Wednesday, July 4, 2012

This is Why I'm Not a Libertarian...


...because then I might be stupid, blind or ideologically rigid enough to write the bit of "wisdom" contained in the op-ed piece above. That image has apparently been bouncing around recently on the libertarian websites, and the several comments I could stomach reading seemed to view it with much enthusiasm. Putting aside for a moment the sheer lack of empathy or even basic human decency shown by the writer, he also seems to have little understanding of who the real welfare queens are in America today.

Let me put this in very simple terms so that even the most thickheaded Randian troglodyte like Billy Fleming could understand it: the real purpose of ALL government welfare programs in this country is to enrich corporate America.

I'll pause for a moment so the libertarians can let out their WHARRGARBL.

Okay, now I'm back and ready to explain my rather incendiary assertion. Let's start with the food stamp program, since it in particular seems to vex poor ol' Billy Fleming. The average monthly food stamp benefit per person for those unfortunate enough to be on the program is the princely sum of $133 a month. Ever tried to limit your monthly food budget to that amount? I haven't, but I can't imagine it would be a picnic, to use an unfortunate metaphor.

Stretching that thin dollar out to cover the whole month pretty much guarantees that the recipient will be forced to buy a lot of cheap, highly processed foods of low nutritional value. Fresh fruits and vegetables are expensive, Kraft Mac&Cheese is cheap. When you are living day to day hoping not to go hungry before the next monthly stipend arrives, you don't have the luxury of worrying about such things as the potential impact of eating garbage on your long term health prospects.

One of the great libertarian memes when slamming food stamp recipients is that they use the stamps to buy sodas and snack cakes. Well, OF COURSE they do. Have you checked the price of a liter of Coke versus the same amount fresh milk or orange juice lately? And as for the snack cakes, if you're going to have to eat shit anyway it might as well be SWEET shit, right?

The simple fact is that the food stamp program as currently constituted is NOT at all designed to help poor people who might starve to death without it. They merely serve as the delivery mechanism to transfer public funds to the American food industry under the guise of providing a social safety net. A sensibly run program would tightly restrict the kinds of items that could be purchased, and would not include crap that is little better than slow acting poison to the people who consume it. But heavily processed items full of deadly additives like high fructose corn syrup are the most profitable for the food industry, so you have a program that not only allows those items to be purchased but is insidiously designed to ensure that the recipients cannot afford to buy healthier alternatives.

This same dynamic applies to any of our social welfare programs. Medicare and Medicaid are merely a pass through providing government health care money to the hospital, pharmaceutical and related industries. Rental assistance payments go directly to private landlords, FHA insured mortgages backstop money being loaned to home buyers with risky credit, student loan guarantees allow for-profit colleges to thrive even though half of the students who borrow money to enroll in those schools end up defaulting on their loans--the list just goes on and on. What's more, it doesn't even include the REALLY big corporate welfare giveaways like defense war contracts and agriculture subsidies.

One big blind spot most libertarians seem to have is not recognizing that the big corporations are every bit as big a threat to individual liberties as big government. When a tiny set of corporate elite control production of everything you need to live your life, they've got you by the balls even if they don't formally control the means of official coercion. The second big libertarian blind spot is not recognizing that the big government they rail so passionately against no longer exists to serve anyone BUT the big corporations. Across the board, government policy making has become completely captive to the ability of elite private interests to make some kind of a buck from it--Obamacare being just the latest unfortunate example.

So go ahead, libertarians. Keep blaming the "parasites" and the "useless eaters" for sucking down your precious tax dollars. Keep making dumbass analogies comparing the food stamp program to feeding wild animals. And rest assured that your real overlords will be thanking you for your misguided support as they count up the billions of dollars they earn from strip mining the very programs that you are so impotently stomping your feet about.


Bonus: "So say goodbye it's Independence Day...It's Independence Day...All down the line"

28 comments:

  1. Just like any good mystery, follow the money!

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  2. Also recall that fast-food chains (YUM Brands in particular - the umbrella company for Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, et. al.) are lobbying to change the law so that SNAP (that's 'food stamps') may be used to purchase prepared meals in their franchises. The SNAP program currently prohibits purchase of prepared foods, even at grocery stores. Prepared foods are cooked food such as fried chicken, fries, etc.

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    1. Yep - I blogged about the YUM brands campaign a few months ago. Could that company have a more disgustingly apt name?

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  3. So fucking dumb they can't even puzzle out the real reasons you aren't supposed to feed the animals. Because it attracts them closer and closer to people, making it more likely that someone will get attacked, not that it will make them docile. But I'm sure some right-libertardian will find a way to twist that into their stupid fucking narrative, probably in a racist way. And let's remember, these are right-libertarians or anarcho-capitalists, and they have false claim to those titles. Their beliefs in no way reflect actual anarchism or libertarianism, which are synonymous terms, systems that believe in mutual aid and cooperation.
    These 'tards should simply be called Randians, because that is what they are.

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    1. You aren't supposed to feed wild animals because they become dependent on the food source and stop fending for themselves. Only a few animals are a risk to humans naturally, and most humans aren't dumb enough to feed those ones.

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  4. High fructose corn syrup isn't any deadlier than table sugar - I think our problems have more to do with the fact that a regular-sized McDonald's drink in 1955 was 7 ounces! compared to how much we ingest today...

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    1. True, but these days they put HFCS in just about EVERYTHING. It subtly hooks people on processed foods without them even knowing it.

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    2. Yep and other chemicals too like MSG and the other bad stuff they are putting in food. Actually even if you buy something like spaghetti sauce, the cheaper brands have far more HFCS and MSG added to them. Seems it would cost more money for them to ADD something rather then just leaving it as tomatoes and seasonings.

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    3. Errrrmmm…wrong. Regular table sugar isn't tainted with Mercury and hydrochloric acid. HFCS is.

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  5. Great piece, BH. 12:12 is spot-on, so-called libertarians are collectively a much bigger bunch of frauds than the proverbial welfare cheats they harp about.

    Happy 4th.

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  6. Actually Hayek was all for a guaranteed minimum standard of living.

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    1. If there is a Hell, Hayek is gonna be burning there forever.

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  7. In general I totally agree with this post but because I'm an Eats-Shoots-And-Leaves librarian-wannbe type, I have to mention a couple of things. I'm not unsympathetic to why people who rely on food stamps eat junky food, but I suspect it's more due to advertising than money, because you can actually buy cheap food that is nutritious. You can't afford the more expensive fresh fruits and vegetables that is true for sure, but there are endless varieties of beans and whole grains that are cheap and wholesome sources of protein, and require only boiling to cook. With the addition of minimal amounts of meat or vegetables for flavor, it's possible for families to get by without spending more than they would on processed food.

    Having said that, the way the heat waves and droughts are going, those beans and grains won't be cheap much longer either.

    As to not feeding the animals, my impression is the reason isn't so much that they will come close to people and attack, but rather that what they get fed isn't necessarily good for them to fill up on (same empty calories as the junk food) and mainly, the problem with them becoming dependent is it encourages them to stay in places when they should be migrating, and also if the people disappear for whatever reason (tourist season is over), they are suddenly left with nothing to eat.

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  8. There seems to be a tentative, nascent, dawning realization in the mainstream media that maybe our hostility toward welfare recipients is aimed at the wrong targets. See Octavio Blanco's opinion piece at CNNMoney:

    http://money.cnn.com/2012/07/04/investing/federal-reserve-stimulus/index.htm?iid=HP_LN

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  9. Agree partially, but you should look at this from a historical perspective, too.

    America had a LOT more radical political elements and populace in the early 20th century - before a lot of these programs existed. The Great Depression hits, and a ton of people were becoming more and more jaded of the capitalist system. The welfare programs were created with a dual purpose - keep people from becoming desperate, and protect the capitalist system from these desperate people.

    Capitalism really can't exist without regulation and welfare programs in the long run, because its main impetus is to accumulate capital into fewer and fewer hands. It's a system of self-interest - and those with capital have an interest in keeping the majority desperate for work and dependent on their product. But it's a cannibalistic system in its "pure" form - inevitably, the majority won't take it anymore.

    But that's not to say there aren't people who game the welfare system. Plenty do.

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  10. This got me thinking....like so many words lately, libertarianism has really got some wildly different definitions going. There's this:

    According to the U.S. Libertarian Party, libertarianism is the advocacy of a government that is funded voluntarily and limited to protecting individuals from coercion and violence.

    But when the corporations become the de facto government and "libertarians" become the mouthpieces that enable corporate plunderlust aren't they simply facilitating the government they profess to hate? I think of something like that libertarian lumbering bastard Penn from Penn and Teller doing a show that "enlightens" about how Wal Mart really isn't so bad. I think a crappy magician is an excellent spokesperson for that mentality.
    It makes my head hurt.

    For the low level libertarians, I think it's just a philosophy that allows some good old hatin' of poor people. Like your piece so aptly exhibits.

    "Libertarian" probably once meant something else, perhaps a bit more noble. Sorta like the conservatives floating around are anything but. They are radicals who want to "conserve" nothing. Our words are getting as polluted as the rest of the place.

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  11. fructose is a metabolic toxin - the liver is forced to process it, much like alcohol, which causes Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

    in natural sources (like fruits) the fructose is accompanied by fiber, gum and pectin, which greatly slows adsorption so you don't get a sudden blood sugar spike.

    the fiber is also filling so you don't overeat

    compare to soda with no nutritional value, no fiber

    HFCS has even more fructose than sucrose which isn't good for you either BTW

    also, it contains mercury intentionally allowed by Olin's chlorine plants using an outdated proccess that involves mercury used as electrodes to split salt water into chlorine gas, then hydrochloric acid, which is used on the corn starch they make HFCS out of..

    Chlorine plant fights legislation's mercury timeline


    this program was underwritten by the John M. Olin Foundation

    dumbing you down with mercury for profit, while pretending to care

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    1. 'Life' is a metabolic toxin - 100% mortality rate...

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  12. Well, I'm a Libertarian and I certainly don't hate poor people. Don't hate people on food stamps either. What I don't like is those who "buy" frozen peanut and jelly sandwiches instead of a loaf of bread and some peanut butter. I could give additional examples but I'm sure you get my point. I have family members on SNAP who buy that sort of shit. Meanwhile I get up at 0400 hrs. to go to work at a job that 1) sucks, 2) is 175 miles from home causing me to only see my wife on weekends.

    I don't mind helping those that are less fortunate. I just wish they would spend my tax dollars a little more carefully.

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  13. I sympathize with a few libertarian viewpoints such as not having endless rules and surveillance HOWEVER...

    The worse thing about libertarianism...

    they have fallen for the FREE MARKET GLOBALIST LIES. [as if the globe has a "free market" and like other countries don't look out for their own interests] Maybe their politicians aren't busy sending all the jobs overseas.

    They are just another deceived group being led to cheer for their enslavers. Funny how you see them whine about poor people and never the trillions of our tax dollars sent overseas to useless wars, and banker bail-outs.

    Honestly I am tired of those who would just want all the poor thrown into a ditch somewhere with nothing to eat.

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  14. With all due respect to your viewpoint Ramen,real Libertarians most certainly do complain not only about the cost of war but the wars themselves. In fact our opposition to our involvement in these wars is central to the Libertarian philosophy, and of course we in no way favor bailing out the banks. Rather, if a bank fails, it just fails and that's it. Period. No bail-out. Again, I'm not sure which Libertarians you and others who have posted on this thread refer to, but there really seems to be some misunderstanding as to what libertarianism means to a Libertarian. We certainly don't want the poor or anyone else thrown into a ditch to starve. There are nut-job Libertarians just as there are nut-job Dems and Repubs., or if you prefer liberals and conservatives. Billy Fleming's dumbass submission is NOT representative of Libertarian thought. Please don't lump us all into a group like the Dems do to the Repubs and vice versa.

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  15. The USDA really should not be involved with handouts to needy citizens, they need to give full focus to their reason for existence: giving handouts to corporations. Because "farm subsidies" create jobs! For Mexicans. While executives, lobbyists, and lawyers get rich by making sure the politicians giving them handouts stay in office. God Bless America.
    Real question is: when will the American "conservative" wake up to realize that each time he fills up his pristine F150 with the "I Support The Troops" sticker on the back for his daily commute, he's consuming more taxpayer handouts than the guy in the grocery line. American gas is cheap at the pump because taxpayers paid TRILLIONS for it through the military-industrial complex that bought the politicians that drove us to unnecessary wars.

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  16. $133 per person, per month is $532 for a family of four. That is about our monthly food budget (our revised budget for 2012 was $565, and we've averaged $545 a month so far this year). We receive no government assistance and don't want any. We work, pay our bills and live within our means. My wife recently completed RN school, this will help increase our income and give her new life experiences.

    What most liberals (and conservatives) refuse to understand about libertarianism is that we don't want the government to abandon the poor, we want the government out of our lives as much as possible. Get out of business, let bad businesses fail, prosecute businesses that break laws or sell dangerous products, let good businesses succeed. Let people earn a living. Let's get government back under 5% of GDP.

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    1. Well said, Anonymous.

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  17. This is a dumb-as-shit response. No one (and I am not a Libertarian) is saying anything about the fraud perpetrated on the American people via corporate welfare. They are simply saying that it's inconsistent to say that removing the incentive to care for themselves is detrimental to their ability to care for themselves applies in the animal kingdom, but not in the human kingdom. It applies in both.

    Here is one more tidbit: Supporters of welfare (of any kind, really) and other subsidies to disadvantaged and poor people will never see these acts as detrimental to these same people they profess to care about. What if providing welfare to poor people was detrimental to their overall well-being, would you ever feel remorse for supporting it? Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (now deceased) thought it detrimental to the well-being of the poor.

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  18. Whoever wrote this seems to think libertarians are something they are not. Of all the libertarians I speak to and deal with on a regular basis, they understand that the big unchecked corporations are the people behind the puppets in Washington D.C. That is why those puppets in D.C. are always passing laws that benefit those big corporations. If there were true libertarians in our government, and if they were acting on true libertarian principles, all those laws that benefited those corporations would be repealed and capitalism would once again take control of the market. That means that when someone came up with a better idea, it would not get swept under the rug by a politician to protect the profits of a giant corporation.

    Food stamps are supposed to be a safety net. When nearly half the country is on them,it is no longer a safety net. It is a free for all....obviously excepting those of us who are paying for it.

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  19. WOW... Empathy is a loosely used term in this article. Libertarians tend to be more cerebral and consistent in their political beliefs. Logic based on the "no one should initiate violence against another human being" principle drives most of the libertarian belief system. Don't mistakie the centrality of liberty to Libertarians as somehow a proof that they lack empathy. One might argue that forced empathy through government forced taxation for "empathy programs" like welfare and food stamps actually perverts empathy in general and destroys the moral ground empathy normally holds in particular. Voluntary charity is empathy in action. Social Safety nets perpetuated by forced taxation are not charity and do not have the force of empathy behind them, only fake empathy since it requires no sacrifice on the part of politicians to allocate other people's money. Claiming that you support food stamps, zoning laws, licensing laws, and welfare programs in general may seem empathetic in the pure emotional sense as you intend on helping those that are the poorest in our Society. But empathizing with those in need does not justify the use of force to use other people's money to help them. Libertarians have great empathy for those in need and often are willing to give of their personal time and money (Resources) to help those in need but see the use of force (taxation) to meet these ends as immoral and will lead to poor outcomes. People are lifted out of poverty by people who believe in them and a system that is fair in how it treats each person. They are not lifted out of poverty by people who make excuses for them and a system that choses winners and losers. Don't cast judgment on libertarians based on some outsized belief in empathy when the outcomes of these programs are hurting the very poorest and neediest in our Society. Get off your high horse and do something with your own resources and time and stop trying to engineer society. You are not intelligent enough to make a better system then one created through voluntary market transactions. Neither am I.

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    1. Do you hear yourself? "Voluntary charity is empathy in action...Libertarians have great empathy for those in need and often are willing to give of their personal time and money (Resources) to help those in need but see the use of force (taxation) to meet these ends as immoral and will lead to poor outcomes. People are lifted out of poverty by people who believe in them and a system that is fair in how it treats each person."
      If you're so damned charitable, why not voluntarily pay taxes for the purpose of having a safety net for all who need it? Making poor people look to charity instead of a guaranteed safety net is in no way a fair or stable way of meeting their needs.

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