(Last Week in Weird is slightly late this week due to ongoing turmoil here at Bumbling Bees world headquarters and discount undergarments shop. All apologies, and we hope to have things sorted out soon!)
We’ve spent some months here at Bumbling Bees laughing at the sheer stupidity of the rhetoric from the anti-Trump partisans, and sometimes I get a bit uneasy about that. I get worried that you fine people will conclude that I’m some type of Trump supporter, which is not at all the case; I’d spend far more time criticizing the president himself in these pages if only I could see a reason. Everyone in the mainstream press blows him up for absolutely every tiny fault, whether real or imagined — as a result, it seems to your humble narrator as though it would be far more fun to make fun of the media hacks instead.
And this is exactly the sort of thing I’m talking about.
Did I meet him? At the open house?
I don’t think I’ve ever been so jazzed to slap that foam finger on an image before.
No doubt you’re familiar with Easter. It’s the holiest day in the Christian liturgical year, celebrating, as it does, the resurrection of Christ — something of a momentous event. Indeed, the entire week leading up to Easter is quite significant — Holy Week, it’s called — and is one of the seasons in which Christian spirit is riding its highest; arguably only Christmas week is a more important, and more religious time for most Christians.
Which makes it all the funnier that the perpetually clueless Libertarian Party chose to celebrate Holy Week by running this great ad aligning itself with the Satanic Temple.
Divide et impera
Hollywood leftists have had a rough year. First, they had to deal with the fact that their newly-annointed Ultimate Supreme Executive Chairman wasn’t the one they wanted, which I guess is a real blow to the ego if one is bizarre. Then there was that bit about how they had all threatened to leave the country if that happened, which bluff was very thoroughly called. Then there was the fiasco at the celebration of left-wing political grandstanding that used to be the Academy Awards.
Still and all, if there’s any Hollywood celebrity who’s having an even worse year than the average Hollywood celebrity, it could only be alleged famous person Shia LaBeouf, whose "art installation" consisting of a camera was repeatedly trolled by people more interested in pointing out that he’s a clownshoes than in announcing that "he will not divide us," whatever that means. After he got out of jail for losing his mind and physically assaulting said trolls, LaBoeuf relocated his "art installation" to that world-class center of metropolitan art and culture, Albuquerque, New Mexico, where it lasted less than a week before being taken down again. For his third trick, LaBoeuf changed the format of the exhibition: instead of an invitation for other clueless rubes to protest being divided, the camera merely pointed up at a "he will not divide us" flag silhouetted against a featureless sky. Clearly this exhibition is troll-proof!
It’s been only a few short weeks since the eight-year horror that was the Obama administration gave way to the new and exciting horror of the Trump administration, but I bet you’d already forgotten about Joe Biden. No, admit it, you forgot. Well, uncle Joe’s been a busy man, starting a new career for himself at the University of Pennsylvania, where he’s been named the "Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor," a gigantic mouthful of syntax stew with no clear meaning. What does it mean to be a professor of "presidential practice?" Does the University of Pennsylvania have a "Being the President" major? Was Benjamin Franklin ever president? These questions, and many more, are in need of answer.
Don’t ask the university, though; they’re as clueless as we are.
You better watch out. You better not cry.
Ah, Christmas. That joyous time when all mankind comes together as one in love and merriment. Families put aside their squabbling, factions their differences, nations their wars, progressives their thought control, and we all link arm in arm and, in one voice, sing the worst song from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The only negative thing even your humble narrator can come up with about all this — aside from that song, anyhow — is that it’s all a sack of rubbish. If anything, here in the year two thousand and whatever, people use Christmas as an excuse to kick their misanthropic crusades up another level.
In case you can’t quite see where I’m going with this artless lede, we’ll get right to it. Harvard University has given its inmates an early Christmas present: social justice placemats to bring home on break, so they’ll have easy access to disingenuous leftist twaddle when their less-enlightened family members need their idiotic ideas corrected. I promise I’m not making any of this up; the things even have the words "HOLIDAY PLACEMAT FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE" stamped on them in hideous block print. Here’s my favorite bit:
Libertarians traditionally do a terrible job of explaining why socialism can’t work. Which is to say: we’re great at explaining it to other libertarians, but we think we can talk to our Bernie Sanders-supporter friends the same way. If you’re talking to someone who doesn’t already understand the problem, and you just say something like "in a socialist environment there can’t be market prices," you have to realize that person will think that’s a feature, not a bug. Most of us libertarians know about the socialist calculation problem, but to the wider audience it’s pretty esoteric stuff; it’s not just plainly intuitive to most people that the absence of market prices causes discoördination in production. Either way, it seems like ultimately you have some guy deciding what products, and how many, to make. Can’t we just put those successful entrepreneurs — the Bill Gateses and Jeff Bezoses of the world — in charge of the planning boards and have it work just fine?
This, of course, is where libertarians tend to fall down. We’re great at extolling the virtues of the entrepreneur, but, in a very significant sense, we miss the most important element: what’s critical about entrepreneurs is not that they make amazing, successful things, but that they’re able to fail in a controlled manner. When a product fails on the market, only the entrepreneur and those closely connected to him suffer, which is important for two reasons: first because it means that random people, uninvolved with the failed project, don’t have to bear the cost of the failure, and second because, by concentrating that cost on the people responsible, the failure is made immediately apparent, and the pressure to cease failing is substantial. Amazon’s Fire Phone, by all accounts, was a neat piece of technology, but nobody cared enough to buy one, and Amazon cut it loose after a few months of disappointing performance. Microsoft’s Windows 8 suffered a similar poor reception, which encouraged the company to proceed in a new direction (and quite swiftly!) with its replacement. While the successes are, of course, the ultimate goal of the market economy — the production of goods and services people want — the only thing that makes those successes possible is the market’s robust failure mechanism. When governments attempt to "soften the blow" of failure by socializing the losses, that not only creates a massive injustice (as innocent people unconnected to the failure are now forced to pay for it), but it also encourages businesses to linger in failed products and failed practices longer than they should.