Thursday, December 4, 2014

I heard Rand Paul...

...last night blame the death of Eric Garner on cigarette taxes and I thought, Wow! I used to think like that too. Libertarianism sure leads you down some crazy rabbit holes!

And then today I find out that this tortured logic actually has some legs.

Now, whatever you think of the Garner case, I should hope we can all agree that it wasn't cigarette taxes that were responsible for this poor man's death, any more than it was the public sidewalk he was standing on at the time. 

As Danny Vinik put it in The New Republic:

Eric Garner is not dead because New York City imposes high cigarette taxes. He’s dead because a cop put him in a chokehold.

As a former libertarian, I can attest that this is where the ideology takes you sometimes: every bad thing that happens is ultimately caused by the government. People like Sen. Paul start there and work their way backwards. In other words, he already knew what caused Mr. Garner's death before it even happened! Libertarians like to pride themselves on relying on reason rather than emotion, but it's actually very lazy intellectually. Imagine: Ask me a question, any question, and I'll automatically give you the answer, It's the government's fault. Convenient, isn't it?

It's not only lazy but also devoid of all human emotion. A man died for crying out loud -- that's what's important here. We can talk about what happened -- and why -- all night long, but let's not get sidetracked by cigarette taxes.

1 comment:

Ed Crotty said...

My favorite take on libertarians-

"Now try it the wishful thinking way. Just wish that we might all live in a state of perfect liberty, free of taxation and intrusive government, and that we should all be wealthier as well as freer. Now wish that people should, despite that lack of any restraint on their actions such as might be formed by policemen, functioning law courts, the SEC, and so on, not spend all their time screwing each other in predictable ways ranging from ordinary rape, through the selling of fraudulent stocks in non-existent ventures, up to the wholesale dumping of mercury in the public water supplies. (I mean, the general stock of water from which people privately draw.) Awesome huh? But it gets better. Now wish that everyone had a pony. "