Surprise! I disagree with Kevin Drum’s assessment of libertarianism for Mother Jones. [UPDATED]

October 22, 2015

In case you missed my warning about Salon.com and Alternet articles with the word libertarian in their headlines, the gist of it was: Don’t waste your time. These articles are junk garbage noise written by people who don’t know what they’re criticizing. Add to that heap the musings of Mother Jones’s Kevin Drum.

A bachelor's degree, similar to Kevin Drum's bachelor's degree in journalism.

A bachelor’s degree, similar to Kevin Drum’s bachelor’s degree in journalism.

When I used to live with roommates, one of them had a subscription to the print edition of Mother Jones. I regarded each issue very highly as an inspirational journalistic masterpiece. Then someone invented Twitter, so I subscribed to Mother Jones’s Twitter feed. Annoyingly, I found that feed to be a stream of petty buncombe. “The magazine is so good”,  I thought. “I guess they flush their doo doo down their twitter feed.”

Half of the stuff from the feed was written by this guy Kevin Drum. According to his Wikipedia page, he earned a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from California State University in 1981, so I guess that qualifies him to pound on a keyboard. He also “invented Friday catblogging”, according to his MoJo bio. Maybe I should genuflect to that, or something. I don’t know.

His stuff isn’t all terrible, but whenever he sticks his neck out to criticize the libertarianish, pro-market crowd, I’ve found him to be transparently ignorant. I’ve therefore come to recognize his name: Kevin Drum. If you see it on Mother Jones’s Twitter feed or Facebook feed and he’s burping up hot air about libertarians, ignore it. It isn’t worth your time.

So I’m scrolling down my Facebook feed and I see this:

cats

Before we even click on this article, which promises to be a turd, let’s clear up a couple things. Well … maybe that’s asking too much. It will never be clear to those who have chosen not to understand. I could explain what’s wrong with this idiocy a dozen more times and never see its end. I’ll never clear it up, so let me just type for a while to hear myself type. Allow me indulge in the mental masturbation of online discourse.

  1. Being offended by willful ignorance is the province of crybaby liberals. I don’t get offended when know-nothings demonstrate their cluelessness about libertarianism. Kevin Drum didn’t hurt my feelings, or anything. He’s just wrong. He shouldn’t be sorry. He should be diligent. He should be curious. He should take some time off to learn what libertarianism is, then he should return to write about what he has learned. I don’t want an apology. I want him to get his shit straight. No hard feelings, just stop being a dunce. Be smart, then write like a smart person. Got it? He should improve his journalism for his own good and quit worrying about my feelings. My feelings are just fine.
  2. Don't be sorry! Be diligent!

    Don’t be sorry! Be diligent!

    Everyone who repeats this “libertarians are convinced of their own independence” horseshit should stop doing that. If I have to post this “I, Pencil” story one more time, I might throw up in my mouth a little. But here it is again: “I, Pencil,” by Leonard Read. It’s all about how no one person alone has the wherewithal to make a useful item as simple as a pencil, let alone any of life’s more modern conveniences. Libertarians love this story because libertarians understand how we each depend on one another for building even the simplest of tools:

    Great. Now can I please never see this cartoonish twaddle again, about how libertarians are all these wannabe Grizzly Adams characters who are “convinced of their own independence”? Shit’s gettin’ tired.

Let’s proceed to article now and marvel what’s inside: Kevin Drum’s grand unified theory on why libertarians are mostly male:

[H]ere’s the quick answer: Hardcore libertarianism is a fantasy. It’s a fantasy where the strongest and most self-reliant folks end up at the top of the heap, and a fair number of men share the fantasy that they are these folks. They believe they’ve been held back by rules and regulations designed to help the weak, and in a libertarian culture their talents would be obvious and they’d naturally rise to positions of power and influence.

This is incorrect. This Kevin Drum’s fantasy about what libertarianism is, and it’s kind of dumb.

The last thing I care about is some stupid heap. I don’t walk around daydreaming, “Man, I want to be Gordon Gecko and talk to my big brick cell phone on the beach! Man, I want to be like Donald Trump! He’s cool! I want to be on top of the heap! Yeah!!” No. That’s dumb. That’s Kevin Drum’s dumb caricature of libertarians.

No, the heap is not the animus. That’s not it. Basically I just want to live my life, and I want others to live theirs. That’s it. I want to enjoy the fruits of my efforts, and I want others to enjoy the fruits of theirs, and if some government busybodies want to boss people around with rules, then those rules should not be preposterous. That’s all. It’s really kind of simple, and I’m routinely amazed at how so many people who write for such large audiences revel in their decision to misunderstand this.

Kevin Drum should get with the program. Rules and regulations are not designed to help the weak. They are designed to help those in power stay in power. They are designed to crush competition. Those who don’t understand how this works should resist regaling us with their naïve fantasies about libertarians’ alleged desire to scale heaps.

When the government burdens street vendors with reams of idiotic regulations and prohibitions, does that help the weak?

When the government requires that 1 in 3 American workers obtain an occupational license at great personal expense before legally working, does that help the weak?

When the government confiscates regular people’s homes and hands them over to business developers, does that help the weak?

When government kidnaps 800,000+ regular Americans every year because they puff on the wacky weed—and destroys everyone else’s Fourth Amendment protections in the process—does that help the weak?

marijuana_arrests_chart468

In general, burdening the creation of new businesses with rules and regulations so expensive that only the rich can afford to comply does not help the weak, and neither does kidnapping them. Libertarians oppose rules and regulations designed to help the rich and punish the weak.

That having been written (but unlikely to have been understood by those who have chosen not to understand), why is it that libertarians are mostly men? Let’s hail Kevin Drum’s singular insight into this perennial conundrum:

Few women share this fantasy [of climbing heaps]. I don’t know why, and I don’t really want to play amateur sociologist and guess. Perhaps it’s something as simple as the plain observation that in the more libertarian past, women were subjugated to men almost completely. Why would that seem like an appealing fantasy?

I see. Kevin Drum hates libertarianism, so he wants to take a shit on libertarians. What shall be his raison du jour for shitting on libertarians? Well, they’re most men, right? That’s no good, so his raison du jour for shitting on libertarians shall be that they are mostly men. Oh, but he doesn’t really want play amateur sociologist and actually figure out why libertarians are mostly men. All he really want to do is shit on libertarians. So he typed out this shitpile, titled it Here’s Why Libertarians are Mostly Men, and submitted it for public consumption at MotherJones.com.

If you ask me, it seems like Kevin Drum doesn’t really want to play journalist, either, despite his glorious bachelor’s degree.

On the matter of this “more libertarian past” in which Kevin Drum’s heroes in government refused to acknowledge the rights of women: Moving from a more selective regimen of rights enforcement to a more general regimen of rights enforcement is a step in toward libertarianism, not away from it. If that’s what holds women back from libertarianism, it shouldn’t. In a more libertarian future, everyone would be treated equally under the law as individuals, and not differently based on gender.

So why is it that more women don’t join libertarians in their opposition to rules and regulations designed to help the rich and punish the weak? Why is it that more women don’t join libertarians in support of equal treatment for each individual under the law? That’s a really good question, and I’d be most interested to hear any woman’s opinion on that.

[F]eel free to take some guesses in comments about why women don’t take to libertarianism as strongly as men.

Goodbye, and I’m not sorry for anything I just wrote.

UPDATE, 10/25/2015: Kevin Drum has issued a follow-up to his post, Here’s Why Libertarians are Mostly Men. It’s called, There’s a Big Untapped Market Out There for Insulting Libertarians. It’s pretty short and it’s pretty great. At the risk of violating copyright, here it is in full. Note that by “over on the right,” Kevin is referring to the Mother Jones website’s right sidebar, which highlights the sites currently trending articles:

Ah, the mysteries of blogging. Over on the right, you’ll notice that a post of mine has been highlighted: “Here’s Why Libertarians Are Mostly Men.” But why? It’s four months old. It’s 200 words long. It probably took about 20 minutes to write. It offers up a theory that I pulled out of my ass.

And it has 161,000 Facebook likes. By contrast, my piece on lead and crime—by far the most important and most popular piece I’ve ever written for the magazine—has 87,000 likes after three years online. This quick post about libertarians is probably the most widely read prose I’ve ever written in my life.

Fine. My public has spoken. Less research, more Trumpesque insults aimed at libertarians. I’ll see what I can do.

First, that’s Mother Jones’s online readership in a nutshell. Second, Kevin candidly admitted the origin of his theory on libertarians and gender. I’m satisfied with his admission, so we’re good. Third, that was a very thought provoking article on lead and crime. It kind of confirms my own ass-sourced theory about Mother Jones: The quality stuff gets published in the print edition, and the farts end up on Facebook and Twitter.


Links for October 17, 2011: Protesters arrested for demonstrating inside of Citibank; Justice Scalia eschews federal drug prohibition; More economic myths.

October 15, 2011
  1. Well, this really happened (see video). The truth, however, did not stop such prominent blogs as Daily Kos and InfoWars from uncritically repeating the facially ridiculous claim that over twenty customers were arrested for nothing other then asking tellers to have their accounts closed. The blogosphere lit up in the meantime. By the end of the next day, two of my progressive friends on facebook had unquestioningly posted the fraudulent headline to their news feeds. Some people, it seems, will swallow, without a second thought, just about any accusation leveled against a corporation.

    Two days later, Daily Kos published the above clarification explaining exactly what happened inside the bank: a disruptive demonstration, and not an innocent series of business proposals. InfoWars, on the other hand is staying the course. It has published a new story called Big Banks Refuse To Let People Close Accounts, which not only reiterates the hideous libel, but alleges further that banks all across America are forbidding “people” (people who carry signs or bullhorns into the banks, that is) from closing their accounts. No shame.

  2. Come on, people. Let’s repeal federal drug laws and free up Scalia’s Wednesdays for golf. He needs it.

  3. Responding to each of Kevin Drum’s claims here will take a bit too long. I’ve begun a feature on this, which I hope to finish some time soon (I think I have three half-finished drafts cooking). Suffice to say here that Austrian economists have already presponded to these claims, and the Austrian presponses have been predictably ignored.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.