Keeping Up With the HuffPosties

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Previous editions here and here.

  • Thomas de Zengotita: "I've been thinking and writing about performative self-consciousness in a mediated age for the last five years or so, and I have this question which I've scarcely dared to formulate so unlikely does it seem. I'm wondering if 'playing a starring role' could be part of the motive for suicide bombers, not the whole motive, obviously, but part?"
  • Jay Gordon: "Firstly, there are no medical interventions without side effects and adverse consequences."
  • David Sirota: "[F]ar away from the out-of-touch confines of the Beltway where free market extremism reigns supreme, ordinary Americans are realizing that there's an alternative path, whereby community ownership of certain economic institutions and businesses are a pretty good deal. Instead of allowing Corporate America to reap the windfalls of everything, more and more communities are trying to get a piece of the action—all while making sure the public is adequately served, and not abused. […] "The battle is sure to turn ideological: you can always count on the right-wing to ultimately scream 'Socialism' or 'Communism' whenever people propose making profits work for an entire community, rather than just a few wealthy fat cats."
  • Marlon Richards: "Hhmm…as I contemplate the 2hr train trip to London, I am a bit put off by the thought of coming home in a shopping bag of 'choice cuts.' Fuck it! Another glass of white wine and an hour reading conspiracy theories on the web is far more relaxing. […] "To say we had it coming is an understatement of Charlton Heston proportions. For fuck's sake why did I move back to this petty overpriced class-crippled society? I wanted my kids to grow up with David Niven accents. I miss the shit out of NYC, falafel at 3 am (honest, I only like the food, not the ideology), 5 min cab rides, not 20 min.

    "England got what its U.S ass-licking gov. wanted, full paid, card-carrying membership to the 'War on Terriers.' Without a good bloodbath what are we? Now we can look Bush in the eye, don't ask me which one… whatever! Its all bullshit!"

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  1. This Marlon Richards guy sounds like someone I can damn well disagree with and have a great time doing so.

    That’s pretty damn funny, no matter how ass-backwards his reasoning is about the “War on Terriers.”

  2. Who the hell are these people? I’ve never heard of any of them.

  3. These blogs are a wonderful window into what writing must?ve looked like before the semicolon was invented.

  4. Even funnier in full: “I am gonna get that train to London, go to Starbucks and generally forget how stupid we all are in the face of REAL anger and REAL injustice. The enema is within….”

  5. I don’t like the tone of David Sirota’s post (ie: corporations are eeeeeeevil), but can someone more well-versed in economics and politics than I tell me if it’s necessarily a bad idea to have some community ownership of things like their broadband or utilities? Seems to me that if your tax dollars really did give you some actual stake in your electric company, for instance, that could be a good thing.

  6. Kris, I thought your comment was the best, as it took the words out of my mouth, that is until I read Rodney’s comment!

  7. David Sirota: “[F]ar away from the out-of-touch confines of the Beltway where free market extremism reigns supreme …

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Ooops. I wet ’em.

  8. Seems to me that if your tax dollars really did give you some actual stake in your electric company, for instance, that could be a good thing.

    Why not take this to its logical conclusion and simply nationalize everything? Oh, wait, I distinctly remember that having been tried before …

  9. Lowdog: A form of communal ownership and profit-sharing similar to what you are describing has been proposed in the past. It’s called “stock” or “equity” … 🙂

  10. Matt, thanks for reminding us what we can safely keep on missing.

    Stevo, I don’t much care for the tone of your voice.

  11. How fortunate we are to have HuffPo to gather these, um, people in one place, so we don’t have to deal with them unless we actively seek them out.

    Or, of course, H&R/Matt sees fit to inflict them on us. Seriously, I’d totally forgotten there are loons in the blogosphere. So thanks!

  12. “Why not take this to its logical conclusion and simply nationalize everything?”

    Because it is not a good deal for everything. Instead of throwing up your hands and declaring that the world must be either 100% black, or 100% white, you can actually do work on specific issues that have different characteristics, and then do some analysis.
    Exactly as Sirota predicts, the screeching and unwarranted charge of “Communism” is thrown about without any concern for its relevance.

  13. I’m not talking about nationalisation…I’m talking about on a much smaller scale.

    Look, I can some of the possible reasons for not doing this, I’m just curious about some acutal details.

    And Stevo – 1) you’re totally right about laughing at that fool thinking the free market reigns supreme in the beltway…we know that, big time! and 2) I understand that, as well, I’m asking about using tax money to invest for the taxpayer.

    Ok, I would argue that if you’re going to use taxpayer money to invest in internet infrastructure or something, you should just let the taxpayers keep their money. Those that want to invest in internet infastructure can do so.

    So I guess that’s what it really boils down to. When the government starts throwing you these bones: “Look, we’re letting you invest your money” – it’s bullshit and they should just give us our money back.

    I get it.

  14. Those damn fat cats!

  15. A couple of points of clarification:

    “2) I understand that, as well, I’m asking about using tax money to invest for the taxpayer.”

    I was saying that in relation to your comment about stock and equity.

    And I should reformulate my hypothetical government employee quote: “Look, we’re investing your money for you! Isn’t that great?”

  16. Really…the chap is not only *not* funny, but he is quite a third-rate writer. Why bother to post such inanity?

  17. It’s funny how the writers for our local high school newspapers got older without getting any better.

  18. ” I am a bit put off by the thought of coming home in a shopping bag of ‘choice cuts.’ Fuck it! Another glass of white wine and an hour reading conspiracy theories on the web is far more relaxing. […]”

    White wine, eh? Tough guy.

  19. If I was the king of America, my first decrees would be to outlaw the following things:

    1. use of the phrase “fat cats” for anything other than referring to cats over 15 pounds

    2. use of the “hey hey, ho ho” and “what do we want? When do we want it?” chants

    3. “Sound of Silence” played by subway and street performers with acoustic guitars.

  20. Having your local government owning local monopolies is a good plan if you’d like to spend a lot more money, risk big losses that are forced on the taxpayers, or are well connected to the local political regime and get a no work job in the monopoly.

    I don’t understand how giving governments control of the economy can be expected to be better than a corporation. Except for regulated monopolies, people have get to choose which corporations to interact with. The only way to choose governments is to sell your house, move, and possibly find a new job. Corporations are subject to laws. Governments get to create laws and enforce them thus ensuring little accountability. Corporations are subject to the control of stockholders who have an interest in seeing the company avoid risky situations and make a profit. Governments are controlled by politicians who usually won’t be in office too long and don’t care about long term outcomes. These politicians are put in place by an electorate that is bought off by the politicians and other special interests. The government gets to set laws restricting political participation, but allows politicians to use government employees for election campaigns.

  21. “David Sirota: “[F]ar away from the out-of-touch confines of the Beltway where free market extremism reigns supreme …”

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Ooops. I wet ’em.

    That did it, Stevo–now I have to clean off my monitor…

  22. Ammonium, don’t forget, the more government we have, the more government there is for corporations to ‘influence’.

  23. Lowdog: “…but can someone more well-versed in economics and politics than I tell me if it’s necessarily a bad idea to have some community ownership of things like their broadband or utilities?”

    Because then decisions about use/expansion/maintenance/pricing are made by political actors (politicians and bureaucrats) instead of business people. And those decisions do not have to reflect any economic reality, as long as they are politically palatable.

    Let’s take a hypothetical. Suppose the township Hill Valley decides to implement free city-wide wireless access, and the citizens are tech-savvy and take advantage of it. We’ll presume the initial implementation was cost effective, despite the fact that anything planned by political bureaucrats almost never is.

    Now flash forward ten years. Technology has moved on, and there are lots of new forms of high-speed Internet access, say, through mobile phone towers. But the folks in Hill Valley still use the old fashioned wireless because it’s “free”.

    Of course, it’s not really free, and it’s no longer even cost effective because it’s obsolete. In fact, Hill Valley is probably now behind the times and relatively non-competitive compared to their neighbors. Why? Because the private sector lacks the incentive to invest in that area. It’s hard to compete with “free”.

    But who has an incentive to change things? Not the bureaucrats, because they might lose control if the infrastructure were run by mobile phone companies, and if they made a deal with one, that would anger all the others because it would be an effective subsidy to one. (If you like, you can insert discussion about corruption by political actors here…)

    Some citizens no doubt bemoan how slow and obsolete the system is, but they don’t want to pay for something they now get for free, so they don’t have enough incentive to demand a change.

    Pretty much any effort that is driven outside the business sector is subject to the kinds of problems outlined in this scenario. An economist would summarize by saying that, since there are no prices involved (it’s “free”, at least at the point of consumption), there’s no signaling mechanism to tell decision makers when it’s time to change anything. Decisions that are driven by the consumer in the private sector are driven instead by political actors, who lack the information to decide effectively (see Mises and Hayek for details) and lack the motivation to make decisions that go against their own interests.

    And that doesn’t even take into account the lack of freedom implied. If a public effort drives out private alternatives, then consumers no longer have any choice. They must take the “public” choice, whether they like it or not.

  24. Todd, and Lowdog — Was my second comment truly offensive in tone? I didn’t mean it to be. (Hence the smiley.) My sincere apologies that it came off that way. Lowdog has been nothing but kind and polite to me.

    I just meant, there are ways where it can make sense to spread ownership of a resource among a large group of people — and OK, Lowdog deserves a little credit for being willing to consider ideas outside the narrowest and most reflexive forms of libertarian thinking — but I don’t think you need to get the government involved at all.

    Fair enough, amigos?

    By the way, it’s a rather abstract discussion and only tangentially relevant, but the former Free Nation Foundation (now succeeded by the Libertarian Nation Foundation) once published a paper discussing how communally owned “public property” need not be government property.

    In Defense of Public Space

    Also, A Plea for Public Property

    Totally OT, but while searching for those times, I came across this: Funding Public Goods: Six Solutions — a while back we had a discussion of how to fund public goods, specifically national defense, in an anarchist society. This is discussed in the last item.

    All of these items are by Roderick T. Long, an anarchy-minded libertarian whose thoughts I respect a great deal. Lots of other good stuff by him and others in the Libertarian Nation Foundation archives.

  25. Lowdog,

    “Ok, I would argue that if you’re going to use taxpayer money to invest in internet infrastructure or something, you should just let the taxpayers keep their money.”

    Wasn’t the internet’s infrastructure originally built with taxpayer money? Or is this another one of those things that has become conventional wisdom, but is in fact wrong? (I’m talking about ARPANet being a gov’t program).

    I don’t see any problem, even for a libertarian, with a local gov’t (acting with the approval of the voters, of course) using its revenues to purchase some public utility (say) and making the voters into shareholders. It certainly beats investing in rare coins or that other thing that they did in Orange County years ago, where the city gov’t basically went bankrupt with bad investments.

    If we were going to be creative, you could occasionally have ballot initiatives where the voters could agree, if they were so inclined, to allow part of the profits to be used for some public project. Then we’d see how greedy or public-spirited people really are.

  26. With regards to Huffpo, I am quite irked by their policy of reviewing reader comments before posting (or not posting) them. It totally kills any sort of conversational element between talk backers when their responses are posted 4 hours late. When I call someone like Dave Sirota or Laurie David a douchebag, is it too much to ask that my opinion is up on their website in a timely fashion?

  27. Somebody should tell Stevo Darkly that a thoughtful and serious commenter has highjacked his alias.

  28. RC Dean,

    Re: Stevo: I’m with you. I’m certainly worried – he has made not a one sexual remark in this thread.

  29. Well, I’m in a weird mood — off for vacation tomorrow but trying to wrap up a few work-type things first.

    smacky, when I come up with a sexual remark, you’ll be the first to know.

  30. No HuffPost critique is complete without mentioning Jillian Crane or Laurie David.

  31. When I call someone like Dave Sirota or Laurie David a douchebag, is it too much to ask that my opinion is up on their website in a timely fashion?

    Yes, it may be your opinion but they are Huffy’s douchebags. Besides when you are on your third keg O’ whine, a few hours might just be considered timely.

  32. Stevo – I wasn’t offended. You crack me up, generally, and we’ve never had beef, so think nothing of it. I asked a legitimate (to me) question and wanted to see what responses I got.

    As you can read, I already had arguments against it in my head, and others have confirmed. Mr Borok is saying the things I would say in defence of such a plan. But again, I think you’d be better off being allowed to keep your money and invest how you see fit.

    Mr Hollis – thank you for your response…I feel the same way.

    Continue…

  33. Doh! “…when Huffy is on her third keg O’ whine…”

  34. Stevo: I think Todd was referring to a line a little further on in that particular Monty Python sketch (although I’m not sure).

    Script of the sketch in question. You’ll need to scroll down a little bit.

  35. Lowdog —

    In addition to good comments by Billy and Stevo, also consider the tragedy of the commons. While not economic theory per se, it gets taught in lots of econ classes in the “communal ownership is crap” section.

  36. Eion is right! I was playing along with Stevo’s Python reference.

  37. I swear to God,(both of them), if I see the phrase “Corporate America” one more time, especially in its caps version, I am going to hurt someone.

    Will someone please sterilize these neo-hippies who have no idea what they’re talking about? What, for FS, does “Corporate America” even mean?

  38. Marlon Richards is Keith Richards’ son. Yes, that Keith Richards. He spent his childhood on the road with Keith and Anita and the Stones.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I just didn’t realize he was blogging.

  39. “He spent his childhood on the road with Keith and Anita and the Stones.”

    Well, that explains it, then. Just what one would expect from a person who learned his political philosophy from rock song lyrics.

  40. Sadly, the HuffPost’s “comment review” feature keeps my replies to RFK Jr. from being posted. Perhaps if I didn’t use the alias “Sirhan Sirhan Jr.”…

  41. Here in Dallas/Ft.Worth one of our suburbs (Garland) owns their power company. In a shocker, Garland residents pay 17% more for government electricity.

  42. Oh. Oh. Thanks for clearing that up, Eion. I didn’t remember most of that sketch.

    OK, I thought I had seriously given offense, since I was being slightly sarcastic. And in our Michael Kinsley “Libertarian in My Meatspace” thread, I had just written something about how easy it is to be rude in cyberspace if you think you’re being clever, so I guess it was on my mind.

    So all’s cool. Now for something completely different.

    What, for FS, does “Corporate America” even mean?

    Let me explain this for you. See, corporations finance Team America. Then Team America goes out, while the corporations sit in their corporation buildings, being all … corporation-y. And they make money.

  43. Publicly funded wi-fi is attractive because the local telco and cable monopolies have crappy service and are especially loath to make themselves obsolete. However, if the FCC opened up the wireless spectrum and local monopolies were abolished, everyone would have cheap, ubiquitous, wireless broadband probably within 5 years. You wouldn’t have televisions, phones, or computers, but internet devices with different levels of portability.

    I would be very leery of a government run ISP, the state’s desire to monitor and censor would be overwhelming.

  44. Thanks, Lonewhacko. I have to say, I find Huffer Jillian Crane absolutely amazing. She posts these little anecdotes that could be sizzling with lascivious sexual content, and manages to make them utterly incoherent, pointless, vapid and impossible to follow. They could not even hold my interest. And that’s saying quite a lot.

    I mean, how can anyone write a post that contains the lines:

    “Undo your pants,” she said, as she lit candles and poured oil into her hands.

    and

    She crawled into bed beside me.

    and make Stevo Darkly’s eyes glaze over? I thought it couldn’t be done. But Jillian Crane can do it.

  45. I dunno, “Salt of the Earth” is pretty good political philosophy, if you ask me. Ditto for “Street Fightin’ Man” …

  46. I love when folks like David Sirota go all Krugman like that. Apparently, the rule is, when people like Sirota propose Sensible Regulation and Government Intervention, if you disagree, you’re an ideologue.

  47. Oddly enough, I believe that all of my comments at the blog side of HP have been approved, except for the one I left here. And, it wasn’t that critical, only pointing out that Pena was an illegal alien, that EOH should chat with Eric Leonard of KFI about this incident, and that Najee Ali had moderated his stance.

    Either that comment was lost for some strange technical reason, or it wasn’t approved.

    As an example, this was approved on an Arianna post: “Without newspapers, wire services, and their stringers in the field Arianna would be forced to spend her electrons discussing the canteloupe prices at the Brentwood Farmer’s Market.”

    And, from Kathy Ireland’s report on being in London during the bombings: “It’s good to know you’re OK.”

  48. Mark B – Yes, a lot of the early internet research and infrastructure was government-funded. However, it strikes me that this fact gets thrown around as a rhetorical device much more than it gets seriously analyzed. There’s a difference, after all, between “originally funded the research” and “made it what it is today”. If the government built the very first highway years and years ago, should we be thanking them for the existence of the mall (30 years on, in another state, on a different road)? The Internet didn’t become a household name until access providers became common and there was compelling content online – both of which had fuck-all to do with the government.

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