"I would let people gamble on the Internet," Frank said. "I would let adults smoke marijuana; I would let adults do a lot of things, if they choose."
He added: "But allowing them total freedom to take on economic obligations that spill over into the broader society? The individual is not the only one impacted here, when bad decisions get made in the economic sphere, it causes problems."
Frank is nothing less than a trickster figure in American politics, especially for us libertarians who believe that economic and civil liberties are conjoined at the hip, the Chang and Eng of what makes this miserable world worth suffering through. As the comment above suggests, Frank is as good as it gets on most lifestyle issues (indeed, he even had Reason's Radley Balko testify about repealing online gambling bans) and yet he's a real lummox when it comes to economic freedom. His role in the banking and housing crisis is genuinely godawful. Not only did he strongarm mortgage companies to extend more and more credit to shakier and shakier customers, he did so all while denying anything was amiss at the government-sponsored behemoths Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that literally underwrote the mortgage mess.
And Frank's at his worst again, now pushing The Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2009, which critics charge would vastly increase the level of complexity in lending and make it more difficult for low-income borrowers and others to get access to credit.
Frank is not nonplussed by that sort of chatter, or the very idea that all liberties should be considered indivisible.
CNSNews.com asked Frank ... whether Frank's proposal might undercut personal responsibility and the freedom of individuals to make decisions.
"We're not just talking individual responsibility," Rep. Frank answered. "We have a world-wide economic crisis now, because of this. If it were purely individual responsibility, OK, that's why I disagree with the ranking member."
That, of course, is an argument constantly thrown against drug-taking and gambling (what about the children of addicts, etc.).
If we do in fact have a worldwide economic crisis (as opposed to a recession), it's clearly less because of a surfeit of "total freedom to take on economic obligations" by individuals and more about governments' inability either to leave markets alone in the first place or step aside when bad actors have to pay their own bills (including governments!).
If only Barney Frank and others like him in Congress would think their positions through a bit more and arrive at a consistent, and consistently libertarian, POV when it comes to recognizing that the right to smoke pot or play online strip poker means precious little without the economic freedom that helps you earn the money to buy pot or wager. If only...
In the meantime, here's Meatloaf ripping "Like a Bat Out of Hell" circa 1977, a simpler time when the Misery Index was busting out all over like, well, Meatloaf from his jeans: