Many of my non-political friends have asked my opinion on Paul. They are seduced by his anti-war views and GOP underdog status, and somehow consider him a real alternative to the current crop of warmongering Republican and "celebrity" Democratic candidates. I try hard to inform them that despite the pleasing surface, his positions are radical and he espouses a form of government never before attempted on the planet Earth;
Libertarians are a small group whose beliefs are unknown to and not accepted by the vast majority. They are utopian because there has never yet been a libertarian society (though one or two have come close to some libertarian ideas.) These two facts should not keep us from considering libertarian ideas seriously, however they do caution us about accepting them for practical purposes.To examine Dr. Paul's positions, let's first take a quick look at a bedrock Libertarian principle;
A great degree of order in society is necessary for individuals to survive and flourish. It's easy to assume that order must be imposed by a central authority, the way we impose order on a stamp collection or a football team. The great insight of libertarian social analysis is that order in society arises spontaneously, out of the actions of thousands or millions of individuals who coordinate their actions with those of others in order to achieve their purposes. Over human history, we have gradually opted for more freedom and yet managed to develop a complex society with intricate organization. The most important institutions in human society -- language, law, money, and markets -- all developed spontaneously, without central direction.In short, Libertarians believe government is an obstacle to personal liberty. The above author's logic is suspect, however. He says the constraints of government stop societies from empowering the individual freedoms of its citizens, all the while saying such ordered systems will be spontaneously created by the actions of millions of citizens in the absence of such controls. News flash- these systems did spontaneously generate. That's how we ended up with government to begin with! What else is government than the method by which such spontaneous relationships is exercised? In America laws were written and governmental bodies were formed, for the most part, to address real situations, not to slowly steal away the rights of citizens.
It seems like Libertarians are advocating a return to feudalism. Without government, unrestrained free markets would enrich the already powerful, allowing them to rule the way lords of old did. They controlled the assets, and the less fortunate looked to their lords to protect them and keep them alive, similar to the faith my dog has in my ability to fill his food dish.
So how about Representative Paul? Let's go over a few of his more radical positions. If after reading this those of you supporting or considering Ron Paul are not swayed that his Libertarian principles are a little kooky, or at the least require a tad more thought, then it's likely you supported Bush as well, and thus convincing you with reason was already impossible. Maybe I could dress up like God with a wig and false beard and chuck lightning bolts to change those kind of minds. Anyhow, on with the list;
- Ron Paul adamantly opposes U.S. participation in in international organizations such as NATO and the United Nations. He also opposes any international intervention, even for genocide in Darfur or Rwanda ("You don't get involved, but you can make a moral statement." Tell that to the orphans of Rwanda or Darfur!)
- He wants to abolish the IRS, Federal Reserve, the Departments of Education, Energy, and Homeland Security, and the FBI.
- He opposes the separation of church and state.
- He opposes universal health care.
- He is opposed the adoption of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, landmark legislation that outlawed segregation.
Having the temerity to post on Ron Paul means one thing; an inevitable viral rush of Paul supporters with snide comments and logically fallacious arguments. These folks tend to proclaim long-standing support for Dr. Paul, but I suspect they are mostly disillusioned former Bush supporters, seeking a candidate to help minimize the humiliation created by the president's foolishness over the last seven years. Hopefully this post will sway a few of them back over to the side of reason and sanity.
UPDATE: I wrote a comment on Digg that came out just right so I had to link it up and re-post it here;
I sure wish Ron Paul's positions were as groundbreaking and fantastic as his supporters make out. Unfortunately he seems to me to be a supply-sider in wolf's clothing, an elitist with an elaborate political philosophy to cloak less than honorable intentions. It seems Libertarians forgot the days of the robber barons, the Vanderbilts, Carnegies, Morgans, and Harrimans. That's exactly what we would get if we relied on people's good intentions to rein in a wild, completely free market.
Government has a purpose. The different branches of our current system evolved to take care of problems that popped up organically over the lifetime of our country. People don't just wake up and say "Let's go tax the hell out of someone and regulate everything in sight." When some kid loses an eye on a toy or somebody's balls are sucked off in a pool drain the free market doesn't swoop in to make it all better. Indeed the Bush administration proves this; during their tenure toy manufacturers greedily sold our children lead-laced toys, drug companies sent dangerously under-tested drugs through a corrupt FDA to hurt and kill lots of people (think Vioxx) and contaminated produce ends up on our tables.
American history clearly shows what deregulating industry does- it hurts the average joe and enriches the elites. Anyone who makes this concept a cornerstone of their governing philosophy must be treated like they are RADIOACTIVE and be quickly and quietly led well away from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.