Somehow I got added onto a libertarian mailing list and I haven’t had the gumption to remove myself from it. I’m still a libertarian, but more and more I begrudge calling myself that as folks are steadily migrating from Tea Party Republicanism to our rocky and desolate shore and bringing with them all their vaguely racist, excruciatingly ignorant baggage. Now, I’m not saying every Tea Partier harbours these things. But I am saying that those who want to claim “libertarianism” and still be name-calling the president, demanding a wall across the southern border and dismissing medical marijuana advocates as “idiot hippies” just don’t really GET what libertarianism means. Here’s a clue: It doesn’t just mean you don’t want to pay taxes.
This mailing list has been incredibly dull and I’ve deleted most of the messages. I don’t want to meet these people for beer and John Stossell videos. I don’t want to go down to the airport and yell at the minimum-wage flunkies running the body scanner. But then two days ago someone sent the oddest message I’ve yet gotten and I couldn’t help going “huh?”
It seems the Nashville Public Library is now making MP3s of Sony music available for checkout periods of five days. And it seems that this particular “freebie” is making one of the list members irate. She keeps going on about how taxpayers are robbing SONY music (capitalising it as though Sony is a sacred brand) and that if people want to be entertained they should pay for it themselves.
I’ve explained that
o Only part of the Library’s funds come from taxation; the rest comes from donors and fundraisers. All the programs she was complaining about (Salon @615, the Courtyard, the free movies) come from the private donors, as do many of the circulation items. The tax budget mostly covers the facilities and staffing.
o The library’s music program gives patrons access to hard-to-find recordings of operas and classical performances that many students use for reports. It isn’t all just Lady Gaga.
o There is no internally consistant reason to object to Sony music if you aren’t also objecting to Random House books or any other company whose wares are in circulation
o All libraries, up to and including the Library of Congress, have catalogued media other than books. It’s standard practice.
o Libraries are historically a good tax investment as they are a comparatively inexpensive way to train and educate the local workforce thereby insuring a more robust free market.
o Libraries are a more libertarianly-sound education investment than the public school system as they place no government-directed requirements on what the population can/should consume, while also offering the public a wider choice of information.
None of this seemed to hamstring her argument, which appears to center around the fact that books from the library are okay and reasonable but music crosses a line. I’m starting to think she must work for the music business in some capacity.
And this sums up my growing concern with the state of libertarianism. It seems to be this place where folks without a logical consistancy are gathering to complain about taxes. We aren’t a party; we’re Archie Bunker’s living room. It’s driving me nuts.
PostScript: The library-complainer’s last words were “WWRPD”–What would Ron Paul do? I wish people would stop thinking that Ron Paul is the king of the Libertarians. Honestly, while I think that he has in the past been the best of several bad presidential choices, he’s hardly the soundest libertarian thinker out there.