Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ayn Rand is Dull, and other lessons for nascent libertarians

Thank you for your interest in Libertarianism. Unfortunately I'm the wrong person to ask about it. I'm much too inconsistent and erratic to espouse any specific ism. But here's what I do know.
Ayn Rand is dull. Oh my god, she is so dull. Please do not waste your money on any of her books. Forget about the ideas and whether you agree with them or not. She's just such a bad writer, that fatigue sets in shortly after you begin reading. Whenever someone says their favorite book is Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead or The Virtue of Selfishness, I'm shocked that 1) they were able to get through it and 2) they actually enjoyed them.
Much better are Hayek's, "The Road to Serfdom," and Friedman's "Capitalism and Freedom." Friedman is an easier read. I've read "Free to Choose," but think it lacked the power of "Capitalism and Freedom."
Many libertarians take their thinking to an extreme and it becomes anarchy. You like to set up that anarchy straw man when you and I discuss politics and economics. But I'm not an anarchist, and I do feel there is an important role for government, as I've said several times (but am too lazy to find the links).
Some libertarians are libertarians until the subsidies are handed out. Like the old saying, "There are no atheists in foxholes and no Republicans when the subsidies are being handed out." Also, many libertarians are libertarians until you start talking about civil rights. For instance, some will suddenly find an objection to legalized drug use or gay marriage. As for me, I'm generally far to the left of the right when it comes to social issues, but I'm not as far as Ron Paul who does want to legalize drug use. I'm not sure I'm there.
So what are we left with? A nuanced, read inconsistent, philosophy not that much different than how Democrats and Republicans and Catholics seem to espouse positions from a menu of issues. I know that doesn't help, because it doesn't pin me down, but consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. Actually I never remember what the real saying is so don't correct me, I'll misuse it frequently. I also never remember what the Red and Blue states represent. That whole red/blue thing is very annoying to me.

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