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Tax-dodging professional whiners

February 13, 2009

In an interview that appeared in The Onion’s A.V. Club back in 2001, cartoonist Berkeley Breathed commented, “I’d be a Libertarian, if they weren’t all a bunch of tax-dodging professional whiners.”

That rang true to me at the time, and still does. Oh, there’s a lot to like about libertarianism in theory, really. I do think it’s important to limit what government can do… America shouldn’t become a totally rule-bound fascism either, after all. But… I cannot be a libertarian myself, for libertarianism embodies a fatal contradiction. It claims to be for individual responsibility, yet it only recognizes one villain: government. Its proponents seem to ignore entirely the greatest villain of our age: the limited-liability corporation, which is an organization specifically, legally and openly constituted for the purpose of evading individual responsibility.

Libertarianism itself is vaporware, pure and simple. Sure, it sounds wonderful in principle, just like any unreleased software package would – feature-rich, and the sample screens look great… but there’s no there there.

I’d been thinking this for quite some time anyway, making notes for an essay of my own (the above paragraphs are part of that), but now I’m not sure I even need to reinvent that particular wheel, ever since I ran across Zompist’s scathing and brilliant “What’s wrong with libertarianism” (via a thread on Metafilter).

In plain language (and often quoting libertarian luminaries in their own words), Zompist explains all the ways in which libertarianism “simply doesn’t stack up.” It’s worth a read, even if (especially if) you disagree…

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Laura permalink
    February 13, 2009 1:30 am

    When I was researching the surprisingly well-established subculture of international financial crime, I was amazed at how many white collar criminals describe themselves as Libertarian. But when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. If the govt. is the enemy, taxes are the enemy, then that fosters all sorts of creative ways to not only evade taxes, but to launder money from all sorts of other financial crime as well. Con artists routinely use the Libertarian platform as a lure for their victims to buy into whatever their current investment scam might be.

    Libertarianism is vaporware, which is another way of describing a fraud.

    • February 13, 2009 11:51 pm

      Well, if you cast government as (always) the villain, that makes anything you do to resist it simple heroism, don’t you think? Although I can think of another word for someone whose expressed aim is to dismantle the government of the United States, and it ain’t ‘hero’…

  2. Laura permalink
    February 14, 2009 12:52 pm

    I just read yesterday that Alan Greenspan is a devout follower of Ayn Rand, so an Objectivist. No WONDER we’re in the economic mess we’re in! Even he admits now his adherence to that theory was a mistake; that deregulating Wall Street to such a degree has been a disaster.

    In the world of financial crime, another huge group of con artists use the Rand Objectivist platform. It’s so prevalent, we call them Randroids.

    And yes, most of them are essentially money launderers, often for kingpin criminals and terrorist organizations. When govt. is the enemy and large sums of money are involved, you end up working with lovely people like arms dealers, human traffickers and terrorists.

    Whatever happened to We The People? We *are* the government. People who work in govt. are your neighbors and friends and family. Hell, our government structures and principles have even survived eight years of being run by a bunch of con artists…barely, and certainly with some principles at death’s door on a ventilator, but still.

    Our economy, now that’s another issue, because now it’s global. Who knows what will happen? Certainly not Greenspan or Chris Cox or Phil Gramm. Think good thoughts, lots of good thoughts, and put a chunk of money under the mattress.

    • February 14, 2009 11:43 pm

      I think I first ran across the term “Randroid” in the late Robert Anton Wilson’s Reality is What You Can Get Away With. Either that, or in descriptions of Matt Ruff’s classic Sewer, Gas and Electric (though the term doesn’t seem to appear in the book itself).

      And… yeah, I think maybe one of the big reasons I’m not a libertarian is that I don’t feel totally disenfranchised even when things don’t go my way (for eight long years…); I do still believe in the value of participatory democracy, naive as that may be.

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