Monday, May 30, 2011

Ron Paul's most "extreme" positions

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man" - George Bernard Shaw

Mother Jones magazine recently took Ron Paul to task for being too extreme.  (As if there's a painless and moderate way to get out from under a 14 trillion dollar debt.)

Here are Dr. Paul's beliefs that made Mother Jones run for the smelling salts, along with additional commentary on my part. 

1. Eviscerate Entitlements: Believes that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are unconstitutional, and has compared the failure of federal courts to strike them down to the courts' failure to abolish slavery in the 19th century.

People of good will can indeed argue that the constitution's General Welfare clause gives Congress enough wiggle room to collect their party money via Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid contributions.  And all of those funds will be out of money by the time I retire.  The constitutionality of those programs is irrelevant.  Our government will never, ever use the money responsibly, and the contributions to those funds went to other programs ages ago.  This one is irrelevant, and the sooner I'm allowed to put my own money into my own retirement fund, the better off I'll be.  The sooner you can do the same for yourself, the better off you'll be. 
It takes a lot of humility to admit that I have no idea what is best for you.  I wish that our Washington Lords and Masters felt the same way. 
This one is a moot point. 

2. Lay Off Half His Cabinet: Wants to abolish half of all federal agencies, including the departments of Energy, Education, Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Labor.

Ok, let's beat hook the winch and the chain hoist up to this dead horse and drag it out of the bushes for another beating. 

Since its founding, the Department of Education has almost doubled education expenses and test scores haven't budged. 

Since its founding (to decrease our dependence on foreign oil) the Department of Energy has spent billions and our foreign oil purchase percentage is within 1% of where they started. 

The Department of Agriculture gives subsidies to some of the wealthiest people in the nation.  They also support ethanol subsidies.  For this alone, their building should be nuked. 

If the Department of Commerce were to cease their endless quotas, tariffs, protectionism, kickbacks and allotments and let us have a more frictionless economy, we just might be able to get out of this recession.  But no.  They've got to do something.  Why does anyone need an 800 page Free Trade Agreement?  Why not just say "Fort Worth can trade freely with Dallas".  "Oklahoma can trade freely with Florida".  And last but not least, "You can trade freely with Canada".  We wouldn't need to take in so much in import duties if we didn't have to support these unnecessary a-holes.
I occasionally have to get things done via companies that are afflicted with Teamster's Union members.  Screw the Department of Labor, and all that they stand for.  If your boss promised you X, but didn't give it to you, take him to court.  If your boss had faulty equipment that took off one of your fingers, take her to court and sue her until she glows.  It's that simple. 

If we could get the CIA on a shorter leash, we wouldn't need a Department Of Homeland Security.  If we could get our troops out of Germany, Korea, Japan, and the Middle East, and bring 'em back to the house, we wouldn't need a Department Of Homeland Security.  We could cut troop levels in half, and still not be able to see the beach because of all the troops defending our borders.
Ok, imagine you won $100 million in the lottery, and you wanted to give it away to good, helpful institutions.  Make your list of your top 20.  Did you include the Department Of Health And Human Services?  Good.  Nobody else would either, including Ron Paul, or whoever wrote this tripe for Mother Jones. 

3. Enable State Extremism: Would let states set their own policies on abortion, gay marriage, prayer in school, and most other issues.

It's called States' Rights.  If a state wants to legalize gay marriage, abortion, etc., the state should be allowed to do so.  Gays and lesbians could be married in those states.  Women wanting an abortion could travel to those states.  Before long, those states would have an advantage that others did not.  The alternative is having the heavy hand of Washington oversee everything, with a one-size-fits-all policy. 

4. Protect Sexual Predators' Privacy: Voted against requiring operators of wi-fi networks who discover the transmission of child porn and other forms online sex predation to report it to the government.

Well, there's more to it than that.....
The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill saying that anyone offering an open Wi-Fi connection to the public must report illegal images including "obscene" cartoons and drawings--or face fines of up to $300,000.

That broad definition would cover individuals, coffee shops, libraries, hotels, and even some government agencies that provide Wi-Fi. It also sweeps in social-networking sites, domain name registrars, Internet service providers, and e-mail service providers such as Hotmail and Gmail, and it may require that the complete contents of the user's account be retained for subsequent police inspection.
 Most wi-fi providers have other things to do.  I don't want to spy on my neighbors.  I can also promise you that my definition of "obscene" doesn't match yours.  And then there's the 4th Amendment:

5. Rescind the Bin Laden Raid: Instead of authorizing the Navy Seals to take him out, President Paul would have sought Pakistan's cooperation to arrest him.

Would that have worked?  Who knows.  But our potential Paki enemies would be a lot less pissed if we had given Dr. Paul's method a try. 
How would you feel if a group of VietNamese invaded D.C. with a helicopter raid and took out Henry Kissinger? 

6. Simplify the Census: The questions posed by the Census Bureau's annual American Community Survey, which collects demographics data such as age, race, and income, are "both ludicrous and insulting," Paul says.

True.  The race questions are often used to reenforce tribalism.  They don't need to know anything but your name and address. 

7. Let the Oldest Profession Be: Paul wants to legalize prostitution at the federal level.

I believe you can find other instances where he says its a States' Rights issue. 
There's something funny about these people....

....enforcing a ban on whoring. 

8. Legalize All Drugs: Including cocaine and heroin.

Yes !!  And if we do, are you going to suddenly start doing coke and heroin?  I'm not.  I hope you don't.  But it'll end almost all of our problems on the Texas/Mexico border, they way the end of alcohol prohibition ended our problems on the Canadian border in the 1920's. 
Which monopolies do you want to preserve for the Drug Lords of Mexico and Afghanistan?

9. Keep Monopolies Intact: Opposes federal antitrust legislation, calling it "much more harmful than helpful." Thinks that monopolies can be controlled by protecting "the concept of the voluntary contract."

Yep.  Can anyone name a true monopoly that has existed without help from Uncle Sugar? 

10. Lay Off Ben Bernanke: Would abolish the Federal Reserve and revert to use of currencies that are backed by hard assets such as gold.

And speaking of monopolies that answer to no one, here's what The Fed has done to our money supply.  Folks, prices aren't going up because of weather, China, India, famine, or Global Warming/Cooling/Climate Disruption.  Dollars are less scarce.  Therefore it takes more of them to swap for something else. 

11. Stop Policing the Environment: Believes that climate change is no big deal and the Environmental Protection Agency is unnecessary. Most environmental problems can be addressed by enforcing private-property rights. Paul also thinks that interstate issues such as air pollution are best dealt with through compacts between states.

Yep.  The EPA is a jobs program. 

12. Not Do Anything, but Still...: Would not have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because it was a "massive violation of private property and contract, which are the bedrocks of a free society."

This is true.  I discriminate.  You discriminate.  There are some people that I won't allow into my house or my truck.  There are others that I welcome. 
A business has the right to do this also.  But if you don't allow people in because they're black, gay, coneheaded, hispanic, or green, I'm not going to shop at your business.  Lots of other people will follow suit. 
The market works, and is more efficient that setting up a feast for lawyers. 

13. Let Markets Care for the Disabled: "The ADA should have never been passed," Paul says. The treatment of the handicapped should be determined by the free market.

Has the percentage of handicapped people in the workplace gone up or down since the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act?  Google it.  (Hint:  It's gone down.  Government regulations screw up the best intentions, without fail.) 

14. First, Do Harm: Wants to end birthright citizenship. Believes that emergency rooms should have the right to turn away illegal immigrants.

It's called "Birth Tourism".  It's a huge problem as long as we have a welfare state.  Have your kid on this side of the border, and your kid is an American. 
End the welfare state, and its no problem.  Go here to join the Facebook group called "Ron Paul Supporters For Open Borders". 

15. Diss Mother Teresa: Voted against giving her the Congressional Gold Medal. Has argued that the medal, which costs $30,000, is too expensive.

When time permits, read "The Missionary Position", Christopher Hitchens' devastating attack on the life and works of Mother Teresa. 
The expense is the least of the problems. 
Those are Ron Paul's positions that scare the bejeebers out of Mother Jones magazine.  What's funny is that getting out of our current mess is going to require people who make Ron Paul look moderate. 
Hope this helped ! 
Have a good Memorial Day !!!


Dr Ralph said...

Where to begin, old friend?

It's my day off so I don't feel like sitting here and rebutting every last word (nor do I necessarily disagree with everything you've said). A lot of this comes off as one big "sez you," which does not make for a convincing argument. That being said...

1. Entitlements: I'm glad you have faith in your ability to beat the house when investing. How did your retirement portfolio look around January 2009? Yeah, mine didn't look so good either.

Do Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid need fixing? Yes. But a doctor ought to know there are better ways to treat a broken arm than amputation.

2. The Dept of Education has been a favorite whipping boy of conservatives and Libertarians since its foundation - another of those "state's rights" things. The state of Texas (where you and I live) is #49 in verbal SAT scores in the nation and #46 in average math SAT scores - the state is certainly doing a bang-up job. Plus our Republican-dominated State Board of Education has made us a national laughing stock.

Dept of Commerce -- I suspect this is a "be careful what you ask for," situation.

Dept of Labor: I'm not going to argue with you about unions (we've had too many of those conversations) but seeing how tort reform is another of those issues the Relibertarians love to go on about, I'm guessing the boss with the finger-removing equipment will have little to worry about. Besides, big companies can afford to go to court -- can you?

Dept Homeland Security -- abolish away. And feel free to nuke farm subsidiaries -- ADM can live without the cash.

3. State's Rights - yeah that was a useful concept prior to the Civil War. It wasn't much help to those enslaved. Your argument that people could just "travel to other states" amounts to "[fill in state name] - love it or leave it." I call bullshit on this one.

4. Even Ron Paul makes sense occasionally.

5. I'm having a hard time deciding how I feel about the Kissinger question.

6. The Census - that this is even an issue seems ridiculous.

7. Prostitution - let the Free Market reign!

8. Drugs - let the Free Market reign!

9. Monopolies - uh, Microsoft?

10. The Gold Standard - no comment. William Jennings Bryant lives in the hearts of men.

11. EPA - you and I (and Cedric) have wasted enough words on this. We will never agree.

12. Civil Rights Act of 1964 - how does Dr. Paul (not to mention you) reconcile property rights with dynamiting churches in the south? I apologize but there's no nice way of asking this: did they skip this part of US history when you went to high school in Mississippi?

Ron Paul demonstrates a shocking lack of contextual knowledge or the worst kind of pandering to ugly prejudices.

13. ADA - and how well did the Free Market work before the ADA was passed?

14. "Birthright Citizenship" - so, how do you decide which parts of the constitution can be screwed with? While you're changing this, can I gut the second amendment? Fair is fair.

15. That's it - insult a dead woman. Nice.

Truth be told, I find Ron Paul a lot more reasonable than some of the Libertarian tribe - including his son. And I find Mother Jones about as reliable a source of information as I find you -- both of you have a gift for unsubstantiated hyperbole.

Cedric Katesby said...

Plus our Republican-dominated State Board of Education has made us a national laughing stock.

Texas is indeed famous. Famous for all the wrong reasons. A 6000 year old Earth? Yessiree!

11. EPA - you and I (and Cedric) have wasted enough words on this. We will never agree.

I'm surprised that you just don't man up and demand that NASA be disbanded and sold piecemeal to the Chinese. They would LOVE to get their hands on NASA hardware and offer life-long careers to America's best scientists.

Break NASA up. Do it. Save the taxpayer some money. Do it. Fire every single scientist and tell them to get lost. Do it.

Climate Change is real. It's not going away because it's not something you want to hear about.
You can't just bury your head in the sand.
It won't go away.

You can call NASA "alarmists" but it's still NASA.
You can call them "warmistas"'s still NASA.
You can call them "high priests" and "believers" and "butt-pounding socialists" all you want's still NASA.

Get rid of NASA. You don't listen to them anyway.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

As always, it's great to hear from you.

Discussing how much of this stuff we need is like two homeless winos debating the merits of Paris vs. London for their vacation.
We don't have the money for ANY of this stuff.

However, let's address the ones where we have significant disagreement....

1) My stocks, 401K, etc. did indeed take a hit. But they're recovering.
My social security fund, however, has been worth less and less as a % of my "investment" since 1961.

2) Department of Education - that's why I wish we could get the government out of education, except maybe as a voucher distribution mechanism. The Texas constitution, unfortunately, requires that the govt provide a public education system.

Labor - there's a belief out there that employers stay up late thinking of ways to harm employees. It ain't that way. And there are hungry lawyers all over the place who would love love love love to represent the dude who loses a finger.

3) But look at the states (Illinois) with a higher and higher state tax. Indiana and others are recruiting their business to leave Obamaland and come to their business-friendly environment. Illinois is now handing out exceptions and exemptions like mad to keep companies from leaving. Having an alternative means you don't have to put up with as much crap.

(But you've got a point about the little guys who can't pull up and leave, or lobby for lower confiscation rates, etc.)

9) At one point Microsoft had something like 90% of the operating system market. Was that a monopoly? I don't think so, but the government did. They had competitors. Had they stopped producing a good product, those competitors would've eaten them alive.
The main lessson Microsoft learned from that experience? Prior to the anti-monopoly suit, Microsoft didn't have much of a lobbying/donation/bribing presence in Washington.
They have seen the error of their ways, and have repented.

12) I bet Dr. Paul sees dynamiting a church as a severe violation of property rights. It was illegal then, and its illegal now.

He's got a chapter on this in his new book "Liberty Defined". I'll probably get around to pounding it into the internet before long.

13) Well, the disabled had a higher employment rate !!

14)Agreed. But he sees the entire welfare state as unconstitutional, that we're stretching the General Welfare clause further than we should. Therefore, we should do something about birthright citizenship or we're going to be Ground Zero for birth tourism.
When time permits, please dip your toes into the Libertarian "Open Borders" ideal.

15) I don't think he's ever insulted a dead person, except for Keynes. When you get a chance, though, hit that Google Books link to the Hitchens diatribe. Lord have mercy, what a book.

The Whited Sepulchre said...


Here's Rand Simberg on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo flights:

"It would be nice to have, for the first time since that historic announcement, a national discussion of why we have a human spaceflight program. The Augustine panel attempted to establish one a couple years ago, when it pointed out that if we don’t plan to settle space with humanity, there is little point to sending anyone there. But no one seemed to pick up on it, and it became lost in the hysterical reaction to the inevitable cancellation of the unaffordable and ill-conceived Constellation program, driven by a combination of concern about industry job losses and a misplaced and misunderstood sixties nostalgia.

This fiftieth anniversary would be an excellent time to make another attempt at it, but if history is any guide, we will let the opportunity pass once again. But fortunately, as the new space entrepreneurs make more and more visible progress in reducing costs and offereing exciting new services for all of us, and not just a select few government employees, it may not matter. Half a century after the false start, Americans will start to seek their own space dreams."

For the most part, everything we're arguing about here is the Free Market vs. Government's Central Planners.

And I very much believe that Climate Change is real. It's been real for four and a half billion years.

Marc said...

Tom Woods responds to the "extreme" positions. It's a good video, shows the other side of the coin:

Anonymous said...

Dr Ralph,

You did a fantastic job of typing up a rather lengthy response without managing to actually convey anything whatsoever other than meaningless smarm, baseless assumption, failed wit, and excessive emotion.


Dr Ralph said...

Anonymous - thanks! It's nice be appreciated.

When in Rome...

The Whited Sepulchre said...

That's actually MY job.
The good Doctor (and Cedric) are my prized trolls.
When I'm doing some serious typing (as opposed to downloading rage) it is often with those two in mind.
Getting both of them out of their lairs on different continents is a rare achievement, so BE NICE. :)

Cedric Katesby said...

And I very much believe that Climate Change is real. It's been real for four and a half billion years.

This is a PRATT.
Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.
Get new material.

Either you are prepared to listen to the scientists at NASA or you should sell 'em to the Chinese. Save your precious tax dollars.
Go ahead. Sell NASA.
Stop letting them put out these lies on their website!

If Earth has warmed and cooled throughout history, what makes scientists think that humans are causing global warming now?

"The first piece of evidence that the warming over the past few decades isn’t part of a natural cycle is how fast the change is happening. The biggest temperature swings our planet has experienced in the past million years are the ice ages. Based on a combination of paleoclimate data and models, scientists estimate that when ice ages have ended in the past, it has taken about 5,000 years for the planet to warm between 4 and 7 degrees Celsius. The warming of the past century—0.7 degrees Celsius—is roughly eight times faster than the ice-age-recovery warming on average.

The second reason that scientists think the current warming is not from natural influences is that, over the past century, scientists from all over the world have been collecting data on natural factors that influence climate—things like changes in the Sun’s brightness, major volcanic eruptions, and cycles such as El Niño and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. These observations have failed to show any long-term changes that could fully account for the recent, rapid warming of Earth’s temperature.

Finally, scientists know that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and that it is released into the air when coal and other fossil fuels burn. Paleoclimate data show that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are higher than they have been in the past 800,000 years. There is no plausible explanation for why such high levels of carbon dioxide would not cause the planet to warm."

Cedric Katesby said...

It's just horrible.
Every December, when you look out your window, you see snow.
That proves that global warming is a hoax. There's no fooling you, right? You see through the conspiracy.

Yet NASA continues to spend you tax dollars despite snow in you backyard every December. Imagine how much money the American taxpayer would save if they fired all those pesky NASA scientists and just paid you to look out your window and look for snow. Don't let those smarty pants science-types tell you how to do science. You have a window!
Job done.

"In 2004, NASA's spending on climate science exceeded all other Federal agencies, combined. NASA spent $1.3 billion on climate science that year, out of a $1.9 billion total. The agency provides information on solar activity, sea level rise, the temperature of the atmosphere and the oceans, the state of the ozone layer, air pollution, and changes in sea ice and land ice. NASA scientists regularly appear in the mainstream press as climate experts.
Prior to the mid 1960s, geoscientists believed that our climate could only change relatively slowly, on timescales of thousands of years or longer. But evidence from ice and sediment cores showed that belief was wrong. Earth's climate had changed rapidly in the past—in some cases, within mere decades. Recognition that climate could change on human timescales made climate processes much more interesting research topics. It also spurred political interest.

It had been known since 1960 that humans were increasing the amount of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Would this warm the climate noticeably? Scientists also knew that human emissions of aerosols could cool the Earth. Which effect would dominate? A 1975 study by the U.S. National Academy of Science said, in effect, "We don't know. Give us money for research." A 1979 study of carbon dioxide's role in the climate put it slightly differently. They had found "no reason to doubt that climate changes will result and no reason to believe that these changes will be negligible."
Grace, one of NASA's more recent Earth-observing missions, has revealed unexpectedly rapid changes in the Earth's great ice sheets.Fast forward to 2007, and NASA had 17 space missions collecting climate data. In recent years its Earth science budget has ranged from $1.2 to $1.4 billion per year. Today, it runs programs to obtain and convert data from Defense Department and NOAA satellites as well as from certain European, Japanese and Russian satellites. NASA also sponsors field experiments to provide "ground truth" data to check space instrument performance and to develop new measurement techniques.
Data from the GRACE and ICESat missions and from spaceborne radar show unexpectedly rapid changes in the Earth's great ice sheets, while the OSTM/Jason-2 and Jason-1 missions are recording sea level rise at an increasing rate. NASA’s Earth Observing System's weather instruments have enabled the first improvement in weather forecasting skill in more than a decade.

These capabilities -- nearly 30 years of satellite-based solar and atmospheric temperature data -- helped the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change come to the conclusion in 2007 that "Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations."
Link to the NASA website.

Kristopher A. Denby said...

I am putting your blog on my list of blogs to read, but I have one complaint: when you toss out "facts" on the Dept. of Education and Energy et al., please, please cite your sources. Otherwise your facts disappear like rain on hot pavement.

The Sound and Fury of Kristopher A. Denby

Dr Ralph said...

Facts? We don't need no stinking facts!