Lessons From the Market: Libertarians

I will often describe my politics as libertarian, but that’s just to avoid having to talk about it with people who can’t think beyond the Left-Right paradigm. For the most part, I hate libertarians. The good ones are mostly nuts. The bad one, which are most of them, suffer from the same defect as Progressives. They just refuse to accept the human condition and instead imagine a world in which humans act in ways no one has ever witnessed.

Libertarians, like liberals, tend to confine their thinking to the hot house where conditions are optimal. Unlike liberals who get to experiment on real people, libertarians have to confine themselves to thought experiments. That probably explains the obsession with legalizing weed. If you spend all of your time imagining a utopian society, drugs are a good way to break up the monotony, or at least get you pas the reality of the present.

Any political philosophy that does not start with the understanding that some portion of society is irrational, no matter how you define rational, is not getting very far. Well, it’s not going to work if you try to implement it. That’s why utopian schemes always end in a blood bath. It sounds good on paper, but the people never cooperate, so the solution is to get better people, which means getting rid of the bad people.

This is obvious when you go to the grocery store. My habit is to go on Sunday morning to pick up my provisions for the week. At 8:00 AM on Sunday the crowd is tiny and it is a quick in and out for me. Today I was a little late, showing up at 9:00 AM. We were expecting a snow storm. It is Christmastime. The parking lot was 80% full and the store was packed with people. Specifically it was packed with mothers toting children.

There were old people staggering around for no earthly reason. Then there were the families, who decide a trip to the store is a good time to share their family experience with the world. What should have been a 30 minute trip to the store took over an hour. It would have been longer, but I did not need anything from the deli so I avoided that line. I also got a little lucky when I hit the register lanes. A fresh one opened as I arrived.

Now, what does this have to to do with libertarianism? Libertarians start from the premise that, left to their own devices, people will self-organize. Yet, left to their own devices, people cannot figure out it is a bad idea to bring your kids to the grocery store. They cannot figure out that a little snow is not the end of civilization, requiring them to load up with groceries. They cannot navigate the self-checkout in an orderly fashion.

There’s no way in hell these people last a week in a world without rules and custodians to make sure they follow the rules. If they found themselves in such a world, their singular focus would be on finding people willing to setup a custodial state and make sure they are safe and protected. They may not be a majority, but they are a large enough minority to make libertarianism impossible. It is at odds with nature and the human condition.

Another Celebration for the Left

The death of Nelson Mandela will no doubt result in a sanctimonious circus for the usual suspects on the Left. These people cannot control themselves, so even at funerals they put on a show, intended to display their virtue. That’s how it goes with these things. It is a shame because Mandela’s death could be one of those moments to think about the realities of Africa, but the people who deified him really don’t care about Africa or Africans.

Instead, it will be a week of one-upsmanship on the Left, as they compete with one another to be the most worshipful of a man who was mostly a failure. Chris Mathews is a great example. He lives in one of the whitest neighborhood in America, which happens to be outside of Washington. The Baltimore-Washington area is close to majority black, so a white-only town stands out. Yet, Mathews will lecture the rest of us about race.

Mathews is emblematic of the Left’s relationship to blacks. For the Left, blacks are merely a totem. They are something one worships in the abstract because it riles the enemies of the Left. At least they think it does. In the fevered imagination of the Left, The Man hates blacks and is always trying to keep them down. Naturally, The Man is always a cartoonish version of the the WASP elite, rather than a liberal Jewish guy.

Of course, the Mandela worship has always been about the Left celebrating itself and this funeral will be another example. They love Mandela because they backed him against the bad whites, who were on the wrong side of history. If Mandela had died of a stroke before apartheid ended, he would have been forgotten. It was never about him or his cause. It was always about the narrative in which the Left is always operating.

It is a shame because Mandela really was an extraordinary leader by the standards of Africa. His coevals on the continent competed with one another to be the most maniacally murderous and destructive. Idi Amin was a cannibal, for example. No African country emerged from colonialism and then prospered, except for two. Rhodesia thrived for a time under Ian Smith. The other is South Africa, at least until now.

The fact that South Africa did not follow the same path as every other African state is due to Mandela, in no small part. That’s not to say he was a saint or even a moral person. It’s just that he was not like the typical African leader, who runs his country in the same way local drug lords runs their gang. There was a chance to make the Mandela model the minimally acceptable in Africa, but that never happened and never will now.

None of that will get much of an airing this weekend. Instead it will be the Left congratulating itself for opposing Apartheid and embracing Mandela. It will also be an excuse to revive their passion for Obama. You can be sure our African prince will be there talking about himself, not so subtly reminding the Left why they worshiped him up until last week. The only thing missing will be a wicker man full of white people to burn.

No one will dare mention the deteriorating conditions in South Africa as the black majority slip back into their natural state and set about murdering the white minority. Whatever legacy Mandela could have had will be forgotten after the Left is done with his memory this weekend. In a decade, when the white minority is fleeing South Africa, no one will look back and wonder if it was a good idea to oppose Apartheid. No one will care.

The Words of Fake Intellectuals

Certain words and phrases take on meanings because of who uses them. For instance, the noun “moderate” in the political context always means liberal. The only people who ever use it are liberals. All of my “moderate” friends, for example, are conventional liberals, who faithfully line up for the democrat in every race. They always lament the lack of “moderate” republicans. Of course, moderate republicans are always liberal.

In the context of personal health, the word is an adjective for the pests and scolds who think they can tell us how to live. In those cases, “moderate” means self-denial. Moderate drinking means no drinking. Moderate eating means no food you like. The common thread here is that fanatics have run off with a perfectly good word and turned it into a chilling horn blast signaling the arrival of people who reminder you of your ex-wife.

The neologism “wonk” is a favorite word on the Left. They say it means policy expert, but it really means agitprop expert. Ezra Klein is a good example. He repeats the politically acceptable dogma in slightly new ways, which makes him a favorite of the people in the political class. Nothing he has ever written would require critical thinking or knowledge of the subject. He just flatters his fellow Progressives, by telling them what they want to hear.

While in theory, the word “wonk” is supposed to mean a policy expert or perhaps an expert on existing regulations, it almost always means flatterer. A wonk is someone who comes up with clever sounding ways to conform what the political class thinks about something at the moment. Not even the political class really, just the army of camp followers that make up the commentariat. To be a wonk is to never question anything.

A word that has been totally corrupted is “data.” To the people fond of using it in social commentary, the word is a synonym for signs, like the ones a shaman would see in goat entrails. You see it in that Klein piece. HealthCare.gov is clearly working better. But is it actually working? It depends on how you read the data.” This suggest data itself is meaningless, as what matters is who is reading and, of course, their motivations.

Look at the construction. He declares this thing is better, then suggests it may not be working at all, depending on information that has not been presented. In this case, “data” means “who you ask.” To an empiricist or anyone vaguely familiar with practical mathematics, data is what your mathematical representation of reality has to include in order to meet the minimum test of validity. To Klein, data is a sign to be read.

The dilettante is “a person who cultivates an area of interest, such as the arts, without real commitment or knowledge.” In this increasingly fraudulent age, the pseudo-intellectual is something of a dilettante, but instead of learning enough to fake it, they make up new language or corrupt the existing language, so they sound smart without having to know anything about the subject. They don’t know anything. They know about things.

Perhaps another way to put it is we live in a meta-era, in that our intellectual class does not know things or even things about things. They are meta-intellectuals, in that they know things about being an intellectual, the clothes, the verbal cues and so forth, but they are not intellectuals nor to they know any. That’s really just a nice way of saying they are fakers, which is why they like fake language. They are as phony as three dollar bills.

Predators and Prey

Most Americans have been conditioned to think of their government as a buffer between them and the unscrupulous. The not only patrols the streets for criminals, it polices the marketplace and the workplace for unethical behavior by the powerful. he FDA makes sure the drug makers are poisoning us with bad drugs.The SEC makes sure the rich guys are not ripping off the little guys on Wall Street. The FDA makes sure the drug makers are poisoning us with bad drugs. The government is the cop on every corner.

The custodial state has evolved to infantilize us. What that means is the state treats people like children, so the people become dependent on the state. In other words, it’s not supposed to feel like a prison, but rather a daycare center. The people are not rebelling against the imposed order, because they have come to see the state as the only thing between them and the dangers of the world. The state is more than mother and father to the people. It is the religious order of the civic religion that defines the state.

To put this in perspective, think about the last time a candidate explicitly ran against the government, as happened in the 70’s and 80’s. Reagan won the White House on the argument that the state was the enemy of freedom. He promised to slash government spending. He never did it, but at least he said it. In fact he went on a wild spending spree, but no one today would dare promise to slash the state. The GOP’s core vote is retiring Boomers and the Democrat cater to a swelling anti-white welfare class.

The custodial state is a new development in this world, made possible by the technological revolution. The Nazis and Bolsheviks tried to create such a thing, but merely destroyed themselves trying to make it work. Technology lowers the cost of this type of society and the more docile population helps, but it is hard to see how it can work. The custodial state needs to ruthlessly exploit its charges, but it can only survive in the people fully trust the state to care for them. This is impossible as we see in this story.

Lotteries have been a way for local government to raise money going back to the founding the nation. A popular collector’s item are the lottery tickets sold in the colonial period signed by famous Americans. It was a voluntary way to raise money for a public project like a road or bridge. Modern lotteries are just ways to quietly rob the foolish and unscrupulous. The odds are absurdly long and the money is not spent on what is claimed by the issuing states. It’s the sort of thing gangsters operate.

If a private casino did this sort of thing, the state would close them down. The reason is the people would howl with anger over the greedy casino ripping off the customers. The state does it and the rubes line up to play the longer odds. The trouble is, this sort of thing only works for so long. The cost of supporting the custodial state exceeds the benefit to the people in charge. That means they have to find these ways to rob their charges. The trouble is this reduces the long term benefit of the system to the charges.

In other words, the people at the top of the custodial state are parasites that become more parasitic over time. The initial relationship seems mutually beneficial. At some point though, the oxpecker starts to drill into the head of the beast. The protector becomes the predator. That’s what we are seeing all around us. The state is looking more like the predators than the protectors. This is an unsustainable dynamic. At some point, the charges realize their custodians are just different predators.

Scaring the Bleep Out Of The Honkies

Something that jumps out when reading the chapter on Weather Underground in Destructive Generation, is that a big part of the attraction of radical politics in chaotic mayhem. Early on, the Weathermen did a lot or organizing. That required the leaders to travel around the country to visit other radicals. One of them was Bernadine Dohrn, Obama’s patron in Chicago. She was the main recruiter for the group.

In one passage, Horowitz described how she and her companion at the time liked to cause mayhem on airplanes, so the passengers would think they were crazy. The point, she said, was to “scare the shit out of the mother fucking honkies!” They would engage in raunchy behavior or dress in outlandish clothes, for no other reason than to irritate the other people on the plane. Their goal was to be disruptive just to be disruptive.

This is a major feature of radical ideology. The revolution is not going to start by itself, so the vanguard needs to first destabilize the system. The proletariat needs leadership, but they also need to be freed from the shackles of the system. The way to do that is to attack the institutions of the bourgeoisie. As faith in those institutions falters, the middle-class will be forced to choose sides. Those who side with the radicals will be rewarded. Those who side with the establishment will be killed along with the ruling class.

That’s why bombing campaigns were popular with the New Left here and in Europe. If the police and courts cannot protect you from the revolution, you’re not going to support the system. The point of this form of terrorism is to reveal the rulers as illegitimate, by making it seem  like their impotence is deliberate. Instead of blaming the bombers, the people begin to turn on their rulers, opening the door for the radicals.

Now, the New Left was not a real Marxist revolutionary group. They were just spoiled middle and upper-middle class kids from good families. They liked all the good stuff of the system, they just wanted to shortcut their way to positions of power. The Marxism language and radical politics were always a pose for people like the Weathermen. They just liked causing trouble. Most of their time was spent doing drugs and fornicating.

The few sober moments were spent screaming at one another about why they have done nothing but get high and fornicate like animals. A handful of hardcore nuts did some real damage, but most were just there for the party. Those nuts, however, were attracted to the cause for the opportunity to cause mayhem. By the time Dohrn and Ayers were running things, that’s all there was as the 60’s had petered out.

The way Horowitz describes these people, the impression is that their lust for mayhem was driven but a desire to get attention. One of the founders spent a lot of time cultivating an image suggesting he came from the lower-class, when he was a rich kid. Dohrn strutted around dressed like a hooker and banging men in public. Ayers worked hard to cast himself as a lady killer. The whole list of founders is distinguished by the amount of time and effort each put into crafting an attention grabbing image.

It’s easy to understand why these people were fond of declaring that all politics is personal. For them, it was literally true. The lust for mayhem became a part of these cultivated images. All politicians are in it for personal reasons, but most are defined by things outside of politics. Radicals are only defined by their politics. They have no true self that can exist outside their current politics. It’s why they are so angry and violent. Any push-back to their program is a personal attack, as it literally is personal for them.

It reveals something about all radical politics, regardless of the age or the issue. These people define themselves by their politics, which are by nature in opposition to the normal social order. They have to both attack that normal order, trying to overturn it, but also do so in a purely personal way. The effort they invest into “being different” is not really about the thing they are pretending to be. It is about that which they are rejecting.

A Stupid Fat Guy

It’s probably immoral to make sport of big fat guys like New Jersey governor Chris Christie, but everyone does it. Fair or foul, it is assumed that obesity is a character flaw, an indication the person lacks self-control. For a politicians, it is an easy line of attack, but it does not seem to be a huge problem for them, no pun intended. There have been plenty fatties in politics. Christie is going to run for president and he probably will have a lot of support, despite being a morbidly obese man with an obnoxious demeanor.

He has the support of the party establishment. He is a moderate. He got a lot of votes from blacks and Hispanics. He is a fund raising machine and he has the support of the GOP governors. That’s a winning hand in a wide open field. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have their followers, but they lack the sex appeal and resources to build on it. Plus, the donor party hates these guys as they don’t always follow orders. Christie can be relied upon to do what he is told, without trying to think on his own too much.

Of course, he has the habit of rushing over to grovel before the Left, which makes him the ideal Republican these days. Here he is coming to the defense of Mario Cuomo’s kid, which is the go to move for the GOP wimp. That means as president, he’ll make a lot of noise, but in the end will surrender to the Left in every issue. That makes him the ideal candidate for a party that exists only to defend the Democrat party. Having a a guy who reminds everyone of Ned Beatty as the GOP standard bearer makes perfect sense.

The Never Ending Madness

Way back in the before times, I was involved in a unionization effort at the company I was with at the time. The Teamsters were trying to organize some part-time drivers and other similar sorts of labor. Most were guys working in these jobs were just doing it to pick up some extra money. It was a piece work deal. A man showed up and he was put to work on whatever was needed at the time. A small percentage tried to make a full-time job of it, but the hours were limited to 25 a week in order to discourage it.

Of course, a group of guys trying to make a career of washing cars or shuttling them to and from a location would always try hard to get more hours. When the company held the line, they contacted the union and the result was a union campaign. The Teamsters won by one vote, mostly by threatening the guys who were not interested. The result was they got a bunch of rules and new pay rates. The truly part-time wanted nothing to do with it and the original organizers were washed out one by one. It was a disaster.

It’s not hard to see something similar happening to fast food workers if they try to form a union. The companies will simply start automating the work and the result will be fewer people making slightly less, while the SEIU gets a piece of the action. Unions are not bad per se, but service worker unions prove little in the way of services to their members, while siphoning off a piece of their check. The SEIU is pretty much just a money racket for the Democratic Party, not a genuine labor movement.

The mathematics of fast food means it can never work. McDonald’s has about 25% of their costs in retail labor. That $7 meal you get in the drive through is a $1.75 in human costs. Doubling the wages does more than double the labor cost. It jacks up taxes and benefit costs. These franchises will have legal and personal costs associated with dealing with a union workforce. Since no one is buying a $10 union meal from McDonalds when they can get a $7 meal from some other option, the result will be ruinous.

Of course, what never gets mentioned is the fact that these jobs were never intended to be careers. They were originally for kids and adults looking for part-time work. The manager would make a career of it, but the front-line people were always intended to be temporary workers in a homogeneous society. That is, your kid got a job at McDonalds, working for someone who lived in the community. The franchise was locally owned, so it was like going to work for a neighbor. That was the point of franchising.

That meant a different relationship between the owners, customer and workers than we see today. Go into a McDonalds now and the staff are weird little brown people from another land. They barely speak English. The manager is just a employee from somewhere, working for a company that has twenty franchises. As the customer, you have no emotional attachment to the place, as it is run by strangers and owned by some out of town interest. The workers peasants with no better options.

It is something to watch in the coming years. Chick-fil-A relies on the old model of hiring locals needing part-time work. They pay better, but expect more. The experience is vastly better for the customer, as the people are pleasant, speak English and seem to care about doing a good job. No one talks about unions and the customers have no reason to think the workers need representation. McDonalds relies on indentured servants and illegals and their reputation has declined as a result. Which model will prevail?

Radicals: Fay Stender

I’m reading Destructive Generation by David Horowitz and Peter Collier. It is a collection of mini-biographies of the people who made up 1960’s radicalism. It was published in 1989 so it was around when he was going public with his move out of radical politics. His Wiki entry, surprisingly, does a good job summarizing his life as a public intellectual. I say it is surprising as Wiki is populated with liberal crazies, who often assault the pages of people they deem enemies of the faith. Somehow, he has escaped their wrath.

It’s funny how White and Jewish Baby Boomers have cast these long shadows over subsequent generations, but blacks have cast no shadow. The same can be said for Hispanic activists or American Indian activists. Not only have their causes been forgotten, but the people have been forgotten in many cases. Huey Newton, Bobby Seale and George Jackson have left no imprint on black Americans. Even old warhorses like Alcee Hastings and Eleanor Holmes don’t mention them, despite having known them.

Jewish and white radicals from the 60’s and 70’s had no problem going mainstream after they had grown tired of radical politics. Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn landed in the academy, despite living a life of crime. They were the principle backers of Barak Obama’s political career. Of course, David Horowitz stayed in radical politics through the 1970’s and then changed teams. Lots of Jewish radicals made the same journey, either through neoconservatism or some other avenue.

Anyway, the first chapter is on Fay Stender. Her Wiki is here. As you can see, she was in no small part responsible for giving us prisoner rights, a madness that remains with us to this day. She also helped create the prison gang, The Black Guerilla Family. They have probably killed thousands by this point as their reason to exist is to sell drugs and control the prison system. Stender and her cult of radicals set free dozens of these psychopaths, who went onto murder innocent people once they were released.

What jumps out to me in the 60-page description of Stender’s life is just how much sex drove radical politics. Stender was mostly driven to the prison movement because she wanted to have sex with black guys. The milquetoast Jewish boys at college could not light the fire like a black street thug. Women are wired to seek out high status males, which often leads to lusting for the bad boys. Still, the Jewish obsession with blacks, particularly in this way, is something that gets ignored for obvious reasons.

The weird part of these legal radicals like Fay Stender is they seem to act from an odd combination of self-absorption and detachment. On the one hand, they did sacrifice to help these black criminals. On the other hand, they lived lives a million miles away from the results of their work. Stender and her ilk operated as if they were never going to be touched by any of this stuff. They were visitors, experimenting on the host population for personal glory among their people. It turned into a suicide mission.

Finally, the conventional wisdom is the New Left radicals were Boomers. The truth is they were not. Stender and her crowd were born in the 1930’s. In fact, all of the leading radicals of the 1960’s were born in the thirties and early forties. Generally, we think of the boomer as having been born between 1945 and 1964, with the real end point being much earlier for the “60’s generation.”  By the time of the Summer of Love, Fay Stender was a middle-aged woman. That’s something that probably bears further examination.