Sometimes when people try to talk to one another on subjects like politics they end up talking past each other because they begin from different premises.
This happened recently when an Obama supporter took issue with a graphic making the rounds on social media that proclaimed "Fact: "Obama has spent more money than anyone in the history of world – Forbes."
This was apparently a paraphrase from a Forbes article from June 2012 headlined "President Obama: The Biggest Government Spender In World History."
The Obama defender claimed this was untrue because "only Congress can spend" since "The president cannot appropriate funds, so he can only disperse funds which congress provides."
His libertarian opponent pointed out that any president who signs a bill owns the bill, that they are innocent of being spendthrifts only if they veto the bill and it's overridden by the House and becomes law anyway, and that it's what Truman said: "The buck stops here" – the president is ultimately responsible.
The problem is that each was talking past the other.
The Obama champion was arguing old left-right partisan politics based on the sanitized, conventionalized, starry-eyed, juvenilized explanation of "How Government Works" that an older generation read in their high school civics textbooks.
A bill is introduced, debated, amended, passed, goes to the other house where the process is repeated and is then sent to the president's desk where he signs it into law.
What happened in reality was the "smoke-filled room" where manipulations, threats, backstabbing, wheeler-dealing, bribing, intimidation, influence peddling and the like took place.
It all used to be done out of public view. But ever since coast-to-coast talk radio and 24/7 cable news channels it's all done out in the open now with politicos name-calling "terrorist" and "hostage taker" and "arsonist."
Libertarianism, for all the charges against it as radical, fringe, wackadoodle and "can't possibly work" is the politics of reality because it understands that voting for a lesser evil is still voting for evil, that taxation really is theft, that coercion is coercion no matter who does it or why its done, and that government will grow ever bigger, more profligate, more intrusive, more destructive and more deadly under the two-headed Republican/Democrat snake of Politics As Usual.
In the end it's not "the economy, stupid" it's "the Zero Coercion Principle, stupid."
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