Today’s Tom Sawyer

I don’t have a strong opinion about single-contractor trash collection versus free market trash collection, but this made me laugh:

One of my earliest blog-buddies, Kip Esquire, used to have a running feature called “Kip’s Law Sighting.” Kip’s Law is simply described as: “Every advocate of central planning always — always — envisions himself as the central planner.”

This paragraph, in only a few sentences, demonstrates why libertarians will never be anything more than conservatives’ nerdy younger brothers. Nobody wants to listen to somebody named “Kip Esquire” run a regular feature about a wordy law he named after himself, just as nobody wants to listen to an extra from “Cruising” expound about Austrian economics. I know, I know, several of you will tell me that Kip Esquire was a minor character in The Fountainhead or Neal Peart’s pen name on some early short stories. If so, that would be central to point. And why the double always? With laws, as with WordPress comments, -hyphens- dashes should be used sparingly if at all.

I don’t dislike libertarians. The ones I know in real life are all thoughtful people. But it’s no wonder that, even with all the Koch money, they have to run constant fundraisers.

This should be a time of great hope for libertarians, what with Drew Carey hosting the “Price Is Right’ and all. And I think they have something to contribute to contemporary debate, especially on the topics of incarceration and drug laws. But they’re going to have to ease up on the eponymous laws, noogie-inducing screen names, and overuse of Latin (“premia”, “status quo ante”, “fiat money”) if they’re ever going to appeal to a mass audience.

121 replies
  1. 1
    Tom Levenson says:

    Hey! Keep your paws of my fiat money (the truly great invention of the Enlightment, IMHO).

    But yeah — I saw this yesterday, cringed, and just ran out of steam to jump on this with hobnailed boots.

    You’re right. Mere snickering is sometimes all that’s required.

  2. 2
    spudvol says:

    I’m pretty sure the monkey that threw the bone up in the air in the movie “2001” was named Kip.

  3. 3
    russell says:

    yeah, you can keep that fiat money. i just want me some of that fat money.

  4. 4
    OldK says:

    — != –

  5. 5
    Keith G says:

    Doubling down on the 70s references are we?

    ie Rush and Cruising.

  6. 6
    Ross Hershberger says:

    Fiat lux. Fiat Homo. Fiat Money. It must be in the Bible somewhere.

  7. 7
    BGinCHI says:

    You want a good corrective to Libertarian myopia? Read Adam Gopnik’s review of a recent biography of Adam Smith in the Oct. 18th issue of the New Yorker.

    Hint: Smith believed that “sympathy” was essential to market capitalism.

    It’s just Ayn Rand, all the time — always — and she didn’t know what the fuck she was talking about. Oh, and she was a shitty prose stylist. It’s like basing your whole life on Tolkien’s Return of the King and learning Elvish.

  8. 8
    spudvol says:

    @Ross Hershberger:

    Don’t forget the Fiat Chrysler.

  9. 9
    mantis says:

    Those aren’t hyphens, they’re em dashes. Unnecessary and improperly used, but em dashes all the same.

    Also, echos, sounds, salesmen. Also, too.

  10. 10
    policomic says:

    I need an 11-letter word meaning “someone who hasn’t really thought things through.” Begins with “L.”

  11. 11
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Ross Hershberger: Fiat Panda.

  12. 12
    aimai says:

    Good points all! I’d also add that, as it turns out, every advocate of government action isn’t, in fact, advocating “central planning” at all–certainly as a form of ego gratification/imaginary dictatorship of the me.
    “Central Planning” like “statism” is a kind of right wing verbal tic. It sounds bad but its really just redundant. All planning is, to some extent, “central” or at any rate generally takes place from a certain limited perspective or authority. Planning is, after all, “co-ordination” of decisionmaking and action towards a goal. Planning simply has to take place for communities and organizations to survive. It can be centralized or decentralized, involve lots of people or a few people, take place irreversibly or be revisited periodically, but it has to take place. We don’t live in an acephalous society and haven’t for quite some time. We don’t live in a society in which we have to resort to “self help” as anthropologists call it, for all legal protections. Individuals and communities can and must resort to *gasp* planning to achieve their goals. Central planning isn’t some terrifying thing–its just one kind of planning.

    aimai

  13. 13
    Steve says:

    I don’t envision myself as the guy who will select the trash pickup contractor in Fountain Hills, Arizona. So I guess Kip’s Law has been conclusively – conclusively – refuted.

  14. 14
    Chyron HR says:

    “Every advocate of central planning libertarianism always — always — envisions himself as the central planner intrepid astronaut brining balance to Mount Olympus.”

  15. 15
    JGabriel says:

    mistermix:

    I know, I know, several of you will tell me that Kip Esquire was a minor character in The Fountainhead…

    I thought it sounded like some sort of character from a children’s chapterbook or 1930’s Sunday morning serialized cartoons: Kip Esquire, Boy Reporter!

    On second thought, you’re right. That’s just the kind of name Rand would come up with for her characters. There’s no contradiction here.

    .

  16. 16
    shecky says:

    OK, so I’ll admit to being a central planning advocate in one area or another. Still, I’m trying to figure out how I fall into Kip’s Law, envisioning myself as the central planner. Maybe by voting for people who administer policies in a collective fashion? I dunno. How does this even work?

  17. 17
    Ash Can says:

    How’s about they just ease up on idiocy? That would be received well.

  18. 18
    jacy says:

    The Fiat Lancia Delta was actually not a bad-looking car.

    And the trouble with Libertarians is not that they’re not “thoughtful,” it’s that that’s all they are.

    They are the eternal adolescents, who never got past sitting around their freshman dorm rooms late at night trying to out-cool each other with their snippets of philosophy because they weren’t old enough to get into the bars.

  19. 19
    El Tiburon says:

    Someone ask ED about the pesky monopoly by the police departments.

    I want to get my choice on whom to call when my domicile gets violated.

    And when I see someone getting a beatdown on the street corner, I’d like to do some comparison shopping on the lowest rates.

    Holla!

  20. 20
    Martin says:

    I’m wondering at what point libertarians, who always comment on how such and such a problem would be solved if we simply adopted rational market economics, will realize that the reason there was a problem in the first place is because the market wasn’t rational.

    I feel like I’m always being told that irrational numbers would be easier to work with if they were rational. Or that the problems due to gravity could be solved with anti-gravity.

  21. 21
    MattR says:

    If they really want to complain about nanny-statism, I would think the proposal in San Francisco to ban Happy Meals (and other similar offers that use toys to entice children to buy non-nutritional foods) is a much better target.

  22. 22
    JGabriel says:

    @Chyron HR:

    “Every advocate of central planning libertarianism always — always — envisions himself as the central planner intrepid astronaut brining balance to Mount Olympus one doing it with Dagny Taggart.”

    .

  23. 23
    cleek says:

    i like libertarians; they make me feel like a reasonable, well-adjusted member of the human race.

  24. 24

    @BGinCHI: This. Exactly this.@

    aimai: And, as always: What Aimai Said.

  25. 25

    Must have a twitch. Double tapping at my age.

  26. 26
    Crusty Dem says:

    I don’t dislike libertarians. The ones I know in real life are all thoughtful people.

    I call bullshit. I’ve never known a thoughtful libertarian.

  27. 27
    Punchy says:

    This should be a time of great hope for libertarians, what with Drew Carey hosting the “Price Is Right’

    Have you seen the New Drew? Undy 200 bills. He’s a freaky-looking as New John Daly. Just bizarre.

  28. 28
    p.a. says:

    I remember when Providence went from city-employee trash collectors to private firms. The first week state police carrying shotguns as well as their usual sidearms followed the trucks as protection. Interesting to wake up on trash day with a shotgun-toting statie on your front lawn. I guess the city cops refused to or couldn’t be trusted to protect the scabs.

  29. 29
    me says:

    Apparently if you just throw out an idea and reasonable justification (having a single trash hauler is a good idea becuase) make you a wannabe Stalin with 5-year plans.

  30. 30
    David Brooks (not that one) says:

    Every advocate of central planningThe strawman statist that I and my buddies keep re-using without talking to any actual communitarians or democratic socialists always — always — envisions himself as the central planner.

    FIFY

  31. 31
    DougJ says:

    @Crusty Dem:

    I’m not kidding at all. I know the head of my local libertarian party and he’s very reasonable.

    I don’t think he’s actually a libertarian but I’ll call people whatever they want to be called.

  32. 32
    mantis says:

    Central planning isn’t some terrifying thing—its just one kind of planning.

    Planning is for commie pinkos!!11!!! Chaos and disorder are the true virtues! Winging it, also too.

  33. 33
    Mike E says:

    Drew Carey, Penn Jillette and Gov WWF are thin reeds to cling to in a general defense of libertarianism. Bill Kristol and Jonah Goldberg are thoughtful, too. Also. Fuck ’em.

  34. 34
    Citizen_X says:

    @BGinCHI:

    It’s like basing your whole life on Tolkien’s Return of the King Star Trek III and learning Elvish Klingon.

    Fixed for requisite hopeless-nerd cred.

  35. 35
    Violet says:

    I’m just glad someone picks up my trash. And my recycling. It’s predictable, convenient, and not very expensive. They do a reasonable job. They’re not perfect, but what is.

    I’ve lived places where you have to dispose of your own trash, and that is no fun at all. Especially when you dispose of yours but your neighbors don’t and you end up with rodents and other pests because of your neighbors.

    I’m sure Libertarianism works great in that fantastical utopia where Libertarians seem to think they reside. But here in the real world it doesn’t because of idiots who don’t choose and contract with a trash hauler, and thus all of the rest of us have to deal with their garbage.

  36. 36
    moe99 says:

    Sorry, but the burning question of the day is whether Manchin will switch to the Republicans. I want John to tell us what he knows…

  37. 37
    Woodrowfan says:

    I never understood why the Paulites hated Italian sports cars so….

  38. 38
    dmsilev says:

    @BGinCHI:

    It’s just Ayn Rand, all the time—always—and she didn’t know what the fuck she was talking about. Oh, and she was a shitty prose stylist. It’s like basing your whole life on Tolkien’s Return of the King and learning Elvish.

    Reposting a classic:

    There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

    dms

  39. 39
    Chris says:

    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    – Paul Krugman, the last of the good guys*

    *(Hyperbole, but you get my point)

  40. 40
    Chris says:

    @dmsilev:

    Son of a BITCH!!!

    I concede, sir, well played.

  41. 41
    themann1086 says:

    @JGabriel: Similarly, I think these are the people Jonathan Coulton was mocking in his Future Soon song.

  42. 42
    dmsilev says:

    @Violet:

    I’m sure Libertarianism works great in that fantastical utopia where Libertarians seem to think they reside. But here in the real world it doesn’t because of idiots who don’t choose and contract with a trash hauler, and thus all of the rest of us have to deal with their garbage.

    In Libertopia, you would just pay your neighbor to deal with their garbage. See, the invisible hand of the marketplace solves everything!

    dms

  43. 43
    Punchy says:

    Um….what? Those aren’t hyphens. Hyphens seperate words, dashes seperate phrases.

    Would have been funnier to clown the writing if you were….you know…..correct and stuff.

  44. 44
    dmsilev says:

    @Chris: Just edged you out by a nose. The race was nearly yours.

    dms

  45. 45
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @aimai:

    All planning is, to some extent, “central” or at any rate generally takes place from a certain limited perspective or authority. Planning is, after all, “co-ordination” of decisionmaking and action towards a goal. Planning simply has to take place for communities and organizations to survive. It can be centralized or decentralized, involve lots of people or a few people, take place irreversibly or be revisited periodically, but it has to take place.

    The part that made me laugh is the idea that decisions made by a town constitute “central planning” (with all of the Stalinist connotations that innocent little phrase drags along in its wake).

    OK, I’ll bite – let’s play this game by their rules to see where it leads – just how small of a social unit do we have to decentralize and delegate authority to in order to be free of the taint of central planning?

    One city block?

    Just my side of the street?

    Just me and my two immediate neighbors on my side of the street (actually I don’t really like the guy who lives on my north side all that much, so let’s make that just me and my neighbor to the south)?

    Just my house?

    Awww..screw the wife and kids – how about JUST ME!

    Actually I’m not always of the same mind on these issues, so how about JUST ME BUT ONLY ON ALTERNATE TUESDAYS.

    There is a reductio ad absurdum quality to these arguments that somebody missed the signposts to when they were getting off the intellectual highway to explore the back roads.

  46. 46
    DougJ says:

    @Punchy:

    What would Sully say, though?

  47. 47
    MoeLarryAndJesus says:

    Kip Esquire was the working name for Dirk Diggler in an early draft of the “Boogie Nights” screenplay. Everyone knows that, always.

  48. 48
    el_gallo says:

    Libertarians, like any other religious fundamentalists, only care about being righteous according to Biblical law; their Bible being Atlas Shrugged. The real world havoc and suffering caused by adhering to a set of doctrines is not something that is important. “Market competition is always good” is their Personal Jesus.

  49. 49
    Citizen_X says:

    @dmsilev: Was it Atrios that pointed the following out? That Orcs, however unlikely, are at least within the realm of possibility. Whereas the plot of Atlas Shrugged depends upon a perpetual-motion machine, making that story less realistic than LOTR.

  50. 50
    mantis says:

    @Punchy:

    Would have been funnier to clown the writing if you were….you know…..correct and stuff.

    The punctuation police already arrived, Punchy, and they tried to be less snotty about it.

  51. 51
    Comrade Sock Puppet of the Great Satan says:

    “In Libertopia, you would just pay your neighbor to deal with their garbage. See, the invisible hand of the marketplace solves everything!”

    No, you see you’d use contract law because your neighbor is impairing the value of your property. So you’d retain a lawyer, and then go to the courts, which of course would be staffed by a contractor who’d won a bid instead of some public employee, …

    Yes, they really do make this argument. Transaction costs be damned!

    The only libertarian society which sorta functioned for a while was medieval Iceland, and that was because if your neighbor pissed you off but blew off your lawsuit, you and your friends burned down his house with him in it.

  52. 52
    ed drone says:

    @aimai:

    We don’t live in an acephalous society

    Couldn’t prove that by the election results!

    Ed

  53. 53
    mak says:

    As long as we’re doling out free advice to libertarians, allow me to point out that any use of the term “statist” or any of its variants, especially when mentioned in the same breath as von Mises, makes the user look like a smacked ass, unless the user is in 8th grade or below, in which case the usage renders the speaker merely the most insufferable kid in class and most likely to get pantsed or swirled.

    Oops. Speaking of redundant, missed aimai at 12, probably others…

  54. 54
    BGinCHI says:

    @Citizen_X: I thought your contract had a “no-compete” clause.

    I can’t win, can I?

  55. 55
    Crusty Dem says:

    @DougJ:

    Well, kind of my point. I’ve known more than a few libertarians and in my experience their defining characteristics are:

    1) An unshakable belief in their own superiority.
    2) An unquestioned certainty that all government/planning is unproductive and evil.
    3) The belief that in the absence of government, private corporations can do ALL functions better and cheaper.

    Any proof that these beliefs are wrong is met with a wrist flick and “the problem is that example exists in a system with a corrupting government”.

  56. 56
  57. 57
    va says:

    Nice sentiments, but libertarians aren’t in it to contribute meaningfully to public discourse or policy (otherwise they wouldn’t sound like that all the time–you know, the pious, pseudo-intellectual “trash collection in Utopia looks like x” let’s-talk-principles ethos). Honestly, I think libertarians are in it for the pleasure of the circle jerk.

  58. 58
    Hawes says:

    Libertarians don’t WANT mass appeal. They are temperamentally elitist, more so than the average venti frappacino sipping Starbucks elitist. Libertarians want an end to governmental meddling precisely because they believe they are TEH AWESEOMEST!!11! and don’t need help from anyone ever.

    In other words: arrested adolescents. I’ve taught some very bright libertarian high school students. I’ve rarely met them at alumni days.

    All you have to believe in order to support a moderately active government is “There but for the grace of God, go I”. Libertarians (and most conservatives) believe that God’s grace will always be theirs.

    I call it Hawes’ Law…

  59. 59
    BGinCHI says:

    @Chris: Wow. We really are an echo chamber.

    A really smart one though.

    Thanks for posting that. It’s funny cuz it’s true.

  60. 60
    Citizen_X says:

    @BGinCHI: I’ll see you in court!

    On second thought, let’s do this old-Icelandic style. Broadswords at dawn!

  61. 61
    Hogan says:

    I’m sure Kip’s Law has just as many real-life applications in today’s world as Anne Elk’s theory about dinosaurs.

  62. 62
    BGinCHI says:

    @Citizen_X: Which I assume means we meet in the back of a comic book store and roll those dice with 12 sides.

    Try to grow a real mustache this time, OK?

  63. 63
    Ahasuerus says:

    @el_gallo:

    Libertarians, like any other religious fundamentalists…

    The most succinct summary of the Libertarian temperament I’ve ever seen. Well done, sir!

    And on further reflection, it would handily explain the confluence of Libertarian and Theocratic forces in the current Republican party.

  64. 64
    themann1086 says:

    @Comrade Sock Puppet of the Great Satan: That argument came up on Daylight Atheism’s site in a post about liberalism. That the “Icelandic Free State” was an example of anarchocapitalism at work.

    What the hell can you do in response besides burst into laughter?

    ETA: of course, making this argument means you have to do away with, you know, democracy…

  65. 65
    Francis says:

    Actually, I mind a lot about ‘free market’ trash collection.

    Municipal solid waste is a heavily regulated industry. Just ask someone who’s tried to open a landfill (in California — the only place I know about) in the last 20 years. And there’s a really good reason for all the regulation. Leaky sites can cause tremendous damage to groundwater. Sites with bad design are vectors for disease and have huge noise, smell and traffic impacts. Insufficiently funded operations without huge performance bonds in place can collapse, leaving the taxpayer on the hook. Hazardous waste — like mercury — can make leaks much worse. Absent heavy govt regulation, gangsters will underbid legitimate haulers and dump waste, creating an externality that the taxpayers get to pay to address.

    There’s also good money to be made on trash, mostly from construction debris, but also from aluminum. Materials recycling facilities (or MRFs) are a big deal, allowing for the capture of organic waste (like discarded food) that will emit methane (a potent GHG) if landfilled in addition to other more valuable resources. But the planning and siting of MRFs (industrial area, access to freeways and to rail, mitigation of traffic and odor impacts) is not something that the free market is particularly good at.

    But I’ll bet good money that none of the Tea Partiers have a clue about these issues.

  66. 66
    Alex says:

    I pose this as a serious thought experiment and not to be snarky: what do the editors and readers of this blog think about the disputes over taxation during the actual Tea Party era in the 1760s/70s? Putting aside the matter of representation, at least for a moment, do people think that the colonists there were lacking perspective in opposing relatively minor taxes and calling them acts of “slavery”? Is there nothing to be said for the slippery slope?

  67. 67
    Elia says:

    All right — when it comes to glibertarians and ‘The Price is Right’ and all that jazz — I don’t have much to say about that that’s not been already said.

    But I must vehemently — truly passionately — disagree with your assertion that dashes are best used sparingly.

    Love the dash, DougJ — love it!

  68. 68
    Catsy says:

    @Martin:

    I’m wondering at what point libertarians, who always comment on how such and such a problem would be solved if we simply adopted rational market economics, will realize that the reason there was a problem in the first place is because the market wasn’t rational.

    DINGDINGDINGDINGDING! A winnar, it’s you!

    This is the first question that should be asked of anyone advocating that the free market can solve a given problem. “Well, then why didn’t it?”

    They’ll come back with some gibberish about how the market’s not really free, and it /could/ be if we’d just get rid of all this pesky regulation and get the government out of the way–but doing so requires the implicit acknowlegement that the market still /hasn’t/ solved the problem in question, and shifts the debate into territory that can be handled with factual cites of how things currently exist rather than pure speculation about what could be.

  69. 69
    liberal says:

    The ones I know in real life are all thoughtful people.

    Nah. The vast majority are freedom-hating, crypto-feudalist scum.

  70. 70
    Corner Stone says:

    Isn’t there something deeply ironic about someone who names a Law after them self…and then criticizes other people for imagining a scenario where it’s all about *them*?

  71. 71
    aimai says:

    @Alex:

    As I recall the reason “relatively minor taxes” were called “slavery” was that there was no local representation for the American Colonists in the Colonial system. Once you have local democracy and democratically elected representatives deciding on what gets taxed and what doesn’t the entire slavery argument ends. The cry was “no taxation without representation” not “no taxation ever.” There’s actually no slippery slope involved.

    aimai

  72. 72
    Sentient Puddle says:

    @Elia: Hey, I like dashes too. The problem is that they break the fuck out of WordPress if used improperly, and adds strikethrough effect to every comment from then on out.

  73. 73
    ed drone says:

    @Punchy:

    Would have been funnier to clown the writing if you were….you know…..correct and stuff.

    Actually, by using too many … periods? little dots? ellipses? … you messed up the formatting failed English writing style. Three such marks (…) indicate missing text in a quote, as in, Jesus said, “All have sinned … go though and do likewise.”

    Four marks (….) indicate the missing text concludes a sentence, as in “Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation….”

    That concludes today’s English composition lesson. Remember, your first-draft term papers are due the Tuesday before Thanksgiving break, and the regular spelling test for this Friday will be cancelled due to the holiday on Thursday.

    Class dismissed.

    Ed

  74. 74
    Chris says:

    @dmsilev:

    I always appreciate gracious winners, but never more so than after listening to my conservative friends after last week. So thank you doubly, comrade.

    @el_gallo:

    I, like Ahasuerus, think that’s pretty well said.

    They always said communism was essentially a political religion, and in some ways (especially the blind devotion required by communist parties in the 20th century), they were right. I’d say Objectivism is the mirror image – it’s what happens when you go as far to the right as commies in the last century went to the left.

    Trouble is, this time it’s doing it in our country and I’m not sanguine about where it’ll lead to.

  75. 75
    bemused says:

    I picture Libertarians were the little kids who drove their parents and teachers crazy asking why or why not over and over again keeping it up for hours long after the other kids understood the reasoning.

  76. 76
    liberal says:

    @Crusty Dem:
    Good list, though of course any short list will omit some interesting aspects of the pathology of libertarian thinking.

    For example, they appear to think that threats to freedom can ipso facto only originate in the state—that private actors can never threaten freedom.

  77. 77
    Crusty Dem says:

    @aimai:

    Ding! The taxation was just a lever to force a representative government. Even if they were taxless, colonists would have found another reason to hate foreign oversight of local matters…

  78. 78
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @DougJ: I know a self-proclaimed libertarian, too, who is warm, kind, and compassionate. She’s not an actual libertarian, either. No true libertarian?

  79. 79
    liberal says:

    @Citizen_X:

    …depends upon a perpetual-motion machine…

    You referring to that thing John Galt built, a little building or something that absorbed energy from the ether or whatnot with some kind of antenna thing-ees? IIRC.

  80. 80
    el_gallo says:

    @Ahasuerus: After the rapture elimination of the Department of Education, the unfaithful will burn forever in Stalinist Russia.

  81. 81
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Alex: You simply can’t put aside the issue of representation. That was the issue. Colonial legislatures were actually on record as telling the British to let them know what their share of the war debt was and they would impose the taxes to pay it. It is not a slippery slope because the argument was not over the amount of tax, but rather the who had the authority to impose the tax.

  82. 82
    Chris says:

    @Alex:

    I also would say taxation without representation was indeed the main moral issue at stake. (As a resident of DC, there’s some black humor in that; the only Americans who can currently claim the Tea Party label for real are those of us here that the teabaggers won’t let vote in a million years. But that’s another issue).

    Question is, was it worth fighting a revolution over? I tend to prefer reform to revolution, and I find it hard to believe the colonies wouldn’t eventually have been granted representation. Britain was pretty progressive as European nations went. I’m honestly not sure what I would have thought at the time.

  83. 83
    wasabi gasp says:

    The ability to mindread envisioners is always — always — an omen of some predictable shit.

  84. 84
    ChrisNYC says:

    All you need to know is the name of that blog. “The League of Ordinary Gentlemen.” It may as well be named, “We are insufferable.”

  85. 85
    chopper says:

    today’s tom sawyer’s sure getting high on something.

  86. 86
    Poopyman says:

    @ed drone: One minor point: one ellipsis (not to be confused with an ellipse) consists of three dots. So Punchy employed an ellipsis and two periods in the middle of a sentence.

    On a (nerdy) formatting note, I notice that the WP blockquote feature picked up on the ellipsis and prints it out as a slightly different dot than the two following periods.

  87. 87
    beergoggles says:

    The inability of libertarians to distinguish between city councils and central planning also explains their inability to tell the difference between somali pirates and a libertarian utopia.

    And yes, you can henceforth call it the Beergoggles Law of Libertarian Reality.

  88. 88
    LanceThruster says:

    Kip’s Corollary – Any argument for use of force to defend property is always — always — enhanced when it’s your property.

    Great source for identifying critiques, fallacies, and contradictions of liberterianism found here – A Non-Libertarian FAQ.

  89. 89
    Mike says:

    I’m not so worried about the central planner – the central scrutinizer is who concerns me.

  90. 90
    4tehlulz says:

    “Every advocate of central planning always — always — envisions himself as the central planner.”

    That’s funny, as every libertarian always — always — envisions himself as the ubermensch.

  91. 91
    J says:

    But they’re going to have to ease up on the eponymous laws, noogie-inducing screen names, and overuse of Latin (“premia”, “status quo ante”, “fiat money”) if they’re ever going to appeal to a mass audience.

    So I guess Libertarians are “Linux” to Republican’s “Windows,” Democrat’s “OS X” and the Green Party’s, oh, I dunno. “Be OS”?

  92. 92
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mike: Stick closer to church related social activities.

  93. 93
    J.W. Hamner says:

    I prefer to envision Kip as a die-hard Emily Dickinson fan. That’s a woman who loved her some dashes. It’s also appropriate for a group of people who often seem to think that the 19th century was the pinnacle of the human experience.

  94. 94
    bjacques says:

    I liked Libertarians better in the ’70s and ’80s when they were all about legal weed and going into space. Well, so were Hawkwind, and if I’d been more into the latter than the former, I’d probably have gotten laid sooner. Nor been as disappointed they didn’t advance either one very much.

  95. 95
    Punchy says:

    @DougJ: I think Sully would find the dash/hyphen….the dyphen….moderately phallic.

  96. 96
    DougJ says:

    @J:

    I like Linux.

  97. 97
    scarshapedstar says:

    Anyone who advocates democracy envisions himself as a voter.

    Anyone who advocates property rights envisions himself as having property.

    Etc.

    Did I just blow your minds, glibertarians? Don’t you see the virtues of living in an autocratic communist state? I’ll help you all book flights to Beijing.

  98. 98
    LanceThruster says:

    Do they also reject central heating?

  99. 99
    Mike says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: where’s my donut?

  100. 100
    mak says:

    @Puncy42

    Um….what? Those aren’t hyphens. Hyphens seperate words, dashes seperate phrases.
    Would have been funnier to clown the writing if you were….you know…..correct and stuff.

    Do you mean separate, with an ‘a’?

  101. 101
    Gravenstone says:

    I tend to view Libertarianism much as I view Communism, an interesting idea in the abstract. However, both are destined to abject failure the moment they come into contact with human nature because humans are basically selfish assholes.

  102. 102
    ed drone says:

    @Poopyman:
    So the ellipsis is three dots, and the ellipsis+period that marks the end of a quoted sentence results in the four dots I was taught to use.

    Makes sense.

    And I, too, noted the bolding of the last two dots in the five-dot row (…..) in the initial posting. Let’s see how the software handles dots, shall we?

    .
    ..

    ….
    …..
    ……
    …….

    I stopped at seven, in fear the formatting engine of Word Press might screw this up too much. I’ll edit if it does.

    Ed

    [Edit] It didn’t recreate the three-plain+two-bold dots of the original. How about that?

  103. 103
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Alex:

    Putting aside the matter of representation, at least for a moment, do people think that the colonists there were lacking perspective in opposing relatively minor taxes and calling them acts of “slavery”?

    Of course, the tax existed in the first place for the benefit of the privately owned East India Company, not as a source of revenue for the government. So are you arguing that the colonists were right to be angry that the government was taxing them and then giving the money to a private company rather than using it for the benefit of the taxpayers?

    Because I have to admit, those kinds of shenanigans where the government takes my money and gives it to private industry make me pretty angry, too, like when the government was paying Halliburton a premium for food services that the military used to provide at a much lower cost.

  104. 104
    LanceThruster says:

    @Gravenstone:

    There is a model of communism that works outside of the abstract – the family unit.

    “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

  105. 105
    Hogan says:

    @mak: Whose law is it that says spelling flames always include a spelling error? I forget.

  106. 106
    LanceThruster says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Or when our tax money provides a generous advertising allowance for McDonalds to sell their burgers overseas based on the premise that it will be good for boosting sales for them and their suppliers.

    Mickey D’s is doing quite well and there’s always been opportunities to pool funds from the various beneficiaries of increased sales of their product (growers, bakers, ranchers, etc.) so why are they suckling the socialist teat for their profits?

  107. 107
    ruemara says:

    @BGinCHI:

    Uh, excuse me. Based my life on Tolkien and I’m a decent, smart assed, ultra leftist, tree hugger who can recall her runes and her elvish.

    You must be thinking about Atlas Shrugged.

  108. 108
    Hawes says:

    @Alex:

    In many ways, it was the drip, drip, drip of issues with Britain: The Proclamation Line of 1763, the Quebec Act, the Quartering Act, the creation of a monopoly for the East India Company, as much as it was the taxation issues with the Stamp Act and the Townshend Duties.

    What finally forced the colonial hand was the response to the Tea Party. Shutting down the Massachusetts government and Boston harbor were major acts of “tyranny”. Many literate Americans had read the Whig writers warning of royal despotism from an English perspective.

    And up until the spring of 1776, there was little real momentum for independence. Even after Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill, Washington’s troops still toasted with “God Save the King” at each meal.

    The colonists didn’t know where they were headed, they just wanted things to change. So, in that way, they are JUST like the Tea Party.

  109. 109
    Stefan says:

    One of my earliest blog-buddies, Kip Esquire, used to have a running feature called “Kip’s Law Sighting.” Kip’s Law is simply described as: “Every advocate of central planning always — always — envisions himself as the central planner.”

    Always? Always? Hmmm…let’s see now. I’m an advocate of central planning for certain functions (public transit, sewers, utilities, the air traffic system, Social Security etc.) that I don’t think are well served by private market competition, yet do I ever envision myself as the central planner? God no. Why would I want to? The whole point of central planning is that you leave it to the experts who presumably enjoy this sort of thing while you can go about your day.

  110. 110
    mantis says:

    @BGinCHI:

    It’s like basing your whole life on Tolkien’s Return of the King and learning Elvish.

    At least you’d have better taste in literature.

  111. 111
    RSA says:

    @LanceThruster:
    __

    There is a model of communism that works outside of the abstract – the family unit.

    On a sorta-related point, I’ve sometimes thought that it’s reasonable to ask why there’s so much structure and hierarchy internal to large corporations, rather than their functioning more like free markets. (That is, why don’t libertarians think of CFOs as central planners?) Of course, it’s not hard to come up with an explanation–but the same sort of thinking doesn’t seem to be applied as often when it comes to analyzing other situations, giving way instead to a “free markets good, planning bad” response.

  112. 112
    Catsy says:

    @Sentient Puddle:

    Hey, I like dashes too. The problem is that they break the fuck out of WordPress cannot reliably cope with even the most basic HTML or formatting conventions without imploding if used improperly, and adds strikethrough effect to every comment from then on out.

    FTFY.

  113. 113
    b-psycho says:

    @Crusty Dem:

    3) The belief that in the absence of government, private corporations can do ALL functions better and cheaper.

    …hence the problem with the most prominent self-described advocates of libertarianism. The corporate form is an invention of government, so technically there’s no such thing as a private corporation. On top of that, the same issues w/r/t self-serving corruption & detachment from the people whose interests they’re supposed to be serving by those in charge (management vs customers) apply as they do to government (political officials vs the general public).

  114. 114
    b-psycho says:

    @Stefan: I think the point would be better rephrased as “envisions that the central planners think like they do and/or take their views into account”. Restated it makes sense, because otherwise why would anyone trust them?

  115. 115
    Howlin Wolfe says:

    And why the double always?

    Because he’s trying to convince himself?

  116. 116

    I’m sure that Kip Esquire has met zero central planning advocates who imagine anyone else as the central planner, because I am sure he has met zero central planning advocates.

    I have met zero central planning advocates and dozens of people who declared to me that they were, at the time, communists (in Italy but still they said they wre communists).

  117. 117
    LanceThruster says:

    @Howlin Wolfe:

    Because he’s trying to convince himself?

    Because he’s always — always — trying to convince himself.

  118. 118
    PanurgeATL says:

    @Hawes:

    I’m not so sure they really think they are “TEH AWESEOMEST” as much as they feel they ought to have that attitude in order to function properly in our society. The motivational industry is highly libertarian. “Make it a great day!”

    We just had an arena-sized motivational event here in ATL; the roster of speakers included Rudy Giuliani, Sarah Palin, Bill O’Reilly, and Bill Cosby (recently inducted into the Motivational Butt-Kickers’ Club). I don’t know if it’s a tour–I can’t imagine it wouldn’t be. But motivational speaking is all about “You can do anything!”, the understanding being that people need to have (ahem) high self-esteem in order to get ahead.

  119. 119
    brantl says:

    @DougJ: “I’m not kidding at all. I know the head of my local libertarian party and he’s very reasonable.

    I don’t think he’s actually a libertarian but I’ll call people whatever they want to be called. ”

    Sure, they can call themselves libertarians. I can call a chair a hamster if I want to, doesn’t mean it’s a hamster, though.

  120. 120
    brantl says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: Kaine lives on those back roads, so be respectful.

  121. 121
    brantl says:

    @J: Linux works better than Libertarians, by a long shot.

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