And Ron Paul Spoke With the Dead How To Detonate a Money Bomb

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The market
turns out to be a more efficient mechanism for digesting dispersed
information than any that man has deliberately designed.

~
F.A. Hayek

It
is now 2008, and Ron Paul himself has admitted that he thought he'd
be back in Texas at this stage of the election campaign, cooling
his heels. But timing is everything, and America seems a bit more
receptive to Dr. Paul's message than she has been in recent times. The
most obvious manifestation of his new-found staying power is his
record-breaking ability to raise gobs of cash.

Back
in early October, when I read that his campaign's brain trust had
set $12,000,000 as their fourth quarter fundraising goal, the first
thought that popped into my head was "oh my god, they are
potheads!" Yet, here I am three months later and I'll be
disappointed if he doesn't rake twenty million, minimum.
And it's all because Ron Paul, at the beginning of October 2007,
had been cured of his skepticism.

At
the beginning of the fourth quarter Ron Paul (unlike every other
candidate) decided to openly show the world how much he has raised
in actual cash, and update the total every minute or so on
his web site. That, ladies and gentlemen, takes absolute nerves
of steel.

And
what made his decision even more out there is that it was decided
upon before the Ron Paul people had ever heard of Trevor
Lyman and James Sugra (the brains behind the money bombs), before
they had any idea that they were up the road ahead.

While
Ron Paul had been cured of his skepticism, his decision to go transparent
was helped along by his reading habits.

In
his famous essay The Pretence of Knowledge, Austrian economist
Frederic Von Hayek spoke to his belief that no matter how intelligent
they might be, a small group of men, even a few thousand of them
(even if they all had Ivy League Ph.D.s), could not come close to
the aggregated knowledge of all their fellow citizens in their millions.
Von Hayek's warning to would-be planners can be summed up in a saying
my mother used to drill into our young Irish heads — "Let Go
and Let God."

In
other words, some things it's better to let alone — like your fellow
man. As Bloomberg's Caroline Baum said, it's best to leave people
be because "you never know where the next big idea or product
will come from." It is a practical argument for freedom; its
capacity to release superhuman, really cool events upon humanity
— like Victor Pelevin, the iPod, and (in this instance) the money
bomb.

In
the boardroom discussions at the Ron Paul camp, that was the argument
bandied about, that was his brain trust's thought process, that's
why they decided to take a leap of faith and post their supporters'
numbers and generosity in real time – democratic, open, and
trusting. No other candidate can hold a candle to this, and it all
happened because Ron Paul read an essay penned by a now dead man
and preached it to his followers.

Jon
Bydlak (all quotations in this column are from him) spoke about
Hayek's essay during our call, stating that its underlying argument
"allowed us to get over our fear of going transparent."
The entire concept of trusting that someone, somewhere, somehow
would come along and think of how to raise that cash "fit with
the model of our campaign," it fit with Ron Paul's governing
principles.

The
decision makes sense coming as it does from Ron Paul's classic liberal
philosophy because it is based on trust in his fellow man to (usually)
do the right thing. It stands in direct conflict with all political
schools which call for man's freedom to be curtailed, else we'll
smoke too much or drink too much or play dirty videos or, god forbid,
save "too much" money or will choose not to go to Iraq.
The philosophy of liberation views men as rational adults, capable
of being trusted, of having an inalienable right to be trusted
— socialism starts with no such premise.

Ron
Paul trusted his supporters were large enough in number to raise
$12 million, trusted enough that he was going to show the world
its unfolding in real time. It was Babe Ruth pointing to the outfield
bleachers – before homering to the very spot. It was Davey
Johnson stating pre-season that he expected his '86 Mets to dominate
— before they did. It is Ron Paul declaring I can raise $12 million
this last quarter – before raising $19 million (so far).

Ron
Paul let go and let God, secure in his belief that somewhere out
there, he knew not where, there was somebody or some bodies that
would show what a people left the hell alone can do. Quite a bit,
incidentally.

Somewhere
in the netherworld, von Hayek is chuckling.

How To Detonate
A Money Bomb

No one
person made this possible.

~
Jon Bydlak, fundraising director, Ron Paul presidential campaign,
2008

My
favorite thing about Ron Paul's campaign and libertarianism in general
is that its underlying moral can be summed up as "the plan
is there is no plan." The money bombs, and classic liberal
society in general, are a spontaneous action by, for, and from the
working masses, perfect as any the communists always pined for yet
never experienced. As the first money bomb gained strength, the
internet rode Revere-like, from computer to computer, Ron Paul headquarters
blissfully unaware.

Yet,
I'd be remiss if I didn't give some opinion as to how it
was pulled off. I just want to stress that it wasn't planned
as modern day America understands the term. But there are certain
characteristics that a candidate, and his campaign, must have in
order to pull one off.

Like
any news organization will tell you, Ron Paul's campaign is not
exactly stuffed full of big-named, heavy-hitting establishment players.
Hotel suites at two grand nightly are not on the menu for the Paul
campaign staffers; I'm afraid they even at times endure the horror
of a Motel 6.

But
they are not exactly wet-nosed amateurs, either. After three decades
in power Dr. Paul can make his way around our nation's capital without
a map; he's an experienced campaigner. The decision to go completely
transparent funds-wise (a decision that by happy coincidence would
add fuel to the money bombs' fire) was not rashly made in a factual
vacuum.

During
the last half of September, two events were staged – and unlike
the soon-to-come money bombs they were actually planned by the campaign.
Fill the Quill came first, and a request for $500,000 to
fill an on-line thermometer graphic then followed on the last week.

What
happened? These test runs allowed the Ron Paul people to “learn
the power of empowering people.” For Fill the Quill he asked
1,787 (get it?) of his supporters to sign up to donate, yet the
campaign’s focus was more on the number of donors rather
than the cash generated. Ron Paul’s people, basically, were putting
their toe in the water to gauge the depth of the market, before
diving in.

Over
twice the target number of people signed up. The following week,
Ron Paul’s people decided to set a fund-raising goal for the last
week of the third quarter – $500,000.

The
following week, Ron Paul's people decided to set a fund-raising
goal for the last week of the third quarter – $500,000. The
MeetUp group which raised the most funds would get a personal visit
from Dr. Paul.

They
raised $1,000,000, ending the quarter at $5,000,000, shocking the
pundits' laughter and Ron Paul's skepticism right out of them.

So
they had a very strong inkling that the support was out there, "by
the beginning of the fourth quarter we knew our ability to raise
cash on-line was a big strength." They took a deep breath,
looked the possibility of public failure right in the eye, and leapt
into transparency.

Ron
Paul's decision to go completely transparent and live prior
to even knowing about the money bombs, before even knowing about
their possibility, dovetailed nicely with the entire concept and
turned it into a sporting event. By happy coincidence, scoreboard
watching entailed donating.

If
you are a supporter of the candidate it is being staged for, watching
a money bomb detonate is much like watching a sporting event. Instead
of my brothers calling each other back and forth all day with "did
you see that catch?!?!," instead it had us asking "did
you see what he's raised so far?!?!"

Jon
Bydlak put it more professionally stating that, "by providing
real-time numbers, it provides people with instant feedback,"
and even cooler, after donating you can zip back to Ron Paul's front
page and see your name displayed for a few seconds of almost fame
— a brilliant idea thought up by…Ron Paul's director of security.

Someone
posted on blogforfredthompson.com "I anticipate 8–9 million
since that other guy (Ron Paul) is half what Fred is in the polling.
Should easily get double. Fred is polling high. Lots of supporters
to draw from."

Apparently
not. Bottom line, you need the support of the people; there
just aren't enough actual people in the special interest groups
and corporations to pull this off.

You
don't need high-priced consultants to figure it out for you — a
money bomb comes from your individual supporters — the masses. The
Federation of Conservative Republicans blasted Fred Thompson's failed
money bomb as "amateurish" — but this is clearly not the
reason for its failure. A successful money bomb is in and of itself
an amateur event, an event unplanned from the center. As Mr. Bydlak
said, it is "people working together in a decentralized manner."

Trevor
Lyman and James Sugra, the two gentlemen who lit the fuses for Ron
Paul's money bomb success, are a California dude and a Miami Beach
resident, respectively. They are both very young, and they are both
as amateur as amateur can get.

And
your supporters must not only be numerous, but excited enough by
your message to act on it, to donate their time and money willingly.
Ron Paul's pledge of equality before the law, his promise to stop
the looting and killing, have struck a groundswell of supporters
willing to act on their own.

In
the run-up to Fred Thompson's money dud, one poster on blogforfredthompson.com
excitedly wrote "finally the grassroots will help Fred with
much needed cash. I was wondering when we would be activated."

Nobody
activated Ron Paul's supporters to set off a money bomb,
nobody had to. Ron Paul didn't think he had to because von
Hayek told him he didn't have to. Ron Paul had that trust in his
supporters, and proved his skepticism cured by going transparent.
Trusting in the "free market" is, when you think about
it, a trust in the people.

And
therein lies the ideological chasm between Ron Paul and Fred Thompson,
and far too many of his Congressional colleagues. They trust the
aggregated money of special interests and corporations will roll
in, and it does. But what do they have to sell the working masses
but our own money and freedom? We have that already.

If
you do not have that groundswell of widespread, excited supporters
embarrassing things can happen. Much discussion took place at Ron
Paul's brain trust, like "where do we set the goal, what happens
if you don't meet it?" Like I said above, Ron Paul's decision
took a large dose of courage, because failure would have looked,
at minimum, like this:

Barack
Obama

Barack
Obama became the front-runner for the White House.

~
Telegraph.co.uk

Barack
Obama's supporters launched an attempt to raise money to crush the
Ron Paul campaign's mother lode. After all, with front-runner status
and double-digits in the polls, surely Mr. Obama would see an inflow
of more than $4,700 from 73 people on his November the 16th
money bomb.

No
he wouldn't, and stop calling me Shirley.

Michael
Huckabee

(Mike
Huckabee) appears to be on the rise in national polls.

~
CNN.com

Traditionally,
religion has been the last refuge of the scoundrel, but in modern
day America that torch has been passed to "the children."
Since, according to the run-up to his November 20th money
bomb, Mr. Huckabee's the "one candidate who can truly better
our children's future" (and who's not for the children?),
one would guess that the Republican front-runner would bring in
more than $223,589. I freely admit that is not a bad number at all
if you keep your brain closed real tight and block out $4,300,000
and $6,000,000.

On
December 27th, Mike Huckabee's legions of supporters,
whose backing has thrown him into number one in the polls, held
another money bomb for him and raised…$89,965.

Usually
invoking religion is a no-brainer way to rake in the dough. Floating
crosses and all, Mike Huckabee is proving the opposite.

Mitt
Romney

The GOP
front-runner isn't Fred Thompson or Mitt Romney…it's "none
of the above."

~
Salon.com

Mitt
Romney and his perfectly perfected otherworldly coif chose December
7th for his money bomb, to mark that black day when Japan,
without a declaration of war, launched a pre-emptive attack on our
nation.

Asking
his poll-bots to stop giving him double-digit assurance and instead
send money for a change, I can find nothing on his website as to
its success. Interestingly, his websites "news" section
on December 8th carried nary a mention of his money bomb.

Silence
is always golden, and sometimes telling, too. Concerning its success,
we'll safely plagiarize National Review's on-line comment
concerning Fred Thompson's money bomb and apply it to Mr. Romney's
as well — "if (it) went well, we'd have a number by now."

I've
always wanted to use we'll and well in the same sentence, and thanks
to Mitt Romney now I have. Sometimes, people, dreams do come true.

Fred Thompson

“My question
to ya'll is: If Ron Paul can raise the money he raised in 24 hours….why
can't we do the same for Fred?"

~
From www.blogsforfredthompson.com

Speaking
of Fred Thompson, due to lack of funds as of the time of this writing
he has been reduced to taking a tour bus from town to town in Iowa
— no more flying for Freddie. Campaign spokesmen have been non-committal
on rumors that Mr. Thompson, to help save cash, has been crashing
nightly in various supporters' homes. OK, I made that last bit up,
but the thought of it makes me smile.

On
November 21st Fred Thompson – assured by the polls
that his supporters were double to Ron Paul's in number — asked
them to participant in a joint mass fundraising called, strangely,
"Fred's Giving Day." (Fred's not giving, you are.)
No mention of any historic reference date, nor of the amount of
cash raised.

As
National Review on-line commented, (sing along now) "if u2018Fredsgiving
Day' went well, we'd have a number by now."

The
people of the Middle East can rest a bit easier; Fred Thompson is
running out of gas.

Welcome
to the Cheap Seats

There
is nothing quite as wonderful as money.
There is nothing quite as beautiful as cash.
Some people say it’s folly,
But I’d rather have the lolly.
With money you can make a splash.

~
Monty Python

In
American politics circa 2008, where the air is buried by the sounds
of frenzied bi-partisan pigs feeding at the trough, there is nothing
a man needs more to run a top-tier political campaign than gobs
of cash. With so much of Other People's Money up for grabs, the
special interests' bidding for a slice of the loot is fierce and
fast. A modern-day candidate must spend upwards of $80 million or
so to claw their way into America's heart, because the rent seekers
are willing to pay millions for, and Congress is willing to sell
trillions of, what is not theirs.

At
the end of every quarter all candidates must announce to the American
people how much tribute they've collected. America, being in the
habit of measuring fitness for office in dollar terms, has decreed
this a necessary part of the democratic process. It is a fact of
life.

What
makes Ron Paul's money raising juggernaut so fun to watch is that
he's raising this money from individuals, not special interest
groups or corporations looking for handouts of Other Peoples' Money,
but from individuals who want nothing more than to stop the
looting.

Ron
Paul strolled into our political gladiator's pit to the howls and
laughter of the luxury boxes. But he raised his eyes and voice to
the upper boxes, raised them to all the forgotten ones sitting in
the cheap seats. Judging by the $19 million of fourth quarter money
they have showered upon him as of the time of this writing, the
cheap seats weren't laughing.

Not
at all.

This
column is written with grateful thanks to Ron Paul's fundraising
director, Jonathon Bydlak, who was kind enough to give his time
and help fill in the blanks.

January
2, 2008

C.J. Maloney
[send him mail] lives and
works in New York City.

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