6 July, 2004: Tedious Libertoonian Twaddle Update

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Alex Tabarrok on `Marginal Utility' (rapidly descending from list of links to vaguely entertaining economics stuff into advert for foaming-at-the-mouth Randism) writes,

A sign on the highway on the road to Toronto speaks volumes.

Remember, driving is a privilege not a right.

Despite the fact that I am Canadian, everytime I see this sign my stomach churns with anger and I must suppress a desire to turn back to the U.S. The sign is a reprimand from the rulers to the ruled reminding them of their place. I want to tear it from the ground but my fellow Canadians think my reaction odd. More Americans, I think, would understand and that I suppose is why I call America home.

Happy Independence Day.

Now, ignoring the fact that he was a day late posting this -- were I an americanophobe I would obviously make a comparison with the second world war (or even the `war on terror[ism]') here -- let's look more closely at this. Tabarrok is apparently claiming that the United States is superior to Canada on the basis that the latter's government believes that,

driving is a privilege not a right.

Which must mean that, in Tabarrok's imagination at least, it is that case that,

driving is a right, not a privilege

in the United States. Now, I haven't spent enough time in the United States to make an objective assessment of the driving skills of residents of that country, though I will say that they have an annoying tendency to sound their horns before, during and after performing the simplest of maneouvres. But what about Tabarrok's claim? For whom is driving a right? He doesn't qualify the sentiment, so we must assume that it's a right for everyone: people who are drunk, or unqualified, or medically unfit to drive a car, or who don't own a car, or whatever. (Happily for the residents of the United States, that nation of course does not follow his recommendation.)

He expresses surprise that,

I want to tear [the sign carrying the slogan] from the ground but my fellow Canadians think my reaction odd.

We are, apparently, supposed to interpret this as evidence that citizens of the United States are in some way an improvement on Canadians.

That said, I know plenty of lovely people from the United States, while Tabarrok is a Canadian. However, all the other people I know from Canada are quite normal.

(In a previous episode of Tedious Libertoonian Twaddle Update -- not published under that name -- John Band pointed out that it's always worth checking that alleged internet libertoonians aren't taking the piss. In this case I don't think he is -- taking the piss is, apparently, a collectivist thing to do -- but I'm prepared to consider evidence to the contrary.)

Copyright (c) 2004 Chris Lightfoot; available under a Creative Commons License.