How Many Libertarians Does It Take to Screw In a Lightbulb?

I figure the crew at Reason is either too bag-of-hammers dumb to understand the consequences of this week’s campaign finance SCOTUS decision, or they’re the most bare-assed hypocrites the world ever invented.

22 thoughts on “How Many Libertarians Does It Take to Screw In a Lightbulb?

  1. To a Libertarian, the only possible entity that can cause oppression is government. It is physically impossible for private persons and entities to oppress anybody because hey, if people don’t like what the corporation is doing, they can just give their business to somebody else, right?

    Or at least, that’s what I got out of arguing with them online. One argument finally came down to a point where the libertarian involved actually said that people are absolutely free to starve to death if they happen to be in a company town type situation, whereupon I ceased arguing with libertarians.


  2. Since not everybody plays nice, even libertarianism needs consistent “maintenance” via enforced rule of law, lest things turn into a sociopathic free for all.

    And then you have the changing times thing. The founders could chase off a world superpower with their motley brethren armed only with hunting muskets. But today no number of hunting muskets can stop a nuclear tipped ICBM launched by some motley dictator. And what keeps the disgruntled employee from releasing the self-replicating carbon-eating nanobots? Is that a freedom of speech issue? Advancing technology leverages impacts to freedoms, so laws have to keep changing just to keep up to ensure our freedoms – like the freedom to live.

    Then you have the ‘concentration of power outside of the relatively weak government’ thing, where the former pulls the latter’s strings, unchecked. Like in Iran.

    Went off on a sermony tangent. Sorry.

    I say it’s not really free speech if the other guy has a bullhorn, just a lame excuse for the guy with the bullhorn. Libertarians are ideological fools, tools of the plutocrat.

  3. Does the SCOTUS campaign finance decision also apply to multi-national corporations? And will government-owned companies — oh, say in China, for example — also be able to join in the fun and games?

  4. muldoon,
    In a word, “YES!”

    As for Matt Welch of “Reason,” one would think a magazine like “Reason” would make it a prerequisite that before they hired you, you would have to prove you knew how to ‘think.’
    I guess one would be wrong, wouldn’t one…

  5. Somewhere in the House or Senate is there a pundit, maybe a previous writer for SNL, who could put together a constitutional amendment that would truly elevate the SC ruling to the proper status.

    Recognize that voting by citizens is an obselete notion. Let Wall Street appoint the entire Congress – representation in the House would be not be apportioned by population but by gross sales. Representation in the Senate would be according to Business types – allocating votes for the Finance Sector, broken down by banking, investment houses, motgage companies, etc. Then Energy, with seats for Oil, Coal, Utilities, maybe even a token seat for alternative energy, but we wouln’t give her a vote. Next would be the Insurance Companies, Medical Insurance, plus Home and Auto representation. That would account for probably 90 of 100 seats, we will spread the remainder among the retail sector, professional labor (doctors and accountants). I don’t think I left out anyone important.

    All Hail the New Republic.

  6. once I was happy
    now I am sad
    this country is sinking
    too fucking bad

    corporations are people
    how can that be
    they are evil institutions
    that rape all they see

    where is the outrage
    we went from bad to worse
    an unholy alliance
    this corporate curse

    it is all ideological
    straight down the line
    half of these judges
    were born with no spine

    now thanks to Bush
    this court will misbehave
    with the only result
    consequences most grave

  7. Maybe I just don’t understand libertarians, but aren’t corporations fictitious persons created by the state or the government? I’m sure they follow Scalia’s fake befuddlement at how “Congress shall pass no law” language of the First Amendment could possibly mean how could Congress pass ANY law that restricted “freedom of speech”. I vote for “bag-of-hammers dumb.”

  8. Try this law blog: It’s written by a number of law professors, some of whom are free speech experts.

    These professors are neither stupid nor hypocrites; they simply have very different opinions from you. Perhaps if you read some of them, even if your opinion doesn’t alter, at least you will have a better understanding of why some very intelligent people interpret this issue not as you do.

  9. Does this really change things much beyond what a Rovian campaign finance director could figure out to do? Maybe it just rubs our faces quite directly in what we have been smelling for a long time now.

    I really question whether the corporate personhood concept was ever meant to be more than a legal convenience to isolate liability and spare thousands of shareholders or even dozens of directors the chore of gathering to sign off on everything. If a corporation cannot go to jail or starve or be educated or do anything beyond act as a placeholder, then how much of a person is it?

    Somehow I keep thinking this is a mirror image of the abortion issue, only with the Right’s despised “activist judges” being on the side of the Right’s gods. That is why it is a good thing. (SNARK)

  10. I think “non-Republicans like me” is my favorite part. So many of the “libertarian” crowd seem to adopt the label as proof of the intelligence, insight and independence. Mostly, they just sell the same BS in a slightly different flavor. To them, the government is irredeemably evil, but corporations need to run free to savage the citizenry.

  11. The one self-professed libertarian I met on the Internet proudly stated that she would rather starve to death in a shack, than have the government interfere in her life. Sick. Sick. Sick.

  12. There is a big increase of pissed off citizens in our country (duh!); they are pissed because they feel they are being “raped” by both parties, which are perceived as one party with two faces. The righty talk show hosts like Beck, Hannitty, and Limbaugh, use the pent up fear and frustration to create “a new reality” where illegals are gathering to take their jobs, “liberals” conspire to take away their money to give it to minorities, every Muslim wants them dead, and “the media” is destroying their “values”.
    I was reading the Orlando Sentinel online comments yesterday, and was floored by some of what people wrote.
    One commentor wrote about North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, and how they treat people who try to enter their countrys illegally; I guess he wants us to be more like North Korea (20 yrs forced labor).
    Another used “liberal” like it’s a cuss word, blaming liberals for all our problems, and calling Obama a “baby killer” for his position on abortion.
    A third person wrote that we need to establish a strong military presence in Haiti to prevent Venezuela or Cuba from taking over.
    It is clear that those people like the diet of crap they are being fed, and I don’t see them changing except with in the case of a major shift in their personal lives.
    I’ve known several people who were against food stamps and unemployment insurance until they needed it.Like the old arguement about someone buying shrimp or crab with food stamps; crap, perhaps one meal of shrimp or crab might lift the spirits of a person who needs food stamps to survive, I suppose food stamps should be used only for hotdogs and baloney.
    Maha, I know you are convinced that a third party cannot suceed in a major election, and will only act as a spoiler a la Ralph Nader; I’m not so sure any more.
    Ron Paul’s movement is gaining strength, indy voters, teabaggers, and disgruntled Dems and Reps are taking a hard look at what he is saying, and he will be a force to be reconed with in the next election. He may not run because of his age, but his son is getting into the picture now.This is going to be interesting, fracturing both parties, but will be particularly damaging to the Repubs.Who will they run next time, Brown and Palin? Who else do they have? If things don’t “change” soon for Obama, he’s in trouble soon, and I don’t see any big change anytime soon.
    The Republicans treated Ron Paul badly at the debates last year, much worse than the Dems treated Gravel and Kuchinich.
    I say the Libertarian wing of the Republican party will gain strenght, split, and will be a force to be reconed with.–Rand-Paul

  13. Canadian Reader, like you, I’ve met some of those professed libertairians, and just gotta shake my head. Granted, a few actually do live in shacks in the back country, use gas lanterns and outdoor privies, pump their own well water, and eke out a scant living — mostly by trapping, poaching and/or growing pot. But even among such rarities as these, most are receiving some kind of government assistance in the form of social security benefits, welfare, food stamps and/or medical (often mental) disability payments.

    But methinks the woman you met on the Internet is a much more typical breed of libertarian. Who does she think built those power plants that provide her with electricity, or who provide her with water and sewage, roads and bridges, fire and police protection, schools, parks, libraries? The good deeds fairy?

    True, there are religious communities, such as the Amish, who live independently of government assistance; however, the rules are pretty strict, and I seriously doubt that libertarians — who chaff at government interference — would find this much to their liking.

    In the main, libertarians strike me as selfish sods who enjoy the bennies but rail against the fact that they come at a cost.

  14. I wonder why all those “strict constructivists” manage to find corporate personhood part of the founders’ intent. As Edward, 1st Baron of Thurlow said, “They have no body to incarcerate and no soul to save.”

    But, I suppose this is best summed up:

    “What a revoltin’ development this is.”
    —C. A. Riley

  15. What Bill Bush said. This is a “Government Corruption in the Sunshine” ruling. All it changes is the window dressing. Lord, when did I become so cynical?

    As to the libertarians, fighting for corporate liberty to buy a government that could easily limit their liberty seems, on the face of it, somewhat short sighted. If they think they, as individuals, are on a level playing field, from a liberty point of view, with corporate entities, they are woefully delusional.

  16. “How Many Libertarians Does It Take to Screw In a Lightbulb?”
    If he blows the glass, creates the filaments, attaches it to a screw-on base that he machined, and provides the electricity by pedaling his cycle to run juice through wires he mined, smelted, and then strung around the house that he built from scratch.
    Otherwise, it takes millions of people to screw in that light bulb. Unfortunately, our libertarian friend never have one shining over their heads, like in the cartoons.

  17. Oh. I always thought the title of that magazine was meant as an ironic double-entendre.

    There’s certainly no discernible rational thought in it, nor a cause for it to be published.

    That is, there is no reason in it, nor is there a reason for it.

  18. Peg:

    These professors are neither stupid nor hypocrites; they simply have very different opinions from you. Perhaps if you read some of them, even if your opinion doesn’t alter, at least you will have a better understanding of why some very intelligent people interpret this issue not as you do.

    I believe I speak for most of us when I say we’ve all stumbled into the Volokh Conspiracy from time to time and are all familiar with it. I wouldn’t call them “stupid” or “hypocrites,” but “ideologically blinkered” fits the lot of them pretty well. And I also think it’s safe to say we have all been exposed to their point of view. A lot.

  19. I think most civil libertarians are “ideologically blinkered” about this.

    The worst human-inflicted disasters in history happened when a powerful person or small group of persons had the “freedom and liberty” to inflict their will on the majority. So many proclaimed “very smart people” from the “brilliant” Karl Marx to the “misunderstood genius” George Bush” have ignored this fact. It doesn’t matter how good your intentions are (assuming GB’s were good), people with bad intentions are always ready to find any way to exploit gaps in your “logic”. Greenwald has said that: “I really don’t see how things can get much worse in that (empowering corporate control over the political process) regard.” If one doesn’t use their imagination, others with bad intentions most certainly will, as history has proven time and again.

  20. Maha, several commenters have spoken of meeting actual libertarians. I have, too. I’ve found them rather proud of the notion that they’ve got a real philosophical position or set of principles that makes their ideas coherent and logical. Not that they have such things. What they truly are, I think, is people who have found that persistent unicorn: a simple answer to a complex question.

    Eirneyes puts the right hole in their bucket: their utopia is flawed by its very explaining. But they are, despite their claimed independence, generally hemmed in by what passes for conservative talk radio ideas. Of course they have some additional things they think look like signs of deep thought, usually dropping drug laws and putting in tax schemes that will be free of collection costs and nearly free of cost to taxpayers, thus no intrusive IRS and allowing them to keep their “hard-earned dollars” as though everyone who disagrees is just getting “money for nothing” and therefore is disqualified to object.

    Dave S– and what you said in paragraph 2!

    Biggerbox, I like the way you put that.

    On third parties, Erineyes, would you agree that the contradictory and varied concerns usually expressed by espousers hold the seeds of their failure? Ron Paul looks to me like a kook-magnet of the first order. I still like Nader for his heart, but he couldn’t put together a casserole, much less a party. I read DK, but I don’t see the Kossacks as able to mount a national campaign (sighs deeply and regretfully as he imagines the creative bumper stickers) even though they have a unifying national structure of a sort. Each of us has pet projects and principles, but the sheer size of the nation decreases the potential of a third party founded on anything but demagoguery. Brush fires burn fast and often go by so quickly that their ground-level fuel is gone before the big trees catch fire.

    Sorry for going on so long, but the comments are thought-provoking.

  21. Sorry I missed your comment Bill Bush.
    Regarding the contradictory and varied concerns and the seeds of failure question,I truly don’t know. I AM convinced that most people I personally know are totally pissed at what we currently have.Once again, Obama was handed a turd sandwhich; one year is not enough time to fix the Bush/ Cheney disaster, but on many fronts, there is no change in direction.Much of this stems from dissent among the Dems, and the obstructionists in The REPS.
    The right is pissed about the mess (that Bush made) and Blames Obama!

    As far as Ron Paul being a kook magnet, I rather see a bunch of kooks who are antiwar and anti foreign interventionists, investigating the fed, taking a hard look at the horrors committed by tha CIA gaining power, than a couple of flat out idiots like Palin and Brown who are hawks (chicken/war), have no idea that anything civilized exsists beyond the oceans, and who think they are divinely annointed running the show. In other words, I would much rather fall into a pit of iguanas than a pit of crocodiles.( if I had a choice)

    IMHO, “the government” has turned into a big mean daddy. The hard right loves big mean daddies; they even worship one.The far right is fascist
    The libertarians want NO daddy, no momma (until the going gets tough)
    We lefties like a beneviolent mommy state; to a degree. I don’t know a single person who wants the state to provide everything for them, and I don’t know any lefties who like to pay taxes and get nothing in return but a big bad military.
    In theory, if you go left far enough, you get communism. Some of my right wing friends say Obama is a communist; they wouldn’t know a communist if one bit’em in the ass.

    Here is what I’d like to see:
    A fair, easy to understand tax system that keeps people honest.
    Taxes used constuctively

    A strong Military, USED FOR THE RIGHT reasons.( the right LOVES the military, Hates the IRS; they are part of the same system you can’t have one without the other!)

    Tax payer funded higher education for all. Socialism? No, this is a good way to pave the future.If it ain’t socialism in 1-12, WHY is it socialism for something beyond? Students should not have to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars and get saddled with debt to become doctors, etc.It drives the price of everything up , enriches only the bankers, reduces the talent pool, and guarantees that sucess is for the scions of the elite only.Gee, I guess that sounds like Marx…

    Tax payer funded medical INSURANCE for all. The current system enriches insurance and big pharma moguls and screws over the clients. It also puts a huge burden on small business.( my wife just paid $210.00 for 7 antibiotic pills, her co-pay with insurance was $50.)

    An end to foreign Lobbies.
    Shut down JINSA, AIPAC, and the AEI.(among others)
    You could argue the AEI is a “think tank”, but it is far more than that and VERY dangerous to our democracy. Those that support Israel and other foreign nations should be free to do so, but with private donations ONLY, and NOT tax deductible.
    If somebody wants to calls me “antisemitic” for that stand, feel to shove it. I’m tired of that canard.

    (I do, however, believe strongly in helping others in times of disaster, like in Haiti and the Asian Tsunami several years ago. The right argues that should be private donations only, I say it is a vital part of our defense.)

    A time when you get a letter from some branch of the government and can be reasonably sure it is not very bad news.It seems like the ONLY time I get something from the govt. in my mailbox, I can expect to pay penaltys and interest ,a new fee for something, or a jury summons.
    Crap, you’d think the fed would do something fun once in a while, I suppose that would be “socialism”.
    One Idea would be to have a tax free year whan you hit 55.

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