Thursday, August 9, 2012

Oh, Penn

I finished Penn Jillette's book God, No! several days ago, but I've been too angry to compose anything readable. That, and I've been watching the Olympics obsessively and trying to be a parent and hold down a job. But back to Penn.

He's a Libertarian.

That's right. A rich, able-bodied, straight, Christian-born man who's a Libertarian. Now, don't get me wrong, I realize that Penn and Teller work hard. They work really hard. And Penn, being the talker of the pair, has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders and he can take credit for all the hard work he's done. I even think it's good that they have found material success and give a great deal of the credit for that success to the two of them. But they had help. They had some good luck--that helped. The government makes television work, and cleans the streets outside of their theaters, and keeps the lights on, and keeps civilization going so that people feel safe enough to go out and see a show--all of that helped.

Oh, and they might have had a smidgeon of help from the giant ball of entitlement they're living in.

They could have been born women in Saudi Arabia, or farmers in China, or poor people in America. In some situations, nobody gives a damn how good you are at magic, or how hard you work, or how fast you can talk.

And that's why we--we, all of us, and we, Atheists--have to work together to make sure that everyone in the world has basic rights. We, Americans have to make sure that nobody in our country is starving, or going bankrupt because of medical bills, or living on the streets. I'm a Liberal because I think Government does certain things well. Sure, Government screws a lot of things up, too, and we need to fix those things, but the answer is not to get rid of it all together.

The thing that frustrates me most about Libertarians is the mental gymnastics they go through to make their points, none of which make any sense in reality. Rand Paul is always saying things like, "In a Libertarian Society, every corporation has to take responsibility for the damage and pollution it causes." That's a nice thought experiment, Rand, but in real life, lots of corporations screw over the local poor people, so I like having Government keep an eye on them.

In that vein, Penn goes through a whole floor exercise routine about libraries being nice, but he wouldn't shoot anyone for not paying for one, so he can't ask the government to collect taxes. Huh? Does that mean that people who wouldn't commit robbery shouldn't be landlords? Because taxes are what we pay to make the country work. We owe that money to the Government so that they can use it to take care of the things we all use--roads, police, schools, libraries, museums, theaters parks and so forth. It's our rent, Penn, for living in this country.

And you know what else? Inequality hurts all of us. So I want you to be a little less rich so that everyone in this country can have health care. I want you to be a little less rich so that ALL old people, not just the parents of rich magicians, can die with dignity. You spend a little less time in the hot tub with porn stars and we all get bridges that don't fall down. See how that works?

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