My First Instinct as a Libertarian Is an All-Consuming Contempt for Politics

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Tunku Varadarajan:

My first instinct as a libertarian is, of course, for Republican victories everywhere…

Of course?

No. I can see cheering for divided government on Election Night. I can see hoping for a GOP Congress to counter Obama’s historic expansion of the federal government. But there’s no reason a libertarian’s “first instinct” should be to root for Republicans (or Democrats, for that matter). And it’s certainly not obvious enough to merit an of course.

Varadarajan then writes:

The big-government Bush Republicans have already been punished; now it’s time to get rid of the big-government Democrats—i.e., all of them.

I’m fine with everything after the semicolon. The problem is that to “get rid of the big-government Democrats” inevitably means replacing them with Republicans. The label “big-government Bush Republicans” implies that there’s an alternative sort of Republican. Time and again, they’ve proven there isn’t. The Republican Party was and is filled with big-government Republicans, before, during, and after the eight years that Bush was president. There are some genuinely limited government Republicans, just as there are some Democrats who give a damn and are willing to fight for civil liberties. But they aren’t in the leadership, and they won’t be calling the shots in a new GOP-led Congress. Even now, in the minority, with public sentiment pretty solidly against Obama, all but assured of big gains this November, the GOP figureheads still don’t have the guts to name specific federal programs they’d target for spending cuts.

Varadarajan’s full column is about why he can’t support some of the crazier GOP candidates like Christine O’Donnell and Carl Paladino. I actually disagree there, too. And hell, in the spirit of bipartisanship I’ll go ahead and endorse Alvin Greene in addition to Paladino and O’Donnell. Politics is a ridiculous profession populated by ridiculous people. Maybe if we elect increasingly clownish candidates, the public will eventually come to realize this, and finally realize that it’s probably not a good idea to put larger and larger portions of our lives and livelihoods in the hands of people who have achieved success in a field that rewards character traits you spend your entire tenure as a parent trying to teach out of your kids.

I’m kidding about endorsing Greene, O’Donnell, and Paladino, but only because their election would give them actual power. But I see no particular reason to root for their opponents, either.  And I see no reason to instinctively cheer for Republicans over Democrats. Or vice versa. At least electing transparently crazy people will make us more cautious about how they use their power.

Me, I’m cheering for elections to matter less, and for politicians to have less impact on my life. I dream of waking up to find the results of the November 2 election on page A-10 of my November 3rd newspaper—because no one cared, because very little was at stake, because we stopped pinning our hopes and dreams on the results of a perverse process dominated by generally horrible people who have made a career of accumulating power for the sake of accumulating power.

Incidentally, this is also how you “get money out of politics.” You make politics and political outcomes less important. I’m amused by people who are surprised that as the power, scope, and influence of government grows, interest groups are correspondingly willing to spend increasingly more money to purchase a piece of that influence. I actually once heard a prominent lefty journalist express this very sentiment. They’re shocked by this!

It’s even cuter that they think they can continue to expand the size, scope, and influence government and prevent the government from being corrupted . . . by giving the same government yet more power, in this case to prevent itself from being corrupted. Inevitably, these new powers then manifest as new restrictions on our ability and freedom to criticize politicians. Because that’s the solution to the corruption of our politicians: Less criticism of politicians!

Anyway, I’m rambling a bit. So I’ll stop. But more, somewhat better organized rambling on these themes to come.

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83 Responses to “My First Instinct as a Libertarian Is an All-Consuming Contempt for Politics”

  1. #1 |  JS | 

    The republican party is like Lucy and the republican voters are like Charlie Brown. “Come kick the football Charlie Brown. I’m not going to pull it out from under you like I did the last 400 times. I’m REALLY for small government now. This time will be different I promise.”

  2. #2 |  SJE | 

    Hit the nail on the head: you can’t expect to control government corruption and excess by adding more laws.

  3. #3 |  MDGuy | 

    Lobbyist are attracted to government like flies to shit. And yet, big-government types are consistently amazed that expanding the pile of shit just attracts more flies. Maybe if the flies had to choose from among fifty little piles of shit instead of one giant one we wouldn’t have so many of them buzzing around all the time.

  4. #4 |  V-Man | 

    The problem is there is no “None of the Above” option on any of the ballots, at any level. Someone /will/ get elected and take over the position, even if 99% of the populace stayed home or canceled their vote, as long as they got the majority of the remaining 1% of voters.

    Fair? No. But that’s how the current system works. You think politicians are going to do something, anything, that cuts into their power and gravy train? Either they get in, or their buddy from the other side of the aisle gets in. It still “stays in the club.”

    So in this case, you’re stuck voting for the lesser evil. Still evil, but there’s no alternative at the time being, other than have independent candidates on the roster that share your views and vote for them, and in large enough number to make a difference. Yes, that means people will have to get involved, and unfortunately I don’t think the situation’s quite bad enough yet to overcome social inertia.

    So, between a big government D and a big government R, with absolutely no other choice allowed (you can’t even decide not to play, you will have to live under the choice), who would you rather see in place?

    Someone is taking the position, D or R. You can’t stop or change that (not two weeks out, anyway).

  5. #5 |  K | 

    “Maybe if we elect increasingly clownish candidates, the public will eventually come to realize this, and finally realize that it’s probably not a good idea to put larger and larger portions of our lives and livelihoods in the hands of people who have achieved success in a field that rewards character traits you spend your entire tenure as a parent trying to teach out of your kids.”

    Best line I’ve read in a long time.

  6. #6 |  JS | 

    MD guy, nice accurate though graphic analogy!

  7. #7 |  Quote of the Day, on Elections Mattering « Polyhistor | 

    [...] Balko (the Agitator) has a great post up today on Libertarians supporting GOP candidates, as well as what he’d like to see the [...]

  8. #8 |  Someone Who Doesn't Want to Lose His Job | 

    Radley,

    I’m just waiting for the right (left) wing commenters to use this piece as an example of why people are justified in thinking you are a liberal (conservative).

  9. #9 |  mdb | 

    You obviously do not take your commitment our leaders seriously enough.

    http://www.google.com/search?source=ig&hl=en&rlz=&=&q=%22commitment+2010%22&aq=f&aqi=g1g-m3&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=C6goTSpi4TMSZKoPuMNDIqY4MAAAAqgQFT9BBF6w

  10. #10 |  Matt | 

    I thought it was unkind to the flies. The role of flies is to *reduce* shit.

  11. #11 |  Henry Bowman | 

    The problem is that Mr. Varadarajan is not actually a libertarian; he simply considers himself to be one. He’s probably never heard of ZAP, for example.

  12. #12 |  M | 

    So, 870 Representatives and 200 Senators?

  13. #13 |  Andrew | 

    Divided government might not necessarily be the best thing either. The divided government of the 90s produced a huge expansion of the drug war and some of the most draconian stuff in the federal sentencing guidelines, all because Clinton wanted to appease the right wing.

  14. #14 |  Mattocracy | 

    Sometimes I wonder if I should even blame special interest groups for lobbying the way they do. If they didn’t, their interests would completely ignored and their rights would be bought by someone else. If the Sierra Club doesn’t lobby politicians, the corporations would go unchecked. And vice versa mind you, since the tree huggers are just as bad as the corporate welfare kings.

    So I don’t know what the answer is. Lobbying is an act of survival for everyone envolved. If you don’t control someone else, then they’ll control you…or so they believe. Some people will never understand the live and let live mentality. Those people are too busy running for office to get it.

  15. #15 |  Jocko | 

    The lesser of two evils is still evil. Withhold your consent–do not vote.

    My favorite reaction from people when I tell them I don’t vote is “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain!”

    That’s backwards. If you do vote, you shouldn’t complain about the results, irregardless (I love that word!) of who wins. You are playing the game, you shouldn’t complain about your team losing, or about what the other guys do when they win. By playing the game you are consenting to the outcome of the game.

    If you go to the casino and lose money, you shouldn’t complain about losing money. You knew that was a possible outcome the minute you laid down the bet.

    Don’t vote, it only encourages the bastards.

  16. #16 |  DarrenG | 

    Some very good points, but I wish you’d extend many of them outside the public sector.

    “[P]inning our hopes and dreams on the results of a perverse process dominated by generally horrible people who have made a career of accumulating power for the sake of accumulating power” also describes our current banking & finance system, agribusiness and food industry, our energy sector, and pretty much every other area of the private economy dominated by large institutions.

    Same with: “It’s even cuter that they think they can continue to expand the size, scope, and influence government and prevent the government from being corrupted . . . by giving the same government yet more power, in this case to prevent itself from being corrupted” if you replace “government” with “oil companies,” or “insurers” or any other large trade group.

    Institutions tend towards corruption and ineffectiveness as they increase in size, whether they are political/governmental or corporate. Short of figuring out a way to reduce the coercive power and influence of all large institutions, both public and private, you need both to act as counter-balances on the other. Having Monsanto, ADM, and Cargill run food policy for the entire nation is no better than having the Agriculture Department do it.

  17. #17 |  BillC | 

    My first instinct to to vote Democratic. I know Republicans won’t do anything to reduce the size of government, but there’s a decent chance that democrats will work against republicans to protect my civil liberties.

    Also, recently, the democrats have shown much more willingness to pay for their spending where republicans want to put everything on the China tab. Nobody likes taxes, but out of control spending sure becomes easier to handle for the average citizen when it’s actually out of control borrowing. The republicans are admitting that they have no intention of reducing spending in any meaningful way. Why should they when they can keep the spending where it is now, cut taxes, go further into debt, and then blame it on the democrats?

  18. #18 |  PogueMahone | 

    I’m amused by people who are surprised that as the power, scope, and influence of government grows, interest groups are correspondingly willing to spend increasingly more money to purchase a piece of that influence.

    That is amusing.
    And likewise, I’m also amused when I hear those on the Right speak of money in politics as just another form of free speech.
    The way I see it, because the government controls so much of our lives, to buy the politician is to buy the people.

    And there’s nothing free about that.

    Cheers.

  19. #19 |  Cynical in CA | 

    More of this, please.

    “Politics is a ridiculous profession populated by ridiculous people.”

    As Clausewitz wrote, politics is war. Politics is a dangerous profession populated by dangerous people. Thinking politicians are ridiculous only emboldens them.

  20. #20 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #15 | Jocko

    A big “a-men” to you brother.

  21. #21 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Who the fuck is Tunku Varadarajan?

    This simply supports my contention that we need to come up with a new name. “Libertarian” has been misappropriated by the Republicans and applied to everyone from Glenn Beck to Ann Coulter. We were despised enough back when people knew who we were. Now were being confused with people who are the completely opposite of us.

  22. #22 |  Steamed McQueen | 

    I maintain that if voting could really change things, it would be illegal.

    IMO, all politicians are sleazy and corrupt. Oh, some may go into public service with the best and most honorable of intentions but once they get in it’s like turning a crackhead loose in a DEA evidence room.

    The very best one can hope for is that the candidate that is going to screw you the least gets elected.

  23. #23 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Anything that hastens the complete crash gets my vote. So either Dem or Repub will work. There is no magic-ending where all of a sudden the state gets whipped back in place and the people get their money/freedom back. It just ain’t gonna happen…unless I’m missing some Ponzi-scheme that ended well for all investors. At best I can make a few bucks in the post-crash state sponsored (Russian-style) looting…and then buy the NY Nets.

  24. #24 |  Someone Who Doesn't Want to Lose His Job | 

    BillC:I know Republicans won’t do anything to reduce the size of government, but there’s a decent chance that democrats will work against republicans to protect my civil liberties.

    I am not sure that you have been paying attention to the current administration’s action regarding torture, expansion of federal assassination powers, and the war on drugs.

  25. #25 |  Radley Balko | 

    Having Monsanto, ADM, and Cargill run food policy for the entire nation is no better than having the Agriculture Department do it.

    The only coercive power any of these corporations have would be power that they’ve bought from the government. Monsanto can’t arrest you for competing with them or not buying their products. But they can lobby the government for expansive patent protection, then have you arrested for using the wrong seeds. I realize my argument for not giving the government such power is naive, but it’s no more naive than arguing the government should have such power, just so long as the right people are wielding it, and for the right reasons.

    Institutions tend towards corruption and ineffectiveness as they increase in size, whether they are political/governmental or corporate.

    Exactly! Which is why monopolies that aren’t granted or enforced by government tend to crumble rather quickly. Corruption, inefficiency, and complacency opens doors for competitors. Look at Microsoft. It got too big and too complacent. But the government-designated beneficiary of its suit against Microsoft isn’t the competitor that stole Microsoft’s share of the browser market. Netscape is gone. It was Firefox (and Apple), both of which became competitive through innovation, not by forcing Microsoft to include them on its platform.

    But if you’ve written a bunch of regulations that make it impossible for competitors to get up and running in the first place, the company with the monopoly, which can afford to comply with the regulations (and hell, probably wrote most of them) gets away with the limitations that come with size.

  26. #26 |  JS | 

    I’m with Jocko too. Not voting seems to be the only option when you have no real options on the ballot.

  27. #27 |  John Jenkins | 

    As a libertarian I am certainly hoping for lots of Republican victories in the House this election cycle. Gridlock for everyone!!!

  28. #28 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Regarding the useless act of voting, Dave Chappelle may have done it best in his skit “I know black people.” He asked “how can black people rise up and overcome.” “Get out and vote” was the only incorrect answer.

    4:30 mark
    http://www.comedycentral.com/videos/index.jhtml?videoId=219444&title=i-know-black-people-pt–2

  29. #29 |  JS | 

    Here’s another one for you Boyd:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/67234.html

  30. #30 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Also, recently, the democrats have shown much more willingness to pay for their spending where republicans want to put everything on the China tab.

    Yes, the wonderful Democrats are WILLING to use MY money on THEIR spending. How delightful.

    Democrats and Republicans pay for nothing. I do.

  31. #31 |  Pablo | 

    BillC–can you name a single abuse of civil liberties, committed by the Bush administration or the Republicans, which has been reversed by the Obama administration or the Democratic Congress?

  32. #32 |  SJE | 

    Radley: I don’t fully agree with your Microsoft analogy. Netscape was already dead by the time the courts decided the case. Microsoft got a spanking, and had to tone back its aggressive strategy, thus allowing newer browsers to catch on.

  33. #33 |  delta | 

    Disagree with this post, and think it’s a really bad idea. “Politics is a ridiculous profession populated by ridiculous people. Maybe if we elect increasingly clownish candidates, the public will eventually come to realize this…”

    So basically this would be the same “destroy it to save it” strategy that worked so well in Vietnam, Bush II, etc. Note: Reducing government size will be a political struggle, too. It won’t happen in an Easter-bunny like fashion.

    As Plato said 2500 years ago, “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

  34. #34 |  SJE | 

    re: The shit to flies analogy is perfect. But it goes further: Flies breed in shit, and spread disease into the people, creating even more shit. Just like politicians and laws. The best way to control flies is to remove shit: dungbeetles in nature, sunset clauses in the political world. We need a dungbeetle party.

  35. #35 |  John Jenkins | 

    New browsers came to market because MS stopped developing IE (there were five years between versions 6.0 and 7.0) and Firefox (then Chrome) have a much better development cycle.

  36. #36 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    @#29 JS,
    Yup, Sparks hits on just about all the points. The anarco-capitalists I know of have all profited nicely from the idiocy of late and are positioned to profit even more.

    xtranormal.com is a good way to waste a day.

    Delta, it is a good line by Plato but it should not determine one’s complete course of action. For example: cheat.

  37. #37 |  BamBam | 

    “Maybe if we elect increasingly clownish candidates, the public will eventually come to realize this, and finally realize that it’s probably not a good idea to put larger and larger portions of our lives and livelihoods in the hands of people who have achieved success in a field that rewards character traits you spend your entire tenure as a parent trying to teach out of your kids.”

    Radley, if you watch the movie Idiocracy then you will see the future — an ex-wrestler as president who talks about body slamming people, has his bitches and hoes on stage, and shoots guns at gatherings, all of which is cheered by the idiot masses. All brought to you by Carl’s Jr, of course.

  38. #38 |  Aaron | 

    I really don’t understand the people who advocate non-voting. Yeah, your vote won’t do much. That’s an argument for lazily staying home. It’s not an argument for being self-righteous about it. Yes, absolutely you can complain about the government if you didn’t vote. And if you did vote. Your vote is a small bit of influence, but it is some influence. If you actually care, then refusing to use what influence you do have is self-defeating. If, on the other hand, you don’t care, and are just posturing it makes all the sense in the world.

    There are usually no good mainstream options in general elections. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t vote. The primaries are often different, with a wider range of candidates. Fewer people vote in primaries, so your vote is less drowned out. During the general election, you can vote third party. No, it won’t get them elected this cycle. But every percentage point that goes toward someone closer to your position is a signal to the big two that they could possibly pick up some votes by moving in that direction. If you think there is a difference between the top two candidates, and the election is close, and you can stomach it, by all means vote for the lesser of two evils.

  39. #39 |  Radley Balko | 

    Microsoft got a spanking, and had to tone back its aggressive strategy, thus allowing newer browsers to catch on.

    How exactly could Microsoft have prevented Firefox and and Apple from competing?

    If memory serves, the charge was that they gained an unfair advantage by not including other browsers with Windows software. I suppose they could have configured IE or Windows in a way that would have prevented anyone from every downloading and installing Firefox, but it seems pretty unlikely that this was in their plans. And there’s really nothing they could have done to prevent Apple from becoming more competitive. MS just didn’t want to have to include competitors to MS in a product MS developed. That doesn’t seem particularly nasty to me. (If I’m wrong on the facts here, please let me know.)

    That the government settlement forced MS to include a browser that was already on the way out just highlights the absurdity of letting politicians and regulators pick winners and losers.

  40. #40 |  delta | 

    “The only coercive power any of these corporations have would be power that they’ve bought from the government. Monsanto can’t arrest you for competing with them or not buying their products.”

    Disagree here. Monsanto’s a good example: without effective regulatory restriction on them they can, say, distribute pesticide products which evolve resistant plants in the environment, making natural pesticide noneffective, and force farmers to buy Monsanto products to stay afloat.

    Generally speaking, as Alan Greenspan said, “In markets with significant economies of scale and scope, like those for standardized financial instruments, there is a tendency toward consolidation or even natural monopoly.” So unfortunately as technology increases and has a worldwide impact, it increases the need for regulatory oversight.

    Anyway, my initial example isn’t hypothetical; it’s actually happened. “Just as the heavy use of antibiotics contributed to the rise of drug-resistant supergerms, American farmers’ near-ubiquitous use of the weedkiller Roundup has led to the rapid growth of tenacious new superweeds… To fight them, Mr. Anderson and farmers throughout the East, Midwest and South are being forced to spray fields with more toxic herbicides, pull weeds by hand and return to more labor-intensive methods like regular plowing.”

    Guess where I got that latter quote from? Ron Paul’s website:
    http://www.dailypaul.com/node/133536

  41. #41 |  delta | 

    “I suppose they could have configured IE or Windows in a way that would have prevented anyone from every downloading and installing Firefox, but it seems pretty unlikely that this was in their plans.”

    What they did do, is they have programming “hooks” in Windows that work with IE, and are not available to other browsers. In other words: An invisible work slowdown. I use Firefox, but it loads up many times slower than IE, and I know there’s no way around it.

    So one might ask where on the continuum between “totally barred from running” and “factory installed just like IE” is the acceptable point on this issue. They split it pretty finely (and hidden to the average user).

  42. #42 |  SJE | 

    Radley
    “How exactly could Microsoft have prevented Firefox and and Apple from competing?” If you recall, MS bought a big chunk of Apple to keep it afloat and thereby keep the only competitor in the personal computer space. This was during the period of its antitrust woes, and before Apple came out with iPods, iPhones, iPads etc.

    More generally,
    1. MS had been very aggressive and forced bundling, and was now forced to unbundle its applications
    2. MS had lost some aspects of the case, and was now under greater antitrust scrutiny generally. Since the case, it tended to be more careful not to squash competition, and not to just merge with other big players.
    3. The case was a wake up call to competitors to get organized, and to incubate their technology in MS-free space (e.g. Java, Linux).

    I’m not disagreeing with the general concept that government should not be the one to pick winners and losers. The absurdity of the legal system was also shown by the MS case, as the specific point was moot by the time it had been decided. However, the flexing of muscle did create a space that allowed competition.

  43. #43 |  DarrenG | 

    Many monopolies don’t collapse under their own weight, even when not artificially protected or propped up by government. U.S. history alone is rife with examples, from U.S. Steel on down.

    And you don’t have to be a monopoly to wield coercive power over the market, as some of your examples like Microsoft and Monsanto prove, nor do institutions require the power of detention or the threat of violence to be coercive, as delta illustrates very well.

    The libertarian movement, and especially the libertarian press, needs to dispense with the silly idea that only the government constrains economic freedom.

  44. #44 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    BillC: The Democrats will only protect your civil rights if they approve of how you use them. You aren’t allowed to use Free Speech to criticize a looooong list of Sacred Cows, or to campaign for a non-approved candidate, and so on. Trusting Democrats to defend your civil rights would be like trusting Lester Maddox to defend the rights of Blacks.

  45. #45 |  JS | 

    C.S.P. Schofield “BillC: The Democrats will only protect your civil rights if they approve of how you use them. You aren’t allowed to use Free Speech to criticize a looooong list of Sacred Cows, or to campaign for a non-approved candidate, and so on. Trusting Democrats to defend your civil rights would be like trusting Lester Maddox to defend the rights of Blacks.”

    Yea both liberals and conservatives want to take away civil rights, just different civil rights.

    Onetime I heard John Stossel being interviewed on a liberal show where they had just done a segment on how McDonalds is bad for people and therefore the government has to step in and regulate it so that they only serve healthy food. When Stossel came on the discussion turned to Gay marriage which the interviewers were all for and so Stossel pointed out that since you’re for gay marriage it seems kind of strange that you would be against McDonalds serving whatever their customers wanted. “After all,” he said, “the government that’s big enough to tell you what you can eat is big enough to tell you with whom you can sleep.” There was nothing but stunned silence.

  46. #46 |  DarrenG | 

    C. S. P. Schofield: Really? Which laws or regulations have Democrats passed that restrict any of those things?

    While it’s hugely incorrect to hold Democrats in general up as ardent defenders of civil rights, there are still at least some of them in positions of power who are on the side of the angels. Civil libertarians have been long extinct within the GOP caucus, though.

  47. #47 |  Johnny Yuma | 

    Ramble on, please. Great stuff.

  48. #48 |  Radley Balko | 

    Many monopolies don’t collapse under their own weight, even when not artificially protected or propped up by government. U.S. history alone is rife with examples, from U.S. Steel on down.

    You don’t think U.S. Steel was propped up by the government?

    I actually agree with regulating things like the widespread use of antibiotics and herbicides, because there are legitimate public goods and public health arguments there.

    But Microsoft’s power over the market was not coercive. You were free to use any operating system you wanted. And many people did. I’m not at all convinced that DOJ’s litigation made Firefox and Apple possible. I still don’t see any connection between the two.

  49. #49 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #22 | Steamed McQueen — “I maintain that if voting could really change things, it would be illegal.”

    Absolutely. But voting can change nothing.

    The truth is that only not voting can bring about change.

    And as soon as change came about, TPTB would make not voting illegal, as it is in many developed nations.

  50. #50 |  Fascist Nation | 

    Don’t Vote. Or don’t complain—after all, nobody put a gun to your head to voluntarily participate in a process you knew to be rigged from the start.

  51. #51 |  JS | 

    Fascist Nation “Don’t Vote. Or don’t complain—after all, nobody put a gun to your head to voluntarily participate in a process you knew to be rigged from the start.”

    I like that one way better than the usual “You can’t complain if you don’t vote”

  52. #52 |  DarrenG | 

    For most of its history as a monopoly, no, U.S. Steel was not a government-protected monopoly.

    And as others have explained, Microsoft did use outright coercion to prevent PC manufacturers from shipping computers with other operating systems or browsers, even to the point of charging a Windows licensing fee for systems that shipped without Windows.

    It’s really not hard to find many, many examples of successful rent-seeking and constraints of choice initiated by private enterprise without any assistance of the government (or even despite resistance by the government).

  53. #53 |  Kicol | 

    delta

    There is no such thing as a “Superweed”. The weeds didn’t become resistant to all pesticeds or grow 20 feet tall. The weeds mentioned are becoming Roundup-Resistant.

    This means Monsanto is loosing market share because farmers have to go back the solutions they had before – Manual Labour or other chemicals. These chemicals are competing products; Monsanto doesn’t sell stronger pesticides.

    Also Roundup-Ready resistant weeds even worse for Monsanto as it makes it’s Roundup Ready genetic traits less desirable. It is banking on it’s genetic traits for it’s future.

  54. #54 |  Stephen | 

    I do vote mainly just to vote NO on all the bond issues that are tacked on to the end of the ballot. (but you have to watch out for those no=yes bond issues)

    Maybe if all libertarians and anarchists wrote in Mickey Mouse for all the spots on the ballot it might draw some attention but I think that has been tried already.

  55. #55 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    Radley: “Me, I’m cheering for elections to matter less, and for politicians to have less impact on my life.”

    I’ll raise a glass to that! Inspiring stuff, Radley. Mind you, this is from a former Progressive/Democratic Socialist who helped vote Obama in back in ’08.

    I didn’t really buy into the hopey/changey hype, but perhaps I expected a bit more. Yet the foreign wars continue. As does the drug war. And the corruption and secrecy have yet to abate. Where is the candidate/party that will actually promote transparency? Who will seek to represent and not “rule” us? Who will seek to empower people instead of the state? The answer, it seems, is NO ONE.

    A line from a John Lennon song comes to mind: “the dream is over.” Obama was a media sensation, but he is addicted to the machine. But he’s just one of many. I will not be voting in the mid term elections. I doubt I will vote in 2012. Consider me a non-voter. And I will complain as much as I please!

  56. #56 |  Stephen | 

    Now you got me thinking if it is possible to change my name to “none of the above” and start a write in campaign. Run for everything with the promise to do absolutely nothing.

  57. #57 |  JThompson | 

    Hell I can’t even tell the difference between Obama and Bush. My biggest issue is civil liberties: if anything Obama’s actually managed to be worse. Given how bad Bush was on that front, that takes some freaking doing.

    As far as I’m concerned both major parties are about equally terrible for more or less the exact same reason and I hope they both lose.

  58. #58 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    @43 DarrenG

    Will all Libertarians who think like DG says you think in his last paragraph please post.

    Darren, I’m not sure you understand what exactly silly Libertarians think.

  59. #59 |  shecky | 

    As if folks needed another reason to write off self described libertarians as Republicans who just want to sound cool…

  60. #60 |  DPirate | 

    Good rambling.

  61. #61 |  Flash Bazbo | 

    I think this is the best summation of my libertarian tendencies that I’ve seen so far!

  62. #62 |  LibertarianBlue | 

    Yea he support for Eminent Domain thug Carl Paladino makes me sick. Varadarajan is just another pissant conservative calling himself a Libertarian when in fact he knows nothing about the philosophy.

  63. #63 |  JOR | 

    Well, voting can change some things. It can change which goodies are allocated to which political players, who in particular gets sweetheart deals, etc. That sort of thing matters to some people (not least those who stand to gain or lose particular favors).

    Won’t change the things I see as important though. So I don’t do it.

  64. #64 |  Rob McMillin | 

    Aw, hells yeah.

  65. #65 |  Andy | 

    Radley, you deserve at least one dissent. So here’s mine – if you minimize the apparent importance of government in people’s lives, you just conceal the nastiness of people in power. The only reason we know about the nastiness of government is because people have the ability to snuff it out. Systems of governance are always complex, and enable nasty people to do nasty things. Without a focus on a government, you miss it all, but you still feel it’s effects.

  66. #66 |  Salvo | 

    65 posts and not anybody mentioning the obvious?

    You want a more libertarian government, get out there and work your ass off to get libertarian candidates elected. No, you’re not going to get the big offices overnight. But start with the local offices. Build a grassroots movement. Run for your local school board, city councils, etc.

    Or alternatively, whine about how Democrats and Republicans suck.

  67. #67 |  DJB | 

    My First Instinct as a Libertarian Is to vote against all incumbents.

  68. #68 |  JOR | 

    If you want a more libertarian government (or rather, a more libertarian society), work to make people less governable.

  69. #69 |  Madbiker | 

    @JOR: as long as the majority of our kids are in public school, they will learn compliance and become easily governed.

    Destroy the current educational system, and you remove an underlying cause of the complacence, ignorance, and apathy people feel.

  70. #70 |  JOR | 

    Well, that’d certainly be helpful, which is why I’m fairly sympathetic to the homeschool movement, for all its problems. Of course, all of the little things that help are going to be full of problems. Let a thousand flowers bloom and all that.

  71. #71 |  Davis | 

    But they can lobby the government for expansive patent protection, then have you arrested for using the wrong seeds.

    This is probably not the best example of what you’re getting at. There is no criminal liability for patent infringement, only civil liability. And while interest groups clearly have been successful in lobbying against patent law changes that reduce the scope of patent eligible inventions, it’s not clear that any of the (relatively minor) changes made in patent law since the 1952 Act provided any additional protection to a company like Monsanto. At most, a 1995 amendment clarified the already arguable point that a bioengineered plant is not patent ineligible for obviousness.

    Put another way, I’m not sure how you’d write a Patent Act that protects other inventions while excluding Monsanto, short of making ad hoc amendments to address each objectionable class of results.

  72. #72 |  Justin | 

    The politician, at his ideal best, never even remotely approximated in practice, is a necessary evil; at worst he is an intolerable nuisance.

  73. #73 |  Enjoy Every Sandwich » Blog Archive » Week in Review | 

    [...] Balko, whose first instinct as a libertarian is an all-consuming contempt for politics, sums up my feelings about the upcoming elections: Me, I’m cheering for elections to matter less, [...]

  74. #74 |  Johnny Pez | 

    The only coercive power any of these corporations have would be power that they’ve bought from the government.

    Wrong. The problem, Mr. Libertarian, is not government; the problem is power. You think that if you get rid of the government, you’ll get rid of the power with it. Wrong, and again wrong. Government is only a tool. Those who possess power will always find a way to exercise it; take away the government, and the powerful will find some other tool to use.

  75. #75 |  JOR | 

    #74

    I agree, to an extent. (Surprised?) Well, anyone with hands to kill with has power. The problem is not power, per se. The problem is accountability. Or rather, lack of it. People who can use violence without fear of retaliation. Of course, we have a word for an institution (or group of institutions) that can use violence without fear, and almost by necessity crowds out any competitors in its territory: government. It’s true, in a sense, that government is not the real problem: the real problem is that people think there has to be someone who gets to throw people around or lock them up without fear or responsibility – so even if you got rid of the government, it’d just be, effectively, replaced with a new one.

    But as shallow as I think libertarians’ thoughts on this matter can be, I doubt any of them here would really dispute this.

  76. #76 |  Paul Antosh | 

    You think that if you get rid of the government, you’ll get rid of the power with it. Wrong, and again wrong. Government is only a tool. Those who possess power will always find a way to exercise it; take away the government, and the powerful will find some other tool to use.

    Johnny,
    I don’t know of any Libertarians or Anarchists who believe a state-less existence will remove all “power”. Who is telling you this?

  77. #77 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #74 | Johnny Pez — “Those who possess power will always find a way to exercise it; take away the government, and the powerful will find some other tool to use.”

    I agree with you Johnny. Violence is a constant in human interactions. The issue is not whether one can eliminate violence/power, but how one manages it. By instituting government, one provides an incredibly powerful catalytic tool to those who exercise violence. The violence concentrates in these few individuals and magnifies beyond all proportion, leading to global wars, nuclear weapons, rigged financial systems, slavery, etc.

    Without government, you are correct — those motivated to violence will still seek power. But without the tool of government, in an anarchic society, the ability to reach beyond the individual level of violence is dramatically reduced.

    The most destructive individual non-State mass murderer can claim maybe hundreds of victims. How many victims can the most destructive individual State mass murderer claim? Tens of millions?

    What a no-brainer. Unless one is one of the State murderers of course.

  78. #78 |  Johnny Pez | 

    But as shallow as I think libertarians’ thoughts on this matter can be, I doubt any of them here would really dispute this.

    Sure they would. Go back and reread Balko’s quote. He’s saying that government is the source of all power. I’m saying, no it’s not, power exists independently of government. As for accountability, I’d rather face a government that’s accountable to the people than a transnational corporation that’s accountable to nobody.

    The most destructive individual non-State mass murderer can claim maybe hundreds of victims. How many victims can the most destructive individual State mass murderer claim? Tens of millions?

    So, would I rather deal with a million little Hitlers or one big one? It doesn’t seem to make much of a difference to me.

    Though I can see how your automatic equation of government with mass murder influences your thinking. It’s an interesting perspective.

  79. #79 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Go back and reread Balko’s quote. He’s saying that government is the source of all power.

    I have failed in the above assigned quest, Mr. Pez. Cannot find.

  80. #80 |  Nick T | 

    #65 Andy,

    Your point is fair and correct, but there’s a flipside tothat exact point which makes all the attention to politics a problem. 1) Politicans have big heads and egos and think it’s there job to solve more and more problems cuz so many people voted for them and love them and everyone they interact with kisses their ass – they’re celebrities! They can’t be constrained by cute little things like the Constitution or State governments.

    2) All the attention inevitably gets distorted into a massive soap opera where personalities, style and narratives matter more than reason or facts. Sure the media “cares” about politics but only insofar as politicians seem “crazy” or flawed, or bombastic, or bad guys and good guys. Principled, logical politicians like Ron Paul or Russ Feingold make no news, because their ideas have explanations.

    We might have a media and society (somewhat) very interested in politics but we also have an incredibly dumb (to the point of embarrassment and disgust) national debate. So take your pick.

  81. #81 |  Nick T | 

    Also many people have talked about a none of the above campaign or a dung beetle party, I was also thinking of a ham sandwich campaign. Anyone doing naything like this?

  82. #82 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #78 | Johnny Pez

    CinCA: “The most destructive individual non-State mass murderer can claim maybe hundreds of victims. How many victims can the most destructive individual State mass murderer claim? Tens of millions?”

    JP: “So, would I rather deal with a million little Hitlers or one big one? It doesn’t seem to make much of a difference to me. Though I can see how your automatic equation of government with mass murder influences your thinking. It’s an interesting perspective.”

    The million little Hitlers negate each other, Johnny. That might make a difference to you if you were conscripted to the combat infantry against the real Hitler. And Hitler was only Hitler because he captured (democratically!) the apparatus of State. Without that State apparatus, Hitler is an unknown artist/soldier, probably never murders a soul in his entire life.

    As for my automatic equation of government with mass murder, I missed something. That something is your evidence to the contrary. I mean, 180 million murdered by various States in the 20th Century alone would be considered reasonable evidence, no?

    But then, maybe I’m misinterpreting the sarcasm I read in that last sentence of yours.

  83. #83 |  Andy | 

    #80 – thanks, that makes sense, I will think on it. I have a very hazy but real rejoinder in mind, but until the time that I’m mature enough to articulate it, I’ll stay quiet :).

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