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June 30, 2011

The Invisible Paw: Altruistic Libertarianism in Animal Crossing

The Invisible Paw: Altruistic Libertarianism in Animal Crossing | Overthinking It
. . . One might be tempted to label Tom Nook as a socialist. After all, he does own all of the real property in town and distributes it to the citizens in more or less equal shares. However, this theory of socialism falls apart when we consider that Tom Nook lacks the power of the state. He does not have the authority to pass or enforce laws, levy taxes or perform any other functions of a central government. Most significantly, he has a very powerful tool for controlling the other citizens’ behavior – he could threaten to take away their homes if they don’t submit to his whims – but voluntarily refuses to abuse this influence. If anything, Tom Nook appears to be a libertarian, albeit a drastically different version than what we’re generally familiar with. Central authority in the game is extremely weak – the government has a very limited role, and the town’s mayor, Tortimer, is an aging, ineffectual figurehead who sleeps constantly and rarely makes a public appearance outside of holiday festivals. Without any real laws to enforce, the police take on the role of assisting the population by giving out information about the town. However, instead of the “everyone fends for themselves” mentality that is generally associated with mainstream libertarianism, we instead have Tom Nook providing social structure and a safety net for everyone. Thanks to his generosity, nobody in the town will ever be homeless, because Nook sets everybody up in a house and continues to let them live there whether they pay him or not. And nobody in Animal Crossing will ever go hungry because… well, mostly because they don’t eat. Compare this to Bioshock’s Andrew Ryan, a libertarian capitalist in the more familiar Ayn Rand vein. Ryan thinks of governments as “parasites” and considers altruism “the tool with which all that wickedness is built”. This outlook eventually leads him to build his own libertarian utopia, Rapture, at the bottom of the ocean, allowing only the best and brightest of society to join him. Ryan’s brutal policies eventually lead the city’s underclass to rise up in a civil war. In just over a decade, Rapture is in ruins, many of its citizens murdered, and nearly all the remaining survivors are insane, chemically dependent murderers. . . .

June 29, 2011

Obama throws press confeence demanding tax increases to fight the deficit

Confrontational Obama rebukes GOP on debt talks
In a White House news conference, Obama offered one fresh wrinkle to try to give the economy and pessimistic voters a lift, calling on Congress to pass a one-year extension of the Social Security payroll tax cut that employees got this year. But he used most of the hour-long session to try to sway public opinion his way on the debt debate consuming Washington. Obama accused Republicans of intransigence over tax hikes, comparing their leaders to procrastinating children and painting them as putting millionaires, oil companies and jet owners ahead of needy students. One Democratic official said that in talks to date, the administration was seeking roughly $400 billion in higher tax revenue over the next decade. Responding quickly to the news conference, the Republican House Speaker, Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, shot back that the president was ignoring reality. "His administration has been burying our kids and grandkids in new debt and offered no plan to rein in spending," Boehner said as the day's events seemed only to entrench both sides. "The president is sorely mistaken if he believes a bill to raise the debt ceiling and raise taxes would pass the House. The votes simply aren't there." Obama insisted he wouldn't support a deal to cut the deficit unless it includes higher tax revenue, not just spending cuts. Republicans have refused to consider that. The stalemate threatens to derail an extension of the nation's $14.3 trillion debt limit, which in turn could lead the government into an unprecedented default. "They need to do their job," Obama said of Republicans. "Now's the time to go ahead and make the tough choices." Professing optimism — but with a bite — the president said, "Call me naive, but my expectation is that leaders are going to lead."