I have a firm policy of refusing to humor people whose method of arguing is sending me links to YouTube. But I made a special exception in this case because it's Penn Jillette, and Penn -- while very often wrong -- is always so very, very cool.
So, okay, I watched this video and was, as always, entertained by Penn's speaking style. And IMHO he's still wrong.
Penn obviously made some reasonable points that are easy to agree with. "Let's stop the government from doing really stupid stuff." Well, duh, yeah! I'm against things that are stupid! Way to go out on a limb, Penn! Solidarity, man!
In all seriousness, Penn and I agree on a lot of things, because many of his beliefs are already in the Venn diagram that includes liberals. Let's stop killing people we don't know for reasons we don't understand: check. Let's stop bailing out rich people: check. No more tobacco subsidies: check. Stop wasting time locking up people with marijuana, okay.
But then he gets to the part where a libertarian and a liberal would disagree... and he just chickens out. He says "You can make that argument that we still need education, and we still need infrastructure, and you'll probably win with me." Woot! I beat Penn Jillette without saying a word!
Actually, let me make this response explicit. Hey, Penn. We still need education, and we still need infrastructure. That is stuff that government does well and libertarian candidates don't propose a good and practical alternative to it. In fact, let's go back to the beginning of the video, and see why Penn Jillette thinks we don't actually need public education anymore. "I believe the tools are in place for people to learn on their own... I think that education is going to come from the web."
And that is, as Penn himself might say, "Bullshit!" Yes, most people have access to the web now. NO, that doesn't mean that it's an acceptable substitute for having actual teachers who spend individual time with students and react to their needs. You'll notice that despite all his praise of the internet, Penn states that he sends his own kids to "fancy ass private schools," and good for them! They're lucky to have a dad whose net worth is $175 million. But hey, if you're a poor kid then you can damn well flail around on web sites and educate yourself.
If you want to make me waste time on this (and I hope you won't, because it's too bloody obvious) I'll slap together some statistics -- yet again -- that show that countries which have solid public education systems have a more educated populace; and people who have a high school diploma -- yes, even from one of those dreaded public high schools, like me -- are better off and more successful (statistically, as a group) than people whose only education comes from "the internet."
See, the argument is not that some elitist government has to bring "enlightenment" to people. It's that it is a social good and in all our best interests for our citizens to be educated. And in the event that we have kids whose parents can't send them to fancy-ass private schools, we provide publicly funded alternatives to them rather than just throwing them under the bus and saying "Here, Timmy, play with this smart phone. See you in twelve years!"
And I'd gladly argue with Penn about bridges and infrastructure, too. But as I already said, I can't, because in this particular video Penn conceded that without a fight.