Posted by on January 31, 2016

I am currently on vacation, so this will be a brief post, mostly with some recommended reading/listening.

Milo Yiannopoulos

I first encountered this guy when I read “Sexbots: Why Women Should Panic,” which is one of the most hilariously incendiary pieces I have ever seen.  (Health warning: Do not show this article approvingly to any woman with whom you hope to have sex within the next week.  Or longer.)

He has just given an interview on the subject of modern-day feminism as an enemy of liberty on the Tom Woods Show.  It is well worth the 35 minutes it will take to listen to it.

In particular, I like the fact that Yiannopoulos – who is avowedly homosexual – takes the gay rights movement to task for many of the same authoritarian instincts, logical shortcomings and contemptible tactics that he finds in feminism.  But then he is also avowedly libertarian, so I guess that I shouldn’t be surprised that he isn’t a hypocrite.

One of his observations is that, if the world is truly the patriarchy that feminists claim, then men are a particularly incompetent ruling class.  Men do most of the dangerous and dirty jobs; they account for over 95% of the occupational deaths.  The taxation, welfare and pension systems skew heavily against men: they pay far more in taxes than women and then die off too soon to collect much in benefits.  And, as we have discussed before, the whole gender pay gap is one enormous lie (see the second footnote here).  In fact, he cites a recent Cornell University study, which accords with my personal professional experience, that women are given strong job preferences in today’s world.

Feminism, as Yiannopoulos points out, started out as a good and justifiable movement.  But it has now been corrupted beyond recognition.  As Yiannopoulos states, modern-day feminism, like many other similar movements, is now emphatically opposed to meritocracy and freedom of expression.  He finds this “terrifying.”  He’s right.

There is residual sexism in this world, just like there is residual racism, homophobism, and a whole bunch of other deplorable “isms.”  But it is residual.  And it is practiced primarily by a part of society the salient characteristic of which is that it doesn’t get to make the important decisions.  They are not the ones deciding on hiring, promotions, salaries, tenure, Academy Awards or government policies.  In fact, as most members of the Left would agree, it is precisely their powerlessness that causes these resentful lumpen proletariat to cling to their “isms.”

The Left, in its infinite stupidity, agrees with this diagnosis but it ignores its logical implication.  These various “isms,” held and sometimes trivially manifested by the resentful but powerless, are no longer major factors.  Yet, by pressing on with an anti-merit and anti-freedom agenda, the Left will, once again, achieve the exact opposite of its intended result.   By associating its liberation movements with so much authoritarian nonsense, there is a very good chance that the baby will be thrown out with the bath water.  And by perpetuating cults of victimhood, it does nothing to promote the self-liberation that is now required.

David Stockman on Guns

David Stockman has recently written a piece about the Second Amendment that is well worth reading, regardless of where you stand on this issue.

I have not studied the issue of gun control.  There may be arguments and statistics out there that would change my mind, but my basic instinct is that, despite my libertarian leanings, this is one freedom that should be sharply curtailed.  I included some of my views in a comment that I left on Stockman’s article, which I re-create (with some minor amendments) below:

David:

You are clearly going to get a lot of pushback from your readership on this — and I see it is already happening — but you are to be tremendously commended for this post and the good common sense it displays on a whole variety of fronts.

First, on the basic issue. I count myself as a libertarian, but if there is one “liberty” that the American people have clearly demonstrated they are incapable of using responsibly, it is the freedom to own a handgun.  I lived in Switzerland for two years.  There, adult males in the military reserves keep automatic weapons at home.  They can handle it.  We can’t.

Second, on the policy recommendations.  Yes, a huge addition to jail terms for committing a crime with a gun.  Economists (such as Steven Levitt) have shown that even criminals are not immune to incentives.  If they are looking at a large increase in their prison terms, then they will be much less likely to use a gun.  The problem is that, with the current situation, we have an “arms race” going on between the criminals and the public.  One of the major reasons criminals use guns is that they anticipate a gun on the other side – although usually a gun wielded by someone with a lot less experience, preparedness and ruthlessness.  I am afraid that your policy recommendations might not go far enough: if we can get guns out of everyone’s hands, then the incentive for criminals to be armed (particularly if they are facing a stiff sentence increase) will greatly decline.

And, of course, let’s get rid of the victimless crimes, which will cut down on general criminality in the two ways you have mentioned.  The direct reduction and the indirect reduction by freeing our law enforcement officials to focus on the real stuff and by not breeding career criminals.

Third, on the ridiculous arguments used by gun proponents, particularly the one, very popular with libertarians, that somehow having guns is going to protect us from tyranny.  As I often say, this is bringing a handgun to a drone fight.  Good luck with that.   The only question with a hypothetical tyranny is whether the police and military will obey orders to shoot the public.  If they obey, then it is game over.  They are actually more likely to do that if the public is armed.

Fourth, on the politics.   This issue, as you point out, is an enormous distraction and an electoral loser for conservative politics — along with issues like abortion and gay marriage.  These are “litmus tests” for groups that, given the new electoral demographics, conservatives/libertarians have to appeal to in order to win.  We may think that these groups are benighted, but they are a fact with which we have to live.  The alternative is to lose election after election and have BOTH our economic and other liberties eroded.

Also, on the politics, the gun issue is a major factor in the “stupid party” image that the conservatives need to shed if they are going to have any hope of making headway with the opinion-forming parts of society. (And, yes, sadly the mainstream media is part of that.)   When conservatives respond to the latest school massacre by saying that we need MORE guns, we not only lose on the issue but we cement our image as the stupid party.  I live in the UK, where the Conservatives are generally perceived to be the smart party and Labour are viewed as the imbeciles.  The Conservatives get there by social policies that make sense — and which are pro-liberty — and by not fighting battles like this with moronic arguments.  Conservatives in America should learn from their experience.

Once again, bravo for having the insight to come to the right conclusion, the intelligence to argue it effectively and the courage to take a stand that is doubtlessly unpopular with your readership.  The Second Amendment issue is another thing that conservatives/libertarians have to get past if we hope to take back our country.

But if reading Stockman’s column and my comment are too much work, then just watch this hilarious video by Australian comic Jim Jefferies.  And don’t forget to watch part 2.

Michael Bloomberg

There is growing speculation that Michael Bloomberg is going to mount an independent challenge for the presidency.  Since the $1 billion needed to run is pocket change for Bloomberg, unlike Trump who is actually less wealthy and a lot less liquid than he pretends[1], he can make this decision as late as the filing deadlines for many states in March.  And since he has pledged to give away his fortune to charity anyway, what better way to spend some of it?

Bloomberg claims to be a fiscal conservative and a social liberal, which looks good from my libertarian lens.  But the reality is that his track record in New York City does not support the belief that he will do anything to curtail big government.  He is really a classic representative of the liberal, east coast wing of the Republican Party, along the lines of a Nelson Rockefeller.

That said, given the choice of Clinton versus Trump, or Clinton versus Cruz, or Clinton versus Rubio, or Sanders versus any household pet, Bloomberg would still get my vote.  Although I don’t love all of his policies, I can tolerate enough of them.  And, in terms of raw talent, independence and accomplishment, he is a giant among a field of midgets.

But there is another and even more compelling reason to vote for him.  Imagine the much-needed earthquake in US politics if an independent candidate was actually elected.  Bloomberg would be the first true opportunity for this to happen.  Even if he were a weaker candidate, this alone would be reason enough to support him.

Josef Goebbels and Michael Moore: Take Notes

I am flying around a lot, which means even more movie-viewing than normal.  One of the films I have recently watched is entitled 99 Homes, written and directed by Ramin Bahrani.  You have to give him credit.  This is some damn fine propaganda.

The storyline follows the working class hero (played by fresh-faced Andrew Garfield, the current Spiderman) after he is evicted from his home by the evil real estate broker acting on the orders of a bank (played by the suitably evil looking Michael Shannon from Boardwalk Empire).  In an attempt to get his home back for his mother and son, Garfield throws in with Shannon, first helping him fix up repossessed properties and ultimately carrying out evictions – and some fraud – himself.  This earns him the money he needs, but of course the cost of Mammon is the loss of the love and respect of his family.  Or at least that was the way it was heading.  The flight was too short to catch the ending.

Now for the propaganda.  Garfield borrowed the money for a worthy cause: buying the tools needed for his construction work.  Others borrowers targeted things like home improvements.  No one borrowed, say, for flat screen TVs or more elaborate vacations.  In fact, according to the movie, the entire mortgage equity withdrawal movement, which at its peak funded as much as 10% of personal consumption expenditures, was entirely plowed into worthy causes by hard-working and responsible (and almost exclusively white, by some strange coincidence) laborers who innocently got caught up in a shit-storm.

The notorious Las Vegas stripper and house flipper, who bought five homes with “teaser rate” adjustable mortgages and almost no money down, didn’t quite make the editorial cut.  Nor did the thousands of others who, quite rationally, signed up for the nearly free options that sub-prime lenders were offering: house prices continue to go up, the borrower pockets a nice gain; house prices go down, the lender gets the keys in the mail.  Or the millions of Americans who mistook their homes for ATMs to fund their aspirational lifestyles.

And then there was the cause of all this madness.   In a speech by Shannon, Bahrani acknowledges some borrower overreach, but he puts the major blame on the greedy banks and a government that deregulated the market and (here I paraphrase) “sat around like a retard sucking its thumb.”

But there was no relevant deregulation, as I and numerous others have pointed out.  And not only did deregulation not unleash the dogs of war, but Bahrani failed to mention the many ways in which government policy encouraged the excesses, like the Community Reinvestment Act or the congressional encouragement of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to support sub-prime lending.  Or, most importantly, the Federal Reserve’s interest rate policies that created the “stretch for yield” that made the entire sub-prime industry possible.

But you have to give it to Hollywood.  Leni Riefenstahl has nothing on them.

Makes It Official Then

Sarah Palin has endorsed Donald Trump.  Those of us who are not in the Trump camp are reminded of one of the best scenes from one of the best movies of recent times, The King’s Speech.  Like the King’s idiot physicians who advised him to smoke to relax his throat and were subsequently knighted, Palin’s endorsement makes it official: Trump is an idiot.  Or he thinks we are.

Roger Barris

Koh Samui, Thailand

[1] Here is a prediction: If Trump actually succeeds in his quest for the Republican Party nomination, he will somehow find a way to backtrack on his self-funding pledge and will start to solicit campaign contributions, including through a PAC.

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Comments

  1. John
    January 31, 2016

    Leave a Reply

    Dear Roger,

    Like to read your opinions, but I just want to let you know that in my opinion you are a liberal and or socialist, but I not a libertarian.
    You hang to much on the existing ways of ruling and your arguments in your “greetings from the road” about gun owner ship are 180*degrees against the principals of what libertarians are standing for. But no hard feelings I keep enjoying your writing and hope you enjoy your holidays!

    • Roger
      February 1, 2016

      Leave a Reply

      Hi John:

      Ouch. That hurts.

      I admit that I deviate from libertarian principles when it comes to gun control, although as I also said in my article, my opinions in this area are not fully formed and I should probably do some more study. My opinions about climate change and a carbon tax/cap and trade are also pretty much contrary to most libertarians. And I am a bit squishy on government surveillance, such as the collection of “meta data.” However, outside of these three areas, I plead “not guilty as charged.” Here are some standard libertarian positions and my scores:

      – For sharply reducing the size of the government (by eliminating numerous departments, particularly at the federal level) — check
      – For sharply reducing taxes, especially marginal taxes — check
      – For sharply reducing the military and foreign interventions — check
      – For sharply restraining the Federal Reserve and an inflationary monetary policy — check
      – For sharply reducing regulation — check
      – For sharply reducing “crony capitalism” (which is really a byproduct of reducing regulation and taxes) — check
      – For eliminating victimless crimes and legalizing drugs — check
      – For getting rid of all the PC bullshit, especially affirmative action and all its various manifestations — check
      – Etc, etc, etc.

      So, unless you are willing to say that gun control is the only issue on which one’s political leanings should be judged — which is, in my humble opinion, to fall into the same “litmus test” fallacy of a bunch leftwing groups — then I think it is hard to argue that I am a socialist or liberal. Maybe a libertarian-lite is the best way.

      Roger

  2. John
    February 1, 2016

    Leave a Reply

    Dear Roger,
    Thank you for your response, I probably judged to soon and you made a point by your list!
    But now a days I see more and more people who call them self libertarian but they come close but not close enough . Any way whats in the word (or term) see myself as an “voluntarist” and come close to be an libertarian.
    See more and more people who come to their liberal senses and that is the good news for the future generations!

    Regards, John

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