Archive for ‘Libertarian’

June 23, 2009

Megan McArdle ends the recession

Well, not exactly. That credit goes to the Koch Foundation, which just awarded a fellowship to Peter Suderman, paramour of the World’s Tallest Lady Blogger. Thus ends Suderman’s lame excuse for avoiding matrimony with the lanky libertarian lass.

Some bloggers may express concern about the so-called “ethics” of Suderman working for Koch cash. Ethics be damned — what about the sin?

“Oh, we can’t afford to get married — I’m unemployed,” the shamelessly cohabiting Suderman said the last time I cornered him at a Reason Happy Hour and warned him of the fiery eternal tortures that await fornicators.

How convenient that the Hindenburg-at-Lakehurst implosion of Culture 11 gave Suderman an opportunity to test an old adage of market economics, enjoying the milk without the responsibility of purchasing the cow, pleading poverty as an excuse for failing to make her an honest cow.

Well, no more excuses now, eh, buddy? June is a traditional month for weddings, so Suderman’s now got a full week to take his acromegalic inamorata to the courthouse and close the deal on this particular livestock transaction.

She took him under her roof when the alternative was for him to live under a freeway overpass and stand beside the on-ramp with a tin cup and a hand-lettered cardboard sign: “Unemployed Cultural Critic, Will Snark For Food.”

Koch is a 501(c) non-profit“The mission of the Foundation is to advance social progress and well-being . . .” — so Suderman’s gone from being McArdle’s rent boy to being Koch’s charity case.

Koch is all about capitalism (“social progress,” my butt) which means that this is an extremely lucrative fellowship for Suderman, even more lucrative than being McArdle’s gigolo. So if Megan is abandoned at the altar, while Fishbowl DC is gossiping about reports that Suderman has been seen wheeling around Dupont Circle in a sporty new convertible full of scantily clad 22-year-old Cato Institute interns . . .

Well, don’t say you weren’t warned.

Libertarians in the hands of an angry God!

P.S.: If you want to congratulate the soon-to-be Mrs. Suderman on the good fortune of her fiance’s Koch bailout, the wicked fornicators are expected to be in attendance at Wednesday’s Reason Happy Hour.

P.P.S.: Megan McArdle has never once linked me. I get more linky-love from Sully. NTTAWWT.

February 13, 2009

The luxury of ‘liberaltarianism’

Ross Douthat weighs in with a commentary on “liberaltarianism,” the proposed fusion of liberalism and libertarianism that started getting kicked around a bit on the blogosphere a couple of years ago. (Cf., “Obamatarians,” a more recent expression of the same impulse.)

The problem with this concept was never really on the part of liberals, except insofar as they either (a) misunderstood libertarianism, or (b) simply lied about their openness to libertarian ideas. Confusion and deceit among liberals is a given. But the liberals always knew what they wanted from such a transaction: Elect more Democrats.

What did the libertarians want from the transaction? It is here that the ridiculous folly of the enterprise is found. Most of the Will Wilkinson types are intellectuals who are embarrassed by what Hunter S. Thompson called the “Rotarian” instincts of the Republican Party. That flag-waving God-mom-and-apple-pie stuff just doesn’t light a fire under the American intellectual class, which is not now, nor has it ever been, enamored of religion, patriotism and “family values.”

As a political impulse, the sort of libertarianism that scoffs at creationism and traditional marriage wields limited influence, because it appeals chiefly to a dissenting sect of the intelligentsia. It’s a sort of free-market heresy of progressivism, with no significant popular following nor any real prospect of gaining one, because most Ordinary Americans who strongly believe in economic freedom are deeply traditionalist. And most anti-traditionalists — the feminists, the gay militants, the “world peace” utopians — are deeply committed to the statist economic vision of the Democratic Party.

There is no natural political constituency for the sort of libertarianism that considers marijuana legalization and the flat tax as equally estimable objectives. When it comes to the basic electoral calculus of 5o-percent-plus-one, this theoretical equation has never been shown to add up in terms of real-world coalition politics. (Maybe the stoners just forget to vote?)

During the “long boom” unleashed by the Reagan revolution, it was possible for libertarian intellectuals to believe that the arguments for economic freedom were now so blindingly vindicated that even their progressive peers must admit the obvious truth. All libertarians needed to do, they fancied, was to shed the unfashionable baggage of the GOP coalition — the Falwells and Buchanans and Dobsons and other such lowbrows — and the progressives would eagerly sign up for this new project: Free-market gay marriage! Free-market abortion! Free-market environmentalism! Free-market transhuman biotechnology!

If that idea ever made sense, it only made sense in a context of Republican political dominance. When the Democrats were putting up losers like Mike Dukakis and John Kerry, when Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay were crushing progressive dreams like so many ants underfoot, free-market intellectuals could attempt to inveigle their progressive friends: “Don’t worry about those hayseed holy rollers, saber-rattling jingos and suburban Rotarians. They make a lot of noise, but they don’t really call the shots. Look at your 401K balance. The market works.”

Well, we passed the sell-by date of that argument somewhere between “Mission Accomplished” and “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” And all the libertarian intellectuals who’ve been sucking on the Koch tit over the past 25 years find that their progressive friends are as unpersuaded about the virtues of economic freedom as they ever were. Lending libertarian support to progressive causes — the driving impetus of the gay-rights movement is egalitarian, not libertarian — has strengthened progressivism, while doing nothing meaningful to advance the free-market cause.

With their Democratic friends now holding supreme power in Washington, progressives now openly celebrate Keynesian pump-priming and redistributionist economic schemes in a way they never would have done when Tom DeLay held the whip. Chuck Schumer can laugh that the American people don’t care what’s in the stimulus, and no one can effectively refute him.

At the apex of Republican power and at the zenith of the “long boom” ignited by Reaganomics, the “liberaltarian” impulse was a luxury that foundation-subsidized intellectuals could afford to indulge. The era of respectable intellectual luxury is now over, and serious people must now ponder the rude realities of coalition politics.

UPDATE: “Like the Higgs Boson, the liberaltarian is a phenomenon that hasn’t yet been directly observed but that everybody hopes to find someday.”

UPDATE II: Welcome, Instapundit readers! (Guess this means I’ll hit the 1-million hits mark a bit early, huh?)
UPDATE III: A slight diversion, to take aim at the false dilemma (either tax cuts OR Keynesian spending) argument as put forward by Newsweek‘s Daniel Gross:

Adherents of the tax-cuts-only strategy are suspicious of free-spending Democrats, old-fashioned Keynesians, and big government. They believe — no, they know –that tax cuts are more efficient than government spending, since people and businesses make better and quicker decisions about spending than government does. . . . The current, somewhat extraordinary circumstances, and the nation’s changing economic geography, should make us wonder how effective tax cuts will be in stimulating new spending and investment.

Now, I addressed this either/or fallacy Monday, with reference to Megan McArdle’s suggestion that marginal rates are now low enough that major Laffer-curve effects are not to be expected from further tax cuts. (Argue amongst yourselves.) What kills me is that Gross is allowed to make an expressly political argument under the guise of an economic expertise that he does not, in fact, possess:

Mr. Gross graduated from Cornell University in 1989, with degrees in government and history, and holds an A.M. in American history from Harvard University (1991). He worked as a reporter at The New Republic and Bloomberg News, and has contributed hundreds of features, news articles, book reviews and opinion pieces to over 60 magazines and newspapers. Areas of expertise include: economic and tax policy, the links between business and politics, the rise of the investor class, the culture of Wall Street, and business history. (Emphasis added.)

The man is a journalist, not an economist, and his echoing of Obama administration talking points ought not be disguised as economic analysis. Nothing wrong with being a journalist, you understand, it’s just that Newsweek is doing a bait-and-switch by presenting Gross as an economic “expert.” But if Paul Krugman can win a Nobel Prize, I suppose we’re all experts now . . .

UPDATE IV: Linked by The American Catholic.

Mark Thompson says I’m “somewhat hyperbolic.” Dude, you’re just now noticing this tendency?

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February 6, 2009

Rosslyn gets stimulated

“What do you think a stimulus is? It’s spending — that’s the whole point! Seriously.”
Barack Obama

A huge crowd at the Continental Lounge in Rosslyn, Va., Thursday for Stimulus Happy Hour. Young right-wingers were seriously priming the pump with a Keynesian fervor Paul Krugman would admire. At this bleak moment of utter despair, these patriotic Americans did their part to restore Hope by promoting full employment in the hospitality and distilled spirits industries. They’re not only economic libertarians (they spend it freely) but they are also extreme social conservatives (they socialize extremely often).

To chronicle this pivotal moment in our nation’s economic history — “the direst financial catastrophe since the Panic of 1857,” according to R.J. Lehmann — they called upon the neutral, objective services of The Man With the Pink Camera.

Jim Antle and Philip Klein of the American Spectator, Moira Bagley of the New Majority, Liz Mair of New Media Strategies, and American Spectator managing editor J.P. Freire.

Liz Mair, David Weigel of The Washington Independent, and Republican strategist Sean Hackbarth.

Jessica Cantelon of the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute and Amanda Carpenter of Townhall.com.

Republican strategist Nathan Martin and Liz Mair. (Yeah, I know, she’s such a camera hog, isn’t she?)

Thankful to have escaped the Hindenburg-at-Lakehurst crash of Culture11“Kuo, the humanities!”James Poulos now earns a surprisingly lucrative living as a postmodern pool hustler.

American Spectator advertising director Catherine Ruddy congratulates mom-to-be Courtney Poulos after Mr. Poulos sank the 8-ball on a three-bumper shot to win $20 from . . .

. . . Jillian Bandes, who’s wondering how to explain to J.P. that, in addition to losing $20, she also promised Poulos an assignment as Athens bureau chief for the Spectator.

Jeremy Lott (right) in a rare moment of good cheer, shortly before plunging back into his accustomed Stygian gloom.

Nathan Martin, Brooke “The Jefferson 1” Oberwetter and noted economist R.J. “We’re SO Doomed” Lehmann.

While Phil Klein and John Tabin discuss the geopolitical significance of Iran’s missile launch, David Weigel checks his iPhone for Facebook updates from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Obama’s in the White House, the economy’s in the toilet and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is about two-thirds of the way to having an ICBM. So why is Scott Hogenson smiling?

Soren Dayton can’t figure it out, either.

American Spectator editorial director Wlady Pleszczynski, far right. (Ba-dum-BUM! “I got a million of ’em folks. I tell ya, I just flew in from Cleveland, and man, are my arms tired! I’ll be here until Tuesday, folks, but it’s OK — you can start laughing tonight. So, anyway, an Irish guy, a Jewish guy and a Polish guy walk into a bar . . .”)

February 4, 2009

Socialism on trial

“The 2008 campaign was never an honest choice between conservatism and liberalism. Really, it was just a referendum on George Bush . . . What Republicans want to do and need to do is put socialism on trial. Socialism has been a conservative talking point since the late 1880s. . . . As a populist anti-Washington party, we’ve always done best.”
Craig Shirley, Reagan biographer

Sounds a lot like my idea of “Libertarian Populism.”

February 4, 2009

Palin: ‘We don’t need no stinkin’ stimulus!’

Well, something like that:

Governor Sarah Palin again today expressed her serious concerns with President Obama’s proposed stimulus package. In a joint letter sent to Alaska’s congressional delegation, Governor Palin, House Speaker Mike Chenault and Senate President Gary Stevens cautioned that unrestrained spending, initiation of new programs that the states may be asked to continue after the federal stimulus is gone, and the borrowing of hundreds of billions of dollars to pay for it may result in serious economic problems in the future.
Governor Palin recently traveled to the nation’s capital to personally express her concerns with the stimulus package with business, economic and political leaders. The trip was not an effort to endorse or lobby for the current stimulus package now before Congress.
“I agree with the decision of Senator Murkowski and Congressman Young to vote NO on the package,” Governor Palin said.

Hmmm. “Libertarian Populism”? “It Won’t Work”? “The Bible vs. the Bailout”? Nah, she’d have to actually be able to “read and write” to know anything about that stuff. Certainly those “ordinary barbarians” at Conservatives4Palin don’t go in for any of that fancy high-falutin’ book learnin’ crap.