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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Libs, Corps, and Unies

Apparently there's a writer's strike going on out in Hollywood, which has brought all the usual suspects out to grumble on their various blogs about, you know, the usual stuff -- strikes suck, unions blow, corporations are evil, the free market should rule over all, writers make too much money as it is and are spoiled and lazy, etc, etc, etc.

John Rogers has some pretty good posts on it over at his blog, Kung Fu Monkey. In his comment threads, the libertarians are beating him up for being a union guy, when, in fact, they feel that unions are evil and every writer should be empowered to negotiate the best deal they can get for their work. Rogers disagrees, and has had to school a few people in his threads. Liberatarians tend to make me break out in hives, so I recently had this to say over there:

Libertarianism 101: Give any man/woman a 10,000 acre ranch in the mountains somewhere (maybe Mars, or Procyon IV, yeah, that would be excellent), a working fusion generator, a functional force field generator, and one of those molecular re-arranger things that turns empty tin cans into t-bone steak (or, y'know, just gold coins, that's fine, too, because of course there's going to be a free market where gold is incredibly valuable, oh yes we're sure that's how it will work) and then EVERYTHING WILL BE ALL RIGHT.

Well, maybe you'd want just a few cobalt warhead tipped missiles, just in case one of your neighbors on an adjoining continent/asteroid/planet gets uppity. But that's a LAST RESORT, buddy. Just don't mess with anyone, and you'll be okay.

Now here's Corporatism 101: Your 'fusion' reactor needs new power cells every six months and there are only five companies that sell them and, oddly, all of their prices are within a percentage point of each other. Your force field projector and matter re-arranger all run off the fusion reactor, so, you know, see you every six months. Prices are subject to change without notice.

Union 101: If you want to design fusion reactor power cells in THIS town, you need to join the union. We'll get you higher wages, better benefits, and a guaranteed higher royalty on every power cell you design, assuming, of course, that your dues are paid up and you've made enough power cells in the last quarterly period to continue to qualify for benefits.

In the end, corporations of all kinds suck hard, libertarians are infants, and unions are most likely the lesser of many, many real world evils. That doesn't make unions cool by any means, and strikes pretty much always end up hurting everyone involved, and, unfortunately, the corporations one is striking against end up being the ones hurt the least -- but if you can't hurt these guys at least a little bit every once in a while, well, you never ever get any ice cream.

And life without ice cream is a bummer, man.

This is vastly, vastly oversimplified, of course -- corporations exist for a reason and do contribute value to our culture, although I'm not at all sure that that outweighs or even counter balances the very real evil they do as well.

Unions also exist for a reason, and they do some evil too -- in this case, however, I tend to believe that the very real good they also do probably does outweigh the crap they make their members eat on a regular basis.

Libertarians -- glah. What can you say? I'd like to live utterly independent of everyone else, too, with every transaction that occurs between myself and others being an entirely volitional one in which I have full bargaining power. But the real world has never worked like that and never will, and libertarianism will always remain an adolescent fantasy due to this. Also, libertarianism isn't even a fantasy about everyone being equally empowered; when you get a libertarian drunk and therefore honest, you will always discover than in their hearts of hearts, they always want to go into every negotiation with superior firepower.


At 8:11 AM , Anonymous Captain Slack said...

corporations exist for a reason and do contribute value to our culture, although I'm not at all sure that that outweighs or even counter balances the very real evil they do as well.

Do you think the scale of their evil could/would be reduced to something forgivable if we got Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad reversed? (Ending corporate personhood, for those of your readers who may not know.)

At 12:36 PM , Anonymous Always Esteemed Scott said...

I have seen very few libertarian arguments that don't boil down to "Fuck you, I got mine".

And while every libertarian I've ever met has articulated at length about the evils of Big government, none ever seem to have a problem with Big corporations, which from what I can tell, are pretty much "the government" now, anyway.

At 7:46 PM , Blogger The Bunnyman said...


It would be a start, sure.


Libertarianism, in ideal theory, is simply a belief that ANY kind of coercion, regardless of the source or the reason, is inherently wrong. Nobody and nothing has any right to coerce anyone into doing anything, ever; any effort to coerce anyone into doing anything, ever, may be morally and ethically resisted by any means possible.

Libertarians think EVERY act taken and/or choice made by an adult should be entirely volitional and utterly sacrosanct. You want to sing a song, you get to sing a song. You want to build a church, you get to build a church. You want to sit on your ass and eat pancakes all day, God bless and pass the maple syrup.

Conversely, Libertarians think ANY law, any authority, any individual, any entity, any organization, any company, any corporation, any government, that attempts to coerce anyone into doing anything for any reason is WRONG. And must be STOPPED. They sneer at concepts like 'the greater good' and 'a social contract'. People should be absolutely free to do whatever the fuck they want to do, anywhere, any time, any how, and that's just how the world is supposed to be.

This 'philosophy' is extremely attractive to, well, nearly anyone, as none of us are so mature that we can entirely ignore the inner child that still deeply, deeply resents every single time we were forced to go to bed, go to school, eat our spinach, not watch our favorite TV shows, do our homework, etc, etc, etc. And, of course, even as adults, we deeply resent coercion, as can be seen right here on this blog nearly anytime I type the words 'mandatory' and 'overtime' in sequence.

However, life simply doesn't work this way, it will not work this way, it can not work this way, and, if it DID work this way, it could only ever work this way for one person at any given time, and the rest of us would pretty much have to either stay out of that person's way 24/7 or resign ourselves to being his/her obedient chattel whenever we found ourselves in their presence.

The simple fact is, if any one person wants to live with any other one person, or more than one person, at any given time, it requires cooperation and compromise. Now, libertarians don't mind cooperation and compromise, they simply think that such should be entirely voluntary on the part of participant. And, well, I do, too. But real life abounds with situations where such simply will never ever ever happen, like, you know, when Bob the Christian Fuckhead believes I should compromise my free expression about my own philosophical beliefs, and cooperate with his attempts to stifle same, and/or put me in jail for disagreeing with such as he holds dear.

Or, when Crotchety Carl wants to keep his cabin and his three acres plot of land even though it will mean that the new superhighway has to go forty miles out of the way and add half an hour or so to emergency response times for a nearby community of 60,000 people. This will certainly cause someone to die unnecessarily at some point in the future, but Crotchety Carl don't care because that's HIS land and the nearby community of 60,000 people can go fuck themselves and good libertarians are all like, you go, Carl.

It's a wonderful philosophy, but it is, of course, entirely selfish and insanely unrealistic.

Still, if I thought a truly devoted Libertarian had a chance of actually winning a Presidential election, I would probably vote for him/her/it. I wouldn't want more than two or three terms of a Libertarian administration, but those two or three terms could perhaps undo an ENORMOUS amount of damage.


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