21 October 2009

Reich & Bagge: You Can't Say That

Brian Dunbar posted a list of true things politicians can't say from a speech by Robert Reich recently. As surprised as I am to see eye-to-eye with Reich, I like this list. He apparently had his left-leaning audience pretty dumbstruck by the end.
  • A solution in Iraq is going to be tough.
  • Treating more sick people will mean younger people will pay more.
  • It’s too expensive to treat older people at the end of their life “so we’re going to let you die”.
  • If we use government to control costs there will be “less innovation” in medical technology and you should not expect to live much longer than your parents.
  • Global warming can only be tackled by a carbon tax which is going to cost you a lot of money.
  • We’re going to have to pay teachers more for quality education — costing you more — but we have to be willing to fire the turkeys despite the unions.
  • Anyone who does an unskilled, repetitive job will lose it in the near future to outsourcing or automation. And there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
  • A minimum wage doesn’t help as much as an earned income tax credit.
  • Helping people at the bottom earn more is going to cost higher income people more money.
  • Medicare will bankrupt the nation unless something is done and will impoverish the youth.
  • The best way to ameliorate global poverty is to do away with farm subsidies.
I'm pointing it out because it's a good list, and because I'm reminded of Colin Marshall's recent interview with libertarian cartoonist Peter Bagge. Marshall asked Bagge why libertarians didn't have more electoral success, and if I'm remembering correctly, Bagge gave three reasons:
  1. The winner-takes-all and single-member-districts elections we have reinforce a two party system.
  2. The capital-L Libertarian Party is a gong show.
  3. Many of the things libertarians believe are on the list of things politicians can't say.
I've always thought of the first two, but never really considered the third. I think he's on to something.

The focus of the interview was Bagge's new book Everybody is Stupid Except for Me, which is a collection of the comics journalism* he's done for Reason Magazine.

(* Is this even a term? It's like photojournalism, but he draws comics instead of taking pictures.)

I think it's some pretty good stuff, though I confess I would find it hard to read a whole book of Bagge straight through because, by Bagge's own admission, they can tend to get pretty word-dense. I also find Bagge's intentionally ugly characters grating in large doses, but independent, vaguely counter-cultural cartoonist of his era seem to love that kind of grotesquery. (See, for instance, Robert Crumb.)

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