by Len Bakerloo
Things are divisive in the U. S. A. these days. People want to know your political affiliations so they can determine if they are with you or against you.
I don’t mind talking politics, but I don’t enjoy being forced to take sides when I’m still thinking about it, or being told that I can’t pick and choose from a smorgasbord of ideas rather than toe one party line or another.
If this keeps up, I might have to move.
I am a thinking libertarian liberal conservative.
If being a libertarian liberal conservative doesn’t make sense to you then blame unthinking Republicans, Democrats, and Libertarians for hijacking the meanings of words.
Nobody is thinking. They are just promoting Brands, and segmenting the Market for your Brain and your Vote.
Goldwater would have been in favor of legalizing abortion and gay marriage. Conservative Christians were once mostly “Southern Democrats” – as was George Wallace, who wasn’t exactly the biggest “big tent” guy in the tent. Only after the Ridiculously Religious felt betrayed by Carter did Republicans decide “Religious Right” could ever be a thing.
Group think (not)
And Libertarians allowed people like Friedrich Hayek, Ayn Rand, and Milton Friedman to speak for them. I thought their shtick was that personal liberty is paramount. Shouldn’t personal liberty begin with choosing to think for yourself?
A few years ago I went to my first Libertarian cocktail party where the good news is that they all wanted to talk about meaty subjects instead of baseball, basketball, or boobs.
The bad news is that the first three people I met began conversations with, “As a Libertarian, I think…” and then each expressed the same thoughts as the prior person. (Now, before you tell me the first person couldn’t have been mimicking anyone, ask yourself: If they all think the same things, does it matter who goes first?)
I blew up, “I thought that the whole point of being a Libertarian was so people can’t guess what you think.”
Now, if I stumble upon a gaggle of Democrats, Republicans, or Libertarians, I say, “Let me guess, as an X, you believe Y” where X and Y are Brand and Belief respectively. If I am right (and 99.44% of the time I am) then I say, “Nothing new here” and move on.
My Libertarian Utopia
Imagine a bunch of Libertarians getting together in one of their mansions and noticing that they were more successful than the average Joe in the street.
That’s believable, right? I mean, the evidence supports it.
Now let’s imagine that instead of talking about how Joe shouldn’t be allowed to get his hands on their dough, Ayn says, “Look at poor Joe freezing and starving in the street. Let’s see if we can get him to want to join us in our big cozy Libertarian house.”
Now you are entering my fantasy world; but go with it.
Friedrich says, “That’s easy, let’s just invite him in for some soup. We don’t have to give him all seven courses, but we have enough soup.”
Once Joe is warm and fed, Milton says, “You know you are a product of your own beliefs. You are just too lazy to compete with others in this land of opportunity.”
Joe says that just staying warm and fed takes so much time that he has no time left over to get the skills he needs. Joe is illiterate and nobody wants to hire him, and all the Libertarians agree that nobody should.
In unison, they all shout, “You poor people; it is all about excuses with you lot.”
So, Rose says, “I’ll teach you how to read and write.” Benjamin says, “Once you become a good writer, you can write for my newspaper.” Lysander says, “Or you could work in my factory.” Gustave says, “You can’t feel secure living on the street, so you can stay with me.” Everyone in attendance begins competing to have Joe as a guest because they all have mansions with more guest rooms than they have friends on the road.
They say to Joe, “Now, it is your choice because we have taken away all your excuses. If you refuse what we offer and you choose to stay on the street then you deserve what you get.”
Joe says, “You are right. If I refuse your offer then I deserve to starve in the street. But how can I accept all you want to give me because I haven’t done anything to deserve it.”
They say in unison, “As Libertarians, we believe we should have free choice. And we all freely choose to help you, Joe, because we want you to be Libertarian, just like us.”
Joe is suspicious, but he doesn’t want to be cold and hungry so he accepts all that is offered.
Soon he is flourishing.
As soon as Joe has more than he needs, he tries to repay his debt to the Libertarians.
But they refuse, and in unison they sing, “We thank you for acknowledging your debt. But we could not possibly accept your money because we already have more than we need. If you want to think of yourself as a good person, your only hope is to pay your debt forward. Help other poor sods on the street. Convert them to our Libertarian ways. Have lots of Libertarian babies, and don’t worry, because we’ll take care of them if they become sick, and we will give you time off to raise them.”
The Libertarians grow in numbers and are soon elected to nearly every government office. They do it without any advertising or campaigning because their actions speak louder than slogans or celebrity endorsements.
A few hold-outs who are starving and freezing in the street form a political party that demands that rich Libertarians be taxed to feed, clothe, and house them. But the Libertarians say, “We are against being forced to do that, but we willingly offer to do it anyway. Therefore, if you do not want our hospitality, as good Libertarians, we are happy to let you choose to live in the street. But it is your choice, not ours.”
Even the poorest see the logic in this and they join with the Libertarians and that is how the Libertarians take over their country. As a consequence they build bigger houses to house more Libertarian guests, and more factories to hire more Libertarian workers. Everyone gets rich together, although some become richer than others. But that is OK, because the measure of true wealth is having more than you need so that you have more to share.
Is it even possible for Libertarians to create a Nanny State?
When the rich people in the United States chafe at paying taxes they point to this Libertarian Paradise and they say, “You are not true Libertarians. You have built a Nanny State.”
But these Libertarians in Paradise say, “You have no right to define us. We choose to think of ourselves as brothers and sisters, and so let us call this a Compassionate Sibling State. We have every right to do that and you have no right to tell us we shouldn’t, no matter how Libertarian you think you are. You are just bull-shitters and masters of spin. But you are right about one thing: We are not anything like your Libertarians.”
Compassionate Siblingism is born
Because the Americans believe that words are best used to evoke feeling – and don’t actually need to mean anything – my Paradisal Utopianists decide to stop calling themselves Libertarians and call themselves Compassionate Siblingists instead.
Then they tell the Americans to butt out, and f#@k off.
So, where does that leave us?
Let’s try thinking
Thinking has gone out of fashion, but it still has its virtues.
Conservatives think best practices are to be found in the past.
Liberals think best practices are yet to be invented.
Libertarians think that everyone has a right to practice whatever they think is best.
I think some practices from the past should be revived and others are yet to be invented, but mostly I am incompetent to choose.
Where does that leave me?
Head and heart
Churchill said that you must be a liberal when you are young or you don’t have a heart. But you must become a conservative when you get older or you don’t have a brain.
The Democrats say you must have a heart, but the Republicans say they don’t use their brains.
The Republicans say you must use your brain, but the Democrats say they don’t have a heart.
The Libertarians say you must have freedom to choose, but they don’t choose to use their brains or their hearts for the benefit of anyone but people like themselves.
I want to use both my heart and my brain and I want to be of use to others, even people unlike me.
Where does that leave me?
Equality, free markets, and enlightened other-interest
Democrats think equality is the goal. You should tax the rich and give to the poor.
Republicans think that makes the poor lazy and no less poor. They say free markets and enlightened self-interest is the way to go.
I believe freedom is for people first (with free markets a close second) and enlightened other-interest is the way to go. That is why the customer and the employee come before the shareholder, and the enlightened rich gladly agree to tax themselves to help the poor.
Where does that leave me?
Who do I vote for?
Bernie has the heart and the brains that it takes run a state full of people who are more like him than not. He can even run a national campaign, but there is no way he can run a nation as big and diverse as ours. He serves his country best as a pain-in-the-ass making good points.
Donald knows how to run companies (albeit often he has run some into the ground), but he doesn’t have the heart or the brains to run a whole country of caring people. He best serves as court jester, and as a reminder that you can fool at least some of the people all of the time.
Perhaps, Jeb and Hillary have better balanced brains and heart. Or maybe they just have better handlers, speech writers, and spin doctors. Whatever. They serve their country best as a reminder that if ordinary citizens won’t step into a power vacuum then dynastic families will.
I prefer not to see Red and Blue in terms of Black and White.
For example, the Reds think that abortion is murder and every fetus has a right to life.
While, the Blues think that every woman has a right to choose, although they won’t use the word “kill” when giving that choice a name.
I think women have a right to choose to abort a life if that life is living inside of them. Putting it this way makes the issue an appropriately difficult one for anyone with a brain and a heart and a uterus. But luckily for me I am a man and it isn’t for me to tell people with a uterus what to do.
So, where does that leave me?
Should I vote with my feet?
What country shares my values?
Let’s look at the data.
The World Values Survey says that if I want to live in a place that leans toward Self-Expression and Secular/Rational values then I should move to Sweden.
They surveyed people in countries to figure out what they valued. Then they plotted the answers on a graph. To understand the plot you need to understand the axes, so I hope this helps:
Secular, Rational, Self-Expressive types know what those words mean, so let’s concentrate on the other poles. “Traditional Values” means best practices are to be found so far in the past that traditions have formed around them as a shortcut for understanding what those values really are. “Survival Values” means we all have to pull together just to survive, as in “my country, right or wrong.”
You are known by the company you keep
Scientists have shown that all the social species behave the same. Both mole rats or Liberals become more conservative when they come under attack. That is to say, they stop exploring and inventing and fall back on what is already safe and proven. For example, most of the weapons in production at the end of World War II were on the drawing boards even before the war started.
But during good times, even cheetahs and Conservatives become more liberal. They explore and become more playful. They even invent a new thing or two.
So, if you think your country is not traditional and conservative enough then you need to make sure the liberals feel like they are under attack. And if you want the people in your country to become more secular, rational, and tolerant of self-expression, then you have to make sure the conservatives don’t feel like they are under attack.
I don’t want to tell you what values to hold, or what approach you should take, but before you do anything, take a look at the map from the World Values Survey. Before trying to push your country one way or another, ask yourself what company you want to keep.
I’d be happier being a right-wing Conservative in Sweden than a bleeding-heart Liberal in Zimbabwe. I’m not saying what you should want; I’m just saying.
A friend first took me to Stockholm decades ago.
He asked me if I could live there.
I said, “No way.”
He asked, “What’s the problem?”
I said, “I am a problem solver and the problem is that there aren’t enough problems”
But I have been back every few years since. Although on the surface everything looks the same – and there might not be a enough crime to keep me busy – behind closed doors are some awesome entrepreneurs working on solving some pretty big cool juicy sexy problems I could really sink my teeth into. I am salivating just thinking about it. And I’m sure Irene would have no trouble finding something to do.
Being American is awesome.
The USA is the greatest country in the world. Just look at the evidence:
- If we want something made, then we get the Chinese to do it.
- If they can’t make us a machine to answer a customer’s call, then we get the Indians to pick up the phone.
- If it is a vegetable, and it needs to get picked, then we get a Mexican to do it.
- If it is a mineral, and it needs to get mined, then we get an African to do it.
- If it is a student, and it needs to be taught, then we get an Asian to do it.
- If it is a child and it needs to be raised, then we get an European nanny to do it.
This is truly the land of the free. If there is something you don’t want to do, you are free to not do it.
Why wouldn’t anyone want to come to America?
Being an old American is especially sweet
Just think how great it is to be old here…
- If we want appear peace loving, then we just don’t declare our wars.
- If we don’t want to fight, then we just hire young people to do the fighting.
- If we don’t want to pay for our wars, then we just let the young pay for that too.
- If we don’t want to fund our retirements, then we just let our children cover the bill after we are gone.
- If we don’t want to educate our children, then they can pay for it or go without.
In short, if we oldsters want something, then we can have it, and we get someone else to pay the price.
Would I be happier in Sweden?
Other than the ghastly things Stieg Larsson writes about, there is only one reason for me to move to Sweden:
I want work hard doing things of value for people other than me in a country where they feel the same way.
Hey, Hey, USA: It’s your country: do you want me to love it or leave it?
Hejsan, Sverige: Är 221b Bagaregata tillgänglig?