News & Analysis
Ann Coulter Bashes Libertarians
Get Rid of Government – But First Make Me President! ... I consider all Republican debates time-fillers until New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie jumps in, but Monday night's debate did crystallize for me why I dislike libertarians. (Except one, who is a friend of mine and not crazy.) They lure you in with talk of small government and then immediately start babbling about drug legalization or gay marriage. "Get the government out of it" is a good and constitutionally correct answer to many questions, but it's not a one-size-fits-all answer to all questions. – Ann Coulter, column
Dominant Social Theme: Libertarians are wacky ... and Ron Paul is wackiest.
Free-Market Analysis: Famous US conservative writer Ann Coulter has joined the fight against libertarianism with her recent column, Get Rid of Government – But First Make Me President! The proximate cause of the column was the Republican presidently debate that just took place and "crystallize[d] for me why I dislike libertarians."
The column is very revealing because it shows again how profound the divide is between those who believe in free markets and those who do not. Ms. Coulter and others like her represent the conservative intelligentsia that dominates the US political conversation.
While conservative proponents do support the workings of the Invisible Hand, the Internet itself has managed to tease out differences between them and those who truly believe in the workings of a free market. More and more the debate has crystalized. And as it has, conservatives in irritation or desperation have taken to presenting arguments meant to buttress their positions.
This is what Ms. Coulter has begun to do lately. She has made a career of attacking democrats, but as the libertarian ideology surges to the fore as a result of the socio-political education provided by the Internet, she no doubt feels compelled to confront it as an ideological proponent of conservatism.
What is her complaint? Libertarians "lure you in with talk of small government and then immediately start babbling about drug legalization or gay marriage." She goes on in the column to grant that "get the government out of it" is a good response to many problems but certainly not to all.
Such solutions are helpful when one is speaking, say, of government assistance to private enterprise and government involvement in the housing market. But it is definitely NOT a good answer when it comes gay marriage, she explains. She uses the debate commentary of libertarian-conservative congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) to illustrate her point. She writes:
Asked about gay marriage, Paul said, in full: "The federal government shouldn't be involved. I wouldn't support an amendment (prohibiting gay marriage). But let me suggest – one of the ways to solve this ongoing debate about marriage, look up in the dictionary. We know what marriage is all about. But then, get the government out of it. ... Why doesn't it go to the church? And why doesn't it go to the individuals? I don't think government should give us a license to get married. It should be in the church."
If state governments stop officially registering marriages, then who gets to adopt? How are child support and child custody issues determined if the government doesn't recognize marriage? How about a private company's health care plans – whom will those cover? Who has legal authority to issue "do not resuscitate" orders to doctors? (Of course, under Obamacare we won't be resuscitating anyone.)
Who inherits in the absence of a will? Who is entitled to a person's Social Security and Medicare benefits? How do you know if you're divorced and able to remarry? Where would liberals get their phony statistics about most marriages ending in divorce?
Paul can't even scratch Social Security and Medicare off that list by taking the libertarian position that there should be no Social Security or Medicare, because he also said during the debate: "We don't want to cut any of the medical benefits for children or the elderly, because we have drawn so many in and got them so dependent on the government."
... So Rep. Paul is a swashbuckling individualist when it comes to civilization's most crucial building block for raising children, but willing to be a run-of-the-mill government statist when it comes to the Ponzi-scheme entitlements bankrupting the country. He's like a vegetarian who says, "I'm not a fanatic – I still eat meat."
We have read this excerpt several times and we're still not sure we understand it. She asks a lot of questions about children and wills and health care and makes it clear that if government does not handle these issues, then the world will fall into mass confusion. Why should this be so?
Ms. Coulter has spent decades dissecting government incompetence with her rapier wit. Yet in this article, she makes the case that government is absolutely necessary for life's basic relationships. She even makes the case that if state governments don't keep track of marriages then adoption will become unfeasible along with custody and child support issues.
In fact, as we have pointed out previously, the reverse is true. The Shakers (Shaking Quakers) provided much of the adoption in the 1700s and 1800s in the US because Shakers, while living together in beautiful and innovative communities, did not cohabit and did not have children. In order to stock the faith with believers, the Shakers adopted children and took them into their vast, cloistered, New England farms. Upon reaching the age of 18, the children were given the option of going, if they wished. Many left, sooner or later. Some stayed.
Whether they eventually left or remained, the children were educated, fed and housed in a nurturing, spiritual environment. But eventually the US government began to mandate that orphans reside in orphanages and the Shakers ability to provide shelter to homeless children was much affected; it contributed eventually to the end of the religion and the emptying out of Shaker communities. Instead of growing up in these self-sufficient villages, orphans were remanded to US-operated orphanages with a gamut (as can be imagined) of grim consequences.
There is little in our view that the government can do better than private enterprise. But bureaucrats generally are happy to hide behind the law. And often that law, when applied on an ongoing basis becomes almost too much to bear. Feedbacker Iddy sent us a link to a remarkable article posted at the website of New Hampshire's Sentinal Source and entitled, "Last statement sent to Sentinel from self-immolation victim." An introduction reads as follows:
On Thursday morning, June 16, The Sentinel received a "last statement" via mail from a man who insinuated that he planned to set himself on fire in front of the Cheshire County Court House, and an explanation of why he intended to do so. Through further reporting, The Sentinel is confident this is from the victim of Wednesday afternoon's fire, although police have not yet received confirmation of his identity. The 15-page statement is printed in full, except for two redacted items: The names of the man's mother and his three children. Details will be posted as they become available.
The man who burned himself to death, Tom Ball, left behind a long last statement that some, no doubt, will label "rambling" or even unbalanced; others will maintain it casts blame elsewhere when he should take responsibility. It is nonetheless a cri-de-couer as regards the US system of justice and its treatment of parents (male) in terms of divorce, child custody and payment (and non-payment) of child support.
Ball recites his history in this statement and it seems that the prospect of being remanded to prison over US$3,000 in child support non-payments were what stirred his determination to self-immolate. He could afford to make the payments, he writes, but he had decided to challenge the system. Finally he set himself on fire. it is too bad Ann Coulter did not have the chance to read Tom Ball's suicide statement before writing that she cannot image what facility could replace the state when it comes to these matters.
We often write about these issues. We call the concept "private" or tribal justice. It is the idea that even violent crime should be adjudicated privately between the people involved and their families. Third parties may be involved as well if both of the involved parties agree to them. In fact, the threat of violence is likely a necessary evil; if people were unwilling to settle, vendettas could spring up "unto the seventh generation."
Such consequences mightily concentrated the mind. it is one reason, for instance, that the Pakistanis refuse to attack the Afghan Pashtun/Talibans despite US pressure. The Punjabi Pakistanis have to live with the Pashtuns; living with 40 million Pashtuns that have decided to revenge themselves for seven generations is bound to be uncomfortable, even dangerous.
Such "primitive" judicial solutions are criticized today by Western jurisprudence. Apparently the preferred methodology in the US is to imprison at any one time up to five million people for a variety of infractions including victimless crimes, casting families into poverty and assuring that children have no access to one and sometimes both parents. This is justice in "civilized countries." It is a basic dominant social theme, one of the most important of elite concepts: only the state can provide justice; only the state can do so impartially and fairly.
Ms. Coulter would consider anything as ludicrous, no doubt. Perhaps she would write an article lampooning the idea of private justice remedies (though they worked for thousands of years). In fact, she has written a new book entitled Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America, and at the end of her column she lumps libertarians in with liberals. "Liberals [never conservatives] appeal to irrational mobs to attain power. There is, I now recall, one group of people who look like conservatives, but also appeal to the mob. They're called 'libertarians.'"
Conclusion: Ms. Coulter, a former lawyer, is sure of herself when it comes to the areas that the state MUST involve itself with. Tom Ball might have been able to provide her with another side to the story. He did leave behind a 15-page statement, but he will never be able to go further than that.
Posted by Zenbillionaire on 06/20/11 11:48 AM
"You are changing your argument. First you claimed she was a humorist and thus you were laughing WITH her. Now you are laughing AT her."
No, I wasn't changing my argument but I may have not said it right to begin with; I *do* laugh at Ann and I think she laughs at herself. The essence of parody is self-deprecation and that is how I see her. She says things that are extreme to the point of the absurd, i.e. reductio ad absurdum. It's a technique I use all the time and one I appreciate.
The comedy of Mahar and Colbert is similar, as was the comedy of the Right Honorable Al Franken in his heyday. Franken is living proof that your fears aren't unfounded and that's why I brought him up.
I'll offer this opinion in closing. Taking on a satirist, or any type of humorist, by arguing their absurd positions rationally (i.e. "taking them seriously") is doomed, all you do is give them another opportunity to hit you with a zinger. If you set yourself to do battle with a joker, you do it on the same field; you laugh at them. Dr. Paul would do well to understand that strategy and hire himself someone with a good sense of humor who's able to make Ann the laughingstock she aspires to be. Think of it as political Aikido.
Posted by Bischoff on 06/20/11 09:29 AM
"Click to view linkeyenne (a suburb of Denver) and Jackson (a strange authoritarian mix of San Francisco and New York)."
Very interesting description of the two locations. It truly captures their essence.
As regards the family and the state, my point was not that the state is there to support the family in their sustenance. My point was that the state is there to prevent the family institution from its demise.
The institution of "family" is part of the development of humans adapting to life in an environment for which evolutionary genetics did not prepare them. The study of Sumerian life in 5,000 B.C. is very illuminating in regard to the institution of marriage and the development of the state.
A family living in the wilds of Wyoming or Montana can easily survive without the state. It only becomes a problem when too many families try to exist within the same territorial area. It is the state that keeps them from killing each other. This was the point behind my remark.
Reply from The Daily Bell
"It is the state that keeps them from killing each other."
Actually over time it is the modernized Sumerian-style state that culls them.
Your faith in government is touching but misplaced.
Posted by Zenbillionaire on 06/20/11 12:23 AM
"By virtue of this intellectual stance she demands to be taken seriously "
All the more reason to laugh.
Reply from The Daily Bell
You are changing your argument. First you claimed she was a humorist and thus you were laughing WITH her. Now you are laughing AT her.
Posted by Zenbillionaire on 06/20/11 12:02 AM
PS. Al Franken, former political satirist, is a US Senator now so the disease of stupidity is not at all limited to the neocons.
Posted by Zenbillionaire on 06/19/11 10:14 PM
"How is it a joke to spend a career supporting and encouraging a point of view essentially encouraging an essentially neo-fascist ideology? "
It's parody, "an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect". People apparently don't get the exaggeration part.
Is her comedy in good taste? I don't know. If it works it is but when it doesn't work, which is perhaps too often the case, it serves to encourage the very people she makes fun of. Ask yourselves, what sort of person takes Ann Coulter seriously? Unfortunately there's no shortage of idiots in the world so they really do exist and I agree they are a problem, but it's still humor.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Zenbillionaire, she is a SATIRIST not a humorist. And satirists BELIEVE in the lampooning elements of the message they are sending. By virtue of this intellectual stance she demands to be taken seriously and we thus find nothing funny about her studied ignorance and believe she damages the free-markets she maintains she supports.
Posted by Steve L. on 06/19/11 09:25 PM
Ann is not the pristine conservative ideologue she presents herself to be. She is most definitely a thought leader, but to what end? I tend to believe that she and many (not all) other conservative television/radio hosts and pundits seem to have a neoconservative groupthink that is numbingly consistent, even as conservative Americans are becoming consistently more sophisticated.
She was an attack dog on anyone agreed that Obama owed the American people and explanation of the missing birth certificate stating that everything needed was posted on Obama's site. She is also the first to shoot down any movement in the direction of belief in conspiratorial behavior. She beats the drum for war to keep the 'enemy' from storming our shores but no emphasis upon the nation's border.
Principled conservative thought has historically been friendly to libertarian ideology and small government and, as such, is a significant threat to directions of elite. If they can influence popular conservative paradigms to embrace the concept of big government solutions, as they have for the concepts of the warfare state and the national security state then they will have co-opted a major potential source of opposition. Consciously or unconsciously this annoyingly petulant opinion maker seems to be corralling the conservative discourse in directions that are 'politically correct' for acceptable right wing behavior.
Posted by Thomas Molitor on 06/19/11 12:03 PM
Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly - it's a difference without a distinction regarding knowledge of basic economics. Here's O'Reilly interviewing John Stossel, and Stossel having to correct O'Reilly's mispronunciation of Keynesian:
Click to view link
Posted by Zenbillionaire on 06/19/11 02:11 AM
I think you have to understand where she's coming from-- she's an entertainer. She makes a living getting people's attention and making them laugh. Criticizing her "politics" is just like slamming Bill Mahar or Steven Colbert for theirs; it's just silly because they're humorists not politicians. She's a parody of the Fascisti. Her market is the "talking point" neocon who desperately needs to rent a working set of wits. You've got to admit she's funny. Ann isn't the problem, the people who don't get the joke are the problem.
Reply from The Daily Bell
How is it a joke to spend a career supporting and encouraging a point of view essentially encouraging an essentially neo-fascist ideology?
Posted by Von on 06/18/11 11:33 PM
Now that you mention Ann Coulter - this was recently posted on Economic Policy Journal - Click to view link
"Investment guru Porter Stansberry met Ann Coulter at a dinner several years ago. He wrote about her:
Ann Coulter had never heard of the gold standard. She didn't believe us when we told her that in 1933 FDR seized all of the privately held bullion in the country, then devalued the dollar - probably the greatest financial crime in history.
She didn't even know it was illegal for citizens to own bullion up until 1974. Bretton Woods? Coulter thought we were talking about tennis rackets.
She told me flatly 'I don't know anything about finance or economics.'
Not even the basics, like how inflation affects prices or the key role paper money and progressive income taxes have played in building the welfare state.
We might as well have been talking to a horse. Ann just looked at us, her long face turned sideways with incredulity.
Lacking anything intelligent to say, she decided to simply insult us.
'I was a libertarian as a teenager, but I emerged from adolescence…'
Good one, Ann. What a zinger"
Posted by Bluebird on 06/18/11 10:49 PM
:-) I always appreciate your contributions as well, Summer.
Posted by Summer on 06/18/11 07:07 PM
Bluebird: ... I know many women with half a dozen kids-all with different last names. It is not just the mens fault. Women (and men) are not as selective and jump in bed with the first one who comes along. Society has broken down. I believe Bischoff's remark explains what helped move it along. That and removing the God aspect from society. Morals are lacking...
Thank you for the truth.
Posted by Bluebird on 06/18/11 05:44 PM
I am afraid I have to agree with this.
@ channa, I know many women with half a dozen kids-all with different last names. It is not just the mens fault. Women (and men) are not as selective and jump in bed with the first one who comes along. Society has broken down. I believe Bischoff's remark explains what helped move it along. That and removing the God aspect from society. Morals are lacking. Before long, mere survival will be difficult. This shows no sign of improving.
Yes, in farming communities, the mothers worked in the fields as well. The children were also helping-within eyesight of the mothers. I know, I was raised in a farming community. Times have changed. The clock does not roll back. It will get worse. We can count on only one person-ourself. If you have children without being selective, you have only yourself to blame. Will people go back to farming communities? Perhaps we will have to in order to survive. But you had better be ready to defend, because many will take what they want from your work.
Posted by channa on 06/18/11 03:20 PM
"housewife". Imagine if you lost your job and wife worked. You were then consistently referred to as a "househusband".
A good way to grow empathy is to apply your standards you have for others to yourself.
Posted by channa on 06/18/11 03:18 PM
It is probably true about the CIa and steinem, but women themselves ultimately made that decision. It is strange, but have not been able to find these discussions about women and careers, like say in Saddam Hussein era of Iraq. All the gore we see about women treatment in M.E. is usually by the extremists, but in Iraq it was common and encouraged for women to seek out higher education and become scientists,doctors, etc. Iran has an annual conference for women in sciences. They have this in the west too, but women have to continually explain themselves whereas in the more secular ME areas they do not.
Confining a woman to home for 20 years is not natural, when there is no extended family or social framework to help them. It is an idealization of men, who were quite happy with the arrangement. It does not take into consideration an industrial society.
In farming times, the women worked as hard as the men, but had extended families.
Women should delay or not have children. True, but children happen because sex happens. If men don't want to pay for their kids and take a role in their lives, then they have options also to have themselves fixed. And they should. There are plenty of guys out there with kids from 3 or 4 different women...
The burden of children should be the equal responsibility of both parents...and with luck an extended family or community. Men need to step up to the plate, many have not done so, but have chosen to consume themselves with all sorts of things. Obviously, women need some help. What is so hard about this that people don't understand?
Posted by Bischoff on 06/18/11 01:36 PM
I think the successful effort by corporate interests to draw mothers and housewifes into the labor force in the late 1960s and in the 1970s, which was strongly egged on by the demands of the women's liberation movement, has done more harm to the family unit than anyone imagines.
Posted by Bluebird on 06/18/11 01:24 PM
It is true, there are no easy solutions. The feedbackers on the other thread are discussing the good things about the internet. But along with the good comes the bad. People now have easy access to porn, including child porn and it has increased the appetite of many for children. I would say a child is safest in the care of a loving mother. If a woman does not want to commit to raising her children then she should delay having them until she does. Of course I may be influenced by my own experiences in life, but I would not trust ANYONE to provide the care I give to my own. I think the lure of the mother away from protecting her children is the real meme in todays world. Many times it is Dad, or Grandpa, or Uncle Joe who assult them. And sadly, even Mom herself in rarer occasions. I thank you for this discussion, though. It makes you think, and that is what we are all looking for-solutions.
Posted by Zenbillionaire on 06/18/11 01:19 PM
"I like Jackson Hole, WY quite a lot. "
:) Now that's funny and I suppose I deserved it.
Of course what I meant when I suggested Wyoming would be places other than Cheyenne (a suburb of Denver) and Jackson (a strange authoritarian mix of San Francisco and New York). The hole is a big place though and there are still a few self sufficient types on the borders. I have some friends in Kelly that wouldn't notice if the State fell off a cliff.
Try living in Cora for a few years. I think you'll change your opinion on the necessity of the Big Mommy.
Posted by F_Beard on 06/18/11 01:07 PM
Ann Coulter is a fascist ninny and like all fascists is very much in favor of government that suits her personal preferences.
Does she still smoke? Then maybe smoking should outlawed so as to give her a clue about personal liberty.
Posted by channa on 06/18/11 12:14 PM
just bringing up some points to think about, when people are advocating for no-state as a solution to all their woes about life. Seems there are problems no matter which way people decide to go. I don't have any little kids to turn out into the community but it is only a modern day meme that one parent is to stay in house for 20 years while other one is out working with no extended support from family/community. The Leave it to Beaver model.
Posted by Bluebird on 06/18/11 11:10 AM
You are correct. Usually legitimized means legal. You mean "something else". So you want to bypass the church, which carried this role for ages. Then the state took it over because there was money to be made there along with control. But most people saying they want to eliminate the state expect the state to come in and rescue them when it does not work out to be sure they get out of the "marriage" with their hide intact. Who will honor those pre-nuptials? I just wanted to make sure that women especially realize that the state cannot dissolve what was not made legal beforehand, nor can the church separate what was not joined in Holy matrimony. So in other words, when it doesn't work out when you get finished playing, you may be on your own.
I would not recommend, in this day and age, turning your children out into the community after they are weaned so you don't have to care for them. Someone will find them in the city dump, violated and dead.
But these are moot points. Ron Paul, on his own, is not going to manage to undo the laws of marriage as they exist. One day we may see gay marriage included, but it would take a lot more to remove current laws.
Ron Paul, 2012!!