVD makes a little more sense than the original cut. The nazi scene is helpful.

  • Guy Montag||

    The windows are down in the truck and we are taking a dark riverside road to take her home. A bat flies in through her open window and the forward motion of the truck breaks its neck on the back window. The bat falls dead directly into her lap. She begins to scream and bucks to get the bat out of her lap.

    The only thing worse than a goth is someone posing as a goth!

    She was immediately turned off by the pick-up truck I was driving.

    Could you see if she was a cutter? She might have gotten more interesting if you offered to drag her behind it.

    Red Dawn note: In reality, the paratroopers were at the school because some hollywood writer wanted them to look rough and tough.

  • Guy Montag||

    My beloved Nancy begged and beged me to take her to Beautiful Mind, and then proceded to sleep through half of it. She still made a good breakfast the next morning.

  • ||

    So did you like the movie or not?

    Not bad. Not bad at all. A little long.

  • robc||

    Cool, was bouncing around imdb just now and noticed a friend of mine from college is a stunt double in the new Indiana Jones movie.

  • ||

    ... A Beautiful Mind

    Worst Hollywoodification of a book ever. The guy liked ass sex with other men, and saw spaceships and shit, not a kid, a roommate and a government agent.

  • Episiarch||

    No, worst first date movie ever is Dead Ringers. It stars Jeremy Irons who plays a double role as a pair of identical twin sadistic gynocologists. No kidding.

    I was involved with a girl who got turned on by Dead Ringers. Make of that what you will.

  • T||

    Epi,

    Yes, that's the canonical answer, but within the context of the movie I'd have to say Sandahl Bergman in a leather bikini.

  • Colin Clout||

    Jamie Kelly,

    The movie is good, but I liked the book better (I'm referring to The English Patient).

  • ||

    Although the best scene in the movie is a dead tie between him punching out a camel and the recipe for naked girl soup.

  • lunchstealer||

    Eraserhead is also a bad first date movie. Save that for the occasion of your firstborn.

  • ||

    I like listening to and reading David Brooks, but could he have any less understanding of the historical basis of the Republic?

  • ||

    Make of that what you will.

    Really? That's it? That's all you going to give us?

    Hrump.

  • ||

    Although the best scene in the movie is a dead tie between him punching out a camel and the recipe for naked girl soup.



    Wait a minute. I don't remember anything like that in The English Patient.

  • lunchstealer||

    Although the best scene in the movie is a dead tie between him punching out a camel and the recipe for naked girl soup.

    Yeah, that probably was the best part of The English Patient.

  • lunchstealer||

    DAMN YOU BARTRAM!

  • ||

    Isaac,

    You probably nodded off.

  • lunchstealer||

    Make of that what you will.

    This? Why, I can make a hat or a brooch or a pterodactyl...

  • Guy Montag||

    The guy liked ass sex with other men,

    That turned out to be completly false you know.

  • Episiarch||

    The English Patient was fucking awful and Kristin Scott Thomas has a totally shitty body and a huge untrimmed bush.

  • ||

    a huge untrimmed bush

    In 3D they could market it as a horror film.

  • Colin Clout||

    Guy Montag,

    Some comments at Slate about A Beautiful Mind.

  • T||

    Yeah, that probably was the best part of The English Patient.

    Shit, I may have to watch The English Patient now. I thought it was some weepy chick flick, but if it's got camel punching and naked chick soup, I'm there.

    And I bet you can't make a pterodactyl out of that. But if you do, I'll take one.

  • Colin Clout||

    Episiarch,

    What did you dislike about the film exactly?

  • Episiarch||

    In 3D they could market it as a horror film.

    Scary Movie (the first one) already covered this.

    Shit, I may have to watch The English Patient now. I thought it was some weepy chick flick, but if it's got camel punching and naked chick soup, I'm there.

    Don't be a fool. Note my above comment regarding the naked chick, and the rest of the movie is fucking awful, all "oh noes I'm cheating on my shitty spouse with someone barely less shitty and I'm so wracked with angst over it".

    Do yourself a favor and hit yourself in the head with a hammer instead.

  • Episiarch||

    What did you dislike about the film exactly?

    It's one of our now-common "tragic" romances where the tragedy is totally manufactured, the characters are pieces of shit yet you are supposed to care about them, and the situations they get themselves in that makes their "love" difficult are so contrived that they make 24 look natural.

  • Guy Montag||

    Some comments at Slate about A Beautiful Mind.

    Oh, but of course, Slate is where I go when I am seeking truthieness. How could I have forgotten?

  • ||

    Epi,

    Did you wish you had gone and seen Sack Lunch instead?

  • ||

    Do yourself a favor and hit yourself in the head with a hammer instead.

    But Epi, doing that and watching "The English Patient" both feel good when you stop.

  • Colin Clout||

    Episiarch,

    Which romance are you referring to? That between Almasy and Catherine or Kip and Hanna? I don't find it implausible that Kip and Hanna could be involved in a romantic relationship.

  • Guy Montag||

    The Story of Us was most certainly the top of the list of movies that I saw ONLY due to the coersion of a woman.

    They even made Michelle Pheifer look crappy!

  • Colin Clout||

    Guy Montag,

    Well, where is your source?

  • Guy Montag||

    I saw the man interviewed and I believe his explaination.

  • ||

    I still say hairy ass sex, Guy.
    But then again, I wasn't there.
    Gladly.

  • Episiarch||

    Did you wish you had gone and seen Sack Lunch instead?

    You had better be making a testicles joke because there's no movie by that name in IMDB.

    And I would never watch slop like TEP in the theater. I only go to the theater for things like Bubba Ho-tep and Ginger Snaps.

  • Colin Clout||

    Guy Montag,

    BTW, the Slate article includes quotations from the Nasar biography of Nash.

  • Guy Montag||

    JK,

    You have your fantasies for you and I will keep mine male-free-except-for-me :)

  • Episiarch||

    Which romance are you referring to? That between Almasy and Catherine or Kip and Hanna? I don't find it implausible that Kip and Hanna could be involved in a romantic relationship.

    Are you seriously expecting me to remember the names of people from a movie I hated from quite a few years ago?

    You know what I remember? Hating it.

  • Guy Montag||

    CC,

    Was that a finger-snap with a flourish I just heard across the intertubes?

  • Not A Pedophile||

    huge untrimmed bush

    In 3D they could market it as a horror film.


    What, are you guys pedophiles or something?

    I can't remember which English writer it was that remained a virgin until death after seeing an actual naked women and realizing that the hairless paintings and statues he adored were not accurate representations of the fairer sex's sex.

  • Colin Clout||

    Episiarch,

    Yeah, I guess I am. :)

    Almasy was the Hungarian count. Catherine was his mistress. Kip was the Indian sapper. Hanna was the Canadian nurse. Caravaggio was the Canadian thief/spy.

  • Guy Montag||

    Episiarch,

    Ugh! Don't you hate that? In a bar we were talking about Streets of Fire, I had only seen a little bit of it years earlier, did not hate it but did not see much (liked the theme song and video), so one of the goofballs starts quizzing me on the "meaning" of the movie! How the hell am I supposed to knwo the "meaning" of a movie I did not watch much of!

  • Guy Montag||

    CC,

    Yea, must have been the finger snap thing judging from that 4:09pm comment :)

  • ||

    The only thing I remember about Conan is laughing my ass off all through some "fight" scene in a hall of mirrors, or some such thing.

  • Colin Clout||

    Episiarch,

    Anyway, sorry if I offended. They are just works I got/get a lot of enjoyment from and was curious why you didn't like the movie. Each to their own.

  • Colin Clout||

    Guy Montag,

    No finger snapping from this end. There was something of a grin however.

  • ||

    Not A Pedophile,

    If you're kidding, please ignore the rest of this message.

    Fuck you. Not wanting a bicycle-seat sized tuft of sweaty pubic hair in your face has nothing to do with pedophilia. Fuck you. Hair is an optional and removable secondary sexual characteristic. Fuck you. By your logic, any woman (or man) not attracted to bearded men actually wants to fuck little boys. Fuck you. I am so sick of this fucking argument. Fuck you.

  • ||

    Epi,

    Sack Lunch

    Not a scrotum reference, a Seinfeld reference.

    "Do you think the sack is really big or they are really small?"

  • ||

    Count me as one of those libertarians who works for a non-profit. I have been convinced for over a decade now that I must be the lowest-earning member of my law school class (must check what the Gov. of Michigan makes, though). Oddly, as my classmate's earnings have pulled away from mine, I haven't become envious (I know what they sacrifice for those partnership shares), I've become more libertarian.

  • Episiarch||

    Fuck you. Not wanting a bicycle-seat sized tuft of sweaty pubic hair in your face has nothing to do with pedophilia. Fuck you. Hair is an optional and removable secondary sexual characteristic. Fuck you. By your logic, any woman (or man) not attracted to bearded men actually wants to fuck little boys. Fuck you. I am so sick of this fucking argument. Fuck you.

    He just has Hirsutophilia, ignore him.

  • ||

    Not wanting a bicycle-seat sized tuft of sweaty pubic hair in your face has nothing to do with pedophilia.

    the science says otherwise

  • ||

    Priapus,

    I don't criticize you for drinking your mother's cunt snot, so can we just live and let live?

  • Episiarch||

    the science says otherwise

    O Rly?

    Have you seen Bubba Ho-tep, NutraSweet?

  • ||

    You better believe it. I've been a Campbell man since seeing Evil Dead at 11.

    Saw Evil Dead II at the drive-in on a first date with my long-term high school girlfriend. She loved it right off and love was in the marijuana-smoked filled air. It was the night I invented The Piledriver: Pour two Bartle and Jaymes orange wine cooler and 6 ounces of vodka over crushed ice in a Big Gulp 7-11 cup. Mix to combine and apologize to your liver. (I was 17 and hearty of constitution.)

  • ||

    By the way, we hit 300 comments! Woo!

  • ||

    RC.

    Did you go to law school with the governor of Michigan Ms. Granhohm? Was she as hot in law school as she is now? Do you know anyone who got into her pants? Any good stories about her? You know the drunken law school, I can't beleive she did that variety?

  • ||

    My most interesting date movie (not necessarily good or bad): The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. My date really liked the movie, incidentally.

  • ||

    John,

    She's okay, I guess. But she's no Sarah Palin.

  • ||

    I'm saving myself for a girl capable of comprehending that The Loved One is one of the five best movies ever made.

  • charlie||

    Not a Pedophile --

    You do realize the average commenter here is 14 years old and just finished their first Rand novel (which totally rawked! btw). I doubt most here have seen a naked woman, much less would know what to do with one.

    I mean, for god's sake, half the thread here devolve into talking about Kerry Howley's tits or debating which state has the hottest governor.

  • Rice Bingham||

    Worst date movie?

    The Candy Tangerine Man

  • ||

    charlie,

    You'd be wrong.

  • Episiarch||

    Wow, thankfully serial leftist charlie is here to tell us about women. Do real women smell like poorly mimeographed socialist newsletters, charlie?

  • Rice Bingham||

    I recomend it highly, never the less.

  • charlie||

    "Serial leftist"? Is that kind of like "serial masturbator", Episiarch?

    And to answer your question: no. In fact, your mother smells a bit like cabbage.

  • ||

    I'm saving myself for a girl capable of comprehending that The Loved One is one of the five best movies ever made.

    Great book too, but not as funny as Sword of Honour.

  • ||

    Ah, yes. The "real men aren't afraid of pubic hair" argument.

    It's not fear, just aesthetics, but while we're on the subject... Pubic hair hides a woman's genitals from sight; trimming, waxing or shaving allows you a clear view of the genitals. Whose afraid again? Is it the people who want to see the vulva or is it the ones who don't want to see the vulva?

    You don't have to answer, charlie, you may go back to squatting over a mirror and admiring your own asshole.

  • Not a pedophile||

    Fuck you. Not wanting a bicycle-seat sized tuft of sweaty pubic hair in your face has nothing to do with pedophilia. Fuck you. Hair is an optional and removable secondary sexual characteristic. Fuck you. By your logic, any woman (or man) not attracted to bearded men actually wants to fuck little boys. Fuck you. I am so sick of this fucking argument. Fuck you.

    Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

  • Not a Pedant||

    It is...

    "The lady doth protest too much, methinks"

    Sheesh!

  • Question||

    is it just me or does all this talk about the "aesthetics" of a woman's vulva sound a little... faggy?

  • ||

    Did you go to law school with the governor of Michigan Ms. Granhohm?

    Yes, I did.

    Was she as hot in law school as she is now?

    Hotter. Arguably the best looking law student the entire time I was there. Only one or two others in my class were even in the running.

    Do you know anyone who got into her pants? Any good stories about her? You know the drunken law school, I can't beleive she did that variety?

    Not a one. She came off as kind of an ice queen, and even in my degenerate law school circle no one claimed to have bagged her. We were mostly after undergrads, anyway. They swarmed into the law school on weekends, looking for soon-to-be-rich husbands. Suckers!

  • Urkobold™||

    THE URKOBOLD IS CONFUSED. WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE? DO HUMAN PENISES HAVE LITTLE EYEBALLS IN THEM?

  • Neu Mejican||

    My most interesting date movie (not necessarily good or bad): The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. My date really liked the movie, incidentally.

    I love Peter Greenaway.

    He did make a movie that rivals "The Accused" as bad date fare:

    The Baby of Macon...

    The "raped to death" scene is harsh, to say the least, despite the stunning cinematography.

    Sugarfree,
    Bubba-Ho-Tep is the best Elvis fighting Mummies movie I have seen.

    Did you see "Wild Zero?"
    It is the best Japanese Rock-n-Roll Zombie film about sociosexual tolerance around, and has both Guitar Wolf and a deadly drinking game...

    And since we are talking sociosexual tolerance...do you shave your genitals for the aesthetic effect?

  • Neu Mejican||

    And speaking of "aesthetics" of a woman's vulva"

    I have a one-word response:

    Stubble.

  • ||

    Neu Mejican,

    On occasion, but my current partner doesn't care one way or the other.

    No on, Wild Zero. I'll keep an eye out.

  • ||

    DO HUMAN PENISES HAVE LITTLE EYEBALLS IN THEM?

    Urky, if I have to explain, you'll never understand...

  • ||

    Re: Stubble

    It doesn't have to be an airstrike, even a trimming is appreciated.

    OK, I'm off to make dinner. Chimichurri Chicken Pizza. If it works out, I'll post the recipe.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Wild Zero clip:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzhLjDZtnn8

    The drinking game works like this (deadly even in this short of a clip...

    Drink when

    Some one says "rock and roll"
    A zombie head blows up
    Something catches fire.

  • Neu Mejican||

    More complete rules:

    The DVD also features a drinking game. A pint glass appears whenever a character drinks, says "Rock 'n Roll," or combs their hair, or when a head explodes, something else explodes, or fire shoots out of something. Again, what more could you ask for?

  • Episiarch||

    And to answer your question: no. In fact, your mother smells a bit like cabbage.

    That's because she's dead, necrophiliac.

    Neu, I heard about Wild Zero years ago and it sounded fucking awesome, but I couldn't find it at the time anywhere (even at Kim's Video in the East Village). If it is out on DVD now, I am psyched.

  • Episiarch||

    Just added it to my Netflix queue. Thanks for reminding me of that, Neu.

  • ||

    "Beltway libertarians" = "poser libertarians"?
    "Beltway libertarians" = "strawman libertarians"?

    Just wondering, because I see few libertarians within the Beltway, but a lot of those posers or strawmen. Maybe it's just hard for Thomas Frank to tell the difference.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Episiarch,

    No problem.

    Wild Zero is Repo Man for the 21st century...and although it doesn't have anyone as cool as Harry Dean Stanton it has the lack of Emilio Estevez going for it.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Re: (even at Kim's Video in the East Village)

    How odd that it was readily available in Albuquerque, but not NYC.

    Of course Albuquerque has a pretty active (if small) underground film community:

    http://www.basementfilms.org/
    http://www.guildcinema.com/
    http://www.imdb.com/Sections/Awards/Albuquerque_Flicks_on_66_Film_Festival/

    Too bad Alphaville video has closed its doors.
    http://www.alphavillevideo.com/

  • Brandybuck||

    DO HUMAN PENISES HAVE LITTLE EYEBALLS IN THEM?

    No, but human faces do. Mmmphmmfmmm...

  • ||

    Candy Tangerine Man?

    Hmmm... Looks like it might be cool, but the best of those 70's pimp movies has to be Willie Dynamite. How can you not love a movie where the role of the ruthless, cold blooded pimp is played by Gordon from sesame street?

  • Fluffy||

    Charlie -

    I have completely the opposite impression. This place is so full of internet greybeards they should call it alt.reason. They should require that everyone post on a Pentium III. They should only accept AOL or Compuserve email addys. There are more fossils here than in a petrified forest.

  • ||

    They should require that everyone post on a Pentium III.

    You might be surprised how well a Pentium III will run, once you convert to Linuxtarianism.

  • robc||

    P Brooks, Fluffy,

    I just took a firewall out of commission at home, it was still running fine, but I was doing some upgrading, so it was time for it to go. It was linux running on a 486.

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