Recent Posts From Jeremy Kolassa
Visual media is a powerful way to spread a message. In the modern era of the Internet, we’ve learned this quite well—there are entire websites devoted to silly images that absorb you entirely. In the spirit of the 21st century, then, I want to offer some images that I feel sum up our modern age. Let me know if you agree, and add your own suggestions in the comments.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is your world in pictures. And this is why those of us out here who can see this decide to fight.
How can you not see the madness?
With the conservative sphere beginning to finally coalesce around Mitt Romney, like a soap opera that has just gone on way too long, the conservatives are now going into full defense mode of the Mitt and his hairdo. He may not be the best choice, but as far as they’re concerned, he’s the only choice.
Which leads to idiotic tweets like this:
If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. That means if you’re not for Mitt Romney, you’re for Barack Obama.
— Kevin Eder (@keder) May 7, 2012
At this point, not voting for Romney is like being in a plane w/ no working engines but not jumping bc you don’t trust parachutes. cc @keder
— Will Antonin (@Will_Antonin) May 12, 2012
Or maybe even this:
Hardcore libertarians should vote for Romney because he’ll at least give you something and Obama would take everything @kesgardner
— Adam D Seidel (@AdamDSeidel) May 13, 2012
No doubt these tweets are emerging because of fear that disgruntled Republicans may vote for Ron Paul or, heaven forbid, Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, instead for the GOP’s presumptive nominee.
No, I’m not suggesting a name change for the blog. What I’m talking about is the concept called “ordered liberty,” which is frequently used by conservatives as an attempt to appeal to libertarians. “Why, yes,” they say, “We believe in liberty, but we think it should be ordered.” It came up during a debate at Cato last year between Cato interns and Heritage Foundation interns (unless my memory is horrifically mistaken) and I’ve seen it be deployed in arguments across social networks. It was recently used on one blog, regarding the Amendment One vote in North Carolina, noting that incestrous relationships and polygamy were “detrimental to ordered liberty.”
But what exactly is ordered liberty? I’ve never really figured out just what, if anything, people using the term are really trying to say.
The two people that the term appears to have come from are giants in the field of conservatism: Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk. These two are probably the intellectual giants of modern American conservatism*, along with William F. Buckley. It was they who came up with this phrase, which, for what I can deduce, is essentially that liberty is not allowed to run completely amok, and that there must be some limits.
Now in the political beliefs of what we call “Christian civilization” or “Western civilization”—of which American civilization is a part—there are three cardinal ideas: the idea of justice, the idea of order, and the idea of freedom. These three great concepts are the cement of American society.
Andrew Sullivan posted this fascinating memo over the weekend from a top Republican pollster to Republican party officials and candidates about same-sex marriage. In short, here are its conclusions:
Recommendation: A statement reflecting recent developments on this issue along the following lines:
“People who believe in equality under the law as a fundamental principle, as I do, will agree that this principle extends to gay and lesbian couples; gay and lesbian couples should not face discrimination and their relationship should be protected under the law. People who disagree on the fundamental nature of marriage can agree, at the same time, that gays and lesbians should receive essential rights and protections such as hospital visitation, adoption rights, and health and death benefits.”
That’s right, folks: the GOP should embrace same-sex marriage.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the GOP needs to drop the social conservatism angle if it intends to survive as a viable party.
By all means, if it wants to become the Constitution Party, it may continue to demonize gays and lesbians and agitate against people who desire abortions. But the longer it does that, the less and less support it will get from the general public.
Gradually, Americans have realized that gays and lesbians are people too, and deserve to be treated equally under the law. While I still don’t like having the government stick its hand into marriages, as long as it does, homosexuals and bisexuals should receive equal treatment as heterosexuals do.
Much hash has been made lately of Gary Johnson taking the Libertarian Party nomination. He is probably the highest-profile candidate to run for the party in the past twenty years, thanks to his eight years of executive experience in New Mexico as a Republican, his hard-hitting libertarian principles, and the fact that, well, let’s face it: the guy is just cool.
I mean, scaling Mt. Everest? Vetoing over 750 bills? Saying weed, gay rights, and gun rights are all a-ok? That’s just not something that comes around every four years. And he’s also (relatively) young, which is always a plus. (Sorry, Ron.)
Naturally, though, a lot of people are exhibiting signs of a disease calling “Spoileritis.” A perfect example comes from a comment on Bob Barr’s Daily Caller column about Gary Johnson. Our erudite fan writes
A vote for this party is a vote for Obama. Period. Consider yourselves responsible for the destruction of this country for good!
Except there is zero evidence that this is the case.
Gary Johnson’s calls to slash 43% of military spending, end the Drug War, and most importantly, unabashedly legalize same-sex marriage, none of which are positions held by most Republicans. Instead, those positions are decidedly liberal, more on the side of Obama’s supporters. So when people go to the polls this November, it is likely that he will draw more supporters from Obama’s camp than Romney’s.
Chris Barron, chair of GOProud, the GOP’s gay and lesbian group, said the same thing in an interview with the Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis:
President Obama has been playing games over the past week, after Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview that he was “comfortable” with gay marriage and the administration has rushed out to say that he’s not marking a change in government policy or any such thing. There’s even been talk that Biden’s comment was deliberate, an attempt to have one’s cake and eat it too.
Meanwhile, Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson had this to say in a press release:
Libertarian nominee for President and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson today called for the Obama Administration to “make up its mind” when it comes to supporting marriage equality for all Americans, citing Vice-President Biden’s weekend comments appearing to support gay marriage and White House efforts since to clarify those comments.
Johnson, who supports gay marriage equality, received the Libertarian Party nomination for President Saturday, and will be on the ballot in all 50 states. “The President is playing cruel, cynical politics with a deeply personal issue for many Americans,” said Johnson. “He should quit trying to have it both ways and take a stand.”
In a statement released Wednesday, Johnson said, “Gay marriage equality is not a trick question, and we shouldn’t be getting trick answers from the President of the United States. Gay Americans deserve better than a President who winks and nods and tries to convince them that he will protect their rights, but refuses to emerge from the closet and support one of the most basic rights – the right to equal access to marriage. And frankly, even opponents of gay marriage deserve the truth from the White House. Is the President for it or against it? Right now, the Administration is trying to have it both ways”
“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States
The famous line, uttered by our nation’s only Catholic president on a cold January day in 1961, is often used by liberals and conservatives alike as rallying cry for public service…and larger government. Citizens should sacrifice, it is said, for the greater welfare of their nation and fellow countrymen, and the government should be there as a parent to watch over us. The great Milton Friedman wrote in the introduction to his 1962 edition of Capitalism and Freedom (h/t Michael Cannon of Cato):
If America truly had a religion, I would argue it would be sports, not Christianity. Collectively, baseball, football, basketball, hockey, and NASCAR command our society’s attention like no other thing in our country. It is also a very unifying force. Sure, we disagree about which team or player is the best, or which sport has the most excitement, but ultimately, at the end of the day, everyone comes back home, has a few drinks, and laughs any serious disagreement off. They don’t let team loyalties determine their friendships.
In that sense, sports may be the polar opposite of politics (and thus, one could argue, our nation’s salvation.) Nearly every blog I see that is oriented exclusively to politics makes an exception for sports, most famously Outside the Beltway, where our own Doug Mataconis writes. Why? Because it is an escape valve, a chance for us to talk about a subject other than the madness that occurs inside the beltway. Just as we need our alone time away from our friends, relatives, even spouses (maybe especially spouses), politicos need something else to talk about, or else the battle for Capitol Hill and the White House will turn into an actual battle, with sabers, rifles, and maybe even some good old fashioned fisticuffs.
For me, as a young twentysomething nerd who plays more Dungeons & Dragons than Madden, it’s a bit odd for me, but I understand it. (And personally, I do very much enjoy short track dirt racing, though it’s hard to find in the DC metro area.) I totally get that people need to tune in to something that involves jerseys that aren’t uniformly red and blue to prevent their noggins from turning into scrambled eggs. It makes perfect sense, even if I’m questioning their choice of sports.
But unfortunately, it appears that may be over.
You have to hand it to Students For Liberty. Every day I look around and grow despondent, seeing the tyranny that is promoted endlessly, the ever increasing burden of regulations and dominion, the corruption, the wars, and most importantly the bald-faced stupidity of the public, and I think we’re doomed as a country. But then I take a wild gander at SFL’s website, and realize that there are thousands of young people—both in the United States and around the globe—who have recognized the real problems that are facing us as a society and are working towards fixing them.
Not only, then, are we growing as a movement, but we’re also growing in the youth area, meaning we’ll have long-term and sustainable growth. Perhaps their greatest product has been their book series, edited by Tom G. Palmer, beginning with the knockout The Economics of Freedom and continuing withThe Morality of Capitalism. Now, SFL and Palmer are tackling a subject that I think libertarians have really failed to address adequately so far, in the latest book, After The Welfare State.
It’s not ready yet, but I really look forward to reading it. The first two books were substantive and informative, though simple and relatively lightweight (though considering this movement, I’m pretty much comparing it to Hayek, Friedman, and Mises, so there is a low bar there.) But the reason I really want to peruse this volume is because welfarism is one of our most pernicious foes.
On Wednesday, the United States Senate narrowly avoided a two-year ban on the closing of post offices, which prompted me to ask: do you guys still live in the 1950s?
In a world of Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, cloud services, Google Drive, Dropbox, 3D printing, UPS, DHL, and who knows what else, I have to ask: who still uses the postal service any more?
There are only a few people with which I still get mail from through the USPS. The first are direct mail types, and nobody reads those sort of things. (This is the way your trash can goes “OM NOM NOM.”) The second are my parents and grandparents, so, in other words, old people.
The thing is, as I said, nobody is reading the former, and the latter are getting fewer and fewer. Meanwhile, the postal service is hemmorraghing money; the Cato Institute’s Downsizing Government project notes that it lost $20 billion between 2007 and 2010, and it hasn’t done any better since then. The thing is, we taxpayers are being forced to foot the bill. A bill for something that these days, an increasingly small portion of the populace actually wants. And, at the same time there’s decreasing demand for its services, its costs have continued to go up as it struggles to deal with employee pensions. Not a good situation to be in.
Here’s a better idea: let’s just privatize the post office. And by privatize it, I don’t mean sell it to one major corporation, but let’s privatize the entire industry. Allow competing mail delivery services in the market. Ensure that there are no more monopolies on first-class mail within the United States.