It fits with Paul Hollander’s thesis in Political Pilgrims about why leftist intellectuals supported communist dictatorships during the 20th century: Seeing the human-rights violations, imperialism, and general abuse of Western governments, the communists must not be so bad. The West has propagandized against the Soviet utopia (Or Cuban, Chinese, or Yugoslavian), lying about repression and prison camps to deceive the populace into remaining under the capitalist yolk.
Analogously, the thought process might be: The European Union is bad; therefore, when any country argues against the EU, they must be good. Orban was an anti-communist leader in Hungary, so the former communists must be trying to punish, restrain, and control him. It can’t be that Orban, like so many American politicians LRC loves to criticize, seeks to expand his power and control, so he’s making an argument about the EU encroaching upon Hungarian democracy and sovereignty.
The support highlights a problem with applying American political dichotomies to a situation such as Hungary’s. The political developments in Hungary aren’t favorable for individual rights or the rule of law. Especially considering that, according to NPR, “97 percent of Hungary’s development funds over the past years have been provided by the EU,” Orban’s political posturing that Hungary will not stand ”to be dictated to by anyone from Brussels or anywhere else” doesn’t sound like principled opposition to the European Union.
Aside from a lack of information and general ignorance, I can’t understand why LRC would allow someone to propagandize for Orban in such a manner. Nor can I understand its argument about the importance of democracy and sovereignty, as LRC doesn’t desire democracy that much anyway.
Were the United States to align itself with common sense, its citizenry would have de-monopolized mail delivery decades ago. With the Postal Service’s shaky future, it might be politically feasible to do so. Finally.
Matt Yglesias summarizes the scenario:
Conservatives often wrongly caricature the United States Postal Service as somehow inefficient or poorly managed, while liberals are very focused on the idea that pension accounting rules make USPS look bad. But the truth about the Postal Service is very simple—it’s supposed to fund its activities out of a lucrative monopoly on daily mail delivery, and that’s getting much less lucrative.
I don’t disagree that the USPS is inefficient or poorly managed, nor that pension accounting rules make it look bad, but both are problems rooted in a monopoly. Governments shield monopolies from market forces that encourage innovation; when a disruption occurs in the market (the internet), inflexible labor costs and unnecessary oversight (Congress) stifle an economic response.
Without facing competition to retain customers or a profit, the USPS had little incentive to cut costs, discover new methods for delivery or sorting, or attempt to increase revenue instead of requesting a bailout from Congress. When the internet made it irrelevant, they had no infrastructure (or, more importantly, culture of innovation) to compete.
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal on the dangers of paternalism:
During the 1970s, the City University of New York broadcast Day at Night, wherein James Day interviewed various individuals influential in politics or culture. In 1974, he interviewed I.F. Stone and they discussed Stone’s views on free speech, journalistic independence, tolerance, his motivations for starting his Weekly Reader, and his beginnings in journalism. Some notable quotations follow the video.
“The only way to be free is not to have power.”
“People don’t realize that, down in the bowels of the government, are a lot of devoted and hardworking people. But people are led to do evil, in spite of themselves, by the nature of the institutions in which they’re trapped.”
“I once had to talk to a group of visiting foreign journalists, and I said ‘the first thing to remember: When you talk to government officials here, don’t believe anything they say.’ Don’t take seriously anything they say.”
“Most of what you hear is the rationalization of bureaucratic inertia…”
“…You have to excuse it, you rationalize it, further its own purposes, and these institutions, which are supposed to be a means, become an end in themselves.”
“I wanted a radical paper in a conservative format. I wanted dignified typography. I didn’t want screaming, sensational headlines. I didn’t want exaggeration. I didn’t want to pretend I had inside information when I didn’t. I wanted it to be sober and factual, as accurate as I could make it. Reasoned — not hysterical — so that people on the other side would have to take it seriously. Persuasive. And I tried to prove what I was saying from the horse’s mouth, as it were; using the government’s own documents and government reports and transcripts and press conferences and speeches, and analyzing them the way a historian would. Putting them in perspective so that a man on a college campus who took it and showed it to a conservative colleague wouldn’t just brush it off; he’d have to take it seriously.”
“I wanted to defend what I considered basic American principles. That is, the right of freedom of speech and free political activity. And that meant defending, first, the Trotskyites, then the communists. I disagree with liberals who were only ready to defend people if it could be proven that they were practically illiterate and couldn’t possibly be Marxists and they weren’t really communists. I felt that, unless it was freedom for everybody, it would be whittled away for everybody.”
“The basic premise for a free society is that none of us can be sure of the truth, and none of us can ever be sure of the whole truth, and, therefore, it’s worth listening to others. And, unless you’re willing to have people tell lies or half lies, you shut off truth. There’s no way of policing it. There has to be freedom. There’s no halfway house.”
“I think there’s a lot of things wrong in Russia, and the Soviet system … You’re going to have to mesh together the Jeffersonian idea and the socialist idea.”
“On maintaining independence: I always felt that it was dangerous to get too close to people in power, and that, when you are working on a really good story, the people to trust, the people to go to, were those people down in the bowels of the bureaucracy who were dealing with that specific subject.”
First, thanks to everyone who wanted me to write something; I wasn’t expecting that.
As far as analysis, I cannot improve upon Will Wilkinson, Randy Barnett, Johnathan Chait, Greg Sargent, Megan McArdle, Andrew Koppelman, George Will, Michael Cannon, and Peter Suderman.
Anyway, three links that I think are important to remember:
- Obama claimed, and Democrats defended, that the mandate was not a tax.
- Isaiah’s Job by Albert Jay Nock.
- Why I am Not a Conservative by F.A. Hayek.
Stop worrying and start loving the bomb. The ruling should not have surprised anyone; such optimistic was unwarranted.
More important, libertarians shouldn’t care. We don’t carry the burden of proof; we’re such a political minority, it’s amazing how much influence we already have. The world will burn, but it will be the fault of Democrats (and Republicans for not legitimately opposing government expansion). We’ll probably get the blame regardless, but such is politics.
If anything, the decision should motivate libertarians to engage in local anti-poverty programs, create mutual-aid societies, and live their lives as they see fit. The best way to diminish the harm of government action and strengthen local communities does not reside in the political system.
We’ll hear more demands from conservatives that libertarians MUST vote for Romney in November. I believe most of my politically inclined followers have reblogged a conservative berating libertarians about that earlier. The argument is inane to the point of eliciting pity, but it’s important to remind them of Hayek’s insight:
Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving. It may succeed by its resistance to current tendencies in slowing down undesirable developments, but, since it does not indicate another direction, it cannot prevent their continuance. It has, for this reason, invariably been the fate of conservatism to be dragged along a path not of its own choosing. The tug of war between conservatives and progressives can only affect the speed, not the direction, of contemporary developments. But, though there is a need for a “brake on the vehicle of progress,” I personally cannot be content with simply helping to apply the brake. What the liberal must ask, first of all, is not how fast or how far we should move, but where we should move. In fact, he differs much more from the collectivist radical of today than does the conservative. While the last generally holds merely a mild and moderate version of the prejudices of his time, the liberal today must more positively oppose some of the basic conceptions which most conservatives share with the socialists.
Within 20 years or fewer, most conservatives will defend the policies they hysterically oppose today. As Nate mentioned when we talked earlier, that has already happened with conservative foreign policy. Conservatives usually remain steadfast in their morality stances, but they’re fluid with the question of political philosophy. Until libertarians and limited-government conservatives refuse to support the alleged “lesser of two evils,” no progress will be made. The Democrat will expand his pet programs, and the Republican will expand the military, oppose social security, medicare, and medicaid reform, and abuse libertarian rhetoric.
Take heart. In 10 years, remind conservatives what they used to frantically revile. In four to eight years, remind liberals about the frightening increase in executive power and barrier to government transparency their party developed.
Libertarians shouldn’t appear reactionary, hatefully reject liberal and conservative ideas, or get bothered by legislation. Disregard short-term politics, acquire a long-term free society.
So I did a rolling stop through an intersection I’ve traversed countless times and the police pulled me over. Fair enough, I’ll grant it. Had I thought I endangered anyone else or myself, I’d come to a complete stop, but laws are important for societal cohesion and the rule of law isn’t a flippant and unnecessary thing, I understand. ‘Twas a legitimate infraction the police called me on at 3:30 a.m., I suppose.
All in all, it was a relatively decent affair from the Ohio University Police Department. The officer asked me if I knew why he stopped me (does anyone ever admit to breaking a law in that situation?) and asked me to step out of the car. Then he asked me to follow the tip of his pen with my eyes after asking about possible alcohol consumption. He also asked whether I smoked marijuana tonight.
His tone changed after my denials of alcohol consumption, marijuana use, and the permission to search my car. Slightly taken aback and annoyed that I wouldn’t let him search the car, he asked one more time. Again, I denied permission. Then, he asked one more time, in order to avoid wasting the K-9 unit’s time. Fair enough, but I can’t feel like a decent libertarian by granting an unwarranted search. Mainly though, I’m offended at the presumption that I have anything the police could find interesting.
The K-9 unit was nearby and within three minutes they had a positive. The search took a little under 10 minutes; naturally, nothing was found. I received a lecture about stopping at lights (drunk students wandering around, mind you), a reminder to update my license plate tags, and no ticket.
It’s understandable that the police pulled me over. They have a job to do for public safety and, overall, were quite courteous, which I appreciated. However, the original policeman to stop me changed his tone when I denied the search. “If you have nothing to hide, why does it matter?” isn’t the question; the question is “If I’ve done nothing wrong, what right do you have to invade my privacy?” Had I appeared drunk or high, that’d be a legitimate reason to call in a dog. My utter and complete lack at using either substance, however, and the appearance that I hadn’t imbibed or inhaled, should have ended the matter. Any search or hassle afterward seems closer to penalizing an individual who deigned to blankly acquiesce, not a routine to ensure public safety.
I won’t even approach the absurdity of prohibiting drugs; the abridgment of privacy for a supposed public safety proves enough of an issue for this post.