Dr. Ron Paul—Defender of Liberty!?
The Center by Jerry Morgan
Ron Paul is an enigma. Is he an intellectual with a philosophy that has the answers to what ails the economy, the healthcare system, immigration, and defense? Or is he a pseudo-intellectual, masked behind lots of rhetoric and false science that has managed to prey upon the naïve public, impressing, mostly young people, with pseudo-economics, pseudo-science and libertarian idealism. The Ron Paul devotees are the most ardent of supporters, people who really believe in the man, elevating him to something just short of sainthood. But does St. Paul really have all the answers? You would think so, listening to him, self-assured, preaching to the masses on why we should revert back to the gold standard and abolish the Fed. Everything that Obama, and Bush before him, initiated was wrong, especially healthcare, the bailout of the banks and GM, and foreign policy. Admittedly, my confusion arises when I find myself nodding in silent agreement to some of the things that he says; he is the only candidate in either party who is willing to take on the powerful military-industrial complex in this country. He promises to slash defense spending in areas where it does not really further the cause of defending our shores. But how does he have the expertise to know where the excesses lie? For that, he must rely upon our generals and if elected President he too would be burdened with the responsibilities of protecting the American people. He may very well yield to the pressures of his military advisors, realizing that the world is a far more complex place than he thought. I happen to believe that Thomas Jefferson, a minimalist with respect to government, had it right. But, in practice, we need government to manage the increasing complexities of modern societies. It is all a question of balance, and in the final analysis, while I respect some (maybe even a lot) of what Ron Paul espouses, my vote will go elsewhere, to someone who can find the middle of the road or at least aim for it.
The Left by Y.I. Wearblack
Let’s go back to Rand Paul’s appearance on the Rachel Maddow Show as a doorway into his beliefs and those of his father, which for all practical purposes, are identical. Rand Paul stated that he would not have voted for the civil rights bill because it imposed restrictions on individual freedom. If the owner of a private business wanted to restrict his clientele to white people that would be okay. That is his right. He even stated that although he hated racism and discrimination, the principle of individual freedom should not be violated. Libertarians like the Pauls pose the question of whether a society has the right to advocate for the public interest by requiring owners of private businesses not to discriminate on the basis of race, religion or ethnic origin. At the heart of this position is the thesis that one should be allowed to do whatever he wants with his money and his property and that alone defines the public interest. The Pauls argue that this is the principle upon which the constitution is based and the foundation upon which America was founded. Everything and anything that tries to define the public interest as something else exceeds the constitution.
Ron Paul believes in non-interventionism. I call it isolationism. The Federal government is endowed with the responsibility to defend our borders. Nothing that happens outside of our borders should concern us. Although this seems plausible on the face of it, the world is regularly confronted by circumstances that could harm us if we don’t act to prevent them. For example, Pakistan has nuclear weapons. If these weapons were to fall into the hands of Islamic extremists they might use it to attack the United States. The same is true for states like Iran; a rogue regime could use a nuclear weapon to disrupt the world economy by threatening or even attacking its neighbors. The Federal government must have the latitude to act—to face threats to our shores that begin off of our shores. However, I do agree with Paul that such action should be sanctioned by the Congress. However, I disagree with Paul when it comes to stopping genocide. My values place the responsibility of anyone and everyone with the ability to stop genocide to either band together to stop it or take unilateral actions to do so. Paul does not. He believes that events which do not directly threaten the national interests of the United States should not be the province of our intervention. Paul is an advocate of free trade. I am not. I believe in fair trade. Twenty million American jobs were free-traded away. Requiring trading partners to conform to certain working rules and labor practices as well as a non-manipulated currency should be conditions we impose on our trading partners. Paul believes that our borders should be secured and I agree with him. I also agree that our entitlements should only be afforded to those who earn citizenship legally. However, unlike Paul, I would not turn down medical treatment for an illegal immigrant who showed up at an emergency room. Paul opposed airport security as an affront to individual freedom. I disagree. The government has a right to protect the public interest. Paul argued that the United States violated the sovereignty of Pakistan in assassinating Osama Bin Laden. However, the government acted within its authority to preserve the public interest as Bin Laden posed an existential threat to our security. I apply the same argument in response to his insistence that the drone attack on Anwar Al-Alaqi was a violation of international law. In his advocacy for smaller government, Paul has advocated the shutting down of various government agencies which he argues have done more harm than good. These include the Department of Education, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Interstate Commerce, the Department of Energy, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency as well as the Federal Reserve. Without these agencies our society would be near chaos. Although much of the money we send to Washington is wasted, the intent and actions of these agencies are justified. That does not mean that they should not be made more efficient, they should. Since the collective mandate of all of these agencies could never be carried out with the amount of taxes the government collects, the Federal Reserve issues debt securities to make up the difference. Ron Paul does not believe that the Fed should be allowed to carry out its dual mandate of stimulating the economy and creating jobs in times of slowdown by easing rates and conversely combating inflationary pressures by raising rates as necessary. Economists have done studies that prove that we would have lost many more jobs than we did if the Fed hadn’t intervened during the Great Recession by its programs of QE1 and QE2. They estimate that the unemployment rate would have peaked at closer to 15 percent rather than ten percent. A prudent Fed can mitigate the effects of economic declines and Ben Bernanke, a Princeton scholar and student of the Great Depression knew exactly what actions to take to keep this last downturn from becoming another depression.
So, my philosophical disagreements with Ron Paul are deep-rooted. I do respect men of reasoned intellectual persuasion, but not those who would lead us down a very dangerous and extremely slippery slope. This country may never be able to recover from a Ron Paul presidency. It would be an experiment with potentially dire consequences.
The Right by Dwight Cameron
Ron Paul, the Libertarian
Ron Paul is certainly a unique candidate with many unconventional positions, many of which people find outlandish. However, he does make some very good points which should be considered.
The Federal Reserve
The Fed has had an outsized effect on our economy which can be seen by the damage they have done. According to Milton Friedman, they caused the Great Depression by attempting to shrink the money supply. They later (in 1937) prolonged it by tightening and causing a second stock market collapse. They have been instrumental in causing our current mess by creating barrels full of excess money which inflated housing prices which eventually collapsed. And the jury is still out as to whether they did more harm than good with their Quantitative Easing initiatives. Yet, despite all the carnage, only Ron Paul, of the major candidates, is pointing his finger at them.
Although Paul is too non-interventionist for me, he makes good points. We cannot police the world nor impose our system on others who have neither desire for it nor ability to absorb it. Putting our troops on the ground where we have no national interest at all and no money to pay for the expedition (remember, 40 cents of each dollar spent is borrowed) is in the end suicidal for us.
War on drugs
Prohibition of alcohol didn't work and prohibition of drugs doesn't work either. We are wasting money and lives trying to stop a flood which can never be stopped. If there is a market for these drugs and they are illegal then the criminal element will do the importing or manufacturing. If they are legalized then legitimate companies will perform these functions and they can be better controlled; also, the price will come down so the need for criminal activities, like muggings, will be less necessary to support addicts' habits. Further, we will add to the coffers by taxing these substances disproportionately heavy. Ron Paul and his Libertarian attitude will work toward this more rational policy.
Real budget cuts
When most politicians say they are cutting the budget they are really not reducing spending, they are actually increasing spending. The Federal budget works on a "baseline" which increases each year automatically by some ridiculous amount, say 8%. It is this 8% higher budget which is then the subject of "cuts." If a legislator says he is cutting the budget 3% it really means he is increasing expenditures 5%. There will be screaming by the liberals of how this 5% increase is gutting the budget and ending vital programs (like building turtle tunnels in Florida or ice cone machines in Michigan). That last point was on the news today. Ron Paul may be the only candidate who is proposing actual reductions in federal expenditures within the next few years.
These are some of the salient points which Paul makes. His varied positions as shown above shows he and his ideas should be seriously considered.