dilemmanade
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
 
The Continuing Adventures of Joe Smartypants, Libertarian

Episode the First

Joe woke up one day to find himself in a clearing surrounded by jungle with about a hundred other people. No one knew where they were or how they'd gotten there. The jungle stretched out endlessly in all directions, so there was no way for them to walk out-- they'd just have to start a new civilization from scratch.

"My goodness," thought Joe. "This would be the perfect opportunity to start a libertarian utopia." And so he explained to everyone that they were all rational pleasure seekers, and that they didn't need a government except a court to enforce contracts, if even that.

He was very persuasive.

"I know I'm a rational pleasure seeker," said a teenage boy who was gripping a dogeared copy of Atlas Shrugged. "Oh, and nothing else. And people who say they are something else are just deluding themselves, or defrauding others."

Joe beamed.

"I thought I was a Christian," said a little old lady. "Now I realize I am a rational pleasure seeker. And that every human interaction is merely a transaction based on rational pleasure seeking. And that our society and our personal lives should reflect that transcendent notion. All that Christian loving kindness is for the birds."

"There you go," said Joe. "If we are all out just for ourselves, we'll maximize utility, and we'll all end up with the most pleasure possible."

"Agreed," said a middle-aged man. "And the first thing I'm going to do is demand more sex from my wife if she is going to continue to get anything from me."

"Oh, yeah?" said his wife, and she scowled at him. "Well, the first thing I'm going to do is start demanding more of you."

"You see!" cried Joe. "You'll come to an equitable arrangement because you're both rational pleasure seekers who can negotiate!"

"Maybe it wasn't so bad before," mumbled the man.

"Oh, it's going to be bad now," said his wife, still scowling.

"And prostitution will be legal, of course," said Joe.

"Oh, you'd like that, you old goat," said the wife, staring at her husband. She was even angrier.

"And there'd be competition, a free market," said Joe, "so you'd be able to get the best sex at the best price."

All this time Mr. Strong, Mr. Wiley, and Mr. Greedy had been conferring in whispers. Now Mr. Wiley stood and addressed everyone.

"Mr. Smartypants is clearly correct. The people all agree on that. We just need to work out a few details. We'll need a mayor, and I agree to serve. Mr. Greedy here will be our banker. And Mr. Strong will be our policeman."

"We'll certainly need a cop," agreed the teen. "I, for one, will steal whenever I know I won't be caught."

"Wait a minute," said Joe. "But what about the Golden Rule?: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That's rational isn't it? Besides, surely you'd be caught eventually, and then everyone would shun you."

"What would be more rational for me," countered the teen, "would be to say I follow the Golden Rule, and encourage everyone else to follow the Golden Rule, and then to steal whatever I could get away with. I'll make my bets and take my chances. The Golden Rule is for rubes."

"He's right," said Mr. Wiley. "There's no Golden Rule in libertarianism. The idea is unfettered competition. The Golden Rule is some kind of socialist nonsense. And as my first act as Mayor I hereby declare the Golden Rule to be illegal. And I direct Mr. Strong here to place Joe Smartypants in custody. He will be tried, found guilty, and executed."

There was scattered applause.

"Wait, wait!" cried Joe. "Perhaps we could vote..."

"Voting!" scoffed Mr Greedy. "That would be mob rule. And who knows what voters might do. They might want public education or a social safety net. They might vote to tax me in order to pay for it."

"There will be no voting," said the Mayor. "The very concept is seditious. Never mind the trial. Mr. Strong, proceed with the execution."

Joe screamed and woke himself up. He was in a cold sweat.

"What went wrong?" he wondered. "It started out so well..."

He shook his head, and looked at his bedside clock. "Oh, well. I've got to get ready for work, and tonight's the Libertarian Party strategy meeting."



 
When life gives you dilemmas, make dilemmanade.

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