Advertising ver­sus Lyric Poetry

Monday, 26 September 2011

“There are only so many peo­ple ca­pa­ble of putting to­gether words that stir and move and sing. When it be­came pos­si­ble to earn a very good liv­ing in ad­ver­tis­ing by ex­er­cis­ing this ca­pa­bil­ity, lyric po­etry was left to un­tal­ented screw­balls who had to shriek for at­ten­tion and com­pete by ec­cen­tric­ity.”

Mitchell Courtenay in Frederick Pohl & C.M. Kornbluth’s The Space Merchants

Let Him Die

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

I’m up a bit ear­lier than usual be­cause I’m train­ing Abraham to wake him­self up when he needs to pee dur­ing the night. So, of course, I de­cide to cog­i­tate upon the re­cent CNN/​Tea Party de­bate, and in par­tic­u­lar the part where Tea Partiers choose to let some­one my age, who chooses to be unin­sured and then in­jured, die. The clip:

And here’s what I’ve thought:

The free­dom of Ron Paul, cur­rent lib­er­tar­i­ans, and the Tea Party is the free­dom of choice. They want the abil­ity to not par­tic­i­pate in ex­ist­ing gov­ern­ment for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons mostly boil­ing down to the fact that the gov­ern­ment spends their money in ways they don’t ap­prove of. They don’t re­ally claim this as their goal, in­stead they just call it “small-gov­ern­ment”, but that’s the out­come they’re aim­ing for. They’ve come to the con­clu­sion that the only way to ac­com­plish this non-par­tic­i­pa­tion is to get elected and change the stuff they don’t like about gov­ern­ment. It’s a fun­da­men­tal­ist po­si­tion. The ma­jor log­i­cal hole in this ar­gu­ment is that they want to en­force their choice upon every­one. That’s not lib­er­tar­ian. Another log­i­cal hole in the ar­gu­ment is that they’re not do­ing any­thing on their end to opt-out of the sys­tem right now. The ma­jor irony of this ar­gu­ment is that the Tea Party, who doesn’t want to be forced to pur­chase health care, is say­ing “let me die if I get sick or in­jured and can’t af­ford to pay.” Another ma­jor irony of this ar­gu­ment is that the choices they are fight­ing over are first world prob­lems. The fact that choices are even pos­si­ble in these sit­u­a­tions is a re­flec­tion of the qual­ity of life that has been cre­ated by the fact that we live in an America that has been gov­erned by peo­ple who have con­structed a so­cial con­tract that makes our way of life pos­si­ble.

Hole 1: Some peo­ple want to live in a so­ci­ety that cares for oth­ers. Some peo­ple want to cre­ate in­sti­tu­tions and mech­a­nisms that en­sure that care is pro­vided for the so­ci­ety and the in­di­vid­u­als within it. The ap­plause & out­bursts in that clip show that there is no con­cept of “love thy neigh­bor” and, in fact, no con­cep­tion of even “who is my neigh­bor?” or even “neigh­bor” go­ing on here. This isn’t a po­lit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy of au­ton­omy & per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity, it is a po­lit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy of self­ish­ness, borne out of ig­no­rance. If it were borne out of knowl­edge you wouldn’t have peo­ple cheer­ing or call­ing for death. (This space re­served for tan­gen­tial dis­cus­sion of the epis­te­mol­ogy of psy­chol­ogy, so­ci­ol­ogy & an­thro­pol­ogy as it re­lates to so­ci­ety & lib­er­tar­i­an­ism).

I’m all for au­ton­omy & per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity. I’m also all for so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity, be­cause I know that or­ga­niz­ing, pool­ing re­sources, and work­ing to­gether for a com­mon goal (build­ing a road, pro­vid­ing health care for all cit­i­zens, lob­by­ing the GOP to change it’s pol­icy po­si­tions (look­ing at you here, Tea Party)) is more ef­fec­tive than act­ing au­tonomously. I also know that, as au­tonomous and per­son­ally re­spon­si­ble as I am, and can be, at some point, I’m not go­ing to be able to get by with­out some help from my friends, the gov­ern­ment, or other so­cial in­sti­tu­tions.

Hole 2: Opt-out. If these peo­ple don’t want to par­tic­i­pate in the cur­rent so­cial con­tracts, they should opt-out. That’s an easy choice, but hard to prac­tice. Don’t like pay­ing taxes? Change your tax with­hold­ing to zero and don’t pay taxes when the time comes. Work for cash, or if fiat cur­rency isn’t your thing, pre­cious met­als. Don’t buy health in­sur­ance, and when you get sick, don’t seek care from mod­ern med­ical in­sti­tu­tions. You can al­ways opt-out. If America won’t let you, move to some­place that will, but don’t com­plain when the qual­ity of life blows, be­cause qual­ity of life is cre­ated and sus­tained through so­cial con­tracts, gov­er­nance, and lov­ing thy neigh­bor.

PS. If you’re rais­ing your kids to be lib­er­tar­ian, don’t potty train them. You’ll be forc­ing them to abide by a so­cial con­tract for san­i­ta­tion. Give them the free­dom of choice. Plus, you won’t have to wake up in the mid­dle of the night to teach them to wake up and take a piss when they feel the need.