What Is This Libertarianism Stuff, Anyway?

Matt Welch talks about the L-word, plus pot, hippies, and the alt-right, on this week's airwaves


With Libertarians making more and more headlines these days, there is a noticeable uptick in people either trying to smother libertarianism before it grows any further, or to simply express some proactive curiosity about how all this l-stuff works. I spent a lot of time on the airwaves this past week responding to both genres of query, and some of those exchanges left a digital footprint.

First up is a bit Rand Corporation scaremongering about how legal pot is some kind of scam by rich, nonsmoking liberals to keep the poor in their place. This was treated with the derision it deserved on Monday's episode of the great Fox Business Network program Kennedy:

Next is the first half of a TWO-HOUR interview I did this morning with libertarian-leaning host Scott Barger on WRTA 1240 AM's Two Way Radio program, in which we mostly chewed on libertarianism writ large:

I was asked even more what-is-libertarianism/Reason questions live from the New York Stock Exchange one week ago by a new outfit called Cheddar TV, which has been described as "the CNBC for Millennials." You can watch that segment by starting a free trial at this link.

Later that day I talked about Gary Johnson, third parties, and my dirty hippie past on The Buck Sexton Show (yes, that's the same pornstar-named ex-CIA fella who joined the drunken revelry on The Fifth Column this week).

And what the hell, if we're being completist, here's a snippet of my conversation about the alt-right Tuesday with political journalist Michael Tracey, when I was guest-hosting on SiriusXM Insight channel 121's Tell Me Everything With John Fugelsang:

Record music and voice >>

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  1. Cue the usual suspects to say Reason doesn’t know what libertarianism is because Reason doesn’t obsess about the same subjects as they do.

    1. From the “You Know Who Else…” file:

      We are marching in a compact group along a precipitous and difficult path, firmly holding each other by the hand. We are surrounded on all sides by enemies, and we have to advance almost constantly under their fire. We have combined, by a freely adopted decision, for the purpose of fighting the enemy, and not of retreating into the neighbouring marsh, the inhabitants of which, from the very outset, have reproached us with having separated ourselves into an exclusive group and with having chosen the path of struggle instead of the path of conciliation. And now some among us begin to cry out: Let us go into the marsh! And when we begin to shame them, they retort: What backward people you are! Are you not ashamed to deny us the liberty to invite you to take a better road! Oh, yes, gentlemen! You are free not only to invite us, but to go yourselves wherever you will, even into the marsh. In fact, we think that the marsh is your proper place, and we are prepared to render you every assistance to get there. Only let go of our hands, don’t clutch at us and don’t besmirch the grand word freedom, for we too are “free” to go where we please, free to fight not only against the marsh, but also against those who are turning towards the marsh!

        1. I’ll see your retort, and raise you one.

    2. Cue the usual suspects to say Reason doesn’t know what libertarianism is because Reason doesn’t obsess about the same subjects as they do.

      Only people who attach the exact same amount of significance to each variable of libertarianism as I do are actual libertarians. Anyone who attaches too little is an SJW socialist watermelon, and anyone who attaches too much is an impractical purist.

      Being “to the left” of me on any issue makes you an SJW, but for some reason many republican lawmakers are not held to this standard. They get the unusual privilege of occupying a space between my exact understanding of libertarianism, and socialism, which are the only two categories into which all others must be assigned.

      1. Cower in your safe space, commie bunny hugger. Your GBI is going be one big fat $goose egg.

      2. FUCK COLIG

    3. Libertarianism isn’t about owning your own bazooka and tax rates on billionaires?!? Ok, smart guy, what is it about then?

      1. It’s about having enough guns to defend against want a be tyrants like you and yours.

        1. So a daydream of sexually inadequate man-children?

          1. But enough about how you spent your afternoon…

      2. A lot of it is about mushroom-stamping retards like american trollsulots.

    4. It seems that Matt Welch obsesses over the same stuff I do, so he’s aight with me. But he’s also a Reason veteran. Which means he occasionally says mean things about the commies.

      1. (Sheds single tear)

    5. Libertariansim is about arguing with other libertarians about how they are wrong about everything, Star Trek, and squatting.

      1. I thought it was about flagging hills to not die on.

        1. All Hills Have Eyes Not to Die On must and shall be cleared with HazelMeade first.

      2. Finally, someone gets it. Thank you Crusty.

  2. “the CNBC for Millennials.”

    (deep shudder)

    ‘a money-show for kids who think debts should be erased and wide swaths of the economy nationalized’

    1. It’s funny, ’cause I always refer to CNBC as the MTV of Financial Reporting.

      Because that’s really funny.

  3. Sew, Mr. Welch, I can’t help but notice that the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are still in last place, AL West.

    I demand a link to a robust defense of their performance and Sosh’s decisions this year.

    1. Say what you will, but the take-away from this game was that Phillips played the most impressive game of his life, and Langston was absolutely inspiring.

      1. Just like a woman to interject herself when I was clearly trying to troll Mr. Welch.

          1. Ow, my balls!

    2. It’s Jared Weaver’s last year, so things are looking up for the Angels.

    3. I think you mean the California Angels of California.

    4. From the Angels chapter in the Baseball Prospectus annual of 2014:

      “This franchise has utterly squandered what was once one of the sport’s largest surpluses of talent….Failure in Anaheim, to invert a cliche, has had many fathers, most of whom are still in senior management positions.”

      Author: Matt Welch.

      1. I think they should trade Trout to the Dodgers for Puig, straight up.

  4. the drunken revelry on The Fifth Column this week

    From what I could tell, you and Moynie were only halfway into your one beer when it started. As a notorious lightweight myself, I must declare: Sad!

    1. TBH, I was given several scotches while guesting for John Fugelsang that afternoon from 2-4. And maybe there was a meeting with an old broadcasting friend at a neighborhood watering hole prior to the podcast. What I’m saying is that it wasn’t the Throat Punch….

      1. I was given several scotches while guesting for John Fugelsang

        Now *that* is a Pr0N name iffen I ever seen one, Matt, Schei?e-flavoured, even. Sure he didn’t slip you a roofie-lite, or some other “drug of positive influence” to sway opinion or to “loosen inhibition”? -D

  5. the drunken revelry on The Fifth Column

    4mins of discussion of NSA hacking…. 40mins of Iraq war rehash?.

  6. Obama: “One of the benefits of being five months short of leaving here is I don’t worry too much about politics…”

    I guess the reason I think Obama should be included in the libertarian legion of honor is that it’s pretty obvious that he despises his DC coworkers. I’m a libertarian and I hate most of what people in DC do including corporate butt kissing and bombing small countries that don’t threaten me and, to the extent that the US seems intent on corporate butt kissing and bombing peasants, he seems to do less of this then his peers. I give him a solid B-

    1. Please don’t feed the troll.

      1. But… what if we agree with it?

        1. Cross yourself three times in the mirror while chanting the laws of economics.

      2. Who’s trolling? Who made you director of the Ministry of Truth at Yeah, I don’t care about gun control laws and think right-wing economic theories are horseshit. Sue me.

        1. te?di?ous (t??d?-?s)

          Tiresome by reason of length, slowness, or dullness; boring.
          Synonyms: dull, mind-numbing, american socialist

          1. I’ll try to be more succinct. GO TRUMP! Better?

        2. So you don’t care about basic human rights and you’re a moron. Got it.

    2. The Federal Government Now Employs the Fewest People Since 1966…..ince-1966/

      The Peanut Gallery will miss Obama when the next Big Gov POTUS is ramping up Bush-style.

      1. No one would argue that the government hasn’t become more efficient in killing more economic freedom with fewer people.

      2. If you don’t count contractors.

  7. First up is a bit Rand Corporation scaremongering about how legal pot is some kind of scam by rich, nonsmoking liberals to keep the poor in their place.

    *rambling comment follows, be warned*

    So I used to be marginally involved in some 4 wheeling boards and got involved in one called “”. I was struck pretty early on by a strong whiff of douchebaggery by the forum owners/moderators, and one of the first posts I came across when joining up was a ban on the word “Kalifornia” because the derogatory spelling of the name violated the safe-space vibe of a 4wd forum… or something. They also made a point of wanting to ban political threads because it was a 4wd forum. Almost the same day, one of the forum leaders was ‘asked’ by the other forum leaders to create a comprehensive breakdown of the American healthcare system, the conclusion of which was “single payer or bust”. It was a lot of cutting and pasting from The Rand Corporation.

    I waded in briefly, then quit the forum forever. So whenever I see bullshit from The Rand Corporation, I remember that forum.

    Not sure why I just typed this. Carry on.

    1. Whenever I see the Rand Corporation, I just think of their alliance with the saucer people and the reverse vampires.

      You all know what I’m talking about, don’t act like you don’t.

      1. Yeah yeah, I’ve been to the Denver airport.

      2. “we’re through the looking glass, people”

    2. Maybe you mean the Bland Corporation.

  8. The RAND Corporation, telling politicians exactly what they want to hear since 1946.

    Legal marijuana is holding back the poor, but arresting them and fucking over their lives is good for them. Builds character.

    1. See, the beauty of that is that once they have built that character, they are now considered non-hireable for most jobs. Thus they remain poor and keep voting Democrat. Everyone wins!

        1. I want the hardcover edition. Only $249.95.

  9. The first thing I’d do if I were trying to teach people about what libertarianism is would be to tell them to ignore everything the guy who represents the Libertarian Party says. And doubly so for his running mate.

  10. @1300 Matt’s discussion of Burning Man. I think it started the way he describes it, but from everything I’ve read, it’s not that way now. Particularly Welch’s explicit statement that “nothing’s monitored by government”.

    I’ve read that since Burning Man has gone mainstream, it’s a quasi-police state.

    What you must know is that Burning Man is a VERY SOPHISTICATED POLICE STATE, EXTENSIVELY PATROLLED and MONITORED by State and Federal Officers. They literally motor by your camp every twenty minutes looking for someone ‘anyone’ to bust. Not to mention Camp Spies in costume and Special Operations sporting night vision goggles and underage shills. And their interest is simple ? they’re dying to give you a citation. They could care less about what you’re doing, what they’re keen about is the ‘enormous’ amount of money generated by these citations, more citations = more money for State and Federal coffers. […] And remember, neither Nevada nor the Federal Government will recognize your medical marijuana card.

    1. Yet, most of the people I hear complaining are focused on how its gotten too corporate and how rich people are able to afford more luxuries while there.

    2. It’s the great cycle of gentrification. First, bohemians spontaneously gather for some reason or another. Culture-vulture Yuppies get wind of it and slowly become a part of it. Once a critical mass of Yuppies is reached (the “Bistro Event Horizon”) they then start siccing the cops on the bohemians. As an added bonus, they complain how much cooler things were before all the cops started showing up.

      1. “Bistro Event Horizon”.

        I like that.

        1. Yes, very good explanation, too.

    3. Doherty will have an interesting post on Burning Man within the next 72 hours.

    1. rapper
      (citation needed)

    2. I see other reports of that but not on any major news outlets. I am trying to decide if it actually happened or if it is some kind of performance art.

  11. According to the Peanut Gallery libertarianism is about hating central banks and collecting gold-plated doubloons.

    1. Only about 8%, I’d say.

    2. Yeah I’d say that gold is performing well as a hedge, exactly as you didn’t predict.

      1. SHHH! Don’t harsh his narrative, yo!

  12. What’s the libertarian answer to things like this?…..story.html

    1. I am as in favor of criminal justice reform and policing reform as anyone, but I’m beginning to suspect that we may have crossed the point of no return in some regards. I’ve lived in a major metropolitan area for most of my life and witnessed in person some royally fucked up shit, though this is the first time I’ve seen teens and twenty-somethings behave toward police the way as depicted in the linked video. This is not a justice movement. It’s not a police reform movement. These are kids that are being used as foot soldiers in a long war of attrition conceived by ultra-left activists that want the absolute destruction of civil society and are are morally aided and abetted by the presidential administration of the past eight years. I realize this might come off as some kind of kooky “alt-right” paranoia, but I see it every day.

      1. Don’t let any retarded Beltway “wonk” fuckwit convince you otherwise – Chicago is an incredibly fucked up place right now. On my way to the train the other day I passed at least five homeless people either sitting or laying passed out on the sidewalk over the course of a few blocks. The number varies by day, but I’d guess five or six to be the average. I haven’t seen this level of destitution in the downtown area since sometime in the eighties, and even then it was mostly limited to the south Loop area due to the proximity to the old Pacific Garden Mission. Now it seems to be everywhere.

        1. Just today I boarded a train and noticed a girl that couldn’t have been a day older than seventeen – she had her mother and three toddlers in tow. Her mother seemed like a really sweet person from what I could briefly gather; clearly the product of a dying generation. She held what appeared to be her youngest grandchild and comforted her as she cried. The young mother was crying too while clumsily placing a soiled diaper into a plastic bag tied to a stroller as her two sons wriggled and yelled in their seats. Her attire – a loose fitting t-shirt and pajama pants – hinted to me that she wasn’t on her way to work anywhere. None of the other men on board the train appeared to be the patriarch of this woeful commuting tragedy either. Aside from her mother, she was all alone in rearing these three children. It was an interesting, depressing Friday morning, for sure. I can only wonder what Monday may bring.

          1. “I’ve lived in a major metropolitan area for most of my life”

            No offense, but it baffles me why someone would do that.

            “This is not a justice movement. It’s not a police reform movement. These are kids that are being used as foot soldiers in a long war of attrition conceived by ultra-left activists that want the absolute destruction of civil society and are are morally aided and abetted by the presidential administration of the past eight years.”

            Yep. That video is insane.

            1. No offense, but it baffles me why someone would do that.

              No offense taken. As positively astounding as it may seem, some people prefer living situations different than your own. My cost of living is still relatively low. There is amazing food everywhere. I appreciate being around people with skin tones different than my own. How weird is that, huh?

          2. I know this is supposed to sound pitiable, but it’s not.

            Wages of hobaggery. Had the fun, now reaps the consequences.

        2. Don’t worry. They won’t be there in the winter.

      2. Most of that royally fucked up shit is a direct result of the war on drugs.

        To answer your larger question, once created, how do you deal with it?

        I don’t know if there’s an answer– but if you started dramatically rolling back the WoD, the problem would probably burn itself out in a couple of years.

        1. The WOD at this point is just a tiny part of the problem. Even if it was repealed completely tomorrow, do you seriously think that the behavior illustrated in the video would subside within a few years? How many of those kids do you think have working parents? Where do you think the majority of their income originates?

          1. Agree. It’s also the welfare state paying women to have kids without fathers, and the fact that we’ve lost the ability to lock up crazy people.

    2. Some of the officers returned the taunts, telling them to get jobs and calling out to the block that the men were snitches. “You’ve been talking to me for a year, don’t play in front of your boys!” a sergeant teased.

      One officer grabbed his phone and held it out to face the crowd. “Hey, say it again,” he said. “This is going on YouTube.”

      One wonders which example of incivility to which you are referring. It’s not entirely clear.

      My answer: Stop social engineering. Eliminate marketplace barriers and business regulations. Drastically reduce police/community interaction to criminal resolution and investigation; forbid the use of police as tax enforcement and revenue enhancement.

      That would be a good start.

      1. One wonders which example of incivility to which you are referring. It’s not entirely clear.

        Am I correct in understanding that you’re implying the cops were equally uncivil? I don’t necessarily see it that way. How should they have behaved in this scenario? It’s just about miraculous that truncheons weren’t immediately swinging considering the circumstances.

        1. Am I correct in understanding that you’re implying the cops were equally uncivil? I don’t necessarily see it that way.

          Oh, don’t mind me. I’m just a simple Mom, for whom, “He started it!” is never an adequate excuse.

    3. A stray cat wandered into the crime scene and began to eat the cupcake.


    4. Not every problem requires us to “do something.” Libertarianism is informed by inalienable rights and an understanding of unintended consequeces.

      Was anyone harmed? Was anyone assaulted? If so, take appropriate and proportional action. If not, no one has the right to not be offended or to universal respect.

      Libertarians differentiate personal beliefs from law and policy. I have many ideas about how people should live and behave, but I will not shove them down your throat with the force of law. This is something the big 2 parties are more than happy to do.

  13. “Republican strategist” Matt Welch’s new career is really taking off!

  14. Today in retardation –

    Aug. 26 is Women’s Equality Day, when we celebrate the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which secures to women the right to vote on equal terms with men.

    But wait, you say, wasn’t the 19th Amendment ratified on August 18, 1920, when the Tennessee legislature’s ratification provided the necessary three-fourths majority?

    Well, but August 26 was the day the amendment was *certified.* So that’s the day Congress fixed on for the celebration.

    But according to the Constitution itself, an amendment is adopted “when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several states,” not when some extra piece of paperwork is filed.

    So by observing this day as the 19th Amendment anniversary, you’re basically saying you’re unclear on the meaning of the Constitution.

    (cue commenters who say “why should we celebrate the 19th Amendment on *any* date?”)

    1. (The deciding vote to adopt the 19th Amendment was cast by a young Tennessee legislator who got a letter from his mother telling him to “be a good boy” and ratify the amendment).

  15. Next is the first half of a TWO-HOUR interview

    It took Matt two hours to say “pot, ass sex, and Mexicans”? He must be more stoned than we thought.

    1. Cheech and Chong marathon

    2. Those are complex concepts to the unenlightened.

    3. They really meant Mexican ass and sexpots.

  16. The Rand Foundation? So the Pauls are selling influence, now?

  17. It’s the truth only 0.01% of the world recognizes! But it’s totally not a cult!

    1. Tony and his mommy, walking hand in hand, tears of ecstasy welling in their eyes and mutual joy swelling their hearts, jumped into the abyss they both converted from Republicans to socialists.

      1. My mom was my first conversion, actually. We were a family of old-school Republicans (the kind who own boats, not the kind who fuck their cousins). Now I’m like tone it down Bernie bro.

        1. The lost Tony debating tapes:

        2. So you were shitheads who at least left other people alone, but that wasn’t satisfying enough, so you converted into shitheads who think you’re doing the world a favor.

          What an improvement.

    2. It’s the truth only 0.01% of the world recognizes! But it’s totally not a cult!

      You realize the popularity of ideas has zero relation to whether they are true or not, right?

      But whatever, you clearly would have stood on the side of every oppressor in history if it would have given you a sense of smug superiority.

      1. We can’t know if it’s true until it’s tried somewhere.

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