Thursday, July 9, 2009

All Roads Lead to Libertarianism, Even in Comics


You may recall that I set out to buy The Case for Big Government, having promised the author, economist Jeff Madrick, I’d read it — and on my first Barnes & Noble foray to find it instead found and bought The Forbidden Apple by Kat Long, which later turned out to cite me in an endnote.

Well, once more I set out honestly intending to expand my horizons — planning for some time now what graphic novel or comics anthology to buy with the $20 of credit I’ll have left over at Midtown Comics after I buy my final comic book, Legion of Three Worlds #5, on July 22.  I decided I would not buy a graphic novel with superheroes or sci-fi — nor anything from DC or Marvel, nor anything by a writer I’d read before.

I applied these criteria to Time magazine’s list of what it regards as the Ten Best Graphic Novels of all time, deciding that it was about as good a filter as any, and that left me with three options:

Ed the Happy Clown by Chester Brown (a libertarian Canadian, despite everything I said about Canada in blog entries one week ago today)

Blankets by Craig Thompson (Christianity vs. secularism in a romantic context, which sounds relevant somehow)

Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Kim Deitch (a hallucinated cat vs. an animator’s sanity)

I would have been tempted to ditch these (and my criteria) to get the latest from brilliant Bryan Talbot (who wrote my favorite comics miniseries of all time, The Adventures of Luther Arkwright), a steampunk crime thriller with talking animals called Grandeville, but it’s not out until November, and I need to finish up this comics-buying thing this month to avoid being a forty-year-old comics-reader.

So, speaking of the unstoppable progress of time, I went into Midtown Comics yesterday to make my penultimate paying comics acquisition — the death-themed Green Lantern #43 (about how Black Hand, first member of the zombie Black Lantern Corps, got his start as a death-obsessed child doing taxidermy, always a warning sign) and the equally death-themed All-Star Superman #1 (reprint) written by Grant Morrison (about an aging and resentful Lex Luthor deciding to take the seemingly immortal Superman out once and for all).

But get this: I’m carrying my copy of The Case for Big Government (a hardcover, despite the author, apparently erroneously, telling me it’s out in paperback), and the Midtown Comics clerk, for the first time ever, asks what I’m reading, so I tell him, adding cautiously (since it’s New York and the population is literally about 83% Democrat) that I don’t expect to agree with it.  To my surprise, he says, “I don’t like big government either” — and recommends that I get Pete Bagge’s new anthology of his libertarian comics from Reason, Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me.  And so now that simply has to be the thing I get with my $20 credit, with all apologies to the other contestants.

P.S. Oddly enough, I also now recall that when, slightly tipsy, I went to a comics shop after seeing the author of The Case for Big Government speak (the night he asked me to read the book), the one libertarian-sounding guy in the audience besides me (he was actually a Republican) popped up in the comics shop as well.  A mysteriously related constellation of mental patterns is clearly at work — all leading inexorably to one grand unified truth.


Bill R said...

A review of “The Case for Big Government”

Todd Seavey said...

I think this is the first time David Gordon has been mentioned on this blog, which is a terrible oversight, obviously — and his relentless and sometimes hilarious nitpicking-but-correct style should be a model for clear thinkers everywhere.

I haven’t finished _The Case for Big Government_ yet but had already thought to myself “I have a feeling I’m going to have to use the phrase _post hoc ergo propter hoc_.” Gordon has beaten me to it — and if people really took his review to heart, support for government would evaporate, along with most colleges’ econ departments and the career of Paul Krugman, the NYT psychohistorian.

While it crosses my mind, though, on matters not as easily amenable to econ theorizing, such as the social side effects of immigration, some of the Mises Institute crowd (prone to oppose immigration for paleo reasons) might want to at least delve into stats long enough to mull over observations like this:

Bill R said...

I’m mostly on the Walter Block side of the immigration debate (

I also don’t buy the cultural critiques. I do have a concern about voting patterns and general border security. We do currently live in a social democracy where the only restraint is a general aversion, based on history and self interest, to Euro-style big government. An aversion typically not shared by those with lower income…which make up the bulk of current immigrants.

On immigration if I had my way a decent political compromise could be a flat “entry fee” for a green card to deter free loaders and capture part of the “coyote” black market as a source of revenue (with a larger cuts in other taxes of course). Also strict enforcement of the various resident alien clauses i.e. commit a felony…get deported. And passing an English citizenship test for voting privileges.

Not perfect but a decent compromise without a whole lot of micromanagement.