Wait, Did Ron Paul Just Make Sense?

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on July 22, 2009

Ron Paul questions Bernanke

My libertarianish leanings–which counterbalance my conservative ones–notwithstanding, I really don’t have much use for many of Ron Paul’s arguments. We agree on certain economic principles, but a number of his arguments go too far for my tastes. And when it comes to foreign policy, his argument that the United States should adopt the views and the practices of the Founders is antiquated in a world where–unlike the world of the Founders–America is the preeminent power and should act differently than she did at the time of her founding, when she was weak, and had to chart a middle course between an exceedingly powerful Great Britain and a very powerful France.

My ambivalence regarding Paul’s arguments returns upon reading pieces like this one. Paul’s argument that we ought to dismantle the Federal Reserve and return to the gold standard is really not worth discussing at length, if only because the idea is so politically infeasible, not to mention guaranteed to cause significant and potentially dangerous upheaval if implemented. His foreign policy isolationism will serve to cost the United States her primacy in the world, allowing countries like China and Russia to fill the void.

Why Paul believes that this is good for our economic health–or good for the national security interests of the United States in general–is beyond me.

But give Paul his due; he is surely right to note that the Keynesian approach to reviving our economy has failed disastrously. He is right to note that deregulation is needed (let me add here that it is silly to think that with nearly 70,000 pages in the Federal Register, the problem facing the American economy is that we are just not regulated enough), and he is right to note that creative destruction ought to be allowed to run its course by permitting bankruptcies to take place instead of repeatedly bailing out failing companies and creating all sorts of moral hazard problems.

We have seen that bankruptcies in the automobile industry have not had nearly the disastrous effects that so many said they would. Quite the contrary; bankruptcies appear to have done a lot to restore companies like Chrysler and GM back to a semblance of health. We ought to learn a lesson from the examples of Chrysler and GM; if we had insisted that the companies opt for bankruptcy protection earlier, they might have resolved their issues in bankruptcy by now, and we would have saved tens of billions of dollars that otherwise went to bailouts that did not work.

Paul’s arguments against the economic agenda of the Obama Administration should be getting a favorable reception in the court of public opinion, given the President’s own falling poll numbers. That they are not is perhaps partially attributable to the fact that Paul, in the context of issuing his critiques, doesn’t “rein in his more radical ideas.” Doubtless, the White House also enjoys an advantage in putting forth its ideas in the public square due to the fact that the conservative and libertarian right, having recently lost an election, is bereft of a single, unifying leader whose words and actions can serve as a counterpoint to President Obama and his agenda.

In Britain, the Tories at least have David Cameron to take the fight to Prime Minister Gordon Brown. American conservatives and right-of-center libertarians do not have a Shadow President, however, to argue back against Barack Obama. Most assuredly, Anna Schwartz is correct to say that if her longtime collaborator, the legendary and brilliant Milton Friedman were alive, his arguments could push back against the White House’s economic plan. Alas, resourceful and clever as Friedman was, he cannot rouse himself back from the fields of Elysium to take on the Obama Administration. Pity, that.

As time goes on, a spokesperson for the right will emerge. I hope that spokesperson is not Ron Paul, given my aforementioned disagreements with him, and given my preference that said spokesperson be a credible candidate for the Presidency in 2012 (for reasons of age and ideology, Paul isn’t that person). But that doesn’t change the fact that Paul makes some very good points in arguing against the Obama Administration’s disastrous economic program.

Any aspiring GOP Presidential candidate worth his or her salt will take the best and most timeless of those critiques, combine them with arguments that demonstrate attention to ongoing economic developments, and create a powerful and compelling economic platform that will win votes and do right by the country’s interests. And not necessarily in that order.

Read more at Pejman Yousefzadeh’s blog.

  • upsetdemocrat

    I did a little research and I think I like what this person says, for the most part.
    I think a drastic change to the way things are done now is truly in order considering that our two party system has devolved into a nearly identical ideological disaster coupled with a grossly negligent spending frenzy.
    Couple the above with the push for additional unfunded liabilities by the current administration and we may very well see the bankruptcy of our nation in our lifetime.
    Maybe electing a person with a thought process that is outside of the established and obviously flawed behavior from DC is exactly what we need to reign in this monstrosity that is called DC politics.

  • upsetdemocrat

    I did a little research and I think I like what this person says, for the most part.
    I think a drastic change to the way things are done now is truly in order considering that our two party system has devolved into a nearly identical ideological disaster coupled with a grossly negligent spending frenzy.
    Couple the above with the push for additional unfunded liabilities by the current administration and we may very well see the bankruptcy of our nation in our lifetime.
    Maybe electing a person with a thought process that is outside of the established and obviously flawed behavior from DC is exactly what we need to reign in this monstrosity that is called DC politics.

  • nadorn

    Faw, 'isolationism'. So the line between what we currently have and isolationism is if we stop bombing people?

  • bisquit

    Whether you are right or wrong on your empire building desires for US foreign policy you should know that it's going to come to an end soon. Look at any government in history that skewed too far towards empire building and you'll see the outcome – we can't sustain the expense. We'll either go completely broke continuing the effort or we'll have to scale back our ridiculously oversized military presence throughout the world.

    54% of the Federal budget goes to the military.
    The US spends more on military than the next 15 countries combined. (that includes china, russia, india, brazil, germany, japan, etc)
    The average US worker works over two and a half months to pay for the US military spending.

  • specsaregood

    He has been making sense for a long time now.

    I find it amusing that you start off by criticizing his foreign policy views –views that Bush ran on in 2000 and won upon. I guess Republicans are now supposed to be for “policing the world”, eh? You can't honestly dismiss his foreign policy views without first looking at the effect they have on our economy. How much of our deficit is due to these never-ending wars and maintaining our empire around the world — they go hand in hand. As he has said many times, “all empires come to an end” and usually from over extending themselves.

    When it comes to the “Gold Standard”; RP has said many times that, there were problems with the old gold standard and that it could be a long term goal but not an immediate one. If you want to understand his immediate position you should read up on his competing currencies legislation. http://www.house.gov/paul/congrec/congrec2008/c… He wants to initially remove the legal tender status for the federal reserve note and allow individuals to decide what is money and what isn't. Speaking of Mr. Friedman, RP and Friedman were good friends and Paul once remarked that Friedman told him that he (Paul) was one of the only people that could successfully promote/defend the gold standard to him (Friedman). Why? If I was to take a crack at guessing it would be because Ron Paul promotes the gold standard from a pro-liberty viewpoint even more so than from a monetary viewpoint. This is a good freely available book written by him on the subject: http://www.mises.org/books/goldpeace.pdf

    I for one hope that RP does become that spokesman that you speak of and particularly because of his ideology. We have more than enough sell-outs with no ideology in Washington leading the GOP. Maybe it is time to give somebody with a set of principles a chance. And despite the naysayers, Ron Paul is quickly becoming that spokesman. Can you name another GOP official that has gotten more news coverage and interviews in the past year? One that can intelligently discuss economics and all manner of other issues without resorting to clichés and scripted retorts? I doubt it.

  • http://twitter.com/angelatc angelatc

    I don't agree with Paul on everything either. I don't think we need to worry about the GOP embracing him as a spokesperson – by his own words, he no power in the party, and uses the lack of a Chair position as a key example of that. But after my initial rejection of his gold standard, I read that he actually would like to introduce competing currencies backed by commodities, which doesn't seem nearly as constrictive to me.

    But you're right – hawkish new-age Republicans can't seem to put aside personality in order to discuss issues, and it's crippling the GOP.

  • BrianDefferding

    I want to make a correction on the blog author's claim of Ron Paul regarding the gold standard – Ron Paul has called a return for “sound money” which is NOT the gold standard of old. The gold standard of old was tied to one commodity – gold. That can cause problems. Rather, he calls for a monetary policy that can be tied to multiple commodities, or something that's called “free enterprise currency” where money are things that the status quo deems value through the usual workings of supply and demand. That's something that's quite feasible, if only we let go of the concept of fiat currency controlled by the Federal Reserve – something I will admit is a hard thing to accomplish, knowing how powerful the banks are.

    Ron Paul has been making lots of sense ever since he's been in public office. While inflation and deflation continues to screw up the economy and health care continues to be more expensive despite more government involvement, the lone voice of reason in Congress is now finally getting some begrudging acknowledgment on how right he's been. It's unfortunate that it took a crisis or three in order for the some people to realize that (not speaking about Pejman when I say that, btw).

  • kestrel6

    I am hard pressed to detect any libertarian leanings in your article. Since when is it the role of our Government and it’s politicians to graciously put the burden of “preeminent world power” on the shoulders of the free people of the United States. Am I and my children so much cannon fodder to be sacrificed at the alter of our politician’s egos or Corporatocracy envies?

    “isolationism will serve to cost the United States her primacy in the world, allowing countries like China and Russia to fill the void.” Because we are strong we are suppose to impose our will on the world? Where have you been living over the last decade? Our continued primacy is a farce – it is being buried in the cost of empire in both blood and treasure. What are our legitimate National Security interests? The only thing that has keep this house of cards from falling has been the Keynesian economics which feeds the flames of empire – as it must constantly expand as any ponzi scheme must.

    As far as your comments about Ron Paul on the Federal Reserve – he has always stated that the economy would have to transition to the gold standard.

    Your comments on who the spokesperson should be for the right and your hope that it is not Ron Paul – based on your continues afformation for the need of empire and the economic rape of the people to support the big government that goes with it – I suggest you volunteer to serve or encourage you children to serve in Iraq or Afghanistan.

    I have not seen a better candidate than Ron Paul to be a spokesman for the right. Maybe someday there will be one – but, we do not need another McCain or a camillian politician like Romney to lead the right down a road that will distroy our nation and our freedoms.

    We have had enough of these fake politicians that talk the talk but, don’t walk the walk.

  • kestrel6

    I am hard pressed to detect any libertarian leanings in your article. Since when is it the role of our Government and it’s politicians to graciously put the burden of “preeminent world power” on the shoulders of the free people of the United States. Am I and my children so much cannon fodder to be sacrificed at the alter of our politician’s egos or Corporatocracy envies.

    “isolationism will serve to cost the United States her primacy in the world, allowing countries like China and Russia to fill the void.” Because we are strong we are suppose to impose our will on the world? Where have you been living over the last decade? Our continued primacy is a farce – it is being buried in the cost of empire in both blood and treasure. What are our legitimate National Security interests? The only thing that has keep this house of cards from falling has been the Keynesian economics which feeds the flames of empire – as it must constantly expand as any ponzi scheme must.

    As far as your comments about Ron Paul on the Federal Reserve – he has always stated that the economy would have to have an orderly transition to the gold standard.

    Your comments on who the spokesperson should be for the right and your hope that it is not Ron Paul – based on your continues afformation for the need of empire and the economic rape of the people to support and the big government that goes with it – I suggest you volunteer to serve or encourage you children to serve in Iraq or Afghanistan.

    I have not seen a better candidate than Ron Paul to be a spokesman for the right. Maybe someday there will be one – but, we do not need another McCain or a camillian politician like Romney to lead the right down a road that will distroy our nation and our freedoms.

    We have had enough of these fake politicians that sometimes talk the talk but, don’t walk the walk.

  • Dirtt

    “Any aspiring GOP Presidential candidate worth his or her salt will take the best and most timeless of those critiques, combine them with arguments that demonstrate attention to ongoing economic developments, and create a powerful and compelling economic platform that will win votes and do right by the country’s interests. And not necessarily in that order.”

    Perhaps that's part of the problem. Going with the thieves we like is so 20th Century. Goldman Squid has the DNC and GOP wrapped up like presents under the White House (can we still say “christmas”) tree. The only bigger joke than the GOP is the DNC. So much for hope and change. They should go the way of the Whigs.

    Right-of-center independents have the power to move a third party into the limelight. Even with all of George Soros' goosed up PAC's spilling disinformation a Palin-like assassination won't be as easy as tossing a few hideous rumors to the MSM. And just like the 'anything but Bush-doctrine' that got Obama elected the 'anything but the DNC/RNC/Goldman Squid-doctrine' has a real fighting chance.

    We are at the end of the line here in the USA. One last chance to get it right. Failure is not an option. Or else failure will be the only option left.

  • gabriel314

    If you can find another Republican candidate who you can prove is:

    1. Principled
    2. Knowledgeable in economics
    3. Knowledgeable and respectful of the Constitution
    4. Unwilling to continue empire-building
    5. Respectful of state's rights.

    Then I'll throw my support behind him or her. Unfortunately, I've never seen a conservative like that since Barry Goldwater and until Ron Paul.

  • Ordinary_Taxpayer_Joe

    “An age is called Dark, not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it.” – James Michener

    “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

    “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.” – Albert Einstein

  • GABEnTX

    Anyone who believes that Dr. Paul JUST started making sense, is VERY old. Ron Paul knows it takes trillions of dollars to wage war in Iraq and to keep our soldiers stationed throughout the world. So by NOT bankrupting America he knows we can become safer. By NOT policing the world, but by protecting our own country's borders we can keep “terrorists” out. What we're doing in other countries is working in opposition to our stated goals and sucking us deeper and deeper into debt. The war mongers want us to believe that there isn't another way to protect ourselves, because their way lines their pockets full of paper money.

  • GABEnTX

    It's not so hard to believe that if you DON'T bankrupt your country…you can be safer. It's really all about having brains. The warmongers want us to believe that there's no other way to keep us safe besides spending trillions on wars, because it lines their pockets. What we're doing in other countries is working in opposition to our stated goals of “keeping us safe” and “eliminating terrorism”.

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