Libertarian’s Magic Kingdom

We felt the need to expand a bit on a post by Thom Hartmann because the spreading ideology of libertarianism has a well-funded machine that has generated way too much positive press. Modern libertarianism is a very different animal from what it pretends to be – it is the quintessential definition of Astroturf politics.

Thom’s article:
Libertarians Believe in Kingdom Rather than Democracy | Thom Hartmann

“I’ve often said that Libertarians are Republicans who want to smoke dope and get laid (they’re in favor of decriminalizing pot and prostitution), but what Rand Paul is showing us that their worldview goes much farther than even a Republican like Richard Nixon – who brought us the EPA – would.”

That’s right, Thom – but libertarians don’t believe in Kingdom, they believe in a Magic Kingdom. In modern libertarianism, a super-deity called Free Market rights all wrongs and makes everyone free through it’s magical power of privatization. And even though we have wonderful examples of universal privatization in places like Somalia, somehow the magic deity will make things all better in America. You just have to believe…

We could wish that libertarianism was a movement of personal freedom, as it would like to disguise itself. If only libertarians weren’t so stuck on their worship of corporatism it might be different. However, we have to deal with modern libertarianism as it IS, not as we wish it was.

The fact that libertarian think tanks are funded by corporations and the super rich should tell you everything you need to know. But of course, the average citizen probably doesn’t realize that. So let us clarify AGAIN that libertarians want ZERO regulations on corporations AND universal privatization. That means that while you may own your own home, you won’t be able to set foot outside of your little piece of property without having to “trespass” on someone else’s property. That means that if you are allowed on the streets and sidewalks at all, it will be a privilege granted to you by the owner of that property. You will be able to do so ONLY under the rules of the owner, and that privilege will be subject to revocation at any time.

Rand Paul’s insistence that businesses should be able to be “white’s only” or “no Jews allowed” if the owner chooses isn’t an aberration, it is the cornerstone of libertarianism: private property rights above all; no public rights, period.

Once again, we remind you that you have NO rights when you are on someone else’s private property. And under the libertarian ideal, every inch of space is someone else’s private property.

The faith of libertarians is admirable for its steadfastness in the face of reality. Their idea that corporations, which now do so much harm as they play games at the edge of the law, will suddenly start doing good things once they have no restraints on them would seem to fly in the face of both common sense and empirical observation. For the faithful, however, reality has a well-known liberal bias and may be ignored.

It reminds me of the line that is used every time there is a merger: “The new combined company will be more efficient and will be able to pass the savings along to the consumer.” – Yeah… they will be able to - that’s very different from actually doing, however. The reality is that no corporations ever merged so that they could pass savings along to consumers; they did it to maximize profits. And that’s all corporations ever try to do, is maximize profits. But that never stopped a libertarian from believing.

Oh, and speaking of Libertarians being Republicans who want to smoke dope: Try going into a mall wearing the “wrong” kind of t-shirt (one that is against “mall policy”) …or saying the wrong thing – in that privately-owned public space – and see what happens. And yet Libertarians think that dope will be okay? Well, maybe, but only if the giant corporation that owns the town in which you live decides to allow it. That decision will depend only on how it affects the quarterly corporate bottom line.

If libertarianism prevails then we hope and pray that the libertarians are at least right in this one aspect and dope becomes legal. Frankly you’ll need to be stoned 24/7 to deal with your life under the corporate jack-boot …and knowing that you, Mr. Libertarian, helped bring about our living hell.

Another reason why libertarianism means no liberty at all.

The Problem With The Tea Party As I See It

I’d kind of like to side with some anti-government sentiment at times; especially when the government is going about finding new ways to restrict the civil rights of American citizens in the name of security or the drug war. I see these things as the tentacles of fascism winding around American democracy, using any excuse – drugs, terrorists, family values, the gay agenda – to get a further grip on society.

The Tea Party could be the lone group standing against this wave of oppression – it certainly isn’t the Republicans or the Democrats! But while the Tea Party people may prefer to think of themselves as Constitutionalists and freedom-loving citizens, the truth is far sadder and more predictable.

The tea party people have, as I see it, at least two problems.

The first problem is one that they share with the Libertarians: The idea that government is evil and corporations are good. Like Libertarians, most Tea Party people seem to want a government that doesn’t do anything for the people.

Defense and police. That’s it. Which of course leaves a power vacuum into which steps the giant corporations – who will have no problem telling you how to live your life in minute detail. Don’t think so?

Paying attention to news, you regularly see stories about someone being evicted from a mall for wearing the wrong kind of t-shirt or saying the wrong thing. That’s because you have no civil rights when on someone else’s private property. But in the Libertarian/Tea Party ideal world EVERY INCH of ground is someone else’s private property. Ergo, no rights for anyone.

Libertarians (and now by extension Tea Partiers) seem to live in a fantasy world where corporations are so concerned with good public relations that they would never impose anything grievous on the people – only evil government would do that. No corporation would ever cut corners and destroy the environment – or force you, in their relentless pursuit of profits, to take services you didn’t want in order to get something you really need.

Except, have you dealt with a corporation lately? Have you ever called Comcast (now Xfinity) customer service? Giant corporations don’t give a shit what you think of them; they are only interested in profits. And they don’t need your good will for that, they just need an effective monopoly.

The second problem with the Tea Party people is that they have been co-opted by astroturf “grass roots” front groups that are funded by big corporations such as Wellpoint (healthcare) and GE (war profiteers). The local Tea Party rally was organized by outsiders from The Lewin Group, a fake grassroots organization that is actually owned and operated by a giant healthcare company. They’re the ones who brainwash granny into going out there and screaming “Keep government out of my Medicare” (literally).

If there is any reader who doesn’t know this, Medicare is “government run” healthcare (as the insurance companies define it).

Unfortunately the healthcare bill that finally passed was more of a Tea Party bill than anything else: It mandates the purchase of private health insurance whether you can afford it or not. The only “give back” is that the health insurance companies won’t be able to exclude pre-existing conditions anymore and they won’t be able to cut you off in the middle of lifesaving treatment (a very common practice). It’s not a very good deal but you can thank the Tea Partiers for that.

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We should not leave this subject without mentioning their biggest problem: Hypocrisy.

Tea Partiers proudly call themselves “PATRIOTS” who want to “take back their government.” This is a message shouted at every meeting to loud applause. They yell and demand (and sometimes threaten). Really? Take back “our” government from whom? Well, they would be “taking it back” from the majority of American citizens that elected the government we have.
It would be hard to argue that the Tea Party movement represents anything close to a majority in America. Instead, they are the farthest right-wing fringe of the American political landscape. Yet they feel entitled to control the government anyway, democracy be damned.
It is hard to imagine a philosophy less patriotic.. well, for an American. This would be a patriotic ideal in the old Soviet Union, but in this country with its tradition of democracy it is …well, anti-American.

Tea Partiers say government is too big. I mostly agree. The majority of federal spending, however, is on the military – something a Tea Party person would never want to cut. They also want government “hands off” their Medicare, which is another big chunk. If they mean other kinds of social spending (and that’s the “big government” they keep mentioning), that is something like three percent of the federal budget.

Tea Partiers say the national debt is too great. I agree. The vast majority of that debt was run up FIRST by Ronald Reagan and then by George W. Bush. These two men are heroes to the Tea Party movement. So naturally the Tea Party people were silent during the reign of these reckless spenders. Also, once again, almost all of that debt was run up with military spending. Something most Tea Party people are for.

What they really mean by all of this anti-government rhetoric is that they don’t want services that benefit anyone else – but they DO want lots and lots of military spending (because they are afraid of everything) and they want their Medicare because that helps them. Everyone else can go fuck themselves.

I guess this brings me to my final point, which is that the tea party movement is a magnet for low information people who are easily swayed by emotional arguments AND who lack compassion for their fellow human beings. They’ve got theirs and the hell with everyone else. It is a movement based entirely on the twin pillars of fear and selfishness.

With that knowledge in mind, I’m very glad that the Tea Party people are a small minority but sad that they get attention so out of proportion to their numbers – and that politicians listen to them.

Another Libertarian Paradise Goes Tits Up

Look, I have to say at the start of this rant that there are lots of things I like about libertarianism. I would have voted for Jesse Ventura if I had lived in Minnesota. I voted for Ron Paul in the primaries of ’08. Yet I also know that there are some fatal flaws in libertarianism.

The reason I could vote for Ron Paul is because I know he would have acted to end the wars and stop spying on Americans. “Restore the constitution” as it were. Yet Congress would have stopped him from getting rid of social security, Medicare and public education – thus thwarting the detestable side of libertarianism.

The fatal flaw of American-style libertarianism (assuming you think that feudalism wasn’t so great) is the exaltation of corporate interests: The idea that you can turn everything but defense and policing over to private corporations and they’ll just magically do the right thing. The other name for this philosophy is corporatism. And the other name for corporatism is fascism. Anyone who isn’t drinking the libertarian Kool-Aid knows this is a stupid idea, but the average libertarian has been sold a bill of goods for so long that they can’t tell the beef from the bullshit.

A corporation’s only loyalty is to profit; their only goal is to maximize the bottom line on the next quarterly report. If selling a product that kills lots of people accomplishes their short-term goal, it’s fine with them. Shortening the lives of customers for a 1% boost in the quarterly report; Great! Using slave labor to improve profits? Pure Heaven! Gathering the wealth of a nation into one’s own pot and into the hands of a few super rich: priceless.

My take on this is that the only thing worse than government tyranny is corporate tyranny: With a government, at least you have a chance at voting the bastards out – if you can get enough people to agree with you. With corporations, you have nothing. You are just a slave, a piece of meat, a serf. The fact that corporate bosses refer to the insurance they buy on their workers as “Peasant Insurance” should tell you what they really think of you. And this is where American-style compromised libertarianism falls apart for me. It has this poison pill that kills any of the goodness it might otherwise express.

Libertarianism doesn’t have to be like this. The general idea of individual freedom is wonderful. But American libertarianism has sold out like everything else. You fans of this evil empire, does it never give you pause to think that giant corporations fund all the Libertarian think tanks?? Do you really think those giant corporations have the interests of the average Joe and Josephine in mind?? Hmm?

All the Libertarian talking heads exalt privatization (read, corporate-ization) because they are PAID to say that. Some of them may believe in this fairy tale too, but mostly they just say it because they collect big fat checks from corporate-funded think tanks to do so – whoring themselves out and selling out America in the process.

Having everything run by corporations that only care about this month’s profit statements always leads to disaster because corporations are acting in their own short term interest with absolutely no thought to the general welfare of the country or the long-term consequences of their actions.

Thus, libertarian paradise countries are doomed to going broke in the long run as every corporation works only toward improving its next quarterly report to the detriment of everyone else. Dubai is just the latest example: Dubai Has No More Money.

Dubai—home to the future world’s tallest building, artificial islands shaped like a palm tree, and a misplaced faith in the power of wealth—is broke. The government has asked its many creditors for a six-month reprieve from debt payments.

Of course, having a broke government is part of the libertarian dream, too. Dubai, as with other libertarian paradise countries such as Somalia and Abu Dabi, shares the common libertarian features: Government is minimal to non-existent and everything is privatized, workers having no rights (after all, government is the only entity that can tell corporations that they must treat workers humanely, and government is evil). With all those “small government” features, wealth has inevitably migrated into the hands of a few super-rich while the bulk of the population has been impoverished.

What did you expect? In the absence of government (which is supposed to represent the collective will of all of the people) the power vacuum will always be filled by the richest and most powerful among us. Duh. It’s hard to believe that anyone would argue otherwise but of course libertarians have to – they can’t just say, “yeah, we want to be ruled by the iron fist of a few rich guys” because nobody would join their party. So they preach the good stuff while soft-pedaling (but never discarding) the really horrible part of their philosophy.

I believe in the part of the libertarian ideal which says government should stay off of our backs and out of our personal lives. You could have a government like that, which still does the right thing and protects the average person from the predatory nature of the rich and powerful, that eschews corporatism and protects the weak. But for American-style libertarianism that just isn’t enough. They won’t be happy until regular people are owned by Disney and GE and can only live where they are told, wear what they are told and eat what they are told by their corporate masters. That part of libertarianism makes me want to puke.

Another take on it all: Objective Error – the Faith of Libertarianism and Objectivism ~ Random Journey

The Death Panels

A medical doctor admits what anyone who has bothered to pay attention to anything already knows: Lack of universal health care is a mass killer.

“In my 20 years of practice as a family physician, I have encountered dozens of cases where the main contributing factor to a person’s death was the lack of health insurance for most of their lives.”

A recent academic study showed that about 45,000 people die in the USA every year due to lack of health care. These are deaths that simply DO NOT HAPPEN in other first world countries. This may be part of why most general practitioners are FOR universal healthcare even as the AMA vehemently opposes it.

What are the arguements against universal healthcare? “The government can’t do anything right” …even though Medicare, which is government-run healthcare is twice as efficient as the best of private insurance, delivering the best healthcare at the lowest cost. “You’ll have to wait to see your doctor” …like you don’t wait now! Sure, okay, there will be more people who can see a doctor if we have universal healthcare. God forbid you should have to wait an extra day to see your doc about that hangnail. 45,000 dead people every year is a small price to pay! “There will be death panels” … No, but there ARE DEATH PANELS RIGHT NOW; they are called insurance company bureacrats (why, btw, brag about killing people to boost profits).

Basically, my bottom line is this: If you don’t care about all those people who are dying RIGHT now, EVERY fuckng day because we in America put private profits above human life, then go fuck yourself. I don’t want to hear your bullshit.

The real “DEATH PANELS” are those who – in the name of ‘profits uber alles’ – are willing to let people die and turn a blind eye to it. They are paid off by insurance companies and they don’t give a crap about you. Oh, and this applies to radio talk show hosts, too.

WHO NEEDS FACTS WHEN YOU’VE GOT A PERFECTLY GOOD OPINION?

Everyone who has a Facebook account has gotten notices that so and so is a friend of a friend of yours, asking if you want to “friend” them (yes, “friend” is sometimes a verb in Facebook-speak).  I got such a notice the other day about a guy named Jeff.  What the hell, I thought, throwing caution to the winds.  What can I say, I’m a risk-taking, living-on-the-edge kind of guy.  I went for it.  I friended him.

I soon realized that this friend-of-a-friend that I had friended was something of a right winger.  Among the first few postings from him I saw were complaints that people attending Congressional town hall meetings who disagreed with the Democrats were being denied their First Amendment rights.  What I had seen in the TV news coverage of the meetings showed these people not being prevented from speaking, even though their “speaking” consisted of screaming at the top of their lungs, preventing others from exercising their First Amendment rights.  I began to wonder what this guy was talking about.  Had I walked through the Looking Glass?

From there, he went on to talk about how health care reform would result in “rationing.” At that point, I had to jump in.  Since Jeff wrote in complete, grammatical sentences, I made the mistake of thinking he was a guy who would be interested in, you know, facts.  Silly me, how wrong I was.

I explained that my wife has congestive heart failure, a very serious illness and that since we don’t have health insurance, she can’t get the care she needs, care that could well keep her from dying prematurely.  Isn’t that a form of rationing, I asked.  Jeff responded by saying that maybe my wife should go to one of those “better” countries that have universal health care (yes, he used the quotation marks).  I’ll let you absorb that for a moment.

Surprise of surprises, Jeff just happens to have a friend in Canada whose mother also had congestive heart failure.  This “friend’s mother,” for some strange reason, was refused treatment by those rationing bastard Canadian doctors.  She even had enough money to afford private health care but couldn’t get it since private health care doesn’t exist in Canada.  No one would take her money, even to save her life. 

I had suspected all along that this “friend’s mother” was every bit as real as the guy who woke up to find that his kidney had been stolen by a hooker, but I kept my doubts to myself; I knew expressing them would result in a huge slap fight.  I calmly informed Jeff that he was factually incorrect.  I knew this for certain as my friend Sarah, an American citizen, had surgery in Canada several years ago which she paid for out of her own pocket.  I even named the surgeon and said that his clinic was in Montreal.  Sarah went to Canada because this surgeon has an international reputation and he charges several thousand dollars less than any hospital in the U.S. for the same operation.

Now you might think that a “clear thinker” (as Jeff describes himself) would realize that he was simply misinformed about the Canadian health care system and realize that he could therefore be wrong about the effect a similar system would have on the U.S.  In a spectacular display of cognitive dissonance, Jeff conceded that his (possibly apocryphal) “friend’s mother” had been given a health care ration of Zero, but apparently couldn’t see that my wife is going through the same thing in this country.  If a (possibly apocryphal) Canadian dies due to denied health care, it’s a tragedy.  If an American dies for the same reason, it’s OK because who would want to live if living requires *GASP* Universal Health Care?  The rules of logic change when you cross the 49th Parallel, I guess.

Continuing to play along with the story of the “Canadian woman who died because no one would take her money for the private health care that doesn’t exist,” I said that the real cause of her death was ignorance.  I didn’t say she was stupid or unintelligent; I didn’t know the woman (if she even actually existed, that is) so I can have no opinion of her intelligence.  I used the word “ignorant” correctly.  I’m a fairly bright person but there are subjects about which I know little.  I am ignorant about those subjects.  If you live in a country which provides universal health care and you die because you don’t know that fact, you are ignorant.  I’d call that World Class Ignorance.

Instead of conceding that he was factually incorrect about Canadian health care, Jeff sniffed that he knew that any debate with a liberal would eventually result in the liberal calling someone ignorant. 

The really sad thing here is that, even though he was presented with actual FACTS, Jeff has, consciously or unconsciously, decided to remain–yes, I’m going to say it–IGNORANT on this subject.

The point of this little story is not that some guy who I don’t know and will probably never meet doesn’t know what he’s talking about with regard to the real world consequences of America’s shitty health care.  The problem is that he’s just one of millions of America citizens who don’t know diddly and still think they are informed enough to have an opinion.  These are the people you see screaming at the town hall meetings on the TV cable “news” shows.  They don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about…and thanks to the Democrats who can’t or won’t fight back against the tide of stupidity, they’re winning the debate.

It would be laughable if it didn’t have the possibility of killing my wife (and millions of other Americans) prematurely.  I guess I should be glad that my wife doesn’t have to put up with  *GASP* Universal Health Care–you know, the only thing that has the realistic possibility of saving her life.

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