Ron Paul Out of Date? No.
by Walter Block: Ron
Paul as a Stooge for Adolph Hitler
There is a
segment of the electorate that greets Congressman Paulís continual
harking back to the Constitution, and to the wisdom of the Founding
Fathers, as follows: Sure, those were good ideas, then; but
nowadays, things are far more complicated. We lived a relatively
simple bucolic life as a nation in the late 18th and
early 19th centuries. We travelled by horse and buggy,
at best. There was no television, no computers, no Al Qaeda, no
cars, no weapons of mass destruction; there was far less poverty,
crime, juvenile delinquency, divorce, etc. Dr. Paulís ideas are
two centuries out of date. Nowadays, due to the complexity of modern
society, his type of limited government free enterprise system simply
cannot suffice. Congressman Paul should wake up to the fact that
we are now in living the 21st century. An old fuddy-duddy
who is continually looking back to the past cannot possibly be a
good presidential candidate in 2012.
There is much
wrong with this negative assessment of Ron Paulís limited government
philosophy. I shall address these "he is out of date"
criticisms under three headings: foreign policy, civil liberties
In the early
days of our nation, we were protected by not one, not two, not three
but four oceans: the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico
and the Arctic. Even if we made mistakes, and engaged in "entangling
alliances," and searched for "monsters to destroy"
abroad, these bodies of water served as a buffer. Yes, the sailing
ships could come get us, but that would take a long time; we could
see them coming long before they got here.
technology has rendered the preventative function of these bodies
of water pretty much inoperable. So, any mistakes we make are likely
to be met with faster and more effective blowback, e.g., 9/11. If
George Washingtonís advice to be non interventionists was right
during his day, it is even more correct at present.
if there were a "terra-ist" in, say, the year 1799 who
had it in for us, whether for just or unjust reasons, he would come
to our shores armed, only, with a sword, or a musket, or some such
weapon. At worst, he could murder but a very few innocent Americans.
Nowadays, this is simply not the case. It thus behooves us to be
more cautious with our foreign policy in the modern era than
ever we needed to be in the earlier epoch.
do not put us in the cross hairs because we have rock music, mini-skirts
and freedom. Many other countries that have not been attacked exhibit
the first two; as for the third, the U.S. is no longer among the
freest of nations. According to one source,
we are only tenth,
after these others: Hong Kong, in first, Singapore in second, New
Zealand in third, Switzerland in fourth, Australia in fifth, Canada
in sixth, Chile in seventh, the UK in eighth, and Mauritius in ninth.
Rather, we have been recently targeted by murderous killers because
of what we have done: we have been poking sticks in hornetís
nests in every corner of the globe. Then, our mainstream
media have registered shock and horror when some of these insects
come back here and bite us. In contrast, in the early days of our
republic we pretty much minded our own business, and did not have
these horrid events befall us.
Dr. Paul is "the best-known American propagandist for our enemies."
Not at all. Dr. Paul, as a physician knows full well that he cannot
cure any medical problem until he is clear as to its underlying
cause. As a presidential candidate he is fully cognizant of the
fact that he cannot stop an outbreak of attacks on our country and
our people unless he fully understands their genesis. And, how can
this be accomplished? For Ron Paul as doctor, this involves the
stethoscope, the x-ray machine, the thermometer, blood pressure
measurement devices, the cat-scan and the MRI. For Mr. President
Paul, it requires, at least, listening to what they have
to say when they explain why they have attacked us. It necessitates
reading what the intelligence community of our country has
to say about blowback. (See here
for the reading
list on these matters that Ron Paul utilized to instruct former
New York City mayor and 2008 Republican presidential candidate Rudy
We did not
have a drug war until the Harrison Narcotics Act
of 1914. Before that time, these drugs were a medical crisis, only.
Afterwards, the medical challenges became exacerbated, and an entire
new whole host of problems ensued. Black people are about 14% of
our population, but account
for some 63% of the prisoners in jail for drug crimes. Numerous
deaths have been attributed to these vicious laws as well. Before
and after alcohol prohibition
this substance, too, was only a medical problem, best dealt with
by doctors and groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous. But during
Prohibition, this drug, also, created havoc in our society, needless
deaths due to fighting over territory, and poisonings due to "bathtub
Yes, Ron Paul
"wishes to turn back the clock" to a previous era here
too. But earlier does not necessarily mean worse. Would anyone seriously
like to turn the clock forward and reinstitute alcohol prohibition?
Of course not. And, yet, anything that can be said in criticism
of alcohol can probably be said, or worse, of narcotics. Both are
dangerous substances; but more people die of the former than the
latter. The prohibition of each of them leads to deaths.
Libertarians oppose allowing children to have access to either of
them, but if we cannot trust adults to make decisions about
them, how can we justify giving them the right to vote?
In like manner,
Congressman Paul opposes the Patriot Act and NDAA
and SOPA because they trash the Constitution and violate our
basic civil rights. Here, too, he prefers an earlier epoch to a
later one, because he is not at all concerned with dates, but rather
Yes, our present
day economy comprised of one third of a billion Americans, and billions
of other people across the globe, is far more complicated than the
one over which the founding fathers presided. But this is not an
argument in favor of more regulations, it is an argument against
them. For, the more complex is an economy, the more it needs to
rely on the "magic of the market," not on central direction.
If there is any case for a centrally planned economy, it applies
not at present, but 300 years ago, when matters were far simpler,
and thus socialistic planning could not, paradoxically, be quite
At the beginning
of our Republic, some 98% of the people were farmers. They didnít
need price signals as much as modern entrepreneurs do. They
could pretty much judge the best way of engaging in human action
based on tradition. Grandpa planted such and such, and so did dad,
so the way was clear ahead for the present farmer. But in an epoch
where automobiles supplant horses and buggies, computers take the
place of typewriters and telephones, etc., when there are millions,
maybe billions of prices, not merely a few tens of thousands, it
is imperative that economic freedom and private property
rights coordinate economic activity. Yes, the Jamestown colony almost
died out due to socialism.
I am not advocating any such system, for any time.
But I do insist that the simpler an economy, paradoxically, the
less harm that price controls and socialism can do.
In like manner,
it is also paradoxical that if you must have governmental interferences
with the economy, it will hurt fewer people, and less seriously,
if this is confined to luxury goods. If price controls and central
planning are imposed on diamonds, jewelry and Rolls Royces, users
of these goods will be disaccommodated. But they will not perish.
However, if these dirigisme initiatives apply to milk, bread, meat,
apples, etc., many people will die, particularly the poor. Yet,
it is the rare socialist-fascist who advocates a government take-over
of luxury goods. Rather, these economic illiterates target things
like housing (rent control) and food. They make a mistake akin to
the one made by those who think that since our economy is now more
complicated than ages ago, it needs more tender loving care by government,
Let us conclude.
It is not at
all the case that newer is necessarily better than older. Murray
N. Rothbard has characterized this as
Yes, certainly, in some arenas, many of them, we have made great
progress. Transportation, communication, medical practice, all readily
come to mind in this regard. But it cannot be denied that in other
areas, we have retrogressed. We no longer have the technology or
the skills to manufacture Stradivarius quality violins. Although
this is of course subjective, I and many others would argue that
modern music is vastly inferior to that of Bach, Mozart and Handel.
And so it is with our Founding Fathers (apart from slavery, of course).
Their foreign policy was arguably better than that of Bush and Obama.
Just because it is historical, does not render it fallacious, as
critics of Ron Paul all too often "argue." Similarly,
Congressman Ron Paul sees our drug policies pre-1914 as far more
humane and beneficial than our present drug war. It will not suffice
to prove him wrong to note that he is living in the past. No, these
things have to be argued out on their merits. It is simply fallacious
to maintain that since this policy was once tried and then rejected
(with the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914), it is inferior to present
day practices. As far as economics is concerned, the move from Carl
Menger, Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard to the likes of
Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz and Ben Bernanke was one of retrogression,
not progress. By going "forward," we have lost, not gained.
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
Privatization of Roads and Highways.
© 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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