What's the Matter With Libertarians?

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If you've already read Thomas Frank's new Washington tome The Wrecking Crew, you might have seen this observation. Or you might see it for the first time in the New York Times review.

The reason that we have so many well-funded libertarians in America these days is not because libertarianism suddenly acquired an enormous grass-roots following, but because it appeals to those who are able to fund ideas. … Libertarianism is a politics born to be subsidized.

Having not read the book yet, but being familiar with the Frank style, I know that he sees this to be ruinous, terrible: Millionaires endorsing a philosophy that could make them richer! Businesses supporting the work of people who say they can privatize the functions of government. The nerve of these people, the-the-the self-interest, meddling with the baroque beauty and efficency of the state and the civil service, which when funded fully and given maximum power obviously performs better than any profit-driven company. Obviously.

Frank blames libertarian ideas for the corrupting of Washington and the creation of modern Washington, with its Abramoffs, DeLays, and other fungi. Reviewer Michael Lind sets us straight on that.

[T]he father of Washington lobbying was Franklin Roosevelt's former aide Thomas Corcoran, known as Tommy the Cork, a private figure so powerful that President Harry Truman ordered the F.B.I. to wiretap him. Dan Rostenkowski, the powerful and corrupt Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee in the 1980s and early 1990s, preceded Jack Abramoff into prison. Frank holds up a minor Indiana congressman, David McIntosh, who pushed lobbying reforms before quitting government to become a lobbyist, as an example of conservative hypocrisy. But Fred Dutton, Robert Kennedy's campaign manager in 1968 and the champion of a "new politics" uniting suburban idealists, college students and racial minorities (sound familiar?), went on to become a lobbyist for Mobil Oil and Saudi Arabia, earning the nickname "Dutton of Arabia."

Sure enough, someone could write an interesting book about all the rent-seeking and misuse of public money that transpired between the New Deal and the rise of Frank's naive Beltway libertarians. That stuff doesn't have a party, or a philosophy. Assemble all the evidence and I don't think the Cato Institute or oil company donations to the Competive Enterpirse Institute will play much of a role.

If Frank is arguing that libertarianism is less naturally popular than his brand of populism, that can be debated. Certainly libertarian arguments about tax rates appeal more to the lumpenproletariat in Johnston, Ohio than populist arguments, but you can't say the same about their arguments on, say, so Social Security. But if the argument is that modern libertarianism breeds more graft than old liberalism…

Jesse Walker reviewed Frank's opus about how you rubes should all be Democrats back in 2005. A decade ago, Brian Doherty lampooned Frank's old style of pop culture-focused corporate criticism.

NEXT: Surprises from the Divorce Revolution

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  1. the baroque beauty and efficency of the state and the civil service

    I beg your goddam pardon!

  2. I think there was a movie about the, “he baroque beauty and efficency of the state and the civil service”.

    I think it was called, The Mangler.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113762/

  3. Rent-seeking? In the New Deal? Impoceros!

  4. I always find it amusing to hear the naive comments of libertarians from non-libertarians. It usually says much more about the non-libertarian making those comments than anything else.

  5. Everytime I see the word baroque I think of the bathtub on the command deck of the Golgafrincham Ark Fleet, ship B.

  6. Libertarianism is a politics born to be subsidized

    What does this even mean? Aren’t all “politics” subsidized?

  7. Libertarianism is a politics born to be subsidized.

    It’s true. Take the Center for Consumer Freedom mentioned below. Did you know that they receive donations from fast-food restaurants?

    All corporations should be paralyzed with the shame of having made their filthy, filthy lucre by giving people what they want at a price they are able to afford.Don’t they know that they are supposed to feel bad?

  8. Of course Frank would never bother to notice how incredibly well funded left wing groups like the Sierra Club, ACLU and People for the American Way are. In addition, have taken over and own professional and religious organizations like the ABA and the National Council of Churches and the NEA lock stock and barrel. I could go on for paragraphs listing the enormously well funded and politically powerful pro government leftist lobbies in Washington. Frank never notices any of them. But, if Exxon give a few hundred thousand dollars to the CATO institute, there is clearly a vast libertarian conspiracy.

    What this is showing is just what a authoritarian jerk Frank is. In Frank’s view the libertarians or anyone on the other side of a political debate have no right to push their political views and the people who give money to them have no right either. If Frank and his ilk ever had any real power, places like the CATO institute would be shut down in the name of good government and anyone who gave money to such an organization would be under federal indictment.

  9. P Brooks, or anyone. I’m a beginner, so please throw me a bone. Rent-seeking as used occasionally here means something bad or good, and why? I looked it up just now and see that as a formula/idiom it doesn’t seem to mean what landlords I’m familiar with do, namely maintain property in exchange for tenants’ use, which seems like it benefits everyone, such as tenants who can’t (yet) afford to buy a home.

    If this is too elementary, of course let it go.

  10. I got into an argument about Libertarianism the other day. The other guy opened with “why do you hate roads?”

    I’m doing what I can but the “Libertarians Hate Roads” people are winning.

  11. “Libertarianism is a politics born to be subsidized”

    And Thomas Frank type liberalism which strives to redistribute wealth and let the government rather than the market decide winners and losers is not. No one would ever try to game the system and use leftist policies and government regulation to screw their competitors. Never. Is Frank really that dumb or does he think his readers are really that dumb?

  12. What does this even mean? Aren’t all “politics” subsidized?

    It’s one of those statements so obtuse that its only understandable meaning is that its author is a moron.

  13. I’m doing what I can but the “Libertarians Hate Roads” people are winning.

    If you don’t hate automobile-trafficked roads, you aren’t a very good libertarian. It’s sad that most libertarians don’t remember the days when mass transit was private and the automobile benefitted from huge government largesse. Of course, now that mass transit is public, the road/automobile system still benefits from the government, but in the form of zoning rules, minimum parking requirements, etc., rather than flat-out cash infusions. It’s easy to calculate all the subsidies each receives and declare the automobile/road system to be more libertarian, but this leaves out the huge influence that non-monetary regulations (the aforementioned zoning, parking, etc. rules) have on setting the playing field.

  14. I saw him on Colbert. It might have been my imagination, but even Colbert seemed annoyed by what a douchebag this fucknozzle is.

  15. “Yeah, well, you too.”

    Zzzzz

  16. Libertarianism is a politics born to be subsidized

    Don’t blame me, I was born that way!

  17. anarch-

    My quick-and-dirty definition of “rent-seeking” in this context would be akin to “skimming”. An individual or business lobbies the government to establish a protected monopoly, or preferred provider relationship, and then uses the fact that they are protected from competition (by the government) to reap higher profits than they otherwise might.

    Somebody else will be along to refine this, or disagree completely, I suspect.

  18. “Yeah, well, you too.”

    Zzzzz

    It’s incoherent! It’s hostile! It’s the edgily uncapitalized joe!

  19. Anarch, re: rent seeking-

    Rent seeking is an economic term, unrelated to landlord/tenant rent. In the context used here it refers to a manipulation of the legal or political system in order to make a buck. It’s a pejorative term because it implies that one is exacerbating regulatory inefficiencies in order to leverage them for personal gain.

  20. “It’s easy to calculate all the subsidies each receives and declare the automobile/road system to be more libertarian, but this leaves out the huge influence that non-monetary regulations (the aforementioned zoning, parking, etc. rules) have on setting the playing field.”

    Yes, if only it wasn’t for evil government subsidies, we would all be shoved into metal boxes asshole to elbow every day like we want to be. The growth of the car culture in this country had nothing whatsoever to do with personal taste and freedom. No nothing at all. People loved living in their 4th floor walk up tenement and riding the subway to work every day. What a tragedy it is that evil government subsidies forced them to buy cars and move out of the city.

  21. Libertarianism has this going for it, at leat in the US: Americans don’t resent wealth. They believe, mostly mistaknely, that they have a realistic shot at getting rich. But Americans really resent brains because they are dimly aware that they probably aren’t going to get any smarter. That explains why Americans spread their legs for Bush/Cheney, but take an instant dislike to a sophisticated,articulate Obama.

  22. People who benefit from freedom are usually willing to help the cause of freedom.

  23. “That explains why Americans spread their legs for Bush/Cheney, but take an instant dislike to a sophisticated,articulate Obama.”

    Lefiti wins the thread. That is really funny.

  24. “The reason that we have so many well-funded libertarians in America these days is not because libertarianism suddenly acquired an enormous grass-roots following, but because it appeals to those who are able to fund ideas.”

    Honestly, though, it’s hard to disagree with that statement. True, there is a small grass roots movement, but the grass roots folk are definitely on the margins of political society.

  25. Yeah, subsidized by individuals instead of taxpayers.
    JMR

  26. It should be plainly obvious to everyone by now that as an avowed libertarian, I want to see:

    Childrens starving in alleys (I own the streets and won’t let the yard apes get in the way of traffic)

    Elderly people living in shacks, suffering from preventable or treatable illnesses

    All public parks returned to private ownership so that they can be stripped bare and all mineral deposits exploited to the max

    Disolution of all unions so I can exploit all the worker bees (and I can charge them a tarrif to use my streets coming and going)

    Etcetera, Etcetera, Etcetera

  27. “but because it appeals to those who are able to fund ideas.”

    And the Sierra Club doesn’t? That is such a bunch of horseshit. Again, Frank doesn’t have a problem when some bilionaire gives money to something he agrees with. He only whines when someone expresses a view he doesn’t like. He is, like most leftists, an authoritarian dousche bag.

  28. Additionally, if you can get the government to require everyone to buy your product or service [see: mandatory auto insurance], you can collect some serious “rents”.

  29. Jaybird:

    Libertarians don’t all hate roads. Some of us think that everyone who wants to should own some.

    BTW, anyone who thinks that the railroads weren’t recipients of what we nowadays call “corporate welfare” hasn’t read much economic history.

    The Sierra Club is now in bed with Clorox?

    Kevin

  30. “Additionally, if you can get the government to require everyone to buy your product or service [see: mandatory auto insurance], you can collect some serious “rents”.”

    Yes, and the burden of regulation falls the most on small business. Big companies have more resources with which to comply. Further, regulations serve as a barrier to entry into the market. Things like licensing requirements benefit those already established. Big business loves morons like Frank and Frank does more to help big business than any libertarian would.

  31. Gentlemen, thank you for the rent-seeking explanations. Wish such terms of art were more distinctive and less confoundable with their opposites (in this case entrepreneurs seeking fees for services), but maybe that’s not possible.

  32. …we have so many well-funded libertarians in America these days is not because libertarianism suddenly acquired an enormous grass-roots following, but because it appeals to those who are able to fund ideas.

    One could as easily say this about the pet projects of a certain Bill Gates, or his bosom buddy, Warren Buffett; neither of whom is likely to be confused with a libertarian.

  33. I propose “squeezing” behavior.

  34. I thought part of the weakness in Frank’s argument was his assumption that the GWB administration was committed to privatizing and decreasing the size of goverment.

    If only!

  35. Yes, if only it wasn’t for evil government subsidies, we would all be shoved into metal boxes asshole to elbow every day like we want to be. The growth of the car culture in this country had nothing whatsoever to do with personal taste and freedom. No nothing at all. People loved living in their 4th floor walk up tenement and riding the subway to work every day. What a tragedy it is that evil government subsidies forced them to buy cars and move out of the city.

    Yeah, because this is a perfect description of living in a city. It is also the reason property values are so much lower in urban areas…no one would actually pay more money to buy/rent in the city center and suffer the lower quality of life that city dwelling provides. The only reason cities still exist is because of all the subsidies that are provided to city dwellers by the government in the form of public transport and what not to trick them into thinking they are not, in fact, in hell.

    [/sarcasm]

  36. ktc2 | August 18, 2008, 10:20am | #
    Everytime I see the word baroque I think of the bathtub on the command deck of the Golgafrincham Ark Fleet, ship B.

    Jinnen Tonicks for everyone!

  37. NM,

    As best I can figure, your sarcasm must be true, because I never understood why anyone would pay more to intentionally live in the city. Ugh.

    Personally, I thank all you pro-city people for lessening the demand for the suburbs.

  38. The only reason cities still exist is because of all the subsidies that are provided to city dwellers by the government in the form of public transport and what not to trick them into thinking they are not, in fact, in hell.

    I knew there had to be a reason.

  39. For a fuller discussion of the origin of the term “rent seeking” and its relation to the traditional concept of rents on land, see the article in Wikipedia.

  40. I think if libertarianism reigned for quite a while there would be little chance for government graft. I guess you could have corruption within the police and armed forces like you had back in times of much less government.

    However, given libertarianism has not reigned you can get graft from libertarian and market rhetoric, like in privatization schemes which deliver public goods to private firms at prices that benefit the buyers (some of this happened under market rhetoric in Russia).

  41. robc,

    People pay more because they get more value.

    Ekonomic 101, or something.

    It takes all types, of course, but to pretend that suburbs do not depend upon substantial tax support for transportation from city dwellers is just disingenuous.

    I am old enough to have watched the pattern unfold (Albuquerque has been a fast-growing community for a long time). Build a road with public money, and development will follow. Build a development without such a road, and it will remain empty (even though the developer will build some sort of road to the nearest public road scaled to handle the traffic of the development without costing so much as to make the houses in the development more expensive than those in the city center).

    People move out of the city because of the cheaper house, and think that the commute will be no big deal. Then one day, while sitting in traffic on the road that their lower property taxes can afford to pay for, they get an idea…lobby the government of the city they are trying to access to widen the road, build a bridge, build a new road, whatever. But don’t raise my property tax to do it. That would be unfair. Or, get the state to build it and spread the burden across all of the state’s citizens. Of course, more live in the city than out of the city, and most of those in the city have no desire to ever visit that boring little suburb, but those in the suburb need the help. They have made a choice and don’t want to have to pay for that choice. They want help.

  42. “Why do you hate roads?”

    Read Bastiat, and until then, kindly keep your ignorant mouth shut.

  43. BTW,

    Those in the suburbs of Albuquerque have been flocking to the publicly funded public transportation option that has been provided by a rail service between the southern suburbs and the state capital at Santa Fe. This is, of course, subsidized by Albuquerque residents, as is the increasingly elaborate bus and shuttle service that is required to make the system work. Personally, I support this kind of subsidy to the suburbs more than a project to build another road, increase parking, etc. because it increases the quality of life in the city as well.

  44. This is, of course, subsidized by Albuquerque residents

    That’s all well and good; but I suspect there is a lot of federal money, from places like Maine, and Hawaii (whose interest is substantially less compelling), involved.

  45. P Brooks,

    You outta staters are primarily providing your support by buying NM oil and gas…your choice, of course.

  46. P Brooks,

    Total costs for Phase I of the project (Belen to Bernalillo), are $135 million. This includes $75 million in state money for the purchase of train cars and locomotives, the design and construction of stations, and track and signal improvements. $50 million in state money is allocated for purchase of the track and rights-of-way from Belen to Bernalillo. Sandoval County contributed $10 million for the purchase of an additional train set, and for station development in Sandoval County.

    Phase II costs of the project (Bernalillo to Santa Fe) are estimated between $240 and $255 million. This includes the purchase of existing track and construction of new track, design and construction of stations, and the acquisition of more cars and locomotives.

  47. because I never understood why anyone would pay more to intentionally live in the city.

    because it’s awesome?

  48. Rent seeking is using resources to obtain a transfer of wealth.

    Using land, labor and capital to produce an automobile is profit seeking.

    Using land, labor and capital to persuade the government to take someone elses car and give it to you is rent seeking.

    In the first situation, there is only a profit if the car is more valuable than the other goods that could have been produced with the resources.

    With rent seeking, the goods that could have been produced with the resources used to implement the transfer are still sacrficed. The person receiving the car gains the car (and presumably will only do this if the car is worth more than what was sacrificed in his or her efforts.) However, the person who loses his or her car also loses.

    Oddly enough, if the person uses resources to keep the car, that is more loss. (Which I think is perfectly moral.. which shows that the morality of the people involved isn’t what is at issue.)

    And perhaps there are several people all lobbying the govenrment to receive the car. They all can use resources up trying to get the car. Only the winner gets the car. But all the resources are used in the rent seeking. They aren’t used to produce other goods.

    So, if we had a system where cars would be transfered between people based upon government edict.. then resources would be used to prevent and to obtain these transfers. Resources that could have been used to produce other goods and services.

    Fortunately, that isn’t the kind of system we have for car tranfers. And so, we don’t waste a bunch of resources seeking cars or protecting cars in this way.

    In the U.S., transfers of wealth are possible. Resources are used to try to obtain or defend against these transfers. The fault is with a system that allows for such tranfers.

    Anyway.. that is what rent seeking is about.

  49. Thomas Frank is a dykey looking, collectivist, pearl-clutching gay man … not that there’s anything wrong with that!

  50. Neu Mexican,

    The bottomline is that the government is going to subsidize transportation somehow. Should it be through trains or cars? People moved out of the city because they didn’t like living there and wanted to live in the suburbs. Certainly a lot of that had to do with the fact that our center cities stopped providing basic services like law enforcement. But not all of it had to do with that. Some of it was that people did and still do like suburbs. You think they are boring that is your right, but the people who live there think they aren’t.

    As far as subsidies go, you can have your road money back if cities agree to stop taxing commuters for services they will never use. The idea that suburbanites are ripping off cities is just ludacris. What is happening is dying center cities are staying alive from the tax base provided by commuters. Now, if they would ever use that tax base to do something besides build boondoggle “urban living” projects like stadiums and museums and spend it on lowering the crime rate and improving basic public services, people might start moving back into the cities and the inner suburbs.

    Lastly, who are you kidding claiming to live in the center of Albequerque? The whole city is suburbs.

  51. You outta staters are primarily providing your support by buying NM oil and gas

    I have no problem with that; fair exchange of value, et c.

  52. I wanted to talk about the First Amendment, Second Amendment, Fifth Amendment, War on Drugs, FISA, etc.

    Instead, we were talking about the roads.

    The “Libertarians Hate Roads” folks are winning.

  53. John,

    Lastly, who are you kidding claiming to live in the center of Albequerque? The whole city is suburbs.

    True, true. A suburb without a city…or at least that would seem true until you compare it to Rio Rancho or Belen.

    The bottomline is that the government is going to subsidize transportation somehow. Should it be through trains or cars? People moved out of the city because they didn’t like living there and wanted to live in the suburbs.

    Of course…but you said “What a tragedy it is that evil government subsidies forced them to buy cars and move out of the city.”

    This gets the equation backwards. No one forced people to move to the suburbs. Subsidies allowed people to afford the move by distributing the costs across those in the city.

    Wanting to and being able to afford to are different concepts.

    The idea that suburbanites are ripping off cities is just ludacris. What is happening is dying center cities are staying alive from the tax base provided by commuters.

    I am gonna go out on a limb and bet that the flow out is larger than the flow in. For instance, do you think NYC is a net benefit or net drain on the economy of the surrounding area? To the State of NY?

    You think they are boring that is your right, but the people who live there think they aren’t.

    Hence the lack of traffic into the city on weekends.

    ;^)

  54. As far as subsidies go, you can have your road money back if cities agree to stop taxing commuters for services they will never use.

    Yeah, cuz commuters bring their own police, fire, sewer, and pack their garbage out in their trunk so that they can throw it away in their own community.

  55. Libertarianism is a politics born to be subsidized

    As opposed to socialism, which always pays its own way…?

  56. “Why do you hate roads?”

    Because one day long ago…

  57. “This gets the equation backwards. No one forced people to move to the suburbs. Subsidies allowed people to afford the move by distributing the costs across those in the city.”

    Then basically the government shelled out some subsidies so millions of people could afford to live the life they wanted to. I understand the objections to any subsidies. But as subsidies go, I can’t think of a better one than building roads.

  58. BTW Neu Mexican. I love New Mexico and would live there in a minute if I could find a job. So nothing against Albequerque.

  59. I think there was a movie about the, “he baroque beauty and efficency of the state and the civil service”.

    Did they ever make a movie version of Kafka’s “The Trial”? That would be my choice.

  60. I think there was a movie about the, “he baroque beauty and efficency of the state and the civil service”.

    Didn’t they make a movie version of “Darkness At Noon”?

  61. Did they ever make a movie version of Kafka’s “The Trial”?

    Yes

  62. That’s all well and good; but I suspect there is a lot of federal money, from places like Maine, and Hawaii (whose interest is substantially less compelling), involved.

    As an aside, the proposed Oahu rail system will use about 1 billion dollars in federal money, and it’s located entirely within a single county. So it all evens out (or doesn’t, depending on the politics)

  63. Kolohe-

    I was too lazy to look up “net federal cash flow by state” and I just plucked Hawaii out of the aether. You’re welcome.

    Or you would be, if I lived in a state with net cash outflow (and I’m pretty sure I don’t).

  64. Yeah, cuz commuters bring their own police, fire, sewer, and pack their garbage out in their trunk so that they can throw it away in their own community.

    I don’t have any stats, by my impression is that fire departments do a lot more residential than commercial work

    I’ll give you police is a wash and unquantifiable.

    Water/Sewer is generally paid out whomever owns the building and pays the utilities (and commercial propoeerty taxes)

    And most commerical buildings in most places are responsible for their own garbage.

  65. Kolohe,

    Given your breakdown then, what are those commuter taxes covering? Roads, perhaps?

    A couple of quibbles, of course.
    Sewer/fire/water and other infrastructure don’t have clean commercial/residential demarcations…more often than not, I suspect, monies from taxes/fees (commuter, commercial, or otherwise) go to a general fund and get paid.

    Commercial garbage may be hauled by private enterprise for the most part, but if it is ending up in the land fill, there is a public subsidy.

  66. oops…

    “and get paid out to cover cost where needed.”

  67. Frank blames libertarian ideas for the corrupting of Washington and the creation of modern Washington,

    Ugh, if only. Where are we with this drug war thingie?

  68. John,

    Then basically the government shelled out some subsidies so millions of people could afford to live the life they wanted to. I understand the objections to any subsidies. But as subsidies go, I can’t think of a better one than building roads.

    Of course, if you are going to subsidize others’ choices, you want to reduce the negatives associated with those choices…so those subsidies should be examined in terms of their environmental impact, economic costs, unintended consequences, pollution, and whatnot. The restructuring of our society that has resulted from subsidizing the car culture has been shown to have some pretty serious downsides. Don’t get upset when those that are subsidizing your choices decide that you either need to pay more (commuter tax/gas tax/carbon tax) or decide to stop subsidizing your choice all together in favor of public transportation projects.

  69. P Brooks,

    I was too lazy to look up “net federal cash flow by state”

    I do believe more federal money ends up in NM than in almost any other state once you adjust for population. Lots of it is military, weapons research, and the like. But lots is due to the poverty in the state. Federal support for the poor flows to the poor states for some reason.

  70. Heh, and I thought we just wanted the gov’t to leave us alone.

    Nice piece Weigel.

  71. Good to see that this discussion of the libertarianness of the roads took off – it’s something you never see in the actual pages of Reason, so at least the commenters are talking about it!

    Something to consider: look past the subsidies. The real threat to liberty comes in the non-monetary regulations like zoning laws and minimum parking regulations. It’s impossible to calculate how much monetary value disappears when someone isn’t allowed to build their building beyond X amount of stories, or isn’t allowed to not pave over half their property to build parking spaces that they didn’t want to build in the possible. But these are very real factors against private mass transit (which depends on density – density that’s illegal in most communities – for profitability), and for public roads (which depend on low density regulations – the kind that your neighbors always want, but the actual landowner himself rarely wants – to remain almost self-sufficient via the gas tax), and you shouldn’t ignore them just because they’re harder to pin down than how much subsidy roads receive vs. how much subsidy mass transit receives

  72. …because I never understood why anyone would pay more to intentionally live in the city. Ugh.

    Classic statist mentality. “Because I don’t understand why you want it, you can’t have it.”

  73. Rationalite,

    Classic statist mentality. “Because I don’t understand why you want it, you can’t have it.”

    robc may not always think things all the way through, but he does not subscribe to this type of thinking.

  74. NM,

    Also, I always think things all the way thru. Eventually.

    Rationalitate,
    That was me not understanding people making idiotic choices, but Im willing to let them make it. If you had read the next sentence after the one you had quoted, that would have been clear.

  75. robc,

    Also, I always think things all the way thru. Eventually.

    I don’t think you have considered all the implications of this claim. At least not yet.

  76. It’s too bad Thomas Frank didn’t die in a communist gulag. Oh well, I guess there is still time.

  77. I don’t think you have considered all the implications of this claim. At least not yet.

    🙂

    Actually, in this case, I did. I went back to add the word eventually after thinking about it a bit and writing the part below it.

    Im pretty sure my “eventually” maximized humor value.

  78. Adding on to the above:

    I only use smilies when something is so obviously meant to be humor that no human could misinterpret it. If Im being subtle in my humor, I **NEVER** use smilies. joe has yet to figure this out, for example.

    So, important rule, if I dont use a smiley, Im either being serious or subtlety sarcastic. Those with a properly developed sense of humor know which is which. 🙂

    ^see that above is obvious humor, so needs a smiley. Its also true, which is the best kind of humor.

  79. A great bit of 90s zeitgeist from Doherty’s 10-year-old piece on Frank:

    Harper’s is where excellent young New Republic writer Stephen Glass goes to skewer telephone psychics.

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