Ron Paul

Ron Paul: Not Libertarian Enough

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The great Howard Mortman needles people like, uh, us, with the "top 10 reasons Ron Paul is not libertarian enough." Some favorites:

10. Ron Paul's passport was issued by the U.S. government.

9. When the National Hurricane Center suggests Ron Paul take shelter, he does.

8. Ron Paul's campaign bus has a license plate. It also uses the Interstate highway system, which has no toll booths.

3. When the U.S. Postal Service raises the price of a stamp, Ron Paul goes along.

NEXT: Rudy the Neo-Con

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  1. I’ll add one… “Ron Paul actually seems interested in getting elected to something.”

  2. So what he’s saying is that Paul is mainstream enough to do some damage. Teh cool.

  3. It’s sad how a few of the commenters over there are taking that list seriously, and try to debunk it. My embarassment at being at being the only sane Ron Paul supporter continues.

  4. 11. Does not have ferrot farm in his studio apartment.

  5. Actually, those are all very good points, and Congressman Paul should answer them.

  6. Brandybuck,

    The sad thing is that the debunkers lists arent any less funny than the original. Of course, its hard to be less funny than “none at all”.

  7. What, nothing about RP’s power base being the Internet, a government creation? These guys are slipping…

  8. Is Ron Paul libertarian enough? Find out this Thursday night at the DC “Belly of the Beast” Ron Paul meetup group! We’re meeting at 6:30 PM downstairs in the 18th Amendment Bar on Capitol Hill. Our goal is to help Ron win the D.C. primary (eminently doable and important, since the D.C. primary comes before the Iowa Caucus).

    See our meetup group listing for more details. See you Thursday!

    http://ronpaul.meetup.com/376/?gj=sj5

  9. More Ron Paul! Bring it on! It’s all good.

    RON RULES

  10. [holds Hit & Run side door open waiting for Dondero to charge in and shout about how Mortman is right…]

  11. Our goal is to help Ron win the D.C. primary (eminently doable and important, since the D.C. primary comes before the Iowa Caucus).

    Better still, you ought to be able to get every registered Republican in D.C. at the bar that night. You could just take the vote then between rounds.

  12. Geez, just because you obey the laws, doesn’t mean you support them. The fact that stormtroopers will invade your home, sieze your property, and lock you in a cage (assuming they aren’t feeling trigger happy and shoot you and members of your family – as they can do so without punishment) on the slightest violation of the law is pretty good reason to obey laws, at least superficially.

  13. The only bad thing about this election cycle eventually and mercifully ending is that there’s another one starting the very next day.

  14. My favorite quotes from the comment page

    *That’s hilarious! Maybe we Ron Paul supporters can just take a joke better than most.

    *Yeah real funny. Ron Paul is the new Howard Dean. Except the difference is Ron Paul is ELECTABLE. He will clean up this cesspool of a country. Just watch

    *lol, I appreciate the humor! RON PAUL^92939213919391939319391923!

    but honestly if you look at the issues, Ron Paul is the best candidate

    *I look forward to a Paul/Kucinich unity ticket in the general election

  15. What exactly were you trying to prove? That you are able to drum up hits on your blog by mentioning the name of a political candidate that some people are excited about? Or that most of the RP detractors are unable to tell you why they don’t support him without resorting to name-calling?

  16. Better still, you ought to be able to get every registered Republican in D.C. at the bar that night. You could just take the vote then between rounds.

    Good point D.A., the name of this Thursday’s meeting is “If You Want to Abolish the Federal Reserve, First You Must Drink.”

    I intend to do both!

  17. Closing the italics tag…

    And I guess the list is somewhat humorous, but you really can make the same joke about anyone. “Hey, Rick Santorum, if you hate gay marriage so much, why aren’t you firebombing the gay weddings?”

  18. The list reminds me of one of my favorite Onion headlines:

    Libertarian reluctantly calls fire department

  19. “8. It also uses the Interstate highway system….”

    It’s frustrating how many people wouldn’t get this as a joke. A friend of mine’s then-fiancee accused me with a straight face of being a hypocrite because I drive on interstates, which I was forced to help pay for, even though I have some doubts about the govt’s legitimate role in building them. Normally when this happens I’m happy to point out my accuser’s intellectual uselessness with as much sarcasm as I can muster (I’m not much fun at parties). But I actually like my friend, even if I didn’t think much of his fiancee at the time.

  20. [holds Hit & Run side door open waiting for Dondero to charge in and shout about how Mortman is right…]

    That’s fine – as long as you’re prepared to slam it hard as soon as he steps over the threshold.

  21. “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”

  22. Number one should be: “Thinks we should build a giant wall on the border to keep people in…er, out.”

  23. “8. It also uses the Interstate highway system….”

    It’s frustrating how many people wouldn’t get this as a joke.

    Oooh, thanks for the reminder. Last Libertarian meeting, I was in an argument with a lady over interstate freeway privatization. “You just want the poor to drive on Old Route 66!”

  24. Brandybuck –
    This too is one of my favorites, only for me it was with regards to the effectiveness of congestion pricing. Somehow it’s an injustice for people who can pay to get somewhere in less time to do so while everyone else has to sit in traffic. Why don’t we just make it illegal for people to fly drivable distances (say… Upstate NY to DC) because it gives them an unfair advantage over those who can’t afford to fly! Or take the fast(er) train!
    Puh-lease!

  25. Hahaha, that list is priceless.

  26. “3. When the U.S. Postal Service raises the price of a stamp, Ron Paul goes along.”

    You’ve obviously never heard of the franking privelege.

  27. Oh sure, libertarians seem to be the only minority left that you can make fun of and not get called a racist.

  28. Is a Christian Scientist who doesn’t believe in doctors but wears glasses still a Chrstian Scientist? Of course he or she is. It’s the loony ideas that make one a loon, not the occasional rational things one does. Ron Paul is too a Libertarian, by God.

  29. Marcus,

    You wish. Few people know what a libertarian is, much less want to persecute one.

  30. LarryA:”In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”

    No, he will be hunted down, arrested and imprisoned as a freakish danger to the morals of women, the safety of children and a general threat to society.

    Damned eye bearing freaks. Next thing you know they’ll want to intermarry!

  31. Edward. It was joke. Jeez.

  32. When is someone going to get around to writing a thesis on the psychology of blog trolls? People like Edward must have some really fascinating personal delusions, dementias, and demons, not to mention a desperate need for attention of any kind, to behave the way they do. I’m not saying the thesis should be funded using govt money, mind you.

    Now quit masturbating and get out of the library already, Edward! You could use the fresh air.

  33. Sparky,

    You’re supposed to ignore me. Catholic school boys used to wrap a rosary around their hands to avoid the temptation to masturbate. Find some Libertarian equivalent when you’re tempted to respond to a troll. Just put what we say out of your mind and concetrate on the truth.

  34. 10. Ron Paul has concerns heroin vending machines in pre-schools.
    9. Ron Paul has been an elected official which conclusively proves he is a sell out.
    8. When someone claims a belief in God, Ron Paul nods politely.
    7. Ron Paul pays taxes.
    6. People have actually invited Ron Paul back to a party.
    5. While he believes in the gold standard, he is pretty reasonable about the whole monetary thing.
    4. Ron Paul supported SDI which clearly involved FORCE by GOVERNMENT.
    3. Ron Paul is not RuPaul.
    2. Ron Paul does not support NAMBLA.
    1. In a moment of weakness, Ron Paul compromised once.

  35. Catholic school boys used to wrap a rosary around their hands to avoid the temptation to masturbate.

    That just leads to bizarre wooden bead fetishes. I’m sure there are a few pr0n sites devoted to it.

  36. “8. When someone claims a belief in God, Ron Paul nods politely.”

    Ha! This is my favorite on your list, in part because it’s a problem that afflicts two groups I belong to – libertarians and evolutionary biologists. The amount of smarmy, condescending dismissal of all religion and all religious people coming from these groups is almost enough to make this soft atheist go back to Catholic church.

    “6. People have actually invited Ron Paul back to a party.”

    Ha ha, that’s a good one too… Hey, wait a second! I’ve turned down more party invitations than you’ll ever receive, smart guy! Oh, you said invited _back_. OK then.

  37. I don’t want to ignore you, Edward – I want to learn from you! I’m a biologist, and we often try to understand how genes, proteins, etc. work by looking at how damaged copies function; that’s where you come in. I’m not interested in your comments about libertarianism – many people who are far more clever than you have made far more amusing, insightful comments about it (including the post right after yours). I want to understand why you feel this compulsion to post the things you do. Does it make you feel smarter than you do in real life? Do you get a sense of bravery from delivering insults anonymously that you’re to afraid to in real life? Do you suffer from the Terrell Owens any-attention-is-good-attention dysfunction? C’mon, spill your guts. You can be the first research subject for the thesis. It’s all in the name of science!

  38. Gee, why such a comedic one when real reasons could be given. Here is a partial list.

    Put in request for $400 million worth of pork for his district.

    Voted for federal restrictions to ban partial birth abortion

    Voted for a constitutional amendment to define a fetus as full human being. (Do they count in the census?)

    Voted to put up the Wall, estimated to eventually cost $49 billion and required the use of eminent domain to confiscate large tracts of private property including homes and businesses.

    Proposed legislation to allow the use of “public property” for the promotion of religion.

    Proposed legislation to put prayer in government schools.

    Voted against allowing gay couples to adopt.

    While he would leave it to the states to decide on gay marriage he would vote against the measures himself if in the state legislature.

    Pushed for measures to protect American shrimp producers from foreign competition.

    Called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (which allows anyone discovered to be gay to discharged from the military) a “decent” policy and said he supports it.

  39. Yup… Ron Paul just doesn’t understand that the rarified air of Libertarianism is for snobbish pedants not pragmatic politicians who want to shape public policy.

  40. 8. When someone claims a belief in God, Ron Paul nods politely.

    Huh?
    This is a guy who wrote about the war on Christmas…

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul148.html

    His words

    This is the real reason the collectivist Left hates religion: Churches as institutions compete with the state for the people’s allegiance, and many devout people put their faith in God before their faith in the state. Knowing this, the secularists wage an ongoing war against religion, chipping away bit by bit at our nation’s Christian heritage. Christmas itself may soon be a casualty of that war.

    I like cls’s list.

    All libertarians need to read Paul Feyerabend
    A quickee:
    http://www.generation-online.org/p/fpfeyerabend1.htm

  41. “4. Ron Paul supported SDI which clearly involved FORCE by GOVERNMENT.”

    How does SDI involve force? It’s a defense measure.

  42. From Feyerabend’s Against Method:

    It is surprising to see how rarely the stultifying effect of ‘the Laws of Reason’ or of scientific practice is examined by professional anarchists. Professional anarchists oppose any kind of restriction and they demand that the individual be permitted to develop freely, unhampered by laws, duties or obligations. An yet they swallow without protest all the severe standards which scientists and logicians impose upon research and upon any kind of knowledge-creating and knowledge-changing activity.

    Now clearly Libertarianism is a variation of anarchism (minarchism anyone), but it has the same willingness to restrict the allowable kinds of arguments, reasoning, or solutions based on a need for rule following that Feyerabend talks about. Paul, having broken with those strictures on occasion, fails the true believer test.

  43. All libertarians need to read Paul Feyerabend

    Good heavens, why?

    I could tell by the second sentence that the entire article was going to be junk. And it was.

  44. Neu Mejican,

    Ron Paul’s deviations from true-blue libertarianism are evidence of greater adherence to the overall strictures of society — exactly the opposite of what you are claiming.

    Libertarian principles are unfamiliar and often nonintuitive. They are difficult enough to grasp oneself. The most extreme of them are almost impossible to convey in a practical political position.

    Ron Paul does quite well, all things considered.

  45. cls,

    Please tell us which candidate comes closer to articulating and practicing a libertarian governing philosophy.

    If RP isn’t libertarian enough for you, don’t vote for him.

  46. MikeP,

    I think we are looking at this from different perspectives. Libertarianism has at its heart, imho, a belief that basic axiomatic principles, couched in terms of rights & Liberties, lead by the laws of logic and reason to better results for society. The foundation upon which libertarianism is built is a belief that “reason” dictates certain limits on the roles & actions of government and accurately predicts the consequences of particular policies. The very idea of limited government is based on a “rule” of libertarianism, adherence to which is very strictly enforced within the community of libertarians (it is definitional). The rules that Ron Paul is breaking when he fails the true believer test are those imposed from within the community that identifies itself as libertarian. The libertarian society in many ways is less tolerant of rule breaking than the larger society, even though the rule that they see being broken is one that is couched in terms of “less rules = better results.” Paul broke the “don’t make a rule” rule. The larger society is more pragmatic and less likely to worry about whether a particular policy is in line with some predetermined principle. They just want to see the perceived problem fixed.

    Why read Feyerabend. Not because he is right, but because radically different perspectives from your own inform any closely held belief system. Libertarians should also be well versed in Marx, Mao, Lenin, etc…

  47. Ron Paul does quite well, all things considered.

    If you mean on the “true believer test,” I’ll take your word for it.

    If you mean as an effective crafter/dismantler of policy, not so much, imho.

    Libertarian principles are unfamiliar and often nonintuitive. They are difficult enough to grasp oneself. The most extreme of them are almost impossible to convey in a practical political position.

    Is this more or less true of libertarianism than it is of other political philosophies?

  48. The foundation upon which libertarianism is built is a belief that “reason” dictates certain limits on the roles & actions of government and accurately predicts the consequences of particular policies.

    That may be a fair outline of the foundation of libertarian theory. But when observation of empirical results and historical results align so very well with that theory, there is a lot more to the belief in libertarianism than the theory alone.

    Why read Feyerabend.

    I seriously question whether anything can be learned from someone who thinks that the fact that the foundational axioms of science are articles of faith means science is bogus.

    In the case both of science and of libertarianism, everything you can theorize and study about it tells you that they at least broadly conform with reality. Alternate approaches do not fare as well. Yes, you can say they are based on effectively religious axioms and to some degree closed systems of reasoning. No, you cannot use that fact to say that being arbitrarily pragmatic is in any way a more intelligent approach.

  49. But indeed Ron Paul is not a libertarian, just a radical anti-federalist. There’s a difference.

    He openly condones theocracy, for example, just so long as it’s done at the school district level and not by Congress.

    He has also bought into the whole “activist judge” gobbledygook, which summarily disqualifies him as a libertarian.

  50. Is this more or less true of libertarianism than it is of other political philosophies?

    Fair question. I certainly remember having trouble with trying to grasp the political philosophy of an anarcho-syndicalist housemate of mine.

  51. Ron Paul: Not Libertarian Enough.

    But he’s close enough for government work.

  52. Are there any True Scotsmen?

    The people don’t seem to prefer libertarians over Republicrats. Paul might not be a “real” libertarian, but he’s a hell of a lot closer than anybody else out there.

    He might change some minds in the right direction, as opposed to nutters that spend all of their time ranting about the Fed (like most big-L-Libertarians) or the FDA (like that blue guy that got all the press a few years ago).

  53. On Paul Feyerabend:

    Feyerabend himself says, “Epistemological anarchism differs both from scepticism and from political (religious) anarchism.”

    RP is not a political anarchist, but I on the other hand am. How on earth can you conflagrate RP, who is not a political anarchist, with the rather rediculous idea of epistemological anarchism? One talks about “overcoming [the rules of] the physical world”? Epistemological anarchism literally means, “no rules of knowledge.” For someone who can honestly claim that there is no way to tell between, for example, a red light and a green light probably shouldn’t go out-of-doors, let alone run for office.

    Ron Paul may not meet the perfect libertarian/anarchist ideal, and cls’s list is quite accurate but not to my liking… but can you name anyone who could plausibly win who comes closer? Can you name someone closer from any election in modern history? (Third parties are unelectable under current rules, so don’t even mention one.)

    He’s close enough for me. This may be the only time I ever in my life vote for any national office, but I’ll be registering GOP this year and voting accordingly.

  54. MikeP,

    I seriously question whether anything can be learned from someone who thinks that the fact that the foundational axioms of science are articles of faith means science is bogus.

    That would not be Feyerabend’s position. One of the reasons to read him is to understand the more subtle point he is making.

    Billy Milligan,
    For someone who can honestly claim that there is no way to tell between, for example, a red light and a green light probably shouldn’t go out-of-doors, let alone run for office.

    This is a serious mis-characterization of PF. There is a difference between saying that there is no way to equate the quality of the knowledge acquired with the method for acquiring it (a closer summary of PF), and saying that there is no way to distinguish between two pieces of knowledge (your example).

    As for RP, I was not saying he was a political anarchist… just that libertarianism is a related political cousin of political anarchism with similar group dynamics to those that PF identifies. RP, by being pragmatic, therefore, becomes a target for those that want to play the “true scotsman” game. If libertarianism posits (as MikeP demonstrates) that it aligns with the empirical world because its rules are accurate and reasoned, then breaking from those rules will be believed to be misguided, even if results refute that belief.

    Which leads me to notice something in MikeP’s statements.

    Compare
    1) Libertarian principles are unfamiliar and often nonintuitive. They are difficult enough to grasp oneself. The most extreme of them are almost impossible to convey in a practical political position.

    with

    2) observation of empirical results and historical results align so very well with that theory, there is a lot more to the belief in libertarianism than the theory alone.

    I find that to be an interesting juxtaposition.

  55. I find that to be an interesting juxtaposition.

    I do too.

    But then the staggering illiteracy of the general populace in science is surpassed only by their staggering illiteracy in economics. Add on top of that the mind-boggling refusal to see the costs of long-standing measures to address social issues such as drugs or immigration, and you really have to why people believe what they believe.

    That juxtaposition is not a critique of libertarian thinking, but rather of feel-good pragmatic thinking enforced by the state.

  56. “Catholic school boys used to wrap a rosary around their hands to avoid the temptation to masturbate.”

    “That just leads to bizarre wooden bead fetishes.”

    Or splinters!

  57. But then the staggering illiteracy of the general populace in science is surpassed only by their staggering illiteracy in economics.

    I got into a discussion on “outsourcing” today with a coworker. He tried to make an economic argument against it. When I brought up Ricardo, he said, “Who?”

  58. What do Cuban bandleaders have to do anything? That wasn’t outsourcing, that was a hispanic immigrant coming here and stealing one of our redheaded women.

  59. Scooby’s got some ‘splainin’ to… aww, fuck it.

  60. That juxtaposition is not a critique of libertarian thinking, but rather of feel-good pragmatic thinking enforced by the state.

    Wasn’t intended as a critique of anything, just an observation.

    For what it is worth, your follow up observation regarding the scientific/economic illiteracy of the public is a bit of a non-sequitor. If libertarian ideas are “almost impossible to convey in a practical political position,” (I am not sure I agree with this assertion btw) what practical value would there be in understanding them, holding them, using them to shape policy? For most people political ideology is off their radar, trumped by political utility. Libertarian ideology only has value for society to the extent that it leads to better outcomes (imho). Any aspect of it that does not must serve some other purpose for those that believe the ideology. So detailed claims of how libertarianism has been empirically demonstrated to provide superior results would either define the aspects of the ideology that are useful, or demonstrate the power of ideology to provide an interpretive frame for the believer when they look at the data and see it as reflecting their beliefs. To do the former the empirical fit would need to be obvious to those that do not hold the beliefs of the ideology, to do the later, I think, is an intrinsic quality of belief systems.

  61. Libertarian ideology only has value for society to the extent that it leads to better outcomes (imho).

    Empirical support of better outcomes may be effectively invisible to people in general and only seen on a much broader scale. Taking the outsourcing example from Brandybuck, it is far, far easier for employees, reporters, and politicians to point to the jobs outsourced than to the more dispersed benefits across the whole economy. And no one goes back one year later to find that 80% of the workers who lost those jobs have found better jobs — many of which exist because of cheaper production mechanisms such as outsourcing elsewhere in the economy.

    It is easier to believe what is seen than what is unseen. Henry Hazlitt wrote Economics in One Lesson on this very theme. But it is not assigned reading in high school. And most every congressperson would fail a test on its teachings.

    …as well they should. They have far more success campaigning on fear of change than they do discussing the advantage of change.

  62. By the way, Neu Mejican…

    There’s an article in today’s New York Times on heterodox economics that might elicit thoughts of Feyerabend. In fact, it draws a distinction between those economists who feel that they can make changes from inside free-market economics and those who think they must chip away at the foundations from outside it.

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