Yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, there was an article detailing a new trend in friendships. As expected, nationwide increases in unemployment and cutbacks in work hours translate into more stay-at-home time for many adults. In addition to catching up on daytime TV, they have been the targets of “favor-hunting” from friends, relatives, and community groups alike. Many of these people thus feel a bit exploited, sensing an obligation to pick up groceries and mind children for free in a very poor economic climate.
The market, however, has come to the rescue. Taskrabbit.com, currently operating in Boston and San Francisco, matches people’s errands with “runners,” or individuals who have the time to complete their tasks. The “pricing” section of the webpage nearly brings a tear to my eye – Taskrabbit operates on an “open marketplace model. Most tasks are completed between $10-$15. Runners are able to make counteroffers to your proposed Runner fee or bid on your task.” In negotiating prices and offers in a competitive arena, there is consent between two parties, ensuring that nobody feels guilty or stiffed. Runners are also evaluated for their performance, giving opportunity to build reputations for credibility. I look forward to watching the popularization of a site that stay-at-home adults can use to commodify their free time and working stiffs can use to get their “favors” without feeling like a moocher.
I have long held the belief that libertarianism is a logical, common sense approach to politics. At a fundamental level, the libertarian philosophy is about maximizing personal choice without threat or coercion. As these ideas are pulled from abstraction and translated into policy, they manifest in a laissez-faire approach to economics and the belief in an axiom of non-aggression. Volumes upon volumes have been written about libertarianism’s proper implementation from economists, philosophers, scientists, and the like. Though if you cannot follow the examples or philosophies of Mises, Hayek, Rothbard, Friedman, and Bastiat – I ask you to look to Stefani Germanotta for your political advice.
Germanotta, better known as Lady Gaga, is obviously not an explicit libertarian. In fact, I do not expect her to alienate herself from her Democratic and Republican supporters by declaring any particular party affiliation or philosophy. Despite this, I have insinuated that she is a champion of personal liberty in the libertarian tradition.
Above all else, Lady Gaga is an open defender of civil liberties and individual rights. Famously, she “called out”President Obama on his opposition to gay marriage when she spoke at the LGBT march on Washington. Lady Gaga is a fixture in the gay rights movement; ask any man who passes by the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village or any attendee from her performance at the Human Rights Campaign dinner.
Though this philosophy extends beyond the scope of gay rights. Recently, she railed against the Arizona immigration law, as any good libertarian would. Her consistent position against any government intervention is congruous with her belief that “[this] country is not equal if it’s only at some times.” (I always get my Lady Gaga and Thomas Jefferson quotes confused…)
Civil liberties are a fairly non-controversial position among my generation. Lady Gaga has also promoted individual choice. Notably, she told Barbara Walters that she hopes for her fans to feel comfortable in their own skin – not to conform to any societal measures. She has also lent her hand to creating an environment of choices in sexual preference. Lady Gaga has her own line of condoms and a charitable line of makeup that supports women’s sexual disease screening. Conversely, she also advocates celibacy if one is “not ready” and encourages personal reflection to maximize self-satisfaction. If Lady Gaga is a statist, reliant upon any endorsement of collectivism, she is doing a terrible job.
Lady Gaga is dangerously close to being a fiscal conservative. (As close as someone raised in Manhattan can get, anyway.) From her music, we can see traces of her sympathies. For instance, in ‘Beautiful, Dirty Rich’ Gaga pleads to her father for money to party – a fiscal liberal would have whined about class struggle instead. In ‘Poker Face’ she says, “[a] little gambling is fun when you’re with me.” Risk is an indispensable aspect of a capitalist economy, one the Democrat and Republican “bailout” culture has diluted.
Aside from her art, which could probably be interpreted in a million different directions, no Pinko would wearAlexander McQueen on the scale of Lady Gaga. Gays, her main legion of fans, have the largest amount of disposable income.
Gaga has also shown her self-determination and thrift in the market. When her father disowned her, Lady Gaga became a true rags-to-riches story made possible by a system that rewards merit. With a faith in her talents that led her to leave the security of a wealthy family, Lady Gaga has managed to make a fortune in the age of “free music” and illegal downloads. She is on tour constantly and finds alternative ways to commodify her talents. To date, I have not heard of her bemoaning the changing tides in the music industry; a stark contrast from those in the automotive industry, who advocate measures like “cash for clunkers.”
Recently, Lady Gaga’s self-interested “greedy capitalist” reared it’s beautiful head. Though she opposed the Arizona immigration law, she “stopped short of dumping her Arizona tour dates like big name acts Kanye West and Rage Against the Machine who boycotted the state in protest of SB 1070.” A few months ago, an old boyfriend, who claimed a cut of her earnings, sued Lady Gaga. She did not take this lightly, counter-suing and enlisting a lawyer to protect her property.
Lady Gaga has some shortcomings. For instance, I’m certain she voted for President Obama – something a learned libertarian would not admit. Though she may have desired “change,” she seems to have a distaste in her mouth from his stance on her most outspoken issue – gay rights. Her hatred of Bush, not uncommon in any circle, suggests a contempt for his biggest issue, foreign policy. Naturally, his (and President Obama’s) position is entirely incongruent with the libertarian and Lady Gaga philosophy.
It may be the case that Lady Gaga’s latent libertarianism will never be appreciated or understood. Listening to The Fame on repeat and reading the tabloids will probably never subconsciously convert the millions of people who adore her. Regardless of her political influence, though, at the end of the day this libertarian “loves [her] record ['til she] can’t see straight anymore.”
A town official in Long Island is utilizing nerdy weaponry, Google Earth, to find unregistered backyard swimming pools. Leroy Barnes, an employee of the town, cited safety hazards as his reason for scoping out the unlisted pools. I’m sure Barnes wasn’t considering the missing tax revenue at all.
Earth, which was originally created for tourists, has now become another tool of Big Brother. The pace of innovation on the internet has been so rapid that I wonder what other unforeseen infringements and consequences will come our way.
Perhaps I should reconsider my Google Latitude account…
Every time I hear ‘Burnin’ Up,’ I will think of ol’ Gipper.
Why? Because it’s the only song I know from the co-Chair of the National Reagan Youth, Nick Jonas. Though he and I missed living in the glorious days of Ronaldus Maximus, we both found appreciation for the man through our emphatic Reaganite parents. I wish I had known of the Jonas Brothers’ conservative values when they lived in Wyckoff, NJ – I could have used them for a Bergen County Republican fundraiser or two!
My favorite musical, Avenue Q, is on a limited engagement in DC. Among the many brilliant songs, there is one in particular that has a great deal of relevance to Washington. Schadenfreude, a German word that describes taking pleasure in other people’s pain, is what political strategy is all about.
Today in American Thinker, Ed Lasky published a great article titled ‘Obama’s Mean Streak.’ The article, well worth reading, accounts all of the president’s public snubs. (Though he missed his most recent diss of Snooki.) “Barack Obama seems to have a pattern of using ceremonial or stately events as opportunities to ambush and humiliate people. This behavior is unpresidential and reveals a vindictive streak that makes Richard Nixon look like Mister Rogers.”
Obama seems to enjoy kicking people when they’re down. Or as Gary Coleman’s character in Avenue Q would say “Sorry, human nature- nothing I can do! It’s… Schadenfreude! Making me feel glad that I’m not you.”
For as long as I can remember, my parents have listened to Rush Limbaugh on a semi-regular basis. This permeated my consciousness with conservative inclinations and rendered me fundamentally incapable of harboring liberal views. Though I am indebted to Rush for making me inherently right-of-center, I am perhaps most grateful for his ability to make freakishly accurate predictions about the political Left.
Today Time Magazine reports that, though one of Rush’s predictions deterred from a usual topic of politics, it looks as though he retained his accuracy. Limbaugh, who has been referring to the Gulf Oil Spill as “the leak,” may have been right about the impact it has had on the southern United States:
“Yes, the spill killed birds – but so far, less than 1% of the birds killed by the Exxon Valdez. Yes, we’ve heard horror stories about oiled dolphins – but, so far, wildlife response teams have collected only three visibly oiled carcasses of any mammals. Yes, the spill prompted harsh restrictions on fishing and shrimping, but so far, the region’s fish and shrimp have tested clean, and the restrictions are gradually being lifted. And, yes, scientists have warned that the oil could accelerate the destruction of Louisiana’s disintegrating coastal marshes – a real slow-motion ecological calamity – but, so far, shorelines assessment teams have only found about 350 acres of oiled marshes, when Louisiana was already losing about 15,000 acres of wetlands every year. [...]
Marine scientist Ivor Van Heerden, another former LSU prof who’s working for a spill response contractor, says “there’s just no data to suggest this is an environmental disaster. I have no interest in making BP look good – I think they lied about the size of the spill – but we’re not seeing catastrophic impacts,” says Van Heerden, who, like just about everyone else working in the Gulf these days, is being paid out of BP’s spill response funds. “There’s a lot of hype, but no evidence to justify it.”
If only Time would cover El Rushbo’s cries against collectivism.
My favorite show, Mad Men, had its fourth season premiere on Sunday. I have found that people either love or hate the show, so I have some food for thought on both camps:
Hate: Okay, fair enough. You might be in the Jeffrey Tucker school of Mad Men criticism, or maybe you just don’t like the various crazy antics of the ad agency. However, I ask you to read this impressive Vanity Fair profile of the show and it’s creator, Matthew Weiner. Perhaps you will give it a second look or a shred of admiration for their attention to detail.
Love: Slate magazine has a running blog that accounts the episodes with various commentary from a variety of perspectives. It is my favorite running critique (and that is saying something).
Personally, I like to relish in the days before the Johnson and Carter administrations since I did not have the privilege to do so firsthand. Roger Sterling has a knack for making it entertaining, too.
Jeffrey Tucker, editorial vice president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, is quickly becoming one of my favorite commentators on pop culture. Lately, I’ve read portions of his book, Bourbon for Breakfast, and come across his postings on Mises.org. Tucker usually writes to observe messes the government makes by implementing frivolous rules to every facet of our lives. While this is his area of expertise, I came across an article he wrote about menswear entitled ‘How To Dress Like a Man’ that I feel I should forward to many of my male friends.
You see, there are two types of clothing in this world, those for public consumption and those that exist for functionality. As Tucker explains, “The great dressing error of our time is to confuse the two. Or more precisely: people think that it is perfectly okay to present yourself to others in clothes which serve a purely functional purpose. They say this is fine because it is comfortable – as if the only thing that matters in life is comfort. Well, it is also comfortable not to shave and not to bathe, and we have a word for people like that: slobs. If you don’t want to be a slob, you have to live with a bit of discomfort.” Tucker proceeds to give a very concise explanation of what a basic wardrobe should entail, but I think it’s worth noting that women can always tell when men put extra effort in their appearance. Tailors are your friend, boys.
A Google search of the phrase “American middle class” brings you to a .gov website about the “Middle Class Task Force” that displays a quote from Vice President Joe Biden, director of the initiative. This is perhaps the most blatant sign that the U.S. middle class is doomed.
Confidence in Joe Biden aside, I saw a recent article in Business Insider that gave me twenty-two more reasons to grow nervous for the comfort of my fellow Americans. After all, the middle class in any country is at the forefront of consumption and leads business trends.
The average federal worker now earns 60% more than the average worker in the private sector.
The average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks.
21 percent of all children in the US are living below the poverty line in 2010 – the highest rate in 20 years.
36 percent of Americans say that they don’t contribute anything to retirement savings.
The top 10% of Americans now earn around 50% of our national income. This is a nice contrast to the forty-seven percent of this country that does not even qualify to pay a federal income tax.
Dan Mitchell of CATO believes that things will only get worse for the middle class. “[Politicians] that want to tax the middle class hope to soften opposition among ordinary people by first punishing society’s most productive people. We already know that tax rates on the so-called rich will jump next January thanks to higher income tax rates, higher capital gains tax rates, more double taxation of dividends, and higher death taxes. Now the politicians are preparing to drop the other shoe.” Particularly since there are not enough rich people to finance big government. Uhh ohhh.
I was perusing the Foreign Policy blog today, something I do far too infrequently. I came across an article that has smacked me with a degree of sobriety towards the impending cultural doom we are facing….
In China, Pabst Blue Ribbon is $44. There is something wrong with this picture. I really do not want them buying up our debt if PBR can pass for 88x it’s value.
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