Friday, February 27, 2009

Libertarian Optimism

"Expecting Washington to cut back its main instrument of power after a capitalism-bashing political campaign is like expecting Michael Moore to share his Egg McMuffin with a homeless man."

The above from a piece by Gillespie and Welch which is remarkably optimistic given the massive spending. Bankruptcy could lead to--must inevitably lead to?--greater responsibility and less spending and control? Maybe? Dunno.

John Stossel is less sanguine.

It's true that technology--far from the oppressor imagined by Orwell, Huxley and Bradbury--has mostly had a salubrious effect on liberty. Which is not to say that there aren't victims.

Gillespie and Welch's premise seems to be that, in many ways, people are becoming accustomed to tremendous freedom, especially through the 'net. (We are all anarchists now, after a fashion.) This, in turn, will lead to draining of political power.

That might could be. (Yes, "might could". Gotta problem with that?)

It's certainly a nice thought. I think I'll adopt it. See how it grows.

Darcy asked me the other day if I was optimistic, with regard to people and events. Not exactly. With people, I prefer to dwell on their better aspects. Their worst aspects are likely to be banal, but the ways in which they excel or thrive are more likely to be interesting and useful. (Unless, I suppose, one is an extortionist.)

There's an optimism one adopts when taking on a project. The idea is that it should succeed. That's why one generally bothers at all. (And I do the occasional project that I know will "fail" because its success is separate from what I'm trying to get out of it.)

But for large events--society-wide events--history is a bit of a buzzkill. Here we are, in this Golden Age--for surely it is a Golden Age, warts and all--when history demonstrates that all such ages pass, and sooner rather than later. And it's so easy to see--or at least think we see--the reasons why.

But what else can one do but try to stop that, at least until things get so bad the ship must be abandoned?

That doesn't sound very optimistic, though, does it?


  1. Grr-r-r-r-eat (as Tony the Tiger would say) Stossel interview. Thanks! But he ought to stop coloring his hair. It looks phony.

    I used to devour every issue of Reason, but since Virgina Postrel left, the magazine seems to have lost focus. Also, it's become difficult to read at all due to trendy design and smaller print.

    Purely by coincidence, the book I'm reading now is Stossel's Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity. It's one short take after another on many topics. I seem to recognize a lot of then from having seen them before on his TV shows. There are people to whom I would like to pass it on, but at least one has said, "I can't read that, the print is too small." Bigger print for Libertarian books!

    To get back to the post topic: No, it doesn't sound very optimistic. With George Soros's proxy as President, the next few years are likely to be rough. But — America is a country unlike any other. If there's freedom in the future of the human race, it's here.

  2. Well, yes, precisely. We do seem to be the last, best hope. That in itself isn't a particularly cheery thought. Ireland may have figured it out, but they have many other issues.

    The Kindle (and other e-readers) might be a solution to the small print thing.

    Dead on about Stossel's hair. At first I thought, "Wow, this guy hasn't aged at all." Then I thought, "Wow, this guy dies his hair."


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