libertarians

I was shooting heroin and reading “The Fountainhead” in the front seat of my privately owned police cruiser when a call came in. I put a quarter in the radio to activate it. It was the chief.

“Bad news, detective. We got a situation.”

“What? Is the mayor trying to ban trans fats again?”

“Worse. Somebody just stole four hundred and forty-seven million dollars’ worth of bitcoins.”

The heroin needle practically fell out of my arm. “What kind of monster would do something like that? Bitcoins are the ultimate currency: virtual, anonymous, stateless. They represent true economic freedom, not subject to arbitrary manipulation by any government. Do we have any leads?”

“Not yet. But mark my words: we’re going to figure out who did this and we’re going to take them down … provided someone pays us a fair market rate to do so.”

“Easy, chief,” I said. “Any rate the market offers is, by definition, fair.”

He laughed. “That’s why you’re the best I got, Lisowski. Now you get out there and find those bitcoins.”

“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’m on it.”

I put a quarter in the siren. Ten minutes later, I was on the scene. It was a normal office building, strangled on all sides by public sidewalks. I hopped over them and went inside.

“Home Depot™ Presents the Police!®” I said, flashing my badge and my gun and a small picture of Ron Paul. “Nobody move unless you want to!” They didn’t.

“Now, which one of you punks is going to pay me to investigate this crime?” No one spoke up.

“Come on,” I said. “Don’t you all understand that the protection of private property is the foundation of all personal liberty?”

It didn’t seem like they did.

“Seriously, guys. Without a strong economic motivator, I’m just going to stand here and not solve this case. Cash is fine, but I prefer being paid in gold bullion or autographed Penn Jillette posters.”

Nothing. These people were stonewalling me. It almost seemed like they didn’t care that a fortune in computer money invented to buy drugs was missing.

I figured I could wait them out. I lit several cigarettes indoors. A pregnant lady coughed, and I told her that secondhand smoke is a myth. Just then, a man in glasses made a break for it.

“Subway™ Eat Fresh and Freeze, Scumbag!®” I yelled.

Too late. He was already out the front door. I went after him.

“Stop right there!” I yelled as I ran. He was faster than me because I always try to avoid stepping on public sidewalks. Our country needs a private-sidewalk voucher system, but, thanks to the incestuous interplay between our corrupt federal government and the public-sidewalk lobby, it will never happen.

I was losing him. “Listen, I’ll pay you to stop!” I yelled. “What would you consider an appropriate price point for stopping? I’ll offer you a thirteenth of an ounce of gold and a gently worn ‘Bob Barr ‘08’ extra-large long-sleeved men’s T-shirt!”

He turned. In his hand was a revolver that the Constitution said he had every right to own. He fired at me and missed. I pulled my own gun, put a quarter in it, and fired back. The bullet lodged in a U.S.P.S. mailbox less than a foot from his head. I shot the mailbox again, on purpose.

“All right, all right!” the man yelled, throwing down his weapon. “I give up, cop! I confess: I took the bitcoins.”

“Why’d you do it?” I asked, as I slapped a pair of Oikos™ Greek Yogurt Presents Handcuffs® on the guy.

“Because I was afraid.”

“Afraid?”

“Afraid of an economic future free from the pernicious meddling of central bankers,” he said. “I’m a central banker.”

I wanted to coldcock the guy. Years ago, a central banker killed my partner. Instead, I shook my head.

“Let this be a message to all your central-banker friends out on the street,” I said. “No matter how many bitcoins you steal, you’ll never take away the dream of an open society based on the principles of personal and economic freedom.”

He nodded, because he knew I was right. Then he swiped his credit card to pay me for arresting him.

I’ve been hearing about this from a few different places this week. Much as us Tumblrfolk are loathe to admit it, Reddit is another source where stories that aren’t getting much attention from the media can go mainstream. Part of the success of Mother Jones’ breaking story on Romney’s 47% comment last year was due to it going viral on Reddit. But today, that wouldn’t be possible, because Mother Jones is one of the sites r/politics has now banned.

This Slate article discusses why banning these sites is both wrong and hypocritical. Many of the whitelisted sites are barely news sources (The Daily Mail) and others are as biased as some of the banned ones. Specifically, they’re biased toward Libertarianism.

The Libertarian bent of the story is a point that doesn’t come up in this article. I’ve seen posts from former r/politics participants that explained how this all happened: Libertarian-minded folks who spent time on the forum didn’t like how most of the top posts were from “liberal” sources. Recently, new moderators have been appointed, and most of them are vocal Libertarians. Not necessarily a problem in and of itself. But they’re banning sites that generally get lots of upvotes, not because the stories aren’t true, but because they want to see more Libertarian news.

IN OTHER WORDS: The “free market” of upvoting popular stories said what the people wanted was liberal news. So the free-market loving Libertarians decided to make a new regulation that would prevent the majority of commenters from doing something that disagreed with their ideology. They didn’t agree with the outcome of the free market, and since they were in a privileged position of power, they changed things in a way that would benefit them at the detriment of others.

If that isn’t the problem with Libertarianism in a nutshell, I don’t know what is.

As harsh as this sounds – your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights.
— 

That’s an actual quote from an open letter to the parents of victims of the mass shooting in California, written by an actual human being.

Specifically, it’s Samuel Wurzelbacher (who was briefly and bizarrely famous as Joe the Plumber) … just doing whatever he can to keep the checks rolling in by providing ill-informed commentary on issues of the day. When it comes to political commentary from people who are famous for no discernable reason, I think we’d do just as well to ask Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton to write about gun control and unspeakable tragedy because I suspect they wouldn’t write anything nearly so odious as Wurzelbacher has.

Luckily, Adam Weinstein looks at the bigger picture behind this radicalized plumber’s reaction to an aggrieved father’s statement about guns, politics, and the NRA:

There’s something refreshingly honest in Joe’s acknowledgement that this tragedy is all about him. It’s the reductio ad absurdum of an ethos that’s obsessed with the self and the self’s freedom without a concomitant empathy for other selves and their freedoms. Joe’s rant illuminates quite starkly how the right-libertarian absolutist interpretation of individual rights comes into direct conflict with the lives of his fellow countrymen and their children. To talk of responsibilities is to water down a right, and we cannot do that, no matter what the cost!

In this sense, Wurzelbacher is the (loud)mouthpiece for a fairly sizeable group of citizens and he nicely/horrifyingly captures the way they view their rights, namely completely free of duties or responsibilities.

It’s hard to feel sorry for them.

Libertarians and Randroids learning the harsh consequences of their own dogma will always be funny. It does make me wonder if there is a stratum of con artists targeting them, having factored in that people who are distrustful of the state and unlikely to go to the police make brilliant marks.

The American Right is, like, the grand champion of Moving the Goalposts. Can’t make it as a teenager? Why didn’t you go to college? Graduated from college, swamped in debt and struggling to get by? You should’ve gotten a relevant major, or stop being snooty and thinking you’re too good for a minimum wage job. Working a minimum wage job, with a degree? You deserve it for not putting your skills to use.

You can’t win unless you’re a 40+ rich white guy.

Is Rand Paul a board-certified ophthalmologist, or is Rand Paul a one man ophthalmology board?

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The American Board of Ophthalmology, the board that certifies ophthalmologists, says he isn’t one. Rand Paul is a fake doctor accredited by his own fake optometry board.

Rand Paul likes to tell people he is “board-certified.” Though he isn’t board-certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology, he is certified by the National Board of Ophthalmology. That latter “group” though is an organization led by Rand Paul. More accurately, the National Board of Ophthalmology is Rand Paul. You have to give it to him, the guy is good at naming his groups things that sound real.

When a Louisville reporter tried to ask Paul why he claims to be board-certified when he isn’t and why he set up the National Board of Ophthalmology, he stonewalled:

“I’m not going to go through all that right now,” Paul said while at the Great Eastern National Gun Day Show and JAG Military Show, in Louisville. Asked when he would talk, Paul said: “Uh, you know, never…

Paul created the NBO with himself as the organization’s president, his wife as vice-president, and his father-in-law as secretary.

h/t Wonkette and Salon

TL;DR version: The people who keep putting out studies demonstrating how bad it would be to raise the minimum wage are basically a PR firm for restaurant chains and mega-corps. The “Employment Policies Institute” (not to be confused with the Economic Policy Institute) is a bullshit Libertarian pro-corporation machine with deep, deep pockets. Slate has a great takedown on why journalists keep quoting them. Bookmark this for the next time someone links you a study about how bad raising the minimum wage would be.

Military weaponry makes a bad situation much worse, but the core problem is still police forces that have nothing but contempt for the populations they’re supposed to “protect and serve.” By all means criticize the hardware — but the real problem isn’t going to go away if the use of that hardware is dialed back, because cops will treat civilians they despise with contempt using whatever’s at hand. And if Paul’s fellow libertarians get us talking almost exclusively about gear and government, then they’ll have successfully diverted the discussion onto their turf, for their ends. We mustn’t let that happen.
—  Steve M., reminding us that Amadou Diallo and Rodney King were brutalized with what were basically glorified sticks. The pricey military gear makes it easier for the police to monitor and attack larger numbers of civilians at one time, but it’s the institution itself—its bigotry, authoritarianism, and lack of accountability to the public it professes to serve—that is the real problem.
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Disturbing video of DUI suspects being subjected to a forced blood draw.

How come you don't find Libertarians in impoverished countries? Why hasn't a farmer in the Third World ever said to themselves: "Fuck, we need more Capitalism"?

It wouldn’t be because it’s a privileged philosophy, now would it? Because people who see the blunt end of Capitalism don’t often call for more of it.