I was in rush hour the other observing some self-centered dude blocking four lanes and snarling traffic for blocks to spare himself a minor inconvenience and it occurred to me that the logical result of our recent embrace of vulgar libertarianism is a total breakdown of social order. Even in rush hour traffic where it's vital to everyone's survival that we observe certain norms, there always seems to be some entitled, selfish ass in an expensive car making it worse for everyone else these days.
No, if vulgar libertarians ran society, every road would be privately owned and require a toll at both ends, so I doubt you'd see many scenarios like the one above, because the exorbitant cost would prevent most of us from driving anyway.
But that's neither here nor there. Hey, y'all! Would you like to see what happens if we all were to filter our everyday experiences through a stunted, warped mentality that insists on framing absolutely everything as a partisan political issue? Well, gather 'round and let me spin you a tale! When I was a teenager, I used to do volunteer work at a recycling center in a university town. You can imagine a lot of the typical patrons: ponytailed liberal academics, idealistic students, affluent suburban bobos. The kind of people who shopped at the organic grocery up the street and probably had at least one bumper sticker or t-shirt from Northern Sun. Now, one would think, wouldn't one, that a person who has invested the time and energy into keeping their trash and recyclables separate and driving to town on their own time to dispose of the latter would care enough to do it right. But bitter experience speaks through me to you and swears that it is not so.
I could not have kept count of how many patrons (we called them "inmates" of the "psycho center"), having brought themselves all this way, refused to walk the additional thirty yards to the other end of the parking lot to dispose of whatever they were holding. You could tell them at a glance. "Excuse me, where does the brown glass go? Oh. Down there? In that bin? Oh..." They would look at their destination, back at the bag of imported microbrew empties, back at the other end of the lot...and sure enough, you'd find that bag sitting on the steps of the newspaper trailer a few minutes later, right behind where they had been standing. Half of our day was spent just removing all the material that some illiterate, lazy bastard had insisted on dumping in the wrong bin while we were otherwise occupied. These were the same types of entitled, oblivious twats who would hand their bags and containers to anyone nearby with dark skin or a working-class appearance; my friend Brucekowski once had to mollify an angry black academic who was on the receiving end of that treatment from some clueless yuppie woman, despite his expensive suit and Mercedes. And since we started this conversation speaking of vehicles, I saw a few accidents in the parking lot, where nothing more complicated than a three-point turn and a 10 MPH speed limit was involved.
Just one more anecdote, you say? All right, then! A school friend of mine who worked at Whole Foods once thanked me for bringing my cart back to the store before ranting about how many customers left theirs out in the parking lot—initially, the store must have figured that their save-the-earth clientele would be conscientious enough to walk the carts back themselves out of a spirit of hippie camaraderie. They soon learned better, and put cart returns in the lot so that people could save time and a few steps and get to the gym faster, where their expensive membership allowed them to run in place on a treadmill.
What does it all mean? I ask myself as I sit here in reflection on my mountaintop, running my fingers through my long white hair. Just this: a significant number of human beings are short-sighted, selfish, and thunderfuckingly stupid. They act that way on foot and behind the wheel of a car. Are they the majority? I don't know, but there are certainly enough of them out there to ruin your day if given half a chance.