Austrian economics

"Ron Paul's ideas no longer fringe"


So declareth an L.A. Times headline, on an article-slash-discussion of Austrian economics that begins like this:

For three decades, Texas congressman and former presidential candidate Ron Paul's extreme brand of libertarian economics consigned him to the far fringes even among conservatives. Not a few times, his views put him on the losing end of 434-1 votes on Capitol Hill.

Eclectic anti-statism redux

No longer. With the economy still struggling and political divisions deepening, Paul's ideas not only are gaining a wider audience but also are helping to shape a potentially historic battle over economic policy—a struggle that will affect everything including jobs, growth and the nation's place in the global economy.

Already, Paul's long-derided proposal to give Congress supervisory power over the traditionally independent Federal Reserve appears to be on its way to becoming law.

His warnings on deficits and inflation are now Republican mantras.

And with this year's congressional election campaign looming, the Texas congressman's deep-seated distrust of activist government has helped fuel protests such as the tea-party movement, harden partisan divisions in Washington and stoke public fears about federal spending and the deficit.

Hat tip to Kerry Welsh.

Senior Editor Brian Doherty chronicled Paul's concurrent Audit-the-Fed/End-the-Fed movements in our November 2009 issue, and typed up some "Scenes from the Ron Paul Revolution" back in February 2008.

NEXT: Reason Morning Links: Embassies Close, the Burj Dubai Opens, Stimulus Funds Enter the Twilight Zone

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  1. Paul’s long-derided proposal to give Congress supervisory power over the traditionally independent Federal Reserve appears to be on its way to becoming law.

    How this plays out is an indicator of the future of the country.

    1. Right – because dingbats like Michelle Bachmann and Maxine Waters should have supervisory roles in FOMC decision making?

      No thanks.

      1. So, auditing the Fed isn’t a good idea because of the two people you listed?

        1. I share shrike’s reluctance on this score. It’s possible the Fed could have better oversight, but what makes anyone think Congress has better economic sense than the Fed? All signs point to the contrary.

          1. If Congress has the oversight, then everything the Fed does becomes available to public scrutiny, regardless of the dingbats in Congress. That is better than them being secretive and having more power than they ever should have had in the first place, which is none.

            1. Congress has oversight of the DoD.

              How’s that working out?

      2. we’re not talking oversight or FOMC interference.. it’s just an audit 6 months out. you’ve bought into the Fed argument.

  2. But… but… the newsletters!


    1. Ah yes the newsletters!! It does make one wonder about the folks here at this lovely publication who sent Paul down the river and supported the fine liberty driven man who is our current president.

      What a bullet they dodged!! They could have been found supporting a Raaaaacist rather than the current man who has done many great things for this fine nation, Health Care, Cap and Trade, More Stimulus bills then there are Rocky movies, Wars three is the magic number so here we come Yemen and/or Pakistan. Thank god they dumped Paul before they were associated with anything unseemly.

      1. What are you talking about?

      2. Reason supported Obama? I think like three out of over 20 contributors said they were voting for him, and not all of those guys work for Reason anymore.

        And this “sold Paul down the river” stuff is goofy. Was Reason supposed to ignore the newsletter story? Engage in apologetics for Paul when it broke?

        Reason gave Paul plenty of good press too.

        Regarding the post: good for Paul. He’s pretty principled and after a while that becomes respected even without a marketing campaign.

        1. The newsletter story “broke” in 1996.

          1. The actual text wasn’t made public until Kirchick unearthed them in Jan. 2008. And blaming Reason for reporting that story is ridiculous; Nat. Review was already reporting it, and furthermore Reason does not and should not try to cover up embarrassing true stories about any politician. If you’re pissed that Ron Paul became associated with disgusting racist screeds, take it up with the guy who loaned out his name to the folks who wrote those racist diatribes. If you can get up off your knees and stop worshipping him for a second, that is.

            1. Ummm…his opponent quoted the newsletters in the ’96 election. They have been “public” since published. It wasnt like they were encrypted.

              I didnt have a problem with reason reporting it, I had a problem with them acting like it was something big and new.

              1. The 1996 story involved only two newsletters, which could plausibly be blamed on one staffer acting without Paul’s knowledge. The stuff that emerged in 2008 involved a much larger group of newsletters that appeared over a five-year period.

                1. it was even posted on the “hit and run”. seemed appropriate.

                2. it was even posted on the “hit and run”. seemed appropriate.

        2. Actually reason was overhwhelmingly negative of the Paul campaign at its most crucial point. I can remember a time when Paul was either ignored or derided by reason, and the positive stories where coming almost solely from Doherty.

          I’m glad to see the positive change.

          1. This is bullshit. Reason was never “overwhelmingly” negative on Paul. Far from being ignored, he was given extensive coverage during the primaries. He was never derided in the pages of Reason. Positive stories came from several Reason regulars.

            1. The coverage seemed to be mostly done by Weigal, who would consistently damn him with faint praise.

              1. Right, reason was insufficiently adulatory towards RP. They should emulate the partisan hacks in the MSM next time I guess.

        3. Here is the post you’re referring to:

          Peter Bagge: Barr; Obama if close
          Ronald Bailey: Obama
          Radley Balko: Barr
          Drew Carey: “Anybody but McCain/Palin”
          Tim Cavanaugh: Obama
          Shikha Dalmia: Nobody
          Brian Doherty: Never votes
          Nick Gillespie: Barr, if he votes
          Katherine Mangu-Ward: Never votes
          Michael Moynihan: Won’t vote
          Charles Oliver: Won’t vote
          Bob Poole: McCain
          Damon Root: Probably nobody, maybe Barr
          Jacob Sullum: Barr
          Jesse Walker: Barr
          David Weigel: Obama
          Matt Welch: Probably Barr
          Cathy Young: Probably Barr

          1. If you take out the non-voters and the Barr voters, it leans unreasonably left. 🙂

      3. I heard that reason contributors masturbated once upon a time.

        Obviously they left out that salient fact when going after Paul.

      4. They also sent Sanford down the river. Reason, you bastards!

        1. Was it an Argentine river. Reason’s habit of showering backhanded support to “friendly reublicans except Paul” is baffling. If they showed Paul the same support they do for Sanford, phil gramm, and others, they would still be left with one clean principled politician, Paul. But they didn’t do that, i think the hundred odd libertarians was the first libertarian focused piece I’ve seen in months. Probably since Barr, if that counts…LOL

          1. Sorry about the question mark.

    2. All sorts of people have made statements and claims in Ron Paul’s name. As the above article references, Dr. Paul’s ideas have long been considered “fringe”. This means that he often attracts people who are drawn to anything on the fringe. As a white male married to a black female, I certainly have a personal stake in electing leaders who do not support racism. Ron Paul is not so good at controlling his image or his supporters (his current movement has really taken off without any direct personal oversight), but I’ve seen nothing to convince me that Ron Paul is anything but what he claims to be.

  3. Rand Paul 2010! He’s crushing his Mitch McConnell backed primary opponent 44-25

  4. The comment of the year came on Dec. 31:

    “Besides, to be a Paul supporter, you’d have to be?well, nuts. The guy … is generally delusional when it comes to foreign affairs?so much so that to him, even a liberal pansy like Barack Obama is a war-monger.”

  5. His warnings on deficits and inflation are now Republican mantras.
    O’RLY? What a bunch of two faced lying fucks. May I never live to see another Republican majority. Fuck em!

    1. Problem: too many Republicans will like that.

      1. I tried…

    2. Why only the GOP? Dry-fuck the Democrats, too. They’re just as guilty.

      1. Compare Bush deficits to Obama deficits.

        Dems are more guilty.

      2. No. The Democrats aren’t fair weather friends. They campaign as tax and spend progressive dill-holes.

        Republicans, when in the minority, pretend they oppose the Democrats fiscal irresponsibility. They run and win on the basis of their supposed “conservative” economics. Then once elected, behave worse than any previous Democrats.

        Republicans are 10X worse than Democrats for they’re unprincipled duplicity.

        There is no organization on the face of the earth that has done greater evil in this century than the GOP


        1. How quickly they forget the “liberaltarian alliance” talk from those heady days of 2006.

          Remember the Dems’ talking about restoring federalism during the 2006 campaign?

          Remember Obama and other Dems worrying aloud about deficits in 2008?

          1. Not to mention Obama’s promises about increased transparency, ending the Kafkaesque detention system for accused terrorists, putting a stop to DEA raids of med mj facilities, oh yeah and ENDING THE FUCKING WARS THAT YOU TOOLS HAVE SUCH A PROBLEM WITH.

        2. Can i use it to scrap the rust from the bottom of the toilet first?

  6. Ron Paul is on my shit list. He voted against his own God damned Bill. HR 1207 was incorporated into the new financial regulations Bill as the Paul/Grayson amendment. I know what the “excuse” was, so save your breath. That doesn’t fly with me. Sure, the new regulations are a bunch of shit, but once a complete audit of the Fed is done, practically every banking regulation on the books will need to be revisited. He voted against it because every republican on the committee voted against it. We know who his masters are, and he knows who butters his bread.

    1. Paul is a fall-in-line party hack?

      Do you drink a lot of Sterno?

      1. It certainly appears that way. I believe in placing more weight on what a person does, as opposed to what they say. And what Paul did was side with the republicans to show universal support against the democrats. Just more party politics bullshit. HR 1207 was the most important piece of Legislation in the past 96 years. I don’t care what the hell was attached to it. Thankfully it passed, anyway. But with no republican support, I doubt it will appear in the final Bill, and HR 1207, as it stands by itself, will be delayed in committee indefinitely.

        1. You can interpret it however you wish, but I think it’s really disingenuous to suggest that he opposed the final bill because he’s a go-along, get-along kind of fellow.

          1. He started losing my support when it was clear he lost the republican primary, and decided not to run as an independent or Libertarian. I’m sorry, but the only way I can support Ron Paul again is if he drops the “R” next to his name and replaces it with an “I” or an “L”. You can keep making excuses for him, I will not.

            Not to mention the shellacking he took from douchebag Ben Stein on Larry King. It should be clear, he needs to remove himself from the republican party.

            1. Dude, you are the epitome of ‘tool’.

              1. Yeah, well, you just keep supporting him. I will never, ever vote for anyone with an “R” or a “D” again. You’re the tool, pal, if you think change can come from within.

    2. I good amendment attached to a bad bill is a bad bill.

      1. Not when that one amendment has the potential to negate all of the other provisions of the Bill.

        1. That is only hypothetical. You are crazy if you think whatever the Fed audit results were was going to lead to everyone going “oh never mind, lets change everything we have supported previously”.

          More likely, the Fed audit would have led to a wave of new regulations thrown on top of the old. I still favored auditing the Fed, but not because I thought it would lead to anything good happening.

          1. I believe an audit of the Fed is a first step in eliminating it, if not an immediate cause for revolution. The fact of the matter is, nobody knows exactly what the Fed is doing. I’d be more than willing to take that chance, and with all of the arguments Paul has made for it, so should he.

            You may be right, however. There’s also the chance, and I’ve heard rumblings about this, that the audit would be just for the period immediately following the crash, and not a recurring audit. This would only reinforce the notion that Bernanke actually saved the financial system from collapse.

            But your statement doesn’t make any sense. Why would you support anything if you don’t feel anything good will come of it.

            1. Im a deontological libertarian, do what is right and let the results take care of themselves.

              1. Exactly. Shutting down the Fed’s printing press is the right thing to do. It is a direct assault on everyone’s economic freedom and liberty. Everything else (bullshit regulations) will take care of itself.

      2. I good amendment attached to a bad bill is a bad bill.

        BINGO!! We have a winner. TP just thinks the amendment is so awesome that it makes the other provisions mute. Ron Paul disagreed with him. This does not make Paul a hack or a republican stooge. He just weighed the values differently then TP.

        But for TP to call him that is complete fucking bullshit.

        TP you are an asshole. The amendment may be good enough to look past the other crap. If that is your case then make that case. No need to beat down on the guy for it. Hell you even admit that it is his bill….do you think it would even have existed if Paul was such a go along to get along kind of guy.

        You hate him for voting against HIS own bill. Seriously do you even have any idea how stupid you sound?

        1. You know, you are absolutely right. I shouldn’t beat down Ron Paul. The Republican Party’s war mongering neo-cons are doing a very good job of it on their own. Which is EXACTLY why Paul should leave the party, along with every other Libertarian. Ron Paul is a stooge, if not for the simple fact that most Republicans couldn’t give two shits about him or liberty. The same goes for Peter Schiff and Gary Johnson. Fuck ’em. I would love to support all three of them, but I can not, with a clear conscience. There is a Libertarian Party. They need to make a choice, and so do you.

          1. Considering those people can prolly get 1000 votes on the Republican ticket for every one they’d get on the Libertarian party ticket, my guess is that your vote just isn’t gonna be worth enough to them to be bothered. Have fun doing a dry waltz with yourself.

            1. So, we just keep going round and round, and government keeps getting bigger and bigger. Have fun playing ring-around-the-rosie.

          2. The Libertarian Party is a dead end as well – too caught up in philosophical wankery to be taken seriously by the electorate. Independents even tend to do better. The only solution would be either to have a moderate but principled new party connecting libertarian ideals with the center or to take over a shell of a party with some positive name recognition like the Reform Party. I say let the anarchocapitalists keep the LP and start a big tent.

            Also, if you’ll remember, Paul endorsed Chuck Baldwin, not Bob Barr. That says a lot to me…

    3. TP is my shit list (get it?)

      1. Yeah, right? lol

  7. Completely off-topic, I made it thru airport security without having to switch to gaseous form (I was worried solids would be banned).

    1. I though Ann Darnell was a woman all this time.

      1. The esotericness (?) of that reference just made my morning. Thank you.

        1. I had to look it up. Somehow, my first guess was right though.

          Also, on the topic of air travel, Im convinced all airports are the exact same place (making air travel just a slow form of teleportation – you teleport at the entrance and exit of the airport, is my theory). Yes, SDF and TPA look different, but Im not convinced they are. On to FLL in a bit.

          1. Methane is now banned. Please remove your colon before passing through the security gate.

    2. They haven’t banned plasma or the Bose-Einstein condensate yet, have they? So gas isn’t your only option.

      1. They tend not to like it when you strip all your electrons off.

        1. On the contrary, they’re thinking of requiring it, since electrons can be turned into a deadly weapon–beta radiation.

  8. Personally I think the dude is smoking crack!



  9. I move spambot be forcibly renamed to Carty Finkbeiner.

  10. I fail to see how giving the Congress supervisory control of the Fed will make the fed’s decisions any less politicized.

  11. I suppose they are quite precise as to which Ron Paul ideas are not fringe. I assume his claims about secret plots to set up the Amero and North American Union are still fringe. I assume that his crazy talk about the NAFTA superhighway is still fringe. I hope his praise for the crazy John Birchers is still fringe. I assume the stuff about Martin Luther King being a commie, pedophile from Paul’s newsletter is still fringe. Unfortunately his profligate use of earmarks to bring home the bacon isn’t fringe, though I wish it were.

    1. Zing!

  12. Bill Woolsey, who I think is on the same page as Selgin, also supports auditing the Fed.

  13. Reason and CATO care about liberty when it’s convenient to do so. When it’s not, Reason dwells on newsletters just as CATO supported Fred Thompson as the only small govt conservative in the race.

  14. i voted bob barr but i love ron paul and his ideas. he speaks truth, and that is what America needs, someone whos willing to look out for the people’s interests over his own party. We need more men like Ron Paul in this world.

  15. Amen. I’ve been working my way through the entire backlog of EconTalk podcasts.

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