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August 3, 2006

Laugh harder
Posted by Patrick at 09:34 PM *

Mark Frauenfelder thinks this is a “great” blog post:

My favorite conspiracy theory is the one that says the world is being run by a handful of ultra-rich capitalists, and that our elected governments are mere puppets. I sure hope it’s true. Otherwise my survival depends on hordes of clueless goobers electing competent leaders. That’s about as likely as a dog pissing the Mona Lisa into a snow bank.

Remember, “clueless goobers,” you don’t deserve a voice in how you’re ruled; rich cartoonists and hipster bloggers have spoken, and they agree.

Sure, it’s a joke. It’s the joke the mugger makes while he’s cleaning you out.

Comments on Laugh harder:
#1 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 10:07 PM:

A majority of voters did legitimately* elect George W. Bush for a second term. Sometimes, we laugh to keep from crying.

Then again, it's also the sentiment of someone who thinks Intelligent Design deserves respect so perhaps "clueless goobers" should just become Humanity's new taxonomic name.

_________
* Enough to make it too close of an election to be convincingly call rigged.

#2 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 10:11 PM:

Given that the second paragraph quoted by Frauenfelder is this:

I know some of you will say that itís obvious that corporate money influences the government. But thatís not enough to make me feel comfortable. I want to know thereís an actual meeting of the puppetmasters every Thursday at 3 pm. I want to know that when one of them suggests a new policy that the group votes by pressing buttons on their chairs and if the idea is deemed bad, the offender drops through a hole in the floor and is eaten by a golden shark. You canít tell me that democracy produces better policies than the golden shark method.

...this certainly reads to me as satire. Admittedly, not very funny satire, under the current circumstances (and for 'circumstances,' read 'administration'), but satire nevertheless.

#3 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 10:23 PM:

Yes, Debcha, it's satire, but you're missing Patrick's point.

The irony in Scott Adams's little joke is his claim that he wants to be ruled by a conspiracy; he doesn't actually, but he's pretending that he does to mock both current government and the electorate that put them in power. In other words, I hope there really is a conspiracy is an ironic statement on Adams's part; the electorate are clueless goobers is not.

#4 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 10:29 PM:

Yeah, Scott Adams has been pulling this sort of shit for quite a while now -- see his evolution vs ID blog posts of last November. (No, I'm not going to drive up his ad rates with a direct link.)

His public persona seems to be built on the classic cynic model, posing as if he's too smart to get caught up in the common controversies and arguments that ensnare the rest of us little people. It's a pretty easy pose to pull off, much easier than actually knowing what's one's talking about.

#5 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 10:30 PM:

I caught that, and my reaction was roughly yours...how incredibly insulting.

Scott Adams, what happened to you? Dilbert stopped being funny, you ignore facts in favor of "your thoughts" then defend yourself with "I was only kidding," now this? I think you're turning into a PHB.

#6 ::: JoXn S Costello ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 10:49 PM:

Keith, the best rigged election should be close. Otherwise people start asking questions, such as: how come all the polls had the election as "too close to call" but Bush won by 20%? That's much less convincing than a squeaker.

#7 ::: ferdbo ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 10:51 PM:

You're reading too much into this. Didn't Dave Barry call Americans clueless goobers every other column? If you read the whole thing and not the two nonsequential paragraphs quoted it's much less risible. On a Stonebenders level of required outrage.

#8 ::: Gar Lipow ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 10:58 PM:

Cheap cynicism aimed at everybody has always been the basis of Adam's humor. He just used to be funnier with it - use it as the basis for funny stories rather than unfunny diatribes.

#9 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 11:13 PM:

"You're reading too much into this" is, of course, the modern weaselly way of saying "How dare you take someone at their word."

#10 ::: David Manhem ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 11:17 PM:

I have only one question for the secret cabal:

Why are the sharks golden? Is it to prevent rust? Do stainless steel sharks not do the trick?

Sometimes I wonder whether we should trust this cabal. Other times I doubt they exist. But I definitely think that they are incompatible with liberal thought, religion, AND science. And I for one, welcome our new (old?) cabal overlords.

#11 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 11:29 PM:

Hmmm...

I interpreted it thusly: Everyone thinks that the world would be a better place if other people subscribed to the same values/voted the same way/behaved the same as we do. However, most of realize that we are all somebody else's 'clueless goober' (or godless communist), and therefore it's a bad idea to try to deprive others of their rights. A secret cabal with golden-shark-based decision-making is therefore posited as an (amusing?) alternative.

I don't think it's funny, and Avram, I take your point about the 'clueless goobers' not being ironic. I'm not familiar enough with Scott Adams's persona to know if he intended the interpretation I gave above, or whether he genuinely feels that everyone else is an idiot and that we therefore need an alternative system of government, and I guess I gave it the charitable interpretation.

#12 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2006, 11:52 PM:

Yeah, clueless goobers who believe in crazy ideas like evolution. Ah, Scotty, I hardly knew ye.

#13 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 12:08 AM:

It's at moments like this I really miss Gary Larsen.

#14 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 12:18 AM:

About Scott Adams... I think the beginning of the end was a few years back for me. There was a strip sequence that involved Dilbert and modern Skeptics who demanded to be convinced that he wasn't a clone. Talk about complete misrepresentation of what something really is.

What got me to stop was a strip where some woman was complaining about the glass ceiling, and the author's position seemed to be that it's silly for women to complain about it.

#15 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 12:23 AM:

Gary Larson... Yeah, I miss him too, JESR. I first discovered him during a trip to Toronto while I was still living in Quebec City. The local paper had an article about this crazy cartoonist I had never heard about and one of the pictures involved.. of course... a cow.

#16 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 12:27 AM:

As a friend of mine put it: the problem is that Scott Adams used to identify with Dilbert, but now he identifies with Dogbert. Adams is entirely too comfortable with power and a feeling of superiority. He no longer sympathizes with people who are jerked around by forces they can't hope to control; he now thinks that the powerless are contemptible.

#17 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 12:38 AM:

And then there's the Harris Poll:

50 percent of Americans now believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when we invaded, up from 36 percent in February 2005.

64 percent believe that Saddam Hussein had strong links with al-Qaida.

I don't think I'm a clueless goober - at least not about major current affairs in this country. And I don't think I know any. But I'd sure like to know who it is the Harris pollsters are talking to. I don't think "we have not found weapons of mass destruction" is a terribly hard concept to master.

P.S. As far as I know, the only weapons of mass destruction this administration has found were in Texas.

#18 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 12:49 AM:

"Why are the sharks golden?"

The quote is from Dogbert's newsletter. Do you really think Dogbert would settle for stainless steel?

For some reason I stopped getting Dogbert's newsletter emailed to me. Maybe I said something that qualified me as an induhvidual?

#19 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 12:49 AM:

There's also the false dichotomy of assuming that ultra-rich capitalists are not clueless goobers.

I am constantly reminded of that scene from Deep Cover where Lawrence Fishburne and Jeff Goldblum are trying to convince a Latino drug kingpin to start dealing in their new product. The kingpin accuses them of being racist greedheads. Goldblum says this is ridiculous, he doesn't care about Latino vs. white: "Look, there are rich people and poor people. We're all rich, so we're all on the same side."

It was a cheesy action movie, but the observance is dead-on.

#20 ::: Gar Lipow ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 01:21 AM:

With you on missing Larson. Also with you on Adams identifying with Dogbert. But I think he always did, just maybe not as strongly.

If you look back even in his earliest Dilbert, think you will find all of this there - just kept a bit more in check, and funnier.

#21 ::: Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 01:35 AM:

People believe a lot of crazy, stupid things, but regardless of how many Republicans they elect, I've had it with the neo-Menckenist blather about how the mass of people are clearly too dumb to govern themselves and need their betters to show them the way.

For one thing, the people hitting this note the hardest are often the craziest of the lot. For another, the people trying hardest to keep people from voting, proposing IQ or education tests for voting, etc., are usually the Republicanest of the lot.

For another, I keep track of how often I'm wrong, and I know damn well that if I were personally absolute king I'd probably screw things up pretty badly, maybe even worse than the Bush Administration, so I can't really say rule of me is preferable to rule of the masses.

The problems of direct democracy are why California-style referenda are probably a bad idea, and why we have elected representatives; tyranny of the majority is part of why we are supposed to have constitutionally guaranteed rights. Nobody ever said that letting everyone vote will get us the best leaders we can find; but if it's actually allowed to work, it is a safeguard against the leaders we do get stepping on too many voters.

#22 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 01:36 AM:

Scott Adams has betrayed the working class!

Which is both snarky and probably true; his work at one of the Bells was his main source of material, and now that he's not working there and is instead making money from cartoons his work is much weaker.

#23 ::: me2i81 ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 01:44 AM:

I figured Scott Adams was hopeless when he licensed Dilbert(tm) cartoons to Xerox for use in a Employee Self-Empowerment Kit (a series of printed internal corporate propaganda pieces) around 10 years ago. Dilbert(tm) was laughing at us, not with us.

#24 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 02:06 AM:

Hang on a sec here, according to John Scalzi (of this parish) 36% of Americans believe the US Govt was involved in 9/11. If the 64% who believe Saddam Hussein had links with Al-Quaida don't overlap, Scott Adams may have a point.

#25 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 04:25 AM:

The whole point of Dilbert was that everyone in Dilbert's workplace was a different kind of moron, and we all recognized them. The implication that Adams thinks I'm one of these morons was always there.

As for merchandising and such, Adams was always up-front about his intention to milk Dilbert for every cent. Not for him a Watterson-style battle to keep his characters in the funny papers where they belong.

I think Adams made a fool of himself over ID, but this blog post is just a Dogbert joke, and while tired, it's no more offensive than the usual Dogbert stuff.

#26 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 05:27 AM:

It's not the electors that are the problem.

It's that the people they elect appear to be clueless goobers.

Or criminals.

Or cowards. I've no reason to think that any British MPs I've had dealings with are clueless or criminal, but it very much seems that they are afraid to challenge the official voting choice of the party.

#27 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 06:45 AM:

I think Adams has a classic case of brain-eater syndrome. The first symptom I saw was when, in a 1997 book that was otherwise a jolly good skewering of corporate practices, he added a chapter that was completely kooky. I'm not the only one who thought it weird. It's all gone downhill since then, though there's still the occasional brilliant strip to be had.

#28 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 08:55 AM:

Empirically, I have to agree with Scott Adams and Mark Frauenfelder. I live in a country where a large fraction of the population ferverntly belives that we are in the end times, whatever that means. A large fraction of the population thinks that Bush is the kind of guy they can have a beer with, so he's better qualified to run the country. A large fraction of the population thought that Gore was *too smart to be a good president.*

They consistently pick the jocks over the geeks, the fundies over the rationalists, and they wonder why they can only afford to shop at Wal-Mart, and why they can't find a good job like daddy had.

They still know, in their heart-of-hearts, that Iraq was behing the New York/DC terror attacks in 2001.

I don't call them clueless goobers, I have more direct names.

I'm much with Adams on this one. I wish it was a small cabal of truly evil, but smart, men. *I can fight that.* I'd probably lose, but there's a chance of victory.

I cannot triumph over several million people who are choosing stupidity -- which is why I am not confident about the future of this country.

It's why I'm not confident about this election. I might be able to fight the few trying to steal it. I cannot fight the millions who insist that the GOP is the only answer, because God/Rush/Liddy/Whoever told them so.

At best, we end up balkanized, with a seriously lowered standard of living. This won't be that bad an answer if your living in the right fragment, but there will be lots of people in the wrong ones, and many of them will be in truly dire straits.

That's the good answer. The bad answers all have millions of deaths attached, except for the few out on the far end of the curve, which hit billions.

You posted, some time ago, that An Inconvenient Truth offered hope -- there was a plan, it wouldn't be that hard.

For a rational person, no. This nation is sadly lacking in such. That's why there is no hope there. Gore is just one of those geeks, and a liar to boot. By the time anything changes, it will be far too late for any plans he offered to have any effect.

Clueless goobers. That's a nice word for them. Do they deserve to rule over themselves? Sure. Do they deserve to rule over me?

Fuck no. But I don't get a voice in the matter. There are more of them than I.

It may be right, but it is far from correct.

#29 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 09:06 AM:

I'm actually less interested in Scott Adams, to whom I stopped paying attention after his public defenses of "intelligent design."

I'm more interested in why someone as otherwise savvy as Mark Frauenfelder can't see that this kind of thing is part of a general, broad-based effort to disempower everything Mark Frauenfelder cares about.

Science fiction and hipster bohemia are full of this kind of thing. You can't get a cup of coffee in a con suite, or spend five minutes in an internet cafe, without overhearing somebody rhapsodizing about the stupidity of the masses. Two things are always apparent about these perorations. First, there's almost always a sadistic, dominationist glee in demonstrating that other people deserve nothing from the speaker. Second, the argument, such as it is, almost always hinges on some survey showing that a majority of those questioned had been soft-headed enough to believe a lie they'd been told by someone in authority.

In other words, people are too stupid to resist authority, and therefore the only real question is who the authorities should be. The idea that people--even people we think are foolish--ought to have any power over their destiny is as foreign to Scott Adams as it would have been to a Czarist noble.

Why Mark Frauenfelder, editor of a fine magazine about grass-roots techie self-empowerment, doesn't see that this is a dagger pointed at his own throat is a mystery to me. Then again, I'm just as fantasted by all the con-suite individualists who evidently believe that they'd be something other than dog meat in a world in which their libertarian fantasies were the operating principles.

#30 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 09:08 AM:

Larson is worth missing because he quit before his work went significantly downhill. I'm not a Larson fan, so I have no opinion about whether he quit on a high point or he'd started repeating himself or there was a noticable decline.

As for clueless goobers, my current theory is that that the purpose of democracy (or possibly representative democracy) is to keep government from being too much worse than the populace. This sounds like a very modest goal, but it's harder than it sounds, is much better than the alternative, and is probably more feasible than having a government which is significantly better than the populace. If you disenfranchise a lot of people, you greatly increase the odds of having a government which is worse than the populace.

I have no idea what Adams was trying to get at with that piece--I read it before this thread and filed it under "he's trying to be funny". The idea that Adams went from identifying with Dilbert to identifying with Dogbert is pretty plausible.

#31 ::: Example&! ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 09:13 AM:

I thought it was a silly piece. It is a pretty good example of the 'libertarian flipside' though - the sneaking suspicion that the world would be a more consistent place if it really was ruled with an iron hand.

...And therefore is used in proofs that most conspiracy theories are incorrect - real conspiracies would get results.

Hum. The more I think about it the less funny I think it is. I guess this is precisely the kind of thinking you'd want people to engage in if you wanted people to go along with restricted civil liberties, isn't it: That conspiracies would have to be efficient, and therefore don't exist.* That really efficient top down control could just fix things, darnit, even if it was done by 'bad guys.'

Sometimes I have a hard time figuring out how on earth Patrick gets so bent out of shape over things. This (like the Obama piece) require a fair amount of mental backtracking and reasoning for me to get there. These pieces start with a conclusion of moral outrage, and I have to work backwards from the pieces to figure out what's going on. This is intentional?


*They probably do, but they suffer from bad managment, just like everything else. Which should be fodder for great cartoons.

#32 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 09:16 AM:

I think you're turning into a PHB.

PHB?

#33 ::: Niall Mcauley ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 09:25 AM:

Pointy Haired Boss, a character in Dilbert.

#34 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 09:25 AM:

"Sometimes I have a hard time figuring out how on earth Patrick gets so bent out of shape over things. This (like the Obama piece) require a fair amount of mental backtracking and reasoning for me to get there. These pieces start with a conclusion of moral outrage, and I have to work backwards from the pieces to figure out what's going on. This is intentional?"

No, I'm just not as good at this stuff as I was a few years ago.

#35 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 09:28 AM:

In other words, people are too stupid to resist authority, and therefore the only real question is who the authorities should be. The idea that people--even people we think are foolish--ought to have any power over their destiny

People should have power over their own destiny. And stuff like the Milgram experiment shows that people who have the power end up giving it away to those they percieve to be authority.

But I think the solution isn't to simply fight over who should be in authority, but to get people to stop acquiescing to someone who claims authority. But that's an awful tough nut to crack, as far as I can tell. Basically, you'll know you've succeeded when future incarnations of the Milgram experiment show ninety-some percent of people stop participating, even against the commands of the people running it.

As long as the vast majority of people comply with Milgram, you've got a systems problems where people won't hold onto their own power, even if you give it to them.

#36 ::: JonathanMoeller ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 09:50 AM:

the world is being run by a handful of ultra-rich capitalists, and that our elected governments are mere puppets.

Well, duh.

#37 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 09:59 AM:

> It's not the electors that are the problem.
> It's that the people they elect appear to be clueless goobers.

That is a problem with the electors. But it's a problem with no known solution that isn't a worse problem (as Churchill said "Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time").

#38 ::: Example&! ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 10:15 AM:

I get it. "Clueles Goobers" is an intentional rorschach. Like Patrick said, it stands in for "the stupidity of the masses." The masses always equal $TheOther - if you are liberal, stupid conservatives, if you are conservative, stupid $OtherRacePeople. So he's appealing to the worst in all of us. Nice.

Okay, rant on now - this attitude Patrick explained:
You can't get a cup of coffee in a con suite, or spend five minutes in an internet cafe, without overhearing somebody rhapsodizing about the stupidity of the masses.
True. (Slashdot, passim)

... First, there's almost always a sadistic, dominationist glee in demonstrating that other people deserve nothing from the speaker.
What I call conservative liberalism. Even those who believe that it is wrong to deny social goods to people of $OtherRace cheerfully discuss denying social goods to people of $OtherPhilosophy or $OtherReligion.

Second, the argument, such as it is, almost always hinges on some survey showing that a majority of those questioned had been soft-headed enough to believe a lie they'd been told by someone in authority.
Oh, this burns me up something fierce. Usually when I figure out that I belong to that group. Let me be specific: I am a politically liberal person who belongs to a theologically conservative group, a Christian. The fact that some Christians believe weird stuff or believe not-weird stuff but can't explain it worth a damn AND that means you think people like me are dumb - well, that bugs me.

Let me give an example. (Erik, this is not meant as a personal attack.):
"I live in a country where a large fraction of the population ferverntly belives that we are in the end times, whatever that means."
This is a variation on the "this group believes something incomprehnsible and is therefore dumb." Yes, a lot of people who have that belief also believe deplorable things, or do deplorable things. I use deplorable advisedly, it harms us to confuse stupid beliefs with evil behavior.


_______________________
Incidentally, I'll tell you what that belief is about. Due to certain givens, it would be plausible for a Christian to conclude that Jesus is going to show up and pull the plug real soon now. I would welcome that, albeit with some hesitations.* Christian theology is full of inner urgings that your life and what you do with it is significant and full of meaning precisely because the clock is running out. It's kind of a mainstay of Christian theology.

Naturally, being human we screwed it up.** It's noticeable from the beginning. Paul writes a short letter to a church in Thessonolaica and says "Jesus is coming real soon now." Those guys promptly sit on their asses and do nothing. Paul then has to write another letter telling them to get off their asses and live their lives intelligently.

Today's crop of Christian conservatives believe a highly detailed, specialized version of the end times stuff, which to explain adequately would take another 2k words. The short version is that some of them have come to quite unholy conclusions about what they can/should do because of the immanent return of Christ. This is deplorable, but not stupid.
__
*I was much more keen on the idea back when I thought it reasonable that the Cold War would wax hot, and that I would be wandering a cold, ashen, wasteland dying of radiation poisoning. Now I think about my hubris in the way I live my life and think it would be shockingly embarassing to talk to Jesus face to face.

**Its another mainstay of Christian theology that humans aren't stupid, we're selfish, and stubbornly do things that are selfish even in the face of evidence that it will harm us. Possibly the only common point between fiscal conservatives and theological conservatives, and expains why some Christians are fooled into thinking that the Republicans are on their side.

#39 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 10:24 AM:

PNH saith: The idea that people--even people we think are foolish--ought to have any power over their destiny is as foreign to Scott Adams as it would have been to a Czarist noble.

Why Mark Frauenfelder, editor of a fine magazine about grass-roots techie self-empowerment, doesn't see that this is a dagger pointed at his own throat is a mystery to me. Then again, I'm just as fantasted by all the con-suite individualists who evidently believe that they'd be something other than dog meat in a world in which their libertarian fantasies were the operating principles.

These are two extraordinarily good points, and it is worth noting that:

(1) The idea that the common herd couldn't tie its own shoelaces without the help of the superior man goes back to Plato. The criticism of democracy -- that the mass of people are clueless goobers -- likewise goes back to Plato, though he added the idea that democracy creates vain, dilettantish people incapable of carrying out any great act. There is also a counter-idea to this: that superiority is something that anyone can cultivate within themselves on the basis of their own nature since that nature inclines us to the recognition of the humanity of our fellows. That one we owe to a fellow called Mencius who declared 2,300 odd years ago 'First come the people, next come the altars to the gods, last comes the ruler.'

(2)There's a streak of self-delusion in the minds of people who think that they won't get eaten in the kind of world that libertarians say they want. It's the assumption that they are smarter than the common herd and they'll be the one's doing the eating. This is simply another side of the old Platonist coin.

#40 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 10:27 AM:

Yeah, democracy is a messy process that can be manipulated, especially when half the voters are what Bugs Bunny called maroons. Unfortunately, the alternatives have been tried and they leave a lot more to be desired.

#41 ::: Example&! ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 10:28 AM:

Thank you for the answer, Patrick. I meant no criticism.

#42 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 10:33 AM:

"Then again, I'm just as fantasted by all the con-suite individualists who evidently believe that they'd be something other than dog meat in a world in which their libertarian fantasies were the operating principles."

Oh yes! I always wondered why people who hate being governed by the government would prefer to be governed by corporations. It's almost as if it's simply an aesthetic decision, and nothing more. If a police officer kicks down their doors, that's government oppression. But if a rent-a-cop with a Golden Arches unit patch kicks down their door, it's capitalism, unfettered and ready for its wonders to perform.

#43 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 10:54 AM:

PHN: Then again, I'm just as fantasted by all the con-suite individualists who evidently believe that they'd be something other than dog meat in a world in which their libertarian fantasies were the operating principles.

It's because such a world would naturally be run by people who have the vital skills of a handful of tech savvy and the ability to quote Heinlein at length. Oh, and the ability to make hard-headed rational decisions unimpeded by sentiment. You can tell they're unimpeded by sentiment because they're willing to let lots of people starve, or get killed or imprisoned. Those are the hallmarks of the world to come, the brave new Aynleinian paradise full of armed polite men and submissive redheaded women and no taxes to suckle the untermenchen.

#44 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 10:57 AM:

Oh yes! I always wondered why people who hate being governed by the government would prefer to be governed by corporations.

I trolled a couple groups of Usenet libertarians rather successfully with the simple phrase "corporations are governments."

#45 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 10:58 AM:

Sean, I think they confuse "capitalism" and "competition" with "the way they're treated by retail businesses."

#46 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 11:11 AM:

I have nothing to say, I just want to savor the word "Aynleinian."

#47 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 11:21 AM:

Sean, I think they confuse "capitalism" and "competition" with "the way they're treated by retail businesses."

Ah, right! They think that a variety of armed paramilitary wings of multinationals would be competing to serve them better! Now I get it! Oh man, I love it. When the government collects all their private information and snoops on their phone calls, it can only be to oppress them. But when a corporation snoops on them, it would only be used to make their lives more convenient. Oh dear. The adage, "Be careful what you wish for," comes to mind.

I can see it now, a jackbooted Pepsi peace officer, "For your own convenience and in order for us to serve you better put your hands on the wall! NOW!"

#48 ::: lightning ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 11:22 AM:

Ahh, the Secret Masters of Fandom. "*Somebody* has to be running this mess. It couldn't get this screwed up by itself!"

#49 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 11:24 AM:

you know whose fault it is? You "stupid masses". If you'd cared enough to learn about computers 20 years ago, when they were first mass-produced, instead of "forcing" us tech-savvy populace in the "perennial tech-support for family/friends/partners" hell when Windows95 came about, we wouldn't feel so constantly superior and unable to respect others.
</snark>

Out of snarkiness, technology is a big part of this "new world order" mentality. Do we elect our system administrators?

#50 ::: Mark W ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 11:35 AM:

I think libertarians would just prefer that the corporate world's rent-a-thugs be a corporate expense, instead of the current system where McDonald's goons are paid for with public funds.

I'd prefer to be shot by the Pinkertons - if it's the National Guard, I have to pay for the bullets.

#51 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 11:41 AM:

I can see it now, a jackbooted Pepsi peace officer, "For your own convenience and in order for us to serve you better put your hands on the wall! NOW!"

"We know you have a choice of oppressive armed thugs..."

#52 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 11:43 AM:

I have nothing to say, I just want to savor the word "Aynleinian."

I'm with you.

Sixth grade gym class as government.

#53 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 11:47 AM:

Out of snarkiness, technology is a big part of this "new world order" mentality. Do we elect our system administrators?

No, and we don't elect doctors, mechanics, architects, gardeners, hairdressers, or civil engineers.

Policy and craft are different aspects of public life, and there are suitably different ways of doing them democratically.

For policy, you want accurate, responsible, educated and honest representation. For craft to be democratic, there has to be a way of recruiting from every class of society for expert training, and a way of making the work of experts available to everyone.

One mistake we often make is to think democracy is defined by elections and political parties: there's a lot more to it than that.

#54 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 11:52 AM:

I'm a slow thinker. Sometimes it takes me a while to get where I'm going. I'm not sure I'm even there now.

I've always figured an elected/representative form of government reflected the story about the five blind man and the elephant, where each man feels a different part of the elephant and, based on what he's felt says, "The elephant is very like a (tree, wall, fan, rope, something-else"). I've always thought the story was about how reality is complex; none of us can see all of it and we have to tell each other what's there in order to come to any useful decision. It's just one of my reasons for supporting this form of government.

My problem is not that people are clueless goobers - in my experience most people aren't, except when trying to deal with things they haven't yet learned about, in which case they're merely clueless, very rarely (if ever) goobers.

What I worry about regards to people who believe electing Bush is a good idea, that we found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that Saddam Hussein has close ties to Al Qaeda (sp?), or that 9/11 was somehow a government plot, is that I not only think they are not feeling the elephant, but I'm beginning to wonder whether they're in the same room with the elephant.

If one is trying to take actions regarding the elephant, this is a problem.

And what I fret about is that I can't figure out what to do about this.

#55 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 11:53 AM:

Hold on...and here I'm way out of my depth, because despite the common use of a word there's very little similar between political science and computer science...isn't representation a hallmark of a republic, while democracy--well, in its idealized form--doesn't use representatives, but the general body?

I realize this is off topic, and an idealized democracy is pretty much impossible in the world now, so I'm splitting hairs, but...I'm curious.

#56 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 12:01 PM:

I'd prefer to be shot by the Pinkertons - if it's the National Guard, I have to pay for the bullets.

Pinkertons would add a ballistics and convenience surcharge and bill your survivors. They could call it a "late fee."

#57 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 12:07 PM:

Does it matter that the worst governments are a lot worse than the worst corporations? Either one can leave you ruled by bullies, and governments have a lot more clout, both pragmatically and because people are more inclined to believe that governments are deserve total loyalty.

Example?!, that's my universe you're talking about wanting to go away. It's not just hubris to think God will be more or less satisfied with you, it's hubris to want the the rug pulled out from everyone else.

#58 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 12:07 PM:

Lucy,
my last sentence was slightly misleading. I wasn't advocating representation in crafts, but referring to the particular tasks that system administration involve: deciding who can or can not access, which privileges should be assigned, what gets to consume "public" resources, etc. It's not by coincidence that the technical term for this is "managing policies".

Sysadmin (and, in different but substantially similar ways, software development) involves a state of mind in which YOU are the perennial dictator, squarely defining a world divided in things that "work" and things that "don't work". There's no compromise between solutions, and no mediation between actors. It's hard to balance that.

If you couple this to a general sense that the "common populace" really doesn't understand computers, even though they now run EVERYTHING around them, it's easy to see how a certain state of mind can develop. Even more so if your new-economy dollars can buy a nice suburban house in a "green belt" where people don't really need to talk to each other.

#59 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 12:13 PM:

people are more inclined to believe that governments are deserve total loyalty.

Depends on the people. And the culture. A number of years ago (I think it was during the Clinton administration, so it predates this latest governmental setup), I read...don't remember where...an opinion that Europeans have a basic trust in government, and a distrust of corporations; Americans have a basic distrust of government and a trust in corporations.

Now, whether it's strictly speaking true or not nowadays, I remember thinking "well, that sounds about right..." at the time.

#60 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 12:29 PM:

Nancy, the distinction you're making -- between government and corporations -- isn't as sharp as your language implies. Consider relations between the current US administration and Halliburton (and ChoicePoint and Diebold too, but mostly Halliburton); between the old British Empire and the British East India Company; between the US and UK government in the 1950s and the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (which later became British Petroleum, still around today as BP).

#61 ::: mds ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 12:32 PM:

Otherwise people start asking questions, such as: how come all the polls had the election as "too close to call" but Bush won by 20%?

See Georgia 2002. Governor Barnes was cruising to re-election according to the polls. Yet, magically the electronic voting machines with no paper trail told a different story on election day. Senator Cleland's polling margins were less comfortable, yet big enough to strongly suggest victory over Chambliss. I know, I know, the only poll that matters is election day. I just wish I could explain why a popular governor suddenly lost.

Its another mainstay of Christian theology that humans aren't stupid, we're selfish,

These are not even remotely mutually exclusive. Remember, Adam Smith assumed rational self-interest.

And what I fret about is that I can't figure out what to do about this.

Amen, or ditto, or something. Some of us turn to rhetoric about the stupid masses out of despair, not smug "humorous" superiority. The things I howled at my computer screen in the wee hours of that November 2004 day were not flattering to the intelligence of my fellow Americans. Yet I still believe in a democratic constitutional republic. Yeah, I occasionally wish we had a Pericles in charge. But I constantly wish people would wake up about how their action or inaction is empowering the destruction of our constitutional system. The genuinely destructive outcomes of the system in recent years are what generate my snark, not the system itself.

#62 ::: David Manheim ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 12:50 PM:

mds: I can't claim definitive knowledge here, but many people were surprised by the polls beforehand, and he was a crappy governer - it's not as bad as you make it out to be.

Of course, I did briefly consider suing the county for disenfranchising me, and asking them to provide evidence that my vote, or any other, was actually counted.

#63 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 12:55 PM:

Avram, you're right that the line between corporations and government can get pretty blurry.

#64 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 01:22 PM:

Frauenfelder seems to me to have the same basic problem as a lot of Democratic congresspeople: deep inside, he doesn't believe that really bad stuff is going to happen to people like him because of what the authorities may be off doing to the masses. He's in the situation Pastor Niemoller described, not saying anything when the working or middle class gets trampled because he's not (he thinks) one of them. There's this belief that being sufficiently hip, or sufficiently loved by lobbyists, or what have you, will be the slightest protection when you're in the sights. It's wrong, but learning that before it's too late requires empathy, and neither the perks of office nor the self-congratulatory smugness of the foolish entreprenuer provide good soil for that.

The masses often make stupid choices. Then again, so do elites. In the long run, the cure seldom involves detachment.

#65 ::: Joe Rybicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 01:28 PM:

I'm confused by the anti-Libertarian sentiments in this thread. How does the Masses As Clueless Goobers philosophy get interpreted as Libertarianism? My (limited) understanding of the Libertarian ideal is that it relies on people being smart enough to govern themselves on personal issues, take responsibility for their own decisions, etc.

"People are stupid and need to be governed strongly" sounds a lot closer to our current system. Which is pretty far from Libertarian, as far as I can tell.

I know contradictions don't exist; somebody check my premises.

Also, what does it say about me that every time I try to write "Libertarian" I end up with "Libraritarian"? Discuss.

#66 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 01:44 PM:

I'm confused by the anti-Libertarian sentiments in this thread.

Yeah, it's not actually a response to Adams's comments. The anti-Libertarian feel grew out of a comment about Mark Frauenfelder. Trace back to...

Then again, I'm just as fantasted by all the con-suite individualists who evidently believe that they'd be something other than dog meat in a world in which their libertarian fantasies were the operating principles. (PNH)

#67 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 01:48 PM:

Plato was an oligarch. His "republic" is an outline for creating an oligarchy that's harder to dislodge than the oligarchies of his day, many of which were dislodged. I like what Bertrand Russell said about it; quoting from memory: "The ideas in Plato's Republic weren't fully understood until the mid-twentieth century, when Nazi Germany provided them with a practical exegesis." The similarities really are remarkable.

He also "refuted" the idea that democracy is more just by saying that for many people to be unjust is much worse than for a few to be, and that therefore an unjust democracy is worse than an unjust oligarchy. This is nonsense in several ways, most obviously that his own argument also means that a just democracy is much better than a just oligarchy (even conceding arguendo that such a thing might exist).

But the main problem is that he entirely misses the point about democracies being more just. It's not so much that they're better at dispensing justice, though I happen to think they are (in general). Democracy is more just in a more cosmic sense, which is that the people get the government that they deserve more often in a democracy.

No policy of say, Saddam Hussein, could possibly be blamed on the average non-Baath in the Bagdad street. Whereas I do have to take part of the blame for Dubya's policies. My share of the blame is less than that of someone who voted for him or for Nader in 2000, and MUCH less than someone who voted for him in 2004, but I do have a share in it. I didn't work hard enough to oppose him. I didn't try hard enough to influence my fellow citizens. I didn't go to Ohio and knock on doors.

But more importantly, and more abstractly, as a citizen of a democracy, this is MY country, and everything it does reflects on me. And that's why Dubya makes me so angry. It's like the kid who went on a destructive rampage near where I lived growing up, and used my brother's name when asked who he was. (An imperfect analogy, I admit.) How DARE he use the sacred name and honor of America to do these terrible things?

#68 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 01:50 PM:

Joe, a Libraritarian is someone who devours books. Much more common here than Libertarians. Naturally you want to type the more commonly-applicable term.

#69 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 01:52 PM:

The Scott Adams article that this discussion started with has a satirically expanded vaguely libertarian-sounding idea.

As nearly as I can figure it, there are plenty of folks in all US political movements (I don't know if it's different elsewhere) who despise some very large proportion of people.

I'm taking out the broad brush and risking some paint splatters.

The religious right simultaneously thinks that mainstream society is horribly corrupt and that all normal people think the way they do.

Some large chunk of the right thinks that anyone to the left couldn't possibly have any reason for thinking what they do and only deserves mockery.

A lot of the left thinks that most people are irresponsible compulsive consumers who can't be trusted with guns or with the education of their children.

I'm recommending this, not because it's directly relevent, but because it's a really cool piece of writing, it's an effort to get away from despising people, and I might do myself internal damage if I don't recommend it to someone.

#70 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 02:02 PM:

I've had brief flirtations with libertarianism. Then I wake up and realize that I'd be in pretty bad shape under that sort of regime, and go back to being a Fabian socialist, as I have been since my early teens.

I would prefer to give up the dream of great wealth in exchange for the hope that I will never experience crushing poverty. You can't have it both ways, IMHO. If the sky is the limit for wealth, then the Marianas Trench is the limit for poverty. I'd like to keep us all around sea level.

#71 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 02:12 PM:

Magenta: hear, hear! An excellent way of putting it.

#72 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 02:14 PM:

Bruce said: Frauenfelder seems to me to have the same basic problem as a lot of Democratic congresspeople: deep inside, he doesn't believe that really bad stuff is going to happen to people like him because of what the authorities may be off doing to the masses.

I don't know this Frauenfelder guy at all -- but the attitude you describe is the common attitude of folks who believe themselves to be financially comfortable/secure. In our society, money is a great insulator. Teresa recently linked to an article(and many of us commented upon) about Rich People. [A Monthly Family Budget, July 19.] It really is true that more rich people vote Republican. The idea that rich capitalists really do run the world and that poor folks are clueless goobers is a whole lot less scary if you aren't poor.

#73 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 02:18 PM:

The idea that rich capitalists really do run the world and that poor folks are clueless goobers is a whole lot less scary if you aren't poor.

It's also apparenty a fairly common attitude in high-tech culture. Anybody else ever read a book called "Cyberselfish" by Patricia Borsook? As she puts it, an "I've got mine--so screw you" view.

#74 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 02:19 PM:

Fabian socialist?

Oh wait. I'm thinking "Fabio". never mind.

#75 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 02:19 PM:

Xopher: Since for Plato justice is a moral quality involving a balance of appetite and spirit under the control of intellect, democracies cannot, in his terms, be just, because they give the appetite free rein.

#76 ::: mds ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 02:25 PM:

Fabian socialist?

Oh wait. I'm thinking "Fabio". never mind.

There's no conflict. Do you really think someone like Fabio would have achieved any kind of hawtness status outside of a command economy?

#77 ::: Joe Rybicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 02:27 PM:

Nancy: Thanks for that link. Beautiful, and so gut-wrenchingly true. Reminds me of a trip my parents took us on in the summer before I started high school. We started in Ohio, angled down through Texas to San Diego, up to San Francisco, and back across through Colorado, etc. It took a month, and it was glorious.

My sister, who had lived in Japan and traveled extensively throughout Southeast Asia, hated every minute.

I could never understand that. The idea that you need to leave America to really experience stuff, man, just strikes me as so ludicrous. It seems to assume that the US is a homogenous entity, both in culture and in setting. See: elections of 2000, 2004 -- make that every aspect of politics -- for evidence to the contrary.

I think it comes from a type of self-hatred: Nothing familiar can be good.

I know this has nothing to do with the topic, and I thank you all for your indulgence. Good day.

#78 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 02:30 PM:

I'll second Nancy's recommendation of that piece (it's about living abroad, and how that affects your perceptions of your own country). I saw it yesterday, and promptly added the author to my LJ friends list. Also check out the earlier piece, "Spanish for Dummies".

#79 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 02:35 PM:

The criticism of democracy -- that the mass of people are clueless goobers -- likewise goes back to Plato...

How do you say "clueless goobers" in Greek?

#80 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 02:48 PM:

Joe - Libertarians believe in the freedom to do whatever one wants as long as it doesn't infringe on the rights of others. This requires self-regulation to a large extent. Self-regulation relies on the nobility of character of those self-regulating. Looking at companies like Enron and Halliburton, self-regulation on the scale Libertarians propose becomes laughable.

They also "believe that citizens should be free to take risks, even to the point of actual harm to themselves." Fine in concept, but in execution this usually ends up harming others as well e.g. the relation between drug addicts and those they abuse/who enable them.

Finally, they oppose government programs for the welfare of others, seeing it as forced charity rather than elevating society on a whole. Their theories tend to assume that one's own choices created one's lot in life so one reaps what one sows. The practical result of this is that the poor stay poor because they choose to stay poor, rather than not having access to, say, better teachers* which would allow them to get better jobs, etc, etc.

*poor neighborhood -> poor tax base -> low teacher salaries. Due to the nature of supply and demand, the teachers that can demand a better salary because of their talent and qualifications do, and go to richer districts.

#81 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 03:06 PM:
Anybody else ever read a book called "Cyberselfish" by Patricia Borsook? As she puts it, an "I've got mine--so screw you" view.

Paulina Borsook. Good book, if slightly dated ó written before Bill Gates started handing out money, f'rinstance.

How do you say "clueless goobers" in Greek?

ὁι πολλοί. HTH.

#82 ::: Jim Teacher ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 03:08 PM:

The correct answer is that 'Dilbert' blows.

#83 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 03:11 PM:

Now is the time on Sprockets when I over-simplify.

I've noticed that there are (at least) two kinds of people calling themselves libertarians. There are the Hayekian libs, people who've actually read and thought about the implications of liberty, and then there are the con-suite libs, who generally just grouse about how stupid everyone else is.

One thing that distinguishes the two groups is their attitude about the world. Jim Henley is a great example of a Hayekian libertarian, and one of his distinguishing features is that he's interested in and engaged with the world -- he can write with wit and insight about a variety of topics. Neel Krishnaswami is another one like this, and Bruce Baugh (who no longer considers himself a libertarian). The Hayekian is attracted to liberty at leat partly out of a love for the unexpected ways in which human desire and culture bloom when allowed to flower freely.

The typical con-suite libertarian, on the other hand, is disengaged with the world. He's interested in a narrow range of topics, and he wants anything not relating to those topics to just get the hell away from him. If he is forced by circumstance to pay attemtion to something outside his usual ambit, he wants to keep it short. He wants to be able to give a quick look, come to a conclusion, and then declare the matter finished so he doesn't have to think about it anymore. That's why this type is attracted to the fuhrerprinzip -- conservative strong men project the image of quick decisive action.

The Hayekian lib wants freedom for everybody. (Well, not the freedom to initiate force, but you know what I mean.) The con-suite lib wants freedom for himself; he's willing to have everyone be free if that's the only way he can be free, but he'd rather it didn't come down to that.

#84 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 04:10 PM:

Anyone want to sign my petition to change the title of A Confederacy of Dunces to something less offensive?

#85 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 04:11 PM:

dolloch--

You write, "Finally, they oppose government programs for the welfare of others, seeing it as forced charity rather than elevating society on a whole. Their theories tend to assume that one's own choices created one's lot in life so one reaps what one sows. The practical result of this is that the poor stay poor because they choose to stay poor, rather than not having access to, say, better teachers* which would allow them to get better jobs, etc, etc."

This is about half right. Libertarians do, in general, oppose government welfare programs. This is, however, for reasons that are more substantial and more important than "your choices create your life so you're stuck with it."Libertarians are distrustful of the ability of government to administer charity effectively and sensibly. Most Libertarians would not say that charity itself is ineffective and should be gotten rid of. They would say, instead, that government administered charity is ineffective and should be replaced by private charities that are unhooked from government concerns winning the next election, looking good on the evening news and so on.

Thank you, Avram, for your clear delineation of the differences that can and do exist among Libertarians.

#86 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 04:22 PM:

Stefan, how about A Confederacy of Idiots?

#87 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 04:24 PM:

A Union of Dunces? (Wait, who are you trying to not offend?)

#88 ::: Jeff R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 04:36 PM:

Well, I think that A Horde of Clueless Goobers would be the move in the opposite direction from the one he's trying to go in...

#89 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 04:43 PM:

musty man. Read it. good stuff.

#90 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 04:45 PM:

Avram: I'll second Nancy's recommendation of that piece...

Thank you, Nancy and Avram.

Jesus... sometimes you read some writing and it just makes you ashamed of your own stuff. (That's a good thing, in my view.)

#91 ::: mds ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 04:51 PM:

Well, I think that A Horde of Clueless Goobers would be the move in the opposite direction from the one he's trying to go in...

In deference to Mr. Clarke, how about A Polis of ὁι πολλοί?

(One of my nitpicking criticisms of the Planescape D&D campaign setting was the use in the early materials of "hoi polloi" to mean "the high and mighty." I suspect they were thinking of "hoity-toity.")

#92 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 05:00 PM:

They meant hoi aristoi, right?

#93 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 05:02 PM:

Look, people, historically I'm so libertarianism-positive that Electrolite occasionally got listed as a "libertarian" blog.

My problem with the American political tendency that has adopted the name "libertarianism" is that it seems to me to ultimately wind up being a charter for corporations to swallow up most of our, you know, freedom.

#94 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 05:05 PM:

Sara S -

Thank you for the clarification. That wasn't the impression I got from the various websites. Their position that private charites are more effective than governmental ones strikes me as naive. How different is a church-sponsored AIDS program which refuses to educate about condom use for philosophical/religous reasons different from a state-sponsored program which does the same to court their constituancy?

I'll admit my knowledge of Libertarianism is limited to the con-suite-style boss I have and what I can glean from the web. I just don't see how taxes for roads and infrastructure, which are for the benefit of the society as a whole, are differentiated from welfare programs, which also are for the benefit of the society as a whole. Granted, there are a few more steps to go through to see the benefit of the latter, but those are steps a person has to tread to legitimize charity anyway.

#95 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 05:07 PM:

I think "co-opted" might be a better term than adopted.

There are other types of libertarian than Hayekian and con suite. There's the crusty western type (property rights emphasis) and the rarely seen orange-breasted reticulated libertarian.

#96 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 05:20 PM:

Of course there's a Scottish oi band called Oi Polloi; how could I have not anticipated that?

#97 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 05:20 PM:

There are other types of libertarian than Hayekian and con suite. There's the crusty western type (property rights emphasis) and the rarely seen orange-breasted reticulated libertarian.

No degussated ones?

#98 ::: Joe Rybicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 05:26 PM:

It seems to me that government's role is to protect its citizens from each other, and from outside threats. This idea supports concepts of welfare, gun control, and drug regulation (an important distinction should be made here between regulation and prohibition), while failing to support preemptive war, stem-cell bans, or the idiotic assumption that we as a society have a right to not be offended by anything, ever.

Unfortunately, this philosophy doesn't fall neatly within any of our country's political demarcations, making it very hard for me to find appropriate bumper stickers.

#99 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 06:01 PM:

we as a society have a right to not be offended by anything, ever.

You offend me, sir. Pistols at dawn.

#100 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 06:02 PM:

Avram gets at the crucial issue, I think. I believe that Jim and Neel wish good for me and everyone else - I trust them to be compassionate, honorable, open to self-correction, and all the other good stuff that I think marks a well-developed moral adult. With varying degrees of reservation I'd say the same of, oh, say, Radley Balko, whose reporting on the human cost of the drug war is outstanding and a credit to his cause.

I woke up from a nap with a phrase I really ought to hang a story on. :) The con-suite libertarian suffers from the Mensan's disease: he thinks that because he is smart, Panopticon does not see him. Or would not see him if it were only defanged a little bit more.

#101 ::: Martyn Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 06:15 PM:

We know what corporate security forces do. You have seen Robocop, haven't you.

I was wondering about 'Libertarians' until someone mentioned Hayek, so beloved of Mrs Thatcher (or the mad cow as we affectionately call her over here) and then I understood the word equated to 'Tory', which can be defined as someone who believes the law applies to you, he's above it.

Have you any idea how much it hurts to find myself in agreement with WLS Churchill? Me, I'm a member of the lumpen proletariat, and democracy isn't just about who you vote for at general elections. If you believe that the they really have won.

'They?' The bad guys, any bad guys, it doesn't really matter which ones. They're anyone who thinks they know all the answers and you know nothing.

#102 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 06:24 PM:

I'm not a Christian, but my understanding of the Christian theory of the end times is "no man knows the hour," that people should live as though it might be ten minutes from now, or ten thousand years. Can someone here confirm this, or explain where I've gone wrong? (I know there are plenty of intelligent Christians--and for that matter intelligent non-Christians who know more Christian theology than I do--reading this.)

The thing about the con suite libertarians is that they're prone to recite sound bites they haven't thought through. The last con I was at, someone proclaimed loudly that the U.S. should be what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they drafted the Constitution; he spluttered when I said "you mean a slave-holding agrarian republic where only landowners get to vote?" I can see intelligent disagreements with that characterization, starting with the debates at the time about what power the federal government should have over the slave trade--but he clearly hadn't even considered the question. I don't know what he thought Original Intent had been, but I suspect it didn't have much to do with what anyone said in Philadelphia in 1787.

#103 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 06:38 PM:

You have seen Robocop, haven't you.

Dead or alive, you're coming with me.

#104 ::: Example&! ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 07:54 PM:

Vicki wrote
I'm not a Christian, but my understanding of the Christian theory of the end times is "no man knows the hour," that people should live as though it might be ten minutes from now, or ten thousand years. Can someone here confirm this, or explain where I've gone wrong?
Yes, you are correct!

Martin Luther, when asked, "what would you do if you knew Christ was coming tomorrow?" reportedly said "I would plant an apple tree." When asked why, he said, "because I was going to do that anyway."* In other words, preparing good things for future generations that may not come to be is the right thing to do, and doing the right thing isn't something to be put off.

There's a whole thread of pro-environmental Christian theology that's based around the notion that it is a moral good to take care of the planet we live on, and it's quite consistent with end times theology. The fact that there are ChristianFundamentalists that have lost sight of that...irks me.

The ChristianFundamentalist groups get hung up on the details of how it happens, much to their sorrow. Basically, take a book of coded allegories written when people tended to get tortured and killed for their beliefs (Revelation), and then mix in mindless literalism, and you get ChristianFundamentalist end times stuff. Left Behind and whatnot. The fact that much of our present sorrow in these United States is due to poor lit crit skills and bad readings of relatively clear texts AND we are now discussing it on MakingLight is what I would call a cruel irony.


*Hey, Greg London, Christians have koans too, just longer, and poorly worded.

#105 ::: Example&! ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 08:22 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz,
Example&!, that's my universe you're talking about wanting to go away. It's not just hubris to think God will be more or less satisfied with you, it's hubris to want the the rug pulled out from everyone else.
Sorry, didn't mean it that way! I'm not done yet either! I want the ride to go on too. Look back at the context, I was mostly wishing for Him to hurry up when I thought there was a good chance that we'd all be plunged into mindboggling amounts of post-nuclear-war suffering.

Fortunately, while God listens to me, He's under no obligation to follow my directions. (Thank Goodness!) I'm quite clear that my desires are motivated by monsterous selfishness, and that is a bad thing, and I am really quite sorry about it. He'll pull the plug when He's ready, on His schedule, and I expect that since He has a history of taking everyone's best interests to heart, He'll do it when it makes sense. (I realize that many would debate wether history really shows Him taking everyone's best interests at heart, but that's too big a bit to tackle in the time I have left. Call it an assumption of faith.)

The fact that I will one day see Him face to face makes me nervous, is all.

I'll be logging off for several days, so I won't have the opportunity to fully dig into all this stuff, or clarify points. It's bad form to cut and run like this, in one of these discussions. My intent wasn't to offend you Nancy, and I hope you will accept my apology.
___
for the curious, my name is based on the form Yotsuba&!.

#106 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 08:22 PM:

I've been pondering this whole "end times" thing, too, and I still don't get why there are some Christian fundamentalists who are seeming to welcome and encourage things which appear to fulfill the prophecies (if you take Revelation as actual prophecy, which I as a liberal Episcopalian have some doubts about). In my worldview, if there are to be "end times" they will be a sign of rising evil in the world, and it should be the responsibility of all Christians to reject evil and fight against it. Embracing evil in the belief that Jesus will come sooner through it seems to me to be a particularly perverse corruption.

#107 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 08:32 PM:
There are other types of libertarian than Hayekian and con suite. There's the crusty western type (property rights emphasis) and the rarely seen orange-breasted reticulated libertarian.

Don't fergit "libertarian socialist," another phrase useful for inciting cranial explosions on Usenet.

#108 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 08:44 PM:

Anyone want to sign my petition to change the title of A Confederacy of Dunces to something less offensive?

The problem with that is that the book itself is offensive. Not to mention just sort of bad.

#109 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 09:08 PM:

Not to mention just sort of bad.

Boy, that's for sure. I tried to like it. Because of the sad story behind it and all. But, you know, it was just bad.

#110 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 09:18 PM:

Hayek wrote a lot about how there are things that are 'the result of human action, but not the execution of any human design'. he studied how this could come about. As part of this he defended the Smithian view of the power of the market to distribute scarce resources well.
Unfortunately, there are those who take this aspect, transform it into 'markets are always best' and miss out the details. I see Yochai Benkler as Hayek's heir in extending this theory of spontaneous order to the non-scarce world of the net.

#111 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 09:38 PM:

I've been pondering this whole "end times" thing, too, and I still don't get why there are some Christian fundamentalists who are seeming to welcome and encourage things which appear to fulfill the prophecies

Oliviacw, I'm a Christian non-fundamentalist and I don't get it either, so I certainly can't explain it to you: I'm sure, however, that there are folks who can address both the theology and the psychology. If you are curious about the historical origins and modern implications of the fundamentalist movement, I recommend Kevin Phillips's American Theocracy.

#112 ::: mds ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 10:52 PM:

if there are to be "end times" they will be a sign of rising evil in the world, and it should be the responsibility of all Christians to reject evil and fight against it. Embracing evil in the belief that Jesus will come sooner through it seems to me to be a particularly perverse corruption.

Yes, even if evil is rising, and its victory seems inevitable, there are still supplies that need loading on the truck. Or one last fight to be had, behind the Hyperion, in the rain.

But that and the philosophy of tree-planting have been lost in a massive wave of desire to be on the winning "team," and see all the people one hates tortured while one sits smugly on a cloud. It's always easier to appeal to people's baser natures, rather than their higher natures. Christ could have snared the rich young ruler for sure if he had promised even more material prosperity, plus the chance to be in a special club where he could watch his enemies burn.

#113 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 11:40 PM:

I think Patrick's onto something interesting here. The whole thread of "the people are so stupid/weak/uneducated/whatever that someone smarter/stronger/better educated/whatever needs to make the big decisions" is all around us, and it's creepy how easy it is to make that kind of argument.

The thing is, people are much more competent to run their own lives than to make national-scale political decisions. But both in this thread and national politics, there's a lot of support for the idea that people are kind of clueless goobers when it comes to personal choices. Alice wants to smoke dope. Bob wants to read dirty books. Carol wants to go buy antibiotics without a doctor's approval. Dave wants to gamble somewhere not approved by the local authorities (aka where they're not getting a cut). These are all terrible problems, to be solved by laws, courts and cops, right? Because these guys are clueless goobers who can't run their lives?

The usual answer is "well, those decisions impose costs on me." And it's true. But it's far more true of democratic decisions, right? You can impose costs on me by being a drunk or drug addict, supporting your habit by begging or petty crime. You can also impose costs on me by drafting my kids to go fight in your war. But I can certainly decide not to take part in your drug habit myself, and I can likely take some steps to avoid being mugged to support your Mad Dog 20/20 habit. But it's a lot harder to avoid sending my kids off to bring democracy to cantfinditonamapistan.

#114 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 12:55 AM:

albatross, you didn't carry the thought about "Dave wants to gamble somewhere not approved by the local authorities (aka where they're not getting a cut)" through into the "well, those decisions impose costs on me" section.
Over here (Oz), the main problem seems to be various forms of legal gambling, which have greatly expanded both in the amount & the places it's available, and also in the different types - lottery, lotto, poker machines, casino games, horse race betting going Australia-wide so it's on almost all day every day, betting now legally available on a whole range of sports, etc. And most now available online too.

Here we've seen murders, suicides, family murder-suicides, embezzling (up to millions over a few years in one known instance), armed robberies, and probably quite a bit of petty crime & dishonesty going back to debts from legal gambling. It's quite like drug addiction or alcoholism in that sense. I'd be surprised if there weren't similar situations in at least areas of the USA.
There were probably similar situations, along with some added bad effects, when the legal gaming & wagering was much more restricted, and more illegal stuff was going on, but gambling seems to have a much greater market penetration now (live lotto draws on prime TV, poker machine rooms in every corner pub, online ads, etc. Plus supplies of cash from ATMs, funds from credit cards). Also, perhaps some of the popular forms encourage 'addictive behaviour' more, like the experiments with rats in Skinner boxes pressing buttons for rewards.

#115 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 02:56 AM:

PNH said: "In other words, people are too stupid to resist authority, and therefore the only real question is who the authorities should be."

Unfortunately he forgot the other part of the whole thesis, which is "and of course I should be one of them". After all, how else would one be certain that the authorities are doing things *right*?

It's a popular meme, and one which is responsible for any number of authoritarian political tragedies (including the French revolution, the Third Reich, the Russian Revolution, the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields in Cambodia, and most election results). The "looking back" part of the meme, which is so popular with the conservative end of politics, hearkens back to a great era ("when we had kings", or "when people behaved right" or whenever) and points to this era as what should be happening now. The "looking forward" part of the meme, beloved of the radical end of politics, points to a projected utopia as the example of what should be happening now. As Pratchett points out, the problem with this sort of thinking is that even once you have the "right" people in charge, you discover the real problem is you have the wrong sort of general public, and this is where the knives come out and the killing starts.

#116 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 09:44 AM:

The thing that I can never understand about Christians and the Rapture is how anyone could unreservedly believe that they are going to heaven for sure, and therefore the Rapture should come right now. How could you possibly be that confident that you've lived an honourable and righteous life? If I was a Christian, I would be the one saying, 'Just one more day, God - let me have one more day, I can do better tomorrow!' Hell, I'm not a Christian, and I still try to be a better person tomorrow than I was today. And, being a human, sometimes - often? - I fail; another reason to try to put off the End Times as long as possible.

#117 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 09:48 AM:

I consider myself a liberal-flavored libertarian--I mistrust government mostly because it has such a talent for hurting people. I'm generally more comfortable with liberals and progressives than I am with conservatives.

On the other hand, liberals and progressives seem weirdly trusting of government--for example, they generally think of income redistribution and progressive taxation with the government as a neutral money transferer rather than as an entity which might not do what they want with the money.

#118 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 09:50 AM:

debcha, they think they're OK for now, but they know they could fuck up any minute. For example, all those straight guys just know they could fall into homosexuality at any moment, remember?

But think of it: they don't want anyone ELSE who may not have achieved grace to get there! They want everyone to get what's coming to them NOW. This is Prideful and selfish. Bad Christianity.

#119 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 11:49 AM:

It's not whether you're good enough to go to heaven - you can't be. You have to be perfect to see God face to face and of course, no one is.

The reason people have a hope of heaven is through the grace of Christ, the mediator and acceptance of that grace. Grace cannot be achieved; it can only be given and accepted.

This is the short, rough, version. It can get very arcane.

#120 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 12:10 PM:

How many clueless goobers make a horde?

#121 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 12:15 PM:

Getting back to the comics for just a moment, it's interesting (to me, anyway) how in "Non Sequitur" young Danae has turned from a boho-wannabe rebel to an expression of the laissez faire imperialism of BushCo. Not always -- sometimes she's just a messy kid with a very weird talking pony -- but elsewhere the object of satire is quite clear.

And did anyone else like that "smirk" joke in yesterday's "Bizarro"?

#122 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 12:40 PM:

I've always thought the Rapture was a pernicious notion; the idea that some elect would get a free pass to sit out the tribulations of the end days on the sidelines.

Job was God's favorite, and he was strenuously tested. I thought this was point of the tribulations; to test all to find out who the true Christians were. Perhaps if the Christianists were to realize that they too will be in for a world of pain during the end times, they would be less eager to “bring it on.”

#123 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 12:51 PM:

The reason people have a hope of heaven is through the grace of Christ, the mediator and acceptance of that grace. Grace cannot be achieved; it can only be given and accepted.

This is the short, rough, version. It can get very arcane.

Ooo! Ooo! Can we do faith versus works next? On second thought, let's not, and say we did.

#124 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 01:26 PM:

Job was God's favorite, and he was strenuously tested. I thought this was point of the tribulations; to test all to find out who the true Christians were.

Lest anyone depart the pews this morning (either through the front door or by way of the ceiling) in a state of confusion, I'd just like to remind the congregation that Job -- patient though he may have been -- was nevertheless never a Christian.

#125 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 03:19 PM:

Bruce, how could I have forgotten Radley Balko! Holy crap! If I were a libertarian, I'd swell up and burst with pride from having him share my ideology.

For those who haven't read The Agitator, Balko's been doing a great series on the damage caused by the routine use of military-style police raids for things like drug arrests. And he did a whole investigative series on Cory Maye, a Mississippi man with no previous criminal record who shot and killed what he thought was a burglar who turned out to be a cop busting his door down as part of a drug raid on his neighbor, was found guilty of murder and is currently on death row.

Yeah, the primary criterion I use for deciding whether someone who calls himself a libertarian is one of the serious, "Hayekian" ones, or one of the con-suite gargoyles, is whether that person seems to be serious in his criticism of governmental authority and force, or whether they seem to be willing to tune out the sound of cops cracking heads as long as they don't think it'll ever be their own skulls beneath the truncheon.

#126 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 03:51 PM:

They want everyone to get what's coming to them NOW.

And, of course, they know what's coming to us all. As debcha suggested, it seems odd that they should be so sure. St Paul, 2 Corinthians: "If anyone is sure in his heart that he belongs to Christ, let him think again..."

Bad Christianity.

#127 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 09:14 PM:

"I'm more interested in why someone as otherwise savvy as Mark Frauenfelder can't see that this kind of thing is part of a general, broad-based effort to disempower everything Mark Frauenfelder cares about."

Because he would have to admit to his own weakness, of course. Somewhere or other--it may have been here--I think I commented that many libertarians have power fantasies; they believe that if they were "free" of such things as social security they would somehow turn into Aynleinian superheroes. On top of which, he'd have to admit just how scary our world is; we are in a great deal of trouble, and we are going to have to work hard to get out of it. Which I believe is possible, but that belief is hard to come by for many of us.

Patrick, you've accused me of elitism more than once. To me, it seems like I am willing to admit that I can be a fool, and so don't regard other people's fuck-ups as all that shameful. Sorry, folks--we're not superheroes. But if we work together, we can do pretty damn well. But we have to work together. People, I think, are not complete in themselves, and that's another thing the the Aynleinian types really don't want to know.

Nancy, "inertiacrept's" journal article reminds me muchly of my reflections on travels in Mexico. I think there's a kind of culture shock that Latin America brings to USers and I think I recognize it in his posts. It's not simply a matter of being in the poor backcountry, either; I spent most of my time in Mexico City and ended up with some similar thoughts. It's interesting; I suspect that it is only Latin America that produces that particular set of reactions; native base of Latin American culture is, literally, as far from Northern European culture as one can get.

#128 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 09:20 PM:

Then there's the libertarians who become conservative Republicans when the guy next door wants to expand his house, or run a business out of it, or something else which will disturb their life. (They're against zoning ordinances and the like up until then, when they become fans of Bigger Government.)

#129 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 12:01 AM:

PJ:

You might distinguish there between:

a. Discarding your principles when they become inconvenient.

b. Discovering why your previous ideas were mistaken as you have more experiences.

Both of those are possible explanations for what you're describing, as well as the roughly equivalent scene where the Democrat who is in favor of public schools and integration just happens to decide to send his own kids to a private school with maybe one black kid per grade, or the pro-drug-war Republican finds himself thinking that a ten-year mandatory minimum sentence for his own kid is unreasonably harsh.

In all these cases, it may be that the person prefers not to have to bear the costs of his favored policies, but it may also be that the person has just realized why those policies were a bad idea.

#130 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 12:32 AM:

I think the "clueless goober" meme serves several purposes:

a. It makes it easy to dismiss any part of citizen participation (elections, juries, city council meetings, school boards, referrenda. demonstrations) that you don't like.

b. It makes it easy to justify using other resources (courts your side has conveniently stacked, riders silently stuck into big appropriations bills, secret programs that violate the letter and/or spirit of the law) to override the clueless goobers.

c. It supports any kind of propoganda campaign you might want to launch "for their own good," no matter how false, misleading, etc. the campaign may be.

d. It justifies pretty much any level of intrusion into the lives of the clueless goobers, overriding their decisions, ignoring their protests.

All these seem to me to mostly serve to enhance the interests of some people in positions of power, whether government or big companies. The people are clay to be molded to the values of the people in power. Limits on the power of various people within government are to be bypassed or overcome, to impose the right answers on those clueless goobers. News stories are to gloss over parts of reality that the clueless goobers might take the wrong way.

Democrats and Republicans both find this meme useful. If Libertarians or Greens ever got into power, they would, too. It's an explanation that you can give to your own side for why you're exceeding your authority, lying to the public, treating adults as though they were retarded children, etc.

#131 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 07:06 AM:

The Rapturists are so confident they'll be taken up because they have the Secret Magic Formula: just say these words in this order with the right kind of preacher beside you, his hand on your shoulder, and you're in. Forever. That one moment of enlightenment makes up for any backsliding or even denial that may happen later. Backsliding just means you don't get in to Heaven's more desirable neighborhoods.

Which is why I don't qualify to be a JesusPets Partner.

#132 ::: Avedon ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 08:41 AM:

It's funny, I'm reading the weekend IHT and the Dilbert actually has Dilbert, not Dogbert, doing it. It's Dilbert doing a PowerPoint presentation.

1st panel: In order to make an informed decision you would need to know as much as I know.

2nd panel: That's impossible. So instead, by mutual, implied agreement, I will feed you some lies that point you to the right decision.

3rd panel: If we don't upgrade our servers, a herd of trolls will attack headquarters. (Someone sitting next to the PHB looks alarmed and shrieks, "No trolls!")

But, Patrick, I'm not sure whether Adams makes enough money to be the mugger that's cleaning you out.

#133 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 09:17 AM:

Here's the Dilbert strip referenced by Avedon above.

#134 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 12:16 PM:

I've been reading Boing-Boing, and before that bOING-bOING, and more recently Mark's review blog (http://madprofessor.net/). Back before it got pulled for troll infestations, I was an active participant in Boing-Boing's discussion section. Nothing I've seen suggests that Mark is a con suite libertarian, much less a solipsistic John Galt wannabee.

I can't say why he'd link to Adam's increasingly sour Dogbert newsletter, but I'll admit having Dogbertish feelings on occassion, and reading it makes me feel better. It serves the same function for me as the late, lamented Tardblog served the brave and dedicated souls who taught special needs kids.

Dogbertish feelings: Like when I go to the recycling area, and finding neatly tied bags of dog crap scattered on the floor. Or a drift of packing peanuts in the "Household Paper" bin. Or that someone has carefully flattened a bag of unsorted trash so it would fit in the narrow slot of the bin labeled CORRUGATED CARDBOARD ONLY - NO GARBAGE in English and Spanish.

Things like that momentarily make me wonder about the viability a government that depends on the decisions of an informed electorate can possibly function, particularly in an age where environmental issues are going to be increasingly important.

Then after fuming a few minutes, and harboring fantasies of dumping the flattened trash bag on its former owner's doorstep, and wondering if more signs would do any good, I remember that it's only some fucking garbage and go back to being a liberal democrat who sends hundreds of dollars a year to the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center and who stopped going to SF and gaming conventions in part because I was sick of running into toads who think the society in Starship Troopers is somehow desireable.

#135 ::: john ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 02:08 PM:

Finally, I love that a few, very...vendetta aside, realize George W. never had, nor never will have a freeking clue. what facade did he crawl out from under..Nepotism, and big-business is alive and well here in the U.S. especially in the "Good Ol'Boy network" Money talks, and BS walks. WMD"s are under your sink if applied right, just ask the insurgents in Iraq.

#136 ::: john ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 02:14 PM:

Regarding the Lebannon,Israeli conflict. leave them alone, perhaps they will finally turn up the heat (Israel), we have only made them one of the most prominent nuclear powers in the world. Korea, Iran, pashaw....one fick of the switch, fallout buddy. and my bet is on the Israelis', and if you are into the God thing, well...who is your money on?.....

#137 ::: john ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 02:16 PM:

Oh, by the way...anyone out there have a great grasp of the obvious??????

#138 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 02:36 PM:

"Things like that momentarily make me wonder about the viability a government that depends on the decisions of an informed electorate can possibly function, particularly in an age where environmental issues are going to be increasingly important."

The key is to have a system that takes into account that fact that no single person or small ground--including the powerful--knows all that much.

#139 ::: Damien Neil ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 03:12 PM:

The Dilbert with the PowerPoint and the trolls does have more context in the preceding strips: Dilbert arrives with a far more substantial and technical presentation, but is told that he has no more than five minutes to make his point to the CEO. (The CEO checks his watch.) Four and a half minutes.

With the context, it's a comment on clueless leadership too "busy" to make informed judgements, and the frustrated reactions of underlings. Which is a situation that I've seen occur in the real workplace, in almost exactly that fashion.

#140 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 06:22 PM:

How could you possibly be that confident that you've lived an honourable and righteous life?

Because an assortment of slimeballs have found that some people will pay enough that the slimeballs can live high on the hog (in observable wealth and/or ego satisfaction) in return for the slimeballs saying that the payers are living honourable and righteous lives.

#141 ::: Syd sees spam-like material ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2011, 04:11 AM:

@ 141

#142 ::: TexAnne sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2011, 07:22 PM:

Huh. Is "Ben10" still on? My nephews were obsessed with it for a while.

#143 ::: mjfgates sees spam spam spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 04:11 AM:

AAAAAAAAARRGH

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