Watching the video below was one of the most frustrating things I have ever done. It is a clip of Sam Seder on the Majority Report talking to a libertarian. It is not the first time I have seen Seder talk with a libertarian. Like me, he finds libertarians endlessly fascinating. But for some reason, it seems only idiot libertarians call him. Or maybe it is just that most libertarians are idiots. I don’t know for sure, but I’m afraid that it is the latter. This isn’t to say that there aren’t brilliant libertarians. Just read Reason Magazine and you’ll find very smart writers. But as a group, I think they are a dim lot.
In another video, a libertarian claimed that it would be okay to have slavery if the people voted for it. I don’t think it would have been hard to explain to the guy what the problem is. By his theory, the 60% white residents of Georgia could re-enslave the 30% black residents and it would be just fine by the principled libertarian.
This video features a different kind of libertarian. But I’m not really sure what kind. He seems like he is mentally challenged but he’s absolutely certain that he’s the smartest guy in the room. And there is a kind of deluded brilliance to his evasions. Basically, the whole clip is him challenging Seder with some question like, “Name a time when regulation worked?” Seder replies that the Clear Water Act has provided the nation with safe drinking water. The guy then responds that Seder is giving him a specific example, which is, of course, what the guy asked for in the first place. Then he says, “But we’re getting side tracked with what you want to talk about.” So Seder (who has far more patience than I have ever had) graciously asks the guy what he wants to talk about. And the process repeats.
The whole thing does provide a nice window into the libertarian mind. The caller has clearly worked out a perfect libertarian world in his mind. But when that world peaks out into the world, it falls apart. This doesn’t happen on the policy level. It happens when the ideas are even expressed to someone who knows anything about real world economics. For example, this guy admits that there was a lot of regulation in the 1950s and that we had strong economic growth. But that doesn’t prove anything because he just knows if there hadn’t been regulation the economy would have grown faster. Because nothing can compete to the perfection that exists inside his mind.
It’s also interesting that such people don’t understand how economies work. For example, given that the economy is depressed, passing a bunch of laws that made power plants run cleaner would actually improve the economy because it would force the private sector to use some of its idle money to employ people to update their plants. If the economy were booming, passing such laws might hurt the economy. But in the libertarian mind, new regulation will always hurt the economy because they just define regulation as hurting the economy. It’s brain dead economics.
Regardless, most people will find this video very funny. It drove me crazy. But it is a good example of what we are up against.