The libertarian fealty to Adam Smith and the “invisible hand,” states’ rights over Civil Rights, and the abolition of the Jewish State.
Ron Paul would have us believe that he’s a staunch libertarian, and that his professed policies are based on pure a libertarian ideology. But he’s not purely libertarian because he’s not for an individual’s freedom of choice. He wants the STATE to make that choice for you instead of the federal government, which is decidedly un-libertarian. Ron Paul is simply using his libertarian bent as a cover for his more bigoted and unusual views.
Libertarianism itself is founded in a religiously zealous fealty to the “free market” principles espoused by 18th Century philosopher Adam Smith. What it boils down to is the irrational belief that government is not necessary because the “free market forces” will make all of our decisions for us in a rational and fair manner. Of course, that’s not what Adam Smith actually wrote, but that’s often how his theories are interpreted. The theory of the “free market” for libertarians like Paul extends beyond the economic sphere, though: It holds that not only will the “free market” determine what businesses and business practices will be successful, but it also holds that “free market” principles will ferret out what social policies are acceptable and fair and will adequately guide how we function as a society with little or no rule of law.
Following this train of thought, if people are bigots, and bigotry is not socially acceptable, then those bigots will be effectively neutralized by the “free market,” since the majority will most certainly disagree with the bigots and will by nature marginalize them. The principles of the “free market” hold that in the marketplace of ideas, the influence of the minority will be muted out.
In theory it makes sense. But what Dr. Paul and those like him don’t tell us and certainly don’t want us to figure out (or haven’t figured out themselves) is that there is no such thing as the “free market.” The problem with Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” is that it assumes perfect competition; that no one in the marketplace has an inherent advantage over another, and that success or failure in the marketplace will be determined strictly by the value others place on the goods and services each individual has to offer. And if the real world actually worked that way, then perhaps Adam Smith’s theories would hold perfectly true.
But here in the real world, perfect competition does not exist. Not in economics, not in society. There are always actors who have derived undue influence in some manner or another; who have a decided advantage and ability to manipulate the market to their own benefit. Large corporations are motivated strictly by profit, and seek to use their huge advantage in money and the political influence that money buys to manipulate the markets in their favor. It’s something that Adam Smith didn’t account for, and it leads to monopolies and oligopolies with very little competition, which is in direct conflict with Smith’s theories, as the barriers to entry created by monopolies and oligopolies prevent other players or ideas from entering the marketplace. In other words, it stifles competition.
When translated into context of our current political environment, the “free market” arguments being put forth by Ron Paul and his followers—indeed, by most of the Republicans running for president, although certainly most fervently by Paul—essentially amount to a push to repeal the 20th Century, as if it never existed at all. It’s a pursuit of the eradication entire Progressive Era, with no mind to the social and economic advances it has brought us.
This zeal to repeal extends far beyond the obvious efforts to do away with The New Deal (Social Security) and The Great Society (Medicare), all deemed unconstitutional by Ron Paul.
In Ron Paul’s world there would be no child labor laws. There would be no minimum wage. Unions would not have given rise to the middle class which in turn allowed America’s economy to become the envy of the entire world. There would be no food or drug safety standards, allowing companies to poison consumers and deal with the repercussions—limited as they would be—later. He openly calls for the elimination of the Department of Education, leaving it for the states to decide whether or not to provide a public education for their residents.
The Paul anti-government screed asserts that government contributes little of value to the national economy; that it requires government inaction in order to grow the economy, ignoring the reality of how government action in 1956, led by Republican President Dwight Eisenhower, created the Federal Highway Act, the legislation that built the interstate highway system. The interstate highway system is a vital element in our nation’s ability to move goods from one part of the country to another, and thus is a crucial part of our economy. Without it people would be very limited in their ability to move from city to city, state to state. And it ignores how in the 18th Century, the government played a vital role in the expansion of the railroad system. Railroads, like the highway system of today, were the circulatory system of our economy; in many ways they still are. Without the government’s backing, no railroads.
Ron Paul would favor the privatization of our roads and bridges, which would have catastrophic effects on our economy. Imagine if every time you pulled onto a freeway—any freeway—or crossed a bridge, you would have to pay a toll. Even if in the process the federal gas tax was eliminated, since private enterprises are always out to make a profit the tolls would heavily outweigh the tax, if only through sheer volume. The cost of moving goods would skyrocket, meaning the cost of goods in general would skyrocket, damaging the economy and putting goods and services out of reach to the average consumer. Not to mention the gridlock it would cause as drivers lined up at toll booths since not everyone has a credit card that would allow them to create a FasTrak or EZ Pass account.
In Ron Paul’s world, since it’s not specifically spelled out in the Constitution, the right to vote for women and African Americans—among other minorities—would be revoked. While the 15th Amendment appeared to guarantee the right to vote for all citizens, it took the 19th Amendment to guarantee that right to women, and it took the 24th Amendment plus the Civil Rights Act to enforce that right for minorities.
Although his newsletters of the 80’s and 90’s suggest otherwise, Paul insists he’s not a racist, and does not support racist policies. But he would not have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and he does not support it now. At issue, according to Paul, are property rights and the government’s ability to tell you that in your place of business you cannot discriminate. But if Ron Paul had his way, states could tacitly condone racism and segregation. In Ron Paul’s world, slavery would still exist since he considers any federal law prohibiting it a violation of states’ rights.
One would also have to wonder what a President Paul would do about the 3/5 Compromise?
In Ron Paul’s world, Israel would not exist. According to a former Paul aide, the candidate thinks that “Israel is more trouble than it’s worth,” and he supports the “calls for the abolishment of the Jewish state, and the return of Israel, all of it, to the Arabs.”
If Ron Paul had his way, America never would have gotten involved in World War II in Europe. Eric Dondero, the former aide, insists that Paul is not anti-Semitic, but he hates Israel, and the Holocaust doesn’t bother him, allegedly telling Dondero that “saving the Jews was absolutely none of our business.”
In Ron Paul’s world, there would be no 16th Amendment giving Congress the authority to collect taxes, because taxes and the government’s ability to collect them are inherently evil. But even Adam Smith wrote paying taxes was a “badge not of slavery, but of liberty,” and argued that “taxpayers should pay in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state.” Even Adam Smith supported a progressive income tax.
The world according to Ron Paul is a pretty scary place, and not the kind of country that most U.S. citizens would be very comfortable living in. It’s very easy to admire Paul’s stance against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and his condemnation of the federal government’s war on drugs. But it’s important to look at the entirety of his positions to get a clear idea of who he really is. It’s important to understand that he doesn’t support a woman’s right to choose what happens with her body or your right to risk putting whatever substance into your own body that you choose. Rather, he wants the states to be free to deny those rights. He wants the states to be free to mandate religious instruction in public schools. And he wants the states to be free to deny the right to vote for reasons of sex, race, religion, or economic circumstance.
The world according to Ron Paul would be more reminiscent of 1912 than it would 2012.