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The Fram Oil Filter Candidate

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But hear me now, somebody said “Fair Warning, Lord ! (This is Meanstreet) Lord, strike that poor boy down" ~ Van Halen

When I played football in high school there would always be a late August week of practice known as "Hell Week." Practices would start at 6:30 in the morning and, with some breaks in between, would not be complete until 6–7pm. They were long, hot days filled with many full-contact drills. The idea behind them, the head coach would tell us, was to make sure we were in the best shape we could be in for the season. When the fourth quarter came around in a tough game, he wanted to make sure the other team was sucking wind, not us.

Around the same time as those practices, there was a commercial on TV for Fram Oil Filters. The commercial was set in a junkyard, and an auto mechanic was holding one of the filters. The mechanic's memorable line was "You can pay me now, or you can pay me later," meaning you can buy an inexpensive oil filter now, or you can pay for a new engine when yours breaks down. My coach would always cite that commercial when we were tired and dragging during hell week. We could pay for a week in August, or we could pay on game day throughout the season.

Today that same Fram commercial from the 80's is very applicable to the Presidential race. All of the candidates except Ron Paul want to turn that slogan on its head. The politicians tell voters that you don't need to pay now – and if you elect them you don't have to pay later. You never have to pay! We'll get someone else to foot the bill. Run your car into the ground, we'll keep it going – for free!

Ron Paul is the mechanic in the junkyard. He wants America to buy an oil filter and feel a little pain now, in order to avoid a tremendous pain later. Sure, switching over to a gold standard will hurt people who are highly leveraged, or that benefit from inflation, but the alternative is eventual bankruptcy for the whole nation – which is worse?

Eliminating the IRS will make business for tax accountants dry up, but there are many other uses in business for these highly-skilled (and patriotic I might add) people. Expanding the IRS, like so many Presidential candidates must do in order to pay for their programs, will take away more freedom, and the economy will continue to suffer more and more.

Foreign policy. Bringing the troops home and removing ourselves from foreign entanglements would hurt the profits of Halliburton and Bechtel in the short term. It would also make it harder for dictators in other countries to finance their governments. But wouldn't it be better to introduce Harley Davidson, Levi Strauss and Victoria Secret to these countries we fight instead? In the long run, which set of products would a foreign country embrace more – our war machine, or our leisure-time activities?

Reducing government spending is overall the hardest preventative maintenance that the American electorate can do. So many people have become dependent on government that the thought of being left without their security blanket is abhorrent. Ron Paul is asking those people to look at the total costs. The people may be getting a dependable check now from the government, but inflation will increasingly destroy their standard of living. Those same people will fall further and further behind if they do not turn to the free market to increase their wealth.

Ron Paul's Mandate

No matter who wins in November, they will have to deal with Ron Paul's ideas. That is because Dr. Paul is a champion of the free market, which is always present. Sure, when government grows too large, many people start calling the free market the black market. But even if you lived in the Soviet Union, or North Korea, you would still have to deal with people trading with each other on a voluntary basis. No amount of government can ever stamp that out. Human innovation is just too powerful.

Yet many politicians try – including the current bunch in the US.

And the results are inevitable. The free market passes judgment on the people who tolerate an overreaching government, and the verdict is grim. Countries who follow the ideas Dr. Paul proposes always prosper, those that don't always suffer.

Sure, many politicians pay lip service to the free market. They talk about wasteful spending, and the need to cut taxes, but they never do anything. If they cut taxes, the politicians don't cut spending. They just make up for the shortfall by printing money. Always and everywhere they just grow government, one way or another.

Ron Paul is the one politician crying "Fair Warning," and everyone wants to strike him down for it. Nobody wants to lose their "bennies." They want to hit the open road and just keep driving – Jiffy Lube be damned!

Other politicians are taking note of what Ron Paul is saying, because it IS resonating, but they don't mean it. Fred Thompson is boasting about his one dissenting vote on many pieces of legislation in the Senate (although the truth is not as impressive as it sounds). Mike Huckabee has talked about abolishing the IRS (which is pretty laughable considering how much Gov. Huckabee liked to tax in Arkansas). And Democrats are now condemning the Iraq War after they all voted for it 5 years ago.

The reason Ron Paul's ideas always win, is because they are not his ideas. Other politicians come up with their plans, which they want to force on to the American people (and the rest of the world in many cases). Ron Paul is like a really good financial analyst. He takes a look at the present situation, looks for parallels in the past, and applies what has worked before to the world of today. He doesn't tell us what "should" work, but rather what "will" work based on human nature. Human nature has never changed – and it never will. We all want to increase pleasure and remove discomfort. To do this for some at the expense of others, will always and everywhere bring on the wrath of the "others." Ron Paul does not try to change the world. He tries to remove the constraints that hold people back, and let the people of the world, change the world.

That is why the other politicians worry about Ron Paul. His ideas will always crush their ideas. Sometimes it takes a little longer, but it will inevitably happen.

Dr. Paul attributes his popularity to the message, not to himself. That is because he is just trying to show people how the world works, not how he will work the world. The other candidates are offering policy prescriptions that try to fight the ideas Ron Paul talks about.

For instance, many candidates talk about a stimulus package for the economy, as if they can control the economy. Ron Paul wants to let the economy be, because he knows that every person in the economy is doing all we can to stimulate it. When a politician talks about stimulus, what they really mean is higher taxes, inflation or regulation that take away your own "stimulus."

For over 30 years, Ron Paul has been a lonely voice trying to align the country with the forces of the market. During that time the rest of the political establishment has been driving on blindly, without a care about what is going on under the hood. Lately the knocks and pings are getting louder. The question is – will you pay the price by electing Ron Paul now, or will you pay him later when the free market passes judgment on another candidate's ambitious plans? As for me – I'll head to Autozone!

January 19, 2008