Tuesday, March 1, 2011


A while back I was following some of the happenings at CPAC, which is this big event where conservatives get together and lay out their plans. One of the things I noted with some happiness was the presence of libertarians. Now, I'm of the school of thought that thinks libertarianism is hopelessly naive and, as such, a pretty dangerous political proposal.

To wit: if it weren't for a USDA, I'm pretty confident mad cow steaks would be on sale for .49 cents a pound at Dominicks right now; I'd be willing to wager that unless I lived in a posher zip code, my water would come flavored with sewage; I'd bet that cars with glass that shatters and front ends that crumple would be the purview of folks who could afford them

The purpose of business is profit. And there's not a damn thing wrong with that. Contra the unfairly earned reputation of liberals, I'm all for businesses running a profit. I love rich people. I'd really love to be one.

But, libertarians believe that civil rights would happen eventually because they would. They believe that cars would meet basic safety standards because more people would want to buy them. But there's a large swath of people that'd be happy to keep black folks out of the restaurants they frequent. And car manufacturers would be happy to sell deathtrap cars on the cheap.

And so government, which does not function to run a profit and which can withstand debt far more easily than any family or business can, has a worthwhile and valuable role in civilized society.

So why am I happy to see the libertarians with a voice at CPAC? Because they're not the tribalistic motherfuckers who've taken over modern politics. I say tribalistic, because it's a real us vs. them thing out there. Hatfield vs. McCoy. Capulet vs. Montague. Sharks vs. Jets. And no unholy alliances like the one between Lizardman Carville and Mary Matalan will put an end to it.

Libertarians actually have a platform, silly as I might think it is.

Which brings me to the George Will column that was so roundly mocked today. The quote:

...the real reason for progressives’ passion for trains is their goal of diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism.

There are layers and layers of why this is dumb. The main one, of course, is that most of us have a hard-on for trains so we can stop taking airplanes and what, sweet Oprah, makes you feel more like chained up chattel than modern air travel?

But George Will is probably not actually a dumb guy. But he's happily laying aside the libertarian banner to reach out to the tribe. He's making shit up, yanking rationales out of his fevered imagination, because he wants to feed into the desperate dimwittedness of tribalism - these other folks want trains because they want to strip you of your freedoms! Ignore that implementing high speed rail infrastructure would create a lot of jobs, would make travel far easier, and would just, again I cry out to Dear Oprah, be so cool! Ignore it all, because it makes for a convenient way to reach out to the tribe.

Sadly, Libertarians won't get the liberal back on high speed rail because that'd be government spending and all government is bad (another glass of poop-flavored water please! Can I get mine with a soupcon of arsenic?).

I wonder if ask the Libertarian brethren to consult their bible and they rediscover about how Atlas Shrugged was totes about railroad barons, maybe they'd jump on board...