Monday, August 29, 2011

Dispatches from Libertopia: College Edition

College is a wonderful place. A community of people engaged in the same pursuits provides a welcoming environment that fosters speculation, intellectual adventure and novel risks. Perhaps credit for this falls on a positive context for self esteem or just on the suspicion that everyone else is equally frightened and prone to "fake it until they make it," but for many of us it's a rare chance to truly take conceptual leaps. Some of us shouldn't.

Sadly, for every kid who builds an airboat that runs off old McDonald's fryer oil, there are two pre-law Randroids who will militantly argue the affirmative case in, "Resolved: The United States should legalize indentured servitude for the benefit of poor people at or above the age of majority." Or there's a girl like Stephanie Grace, who employs that intellectual freedom to address whether black people possess subhuman intelligence, provided that one defines "human intelligence" as "white-people smart."

In fact, the abundance of bongs and the consequence-free collegiate bubble that repels the practical and harsh elements of reality often form the genesis of Libertarian sociopathy. Reality is a thought experiment; people and products are all numbers, and death, suffering, pain, neglect and contempt are just remainders that someone at George Mason or the University of Chicago with enough math degrees will eventually square away for good at no cost to the Libertarian explaining this.

You can see it now:
LOLBERTARIAN: Wait, what if, like... (does a huge bong rip) like, um, the poor people that you see and the poor people I see are two different things? But, like, we have no way of telling each other, because you can never see what I see?
RANDROID: Dude, (grabbing bong) duuuuuude. What if the poor people that I see are actually what you think are rich people?
LOLBERTARIAN: Ohmigod, dude, do you know what this means?
RANDROID: (whispering) We just cured poor people.
Then they both flash peace signs at each other, but they aren't peace signs at all. Their splayed index- and middle-fingertips touch, releasing an ecstatic musical tone. The Von Mises signal has just gone out to Thomas Sowell, Peter Suderman and John Stossel. Now we know there's no way to prove that poor people aren't wealthy.

Campus conservatives don't seem to do much better, if for nothing more than the loss of economic-policy distinctions between them and Von Mises drones. Take this story, "College Students in Favor of Wealth Distribution Are Asked to Pass Their Grade Points to Other Students," about a recent conservative graduate named Oliver Darcy. He and his buddies are right-wing media darlings, appearing in Andrew Breitbart's vomit journals, in The Blaze and Townhall, as well as on birther-rapper home planet, World Net Daily. Here's the rub:
Oliver Darcy, a recent college graduate, proposes that students with good grades contribute their GPA to their academically sluggish friends. He argues that this is how the federal government takes wealth from the country’s high wage earners and distributes it to the low income earners.
He then goes around and asks liberal students if they agree with it and — surely with zero doctoring via selective edits, as is Breitbart's editorial policy — many do. Bang, zoom! Take that, liberals. It's impossible to escape. The whole analogy works on every level.

For example, remember when you were in your sophomore year of college, and your grandmother died, and you inherited 500,000 GPAs? Remember how the size of your father's GPA and the GPA zoning of the part of town you lived in contributed to your having more access to GPAs and a better quality school, where they had all the new GPA books and a great GPA-to-student ratio? Wait, forget that. That actually proves the opposite of Darcy's point: that there are strong statistical corollaries between your parents' prosperity, and your environment, and the potential prosperity to which you yourself will have access.

Unless... when Oliver Darcy talks about equitable "social darwinism" in schools, he's actually analogizing that to an America in which there's a 100% inheritance tax, totally equal distribution of educational resources nationwide, and everyone's performance out of childhood is absolutely dependent on their own innate ability and personal determination, right? Of course not. Libertarian/conservative social darwinism always ends at home, because actually cutting the familial purse strings and making a fair fight of it for everybody would prevent our having an aristocracy and all the cool shit that brings us, like rack-rent and hemophilia.

Darcy's false analogy and false premises amount to so much intellectual aristocratic dogshit that you can almost choke on the bong vapors and hear him thoughtfully clacking the gold clip of his Montblanc Meisterst├╝ck against his capped teeth. Breaking it down any further only unjustly elevates it to the same stature as reasonable thought. Better just to yell at it, which my friend Brad wound up doing when I showed him the link:
Oh, did they make accumulation of GPA unlimited at some point? I must have missed that. I mean, if I had a 36,476.5 GPA while most students only averaged a 2.8... sure, I'd give them some of my GPA. Especially if you still only need a 2.0 to graduate and a 4.0 to be considered "perfect." What do I need all that extra GPA for? Oh. They didn't do that? They must have capped wealth then for this analogy to make any fucking sense at all. No? Oh, the idea is just retarded then.

I think that this guy actually pointed out what's wrong with the economy. The use of money at all is the problem. Everyone should just be competing for credit-rating grades. If you have a 4.0, you get to buy whatever you want. Doesn't matter how hard you work or how you invest or how much money you inherit, if you earn a 4.0 credit rating, you can buy whatever you want. You're at the top. Slackers get lower grades. At 1.9 you are shot in the face, and your family is charged for the bullet.

I mean, I never finished college and I can see how fucking stupid this analogy is. Why aren't other college students, who by default are more educated than I, figuring out that the question is bullshit and that the guy is an idiot? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills. What's even more irritating is the fact that I'm not upset so much about his obvious political agenda, as I am with his shoddy logic. What an asshole.
Still, there's a hidden pleasure to be found in Darcy's wealth/GPA analogy. It's the revelation that Libertarians and conservatives support the redistribution of knowledge: they fling it away from themselves with great force.