Libertarian History/Philosophy

A Cult of Oddballs and Misfits?

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GMU economist Arnold Kling takes note of former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson's appearance at Reason's DC HQ last night and riffs on the prospects for libertarian candidates and policy reforms:

The libertarian vote?

Keep in mind the Masonomic view that politics is not about policy. It is about the relative status of various groups. Johnson does not represent a coalition of groups. The Democrats represent a coalition of minorities and people who identify themselves as the educated elite (note that Obama gets to qualify on both counts). Republicans represent a coalition of non-urban whites and people who identify themselves as sticking up for traditional American values. Libertarians represent…what…a cult of oddballs and misfits?

The challenge for libertarians is that many of our ideas have not crossed the threshold of legitimacy. Legalizing marijuana or seriously cutting back on future entitlements are treated as fringe, kooky ideas. Our challenge is to move our ideas out from the fringe and into the mainstream. I can imagine a Presidential campaign serving as a vehicle for doing that. But the focus needs to be on persuading people who do not think of themselves as libertarians, not so much on exciting the libertarian faithful.

Kling's assertion that "legalizing marijuana or seriously cutting back on future entitlements are treated as fringe, kooky ideas" strikes me as slightly too strong. Yes, such reforms are rarely considered seriously by those with the means to change policy, but they are not necessarily fringe. For instance, in October 2009, a Gallup poll reported that 44 percent of Americans favor making marijuana legal. The consensus amongst elite policymakers may not match public opinion yet, but it hardly strikes me as a fringe idea. Entitlement reform is admittedly less popular, but polls show consistently high concern about the deficit, and concern about the deficit is really concern about the cost of entitlements (even if the public does not always view it this way). Still, I think Kling is basically right that libertarians have yet to capture a large and reliable political constituency, and that failure has hurt libertarianism's political prospects.

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  1. Great Suderman pic. Got any more?

    1. This is from his guest appearance on the Simpsons (sans mustache).

      1. For the record, he’s the one in the middle.

  2. For instance, in October 2009, a Gallup poll reported that 44 percent of Americans favor making marijuana legal.

    Tell that 44% that their next door neighbor is gonna plant the whole back yard in marihuana and sell it out of the garage for a profit. Are they still in favor of legalization? I suspect that the percentage would drop like warty’s pants at a culture club reunion.

    1. I think you are mistaken.

      1. To be honest Turkey Boy, I usually am.

        1. For the record, bb, I’m not a turkey (in its most literal sense). I am someone who gobbles up resources as fast as I can.

        2. He’s right–just ask him what he thinks of the movie version of The Wild Wild West.

          1. That’s harsh man. That’s just harsh.

            1. If you like that movie, than you deserve all the harshness ProL can deliver. Now seeing as it’s ProL, that’s not much harshness, but maybe I’ll help him out a little.

              1. I’m all out of harsh today. I hereby grant you my power-of-assholey for this purpose.

      2. Mistaken about the 44%, or Warty?

        1. Clearly mistaken about Warty, seeing as he is much more of a Wham! fan than Culture Club.

    2. I’m for legal marijuana, too, but I could see concerns about someone operating a pharmacy out of their private residence.

      1. Or people might just look at him as an honest farmer.

      2. Oh you mean like all those liquor stores being run out of private residences?

        1. Is there a good reason why they should not be allowed to sell liquor from their houses?

          1. Is there a good reason we shouldn’t

            1. Reading comprehension is low at the end of the day 🙁

          2. Traffic on residential streets is one reason.

          3. I have one. A guy on the corner of my block hooked up with some Gangster Disciples and turned his home into a bar / liquor store. It was known as “The bootleg house”

            Some problems:

            – people showing up at the wrong house at 3:00 am which has a tendency to piss off the homeowner

            – 15-year-olds getting drunk, hanging outside on the corner and yelling racial slurs at people

            – Late night fights / shootings

            – All of the liquor the house was selling had been stolen

            – Drunks fucking in people’s yards

            – You want more?

            It all ended when the cops flash-grenaded the place. The cops spent at least 2 hours hauling out cases of liquor.

            1. If they were allowed to advertise their presence, the 3:00 door knocking would cease.

              The other stuff isn’t too different from living next to a legal bar.

      3. Shoot, in Cabo, I saw every prescription drug you could think of on the shelf. Just grab and pay! No script necessary!

    3. This is a retarded argument. Their next door neighbor is selling pot because it’s illegal.

      1. When MJ is legal, the tobacco industry (most likely) will churn out mass quantities of premanufactured joints at a very low cost to the consumer (which the Feds will quintuple with taxes).

        Some people will go to a private grower the same way some people go to the farmer’s market to buy heritage tomatoes.

        1. Tell me this doesn’t look like a joint…

          http://www.flickr.com/photos/benhulse/3282938078/

          1. Vancouver=BC=Dro.

            To me it also looks like a “personal massager”.

            Modernist design really sucks sometimes. This feminine curvy minimalist shit is becoming cliche.

      2. Every weed thread eventually and inevitably has someone making the more retarded(or is it retardeder?) argument that legal weed would fill the roads with stoned drivers, and that there is no way to deal with it.

        It goes something like this: “What are you loserdopians gonna do when your kid’s school bus driver is high? Bet you’ll change your tune real quick”

        1. Weed is so easy to test for.Don’t hire Otto to drive the school bus.Problem solved.

        2. I have a good answer for those people. I would be concerned if my kid’s school bus driver smoked pot for the first time right before getting behind the wheel. If he was an experienced, regular smoker who can keep his shit together, I honestly would not be concerned.

          1. You wouldn’t be but what about the other parents and the school system?

            I’m all for legalizing all drugs and for allowing employers to test and not hire/fire drug users as they see fit. It’s the libertarian way!

          2. If the bus driver is anything like me when I try to drive stoned, those kids won’t get to school until after lunch.

    4. Re: Brotherben,

      Tell that 44% that their next door neighbor is gonna plant the whole back yard in marihuana and sell it out of the garage for a profit.

      Well, I am certainly not going to give it away!

      1. With all due respect Mexican weed sucks, so you might have to give it away to compete with Humboldt Inc.

        1. Hey, I can still compete by giving excellent customer service and by the location.

          1. You’d better watch though, brotherben has the notion to n.i.m.b.y. you to warehouse district.

    5. Yes, because millions of additional pot producers and sellers will have no effect on the price.

    6. Tell that 44% that their next door neighbor is gonna plant the whole back yard in marihuana and sell it out of the garage for a profit. Are they still in favor of legalization?

      WTF? Is this based on the well-known outbreak of backyard stills and garage speakeasies when Prohibition was repealed?

      1. I have a Dunkel lagering in my garage right now. But its for “personal use” only, so thats okay.

    7. After legalization, it won’t be so profitable.

  3. Still, I think Kling is basically right that libertarians have yet to capture a large and reliable political constituency, and that failure has hurt libertarianism’s political prospects.

    I won’t necessarily disagree. However, the people pimping this view gave us Bob Barr. Libertarianism does better when the oddballs and misfits are center stage.

    1. “Better” in what sense, exactly?

      1. Libertarians can run on the winning platform plank of letting child pornography models/actors negotiate their own contracts with the child pornography industry.

  4. “Libertarians represent…what…a cult of oddballs and misfits?”

    OK, I can qualify on both counts.

  5. Keep in mind the Masonomic view that politics is not about policy. It is about the relative status of various groups.

    I don’t know what’s “Masonomic” about an insight that dates to antiquity and was most famously systematized by Marx, but This.

    Libertarianism can (possibly) be briefly imposed, like it almost was after the American revolution, but it can’t win. It’s a critique of politics, not a politics?an ever-milder critique as its nominal representatives chase after ever-more-political status.

    It’ll just stop complaining, if it hasn’t already.

  6. Well, paint me blue and hoist the Gadsden Flag!

  7. Surely I am not the sharpest person here. I didn’t think my comment was this hard to understand. I love pot. I have smoked lots and lots of it. I would prefer that it was legal. Not just for medicinal use. For everyone. Just like all the other plants you get at the Wal-Mart.

    I was suggesting that when people answer a poll and say they are for legalization of weed, they would change their answer if you suggested that their neighbor may now want to grow this LEGAL plant in his yard and sell it the way I sell tomatoes. Same with taxes. Everyone wants to pay lower taxes as long as the resulting cuts don’t affect them personally.

    1. I have smoked lots and lots of it.

      Still doesn’t explain liking Wild, Wild West. You probably liked MIB too.

      1. Sunofabitch. Yes I did. Both of them.

        *shuffles off. head hung in shame. to watch Independence Day *

  8. “I love pot. I have smoked lots and lots of it.”

    So THAT’S why you don’t work.

    1. I have been unemployed for 17 months and haven’t gotten high once. Why? Because weed cost money and the Weed Fairy always seems to pass my house.

  9. People might be forgiven that impression, seeing as America’s highest profile self-described “libertarian” is Bill Maher.

    This is the branch of libertarianism which believes government needs to raise taxes to pay for splooge filters at Hef’s pool grotto.

    1. That’s great progress over the time when the most widely identified (though not by self) “libertarian” was Lyndon LaRouche.

  10. I’d like to see the national Libertarian Party pick, say, three issues every presidential season (that is, every four years) and work primarily on fixing those four issues. It could be, for example, that medicinal marijuana, ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and reducing the federal government’s role in health care would be the big three issues that LP members agree need to be addressed. So, in addition to the usual inconsequential presidential campaign of sub-par compromise candidates, the LP could help organize and coordinate different groups working specifically toward those three goals (whatever else said groups might think about other issues) and maybe actually do some good in this country.

    1. But their stance on those issues will probably be something like “Abolish the FDA now!” Which will alienate 99.9% of voters.

  11. This is the branch of libertarianism which believes government needs to raise taxes to pay for splooge filters at Hef’s pool grotto.

    Wait. I thought he just used out-of-date Playmates with scuba gear for that.

    1. Strangely enough I went for a swim in the Playboy Mansion grotto last October. Didn’t see elderly Playmate scuba teams though.

      Yes, I did bring a blue light.

  12. This is the branch of libertarianism which believes government needs to raise taxes to pay for splooge filters at Hef’s pool grotto.

    Fuck that. Let the doddering old queen filter his own splooge.

  13. If I were king of the LP, I would devote ninety eight per cent of my resources to beating the drum of tax rationalization, and shifting the major source of revenue to consumption taxes and user fees. And setting a hard limit on the per cent of GDP consumed by the government.

    Tiny Culpeper flags for everybody!

    1. I honestly feel the LP should listen to you.

  14. When MJ is legal, the tobacco industry (most likely) will churn out mass quantities of premanufactured joints at a very low cost to the consumer (which the Feds will quintuple with taxes).

    My retarded son, who has been in the grow business, keeps claiming that he’s going to be wealthy when they legalize MJ. I keep telling him that ADM will have corporate weed farms that will look like wheat fields now.

    1. ADM will have corporate weed farms that will look like wheat fields now.

      I can see the headline now

      FARGO WIPED BY PRAIRIE FIRE

    2. Current growers have gotten really, really good at growing weed illegally. Covering your electricity usage really isn’t a transferable skill that will allow you to compete with Monsanto and R.J. Reynolds. Which is why all the smart growers are out there working to keep it illegal!

  15. Instead of amber waves of grain, it will be emerald waves of brain drain. ;^)

  16. And John Deere will manufacture a bud-picking platform for their top of the line combines.

    1. God bless capitalism.

  17. Don’t know if the picture is appropriate. Jay Maynard self-describes as a “free-market conservative”.

  18. Uh… I honestly don’t know a single person around my age (let’s say 22-27, ranging from VERY liberal to VERY conservative (I’m talking basically Communist to Jesus Freak who loves guns and hates the French)) who doesn’t believe that marijuana should obviously be legalized.

    Our generation is bringing this to the mainstream.

    1. When I was in my 20s during the 1970s, we thought this, too. It was conventional wisdom that MJ would be legalized in another 20 or so years as our generation took over. But a funny thing happened. We got married and started families. By the time our children were teenagers, many of my generation freaked out at the thought of their kids using pot and became lukewarm about legalization.

  19. Great posting.
    I like what publilius said, It’s different when you have children. Suddenly, you take a long term view of the world and stop worrying about the next pay check and Short Term Loans payments.

    Do as I say and not as I do? Not usually… parents try and stay clear of the things that directly impact their kids. And smoking an MJ just is not accepted.

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