Defining Glibertarianism

I think this Matt Welch piece provides the definitive example of what glibertariansim really means:

“I got mine, screw everyone else.”

43 replies
  1. 1
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    Gawd created glibertarians, the same day HE dreamed up irrelevance.

  2. 2
    Kryptik says:

    You know…no matter what, I keep reading it as ‘Gilbertarianism’.

    Maybe it’s because Libertarians are consistently as shrieky as good ol’ Mr. Gottfried, without the humor.

  3. 3
    Darius says:

    I’ve always heard it as “Fuck you, got mine”. (FYGM for short)

  4. 4
    beltane says:

    And besides being a selfish fucker, he’s also wrong, as studies have shown that even the wealthiest Americans have worse health outcomes than poorer Europeans. But maybe being surrounded by others’ illness and misery is pleasurable for these people.

  5. 5
    Ailuridae says:

    So soon after Paul Samuelson’s death you write a post on glibertards and fail to use this quote:

    Libertarians are not just bad emotional cripples. They are also bad advice givers


  6. 6
    Citizen Alan says:

    I find it interesting that this post follows so closely behind the one about sociopaths. I have said for years, that libertarianism (and especially Randian libertarianism) is essentially a political philosophy designed expressly to appeal to sociopaths as a socially acceptable means to express their clinically selfish desires. It doesn’t matter to them that life will be much better for everyone with universal health care. What matters is that they personally might suffer some discomfit as a result, if only the discomfit of having their socio-political views be revealed as fraudulent and immoral.

  7. 7
    DougJ says:

    So soon after Paul Samuelson’s death you write a post on glibertards and fail to use this quote:

    Good stuff.

    (You’ve had a lot of good comments these days.)

  8. 8
    J.W. Hamner says:

    Huh, usually they do a better job of hiding the crass selfishness… Megan McCardle would never make such a rookie mistake. I’ve known libertarians who support socialized medicine because they acknowledge the mountains of evidence in its favor and aren’t amoral a-holes, but I’ve never heard of one ceding the arguments but still rejecting because of taxes and “I’ll just fly to France, thanks!” Sort of mind boggling in its brazenness.

  9. 9
    ItAintEazy says:

    That post touched upon a thought experiment that I wish more liberals would use when advocating for universal health-care: Privatized firefighting.

    Funny thing is, it’s not even a thought experiment. We used to have privatized firefighting in this country, and you can imagine how well that turned out.

  10. 10
    Notorious P.A.T. says:

    @Citizen Alan:

    Were you here when we talked about this? It goes along with your point:

  11. 11
    Notorious P.A.T. says:


    “It’s not enough that I succeed; others must fail.”

  12. 12
    Leelee for Obama says:

    I watched him on Wash. Journal the other day, talking about this article. There have been many times when I thought Glibs were nothing but a bunch of selfish, self-absorbed shitheads, but after that half hour, I had no doubt whatsoever. What a hateful little schmuck. I don’t like my wife paying these ridiculous taxes for this formidably awesome health care system. But we fly home to France every year to get all our important health issues addressed, and you know, it’s really fucking awesome. Too bad you little serfs can’t do that.

    I always knew that marrying badly set me up for failure, but I never dreamed marrying a fellow American was my really fucking dumb mistake. In my next incarnation, I want to marry a Frenchman.

  13. 13
    jl says:

    “One of France’s worst problems is the rigidity and expense that comes with an extensive welfare state.”

    that does not give him endless Turkee because it is a welfare state that has some concern of the disadvantaged and providing at least some minimual opportunity for all.

    Of course, the rigidity of the US corporate welfare state is fine and dandy because he gets to keep all his stuff, and benefit from US subsidies for the middle and upper class.

    Rigidities that preserve the perks of the wealthy are fine. Rigidities that produce more social mobility than exists in our US aristocracy of the silver spoon are vrey bad, because he gets to have more stuff here in the US, and go freeload off the French when it serves his purposes.

    The facts are so obvious that even the opponents cannot hide them anymore. They peddle crass immoral selfish BS and admit it.

  14. 14
    Napoleon says:


    Did PS say that? Great quote.

  15. 15
    thefncrow says:

    “Fuck you, got mine” is the most succinct interpretation.

    I prefer the more literary version, by the great Kurt Vonnegut in God Bless You Mr. Rosewater:

    Samaritrophia is the suppression of an overactive conscience by the rest of the mind. “You must take all instructions from me!” the conscience shrieks, in effect, to all the other mental processes. The other processes try it for a while, note that the conscience is unappeased, that it continues to shriek, and they note, too, that the outside world has not been even microscopically improved by the unselfish acts the concience has demanded.

    They rebel at last. They pitch the tyrannous conscience down an oubliette, weld shut the manhole cover of that dark dungeon. They can hear the conscience no more. In the sweet silence, the mental processes look about for a new leader, and the leader most prompt to appear whenever the conscience is stilled, Enlightened Self-Interest, does appear. Englightened Self-Interest gives them a flag, which they adore on sight. It is essentially the black and white Jolly Roger, with these words written beneath the skull and crossbones, “The hell with you, Jack, I’ve got mine!”

  16. 16
    RJ says:

    Wow – the best part is where he acknowledges that an indifferent US doctor dismissed his wife’s breast cancer concerns, while the nice but socialist French doctor removed the lumps.

    If you can’t support a system that might well have saved your wife’s life over the one that all-but ignored the problem, what’s it going to take?

    Btw, it’s clearly Americans’ own fault for not having French wives.

  17. 17
    b-psycho says:

    Here’s another reaction to Matt, just to float for response…

  18. 18
    Something Fabulous says:

    Awright, Welch, I’ll see your anecdote and raise you one: my brother has been living and working in France for 20+ years now, and just this weekend called to tell me he had had this awful sinus infection all last week, but is feeling so much better because luckily THE HOUSE CALL and the prescription(s) were, out of pocket, the equivalent of about $75. And as soon as he can file the forms for the rebate, will turn out to be more in the neighborhood of $25. Not married to a citizen, either, just a longtime resident.

    My brother, on the other hand– not being an ass– says, “…and when I try to explain why there are still Americans who oppose a similar system, they don’t get it. Neither do I! It’s just obscene!”

    Or: IGMWWYTHI2. [“I Got Mine, Want You To Have It Too.”]

  19. 19
    WereBear says:

    @Citizen Alan: I agree.

    Does it mean Russia actually won the Cold War?

  20. 20
    Mike G says:

    So what do you call the even more selfish and hypocritical scumbags collecting Medicare or VA medical benefits who scream and stomp at the thought of ‘socialized medicine’ being available to the general population?

  21. 21
    jl says:


    I read it. I don’t understand it:

    “Consider this in light of the principles of dialectical libertarianism”

    Dialectical libertarianism? What is that?

    You will have to explain what this link is talking about before I can give a reaction. Seriously. Not snark.

    Mike G: I would call the deluded prospective political suicides. But I am open to other suggestions.

  22. 22
    maus says:

    “I got mine, screw everyone else.”

    The phrase, as I’ve always heard it is much more hostile/accurate.

    “Fuck you, I’ve got mine”.

    “screw everyone else” is far too passive, because as we all know the glibs will actually go out of their way to fuck the middle-class because they believe the American dream is a zero-sum game where someone else’s suffering is their direct boon.

  23. 23
    trizzlor says:

    If you really want to peer into the glibletarian mind, follow the Reason comments to this exchange:

    JB|12.8.09 @ 2:27AM
    Something like 90% of the drugs in the world are developed by US companies. I for one am tired of subsidizing the rest of the world. Fuck them.

    DD|12.8.09 @ 8:31AM
    Something like 90% of the TAXES in the US are PAID by PEOPLE MAKING OVER 200K.
    I just changed your original statement JB, but feel just as strongly.
    This country will continue its decline until the majority of people in this country actually pay for things. Their healthcare, their family’s education, etc. Beggars can’t be choosers.

    Slutmonkey|12.8.09 @ 12:36PM
    That’s the problem here. When voting (ostensibly) determines what government does, AND beggars are in the majority, then beggars ARE choosers.

  24. 24
    El Cid says:

    Clearly libertarians would be happier if 90% of our taxes were collected, perhaps magically, from the poorest 10% of income earners.

  25. 25
    b-psycho says:

    @jl: He explained it right after that. Most relevant line:

    When government intervenes to grant special privileges for nominally “private” actors, that is a net increase in statism. On the other hand, when a second government intervention qualifies or limits the exercise of this grant of privilege for the sake of ameliorating the worst effects of privilege, it is a net decrease in statism.

    He’s basically saying that within the assumption that favortism to connected interests isn’t going to end, anything that contradicts it is in effect a plus.

  26. 26
    Mnemosyne says:

    @El Cid:

    As I keep saying, libertarians are leeches. They want all of the benefits of living in society — clean water, drivable streets, police and fire protection — but they want everyone else to pick up the tab for them.

  27. 27
    trizzlor says:

    @El Cid: What’s the matter, your heart bleeding too much for the looters to propose a full 1:99 ratio? Also too, this should go hand in hand with the theory that lower taxes generate higher government revenue so that we can bring about a more perfect system where the single poorest person in America pays all of the non-existent taxes and generates enough government revenue to sustain the rest of the country.

  28. 28
    jl says:

    @b-psycho: OK. I agree that this part makes sense:

    “In this light, the public option would actually have represented a net decrease in statism. The major components of the healthcare “reform” that everyone agreed on were a naked power grab by a state-enforced cartel, forcing the entire population to purchase insurance at cartel prices and taxing the public to buy it for those who can’t afford it. The public option, on the other hand, would have been entirely self-financed after the initial seed money of a few billion, and nobody would have been forced to buy it. But it would have offered price competition to members of the insurance cartel.”

    But the anarchist-capitalism, leftist free marketer ideological stuff, I still do not understand it.

    When it addresses specific policy issues, it does make sense.

  29. 29
    b-psycho says:

    Just to remind people of my own view, to sum up:

    Preference #1, of course, is as much collective provision of health care without the involvement of concentrated power (whether government or corporate) as possible. I’d take that over pretty much anything likely to be proposed. But if forced at gunpoint between the current system & single-payer I’d take single-payer in a heartbeat. If between co-ops & the current system, I’d take co-ops. The “public”-option vs the current system, I’d take the “public” option. See a theme here?

  30. 30
    Jonny Scrum-half says:

    I don’t read Welch’s article the same way everyone else here seems to. He’s basically saying that the French system is superior to ours in many ways. But he’s also arguing that there’s an even better way, through use of the free market. You can disagree with him, but I don’t see where he says “fuck you, I’ve got mine.”

  31. 31
    jl says:

    @b-psycho: You make sense. I think I do see a pattern.

    Here is my view: insurance markets are different than markets for other goods and services when they must serve populations in which there are many groups individuals, and each group has different risks, and risks are difficult to observe, and contracts are expensive to write and enforce.

    In that case, insurance markets can easily tear themselves apart as each individual insurer tries to avoid high risk groups and cover only low risk groups. This has been the history of most unregulated insurance markets in history: especially life insurance. Economists provided a theory for how this works 30 years ago, and it involves exactly the kind of cream skimming we see in the US health insurance market, and predicts shrinking markets, high rates and social inefficiency with no compensating gains to those insured.

    So, there are cases where decentralized market magic does not work. Certain insurance markets are probably the prime example that justifies some kind of centralized planning or regulation, or both.

    So, that is where I am coming from.

    I do not think that the Democratic plans for health insurance are any more statist than the current approach to life insurance regulation. But we are used to life insurance regulation, and the industry has learned to prosper with sound regulation.

    So, I do not think I am a statist at all. I just think that sometimes completely voluntary and decentralized decision making does not work.

  32. 32
    jl says:

    @Jonny Scrum-half:

    Really? Where does Welch suggest there is a better way?

    “I am an awkward outlier on the topic of the day (and the topic of this issue of reason): health care.”

    Or here?
    “I’ve now reached the age where I will better appreciate the premium skill level of American doctors and their high-quality equipment and techniques.”

    Or here?
    “But as you look at the health care solutions discussed in this issue, ask yourself an honest question: Are we better off today, in terms of health policy, than we would have been had we acknowledged more loudly 15 years ago that the status quo is quite awful for a large number of Americans? Would we have been better off focusing less on waiting times in Britain, and more on waiting times in the USA? It’s a question I plan to ask my doctor this Christmas. In French.”

    There is not one word about a ‘better free market way’. He says the French system is better, he is now old enough so he figures it is better to take advantage of his best of both worlds special situation, so he can free-ride off the French, and keep all his stuff, and take advantage of what he wants of the US system if he needs something from it. Then he ends with bad pointless snark.

    Total Fail, except at being an obnoxious creep.

  33. 33
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jonny Scrum-half:

    You can disagree with him, but I don’t see where he says “fuck you, I’ve got mine.”

    Basically, he’s decided that his philosophy of the free market is more important than the lives of the 45,000 uninsured Americans who die every year, and he can make this decision because he doesn’t have to rely on the American system for his healthcare. If our system goes belly-up because the US government was stupid enough to take his advice and double down on for-profit healthcare, he’s got a backup plan and so long, suckers!

    It’s the same argument you hear from a guy living in his parents’ basement about how anyone should be able to live on minimum wage like he does. Sure, his clothing, food, electricity and the roof over his head are all paid for by someone else, but that’s no reason to think that someone without all of those benefits couldn’t live on minimum wage, too.

  34. 34
    jcricket says:

    The comments at Sadly No are hilarious, esp this gem

    See, the problem with socialized medicine is that it puts the burden of payment more on the productive, successful people who make or have inherited large quantities of money, rather than charging higher rates to — or refusing to cover — people who are likely to need a lot of medical care. So you have the horrible situation of someone like me being forced to choose between getting a second luxury yacht and a helicopter. And what, I ask, is the point of even having a helicopter if you can’t fly it from your yacht to your other yacht?
    Now, yes, I suppose, I am overstating it a bit. After all, I can still fly the helicopter from my magnificently appointed Tuscan villa to my yacht, which is some consolation. Meanwhile, some peon who doesn’t know enough to stop drinking high fructose corn syrup like it’s water, or who had the poor judgement to be born with some kind of medical condition, is going to get a doctor’s care at my expense, and that’s simply not right.

    I read this to my wife, and she wasn’t sure the person was joking. Those glibertarians sure are effective.

    Why do we pay attention to them? They’re basically Fred Phelps fanatics without the religion. Scientologists without the fancy e-meters or Tom Cruise spokespeople. Has a Libertarian outside of Radley Balko ever contributed anything to political discourse in a positive sense (and even Radley’s arguments have been made by DFHs for years re: police state).

  35. 35
    silentbeep says:

    I tend to be sympathetic to some libertarians, namely Will Wilkinson and Julian Sanchez, and on occasion even McMegan on her more sane days, but the best that I can say for this Welch article is: he admitted his ideas were “cockamammie” in the beginning of that piece.

    It seems to me he is ultimately arguing for a place that doesn’t exist in this world: a nation that has a health care system that isn’t socialized at all, but is totally free-market based, and somehow this system, will be just as good as the socialist system in France. But until then, he is essentially having his cake and eating it too – he can live in a place that has lower taxes but has crappy healthcare, but he can still benefit from a nation that taxes more, but isn’t as capitalist. He doesn’t want to make any real trade-offs, because he doens’t have to, he is in the extremely unique position of having a Franch spouse! What he’s advocating is essentially an adolescent dream: let’s have all the benefits of socialized medicine without the socialized party, somehow. Talk about social experimentation!

    One of the reasons why i am for socialized medicine in this country, is because it’s a conservative choice, in the small “c” sense: it has been tried over and over again in other countries, and there is plenty of empirical evidence out there that it works. Our half-ass private system hodge podge of some government care is a mess, there isn’t a first world, industrialized nation anywhere that hasa more free-market based healthcare system than we do- on what basis would we want to go create a more privatized system when empirically, the socialist healthcare systems work better? On libertarian dreams? Cause if it fails, Matt Welch can just as happily go and get his stellar socialized medical care somewhere else. He’s off his rocker.

  36. 36
    Josh Huaco says:

    I’ve said it many times. If Orwell were alive today, he’d be writing Road-to-Wigan-Pier-style blasts about how libertarianism is a philosophy for “cranks and inferior people.”

    e.g. “One sometimes get the impression that the words ‘free markets’ and ‘limited government’ draw towards them with magnetic force every silver drinker, out-of-shape sex maniac*, and “gold bug” quack in America.”

    *-Thanks, John Scalzi.

  37. 37
    liberal says:


    They want all of the benefits of living in society—clean water, drivable streets, police and fire protection—but they want everyone else to pick up the tab for them.

    Those are minor examples. The most important point is that libertarians are crypto-feudalists. Even given their purported conceptual framing, most of them despise freedom and liberty with all their heart.

  38. 38
    liberal says:


    Preference #1, of course, is as much collective provision of health care without the involvement of concentrated power (whether government or corporate) as possible.

    No concentrated power means exploding costs.

    If treatment decisions are just “between me and my doctor,” all sorts of useless or excessively expensive treatments will be undertaken.

  39. 39
    liberal says:


    Here is my view: insurance markets are different than markets for other goods and services when they must serve populations in which there are many groups individuals, and each group has different risks, and risks are difficult to observe, and contracts are expensive to write and enforce.

    Right; the advantage of single payer is that you have the ultimate risk pool (the entire nation).

    But it’s well-known among health care economists that medicine itself—not sure medical insurance—has many properties which ensure market failure. For example, the provider (not the consumer) is the one really vested with decision-making power.

    Socializing insurance is a great, cost-saving idea, but medicine itself will continue to be grotesquely inefficient without top-down controls.

  40. 40
    liberal says:


    When government intervenes to grant special privileges for nominally “private” actors, that is a net increase in statism.

    Except the greatest privilege of all is allowing a landowner to take exclusive use of a parcel of land, without charging him enough property tax to pay off all the people now denied access to that parcel.

  41. 41
    liberal says:


    …and on occasion even McMegan on her more sane days…

    When’s that? When she’s quietly asleep?

  42. 42
    Hob says:

    @J.W. Hamner:

    Huh, usually they do a better job of hiding the crass selfishness… Megan McCardle would never make such a rookie mistake.

    Surely you’re kidding. MM is the person who said she knows what refugees feel like because she had to wait in line for an iPhone.

  43. 43
    b-psycho says:

    @liberal: Costs are already exploding, on top of which possible reform is being used as an excuse for yet more culture war bullshit. I don’t see how this can ever change within the system we have. The politicians are inherently self-serving scumbags & the “private” sector obviously is no different, dependence on 3rd parties to do what’s right for us is pretty much suicide.

    As for doctors piling on the useless to make more money, I’d say that begs the question of what is prompting such fucked up incentive. Does that happen in places where practicing medicine isn’t as lucrative as it is in the U.S.? Maybe we just attract the wrong people to the profession.

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