Know Thy Libertarian Enemy

Irritating New Yorker essayist Adam Gopnik has a piece out that describes many of you, dear readers, this way:

The reason we don't have beautiful new airports and efficient bullet trains is not that we have inadvertently stumbled upon stumbling blocks; it's that there are considerable numbers of Americans for whom these things are simply symbols of a feared central government, and who would, when they travel, rather sweat in squalor than surrender the money to build a better terminal. They hate fast trains and efficient airports for the same reason that seventeenth-century Protestants hated the beautiful Baroque churches of Rome when they saw them: they were luxurious symbols of an earthly power they despised.

Cato Executive Vice President David Boaz files an appropriate response well worth reading.

Reason on transportation here, on airlines & airports here. Nick Gillespie and I have a chapter celebrating the (Democrat-led) 1970s modernization of air travel in The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America, and I wrote about how Western Europe has long since lapped the U.S. in deregulation-fueled air travel advancements back in 2005. I also wrote about The New Yorker's ideological frustrations (pictured) last month.

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  • sarcasmic||

    They hate fast trains and efficient airports...

    Holy straw man, Batman!

  • O2||

    obviously since they're not needed in...somalia ! schools & roadz & trainz oh my...

  • k2000k||

    mwah mwah I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn't for those pesky libertarians and that little dog too.

  • ||

    funny, I hate trains and airports - no matter how fast or efficient. And I especially hate them if I'm paying for them through increased taxes.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    But you like 18-wheel oil tankers?

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    I didn't read the whole article, but he seems to be inadvertantly claiming libertarians are luddites if I understand correctly.

  • ||

    Using this blog as a sample, I'd say that couldn't be more wrong. We're almost to a man (or woman!) technophiles.

  • Quetzalcoatl||

    There's a bit of selection bias there, since this is, y'know, a blog.

  • ||

    Do you know how many people are using Facebook alone? Internet use and love of technology, strangely, do not necessarily correlate completely.

  • jtuf||

    How many Libertarians do you meet outside of the blogsphere?

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Usually, you can't tell they're libertarians until it's too late.

    Too late meaning they cost you 1+ airports/bullet trains.

  • Mensan||

    Four.

  • ||

    I recently went to Haslem's bookstore in St. Pete wearing a Reason t-shirt, and one of the employees commented on it in a positive manner. So not just libertarian but Reason-supporting libertarian. Whoa. I've had the shirt for a while, and that was the first time anyone has said anything to me about it.

  • Brett L||

    I'd wear a reason tshirt, but the only one I own is that shitty one from the fright-night cover on the budget last year. If I'm wearing that, I'm not in public.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    I need some of this reason merch.

  • Warty||

    We have women?

  • ||

    Sure. Several.

  • Warty||

    TITS OR GTFO

  • goober1223||

    There goes another one. Now we're down from "several" to "few". Thanks, jackass.

  • Mensan||

    We do! I actually know one; in real life too, not just on the interwebz.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    I think I married both of them.

  • PermaLurker||

    I'm a woman. Seriously.

  • Audrey the Liberal||

    Me to.

  • Jerry||

    Yes, that's why we are cheerleaders of the US Postal Service.

  • fish||

    Hey it is luddite fucks like you that are keeping me from taking the bullet train from Fresno to Bakersfield!

  • kinnath||

    And it's nanny-staters that keep me from driving my 350Z at red-line on the way to work in the morning.

    Who needs bullet trains.

  • fish||

    And it's nanny-staters that keep me from driving my 350Z at red-line on the way to work in the morning.

    You could leave it in first gear!

  • kinnath||

    The goal is to drive fast and loud, not just loud ;-)

  • ||

    After seeing the GT-R smoke the DB9-clone Jag on Top Gear last night, I want one just that much more.

  • kinnath||

    The GT-R is beyond my means and will likely stay beyone my means for years to come.

  • Zuo||

    The GT-R is a tour de force of nannyism. For instance, it won't exceed 112 mph unless you are at a Nissan-approved track facility, and a gps signal will then unlock the governor. And, you are required to get a pre and post track inspection from official Nissan technicians, otherwise your warranty is void.

  • ||

    Oh mine too, but a man can dream, can't he?

  • fish||

    Maybe when you get your Obama money.

  • Mensan||

    Are you trying to redline it in sixth? When I had my '05 350Z the fastest I ever had it was 140 mph, and it still wasn't at the redline.

  • kinnath||

    I'm way too chicken to actually do that, but if I wanted to the nannies wouldn't let me ;-)

  • Mr Whipple||

    It is lovers of government regulations that prevent me from flying a gyrocopter Fresno to Bakersfield.

  • fish||

    Indeed! Might I suggest JetPack instead! Parabolic trajectory only though!

  • ||

    Don't forget the Madera metropolitan area!

  • cynical||

    It sounded to me like he was saying we were opposed to a corrupt religious elite looting the common man in order to establish monuments to its vanity. He just didn't realize he was saying it.

  • ||

    They hate fast trains and efficient airports for the same reason that seventeenth-century Protestants hated the beautiful Baroque churches of Rome when they saw them: they were luxurious symbols of an earthly power they despised.

    Well, of course. The beautiful churches were built on the backs of the peasants. Bullet trains to nowhere would also be built on the backs of the productive.

    there are considerable numbers of Americans for whom these things are simply symbols of a feared central government

    Seriously. After reading The Black Book of Communism how could one question the benevolence of a centralized government?

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    It's interesting that he used seventeenth-century Protestants and not 18th century Jacobins as his comparative example.

  • ||

    The reason we aren't, say, fifty years further along in science and technology is due to the government sucking away so much wealth from the economy and meddling so much in pushing research into things that have political value rather than value to consumers and industry. Not to mention lovely governmental habits like creating artificial barriers to entry and unnecessary regulatory burdens.

    So, yes, the government has denied you your flying cars. Tar to the left, feathers to the right.

  • ||

    I have mixed feelings on that one. Many of our big technological leaps came out of military spending / research (ours, German, others). GPS, satellite communications, some electronics and materials sciences.

    Those gains are probably more than offset by the tremendous drain that welfare spending and government waste is the world economy. There would certainly be more private research and development without big brother taking his massive cut of the pie.

  • tarran||

    No, the military hoovered up the best and brightest and useful technologies were an inadvertant by-product.

    Those guys would have been inventing clever things that were directly intended to improve people's lives just as their predecessors in the 19th century did.

    The growth of mechanized, high-tech military forces was what made the 20th century a charnel house. We would ahve been much better off if the U.S. citizenry had hung Wilson from a lamp-post and set his body on fire when he called for us to get involved in WW I

  • ||

    Europe would've done better for sure. Without U.S. intervention, the Germans likely either barely win or settle for peace. No Hitler. No Russian Revolution.

    Maybe the alternate history would've turned out similar or worse, but it does give one pause.

  • tarran||

    The Russian revolution predates U.S. involvement.

    The Germans failed to capitalize on their success of their plot to undermine the Czar by sending Lenin into Russia.

  • Fluffy||

    I guess the question is whether Ukraine and the Baltics and Byelorussia would have been better off as German client states than under Bolshevism.

    I imagine that the Kulaks would have voted "Da".

  • tarran||

    Possible: I recall, but can't confirm, that Ludwig von Mises had a post in the administration of territory that had been conquered from Russia, and it was his experience there that turned him away form supporting the social-welfare state. According to my memory, he did a good job of getting the economy functioning in his province by getting out of the way.

  • ||

    First of all, our mere declaration of war in April 1917 changed the status quo quite a bit.

    Second, the Communist takeover was, famously, in October of 1917. The earlier revolutions didn't necessarily mean a Communist takeover.

    Finally, if there had been a settled peace in Europe, I guarantee that the foreign intervention to stop the Communist takeover wouldn't have been so half-assed.

  • kinnath||

    The october revolution was in november ;-)

  • ||

    I know that, but I didn't want to go full pedantic.

  • kinnath||

    ;-)

  • ||

    If you want to write a no communist counter history Pro, I think you have to have the US intervening in the war at least two years earlier. The problem is that it took the US a full year to train and Army and get it to Europe. The US didn't really show up on the scene until the summer of 1918. To make a difference for Russia, it would have had to have shown up in summer 1916, which means they got into the war in 1915. A US expeditionary force combined with the considerable pressure the British put on the Germans on the Somme (people don't realize the German Army damn near cracked in the fall of 1916 because of the Somme) probably would have saved Imperial Russia.

  • Spoonman.||

    Not that Imperial Russia deserved saved, particularly. It's worth remembering that it was nearly as evil as what replaced it.

  • ||

    It wasn't even close to what replaced it. The Soviet Regime is probably the most monstrous regime in all of human history. The Khmer Rouge might have it beat for intensity in a smaller area for a shorter time. But if you take into account how long it lasted and how many people it terrorized, its evil is almost incomprehensible. As bad as the Nazi's were, they were in power for 12 years. The Soviets were in power for 70. And over thirty of that was under Stalin who seemed to grow more gruesome with every year.

  • ||

    In the last year of the Czar's regime he had 18 people executed. Some got trials. The first year under Bolshevism saw thousands executed without trial. There is no comparison between Communist regimes and other governments. The shittiest monarchy in the world doesn't hold a candle to the sheer misery and violence a communist state employs.

  • k2000k||

    Your last sentence does raise an interesting point. Many people in the US don't remember the white intervention into Russia by the US and her allies. There were three major reason for the intervention, the first two rather limited and understandable, securing allied stockpiles to prevent them from being captured by the germans, and the extraction of a Czeck legion stranded on the Trans-Siberian railroad. The third point, trying to stop the spread of Bolshevism was good ol' fashioned American meddling.

    I sometimes wonder if the failure of that intervention is what caused the spread communism around the world attitude by the Soviets.

  • ||

    No. Lenin was very clear that he planned to spread communism around the world from the very beginning.

  • Ted S.||

    Actually, the revolution that got rid of the Tsar was in early March (late February under the Julian calendar).

  • ||

    Yes, that was my point above. Lenin and his goons didn't control things at the beginning of the revolution, which is why October/November is what they considered important.

  • ||

    I think we've seen what happens to democratic governments in Russia in more recent years. If the Commies hadn't taken over someone equally noxious would have.

  • tarran||

    To be honest, I am not sure that things would have turned out better. Monsters that try their damndest to destroy civilization are always with us. For some reason, people listen to them from time to time. If the world hadn't blown up in war in 1914, it probably would have blown up some other way with guys like Hoover or House at the helm.

    It was the confluence of the overthrow of aristocracies in favor of parliamentary republics, the rise of modern mass communications, and the explosion of technology all coming at the same time that made things so destructive.

    The good news is that I think that we are at the end of the era of social-welfare republics, and what will replace them will be far more classical liberal.

  • Kristen||

    You are one optimistic bastard! I don't know what we're in for in the next revolutionary era, but it would be so nice if it were what you predict.

  • ||

    Meh. We're more likely to devolve into some sort of high-tech feudalism.

    Classical liberalism is always at a disadvantage in tumultuous times. It only develops from historical accidents.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    I'm sure stereotypical Leftists would also have mixed feelings, considering many of these things were developed for military applications.

  • ||

    We were poised for most of the technological breakthroughs that happened during the war. I've been reading the Feynman biography, Genius, which references some of the pre-war breakthroughs that led to the bomb, radar, and computers.

    Government can, of course, throw money at problems to solve them quicker, if less efficiently. The Moon landings are a great example of government work. Oh, we got there faster, but we didn't do anything with our new-found capability. When the private sector gets there, rest assured, there won't be a few years piddling about followed by a thirty-nine-year (and counting!) hiatus.

  • rts||

    When the private sector gets there, rest assured, there won't be a few years piddling about

    We'll build amusement parks.

  • ||

    And porn studios.

  • T||

    Vacation homes, dammit. I want my vacation home on the moon. I'll settle for a time share, BTW.

  • ||

    Sure. I've got plans for a giant ranch on Mars.

  • Au H20||

    To support your herds of buggalo, I assume

  • k2000k||

    I want my space gold

  • some guy||

    Many of our big technological leaps came out of military spending / research (ours, German, others). GPS, satellite communications, some electronics and materials sciences.

    That isn't a convincing argument to me. The fact that government did it first implies that resources were wasted in the process. If the technology were really worth developing in that time frame, the private sector would have already done it.

  • ||

    The other point to be considered is that the government classified and/or suppressed certain research areas, too.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Plus, we just barely stopped Nazi research into gates to hell on time. So, you know, military research is a double-edged sword.

  • Kristen||

    The book e=mc2(superscript tag no work?!?!) by David Bodanis gets into Allied efforts to stop Nazi nuclear research, specifically about the raid on the heavy water facility in Norway. Fascinating stuff.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    I read Bodanis' Electric Universe and enjoyed it. I may have to check that one out, too.

  • ||

    I am just finishing up this.

    http://www.amazon.com/Quantum-.....348&sr=8-1

    It is a great general science history book. Just technical enough to be true to the subject but just general enough to be very interesting.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    That one looks really good...

  • kinnath||

    I have this memory of a guy that was working in robotics in the 80's or 90's. He built a small, wheeled robot that would wander around the lab and learn where things were so that it wouldn't keep bumping into the same stuff over and over again.

    He was on camera joking that the military would probably come in a classify the project.

    The video got out; the military classified the project; the researcher was blocked from any past or future reasearch findings about his own invention.

  • jimmy hat||

    he invented the roomba?

  • ||

    You might be talking about MIT robotics professor Rod Brooks? He was one of the subjects of a documentary ("Fast, Cheap and Out of Control") which might be where you saw him talking, and he's also one of the founders of iRobot (who make the Roomba). I haven't seen the documentary in forever so I don't remember if the comment you're talking about was in it. He's also a total jerk, but that's for other non-Roomba reasons.

  • k2000k||

    I think the rules of free economics still apply with military spending. The developments of the internet and gps arose from real needs by the military, not some cooked up potential threat. Would they have arisen sooner if left to the free market, I honestly can't say. But using the few beneficial instances does ignore the dozens if not hundreds of more instances of that research being utterly bust. Or have we forgotten the Japanese death ray.

  • ||

    The Soviets apparently spent quite a bit of money on psychic research.

  • Devil's Advocate||

    And the "research" of Trofim Lysenko.

  • Jedi||

    OFFICIAL: "But when did the Soviets begin this type of research?"

    BRIGADIER GENERAL HOPGOOD: "Well, sir... It looks like they found out about our attempt to telepathically communicate with one of our nuclear subs, the Nautilus, while it was
    under the Polar cap."

    OFFICIAL: "What attempt?"

    BRIGADIER GENERAL HOPGOOD: "There was no attempt. It seems the story was a French hoax. But the Russians think the story about the story being a French hoax is just a story, sir."

    SECOND OFFICIAL: "So, they've started psi research because they thought we were doing psi research, when in fact we weren't doing psi research?"

    BRIGADIER GENERAL HOPGOOD: "Yes, sir. But now that they're doing psi research, we're gonna have to do psi research, sir.

    We can't afford to have the Russians
    leading the field in the paranormal."

  • ||

    I see, so if something runs counter to your ideology, it must be wrong.

  • jtuf||

    Old Soldier, government funding is the reason that the vast majority of climatologist try to predict the weather in 2100 to prop up the global warming scare rather than predicting the weather in 2012 to help farmers increase their yields by planting the most fit crops for that weather.

  • ||

    Yes. I was agreeing that government spending, other than some military R&D is detrimental to technological advancement.

  • Mike M.||

    Hmmm, something is wrong here, what is it...

    I got it! Not even one of those dudes on the cover is wearing a monocle.

  • Trespassers W||

    I still want to frame that cover. I like owning this top-hat-and-monocle meme like the revolutionaries owned Yankee Doodle.

  • some guy||

    But the guys on that cover don't have monocles. They aren't TRUE capitalists.

  • toddb||

    You guys are misinterpreting. Those aren't capitalists...they're Congressmen. The capitalists are all the screaming guys going down with the ship.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    He's right, I hate bullet trains and shiny new airports. I much prefer traveling in sedan chairs hoisted on the backs of slaves. To hell with all of this modern technology, with the exception of the monocle and top hat, the purest expressions of the higher castes.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    I prefer my slaves to carry me in one of five opulent gilded litters, not a plebian sedan chair.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Elitist

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Not really. He's just keeping up with the Xerxeses.

  • tarran||

    I actually go further than that - I use teams of children, orphaned when their parents died in my mines, specially chosen for their strength, height and cherubic appearance to carry my litter using a special gait that results in no up-down motion.

    After they've grown to large, or when their knees are too worn to walk properly, then I have them gently killed, sup on their flesh, and grind their bones to make the potash used in my mining operations

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I yield to your magnificence sir.

  • Gibby||

    "cherubic appearance"

    Pederast.

  • some guy||

    I also insist that they bring along the other four opulent gilded litters in case I change my mind before we arrive at our destination.

    Did I mention the litters are made of solid lead with gold plating?

  • Kristen||

    My litters are made from neutron stars!

  • ||

    How proletarian of you. My litters are made of forcibly bound together--enslaved, if you will, neutrinos.

  • fish||

    The only litter I will even consider is ....kitty.

    What? Too lowbrow?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I don't always drink wine in my litter, but when I do, I dissolve pearls in it first.

    Pour one for my homies....

  • k2000k||

    Im sorry but your modes of transportation are utterly plebian by taste. When I deign to leave my estate and venture amongst the massibes it is a a large land trieme pushed on either side by at least 5 score of my burliest slaves. And a top hate? How droll, I will stick with my powdered wigs thank you very much.

  • T||

    Nothing tops our hate, k2000k, so you're probably better off with the wig.

  • Brandon||

    Peasants. When I leave my volcanic redoubt, I do so exclusively in my custom Somali-built Mclaren with all of the emission controls removed, powered exclusively by Canadian oil sands-derived high octane fuel, and shod with tires made from the homeless.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    :::clapping:::

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    They hate fast trains and efficient airports for the same reason that seventeenth-century Protestants hated the beautiful Baroque churches of Rome when they saw them: they were luxurious symbols of an earthly power they despised.

    It's not often you hear the statists openly admit that they long for the days when wealth and power were inherited by being born into the right social class and the common people were serfs for the nobility, so I give Gopnik points for at least being honest.

  • fish||

    Honesty isn't usually a trait appreciated in someone who aspires to be a court scribe.

  • ||

    I think it was purely accidental.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    I'm more concerned about his salivating in reminiscence over an organization that claims its commands are the same as if God had made them.

    At least the trains ran on time churches were beautifully Baroque.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    If it's Baroque, don't fix it.

  • kinnath||

    The reason we don't have beautiful new airports and efficient bullet trains is that there's no fucking business case for a private entity to build them.

  • Kristen||

    When I see shit like this I always wonder:

    Is the writer just that simple-minded and, frankly, stupid? Or, does he know perfectly well what the libertarian ideology is, and is misstating it on purpose to rouse the New Yorker-reading sheeple? I honestly don't know which one it is.

    And what's with everyone talking as if libertarians had any sort of power whatsoever? Maybe we're doing something right if they're this scared of us?

  • ||

    Accept that there are a lot of stupid people in the world, and you will approach understanding.

    Just to round things out, we're the Jews to their Nazis. Is that unfair?

  • ||

    That's a bit strong. I'd say we're more like the gypsies to their nazis.

  • Chupacabra||

    Wait, doesn't everyone hate gypsies?

  • ||

    I knew a Romanian girl who absolutely despised gypsies. I was very surprised by her vehemence.

  • sarcasmic||

    Some people honestly believe that if you don't want something to be done by government, you don't want it to be done at all.
    Since we don't want the government to build high speed rail, the conclusion is that we hate high speed rail.

    Bastiat said it best.

    Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.

    We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.
  • ||

    Yes! I love new stuff. I love walking into a bright shiny new building built with private funds. I love the new Foxboro stadium built by Robert Kraft with his own dough.

    I love new aircraft bought by airlines so they can turn a profit. I would even like a new train if it was paid for by the riders not the taxpayers.

  • Tolly||

    Uhhh, strike that.

    If I remember, that scumbag Kraft got on the public tit in numerous ways for the new stadium.

    If he didn't I'll eat my hat.

  • ||

    "Robert Kraft paid for 100% of the construction costs, a rare instance of an NFL owner privately financing the construction of a stadium."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gillette_Stadium

    He did dick around with the idea of Connecticut building a stadium for him but decided to stay in Foxboro.

  • ||

    Jack Kent Cooke *almost* did that, but I doubt that anyone builds anything without the public teat any longer.

    "Though Mr. Cooke footed the $180 million bill for the stadium, built in a breathless 18 months, he got $70.5 million from taxpayers for roads and infrastructure."

    http://articles.baltimoresun.c.....adium-site

  • T||

    That was a case of building it out in Bumfuck, MD. IIRC, Jack went to county and said "I'm gonna build a big-ass stadium. If y'all don't want traffic jams that last 2 days, you might think about building some roads." Since Jack and the franchise don't own the roads, I hardly think he got the money for the roads and infrastructure. It's more appropriate to say Jack made the taxpayer pay the cost of the infrastructure required to support the stadium.

  • ||

    Bum fuck? I thought his kids were named Ralph and John?

    Not disparaging Cooke for the ROADZ, just pointing out that in spite of good intentions, you can't escape the taxpayer yoke.

  • mikey||

    It wasn't for lack of trying. He tried the usual "gimme money or I take my team somewhere else". The legislature said "so go." Not from having any principles - the Pats sucked at the time (the state did kick in a good amount on "infrastructure"). If Kraft tried it now he get everything he wanted.

  • Destrudo||

    Still waiting for hat-eating to commence...

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    I assume his hat is made from fried tortilla.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Robert Kraft ad his infernal organization can go suck a dick, yo!

  • Matrix||

    one of those fry pictures with the caption "Can't tell if trolling or just stupid." would be sufficient to many of these opinion pieces.

  • some guy||

    Liberals have been trolling life for decades...

  • Doug||

    Maybe we're doing something right if they're this scared of us?

    This.

  • Applederry||

    I read Boaz's response yesterday and I have to agree a libertarian could fake being a liberal (or a conservative for that matter) much easier than the other way around. Maybe has something to do with libertarianism being essentially a contrarian position in the current state of affairs.

    I can understand the point of view of a liberal concerned about deregulation or a conservative concerned about legal drug use, but when advocating those things the most common response I hear from them is "you just want to see workers exploited" or "you just want to get high" or some variation that doesn't show any critical thinking about the subject.

  • Applederry||

    Actually it was Bryan Caplan that made that point, Boaz linked to his article on the ideological turing test.

  • Joe M||

    That's really an awesome idea. I'd love to see it implemented.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "As a liberal, I want to roll a marijuana cigarette from the American flag, surrender to the French, rename the country the United Soviet States of America (USSA), nationalize all industry and small business, and use slave labor gangs to built bullet trains."

    Have I summarized their views correctly?

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    I think 3 or 4 years ago I could have passed the Team Blue Turing test. But now days I don't know if I'd actually be able to resist sounding like a Tony spoof. I probably could if I were getting paid or something, but not just for fun.

  • Audrey the Liberal||

    "I have to agree a libertarian could fake being a liberal"That's because a libertarian is a kind of liberal. If you ask me.

  • JD the elder||

    As a long-time reader of the New Yorker (my family subscribed since before I was born, and my mom still buys me a subscription, I think because she thinks it provides me some kind of lifeline back to sanity), I can say: ignore the barking and yipping from the New Yorker.

    Their political commentary has never risen much above the sub-moronic. It is the most intellectually dull, navel-gazing stance imaginable. In the New Yorker's world, everyone who doesn't agree with them is a big meany poopyhead. Their language is slightly more high-flown, but their thinking is not.

  • DBN||

    Indeed. I enjoy many things about the magazine, but the editors barely grasp politics or even economics. I still remember an editorial a few months ago wherein the writer groused that Obama should have ordered the treasury to sell bonds without congressional approval as a way to break the debt ceiling impasse.

    Never was it acknowledged in the whole half-page of whinging that there might be some hesitancy on the part of investors to buy bonds of questionable legality. It was as if the editor was confusing the treasury with a central bank.

  • Flyover||

    What Mr.Boaz fails to identify is that Leftists like Gopnik have seen these arguments but they intentionally ignore them. Opponents of government spending on these projects are clearly unintelligent racists. Why would the enlightened Gopniks bother listening to them?

  • Mr Whipple||

    Well, they are members of the intelligenzia.

  • T||

    I'm growing increasingly tired of douchebag statists telling me what I believe.

  • Douchebag statist||

    No you're not.

  • Bill Maher||

    That's because you're a Republican.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    ^^THIS^^

  • DJF||

    100 years ago the US had a huge system of privately owned passenger rail, interurban and trolleys and the “progressives” of the day destroyed it by subsidizing the competitors using tax money from the private transportation system.

    In NYC there was the magnificent Pennsylvania station but the above ground portion was leveled since while magnificent it did not generate enough money to pay for the taxes it had to pay.

    After WW2 the Pullman company which ran much of the long distance passenger traffic in the US was broken up by the federal government supposedly because it was a monopoly even though the same government was subsiding road and air travel which was cutting large parts out of the passenger train business.

    How about instead of these taxpayer subsidies we instead have each form of transpiration pay for its own maintenance and expansion and stop trying to pick winners with using the force of government.

  • Fluffy||

    The funny thing is that he naturally would think of a historical example involving completely worthless piles of stone that were built using wealth extorted from helpless victims not much above the status of slaves as pointless monuments to the vanity of tyrannical monsters and their empty-headed irrationality and superstition.

    And he thinks that this was a good thing, and we need to do good things like this now.

  • ||

    Those churches were built by despots on the backs of dreadfully poor people. And the backlash against their building and the church's excess is what destroyed the old church and gave us the reformation and the Thirty Years War.

    I love them too. They are gorgeous. But they are not exactly a model for good government. It amazes me that someone could be that stupid.

  • nicole||

    As usual, Fluffy says it best.

  • DBN||

    Gropnik is an art historian; his understanding shapes his priorities.

  • k2000k||

    Now now, lets be fair. At least those churches are nice to look at. I can't think of many goverment projects today that would look half as good. And thats what matters right, as long as it looks and/or makes me feel good tis all right by me.

  • Rev. Blue Moon||

    They hate fast trains and efficient airports for the same reason that seventeenth-century Protestants hated the beautiful Baroque churches of Rome when they saw them: they were luxurious symbols of an earthly power they despised.

    And that is a bad thing because...?

    I like how the assumption is that efficient airports and bullet trains are ipso facto good things.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    They're shiny. Nuff' said

  • sarcasmic||

    They're paid for by a government that is run by really smart people with really good intentions.

    If you don't want these things then obviously you are not very smart and have bad intentions.

    There is no other possible explanation for why you would disagree with really smart people with really good intentions.

  • Gibby||

    You want efficient airports? Dump the TSA.

  • Tony||

    Not every good thing is necessarily a profitable business venture.

    And treating citizens as consumers only means a lot of people get left out of the picture.

  • Fluffy||

    Pharaoh Bender chips in with his opinion.

  • ||

    I don't care.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Which is why some people work 9-to-5s so they can be able to afford to do the other stuff they like. Nothing wrong with that, Tony.

  • Matrix||

    And yet, we have private charities all over the world

  • Bob Forehead||

    Not everything that is good, er, I mean that I like, is popular with other people.

    When most people choose something I don't like, my interests aren't met. People should be forced to conform to my values.

  • Barack Obama||

    Let me be clear, through regulation, we will shut them down.

  • ||

    Not every good thing is necessarily a profitable business venture.

    Why couldn't it be? If it's good, surely other people will want it and be willing to pay for it.

  • Fluffy||

    He also fails to acknowledge the guilt of the left in this matter.

    How much did the Big Dig in Boston cost?

    For a fucking hole in the ground a few hundred yards long.

    Maybe if environmentalists and labor activists hadn't bid up the costs of infrastructure improvements so insanely, he'd find more people around willing to support him when he wants to pour tax money into airports and trains.

    The left makes it easy for us anti-communitarian minded people to undermine their schemes, because they just can't stop themselves from stealing so much that it becomes obvious to everyone and not just libertarians.

  • ||

    Unionism and environmentalism killed old time progressiveness. You couldn't have the WPA today. It would be the most sued entity on earth. And whatever it did accomplish would be thanks to unionism astronomically behind schedule and beyond budget.

    People were willing to support big government projects back then because they could see some really great results that came from them. When the other side can point to the Golden Gate Bridge and the Hoover Dam and the Interstate Highway System, Libertarians are going to look like kooks. But when environmentalism and unionism made building those kinds of things virtually impossible, the argument changed.

  • tarran||

    The Golden Gate bridge was built using private donations.

    Its existence puts lie to this BS that only the state can do visionary projects that improve people's lives.

  • rts||

    According to wikipidia...

    The bonds were approved in November 1930,[13] by votes in the counties affected by the bridge.[23] The construction budget at the time of approval was $27 million. However, the District was unable to sell the bonds until 1932, when Amadeo Giannini, the founder of San Francisco–based Bank of America, agreed on behalf of his bank to buy the entire issue in order to help the local economy.

    So, not exactly a "donation".

    Perhaps a better example would be the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver:

    The Guinness Family built the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver (or more accurately paid for its construction) which connects Vancouver to North Vancouver and West Vancouver over Burrard Inlet. The Guinness family sold the bridge to the province of British Columbia for over 6 million dollars in 1955.

    Source

  • Fluffy||

    Exactly.

    A new WPA would bring us to Peak NIMBY very quickly.

    And you know what? That would be half the reason I'd oppose it.

    If Obama proposed a new WPA tomorrow, half of my opposition would be the Standard Libertarian Disclaimer stuff - but the other half would be that I'd anticipate all the whining and haggling and litigation and everything else, and I'd get tired just thinking about hearing about it.

    "Please," I'd plead. "Can we not fill the papers and the internet with all this chatter about shit that will never get built anyway because it will be in court forever? Can we spare ourselves that? Or do I need to pluck out my eyes and pierce my eardrums with an ice pick?"

  • robc||

    Peak NIMBY

    I replied to you in the probably dead morning links thread, but my response fits better hear anyway.

    Blaming Rand Paul, who has been senator for 8 months, for a 30+ year political battle is insane.

    I-265 construction in KY started in the early 80s. Look at google maps, see the obvious location to connect I-265 in IN and KY. NIMBYism is keeping that east end bridge from being built.

    There have been a lot of democratic mayors helping kill that over the years. And the current House member, who opposed it when editor of an independent newspaper before his election. The closest it came to being built was when the Queen of Pork (Anne Northup - R) was able to get funding for it, working with McConnell and Bunning.

    Not that I support federal bridge funding, but if the feds are going to build roads, do it right.

  • ||

    One of these days the Tappanzee bridge north of New York City is going to fall in. They have known for about twenty years the bridge was unsafe and needed to be replaced. But you since you can't build anything in New York anymore, there it still sits waiting to fall in and take who knows how many lives with it.

  • ||

    Yet every time I cross it going northbound, I hand them $5. Daily revenue from tolls is somewhere over $600k. I wonder where all that money is going. That sure sounds like enough money to build a new bridge.

  • robc||

    120k cars per day? That seems unlikely.

  • ||

    120K per day is only an average of five thousand an hour or less than a hundred a minute. That bridge is huge and always packed. I would believe that.

  • robc||

    wikipedia says 133k per day. Wow.

  • robc||

    Sherman Minton bridge in Louisville, according to wikipedia:

    Daily traffic

    80,000/day (Normal conditions)
    0/day (as of September 9, 2011)

  • robc||

    One, I loled. Two, if Sherman Minton does 80k per day, then the 133k for a NYC bridge really doesnt surprise me.

    SM has no tolls though, so it doesnt have that slowdown. But its not very crowded outside of rush hour either, but would be if their were tolls.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    The Tappan Zee bridge is a good example of the road entitlement failing. The bridge is now "necessary" because a population developed that relies on the bridge. But they don't want to pay the true cost of using it.

  • ||

    Nonsense.

    $600K + a day, over $230 million a year doesn't cover the true cost?

    That should more than cover the administration and maintenance with quite a bit left over for the construction of a replacement bridge.

    Who knows where the money is really going - or the $2 million a day the GW brings in. Lining somebody's pocket.

  • Milena Del Valle||

    "How much did the Big Dig in Boston cost?"

    One human life.

  • ||

    No kidding. These people insist that paying people unemployment benefits stimulates the economy. Why is anyone surprised when their infrastructure projects run 30 times over budget and take 20 years to complete?

    You're trusting people with the public treasury who honestly don't think it matters if they produce anything with the money at all. Why the fuck would you be shock that their their projects turn out to be collossal wastes?

  • ||

    They hate fast trains and efficient airports for the same reason that seventeenth-century Protestants hated the beautiful Baroque churches of Rome when they saw them: they were luxurious symbols of an earthly power they despised.

    Well. Let's talk about the churches in Rome. They were built by selling indulgences to people. And they cost the equivalent of billions of dollars a time when Europe was very poor and being terrorized by the Turk. And a lot of people hated those churches. And they became Protestant and made a point of building their churches small and plain as a rejection of those churches' excess and waste. I love the churches as much as anyone. But I didn't have to pay for them. And I can understand why some of the people who did, didn't have such a grand view of them.

    About the trains liberals love so fucking much. No one hates trains. People hate trains that don't pay for themselves and depend upon the largess of government to operate. I think one of the reasons why liberals are liberals is because the market doesn't appeal to vanity. The market is practical. The market will build whatever is just enough to do the job and no more. It doesn't tolerate vanity projects. And liberals love vanity projects. They love projects that make them feel good. And the market really doesn't care how it makes them feel. It is too messy and disorderly for that.

  • Fluffy||

    It's not even just about the trains.

    At least the trains would have a practical use.

    He's also bent out of shape about the aesthetics of airport terminals.

    To me, a terminal is a place you pass through as quickly as possible. As long as the bathrooms are clean and I can buy some french fries or a beer if I'm so inclined, I'm good. Adding marble floors or what have you adds no value to the airport terminal to me at all. Not if you have to tax me and take away money I could spend on getting new carpeting in my family room to put those marble floors in.

    I don't even think it's largely about his personal experience of comfort in the airport that is motivating him here. I think it's a bizarre kind of patriotism - he wants to get to walk around thinking that the US has nicer airports than China. Marble floors in airports are the little plastic flags and car antenna yellow ribbons of the left.

  • ||

    It goes back to their vanity. I remember during the Cold War liberals used to fret about the Soviets having larger wheat farms than America. I am not kidding. The US in the 70s at least had by far the most productive and efficient farming industry in the world. And these people were worried about some list of largest farms.

    They just don't understand the concept of efficiency. They can't understand that bigger and prettier isn't always better.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Wait, I thought huge farms were bad according to the left.

  • ||

    Not if they are the people's collective farms.

  • ||

    From my experience on what is essentially a Marxist farm, I think the Left is very confused on agriculture policy. Cheap, plentiful, subsidized food = good for poor. Cheap, plentiful, subsidized food = bad for poor. Ethanol = good. Ethanol = bad. Farm subsidies are either a means to protect and manage the nation's food supply and help the small farmer, or an evil capitalist mechanism to destroy third world farmers and enrich Monsanto. I haven't found their views to be very coherent as a group. But of course not all Leftists are exactly the same either.

  • ||

    Liberals heap scorn on religious people who reject Darwinism - yet the cannot believe "survival of the fittest" when they see it in the real world.

    Business competition (not government and not crony capitalism) produces efficient results because the losers are culled out.

  • Audrey the Liberal||

    Stereotype much?

  • nicole||

    Why don't you want your airports to be monuments to the people? Do you now hate the people in addition to the airports? For shame.

  • Kristen||

    The most comfortable parts of any airport terminal I have been in in the last 10 years are the parts run by the airlines. You know, private entities. For example, I recently had to fly for bidness. I flew Virgin America, who provided all kinds of creature comforts in their gate areas, such as free Chromebooks (which you could then take on the flight and return to VX at your destination), $2 honor system headphones in bright colors (pink headphones!!), and a variety of loungy-type seating. I actually almost enjoyed the experience!

  • ||

    If what you say is true then you are the only human in existence whose stress levels are not affected by environment. If the design of the terminal lowers stress then that benefits you as a customer, because not only yours but everyone else's stress is lowered.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Frankfurt Flughafen doesn't look like much to me, but dammit it works!

  • T||

    Design for function is not design for lower stress is not design for beauty. Bottom line, it's gotta work as an a airport first.

  • Ted S.||

    I'd feel more stress from something designed to look pretty that doesn't work than something that looks functional but works well.

    Case in point: all those websites that are Flash-only.

  • Yours in Darwin||

    In addition, to the vanity part, don't forget that building new airports will probably require either massive amounts of eminent domain, or major disruptions to existing service if they just upgrade the current airport. Major airports cover thousands of acres. If you're going to build a new airport in a major metro, the government will probably have to seize some land unless they can find a big enough stretch of government-owned land. Plus, since they don't want to piss off the plebes, they will build the airport in the middle of nowhere (see Denver International).

    It's also important to note that many of the taxes will be paid by tourists and will affect how much money they spend during their visit. Sales taxes will be raised in and around the airport and additional fees will be added to hospitality services. Denver International has an 11% tax on car rentals in addition to the 13% sales tax, which is double the normal sales tax in the area. There's also an additional $1.60/day fee for car rentals. I know other cities and states are doing the exact same thing.

  • ||

    Every city does that. It is as if money is free as long as you steal it from tourists.

  • T||

    Houston's hotel tax is 17% and the rental car rate is similarly outrageous. And then they wonder why they can't get any convention bookings. Derp.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Plus, since they don't want to piss off the plebes, they will build the airport in the middle of nowhere (see Denver International).

    Back when Stapleton was still in operation, my best friend's house was right under a flight path for the jets (he lived in Aurora, just off of Sable and Colfax). Every time we'd chat on the phone, I remember having to pause for a few seconds whenever a plane passed over.

    You're right about the costs associated with these things--they really soak tourists to try and cover the costs. Thank goodness my family still lives there and I don't have to rent a car at the airport to get around.

  • rts||

    The market is practical. The market will build whatever is just enough to do the job and no more. It doesn't tolerate vanity projects.

    Explain Apple then.

  • ||

    Apple produces a great product that people want. It is that simple. But if Apple blew its entire R&D budget building an artistic corporate headquarters, it probably wouldn't be in business long.

  • rts||

    Apple produces a great product that people want. It is that simple.

    Oh, I agree... I was being facetious.

    But if Apple blew its entire R&D budget building an artistic corporate headquarters

    http://www.macobserver.com/tmo.....ceship_hq/

  • ||

    Their money. And if they are spending too much of it, they will go bankrupt. Apple has been close to that before.

  • kinnath||

    Steve Jobs told the CEO of Nike that 90% of the products Nike made were crap. And he said that Nike should get rid of the 90% that were crap and put all their effort into the 10% that were good.

  • rts||

  • some guy||

    In Apple's case, "the job" is to satisfy the egos of a bunch of techno-ignorant elitists. They do that job admirably.

  • ||

    It's a status brand, like Cartier, not a technology brand. Learn that, and you will understand how Apple functions in the marketplace.

  • Brett L||

    That and the fact that they were the first company to have a truly end-to-end music solution for computers. I remember when I saw the first iPod, I had some ginormous PC based player with a shitty interface and worse battery life. There was a period there where there was nothing remotely as well-rounded as the iPod in portable music players. Take it from a guy who tried running with all sorts of portable music solutions, the SSD iPods were the only solution to continuous play while running except for the minidisc since cassettes got hard to find. Now, their computers... luxury brand.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Yeah, that tiny iPod is great for jogging.

  • some guy||

    It's true. They do have some good products. The problem is that they are way overpriced and can't be modified at all. If you're on a budget or you like to have control of your technology, Apple products are not for you.

  • Urban VIII||

    At least the Baroque-era churches were well-built, beautiful, and the poor could attend services for free. Let's see how many poor people will ride the bullet trains for free!

    As for the airports: when we grope people, we're held accountable. When the TSA gropes people, they're fighting a glorious War on Terror and it's OK because they're following procedures.

  • ||

    America used to have the finest passenger rail service on earth thanks to the Pullman Car Co., until the federal government crippled it in an antitrust suit. The result of this "anti-monopoly" action was that after Pullman's eventual collapse, it was replaced by, you guessed it, a government monopoly, Amtrak.

  • Restoras||

    Almost nobody reads The New Yorker and those that do are preening douchebags, so why should we care?

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    The phrase 'preening douchebag' is most magnificent indeed.

  • Kristen||

    Concur

  • Warty||

    From Boaz's piece:

    But as he wrote, after taking issue with some of Niall Ferguson’s analyses of the French Enlightenment, Darwinianism, and the sixties, “when someone gets the sixties Beatles this wrong you have to wonder how well he really is doing with the sixth-century barbarians.” And when somebody gets the argument for limited government this wrong, you have to wonder whether he’s accurately described the books under review.

    That's a PWND, right there.

  • ||

    Children say, “I want it.” Adults say, “How much does it cost, and what would I have to give up to have it?”

    Nice, Boaz. All that needs to be said.

  • Warty||

  • Colin||

    Show one non-elitist who reads the New Yorker and then I'll care about what they say.

  • ||

    Show me one person elitist or not who reads the New Yorker. Seriously, if they didn't have people who buy it just to skin for the cartoons, would they sell any copy?

  • ChrisO||

    I think I've seen it in doctors' waiting areas before. I may have skimmed a cartoon or two.

  • ||

    The cartoons, especially the ones involving dogs and cats, are funny.

  • Warty||

    I've long said that the internet is 50% porn and 45% dogs and cats. The same is probably true of magazine revenues.

  • ||

  • Warty||

    Goddammit, stupid puppies. I need a house so I can get a bunch.

  • ||

    Can you provide a Venn diagram of these categories? For I fear they may overlap.

  • rhofulster||

    I realized I was a libertarian about 20 years ago. I've always kept in touch with the left and the right - reading their commentary on their own terms. It seems to me that there has been a huge spike the last few months in both sides smearing libertarians - we've received much, much more attention than at any time in the past 2 decades.
    Have we passed the "first they ignore you" point?

  • ||

    They need scapegoats. Libertarians are a little less obscure than we once were, so they're trying us out for size. Our lack of overt political power makes the attacks awfully easy to fend off, however.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    This notion seems to be gaining some traction. I don't know if it's the deficit or what else, but we may be approaching that libertarian moment Welch and Gillespie allude to in their magnificent book The Declaration of Independents, available at fine booksellers near you.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Sorry, just having fun. It really is a good book, though.

  • rts||

    Never heard of it!

  • Gus||

    Shill much?

  • ||

    I'm reading it. I like it so far, though I'm not sure they've got cause and effect quite right on the role of music in the Eastern European revolutions.

  • ||

    We're kinda stuck in between the laughing and fighting stages.

  • ||

    From reading the comments at Reason he is right. Many commenters here have no problem with government paying for their streets, but fear government paying for trains. Government taking of money and using it to promote one behavior is perfectly fine, as long as it's something that benefits them.

    Now reason writers and some others of course recognize that BOTH are government interference, but the average commenter?

  • sarcasmic||

    I consider myself to be an average commenter, and I am quite certain that private enterprise would produce better roads for less money than the state.
    I am also quite certain that the tolls for those roads would be far less than the myriad of taxes that pay to play "dodge the pothole" today.

  • Gus||

    ^^This^^

    I just spent a week looking out of my office window at 3 county workers watching one county worker work on a library roof. It took nearly a week. Should have taken one day if the other three were working.

    Big fat dudes too.

  • sarcasmic||

    Don't kill the job.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Except as far as I can tell Gopnik isn't saying anything like that.

  • ||

    Many commenters here have no problem with government paying for their streets

    Do tell.

  • Brandon||

    God, you are a boring douche. Keep repeating the same pseudo-gotcha crap, and one of these days it might be true!

  • Fluffy||

    Don't look at me. I'm one of those "roadz = teh slavery!!!!11!#!11!" guys.

    But the funny thing about roads is that I don't see a lot of agitation for them to be pretty. They're just supposed to be functional.

    Metal street signs cost a few bucks. But in upstate New York they decided to spring for a couple hundred grand for four sculpted stone signs for the redesigned bridge interchange at I-87 and NY-7. People went berserk when they heard about the expense, and rightly so.

    Don't spend a hundred grand of taxpayer money when you can spend $50. Simple enough, right? But not to Gopnik.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Good for you guys. My county spent an extra $16 Million for a bridge that looks "better" without a peep from anyone

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Many commenters here have no problem with government paying for their streets, but fear government paying for trains.

    Correction: "Government" does not pay for anything. Citizens pay. Roads are a slightly freer form of travel than trains.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "Roads are a slightly freer form of travel than trains."

    If the costs for both of those things were not laundered through taxes, that would be true.

  • ||

    They hate fast trains and efficient airports for the same reason that seventeenth-century Protestants hated the beautiful Baroque churches of Rome when they saw them: they were luxurious symbols of an earthly power they despised.

    Strangely enough, when I was in South America a few years ago, as the people I was with were ooh-ing and aah-ing at the marvelous cathedrals I saw nothing but a monstrous theft of capital.

    That's pretty much how I view the high speed train boondoggle, and rest of the "public monument" school of government-provided infrastructure.

    Top Men steal your money in order to squander it on monuments to their vision of "society".

  • GILMORE||

    there are considerable numbers of Americans for whom these things are simply symbols of a feared central government

    When I visited Eastern Europe in 1991, i didn't see any shiny airport terminals... the trains were pretty nice, if you like the quaintness of 1950s-era traincars. They really had better legroom back then. And the conductors doubled as spies/informers for the police.

    I dont know how progressive liberals have gotten this idea into their head, but recently the meme-du-jour is that "all innovation has been sponsored/regulated into existence by Government". Ergo, big government means 'nicer shit'. (?) They always cite The Internet. And university research grants, etc. It is something that never seemed to occur to them before, but they've latched so hard onto it now its become an unquestioned self-evident fact.

    More Government = Shiny Airports? I dont see how one necessarily gets from A->B. We already have plenty of Government in the airports as it is. I dont see how "more" makes it shinier.

    All I know is the current role of government in Airports involves a) demanding my papers, b) groping me, c) taking my shoes off, and *!&@#d) making sure I can't get a decent whiskey on the rocks for less than $14 or so. (those little measuring-caps they put on Airport liquor?...which are law in much of Europe as well... I DESPISE THEM. Big government=shitty bartenders) Oh, and making us all sit through a performance of the safety-dance routine before they can take off. That thing sure has saved a lot of lives. Thank government! Without roof inspectors we'd all be sleeping in the rain.

  • ||

    Where is this American city where they are suffering for a lack of a new airport terminal? All I've seen everywhere I've flown in this country are fairly new, swanky airport terminals.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    I've had a similar experience, but then I've never flown into Duluth.

  • T||

    Having flown into lots of smaller town airports, they used to be admirably free of big city airport bullshit. The gov is doing its best to change that, though.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I've heard NYC has a couple of airports, but I can't distinguish them from the local dump.

  • Brett L||

    Does Tallahassee count as a city? We have the worst airport with the worst service in the US (only fly to Nashville, Atlanta and maybe Charlotte, everything else requires a connection). One guess as to who owns and operates it.

  • ||

    So now the libertarians are all-powerful demons who can stop civilization in its tracks with just a glance from our fiery red eyes?

    Cool!

  • ||

    You didn't hear about the new laser-monocles? They're perfect for searing small street urchins and homeless grandmas.

  • ||

    By far, the biggest block of opposition I've seen to California's high-speed rail plan are liberal NIMBYs who voted for the initiative, then woke up to realize that they planned to route the thing through their neighborhoods.

  • rbenchley||

    Par for the course. Ted Kennedy was a big alternative energy proponent until someone had the temerity to propose the Cape Wind project. Clean energy is a secondary concern when it means marring the view from the Kennedy Compound.

  • ||

    I guess there's something wrong with me. I think wind turbines enhance the scenery.

  • Surly pete||

    To be fair to Ted Kennedy, the family does have a bit of difficulty with fancy transportation without added obstacles...

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Minnesota Public Radio was a huge booster of light rail boondoggles in MN, but they recently sued the .gov because the latest light rail will be too near their studios.

  • ||

    Wow, just wow.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    I see that Gopnik is a star pupil in Professor Obama's class on erecting strawman positions for one's opponents.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    If high speed train routes were truly popular (meaning enough people were willing to get out of their cars, ride them, and pay to do so) then libertarians would be the first to ask why new routes were constantly being held up by government red tape and overbearing regulations.

    And Gopnik would be crying about adverse environmental impacts and the obscene profits of "Big Rail."

  • sarcasmic||

    nice

  • A Serious Man||

    "They hate fast trains and efficient airports for the same reason that seventeenth-century Protestants hated the beautiful Baroque churches of Rome when they saw them: they were luxurious symbols of an earthly power they despised"

    Really? I thought it was because the government/church tortured people and burnt them at the stake if they didn't worship God properly and built those castles and cathedrals form the confiscated property of said dissidents.

    This sums it up nicely:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oppHeMlaLVM

  • A Serious Man||

  • Jersey Patriot||

    In the Ideological Turing Test, I have to give a massive amount of credit to the folks on The West Wing. Once that twit Aaron Sorkin was gone, they did a terrific job with the 2006 Presidential Election. A group of flaming liberal writers with an iconic liberal actor did a beautiful job of making a Republican presidential candidate who was principled, intelligent, and likeable, and they did so at the height of the Bushitler Zeitgeist. I didn't watch the show much - President Bartlett was a war criminal and should have been hung for crimes against humanity - but a liberal friend recommended it. She told me she could see herself voting for the Republican. I knew then it would be good. Kudos to them.

  • Brandon||

    "we have inadvertently stumbled upon stumbling blocks..."

    How the hell could that get past a paid editor?

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    He wants you to know those blocks were designed to be stumbled over.

  • jtuf||

    and who would, when they travel, rather sweat in squalor than surrender the money to build a better terminal.

    Not me. My car has air conditioning.

    They hate fast trains and efficient airports for the same reason that seventeenth-century Protestants hated the beautiful Baroque churches of Rome when they saw them: they were luxurious symbols of an earthly power they despised.

    So, he doesn't see a middle ground between hating and not funding. I don't see Gopkin sending me any cash. By his logic, he hates me.

  • CE||

    The reason we don't have beautiful new airports and efficient bullet trains...

    In a free market, we would have many beautiful new airports, conveniently located for travelers. The government currently restricts where, when, and how they can be built, giving us giant monstrosities in the middle of nowhere like DFW and Denver, with government-enforced restrictions on competing airports (like Love Field.)

    Bullet trains are impractical and expensive, and would be very unlikely to be built without government subsidies. Fortunately, enough people have resisted them so far.

  • ||

    #!@&ing; Wright Amendment. I hang my head in shame, as my dearly beloved but disagreed-with grandfather was on the D/FW board that supported that. He was also nominally a "free market Republican", mind you.

  • ||

    The reason we don't have beautiful new airports and efficient bullet trains is not that we have inadvertently stumbled upon stumbling blocks; it's that there are considerable numbers of Americans for whom these things are simply symbols of a feared central government, and who would, when they travel, rather sweat in squalor than surrender the money to build a better terminal.

    Well, that's bullshit.
    A major reason why other government services have suffered in the last 15 years is that entitlements are sucking money out of the budget, and payroll taxes to support them are sucking money out of the economy.

    At some point, liberals are going to have to decide if what they really want is a vast entitlement that pays generous retirement benefits to wealthy retirees that don't need it ... or all that other shit they claim to be in favor of. And 'ALL' is the right word.

    Entitlements consume 50% of the budget. If we ended social security tomorrow there would be an instand 12.4% income tax cut.

    People on the left might start to consider what could be done with that money other than funnel it to people that don't really need it.

    My solution ... kill social security. Use the trust fund bonds to pay annuities to poor elderly folks only. Convert the rest into rtetirement insurance.

    Then we can talk about nicer airport terminals.

  • NL_||

    Interesting to watch the left vacillate between the unionized, big-project, command-and-control lefties and the agrarian, raw-everything, anti-bioengineering lefties.

    Seems progressivism as an ideology can't decide whether society's problem is over-development or under-development.

    It's just as well. The raw-everything types more properly belong broadly within libertarianism. The sort of people who reject longstanding practices and embrace niche cultures really can't find a lasting home in a homogenized, big-government world.

  • ||

    Like I said above, I really don't think the Left knows what they want to be when they grow up. For one thing, environmentalism (barring environmental justice, which I see as directly tied to property rights) is completely contradictory to economic progressivism. Climate change, for instance is not even relevant to the hierarchy of needs for most poor folks. But the poor disproportionately bear emissions standards, gas taxes, energy regulations that drive up costs, inefficiencies of certain forms of recycling, etc. not to mention they would bear the brunt of the inflation to pay for extremely expensive climate change policies. NIMBY environmentalism often shifts burdens to poor neighborhoods. Yet somehow, the Left can't see the inherent contradiction - or if they can, they'd argue both are just symptoms of corporate capitalism and that both could be fixed with more radical socialism. Still, living in political reality, all of the policies the Left is actually advocating today place the disproportionate burden on the poor. Likewise, all their business regulations unintentionally place the disproportionate burden on smaller businesses while protecting bigger businesses from competition, all in the name of decreasing big business.

    Ah sorry. I keep forgetting - we're the rubes, and they're the smart ones.

  • ||

    All they need to do if they want shiny, new airports and trains is to cut the Koch Brothers in on the action. The New Yorker should know that better than anybody.

  • Audrey the Liberal||

    I do wish people would stop using "Leftist", "progressive", and "liberal" interchangeably.

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