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Posts Tagged ‘Ron Paul’

When I first saw this picture, I thought it must have been created by a Ron Paul fan. And since Congressman Paul is the closest to my views according to the Reason political quiz, it’s easy to see why I would jump to that conclusion.

But maybe the person who created this image wasn’t really trying to boost Ron Paul, but was instead taking a swipe at other Republicans?

Since I’ve dinged Newt GingrichRick Santorum, and Mitt Romney, that also appeals to me.

But what really matters is that corporatism is morally and economically odious, regardless of the party. That’s why the TARP bailout was reprehensible. It’s why Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac subsidies are disgusting. And it’s why industrial policy in the tax code is corrupt.

So regardless of how you interpret this picture, enjoy the humor and remember the lesson.

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Even though I did a pretty good job guessing at the outcome of the 2010 elections, I’m a policy wonk, not a political hack, so take these predictions with a bucket of salt.

Especially since I’m predicting Ron Paul will win even though the intrade.com betting shows a Romney victory, and I cited those betting markets in 2010 when predicting that Scott Brown would win the special election for Ted Kennedy’s seat by a 51-48 margin (actual results: 51.8-47.1).

So here’s my prediction, along with a few thoughts on each candidate.

Paul (23 percent)

Ron Paul’s gotten a lot of flak for having some unsavory supporters, and that will probably hurt him, but he benefits from being an anti-politician. And he appeals to all the Republicans who want less government. Simply stated, what you see is what you get – even when it’s something crazy such as being against the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Santorum (22 percent)

I’m mystified by Santorum’s rise in the polls, which I think is happening solely because he’s not Mitt Romney and voters have somewhat soured on the other supposedly conservative candidates. But I want to stress the “supposedly” in the previous sentence. The former Pennsylvania Senator is not a fiscal conservative, having supported all the wasteful spending of the Bush years. If he does well, Mitt Romney will be very happy since Santorum will split the anti-Mitt vote for a longer period of time.

Romney (22 percent)

The former Massachusetts Governor tries to be all things to all people, which means he routinely does the wrong thing on policy (i.e., his refusal to reject the value-added tax, his less-than-stellar record on healthcare, his weakness on Social Security reform, his anemic list of proposed budget savings, and his reprehensible support for ethanol subsidies). But he has a base of support among people who are Republicans because their parents were Republicans.  For what it’s worth, I’ve already predicted that he wins the nomination and loses to Obama in November.

Perry (14 percent)

The Texas economy gives Perry a strong talking point, but he did not do well in the debates. Moreover, some Americans are probably reluctant to trust another folksy Texas GOP Governor after what happened during the Bush years. He still has a chance of winning the nomination if he can survive ’til South Carolina and consolidate the anti-Mitt vote.

Gingrich (12 percent)

The former Speaker of the House enjoyed a meteoric rise because of his debate performances, but the other candidates then ganged up and reminded voters of Newt’s various sins – such as criticizing the Ryan budget, climbing into bed (or at least onto a couch) with Nancy Pelosi to advance global warming hysteria, and supporting ethanol handouts. Heck, I remember having a bitter argument with Newt back in 2003 about Bush’s terrible prescription drug entitlement.

Bachmann (5 percent)

Congresswoman Bachmann had her moment of glory last summer when she won the Ames straw poll. She’ll be out of the race after today’s results.

Huntsman (2 percent)

He is putting all his eggs in the New Hampshire basket, so his last-place performance won’t surprise anyone. As a general observation, I’m surprised he’s not pushing his rather attractive tax reform plan.

P.S. I’m also surprised that Gary Johnson didn’t attract more support. And I’m baffled that the GOP establishment kept him out of the debates. That decision drove the former New Mexico Governor to bolt for the Libertarian Party. I suspect he will do surprisingly well, assuming Romney is the GOP nominee.

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Because of his semi-frontrunner status in Iowa, Ron Paul is now attracting some negative attention, including the fact that he received a $500 campaign contribution from an avowed racist.

Very few people think Paul is biased, but read this article by Steve Horwitz, my grad school classmate. Since I’ve written both supportive and critical posts about Paul, I think I have some credibility in saying that it is a fair summary of the issues.

Not surprisingly, other GOP presidential campaigns would like voters to disqualify Paul on the basis of unsavory associations, and I certainly agree that Paul showed very bad judgment. Normally it’s a good thing that he’s not a typical politician, but this is one of those cases where it undermines the case for freedom – as Steve explains in the article linked above.

But if sauce for the goose is supposed to be sauce for the gander, shouldn’t we also be upset that the head of the Communist Party in the United States has – for all intents and purposes – endorsed Barack Obama? Here’s some of what Sam Webb, an apologist for totalitarian mass murder, wrote earlier this year.

Communists don’t agree with either one of these views. In our view, the differences between the two parties of capitalism are of consequence to class and democratic struggles. Neither party is anti-capitalist, but they aren’t identical either. Differences exist at the levels of policy and social composition. And despite the many frustrations of the past two years, the election of Barack Obama was historic and gave space to struggle for a people’s agenda. …We don’t have any illusions about the Democratic Party, but we don’t have any illusions about the Republican Party either. Furthermore, we are also aware of the undeniable fact that no other party besides the Democratic Party stands a chance of beating the GOP next year.

It goes without saying that these unwelcome expressions of support should not be used as evidence that Barack Obama is a communist or that Ron Paul is a racist. It’s not the fault of politicians that they sometimes receive support from nutjobs and morons.

My only complaint is that there’s not a level playing field. There’s lot of coverage of a loathsome person who supported Ron Paul, but I’m not aware of anybody paying attention to Sam Webb’s expressions of support for Barack Obama.

Yes, racism is evil, and we should be suspicious of people who get support from racists. But communists have butchered tens of millions of people. Shouldn’t we be equally skeptical of politicians who attract support from these evil people as well?

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While I’m usually a pessimist about public policy, there are a handful of issues where I think there’s positive momentum. School choice is one example and another is putting an end to the misguided war on drugs.

I’m somewhat optimistic on the drug war because more and more people, including conservatives, are realizing that government intervention isn’t working and is actually making things worse.

For example, here are some excerpts from a Mona Charen column, in which she praises Ron Paul for his leadership position on the issue.

Friedman was for legalization of all drugs, not just marijuana. It’s a position embraced by only one candidate for president, Ron Paul. …Paul deserves full credit for endorsing drug legalization. Friedman would approve. Governments in the United States, federal and state, spend an estimated $41.3 billion annually to prevent people from ingesting substances we deem harmful, though many unsafe ingestibles — you know the list — remain legal. Half of all federal prisoners are serving sentences for drug offenses, along with 20 percent of state prisoners. In 2009, there were 1.7 million drug arrests in the U.S. Half of those were for marijuana. As David Boaz and Timothy Lynch of the Cato Institute noted, “Addicts commit crimes to pay for a habit that would be easily affordable if it were legal. Police sources have estimated that as much as half the property crime in some major cities is committed by drug users.” Drug money, such as booze money during Prohibition, has corrupted countless police, Drug Enforcement Administration agents, border patrol agents, prosecutors and judges. Drug crime has blighted many neighborhoods. America’s appetite for drugs has encouraged lawlessness and violence in many neighboring countries, most recently in Mexico, where its drug violence is spilling north. Because illegal drugs are unregulated, their purity is unknowable — accounting for thousands of overdose deaths and injuries. Since we maintain drug prohibition to protect people from their own foolish decisions, those overdose deaths must weigh in the balance, too. Drug prohibition, Milton Friedman pointed out, keeps the price of drugs artificially inflated and amounts to a favor by the government to the drug lords. …Harvard economics professor Jeffrey Miron estimates that if drugs were legal and taxed, the U.S. and state treasuries would receive $46.7 billion in added revenue, while saving $41.3 billion in expenditures.

My only disagreement with Charen’s column is that Gary Johnson also wants to end the War on Drugs, so he should share some of the praise with Ron Paul.

And I suppose I should say that I don’t want the government to collect an additional $46.7 billion of revenue, but that’s a separate fiscal policy issue.

Ms. Charen continues with some very sensible cost-benefit analysis of legalization.

What is the downside to legalization? Friedman acknowledged the possibility that legalization might result in some increase in drug addiction. There was, after all, an uptick in alcoholism after Prohibition was repealed. But not all victims are created equal. The child, Friedman notes, who is killed in a drive-by shoot-out between drug gangs is a total victim. The adult who decides to take drugs is not. Let’s stipulate that some unknown number of Americans will become addicts after legalization, who otherwise would not have. We must ask whether the terrible price we are now paying — in police costs, international drug control efforts, border security, foregone tax revenue, overdose deaths, corruption and violence — is worth it.

This utilitarian argument is important. Libertarians traditionally rely on the moral argument that people should be free from government coercion so long as they’re not hindering the rights of others, and I certainly agree with that sentiment. But we could probably make more progress on this issue by also explaining that the costs of the drug war far outweigh any benefits.

And I suspect it also would help if we explained that legalization does not necessarily mean approval.

Ending the war on drugs does not mean endorsing drug use, any more than ending prohibition meant one had to be in favor of alcohol consumption.

Heck, you can be like me and be personally opposed to drug use and favor legalization. You can also favor private-sector sanctions against drug use and favor legalization.

When all is said and done, there are lots of reasons to favor legalization. Prohibition didn’t work in the 1920s and it isn’t working today. Too bad Ron Paul and Gary Johnson are the only candidates on the right side of this issue.

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I gave this post a tongue-in-cheek title because Congressman Paul has produced a very good budget plan.

Which is to be expected since he is the candidate closest to my views according to the Reason political quiz (though I do criticize him  when appropriate).

You can read it on Congressman Paul’s campaign site and here’s how the New York Times described the highlights.

Representative Ron Paul on Monday unveiled an aggressive budget plan that would greatly shrink the federal government that he is seeking to run, eliminating the agency that oversees airport security, the departments of energy and education — and three others — while cutting all war financing. Providing a stark vision of what a libertarian takeover of the White House would look like, the plan would slash the federal budget by $1 trillion in a single year and, Mr. Paul said, bring the budget into balance within three. The federal workforce would be cut by 10 percent across the board. Aid to foreign nations would stop flowing altogether.

There’s obviously a lot to applaud about this proposal, and he gets rid of five useless cabinet-level departments (Energy, HUD, Commerce, Interior, and Education).

But why not get rid of the Department of Agriculture, which is a rat’s nest of destructive subsidies?

And why not get rid of the Department of Labor, which promotes unemployment and props up Big Labor?

Is there any reason not to get rid of the Department of Transportation, which does things that should be handled by the private sector, or state and local government?

But let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the very good. If we ever got half of what Congressman Paul is proposing, I might actually be briefly happy.

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The good people at Reason have a very interesting quiz, featuring anonymous quotes from the various candidates on nine different issues.

I picked the quotes I liked best and the computer says Ron Paul is my guy.

I suppose that makes sense, at least to some degree, since I first voted for him in 1988, when he was the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate.

In the interests of full disclosure, though, I should state that I don’t have a candidate at this point.

But I do have a simple test. I will vote for any candidate that will (in my estimation) reduce the burden of government.

Sadly, no Republican has passed this test since 1984. It remains to be seen whether the GOP will nominate someone acceptable in 2012.

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As a long-time fan of Congressman Paul, I am very disappointed that he recently said he would not have approved the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound. Here’s an excerpt from The Hill.

Likely GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul said this week he would not have authorized the mission that killed Osama bin Laden, raising concerns about international law. …The likely candidate indicated that to capture bin Laden, he would have worked with Pakistan on a mission like the one that nabbed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, who was captured by Pakistani intelligence forces and transferred into U.S. custody. …Paul said that international law was an overriding concern.

I’m particularly mystified that he cited “international law” as a reason for his position. I’m not trying to take a cheap shot. Heck, I voted for Ron Paul way back in 1988 when he was the Libertarian candidate for President and I voted for him again in the GOP presidential primary in 2008. But Surely he doesn’t want to cede American sovereignty to the klepto-crats at the United Nations or some other international bureaucracy filled with statists and appeasers?

Herman Cain, on the other hand, has enjoyed a bit of a boost since the debate in South Carolina. I’ve known Cain since the 1990s when he was a member of the Kemp Tax Reform Commission and I was a staffer. On tax matters, Cain has embraced the national sales tax, which may come back to haunt him if he manages to become a first-tier candidate. But he also has proposed a five-part package of incremental reforms, and I was recently interviewed about that set of proposals. With one exception, I was very favorable. Here’s the opening part of the article in the International Business Times.

Herman Cain’s 5-step plan would boost the US economy and create jobs, according to Daniel Mitchell, an economist and senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Mitchell said in the 21st century, globalization has made it easy for businesses to shift their money (investments) and operations (jobs) internationally. Therefore, it’s of the utmost importance for the US to have the right policies and economics in order to win those operations and monies. Mitchell said the Obama administration’s policies do the opposite. Cain’s proposed policies, however, would work to achieve those goals.

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