The Real Ron Paul

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 weren’t for his loud fanbase of self-proclaimed libertarians you wouldn’t really think this is the platform of a libertarian. He’s loudly trumpeting his plan to impose criminal penalties on women who terminate their pregnancies and he makes it clear that his interest in freedomdoesn’t extend to the freedom of anyone unfortunate enough to have been born in a foreign country. His campaign slogan of “RESTORE AMERICA NOW” 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 “[t]here is no greater threat to the security and prosperity of the United States today than the out-of-control, secretive Federal Reserve.” Not only is Paul’s goldbuggery nutty on the merits, like his affection for forced pregnancy and severe restrictions on human freedom of movement it’s difficult to see what it has to do with freedom. The freedom of the government to set a fixed dollar price of gold? America’s current monetary policy—a fiat currency that’s freely exchangeable for other currencies and commodities— 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 “[p]olluters should answer directly to property owners in court for the damages they create – not to Washington” 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 “[l]ift government roadblocks to the use of coal and nuclear power.”

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.

19 thoughts on “The Real Ron Paul

  1. Forcing polluters to answer to “property owners” is surprisingly vacuous. Air pollution affects everyone; but since it’s impossible to prove that this particular coal burning plant caused any particular illness or property damage, there’s no control exerted.

    So, the polluter gets to pollute for free, and force other people to accept the damage done. This, we are told, is better, more “free” than figuring out a way to reduce (or, in many cases, eliminate) pollution and demand that the polluter bear the full burden of the cost of polluting.

    I wonder if Ron Paul believes in forcing people to live with the effects of pollution because he believes in “personal responsibility”.

    • Forcing polluters to answer to “property owners” is surprisingly vacuous.

      There are all kinds of examples of people being harmed by polluters and not realizing it for years; for example, when someone notices a cluster of cancer patients and investigates. And then taxpayers are on the hook for cleaning up the mess.

  2. What do non hard-core Conservative people like about this old fool?

    Being laissez faire about drugs, and anti-Bush’s wars, does not a Liberal make.

    And being against choice doesn’t make you a Libertarian. It makes you the opposite. You wonder if, being an obstetricians and gynocologist, he doesn’t consider abortion to be some form of restraint of his trade.

    And being against FEMA, the Fed, the Dept. of Education, Medicare, Medicaid, SS, the National Weather Service, and almost any other Federal program just makes you stupid/ignorant.
    Ron, you really want to go back to pre-FEMA Galveston hurricane days?
    Over 6,000 people in Galveston died. And my favorite rightie argument is to get rid of the National Weather Service, since AccuWeather, and other private companies also provide weather forecasting – USING NWS SATELLITE’S YOU F*CKING MORONS!!!
    That’s like saying, no, I don’t want the Federal government paying for global positioning satellites since the Garmin in my car does just fine telling me where and how to get somewhere.

    Besides, this old fool has NO CHANCE to be elected.
    But just wait until his evil-stupid-spawn, Rand, decides to run in the next decade or so – he’s going to make Daddy look like a rocket scientist compared to his idiot son.

    If you want proof of how really, really f*cking stupid this country is, you need look no further than the people running against Obama. And the amazing thing about that is that Obama might lose to a pair of Republicans whose cumulative IQ woudn’t come within 25 point of his alone.
    Oh, but he’s a Democrat – and a blackity-black one at that.

    This is why we can’t have nicer things in this country, and why we may soon lose ALL of the nice things – because we are a nation of lazy, un/mis-informed morons, informed by the even lazier, cowered/complicit/compliant ignorati in the MSM who can’t tell bullshit from caviar, and a Conservative Party that tells people that no one else should even think about having tuna helper, let alone caviar, and that you should all be pissed off at anyone else in this country who doesn’t enjoy their heaping helping of bullshit and ask for more – which we are are then quickly told we can’t afford anyway, so expect worse than bullshit soon.
    Oh, and then, “Hey, did you know some people are still enjoying eating some bullshit when you and your family can’t afford even that? ”
    How dare the elitist, Liberal swine? And they give it BLACK people, did you know THAT?!?!?!?!?!?!

    • There is a really good book about the Galveston hurricane called “Isaac’s Storm.” I recommend it highly. It’s one of those books you really can’t put down, even if you know how it ends. A big reason there were so many deaths — possibly 10,000 — is that there were no warnings. Meteorologists in Cuba were tracking the storm and predicted it would slam ashore in the area of Galveston, but the Learned White Men of the U.S. weather bureau refused to believe this, because they’d never seen a hurricane move in that direction, and because they didn’t believe Latinos could know more than they did.

      BTW, a couple of geniuses on Faux Nooz say we don’t need a National Weather Service.

  3. If there’s something ‘wrong’ with Paul, and there certainly is, isn’t there something ‘wrong’ with all those people who support him? On the other hand, to cut them some slack, where are the media, that huge body of individuals to whom we’ve ‘lent’ our airwaves with the understanding that they will return the favor by keeping us informed on the political/social/economic platforms of any candidate for public office. Noticeably absent in the case of Paul.

  4. From listening to people (who probably know only a fraction of the story), their problem with fiat money is the Federal Reserve. It’s a board of bankers, and really isn’t under the direct control of the federal government. And so it’s this secret cabal, with the backing of the government, whose intention it is to control and impoverish everyone. There is a smidgen of truth there, IMO. Somehow by going to a gold standard this cuts the cabal out of the picture, and makes money more honest.

    (There’s an interesting story about how the Fed was created around the time of the Titanic sinking, and supposedly some major opponents of this plan went down with the ship – of course, by design – if I recall the story correctly).

    Besides being a proponent of all these bizarro ideas, Paul has longstanding ties to white supremacy groups, which he downplayed in the 2008 election. His whole agenda fits nicely with theirs. It astonished me how many “Ron Paul Revolution” signs, buttons, and bumperstickers I saw in 2008 – not only from people in the Outback (which I would expect), but on the lapels of those who should know better.

  5. Um, without legislation, homeowners have no standing to bring suit in court… I doubt he understands how the system he represents as a legislator actually works (or the Constitution, either).


    Say, aren’t the Rs and Ls the ones who want Rule of Law?????

  6. The hypocrisy alarms starts honking when you combine “Libertarian” and “anti-choice”. No need to go further.

  7. Moonbat, you are right about Paul’s ties to white supremacy groups. Paul regularly featured African-American bashing editorials in his newsletter, and my great-uncle read Paul’s newsletter religiously (we can’t always choose our family!) Leonard Zeskind has also noted Ron Paul’s long standing ties to white supremacy groups, and if I recall correctly, Zeskind dubbed Paul the white nationalist candidate. Paul’s opposition to the Iraq war is rather like that of Pat Buchanan, it’s an example of the stopped clock being right twice daily, but you have to wade through all the other garbage and hate speech to get to it, which doesn’t make it worth the effort.

  8. I haven’t read the book “Isaac’s Storm” but a TV documentary was made based on the book. It was recently shown on one of the nature channels and shows up periodically.

  9. Ron Paul wants to cut aid to Israel, he ain’t got a ghost of a chance of winning with that position.Both parties support Israel unconditionally, and there is zero tolerence for any other position.Most righties are in crazy love with all things military, Ron Paul wants to make massive cuts to the military.
    I agree with his positions regarding the war on drugs, Israel, and issues of war and peace; he lost me on his social issues and his love of Austrian economics.

  10. Ron Paul has only two tools in his toolbox. ‘Repeal Everything’ and ‘Do Nothing’. You have to think about this a few minutes. Based on his voting record in Congress, Ron Paul as president would VETO every piece of legislation that Congress has passed. I am waiting for a correspondent with the cohones to remind ‘Doctor No’ of this and ask if there is ANY legislation of the past 20 years he would not veto. As president, he would singlehandedly paralyze the federal government.

    ‘Repeal Everything’ is the exception to ‘Do Nothing’. Any bill that simply and exclusively undress a previous piece of legislation he will sign. However, this can not be bundled with any compromise. If a bad law is repealed to be replaced with something that costs less and works better, he will veto.

    The reality of a Ron Paul presidency is much worse than you imagine. He cant do most of what he fantasies about with the fed or women. What he could do and WOULD DO with the veto is horrific.

  11. The sad thing is, when I look at all the other Republican candidates who have tossed their hats in the ring (even if they subsequently withdrew them, ie Donald Trump), Ron Paul does look like the most rational. And that is scary.

  12. Well, you’ve heard the expression…If you’ve seen the father you’ve seen the son. And if you were to reverse that expression.. you’d get my point!

  13. Alex Pareeene at Salon offers insights on Pauls take on FEMA, hurricanse and national disasters. Isn’t this the Republican Party Platform? The highlights:

    Paul doesn’t support FEMA because of “moral hazard” The fact that people will receive help should a natural disaster strike encourages people to live where natural disaster happen. (Like ‘North America.’)

    Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle, undeserving liberal freeloaders stole my idea already. That’s the first thing I think when I think “natural disaster” — go live close to where on is likely. I’m now seeking real estate on the San Andreas fault. With Washington’s recent earthquake that cracked the Washington Monument, D.C. becomes a viable choice for my nefarious scheme!

    Apparently people are magnetically drawn to calamity like moths to light. FEMA must do one hell of a free re-model. By the same token, if there is affordable healthcare people will be less inclined to take care of themselves in Ron Paul’s topsy-turvy world.

    “We should be like 1900” is a very illuminating statement.

    Back in those days, after hurricanes would strike, communities would remain devastated, with thousands of people homeless and hungry, for weeks. And eventually they would beg the Federal War Department for help. (But they all enjoyed their liberty, as they waited in filth and disease for help from Uncle Sam.)

    I’m not sure who to fear the most, Al Qaeda or Ron Paul. Apparently, natural disasters can be fun, as long as you’re spared. Ron Paul’s America sounds as chock full of fun as Magic Mountain, depending upon one’s luck. Is it possible to predict where a giant metor will hit?

    I think Paul secretly longs for medieval times, not the 1900s.

  14. I have noticed that the sons of accomplished men tend to be unremarkable.
    It is very difficult for me to watch an interview with Rand Paul.
    I woder if he’ll be elected for another term?

    goatherd, loved the link!

  15. When very rich people build very large houses on very expensive land in exclusive forested areas. They seem perfectly willing to have someone to put out wildfires. I guess that’s different from some poor schmuck in a flooded trailer park, because they’re “Galts” after all.

    Thanks erinyes, I think Paul Whitehouse is talented and funny.

  16. “It is very difficult for me to watch an interview with Rand Paul” I thought when Rand stated before the election that he thought it would be OK for merchants to turn away blacks that that would doom him even in Kentucky. Apparently, the people who turned out for the midterms were of the cross burning persuasion.

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