Monday, November 24, 2008

John Stossel's Politically Incorrect Guide to Politics (and Brian Boitano)

Today, I’m not only scheduled to do another PJTV appearance (here’s the previous one) but to have lunch with theatre guy/philosopher Richard Ryan and one of the John Stossel producers I used to work with, Kristi Kendall — with whose help I have made one more small but important mark on pop culture. I was the one who suggested to her that Stossel should say “What would Brian Boitano do?” (a question asked by Stossel’s fellow libertarians Trey Parker and Matt Stone in a memorable musical sequence from the South Park movie) in the opening segment of last month’s Stossel hour — in which Stossel uses skating in a crowded ice rink as an example of an activity best coordinated by individuals rather than a central planner.

The awesome hour, which aired on October 17, was called John Stossel’s Politically Incorrect Guide to Politics, and I’m pleased it focused (as I always think we should) largely on pragmatic, economic consequences of government’s inevitable bureaucratic idiocy, rather than getting bogged down in largely irresolvable cultural/symbolic disputes (which ought rightly to remain in the private sector, where spontaneous orders from tradition to markets to anarchic individualism can sort them out).

•The skating/spontaneous order sequence is here.

•The second sequence covers the financial bailout.

•The third looks at recovery efforts after Katrina — and how much faster the non-governmental efforts tend to be (something I know market-friendly Louisiana governor and Brown alum Bobby Jindal has noticed). I’m reminded of the absurd case of World Trade Center 7 — no, not the conspiracy theories about it being demolished by the government but the far more relevant fact of its lightning-fast reconstruction relative to the rest of the Trade Center hole-in-the-ground — since that particular building was outside the bureaucratic, partially government-run zone where so little construction has occurred over the past seven years, compounding one of the nation’s greatest disasters (I’ve been to multiple New York Academy of Sciences events atop the snazzy new WTC 7, while most of Ground Zero remains literally a pit).

•The fourth Stossel segment is an infuriating look at the results of campaign finance “reform” (a misguided crusade that made it easier for conservatives and libertarians to withhold support from mastermind John McCain).

•The fifth looks at farm subsidies — if you’re doing absolutely nothing to help produce cheap, plentiful food, you may well qualify.

•And the sixth sums up our misguided notions about the presidency.

People who want this thing called government to continue existing do us no greater kindness than people who love having the Mob around.

P.S. One of many ironic side effects of McCain-spawned campaign laws: the makers of a documentary criticizing one of McCain’s rivals, Hillary Clinton, have had to fight the law to advertise the film.


Gerard said...

Albeit, a very active pit.

Don’t get me started on the non-rebuilding of the World Trade Center/construction of the Freedom Tower. I lit into John Whitehead when he appeared before a YR meeting several years ago, but never received a satisfactory explanation as to why the LMDC had been such a monumental f-up.

The Stossel documentary is great, BTW, which I expected it to be.


P.S. You’re probably sick to death of discussing this subject by now, but just in case you aren’t…

Feminism v. Libertarianism: The Saga Continues

I can’t say that I’m convinced that private “oppression” is a valid reason to embrace a philosophy hostile to freedom of choice-even if that choice takes a form that most people might find abhorrent, or that might thwart the ambitions of someone else-or that she’s convincing in her argument that libertarians such as yourself are indifferent to non-governmental impediments that women or minorities might face in their lives.

Todd Seavey said...

Without question the stupidest “contribution” to the discussion so far — and in a just world, even libelous, though I’m pleased to say I usually have to look at left-wing rather than libertarian sites to find this sort of radical (and erroneous) psychoanalytical assertion about one’s opponents.

Saying some of those things about me is about as rational as me simply asserting that the blogger “must” (since many things she says are illogical) be an embittered divorcee from Phoenix who has difficulty resisting an old crack addiction and keeps a scab collection under her bed. And smarter readers can see how that would be…unfair, to put it mildly.

But then, the more people like her who chime in, the clearer my case for feminism’s irrationality becomes. “Libertarianism is all about Fuck You,” she informs us. Well, _that_ certainly reduces the need for economic theory (or indeed, for much thought at all) — but more on all that in December and January.

Sean Dougherty said...

Thanks for posting these links. I would have missed the special otherwise.


Todd Seavey said...

No problem — and no second PJTV appearance yet, by the way, but I’ll post something after the fact if there is one.