European Union

Today's Best Example That Libertarians Do Not Edit Newspapers…

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Mysterious!

…comes from this L.A. Times article about government-less Belgium, which starts like this:

If a government falls and practically nobody hears it, does it make a sound?

Unable — or unwilling — to work together, bickering politicians have left unassuming Belgium without a fully functioning government for eight months, the longest for any nation in Europe since World War II.

Through most of that time, few Belgians, let alone the outside world, even seemed to notice. Trains continue to run, waffles are still being grilled on street corners, and people window-shop along centuries-old arcades. Tourists still sample mussels, go for overpriced canal rides in Bruges and snap up Tintin souvenirs, blissfully unaware of a political crisis.

The European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, both headquartered here in Brussels, barely muster a shrug at the vagaries of Belgian domestic politics.

Wow! Sounds like an interesting meditation on the surprising unnecessariness of a sitting legislature! Perhaps an examination of how voluntarism fills the (presumed) gaps when government recedes…. Yeah, no:

Still, the political paralysis is becoming unseemly.

I guess so!

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  1. Still, the political paralysis is becoming unseemly.

    It’s all about seemliness. What else would it be about?

    1. I can live without seemly.

      1. You are more about seaminess, of course. I mean, you are Canadian.

      2. “Seems,” madam? Nay, it is; I know not “seems.”

        1. What is this, Shakespeare Day?

          1. No, but it is National Margarita Day.

            1. Isn’t every day?

              1. But today it’s all official and shit.

                I’ve been making Monkey Gland cocktails:

                2 oz gin
                1 1/2 oz orange juice
                1/2 oz grenadine

                Shake with ice and strain.

                (Traditional recipes call for a few drops of pastis or absinthe. I personally don’t think it’s worth bothering with.)

                1. Grenadine? Hey, Nancy, you want a strawberry daiquiri with that? Maybe a Shirley Temple?

                  1. Grenadine? Hey, Nancy, you want a strawberry daiquiri with that? Maybe a Shirley Temple?

                    It has Gin in it.

                    Anything with Gin in it is automatically an alcoholics drink.

                2. Where’s the margarita? I’ve posted a number of tequila mixed drink recipes at Urkobold over the years. Most weren’t margaritas, but here’s one of those.

                  I also recommend the non-margarita ?Agave Libre!

                  1. No grenadine in the ?Agave Libre!, even though red is needed. Pomegranate juice. The juice of freedom. . .except from Hades.

                    1. Imagine if she had eaten 12 seeds as opposed to 6.

                    2. Or if she’d been a bulimic.

                    3. I think only 6 seeds counts as bulimic.

                    4. Nah. Binge, purge. If she’d eaten six whole pomegranates, maybe.

                    5. Given the weather the way it is, she may have quaffed the other ones when we weren’t looking.

                    6. Given the weather the way it is, she may have quaffed the other ones when we weren’t looking.

                      You mean sunny and 78 degrees F daytime, 70 at night?

                      Oh, wait, you must live in one of those sucky weather states.

                    7. I had the A/C going pretty good yesterday.

                    8. Grenadine is just pomegranate syrup. And I make my own. [sniff]

                    9. Yes, I know that. Why do you reveal such truths in this forum?

                    10. Though I should add that there is a difference between grenadine and pomegranate juice–i.e., no additional sugar was harmed in the making of one of those substances.

                    11. I believe I said “syrup.” You are now official worse than Episirach.

                    12. That would sting more if you could properly adjectivize words.

                    13. I is slow today.

                    14. He refers to our roles as officials in the U.S. government, I guess.

                      As for SF, I wasn’t talking about that comment; I was talking about mine. I spoke of the juice. You lika the juice.

                    15. PL, can we just agree it’s all Episiarch’s fault?

                    16. Most things are.

                      Did you know that he was outed as, as, whatever that guy who runs Libya is called? It makes sense, as, um, that guy has referred to himself as an anarchist before.

      3. I can live without seemly.

        So it seems.

        1. “Let be be the finale of seem / The only emperor is the Emperor of Ice Cream”

          1. Employed poets FTW!

            1. Wallace Stevens fucking rocks. Now THERE’S a bio that should be made into a Hollywood movie. Egads! I think I just came up with my script idea!

    2. “It’s all about seemliness. What else would it be about?”

      The Hokey Pokey?

      1. ^^THIS!

  2. I feel sure taxes are being collected, so, really, who among the Master Class really cares about the rest.

    1. This.

      In contrast, the instability (where there is not outright violence) in most places in the Middle East and North Africa feeds upon itself as taxes are not collected and people aren’t getting paid.

    2. This seems like KY used to be when the legislature only met every other year. Going about 22 months between sessions dont hurt anything (and almost surely helped) and didnt really mean you didnt have a government.

      1. Texas is still that way. Although the Leg is in the Haus now, so hold onto your wallet (with the hand that isn’t holding onto your gun).

        1. The Texas Constitution says that the Lege is to meet for 140 days every 2 year. I maintain that this was a typo and that their actual intent was 2 days every 140 years.

  3. Belgium is the Canada of Europe.

  4. But but but but but…Somalia! Roads!

    1. I’ll remember this for the next time somebody says that.

  5. How will the LAT beat its’ libertarian strawmen about the head with SOMALIA!!1! if Belgium continues to function without a government and doesn’t descend into block-by-block warfare betwixt competing waffle warlords?

    1. we should ask waffles.

    2. How will the LAT beat its’ libertarian strawmen about the head with SOMALIA!!1! if Belgium continues to function without a government and doesn’t descend into block-by-block warfare betwixt competing waffle warlords?

      The Tonys of the world will simply argue that since government placed the infrastructure in the first place and the frothy Belgians are not destroying, raping and pillaging others’ property, the comparison betwixt Somalia and Belgium is a false one.

    3. “…Belgium continues to function without a government”

      That’s what they find so “…unseemly”

    4. BELGIUM!!!!!1!

  6. Belgium, the New Somalia!

    1. Beat me to it.

    2. Aw, c’mon, not really – I mean who ever heard of Somalian Block curbstones in the tonier neighborhoods? And I sure as hell am not going to have Somalian waffles for my Sunday brunch.

      1. Don’t knock it till you try it…
        Somali canjeero.

        Breakfast (quraac) is an important meal for Somalis. who often start the day with some style of tea (shaah). The main dish is typically a pancake-like bread (canjeero) similar to Ethiopian injera but smaller and thinner.

        Canjeero is eaten in different ways, it may be broken into small pieces with ghee (subag) and sugar added.

        1. I was expecting a recipe.

          1. I was expecting a recipe.

            Buy some Pita bread…butter it (if you have goat butter then use that)…toast it on your stove…butter it again then sprinkle it with brown sugar and Cinnamon.

            Enjoy with a Snapple on the dirt floor of your basement….for added effect contract malaria before hand.

            1. Ghee is clarified butter, so you left out a step.

              1. And Glee is glorified crap.

                1. Just missed. Here’s what you should’ve said: “Glee is clarified crap.”

            2. I take it they don’t sell 20kg bags of teff flour at your local grocery store. Alas, everywhere can’t be as cosmopolitan as North Georgia.

              Somali waffles

              1. See, there’s this new fangled thing called teh intertubez, and they sell stuff on it!!1!! Somalia!!1!1!

  7. Through most of that time, few Belgians, let alone the outside world, even seemed to notice. Trains continue to run, waffles are still being grilled on street corners, and people window-shop along centuries-old arcades. Tourists still sample mussels, go for overpriced canal rides in Bruges and snap up Tintin souvenirs, blissfully unaware of a political crisis.

    That sounds remarkably similar to what happened when the US experienced a “government shutdown.”

    Oh, and David Suchet FTW, Mr. Welch!

    1. That sounds remarkably similar to what happened when the US experienced a “government shutdown.”

      What was amazing was that the network media claimed that the government shutdown was a crisis, while few people were actually experiencing a crisis.

      1. Without the government in session, what are reporters supposed to cover? They’re just expressing solidarity for their Belgian journalist brothers.

      2. I was affected by the government shutdown of 95 (or whenever it was). My girlfriend’s father was a National Guard recruiter, and he couldn’t use his government car for a few days, so he had to use her car, leaving me without a ride. I don’t know how civilization survived.

      3. It was a crisis becxause there wasn’t a statist regime to cover at the time so that they can affirm the righteousness of their statism.

    2. “waffles are still being grilled on street corners”

      Don’t tell them anything waffles, no matter how hard those bastards grill ya!

    3. I like me some Agatha Christie novels.

  8. I’m not going to sully myself by going to the LAT. Does the article mention roads?

    1. No, and the problems they mention are lame. It could hurt the economy. (How?) Unemployment is 8% and economic recovery is fragile. (Fragile? Keep the government away then. That’s like letting a bull into a china shop.) People are yearning for a working government, because, well, you’re supposed to have one, darnit.

      1. The article didn’t mention it, but I wonder how many people protested because the handouts they directly or indirectly benefited from were no longer flowing due to the broken government.

        1. Probably none. I’m sure they’re operating under something similar to our continuing resolution. Still, a break from constant government meddling in the economy can only be a good thing.

          1. Well, since the natural movement of government is to expand, and government doesn’t expand while it is broken (it only “continues”), I imagine everyone who benefits from the expansion of government in general is affected.

      2. the statement you are refering to could have been rewritten as

        “no new policies are being enacted at a time when the unemployment rate is 2% below the European Union average, economic recovery is projected to be stagnant for the next two years, and the future of the euro remains in the hands of their larger neighbors.”

      3. If the politicians are too busy arguing amongst themselves to accomplish what they want, that is an improvement on the state that we should emulate.

    2. “The market” is threatening to raise interest rates.

      The separatist party won the most seats at the last election yet no talk of a bloody civil war.

  9. Soon they’ll all be reduced to chewing khat eating horses and putting mayonnaise on french fries.

    1. Plenty of straw(men) to eat.

      1. Belgian waffles are people!!

        1. Pass the soylent syrup.

          1. You know, someone with a great sense of humor and lots of money to waste should start a food company called Soylent Corporation. Just selling soy products, of course, but always wondering publicly what the fuss is all about.

            1. What about the lentils?

              1. Oh, good point. Only soy and lentil products. So when people suggest that there might be people involved, Soylent Corp. executives simply say, “No, it’s soy and lentils–Soy-lent. We have no idea what some old movie has to do with our operations. This whole business is so ridiculous.”

                1. “Well, it’s mostly lentils, but there’s some crockery mixed in.”

                  1. Also in the official press kit.

                    1. “We did have a worker fall in, so some of our products may be made of people.”

                    2. I’ll have a slice without so much people in it.

    2. …and brewing over-priced-head-ache-inducing-strawberry-flavored beer out of old roof thatch and pigeon shit!

      1. Belgian beer is the best in the world (though besides some of the krieks, I can do without the fruity ones). I don’t see what the fuss is about the waffles, though.

        1. I don’t claim sufficiently extensive knowledge to agree with the above statement about beer. But the single best beer I personaly have had was from Belgium.

          //WTF is the adjectival form anyway Belsh? Belgese? Belgimatic? Belgish?

  10. now wait a metric second…

    1. Say, why did time never change to the metric system anyway? What’s with all this base-60 silliness?

      1. Zeb, I think it is called Hexidecimal. Or did someone beat me to it already.

        1. But I think hexidecimal is base 16

        2. Hex is base 16… is there a joke there I don’t recognize?

  11. What the Times fails to understand is that the efficiency of Beligan gummint is such that they can issue millions of decrees and laws in one day and then take the rest of the year off, whilst the public works it’s way through the backlog.

  12. If a government falls and practically nobody hears it, does it make a sound?

    I’m not a journalist major, but if an opening question answers itself doesn’t that make reading the rest of the article pointless.

  13. well maybe that’s because it’s the LEGISLATURE that’s failing to function properly.

    I’d pull an Old-Mexican and scream “LIARS!!!” to all the libertarians, but I know they’re actually that stupid that they don’t see recognize those important details

    1. It’s adorable that you don’t know that the word government has other meanings. Fucking precious.

      1. It’s like a kitten, but stupider!

        1. But will it go apeshit for an old bootlace? If not, drown it.

          1. Laser pointer, dude. LASER POINTER.

            1. One of mine goes way crazier for the bootlace than the laser. She fucking fetches it. I’m never wasting money on cat toys again.

              1. I nailed an old black dress sock filled with catnip to a wooden pillar in my basement. Last cat toy I’ll ever need.

            2. It’s really awe-inspiring how crazy lasers make cats. Who knew?

                1. Cat laser bowling

                  …..

                  I am in awe.

              1. I knew. That’s why I said it. Duh.

              1. Dammit. Warty beat me to it.

      2. The government is only the legislature? That’s news to me.

        I thought it encompassed the judiciary, the executive, and the legislature altogether.

        here’s a hint: the executive can run just fine without the legislature making new laws; there are still all the old laws there that set up the framework of how things are run. Hence, your trains can still run on time even though Jorgan Van der Sloop hasn’t gotten to pass his Brussels-Sprout subsidy bill.

        1. The word government is used differently in parliamentary systems than in the US. Do your own reading from here.

          1. I thought even trolls understood that. So, for instance, when one says Italy has had fifty billion governments since the end of WWII, that doesn’t mean they have had fifty billion revolutions where the entire system was overthrown.

            1. I had a hard time deciding whether to merely throw a lot of insults at it, or attempt to guide it in the right direction. Let it not be said that I lack mercy.

              1. You’re doing God’s work here, good man.

                1. If there were any God, there wouldn’t be any trolls.

                  1. Argumentum ad Wartitum

                    Is God willing to prevent trolling, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able to prevent trolling, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh trolling? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

                    1. Ah, the Problem of Trolling. One of the great philosophical questions.

                    2. you guys keep talking about trolling but you’re obviously, blatantly, retardedly wrong on this one

                      epic fail

                    3. You’ve outlived your usefulness, retard. Get the fuck out of here and go back to ass-banging ducks or whatever the fuck it is that your type does.

                    4. you guys keep talking about trolling but you’re obviously, blatantly, retardedly wrong on this one

                      epic fail

                      It just doesn’t get any better than this. Bravo.

              2. Informative insults, I always say.

          2. ehhh… it’s still roughly the legislature, and isn’t completely necessary for day to day operations

            though the linked article does mention that there is a caretaker government.

            Hence, it is not no-government

            dumbasses

            1. In our sense, it’s arguably the legislature and the executive.

              1. $100 that says this failure of a scumfuck commonly tells people that Hitler was a conservative.

                1. Just like the governor of Wisconsin!

                2. Hitler was more libertarian than anything else, jackass.

                  1. Dammit, and he gives himself up as one of the regulars. I knew this gift was too great to be true.

                  2. Okay, that made me laugh.

              2. Of course, the bureaucracy can continue for some time without the “government” being in session, but I imagine that becomes a fiscal problem at some point.

                1. Yes, parliament has to vote periodically on supply bills.

                  I suspect it is easier to get pols to vote for funding for already existing programs than it is to get them to fund new ones.

                  1. Of course, in the normal course of things, failure to pass a supply bill is the eqivalent of a non-confidence vote and that results in dissolution and a new election.

                    Not sure what happens if the caretaker govt can’t get a supply bill through.

                    If they’ve gone this long without someone forming a viable government it’s probably time for the King to dissolve parliament and call an election himself. There must be some kind of emergency power to allow that.

                    Mind you, the old boy may simply realize that things are going along just fine and letting sleeping dogs lie, as it were, is the best policy.

                    After all, let parliament get any power and who knows what they might fuck up?

            2. You’re wrong, yet we’re somehow dumbasses? Interesting…

              1. Stupid fucktard called Hitler a libertarian. It is to laugh.

        2. The “government” is the working parliamentary majority, made up of a coalition of different parties.

          If you can’t get enough parties to unite to form a majority government, then you don’t have one.

          1. Actually, some countries using the parliamentary system get by with minority governments where minor parties agree to support the plurality party without forming a coalition normally which requires giving the coalition partner at least one ministry and binds the minor party members which some degree of party discipline.

            IIANM, the 2010 Australian Federal election for the House of Representatives (150 seats) left Labor and the Liberal/National coalition tied with 72 seats each. Labor was able to stay in power by gaining the support of the independents and the lone Green.

            The hold of such a minority government is tenuous as third party supporters can jump ship any time they want to without fear of any party discipline or loss of privilege.

            1. Sure. But I didn’t want to blow my troll students away on the first day. Baby steps.

            2. Speaking of minority party coalitions, how about them Nazis?

              1. It was also how the Communists finally took control in Czechoslovakia in the late forties.

                The election using the party list PR system left a badly fractured legislature.

                I believe the plurality party was a squishy socialist or social democrat type of out fit and one of the parties they needed was the Communists (none of the rightwing parties would join up, naturally).

                The communists agreed on condition that they would get the Interior Ministry. As you probably know this had nothinmg to do with National Parks and everything to do with the national police force. IIANM, they got defense as well.

                I could be wrong, but I think that was their MO in at least a couple of other Iron Curtain countries where Soviet control was less secure. It was not supposed to be a forgone conclusion that countries like Hungary and Romania were going to go Red. They actually had to work at it some places.

        3. Re: Edwin,

          The government is only the legislature? That’s news to me.

          Yes, that’s how things work – you learn something new every day by exposing your empty mind to facts.

        4. One could argue that, to the extent that a legislature must pass laws, it is acknowledging the failures of past legislatures. Which is problematic in a country like the U.S., where legislative careers are so long.

    2. Re: Edwin,

      I’d pull an Old-Mexican and scream “LIARS!!!” to all the libertarians.

      You can pull my finger.

  14. There may not be an elected policy level-staff, but there is still the civil service bureaucracy to make sure not everything comes to a halt. What is interesting is how the revenue obtained is allocated. I would assume that is the job of the elected politicians. Does the bureaucracy just keep using the last appropriations?

  15. Cameras Avoid Belgian DigDug Record Holder

  16. Q: How will the Emperor maintain control without the bureaucracy?

    A: Regional governors now have direct control over their territories. Fear will keep the local systems in line, fear of this battlestation.

    1. Do the Walloons or Flemish control the battle station?

      1. Definitely the Flemish.

        1. Too bad.

          If it was the Walloons (French speaking), there would be nothing to fear.

  17. I can only wonder what might happen if the Belgians protesting their lack of government suddenly see the unemployment rate inexplicably begin to drop anyway.

    1. Oops. Flemings, not Belgians. My bad.

  18. I was expecting some alt text about moustache rides. Matt, I am disappoint.

  19. The Belgian people have two out of three branches of government working and that’s not bad.

    1. It’s a good start.

      1. Agreed, but a good start heading in which direction?

  20. SOMALIA!!!!!!!!

  21. Nobody’s posted this yet?

  22. Another way to tell that libertarians don’t edit the paper. That picture of the “strip tease” protesters is the best they can do?

  23. Still, the political paralysis is becoming unseemly.

    If a prostitute pays herself to masturbate alone in the woods is it unseemly?

    1. Not if she films it. Then it’s artistic expression.

  24. This post is an example that headlines need editing.

  25. What, over 70 comments and no award for the most gratuitous use of the word Belgium in a motion picture?

    1. refer Humble Lee|2.22.11 @ 2:42PM

  26. I missed it in time for the morning links, so here.

    Why I’m not married (and it’s not because I’m an angry slut).

    Sure, sweetie.

    1. So… is this link the new “Golden Girls will make you gay” link?

      1. Ah, my apologies Warty… it was a follow up story.

        1. The seething rage is palpable. Delicious.

          1. Whenever late-30ish, early-40ish women begin to seethe about not being married, all I can really think about is all the lucky guys who don’t have to have them as their ex-wives.

            1. Most of these approaching-middle-age women who have never been married are women who don’t want to have children.

              Let me clue you on a little secret ladies: if you don’t want to have kids, there’s really no particularly good reason for a guy to want to marry you.

              1. Other than money, sex, and prescription narcotics.

              2. if you don’t want to have kids, there’s really no particularly good reason for a guy to want to marry you.

                Well, he might want less sex. There’s always that.

      2. THANK YOU FOR BEING A FRIEND…

        I hate you for getting that fucking song in my head.

        1. True story: That song was actually played on the radio and was, technically, what radio insiders call a “hit.” I know, I know, hard to believe.

    2. Holy fucking shit, I just read that link. I have no words. I…uh…wow.

      1. See? It’s so delicious.

        1. She can’t really be like that. The whole article is from The Onion, right? RIGHT?

          1. She actually sounds pretty funny. I enjoyed that link.

            1. Then, maybe you met the one who was that into you. He loved and respected you like no man had before … maybe he pulled out a ring and asked you to marry him.

              Maybe you said yes but then freaked out.

              She’s not married because she fucking doesn’t want to be married. Revealed preferences. But a thirteen word article isn’t publishable.

          2. I’m a bitch, a slut, a liar, shallow, selfish or not good enough.

            Why do those words make me think of her yelling ‘call me a . . ‘ and then that phrase while she snarls back at me as I grind her ample haunches? She planned it that way. Angry women and their irresistible mind games. They make the world go around.

          3. She can’t really be like that. The whole article is from The Onion, right? RIGHT?

            Six Flags is going to build a themed roller coaster based on not having a relationship with Jessica Ravitz.

      2. You always have words.

    3. Funny she mentioned Jennifer Aniston. That is one angry woman.

  27. As Edwin pointed out, there is a caretaker government in place, presumably to keep things running. There’s just no new policy coming to deal with the country’s problems. Which is what tens of thousands of people are protesting. The spin placed on this article here is completely ridiculous.

    1. And this was a very serious comment thread, not full of jokes at all. We all actually believe that “Belgium has no government” means that it is an anarchy and no governmental institutions exist anymore.

    2. There’s just no new policy coming to deal with the country’s problems.

      And what problems would those be, Tony?

      According to TFA

      Through most of that time, few Belgians, let alone the outside world, even seemed to notice. Trains continue to run, waffles are still being grilled on street corners, and people window-shop along centuries-old arcades. Tourists still sample mussels, go for overpriced canal rides in Bruges and snap up Tintin souvenirs, blissfully unaware of a political crisis.

      Now, the article does go on to mention an eight percent unemployment rate, which, IIANM, has been pretty much the structural norm (actually on the low side, plus or minus) for Belgium and most of the EU. Their generous social safety net makes it so being unemployed isn’t particularly arduous.

      So, tell me what would getting a new government get the Belgies? Exactly what “new policy” could it come up with “to deal with the country’s problems”?

      1. Ask them, they’re the ones protesting.

        1. Ah, yes, their faith that that will do some good is certainly endearing.

          Maybe they should just think about going out and looking for jobs.

        2. If Belgium has no government… what are they protesting?

  28. about government-less Belgium,

    Nonsense. The only part of the gov’t not operating at full force is the legislature…but maybe they already have enough laws.

    Trains continue to run,

    Gov’t owned until Feb’11, and still gov’t subsidized. “The spin placed on this article here is completely ridiculous.” Yup.

    1. Not rally, the private sector is usually more competent.

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