Saturday, July 1, 2017

Wild-Eyed Libertarian (Part One)

(If you're new here, this column consists of weekly letters written to my grandchildren, who exist, to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead, and my great-grandchildren, who aren't here yet.)

Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Stars 
Marie-Louise.....My beautiful muse (right shoulder) and back scratcher 
Iggy....................Designated Sticky
Dana..................Designated gentlereader (left shoulder)  

"One of the reasons people hate politics is that truth is rarely a politician's objective. Election and power are." -Cal Thomas

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies,

I used to describe myself as a wild-eyed bleeding heart libertarian (BHL) with conservative impulses.

Now, the official description is wild-eyed libertarian with a bleeding heart and conservative impulses. Yeah, I know, it sounds like the same thing. You'll just have to trust me. Now, let us move on before I'm tempted to wander off into the weeds. You know how I get.

I'll betcha a bottle-a-pop that considerably more people haven't heard the phrase (BHL) than have.

I didn't invent it, but when I started using it I thought I did. I had no idea there were/are lots of other people that also describe themselves as BHLs. It just seemed to fit me. If finally dawned on me at some point that I should go a-googling in search of like-minded souls.

In my defense, I have readily admitted/readily admit to being an easily bored dilettante who also suffers from been there done that syndrome who wishes he were smart enough to be a polymath.

I'm convinced that had I not been dropped on my head as a baby by my big brother, which, tragically, also afflicted me with a severe case of lazy eye, I certainly would be a polymath, and I would've had a much better life. Wouldacouldashoulda. Mitigating this tragedy is my ability to see around corners.

You've no doubt heard that there's nothing new under the sun (a concept I prefer to render, more accurately I think, as everything seems to be just a variation on a theme). There are not only others who call themselves BHLs, there's a website. The site was the first hit returned by my inquiry but certainly not the last. More on that in just a sec'.

The site is a blog of blogs written by, from what I can tell, gentlepersons of a somewhat more, um, academic frame of mind than your semi-humble correspondent. I'm sure if I were a polymath I'd find it much more enlightening/entertaining than I did/I do.

After exploring the site in question for a (dilettantish) bit I returned to the search results and started clicking around. Overall takeaway? lots of folks, particularly mainstream libertarians (look ma! a witty oxymoron!), like to beat up on BHLs and something called left-libertarianism. I didn't even know that was a thing. Remember Stickies, you learn something every day if you pay attention.

Now, libertarians being libertarians, I can't say I was shocked. A quote from the relevant Wikipedia article: "Libertarians share a skepticism of authority and state power. However, they diverge on the scope of their opposition to existing political and economic systems." At this point, I would like to nominate this passage for the Understatement of the Year Awards.

Diverge? running the Libertarian Party must be the political equivalent of herding cats. Self-identifying libertarians range from well spoken, well respected, Ph.D. toting professors to tinfoil hat enthusiasts.

Which brings us to the point of this letter. I...

[At this point Iggy, Dana, and Marie-Louise all popped into my consciousness simultaneously. All three of them broke into an improvised, wildly exaggerated version of what I can only describe as a happy feet dance while chanting, there's a point! there's a point! there's a point!]

You guys are hi-lar-ious, I responded (HT: BR). Of course there's a point, there's always a point -- usually, eventually. I shall refrain from commenting on your disappointing, philastinish display and clear under-appreciation of my art form, perspicaciously edited stream of consciousness writing. Instead, I shall make my multifaceted point if you'll stop that damn giggling.

I'm a wild-eyed libertarian, a wild-eyed libertarian with a bleeding heart and conservative impulses.

[Gentlereaders: I plan to organize an as yet unnamed political party with a platform that will be built upon this very sentence. My son-in-law, Skippy (or so I've heard) has begun to put together a super PAC to support the party. We will both pledge to follow the letter and spirit of the law and never coordinate our efforts, not even over the dinner table. Pinky swear.]

Libertarians are obsessed, to one degree or another, with liberty. Maximum freedom = minimal gummit. The phrase, to one degree or another in the previous sentence, is very revealing. While there is such a thing as the Libertarian Party, whose candidate I voted for in the last presidential election, it is even more fractious than the current incarnations of our two mainstream parties, the Depublicans and the Republicrats.

[A point of clarification, if you please. If you find my cheap (literary) trick confusing, the first letters of the names I use for the traditional names of our traditional parties should be helpful. While both struggle to present a united front and both delight in demonizing the other, they both share some unfortunate common ground. For most of their respective members, retaining power trumps serving the Republic.]

They (in theory) are supposed to put the welfare of Our Republic first, they represent, and work for, Us. Unfortunately, the system is long overdue for an upgrade.

A lack of congressional term limits guarantees professional politicians, many of whom never had to survive in the real world for more than a minute.

Which gives us -- a Senate with a seniority system where the more often you are reelected by the people of your own state the more power you will have over everyone else's state. Which helps you get reelected by the people of your own state because of the power you have over the people of everyone else's state.

Combined with -- a lower house with two-year terms where job one is raising money/preparing for the next election with the help of a jobs program for professional Pols called gerrymandering.

Which is why, obviously, I'm a wild-eyed libertarian...

[The happy feet dancing suddenly stopped. My imaginary posse stared at me silently with a loud, huh?]

...with a bleeding heart and conservative impulses.

As I've previously written, I want the playground to have minimum rules and maximum fun. I want just enough rules to give everyone an equal shot at some swing time and neutralize the bullies.

Physical bullies start with your lunch money but grow up to be crony capitalists.

Intellectual bullies grow up to be bureauons.

Professional Pols are financed by the former and protect the latter who devise endless rules and regs and enforce the laws the Pols passed without bothering to read the fine print.

That is to say, I prefer liberty, equality of opportunity, and free markets.

That's how you get a Henry Ford, or a Steve Jobs, or _______. (This space reserved for the name of the traditionally/allegedly suppressed type to be that well known and have that much impact). Personally, I'll betcha a bottle-a-pop that ______, whatever, um, it's? preferred pronoun is already here, and about to change the world).

Ah, geez! Look at the time!

[Gentlereaders, after investigating the etymology and semantics behind the word Geez (also rendered as Jeez) I discovered that there is no consensus as to spelling and meaning. Some maintain that it's a polite way to take the Lord's name in vain. While I accept this, I've always thought of this word as a slightly less corny variation of (golly) gee whiz, swear to God (said the agnostic). When I become king I'll make geez the official word; a variation of (golly) gee whiz the official definition. Part of my restoration of good manners and modesty project.]

Well, that's the wild-eyed libertarian part. I'll explore the bleeding heart part, and my conservative impulses, in my next letter. Poppa loves you.

To be continued...

Have an OK day.

[P.S. Gentlereaders, for 25¢ a week, no, seriously, for 25¢ a week you can become a Patron of this weekly column and help to prevent an old crank from running the streets at night in search of cheap thrills and ill-gotten gains.

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©2017 Mark Mehlmauer   (The Flyoverland Crank)

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