How a Single Nick Gillespie Sentence Indicates "the central analytical failure of libertarianism as a worldview," or at Least Is a Good Enough Reason to Pre-emptively Discount a Piece of Journalism About Black People Getting Screwed Over in D.C.


Yesterday, Nick Gillespie wrote a blog post previewing today's great Reason.tv piece about Washington, D.C.'s attempts to screw over its (largely minority/immigrant-owned) self-proprietor taxi cabs, and also announcing that the Reason Foundation was petitioning [PDF] the city to clean up and strengthen its rules vis-a-vis transparency, filming public meetings and so forth. In the process of that post, Gillespie wrote that our lawyer's "swift action helped to defuse a situation in which the powerful were more than ready to take advantage of the powerless." This phrasing inspired an entire mini-essay by Freddie deBoer over at the Reason Derangement Syndrome website Balloon Juice. Sample:

Ah, yes. The powerless. When I think of people who are powerless in Washington DC—a city with a child poverty rate near 30%—I think of employees of one of the most influential and powerful think tanks in the country. (Koch money goes a long way.) In a poor, majority-black city with a long history of drugs, crime, and endemic lack of opportunity, Gillespie looks out and sees that the truly powerless are…libertarians. (That Mr. Epstein had the social and material resources to immediately gain the aid of a noted First Amendment lawyer seems not to have factored into Gillespie's determination of Epstein's power or lack thereof.)

I find this entirely in keeping with the central analytical failure of libertarianism as a worldview: a total and disqualifying inability to measure or account for power as it exists in the real world. […]

It is absurd that Epstein and the other reporter were arrested at this meeting. Reason is to be commended for calling attention to that injustice. The medallion issue is a complicated one, and Reason's ethos generally leaves little room for complexity. Surely, the unwarranted arrest of two upwardly mobile, financially secure reporters is an exceedingly minor example of injustice in a town where the daily injustice of permanent and major poverty persists on a broad scale. Unfortunately, libertarianism has no mechanism whatsoever to address that injustice, and taken as a whole, the ideology has consistently demonstrated little interest in finding one.

And so on.

I don't think deBoer's complaint rises to the level of being worth a response, but E.D. Kain provides one anyway over at Forbes The League of Ordinary Gentlemen.

Meanwhile, it's all a good excuse to re-run a great video, whose (perennial) theme is one that I would hope liberals everywhere would find resonant: How in a poor, majority black city with an endemic lack of opportunity, the powerful as they exist in the real world are more than ready to take advantage of the powerless.