Advice for Ron Paul
by Walter Block
Recently by Walter Block: Is Ron Paul an Antisemite? No
Ron Paul is doing just fine in his campaign. He is promoting liberty at a magnificent clip. He is converting people to libertarianism en masse, perhaps more so than any other person in the entire history of the planet (with the possible exception of Ayn Rand; however, she abjured the libertarian philosophy, while Dr. Paul embraces it enthusiastically).
So, Congressman Paul certainly doesn't need any advice from me. Will that stop me from offering him some? Of course not. Lack of knowledge and expertise (as my critics tell me time and time again) never stopped me from mouthing off, and it won't this time either.
On the other hand, I am fully aware that in the matter of politics, the only libertarian congressman from Texas is the master, and I am but a humble student. Yet, sometimes, out of the mouths of babes come interesting thoughts. And, also, brainstorming never hurts, even if only one out of a thousand off-the-wall ideas has any merit. So, it is in this self-effacing spirit that I offer some food for thought for the Ron Paul rEVOLution.
I. Send out an open letter to all other candidates for the Republican nomination, along these lines:
Dear fellow candidates for the Republican nomination:
The present format for our debates is unfair; some competitors are given way more of a chance to speak than others. Imagine if Usain Bolt were given a five yard head start because he is expected by the judges to be the winner of the race; posit that Michael Phelps were allowed to start swimming a few seconds earlier than his competitors on this ground. The officials responsible for such outrages would be summarily fired, not to say lynched by sports fans. And yet that is precisely what occurs in these debates for the Republican nomination for president. These umpires, too, ought to be severely rebuked.
In order to rectify the wildly unjust situation, I suggest the following (I am open to all friendly amendments):
1. Equal time be allotted to all competitors (what could be fairer than that?)
2. Our positions on the podium be determined by lottery
3. The order in which we are asked questions be determined by a coin flip
4. We all be treated as equally in every other way as are the runners in the 100 meter race at the starting line, and all throughout the race.
As soon as XX numbers of us sign this petition, we publicize this fact, and, agree not to be on the same stage as those who refuse to sign it.
Yours truly, Ron Paul
This is obviously just a first draft, but, I'm sure you get my gist. Romney and Perry, I expect, will at least initially refuse to sign this Open Letter; the others will likely do so. Perhaps those two can be embarrassed into signing it. If not, I think that Ron will benefit from allowing those two to debate each other alone all by their lonesome, provided there is enough of a chance that a debate of all the signatories to this Letter will actually occur on prime time TV, and be more popular. On the positive side of this suggestion, the American people, I think (well, I hope) have some sort of sense of justice and fair play. When this open letter is publicized (of course not in the mainstream media, at least at first — thank God for the internet), my hope and expectation is that there will be sufficient howls of outrage against the MSM, and Romney and Perry for not signing on (if they do not). On the other hand, there is some real danger that the MSM will jettison all other candidates, and conduct their future interviews with Perry and Romney alone, as is their heartfelt desire.
II. Social security
The radical libertarian position on this institution is clear. Not only is it a Ponzi scheme, but it is a compulsory one. It ought to be ended, forthwith, and all payments stopped. What about the elderly retirees? They are the victims. They should sue those responsible for foisting this system on them, but should not collect a penny more, ever, from the long suffering taxpayer, for to do so would be to violate the rights of the innocent. (Full disclosure here; at 70 years of age, I now collect social security payments. I support the ending of this scheme, but am not at all about to decline my own checks for reasons mentioned here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.) What should be done about the perpetrators of social security? They should be treated roughly in the manner meted out to Bernie Madoff.
There is of course a more moderate position, at least roughly compatible with libertarianism: end social security now!, but in an altogether different, less radical, manner: do not enroll any new people on it. Allow all others now on the books to stop their payment contributions forthwith if they wish to sever their relationship with it. As for the others, enable them to continue, and pay retirees what they have been promised.
It has been said that "gradualism in theory is perpetuity in practice." Well, perhaps not in this case. Present enrollees and recipients will be grandfathered in, and this pernicious system will continue, for them, but, eventually it will end, starting right now. In that sense, this proposal is "gradualistic." But, in refusing to bring any young people into this Ponzi scheme, it will start to end immediately.
It should be emphasized, moreover, that in addition to the unsavory financial elements of this system, it tends to weaken and even break up the family. And, the family, a strong united family, is the backbone of our country. In the days before social security, the common practice was for middle aged people to take care of their parents, with the full expectation that their own children would return the favor to them. But with the government thrust into this situation (whether federal or state it matters not) these familial bonds are weakened. Even did not social security constitute fraud and theft, it ought be ended on that ground alone.
The radical position on drugs is clear. End. The. Prohibition. Now! And, again, imprison all of those responsible for perpetrating it, as the non violent prisoners of this victimless crime are freed. And, while we're at it (right after ending the Fed) end the FDA. This latter institution will not even allow those on their last legs to take a crap shoot with experimental drugs. For shame.
In the free society, the FDA would be supplanted with a competitive certification industry filled with the medical and pharmaceutical equivalents of Fitch, Standard and Poor, Kosher foods, the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, Consumer Reports, Moodys, etc.
But, there is a moderate libertarian position open to Ron Paul as well: "Immediately upon becoming president, I will legalize marijuana, and release all prisoners who are guilty of using or trafficking in, this drug." (I haven't got the foggiest notion of whether or not the president of the U.S. has this power. I don't care about that either. Let the politicos wrestle with that one. I am an ignoramus on these sorts of issues. My only goal here is to promote liberty. This is what should happen, whether it can or not.)
IV. Gary Johnson
"Unlike the Democratic wing of the Republican Party (Perry and Romney) we in the libertarian wing of the GOP do not relish the idea of interminably arguing back and forth over Who Said What, When and Where. Rather, we focus instead on ideas for liberty. And in this vein I welcome Governor Johnson to the podium. He, too, supports the constitution, free enterprise, limited government, legalized drugs and a purely defensive foreign policy. Gary may well take some libertarian Republican votes away from me, but I am delighted that he is here at my side since he also promotes liberty."
Now, I realize that Ron will never in a million years say anything like that. He is simply too much of a gentleman to bash Perr-ney (hey, that's Perry and Romney combined; get it?). But, I couldn't resist offering this advice to him. Also, I have no idea whether or not it would be wise to be so supportive of Johnson. For an alternative view on that, see here. I offer this one, and all these other ideas, in the spirit of brain storming, only.
P.S. I saw Ron Paul at the Campaign for Liberty recently held in Reno. His speech there brought tears to my eyes. I love this man.
Dr. Block [send him mail] is a professor of economics at Loyola University New Orleans, and a senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He is the author of Defending the Undefendable and Labor Economics From A Free Market Perspective. His latest book is The Privatization of Roads and Highways.