I wrote this piece last year and figured I would share it despite the unlikely event Ron Paul will run for president again. Yet I think it’s important that with figures like his son Rand Paul still in the political spotlight, the purist libertarian philosophy in politics needs to be revisited and analyzed.
Let me start off by saying that Ron Paul is a very respectable politician. He is consistent, and he’s always kept on the campaign trail despite his poor performance in elections to voice what he believes in. His views on limited government and constitutional value have become commonplace in the base of the Republican Party, when the degree of such views was nonexistent in Republican politics only a few decades ago. His base of support is by far the most zealous and he has considerable support from a portion of the youth vote, particularly for his anti-war stance. I’ve seen several Ron Paul signs on campus, and cannot quantify the amount of Ron Paul supporters on Facebook and twitter. I am now fed up with the idea that Ron Paul is a good candidate, especially among my age group. Ron Paul is the definition of extreme, and deserves Mitt Romney’s self- title of “Severely conservative”.
Ron Paul is against the Civil Rights amendment. I would say that after some newsletters posted under his name which he claims not to have written said things like “I think we can assume 95% of black males in the D.C. area are criminal or semi-criminal”, that Ron is a blatant racist. But his argument against the civil rights act was that the government should let business do whatever it wants, like putting up signs saying “No Negroes”, or segregating people by sex or color. I get his thinking. Let the market do whatever it wants and eventually the market will correct all evils. The problem with Paul’s thinking is that it thinks things exist alone and not within the context of anything else. Race relations were bad before 1964 and would be worse without the civil rights act or Brown V. Board of Education because when you enslave a population, you are naive to think that things would suddenly get better for blacks or race relations with systematic discrimination still in place. If you allow business or individuals to discriminate in a public domain, you are creating a harmful atmosphere to society, regardless of personal racist thoughts. Personal liberty does not include hate speech like publically expressing racism through business models.
Ron Paul is a candidate that constantly touts individual freedom and the constitution of the United States. While his rhetoric is miles ahead of listening to professional brick wall, Michelle Bachmann, his views are off the rocker. Mr. Paul’s thought is that the constitution was written to be interpreted one way and one way only, never to adjust to social or technological change. Things like a right to bear arms are a good example. The founders wrote the bill of rights to contrast American rule sharply with the abuse of many rights by the British government, and the 2nd amendment was created to help repel invasion with militia force. The British wanted to make sure the colonist didn’t have guns as to resist British forces should a rebellion need to be put down. Back in the 1770’s, the best weapon anyone could have was a musket. A musket that fires a single metal ball that is largely inaccurate and has low killing power, and needs to be reloaded after each shot which takes at least a full minute. It is insane to say that the founding fathers could envision a semi-automatic or automatic weapon as being under the same clause of right to bear arms as muskets. There needs to be serious regulations of weapons that can inflict massive death counts, and it’s not about “liberty”, but common sense for today. He also is a devout believer in the 10th amendment, which means states can do basically whatever, like secede from the 50 states. He thinks the South was righteous in its fight during the civil war and thinks the north should have just bought all the slaves if they wanted to end slavery. It is in the literal and almost biblical view of the constitution that makes libertarians like Paul out of touch. The document was drafted to be a building block, something to be manipulated and built with to accommodate the future with basic protections, not some rigid ideological text.
Then there is the conservative, pseudo free- market vision for America. They claim that we should strip away the “monstrous burden of regulation” by agencies like FDA and EPA (which Paul wants abolished), or regulations like Dodd-Frank on the financial institutions that brought us the financial crisis of 2008. If we just got rid of those pesky regulations, then we could have an explosion of job growth led by the free market without that damned government! This rhetoric, intended to sound patriotic and pro- job growth, is empty. Serious estimates about regulation conclude that at most, .5% of the unemployment rate can be attributed to all of that pesky regulation on food, air, water, job safety, etc. that are so anti-business. Watching Ron Paul sit at a podium and bash the government all day is performing a disservice of the debt to history. It’s as if he was born in 1790 and completely ignored the industrial revolution with its monopolies or slavery and discrimination after its end. Never in history has there been too much regulation that led to a collapse or depression. It’s always an unregulated market, and then abusive or exploitative business practice that leads to economic meltdowns. Anyone who tells you it’s the government is wrong.
Despite what Paul says, just because something is created by government, doesn’t mean you are losing liberty or freedom. He’s mistaking liberty with not being agreed with. Social Security and Medicare are the most successful social programs in the world, and are a model for developed nations. It has been a silver lining for the elderly in retirement so that they don’t have to work until they die. And Medicare treats healthcare for what it is, a basic human right. Neither Healthcare nor Education are commodities. They are essential to survival and growth as beings. They are constitutional because as a post- industrial society, we have a life expectancy beyond 25 and we the people deem those appropriate for the general welfare of our society. If you want to tweak programs to make them more sustainable and efficient fine, but don’t privatize them. They belong to the people and with an economy of 15 trillion dollars, we can afford it. If you want to reduce dependence and increase solvency on these programs, reduce the income inequality through tax reform so that 400 people don’t control more wealth than the majority of U.S. residents combined. I would not be typing on this computer were it not for government investment into infrastructure and technology in the past hundred years. GM would not be the #1 car manufacture in the world, sustaining thousands of jobs, if it weren’t for government aid. You would think that’s a sin if you listened to Ron Paul’s warning on the evils of government spending.
Lastly is his passion issue of the Federal Reserve. Ron Paul is not an economist. He is a doctor, and he read a few books on Austrian economics, which today is a failed school of thought. He has regularly predicted Americas doom because of inflation since first being elected in 1979. Inflation has several causes other than printing money, like an increase in population, which has tripled in the past century alone. Look at the 19th century’s economic busts and you will understand why congress passed the legislation to create the Federal Reserve. Anyone trying to convince you that the fed is a scheme to screw us all is a conspiracist, like Ron Paul. By all means make sure the Fed is responsible in trying to keep currency stable and helping the economy where it can, but don’t just say the free market could do better, because we aren’t the only country with a central banking institution, and for good reason.
So to the hipster Ron Paul supporter out there wanting to stick it to both parties and seem intellectual; just review this sliver of information and understand he is a kook. Don’t blame the media for Paul’s poor performances elections. If he was a true revolutionary with amazing ideas, more people would join the bandwagon. But a man who insists on legalizing heroin gets only so far. The Republican Party thinks he’s nuts, and that’s saying something. His slightly better polling this election cycle is due to his competition being so poor. The libertarian ideal is as solid as the idea of communism, because it hasn’t ever or will ever exist. He would be an incredibly ineffective leader in the white house since he is so ideological, and I expect his school of rigid thinking to die off in congress when he leaves, and when his base grows up to learn more about how the world works. But he’s still a nice guy.