Consummate dilettantism!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Libertarian Fantantasies

It's amazing how many people seem to have fallen for the idea that Ron Paul is God's gift to mankind. See here for an example. Contained within are a few common assumptions that are simply wrong. Let's go through them.

1. Ron Paul accurately represents the views of our Founding Fathers, all of whom were ardent proponents of state's rights.

Ron Paul is a "radical"? He stands for what our founding fathers did, throw a Thomas Jefferson quote out in the middle of a high school and they might think you are quoting terrorists. This country is so fucked up that a man who stands for what our country was founded on is a crazy lunatic!

Thomas Jefferson was certainly an influential Father, but was by no means representative of them all. Consider Alexander Hamilton's extremely eloquent defense of implied Constitutional powers:
In entering upon the argument, it ought to be premised that the objections of the Secretary of State and Attorney General are founded on a general denial of the authority of the United States to erect corporations. The latter, indeed, expressly admits, that if there be anything in the bill which is not warranted by the Constitution, it is the clause of incorporation.

Now it appears to the Secretary of the Treasury that this general principle is inherent in the very definition of government, and essential to every step of progress to be made by that of the United States, namely: That every power vested in a government is in its nature sovereign, and includes, by force of the term, a right to employ all the means requisite and fairly applicable to the attainment of the ends of such power, and which are not precluded by restrictions and exceptions specified in the Constitution, or not immoral, or not contrary to the essential ends of political society.

This principle, in its application to government in general, would be admitted as an axiom; and it will be incumbent upon those who may incline to deny it, to prove a distinction, and to show that a rule which, in the general system of things, is essential to the preservation of the social order, is inapplicable to the United States.

The circumstance that the powers of sovereignty are in this country divided between the National and State governments, does not afford the distinction required. It does not follow from this, that each of the portion of powers delegated to the one or to the other, is not sovereign with regard to its proper objects. It will only follow from it, that each has sovereign power as to certain things, and not as to other things. To deny that the government of the United States has sovereign power, as to its declared purposes and trusts, because its power does not extend to all cases would be equally to deny that the State governments have sovereign power in any case, because their power does not extend to every case. The tenth section of the first article of the Constitution exhibits a long list of very important things which they may not do. And thus the United States would furnish the singular spectacle of a political society without sovereignty, or of a people governed, without government.

Presenting the views of one Founding Father as representative of those of all does great injustice to the vigorous debates which nearly split the country in two.

2. Radicalism is necessary to save our country.
The political world is so extremely wrong that RP only SEEMS to be extreme.

Though this argument has some validity (in that Ron Paul's views would be more mainstream in 1787), it can be used to justify any sort of radicalism. Consider:
The ethnic makeup of our country is so extremely wrong that the KKK only SEEMS to be extreme.

Any number of these statements can be concocted for any number of claims, however ridiculous. It imputes no validity whatsoever to an idea.

3. Extreme personal freedom is desirable.

if you really believe in the Ron Paul message, you believe in very limited government, very little services from government, but at the same time extreme amounts of personal freedom.

An extreme amount of personal freedom is probably not America's panacea. There's a reason we ratified the Constitution; our country was performing very poorly under the Articles of Confederation (which maximized autonomy). The federal government has to have a degree of power beyond what is expressly delegated in the Constitution, as Hamilton made clear.

4. Liberals only support Ron Paul because he's anti-war.

What he is saying is that all these liberals are jumping on the Ron Paul bandwagon because of his anti-war stance, but if they knew the rest of what he believed they would be horrified. Horrified because they do not understand anything about the constitution or what this nation is about. They want the best of everything. They want lots of government services, but at the same time they want low taxes and the government out of their lives. It doesn't work that way, if you really believe in the Ron Paul message, you believe in very limited government, very little services from government, but at the same time extreme amounts of personal freedom., that's right. This is completely true.

5. Ron Paul is God.
You think RP is an extremist? Understand that sometimes the truth is extreme...

From the Wall Street Journal (subscription required):
Texas Congressman Ron Paul -- libertarian gadfly and current Republican Presidential hopeful -- has made a name for himself as a critic of overspending. But it seems even he can't resist the political allure of earmarks.

After reporters started asking questions, the Congressman disclosed his requests this year for about $400 million worth of federal funding for no fewer than 65 earmarks. They include such urgent national wartime priorities as an $8 million request for the marketing of wild American shrimp and $2.3 million to fund shrimp-fishing research.

When we called Mr. Paul's office for an explanation, his spokesperson offered up something worthy of pork legends Tom DeLay or Senator Robert C. Byrd: "Reducing earmarks does not reduce government spending, and it does not prohibit spending upon those things that are earmarked," the spokesman said. "What people who push earmark reform are doing is they are particularly misleading the public -- and I have to presume it's not by accident.

Shrimp farming?!?! Where's that in the Constitution?!?!?

Don't get me wrong. I am in favor of a government that generally doesn't intrude into individuals' personal lives (with some exceptions, of course; the government should absolutely intrude into an individual's life if said individual is beating his/her child). I support economic freedom and am mistrustful of efforts to create "economic equality" and "social justice", though unlike Ron Paul, I concede that these efforts may sometimes be justified (the Civil Rights Act of 1964 being a good example).

One final, memorable quote:

Pulling out of every international organization and dismantling half of the federal government certainly is radical. Not that it's necessarily a bad thing, but it is radical.

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