Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Revolution Overfloeth

I went to see US Representative Dr. Ron Paul (R-Texas) speak at Loyola University New Orleans this evening. I showed up half an hour before hand, and there were only 20 odd seats left in Nunemaker Hall. More than a half dozen overflow classrooms were set up around campus to display video feed and seat those folks who would not arrive in time for standing room only. Campus police had to good naturedly shoo more than a few people out of the aisles to keep on the legal side of fire codes, which provided an amusing backdrop in a room stocked with libertarians.

Introductions were made by the Economics Club President, the Business College Dean and the controversial Dr. Walter Block. The mood was enthusiastic and many in the crowd expressed unabashed admiration for both the college Economics department and Rep. Paul. He was welcomed with an roaring ovation as he entered. His words were respectful, sincere and provocative. His easy demeanor provided palpable chemistry with the crowd, and elicited much applause and laughter.

As for what he said, all I can say is "whoa." I had a difficult time keeping in mind that he represents a very conservative district in Texas. All in all, this man is one of a kind, and it speaks well to our political culture in the United States that he can hold so many principled positions outside the mainstream of his party and still be returned to the US House of Representatives election after election.

Some of his thoughts, in no particular order:

-Get out of Iraq
-Get out of Afganistan
-Stop provoking Pakistan
-Killing and displacing people in the Middle East only encourage them to want to attack us
-Stop provoking Iran
-Of course Iran wants nuclear weapons, look where they live
-Iran is not going to have nuclear weapons any time soon
-The CIA is very, very bad
-We do not spread democracy
-When we try to spread democracy, and our chosen clients don't win, we overthrow that democracy
-Americans have short memories, Middle Easterners have long memories
-We would be furious if they did to us what we do to them
-Bring US troops home from Japan, Korea, and Europe
-We should eliminate Selective Service (draft) legislation
-The only legal wars include Declarations of War
-The only way to conduct war is like WWII
-We accomplish more with peace, economy and trade than with war
-We should be trading with Iran
-We should be trading with Cuba
-Communism fails
-Former communist countries now own large portions of our debt
-All foreign aid should be ended
-Government should not legislate morality
-As long as you aren't hurting others or stealing from them, government should leave you alone
-Income taxes are stealing from you
-Income taxes are immoral because they are stealing
-Income taxes should be eliminated
-No one has a right to education
-No one has a right to health care
-No one has a right to housing
-Congress has taken the "necessary and proper" clause of the Constitution too far
-Government programs to help the poor and middle classes usually end up hurting the poor and middle classes
-The Federal Reserve keeps markets from self correcting
-The Federal Reserve has eroded the value of the dollar
-The Federal Reserve should be audited
-Partisan politics are not the answer
-Do not question motivations, only question ideas
-At some point in the past (about 70 years ago) the USA was a freer, more dynamic society
-The New Deal, Nixon, and the Cash for Clunkers program were all misguided
-They all did damage to free markets
-Our current policies follow the same ideas that got us into this mess
-Those ideas are borrow, spend, print money, accrue debt
-If we let the market correct things, it would be tough for about a year but we'd emerge stronger
-Compassion is important
-Compassion, free market, & individual liberty would let you donate more money to charity because you'd have more money to spend
-Even people who did not contribute to charity would be contributors by spending money that ended up in the hands of those who would
-These kinds of ideas weren't popular back in the 1970's but have much more relevance today
-He is optimistic that true change will come
-The revolution will happen in the young people currently in college
-Even if nothing happens politically, people will begin to ignore the Federal government
-Underground economies always form when a government is too opressive
-It should not come to that
-The revolution should be non-violent

Those ideas, and many, many more are what he talked about in only 50 or so minutes, in a style of speaking that never droned, sounded rushed or became dull. The crowd closed with a long standing ovation. As I left, he was preparing to shake hands, take pictures, sign autographs, and students from the overflow rooms were filling the hall anew just to see him in person.

One of a kind.



bardamu said...

Yeah, um, you had me until the part where he doesn't believe in public education or a right to health care. Oh, um, yeah, he also wants to build a more militarized border between the United States and Mexico.

Creepy. Very creepy. People are clearly desperate for fresh ideas. Ron Paul has some very, very bad ideas. Did anyone notice what deregulation and an overzealous attachment to the "free market" did to our financial system recently?

More people need to read about what America was like in the late 19th century, back when our system was pretty much "free market". I recommend How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis. The Jungle is a little preachy but also not too bad. Of course there are New Orleans accounts, but mostly you need to find them in research libraries, like John Ker Towles Reed's account of the Irish Channel around the turn of the century.

Before you buy into this Ayn Rand bullshit you should look at living conditions in industrialized societies that have gone the "free market" route. Like Russia since '91.

Not a fun system to live in.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

I ain't tryin' to convince you to agree with him, I'm just outlining the ideas he spoke to. You can make your own decisions.

I've personally always found the Libertarian world view as utopian as that of the most fervent Marxist. But, that does not mean I will refuse to listen to their ideas just because I disagree. My liberal arts based, public school education taught me to look at things from more than one angle.

Folks like Ron Paul hold their opinions for real reasons. It may be worthwhile to examine those reasons.

patsbrother said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
patsbrother said...

Having a "right" means you have the ability to enforce something against someone in court.

Having a "right" to health care means that if you get sick either you get to sue someone for the money to be treated or you get to sue someone for failing to treat you for free. Neither of these are true.

The next time someone gets cancer, tell them to sue the federal government for the funds to pay for it. Absent some kind of contract (employee benefits) or entitlement, their claim will be dismissed.

You do not have a free-standing right to health care.

Dante said...

Ron Paul is interesting to me because he is a centrist. He just operates on a different axis. Our current axis for centrism and compromise is not only entirely arbitrary, it is getting dangerously close to alienating too many people on the extremes of that axis.

If the current state of health care reform is any indication of the Obama Presidency (which is unlikely but sets up my premise so bear with me), there could potentially be just as many disillusioned Democrats as there are Republicans by the next Presidential election. If someone can cater to both disillusioned parties (note the lowercase "p"), that coalition could be a new center with the extremes being our current status quo.

Obama showed us that there are plenty of people who are sick of voting for candidates just because of the R by their name. If he can accomplish the same thing with the D, then the current Party platforms are in considerable danger.