Posts tagged "Question Time"

International Brewers Anthem

Ew, are there really Australians that truly believe American beer is categorically worse? I always assumed it was transparent posturing to cling to national identity.

Why is American beer like making love in a canoe? I suspect this is changing as beer moves upmarket, and consumers improve their knowledge but a ton of Australians will still tell you that seppo beer is fucking close to water.

(In Australia, transparent posturing to cling to national identity and sincere belief are practically indistinguishable poses.)

Justin Kowalski, via Twitter:

PBR is the American Resch’s, which is to say, my guilty fav cheap beer

In the U.S., the ONLY appeal of PBR is that it’s cheap and marginally (only marginally) better than Miller and Bud. Microbrews—domestic and otherwise—all the way.

I’m totally fine with PBR if I’m at a show or a dive bar, but yeah, I’m with Dave on this one.

I get annoyed with Australians who write off Fosters. Sure, it’s nothing brilliant, but in comparison to Carlton Draught and VB, it’s tastes decisively less like butthole. I’ve actually wanted to try PBR for a while… Where was this bottle shop?

The bottle shop was Warners at the Bay, in Newcastle. Their website says they were awarded the title of Best Craft Beer Store in Australia by Beer and Brewer magazine, and I wouldn’t say they don’t deserve it. As far as I know, no shops in Sydney have a better selection. Note: these guys have an online store.

I can’t support the defense of Fosters, however! I don’t think it’s even that it’s extraordinarily bad, just that its extraordinarily mediocre yet so strongly and incorrectly connected with Australian identity. I probably would drink Fosters over VB — not Carlton though — but if I have to drink shit beer, there’s always New. I’ve never been in an Australian pub that’s served Fosters, let alone one where I felt that was my least bad choice.

ninefruits said: Both you, and Ron Paul, should read Hayek's "Why I'm Not A Conservative", to see the disrespect he had institutionalised cultural norms (not just state based ones), both philosophically and practically. American libertarianism is very much tied to the nation (particularly Southern nationalism), which is a significant form of collectivism (and a cage that inhibits free trade). One should be careful to make this distinction when commenting on the philosophy as a whole.

I’ve read “Why I’m Not a Conservative” and made brief comment on part of it here.

Grant also responded to an earlier Paul post, and I’ll reproduce his comments in this answer, since I think they’re related:

"Libertarians are not interested in freedom, no matter how loudly or how often they say they are." I think it’s important to distinguish that Paul is a Paleo-Libertarian. An outlook that marries certain libertarian principles to a deep social conservatism. This is a very American phenomenon, fueled more by America’s national narrative (especially Southern) than consistent political philosophy. It is in constant constant conflict with itself and viewed suspiciously by other libertarians.

I really don’t see the point in filleting libertarianism into ever finer cuts to satisfy the sensibilities of members of what’s a pretty sparsely supported ideology anyway. Of course there is doctrinal disagreement in the sect; there is in every sect. There’s nothing substantive enough in the disputes for me to care though.

David Atkins has it:

The only problem for libertarians is that they cannot point to even a single current or historical example of a government that functions as they imagine it should. They have no concrete, real world examples, so they ply their arguments in a theoretical construct.

Each and every example of places with little centralized government is dismissed by libertarians as an anarchistic situation, not a “true” Libertarianism. It’s the “no true Scotman" fallacy, Ron Paul edition.


Libertarianism, in other words, is infallible. Wherever it fails, it does so because the people weren’t ready for it, or there was too much violence to allow it to work, or because the government wasn’t powerful enough to protect people from harm.

I really don’t see the point of talking about American libertarianism as something unique, either. Libertarianism, if it can be said to exist anywhere, exists most strongly in America and its political tradition has been shaped there. Where else is there any real kind of libertarian movement? I know these dudes like to talk about Austrians, but as far as I can tell, the Austrian polity hasn’t shown much enthusiasm for the ideas of the economists that use their name.

But, for what it’s worth, here’s the rap on Paul and paleo-libertarianism:

Rockwell explained the thrust of the idea in a 1990 Liberty essay entitled “The Case for Paleo-Libertarianism.” To Rockwell, the LP was a “party of the stoned,” a halfway house for libertines that had to be “de-loused.” To grow, the movement had to embrace older conservative values. “State-enforced segregation,” Rockwell wrote, “was wrong, but so is State-enforced integration. State-enforced segregation was not wrong because separateness is wrong, however. Wishing to associate with members of one’s own race, nationality, religion, class, sex, or even political party is a natural and normal human impulse.”

The most detailed description of the strategy came in an essay Rothbard wrote for the January 1992 Rothbard-Rockwell Report, titled “Right-Wing Populism: A Strategy for the Paleo Movement.” Lamenting that mainstream intellectuals and opinion leaders were too invested in the status quo to be brought around to a libertarian view, Rothbard pointed to David Duke and Joseph McCarthy as models for an “Outreach to the Rednecks,” which would fashion a broad libertarian/paleoconservative coalition by targeting the disaffected working and middle classes. (Duke, a former Klansman, was discussed in strikingly similar terms in a 1990 Ron Paul Political Report.) These groups could be mobilized to oppose an expansive state, Rothbard posited, by exposing an “unholy alliance of ‘corporate liberal’ Big Business and media elites, who, through big government, have privileged and caused to rise up a parasitic Underclass, who, among them all, are looting and oppressing the bulk of the middle and working classes in America.”

Certainly this coalition does not encompass every libertarian in America, but that’s neither here nor there. I’d call paleo-libertarianism a tactic, not an ideology in its own right. And it’s a tactic that can’t be excused by pointing to its cynicism. Ta-Nehisi Coates:

It is comforting to think of racism as species of misanthropy, or akin to child molestation, thus exonerating all those who bear no real hatred in their heart. It’s much more troubling to think of it as its always been —a means of political organization and power distribution. Such a definition makes the “I’m a good person” defense irrelevant.

I could easily believe that Ron Paul holds no more particular disdain for blacks than George Wallace or John Patterson. These were not evil men. They were good people, who consented to evil in the pursuit of power.

It doesn’t matter whether Paul is a racist; what matters is that he’s happy to use racism to his political advantage. I imagine the Texas Congressman thinks he is speaking truthfully when he says libertarians cannot be racist, but the reason he thinks this is true is exactly the reason racists have cloaked themselves in libertarianism for decades: libertarians think of relationships exclusively in economic terms, and so have no interest in the cultural forces that can sideline economics.


This from Michael Lind is also relevant:

Some libertarians concede the legitimacy of government coercion in protecting property rights. But in doing so, these libertarians, like Ron Paul, give up any principled objection to government coercion. They simply want government coercion to be used for some purposes—protecting property rights—and not others—enforcing civil rights.

This is the libertarian fraud on freedom: they think liberty exists entirely within the narrow confines of property rights.

ninefruits said: What is your own political philosophy? You seem to have a dislike for everything.

Clearly I’m a crotchety old man who spends his days holed up in his apartment complaining and listening to Taylor Swift.

Dude, I’m basically a liberal. Also a republican. Those two sentences were capitalized correctly. 

Um. My political beliefs probably best spring from the idea that no one should be bound by circumstance, which may also explain why I have such affinity for America. (America has spent a lot of its history binding people with circumstance, but it’s always really believed that’s a bad thing to do. We hold these truths to be self-evident…, etc.) We should seek to maximize individual liberty. Governments have no business in the personal lives of individuals, and should not prohibit free speech, free assembly, free practice of religion, must offer a fair trial, and must offer citizens equal treatment under the law. Governments should not discriminate against their citizens. Not only should governments not constrain individual freedom, society is better when discourse is robust, pluralistic, and fearless. I’m suspicious of tradition and I like a bit of mess.

Free markets are the greatest means we have devised to lift people out of poverty, and governments should support free markets. (Note: Free markets aren’t like wild mushrooms; you don’t just venture out into the woods and find them. Free markets have certain features, and sometimes governments must involve themselves in creating those features. One example is the enforcement of contracts. Another is the addressing of knowledge problems, overcoming collective action problems, or removing barriers to entry.) The system of mixed market capitalism used throughout the west is a decent approximation of how this works in practice, but there’s a lot of variation within that, and none is my ideal.

I support free transition of goods and people across national borders, though I understand cultural and political realities will not permit the absolute free movement of either. 

I am suspicious of accreted power and think individuals should oppose it whereever it exists, with what tools they have. That can mean with a government against a business, in one instance, with the federal government against a state government in another, or with private enterprise against a government in a third.

We should think idealistically and act pragmatically.

Recap: We must none of us be bound by circumstance. Individual liberty should not be constrained Governments must stay out of our personal lives, and since governments are inextricably involved in markets through enforcement of contracts, they should involve themselves in support of free markets.

How’s that to start?

And the reviews are in!

I really dislike the green and gold

It’s not the best, but I’ll take it over Union Jack blue, white, and red any day.

gazzyd-deactivated20130912 said: Who else is talking intelligently about hip-hop, on tumblr or otherwise? Please advise.

Oh, wow, awesome question. Excuse me if I go on a bit.

You will find some of the best rap writing on the Internet at the Passion of the Weiss, founded and published by all-round good dude Jeff Weiss, whose Tumblr is here. Passion writers Sach O and Martin Douglas are both real smart on hip-hop, though they seem to spend more of their time writing about bass music (Sach) or garage rock (Martin) these days.

I’ll also recommend the Singles Jukebox-affiliated writers Andy Hutchins and Michelle Myers, and not as a professional courtesy. I started reading Andy and Michelle long before they started writing for the Jukebox.

Elsewhere, you should definitely be keeping an eye on Nate PatrinDavid Turner, Willy Staley, Brandon Soderberg, Jordan SargentDavid Drake (who can also, with some other dudes, be found at So Many Shrimp), oh, and, naturally, Noz. If Real Nigga Tumblr ever comes back, make sure to keep an eye on him as well.

There are many more, and if I haven’t mentioned you, it’s almost certainly because you slipped my mind, not because I think you suck. (It might also be that you used to write about rap, but I haven’t seen you doing it much lately.) Which is why anyone reading this should reply with any other recommendations for gazzyd that you can think of.

douglasmartini said: I think this is indicative of the way society treats women (ESPECIALLY women of color) with drug problems versus the way it treats men. How many male rock stars who struggle with addiction get ridiculed and turned into a punchline? Probably not enough of them. "Not everyone appreciates or respects that legacy.." seems like a fancy way to say, "People are justified when they make crackhead jokes about Whitney Houston." Which is stratospherically untrue.

Quite. When men have drug problems, it’s seen as evidence of their authenticity. (Kurt Cobain’s heroin addiction, for instance, was read as the troubled response of a “real” musician to the artificiality of celebrity; the drug abuse is held as a kind of proof he was so pure that he had to self-destruct rather than compromise himself.)

Ol’ Dirty Bastard, I guess, is an interesting intersection; his drug abuse is seen as a bit of a joke, but also as proof of his realness. ODB, it goes without saying, was not white.

Melbourne things.

Melbourne’s coming up, with their fancy buildings being erected without Jonathan Bradley’s knowledge!

Damn straight. Who gave approval for this? I will fuck their shit up.

Surely that’s The Eureka Tower?

Apparently it’s the Eureka Tower, the sixth tallest residential tower in the world. I WANT TO LIVE IN IT.

Eureka Tower dude, it’s been there for since 2006. When was the last time you were down?

OK, it was, like, December 2002. But that’s no excuse. I need to be informed about this kind of thing.

Jonathan, are you googling pictures of Melbourne because we are going there soon?

N… no!

Oh, by the way: Melbourne, I am going to be in you in May.

ninefruits said: Keynesians are all party too, like Tracey. Only they are less creative.

Really, is anyone more creative than Tracy Jordan?

Do you have an argument based on, y’know, economics? You could have at least come with a flawed appeal to Say’s Law.

I take counter-cyclical budgeting seriously. You can see the dangers in excessive government spending in, for instance, Australia between 2003 and 2007, when pouring government money into an already booming economy resulted in inflation and high interest rates. There’s a time for austerity, and that time is not during a period of high unemployment and insufficient demand.

Like I said: basic economics.

ninefruits said: Government spending doesn't create wealth though, it either uses already created wealth, or uses the wealth that will be created in the future. It's not new money that is being pumped into the economy. And if this increased spending comes in form of government expansion, then it's actually feeding on wealth rather than creating it (limiting the private sector's ability to employ). Government spending can facilitate wealth creation through infrastructure, but it doesn't create it directly.

Of course government spending can create wealth. There aren’t special “government dollars” that are distinct from “private sector dollars” and behave with their own special properties. A dollar is a dollar.

A publicly-funded mass transit system is an example of wealth created by government. It is also a means for facilitating wealth creation by, for instance, making it easier for a worker in Chatswood to get to her job in Chippendale, but the tracks and trains themselves are a form of wealth.

But is it wealth that was already created, or that will be created in the future? Clearly not the former — a mass transit system is worth more than the cost of the raw materials required to build it and the labor required to operate it. And though not all stimulatory spending creates things as useful as mass transit systems, it does address the problem of a glut of savings. Incidentally, that’s why, in this case, your appeal to the crowding-out effect is invalid: this government spending puts idle resources to work — resources for which the private sector was not competing to begin with.

And as for the notion that it’s a drain on future wealth: Even disregarding the special circumstances of a general savings glut — which must be addressed now so as to prevent wealth from being destroyed now — prudent government spending can create greater total wealth.

Say the government takes out a loan to build a mass transit system. Even though the loan will need to be paid back from public funds, the economy gets the benefit of the mass transit system now instead of in the future. It’s similar to the way people take out a loan to buy a house, instead of living in a cardboard box by the side of the road until they’ve saved up enough money to pay in cash the full cost of a three bedroom bungalow. And in the case of the United States, the loan is currently so cheap that it essentially doesn’t need to be serviced. It’s free money. 

lol what is taxes? pls explain.

ninefruits replied to your post: 
I don’t think you quite understand where govt gets its money from. It may provide some things (transport systems) than can create wealth. But govt doesn’t “earn” wealth itself, it’s not spending its own money. Someone has to pay for what it spends.

Taxes. Is that the place where Dallas is?

You’re pivoting from an economic argument to a moral one. Since government spending can indeed create wealth, it doesn’t matter economically whether you think that wealth has been properly “earned.” (Qua Snoop: Deserve ain’t got nothing to do with it.) It’s still government-created wealth, even if you think it’s totes unfair that the government levied taxes to do it.

If your concern is that increased government spending requires increased taxes to fund it, that’s why Keynesian stimulus is usually funded by borrowing — that is, issuing bonds that investors buy. (Even so, you could probably still fund stimulus by levying a tax on the rich, who have a lower marginal propensity to consume. My preference is not to risk undermining your own stimulus and instead raise the funds entirely through borrowing.) If your concern is that current government spending will have no effect because it will have to be repaid, you’re flirting with the dubious doctrine of Ricardian equivalence. If so, see here.

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