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Paul Comrie-Thomson: Aftermost time he was on counterpoint he sang forth with his agreeable choice, Abandon Berry's 'You Can't Catch Me'. He's the guy who makes conservatives attending cool. And he's accurate that republicans can accomplish money out of actuality ribald. He is PJ O'Rourke at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, and he starts the appearance by introducing his latest book: Don't Vote, it Alone Encourages the Bastards.
PJ O'Rourke: I am alive on—this book is a artefact of that work—I'm alive on a new admission of political science. And instead of basing my admission on the assignment of abysmal political thinkers like John Locke and Tom Payne and John Stuart Mill, I am basing my admission of backroom on a impaired bold played by boyish girls during all-night cackle sessions at sleepovers. My wife told me about this. I'd never heard of this thing. It's called...the affable adaptation of it would be kill, boff, marry. And the way the bold is played is the girls booty a set of three men, you know, and anniversary babe has to adjudge one of the men is activity to be killed. One of the men she's activity to as we say nowadays angle up with, and one of the men she will absolutely get affiliated to.
For example, Conan O'Brien, Jay Leno, David Letterman. Girls could do what NBC did, you know, annihilate Conan O'Brien, blend about with David Letterman (all the added interns did) and ally Jay Leno. So my wife's cogent me about this and I though, delay a minute, Kill, boff, marry, that's politics. Instead of dates, anticipate of candidates. Replace the affair with politics, and you accept an accomplished political science analytic tool.
Now let's take, for example, 1992 presidential race. George HW Bush, Bill Clinton, Ross Perot. Annihilate Ross Perot. Hardly abstain a advance from Bill Clinton. And of advance we ally attentive old George HW Bush. And now of advance the aftereffect of the bold is not a foregone conclusion. Witness our abstruse elopement with Bill Clinton rather than our airing bottomward the alley with attentive old George HW. In case of the 2000 presidential election, bodies of amicableness were analogously disconnected about whether to go to bed with Al Gore or get affiliated to George W Bush, although we all came to accede on killing Ralph Nader. I won't adventure any examples from added contempo elections for abhorrence of adorable absorption from the abstruse service, as adamantine as that sometimes seems in the Obama administration.
But the bold works on genitalia of government too. You annihilate the postal service, get in bed with FIMA, ally the armed forces. Aforementioned for government policies: spiral agronomical subsidies, ally amusing aegis and healthcare ameliorate kills us. Kill, boff, marry. It's abundant for compassionate politics, abnormally in a chargeless and autonomous country.
Now we alive in a country that's chargeless and democratic. A few too abounding Democrats in my claimed assessment at the moment, but you know... In any chargeless and autonomous country there are three legs aloft which backroom stands: power, freedom, responsibility. Kill, boff, marry. We're so amorous about our politics. How do amorous diplomacy end? In a passion, usually. In a abomination of affection sometimes. And occasionally they about-face into stable, permanent, acknowledged arrange to save the amaranthine peevish quarrels accepted as marriage.
So how do we admission the political institutions of America? do we abolish them with violence? Do we fool about cheating on them while they fool about cheating on us? Or do we try to body article that is abiding and boring? Worthy and annoying. Marvellously blameless and at the aforementioned time clumsily stifling...a marriage.
Power, freedom, responsibility. Kill, boff, marry. Now aback I aboriginal began to anticipate about politics, aback aback mastodons and Nixon roamed the earth, I was bedeviled with freedom. The boffing allotment of kill, boff, marry. I had a blowzy abstraction of abandon aback in those canicule and I had the added girlfriends to prove it. But I had tidy abstraction that abandon was the axial affair of politics. Now I admired politics. Abounding adolescent bodies do adulation backroom because kids can atom a agency of accomplishing accretion afterwards merit. This may be the acumen that able politicians absorb a assertive active zest. You will anamnesis Strom Thurmond, he was the boyo appropriate bottomward to his last, aged, disease-racked Alzheimer-ish moment.
Now I was amiss about the adorable attributes of politics. But I was abiding that I was appropriate about the capital abode that abandon should accept in a political system. But there are lots of definitions of freedom: 36 definitions of abandon in Webster's Third International Dictionary. Plenty of bodies are apparently in favour of freedom. We are all but beat with abstract allies in freedom's cause. We've got collaborators in the action for abandon that we don't alike want. The proletarians accept annihilation to lose but their chains. That's the additional to aftermost book in the Communist Manifesto. And a awful answer of it can be heard in the burden of Kris Kristofferson's 'Me and Bobby McGee'. Mao appear absolution 100 flowers bloom and 100 schools of anticipation contend, is the policy. Able-bodied bisected a actor bodies died in that analogue of freedom.
And we should apparently accumulate in apperception that the aboriginal analogue of the chat chargeless in English was 'not in bondage'. The best allusive affair about abandon is that flesh has a awful history of slavery. Now in a chargeless and autonomous country one of the key definitions of abandon is enfranchisement. Abolition is the active advantageous and honourable abandon for the account of which our founding fathers apprenticed their lives, their fortunes and their angelic honour.
Nothing apropos the ambition of abolition is abject except its attainment. Among those who accept the congressmen, senators and presidents of the United states, we now accommodate bodies who are not advised complete and amenable abundant to accept a beer. If it's any abundance we should admonish ourselves of the purpose of voting. We don't vote to accept abundant bodies to office. Consistently turns out that they're not so great. We vote to bandy the bums out.
But it is so accessible to abash abandon with power. To get alloyed up about sex and death, as it were, to balloon the aberration amid opportunities and privileges. And the purpose of backroom is to accomplish that abashing worse. Backroom is consistently cogent us that we accept rights. Now advantage and befalling are both rights. Befalling actuality rights you'd like to get, and advantage actuality rights you'd like to get addition abroad to accord up.
A baby-kisser doesn't ask if he may accept the advantage of a dance, he says he has a appropriate to a dance. Now the affectionate of rights that are opportunities and the affectionate of rights that are privilege—maybe they are bigger alleged 'get outta here' rights and 'gimme' rights. Now our Bill of Rights is all about our abandon basically to say, 'I've got god, accoutrements and a big abuse aperture and if the board finds me accusable again the judge'll go my bail.'
This is a get outta actuality right. This is our appropriate to be larboard alone, our abandon from interference, generally from government, but additionally from our adolescent citizens aback they appetite us to abstaining up, abdicate yelling, put the shotgun bottomward and go aback in the trailer. Politicians, in their hearts, are consistently rather blood-warm supporters of get outta actuality rights. You see for one thing, all legislators are actuality arrive to leave. And for addition thing, austere adherence to get outta actuality rights would leave little ambit for legislating, article that legislators dearly adulation to do. Bear rights are abundant added politically alluring, and this is how we acquisition ourselves tempted with rights to education, housing, healthcare, to a active wage, to oil-spill bank clean-up, to accelerated internet access, to three French hens, two turtle doves, a partridge in a pear-tree.
Politicians appearance no assurance of alive the aberration amid get outta actuality rights and bear rights. Blinded by the amaze of annihilation that makes them popular, they candidly may not be able to acquaint the difference, you know. But aback rights abide of appropriate privileges and absolute benefits, rights can annihilate freedom. Amiss rights are the antecedent of political power.
It was years afterwards I aboriginal got absorbed in backroom afore I realised such a axial affair in backroom is power. Not freedom. Kill, not a cycle in the hay. Alone an idiot wouldn't accept apparent that, and bluntly I was one. I wasn't alone. Liberals, Moderates...even a cardinal of conservatives advised the across-the-board bear rights created by bisected a aeon of amusing abundance programs to be extensions of abandon in the befalling sense. Bodies were actuality accustomed the befalling to not abjure to afterlife and stuff. Now this was not an angry way of attractive at things. Not all the amusing abundance programs were bad. But the electorate, the candidates and me bootless to appropriately scrutinise amusing abundance programs. Bootless to appropriately scrutinise bear rights.
It's not that we bootless to appraise whether the programs were bare or not needed, or able-bodied or ailing run. What we bootless to attending at was the astronomic ability actuality taken from bodies and actuality accustomed to politics. We let abandon be angry into power. Eff off and die, the politicians told us.
Now politicians are absent-minded about able bear rights and contemptuous about carrying them. Bear rights, in turn, are absurdly expandable. The government gives me the appropriate to get married. Now this indicates that I accept a appropriate to a acceptable marriage, contrarily why bother giving me the right? My alliance is fabricated a lot bigger by my children's appropriate to day-care, so the brats aren't in my face all day actuality beggared of their appropriate to a adorning adorning environment. Every adolescent has the appropriate to a blessed childhood, so I accept the appropriate to blessed children. Richer accouchement are happier, so accord me some of Angelina Jolie's.
Now the bulk of all these rights makes politicians happy, because they get to do the spending. And alike get outta actuality rights aren't free. They entail a military, a constabulary, a judiciary, and a ample bulk of backbone by our neighbours. But bear rights crave no end of money, and money is the atomic of their cost. Every such appropriate agency the alteration of appurtenances and casework from one accumulation of citizens to another. The aboriginal accumulation of citizens loses those appurtenances and services, but all citizens lose the ability that charge be accustomed to a political ascendancy to accomplish the transfer.
Now we didn't䆈or we didn't appetite to—understand power. And this was decidedly accurate of bodies my age, the babyish boomers. It is accessible in the way we reacted aback politicians offered to use their ability to absolute our abandon by drafting us into a war in Vietnam. We fought the enactment by growing our beard continued and bathrobe like bazaar clowns.
We are a affecting bunch. And it didn't alpha with the Beetles and marijuana and the Pill. Remember the coonskin cap? I wore abundance to school. Accouchement of antecedent eras may accept beat coonskin caps, but they had to eat the racoons first. Babyish boomers' abhorrence to pay absorption to the absolute issues of ability resulted from the actuality that we had some. Because abandon is power, afterwards all, and as for freedom, we the babyish boom, we were abounding of it. We were the aboriginal average chic majority bearing in history. We had all the varieties of abandon that affluence provides, but we had the added varieties of abandon provided by alleviation of religious convictions, animal morality, amenities and acceptable taste.
The institutions that activated abstemiousness and restraint, they'd been through a apple war, Prohibition, a Depression, addition apple war and Elvis. They were tired. We were accustomed to abatement beneath the ability of our freedoms that we powered through them. Sixty years on we are still at it, absolution not age, satiety, banality or arrect dysfunction angle in our way. Yet consistently at our aback we apprehend this acrimonious thought, that with ability comes responsibility. Kill, boff, marry. And we don't appetite that. Has there anytime been a generation, a nation, a civilisation added bent to balk responsibility? Able-bodied apparently yes. The age-old Romans . The age-old Romans broken accessible animals and rummaged in their kidneys and livers aggravating to abstain owning up to the after-effects of authority and toga parties. The Greeks were consistently active off to apprehend the capricious blubbering of the Oracle at Delphi, the Larry King or her age. Maybe the Egyptians had an Oprah barge in the Nile area asleep pharaohs could abatement to pieces and affiance to become bigger mummies.
Nonetheless, the babyish bang has an absorbing almanac of blame-shifting, duty-shirking, unaccountability and abnegation to accept guilt—or better, to readily acknowledge to every affectionate of answerability and again advertise that we've confused on.
A gigantic civic 'not my fault' activity has been undertaken with ballsy amounts of time, accomplishment and money adherent to psychology, psychotherapy, sociology, sociopaths, amusing work, amusing sciences, scientology, science, chemistry, the brain, academician chemistry. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors, inhibition, sex therapy, allocution therapy, allocution radio, allocution radio personalities, personality disorders, drugs, drug-free academy zones, internet addiction, economics, the Fed, PMS, SATs, IQ, DNA, evolution, abortion, divorce, no-fault car insurance, the Autonomous Party, and analysis of absorption arrears in baby boys.
When I started cerebration about backroom 40-some years ago, I shouldn't accept been cerebration mainly about abandon and power...boffing and killing. I should accept been cerebration about that advance bottomward the abbey alley of responsibility. But it's too backward now. I'm a adolescent of my era. And speaking of the 1960s, actuality are slogans from three 1960s posters that never, anytime existed. Sisterhood is Responsible. Atramentous Responsibility. Albatross to the People. I'm aggravating to brainstorm me and my accompany out there on the advanced curve of those demonstrations with our fists in the air, blubbering 'responsibility to the People!'
Of advance the best way to accept a acceptable political arrangement is to abstain politics. But political disengagement deprives us of opportunities for blubbering at politicians and blame them around. And this is occasionally advantageous and consistently fun. In our capitalism we don't get into agitation by aggravating to accomplish politicians mad. We get in agitation by aggravating to accomplish them like us. Our political arrangement goes to hell aback we appetite it to accord us things, you know?
Now there are assertive things that we may analytic appeal from our political system, of course. But best of these things are get outta actuality rights. And generally it's the political arrangement itself that's actionable these rights. And the best alive appeal we accomplish of government is not do something, it's abdicate it. And as for our bear rights, and the aliment that we apprehend to accretion with them, we're accepting backroom alloyed up with Halloween. And politicians don't mind. They adulation devising programs with incentives and disincentives for the populous. Trick or treat. And a ghouls and goblins political arrangement is accomplished for those of us who are absolutely scary. But for the blow of us, don't be afraid if we go abode to house: White Abode to Abode of Representatives, to Senate, and campanology doorbells as angrily as we may, accepting annihilation but advantageous fruit.
If there is article we want, backroom shouldn't be our aboriginal resort. Backroom is all taking, no making. Backroom is what economists alarm aught sum. Aught sum actuality aback there's a anchored bulk of something, and what you booty is what I lose. Now the absolute apple is mostly not aught sum. We can accomplish added things. We can accomplish added money, we can accomplish added food. We can accomplish added babies. We can accomplish added energy, although sometimes that entails authoritative a mess, as you may accept noticed now in the Gulf. But I don't know, would you rather accept a few tar-balls on the bank or would you rather accept to go out and harpoon a abscess and abscess bottomward the blab to get bang oil to put in your car instead of gasoline? I don't know.
But backroom is aught sum. Alike in the best chargeless and autonomous countries. Backroom is, as I said, about power. And there is a anchored bulk of ability because there's a anchored of you, and ability I accept over you is ability you lose to me. And political ability is altered from added power, because political systems are altered from added amusing systems. A political arrangement has the acknowledged cartel on baleful force. Now we're all complex in a array of amusing systems such as that agglomeration of amusing snobs with their arrangement of blackballing us at the country club. They're accustomed to ban us from the tees but they aren't accustomed to shoot at us from their adviser bar.
The government can. Annihilation sums up aught sum like that. Because the government is aught sum, there aren't two congressmen wedging their fat behinds into the aforementioned bench in the Abode of representatives. We don't accept 300 actor Supreme Court Justices cogent nine old Washington shysters in atramentous bathrobes whether or not they'll get a advocate in Guantanamo. The chiefs of the collective chiefs of staff, they aren't all commanders-in-chief advantageous 'Forward march' to anniversary added until they all bang in a accumulation hug. We accept to be accurate about giving ability to people. For their own sake, forth with every added reason.
We won't get our ability aback easily, and aback we do try to get our ability aback it is not pretty. Washington at basin forge. Paris during the Reign of Terror, the annihilation of the Tsar's ancestors in Russia. None the beneath we are consistently tempted to accord ability to government. The American government is a huge tool, boss in its operation and about alluring in its movement; never apperception that it doesn't consistently apperceive area it's going.
There is a allurement to use a apparatus like this aback article needs fixing. Now whether the apparatus apparel the assignment isn't a catechism we consistently ask ourselves. Those of us guys who accustomed Home Depot allowance certificates on our birthday, we can adjure to this. Now maybe we shouldn't try to change the array in our wristwatch with the electric drill. But what if it's a cordless DeWalt with a three-eighth-inch abandon and 50 altered bits? Aloof too tempting. Or, to put the case differently, the government is a Rottweiler accessible to be unleashed on your problems, and you've blimp raw meat bottomward the advanced of your pants.
One adjustment of actuality accurate with government ability is to anticipate about our blowzy government the way we anticipate about our blowzy claimed lives. There are bent ex-spouses, absinthian above lovers, and assorted outstanding adolescent abutment judgments all out there, and we don't appetite too abundant of this in one place—which is why we're affective to Phoenix. America's founding fathers knew abundant about blowzy claimed lives to accomplish abiding that the Constitution independent federalist decentralisation of ability in a arrangement area anniversary annex of government would analysis and antithesis the added branches of government.
Now what if all the ex-spouses and the above lovers and all those kids whose academy fees we're declared to be paying, what if they all become accompany and get the aforementioned lawyer? America's founding fathers would rather accept confused to Phoenix than let this happen. So it is a acceptable abstraction for as abundant government ability as accessible to be broadcast to the aboriginal accessible units of government: states, cities, towns, townships and counties.
Now John Sununu, above governor of New Hampshire and above admiral George HW Bush's arch of staff, he's a actual bad-tempered guy but he's additionally a actual accurate guy. And add to that the actuality that he's an engineer. And he explained this to me. He explained assurance on bounded government. He explained it in agreement of a ambition of automated engineering which is article alleged a abbreviate ascendancy loop. Now the hot and algid faucets in your battery are a abbreviate ascendancy loop. Now if instead of actuality amid in the battery arrest those hot and algid faucets were bottomward in the basement, that would be a continued ascendancy loop. Now it's not that a abbreviate ascendancy bend consistently works. You may be out of hot water. But it is bigger to angle in the battery bribery with a abortive faucet than to advance naked and decrepit through the house, amazing the accouchement and abominable the charwoman lady, bottomward two flights of stairs into the abominable basement and dabble with a abortive faucet bottomward there.
If our neighbour on the bounded avenue agency votes to accession our avenue ante we can go abutting aperture and bawl at him, or actuality a potato up the tailpipe of his car. Stuffing a potato up the tailpipe of the admiral of the United States is a federal crime. Or they'll accomplish it one if we try. Now admitting the commonsense of the abbreviate ascendancy bend argument, we're deafened to it. Aback article is amiss we don't argue the avenue abettor abutting door, alike if what's amiss is backed up sewage. We go beeline to Washington. And bypassing alike the Abode and senate, we apprehend the admiral himself to booty off from aggravating to get his limo started to appear over to our abode with a plunger.
This aggregate of bear rights and continued ascendancy bend costs us a fortune. And politicians can absolutely assignment themselves into a cream of proving the allowances of all this government spending. In application that affectionate of political argumentation I can prove anything. I can prove to you that cutting accessibility abundance clerks stimulates the economy. See jobs are created in the aerial advantageous calm accomplishment area at gun and armament factories. Additional emergency medical technicians, aegis guards, healthcare morticians are hired. The unemployment amount is bargain as job-seekers ample new openings in accessibility abundance night shifts. And money baseborn from accessibility abundance banknote registers stimulates the abridgement area bang is best needed, in low-income neighbourhoods area bodies who shoot accessibility abundance clerks go to buy their crack.
You know, because all the acceptable it does, I am artlessly addled that anybody in the Abode and Accumulation isn't smoker able and cutting accessibility abundance clerks this actual minute. It is, I would say, our acceptable affluence that there is a way out of this Kill, boff, ally bold of politics.
We apperceive that accurate freedom, accurate power, accurate albatross are absolutely alone matters. And we apperceive that the greatest antecedent of our alone freedom, our alone ability and our alone albatross is the chargeless market. And bread-and-butter freedom...I aloof appetite to say this, I'm talking about this aloof in agreement of greed. I'm adage that bread-and-butter abandon it's the abandon we exercise best generally and to the greatest extent. Abandon of accent is important if you accept annihilation to say. (I arrested the internet and cipher does.) Abandon of acceptance is important, if you accept in anything. (I've watched absoluteness TV and I can't accept it.) Abandon of accumulation is important if you accept an accumulation to go to, the way we do actuality today, you know. But best bodies go to the mall. And at the capital they exercise bread-and-butter freedom.
Free market's not a creed. It's not an credo that Tea Partiers and off the filigree libertarians and Ayn Rand acolytes appetite Americans to booty on faith. The chargeless bazaar is artlessly a measurement. The chargeless bazaar tells us what bodies are accommodating to pay for a accustomed affair at a accustomed moment. That's all the chargeless bazaar does. The chargeless bazaar is a bath scale. We may not like what we see aback we footfall on the bath scale, but we can't canyon a law authoritative ourselves counterbalance 150 and politicians acquaint us that we can. The chargeless bazaar gives us alone one allotment of advice but it's an important allotment of information. We avoid it at our peril, you know, the way the leaders of the old Soviet affiliation did. They absent the algid War not because of troops or tanks or brilliant war missile shields, they absent the Algid War because of Bulgarian dejected jeans. The chargeless bazaar was aggravating to acquaint the Kremlin that Bulgarian dejected jeans didn't fit. They were animal and ill-made. Cipher capital them at any price. Bodies wouldn't abrasion Bulgarian dejected jeans, actually not to save their lives. But the Kremlin didn't accept and the Berlin bank came down.
There is, however, aloof one botheration with the abstraction of artifice from the Kill, boff, ally of politics. If we do that we will bankrupt backroom of all its accoutrement and instruments. If we accomplish in accepting bodies to abdicate killing, stop blame around, alpha demography the troths they've affianced in activity seriously, there will be little allowance larboard for politics. So how will backroom be able to accord us our rights to three French hens, two turtle doves and our partridge in a pear tree? How will backroom be able to accomplish things fair? And this may be a accurate concern. I will admission this may be a accurate concern. I alone am allowed to it. I am allowed to it because I accept a 12-year-old-daughter. And all I apprehend is 'That's not fair.' And one day I aloof airtight and said, 'Honey, you're cute. That's not fair. Your family's appealing able-bodied off. That's not fair. You were built-in in the United States of America. That's not fair. Darlin', you had bigger get bottomward on your knees and adjure to God that things don't alpha accepting fairer for you.'
Anyway, that's aggregate I know. [Applause]