Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ten Libertarian Items, from Town Halls to Toad Hall, from Galt's Gulch to the Congo


•Engage in elite philosophical debate all you like, but in America, at least, you need the masses on your side at some point, so it’s nice to see the populist upsurge against socialized medicine at the town hall meetings — and articles like this one about an elderly miner’s wife who’s had all the big government she can stand.  Shame on any libertarian or conservative technocrats who’d rather fault such people for their ignorance, incivility, or missteps than fan the flames of revolt.  The public ain’t perfect, but they’re necessary.  (I almost wish last week’s Manhattan Project gathering had been as boisterous — maybe the Sept. 16 one will be, if you’re there.  No real party line, I swear.)

•If you think the crowds seem rowdy at today’s town halls, you should read about the ones two centuries ago in America — about one step removed from mob rule, if that.  I’ll write more about that — and James Morone’s book The Democratic Wish — during my “Month of Utopia” blog entries throughout October.  America needs more anarchy, after all, especially on the right.

•Since politics is often talk (which beats constant violence, I suppose), it was amusing to see even our nation’s chief diplomat, Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, getting snippy at a youth in Congo for daring to ask what she thought Bill’s opinion would be on something.  Hillary snapped that she’s not channeling Bill Clinton, though she might more colorfully have added “because I’m already channeling Eleanor Roosevelt” or even “I can assure you Bill Clinton is not inside me.”

•Getting back to utopia for a moment, though: Ali Kokmen informs me we may soon be able to escape all this to Galt’s Gulch, since Charlize Theron has expressed interest in doing the notoriously perpetually-delayed Atlas Shrugged film as a miniseries.  Now would be a good time, people.

•If we can’t have Atlas Shrugged, though, maybe the next best thing would be a big-budget adaptation of Thidwick, the Big-Hearted Moose (who eventually rids himself of all the lazy parasites living in his antlers) — an excellent metaphor for the evils of the welfare state that was apparently made into a film by the Soviets, of all people.  Odd.  By contrast, I don’t think you’d ever see the story survive intact as a script in today’s Hollywood — they’d have to change it to make the parasites who beset Thidwick into real estate developers or something instead of mere freeloaders and squatters, or “shirkers,” I suppose the Soviets would have said.

There are two ways to live, people: produce or just steal stuff from others, and most of politics and philosophy, unfortunately, is an attempt to rationalize the latter.  It’s as obvious a problemn when Dr. Seuss points it out as when Ayn Rand does.  Don’t steal.

•Hollywood is in fact doing an environmentalist Lorax movie, unsurprisingly — but the impending movie about the author of Wind in the Willows is more up my neo-traditionalist alley, even if both smack of anti-industrialism.

•In a world where people still think an economic crisis means it’s time to raise taxes (as Don Boudreaux laments in the Richmond Times-Dispatch) and where…

•…even Bruce Bartlett, a man sufficiently free-market conservative to call Bush an Impostor conservative (in his book of that title) has low enough standards to place the label of conservative on John Maynard Keynes, one shouldn’t get too hopeful about laissez-faire messages getting out.  On the bright side, though…

•…it’s sort of fun just seeing the New York Times non-judgmentally carry book descriptions like these atop their bestsellers list (where millions of eyeballs see them):

#1. CULTURE OF CORRUPTION, by Michelle Malkin. (Regnery, $27.95.) President Obama and his team of tax cheats, petty crooks, influence peddlers, and Wall Street cronies…

#4. CATASTROPHE, by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann. (Harper/HarperCollins, $26.99.) Stopping President Obama before he transforms America into a socialist state and destroys the health care system.

•And if we have reached the socialist, totalitarian point where even foie gras is illegal in some places, at least there’s this consolation: sucking rubber ducks can still save your life.


Tatyana said...

Todd, I did a 5-min investigation into the mystery of that Thidwick film and will now paste this artifact of lore on my blog, in its entirety (9:46). It’s an animated film made in Sverdlovsk (deep in Ural mountains) in 1986 by A. Karayev and the ending, I suspect, is not exactly as Dr.S. intended – the Moose does not sheds the parasites on purpose, rather they are swept by a Deed of Nature (watch it to found out).

Incidentally, what do you mean by “shirkers”? An ex-Soviet, I’m at a loss .

Todd Seavey said...


“Shirker” may not be a good translation from the actual Russian word used by the Communists, but it means “someone who is not doing his fair share of the work,” sort of a combination of lazy and parasitic.

(Communism may not have rewarded people according to their market value and thus did not create a functional incentives structure, but it certainly had to attempt to promulgate a pro-labor ethic rather than just telling everyone to think of teh socialist paradise as a permanent vacation — but you know all that better than I.)

Tatyana said...

Oh, absolutely – have you ever heard of Moral Code of the Builder of Communism? We had to memorize it in middle school and, in theory, to follow it in everyday life…(I hope you imagine piles and mountains of irony this statement contains).

I still can’t think of a word other than паразит (parasite) – could you try a Russian approximation?

Todd Seavey said...

Could _I_ try a Russian approximation? No, sorry. I don’t speak Russian.

Tatyana said...

Ah, I got a wrong impression from your previous comment. And I think I know the word you meant; it’s a slang, though, but means exactly what you said.