First a blast about old older piece of mine that still may be (I’ve been told) a fast-track to at least some kinds of wisdom.
My “Questionnaire on Ideology” is even more pertinent now than ever, allowing you to probe some assumptions and drivers that may underlie a lot of your own beliefs. Certainly, you’ll come away with better understanding of what drives others, including both foes and allies!
I promise at least one “Huh!’ insight. More likely three or four!
Possibly as many as ten.
Okay, we’re doing several riffs in the political realm, this time. Starting with a quick question:
Why, oh why, has Pres. Biden’s Attorney General not yet primly and judiciously, but firmly, UN-redacted Bill Barr’s bowdlerized version of the Mueller report? … And changed the insane ‘advisement’ of the Office of Legal Counsel that a sitting President cannot face legal action? (Replace it with ‘slow’ accountability, where a sitting President may not be distracted by legal troubles more than ten hours a week. But no one is above the law!)
On to this weekend’s posting. Further down, I’ll offer some observations about dry matters like strategic reserves of things like oil and Helium and metals… and why that one sub-topic, alone, illustrates the total and irreversible corruption of one of the U.S. political parties.
== Ah those libertarians ==
Lately – as it does – the Question of libertarianism has come up again.
I used to speak now and then at Freedom Fest, back before the Libertarian Movement became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Steve Forbes, AEI, Cato, Heritage, United Russia, the House of Saud, the Kochs and the world aristocratic cabal. Their latest catch-phrase?
“The world is turning increasingly authoritarian. One thing that can keep us free? Creative destruction.”
I agree! Till they go on to scream that the only threat is government bureaucrats. Riiiiight. Shall we look to who is subverting us right now, and with what goals?
Is it half a million mostly-sincere (sometimes a bit cloying) civil servants? A ‘threat’ that was never once mentioned by Adam Smith or by the U.S. Founders?
Or might freedom and competition be endangered by the same force that subverted or crushed those fine things for 6000 years? A recurring flaw in human nature that was denounced by Adam Smith and the Founders? I refer to the ever-returning pestilence of oligarchic cheating by inheritance brats who owned nearly everything already, but pushed oppressive schemes to own the rest? From ‘divine’ kings and lords to plutocrats conniving to give their lazy sons ownership over everyone else.
Right now….RIGHT NOW(!!) … I ask you to name one exception across 60 centuries, other than the Enlightenment Experiment that you owe everything.
How much respect should we give a ‘movement’ that claims to love human freedom and competition… while letting itself be suborned to do the bidding of the ancient enemies of both?
A “Freedom Fest” that ignores the age-old enemy of freedom is – at best – a stunning irony. At worst, it is among the greatest, sell-out hypocrisies in all the world.
I’ll come back, at the end, with a checklist of challenges for anyone using the word ‘libertarian,’ to see if they, he or she or wei are the real thing.
== Strategic reserves ==
Another lie judged false by PolitiFact: “Biden’s war on American energy caused this crisis (in oil prices) and his only response has been to drain our strategic petroleum reserve.”
Oh, it’s true that JoBee ‘drained’ the US strategic petroleum reserve to lower levels. But… well… all right… let’s parse this out.
When oil/gasoline prices skyrocketed, Biden sold oil from the reserve, it’s true. An action which:
(1) helped reverse the price climb for consumers (it worked) and
(2) made the US Treasury a lot of money, selling at high prices!
Profit which he thereafter used to buy oil when the panic ended, to refill the reserve at LOW prices.
It’s called “Buy low and sell high.” Adam Smith would approve. But today’s Mad Right hates Adam Smith! (And he would certainly reciprocate, despising their feudalism-loving butts.)
Democrats always do this during oil price swings. Obama and Clinton did the buy low and sell high thing too. Using the strategic reserve to both soften swings and to make the taxpayer billions in profits.
What do Republicans always do? They sell from our reserves at LOW-bottom prices to pals. The Bushes did it several times. Under Trump, the world’s only large Helium reserve was sold off to pals for almost nothing. And now there’s almost none to be had! Those who need Helium (e.g. for science or medical equipment) must pay those insider GOP pals an arm and a leg. And Party City blames this in part for going out of business.
In other words, anyone who believes ‘conservative’ pretensions at actually believing what they preach is a fool. And I have a standard wager on offer that Democrats are always more fiscally responsible than Republicans on matters of deficits and public debt. Always.
Please, oh please, step up with escrowed wager stakes on that.
== A final note on libertarians ==
I know these folks… in part because I have a reflexive dread of too much power accumulating in the hands of ANY power center! A reflex called Suspicion of Authority (Soa) that pervades nearly all American mythology!
As I describe in VIVID TOMORROWS: Science Fiction and Hollywood, a baseline worry about oppression by elites is reasonable. And yes, SoA toward bureaucrats is worth discussing!
In better times, when we aren’t in an incited phase 8 of the US Civil War, Americans of left or right share the same passionate SoA worry, only aimed at different elites they suspect of grabbing power. And at some level, they all are right.
Alasm this reflex can tumble into cultism. Indeed, I have decrypted the cult of Ayn Rand, in ways that (I believe) no one else has. Those followers of a mad Neo-Marxist heretic used to be a side fringe of libertarianism, but it suits the world cabal of plutocrat looters to promote this pack of dogmatic loons.
It seems there’s little to salvage. Still, let me conclude this longer-blog with yet another attempt to make things crystal clear.
I believe a ‘libertarian’ might be a non-hypocrite if they:
1. acknowledge that flat-fair-open COMPETITION – by the largest number and variety of knowing and unafraid participants – is the soul of productive creativity and the justifying practical outcome of freedom. That word, seldom mentioned anymore by ‘libertarians’, should be the heartbeat of the movement.
2. avow that freedom’s worst enemies across 6000 years – the destroyers of markets and freedom denounced by Adam Smith – were principally armed bullies, owner-rentier lords, kings and inheritance brats, who used wealth and power to cheat. And that cabals of such oligarchs are a principal threat, to this day! And that Smith recommended calibrated use of civil servants and cheat-reducing law – even wealth levelling – as partial remedies.
3. set a high priority to eliminating poverty, abuse or rights-limitations of any child on Earth – since those crimes waste talent! Talent that might otherwise deliver that child to market-participation, competition-ready.
Hence, feeding all poor kids NOW, while providing basic rights and education, must be a high priority for any libertarion who actually belives in market competition. And if the mass-bulk solutions to child poverty include tax supported interventions by ‘government,’ then libertarians should support that, while looking inventively for other viable solutions to replace or improve state interventions, What no sincere libertarian would do is whine or bitch about those near-term fixes – especially because of item #6, below – until alternative ways to rescue talent are ready.
4. that there is such a thing as a ‘commons’ meriting protection and preservation, including the natural world and the needs of future generations, and these are legitimate matters for negotiation between libertarians offering market solutions and liberals demanding state-organized approaches.
5. that there is plenty to discuss amid further negotiation among people of goodwill, over how to further our unique historical experiment in freedom and creative cooperation/competition and mutual respect. But there are forces in the world – hostile powers, cheaters, criminals, oligarchs and predators, who would act to destroy our enlightenment experiment. And hence some degree of united effort to thwart such forces is justified.
6. and finally that no other human civilization ever produced so many libertarians! Especially including those millions – even graduates of public schools – who declare their own rambunctious independent mindedness and hostility to oppressive authority. Even if many of those folks aim their SoA ire at different authority figures than the libertarians happen to choose.
None of the above is meant to imply that libertarians should cease their reflex of skepticism toward statist ‘meddling’! That reflex has many justifications. It merits a place at the table for discussion and argumentation and negotiation.
However, it does call for libertarians who actually want a world of creative-competitive markets etc. to note those state endeavors that preserve talent, enhance flat-fairness and preserve essential commons and public safety… and distinguish those justifiable activities from other statist meddlings that seem less well justified by #1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.
Those who claim to be pro-freedom and pro-creative-competition, who do not avow to the blatantly obvious facts of #1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are shrug-dismissible as tools of oligarchy, whatever masturbatory ‘freedom-incantations they recite into a mirror.