I thought it might — just might — be a parody, a spoof, a weak attempt at irony. But no, it turns out that Nick Gillespie, the former editor of Reason magazine, and now chief honcho over at something called "ReasonTV," is absolutely and incredibly serious about his contention that We Never Had It So Good. And why, pray tell, are we supposedly so blessed? Well, it seems that nerdy geeky-looking white kids now have some really really cool computer games to play, while their parents make the rounds looking for work during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. And — hey look! — we have Netflix, not to mention all those hundreds of new television stations: the vast wasteland has assumed continental proportions. Hurrah! And computers are here, they’re inexpensive, and the government can spy on us oh so much more efficiently now than ever before. Isn’t progress wonderful? I’m sure Dr. Pangloss would agree.
There’s something more than just a little off over at Reason magazine, these days, and in the libertarian movement more generally, when a former editor and self-proclaimed "libertarian" can even try to pull off this Pollyanna routine with a straight face. After all, the past few years have seen the worst assault on our civil liberties since the passage of the Alien and Sedition Act. The US government can now "legally" read our emails, spy on our finances, and jail us indefinitely without a trial, without even filing charges and without telling anyone. A veil of secrecy hides what our rulers are up to, and things have gotten worse not better under Obama.
On the home front, the term "big government" seems a redundancy, as Washington centralizes, consolidates, and expands its power over every aspect of our lives. On the overseas front, the reach and destructive energy of the World’s Sole Superpower shows every sign of increasing beyond the dreams of Napoleon and Alexander combined.
To top it all off, we are staring economic collapse in the face, as the world economy reels, the dollar declines, and close to 15 percent of US mortgages are either in foreclosure or well on the way. Meanwhile, the balance of wealth is shifting away from the productive private sector, and towards the tax-eaters, bureaucrats, and lobbyists. Crony capitalism reigns supreme. This is cause for celebration if you fit into any of these three categories, but for the rest of us — especially for libertarians — it’s an unmitigated disaster.
Oh, but our life spans are increasing, according to this Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm video. Which means we have that much longer to watch the world succumb to demagoguery, state-worship, militarism, and perpetual war. Oh, goodie! What a glorious prospect that is!
What world is Seor Gillespie living in?
The short answer is: the wonderful world of Washington, D.C. It’s easy to see how an inhabitant of that city might get such a counterintuitive idea in his head. The place is jumpin’ ever since Obama took office, and no wonder, what with the pay of government "workers" going through the roof even as the real earnings of Americans stay the same or decline. Real estate markets all over the country are unceremoniously collapsing — except those close to the Imperial City and its suburbs, where housing prices are up. Everyone who’s anyone wants to be near the epicenter of power.
Justin Raimondo [send him mail] is editorial director of Antiwar.com and is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard and Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.