Lifting the Venn of Ignorance

This Mother Jones blog post – “The Venn of Ron Paul and Other Mysteries of Libertarianism Explained” – is ostensibly a rebuke of libertarianism by dumping on its (alleged) chosen vessel, Ron Paul. Unsurprisingly, the author, Josh Harkinson, does not understand libertarianism. The diagram:

Mother Jones: Venn of Ron Paul

I know, ha ha. Especially with the additions of the accompanying “Libertarian Theology” glossary and the “Rand of the Free” poll. It’s so powerful.

If only it were true. To quote David Boaz:

… Libertarians are not against all government. We are precisely “advocates of limited government.” Perhaps to the man who wrote the speeches in which a Republican president advocated a trillion dollars of new spending, the largest expansion of entitlements in 40 years, federal takeovers of education and marriage, presidential power to arrest and incarcerate American citizens without access to a lawyer or a judge, and two endless “nation-building” enterprises, the distinction between “limited government” and “anti-government” is hard to see. But it is real and important.


A government is a set of institutions through which we adjudicate our disputes, defend our rights, and provide for certain common needs. It derives its authority, at some level and in some way, from the consent of the governed… What we want is a limited government that attends to its necessary and proper functions… Thus libertarians are not “anti-government.” Libertarians support limited, constitutional government — limited not just in size but, of far greater importance, in the scope of its powers.

Admittedly, in the comfortable mindset of someone who likes ignorant gotchas, I probably violated my libertarian principle of individualism because I let someone else speak for me. I just stole his words. Nevermind that I cited Mr. Boaz and provided the necessary links. As a libertarian, I’m required to live without assistance from anyone for anything, forever. Hell, I drive on government roads every day. Eventually I’m going to figure out that this makes me not a libertarian.

To show that anyone can have fun with drawing, I’ve attempted my own Ha Ha.

Making Ha Ha

To finish the point, I have an entire blog category in which I explain why more state action is warranted and necessary. So, yeah, “anti-government”? Not so much.

Link via Boing Boing. (Note: Original venn diagram re-sized to fit my out-of-date blog template.)

“Stimulus” suggests we should constantly change the rules.

From a Forbes article on the porktastic spending bill’s impact on business:

Currently firms are allowed to record their losses during the previous two tax years. The compromise bill permits only companies with $15 million in gross revenues to account for the losses five years back. That’s particularly bad news for big manufacturers and homebuilders who have been hammered by the downturn.

Many firms had already planned on taking the tax break. “We had a large number of clients who were very far down the road of having their taxes prepared,” says Clint Stretch, a tax expert at Deloitte Tax.

If I’m to believe the porktastic spending bill will stimulate the economy, isn’t this the type of wasteful productivity we want to root out? They’ve produced their tax returns already. Bah. If we change the rules, they’ll have to do them again. Think of how many people tax firms will have to hire. It’s brilliant.

While we’re at it, change the 2008 individual tax filing rules. I’ve already filed mine, so changing the rules would make me do work. And maybe pass a law that only TaxCut can get the new rules, since I used TurboTax. I’ll have to buy a new copy of software. Sure I can deduct that from my taxes, but it would stimulate the economy.


No matter how many times it’s identified, the Broken Window fallacy will never go away. Why should it, of course? Advocating for inefficiency has its privileges, like a plush gig at the New York Times.

Netflix $1 Blu-ray Fee Increase Crisis Watch

The Benevolent Giver of Rescue must be very, very busy with all the bailouts. It’s been 47 days since I demanded my fair share of Free Money. Have I received a response from my (outgoing) Congressman? Nope. He must be very, very busy. But I’m sure I’m somewhere in the queue for Free Money.

Remember, it’s not my fault I bought a Blu-ray drive or that I expected more expensive movies to cost the same in the mail-order rental business. With up to $7,000,000,000,000 in Free Money being discussed, I’m sure the government can figure out a way to give me $1 per month so I can continue enjoying Blu-ray rentals from Netflix.

I hope so, because the $1 per month increase kicked in. I’m not sure how much longer I can hold out.

The Best Paragraph I’ll Read Today

Mark at Publius Endures provides the perfect reaction to yesterday’s ruling by the California Supreme Court:

But first – after all the claims of the Religious Right over the last few years that same-sex marriage would destroy marriage as an institution, I’ll admit my commute home from work this evening was filled with fear. Would my wife and child still be home, waiting for me? Would my wife still be wearing her wedding ring? Would my wedding ring begin to fade away, as if it were a photograph in the hands of Marty McFly? By the time I was home, I was in a cold sweat. When I walked in the door, my worst fears appeared to be coming true – my wife wasn’t wearing her wedding ring! I immediately broke down into tears, begging Chri….err, the Ghost of Jerry Falwell for forgiveness. My confused wife then informed me that she had just taken her ring off to take a quick shower. In other words: California now allows same sex marriage, but my marriage didn’t fall apart! Shocking, I know. But also true.

That’s the reality when religious extremists offer their doomsday scenario for the private, religious institution of marriage if the public, civil institution becomes fully equal as an individual right rather than the silly notion of a collective right between only one man and one woman.

The rest of Mark’s analysis is good, too. For example, this is the second best paragraph I’ll read today:

As many libertarians are quick to point out democracy is a means, not an end in itself – democracy without freedom is meaningless; freedom without democracy is not (think Monaco here, for example). Moreover, we do not live in a pure democracy, but in a constitutional republic; a republic which, according to Madison’s Federalist #10 (you knew this was coming), is set up to prevent any one group from gaining dominance over any other group. The constitutional republic that is the United States, and which forms the template for many, even most, state constitutions (including, I think, California’s, despite its bad habit of direct democracy), is specifically intended to prevent the tyranny of the majority. In other words, our system of government is supposed to distrust mob rule every bit as much as it distrusts the rule of a king. Indeed, the authors of the Constitution viewed the legislature as the most dangerous branch of government precisely because it was susceptible to the tyranny of the majority.

Despite its bad habit of direct democracy, indeed. For further consideration, read Ed Brayton’s dismissal of the Family Research Council’s predictably unprincipled response.


With the current discussion of judicial activism, the corresponding arguments about legislative activism (mostly noted by libertarians) are also relevant. Sometimes that activism takes the form of abdication of duty, to the point that it’s probably more appropriate to call it legislative “inactivism”.

I’m on record that legislatures must protect male minors to the same extent that female minors are currently (and correctly) protected from medically unnecessary genital surgery. (Most recently in the comments here.) Many disagree with that, basing their opinion on the traditional and cultural justifications for the non-medical circumcision of male children. Yet, it’s just as much a tyranny of the majority when a legislature fails to act in defense of rights¹. When it stands idly by while rights are violated because the violation is based on tradition, the legislature allows the perceived majority opinion to justify inaction. Just as prohibition based on mob rule may be improper, permission based on mob rule may be improper. The legislature’s approach must be based on first principles of individual rights. Majority opinion does not supersede the rights of the minority, even if that minority is a lone individual.

¹ The Congress intentionally ignored basic human rights principles by invoking a bizarre mental jujitsu to permit continued male genital mutilation during debate on the Female Genital Mutilation Act in 1995. I’m working on a separate entry on this. I’ll update this with a link when I post it.

People are confusing.

One of the more entertaining, albeit shallow, rewards from blogging is browsing the keywords people use to find Rolling Doughnut. Let’s consider a few from the last week:

the doughnut man who teaches about Jesus (link)

I do not know the doughnut man. What does he teach about Jesus? Now I want to know.

why capitalism must fail (link)

Because you hate liberty? Love poverty? Both?

jury duty system broken (link)

It is, for many reasons.

h play hose disney. com music feature:audio (link)

I can only guess that a robot wrote this. And that robot was high on crack.

Is cool whip vegan (link)


make decisions without thinking them through (link)

You’re looking in the wrong place. Try the experts here, here, and here.

Alas, I either haven’t talked enough about Nick Lachey recently, or people have stopped caring about his penis. Still, I hope you enjoyed these.

Post Script: It can’t be “all bitterness, all the time” around here.