Clark of Popehat.com is understandably angry. The "system" of corporate-State socialism seems rigged against the little guy, the common man, the individual, the lower and middle classes—and its exploitation of everyone outside of the power elite seems to grow more blatant and more absurd by the year. What set off his latest masterpiece polemic was Judge Giselle Pollack of Broward County, Florida, who has sentenced defendants to who knows how many years in combined jail time for drug-related offenses, will enter rehab for her drug and alcohol problem instead of going to jail like many of her victims. Clark writes,
Twenty years ago I was a libertarian. I thought the system could be reformed. I thought that some parts of it "worked"… whatever that means. I thought that the goals were noble, even if not often achieved.
The older I get, the more I see, the more I read, the more clear it becomes to me that the entire game is rigged. The leftists and the rightists each see half of the fraud. The lefties correctly note that a poor kid caught with cocaine goes to jail, while a Bush can write it off as a youthful mistake (they somehow overlook the fact that their man Barrack hasn't granted clemency to any one of the people doing federal time for the same felonies he committed). The righties note that government subsidized windmills kill protected eagles with impunity while Joe Sixpack would be deep in the crap if he even picked up a dead eagle from the side of the road. The lefties note that no one was prosecuted over the financial meltdown. The righties note that the Obama administration rewrote bankruptcy law on the fly to loot value from GM stockholders and hand it to the unions. The lefties note that Republicans tweak export rules to give big corporations subsidies. ...
What neither side seems to realize is that the system is not reformable. There are multiple classes of people, but it boils down to the connected, and the not connected. Just as in pre-Revolutionary France, there is a very strict class hierarchy, and the very idea that we are equal before the law is a laughable nonsequitr.
Jamal the $5 weed slinger, Shaneekwa the hair braider, and Loudmouth Bob in the 7-11 parking lot are at the bottom of the hierarchy. They can, literally, be killed with impunity … as long as the dash cam isn't running. And, hell, half the time they can be killed even if the dash cam is running. This isn't hyperbole, mother-fucker. This is literal. Question me and I'll throw 400 cites and 20 youtube clips at you.
Next up from Shaneekwa and Loudmouth Bob are us regular peons. We can have our balls squeezed at the airport, our rectums explored at the roadside, our cars searched because the cops got permission from a dog (I owe some Reason intern a drink for that one), our telephones tapped (because terrorism!), our bank accounts investigated (because FinCEN! and no expectation of privacy!). We don't own the house we live in, not if someone of a higher social class wants it. We don't own our own financial lives, because the education accreditation / student loan industry / legal triumvirate have declared that we can never escape – even through bankruptcy – our $200,000 debt that a bunch of adults convinced a can't-tell-his-ass-from-a-hole-in-the-ground 18 year old that (a) he was smart enough to make his own decisions, and (b) college is a time to explore your interests and broaden yourself). And if there's a "national security emergency" (defined as two idiots with a pressure cooker), then the constitution is suspended, martial law is declared, and people are hauled out of their homes.
Next up from the regular peons are the unionized, disciplined-voting-blocks. Not-much-brighter-than-a-box-of-crayolas teachers who work 180 days a year and get automatic raises. Firefighters who disproportionately retire on disability the very day they sub in for their bosses and get a paper cut.
A step up from the teachers and firefighters are the cops: all the same advantages of nobility of the previous group, but a few more in addition: the de facto power to murder someone as long as not too many cameras are rolling. The de facto power to confiscate cameras in case the murder wasn't well planned. A right to keep and bear arms that far exceeds that of the serf class: 50 state concealed carry for life, not just just for actual cops, but even for retired cops.
At the same level of privilege as cops, but slightly off to one side is different class of nobility: the judiciary and the prosecutors. Judges and prosecutors can't execute citizens in an alley, a parking lot, or their own homes ("he had a knife! …and I don't care what the lying video says."), but they can sentence people to decades in jail for things that any clear-minded reading of the Constitution and the 9th and 10th amendments make clear are not with in the purview of the government. They have effectively infinite resources. They orchestrate perp walks. They selectively leak information to shame defendants. They buy testimony from other defendants by promising them immunity. By exercising their discretion they make sure that the bad people are prosecuted while the good people (i.e. members of their own clan) are not.
Above the cops, the prosecutors, and the judiciary we have the true ruling class: the cabal of (most) politicians and (some) CEOs, conspiring both against their own competitors and the public at large. If the public is burdened with a $100 million debt to pay off a money losing stadium, that's a small price to pay if a politician gets reelected (and gets to hobnob with entertainers and sports heroes via free tickets and backstage passes). If new entrants into a market are hindered and the populace ends up overpaying for coffins, or Tesla cars, or wine that can't be mail ordered, then that's a small price to pay if a connected CEO can keep his firm profitable without doing any work to help the customer. If the Google founders want to agitate for Green laws that make Joe Sixpack's daily commute more expensive at the same time that they buy discount avgas for their private flying fuck palaces, then isn't that their right? They donated to Obama's campaign after all!
I am not listing defects in a perfectable system. I am describing the system.
It is corrupt, corrupt, corrupt. From Ted Kennedy who killed a woman and yet is toasted as a "lion of liberalism", to George Bush who did his share of party drugs (and my share, and your share, and your share…) while young yet let other youngsters rot in jail for the exact same excesses instead of waving his royal wand of pardoning, to thousand of well-paid NSA employees who put the Stasi to shame in their ruthless destruction of our rights, to the Silicon Valley CEOs who buy vacation houses with the money they make forging and selling chains to Fort Meade, to every single bastard at RSA who had a hand in taking the thirty pieces of silver, to the three star generals who routinely screw subordinates and get away with it (even as sergeants are given dishonorable discharges for the same thing), to the MIT cops and Massachusetts prosecutor who drove Aaron Swartz to suicide, to every drug court judge who sends 22 year olds to jail for pot…while high on Quaalude and vodka because she's got some fucking personal tragedy and no one understands her pain, to every cop who's anally raped a citizen under color of law, to every other cop who's intentionally triggered a "drug" dog because the guy looked guilty, to every politician who goes on moral crusades while barebacking prostitutes and money laundering the payments, to every teacher who retired at age 60 on 80% salary, to every cop who has 50 state concealed carry even while the serfs are disarmed, to every politician, judge, or editorial-writer who has ever used the phrase "first amendment zone" non-ironically: this is how the system is designed to work.
The system is not fixable because it is not broken. It is working, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to give the insiders their royal prerogatives, and to shove the regulations, the laws, and the debt up the asses of everyone else.
Burn it to the ground.
This post exemplifies one major advantage that amateur, or at least less formal, blogs have over mainstream media and opinion columns in newspapers and the like: the opinions and excoriations that Clark puts forth don't have to be watered down for a "respectable" publication or for a wider audience. Clark is right about everything or at least almost everything in his post, and he says it in the tone that the topic warrants. Pissed the hell off, not thoughtful and even-handed, is how we all ought to feel about most things our governments do. It should pain us to realize that all of these atrocities committed by State officials—that are legal, by the way—are inflicted and endorsed by our fellow humans who want this type of government and continually vote to keep it just the way it is.
It's true, anyone with an internet connection can have a blog whether their writings are worth anything or not, which dilutes the overall quality of the blogosphere. But have you compared the random political rantings around the blogosphere to the crap in the major newspapers and magazines lately? In an extremely good week, not 10% of MSM opinion columns about politics and economics are even non-idiotic, much less insightful, principled, or praiseworthy.
One thing I've noticed around the interwebs during the last few months is that a lot of people place a high value on what they call "nuance" and "subtlety". I put them in quotation marks because, one, they are almost buzzwords now, and two, I'm not sure some people's definitions of those qualities would agree with mine.
Imagine what an opinion column in a major newspaper about Judge Giselle Pollack would sound like. The author would call for "reforms", for a "need to take a second look at sentencing laws", for more "accountability", and would cite the growing opposition to the Drug War and the DEA, etc., and wonder if it isn't time for some form of "scaling back".
Those opinions are not subtle or nuanced. In fact, they are hardly opinions at all. They are weak, non-committal, quasi-opinionated statements designed to make the people who think they already agree with the author give a little cheer of agreement, while simultaneously avoiding offending people who think they already disagree with the author.
Often the "nuance" or "subtlety" that professional journalists and pundits strive for has the effect of steering them farther away from real truth, be it moral, philosophical, or practical, than a simpler, more direct, less qualified position would be. (Or at least a seemingly simpler position would be.) Take non-defensive wars or other "military actions" (please). Libertarians oppose all wars except as a last resort and in defense against an imminent threat, so we oppose any military intervention in the wars, uprisings, revolutions, and yes, sometimes even genocides of other nations. It is common to see warmongers and other interventionists scoff at our simple-minded, "un-nuanced" understanding of the world, as we reflexively oppose any non-defensive military action our government might take. But their devotion to considering all sides of an issue as if they were all equally valid, all possible advantages of a morally repugnant action as if they might outweigh its intrinsic wrongness, or all the "nuance" and "complexity" and "subtlety" of the winners and losers and gains and losses of any action leads them to support (or maybe just rationalize) offensive and interventionist wars. And they pat themselves on the back for understanding all the "nuances" and "subtleties" of the world better than reflexive anti-war libertarians. As if our anti-war position, because we arrive at it so immediately and easily, lacks nuance and subtlety. But their labeling of us as reflexive, naive, unsophisticated sloganeers itself lacks nuance and sophistication. The truth is directly contrary to their over-simplification. We have arrived at our anti-war position because of all the effects intervention has had and continues to have on innocent people both abroad and at home, and because of the waste and abuse attributable to every powerful military but especially the United States military, in terms of both lives and resources.
The same goes for our seemingly reflexive, un-thought-out positions against taxes, government schools, the War on Drugs, and every other government regulation and program, and our ultimate catch-all answer of "abolish it". To the extent that your professional, scholarly obsession with "nuance" and "subtlety" runs afoul of principles and rights, you have formulated bad opinions and reached wrong conclusions. This is why I'm tired of the veneration of "nuance" and "subtlety" as virtues in their own right. I'm also tired of typing quotation marks around those words, but it's justified because they've almost become meaningless buzzwords the way so many people use them.
My point is that Clark's points couldn't be made in a MSM publication, and certainly not in the way that he made them, which makes me glad that amateur, unedited blogs like theirs exist and sad that professional publications seem so scared to publish anything that sounds extreme or not "nuanced". Sure, building consensus and attracting people to your side of the argument with softer words and less insulting (or less extreme) arguments is valuable and justified sometimes. But so is a rant like Clark's. Judge Giselle Pollack doesn't deserve any kind, gentle, wishy-washy, professional-journalism words; she deserves to fuck off and die in a fire, or at least be imprisoned in a hellhole for as long as the combined total of her previous victims, and so does everyone who has voted to perpetuate the police state that the Drug War has enabled.