Monday, January 07, 2008

The Ron Paul Post: Part I

Note to the readership: This post was intended for release a while back, but finals and vacation sidetracked it. Upon revisiting it, I was conscious that it was getting lengthy; therefore, in the interest of having actual content today, I am making this the first part in a Ron Paul series.

Apparently, 50% of our fanbase (that's two of four people, and I'm generously including the very authors of this blog in the count) supports Ron Paul. I think it important to give a detailed, careful explanation of why I believe Ron Paul is a bad choice for President.

First, the careful part: Ron Paul has drawn a lot of support from crazy, evil people. This does not make Ron Paul either crazy or evil. That's not just a logical distinction, but a real distinction, because the reasons Ron Paul and the crazies happen to believe in the same platform positions are worlds apart. Ron Paul wants strong restrictions on immigration and tighter enforcement. As you can imagine, many people supporting strong immigration policy do so because they dislike racial and ethnic minorities; Ron Paul does so because, among other things, he wants the United States to protect itself from domestic threats and does not believe that it owes any responsibility to the citizens of other countries - perfectly consonant with his foreign policy goal of getting the U.S. out of the world-policing game. Ron Paul explicitly repudiates racism by equating it with collectivism:
Racism is simply an ugly form of collectivism, the mindset that views humans strictly as members of groups rather than as individuals. Racists believe that all individuals who share superficial physical characteristics are alike: as collectivists, racists think only in terms of groups.
It's sort of hard to call Ron Paul a racist, isn't it?

So, enough about phony criticisms of Ron Paul. If some idiots want to support a candidate who espouses a philosophy utterly contrary to theirs, just because they expect him to do one thing they agree with, let them! It doesn't make Ron Paul a bad person; it only makes those misguided supporters fools. Oh well; it's their money, they can do what they want with it - a very Ron Paul thing to say, don't you think?

So, moving along with the legitimate criticism, I'm using Mr. Paul's own campaign site to provide the material for this treatment. It's the most reliable thing to use, being better than fallacious arguments from association, and better even than dissecting specific comments of the candidate, because sometimes people say things that, in isolation, appear to mean something other than what they were intended to mean. I shall take his campaign page's issue section to be the best-developed expression of the elements of his platform.

Debt and Taxes

There's not a whole lot to dislike about these issues. Both parties are spending too much and having to tax the economy too much to raise revenue for that profligate spending. Republicans are especially to blame because they once ran on a platform of containing spending, but the six years of united Republican rule were awful examples of rampant government waste. However, there are some problems even here:
In addition, the Federal Reserve, our central bank, fosters runaway debt by increasing the money supply — making each dollar in your pocket worth less.
Er, this is wrong. The Fed certainly can print money too quickly, increasing inflation, but it doesn't have to. What's the alternative - deflation? I think Milton Friedman was right, and in any case, Ron Paul is wrong here that the Fed makes each dollar in your pocket worth less when it prints money.
We need a new method to prioritize our spending. It’s called the Constitution of the United States.
I'm not sure what he means by this. The Constitution contains procedures for passing legislation that Congress actually seems to be following perfectly when it spends trillions. If Mr. Paul means that we ought to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment, then I can see where he's coming from. Otherwise, the Constitution doesn't say anything specifically about restricting our spending. I suspect this is simply a nice sentiment (obey the Constitution!) with no textual basis.

Mr. Paul seems to view the Constitution like that a lot.

American Independence and Sovereignty

Oh dear.
So called free trade deals and world governmental organizations like the International Criminal Court (ICC), NAFTA, GATT, WTO, and CAFTA are a threat to our independence as a nation. They transfer power from our government to unelected foreign elites.
Free trade deals? Really? This smells of isolationism (already!). I would have thought a conservative committed to free trade. Wait:
If anything, the WTO makes trade relations worse by giving foreign competitors a new way to attack U.S. jobs.
Yep, this is protectionist, and not conservative. Further:
NAFTA’s superhighway is just one part of a plan to erase the borders between the U.S. and Mexico, called the North American Union.
That is conspiracy-theorizing nonsense. The North American Union? Please. What evidence do you have for that? Why would anyone even want that? For instance, where would Mexico send its poor?

This section is filled with nonsense and common sense. Get out of the UN? Yes, please. The NAU is going to usher in a new era in the West? Uh...yeah.

War and Foreign Policy

Oh boy. It starts out awful:
The war in Iraq was sold to us with false information.
"Sold to us"? Who sold it?
Both Jefferson and Washington warned us about entangling ourselves in the affairs of other nations.
This is intellectually dishonest at best. Mr. Paul surely knows that the world has changed at least somewhat in the past 200 years. If we want isolation again (and that worked perfectly, for some, in the 1920s), we'd have to accept vastly reduced living conditions and the very real possibility that someone could threaten us from outside, no matter what kind of wall we erect around ourselves. You know that they have these missiles that can fly around the world? What an age!
We are spread so thin that we have too few troops defending America. And now, there are new calls for a draft of our young men and women.
We're spread thin; but aren't the troops overseas also tending to aid American interests? Think about it this way: if we have too few troops defending America, what could that mean? To Mr. Paul, it means we have too few troops domestically, I suppose; but then, what domestic threat is there that requires military action? Would we be safer with our military at home, defending against...the South? It seems like the military does a better job abroad, where there are actual threats demanding an armed response.

Oh, and the draft talk - as I recall, the draft got three votes in the House the last time it was proposed. That's less than 1%. There are calls for the draft just like there are calls for imposing Zoroastrianism as the official U.S. religion.
We can continue to fund and fight no-win police actions around the globe, or we can refocus on securing America and bring the troops home.
This is consistent foreign policy - to hell with the rest of the world, and anyone who's killed in violence that is not our business. Would it help our reputation to say that?
Under no circumstances should the U.S. again go to war as the result of a resolution that comes from an unelected, foreign body, such as the United Nations.
Military action was approved by Congress after a request by the President. Is Mr. Paul saying that U.N. approval of anything taints it forever, making subsequent ratification by the elected branches illegitimate?
Too often we give foreign aid and intervene on behalf of governments that are despised. Then, we become despised. Too often we have supported those who turn on us, like the Kosovars who aid Islamic terrorists, or the Afghan jihadists themselves, and their friend Osama bin Laden. We armed and trained them, and now we’re paying the price.
It would be nice if Mr. Paul would consider precisely why we're despised worldwide. I've blogged about this years ago, but it turns out that Anglo-American political philosophy, based as it is upon individual rights, is distasteful to those who think that the people exist for the collective benefit, not government for the benefit of free individuals. Mr. Paul should know that, and know that those who so explicitly refute Locke are the problem, not us.
At the same time, we must not isolate ourselves. The generosity of the American people has been felt around the globe. Many have thanked God for it, in many languages. Let us have a strong America, conducting open trade, travel, communication, and diplomacy with other nations.
A call for isolation is followed by this. Isolate, but don't isolate. Don't intervene, don't enter international agreements (including free trade agreements!), don't fight anywhere but American soil, don't send anyone money - but above all, don't isolate yourself! Er...

Life and Liberty

Well, this seems in order. Or does it?
I am also the prime sponsor of HR 300, which would negate the effect of Roe v Wade by removing the ability of federal courts to interfere with state legislation to protect life. This is a practical, direct approach to ending federal court tyranny which threatens our constitutional republic and has caused the deaths of 45 million of the unborn.
What does that mean for judicial review? Judicial supremacy in Constitutional interpretation?

Also, he contradicts himself:
I am strongly pro life. Life begins at conception ... but, I do not believe this should be a federal matter. All issues of life and violence and crime and murder are dealt with at the local level.
In Congress, I have authored legislation that seeks to define life as beginning at conception, HR 1094.
Many abortion opponents are faced with this problem: they're federalists, wanting the states to retain all the powers not explicitly granted to the federal government by the Constitution; but they see abortion as a horrible evil that demands action with a wide sweep.

Is Ron Paul less than pure on the limits of constitutional power? Uh oh!


At 6:55 PM, March 26, 2008 , Anonymous Andy said...

Of course Paul wouldn't have made a good president (thank God conservatives stepped up and attacked him, otherwise he had it all wrapped up!), but i'm glad he ran anyway.

And it was the Bush Administration that "sold us" the war. You know, when they promised it was neccessary (which it obviously wasn't, but i'll give them the benefit of the doubt here and say that it appeared that it was at the time), and said it would be easy (don't see it lasting 6 months, costing maybe 10-50 billion) and would help us in the Middle East (foothold for democracy that other Arabs would look to with envy) and with oil (revenue which the Iraqs would use to pay for their reconstruction). Remember that? I do. It's not just crazy liberals who are mad about the war.

At 1:32 PM, March 31, 2008 , Blogger Vernunft said...

And Congress did...nothing? The American people did nothing? If you're saying that the Bush Administration lied and we bought it, then who's the fool?


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