Frank Rich's Connect-the-dots Errors, and Our Very Own "Libertarian Whore"

New York Times conspiracist Frank Rich had a column over the weekend positioning the Christine O'Donnells of the world as "useful idiots" providing "populist cover" for shadowy billionaires, especially the Koch family, who are cashing in on anti-government sentiment they themselves don't believe in, in order to stage a political "coup." Excerpt:

In fact, local chapters of Tea Party Patriots routinely received early training and support from FreedomWorks, the moneyed libertarian outfit run by the former Republican House majority leader and corporate lobbyist Dick Armey. FreedomWorks is itself a spinoff from Citizens for a Sound Economy, a pseudo-grassroots group whose links to the billionaire Koch brothers were traced by Jane Mayer in her blockbuster August exposé in The New Yorker. [...]

However much these corporate contributors may share the Tea Party minions' antipathy toward President Obama, their economic interests hardly overlap. The rank and file Tea Partiers say they oppose government spending and deficits. The billionaires have no problem with federal spending as long as the pork is corporate pork. They, like most Republican leaders in 2008, supported the Bush administration's Wall Street bailout. [...]

But while these billionaires' selfish interests are in conflict with the Tea Party's agenda, they are in complete sync with the G.O.P.'s Washington leadership. The Republicans' new "Pledge to America" promises the $3.8 trillion addition to the deficit and says nothing about serious budget cuts or governmental reforms that might remotely offset it. Surfing the Beltway talk shows last Sunday, you couldn't find one without a G.O.P. politician adamantly refusing to specify a single program he might cut at, say, the Department of Education (Pell grants?) or the National Institutes of Health (cancer research?).

This is the problem with connect-the-dots political journamalism: Aside from producing errors of fact, it gets in the way of a more interesting story.

FreedomWorks opposed TARP in real time (right here at Reason, among other places). And while my Google searching skillz were unable to unearth definitive evidence about the TARP views of David Koch (who sits on The Reason Foundation's Board of Trustees), the most important Washington institutions the Kochs helped found–Cato, the Mercatus Center–have produced voluminous anti-TARP material, as (of course) have we. You can find lengthy lists of real-world government cuts both in Reason's current 3-D issue and at Cato's DownsizingGovernment.org. As Ira Stoll noted in August,

[A] lot of Koch-backed institutions would be more accurately characterized as pro-individual or pro-small-government than as "pro-corporate." These think thanks and professors and groups were criticizing ObamaCare when the drug companies were backing it, criticizing TARP when the investment banks were backing it, criticizing the auto bailout when GM and Chrysler were begging for it, criticizing "clean energy" subsidies when GE and Ford were begging for them.

Rich is coming close to identifying the outlines of a genuinely interesting set of paradoxes. The "Pledge to America" is, as Jacob Sullum demonstrated last week to devastating effect, embarrassingly thin and unconvincing when it comes to trimming the sails of runaway government. The GOP establishment is trying desperately to co-opt a movement that is much more focused in its government-cutting than professionalized Republicans have been for a generation. But acknowledging that several arms of the mythical Kochtopus have been, and continue to be, wailing away at the Republican Party mucks up the crowd-pleasing narrative that a billionaire family is trying to deliver a GOP election in order to maximize corporate welfare for themselves and their Wall Street co-conspirators.

Speaking of crowd-pleasing conspiracy theories, Nation contributor and professional lesser half of Matt Taibbi Mark Ames went postal over the weekend on the work and universe of Reason contributor Will Wilkinson. This will give you the flavor:

[F]or him, the destruction of the middle-class to enrich the billionaire class was just another event, another opportunity to prove to Master Koch that "W.W." belonged inside the plantation mansion–in the butler's quarters–and not out there in the miserable slave cabins with the rest of us parasites.

The Kochs have been passing around their libertarian whore Wilksinson [sic] for awhile now, and getting a lot of mileage out of their investment[.]

This is the quality of analysis currently drawing applause from the reality-based community.

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  • ||

    I guess if you completely discard the fact that the congressional phone banks caught on fire during TARP you could say Tea Party types supported it.

  • Warty||

    Naturally, I did the exact wrong thing and clicked the headline, which brought me to an Economist article titled, “The Inequality Myth: Is Rising Inequality in America Exaggerated?” It was an oddly meat-headed headline for The Economist–usually that magazine’s formula is to zap the reader with somewhat more nuanced right-wing shock value, counteracted with elitist irony and know-it-all charm. Not this time:

    Apparently it's possible to believe that The Economist is right-wing. Who knew?

  • Brett L||

    They do, on occasion, diasgree with Nobel Prize winner Pauly Krugnuts, so they are obviously right-wing fellow travelers.

  • ||

    Since articles and editorials in The Economist generally favor free markets and free trade it is unsurprising that "Progressives" find it right-wing.

    Since articles and editorials in The Economist generally support a high level of social and personal freedom it is unsurprising that "Conservatives" find it left-wing.

  • ||

    The Economist has always been "Liberal" in UK terms, i.e. Center-right in US terms. They tend to be leftish on social issues and rightish on economic issues - which would make them soft libertarian in many ways.

  • ||

    You're all reading the quote wrong.

    He's saying they use a right-wing headline for shock value (to their centerist/liberal readership)then, unlike this article, they counter that statement with "elitist irony and know-it-all charm" in the text body that is actually quasi-liberal.

    That does not mean he's calling the economist right-wing. He's calling them middlebrow tradesmen of the uninterestesting.

    Liberals love to be shocked by a seemingly right-wing idea and then soothed with a flippant analysis. It makes them think they're not like all those 'soft' liberals, because they "read this article, that like seemed totally right wing, and you know, there was actually a little nugget of truth in there that I took away". No, they're not soft, they're the 'hard' liberal that'll back right-wing ideas if they have merit... all to escape labels and broad ideological frameworks that might commit them acting on their beleifs eventually.

  • Warty||

    Also, the comments over there are flabbergasting.

    So, neoliberalism is the order of the day, there is no alternative voice in mainstream politics.

    So, Libertarianism seems to be a third neoliberal choice, no different than the other two. Maybe more honest and open about it. Obama would have us believe that turning schools into profit streams for Wall Street and crushing the teacher’s union isn’t about turning the school’s over to Wall Street and crushing the teacher’s union. Libertarians will openly say, “Well, there should only be private schools, and unions shouldn’t exist.” It’s a kind of honesty at least (Libertarians lie as much as any other mainstream political party, of course, they are just shockingly honest about some of their goals.)

  • DG||

    Shit, what happened while I was sleeping last night? How did libertarians become mainstream?

  • ||

    Part of the conspricy.
    don't you know we run the world? Come on, set your decoder ring to n=s and you'll be able to translate all our secret messages. Our secret messages are posted on Craig's list as 'personal services'
    Petite asian provides relaxation means you can get a hand job from a Asian girl during a massage.
    OUR complex algorythms are UNCRACKABLE!

  • Almanian||

    How did libertarians become mainstream?

    The Masons did it. While everyone was sleeping....crafty Masons...

  • ||

    I thought it was the Stonecutters.

  • ||

    Unions shouldn't exist? Who said that? I, speaking for myself, believe that unions are fine as long as they are not backed up by government force or a lack of government enforcing the law (allowing picketers to beat somebody to death for crossing a picket line; granted this hasn't happened in a long time, but I though it was worth mentioning).

  • KPres||

    Labor is a commodity like any other. As such, monopoly control of labor, like monopoly control of any product, distorts the market and should be prohibited.

    So collective labor organizations are fine, so long as there are several competing within a particular trade.

    But that's not the real-world definition of a union, is it? The whole purpose of a union is to distort the labor market in such a way that it's members profit above the equilibrium rate (and consequently at the expense of the rest of society).

  • ||

    Monopolies usually attempt to control means of production by using the force of government to protect their positions. Labor unions do essentially the same thing.

    Monopolies in and of themselves, without government support, are not bad.

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    Nope. Against anti-monopoly laws. So if a Union can establish a monopoly, good for them.

  • Aostate Jew||

    As long as the Pinkertons play by the same rules, I'm OK with it too.

  • Zeb||

    What libertarian says unions shouldn't exist? People have the right to form whatever type of organization they want to.

  • ||

    Yes, but the NRLA forces employers to negotiate with unions, which goes against non-initiation of force.

  • ||

    look at that fucking hipster sitting next to him. nice burns dbag

  • ||

    That is some sorry facial hair.

  • Almanian||

    Those are spectacularly Martin-Chambers-esque burns right there

  • Esoteric||

    It would be even funnier if you could hear his voice. Matt Kibbe *looks* like he should have a squeaky geek voice, but he actually speaks in a basso profundo.

    He's a good guy, too, from my interactions with him.

  • ||

    How is it that the evil libertianz control everything but can't even get elected dogcatcher in Gallup?

    Have we finally joined the Masons, International Jewry, The Bilderbergs, Trilateralists and the Council on Foreign Relations as full fledgfed memebers of the Illuminati?

    I hope so because I'd like to attend some of those secret meetings about world domination. I hear they have quality coffee and great pastries catered while stealthily installing the New World Order.

  • ||

    Pretty much. Of course there is the theory that no publicity is bad publicity. A year ago I would say that most people in the country had never even heard of libertarianism. But now thanks to Rich and his ilk, it is on the tip of a lot of people's tongues.

  • hmm||

    I'm in it for the secret ring and handshakes.

  • ||

    I usually wear a monocle, so I am naturally attracted to others of my kind.

  • ||

    I just enjoy destroying the middle class in order to enrich my billionaire masters.

  • alan||

    That is my absolute favorite part. How the leftist resist the temptation to partake in making a scrumptious meal out of the middle class I cannot fathom. They must be made of sterner stuff.

  • ||

    Shush! You'll blow the whole deal!

    No.. master Koch... he's just kidding around. Please don't have him killed, he's a valuable member of our community!

  • ||

    They (the scret meetings ...shhh, don't tell anyone) occur in my basement. I can not be responsible for attendees who have mold allergies.
    I provide Bud Light, wheat thins and garlic hummus, and CNN on a 15 black and white motorola TV.
    This week, We will be formulating orders for the bankruptcy of America (something that could not occur without our nefarious plotting), thus leading to anarchy and total freedom.

  • Almanian||

    That is gonna be one kick as meeting!

  • T||

    Bud light? What kind of libertarian are you?

  • ||

    Evidently a cheap one.

  • hmm||

    A real libertarian would have home brew waiting. You sir, are a plant!

  • ||

    I prefer to think of myself as Scottish.
    And only the 1st bud light is 'first run' - the rest are 'recycled' but hopefully the herbs distract from the slightly off flavor of the subsequent beers.

  • alan||

    He is serving Bud Light which is quite apt for a libertarian when serving. You want import bring your own. I bet there are some tall boy contraband La Fin du Mondes in fresnodan's minifridge upstairs.

  • Xeones||

    You've gotta admit, it's amazing how the skulls of Rich and Ames manage not to collapse, given the incredible mass of the singularities they obviously contain.

  • Ska||

    So dome-shotting Rich in a room full of Geth is a great way to set up an Overload spike?

    Yeah, that's even more video game nerdiness than I usually post.

  • Xeones||

    J sub: The coffee's usually pretty good, but at the last meeting the crullers were kind of stale.

  • ♥♥♥||

    douche

  • ||

    Was that the black helicopter and FEMA concentration camps confab?

  • David E. Gallaher/Ruthless||

    Ya gotta be smart to be a good troll. Rich is a troll, and the NYT employs another: Malcolm Gladwell.

  • ||

    I've always wanted to be able to say this......"if you don't like it go back to Russia"!

    Ah, that's better!

  • ||

    People like Frank Rich don't write to convince. They write to make their readers feel better about themselves. It is not like anyone who has ever attended a Tea Party would read this tripe and think "yeah, I am just being taken advantage of by the Kochs". But to Rich's increasingly frightened and marginalized liberal readership this stuff is comfort food. It keeps them from having to confront the problems associated with their ideas or answer the Tea Party's arguments in any significant way. That is what this is about.

  • ||

    Very nicely put, John.

  • ||

    Because something is happening here
    But you don't know what it is
    Do you, Mister Rich?

  • Tony||

    What arguments would those be? Cut spending, just not on entitlements or wars? Seems like just a bunch of amorphous hate being channeled by corporate errand boys like Koch and Armey. The tea party is just the latest incarnation of the movements that always spring up when Democrats are in charge. They are the latest Birchers. And whether the grassroots participants realize it or not, getting the GOP back in power (which seems to be their goal) means all the usual corporate welfare outfits that control the GOP will be back in power too.

  • ||

    Here we have Tony. Scared, bitter angry, confused, clinging to a dated ideology. This ladies and gentleman, is who Frank Rich is writing to comfort.

    And Tony. The Birchers started under Eisenhower. You don't even try anymore.

  • Sam Grove||

    I've already read that somewhere else, Mr. Original.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    As opposed to the corporate welfare outfits that control the Democratic Party, you mean?

    Yeah... Gosh... What a choice!

  • Tony||

    And the false equivalence fairy arrives.

    Because corporate America is jumping with glee at the thought of healthcare reform, wall street reform, and energy legislation.

  • hmm||

    Uh, quite a few supported it.

  • T||

    Depends on which part of corporate America you're in, doesn't it? The part that sees a benefit from the legislation, and thus lobbied for it, or the part that sees and expense and thus lobbied against it. Corporate America is about as monolithic as a sand pile.

  • Spiny Norman||

    Not true. They all wear top hats and twirl their mustaches as they tie young Nell to the tracks.

  • #||

    but liberals look at people as part of groups... blacks are monolithic, women are monolithic, so it stands that corporations must be monolithic - it doesnt occur to them that for any given policy there are just as many corporations lobbying for it.

    That and they have to keep telling themselves that they are still fighting the man when they shovel corporate welfare to Goldman Sachs, GE and Ford.

  • MWG||

    "Because corporate America is jumping with glee at the thought of healthcare reform, wall street reform, and energy legislation."

    If, by 'corporate America', you mean the drug companies, insurance companies, banks, and companies similar to GE, you'd be absolutely correct.

  • Tony||

    Oh they did their best to water down the relevant legislation, thanks in large part to a unified GOP doing their bidding in trying to obstruct it entirely. But I'm talking about what Democrats stand for and tried to do. If you think both parties are just tools of corporate America, and equally so, then you might as well just kill yourself. I can't live with that much cynicism.

  • seanrude||

    How about you kill yourself instead, as it is you who cannot live with all the cynicism floating around out there?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Tony, if/when Democrats lose the majority, they'll fucking-A obstruct and you'll be cheerleading them when they do.

    Just own up to it, and learn to embrace it. Republicans and Democrats working together is the only thing worse than when they work against each other. Besides... it's fun as hell to watch.

  • ||

    "...drug companies, insurance companies, banks and companies similar to GE..." Ok, add those all together and what share of the U.S. economic pie are we talking about? Looks like a pretty big chunk to me.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    "Because corporate America is jumping with glee at the thought of healthcare reform, wall street reform, and energy legislation."

    Uh... Yes...

    You do realize that not all corporations have the same exact set of interests right, Tony?

    Oh wait... No, you don't. Cause you're a fucktard.

  • ||

    Nobody said that the Tea Parties themselves were a "libertarian" movement (well, except maybe some people who call themselves tea partiers), but the movement does seem to be powered by some legitimate gripes, even if it has some maturing to do. Lefties such as yourselves seem over anxious to squelch anything that sounds like an opinion differing from your own.

  • cynical||

    Look, if you want to protest against the government and authority figures and so on, that's your right. You don't have to accept the ever-growing state. No pressure.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Rich doesn't want to get anywhere near the "more interesting" story. It involves Republicans failing to shrink government, or even curtail its growth, as much of the electorate seems to want. Getting government back to a manageable (and accountable?) level is not something that interests Rich, and therefore trying to shame Republicans into doing so does not interest him.

  • ||

    This is the quality of analysis currently drawing applause from the reality-based community.

    Perhaps they should try an objective reality-based analysis.

  • Jordan||

    Uh, Frank, if you want to find useful idiots/corporate whores, then you only need to look in the mirror. Keep supporting that omnipotent state; GE, Goldman Sachs, and Lockheed couldn't do it without you.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Funny how people like Rich think Koch funding of any group is some sinister plot but George Soros funding all sorts of liberal organizations is all A-OK.

  • ||

    Of course. If a bunch of regular Americans show up at a Tea Party event, it's a sign of the nefarious influence of shadowy forces manipulating the gullible and the outright evil. But if an event is sponsored by explicitly Marxist organizations and a bunch of unions bus people in for free, it's a genuine grassroots movement.

  • ||

    I read that column, and when I finished, I had no idea what Rich was trying to say, other than, "You people suck."

    No, Frank, YOU suck.

  • ||

    I was watching something on PBS--probably Nova and noticed that Koch was a major funding source for the program. That's some crazy misdirection, ain't it?

  • ||

    I was wondering when you'd show your face around here.

  • ||

    Because of the Gator loss? I expected to lose, especially playing in Tuscaloosa. Florida hasn't been too sharp this season, though I think the talent is there. One of the painful things about college sports is that damned reset button.

    Besides, I've got good news to offset the bad, with the Rays winning the AL East and having the best record in the AL (and, therefore, home field advantage).

  • alan||

    Kansas City the last undefeated team? Holy shit what a weird year in pro football.

  • ||

    Weird is right. Appropriate for the last season before everything blows up between the players and the owners.

  • ||

    This is the one time in my life I will side with a union. The owners are scum. They get crooked politicians to get the tax payers to pay for their stadiums. Now they want the players to pick up any amount the tax payers haven't already paid.

    Meanwhile, they want to bastardize their own product with an 18 game season no one wants. They leave their employees permanently injured yet provide all of five years worth of post employment medical care. And now they want to extra games from them. Yeah, they are real concerned about head injuries. I hope they go broke.

  • Warty||

    I hope they go broke.

    Too bad Art Modell sold most of his stake in the Ratbirds. I intend to spit on his grave one day, and I think it would be more satisfying if he had died broke.

  • Brett L||

    Ironically, the players are decertifying the union to strengthen their hand -- not that it actually affects their collective status. I think it keeps them from being forced into mediation, but I'm totally unclear on it.

  • mykeuva||

    They're decertifying b/c the collective bargaining agreement states that the players won't sue the NFL for antitrust violations. In order to get around this, the union dissolves, the CBA dissolves, and the NFL doesn't have the antitrust protection anymore.

  • Ted S.||

    Technically they're a guild, not a union.

  • ||

    Little known fact: Each NFL player is a fully certified blacksmith.

  • ||

    PL... for you.

  • ||

    Aw, you shouldn't have. Especially in English.

  • ||

    I was trying to retain the sarcastic anger of the original. I'm not happy with the "thousand kisses" line.

    The study that Warty quotes in the comments is interesting. (I wanted to write something before reading it, but I love its conciseness.)

  • Warty||

    The translation on Wikipedia is also pretty good. I agree that the "thousand kisses" line doesn't translate well.

  • ||

    Apparently, it is a reference to Catullus 5:

    Let us live, my Lesbia, and love.
    As for all the rumors of those stern old men,
    Let us value them at a mere penny.
    Suns may set and yet rise again, but
    Us, with our brief light, can set but once.
    The night which falls is one never-ending sleep.
    Give me a thousand kisses, then a hundred.
    Then, another thousand, and a second hundred.
    Then, yet another thousand, and a hundred.
    Then, when we have counted up many thousands,
    Let us shake the abacus, so that no one may know the number,
    And become jealous when they see
    How many kisses we have shared.

    I'm going to have to revise.

  • ||

    You should teach an adjunct course in the Classics curriculum: "Savage Poetry and the Hermeneutics of Obscenity."

  • ||

    Catullus, Rimbaud, Plath and...

  • Warty||

    Speaking of homoeroticism, I see that Arnold Schwarzenegger's son is a twink.

  • ||

    Arnold's daughter is pretty cute. Probably adopted.

  • ||

    Isn't Mark Ames that guy who spent a bunch of years trying to drink himself to death in Moscow until the Russians got tired of him and kicked him out?

    -jcr

  • Sam Grove||

    It's funny how "progressives" assert that their solutions are reality based as though any of their arguments are anything other than mere assertion.

    People who have to proclaim that they are reality based probably aren't, else they wouldn't have to make a mantra of the claim.

  • ||

    "Reality-based community" is a malapropism. It should be "venality-based community."

  • Tony||

    And to claim that the Kochs are just eccentric libertarians is ridiculous. Their central policy motivation is to undermine pollution regulation, and they've been pretty successful. I'm sure that has nothing to do with the fact that Koch industries is in thetop 10 polluting industries in the country.

    And their funding of climate change denial hackery, including a nice helping for the outfits that support this very magazine, has nothing to do with that at all. They're just eccentric libertarians!

    I guess freedom means the freedom of Koch industries to dump their shit on the rest of us.

  • ||

    "I'm sure that has nothing to do with the fact that Koch industries is in thetop 10 polluting industries in the country."

    But Obama has ran the EPA since January of 2009 Tony. How are these evil Kochs still in business? Are they buying off the Obamasiah to? Is their web that deep?

  • ||

    Koch industries is on the executive board of the DLC, and two Koch executives sit on the board of trustees. That puts the Koch brothers pretty high up (if not highly visible) in the Democratic Party's power structure. So, yes, it looks like their web is that deep.

    http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=how_the_dlc_does_it (the Koch portions are in paragraphs 17 and 18)

  • ||

    And someone has to be in the top ten you fucking moron. Just because their business "pollutes" doesn't mean it is illegal or somehow nefarious.

  • Tony||

    Don't hurt yourself jumping to the defense of Koch industries, John.

    So they're one of the biggest polluters in the country and spend large amounts of money undermining anti-pollution legislation including funding propaganda that supports the cause.

    They want the freedom to trespass on everyone else and want government policy to reward that and you are defending them?

  • ||

    Tony, it is a free country and they have a right to free speech you fascist little twit. And further, as I said above, some industries like the oil industry do pollute. That is the nature of the industry. And you still by their products don't you? You still live in this wonderful industrialized society made possible thanks to their efforts don't you?

  • ||

    Only taxes make the world livable, John. High, high taxes.

  • Tony||

    You are a useless human being, John.

    Did I call for anyone to be silenced? No? Then shut the fuck up with this lame "you criticized them, therefore you're attacking their right to free speech" bullshit.

    So they provide society with crap. Good for them. They also pollute. Does the former absolve the latter? If I want to start up an enterprise that requires dumping toxic byproducts on my neighbor's lawn, is that excusable because I'm just engaging in wonderful free enterprise? Should I get to do that for free? Could you be anymore slavish in your apologetics?

    My point is not to call for the Kochs to be silenced, it's for people, you guys--typically not especially averse to proposing conspiracy theories based on much more flimsy connections--to think about the fact that maybe, just maybe, the Kochs are in this game for their own financial benefit, and the freedom rhetoric is truly just bullshit, since, again, the only freedom they seem to be interested in is their own to pollute and not pay for it.

  • ||

    "Does the former absolve the latter?"

    Yes, you fucking moron. My car pollutes but it still beats a horse. Life is better in about a million different ways thanks to all of these polluting industries.

    And they won't just "pay for the pollution". They just pass the cost onto you. So if anyone here is not paying it is you. Don't you ever feel guilty about getting this stuff that is causing all of this harm?

  • Tony||

    All of a sudden ends justify means...

    They just pass the cost onto you.

    Ah, the ever-useful extortionist argument for not doing anything that might upset the industry status quo. If they pass costs onto consumers, so be it. Consumers of products of polluting industries are partly culpable for pollution costs.

    But you don't seem to believe there are any costs associated with pollution. Or is this the time-tested libertarian logic that says "the more victims there are, the less culpable the victimizers"?

  • ||

    Ah, the ever-useful extortionist argument for not doing anything that might upset the industry government status quo.

    Tonis version?

  • ||

    "But you don't seem to believe there are any costs associated with pollution. Or is this the time-tested libertarian logic that says "the more victims there are, the less culpable the victimizers"?"

    Yes, I believe that there are costs to pollution. I simply believe that costs should be determined in a case by case basis. This happens in every market. Infinite numbers of person to person transactions occur in a market that lead to the creation of "a market price," but even the market price is not an objective price. The term "objective price" is an oxymoron. I would rather the externalities be priced into the market via litigation that would allow a case by case method that would give each individual an opportunity to make a valuation. Top down decisions of valuation are nonsensical, and are simply using the aggregations of subjective valuations to determine costs. Worse yet, those valuations are always based on temporary data. Market data is always in flux, and government action itself changes market data.

  • ||

    "Top down decisions of valuation are nonsensical, and are simply using the aggregations of subjective valuations to determine costs. "

    Okay, I didn't state that very well as a litigation based system would also be using aggregations of other valuations, but what I should of said is that a litigation based system focusing on property rights and the homesteading principle would put property owners in charge when it comes to making valuations. A top down government scheme would simply be using interpretations of aggregations of semi-related historical market data whereas a litigation scheme would be a real time and self updating system that put the individuals truly in charge of making direct valuations.

  • ||

    Basically, the difference between the top down and bottom up schemes is that the top down scheme simply uses historical, temporary data to determine an "objective cost." It would be like determining the cost of apples based on the cost of oil, oranges, and cars. The bottom up scheme however is a real time source of information that actually involves individuals stating opinions of their personal valuations of the precise issue at hand.

  • KPres||

    "Don't hurt yourself jumping to the defense of Koch industries, John."

    You miss the point, idiot.

    If Koch Industries is the 16th largest corporation, and the 4th largest oil producer, it stands to reason that they'd be in the top-10 polluters.

  • KPres||

    "...to think about the fact that maybe, just maybe, the Kochs are in this game for their own financial benefit, and the freedom rhetoric is truly just bullshit, since, again, the only freedom they seem to be interested in is their own to pollute and not pay for it."

    The more likely scenario is that that accusation is leveled against them specifically by left-wing idealogues like yourself because the Koch's happen to huge supporter of free-market causes.

  • ||

    ---"the Kochs are in this game for their own financial benefit"---

    The nerve, well I never...

  • Tony||

    Large corporations manipulating policy for their own benefit (free market be damned) = freedom!

    Poor people voting for representatives who will look after their benefit = parasites!

  • Mr. FIFY||

    George Soros manipulating currency for his own benefit = freedom!

    Defend that, Tony.

  • ||

    "Large corporations manipulating policy for their own benefit (free market be damned) = freedom!

    Poor people voting for representatives who will look after their benefit = parasites!"

    Whoa whoa whoa! I completely agree that the Koch's are probably in the libertarian game for their own benefit. It is exactly the same thing as the statists who push statism for their own benefit. I agree, people are self interested. However, we're not talking about the Koch's lobbying for benefits specifically for them and them alone. The libertarian organizations that they support are for lower taxes and lower regulations for EVERYBODY. In fact, the ideas pushed by libertarians organizations could actually be the Koch's undoing, as less regulation for everybody means less regulation for their competitors.

    The Koch's could simply agree to whatever regulations the government wants to put on them, and then they could lobby for more restrictions for their competitors who don't. Plenty of corporations play this game. They simply agree to whatever the government says and in return they can sit back and run a monopoly or an oligopoly and reap profits without fear of competition. There is a huge difference between this kind of behavior and the Koch's lobbying for lower taxes and less regulations across the board. The day that the Koch's push for stricter regulations against their competitors or other industries while wanting less regulations for themselves, I will agree that the Koch's are evil, but until then, you have to at least admit that the Koch's are being consistent and fair.

  • ||

    "So they're one of the biggest polluters in the country and spend large amounts of money undermining anti-pollution legislation including funding propaganda that supports the cause."

    I prefer to think about it as resisting infringement of their private property rights, but whatever. Your loaded phraseology is up to you. I'd like to point out that the Koch's aren't asking for special favors for themselves alone. Their "voices" in the libertarian movement are for less regulation for everyone, not just the Koch's. They are actually exposing themselves to more competition than a corporation that lobbies for more regulation of its competitors.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    I'm curious, Tony... Have you ever contemplated the idea that given the current state of technology, CO2 pollution in exchange for all the energy that produces your food, clothing, warmth in the wintertime, shelter, and powers your vehicles and your collection of vibrators which you keep in your multiple houses isn't really that bad of a trade?

    Plenty of industries pollute and stay within the limits of the EPA regulations, but I wonder if you ever stop to ponder how those same industries make your life infinitely better off than you otherwise would be with out them?

  • ||

    No he doesn't consider any of that. He honestly thinks electricity comes from the light socket and gasoline from the gas station. To be a 21st Century American liberal is to live in a kind of teenage fantasy land where anything is possible and mom and dad in the form of government will always pay the bills and make sure a roof is over your head.

  • Tony||

    As a libertarian do you think it's okay to dump shit on your neighbors' lawn and expect them to suffer all the consequences while you suffer none?

    I'm truly grateful for the wonderful civilization that 19th century energy technology has brought us. I hope we can move on, because we don't have much of a choice.

    But carry on defending pollution and polluters' manipulation of government to let them continue polluting without paying for it. That's freedom!

  • ||

    How are they manipulating government Tony? You have never explained that or offered any proof of that. You just assume they do. You also have never offered any proof that they have done anything illegal. Some pollution cannot be avoided. But the benefits of the activity outweigh the pollution. Come on, use that vaunted 90 IQ of yours and think about it for a moment.

  • Tony||

    Didn't say they were breaking any laws. But they've spent lots of money in order to get policy that is favorable to them. Take it how you will.

    It is ABSURD for you to keep saying that pollution is OK because look at all the benefits!

    How about I make the same argument about big government? It would be about 10 times more rational.

    Why don't we make people pay for the damage they cause to the environment? If it raises costs, oh well. There's no free lunch, and I don't see why you think there is.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Give up all of your creature comforts, automobiles, and live the Amish lifestyle, Tony... or continue to be a hypocrite. Your choice.

  • Tony||

    Fine, stop driving on public roads, and for good measure inject some salmonella into your poultry.

    I've always argued that these are not problems that can be solved by individual action alone. I am not arguing for people to start living ascetic lifestyles, I'm advocating for government making people pay for the harm they cause to others, that's all.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    *yawn*

    Make me, bitch.

  • ||

    So.... in the absence of government, all poultry would automatically have salmonella. I agree that you are not necessarily a hypocrite, but you are still dumb.

  • Jordan||

    Right on cue, here's Tony to tell us that we need to funnel billions of dollars to corporations (the friendly, green-approved ones, of course, not the top hat wearing ones) while simultaneously bitching about corporations manipulating government.

  • ||

    CO2 emissions != "dumping shit on your neighbor's lawn".

    Thanks for playing. Here's a lovely copy of our home game.

  • hmm||

    Is this where I put on my tinfoil hat? I'm totally familiar with the crazy party etiquette.

  • hmm||

    carbon chain > sun beam + wind + ...

  • Wesley||

    I posted this a few weeks ago, but it bears re-posting:

    I worked for a Koch company (they bought out a chemical plant where I worked) a couple of years ago, and I never have understood the smears about their ethics that come up from time to time. It was by far the most ethical company that I have ever worked for. There was question about whether they might be close to violating the operating permit, and we went to the regulators for an interpretation. The regulators were slow in answering, so we shut down the plant to avoid violating the conservative interpretation of the permit. When we did get the interpretation, we found out we weren't really close a violation, but the conservative approach was par for course for the Kochs. Every other place that I have worked would not have shut down, and would have pled ignorance and hoped for leniency when the fine was levied.

    I know they had some bad environmental violations at their Minnesota refinery in the 1980's, and some lefty group calls them terrible polluters, but I haven't seen it, and think it's just a smear. (Don't get me wrong, I hated working for them, but their ethics were second-to-none.)

  • Steven Smith||

    One should always be suspicious of the use of "magic elipses" in posts such as this. Here, by removing two paragraphs from Rich's column, you can make it seem that he falsely claimed that the Koch Boys supported TARP, as well as omit the fact that the billionaires in question would all make out like bandits if the Bush tax cuts for the megarich were extended. Nice.

  • ||

    They need the Bush tax cuts to make out like bandits. It is not like billionaires don't have tax shelters or anything.

    And even if it were true, so what? Teachers make out like bandits from increases in education spending. But I never hear you or your ilk saying that they are nefarious for advocating for such a thing. Someone benefits from every policy. That fact says nothing about the efficacy of a policy.

    Really Steve, is it your goal to come on once a day and reaffirm to everyone that yes liberals really are as stupid as we think they are?

  • ||

    Teachers make out like bandits? $40,000/year median income is making out like a bandit? Ok.

  • ||

    It's more than I make. Few teachers make that little. Both my parents are teachers and their combined income and benefits exceeds 100 grand a year. They have only been teaching for 4 or 5 years each.

  • ||

    It's more than I make. Few teachers make that little. Both my parents are teachers and their combined income and benefits exceeds 100 grand a year. They have only been teaching for 4 or 5 years each.

  • Warty||

    STEVE SMITH ALWAYS RAPE WITH FULL CONTEXT GARRRRRRRRR

  • KPres||

    "...as well as omit the fact that the billionaires in question would all make out like bandits if the Bush tax cuts for the megarich were extended."

    So they made out like bandits from the Bush tax cuts because the progressive tax is slightly less progressive than liberals want?

  • Tony||

    We need that extra nickel on the dollar, as it will solve all of our debt problems and turn America into Utopia.

  • Von Mises||

    http://mises.org/th/chapter7.asp

    Every change in conditions affects the structure of demand and supply of various material things and thereby the short-run interests of some groups of people. It is therefore possible to show that there were some groups who profited in the short run and others who were prejudiced in the short run. Hence the advocates of Marxism are always in a position to point out that class interests were involved and thus to annul the objections raised. Of course, this method of demonstrating the correctness of the materialist interpretation of history is entirely wrong. The question is not whether group interests were affected; they are necessarily always affected at least in the short run. The question is whether the striving after lucre of the groups concerned was the cause of the event under discussion. For instance, were the short-run interests of the munitions industry instrumental in bringing about the bellicosity and the wars of our age? In dealing with such problems the Marxians never mention that where there are interests pro there are necessarily also interests con. They would have to explain why the latter did not prevail over the former. But the "idealist" critics of Marxism were to dull to expose any of the fallacies of dialectical materialism. They did not even notice that the Marxians resorted to their class-interest interpretation only in dealing with phenomena which were generally condemned as bad, never in dealing with phenomena of which all people approve. If one ascribes warring to the machinations of munitions capital and alcoholism to machinations of the liquor trade, it would be consistent to ascribe cleanliness to the designs of the soap manufacturers and the flowering
    of literature and education to the maneuvering of the publishing and printing industries. But neither the Marxians nor their critics ever thought of it.

    The outstanding fact in all this is that the Marxian doctrine of historical change has never received any judicious critique. It could triumph because its adversaries never disclosed its fallacies and inherent contradictions.

    The truly sad part, Rich and Tony are Marxist and they do not even know it.

  • Franklin Harris||

    All this Mark Ames guy needs is an Ed Hardy T-shirt to complete his douchebag personae.

  • Warty||

    I'm thinking more Affliction.

  • Kristen||

    Naaahh...he's more of a hipster douche, not a Hardy douche. What he needs is an ironic t-shirt from the 70's, with a sparkly rainbow or Wham-O logo. And skinny jeans and Creepers.

  • ||

    But carry on defending pollution and polluters' manipulation of government to let them continue polluting without paying for it. That's freedom!

    Here's a (rhetorical) question for you, Tony.

    Which has been more destructive: the Koch brothers' lobbying on environmental rules, or Fanny and Freddie's lobbying on "affordable housing"?

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Also, Tony is considering CO2 to be "pollution" that is creating "global warming" - a claim that no one has ever proven to be true.

  • Tony||

    The former. Have an example that's not right-wing bullshit that isn't true?

  • ||

    People who believe that all libertarians support polluters should look at the following:

    http://www.nesgeorgia.org/file.....talism.pdf

    The proper calculus is not pollution vs. no pollution but rather does the marginal benefit outweigh the marginal costs.

  • Tony||

    The problem here is that the polluters are not shouldering the costs but are passing it onto the people who make use of the air and water they are dumping toxic chemicals into.

    But since we're talking about cost/benefit analyses, I'd say there's a strong case to be made that the costs of government regulation are far outweighed by the benefits. So there.

  • KPres||

    "The problem here is that the polluters are not shouldering the costs but are passing it onto the people who make use of the air and water they are dumping toxic chemicals into."

    If so, then it needs to be a litigatory issue, not a regulatory one.

    "But since we're talking about cost/benefit analyses, I'd say there's a strong case to be made that the costs of government regulation are far outweighed by the benefits. So there."

    If so, then a proper free-market will have already instituted those regulatory requirements without then need of legislation.

  • Tony||

    If so, then it needs to be a litigatory issue, not a regulatory one.

    As has been pointed out many times, that's ridiculous. Litigation would require more government than regulation, would never account for true costs, and who has standing to sue in the first place? We're talking about damaging the commons.

  • Tony||

    In other words... the more government, the better.

  • Tony||

    In other words read the fucking post, in which I advocate for less government than KPres, who wants to massively increase the scope of the judicial system. Why do libertarians not consider the courts part of government?

  • Tony||

    Courts, government... it's all good.

  • ||

    How exactly would growing the already massive regulatory structure combined with class action suits (which still happen against polluters all the time) be more government than a streamlined tort enforcement that attempts to quantify true damages to property owners? Have you ever thought that the State is largely the reason for mega-polluters and conglomerates who are exempted from responsibility due to artificial corporate shielding and grow in power thanks to government regulation crowding out competition (for example, exactly the sort of legislation you are advocating for that only the biggest corporations could afford)?

    In a laissez-faire system there would be no corporations, every individual would be fully responsible for his or her own actions and violators of other peoples' property rights would go to jail.

    Environmental justice is essentially a property rights issue, so to argue that it means nothing to libertarians is disingenuous. However, libertarians have been notoriously weak in demonstrating limited government solutions to enforce property rights and quantify environmental damages; a fair judiciary would be required, something my anarchocapitalist friends may not be willing to accept. In their case, I agree with you - anarchists might poorly assume individuals would boycott polluters into submission, but under libertarian ethics, could they show up with guns and demand compensation of the violation of their health and property rights?

  • ||

    A more active judiciary based on a concept of private property can hardly be considered "big government." Yes, the judiciary is part of the government, but a judiciary based on a system of strong property rights would be an enforcer of the rule of law. A regulatory scheme is based on rule of officials, experts, and delegates.

  • ||

    Litigation would require "more government?" I don't see how. I guess that it all depends on what you mean by "big government" and how you measure it. I measure the size of government by the sphere of every individuals life that they control. Under the rule of judiciaries, individuals have a pretty big sphere of influence, whereas under a regulatory scheme, the individuals control ends where the government declares that it ends, without any input from the individuals themselves other than a vote for a guy who appointed another guy who defers his decisions to his hand picked "experts."

    Litigation would never account for "true" costs? What are "true" costs? All costs are subjective and based on the opinions of individuals. The judiciary is the only system that allows and individual to voice their opinion about costs and have their specific voice heard. All costs are subjective and based on individual beliefs, which is why a system that actually consults the individuals opinion is the most efficient at determining costs.

    "and who has standing to sue in the first place? We're talking about damaging the commons."

    When we are talking about commons, this is true. This is why I am in favor of privatizing water ways and ocean property. The only issue that can't be solved by ownership is the production of CO2 emissions, as nobody can really own the atmosphere, because it is impossible to divide up in any meaningful way. CO2 emissions do indeed require a different solution, but that solution is not necessarily a recreation of Anthony Burgess's "The Wanting Seed." However, that is a discussion for another thread.

  • ||

    You can almost hear Tony slavering over the thought of the big red button.

  • ||

    Necessary link to clitoral cosmetics: My New Pink Button.

  • ||

    Considering that lipstick is make the visible lips into a match for the (normally) covered up version, this product seems oddly retrograde.

    Labial lipstick, anal bleaching, vajazzling... doesn't really seem that most heterosexual men care about this stuff. Is it mostly for when they make a play for their gay best friends?

  • nomo||

    If you're referring to most heterosexual men making the play, and women trying an end run around gender traitors, then yes.

  • ||

    I'd say there's a strong case to be made that the costs of government regulation are far outweighed by the benefits.

    [citation needed]

    the polluters are not shouldering the costs but are passing it onto the people who make use of the air and water they are dumping toxic chemicals into.

    So, if a given pollutant causes a dime's worth of damage, but getting rid of it costs billions, clearly the only thing to do is get rid of it.

  • ||

    I'd say there's a strong case to be made that the costs of government regulation are far outweighed by the benefits.

    [citation needed]

    the polluters are not shouldering the costs but are passing it onto the people who make use of the air and water they are dumping toxic chemicals into.

    So, if a given pollutant causes a dime's worth of damage, but getting rid of it costs billions, clearly the only thing to do is get rid of it.

  • Tony||

    So, if a given pollutant causes a dime's worth of damage, but getting rid of it costs billions, clearly the only thing to do is get rid of it.

    Moron, if there is $0.10 worth of pollution damage, then it should cost the polluter $0.10.

    Of course your example is very much hyperbole, and there is no way to calculate such costs exactly. But contrary to libertarian thought, that doesn't make the cost zero.

  • KPres||

    Not true. Pollution can almost always be calculated by the loss of land-value.

  • Jordan||

    In that case, you have to pay back the polluter for any positive externalities.

  • Chad||

    EXTERNALITIES!!!

  • ||

    Er no. Most libertarians support cost-benefit analyses of regulations. I.e. if it only does a dimes worth of damage, we shouldn't spend more than a dime regulating against it.

    Interestingly, most environmentalists OPPOSE cost-benefit analyses on the esoteric grounds that every aspect of the environment has intrinsic value which can't be monetarily measured.

    I'd put better then even money down that the Koch's aren't opposing all regulation, they just want cost-benefit analysis applied.

  • ||

    The environmentalists aren't completely off base. Maybe the environment does have an intrinsic value that makes it more meaningful than ANYTHING else. They'd have a hard time convincing me of this, though. My personal belief is that FREEDOM has an intrinsic value which is above any damage that global warming could conceivably cause, unless you believe that "The Day After Tomorrow" is a prophetic vision of things to come.

  • Tony||

    This weekend has been quite fun. Friday I hopscotched to several different places, seeing several sets of friends.

    I was lightheartedly but persistently furious last night. Why? Two words: Club Majestic.

    I hate that place. Let me count the ways.

    The bartenders look you in the eye as they put no more than 2 ounces of actual liquor in your long island iced tea. The mixed drinks at this place are beyond stingy; they are perhaps criminally pathetic. An LIT should merely be touched off with a splash of mixer. The mixer should not fill 3/4 of the glass. They then proceed to charge you the highest liquor rates in town for their sugar water.

    After ordering my LIT and watching the bartender carefully measure out the four liquors, a half ounce each, I very noticeably turned to my friend and rolled my eyes. The bartender apologized, saying he just got in trouble for pouring drinks that were too strong. Too strong?! He wouldn't know 'too strong' if it got him alone in a bathroom stall and gave him crabs. Fuck off bartender boy!

    Later in the evening, after standing at the bar for 10 minutes as the bartender played around with people's credit cards, I ordered a shot (with the idea that they can't water down pure liquor--not that I haven't had my doubts). Oh, too bad. See, it was 25 minutes to 2:00, so, of course, last call was over. Damn them! I should be able to get drunk on $60! I demand a boycott. Somebody who's not a criminal should open up a dance club that serves alcohol and not children's drinks.

    Also, the music selection is banal and cringe-inducing. And the DJ is mean. Other places have staffs who are in on the fun. They encourage fun. Going to Majestic is like being baby-sat by underpaid, crotchety old grannies. What is the point, I ask, of paying a $4 cover to get yelled at by the pissypants DJ while developing a stomach ache from all the mixer in your drink, not getting drunk, and being looked down upon by idiot twinks who think that Tulsa is somewhere at which people should feel justified in being snobs?

    This rant brought to you by my complete lack of gratitude for lacking a hangover.

    In other news, I'm going to go look at an apartment today, maybe more than one. Then I'm going to try to hook up with some people and go to the casino. Then I might go out tonight, maybe. But not to you-know-where. They can blow me.

  • ||

    The whole evil corporations brainwashing everyone into supporting The System goes right back to Marx. Opium of the masses, false consciousness, blah blah.

    It's been a recurrent theme since the 19th century. Manufacturing Consent. Shock Doctrine.

    It gets so tiresome to hear this cant constantly get recycled every generation. Why can't the left just grow up and start discussing subjects on the merits, instead of pointing fingers at some finacier and go "Look! Rich (and therefore evil) person supports it! Therefore you are all brainwashed dupes!"

    It's like they think that the fact that someone has money automatically discredits everything they believe and anyone who agrees with them.

  • Tony||

    I don't have a problem with this, long as I get to keep my multiple residences and my beachfront property.

  • Max||

    I wanna pony!

  • Max's Mom||

    Honey, you can't have another one. Remember what happened to the last one? The reason you're on the sex-offender list?

  • Steve Smith||

    STEVE SMITH WANT PONY!!! RAPE THEN BRUSH SILKY MANE!!! THEN RAPE AGAIN!!! THEN RAPE MAX!!!

    UH, MAYBE NOT RAPE MAX SO MUCH.

  • Chad||

    Ponies cause global warming.

  • Barack Obama||

    Hazel, it is sad to Me to read this. You are obviously brainwashed, and probably hate Me because I'm black.

    But fear not, for I will eventually own you... bitch.

  • Woodrow||

    Are the lefties focusing on Koch just being its a scary Jewish name? What happened to their paranoia about the guy who runs Blackwater? Not Jewy enough?

  • ||

    The best solution to controlling pollution is true laissez faire combined with tort and potentially criminal enforcement against polluters. In a laissez faire system, there would be no corporations - only proprietorships and partnerships purchasing liability insurance to protect the personal assets of the owners. This naturally would encourage good business practices and reduce pollution because the bigger the operation and the more legal risk the business poses to the rights of others (i.e. the higher likelihood of getting sued), the more expensive the liability insurance will be, eating into profits. Thus businesses would have natural profit incentive to be good and green businesses and not take shortcuts that end up violating the rights of others like they do today. It would also naturally disincentivize conglomeration and increase competition (as enterprises would be smaller, market demand would lead to more businesses dividing the market.) To me this seems a far superior system (even from a left-wing perspective) than economic command and control by corporate-bought politicians and bureaucrats.

  • ||

    Note that this would also be a self-regulating force, as insurance companies would quantify risk based up existing good or bad business practices, the same way the quantify car insurance rates higher for bad drivers. The disincentive of higher insurance rates encourages us all to be better drivers. In a laissez faire market where corporations don't receive liability protection for free, insurance would work in the same fashion.

  • ||

    to clarify I meant "where participants and owners of corporations don't receive liability protection for free."

  • ||

    Ya know, every once in a while i stop by Reason to read some articles. There's a fair bit of writing here that i sympathize with so it's worth a visit. But for a people meeting under the banner "Reason" it sure looks like nothing but a bunch of partisan mudslinging, adamant ideological positions, and a great deal of bullshit. Further, it also looks like that if you deviate from certain ideological tenets - most of which have no provable basis - you're an enemy.

    Hey, stay classy and keep giving libertarianism a good name. No wonder libertarians can't win elections. This thread alone proves that they suck just as bad as the Democrats and the Republicans.

  • Bradley||

    Cool story bro.

  • ||

    Anything but reason spewing out of reason.com. You sound no different than the national Bolsheviks.

  • Jimbo||

    Matt Welch is and always has been a plant. When he was working for Prognosis he was already churning out whatever propaganda his masters wanted him to. Someone needs to dig a bit into his history to find out the complete truth about him.

  • John Sabotta||

    Plainly, libertarianism seems lacking to Ames, certainly compared to his favorite political movement when he was back in the Motherland - Edward Limonov and the National Bolsheviks

  • ||

    While Matt Welch was partying in Prague Mark Ames was in Moscow witnessing the ugliness that Reaganomics up close. You wanna know what's really going on in America you'll read his book "Going Postal".

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