Quote of the Day

Seen on the Internets:

The Libertarian Party couldn’t organize a gangbang in a whorehouse; they’d all rather sit around and argue the ethics of making people wear a rubber.

I’ve never understood the purpose of the Libertarian Party, because it never seemed to me to be all that interested in the political process. Other than running someone for President (which is kind of doing step 100 when you’re not even making it to step 5), it’s always seemed to me to be more of a philosophical society, spending most of its time and energy arguing over what libertarianism is and isn’t.

Probably the reason I’ve always preferred the term “classical liberal.” I definitely don’t fit the LP definition of libertarian, but nor am I really comfortable with the label conservative.

40 Responses to “Quote of the Day”

  1. RAH says:

    A libertarian does not believe in large government . But since they don’t want to be bothered by government they also don’t want to bother reforming it . Dispassionate. Personally most real life libertarians want to straddle the fence Eventually they will be split on that fence by either side which is passionate,

    A lot of libertarians seemed to me be socially liberal, athiest and fiscally conservative. But when it comes to a push they fold.

    • Archer says:

      Your description reminds me of Futurama’s Voter Apathy Party. Not that you’re wrong; my experience with local big-L Libertarians is that if you’re sufficiently motivated and politically savvy to actually DO something, you just don’t fit in.

      I always come away feeling like they got everyone emotionally fired up, but then left them thinking, “OK, now what?” And then their efforts fizzle out.

  2. FiftycalTX says:

    Well, I stayed at the home of the “L”ibertarian Party Attorney General candidate for Texas back in the 80’s. She was a midwife. And in general, The “L”ibertarian party coffee klatch and BBQ society of the time couldn’t organize a 2 car funeral procession. The majority of the local “L”‘s were part time IRS workers. Oh, she got about 2% of the vote, statewide, that year. And 2% doesn’t win any races.

    • Sebastian says:

      Political organization works from the local level on up, where people are more likely to vote for an individual rather than just voting party. But even local politics generally requires a large degree of compromise with other interests, which I think most LP types would find distasteful.

  3. Chris says:

    Libertarian vs libertarian.

  4. Allen says:

    We’ll see if there’s, a Republican Party after 2016.

  5. borekfk says:

    Libertarians seem like rank amateurs when it comes to foreign policy and the political process, expecting that if everyone acts nice and leaves everyone else alone, then all will be friends. Or that their one response to anything is “That’s un-Constitutional!” and expect for something to happen when they say it.

  6. Sigivald says:

    That’s why I, like Chris, specify “little-l libertarian”.

    The LP is amateur hour; they lost my vote in the last OR election because they couldn’t be bothered to either (depending on candidate):

    1) Put an entry in the voter’s pamphlet


    2) Have a platform beyond “AUDIT THE FED!!!!!”

    I will cop to voting for Johnson in 2012, because, well, Oregon – it’s not like I had to worry about throwing the state Blue with a protest vote.

    • Alpheus says:

      I find the idea of auditing the Fed to be a funny Libertarian position. As a small-l libertarian, I would just do away with the Fed altogether; then there’s nothing left to audit!

      I looked at the platform for the Libertarian Party of Utah; I really like the platform, but I don’t see enough effort on the local level to really want to participate in the Libertarian Party. As an example: anyone is welcome to the State Libertarian Party convention, but they don’t have local caucuses, nor do they have county conventions. It’s really hard to have a local effect on politics when you aren’t doing anything local! And local Libertarian politicians are sorely needed.

      Maybe someday I’ll get around to going to the State convention, so that I could ask where the local candidates are…

      • Sebastian says:

        What do you replace the Fed with?

        • Bullion and bitcoin.

          • Sebastian says:

            Gold also comes with its own set of problems.

            • Nothing is perfect, but freedom from fiat currency is usually better.

              • Sebastian says:

                Is it? The big problem with using metals as currency is that to get more liquidity, you have to mine more of it. The risk with fiat currency is that if the central bank is irresponsible, you can have high inflation. The risk with metals is that you have deflationary cycles, which tend to cause financial panics which cause a lot more pain in the long run than inflationary cycles.

                • The problem with metals-based currency (or, really, any scarcity-based commodity) is that it’s hard to get more of it without putting a lot of work into it. That’s also the benefit of metals-based currency.

                  Fiat currencies present not a problem of physical or computational effort, but a mere command: PRINT MORE MONEY! And so it is done. The problem is not one of scarcity but one of moral hazard. And we know humans are flawed, immoral beings; eventually, and often, the holder of the currency will succomb to temptation.

                  I’m not convinced that deflationary cycles are the bugaboo that some economists seem to think they are. However, I’m willing to concede that no solution is perfect. I just prefer a financial system where the incentives are aligned in the right direction.

                  • RAH says:

                    Metal based currency does not allow the multiplier effect that Fiat currency has. As an economist there is a lot more social disruption with deflation. People get hungry fast and angry.

                    Still I like bit coin as a curb on the government currency monopoly. Problem is that people literally think money is created at a printing press and have no idea of what creates value.

                    • RAH, you imagine that multiplier effect is both real and desirable. I think I would contend that it is imaginary.

                      A printing press is simplified rhetoric, but also literally true. I’m familiar with some (certainly not all) of the other, less obvious ways that fiat currency can be created. They all boil down to making “value” out of what a naive economist would say is thin air… and a more aware economist would say is created by shaving a minute fraction of value from every other piece of that currency already in circulation.

                • Felix says:

                  What difference does it make how much gold is in circulation? As long as the amount changes reasonably slowly, so do prices and wages, and people adjust as a matter of course. It’s not nearly as dangerous as fiat money changes, which are at the whim of bureaucrats who have no accountability and usually no plan other than to help them and their cronies.

        • Felix says:

          Look at this chart of inflation since 1800 and notice how flat it was up until after WW I; it bumps up during wars and back down after. Prices in 1900 were remarkably similar to 100 years previously.

          One of the Fed’s first interventions was to refuse to let money deflate back to its pre-war value after WW I, and it’s been inflation ever since. They also triggered the 1929 Depression with their tight money policies and didn’t exactly help the recovery either. About the only reason the 1920 Depression wasn’t dragged out like 1929 is that Woodrow Wilson had a stroke and no one wanted to take charge for the last year of his presidency; and when Harding came in, the Depression had almost finished recovering by itself.

          Do you still think the Fed does anything useful?

        • Alpheus says:

          My personal favorite idea for a currency would be some kind of “index fund” of various commodities: metals, certainly, as well as oil, coal, and anything else that might strike people’s fancy. But I’m in favor of doing away with money altogether, and let people decide what they’d prefer to use as mediums of exchange. (Who knows? It may even settle down to just gold and silver?)

          Beyond currency issues, though, I would also like to see the Fed stop meddling with interest rates. The purpose of meddling with interest rates is to end the boom and bust business cycles; having the Fed set these rates has done nothing to prevent these cycles. Indeed, the Austrian Economic school of thought makes a good case that trying to force interest rates lower than the market would normally set them actually *causes* these cycles to occur!

          In any case, this above discussion of how we might replace the Fed is a little bit tangential from my first point: I’m amused that Libertarians *only* want to audit the Fed.

          (And yeah, I agree that this should be the last issue of concern for Libertarian candidates: there are so many more things to worry about at the moment!)

    • Renegade_Azzy says:

      Most states have laws that make it very expensive and hard to get on the ballot as anything other than a DonkeyPhant. In my county, you need 3X the signatures as our current overlords, and better get double because they will be challenged in court.

      Oh, and you have to post more money up front as a percentage of your future possible wages from the state.

      It all made me not want to be any part of the process any longer. Bust your ass… so they can do more on both sides to steal your freedom and take your earnings.

  7. In Texas, the Libertarian party runs candidates for many local races. In their communications, that is one of their major selling points: they are trying to be a real political party working from the ground up as well as running no-hope candidates for big races. The big races are viewed as tools for ballot access (usually, x% of the ballot for president or governor means you don’t have to petition for ballot access).

    This doesn’t mean that they can organize their way out of a wet paper bag consistently, but they seem to do a better job of it than most third parties and are consistently on the ballot in 1/3rd to 1/2 of local races.

    I can’t speak to other states, though.

    • Sebastian says:

      You develop your talent at the local level, and then promote up the run the decent ones up the food chain until they top out. The problem is, though, that there aren’t enough libertarians to win on their own. You’d have to coalition with people who are less libertarian to make 50%.

  8. Chip says:

    One of the biggest problems the LP has is not that there aren’t good political candidates who are libertarian (or at least libertarian-leaning enough that they could theoretically run under the LP banner) but the problems that all 3rd-parties face – that the political deck is stacked against them.

    Any third party has to fight not only the the burdensome petitioning requirements that are often not inflicted upon the two major parties (not in all states, but in many), but fight the entire idea of the “wasted vote” – which is largely a result of a mediocre voting method known as plurality (vote for one choice, most votes wins) that tends to drive people into two different groups (in our case, the Republicans and Democrats). Campaign finance laws also hinder 3rd parties as well, since you can’t have a large-money donor simply donate lots of money to help a campaign.

    Most politically skilled small-l libertarians are aware of the hurdles faced by 3rd parties and often will run under the Republican Party banner (or even the Democratic Party banner) in order to avoid these hassles. Can’t say I blame them.

    In some states (Texas, Indiana, a few others) they’ve gotten some traction, despite the hurdles. In a lot of states, it’s damn near impossible to get anywhere, especially when one repeatedly squanders limited resources on ballot access or other significant hurdles.

    • Alpheus says:

      This is one reason why I would favor a change in how we can vote for candidates: Among possible ways, for example, we could select a “First choice”, “Second Choice”, and “Third Choice”, and if our first choice doesn’t win, our vote could be counted for the second choice, and so forth…or something like that.

      The issue isn’t so much in avoiding vote mechanic manipulation–any voting system can be manipulated–but to make it a lot easier for third parties to both get on the ballot, and have a good chance of winning once there.

      Of course, even this will have its limits: our politics, ultimately, can only be as good as the people who are voting!

      • Chip says:

        The best alternative voting method, IMO, is not the “ranked choice” type of plan, but the one that simply lets you vote for all of those you approve of (not surprisingly called “approval voting”). If you approve of both the Republican and Libertarian, or both the Democrat and Green, or “anyone other than a Dem or Repub” or “anybody but that one horrible guy,” then you can cast a ballot accordingly. (Basically you check “yes” or “no” for each individual candidate.)

        What is often called either Ranked Choice Voting or Instant Runoff Voting is actually a horrible voting method (it’s mathematically unsound, a logistical mess, it counts ballots unequally, and has other issues too).

        There are definitely major problems with both voting methods and voting systems, but ultimately the biggest problem is simply that politicians have too much power to rule over people, and in many cases we haven’t stopped them.

    • Jake says:

      And it’s not just getting on the ballot that drains LP/3rd Party time and resources. Once they’re on the ballot, they have to fight again to be included in the debates – battles that are even harder than getting on the ballot, have less chance of success even when the debate organizers are being honest, and have to be fought for every single debate.

      Heck, the debate organizers twist things to keep the (l)ibertarian-ish candidates out of the in-party debates. Remember Gary Johnson?

  9. Miguel says:

    A Libertarian is an anarchist with better personal hygiene.

  10. AnOregonian says:

    Though seriously, another significant part of the problem is that people don’t want the libertarian solution to problems, they want stuff provided to them, and they want it free, paid for out of someone else’s pocket, preferably someone they dislike.

    • Sebastian says:

      For an unfortunately significant portion of the electorate, I think that’s true. But I think there’s a coalition to be had for limited government. The bigger problem we face is that there are a lot of people voting out there who have almost no idea about what or who they are voting for.

      • KM says:

        The folks that work for a living are outnumbered by the folks that vote for a living. They will vote for whoever will keep the gravy train running.
        Whatever title, name or political philosophy you stick on any politician, it doesn’t matter. We are fucked by the millions who have their hand out. (read: in our pockets)

  11. Mike says:

    Libertarians can sometimes be almost as bad as Linux nerds or Richard Stallman in their ideological rigidity.

  12. Clay says:

    I LOVE that quote.

  13. Alien says:

    What I find curious is that so many seem to understand that Big L Libertarians are both obsessed with attractive concepts and possess negative ability to practically implement any of them, yet they’re always a topic of intense discussion by everyone outside their cult.

    The first rule of voting-based politics is “one has to win to exercise even minimal influence”. So far, that’s not the Big L folks, nor is it apparent that it will ever be.

    So, why the fascination? I, understand, vaguely, why Big Ls embrace the fantasy, but that doesn’t explain everyone else.

  14. Bram says:

    Count me as a pessimistic libertarian. Since I have a general dislike and distrust for anyone seeking political power, kind of hard to get enthusiastic for a political brand.

    Maybe the GOP will wise up and embrace a Rand Paul next year. More likely, they’ll use dirty tricks to get a Bush or Romney nominated.


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