Meredith Bragg and Nick Gillespie have another edition of ReasonTV out this week and it should be near and dear to the hearts of all of you libertarians in the audience. They previously generated a list of the best television shows for libertarians (which may or may not hold true for some of you) but now they’ve come up with their list of the worst. How does one judge television programs on this criteria? I suppose it should be based on the most nauseating examples of the nanny state being portrayed as a force for good as they meddle in the lives of citizens. I’ll leave it up to you as to how well they hit the mark.
Two of their examples really caught my attention, though. At number two on the list is NFL football. Really? One of the greatest profit generating enterprises in the history of the nation which focuses on brute force, individual achievement and crushing your enemies is somehow contrary to libertarian principles? They quote the whole tax-exempt league status thing, but that’s sort of a misnomer, as I’ve written about before. Honestly, I’m just not seeing it.
I will agree with their number one choice, though. Star Trek, as much as I love it, envisions a future which is about as far in the opposite direction of capitalism and individual achievement as one could imagine.
The original Star Trek takes place in a future where humanity has transcended all forms of warfare and cash transactions. The Starship Enterprise’s adventures throughout the galaxy are supposedly by the Federation’s “prime directive,” which forbids humans from intervening in the domestic affairs of the planets they visit.
And yet when he’s not engaging in zero-gravity sex with an endless procession of comely space aliens, Captain James T. Kirk is mucking around with every civilization from here to the Romulan Neutral Zone like LBJ on Viagra.
While I’m not arguing that point, when it comes to anti-libertarian ideals, I tend to think of Next Generation more than the original series. And I understand that Nick is talking about TV shows, but you can’t really divorce them from the movies they spawned. Possibly the most jarring example was from the TNG movie, First Contact, where Picard has the following exchange with Lily Sloane.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard: The economics of the future are somewhat different. You see, money doesn’t exist in the 24th century.
Lily Sloane: No money? You mean, you don’t get paid?
Captain Jean-Luc Picard: The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force of our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity. Actually, we’re all like yourself and Dr. Cochrane.
Yeah… let’s see how well that works out. We still can’t get an astronaut into low orbit without the help of the Russians. With no profit motive, we should be building warp drive ships Any. Moment. Now.
And while we’re on the subject, how did Friends not make the list? A group of frequently unemployed slackers living in a rent controlled apartment and buckling to every oppressive law on the books about keeping a pet monkey… it’s a nanny state paradise. And don’t even get me started on Parks and Recreation.
Anyway, here’s the video. Feel free to suggest your own alternatives.