Sunday, April 17, 2005

Hollywood Libertarians

"Hollywood liberals" is a term conservatives like to throw around when they want to describe the source of some new idea or fad or Washington policy. “This uproar is nothing but the work of Hollywood liberals,” “The only people telling you this is okay is just a bunch of Hollywood liberals,” “The Democrats are too busy trying to please some Hollywood liberals” and so on.

They make it sound like there’s a subculture in the Democratic party whose values and ideologies are fundamentally different from the rest of it, so much that it needs a special name. But really there’s nothing ideologically distinctive about this group. A Hollywood liberal is just a left-winger that’s rich, good-looking, has legions of fans and lives (more or less) in Hollywood. Sounds like someone’s just jealous.

But it’s true that a lot of celebrities are Democrats, especially the ones in Hollywood. And I’ve discovered that some of their core beliefs “rub off” on the scant few libertarian counterparts they interact with. While a Hollywood liberal is just some rhetoric bullshit, a Hollywood libertarian really means something.

I’ve discovered this while watching Real Time with Bill Maher (a self-described libertarian) on the night he had Jason Alexander (another libertarian) on the show. At the end, Bill brought up greed and how bad it is that all companies care about is “hitting the numbers.” Jason built on that and argued that it was because we are too short sighted and we don’t plan enough. We think too much in the short term. Later he suggested the government should set energy goals in reducing our dependency of oil.

Bill then moved the conversation to why companies have to grow: “It seems like this is the only country in the world where just doing well is not enough. No corporation can just do as well as they did last quarter. We always have to have growth.” Growth, of course, is a good thing. That’s why people want it. But Bill’s rather suspicious of corporations.

In general, a Hollywood libertarian shares these values with their liberal counterparts:
-The government is the best tool to protect the environment.
-People are too greedy and that’s inherently bad; government should pull it back via taxes (specifically progressive taxes and the estate tax).
-National health care is a good idea, even though it’s a disaster in Canada.
-Schooling is the government’s business and public schools need more funding.
-As a nation we should be concerned about outsourcing and foreign competition.
-Corporations are poisoning us (via pesticides and other chemicals).

This is a working list and is mostly generated from Bill Maher (there are few Hollywood libertarians and Bill’s the only one I know that talks about politics for a living). I really do admire Bill Maher—he has a lot of good thoughts and was my early introduction to libertarianism. But he’s also pretty damn Hollywood.

8 comments:

dgm said...

isn't kurt russell a true libertarian? i saw him at a cato function a few years back. hotttttt!

David said...

Ditto there... (http://www.theadvocates.org/celebrities/kurt-russell.html) but I'm a bigger fan of Penn and Teller (fun fact number 132: Penn is the announcer voice on Comedy Central)

Anonymous said...

Woah...Bill Maher is not a libertarian by any means. He's a liberal and I and many real libertarians get so pissed when he gets described as a libertarian just because he claims he is. What you've described as a "Hollywood Libertarian" is basically a liberal. No libertarian would be concerned about corporations, greed, universal healthcare, the environment and government regulation. No libertarian would ever criticize capitalism in the way that Bill Maher does. Drew Carey, Clint Eastwood, Kurt Russell, Penn and Teller, Dennis Miller, Trey Parker and Matt Stone(the south park guys) are better examples of libertarians in hollywood.

David said...

I wasn't trying to describe "libertarians in Hollywood" but rather a subspecies of the libertarian brand.

Agreed that Maher has liberal leanings, but he's also against farm subsidies and he notes some cultures are just better than others (as opposed to the PC notion of cultural sympathy). I'll agree he's probably more liberal than libertarian and his libertarian hat might just be a branding tactic to get some people on his show.

I'm not sure which way to go on this. On one hand, I'd like to be more inclusive but on the other, what's the point of having a label if its too inclusive? Maher's right on the boundary of libertarianism to be sure and the question is which side should he fall under.

Lisa said...

Calling yourself a Libertarian doesn't make you one, especially in Bill Maher's case. He's not even a subset of the Libertarian branch. What are you smoking? The entire basis of the Libertarian Party is to uphold individual liberty and DECREASE governmental influence to only key vital areas concerning public safety. That's as true in Hollywood as it is in any other part of the country. We West Coast Libertarians side with the Dems in, perhaps, a belief that the war on drugs is wasting its time trying to regulate marijuana and an agreement that the health care system is currently spiraling the drain, but probably disagree on the fix (Dems would certainly grab even more money and put in more committees and unenforcable regulations, while Libertarians would release individuals from extortionary federal taxes and allow the funds and regulations to be dealt with closer to home in state and local government). Stop watching Bill Maher, he's bad for your logic.

Korey said...

Bill Maher hasn't been a Libertarian in at least 10 years, if he ever was to begin with. The last time I know of that he even referred to himself as such was during the 2000 elections, when he had Harry Browne on the show and promised to vote for him. Then he wound up voting for Nader instead.

These days, he's pretty clearly not a Libertarian, and to my knowledge no longer claims to be. It's a shame, because he used to at least be more of an equal-opportunity pundit who criticized both sides. Now he's pretty much a full-on big government liberal apologist. He supports gun control, universal health care, and clearly has no understanding of economics whatsoever. The only time he criticizes Obama is for not being "progressive enough".

So yeah, not a Libertarian, definitely.

Anonymous said...

BELOW is absolutely UNTRUE and Libertarian are well informed on the racketeering and graft of government. Libertarians recognize the failure of American government, it's stranglehold on; Freedoms, Liberties, and Rights. These 3 aforementioned, cannot be taken away by government. The Education system is a complete failure. The War on Drugs a complete FAILURE. All the Wars and Nation building a complete Failure.


The Author is completely wrong on Libertarians sharing those values as Liberals, even if it's just "In General"

In general, a Hollywood libertarian shares these values with their liberal counterparts:

*************************************

-The government is the best tool to protect the environment.
-People are too greedy and that’s inherently bad; government should pull it back via taxes (specifically progressive taxes and the estate tax).
-National health care is a good idea, even though it’s a disaster in Canada.
-Schooling is the government’s business and public schools need more funding.
-As a nation we should be concerned about outsourcing and foreign competition.
-Corporations are poisoning us (via pesticides and other chemicals).

ܬܡܘܙ ܡܣܲܒܪܵܢܵܐ said...

If you're not an anarchist, you're a socialist. Some tools want 'good socialism'. 'Good government' and 'limited government' are religious fantasies created by ignorant fools.

Jefferson = fraud
Bill Martard = fraud