A few years ago — probably 2004 — at some progressive political conference, I spotted a young man wearing a “Ron Paul for President” T-shirt. I asked the guy if he was serious, and he said yes, and went on and on about how Ron Paul was against the war in Iraq.
Do you know anything else about Ron Paul’s ideas? I asked. No, he said, but he figured he would be all right on other issues if he was against the war.
By now, the kid is a few years older and may have noticed there are other issues in the world beside war. And Matt Yglesias has written some posts focusing on Paul’s cockamamie ideas, and frankly, the man is even crazier than I realized. Here is the executive summary, from the first post —
After looking at his positions and statements, the most remarkable thing is that if it werenâ€™t for his loud fanbase of self-proclaimed libertarians you wouldnâ€™t really think this is the platform of a libertarian. Heâ€™s loudly trumpeting his plan to impose criminal penalties on women who terminate their pregnancies and he makes it clear that his interest in freedomdoesnâ€™t extend to the freedom of anyone unfortunate enough to have been born in a foreign country. His campaign slogan of â€œRESTORE AMERICA NOWâ€ is strongly suggestive of conservative impulses and nostalgia for the much-less-free America John Boehner grew up in. The mainstay of his economic thinking is the ridiculous proposition that â€œ[t]here is no greater threat to the security and prosperity of the United States today than the out-of-control, secretive Federal Reserve.â€ Not only is Paulâ€™s goldbuggery nutty on the merits, like his affection for forced pregnancy and severe restrictions on human freedom of movement itâ€™s difficult to see what it has to do with freedom. The freedom of the government to set a fixed dollar price of gold? Americaâ€™s current monetary policyâ€”a fiat currency thatâ€™s freely exchangeable for other currencies and commoditiesâ€” is the free market position.
I knew Paul was anti-choice, but I hadn’t realized he has said that abortion is “the most important issue of our age.” In a nod to states’ rights views he says he will “remove the abortion issue from federal court jurisdiction.” but he also supports a feeral law defining “life” as beginning at conception and wants to stop all federal funds from going to “Planned Parenthood, or any other so-called ‘family planning’ program.”
As Matt correctly says, Ron’s views are libertarian only if you don’t think women count as people.
Paul’s “thing” for ending the Federal Reserve and bringing back the gold standard is just weird. I’m not even sure a gold standard is possible in a 21st century economy. But in particular if his objection is that a Federal Reserve represents too much federal control, going to a gold standard would require at least as much federal control, because a gold standard only works if the government regulates the price of gold.
I know Ron Paul has a medical degree, so I hesitate to say he is stupid, but there has to be something wrong with him. The elevator is not going all the way up. Considering his flaming idiot son, maybe the family suffers some kind of early-onset dementia.
Just as Paul only seems reasonable if you don’t actually know what he thinks, the gold standard argument is one that could make sense only to someone who knows absolutely nothing about about it. For some background on goldbuggery, see Barry Eichengreen, “A Critique of Pure Gold” and “Gold Faithful” by Thomas Frank.
Now Paul wants FEMA to be demolished. Lord knows FEMA does not always wrap itself in glory, but Paul is utterly oblivious to the nature of disasters —
“FEMA is not a good friend of most people in Texas,” Paul said. “All they do is come in and tell you what to do and can’t do. You can’t get in your houses. And they hinder the local people, and they hinder volunteers from going in.”
After Hurricane Ike demolished parts of the Texas coast in 2008, Paul voted against a bill that would funnel billions in aid to the area, which covers his congressional district.
FEMA has since pumped more than $3 billion in federal funds into the state.
Some progressives still think of Paul as their friend because he wants to do away with the “war on drugs.” And he’s anti-war. But Paul seems to be more of an isolationist than a pacifist. He appears to think that whatever goes on in those other countries is irrelevant to us. But his ideas about domestic policy are demented.
You can see, however, that his views on domestic economic policy are almost laughable. He suggests that we abolish all regulation of air pollution because â€œ[p]olluters should answer directly to property owners in court for the damages they create â€“ not to Washingtonâ€ with zero indication of how he wants this to work in practice (my guess, a massive settlement resulting in the creation of a regulatory bureaucracy) while also arguing that we should â€œ[l]ift government roadblocks to the use of coal and nuclear power.â€
As with the gold standard, his idea for dismantling government bureaucracy requires constructing other government bureaucracy. And he is clueless about this. Like I said, there’s something wrong with him.