George Will: "America is moving in the libertarians' direction"

Writing in his nationally syndicated column, the Washington Post's George Will recommends The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America as suitable beach reading for a debt-ceiling summer. Excerpt:

Autodidacts [...] should spill sand on the pages of "The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America" by Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch. These incurably upbeat journalists with Reason magazine believe that not even government, try as it will, can prevent onrushing social improvement.

"Confirmation bias" is the propensity to believe news that confirms our beliefs. Gillespie and Welch say "existence bias" disposes us to believe that things that exist always will. The authors say that the most ossified, sclerotic sectors of American life — politics and government — are about to be blown up by new capabilities, especially the Internet, and the public's wholesome impatience that is encouraged by them.

"Think of any customer experience that has made you wince or kick the cat. What jumps to mind? Waiting in multiple lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Observing the bureaucratic sloth and lowest-common-denominator performance of public schools, especially in big cities. Getting ritually humiliated going through airport security. Trying desperately to understand your doctor bills. Navigating the permitting process at your local city hall. Wasting a day at home while the gas man fails to show up. Whatever you come up with, chances are good that the culprit is either a direct government monopoly (as in the providers of K-12 education) or a heavily regulated industry or utility where the government is the largest player (as in health care)."

Since 1970, per pupil real, inflation-adjusted spending has doubled and the teacher-pupil ratio has declined substantially. But math and reading scores are essentially unchanged, so we are spending much more to achieve the same results. America has the shortest school year in the industrial world, an academic calendar — speaking of nostalgia — suited to an America when children were needed on the farms and ranches in the late spring and early autumn. "No other industry," Gillespie and Welch write, "still adheres to a calendar based on 19th-century agricultural cycles — even agriculture has given up that schedule." [...]

A generation that has grown up with the Internet "has essentially been raised libertarian," swimming in markets, which are choices among competing alternatives. [...]

"Declaration of Independents" is suitable reading for this summer of debt-ceiling debate, which has been a proxy for a bigger debate, which is about nothing less than this: What should be the nature of the American regime? America is moving in the libertarians' direction not because they have won an argument but because government and the sectors it dominates have made themselves ludicrous. This has, however, opened minds to the libertarians' argument.

The essence of which is the commonsensical principle that before government interferes with the freedom of the individual, and of individuals making consensual transactions in markets, it ought to have a defensible reason for doing so. It usually does not.

Read the whole thing here.

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  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    I stopped reading after "autodidacts."

  • Mainer||

    This word autodidact...I don't think it means what you think it does.

  • Mike M.||

    I had to go look it up, and feel a little autodidactic myself for having added an excellent new word to my lexicon.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    My college roommate died from autodidactic asphyxiation. I got an automatic 4.0 for the semester because of it and slept in the rest of the term. It was great until I realized next semester's courses were built off things I should have learned that free semester. So I had to teach myself the whole semester's work over the summer. There's no word for that.

  • fish||

    So I had to teach myself the whole semester's work over the summer.

    Shit FoE just kill three more roommates and graduate with honors like I did. I send their families Christmas cards every holiday season.

  • Mainer||

    "So I had to teach myself the whole semester's work over the summer. There's no word for that."

    I lol'ed...

  • ||

    Learning?

  • cynical||

    I see what you did there.

  • Harry S Trueman||

    But you're still a dumbass.

  • Ted S.||

    I stopped reading when I saw Matt Welch was shilling for his book again.

  • CE||

    He wrote a book? Why hasn't he mentioned it on Hit 'n' Run before?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Will is giving away the whole book!

  • Bee Tagger||

    I forget, are Welch and/or Gillespie anti-IP libertarians?

    I guess I could just attribute a quote to them saying they are and see what happens.

  • Shorty FatFuck||

    I'll believe it when Will endorses a libertarian over someone like Gingrich.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I don't think Will is a libertarian. However, he is sympathetic to many of the arguments, and if he wants to help get [Welch's and Gillespie's] word(s) out, I don't see how that's bad.

  • fish||

    he is sympathetic to many of the arguments

    Not so sympathetic that he embraces them and gets himself uninvited to the inside the Beltway social circuit. Talk to me again then.

  • ||

    So your hero was Bob Novak, then?

  • In touch with utopia||

    A generation that has grown up with the Internet "has essentially been raised libertarian," swimming in markets

    A generation that has grown up with the Internet "has essentially been raised statist," swimming in fascism

  • Coke Zero||

    LOLOLOLOL he's a libertarian and therefore has a pessimistic view of the entire world around him and can't for one goddamned second believe that kids these days haven't been brainwashed by whoever the fuck he thinks is in charge of brainwashing kids these days.

    Seriously, get a new line. This incessant language of fascism and socialism and statism in which libertarians as a whole (not just you) seem to converse really turns off non-libertarians. They just stop listening because you sound bitter and crazy, and really, who wants to be part of a group that's bitter and crazy?

    Shit, I'm a libertarian and I get tired of it. Why can't we as a community just every once in a while admit that even as bad as things can seem right now, we've still got it pretty sweet? Matt Welch is right; kids these days (and I count myself as part of that group) aren't, for the most part, statists or fascists or anything like that, especially when it comes to the internet. I buy things from Rhode Island even though I live in Mississippi. I can read German newspapers from my living room instead of being stuck with just the Oxford Eagle and the Clarion Ledger for my news. If that's not an example of the incredible amount of choice given to us by the free markets via the internet, I really don't know what is.

    /endrant

  • oncogenesis||

    Why can't we as a community

    Communist!

  • Tman||

    I'm enjoying the fact that both liberals and conservatives are finding it harder to ignore the giant libertarian elephant in the room, primarily because the nation has been leaving the two parties in droves for the last few election cycles.

    Whether or not the "independents" of our electoral demographics are libertarians at heart is another matter, but you can't deny that people aren't buying what Team Red/Blue are selling like they used to.

  • Tony||

    Since libertarianism is essentially a collection of slogans and empty promises of utopia, maybe Americans are just stupid? Few people are willing to give up the government loot they already have, especially when given the "libertarian" justification: the rich are too oppressed by taxes and haven't they suffered enough?

  • Mainer||

    Tony|7.12.11 @ 1:18PM|#
    Much appreciated. What I often fail to acknowledge is that often I'm merely playing devil's advocate. I try not to have too many deeply held beliefs, if I can help it.
    M: An argument isn't just contradiction.
    O: Well! it CAN be!
    M: No it can't!
    M: An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.
    O: No it isn't!
    M: Yes it is! 'tisn't just contradiction.
    O: Look, if I *argue* with you, I must take up a contrary position!
    M: Yes but it isn't just saying 'no it isn't'.
    O: Yes it is!
    M: No it isn't!
    O: Yes it is!
    M: No it isn't!
    O: Yes it is!
    M: No it ISN'T! Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.
    O: It is NOT!
    M: It is!
    O: Not at all!
    M: It is!
    M: (exasperated) Oh, this is futile!! (pause)
    O: No it isn't!
    M: Yes it is!

  • Hugh Akston||

    You know, Tony, it's fine if you want to go on vacation. But set your autoposter to say "I'm out of my mom's basement for the next two weeks" rather than just dumping this "Best of Tony" shit from four years ago on us.

  • Tman||

    I've given up pretending to care what Tony thinks about libertarians. He's incapable of arguing honestly about what libertarianism means and he creates straw men like he's trying to start his own burning man convention.

    But he does perfectly typify the shrieking liberals how are petrified that their precious hold on socially liberal individuals is slipping away since the Dems haven't differentiated themselves from the Repubs in any significant way when it comes to civil liberties.

  • Restoras||

    A+

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tman,

    He's incapable of arguing honestly about what libertarianism means and he creates straw men like he's trying to start his own burning man convention.


    Especially when he dismisses sound economic arguments as "Republican talking points."

    Sounds so... Marxist.

  • ||

    "Since libertarianism progressivism is essentially a collection of slogans and empty promises of utopia"

    Fixed it for ya, can't forget hope and change right?

    "Few people are willing to give up the government loot they already have"

    Is that a crack in your armor I am seeing? You actually admit that the money that the government has is illgotten and not rightfully yours? Loot strongly implies such. Sooner or later you will be seduced by the power of the darkside.

  • fish||

    Few people are willing to give up the government loot....

    And when the magic loot well runs dry?

  • Richard Stands||

    Folks will find other stuff to do.

  • ||

    "Since libertarianism is essentially a collection of slogans and empty promises of utopia, maybe Americans are just stupid?"

    Haha irony. Such irony.

  • CE||

    ...the nation has been leaving the two parties in droves for the last few election cycles.

    2008 election results:
    Democratic candidate: 52.9%
    Republican candidate: 45.7%
    All other candidates: 1.4%

    2004 election results:
    Democratic candidate: 48.3%
    Republican candidate: 50.7%
    All other candidates: 1.0%

    How big is a "drove", exactly?

  • ||

    And what percentage is that of the total eligible voters? Not voting is the same as leaving the major parties.

  • PALEACRITA||

    "THE OBNOXIOUS FOURSOME RAINEBOW: OR HOW LEARNED TO KILL MICE WITH MY BEAR NUTSACK"

    CREEPY. I SMELL FLOWERS IN THE AIR. BABY YOU NEVER REALLY LOVED ME, DID YOU?

    FOR FUCK SAKE, DRIVE THE CAR CORRECTLY, DUMBASS!

    I'M STUDYING TO BECOME A PRIEST OF THE BODY, A BANG, BANG, OF YOUR BODY.

    BOOKCASES, HEAD-CASES, BABY-FACES, I HATE THE COLOR OF THIS CARPET.

    BIG BANG, A LIFE RE-LOADED. I WONDER IF THE BOOK IS ANY GOOD.

    CAN YOU HEAR ME?

    CAN YOU HEAR ME?

    CAN YOU HELP ME?

    I'D MUFF-DIVE THAT LESBIAN ROCKSTAR THAT GAVE AL GORE AN ANTHEM.

    I'D MUFF-DIVE THAT ASSHOLE THAT NEVER DIED IN HIS SLEEP.

    OH, THE PAIN. THE PAIN IS PAINFUL. OH, MOTHER, WILL YOU NEVER LET ME FILL YOUR VAGINAL VAULT WITH MY JISM?

    ONWARD TOWARD THE HOME. THE BOSOM OF MY LONG LOST CHILDHOOD. THE MECCA OF MY TETRUS.

    STILL THE POETS CRY FOR THE WAY THINGS USED TO BE.

    I CRY FOR OCTOBER. I CRY FOR THE OCTOBER REVOLUTION.

    HUNT DOWN...HUNT UP...HUNT SIDEWAYS. BRING ME THE HEAD OF KARL MARX ON A PLATTER.

    HUNT DOWN...HEADS UP! THIS MIGHT HURT.

    I COULDN'T LAUGH FOR YOU; YOU ARE TOO EVIL.

    LET ME IN.

  • Almanian||

    Cool story, bro.

  • ||

    I can't figure out if this would be best performed by a WBMB (Whiny Brittish Mamma's Boys) band, or a Norwegian Black Metal band...
    -K

  • fish||

    The WBMB took a look at it. Here is their interpretation:

    We're no strangers to love
    You know the rules and so do I
    A full commitment's what I'm thinking of
    You wouldn't get this from any other guy

    I just wanna tell you how I'm feeling
    Gotta make you understand

    Never gonna give you up
    Never gonna let you down
    Never gonna run around and desert you
    Never gonna make you cry
    Never gonna say goodbye
    Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you

    We've know each other for so long
    Your heart's been aching
    But you're too shy to say it
    Inside we both know what's been going on
    We know the game and we're gonna play it
    [ Find more Lyrics on http://mp3lyrics.org/ak5 ]

    And if you ask me how I'm feeling
    Don't tell me you're too blind to see

    Never gonna give you up
    Never gonna let you down
    Never gonna run around and desert you
    Never gonna make you cry
    Never gonna say goodbye
    Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you

    Repeat Chorus

    Give you up, give you up
    Give you up, give you up
    Never gonna give,
    Never gonna give, give you up
    Never gonna give,
    Never gonna give, give you up

    Last four lines repeated

    I just wanna tell you how I'm feeling
    Gotta make you understand

  • ||

    Whiny British Mama's Boys would be a GREAT name for a band.

  • T||

    I'm still going with Plutocracy of Hypocrasy. Thanks, HERC!

  • BakedPenguin||

    This kind of makes up for losing HERC.

  • ||

    Not enough cockasians.

  • BakedPenguin||

    No, but the scrotal rodenticide was special.

  • T||

    Unique, even.

  • Almanian||

    George Will: "America is moving in the libertarians' direction"

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

    Can you feel it? Can you FEEEEEL it?

    Uh, no...

  • ||

    The only thing I feel is the ruling class pissing on my leg...

  • The Ruling Class||

    It's rain, dude.

  • Rock Action ||

    The America of one universally known list of Top 40 records is as gone as records

    Uh oh. Step...no, tread lightly around those "lagging indicators," Mr. Will...

  • smz||

    Seacrest OUT!

  • ||

    This explosion of libertarianism sure hasn't impacted our governments, so I'm guessing it's a very quiet, considerate explosion.

  • Joe M||

    Well, it has, a little. Look at the freshmen Republicans. Dozens of them are Tea Partiers, and they're the ones preventing a deal from being made on the debt ceiling right now.

  • Brandon||

    No they're not. The ones preventing a deal from being made on the debt ceiling are the statist incumbents who refuse to consider any actual cuts in spending, up to and including Boehner.

  • SIV||

    Can we look for George Will blurb-stickers on the cover soon? The jobber could slap 'em on when they mark the bottom edge of the text-block with Sharpies.

  • ||

    They would have to get another printing for that...

    Long tales are cool...but they usually do not include 3rd or 4th printings.

  • Doctor Whom||

    America is moving in the libertarians' direction not because they have won an argument but because government and the sectors it dominates have made themselves ludicrous.

    Ever hear of winning without firing a shot?

  • ||

    I don't think America is moving in that direction nearly as much as we'd like.

    The problem is, they can't or won't tell the difference between getting the perfect "soy decaf mocha frappuccino" from Starbucks or one of its many private competitors, and getting their whims perfectly catered to by a monopoly government.

    It's not difficult to find overentitled and self-described Republicans, for example, whose definition of "limited government" applies to everyone but themselves. No welfare for those lazy darkies in the inner city, of course; but by gum, my violent, autistic, peanut-allergic drooling offspring had better receive a totally free education, swarmed by trained aides and support staff, buffered against even the faintest whiff of peanut fumes.

    One of my closest friends is a lovable, feisty, wiry woman of 65 who's a die-hard Repub. She wants tax breaks for big business and the elimination of welfare, but won't tolerate Medicare cuts or the thought of reduced/eliminated SocSec payments. Uh, she's a retired real estate attorney whose family had money to begin with. But she still demands her Medicare and SocSec bennies.

    Americans won't really embrace libertarian leadership until they are more self-sufficient and can see past their own whopping senses of entitlement. How do you get them there without actually making them live more self-sufficiently against their will? It's a chicken and egg dilemma.

  • Gibby||

    "It's a chicken and egg dilemma."

    When life hands you chicken and eggs, make egg foo yung.

  • Gray Ghost||

    One of my closest friends is a lovable, feisty, wiry woman of 65 who's a die-hard Repub. She wants tax breaks for big business and the elimination of welfare, but won't tolerate Medicare cuts or the thought of reduced/eliminated SocSec payments. Uh, she's a retired real estate attorney whose family had money to begin with. But she still demands her Medicare and SocSec bennies.

    That's been my experience too, with those over 60. For the lulz, try pointing out to them that SocSec is welfare for old people, and perhaps, just maybe, we should think about means testing it. You could power your house off the outrage.

  • ||

    I was wondering what today's plug for Nick's book would be. Thank you George.

  • Old Mexican||

    America is moving in the libertarians' direction not because they have won an argument but because government and the sectors it dominates have made themselves ludicrous.


    "The game went the home team's direction not because they were better but because the visitors' were much worse."

    Gee, thanks Georgie! You pretentious bastard.

  • cynical||

    It's more like a 15-0 soccer match composed of nothing but own goals.

  • Mike M.||

    It may not be happening as fast as we'd like, but Will's main assertion is absolutely correct.

    More evidence: Obama is now down to a new low of just 40% approval among all American adults in the just released latest Gallup poll.

  • fish||

    Next headline: America Moving in a Libertarian Direction - or what to do when the money runs out.

  • ||

    I was a libertarian before it was cool.

  • ||

    I was a libertarian before it was cool too--hey, wait, when did it become cool?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Fartriloquist,

    I was a libertarian before it was cool too--hey, wait, when did it become cool?


    The moment *I* became a libertarian, bitches!

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    I was at the Edison bar in downtown LA last week, and while waiting for my drink, I was eavesdropping on the guy next to me. He was trying to pick up a lovely young lady. No shit, the guy casually drops, "Actually, I'm a Libertarian." He seemed to be a pretty hip, successful dude. So maybe Libertarianism is catching on? I don't know if he "sealed the deal" though.

  • Chupacabra||

    Not with lines like that.

  • ||

    Who are these 40%? Sad that 40% of Americans are so dumb.

  • ||

    That's fucking millions and millions and millions of people! There ain't much hope for our country, is there?

  • CE||

    America is moving in the libertarians' direction...

    Why does the budget keep getting bigger then? Why has it doubled since 2001? Why are both parties planning to continue ratcheting up spending, instead of trimming it back to pre-bailout levels?

  • GroundTruth||

    Would that 'twere so!

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    George Will: "America is moving in the libertarians' direction"

    Sounds like a polite way of saying, "America is going to hell".

  • Rock Action ||

    I get what you're saying about Will's backhanded compliments. He believes in public virtue and governance as a soul-shaping act. The guy who wrote Statecraft Is Soulcraft would probably not be the first one to break out the noisemakers to celebrate any future libertarian ascendancy. That said, the review gives a strong indication (if you're willing to read into it) that while he views libertarian governance as amoral, and therefore less than ideal, he views most of the modern-day intrusions into our lives as completely immoral because these intrusions are actively hostile to citizens who wish to be free enough to construct publicly virtuous communities out of their own free will.

    Hell to him (if we must use charged religious terminology -- I do not think he would approve of the flippant usage), I surmise, would be if the dominant specie of communitarians that we have today were to have their chosen policies implemented and enforced. I think it's pretty clear he'd prefer the lesser evil.

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