Saturday, March 11, 2006

Screwing the Poor in Matrimony

Via Atrios, we learn of NY Times “libertarian” doofus John Tierney’s hard-on for polygamy.  As he explains, it’s "an arrangement that can make sense for some people in some institution that has been around for so long must have had something going for it."  And that’s the standard I generally use for things too: If it’s been around long enough, it must be good.  That’s why I support slavery, prostitution, and murder (no moral equivalence intended).

Tierney defends polygamy by saying that: "Some opponents of polygamy call it the exploitation of women by rich men, and that's true if the wives are coerced into the marriages. But many wives have willingly chosen it."

Excellent, so John’s going to explain to us how this is all about love, right?  And how even poor men can attract multiple women to marry them, because of physical attraction and all those other things that attract women, right?  That this isn’t just an economic situation that women are trapped into, and that perhaps they’d prefer to be in a monogamous marriage, had that been a viable option.  This is about a true choice.  Right?  Let’s see.

He then cites as authorities women in African he once interviewed. They told him, "it was better to share one prosperous husband than to marry someone else without land, cows or a job." He claims, "That's the way social scientists figure it, too."

Or maybe not.  This sounds like a system whereby some men are so rich that they can easily afford many wives, and other men are so poor that they can’t even afford one.  And that women “choose” to be in a polygamous marriage because of the economic situation, and that rich men exploit the vast differences in wealth in order to claim many wives for themselves.  And Tierney seems happy with this situation.  Perhaps he’s saving up his NY Times paychecks and eventually plans to establish an African harem of his own.

But Tierney’s poly-wife fantasies aren’t limited to dirt poor Africans.  Heck no.  He also has his sights set on tired and stressed-out white women in Utah.  Here he quotes one such Utahan who apparently gave a speech to the National Organization for Women suggesting that polygamy was “the ultimate feminist lifestyle”.  As she explains: "If I'm dog-tired and stressed out, I can be alone and guilt-free.  It's a rare day when all eight of my husband's wives are tired and stressed at the same time."

Uhm, I guess it hasn’t occurred to her that her husband could possibly watch the little brats while she takes some time off?  Or perhaps the use of an actual daycare?  Or that she might not be so tired or stressed-out if she didn’t have to deal with the kids of seven other wives every day?  Because this only sounds like the “real chance to have it all” assuming that she had no idea of what “it all” is.  As if she thinks the only choices in life are whether she watches her kids all the time, or whether she can have a break from it, while also having to watch the kids of seven other women.  Then again, this might be the closest approximation to having “it all” that Utah life can provide (no offense to any Utahan readers out there).

Overall, both situations that Tierney cites as evidence that polygamy is a good choice for women are situations in which the women seemed to have little concept of what the real choices were.  But I guess guys like Tierney like it that way.  After all, what is libertarianism, but an excuse to justify the ability of the powerful to exploit the powerless and ignorant?  Which is all fine and dandy, unless you’re one of the powerless and ignorant folk.  I wonder if he’s tried this argument on Mrs. Tierney.

To Mars, Bitches!

Because lest we think that this simply represents Tierney’s jerk-off fantasies (which I’m sure it does), I once again broke blogger rules and did a little research (my apologies) and discovered that the most likely explanation for John’s support is that he’s a “libertarian”.  Which, translated for us realty-based people, means that he’s a contrarian.  Fortunately, my research didn’t require reading too much of Tierney’s absurdities, as I quickly discovered this interview of him in Reason magazine (The Magazine for Contrarians), and his contrarian ways were obvious from the start.  The funniest part is when he is asked if he is a contrarian (he had just referred to himself as a “debunker”, which both I and the interviewer quickly interpreted as a polite euphemism for “contrarian”).  To which he responds, “I don't want to be just a contrarian, because that's predictable.”  Which is a standard line for contrarians, who must deny that they’re knee-jerk contrarians.  After all, contrarians must be contrarian to the end.

Even funnier, is that he then immediately changed the subject and goes on to complain that libertarianism is too negative (showing that he’s contrarian even against his fellow contrarians).  His solution for that?  To support libertarian groups like “The Mars Society”, which he wrote about in 1999 in Reason magazine; and serves as proof that not only are libertarians contrarian, but they also live in a fantasy world.  This is a project where they pretend that private groups will someday soon colonize Mars and create it into a libertarian paradise.  And in case you were wondering: Yes, he does expect the government to help subsidize this private endeavor, and complains of NASA’s monopoly of government space-funds; thus once again proving that small-government libertarians are only libertarian as far as they oppose other people benefiting from government actions.  But they clearly don’t see how that applies to their pet projects and benefits.  We can only hope that someday they realize that that’s how everyone feels, which is why government spending is so high.

And so they’re busy creating laws for this fictitious colony and pretending as if any of this is within the realm reality.  As he explains: “If colonizing the Red Planet ever becomes a practical possibility, we should be ready to get there before anyone else starts writing the rules. And even if colonization never becomes practical, even if Mars never becomes a free new world, just imagining it is good for the libertarian soul.”  

And so Tierney’s idea of a positive libertarian agenda is to fantasize about he and his fellow libertarians leaving our planet and actually trying to create the world they keep talking about here.  Which, to be honest, is one of my fantasies too, though I wouldn’t mind sending them there even before it was a practical possibility.  And can there be any doubts as to what Mars’ marriage policy would be?  I mean, after all, Mars’ population growth sure could benefit by a woman-man marriage ratio of 8:1, and it sure would be a shame to let Tierney’s bulk purchase of Viagra go to waste.

(See the next post, Martian Fantasies, for a further discussion of Mars colonization)

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