Best insult ever: You’re such a J.S. Mill

I have had a revelation. The Right isn’t insane; it’s just callous. They are utilitarianists. They don’t see people (well, not after they’re born anyway); they only see numbers and the profit that they might harvest from those people. And that doesn’t make them nuts. It just makes them dicks.

I’ve had a hard time thinking about the War in Iraq in “Bush Terms.” I mean aside from all the lies about weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden being as tight as Bush and Fox News (or God if you really don’t believe FNC is in the White House’s pocket). They never talk about the human beings, American and Iraqi, soldiers and civilians, who are staining the sand red every day. It was stunning at first. Bush would go on television (or to a campaign rally back when we still had hope) and talk about some ludicrous picture of morning in Iraq. I didn’t get it. I knew he doesn’t read newspapers, but I figured he’d at least check out the Drudge Report or something once in a while. Then it dawned on me: He and his administration don’t really care. Lives are business costs. It’s like when a company launches a product it knows will draw lawsuits; it just factors the settlement costs into its bill. They expected lots of dead soldiers and civilians, and that’s why they don’t show them and don’t care about them.

It’s a simple case of cost/benefit analysis. Fifteen thousand-plus bodies are worth “freedom in the Middle East” to them. Well, we hope we’re fighting for “freedom” anyway. I don’t buy it. More likely, it’s about political capital or some crazy ultra-Christian crusade to make sure the prophecy of the Bible is fulfilled (oh please, please have religious motives! That would make this whole thing so much more fun to discuss in history classes in a couple generations!).

None of this really should be surprising. We see the philosophy of John Stuart Mill every day with conservatives. Well, kind of. They interpret “the greatest good for the greatest number” as “the greatest good for those with the greatest power.” Who needs to pay a living wage when you can save a couple of bucks per hour on every employee and buy a new yacht? Or a whole new marina? It makes sense to them. They “worked hard” for what they have, so it’s their right to not work to get some more. And that sounds pretty great and good to a lot of people who only care about number one.

Patrick Gibbons can be contacted at