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Matt Stoller: Why Ron Paul Challenges Liberals

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By Matt Stoller, the former Senior Policy Advisor to Rep. Alan Grayson and a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. You can reach him at stoller (at) gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @matthewstoller.

The most perplexing character in Congress, ideologically speaking, is Ron Paul. This is a guy who exists in the Republican Party as a staunch opponent of American empire and big finance. His ideas on the Federal Reserve have taken some hold recently, and he has taken powerful runs at the Presidency on the obscure topic of monetary policy. He doesn’t play by standard political rules, so while old newsletters bearing his name showcase obvious white supremacy, he is also the only prominent politician, let alone Presidential candidate, saying that the drug war has racist origins. You cannot honestly look at this figure without acknowledging both elements, as well as his opposition to war, the Federal government, and the Federal Reserve. And as I’ve drilled into Paul’s ideas, his ideas forced me to acknowledge some deep contradictions in American liberalism (pointed out years ago by Christopher Laesch) and what is a long-standing, disturbing, and unacknowledged affinity liberals have with centralized war financing. So while I have my views of Ron Paul, I believe that the anger he inspires comes not from his positions, but from the tensions that modern American liberals bear within their own worldview.

My perspective of Paul comes from working with his staff in 2009-2010 on issues of war and the Federal Reserve. Paul was one of my then-boss Alan Grayson’s key allies in Congress on these issues, though on most issues of course he and Paul were diametrically opposed. How Paul operated his office was different than most Republicans, and Democrats. An old Congressional hand once told me, and then drilled into my head, that every Congressional office is motivated by three overlapping forces – policy, politics, and procedure. And this is true as far as it goes. An obscure redistricting of two Democrats into one district that will take place in three years could be the motivating horse-trade in a decision about whether an important amendment makes it to the floor, or a possible opening of a highly coveted committee slot on Appropriations due to a retirement might cause a policy breach among leadership. Depending on committee rules, a Sub-Committee chairman might have to get permission from a ranking member or Committee Chairman to issue a subpoena, sometimes he might not, and sometimes he doesn’t even have to tell his political opposition about it. Congress is endlessly complex, because complexity can be a useful tool in wielding power without scrutiny. And every office has a different informal matrix, so you have to approach each of them differently.

Paul’s office was dedicated, first and foremost, to his political principles, and his work with his grassroots base reflects that. Politics and procedure simply didn’t matter to him. My main contact in Paul’s office even had his voicemail set up with special instructions for those calling about HR 1207, which was the number of the House bill to audit the Federal Reserve. But it wasn’t just the Fed audit – any competent liberal Democratic staffer in Congress can tell you that Paul will work with anyone who seeks his ends of rolling back American Empire and its reach into foreign countries, auditing the Federal Reserve, and stopping the drug war.

Paul is deeply conservative, of course, and there are reasons he believes in those end goals that have nothing to do with creating a more socially just and equitable society. But then, when considering questions about Ron Paul, you have to ask yourself whether you prefer a libertarian who will tell you upfront about his opposition to civil rights statutes, or authoritarian Democratic leaders who will expand healthcare to children and then aggressively enforce a racist war on drugs and shield multi-trillion dollar transactions from public scrutiny. I can see merits in both approaches, and of course, neither is ideal. Perhaps it’s worthy to argue that lives saved by presumed expanded health care coverage in 2013 are worth the lives lost in the drug war. It is potentially a tough calculation (depending on whether you think coverage will in fact expand in 2013). When I worked with Paul’s staff, they pursued our joint end goals with vigor and principle, and because of their work, we got to force central banking practices into a more public and democratic light.

But this obscures the real question, of why Paul disdains the Fed (and implicitly, why liberals do not), and the relationship between the Federal Reserve and American empire.  If you go back and look at some of libertarian allies, like Fox News’s Judge Napolitano, they will answer that question for you. Napolitano hates, absolutely hates, Abraham Lincoln. He sometimes slyly refers to Lincoln as America’s first dictator. Libertarians also detest Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

What connects all three of these Presidents is one thing – big ass wars, and specifically, war financing. If you think today’s deficits are bad, well, Abraham Lincoln financed the Civil War pretty much entirely by money printing and debt creation, taking America off the gold standard. He oversaw the founding of the nation’s first national financial regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which chartered national banks and forced them to hold government debt to back currency they issued. The dollar then became the national currency, and Lincoln didn’t even back those dollars by gold (and gold is written into the Constitution). This financing of the Civil War was upheld in a series of cases over the Legal Tender Act of 1862. Prior to Lincoln, it was these United States. Afterwards, it was the United States. Lincoln fought the Civil War and centralized authority in the Federal government to do it, freeing slaves and transforming America into one nation.

Libertarians claim that they dislike Lincoln because he centralized authority in the Federal government. Of course, there is a long reconstructed white supremacist strain that hates Lincoln because he was an explicitly anti-racist President, and they hate the centralized authority and financing power that freed the slaves and turned America increasingly into more racially equitable society. This strain can be exploited by the creditor class, who also disliked how slavery – which they saw as a property right rather than a labor and human rights issue – was destroyed by state power. History, of course, has a nasty way of mocking us about long-held fights we thought were over. The conflict between labor/human rights and property rights continues today. Or as Carl Fox said in the movie Wall Street, “The only difference between the Pyramids and the Empire State Building is the Egyptians didn’t allow unions.” Without even getting into globalization, prison labor legally makes body armor, as well as products for victoria’s Secret, Starbucks, and Microsoft. State centralized power can prioritize labor rights over property rights, and for this reason, creditors are wary of it.

On to Woodrow Wilson. Wilson signed the highly controversial Federal Reserve Act in 1913; originally, the Federal Reserve system was supposed to discount commercial and agricultural paper. Government bonds were not really considered part of the system’s mandate. But what happened the next year? Yes, World War I. And Wilson, who ran on the slogan “he kept us out of war” in 1916, started a long tradition of antiwar Democratic Presidents who took America to war (drawing the ire of among others Helen Keller, but garnering the support of union leader Sam Gompers who argued it was a “people’s war”). Wilson also implemented a wide variety of highly repressive authoritarian measures, including the Palmer Raids, the Espionage Act of 1917, and the use of modern PR techniques by government agencies. For good measure, Wilson was an unreconstructed white supremacist (even a bit out there for the time) and sent many antiwar opponents to jail. In the monetary arena, Wilson’s new Federal Reserve system began discounting government bonds. Like Lincoln, he had set up a tremendous war financing vehicle to centralize capital flows and therefore, political authority. In many ways, Wilson set up the rudiments of America’s police state, and did so arguably to help a transatlantic Anglo-American banking elite. Here, one can argue that libertarians are wary of centralized financing and political authority for liberal reasons – the ACLU was founded after the Palmer raids.

And finally, we come to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Roosevelt’s Fed is a bit more complex, because he did centralize monetary authority using wartime emergency powers, but he did so in peacetime. FDR abrogated gold clause contracts, seized the domestic supply of gold, and devalued the currency. He constrained banks with aggressive regulation and seizures of insolvent banks, saving depositors with the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. He also used the RFC to set up much of what we know today as the Federal government, including early versions of disaster relief, small business lending, massive bridge and railroad building, the FHA, Fannie Mae, and state and local aid. Eventually, the government used this mechanism to finance college and housing for veterans with the GI Bill. Since veterans were much of the population right after World War II, effectively this was the first ever near-national safety net. FDR also fused the liberal and union establishments with the corporate world, creating the hybrid “military-industrial” complex that is with us to this day (see Alan Brinkley’s “End of Reform” for a good treatment of this process).

Later, this New Deal financing apparatus was used to finance the munitions industry and America’s role in World War II. At one point, the RFC owned eight war material producing subsidiaries, including the synthetic rubber industry. Importantly, FDR had the Fed working for him. The Fed kept interest rates pegged at an interest rate set by Treasury, and used reserve requirements to manage inflation. This led to a dramatic drop in inequality, and unemployment sank to 1% during World War II. In 1951, the Fed, buttressed by what Tom Ferguson calls “conservative Keynesian” corporate leaders, broke free of this arrangement, under the Treasury-Fed Accord, leading to the postwar monetary order. That accord is where the vaunted “Federal Reserve Independence” came from.

Now, if you’re a libertarian, and you believe that centralized power is dangerous, then it’s obvious that state control over finance and mass mobilization of social resources for warfare or other ends are two sides of the same coin. If you fear social spending, you could also be persuaded to believe that any financing mechanism for mass social spending is problematic. Creditors might just dislike the possibility of any state power centers that could challenge their hegemony and privilege labor/human rights over their property rights, though they do support captive state systems they control. If you are a white supremacist, centralized power can easily be viewed as a threat to racial homogeny, since historically it has acted as such in the past. But if you are against war, or you believe that a centralized state is likely to act in an unjust or repressive manner (as it also has in the past), then war financing is a reasonable target.

Modern liberalism is a mixture of two elements. One is a support of Federal power – what came out of the late 1930s, World War II, and the civil rights era where a social safety net and warfare were financed by Wall Street, the Federal Reserve and the RFC, and human rights were enforced by a Federal government, unions, and a cadre of corporate, journalistic and technocratic experts (and cheap oil made the whole system run.) America mobilized militarily for national priorities, be they war-like or social in nature. And two, it originates from the anti-war sentiment of the Vietnam era, with its distrust of centralized authority mobilizing national resources for what were perceived to be immoral priorities. When you throw in the recent financial crisis, the corruption of big finance, the increasing militarization of society, Iraq and Afghanistan, and the collapse of the moral authority of the technocrats, you have a big problem. Liberalism doesn’t really exist much within the Democratic Party so much anymore, but it also has a profound challenge insofar as the rudiments of liberalism going back to the 1930s don’t work.

This is why Ron Paul can critique the Federal Reserve and American empire, and why liberals have essentially no answer to his ideas, arguing instead over Paul having character defects. Ron Paul’s stance should be seen as a challenge to better create a coherent structural critique of the American political order. It’s quite obvious that there isn’t one coming from the left, otherwise the figure challenging the war on drugs and American empire wouldn’t be in the Republican primary as the libertarian candidate. To get there, liberals must grapple with big finance and war, two topics that are difficult to handle in any but a glib manner that separates us from our actual traditional and problematic affinity for both. War financing has a specific tradition in American culture, but there is no guarantee war financing must continue the way it has. And there’s no reason to assume that centralized power will act in a more just manner these days, that we will see continuity with the historical experience of the New Deal and Civil Rights Era. The liberal alliance with the mechanics of mass mobilizing warfare, which should be pretty obvious when seen in this light, is deep-rooted.

What we’re seeing on the left is this conflict played out, whether it is big slow centralized unions supporting problematic policies, protest movements that cannot be institutionalized in any useful structure, or a completely hollow liberal intellectual apparatus arguing for increasing the power of corporations through the Federal government to enact their agenda. Now of course, Ron Paul pandered to racists, and there is no doubt that this is a legitimate political issue in the Presidential race. But the intellectual challenge that Ron Paul presents ultimately has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with contradictions within modern liberalism.

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400 comments

  1. William

    What liberals support increasing corporate power?

    Let’s hope Paul’s pandering to racists is more like Obama’s campaign pandering to progressives and blacks, and not like his pandering to Wall Street. Look what THAT got us.

    1. spooz

      Those that are democratic party members beholding to special interests in order to maintain the status quo? The refreshing thing about Paul is that he apparently does not have ties to special interests/lobbyists. That alone places him above the rest. The only way our country can work again is to dislodge the crony capitalism and the two party system that is so thoroughly invested in it. If it takes a guy with a few wacky ideas that need legislative action in any case, so be it. I’ll vote for the guy. Can’t be any worse than my voting for Obama in 2008.

      1. cwaltz

        The guy collected millions of dollars for racist screeds. He caters to a special interest group it just doesn’t have a corporate logo.

        As for Matt Stoller, he should speak for himself. I have no problem with challenging Ron Paul on his positions. I’ll repeat what I said on another website, the idea that the solution to regulatory agencies that are functioning poorly is to have no regulatory agencies whatsoever(except for female uteruses and gays apparently) is absurd and dangerous.

        The problem isn’t that I don’t “get” Ron Paul. The problem is I disagree with him-vehemently. “De-centralizing” and making things a “states right” is not going to fix anything, in most instances it’s going to make a bigger mess.

        1. rafael bolero

          I totally agree. Plus, this article does not mention Paul’s desire to end entitlements like SS, a clear social darwinism also racist in southern origin. Just drove from Wi to FL and back on the Interstate; GA buckle up seat belt signs use the state’s shape as a torso in red with a blue seat belt sash that clearly is the Confederate flag. I guess they think that’s clever down there. Paul needs to compromise on the entitlements to have any chance at being more than a spoiler. The repubs do not really care, however, cause O is giving them everything they want anyway.

          1. Andrew

            Dr. Paul’s plan to balance the budget without cutting social security or medicare is the only plan that neither cut’s those programs directly or devalues the dollars that are used to pay those entitlements.. Obama claims to be a champion of social programs but his policies are destroying the dollar and cannot be sustained

        2. lambert strether

          Institutionally, however, which I think is Stoller’s point, there’s no challenge at all. The D tactic of playing the race card exemplifies this perfectly.

          I mean, come on. Why don’t we see a full throttle attack on Paul for assaulting Social Security (which also would split Paul’s base)? Because the Ds want to gut Social Security just as much as the Rs do, that’s why.

          1. cwaltz

            I’m not a Democrat so I can’t speak on that point. However, I do believe that Stoller used the term liberal. I am one of those.

            I can argue Ron Paul’s philosophy backwards, forwards and sideways. The charecter flaws are just icing on the terribly flawed cake.

        3. Frank Denver

          You are so focused on newsletters from 20+ years ago you fail to see that you are having your world pulled from right under your feet. It is your ignorance to the real issues that take you down when the United States declares bankruptcy and the banksters announce (yes announce) our new president. So keep supporting the war profiting machine and the banksters goal of bankruptcy. Good luck voting on personality! They have you right where they want you. Ignorant!

          1. cwaltz

            I’m not focused on 20 year old newsletters. I’m looking at the guy as a whole. Yes, that includes his past. It also includes his positions today.

            The conclusion I come to is Ron Paul is an old man stuck in the idea that all of the problems in the world stem from people who don’t look, think or feel as he does. If you aren’t white or male then the country is coddling you(nevermind that the exact opposite is true which is why we adopted things like the civil rights act and the american disabilities act or bodies like the eeoc) He has a very narrow viewpoint of the world and he doesn’t wish to expand it. His fear of “different” shows in those newsletters and shows in his views.

            Ron Paul may indeed be a very nice old man however his opinions ultimately do not lead to a diverse, tolerant, and more caring community. And those values are incredibly important to me as a parent.

          2. lambert strether

            And so what if the newsletters are old? Paul secured his base in TX with those newsletters, and (like most Congresspersons with minimal competence) was a lock for re-election once he did it. He didn’t have to keep repeating the message; a nod and a wink every so often would be more than sufficient.

          3. Carlos Ramirez

            It’s nice that you care about diversity, but I think abolishing the War on Drugs, the endless wars abroad and the unholy union of corporations and government are more important than any social issue you care to name.

          4. Joshua

            “Narrow viewpoint of the world”? He’s the only one that I’ve heard who repeatedly brings up historical facts and applies them to our current situation. I don’t think any of them understand what’s going on in the world better than he does. I also have never heard him say anything to suggest that he thinks problems stem from people who are different unless by “different” you mean corrupt or ignorant. He has spoken clearly about the disproportionate arrests of black people and he is against it. His stance is that all human beings should be treated as human beings and that we should not think in terms of groups at all.

          5. tinfoil hattie

            Gee, I put “freeing women from oppression” at the tippy-top of my list. You know, the other half of the population.

          6. TheSteelGeneral

            20 years old? what are you talking about, he just said on CNN the Civil Rights Act was wrong. He was the only one who did not vote Yes on it’s 40 year celebration!
            Ron Paul pro liberty he says, but not of the African-Americans to be served in every lunch counter.
            “The straightforward way to interpret Paul’s remarks on CNN is to read him as saying that bigoted property owners, like owners of restaurants, should to this day have the right to call on the coercive power of the police department to enforce their decisions to refuse to serve certain categories of customers on their property. Anti-semitic store owners, for example, should have the right not merely to put up a “No Jews” sign, but also TO SUMMON THE POLICE, AT THE TAXPAYER’S EXPENSE, to arrest any Jew who insisted on entering the store.”

            http://politics.salon.com/2012/01/03/race_liberty_and_ron_paul/singleton/

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/01/ron-paul-civil-rights-act_n_1178688.html

          7. Chris T.

            steelgeneral:
            of course you neglect to say WHY he said the CRAct is wrong.
            Like so many outcome driven people, who have no clue about process and proper legal reasoning, you only care about the outcome, not how its arrived at.
            But that is the easiest and saddest way to lose all rule of law.
            By way of example:
            Ron Paul has stated many times that he believes a person has the right to decide for himself what to put or not to put in his body, and that is why he, on a personal level, supports the abolition of drug prohibition.
            Yet, in keeping with his, and it’s the ONLY proper legal approach, adherence to the constitution, he would NOT support a bill forcing all drugs to be legal in all states, because that power is NOT delegated to the fed. government by the constitution.

            In the same way, neither is anything to do with civil rights.
            SO:
            he criticized the Act not because he supports segregation, but because the fed. government has NO legal authority under the constitution to legislate in this sphere.

            People like you don’t get that, and always bow to the expediency of the moment, screw the law, the constitution and all semblance of control.
            Whatever suits the taste-du-jour, lets do it.
            That is the best path to tyranny, and one of good intentions is the worst sort.

            Sad, sad, sad, and the reason we are where we are.
            It is also the way the Scotus has decided many times, the most egregious example being Dred Scott:
            They wanted the outcome they arrived at, and screw the constitution, lets just create the non-constitutional idea of substantive due process.
            Your attitude is supportive of that reasoning, yet I hardly think you find Dred Scott acceptable looking just at its outcome!

        4. spooz

          Actually, I do think states rights are important, especially when the federal government has no interest in oversight, only in lining pockets. Trusting the federal government to regulate has been a dismal failure, and I don’t see any candidates talking about tough regulation. I’m thinking small local governments, and a reversal of all the incentives for globalization in exchange for incentives to small businesses would be a big step in the right direction.
          I don’t agree with everything Paul says, but I am ready to take a huge step away from the status quo that the two party system represents. Unless a good third party option comes up, I’d vote for Paul over Obama, and I consider myself progressive.

          1. cwaltz

            I could argue that the “states” haven’t exactly done a bang up job.

            Let’s take health care. We have 50 different systems that have different rules. In California, Blue Cross has managed to exploit that. They are paying a couple million for rescinding the care of 1000s of people in California. Why?The states often end up “settling” because national companies like Blue Cross have the means to keep them in court and make them utilize tons of money to fight them in court.

            No, handing things over to the states doesn’t necessarily improve the system. It makes it easier for large multinational businesses to exploit each state.

          2. spooz

            I agree that health care is one area where we need universal coverage. We don’t have that now and I don’t see either party interested in making that happen. Obamacare is just a gift to special interests and does nothing to reduce the cost of health care.

            I’m more concerned with the lack of federal oversight, compromised regulators, and threats to freedoms with laws like the Patriot Act than I am concerned with the threat of states rights.

          3. cwaltz

            It doesn’t just apply to health care though.

            Just like with federal regulatory agencies a state is going to be vulnerable depending upon the leadership it has.

            http://www.wfaa.com/news/local/Report-State-regulators-failed-to-disclose-benzene-in-Fort-Worth-air-94985339.html

            Without federal agencies citizens would have had no federal recourse.

            or this

            http://napavalleyregister.com/news/state-and-regional/state-phone-regulators-failed-to-collect-at-least-m/article_d7144306-456c-5627-b55d-0efa6832642e.html

            or this

            http://www.nydailynews.com/news/state-regulators-charged-edison-inspection-failure-article-1.243597

            The truth is that just like the federal government, there is little to prevent a state regulatory agency falling down on the job.

            Having a Federal regulatory agency in addition to a state gives citizens an added layer of protection.

          4. cwaltz

            I’m looking at Ms. Stein and Mr Anderson very carefully.

            One of them will likely get my vote.

            I reject the idea that I have to vote for one of the two establishment candidates. Perhaps if enough people were to do so we might have some real alternatives instead of consistently being asked to choose and root for either bad or worse. At the very least more choices mean the PTB are forced to spread the money around more.

          5. Frustrated Liberal

            “Trusting the federal government to regulate has been a dismal failure…”

            Do you want to abolish the FDA and let the market determine the safety of drugs. Ron Paul does. How about clean air and clean water. The are a number of areas in which government regulation has been quite successful; this statement is simply a repetition of the Reagan doctrine.

            That said, I find Paul’s positions on the war on drugs, Federal Reserve transparency, and most of the other issues discussed here to be spot on. I can’t support him because he lives in an alternate reality. But Obama’s record on e.g. human rights and due process issues is abominable.

        5. Matt Emmons

          This is ironic, given that Paul is the only candidate who has a realistic plan to maintain social programs: that is, by massive cuts in defense spending and in Federal bureaucracy. In fact Paul has repeatedly explained that though he is philosophically opposed to Federal social programs, he feels that it would be unethical to end them when people are dependent on them. He call Social Security a “contract” that should be honored. He’d like to see America transition to an economy in which citizens were prosperous enough to take care of themselves and each other, but the idea that he wants to take office and kick all the poor people to the curb is outright falsification. Understandable, though, as it’s a message that seems to come from the top of the media food chain. In a further irony, it’s Obama who HAS put Social Security “on the table,” just as our prior “liberal” president Clinton assisted Congress in kicking poor people off of welfare destroying their job opportunities with “free trade” agreements (which Paul opposes) and initiating the massive theft of middle class wealth by financial deregulation. Time to wake up folks. The game has changed, and Obama (I voted for him, too) is playing his base like a fiddle.

        6. IDEALIST707

          Congress has the right to declare war. Giving it over to the President was a mistake.
          Similarly, devolving powers to the states takes us back to 1860, or worse.
          We are a modern interconnected world. Returning to “states rights” is ridiculous.

          1. NothingChanged

            If the choice is between poorly connected states and a president who thinks he has the power to execute any person without any due process of any kind, I’ll take the weak states disconnected states every day of the week. Personally, I hope a Republican wins, because then the Democrats will go back to pretending to care about civil liberties and will at least push back against the neo-con agenda. With Obama in the office though, the neo-cons are having a hay-day.

        7. jamie moss

          My my Where have you people been getting your information? Establishment deception . com?

          “The guy collected millions of dollars for racist screeds. He caters to a special interest group it just doesn’t have a corporate logo.”

          Really? Do you actually believe that? “Collected millions?” The eight comments in thousands of pages of three different investment newsletters over a 5 year period were what the newsletters? Now, that’s subtle!

          Who would have known that racists would avidly pour over thousands of pages to find a handful of comments? Persistent bunch they must be. Then they ferreted out those comments and sent them to all their racist friends so their friends would subscribe. In recognition and gratitude for those 8 comments, the racists bought 10′s of millions in gold and other investments. Because of those racists remarks.

          Thank you for all the relevant and cogent analysis.

          How about another war to take our minds off the nation’s problems? Let’s start off the new year right and arrest some people for non violent crimes!

        8. JeffC

          Dr. Paul was practicing medicine at the time, as per his response and was acting only as a publisher of the newsletters and not as an editor. The content of his the newsletters were not brought to his attention until ten-years after the fact. This is an honest and thourough response and yet, still many people continue to label him as racist based on this. His opposition to the Drug War, as well as the support of many ethnic people should make it patently obvious to anyone with an inclination towards logic, that he is not in fact a racist. What he is, is a threat to the Global Banking Elite, hence the smear campaign against him that most weak-minded RepubliCrats fall for.

    2. FreedomIsAbsolute

      First off are you a liberal? And second if you are do you think the govt should force everyone into a mandated healthcare system? If so, all you are doing is making the corporations bigger and have more of a mononopoly. Do you support the federal govt subsidies with student loans? Well that makes private corporations bigger and stronger and hurts compitition. I can go on and on, but like they say, youll stick to your side, and I’ll stick to mine. You can think your right, but ask yourself. We have been pumping money into places we shouldn’t ever since FDR. It doesn’t matter if the prez was repub or dem, they both do it. Is it really helping? Look at our $15 trill debt. Are we really going about this in the right way?

      1. hackenbush

        “First off are you a liberal? And second if you are do you think the govt should force everyone into a mandated healthcare system? If so, all you are doing is making the corporations bigger and have more of a mononopoly.”

        I’m a “liberal”, and I don’t like the government mandated private-insurance-giveaway that we have now. I would much rather have gone for a “Medicare for All” approach, as the nice folks at PNHP have suggested. ( http://pnhp.org/ )

        “Do you support the federal govt subsidies with student loans? Well that makes private corporations bigger and stronger and hurts compitition[sic].”

        It’s a piss-poor semi-privatization scheme. I’d say, if we’re going to subsidize student loans, either discount the tuition amounts for public universities, or pay the educational institutions directly. Seems like a ridiculous place to have private lenders.

        “I can go on and on, but like they say, youll stick to your side, and I’ll stick to mine. You can think your[sic] right, but ask yourself. We have been pumping money into places we shouldn’t ever since FDR.”

        I guess that depends who you are. If you’re an elderly person on Medicare, or disabled, or a veteran (let’s not forget the GI Bill, etc), then you’re going to think that those places are mighty swell. The Civil Works Administration (also from FDR) provided many of the municipal buildings which are still in use across the country. Yes, there are places we shouldn’t be “pumping money”, but it’s largely subjective.

        “It doesn’t matter if the prez was repub or dem, they both do it.”

        True. We have a pretty efficient kleptocracy going on here. Thank your conservative buddies for the “Citizens United” decision — we’re only going to see corporate whoring from now on.

        “Is it really helping? Look at our $15 trill debt. Are we really going about this in the right way?”

        The majority of which is made up of unfunded tax cuts (Bush the Younger), two unfunded wars (Bush the Younger), deficit spending outside of a time of economic crisis (Saint Ron), and an unfunded Medicare handout in the form of “Medicare Advantage” and “Medicare Part D” (Bush the Younger). Perhaps if we stopped the jingoist warmongering, stopped cutting tax rates in an attempt to “stimulate” the richest among us into keeping jobs here, and realized that our healthcare system can’t stand the weight of oppressive profit-driven bloat — we might be able to get everything back under control. Maybe.

        1. Wasabi

          Does Paul support campaign finance reform and mandated federal financing of campaigns? If the answer is no, then Paul’s policies will produce the opposite of what he says they will.

          Does Paul want to return to the gold standard? If the answer is yes, this would cause nearly permanent recession in the US. Paul’s economic policies would return us to the long recessions and depressions of the 19th century.

          It’s generally wise to vote for a candidate as a totality, not just as a bundle of campaign promises. That became very clear after 2008.

          1. Windy

            Rep. Paul does not want to return to the gold standard, that is a misinterpretation of his position, please go do some research on his policy to understand what it is he really wants to do, but the gist of it is he wants to make certain the value of a dollar is linked to something more tangible than thin air, using the old gold standard was just an example of how such a system would function, to make his policy easier to understand.

            As for any racism on his part, there really is none, if you look at this speeches and writings and votes in congress you will find not one tiny bit of racism in any of them, here he is writing about it; so, in his own words:
            “In the long run, the only way racism can be overcome is through the philosophy of individualism, which I have promoted throughout my life. Our rights come to us not because we belong to some group, but our rights come to us as individuals.

            And it is as individuals that we should judge one another. Racism is a particularly odious form of collectivism whereby individuals are treated not on their merits but on the basis of group identity.

            Nothing in my political philosophy, which is the exact opposite of the racial totalitarianism of the twentieth century, gives aid or comfort to such thinking. To the contrary, my philosophy of individualism is the most radical intellectual challenge to racism ever posted.” – Ron Paul in ‘The Revolution: A Manifesto’ page 64

          2. F. Beard

            …but the gist of it is he wants to make certain the value of a dollar is linked to something more tangible than thin air, … Windy

            That’s bogus. The dollar is already backed by FORCE, taxes are required in it. Pay them with fiat or go to jail and/or have your property confiscated.

            The point of a gold standard (for example) is not to back the dollar with gold but to back the value of gold with the force of government. That is fascist.

      2. Westcoastliberal

        I’m a liberal and a former strong supporter of Obama. He ran on a platform of “Hope & Change”. He delivered on neither. He’s done; next case.
        Ron Paul is running on a platform of change and I’ll vote for him, despite not agreeing with him on many major policies. I like equality for all and social programs, but I don’t like rampant greed, corruption, and disrespect for the rule of law. That’s the world we’re now living in. Ron Paul wants to change that. He’s against the Patriot Act. He’s against invading Iran. He’s against the very idea of indefinite detention for Americans.
        So here we have Ron Paul on one side, and all the other pawns, er candidates on the other. It’s no longer a Dem/Repub; liberal/conservative question. We’re talking about the survival of democracy and that’s what I’ll be voting for when I pull the lever for Ron Paul.

        1. Carey

          you do know that ron paul doesn’t support democracy, right? our country isn’t even a democracy. We’re a constitutional republic, which means have a representative form of government rather than mob rule, which is what democracy equates to.

          “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.”
          ~ Thomas Jefferson

          1. hondje

            >We’re a constitutional republic, which means have a representative form of government rather than mob rule, which is what democracy equates to.

            No, Democracy does not equal ochlocracy and a constitutional republic is not exclusive of democracy. Either you poorly worded that sentence or you are very confused.

          2. NothingChanged

            We have a Democratic Republic, a form of democracy just as Direct Democracy (the system you decry) is also a form of democracy. I’m so tired of the people saying “we aren’t a democracy, we’re a republic” because it’s just plain wrong. We’re both, we just aren’t a Direct Democracy.

            I don’t know what form of democracy RP prefers, but one thing is certain, he is the only candidate who cares about important civil liberties, like the right not to be executed without trial, or the right not to indefinitely detained without trial. You can argue all you want about whether we’re a Democracy or a Republic (the answer is both BTW), but it won’t matter if you’re dead or in a gulag.

        2. lambert strether

          We know that Paul isn’t running the hopey change scam, but from the right, how exactly?

          The 1% playbook doesn’t change, although the players do. I see people investing in Paul with the same sort of fervor they invested in Obama. That story never ends well.

          I think Paul is interesting technically and strategically, but I’m voting for Mike Check. Seriously, vote for anybody in either legacy party? How many times does Lucy need to pull the football away?

          1. Walter Wit Man

            This is a good point. I have come to the conclusion that Paul’s stated policies are better than Obama’s and the Democrats (if one was to do an honest “cost/benefit” analysis), despite the major difference I have with Paul.

            But I have learned not to trust any of the legacy parties. Kucinich is a great example. I wanted him as president but after seeing his performance on health care (and btw, Stoller paints too positive a picture of Obamacare) I no longer trust Kucinich. I don’t trust anyone in the legacy parties.

            But . . . . Paul does strike me as the most sincere. More sincere than Kucinich even.

            Who knows though.

            I am way more cynical than I used to be and I keep discovering that I’m not cynical enough.

            Paul would still be better than Obama though, even if he was only half full of shit.

          2. Frank Denver

            You need to educate yourself. The only candidate who is being endlessly funded by the 1% is Romney. In fact (yes fact), not one of the 1%’s are supporting Ron Paul. Read between the lines, they hate him for his desire to stop the profiting of war and the Federal Reserve. It is right there in front of you and yet you chose to listen to the main stream media. Wow!

            Think!!! What happens if you take away the corporatist control of business (regulations supposedly meant to protect us) and allow the small business man to flourish? The middle income explodes!

          3. opening

            Ron’s supporters-

            http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cycle=Career&type=I&cid=N00005906&newMem=N&recs=20

            US Army $107,469 $107,469 $0
            US Navy $82,120 $82,120 $0
            US Air Force $80,440 $80,440 $0
            Google Inc $65,191 $65,191 $0
            Microsoft Corp $63,877 $63,877 $0
            Credit Union National Assn $41,986 $250 $41,736
            Boeing Co $38,529 $38,529 $0
            US Postal Service $36,360 $36,360 $0
            Lockheed Martin $36,163 $36,163 $0
            National Assn of Realtors $34,470 $470 $34,000
            Hewlett-Packard $34,313 $34,313 $0
            AT&T Inc $30,459 $27,424 $3,035
            Cisco Systems $29,762 $29,762 $0
            Dunn Capital Management $29,100 $29,100 $0

        3. Lucy

          “I like equality for all and social programs, but I don’t like rampant greed, corruption, and disrespect for the rule of law. That’s the world we’re now living in. Ron Paul wants to change that.”

          How does he propose changing all that?

        4. Steven

          I feel you are making a big mistake for a very basic reason.

          I’m willing to believe that Ron Paul really believes what he says he believes and that he even truly wants to enact policies to accomplish these things.

          It is important to remember that a president is not elected god. He has to function within the constraints of the times and the political climate that he lives in. This is the root of disillusion with Obama. We want to view our presidents as saviors, but they are only ambitious men with limited power trying to navigate the complexities of power.

          A Ron Paul presidency would have to function within the context of the present conservative movement. Many of the things that you like about Ron Paul will never be accomplished because there is zero support for these policies amongst conservatives in Congress(and the vast majority of conservatives in the country). Many of these policies are also considered a step too far for most democrats but a Ron Paul presidency would never be based upon the support of democrats with Paul fighting his own party. On the other hand many of the things that are most odious about Ron Paul, like the desire to dismantle the social safety, the closet racism, etc. have very broad support amongst much of the hard core right wing.

          In other words a Ron Paul presidency is not going to unravel the patriot act, dismantle the national security state and get control of the bankers. It would instead end up being the conservative class war and assault on the social safety net amped up on steroids.

          You can’t look at what candidates say in elections. You have to look at the political dynamic they will be thrust into and question what they will be able to accomplish and what they won’t. Because you didn’t do this with Obama and therefore invested more in obama than you should have you have become disillusioned with obama. Doing the same with Ron Paul will have even more catastrophic consequences and I would ask you to rethink this.

          1. spooz

            But if Ron Paul were in Obama’s place right now, the heinous National Defense Authorization Act would be vetoed. That alone would be a big improvement over status quo.

          2. lambert strether

            I never thought that The Droner would be a savior.

            What I did not expect is that he would normalize or make worse everything Bush did, and that “progressives” would run interference for him as he did it.

          3. Jim

            And if Ron Paul were currently president we wouldn’t have an administration where a list of the president’s economic appointments reads like a who’s who of former goldman sachs senior management.

    3. Matt Stoller Post author

      Good question. A key plank for FDR, Truman, JFK, LBJ, Carter, Clinton, & Obama is free trade, which is an attempt to use state power to further certain corporate interests. Now when American multi-nationals lost pricing power in the 1970s, the winners and losers of this policy framework changed, hence the “right turn” of American politics that Tom Ferguson describes so well.

      1. Johnny Clamboat

        “A key plank for FDR, Truman, JFK, LBJ, Carter, Clinton, & Obama is free trade”

        Free trade? Or managed trade?

      2. Foppe

        Might I point out to you this wonderful quote from Wilson?

        Since trade ignores national boundaries and the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him, and the doors of the nations which are closed against him must be battered down. Concessions obtained by financiers must be safeguarded by ministers of state, even if the sovereignty of unwilling nations be outraged in the process. Colonies must be obtained or planted, in order that no useful corner of the world may be overlooked or left unused.

      3. svp

        Strange that you associate this only with Democratic presidents. I’d assumed (apparently in error) that your original phrase (“… a completely hollow liberal intellectual apparatus arguing for increasing the power of corporations through the Federal government to enact their agenda”) was instead a reference to the ACLU’s support for Citizen’s United.

        Did you mean “hegemony” rather than “homogeny”?

    4. Sy Krass

      Woah,woah,woah,woah,woah,hold on a minute. Lincoln acted in opposition to the bankers wanting to charge him 30-40% for war loans, Wilson and FDR acquiessed to the big banksters with the federal reserve act and gold confiscation, quite a difference.

      1. Yves Smith

        Huh? Bankers were freaked out by FDR going off gold. Go read Once in Golconda for a detailed account of that decision. JP Morgan got them to back off via a public statement (and he had not been consulted and was initially not happy either).

        1. Chris T.

          BS!
          JPMorgan was one of the prime movers to implement the Fed.
          That was the evisceration of the gold standard, everything after is just a smoke-screen.
          Like Roosevelt being a “traitor to his class”.
          He served them well.
          Just look at the redistribution of wealth from US to THEM ever since the implementation of the New Deal.

    5. Walter Wit Man

      What liberals support increasing corporate power?

      Easy. Liberals that vote for Democrats support increasing corporate power. So, in other words, the vast majority of them.

      You don’t get to pretend to be against something you support.

      1. Anonymous Jones

        You don’t get to make up your own definition of the word “support”.

        At least not one I will accept.

        1. Walter Wit Man

          Well, let’s try to find a working definition. Voting for Obama or the Democrats is supporting them. Giving them money is supporting them. Running interference for them on blogs, etc., is supporting them.

        2. NothingChanged

          If you are not actively excoriating Obama for pushing every disgusting policy of the Bush/Cheney years to greater depths, and actively supporting a Democratic primary challenger, then yes, you are most definitely supporting evil.

    6. Fred

      Ron Paul does not advocate increasing corporate power.

      He talks about the evils of too-powerful government and the resulting crony capitalism, says it is a fascist form of government.

    7. Bob D

      Ron Paul says he is outraged by racists. But he does not and will not have the power to do anything about them legitimately, even if he is elected president. He will be able to do something about the perpetual wars. What has Obama done about them?

    8. Ralph Fucetola JD

      William, I don’t see any evidence that Dr. Paul “panders” to Wall Street. Like most libertarians, he does not support the legal fiction of corporate “personhood.” His Monetary Reform Bills are aimed a restoring Constitutional Money and abolishing the Fed Reserve Bd of Gov, while reducing the Fed Debt by 1.7T in one bookkeeping move. Read HR.1094, 1098 and 2768.

      He is no friend of Wall Street which is why Wall Street money is going to politicians who will maintain the crony corporatist system, while its average people, young people, members of the military who are giving Dr. Paul strong support.

      There is a rEVOLution coming! http://tinyurl.com/WriteInRonPaul

    9. clintonius

      Your severe myopia ironically illustrates the problem with liberals who need to be led and told what to do. Absolutely no critical reasoning skills whatsoever.

    10. scarpy

      Lots of liberals support corporate power. Look at most of the policy proposals coming out of liberal think tanks these days — generally they’re built around market incentives (like energy or research tax credits for instance) designed to encourage corporate actors to do the heavy policy lifting. Liberals, at least the ones making policy and/or speaking articulately about policy matters, have mostly endorsed a corporatist worldview.

      Not to mention that liberal policymakers are about as likely as GOP counterparts to go work in the private sector once they’ve cut their teeth in government gigs. The revolving door isn’t picky about partisanship.

      One might argue that these aren’t the “real” liberals, but they’re the ones making the policies and actually affecting the way the country is run, so if they’re not real liberals then the real liberals don’t much matter.

    11. Bob Jones

      William says:
      December 29, 2011 at 12:12 pm
      “What liberals support increasing corporate power?”

      The pseudo-liberals running the Democratic Party, that’s who. The CEO of GE as “Jobs Czar”. The secret funneling of Trillions to the banks. The cadre of ex-Goldman Sachs execs in trhe Obama Admin.

      Those “liberals”.

    12. anon

      Liberals who support “Obama-care” [IMHO] promote an increase in corporate power over Americans. By ‘forcing’ individuals to enter into a contractual agreement with a private corporation, Obama-care uses the law to require us all to become customers of the Health Insurance industry.

      Contracts entered into under duress should be void.

      If Congress can require us to buy Health Insurance, can they require us all to buy toasters? or Chevrolets? Where does it stop?

  2. Jeff

    Paul is the only antiwar and anti Wall Street candidate.

    Those two issues of war and the economy supersede anything else that he believes, no matter how repugnant.

    That’s why this progressive is voting for him in the primary.

      1. Lloyd Blankstein

        This is the most retarded discussion thread I have seen in this blog. Let me summarize the logical thought process -

        i) Liberals want to see power of Wall Street and defense industry truncated. They recognize that those are the two most important things the need to be done in this country at this juncture.

        ii) Only candidate, who wants to do both of those, calls himself a ‘libertarian’.

        iii) The blog author got paid by liberal establishments to bash the ‘libertarian’ word, and promote anti-’libertarian’ articles.

        iv) So, the readers are confused about whether to support two things they consider the most important, or go with the tag word.

        If Ron Paul were a prudent politician and branded himself as a liberal who wants to stop war and Wall street machine, but is against health care bill, he could have garnered huge support here. In fact, Ron Paul sided with ‘communist’ Sanders and ‘liberal’ Grayson to oppose the Fed. So, he could even brand himself ‘communist’ for opposing the status quo, and nobody would tell the difference.

        What a bunch of dopes !!

        1. Jeff

          Labels divide. I don’t care if a syphilitic spider monkey
          runs around carrying a Ron Paul sign, I’m voting for the man because of his policies and his convictions. Yes, he would be a disaster for the environment, womens’ rights, etc.
          But you know what? WWIII or a deep depression will make those issues unimportant.

          One things for sure, if he ran with Kucinich it would be
          a shock to the system and a possible winner.

          1. BDog

            Umm, Ron Paul is a strong believer in property rights and your neighbor can’t pollute your land or water so this automatically makes him a strong environmentalist. So big corporation down the street can’t pollute your stuff.

          2. Fraud Guy

            So what’s going to stop them in RP’s utopia? Your sickly children? The lawyer you can’t afford because of your health care bills, who is going to sue in a privately operated court system (which will likely have outcomes similar to the arbitration system)? Their concern about the bad PR from you and your neighbors that they will be able to squash by either owning or partnering with the mainstream media or by blocking your attempts at grassroots activism with either blanket smothering of your access or suit in the corporate controlled court system.

            Wait a minute…RP is more of the same, just more naked about it.

    1. Wasabi

      How can it possibly be progressive to return to the gold standard? This is the key issue for judging his probable influence on capital/labor relations.

    2. Aquifer

      Jeff says “Paul is the only antiwar and anti Wall Street candidate.”

      Sorry, you are wrong – see http://www.jillstein.org
      Jill Stein is a legit antiwar, anti Wall Street candidate with none of Paul’s baggage .. a far better choice

      1. Matt Emmons

        I’m sure Jill Stein is a very wonderful person. I haven’t heard anything about her except through cryptic comments on the internet like yours, and yet I feel sure that I like her platform. I’m anti-war, and if she is she’s better than just about all of em. The thing is, to be elected president you need an organization, money, and a large constituency willing to work your campaign. As much as a candidate like Nader was a long-shot, at least he had name recognition and an existing base. In this election we have the opportunity to elect a strong anti-war candidate who is also great on civil liberties and Constitutional government. It’s a long-shot but we should elect him if we can.
        It’s great that you’re getting Jill Stein’s name out there, and maybe she will make a real run in ’16. But I hope that come Republican primary day in your state you will also do what you can to get an anti-war candidate with a (slim) shot at winning into the big race.

  3. BondsOfSteel

    How can someone be against government involvement in almost everyway, and still be pro-life?

    I’m not arguing the merits of abortions. I’m pointing out the hypocrisy of being aganist regulations controling heroin while being for government restrictions on Plan-B.

    1. Piano Racer

      “How can someone be against government involvement in almost everyway, and still be pro-life?”

      Because libertarians believe that government action is almost always more detrimental to life than government non-action.

      Think of it this way: pile up all the corpses from the past 40 years in Vietnam, Korea, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. All murdered at the hands of US Government thugs (“troops”).

      Next to your huge pile of millions and millions of corpses, put all the people who are actually still alive but horribly disfigured either emotionally, mentally or physically from senseless wars.

      Ok, that’s the “anti-government” pile.

      On the “pro-government” pile, put all the single mothers and old people who were “helped” by all the “good stuff” that government does. I am having to play devil’s advocate here, so help me out if I am missing anything, but I imagine it would be something like single mothers receiving aid from the state, retirees living on SS, people who had medical conditions / accidents who got medical care from the gov’t, even those “saved” by our war policies (a very small number, IMO), etc. BUT – and here’s the trick – you have to TAKE OUT all of the people who would have been as well off, or better off, if there had been no government helping them out. Grandma’s hip might’ve gotten replaced by her children pooling their savings, the unemployed mother of three might have stopped popping out kids and had to produce something of value to support herself and her family, leaving them all better off, etc. Obviously this is debatable as to the extent that this group of people may have been better or worse off under different scenarios, but you get the idea.

      To a libertarian, that first pile of corpses and human misery is many, many orders of magnitude than that second pile. Many libertarians do not think the second pile would contain a single person (“all government policies are harmful”), but ON THE BALANCE, they think that humanity would be much, much, much better off if what government we indulged in were as tiny and did as little as possible.

      “I’m not arguing the merits of abortions. I’m pointing out the hypocrisy of being aganist regulations controling heroin while being for government restrictions on Plan-B.”

      Libertarians would NOT be fore government restrictions on Plan-B. Conservatives like Dr. Paul would encourage you NOT to use Plan-B by your own free will (just like heroin), and he may even think that the state’s should be given the power to make that decision (I don’t think even that should be the case), but he is not for what you describe.

      1. ScottS

        Somalia, Rwanda and Afghanistan are obvious counter-arguments to the idea that only governments can do lots of violence.

        Was war finance the impetus for the Mongolian or Ottoman empires?

        War is war, violence is violence — I don’t understand how the gold standard will prevent either. I’ve read convincing essays saying many wars were started to get more gold to start more wars to get more gold to…

        Take away war financing, and the hawks will still find ways to project power.

        1. F. Beard

          I’ve read convincing essays saying many wars were started to get more gold to start more wars to get more gold to… ScottS

          Good point and you hint at a possible solution to wars of aggression: ethical money creation.

          1. ScottS

            Perhaps. But I feel that the true problem is that the 99% of the population who aren’t sociopaths are content with what they have by and large, and don’t feel like getting involved in politics and let the sociopaths run wild.

            Then the sociopaths get too full of themselves and aren’t content to sheer the sheep and kill it. Then the other sheep rebel, knowing they’re next.

            What I would like to see is a political climate where the sheep keep watch on the “shepherds.” We don’t have to be a politician to put pressure on them. And I don’t think any “ism” will change the mundane/sociopath dynamic. Libertarianism, Capitalism, Communism, Socialism — none of these systems allow us give up our responsibility to oversee our overseers.

            And the balance of power between central planning and local planning is orthogonal to what I identify as the real issue. You can have abject corruption on a local or global scale. It’s just more impressive on larger scales.

          2. Piano Racer

            “And the balance of power between central planning and local planning is orthogonal to what I identify as the real issue. You can have abject corruption on a local or global scale. It’s just more impressive on larger scales.”

            Scott, I disagree on this. I think that it is MUCH easier to oversee the overseer if they are living two blocks from you instead of on the other side of the planet.

            My own political philosophy is pretty simple, I guess you could call it “localism”:

            The further away the decision is made, the less likely it will be made for my benefit and the more likely it will be made to my detriment

            “Central” authority is a BIG PART of the problem in my view. That’s why State’s rights are so important; the more localized you make the decision-making, the more involved the individuals are. I agree with you that no “ism” will change human behavior; that’s why we need to get back to building, and participating in, COMMUNITIES again. Only EMPATHY, VALUES and SOCIAL PRESSURE will allow us to live in harmony; whenever we abdicate our responsibility to politicians hundreds or thousands of miles away, we are headed for the same dark place we have been many times before.

          3. ScottS

            Scott, I disagree on this. I think that it is MUCH easier to oversee the overseer if they are living two blocks from you instead of on the other side of the planet.

            I understand where this feeling comes from. In your daily life, you can imagine how it’s easier to do antisocial things the further removed you are from those your decision effects.

            But I think that just means that you are a normal, well-socialized person. Sociopaths don’t care if they have to look someone in the face they’re about to do wrong. And they aren’t intimidated easily, either.

            Slavery persisted even though slaveholders had to look their slaves in the face. Neither direct empathy nor physical intimidation stopped slavery.

            Debating whether a raging bull or or a termite infestation will break more china seems pointless — get all of the pests out of the china shop.

          4. ScottS

            @PianoRacer,

            Maybe my point would be clearer if we look at the issue through the medium/message structure. Local planning, state planning, and federal planning are all “media” through which the “messages” pass through. “Messages” could be deregulation or re-regulation, civil rights laws, tax incentives, etc. The medium is irrelevant to the message. State legislatures could, like lemmings, all pass deregulation bills just as the federal government could do the same. It’s the message that matters.

            I feel that federal laws stand a greater chance at public pressure since there are more “eyes” on the federal government, so more chance for someone who understands the issue AND cares to start a campaign.

            Local laws can easily pass with fewer people to review it. But the consequences can serve as an object lesson for others.

            So, six of one, half a dozen of the other.

          5. Fred

            This is another attempt to beat down the ‘sociopath’ vs the rest of us meme.

            Even if I agree that there are a lot of sociopaths, that doesn’t explain much. First, I don’t think sociopaths have any advantages in life, certainly not the ability to get ahead in social organizations like business and politics. People are very good at figuring out who is real and normal, who isn’t. They don’t cooperate with those who aren’t.

            Second, ‘sociopath’ isn’t a requirement for understanding any of the behaviors of individuals in institutions. Read the Zimbardo ‘stanford prison experiment’ papers and the 100s of follow-ons. People adopt their ethics and other behaviors from their peers and superiors.

            This is why organizations that do not adopt rigid standards of honesty and integrity go downhill very quickly, and why any institution controlled by political considerations fails.

            Forget sociopaths : doesn’t help understanding nor fixing any of the problems we face.

          6. Lambert Strether

            @Fred: organizations that do not adopt rigid standards of honesty and integrity go downhill very quickly, and why any institution controlled by political considerations fails.

            * * *

            Take for example Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan. Oh, wait…

          7. Nathanael

            “First, I don’t think sociopaths have any advantages in life, certainly not the ability to get ahead in social organizations like business and politics.”

            Wrong. High-functioning sociopaths are *especially* good at getting ahead in social organizations like business and politics.

            Psychopaths are famously charming, far more charming than average. They only get “caught” later. It is crucial to a psychopath to keep moving upwards, because if he or she stays in one position too long, people *will* figure him out and shun him. But think about what businessmen and politicians do… they keep moving.

            You have already noted that, as experiments show, most people (sheeple?) will do awful things given social pressure or pressure from authority.

            *But who creates the initial social pressure / authoritarian pressure to do awful things?* It’s the minority of people with personality disorders who *don’t* react to social pressure. If that group includes really good people who pressure everyone to behave well, that has good results; if it contains sadistic psychopaths, that has predictably bad results. (Mind you, there are psychopaths who are not at all sadistic; there are all kinds.)

            The sheep-like conformist behavior of the average person is a “power multiplier” for those who are not sheep; the question is how to make sure that the non-sheep who people are modeling their behavior after are the *good* non-sheep, the Gandhis, rather than the *bad* non-sheep, the Hitlers.

        2. Walter Wit Man

          But those are examples of government involvement! It’s just not the government of those countries (Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq).

          The U.S. is largely responsible for creating the “lawlessness” in these regions. The U.S. is behind the tens of thousands of African troops waging war on famine stricken Somalia right now! And the U.S. waged war in Somalia a few years ago and slaughtered thousands of people.

          These are not home grown libertarian experiments–they are examples of U.S. meddling.

        3. Alan MacDonald

          Yes, Scott, the “Mongolian, Ottoman”, Roman, British, Nazi and other historical empires did participate in violent, and ‘aggressive wars’ of empire for the ‘spoils of war’ which, yes, did include “Gold”, land, oil, Lebensraum, etc.

          But these empires were traditonally overt, unapologetic, and visible to all as ‘empires’.

          But, as false patriots like to repeat endlessly about 9/11, “now everything has changed”.

          What has changed about the more traditional practice of empires, whether classical, geographic, church-centric, nation-state-centric, or otherwise, is that now empire is, to a very sophisticated degree, guileful, oblique, camouflaged, disguised, well hidden, and truly global.

          Today’s global empire is also, to a degree that Hitler and his propaganda chief, Goebbels, could not dream of a Thousand year ‘Reich’ (German for Empire) that is much more effectly shaded in the facade of a modernized, second generation, Rel 2.0, and TWO-Parrty ‘Vichy’ sham of faux-democratic and totally illegitimate government that would bring tears of adminration to Goebbels’ dead eyes.

          The seminal problem of our 21st century TNC age is Empire, and Paul does address this never mentioned, but cancerous pathology, which is the proximate ’cause’ of all the indentity and ‘symptom problems’ like; expanding imperialist oil wars ‘abroad’, financial ‘looting’ by Wall Street hedged fund whores and private equity pirates ‘at home’, environmental destruction globally, vast economic inequality ‘at home’ and ‘abroad’, extra-judicial assassinations by drones “abroad” and extra-Constitutional tyranny against Americans “at home”.

          Thus, we have hit what Hannah Arendt might have called a trifecta of unappreciated beauty:

          “Empire aborad entails tyranny at home”.

          This deceitful global corporate/financial/militarist/media Empire hiding in palin sight in the bruning kitchen of our former democratic Republic of a country must be addressed if we are to survive as a people, a species, and a world, and Ron Paul is the first candidate running for president to openly, publicly, candidly discuss, debate, expose and wrestle with this existential death-star.

          Hopefully, someone, like a Kucinich or Sanders or someone, will have the brains, courage, and guts to rise to CHALLENGER our current faux-Emperor/president, Obama, and make such an exposure of reality the first step to the people in confronting and ultimately excising this “Vichy Empire”.

          Best luck and love to Occupy Empire.

          Liberty, democarcy, justice, and equality
          Over
          Violent/Vichy
          Empire,

          Alan MacDonald
          Sanford, Maine

      2. lambert strether

        A powerful argument. And what’s to stop corporate persons from hiring mercs and stacking up the same pile of bodies themselves, instead of outsourcing the work to the state, as they do now?

        Snow Crash is a wonderful work of science fiction, but I’m not looking forward to living in that world.

      3. Fraud Guy

        Why do you believe, against all evidence and history, that absent government control, that corporations and individuals will gather together in good will to solve their problems?

        When corporations operate when they feel free of government control, do they suddenly become good neighbors? One blatant example, the Deepwater Horizon spill, argues strongly against that.

        Or do citizens band together to save others from crushing poverty; I think a reread of Dickens may be in order.

        I mean your optimism is touching, if horribly misplaced.

        And if you knew anything about wrenching poverty, such as currently experienced in many countries, or under feudal society, the only option for many families to hope for a better life is many children, so that they may have more chances for a winner, more equally poor workers to help the family, or a better chance of children surviving to where they could support their parents.

      4. thixotropic

        The principle of government nonaction would seem to favor allowing both abortion and Plan B contraception. After all a woman’s body frequently spontaneously aborts a fetus for a variety of reasons, without her being aware of it.

        So much for life beginning at conception.

    2. FreedomIsAbsolute

      He doesn’t want the feds to control both issues and wants the states to deal with it like the constitution dictates. If your state won’t allow it, I am sure there are a few out of the other 49 that will. This would make the states compete in all forms, instead of having a one size fits all federal govt. The states are supposed to write the laws not the feds.

      1. hackenbush

        “This would make the states compete in all forms, instead of having a one size fits all federal govt. The states are supposed to write the laws not the feds.”

        You’re supposing that everything is about competition — about a “free market” approach to everything. The American South’s reaction to the end of Reconstruction (in which the Federal government *forced* some measure of equality and fairness in race relations) more or less shows that it hasn’t worked in past. We ended up with Jim Crow laws, Grandfather clauses, segregation, a huge disparity in prison population and sentencing, etc. You can’t just yell “states rights” and “free market” and expect them to somehow solve everything.

        In the same way, removing Federal regulatory powers will allow large corporations to skirt state-level regulations, effectively creating a “race to the bottom” for labor costs, environmental protections, et cetera. This works really well if you’re a large corporation, but really stinks if you end up having to work for one.

        This kind of sums up the “libertarian” philosophy — it sounds really good, until it is applied, then it falls apart. I don’t agree with the premise of the article; “liberals” aren’t disagreeing with Ron Paul because he’s just so full of good ideas that they need to attack his character. If they are, they’re pretty terrible at presenting a reasoned argument. His basic ideology is pretty full of holes, despite his admirable Federal Reserve and war hating qualities.

        http://www.zompist.com/libertos.html
        http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/05/earth-to-libertarians-private-parties-have-coercive-power-too.html
        http://dissentingjustice.blogspot.com/2011/08/five-reasons-why-ron-paul-should-never.html

        1. ohmyheck

          Thank you for the links. Oh, and the comment. Ideology vs. Reality….I’l take your reality, thank you very much.

        2. Jack E. Lope

          The first link is one I have visited in the past, and favorited for this quote:

          Apparently someone’s curse worked: we live in interesting times, and among other consequences, for no good reason we have a surplus of libertarians.

    3. James

      Actually, Paul has come out in support of Plan-B. He just doesn’t want the Federal government paying for it.

      As an OBGYN he views the unborn as a baby to be born, I can respect that, but he tempers his personal belief by saying, “Look, this is too big of an issue for the Federal government to create a one size fits all solution. This should be up to the states.” I see his point on the fact that if you harm an unborn child, there are legal consequences, but I see the point on the other side about it being a woman’s right to choose and the baby is within her body. It’s a hard, hard question in my mind, and unfortunately I feel like the “best” answer is to have each state vote how they see fit, then, if you believe strongly one way or another, you can move to that state.

      I know it’s not perfect, but it’s as close as I can see to being right.

      1. ScottS

        As an OBGYN, he more than anyone should know about the medical and mental complications that can arise from intended and unintended pregnancies.

        Pro-life is always an ideological position.

      2. lambert strether

        You can’t have it both ways. If you don’t believe that women are fully human moral agents, and hence, like Paul, support forced pregancy, that’s a moral question. And it’s the same moral question at the State or the Federal level.

        So it seems to me that Paul — at least on this issue — is more appealing to knee-jerk neo-Confederates than taking a moral position.

        1. tz

          Pregnancy is a consequence of allowing sperm to meet the woman’s egg. If it wasn’t rape, either women aren’t moral agents (lacking either reason or will so they aren’t controlling this), or they are free moral agents and must take responsibility for the consequences of their actions when it creates a new human life uniquely dependent on her.

          There are always risks. You don’t have to engage in such activities. That is the choice. Abortion is a bailout for risky behavior where the innocent is killed.

      3. cwaltz

        If he truly were recognizing it as too big or too individualized a problem for the federal government then he’d also recognize that it is too complicated for the states. It should be an individual right to determine whether or not to risk your life bringing life into the world, particularly if you are going to have that responsibility for at least 18 years.

        Instead though Paul makes excuses and believes it is his right to impose his moral position(that a medical procedure is murder and is unjustified) and does so without “any skin in the game” since he’ll never have to worry about gestational diabetes, preeclampsia or dying in childbirth. The woman and her life are secondary in Ron Paul’s world.

        In Ron Paul’s America we have stories like this

        http://wireupdate.com/wires/9084/11-year-old-gives-birth-in-southern-mexico-after-being-denied-abortion-despite-rape/

        because it makes Ron Paul uncomfortable to allow women to be responsible for their own decisions, morally or otherwise.

      4. Fred

        Go read the Roe v Wade decision.

        The SC tried to make it a big decision, cited a lot of parts of the Constitution to do so.

        They explicitly cite the first amendment, and say that abortion is a religious issue, therefore at least partly out of the Gov’s control.

        Had they ended it there, we would be debating the problem today.

        It is a religious issue, plain and clear. All of the arguments against abortion are based on religion, not biology. All of the arguments for abortion are based on biology, not religion.

        Progressives can’t cite the first amendment, I guess.

    4. spooz

      Pardon me if I choose not to partake in wedge issues that only serve the status quo by distracting the propaganda riddled voters.

    5. JoeV

      While I’m still not sure where I personally stand on the abortion issue, from reading his books, I can tell you where the Doc stands.

      He is not ENTIRELY against government intervention. He believes they should intervene when it comes to protecting LIFE, liberty, and property. In this case, as 40+yr OB/GYN, he sees the fetus as a defenseless life.

      In one of his books he talks about an experience he had in medical school where he had to witness a pretty late term abortion via c-section and they literally just put the baby in a bucket in the corner while it cried until it died. Meanwhile in the next room they worked effortlessly to deliver a premature baby that was younger than the one that was aborted. He says this experience profoundly affected his perspective on the issue.

      He also brings up a couple interesting legal examples. If you are drunk driving and kill a pregnant mother, you aren’t charged with 1 homicide, you are charge with taking TWO lives. Similarly, as an OBGYN, if he messes up, is negligent and the baby dies, he is legally liable for that LIFE.

      The thing that makes him so great though is that he does not want to force his personal beliefs on to anyone else. Although he personally does not agree with doing drugs, or prostitution, he wants to leave that decision up to the states to decide. He has also repeatedly said that he will leave the abortion issue up to the states. This ideology takes the power away from teh federal government and gives it back to the individual. If you want to live in a state that allows so-and-so, either affect change in your state to make it so, or move to another state where it is legal. To me this solution lets eveyone win.

      1. PQS

        “The thing that makes him so great though is that he does not want to force his personal beliefs on to anyone else.”

        WRT abortion, that’s called the Pro-Choice position.

        RP’s pandering to the ProLifers (and their money) seems at odds with his other ideas.

        1. BDog

          It’s amazing to me that liberals are for confiscating money from others to give to the government to give to others for health care but have an absolute hissy tantrum if someone tries to protect the rights of an unborn child. Liberals totally cool with killing a baby in a woman’s belly. Pro choice => I have the right to kill babies that are dependent on me for life. Can somebody square this up for me? And for repubs, won’t kill an unborn child but will kill 18 year olds and women and children in wars like it’s nobody’s business. Democrats and Republicans = Puke

          1. Fraud Guy

            Actually, as pointed out by too many comedians and commentators to mention, the conservative idea of right to life ends at birth; once born, the child and parent are on their own, unless needed to provide cheap labor or fodder for wars.

            (h/t George Carlin)

          2. cwaltz

            My problem is the position is bullshit particularly if you are Christian.

            Christians believe in life everlasting. Therefore the only thing that is dead is the fetus’ future potential to impact here.

            Furthermore, the term shouldn’t be Pro Life. There are TWO lives involved in a pregnancy, not one. A woman has to give up her vital body nutrients to produce life. They can even die as a result of giving birth. It isn’t YOUR responsibility to FORCE her so that you can feel comfy morally.

          3. Nathanael

            The rate of spontaneous abortion is > 50%. For most of history, Catholic doctrine has been that embryos are not human until the “quickening”, which is roughly the time of viability.

            Christians don’t even know the history of their own religions’ views.

          4. F. Beard

            For most of history, Catholic doctrine has been that embryos are not human until the “quickening”, which is roughly the time of viability. Nathanael

            Excellent point! And it hints at a compromise that could tear Roman Catholics away from the Republicans.

      2. lambert strether

        Actually, the catch phrase isn’t “life, liberty, and property,” but “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Just saying. “Property” was in Jefferson’s original draft, but he revised it, possibly because property in human beings was, at the time, a divisive issue.

  4. lambert strether

    Awesome post and “challenge” I agree that “challenge” is the right task/frame.

    Yep, the Ds may be justified in playing the race card on Paul.

    On the other hand, Paul isn’t the one blowing (brown-skinned) wedding parties into red mist with drone strikes.

    What a choice!

    1. William

      Right! He’s been approving drone strikes on kids and grandma since his second day in office (I remember that one).

  5. F. Beard

    The dollar then became the national currency, and Lincoln didn’t even back those dollars by gold (and gold is written into the Constitution). Matt Stoller

    Gold is written into the Constitution for the States ONLY – should they decide to pass legal tender laws. As for Congress, it has the right to “coin money and regulate the value thereof”.

    As for gold standard advocating libertarians, they are hypocrites; the ONLY ethical money form for government debts (taxes and fees) is inexpensive fiat not some expensive and scarce shiny metal.

    1. Fred

      You mean ‘inexpensive fiat backed by the full faith and credit of the federal government’ –> a slice of the productivity of the citizens.

      Slave owners thought like that, borrowed money based on the future output of their slaves.

      The fed gov and slave owners both use the power of the gun to extract the wealth from the guys on the other end of the gun.

      You will label this a straw man. Please explain how the situations are different?

      ‘Democracy’ is the next standard answer, because 51% of citizens decided to take my money? The dynamic of positive feedback this implies will destroy, perhaps has already destroyed, the system.

      Mark Twain said something to the effect that almost nobody searches for the Truth. They find one they like, spend the rest of their lives polishing it, keeping the rain off, …

      1. F. Beard

        So long as we have government, inexpensive fiat is the ONLY ethical money form. Why should taxpayers have to buy or rent your favorite expensive metal? Cui bono?

  6. Piano Racer

    If the best that Ron Paul’s opponents can come up with is that he “pandered to racists” in six sentences out of thousands thirty years ago, which he has since repeatedly denied knowledge of and disavowed, maybe he has a chance after all (despite the until-recently media blackout).

    Too bad the Republican party changed the primary rules in 2010 so that there are no more winner-take-all primary states allowed prior to April. That means that unlike in the past, he cannot “win” Iowa or New Hampshire, etc. Candidates will be awarded delegates proportionally, and if none of them get more than 50% by the convention (hint: they won’t) we will have a “brokered convention” and the establishment will pick whoever fits their agenda (hint: not Ron Paul).

    The good news is that Dr. Paul could still conceivably take in the majority of the votes in a 3-way national election as an independent candidate. I’m sure the good people at Diebold will make sure that doesn’t happen.

    Great to see some analysis of Dr. Paul / libertarianism / Austrian economics on NC that isn’t an emotionally-charged diatribe from a MMT zealot (here’s looking at you, Phil).

    Thanks Yves!

    1. Jesse

      The non-winner take all primaries and the possibility of a brokered convention is a GOOD thing. Do you really think Paul can win many primaries in a head-to-head match-up with Romney? Instead, he might get his chance to spread his message on the convention floor. The chances that he wins the nomination are still low under either system (winner take all, or proportional voting), but that doesn’t mean he’s powerless to affect policy in the years ahead.

      I also think your attempts to minimize the newsletter controversy are liable to backfire. They’re an issue that can’t just be brushed aside (though I think Paul’s record ultimately vindicates him).

      1. Piano Racer

        “The non-winner take all primaries and the possibility of a brokered convention is a GOOD thing. Do you really think Paul can win many primaries in a head-to-head match-up with Romney? Instead, he might get his chance to spread his message on the convention floor. The chances that he wins the nomination are still low under either system (winner take all, or proportional voting), but that doesn’t mean he’s powerless to affect policy in the years ahead.”

        I hope you are right on this, Jesse, and I agree that whatever gets his message to more people is a GOOD thing! I guess I have just learned that when the establishment suddenly changes the rules of the game, it is probably to benefit themselves and their cronies and not the people. Perhaps that is not the case this time, I found this article on the subject enlightening:

        http://lewrockwell.com/rep2/how-to-steal-gop-nomination.html

        “I also think your attempts to minimize the newsletter controversy are liable to backfire. They’re an issue that can’t just be brushed aside (though I think Paul’s record ultimately vindicates him).”

        People keep saying that, but what more is there to say about the issue? You say I am trying to minimize the issue or brush it aside, but I honestly don’t know what anyone expects Dr. Paul to say or do at this point (he has been dealing with this issue for a DECADE!)

        Some inappropriate and inaccurate (but not hateful or COMPLETELY absurd) statements were in a newsletter bearing Ron Paul’s name 30 years ago. He claims not to have been aware of them at the time, which I don’t see any way to refute, and he has said many, many, MANY times that the statements in question do not in any way reflect his personal views.

        Frankly, that is good enough for me. Do I like the statements? No. Am I a bit concerned that he let them be said in his name, especially when he was / is so involved in politics? Yes, a bit, I guess. Is it a mark against him? Sure. Does it change my opinion of him or my willingness to vote for him given EVERYTHING ELSE in the man’s record? Not in the slightest.

        You don’t want the issue to be brushed aside, fine. Voters can read the 30-year-old newsletters if they want, as well as Dr. Paul’s responses, and come to their own conclusions. What more is there to say on the matter, and what more can Dr. Paul do at this point?

        1. StephenPerry

          “not hateful or completely absurd?” Have you even READ the newsletter excerpts, or any of them, that are publicly available? Start with the “Special Issue on Racial Terrorism” Ron Paul published right after the L.A. riots.

          Anyone who can read all 8 pages of that bullshit without feeling sad is dead inside. It’s hateful.

          And then go on to the nonsensical drivel about the “real” reason “New Money” was printed (Ron Paul says it is so the U.S Govt can track you, and not so the Govt can deter counterfeiting, which all non-paranoid delusional conspiracy theorists understand is the reason for the new bills). It’s absurd. Completely absurd.

          People who defend Paul are obviously committed to him. What they don’t understand is that denying the obvious is not a good way to win undecided voters over to their guy.

  7. Dan Kervick

    I really don’t care for this psychological diagnosis of my alleged internal conflicts.

    Personally, I have little interest in Paul’s campaign because I think his libertarian, laissez faire prescriptions for economic policy are just dead wrong for America, and that an excessive reliance on deregulation and laissez faire economics lies at the very root of our current problems. That’s why we have a plutocracy instead of a real democracy.

    We need to work toward a restored, activist public sector in which an engaged democratic citizenry makes bold decisions on the future shape of our economy and society, and then mobilizes the resources to achieve the society they have decided to aim at. We can’t leave the business of our future up to the whims of private sector entrepreneurs. I don’t want to “get the government off my back”. I want to work with my fellow-citizens to take control of our government back from the plutocracy, and then assume the responsibility of mature democratic women and men to put the government ON our backs and then do something great with it.

    The libertarians want us to believe that all of the destruction wrought by private sector corporations and financial kingpins has the evil hand of the “state” lying behind it. It’s only state-based “crony capitalism” that is behind the mess, and if only we could move to a pure, pretty, genuinely free system of purely competitive markets, then everything would be rosy.

    I think that’s a very faulty view of the world. The seeds of inequality, domination, misery, poverty, instability, unemployment and depression lie right in the heart of free market capitalism itself. They are inherent in its ultimate nature as a system of competition among individuals seeking their own personal profit rather than cooperation among individuals. You don’t need a “state” to turn laissez faire into a destructive system. The financial sector didn’t need a “state” to lay waste to our financial system. Rather, lying, cheating, stealing, defrauding and plundering are just what a lot of greedy and selfish people will do if they are left alone to do it without the firm hand of public oversight and regulation. If we want markets to work for the people who created them rather than to destroy the people who created them, markets need to be well-governed. “Freeing” them up even more to do more of their self-destructive thing is no answer.

    So I am just not at all attracted to Paul’s libertarian vision of a world of pure autonomous individuals, without any real social solidarity or coherent government, doing their own thing. These days, the libertarians even express open hostility and contempt for democracy itself. Say something about democracy, and a libertarian will shoot back with, “We don’t live in a democracy; this is a republic.” Libertarians hate democracy, because democracy is ultimately a form of government, and libertarians find the very idea of their precious individual selves being governed along with all of their other citizens in a system of mutual obligations among equals, and a rule of law, to be oppressive.

    Libertarian “freedom” is all about creating the social space to give ambitious, ruthless and aggressive individuals the “freedom” they need to dominate others. Libertarians say they don’t approve of that kind of domination, because they have a moral theory that says all coercion is … you know … bad. But actual human beings don’t behave according to the libertarian moral code. Practical political life is not about creating a political order that would be nice if everybody behaved according to an austere moral code that has nothing to do with human beings as they actually exist with their actual natures; it’s about building the best world that we can working with the human beings we actually have.

    So I support activist, progressive government. If it’s democratic, I don’t care if it’s “big”. In fact, I think regular people need to work hard to create a “big” democratic government because that’s the only thing that will be strong enough to beat back the plutocratic tyrants in the world.

    On the Empire: I think I have a perfectly coherent reason for opposing empire, one that has nothing to do with any unresolved libertarian longings. The empire is a very big, very expensive waste of resources that kills many innocent people all over the world in order to advance the economic interests of plutocrats, and for no decent reason commensurate with those financial and human costs.

    1. jake chase

      My goodness, Dan is really JFK (LBJ?)reincarnated. I haven’t seen this kind of naivete since the Sixties. Unfortunately, the only thing it seems to produce is war and runaway inflation.

          1. zictor

            These are examples of current inflation. What’s more, think about how inflation has made itself felt through massive layoffs, the decline in home equity, and the inability of ~17% of our population to get full employment. Inflation is not just realized in higher prices, but also the relative purchasing power of the average consumer.

          2. Nathanael

            That’s not general inflation.

            Every last one of those has a specific cause. Commodities, metals, and energy are because we’re running out of ‘em (as environmentalists have warned for decades), plus speculation. Food is because of crop failures caused by global warming (as environmentalists have warned for years), plus speculation.

            Health care is because the US has really crazy health care policy; the money is all going to administrators, insurance companies, paper-pushers, lawyers, tests to deter lawyers, government-guaranteed profits for pharmaceutical companies, etc. — in other words, WASTE.

            Education is because the government removed subsidies to education. Period. That’s why the prices for college went up, it’s absolutely clear in the numbers.

            Meanwhile, unemployment is associated with DEFLATION, where all the rich people hoard their money instead of spending it, all the poor people have their wages dropping while their debts increase (so they have less and less money to spend), and with nobody spending, all the businesses close.

            We have the worse of both worlds: general deflation with local inflation in the areas we care about most.

            One solution is a massive program of jobs to build renewable energy, which cuts energy costs while giving people money to spend.

        1. Fred

          shadowstats.com

          When measured the way it was when created, the CPI is 12%.

          Double digit unemployment, double-digit inflation.

    2. spooz

      So, where is that government? It does not exist, so how do we support it? All we have is a crony capitalistic system with both parties representing status quo.
      Until a better option comes along, it looks like the best we can do is support a Ron Paul who will put some pressure on the status quo specialists. Until we get campaign finance reform, we’re owned.
      “So I support activist, progressive government. If it’s democratic, I don’t care if it’s “big”. In fact, I think regular people need to work hard to create a “big” democratic government because that’s the only thing that will be strong enough to beat back the plutocratic tyrants in the world.”

    3. b-psycho

      The libertarians want us to believe that all of the destruction wrought by private sector corporations and financial kingpins has the evil hand of the “state” lying behind it.

      The state created the legal distinction of limited-liability corporation in the first place. Narrowing its application (or ideally abolishing it entirely, as left-libertarians would advocate) would be a decrease in state power.

    4. MRW

      Dan Kervik,

      I agree: “We need to work toward a restored, activist public sector in which an engaged democratic citizenry makes bold decisions on the future shape of our economy and society, and then mobilizes the resources to achieve the society they have decided to aim at. We can’t leave the business of our future up to the whims of private sector entrepreneurs. “

      Nor can we leave it up to 535 congressmen who don’t listen to the citizenry in the first place. The House Reps no sooner get elected than they are out fundraising for the next round. The senators, at least, give us a break.

      But I heard Paul say that if Congress voted for something, like war, then he would have to go along with it because it’s constitutional. Will the Bomb Iran crowd win on that basis?

      What if we have a dumb Congress? Or we have one like the Republican congress under Clinton in complete power that dismantled Glass-Steagall in 1999 and voted to make regulating derivatives illegal on Dec 15, 2000? Those guys were riding high and didn’t give a damn what the consequences were to their constituents. Because they didn’t understand them, nor did they think they had to. They were just doing it for the Gipper.

      An economy should serve society–real people–not an ideological game of make-believe we’re all alone, and society should have the mechanism by which we can state what we want, which we don’t have right now.

      Obama promised that he was going to continue his online community when he was in the White House, the one where people nationwide (at the time) argued and voted in forums for what they wanted the new administration to do. He didn’t even do that.

      1. Attitude_Check

        In a representative democracy we get the government the majority deserves. If we elect a “dumb” congress it is OUR FAULT AND OUR RESPONSIBILITY.

        Simple solution — don’t elect dumb, corrupt, or duplicitous representatives (of course that might be difficult sadly). Or run yourself if you don’t like any of the choices.

        1. Nathanael

          Trouble is, at the federal leverl, this isn’t a representative democracy. Shall I catalog it for you?
          (1) Voter disenfranchisement and vote suppression
          (2) Electronic “voting” machines
          (3) The US Senate, where Wyoming has the same votes as California
          (4) The bogus 60-vote rule of the US Senate
          (5) The bogus “hold” rule of the US Senate
          (6) The gerrymandering in the US House
          (7) Media manipulation and control
          (8) Duverger’s Law — the ‘two-party system’
          (9) The electoral college
          (10) The Iowa caucus/New Hampshire primary system — together with the Electoral college, making California, Texas, and New York completely voiceless in the Presidential race

          No democratic country would elect its President the way the US does, and no democratic county would even HAVE something like the US Senate. Modern democratic countries don’t gerrymander, either.

    5. Cris Kennedy

      Dan,

      “The seeds of inequality, domination, misery, poverty, instability, unemployment and depression lie right in the heart of the current misguided Progressive-Liberal movement that has been in charge for decades.”

      There, fixed it for ya.

    6. StephenPerry

      Well-said, Dan. I rarely see such a comprehensive, well-reasoned articulation of a viewpoint even in articles these days, much less in the comments responding (in theory – Paulbots don’t read the articles they troll) to articles.

      Thank you. And I look forward to living in a better future with you and like-minded people who seem concerned about the well-being of our fellow men and women. It seems vastly preferable to living in the Social Darwinist hell that libertarians pine for.

      The Rawlsian “veil of ignorance” is one of the most striking concepts I remember studying in college. Say you and I each like apple pie. Say we have one apple pie to share. We each want the biggest possible piece. Simple solution, according to Rawls: I cut the pie into two pieces, you pick the one you want. I will thus ensure the slices are equally-sized.

      People who have things better than other people do are inclined to believe they earned those things. But it could simply be due to a fortunate accident of birth (say, being born in Orange County, CA rather than in Detroit). If you did not KNOW whether you would be born a rich white man or a poor black woman, and you had to pick which country you’d be born into, you would choose the country that was fairest for everyone. But if you knew you’d be born rich and white, you’d choose the country where the upside is highest, because the downside won’t affect you.

      Libertarians are to be faulted for failing to recognize that the free market doesn’t work for everyone. It works for the already-privileged. If the free market DID work for everyone, no one would tolerate any form of government.

      Ron Paul is not a suitable messenger for the libertarian message. He’s either:

      1 – a cranky racist

      2 – a cynical manipulator who panders to crazy racists

      or

      3 an incompetent oaf who can’t manage to keep tabs on what goes out under his name and with his signature (direct subscription solicitations for the newsletter have his signature and are just as wacky and bigoted as the newsletters themselves).

      Or maybe some combination of 1, 2, and 3. And I don’t care which it is… no matter what, the newsletters and his handling of them doom Paul as a messenger. He was never going to be elected or even nominated, but now all anyone will want to talk about is the newsletters, because they are so odious and because his explanation/defense/sidestepping/taking off the mic is just so clearly inadequate for anyone seeking to represent ALL Americans, black, white, gay, straight, HIV-positive, etc.

  8. Crazy Horse

    Ron Paul is the semi-senile 76 year old child pointing out that the Emperor has no clothes. The fact that he is the the only national figure speaking truth, and doing so from a fundamentally unsound ideological basis shows the extent to which ruling class brainwashing has succeeded in suppressing rational political and economic thought in the USA.

    If a President Paul will veto national defense budgets often enough to force a retreat of the Imperial Army from the rest of the globe, that alone is enough to merit my vote.

    1. lambert strether

      Just putting on my tinfoil hat here, but bringing the Army home doesn’t equate to demobilizing the military, does it? I mean, I can think of plenty of domestic uses the 1% might have for the boots on the ground domestically, if the drones don’t work out, that is.

      What’s RP’s position on radically downsizing and/or demobilizing the military? In particular, how big does he think the Army and the Air Force should be?

      1. Fred

        Ron Paul, with his emphasis on the US Constitution needing to be obeyed, is already a huge threat to the many varieties of Establishment and Oligarchy.

        Why should he make it worse by stating the obvious : if you want to balance the gov, and you think that we shouldn’t be hard on poor people, that SS etc are ‘contracts with the people’, where is the money going to come from? There is only one possible target for removing a $1.5T deficit.

        1. F. Beard

          There is only one possible target for removing a $1.5T deficit. Fred

          Hey Fred, if (God forbid!) we were ever on a gold standard again, should gold mining be forbidden?

          Then away with your hidden assumption that balanced budgets are necessary or good.

          It’s really simple: The US Government is a money issuer; it should not have a balanced budget or surplus unlike a household which is a money user.

  9. Historicaecon

    Essentially, the break you’re describing is over competing ideas of sovereignty. Should sovereignty be invested in a centralized state which defines property rights and human rights for its citizens? If so, it’s just as legitimate for the state to ban abortion as it is for the state to abolish slavery or centralize war financing. If, however, sovereignty resides in the citizenry then the state oversteps itself when it redefines property or human rights without the express consent of the governed. Most Americans, I think, have views that fall somewhere on the spectrum between these two views. For instance, I lean towards the latter. However, I support Lincoln’s abolition of slavery on the grounds that it was essentially a contradiction of local control that denied African Americans their humanity and thus their political voice.
    You’re right to point to a contradiction in modern liberalism, but the contradiction is just as evident in modern conservatism. The most telling contradiction is one you point to: property rights. The modern conservative notion that rights exist without the coercive structures of the state, for me, seems to be a bizarre delusion. Again slavery provides a good example. In the antebellum south, states essential function was to protect slave-property, which is one of the reasons that slave-holders were often the only people who paid taxes. Slavery without a state is a contradiction in terms; no one can be made out to be 3/5 of a person without a state defining them as such.

    1. Matt Stoller Post author

      You’re right to point to a contradiction in modern liberalism, but the contradiction is just as evident in modern conservatism. The most telling contradiction is one you point to: property rights. The modern conservative notion that rights exist without the coercive structures of the state, for me, seems to be a bizarre delusion. Again slavery provides a good example. In the antebellum south, states essential function was to protect slave-property, which is one of the reasons that slave-holders were often the only people who paid taxes. Slavery without a state is a contradiction in terms; no one can be made out to be 3/5 of a person without a state defining them as such.

      Excellent points.

  10. monkeybreath

    Matt I think you have missed a couple of themes central to this political situation:
    1) many liberals are pro centralized federal government power because it is the only counterweight to oligarchical multi nation corporations power.
    2)Paul has no problem with the growth of corporate power even when it has been shown to be corrupt and self serving and arguably done more damage to this country than any government policy
    3)Power like energy can not be destroyed only transformed. As govt power is reduced corporate power fills the vacuum.
    4)Politicians are nothing more than the attack dogs of corporations. When bad policies are enacted, or crimes are ignored it is because those that buy and pay for these politicians want it that way. This is why the Tea party was so wrong. They went after the attack dogs (polticians/govt/ anti washington etc instead of those that control these politicians the corporations. This is exactly the situatuation the tea party financeers/corporations wanted…

    1. Matt Stoller Post author

      many liberals are pro centralized federal government power because it is the only counterweight to oligarchical multi nation corporations power.

      Multi-nationals are just as much state creatures as they are “private”.

      1. Piano Racer

        Yes, this! The big bad multinationals derive their power from the corrupt state, how do people not see this?!

        Look at the TBTF banks. They would all have dried up and blown away long ago if not for the state. Instead, who has the power? Jon Corzine, Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein. These monsters head monstrosities that are a DIRECT result of government involvement.

        You want examples of huge companies that got that was PURELY on their own merits? I’ll give you two: Ford Motors (in the past) and Apple Computer.

        Are you worried about these bad boys wreaking havoc? I am not. The companies I am worried about are Monsanto, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and UHG. These are creatures of the state, and what do we get when we meld corporations with the state, by definition?

        That’s right kids: FASCISM. Companies are not the problem, companies who use their clout (money) to buy political power from a corrupt system in order to extract wealth while producing nothing of value is the problem. The distinction is important, and if people lump Steve Jobs in with Jon Corzine they are making a huge mistake.

          1. Piano Racer

            So enlighten me! I know both companies used actual novel innovation to create products that people want (Ford had his assembly line and Jobs had his genius for elegant design), and I also know that in at least Apple’s case their political activity was very minimal, from the accounts I have read. Digging a bit more I found this report on Apple that seems to confirm my view:

            http://www.politicalaccountability.net/index.php?ht=a/GetDocumentAction/i/2317

            Which contains this:

            “Apple is a moderate political spender. The company has contributed approximately $580,000 in corporate funds to political activities since 2002.”

            They don’t need the government to intervene to get people to buy their products. So I’d be very interested in what I am missing in my history? It is easy to criticize but far more difficult (and valuable) to educate!

          2. Cris Kennedy

            deja vu obviously has no response, was just blowing smoke because deja vu wants to see obamney reelected.

          3. bob

            Ford, apple, and the greatest business BS word in the past decade, innovation.

            Ford is very easy to look up. His/their history of isolating and then “educating” captive (slave?) labor in christian principals is the beginning.

            Apple, slave labor also, from an openly authoritarian sovereign that sells prisoners’ body parts, sometimes even before they are dead.

            And because dejavu has a problem with some of RP’s ideas does not make him a supporter of the current admin, even if you claim it for him.

            There is lots of grey area, trying using some of what’s between your ears.

            Who is paying you? Lot’s of comments, most speaking for other people who you seem to disagree with.

            Libertarian- telling someone what they think?

          4. Nathanael

            Hey hey hey. Piano pointed out that Ford and Apple did not depend on great masses of direct government collaboration to do what they did.

            You point out that they were nonetheless doing evil. I don’t think the two contradict each other.

        1. 1whoknu

          No Corporation has gained success ‘purely’ on their own merit. Their success is resting on many who came before them that were given the opportunity to innovate. Their continued success is dependent on many others who do not profit from their business. No Corporation would be successful without the collective effort of our government that has built the infrastructure of laws, transportation, and stability that allows them to function as a going concern.

          Your view of the real world is naive if you believe that business will succeed or fail purely on it’s own merit. This is the problem I have with the Libertarian view. It assumes a lot and only looks at the surface, never all the moving parts of a society supported by an effective government that make business/markets possible.

          1. Justin Oliver

            Their success is resting on many who came before them that were given the opportunity to innovate.

            If you have ever read “I, Pencil,” you would realize that is already understood by libertarians.

            Under a system of individual rights and free markets, people support the government because it is necessary to establish laws that maintain (peaceful) social cooperation. All people benefit from such an institution; it is a sacrifice on no one’s part, as you seem to suggest.

            Under a proper social system, individuals have voluntarily earned their profit, and each person in the chain of transactions has gained from mutually beneficial exchange.

            Their continued success is dependent on many others who do not profit from their business.

            I’d quibble about the part about transportation. Nonetheless, all rational people benefit indirectly from maintaining a social system of individual rights. That is because it gives the greatest opportunity for the greatest number of people to pursue their own vision for their own lives.

          2. Nathanael

            You shouldn’t quibble about transportation. Historically, the arteries of transportation — roads, railroad tracks, canals, bridges — have been provided almost entirely by governments. The exceptions were generally quasi-governmental operations, such as feudal lords, or corporations with specific government-backed charters and governmental powers of eminent domain.

            The reasons? It is practically impossible to get agreement to build a right-of-way without the power of a government; and far too many people other than the builder benefit, and don’t have to pay for it. Even if it’s a toll road.

            It’s actually easier to have a functional decentralized / private military (been done repeatedly) than to have a functional decentralized / private transportation system (never been done).

        2. Hunter Acosta

          No modern corporation in the U.S. has succeeded purely on its own merits. Apple, for instance, relies on a stunning array of patents for its profits. Patents (regardless of whether one believes them to be good policy or not) are federal government protection from competition–enforced monopoly. Ford of course relies on such subsidies as the US Interstate system, used by suppliers to get goods to Ford factories cheaply, necessary for Ford to ship its goods across the continent, and of course a huge reason for there being so many drivers in the US (i.e. development of suburban sprawl). Both corporations are creatures of law anyway, and rely on governments willing to uphold their contracts in courts, protect their property, and sometimes bust up unions.

          There is no separation between big government and big business–they are two branches of the dominator class. Liberal fantasies that a noble big government will fight the private oligarchs are only fantasies.

          1. Cris Kennedy

            Ridiculous. Apple doesn’t get $878 Billion TARP when the latest iphone doesn’t sell. You set up a strawman and fail to knock it down. So weak.

          2. Piano Racer

            You guys are thinking in very big extremes here, which is typical of the western mindset.

            It is not an argument between either a company prospers solely on their own merits OR they are a TBTF bank (or i.e. General Motors) who relies on constant government subsidy/bailout to stay in business, and in the case of the TBTFs, reap grotesque financial gains for producing nothing to society, not even doing the one job you are supposed to which is efficient allocation of capital.

            There is a spectrum people. Companies like Apple and Ford sometimes relied on the existing government framework (patents, outsourcing, physical infrastructure, etc.) but at least they did not base a part of their business model on CHANGING the laws, BUYING politicians, and getting TAXPAYER-FUNDED SUBSIDIES. The problem is that the government is for sale to the highest bidder (TBTF Banks, UAW). I cited Apple and Ford because they produce actual, physical, tangible products that people want to buy without the government changing the rules in their favor. I believe if Apple had wanted to be more “ethical” and raise the cost basis for their products, they still could’ve been successful. The temptation to take advantage of populations exploited by their governments (Foxconn) must be powerful, especially since “everyone else is doing it”.

            The argument above points to “slave labor” – a libertarian response would be that the companies involved (foxconn, for example) are NOT FORCING those people to be “slaves”; the Foxconn workers are there of their own free will. Perhaps government policies and corruption in Asia created economic conditions where working under those conditions were the best available, but libertarians would argue that the GOVERNMENT created those conditions for the “slaves” for whom you mourn. Yes, conditions there were/are bad, but if a person has to choose between working in a sweatshop and starving to death, would you really deny them that choice? You might do better asking the question “WHAT is motivating the Foxconn workers to endure the conditions that they do?” I suspect that the answer to this question, at the end of the day, is GOVERNMENT.

            In response to the comment above suggesting I am a paid troll, I am extremely flattered. I am in IT and have lots of time on my hands, but if there’s real interest out there in paying me to write my musings WHERE DO I SIGN UP?!

    2. patrick

      Which rests on the assumption that they are separate entities; that they are de-coupled. Here in the US they are tightly linked with political and financial elites working closely together for their own benefit. Business captured politics along time ago.

    3. Windy

      In the absence of government regulatory power over businesses, it is the customers/consumers who have ALL the power. A corporation cannot force one to purchase its services/products, and so if the customers are not satisfied with the products/services of a business, they will take their dollars elsewhere. It is the customers who determine whether a business (bank, retail store, theater, restaurant, etc.) succeeds or fails in a true free market economy.

      When the government gets involved and begins choosing winners and losers by enacting regulations that favor existing businesses, usually at the behest of those businesses, who often write the regulations, that congress enacts, in ways that make it more difficult for competitors to afford to comply with, while the ones who wrote the regulations can easily comply with them. This is what creates monopolies and “businesses too big to fail” over startup competitors, the consumers lose their power.

      When government bails out the companies who have abused their power because they are “too big to fail” it distorts the market. Businesses, no matter how big, should be allowed to fail, it is what makes the market function properly and creates the best outcome for the consumers — more competition allows for greater innovation, higher quality goods and services, and lower prices.

      1. Windy

        Uh oh, no edit function, so lets try that middle paragraph again:
        When the government gets involved and begins choosing winners and losers, existing businesses over startup competitors, the consumers lose their power. It is government interference in the market, by enacting regulations that favor existing businesses (usually at the behest of those existing businesses, which all too often write the regulations that congress enacts, in ways that make it more difficult and more expensive for competitors and startups to comply with, while the ones who wrote the regulations can easily comply with them), this is what creates monopolies and “businesses too big to fail”. Without that government interference, monopolies could not occur and businesses could not grow to a size “too big to fail” unless the consumers like their products/services best, to the exclusion of all others (a truly unlikely scenario, tho Microsoft came close).

        1. Piano Racer

          Great stuff Windy, 100% agree!

          Even the case of Microsoft, who was definitely very predatory and had a near-monopoly, one cannot deny that they produced a product that people LOVED and that changed the way every business on the planet operated, increasing efficiency DRAMATICALLY!

          The competitors to Microsoft existed (Apple, *nix, etc.) and were used all over the place. It was just the desktop / office suite where Microsoft dominated, and frankly they did pretty great work!

          Now that the computing evolution is moving to the mobile platform, they are getting some true competition. iOS and Android are the most exciting OSes to come along in a long time, IMO, and for the first time in my life the OS I spend most of my time on is NOT a Microsoft product, even though I’ve always been a moderately heavy *nix user.

          The extent to which Microsoft engaged in business practices that were detrimental to the progress in the fields in which they operated is, in my view, exactly proportional to the extent to which they were able to use the government to help pick winners and losers by use of force, exactly as you describe.

          1. Nathanael

            Uh, no.

            Look up the history of Microsoft’s anti-competitive practices. They were done without governmental assistance, generally by bullying companies with threats of “Offer *only* Microsoft products, or we won’t allow you to offer Microsoft products at all”. Or by breaking compatibility with competitors’ products, and then lying about it and blaming the competitors.

  11. Ryan Cooper (@RyanLouisCooper)

    Ron Paul’s gold standard is a goofy idea, and a quick route to massive deflation and depression. As Nouriel Roubini says, goldbugs are “lunatics and hacks.” Money is just a tool, not some quasi-mystical force which must be backed by a random uncommon metal which has barely any usefulness in and of itself.

    I agree that the Fed has been guilty of many things, but this post is flirting dangerously with crankery.

      1. Piano Racer

        “The goal of the gold standard advocates is sinister – a government enforced money monopoly which would reward usury and hoarding.”

        Which would be worse than the current government-enforced money monopoly which rewards (and institutionalizes) usury and speculation… how?

        Oh right, you don’t have any gold.

        1. F. Beard

          Which would be worse than the current government-enforced money monopoly which rewards (and institutionalizes) usury and speculation… how? PR

          By destroying the ability of the government to bailout the entire population, including savers, from all debt to the counterfeiting cartel is how. By replacing the counterfeiting of private money by government (“the stealth inflation tax”) with private counterfeiting of government money (fascism).

          Oh right, you don’t have any gold. PR

          I was a PM bug when gold was $262/oz. My goal was only to protect myself from inflation not score a windfall at taxpayer expense. Since then, I have learned a bit about the nature of money. Now I won’t touch the stuff.

          1. Piano Racer

            Which would be worse than the current government-enforced money monopoly which rewards (and institutionalizes) usury and speculation… how? PR

            “By destroying the ability of the government…” FB

            Reducing the size and scope of government is the best argument for a gold standard that I can think of, and I am not even FOR a gold standard! You are arguing my side, not yours!

            “By replacing the counterfeiting of private money by government (“the stealth inflation tax”) with private counterfeiting of government money (fascism).” FB

            If the government were only allowed to spend what it received in taxes, we would all be so, so, so much better off. I think that is where you and I disagree. Maybe you just like wars more than I do… all that printed fiat buys a lot of brown corpses on the other side of the world. Their fault for being near our oil I guess?

            http://www.rickety.us/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/defense_spending.jpg

          2. F. Beard

            Reducing the size and scope of government is the best argument for a gold standard that I can think of, and I am not even FOR a gold standard! You are arguing my side, not yours! PR

            I don’t care for a disproportionately large government myself but having gotten US (borrowers) into debt via its enforcement of the counterfeiting cartel and having cheated US (savers) of positive real interest rates via that same cartel, the government should bailout the entire population. Gold standard advocates would preclude that just restitution. Is that what you want?

            If the government were only allowed to spend what it received in taxes, we would all be so, so, so much better off. PR

            Wrong. Some money creation is good. A prosperous economy might well include a growing government sector as well as a growing private sector. Growing economies require a growing money supply.

            Maybe you just like wars more than I do… all that printed fiat buys a lot of brown corpses on the other side of the world. PR

            Actually, I am for genuine capitalism so the US won’t have to rob and murder for a living.

            Their fault for being near our oil I guess? PR

            That’s not a problem with modern horizontal drilling. :)

          3. Jack E. Lope

            Cris:
            I seldom agree with F. Beard, but I never see a reason to banish him.

            Maybe you will understand this better:
            Please respect Yve’s property rights on this blog, and desist in your attempts to expel anyone.

          4. Nathanael

            Money creation is absolutely essential, as F. Beard realizes.

            For a functional *real* economy — goods and services — the money must constantly devalue, at a slow rate.

            Why? Because if the money doesn’t slowly lose its value, nobody has any incentive to spend more than the bare minimum — the money will be worth more later! We want spending-now to be more valuable than spending-later! We want people to be buying real goods and real services!

            The existence of debt makes this even more clear. If money becomes worth *more*, debt becomes harder and harder and harder to pay off. We want debt to become *easier* to pay off over time (which means inflation), so that people actually get goods and services for their work, rather than working forever as debt slaves to rich bondholders.

            And it’s even worse than that. There is a principle that “debts which cannot be paid, will not be paid”. So the debt slaves will eventually repudiate the debts, probably violently. Better for the bondholders to let it happen slowly via inflation.

            And when hoarding and deflation set in, everyone gets poorer as no real goods or services are produced — and in the end, that hoarded gold *is* worth less in real terms than it would have been with a productive economy.

            Inflation (not high inflation, but positive inflation) is absolutely necessary for a functioning economy. History proves it. Bitcoin, designed as a deflationary currency, also proves the necessity of inflation, as it failed in exactly the way one would have predicted.

          5. F. Beard

            And when hoarding and deflation set in, everyone gets poorer as no real goods or services are produced — and in the end, that hoarded gold *is* worth less in real terms than it would have been with a productive economy. Nathanael

            Succinctly said! In relative terms, one’s share of a shrinking pie might increase but that is contemptible.

            cf: The Parable of the Talents

          6. Chris T.

            LOL!
            People get poorer when deflation sets in.
            Ridiculous.
            people do better when their purchasing power goes up, which is what happens when you have deflation, money’s value, its purchasing power, increases.
            not of course in a debtor society, but we shouldn’t be one, and didn’t used to be.

            And, if you could only get the “gold is a commodity like any other” mindset banished, and would begin to understand that gold is money, then obviously, gold’s value/purchasing power also goes up during inflation.
            This WILL happen, when legal tender laws are abolished, because then, good money drives out bad (the inverse of Gresham’s law, legal tender laws being the necessary condition for Gresham’s law to operate)

          7. Chris T.

            …meant “during deflation”.
            other point:
            The consumer electronic industry, as well as the computer industry has been operating within a deflarionary environment (for its end products, if not for all of its inputs) for decades now:
            are iPhones, notebooks, etc not real goods?

      2. Attitude_Check

        As opposed to the present PRIVATIZED (US FED is a private corporation) money monopoly that rewards usuary and hoarding.

        The problem of deflation is solved if the price of gold is set high-enough. It is true that this would put an end to perpetual deficit spending, we would as a nation have to live within our means — which is EXACTLY WHY the “elites” who suckle off the government corruption chow-line HATE IT (the elites are a-political, and use and abuse both major parties for thier gain)

        1. F. Beard

          I advocate GENUINE reform – not replacing one form of counterfeiting with another.

          Fiat is the ONLY ethical money form for government money. The only place for gold or any other money form is the private sector where I doubt gold could survive genuine competition.

          And if deficit spending is bad, should gold mining be banned under a gold standard?

    1. Fred

      I keep seeing these statements that the gold standard will produce results XXX, but never any support for the statements. It is an article of faith, of ideology.

      National currencies are required for bankers to have power over the national government. Why do we need a national currency? So far as I can see, national currencies merely make life more complex. The baker who wants to hedge his cost of flour has to buy 2 hedges, one for the wheat and one for the value of the currency he is hedging in.

      I don’t want a gold standard, I want the gov to use grams or ounces of gold when receiving taxes and paying bills. The rest of us get to do what we want, including going on using our bank accounts denominated in dollars.

      So long as the US gov can’t destroy their value, and everyone accepts dollars, no problems.

      1. F. Beard

        I don’t want a gold standard, I want the gov to use grams or ounces of gold when receiving taxes and paying bills. Fred

        You contradict yourself in two sentences!

  12. patrick

    One can cherry pick a candidate or movements policies and find some that you support. However, utilizing a congressman’s support on an issue is different than electing that person to the White House. In the latter case you get all the other stuff you don’t agree with.

    Liked the article because it does indicate the paucity of thought not only on the progressive side, but also the conservative side of the policy debate. There is way too much common agreement on policy. The level of shared certitude in both parties is far too high for our common good. Much of the rancor in politics is merely noise for media consumption: War on Christmas, freedom fries, wearing lapel badges, etc. Even the more substantial rows on debt ceilings, payroll taxes, detract us from more fundamental debates on the level of military spending, empire overreach, drug laws, wealth inequality etc.

  13. Cynthia

    Corporations profiting off the backs of grossly under-paid prisoners is not only morally wrong, but it’s wrong in that it’ll cause even more downward pressure on wages among workers outside the prison population.

    And even if a plausible argument can be made that nothing is wrong with any of this, there is something very wrong with corporations like Starbucks and Microsoft not sharing some of their profits from using slave-wage prison labor with the taxpayers. After all, it is the taxpayers, not corporations, that are paying to house and rehabilitate these prison laborers.

    Why do we continue to let corporations reaps all the profits and dump all of the losses onto us taxpayers? God knows that we could use some of these profits to reduce our government debt.

  14. p

    One way to respond to Ron Paul’s position on the Fed is to note that he is from a school of economics which routinely predicts imminent hyperinflation and the complete devaluation of the United States dollar.

    This comes up in Ron Paul’s thought all the time. There is an interview on his site [http://www.ronpaul.com/2009-02-15/ron-paul-on-money-banking-and-the-crisis-1988/] where he talks, in 1988, of imminent hyper-inflation/economic depression and the use of FEMA and money laundering laws to protect capital from leaving these shores as Americans attempt to save themselves from the collapse of US society.

    He still says much the same stuff now. Still saying that “paper money” has no worth and that Americans will figure this out then society will devolve and the government will forcibly take from the citizenry. See for example his comment in a GOP debate this cycle about the possibility that a Mexican border fence would be used “to keep us in.” This fits snugly in with his decades long belief that the USD will collapse and They, the government conspirators, will turn against US.

    If you listen to Ron Paul on monetary policy his predictions belie his self-styled expertise.

    1. Piano Racer

      Maybe he was just off on the timing? Maybe he, like many others, did not anticipate that the US’s ability to bring their central banking fiat money scheme to the ENTIRE WORLD would keep the can rolling down the road longer than expected?

      This Telegraph article says to me that what Paul was describing is very, very possible. I think you will find much of exactly what he described.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/8976204/Treasury-plans-for-euro-failure.html

      What’s that you say? America is not the UK? That’s true, we have WAY more debt and a WAY bigger trade deficit. Dr Paul’s predictions are based on a study of HISTORY, and just because they haven’t come to fruition yet does not mean that that is not exactly where we’re heading.

      That being said, I do hope he’s wrong…

      1. Piano Racer

        Here’s a key paragraph for you:

        The Ministry of Defence has been consulted about organising a mass evacuation if Britons are trapped in countries which close their borders, prevent bank withdrawals and ground flights.

      2. Nathanael

        The Torygraph is simply wrong about money — unsurprisingly, as Tories have always been in favor of ‘hard money’ (helps the rich, y’know).

        Learn about the history of deflation, then get back to us. Your eyes will be opened. Deflation is the (monetary!) problem we face right now, not inflation.

        And deflation is NASTY.

  15. Dave

    It seems like you are saying big finance and war are mutually exclusive for liberals. If you are saying that, why? Ideologically I don’t see why they need to be. I can’t speak of Wilson. But was it not kind of difficult for FDR and Lincoln to avoid war and thus war financing? Was there something in liberal thought that would have required them to act differently in how they financed a war or even decided to fight it?

    For modern liberalism, I think there are many liberals that don’t like what Obama has done in regards to Iraq, Afghanistan, or terrorism in general. I know the public doesn’t care and even supports it. But I think that has more to do with confirmation bias and the fact that “their” guy is doing it more than an ideological contradiction with liberalism.

    But I’ll grant that liberalism is not as consistent as Paul’s libertarianism. If you can say one thing about him and libertarians it’s usually that they are ideologically consistent. That’s nice as far as it goes. And I agree with some of Paul’s views (drug war, overextended military). But his monetary ideas exist in a fantasy world. You can dislike centralized authority all you want. It doesn’t make going back on the gold standard a good idea.

    1. F. Beard

      If you can say one thing about him and libertarians it’s usually that they are ideologically consistent. T Dave

      A government recognition of gold as money is fascist, not libertarian. I’m sorry RP doesn’t see this.

  16. JTFaraday

    Whoa–48 comments on this already. This may be a new record.

    Don’t say the word “libertarian” around here– I think I’m on the verge of identifying a new liberal brain fever.

    Okay, I’ll wait for the lab results to come in before I read it. Meanwhile, I think I’ll hop on over to the MMT thread, which if anything, represents yet another reputedly “progressive” deepening of federal bureaucracy in the form of the wholesale Walmartization of the American workforce.

    As if Walmart weren’t doing it fast enough!

  17. Fred

    Contrary to the assertion above, Lincoln was racist to the core :

    Abraham Lincoln Quote

    “I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races – that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything.”

    by:

    Abraham Lincoln
    (1809-1865) 16th US President
    Source:

    Fourth Debate with Stephen A. Douglas at Charleston, Illinois, September 18, 1858
    (The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume III, pp. 145-146.)

    He never freed his wife’s slaves. He proposed, and took actions, to move the slaves to Liberia, then later ??somewhere in South America”. In fact, Lincoln never freed any slaves until the South was defeated, as the Emancipation Proclamation only applied to the rebelling states.

    Lincoln was the first large-scale violator of the Constitution. He put 1000s of people in jail for the duration of the war for the political beliefs, closed a lot of newspapers for opposing his policies.

    But the modern Progressive of the Left has to consider him a hero and whitewash his image because he consolidated Federal power, eliminated the Republic.

    1. Matt Stoller Post author

      But the modern Progressive of the Left has to consider him a hero and whitewash his image because he consolidated Federal power, eliminated the Republic.

      I notice you left out the whole eliminating slavery thing. Hmm.

      1. J Cortez

        You are incorrect to say that Lincoln ended slavery. It was actually President Andrew Johnson and the 39th Congress. What you are referring to the famous Emancipation Proclamation, but remember that it had no effect on ANY states in which the US government had control. All the confederate states still maintained slavery until the end of the war.

        Lincoln was not some paragon of perfect virtue. He did some things that would be considered out of bounds even today. In his time, he imprisoned newspaper editors, state legislators, and even a supreme court justice. As much as people try to deify old presidents, they were still human, and therefore, as flawed as anybody else.

          1. J Cortez

            I don’t know what you are referring to, but drug laws very much do apply in inner city neighborhoods, as I have had relatives taken in because of them. They are evil, stupid and wasteful laws that should, at least at the federal level, be abolished.

    2. craazyman

      It’s not that black and white, no pun intended. Lincoln was a complicated dude. And you really can’t take a man out of his times too much.

      from his 2nd inaugural address . . .

      “It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

      * * *

      “Though Mr. Lincoln shared the prejudices of his white fellow-countrymen against the Negro, it is hardly necessary to say that in his heart of hearts he loathed and hated slavery….” –Fredrick Douglass

      The crowd, roused by his (F. Douglas’) speech, gave him a standing ovation. A long-told anecdote claims that the widow Mary Lincoln gave Lincoln’s favorite walking stick to Douglass in appreciation. Lincoln’s walking stick still rests in Douglass’ house known as Cedar Hill.

      In his last biography The Life & Times of Frederick Douglass, Douglass referred to Lincoln as America’s “greatest President.”

      1. sherparick

        And it can also be said that Lincoln moved, he changed, his ideas changed, and he learned. Lincoln started with moderate reconstruction, to see if the white south would listen now to the “better angels of our nature” after seeing how well the experiment of seccssion and war had turned out. But I think, based on his policis in Missouri, his pushing the 13th Amendment, and the action reference below that although tactically initially moderage, strategically he was with the radicals and would have reacted very differenty than Johnson did to the “Black Codes” enacted in 1865-66.

        “In March 1, 1865 , the Freedman’s Bureau was establsihed.
        Other legislation was signed that broadened equality and rights for African Americans. Lincoln outlawed discrimination on account of color, in carrying U.S. mail, in riding on public street cars in Washington D.C., and in pay for soldiers.[59]”

        By the way, we all seem to want a ideology or theory to do all our thinking for us. The U.S. Government wages bloody senseless wars in Vietnam and Iraq. Therefore the Government is incompetent to regulate polluters? Governments are made up of men and women. When fools and poltroons gain power, like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney or Richard Nixon, can we be suprised that they use power stupidly and cruelly and corruptly? And sometimes it is a choice of the least worse fool. Basically, in November 2012 it will be between Obama and one of the Republicans. Obama will at least draw down the war in Afghanistan and hopefully avoid war with Iran. He will work to reduce unemployment and ease the immigration rules (because that will be to his advantage if nothing else.) He will still be to national security oriented, he will still be to banker friendly and tolerant of their misdeeds. But the alternative will mean devastation for millions of working class and middle class Americans and new wars in the Middle East while taxpayer dollars are firehosed into the hands of the Plutocrats through Government privatization. In addition, we can expect laws being passed that will make very difficult for those not on Team Republican to vote.

        1. spooz

          Not if Ron Paul is the republican candidate. He would be vetoing the heinous new defense bill. Obama will probably sign it. Ron Paul says the bill will accelerate the country’s “slip into tyranny” and virtually assures “our descent into totalitarianism.” It scares me enough to vote for Paul.

          “But the alternative will mean devastation for millions of working class and middle class Americans and new wars in the Middle East while taxpayer dollars are firehosed into the hands of the Plutocrats through Government privatization. In addition, we can expect laws being passed that will make very difficult for those not on Team Republican to vote.”

    3. Fraud Guy

      So much selective quotation to so little effect. I feel like I’m sitting in a Bible study class.

      How ’bout this one:

      “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”

      Perhaps more than one idea motivated him.

  18. Lloyd Blankstein

    “Perhaps it’s worthy to argue that lives saved by presumed expanded health care coverage in 2013 are worth the lives lost in the drug war.”

    That is correct. Also, it is worthy to argue that bailing out Goldman Sachs may have cost Americans some tax money (which they would have otherwise wasted on beer or NCAA sports), but it prevented a civil war. It is also worthy to argue that robo-signing is creating some legal complications, but it also expedites sending deadbeats out of houses and thus reward paying home-owners. Goldman is the biggest contributor to Obama, because both of us are doing God’s work in various forms.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Hear, hear, Lord Bankfiend! Forcing people to buy fatally defective insurance products from corporate death panels is a truly inspired twist on fascist piracy, an historic first, and your plantation waterboy has performed flawlessy in his role as progressive Trojan horse. The liberals are so hopelessly fooled that the final destruction of Medicare Social Security, the holy grail, should be easily accomplished. I must congratulate you on your leash training; your boy is obedient without the slightest hesitation. Top hats off to you. Bravo!

        1. Nathanael

          Personally, I would hope that he would dismantle the national security state — if he then crashes the economy, as he probably will, we have to be ready to pick up the pieces with a REAL response.

  19. Johnny Clamboat

    I have mentioned on more than one occasion that I would like to see what leftists will do if Paul gets the nomination.

    Will they vote for an anti-war, anti-surveillance, anti-prohibitionist, anti-corporatist with verifiable principles?

    Or will they fall in line behind the warmongering, corporatist, surveillance-obsessed drug warrior who duped them four years ago?

    1. spooz

      I guess I’d call myself a leftist, and I’d vote for him. The most lasting legacy from the Obama years for me would be the expansions of of the patriot act. If he signs the NDAA bill, he again proves to me he is more fascist than progressive.

      1. Monty Hall

        And behind door number 2……. is a Cracker Jack Peace Prize worth some fractions of a fiatski. Better luck next time! ;)

  20. Johnny Clamboat

    “Perhaps it’s worthy to argue that lives saved by presumed expanded health care coverage in 2013 are worth the lives lost in the drug war.”

    For the argument to be worthy, shouldn’t it be coherent?

  21. beowulf

    Excellent post Matt. It reminded me of something Michael Lind wrote recently:

    The truth is that the red state social model is as broken as the blue state social model. The blue social model requires a swollen FIRE sector as a cash cow to fund government functions, a generous welfare state, and Starbucksy neighborhoods with subsidized mass transit for credentialed hipsters in brick-walled lofts. The red social model also depends on a swollen FIRE sector that can be tapped for subsidies to red state soldiers, agribusiness and megachurches, as well as to red state governments that take advantage of subsidies from blue America to lower their own taxes. Money from the bloated financial sector allows blue states to impose stifling environmental regulations, driving productive industries to the red states, which lure them not only with low environmental standards but also low-wage, non-union labor, supplemented by illegal immigrant workers. Both the blue economic model and the red economic model are parasitic, not productive. Neither provides a model for a decent American future.
    http://www.salon.com/2011/11/22/the_red_state_model_is_also_broken/singleton

  22. Economic Maverick

    Great read.

    Tangentially, I think the American “Liberal” establishment’s reaction to the #OWS movement is similarly perplexed because of the internal contradictions of the relationship that Liberal have with centralized power.

  23. Not that Gary Johnson

    Lincoln was a white supremacist who tried to run all the free blacks out of Illinois, and was willing to back a constitutional amendment protecting slavery, if only the southern states would accept a doubling of the tariff. He repeatedly stated his goal was centralized power – ie “saving the union” – with or without slavery.

    1. Because

      Lincoln also respected labor: During his 1860′s inaguration:
      “Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital producing mutual benefits”

      This is why the Paulines hate Lincoln.

    2. Matt Stoller Post author

      Lincoln also moderated his views over the course of his life, and was a politician at heart and a railroad lawyer in his head. To be fair, It was the 19th century, and he did free the slaves.

        1. Piano Racer

          Plus, why couldn’t the slaves have been freed in the U.S. the same way they were pretty much everywhere else in the western world?

          i.e. WITHOUT A CIVIL WAR

          1. F. Beard

            Because the Civil War was not about slavery but providing protection for Northern industries. The Mason-Dixon Line would have allowed cheap European goods to be smuggled into the North undercutting Northern manufacturers. Also, the loss of the South as a captive market would have hurt too.

          2. J Cortez

            F. Beard, I disagree that the war was not about slavery. I think it was as secondary issue to federal taxation and control, but it was definitely an issue.

          3. Jack E. Lope

            Huh. When your capslock got stuck, I thought you were going to say something like “TWENTY YEARS SOONER”.

          4. Fraud Guy

            Why, then, did the leading Southern politicians/rebels continually harp that the war was about protecting their institution of slavery; well, at least until late in the war?

          5. Nathanael

            No, Piano. You should study the history of the pre-Civil War period.

            The Southern leaders were hell-bent on EXPANDING slavery. They were very happy to use federal power to force slavery on the territories, to force the transport of slaves through “free states”, etc. They were already sending gangs in to overthrow elected anti-slavery governments in Missouri (they failed), not to mention Kansas and Nebraska. It gets worse: the slavers had a long history of kidnapping free blacks from free states on the pretense that they might have been escaped slaves.

            When Lincoln was elected, they proceeded to start the Civil War. Always remember that: the South started the Civil War. Remember the “Firing on Fort Sumter”? The secessionists of South Carolina did that, when they decided that not only would they secede, they would refuse to do so peacefully, and were going to start firing on federal troops, just because they wanted to.

            No, slavery could not be ended peacefully in the US; the intransigent plantation owners were too pig-headed to allow it.

          6. Ra Tha Man

            Nathanael, you’re incorrect to paint the confederacy as the sole belligerent.

            You’re forgetting that Lincoln had an implicit threat of war in his inauguration speech. He said: “The power confided in me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property, and places belonging to the government, and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion–no using force against, or among the people anywhere”

            Let me repeat that last section: “there will be no invasion–no using force against, or among the people anywhere.” Consider what that line means–Lincoln was threatening war and invasion for states not collecting taxes, which were now 3 times the original rate and also negatively impacted the southern farmers to the benefit of the north manufacturers.

            In addition there was the fact that Lincoln refused, for months, to talk at all with any southern representatives. People on both sides, that wanted a peaceful solution were not heard and disregarded.

            Also consider Fort Sumter from the south’s viewpoint. Would any sane government want a foreign fort operating on their land? Would it not make sense, if you are able–to take the fort and then prevent it from being retaken by government you are seceding from? If the situation was reversed, as it was in the first war of secession in 1776, that the colonial states took a dim view to any fortification that they didn’t have control of.

            The confederacy was no band of angels, but to paint them as the arbiters of pure evil without taking into account Lincoln’s actions is mistaken.

            Slavery is a evil and permanent stain on all of humanity. But to say that slavery was the sole reason for the confederate secession or that it couldn’t have been worked out with diplomacy is wrong headed. And let’s for a second assume that the war was only about slavery (it wasn’t, but let’s entertain that notion.) The loss of life, the injuries, the destruction of property, financial costs of the war were still more than it would have been to just buy out all the slaves and end it peacefully. Were talking about a war that, in today’s terms, would have a death toll of about 6,000,000. If you care about people’s lives, I don’t see how you can be for that bloody conflict.

      1. sherparick

        Really, you guys should learn about the web and this thing called Wikipedia. Or if you are old fashion pick up James McPherson’s “Battle Cry for Freedom.” Lincoln initiated the 13th Amendment and basically got a house with a slim Republican majority to pass it in the winter of 1864-65.

        From the Wikipedia article on the 13th Amendment (Abolition of Slavery and Debto Peonage).

        “…While the Senate did pass the amendment on April 8, 1864, by a vote of 38 to 6, the House declined to do so. After it was reintroduced by Representative Ashley, President Lincoln took an active role in working for its passage through the House by ensuring the amendment was added to the Republican Party platform for the upcoming Presidential elections. His efforts came to fruition when the House passed the bill on January 31, 1865, by a vote of 119 to 56. The Thirteenth Amendment’s archival copy bears an apparent Presidential signature, under the usual ones of the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, after the words “Approved February 1, 1865″.[4]

        But to respond to Stoller’s column, the problem we liberals face is that generally we need Governmental action or policy to correct an inequity or externality that the private actors in the market are not solving. Further, we need it as a counter-balance to private and local power, which historically can be far more oppressive then a distant central authority (see the interview of the Christianist minister who supports Ron Paul in Iowa). But as liberals we feel very ambiguous about power, since, as the 19th century Liberal (but racist) Lord Acton observed (when talking about the Papacy), “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

        But nevertheless, we need the power of Federal Goverment to break the small local tyrannies, we need the power to impose the individual mandate to insure that all have access to a minimum level of health services, we need that power to preserve wild species, wild lands, and prevent pollution (one of the great unsung successes is how much cleaner the air is in most cities, the removal lead and no potentially mercury from the environment, how even water is marginnally better despite wide spread development and population growth. Thank you EPA). Power always needs to be watched, scrutinzied and challenged, but it is also something to be used.

        Finally, the Federal Reserve, the chief topic of the article, again is an example of both useful power and the tendency for that power to be corrupted. In 2008-09 it served its primary function as the lender of last resort and prevented a deeper crash. But of course, but for the corruption, for being essentially the willing servant of the big banks, there probably would have been no crash, no housing bubble, no chronic high unemployment, and the benefits provided to the banks has not been paid back to the United States taxpayer, but insteady has gone into the salaries and bonuses of several thousand bank executives and traders.

        Finally, Dean Baker always reminds us that politicians generally respond to incentives that help their reelection or increase their power. What incentives do politicians have for opposing the national security state? What happens if they oppose its policies and they don’t represent a “safe” district like Ron Paul does. What are the incentives regarding the “drug” war? If we want to change these policies, then we need to figure out how to change the incentives. Right now for instance, President Obama has no incentive to relax and the drug war. However, he is changing his policies on immigration enforcement as he now reaches out to Hispanics for the 2012 election and comes to realize that there is no deal he can make with Republicans on the issue.

        1. Nathanael

          “Right now for instance, President Obama has no incentive to relax and the drug war”

          Drug users vote.

          I think President Obama simply believes he cannot lose, and therefore has no incentive to listen to anyone at all about anything.

  24. cs

    Neither Liberals nor Conservatives want to be challenged. They’re happy maintaining the status quo, it’s the political games that they enjoy.

  25. Brett

    Stoller — I think you are going a little too far here in drawing the conclusion that Ron Paul hates the Fed because it enables (or more accurately, a paper currency managed by the Fed) the government to finance wars easily by simply printing money.

    I’m writing up a post on Ron Paul as we speak, and I’m reading through his book “The Case for Gold” — so far I’ve seen no references to the horrors of war financing (though perhaps it comes at the end of the book).

    As I comprehend it, he simply hates the Fed because he says it allows currency to be debased and allows the government to print money to finance budget deficits which lead to inflation.

    His main argument is inflation steals from the hard working savers who produce for this country, and the causes of inflation are a currency not backed by anything but the government’s word that it is legal tender. He says all such currencies lose the faith of the people over time, and predicts the doom of the paper money system and a return to a “modern” gold standard.

    The book displays an enormous misunderstanding of how modern credit systems operate. That’s specifically the part I’m analyzing.

    But it’s going a step too far suggesting that Ron Paul has some even grander principle in opposing the Fed such as it will eliminate the ability to finance wars. Instead, he has a idea of how the monetary system works in his head that is completely incorrect. The book, The Case for Gold, is full of predictions of the end of time and the imminent return to the gold standard. He makes predictions over and over again about how runaway inflation (in the late 1970s, early 1980s) cannot possibly cured unless we return to a modern gold standard.

    And all of these were completely wrong. Volcker eliminated inflation via raising interest rates (i.e. reducing the money supply) to choke it off by purposely putting the country in a recession. And in combination with other (much worse) policies like union busting, inflation hasn’t really been a problem since.

    But Paul’s mind doesn’t take in new facts or draw new conclusions. He’s saying the same things he said in this book that he wrote 30 years ago.

    1. kerem

      “As I comprehend it, he simply hates the Fed because he says it allows currency to be debased and allows the government to print money to finance budget deficits which lead to inflation.”

      What do you think the biggest reason for deficit is?

      Yes that’s right, war.

      Do you think wars could last years and years if they had to be paid for by increasing taxes?

      DO you think the correlation of establishments of Central Banks and the start of the long and bloody wars, is just a coincidence?

      1. bob

        “DO you think the correlation of establishments of Central Banks and the start of the long and bloody wars, is just a coincidence?”

        There were no big wars before CB’s? How about the US civil war?

        or, directly to the longevity argument-

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hundred_Years%27_War

        Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.

        And one more for you- correlation does not imply causation.

      2. Brett

        Hey, I agree. The wars are bankrupting this country, and are the primary reason for the huge deficits. I also agree with Stoller’s point, that the history of liberalism has been to vote in people who preach isolationism and civil rights but then go on to wage massive wars, all while those who lean left, or say they lean left, either ignore the crimes of the person they voted in as President or use pragmatic reasoning to justify them.

        Woodrow Wilson is the classic example. He campaigned on staying out of World War I, but then once in office created an elaborate propaganda campaign to turn the public into a blood thirsty nation. He even created an official war propaganda department called the Committee on Public Information to convince Americans that we should go to war.

        FDR, I’d give a little more leeway to given the war he got us involved in was World War II, and given the atrocities the Nazis were committing on the jewish race (and others), it likely was a good thing that the U.S. got involved. However, that history is muddled and complicated too, as for years we ignored what Hitler was doing and even supported Hitler early on. And of course, the carnage and death that the modern war machine inflicted were immeasurably horrific. But I’d blame that more on Hitler rather than FDR, even though FDR’s actions directly resulted in hundreds of thousands of dead Americans.

        But the specific point that Ron Paul’s hatred of the Fed is out of some grand idea that the Fed is the reason we can finance endless war on the credit card, and it’s his primary hatred of war that is behind his hate of the Fed, seems to be completely false. For one thing, Paul wants the U.S. Treasury to provide the services that the Fed currently provides. He wants that because he thinks it would be more accountable to the people than the independent Fed. So what’s to stop the U.S. Treasury from financing endless war? They could also print money should they feel like it.

        It’s really the politicians who keep voting for endless war, regardless of the means the government uses to account for the flow of money. Where liberals fault and blame lies, in my opinion, is in not unifying support behind only anti-war candidates. We keep voting for people like Obama who seek to propagate endless war. Obama did not hide his intentions to expand war when running in 2008. He said he’d end the Iraq war, but he talked about expanding the others, especially Afghanistan but also Pakistan. And he’s done that and more. Big surprise.

        But it’s depressing to me that not enough liberals regard war as a travesty. They accept it, and thus demonize those who are critical of Democrats who expand and fund war. This is the mindless game of partisan ship — rooting for your home team, fearful that those nasty others might win unless you cheer loudly. And that’s a recipe for disaster since we have a far right-wing party being pulled farther right (the GOP) and we have a center-left part being tugged right by the desire to continue to wage the war machine. Thus politics as a whole continues to shift to the right in the country. But when liberals keep supporting people like Barack Obama, then what do you expect?

    2. Fred

      When inflation is measured the same way as for the original CPI, it is 12%.

      shadowstats.com, who also points out that the original CPI was designed to minimize inflation.

      It is only the use of the ‘new, improved’ CPI that allows our government to say that inflation is 2 – 3%.

  26. Bill Jones

    “Lincoln because he was an explicitly anti-racist President”

    What drivel.

    Lincoln was an ardent racist who was perfectly happy with slavery. Read his first inaugural address.

    1. Brett

      Tis true. Lincoln didn’t free the slaves out of some grand principle. He was primarily concerned with keeping the Union intact, and he did what he thought would best achieve those goals. When writing to Horace Greeley, he expressed his thoughts on slavery this way:

      “If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.”

      http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Life_and_Works_of_Abraham_Lincoln/Volume_9/Greeley,_Horace#1862-08-22

    2. sglover

      “Lincoln was an ardent racist who was perfectly happy with slavery.”

      Jesus H. Christ. Please read some history. While Lincoln was always emphatic that preserving the Union was his primary war aim, he was also explicitly opposed to slavery long before he became president.

      You know, there’s this thing called “google”, and it will allow you to look up things like the declarations of seccession of the confederate states. EVERY ONE of them complains about meddling abolitionists right in the opening paragraph, and the election of Lincoln in particular is typically described as the last, unacceptable abolitionist imposition. Do you know something that the seccessionists themselves didn’t?

        1. Nathanael

          Practically everyone was a racist, by modern definitions, in the 19th century. Even the black people were mostly racists.

          Where do you think the “back to Africa” movement came from? Which was strongly supported by many of the abolitionists, black and white? Racial separatism.

          Lincoln was a creature of his time. But he was anti-slavery.

  27. Hugh

    We live in a kleptocracy which both the Democrats and the Republicans serve. This vitiates any real discussion of the two parties stood for or did say before 1975. We also have to be careful and clear about labels. The parties and powers that be have moved so far to the right that virtually everything from what used to be the center-right is now considered left.

    I generally use liberal in two senses. One comes out of the Enlightenment belief in rational Rousseauian political actors that couples well with the rational economic actors of capitalist theory. And the same kind of criticisms that are lodged against neoclassical economics are equally valid against political liberalism. The second are Establishment liberals. These are people who maintain their belief in the elites and elite governance, who think that our problems are still solvable through reform and that our elites are still open to reform, and most importantly who place their allegiance to the Establishment (with the benefits it has conferred upon them) ahead of their allegiance to their liberal values.

    In the taxonomy of politics I use, beyond these are modern progressives. You can look at the difference between liberals and progressives this way. On healthcare, liberals supported Obama’s insurance mandate in exchange for a public option (which they didn’t get). Progressives backed Medicare for All based on healthcare systems in most industrial countries which deliver universal coverage, better healthcare outcomes, and at half the cost of the mixed American private/public insurance system. Progressives took a lot of heat mostly from liberals for sticking to their guns on healthcare even though they were right on both the policy and the politics.

    The same can be said about the wars. Liberals tend to be neutral to supportive of the wars while progressives are opposed to them as well as the size of our military and its imperial mission generally.

    Like libertarians, we are against the existence of the Fed. But unlike them, we are not, closet or open, goldbugs. I guess you could say that libertarians hate deficits. Liberals don’t like them but are willing to run them. And progressives think deficit spending is something government has always done and will do and that how much it does depends upon what is happening in the rest of the economy.

    Libertarians are always distrustful of government. Liberals tend to trust government. Progressives distrust this government but think government can be made more trustworthy and responsive to the public as it has been at other periods in our history.

    Libertarians opposed the bailouts. Liberals approved them and progressives did provisionally only as part of a broad restructuring of the financial sector (which didn’t happen).

    Libertarians look on wealth inequality as natural. Liberals seldom address the issue. And progressives favor redistribution of wealth back to the 99%.

    The thing is that Matt Stoller is wrong. The progressive left does have a political philosophy and response to libertarianism and it is a lot more coherent. It believes that we can have a fairer, juster society, that government can play a role in this, and that we as a society can provide the basics for a full and meaningful life to all our citizens. And that’s a hell of a lot more than the “I’ve got mine, jack” Social Darwinism of the libertarians.

    1. Cris Kennedy

      “The progressive left does have a political philosophy and response to libertarianism and it is a lot more coherent. It believes that we can have a fairer, juster society, that government can play a role in this, and that we as a society can provide the basics for a full and meaningful life to all our citizens. And that’s a hell of a lot more than the “I’ve got mine, jack” Social Darwinism of the libertarians.”

      The progressive political philosophy has zip zero nada PROOF that it offers anything more than a lot more hell for everyone if we buy their deceit. Where’s the progressive utopia? Where’s your proven society? Cuba? Get real.

      1. Jack E. Lope

        Where is the PROOF [sorry, capslock stuck again] that libertarians will take us to a place that is not economically, politically and legally like modern Somalia?

          1. Jack E. Lope

            So Somalia appears to be proof positive of the results of minimal government. Or have there been other experiments that show us otherwise?

          2. Walter Wit Man

            Jack, I’m sorry to keep repeating this argument but it’s officially ticking me off.

            Somalia is not a product of a weak government. It’s a product of the strongest government on Earth . . . the U.S. The U.S. has made Somalia and Iraq and Afghanistan into ‘libertarian’ paradises. These are not examples of libertarian experiment but rather examples of imperial meddling. For instance, the U.S. bombed and killed the shit out of the last stable government in Somalia. It still is . . . .it’s supporting tens of thousands of soldiers attacking the country and has death/torture camps there, uses drones, etc., etc.

      2. LA-CC

        We could look at our very own country from the time of FDR until the era of the ray-gun devolution. Most of us don’t expect a utopia, just a reasonably civil society. That requires some rules to guard against the leeching aspect of ‘free enterprise’ at times – when they are externalizing the cost of doing business, etc. Liberals and Libertarians have more in common than many realize.

    2. JTFaraday

      I don’t think Stoller’s contention was that progressives have no answer to libertarians in the realm of broader theory or moral sentiments, but that progressives have no answer to RON PAUL and his anti-war/ anti-fed positions, specifically, in our actual CURRENT political context.

      You may have an answer, based on your principles and simply doing what you think is right, but I’m not at all sure that “progressives” come across as having an answer within the constraints of our actual current political context.

      The general voting public, that isn’t obsessed with politics, says now and has since before 2008, that the wars are a “waste of lives and resources.” No doubt Ron Paul, and the Ron Paul-ites, oppose the wars in part for similar fiscal reasons. As good a Republican as Grover Norquist was heard at one point grousing that he was getting tired of paying for it.

      On the other hand, while progressives tend to oppose the wars on principle, the BLARE coming out of the progressive blogosphere right now is not merely that we should have a domestic spending bill to counter the recession—deficits be d*mned– but the wholesale Dick Cheney-ian notion that “deficits don’t matter.”

      In addition, whenever anyone on the political axis associated with the anti-war Ron Paulite types (libertarian, Austrian economists, etc) suggests deficits do matter for x, y, or z reasons, we get near hysterics from some of our more devoted Dick Cheney-ians.

      (Not all of who actually know enough to really know, but who take it on faith from some other self-professed experts—largely because it’s politically expedient for them to do so– but that’s a separate issue).

      Right now I would say that, thanks to the influence of MMT, the progressive blogosphere– largely inadvertently, but nevertheless– is promoting a line of reasoning about national budgetary constraints (or the lack thereof) that enables the wars, against the general public and the Ron Paulite position that it’s a waste of lives and resources.

      For the general public anyway, if not the Ron Paulites, that is frequently framed as a need to shift spending off destructive activity into a more productive, domestic agenda.

      When I mentioned on one of the public money threads the other day that Helicopter Ben’s “deficits don’t matter” position was—in FACT, forget theory– enabling the wars and the bank bailouts that secured the hold of finance sector elites on the US government, while increasing the political power of military and security elites, no one had anything to say.

      That seems to conform to Stoller’s statement that progressives have no answer. Having an answer has to be an answer that works politically, not an appeal to personal principles that ends up buried under the cumulative effect of one’s participation in the promotion of what is– in FACT– dodgy pubic policy.

      The principled libertarian answer to all this is “well, abuse of power is what you get whenever you give fedgov carte blanche.”

      In this case, as of now, they’re the ones who appear to be right–we should not have bailed out the banks and we should not give fedgov financial carte blanche.

      1. Hugh

        The country has been running deficits for almost its entire history, and you know what? It’s still around, and the current mess has got exactly zilch to do with them. So I might ask what is this mania that libertarians have with them? It is not about running deficits but how they are run that counts.

        MMT doesn’t enable war spending, and for the umpteenth time, I am not an MMTer. It explains how spending for wars and tax cuts for the rich happen. You see the PTB are always telling us that when it comes to spending for the 99%, the money isn’t there, and budget and benefit cuts are the only answer. But that’s a lie, and they show its a lie by always creating the money for their wars, a bloated military, tax cuts for the rich, and bailouts of Wall Street.

        As for the comment above that there is no evidence that progressive ideas ever did any good. That is simply sloppy, dishonest thinking. Progressive and radical ideas were responsible for curbing child labor and procuring workers’ rights to a decent wage, reasonable work hours, and a safe workplace. Much of the New Deal owed what substance and staying power it had to progressives and radicals.

        But this counts for nothing with libertarians because they have their ideology and bogeymen and neither history nor facts will ever get in the way of them. If you want to know where the real danger is in libertarianism, it is in that.

  28. PQS

    It seems to me that getting behind a RP Presidency is like trying to fill the bathtub with a teaspoon. A RP Presidency is going to cripple the MIC exactly how? Does any sane person actually believe President Paul will be able to turn this country back to the gold standard? (Assuming such a goal is even reasonable….) How will President/Premier Paul rein in the Drug War, again? We’ve had toker Presidents and at least one dry drunk in office that haven’t been able to do that.

    So what is it, exactly, that supporting RP is supposed to do? Poke a finger in the eye of the failing Congress? Big deal – they’ve already done that to themselves with their 9% approval rating. Generate a discussion about ending the wars and the WOD? 100K+ people on the street during Bush’s reign didn’t do that. So, what, exactly, is this supposed to do that hasn’t been said 100 times over by anyone else who isn’t a bigoted old man who likes to pander to racists and tinfoil hatties?

    1. Jack E. Lope

      Ron Paul will VETO [sorry, capslock stuck again] The Patriot Act, drug laws, The Fed, um…what? Those laws do not sunset? What else is within the Constitutional authority of The President?

  29. Linda J

    “If your state won’t allow [abortion], I am sure there are a few out of the other 49 that will.”

    Spoken like a true man, who has never had to worry about becoming pregnant. We womenfolk will just hop and skip around from our state to one that lets us control our own reproduction.

    Ron Paul will stop all wars but the one on women.

    1. Sauron

      What a cowardly evasion of responsibility on Paul’s part. How does the fact that a state government is not a federal body make one iota of difference? Say we download the political hot potato to California, for example. Cali is a polity the size of Canada. It’s not like they could make decisions more sensitive to the needs of the individuals involved.

      Furthermore, if we take Paul’s logic to its final conclusion, then one could argue for just about any policy as long as the borders were left open for dissenters to leave.

        1. Jack E. Lope

          I don’t know about Sauron, but I have. In 1920 it was amended – and the Amendments are an important part of it all – where was I? Oh, in 1920 it was amended to make women citizens, too.

          1. Fraud Guy

            That was just voting rights…said nothing about what class of citizens they would be. Same thing was said in the 1860′s, and you see how what level of citizenship that gave those protected.

          2. Cris Kennedy

            If you wish to amend the constitution, go for it. Before you get that done, though, don’t read into it your latest feel good agenda.

          3. Jack E. Lope

            When I read The Constitution, one thing I notice is the use of the word “person” [or variants] versus the use of the word “citizen” [o.v.].

            Almost all of the rights mentioned are afforded to persons, though slaves were counted as less than persons. The rights that are exclusively for citizens include voting and running for political office.

            With that in mind, I think the 19th Amendment made women full citizens, no longer chattel. However, much like the 13th through 15th, the 19th was way ahead of society. More than 50 years after the 19th was adopted, we could not get the “Equal Rights Amendment” ratified.

        2. Sauron

          Actually I never have. I have only read the Canadian Constitution and elements of the BNA. (I’m a Canuck.) But maybe I will, now that you mention it.

          Okay, I’m back after skimming it. I think Ron Paul is wrong.

          A strictly constitutional argument for allowing abortion is pretty clear. Obviously, abortion isn’t mentioned in the Constitution, therefore, under the 9th Amendment, the right to one would seem to be retained by the people. Dissenters seem to argue that the 9th doesn’t “create” guaranteed or protected rights, but this is sophistry. If a right isn’t protected by law, it’s clearly no right. At first glance, abortion is a guaranteed right at the federal level, although not explicitly enumerated one.

          Furthermore, given Article VI–”the Supremacy Clause”–if abortion is guaranteed at the federal level, it’s guaranteed at the state level. You can’t have the right in one state, and not another.

          Of course, this is a strictly constitutional argument. Ethical, religious and scientific arguments may be a adduced to argue that the fetus is a person and thus they are granted rights under the Constitution. But this goes beyond the text.

          1. cwaltz

            There are so many errors in pro life thinking. First off, it shouldn’t be pro-life as if there is only one life involved there are two. The woman carrying the fetus is a life. And carrying a fetus to term is not without risks.

            Then where the argument fails is in the idea a fetus is a person. A fetus is a parasite(and I say that as a woman who willingly took 5 of them and brought them into the world.) They derive their well being from the body they inhabit for 10 months taking vital nutrients in order to grow. Carrying a pregnancy is not without it risk. The government should have absolutely no right to dictate to a woman what is an isn’t an acceptable risk when the ultimate outcome could be death for them.

  30. Mattski

    Yes, liberalism–as the expression of individual freedom that is the historic creature of a rising British Protestant bourgoisie, easily co-opted in a narrowed view of individual economic self-interest by NEOliberalism–is morally bankrupt and historically exhausted, whereas expressions of naked self-interest and nationalism (as embodied in conservative and Republican interests) will always have a certain vitality.

    But although Marxism, as teleological wishful thinking that places power in a mythical “people’s state,” IS dead, as vision of governance if not of tool of analysis, socialism–the received historical inheritance of attempts to create a just and more equal society is not, nor (by definition) can it die. It finds its most vigorous expression today in ideas like food sovereignty, and basic needs forms of governance increasingly and intuitively being created by people everywhere. The US is caught in the vice of history, now savagely retrograde–its business, increasingly, war and nothing else–but hope is springing up in many other places (see South America, especially).

  31. Bridget

    “I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races—that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this, that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I, as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”

    Abraham Lincoln

  32. Sundog

    I’m a registered Libertarian despite, not because, of Ron Paul. Thanks Matt Stoller for helping me think about why Paul matters.

    The question of collective action is central to the Liberal/Paulist conflict.

    Paulists seem to believe that the only legitimate collective action is markets in which individuals cannot organize other than by making market choices. Liberals seem to believe that markets can fail over short and long terms and are willing to entrust organizations such as the Fed and the CIA with capacities that subvert rule of law.

    Both are/would be authoritarian in practice. The Obama administration’s assertion of “unitary executive” power to execute a US citizen without due process is one example. In a Paulist state, any one citizen would be free to launch a lawsuit against whatever enterprise that poisoned her children, whether it be a neighbor burning plastic trash or an arm of the Chinese Communist Party turning the Grand Canyon into a uranium mine with zero regulation.

    I suspect that by the end of this decade we’ll all be surprised by how Americans have come to think about collective action and market forces. Medicare for all and a multitude of currencies?

    1. Jack E. Lope

      In a Paulist state, might I get together with some of my neighbors and file a suit against the guy who burns his plastics 100 miles west of us? With the prevailing winds, he is doing a little bit of harm to each of us, but not enough to make the court appearance worth our while.

      While we are at it, we should probably select someone as a spokesperson, because we all have to work for companies in order to put food on our tables. Our group may choose to make some other rules, since we are already meeting to fight a common enemy, and apply them to ourselves.

      If, eventually, we merge with a similar group to our west – maybe one that has some sway over that plastic-burning guy – we will each have a smaller influence on the overall group, but we may have a greater chance of eliminating the plastic burning by that guy.

      Or, maybe he will have the resources to wear down the legal efforts of our collective, or he might even own the private courts that have jurisdiction over him, so he could pump Sarin into the atmosphere with impunity.

    2. Fraud Guy

      “Liberals seem to believe that markets can fail over short and long terms and are willing to entrust organizations such as the Fed and the CIA with capacities that subvert rule of law.”

      How about the following, instead:

      …it has been observed that markets can fail over short and long terms (political leanings have nothing to do with that fact)

      …and entities such as the Fed and the CIA can be subverted to pervert the rule of law (again, political leanings have nothing to do with that)

      As Jack notes below, the idea that individual action in a stateless society will be able to use the market to thwart those who act to the long term detriment of others…did you study history or philosophy?

  33. Lesa Perry

    “If your state won’t allow [abortion], I am sure there are a few out of the other 49 that will.”

    The same can be said for states that won’t allow teaching accurate history, sex education or evolution; access to clean air and water; the separation of church and state; consumer protection from unethical business practices, etc…

    This philosophy just leads to a race to the bottom.

  34. dr. poop

    “Paul’s office was dedicated, first and foremost, to his political principles, and his work with his grassroots base reflects that. Politics and procedure simply didn’t matter to him.”

    except when he wanted billions of evil/fake federal dollars for his district?

    war on xmas? aids in the vending machines of freedom?

    Just another career politician selling “government is the problem and the mythical free market is the only solution.”

    and I think you mean “neoliberal” like Bam, as opposed to liberal like Teddy Kennedy.

    This guy was a Grayson staffer?

    1. Walter Wit Man

      Ted Kennedy was more neoliberal than “liberal.” (if we are conflating liberalism with leftist)

      “”[Kennedy] once said that ‘I define liberalism in this country’…and he really did for a whole half century, ” presidential historian Michael Beschloss told MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann on Countdown. Along the way, Kennedy played a key role in redefining and redirecting liberalism and its chief standard bearer in the U.S. political system, the Democratic Party.

      Fundamentally, Kennedy’s political career is a chronicle of the decline of American liberalism, which once promised to end poverty in America, but now debates whether including even a mild “public option” in a health care reform bill might be a bridge too far.”

      http://socialistworker.org/2009/08/28/myth-of-the-liberal-lion

      1. Walter Wit Man

        And imho Grayson is no “liberal lion” either. He supported the same neoliberal/conservative health care bill that Kennedy supported.

  35. Jim3981

    There are a couple of very simple reasons to vote for Paul in my opinion. It’s ALL about the big picture.

    forget about the little details all the other canidates lie about to get elected (before doing whatever the lobbyists request).

    Restoring freedom, restoring the Constitution, and maintaining sovereignty is why to elect Paul in my opinion.

    Paul is the last chance to save the country from economic collapse and restore liberty/freedom. He understands ho the bankers/corporations have the USA on a collision course with simultaneous war spending/tax cutting/prescription drug benefits.

    The banksters have everybody enslaved with their debt treadmill. Paul will put the brakes on money debasing with his sound money beliefs.

    The drug wars are to protect the world’s largest drug dealer the CIA. (Read up on the Iran Contra affair for well documented info on how to figure that one out.) Paul understands this, and will pull the plug on their ATF gun running balony/ and fake drug wars.

    The various Federal agencies serve no purpose but to maintain central control over the population. Paul understands this and will give control to the states where decisions can be made without centralized influence by corporate america.

    All the other stuff is small potatoes. Got to save the country before worrying about the little issues.

    1. lambert strether

      Is “sound money” a vague euphemism for a return the gold standard? What makes money “sound” other than the ability of the state to demand payment of taxes in the currency it issues?

      1. F. Beard

        Yes, “sound money” is a euphemism for the gold standard. But to be fair to RP, he is in favor of allowing other PMs for private debts, as if fiat and PMs are the only possible money forms.

        What makes money “sound” other than the ability of the state to demand payment of taxes in the currency it issues? lambert strether

        That is correct for fiat, the only ethical government money form. However, private monies could be backed by goods and services (eg. store coupons and bridge tolls) and/or an equity share (common stock).

  36. Philip Pilkington

    Of course this is all avoiding the key issue: if Paul was elected he would destroy the US economy and pull the world into a second Great Depression.

    Seriously, his economic policies are crazy. Imagine what would happen if he really tried to reign in government spending in the way he wants to. What would pick up the slack? The private sector? In their current state of debt? You must be joking. Or how about the foreign sector? In the US… haha!

    Paul is a dangerous man who, frankly, lives in a fantasyland of his own creation. Keynes called such types of politicians ‘destructionists’ and he was spot on. They don’t have a viable alternative. Their policies are almost wholly negative (STOP war. STOP deficits. STOP government. etc.) and so they trust political and social organisation to some vague Utopian fantasy they hold in their heads.

    1. F. Beard

      What would pick up the slack? The private sector? In their current state of debt? Philip Pilkington

      If only the Austrians would realize that banking cheats everyone, then they could get behind a universal bailout. And note that it is government MONEY that is needed and not so much government jobs.

    2. Piano Racer

      Typical emotional diatribe from our resident MMT zealot, Phil. Read what he is saying people, you will not find a more raw argument for maintaining the status quo than his post. That is what Phil, and seemingly most MMT’ers, are really all about.

      Ron paul is so NEGATIVE! He just wants to say NO to everything, how terrible! No wars, no bailouts, no huge debt load, smaller government… Inconceivable!

      Phil reminds me of nobody more than Vizzini from The Princess Bride. So convinced of his own intellectual superiority, he is reduced to shouting “Inconceivable!” while he unwittingly gulps down the chalice containing the iocane, embracing his own doom.

      1. F. Beard

        Ron paul is so NEGATIVE! He just wants to say NO to everything, how terrible! No wars, no bailouts, PR

        No bailouts even for the bankers’ victims, the general population? RP does not believe in justice? But yes, yes, yes for government recognition of gold as money? A traditional tool of bankers for oppression?

        no huge debt load, PR

        That’s no problem – Federal deficit spending can be done without borrowing. The existing national debt can and should be paid off with new fiat as it come due.

        smaller government… Inconceivable! PR

        The fascism (for the rich) in government should be eliminated before the socialism (for the poor) is even considered. The former led to the need for the later.

    3. Nathanael

      “Of course this is all avoiding the key issue: if Paul was elected he would destroy the US economy and pull the world into a second Great Depression. ”

      But we’re already in a second Great Depression. So who cares? Perhaps it’s better to give the credit for that Depression to the Republican Party.

      This is a serious argument. If Ron Paul were elected, and shut down the national security state, that would be good; if he then destroyed the economy, he would also permanently destroy the Republican Party and maybe we could actually elect a New Deal type in 2016!

  37. lambert strether

    Anybody here ever read Snow Crash?

    “The Mafia has a sample of the drug for the first time, thanks to me and my pal Ng. Until now, it always self-destructed before they could get to it. So I guess they’re analyzing it or something. Trying to make an antidote, maybe.” “Or trying to reproduce it.” “The Mafia wouldn’t do that.” Don’t be a sap,” Hiro says. “Of course they would.” Y.T. seems miffed at Hiro. “Look,” he says, “I’m sorry for reminding you of this, but if we still had laws, the Mafia would be a criminal organization.” “But we don’t have laws,” she says, “so it’s just another chain.” (p.250)

    Seems to me that’s a vivid picture of the libertarian future…

    1. Fred

      So you like the current version of reality better, where the Justice Department is responsible for protecting the banksters and all the other criminals who contributed to Obama’s campaigns?

    1. Walter Wit Man

      Actually, he would have let the banks go bankrupt. So that’s a debt jubilee (a huge one).

      But, he wouldn’t have provided any positive stimulus (like full employment policies).

      On the whole, I think we would have been better off with no stimulus the last few years (because it was mostly right-wing tax cut stimulus anyway), as long as the too big to fail banks were broken up via bankruptcy/receivership.

      1. Fraud Guy

        Really, or would debt management companies buy the distressed debt at pennies on the dollar, and then chase and hound the debtors for the full amount + fees and costs (a la Iceland).

        A jubilee would eliminate the debt, not transfer it to new collectors.

      2. Walter Wit Man

        Good point.

        The debt that would be wiped out if we let a big bank fail (via bankruptcy/receivership) would mostly be the debt that bank owed to another bank.

        Libertarians do support bankruptcy for individuals, though, right?

        I do agree that a bottom up jubilee benefiting individuals is preferable. But no one but the left is suggesting that–Ron Paul can’t be much worse than Obama and the Democrats in this regard. Just look at the way Obama has handled the millions of people with underwater mortgages–he’s strung them along and given no relief.

        And popping the debt bubble at the top, the derivatives and other debt the big banks have created amongst themselves, may have some trickle down effects (like lowering house prices).

        But you’re right Ron Paul isn’t offering direct relief for individual debtors (although he would probably say that if the banks violated recording statues for instance, then the debt is not collectible–you know, following the rule of law).

    2. Walter Wit Man

      To take another stab at this . . . if you read Austrian websites like Mish* or Zero Hedge, they are okay with the destruction of debt via bankruptcy and voluntary forgiveness. They see this in almost religious terms, as wringing out the excesses and allowing more ‘efficient’ future growth (creative destruction).

      So once again the main proponents of any type of jubilee come from the left (me included) and libertarians. Of course I would prefer a leftist version of this, like a debt jubilee for mortgages, whereas the libertarians would let the “market” do this via bankruptcy. Also, the left would have nationalized the banks rather than allowing them to simply go bankrupt. But both libertarians and leftists would not have used $30 Trillion to bail out banks. Leftists would have taken it a step further and used a few trillion to ameliorate some of the negative consequences of debt destruction (a work program, for instance).

      * I can’t stomach Mish anymore though, so it’s been awhile.

  38. Bill B

    A liberal can support the Fed in terms of monetary policy. Paul apparently doesn’t agree that the Fed should do anything on the monetary front, so that’s just a throwback to an age-old debate about the gold standard, which has already been settled. Whether the federal govt. should basically be eliminated, ostensibly because of the wars America has waged, seems pretty clearly addressed. I don’t think war is Paul’s main concern, it’s the federal govt. in general. Even if there had been no Iraq War, Paul would still be arguing for eliminating the Fed and the liberal welfare state. Would possibly turning America into Somalia be a good tradeoff for not waging any more external wars and having legal pot? Unfortunately, although I agree with Paul on some points such as the drug war, overall his intellectual “challenges” are pretty easy to address, and it’s pretty easy to see his real target.

    1. Fred

      “issue of gold standard has been settled”.

      Where, by who? Certainly modern economics thinks so, but they are wrong about most everything.

      Certainly all modern big-gov liberals and Progressives think so, but look how their version of reality has turned out.

      Lots of flat statements ‘gold standard will produce a disaster’, but zero analysis about why. Everything I have read is in terms of Keynes and ‘deflation’. Pure ideology, in other words.

      1. F. Beard

        Lots of flat statements ‘gold standard will produce a disaster’, but zero analysis about why. Fred

        It will cause an environmental disaster, for one thing, as people rush to mine money.

        It is also absurd that the creation rate of government money should be limited by the mining rate of a scarce metal.

      2. Nathanael

        Deflation, the causes of it, and the results of it, aren’t “ideology”, they’re *HISTORY*.

        Go learn some economic history. I realize it isn’t taught in economics departments any more, but it’s important!

  39. Mattski

    The follow-on question to this really illuminating post is: what do progressives have in common with Paul’s supporters that could be used to create an alternative politics going forward?

    Unfortunately, liberals have spent the last several decades learning to despise the so-called “Reagan Democrat.” Drop the words “white southerner” at any liberal website and all you’ll see is an outpouring of hatred rather than any desire to make common cause or discover reasons for solidarity with that person, let alone to change their thinking. And in truth, that’s for some of the reasons outlined above: most liberals DO support the wider US project of military dominance that has kept us all in Gameboys until now, and spend more time thinking about how their gameboy or car can distinguish them from their neighbor than what they have in common.

    1. F. Beard

      Fiat money and income tax are inexorably linked. indio007

      Not necessarily. Any Federal tax would give fiat value, not just an income tax. And if the fiat was simply spent into existence, rather than borrowed into existence, the need for taxation would be less since no usury would need to be paid.

    2. Montanamaven

      The Congress in 1862 created the Greenback, $450 million of them as money system so the U.S. didn’t have to borrow money and pay interest. We had done the same thing to fund the Revolution and created the Continental. These were examples of creating real American money by fiat. The problem is not the “money” but what we spend it on. Imagine if we had spent $450 million on giving everybody 40 acres and a mule, built schools, houses, and tools?

      We didn’t need a war. It would have been better to let the South have its own nation and then trade with them. Sooner than later, they would have gotten rid of slavery. Much cheaper to free the slaves and pay them shit wages and no longer have to house, feed, and clothe them.

      1. Nathanael

        What statements like these forget is that *the South started the war*. Look up “firing on Fort Sumter”.

        If the South had seceded peacefully, it might have been like the secession of Norway from Sweden. The Swedish army marched in — and when they found no opposition, they marched out again, and Norway became independent.

        The fact that people do not realize that the South started the war — the War of Southern Aggression, one might call it — is due to a massive project of falsifying history, which the KKK and similar groups worked hard on in the post-Civil-War period, and which is embedded in most middle school and high school textbooks. Read _Lies My Teacher Told Me_ for more about this.

  40. b.

    The giveaway: “This is why Ron Paul can critique the Federal Reserve and American empire, and why liberals have essentially no answer to his ideas, arguing instead over Paul having character defects.”

    Institutionalized “liberals” – e.g. former aides to Congressmen, or card-carrying career Democrats – might not have an answer, because they are not really agreeing with Paul’s positions on institutions that are part of the pact their career perspectives depend on. For actual liberals, the answer is rather straightforward. At its core, the libertarian position is opposition to the rule of law, and the concept of law itself. Libertarians replace law with individually negotiated contracts, that are individually enforced by whomever feels the need to take sides, or can be contracted to do so. Libertarians do not subscribe to any concept of universally applicable values (such as inalienable rights or equality). In a way these are two responses to the same conundrum – short of letting people with different values segregate geographically by value-driven migration (“pick a nation” – antithetical to the modern nation state), you either have to define and enforce laws that try to identify a workable middle ground, or you have to do away with laws entirely to accommodate irreconcilable differences e.g. regarding torture or slavery.

    The dual sleight of hand in Stoller’s piece is (a) actual (as opposed to dys-functional) liberals have no problem supporting those of Paul’s objectives that are compatible (while rejecting his motives as far as incompatible), and (b) there is no inherent connection between authoritarian and militaristic approaches to enforcing the rule of law, and the rule of law. It is a long-standing deficiency of US society that nothing can be discussed or attempted or actually undertaken except in terms of Yet Another War On Something. It is also a deep-seated deficiency of US society that principles such as those rejecting slavery, torture, detention, illegal elective war etc. cannot – despite being codified in constitution and law – be enforced without conjuring – usually as mouth-breathing hysteria, but often enough in actuality – the prospect of civil war. That, however, is not a defect or contradiction of liberal principles, or Enlightenment thinking, or the rule of law, or even – pace glibertariana – the very idea of law. It is just a deficiency of a peoples that have lost their way every single time they were about to find it. Amazingly enough, their accomplishments still serve as a groundbreaking example to other wannabe decent societies to this day.

    Stoller is repackaging the “Liberals are Big Guvmint” meme, with the twist of claiming liberals built the military-industrial complex that so reliably converts tax revenue into private profits. In actuality, no US President could ever justly be called a liberal (like Paul, objectives and results do not always map one-to-one to specific values), and while his discussion of the authoritarian strain and the “get ‘er done” approach to domestic change (including occasional and accidentally sweeping reform) as well as the correlation with major wars is very relevant, it just illustrates that it is the US dynamics of “disaster democracy” that has inevitably converged on democratic disaster. You cannot “spread” democracy or the values that require it, at gunpoint, neither in the South, nor in Iraq. There is nothing new about “liberal” addiction to kinetic “humanitarian” intervention, and just because the Democratic Party has chosen this particular brand of snake oil to accomplish its essentially in-humanitarian objectives does not make it liberal in any way. Liberals might well feel the urge to intervene in ongoing atrocities, but even the most short-sighted and most driven among them will *not* feel that overbearing *need* to personally profit first and foremost that defines the craving-hence-craven party mindset. It should be easy for both the so afflicted and their contemporaries to distinguish these emotional responses. Maybe this perspective might even help Matt Stoller resolving the contradictions he so rightly perceives, once their origins have become clear.

    1. jest

      Thank you.

      Stoller set up a straw man and beat the crap out of it.

      Meanwhile, the *real* issues of the day skate on by…

      Thanks again for injecting some sense into this discussion.

    2. Bradley

      “Libertarians do not subscribe to any concept of universally applicable values (such as inalienable rights or equality).”

      No libertarian theorists interested in natural rights. No influence of John Locke or Thomas Paine on the libertarian tradition. Nothing like a universal “non-aggression principle”. Great understanding of political philosophy you’ve got there.

  41. Aquifer

    Hmmm – this post and much of the discussion that follows seems to me another great example of “progressives”, “lefties”, whatever, engaging in what appears to be their favorite activity – shooting themselves in the foot or some other part of their anatomy.

    Frankly, I am getting a bit tired of seeing a Libertarian, Ron Paul, given excessive print – especially when, as here, he is praised with faint damns – by ostensibly “progressive” individuals (Scheer just did a similar piece in Truthdig), while really progressive candidates like Jill Stein, are completely ignored. The number of folks who claim lefty or progressive leanings who say they will support Paul when there is a much better candidate with regard to their professed leanings, boggles my mind. Either these folks don’t hold the views they claim, or they haven’t done their homework. Either way, no wonder our politics is such a mess.

    So, giving these folks the benefit of the doubt, and assuming their sincerity of purpose, i will again point out you have a better, much better, choice ….

    http://www.jillstein.org

    And, Mr. Stoller, i think Dems have a MUCH harder time dealing with real lefty/progressive candidates than with guys like Ron Paul – they can’t engage them at ALL, which is why they are ignored, or if that proves difficult, denigrated or dismissed.

    Dems have a much harder time with the likes of Nader and Stein than they do with the likes of Paul. Stoller apparently likes Paul because he has “principles”, which Dems seem to lack. I agree, though his “principles”, IMO, are disastrous. But Stoller, as long as he “believes in” the concept of the “Dem Party”(which he seems to, though i would guess he may despise the DLC wing still so firmly in control, that, I would lay big odds, undermined if not sabotaged his former employer) will not do what he needs to and cut the umbilical cord. If he admires candidates with principles and does believe in lefty ones, it is time for him and so many others like him, to start actively working for folks like Stein. Until then, he must know that pieces like this, insofar as they raise certain of Paul’s positions that might appeal to lefties, only serve to drain support from real progressives who need all the help they can get.

    It is getting more and more difficult for me to believe that these folks don’t realize this, and if they do, that raises a whole new discussion ….

      1. jest

        Aquifer’s money quote:

        “And, Mr. Stoller, i think Dems have a MUCH harder time dealing with real lefty/progressive candidates than with guys like Ron Paul – they can’t engage them at ALL, which is why they are ignored, or if that proves difficult, denigrated or dismissed.”

    1. jest

      More common sense:

      “Frankly, I am getting a bit tired of seeing a Libertarian, Ron Paul, given excessive print [...], while really progressive candidates like Jill Stein, are completely ignored.

      The number of folks who claim lefty or progressive leanings who say they will support Paul when there is a much better candidate with regard to their professed leanings, boggles my mind.

      http://www.jillstein.org

      And, Mr. Stoller, i think Dems have a MUCH harder time dealing with real lefty/progressive candidates than with guys like Ron Paul – they can’t engage them at ALL, which is why they are ignored, or if that proves difficult, denigrated or dismissed.

      Dems have a much harder time with the likes of Nader and Stein than they do with the likes of Paul.

      It is getting more and more difficult for me to believe that these folks don’t realize this, and if they do, that raises a whole new discussion”

      Thank you, Aquifer.

      The issue is not that “liberals” have no answer to Libertarians. The issue is that fake “liberals” have no answer to Real Liberals. Hence the term “Firebagger,” among others.

      If one tried to stimulate a discussion of liberals challenged by Paul on a site like dkos or democratic underground, the topic would be at least tolerated.

      If it were Greens instead, such an atrocity would be grounds for permanent banishment.

  42. jerrydenim

    Yeah, yeah, yeah…

    OK, I got it. Liberals suck, and Ron Paul who just accidentally happens to be a tin-foil hat type of bigot who is dedicated to the destruction of all government is AWESOME because he despises the Fed and and the tax-sucking Imperial US war machine, and since the good reform-minded readers of NC hate the Fed and the Imperial war machine we should all consider throwing our support behind Congressman Paul and hope for the best despite a few minor ideological discrepancies…. Is that the gist of the situation the way you see it Mr. Stoller?

    I’m very late to this thread, but I’m more than a little shocked and disturbed that an apologist piece for an avowed libertarian crusader and acolyte of Ayn Rand could receive such a warm fuzzy welcome on a blog known for its intelligent and ruthless skewering any and all things libertarian.

    If Ron Paul’s ideology challenges liberals its because his ideology challenges itself. Its already been pointed out, but how do you claim to be a “libertarian” yet champion an extremely un-libertarian conservative cultural wedge issue like outlawing abortion? Paul doesn’t have a coherent ideology, so of course it is going to confuse any thinking person who attempts to apply reason to his half-baked arguments.

    IF and that is a big, big “if,” American voters could manage to send a guy like Ron Paul to Washington what do people think he would really do differently and just how would that go? Take away the heated rhetoric about the Fed and the gold buggery, and Paul’s just another run of the mill libertarian righty proposing more of the same old crap. More of the same, except much more extreme. It seems to me that anyone left or right leaning that would consider voting for an outlier candidate like Paul would do it out of the same sense of frustration that Washington is a broken viper’s den of power operated by monied special interests for monied special interests. So in a political environment like we have now (one that was fostered by thirty plus years of libertarian political ascendency I might add) its safe to assume that special interests with the most power will remain intact, which means the banks and the Fed will be protected at all costs because they have all the money; The military will be just fine because they have the support of the war profiteers AND the power of force. ( Plus a lot of really patriotic and talented assassins. No commander-in-chief in history has been able to rule without the consent of the military) So what would a government hating libertarian like Ron Paul be allowed to destroy with his wrecking ball? Simple; everything else he doesn’t really talk so much about on the campaign trail, or all that makes life worth living here in the United States. No postal service, no highway system, no public education, no cops only private security, private prisons, privatized aviation system, private savings, no social security or safety net of any kind, you get the idea. The Scharzman’s, Peterson’s and Koch’s of the world have already made it very clear that they are tired of paying for it anyway.

    Ron Paul is kind of cute in a plucky Grand-Pa Simpson sort of way, and you have to admire his dedication to his cause, but don’t let the big ears and the progressive friendly rhetoric against the Fed and government bailouts for the wealthy fool you. He is a dangerous radical that would unleash a terrible and foolish revolution on America that would be more cruel and tragic than Mao’s “Great Leap”. I would urge any reform minded individuals considering supporting a libertarian candidate like Ron Paul to reconsider. Ask yourself how a Ron Paul or other libertarian Presidency would play out in today’s Washington. It would not be pretty.

    1. spooz

      As has already been said to others who asked what difference he could make, he could veto the National Defense Authorization Act and any other piece of legislation designed to limit our constitutional rights. That alone would make me vote for him. The rest of the s-c-a-r-y stuff you bring up with your fear mongering would have to pass the legislature first. Fat chance.

      “what do people think he would really do differently and just how would that go?”

      1. Fraud Guy

        And why do you think, should RP be the borderline president of a Republican majority in both houses, that he would not have his vetoes of such “critical” legislation overridden again and again and again, a la Andrew Johnson?

    2. bruce

      you are unfortunately misinformed on all of your critiques of paul. it’s a shame that so many of us fail to fact check our news media and verify the information being reported. why do we settle for a news sound byte and assume it to be sufficient to form a valid, well informed opinion?

      this is not just for you, but for all the readers who might happen to share your misconceptions.

      you said:

      “how do you claim to be a “libertarian” yet champion an extremely un-libertarian conservative cultural wedge issue like outlawing abortion?”

      because he is so libertarian, that unlike most presidents before him, he has no intention on imposing his own personal views as the law. your criticism that his ideology lacks coherency is completely misguided, because you fail to recognize the absolute consistency of such a position. his personal views are completely separate from his positions on forming legislation. yes he opposes abortion, and yes, he believes that marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman. that may be his own opinion, but he’s going to leave these things for you to decide as states, as was intended in the constitution. this is a position in politics that is truly refreshing for a change and deserves more recognition. i don’t see how anybody can possibly be against restoring the freedoms they once had.

      re: the gold standard, as another commenter pointed out above, contrary to popular belief, ron paul does not intend on implementing the gold standard. he personally feels that the gold standard would be the ideal monetary system, but understands clearly that such a system cannot be implemented overnight.

      someone else questioned the use of precious metals in backing the currency. the argument for precious being the ideal currency lies in it’s malleability, resistance to corrosion and tarnish, and has been universally accepted in exchange as payment for goods and services. that’s just the way it has been for over 6,000 years.

      you said:

      “Paul’s just another run of the mill libertarian righty proposing more of the same old crap”

      the fact that you fail to discern his libertarian views from the status quo conservative views you are so opposed to demonstrates your lack of understanding ron paul. he is not your “run of the mill libertarian righty proposing more of the same old crap”. he is proposing to reverse the course of the neoconservative agenda that we all oppose. he has no special interest masters, he has no backing from big pharma, big oil, big agro, big corporate anything. they despise him because he threatens to dismantle the monopolistic racket they benefit from. this is why he is so despised by mainstream republicans and democrats. they profit handsomely from the status quo, and have much to lose should ron paul have his way. is this so difficult to comprehend? is your blind hatred for all things conservative keeping you from being able to see this? it’s bad enough that he is demonized by his own party for being the one party pooper to actually stand up for issues that put him in agreement with many progressive liberal stances as this article so clearly indicated…but then to see liberals fail to recognize that the enemy of his enemy should be his best friend, i feel compelled to point out the ever so prevalent misconceptions and try to correct them.

      i highly urge all of you, every american citizen to not accept anything that the media tries to tell you, but to verify their claims and hold them accountable. get the words where they originated, from the original source. how many times are you going to accept the hearsay of an established, known compulsively lying gossip queen obsessed with spreading rumors and disinformation? when will we learn? is it too to ask you to have the humility to accept the slight possibility that you might be basing your opinions on lies or exaggerations of misinformed hearsay?

      please, i urge you to actually spend the time and go and look at his own words, his own writings, his own arguments for yourself. don’t let anybody try to summarize and present it to/for you. you do yourself a great disservice otherwise, and only serves to prevent meaningful dialogue because the conversation goes nowhere because all the time is spent having to re-educate the misinformed in order to even begin a proper discussion.

      1. kosmic debris

        Please… read his voting record. And for the love of Pete, he is in the G.O.P. He’s an elected conservative…

  43. spooz

    At least he would let the voters know why he objected to it, and hopefully put pressure on the legislature. Most of the time bad legislation slips through without much publicity.

  44. LA-CC

    I can’t believe the Ron Paul gold standard followers. Seriously. Why not baskets and beads for cryin’ out loud?

    I am certainly not saying I like what the Fed has been up to, but that doesn’t mean I agree we should dismantle it and go back to some gold standard.

    I agree to some extent with Paul’s position regarding going to war, but I don’t trust his judgment on whether or when it may be necessary… and I’m no hawk, for sure.

    I’m doubtful he’ll get the nomination, so I don’t really see why liberals need to address his position any more than any other representative. We don’t bother much about Bachmann either and that sure doesn’t mean we have closet Bachmann’s in the liberal camp.

    I’m surprised at this article from Matt Stoller. It just seems a big swing & miss to me.

  45. Daniel T.

    Abraham Lincoln was anti-racist? How about this quote, then?

    “I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race” – Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln-Douglas debates.

    1. Matt Stiles

      Shhhhhhhh!

      With knowledge of statements like that (there are lots more), liberals might be forced to abandon their 150 year old love affair with a racist who used black issues as a powder keg to achieve his main objective – the centralization of power.

      Liberal’s love of Lincoln, to me, is similar to holding Edward Bernays as a paragon of virtue for feminists (the guy who convinced them that smoking in public was okay for women). Obviously for other reasons than women’s rights.

      Lincoln doesn’t hold a match to MLK or Malcolm X. But he gets most of the credit. A shame.

  46. John

    “But the intellectual challenge that Ron Paul presents ultimately has nothing to do with him”

    uhhhh, riiiiiiiiigggggghhhhhhhhhtttttttt

  47. Matt Stiles

    I only read a few dozen comments, but feel compelled to point out one important distinction regarding the gold standard.

    Paul does not actually advocate a return to the gold standard (although he has in the past). He advocates repealing legal tender laws that prohibit gold from being currency. In other words, he advocates for a competitive currency system, whereby gold, silver and many other things would actively compete with US dollars as currency.

    It is only his personal belief that gold would eventually become the choice of the market and that paper dollars would eventually be shunned.

    If you think he’s going to close the Fed and reimpose the gold standard on Day 1 as POTUS, you will be disappointed.

    1. F. Beard

      In other words, he advocates for a competitive currency system, whereby gold, silver and many other things would actively compete with US dollars as currency. Matt Stiles

      Nice try but RP’s idea of competitive currencies all involve precious metals. And PMs, being non-performing assets, require usury or worse hoarding to generate a return. What about non-usury forms of private monies such as common stock?

      The correct approach to competitive currencies for private debts is to carefully define what government money is and avoid trying to define what private money is.

      1. Matt Stiles

        All of RP’s monetary policies involve precious metals, yes, so long as government is involved in issuing it. Seeing as the constitution gives that authority to congress, he correctly believes that government currency should be gold based.

        That doesn’t stop paper currency from existing simultaneously. So if the proponents of elastic money really hate gold, they can opt for their perpetually devaluing debt based paper, or wheat-based currency, tiddly winks, whatever.

        If government is to exercise monetary responsi-
        bility, it must be in establishing a 100 percent gold
        redeemable currency.” [emphasis added] — Gold, Peace and Prosperity.

        mises.org/books/goldpeace.pdf

        1. F. Beard

          All of RP’s monetary policies involve precious metals, yes, so long as government is involved in issuing it. Matt Stiles

          That is bogus in so many ways from ethically to environmentally.

          ‘ “ If government is to exercise monetary responsi-
          bility, it must be in establishing a 100 percent gold
          redeemable currency.”’ [emphasis added] — Gold, Peace and Prosperity. Matt Stiles

          Poor RP, to imagine that liberty requires government recognition of gold as money. That is clearly fascist.

          1. Matt Stiles

            LOL @ calling Paul a fascist.

            I see I have won this argument. So I’ll close the window and move along.

          2. F. Beard

            LOL @ calling Paul a fascist. Matt Stiles

            No, I called “government recognition of gold as money” fascist. The logic is inescapable. Think about it. Why should government recognize SOME potential private money forms without recognizing ALL of them equally? But that is impossible in practice therefore government must recognize ONLY its own fiat as money.

  48. Alex C.

    I think if Progressives take a fair look at Ron Paul, he would be their choice for President. It’s time to go outside of your comfort zone and vote for a candidate that is on the right side of so many issues even if that candidate is in the Republican Party. VOTE RON PAUL 2012!!

    1. End the War on Drugs
    2. End the Wars overseas
    3. End the Fed
    4. Allow banks to Fail (No more bailouts)
    5. Sound Currency
    6. Repeal Patriot Act (Restore Civil Liberties)
    7. End Foreign Aid (No more propping up dictators)
    8. Net Neutrality (No government intervention – SOPA or otherwise)
    9. Education (Allow states to manage education locally)
    10. END CRONEY CAPITALISM (Single most important issue that will lead to our downfall if we keep voting for the status quo).

  49. tz

    Where is pete pilkington to caricature libertarians when you need him.

    I prefer to argue libertarian v. Progressivism (or catholic socialm eaching – rerum novarum) outside a FEMA concentration camp.

  50. Plantsmantx

    I got to this post via a link from Glenn Greenwald’s latest post.I did page searches for “Buchanan” on both pages, and not one instance came up. How ’bout that?

  51. Soullite522@msn.com

    At the end of the day, you just can’t support Obama, a man who claims the right to have americans kill, tortured and held indefinately without trial, and pretend that Ron Paul’s past racism in a news letter makes him morally beyond the pale.

    Well, as some here and elsewhere prove, you can pretend that. It just makes you look like a fool.

  52. whyareyousodumb

    “Now of course, Ron Paul pandered to racists,”

    For fuck’s sake, HE DIDN’T WRITE THE LETTERS. HE DIDN’T APPROVE OF THE LETTERS. HE CURRENTLY DISAGREES WITH THE LETTERS.

    You morons really think that if he was some huge racist these would be the only evidence CNN and FOX news (who both desperately want Paul to disappear) could find.

    USE YOUR FUCKING HEAD.

    1. Lambert Strether

      So, when Paul lets people use his branding to propagate material with which, subsequently, he discovers that he “currently” disagrees, that makes him presidential material? Is that the argument?

      IMNSHO, Paul used that material to solidify his support in his very right wing TX district. Having done that, he doesn’t need to keep repeating it. That’s different from Paul being, personally, a racist.

      NOTE More than a “few sentences,” surely.

    2. Chris T.

      score!
      One only has to look at where this is coming from:
      Hannity and O’Reilly are (supposedly) more upset than anyone.
      Yeah right, THEY care about a purported, and yes, that is what it is, racism.
      LOL.

  53. ohtarzie

    Here’s what:

    As a queer person, I have been told time and time again how reproductive freedom is really MY issue too. Well, you know what? Fuck you. I do not exalt the right of breeders to unlimited contraceptive convenience over the right of drug users to be free of prison and foreigners to be free of drones and bombs.

    Truly, I find the 20-year old racist newsletters troublesome. When Paul kills as many dark people as Obama, get back to me.

    This article gives liberals too much credit for moral conflicts over war and civil liberties. There is 0 historical evidence that they were ever on truly uneasy with any of it. See Kennedy, Johnson, Humphrey, Clinton. They don’t like Paul because his war and civil liberties policies are an inducement to the elusive independents Obama clearly wishes to woo.

    Voting is always a tactical alliance with evil. Liberals are happy to make common cause with mass murder and civil rights shredding in exchange for increasingly gestural policies wrt social programs and proper etiquette with respect to race and gender. They’re shallow vain assholes whose objective purpose for the past 30 years or more has been running interference for the military-industrial and prison-industrial complexes while asking for almost nothing in return. Showing that in bold relief alone is worth support for Paul. Everything else is gravy.

    Your time is up, liberal assholes. Paul is not going to get the nom, but you and your phony evil-enabling ways are finished anyway. This country can no longer afford you. Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.

    1. Chris T.

      like the first para, LOL.
      it is so true how some can make the MOST important thing in the world one that could be solved by personal responsibility most of the time (yes, women get pregnant not men, deal with it), and subjugate all other evil policies beneath

  54. pwndecaf

    Wow, it took the whole Packer game to read through the posts. Matt Flynn set a record for yards passed (480) and touchdowns thrown (6) in his second start for the Packers.

    End war…yada, yada…

  55. Julien Couvreur

    Ron Paul’s disdain for the Fed mainly comes from his understanding of the economic effects of central banks (namely wild business cycles, which cause massive disruption, except for the well connected).

    Money is a crucial institution to enable planning, specialization and division of labor. But government-run money falls short in many ways compared to voluntary an competitive money products: it is a monopoly, it provides huge political leverage (welfare/warfare spending, bailouts and other favors), it multiplies the value of money for those on the front rows of money creation (government, financial system, military-industrial complex) as opposed to regular folks, and it causes waste in the form of malinvestment and unsustainable business decisions (bubbles).

    1. F. Beard

      Ron Paul’s disdain for the Fed mainly comes from his understanding of the economic effects of central banks (namely wild business cycles, which cause massive disruption, Julien Couvreur

      Honest usury alone can cause the boom-bust cycle according to Karl Denninger since the debt normally compounds faster than real economic growth. Yet, Ron Paul’s idea of competing currencies all involve PMs which REQUIRE usury or worse hoarding to generate a return.

      The Fed should be abolished but that is not sufficient. We need genuine reform based on the ethics of money creation.

  56. Brian Rise

    great read Matt – comments got to be too much after a couple of hours but glad to see actual discussion rather than ranting.

  57. Doug

    Good Read.

    One thing Liberals/Progressives NEVER and I mean NEVER address with any honesty.

    If you Taxed the “Rich” 100%, which nearly every economist I’ve read accounts for about 1.5T dollars (and lets just ignore the fact that you can take that money from them without any consequence) it would not even come CLOSE to fixing the long term solvency and obligations of the Federal Government.

    I have yet to see any solution by Progressives that does not include more legislation which WILL be written by corporate lackeys sitting next to congressional staffers in order to codify their profits into law at the expense of their competitors and taxpayers.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Which is relevant if you think that taxes “fund” government spending, and MMT makes a strong case that they don’t.

      I support highly progressive taxation for at least one reason: To prevent the development — some might say further development — of an aristocracy based on inherited wealth.

  58. B

    Lincoln was not anti-racist. He was very racist. He believed that blacks and whites could not live together. He wanted blacks sent out of the USA. He opposed slavery in new states because he opposed blacks in new territories. It goes on and on. In one quote he states clearly if the south rejoins the union, slavery will be preserved. Lincoln’s racist beliefs are one of the reasons libertarian detest Lincoln.

    Wilson also created the income tax and started the war on some drugs and prohibition on alcohol. Just a few more disasters that libertarians dislike him for.

    On FDR don’t forget how he created cartels and had foodstuffs destroyed to maintain high prices. High prices which resulted in americans starving and some of those dying. FDR’s policies, many corporatist/fascist in nature economically extended the depression until the government finally stopped meddling and stepped back in 1946.

    As to social issues, libertarians don’t just look at the few people better off due to certain policies and practices but the many who end up worse off. If a racist wanted to destroy the family structure and economic viability of minority neighborhoods he couldn’t come up with something more effective than the great society programs, government housing, and urban renewal. Toss the war on some drugs and the actual wars on top of this and the -result- has been a racist’s wet dream.

    libertarian opposition to this meddling by the federal government isn’t just based on principle but what libertarians consider the rational and predictable outcomes. Good intentions alone don’t cut it. Ron Paul like others are on the record predicting disasters if various policies and programs were enacted, continued, or enlarged. It’s taken decades but people are looking around the ruins and seeing who predicted this mess because the people who didn’t see it coming can’t clean it up.

    As to the old newsletters, just go and read them. it’s a few lines of a clearly ghost written pieces and isn’t half as bad as it is made out to be. It would be nice if the media did just as an exhaustive job on the mainstream characters who seek to rule over us instead of just those who seek to have the government leave us alone.

    1. Nik

      “It’s taken decades but people are looking around the ruins and seeing who predicted this mess…”

      Karl Marx?

      “As to the old newsletters, just go and read them. it’s a few lines of a clearly ghost written pieces and isn’t half as bad as it is made out to be.”

      I have read them. I find the racism and gay hate-mongering to be the least disturbing part. The rest of the content of those newsletters reads like the rantings of a paranoid schizophrenic.

  59. Pete Carter

    We all have to come to the realization that there are only three things that matter: War, money, and personal liberty.

    Every other issue are effects that stem from these main issues.

    Ron Paul attacks each of these at their core, working from the top down dealing with the root causes.

    Everyone else works these from the bottom up, dealing only with the effects of failed policies around each.

    These issues are also intertwined and intermingled with each other, each having their own detrimental effects, but collectively causing the current devastations.

    Dealing with effects will never solve the actual problem. It will only guarantee more of the same.

    Fix these three things, EVERYTHING else falls into place. Don’t fix them, we face further ruination.

    It is as simple as that.

    I end every political conversation the same way. Ron Paul, right again.

    1. Carl Darby

      Your’s is one of the most insightful and radical comments on here.

      It seems like most would prefer to break the mirror that Stoller is holding up rather than look in it…the image being reflected is too disturbing.

  60. EvoDiva

    I think a better title for this article would be, ‘Why Ron Paul Challenges *UNEDUCATED* Liberals.’

    As many have already stated, I don’t need to resort to character flaws to know I don’t like the man; hell, I don’t know enough about him to know what his ‘flaws’ may be. In my mind, they’re irrelevant anyway. I may agree with RP on some very fundamental principles (reduction in foreign involvement -note, I did not say END- and ending racially discriminatory drug wars), but his way of implementing them combined with the principles I disagree with (de-regulation, bolstering ‘states rights,’ etc.) make him a man I most definitely want to keep out of the White House.

  61. Mac

    The elitist intelligentsia among us that seem to think they know better than history or our Constitution are simply spewing their relativistic worldview and intolerance of moral absolutes. The thing that people on both sides of the ‘liberal’ spectrum hate about Ron Paul is that he alone is willing to stand for something on a moral basis and then follow that stance to its natural conclusion- EVEN IF THAT CONCLUSION IS NOT WHAT HIS AUDIENCE WANTS TO HEAR- plus, not hesitate to call out those who want to bend the rules to fit their preferred exceptions! Unlike the other candidates who flip-flop and therefore deserve criticism from both sides, consider the fact that Ron Paul is routinely criticized for being a racist while standing alone in his anti-racial stance against the War on Drugs. He’s criticized as being anti-semitic for advocating elimination of foreign aid to Israel while being the lone candidate willing to publically defend Israel’s right to unilaterally defend herself as she sees fit against an aggressor and her right to liberty. Ron Paul is criticized by the Right as being pro-gay marriage or anti-traditional marriage while being willing to admit that regardless of his personal beliefs on marriage the government shouldn’t force the issue on anyone. His non-interventionist views on foreign policy are criticized as isolationist while he advocates open trading with more countries than the other candidates… the others just want to pick favorites (and as a result, create enemies). The bottom line is that right and wrong are not relative. The elitists who like to talk about how complex our world is today and how this presumed complexity is somehow an exemption from moral absolutes are simply unwilling to own right and wrong personally.

  62. captkirk

    Baloney – neofascism poses no intellectual threat to progressives, but it’s intellectually lazy, mostly racist adherents do.

  63. captkirk

    How can one be a liberatarian and:
    - oppose ending tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas?
    - oppose ending subsidies to oil companies?
    - oppose having millionaires pay at least the same tax rate as the middle wage earners?

    Apparently Romney, Perry and Gingrich are also liberatarians! The reason that these people to don’t merit serious attention (aside from the tedencies for racist to _just_happen_ to blame government and other races for their own shortcomings) is that they’re unable to live by their own rules.

  64. Ralph Melcher

    For all of you “progressives” who say you will vote for Ron Paul (a sobering testimony to how far we have fallen) I doubt that you will have the chance, unless he makes a third party run. Certainly the Republican Party isn’t gonna give him the nomination. Plus, Gary Johnson has one upped him on that front.

  65. tinfoil hattie

    Ron Paul is a misogynist asshat, somethimg you dudes don’t have to give a shit about. The other 51% does, and Ron Paul will never get my vote.

    1. Chris T.

      a misogynist because of what?
      because he opposes the legalized murder of the unborn?
      It is so sad that you typical liberals oppose the death penalty except for the only truly innocent, the unborn human, and that the “so-called” conservatives oppose the murder of the unborn, yet cheer the legalized murder of adults and foreigners.
      Ron Paul is consistent, he opposes both.

      And yes, if there has to be a choice by society between the right to choose and protecting life, the latter is more important.
      It does NOT matter whether one can get pregnant or not, because there is a third life at stake.
      Biology has proven this point:
      From the moment a fetus builds its environment inside the womb, creating its own amniotic sac, placenta and all, it is an independent organism, of course dependent on a host. But it is not part of that host, the way a lung or liver is.
      Blame god for making it the female’s burden to bear this indeed difficult part of conception, but not the fetus.

      1. Kyle Michel Sullivan

        We liberals have yet to see proof that life begins the moment a sperm enters an egg. So your claims are based on specious beliefs. And the fact that Ron Paul would happily allow a state to force a woman to bear the son of her brother or father or rapist is proof positive that he’s a misogynistic asshat. At best.

        1. Chris T.

          you are rebutting a point I didn’t make, typical misleading arguement.
          In addition: how many abortions are performed for situations fo the kind you describe?

          I used the word “fetus”, not “zygote”, so I obviously did not talk about the moment the sperm enters the egg.
          In any case, no abortions are EVER performed at that point.

          It is a well known fact, that nature, meaning the mother’s body, tests the zygote along its way to the womb, and many times rejects it by preventing it from getting attached.
          Drugs that mimic that process, such as the so-called day-after pill I have no problem with.
          But that is not at all comarable to the typical abortion, which is performed once pregnancy has become obvious, which is weeks, if not months later.
          By then you have fetus with the characteristics described above.

          And in the horrible situation you describe, does that life, having been brought about have any less right to exist by that fact? It is not the fault of that life, yet it is the one being extinguished.

          Today routinely, if not commonly, babies are born early in the 6th month, sometimes even before, and they survive. How many abortions have been performed over the years on fetuses that were at that stage? If those premies can survive then they are obviously a life. You don’t consider an abortion at that stage a killing?
          So, will we move the permissible threshold of an abortion ever further back with the advancement of the medical art?
          What a laughable criterion that is.

          1. Johnny American

            You’re still imposing your personal beliefs on when life begins on women you don’t know. That is a religious belief, and you have to right to impose that on others.
            Science says nothing about when human life begins. (Science doesn’t even have a good definition for life.) The unfertilized egg cell is alive, why is it okay to kill that, but a second later, when it’s fertilized, it’s wrong. Or maybe you’re not talking about a zygote, as you said. Maybe you just mean a fully formed fetus.
            But wherever you draw the line, that’s not a scientific line or a scientific decision, it is a moral and religious one.
            And you simply do not have the right to impose your moral or religious decisions and beliefs on others.

          2. Johnny American

            By the way, I believe that killing animals for food is also wrong, but do I have the right to force you to be a vegetarian?

          3. Chris T.

            typical relativism, nothing more.
            Animals are not humans, and if you can not see the difference, then you are hopeless.
            In fact, if you can not see the difference, then you should starve to death, because incontrovertibly, plants are living organisms no less than animals.
            Where in your relativistic world, do you take the right then to draw the line of acceptable baseness of a lifeform to consume plants but not animals?

            As to YOUR definition of life:
            First of all, you are merely elevating your belief in science above a belief based upon something else.
            Yet you use that belief as something universal, while saying, science has not agreed on a definition of life?
            So, by what criteria then do you ever make the killing of a human life an immoral act?
            Sentience?
            What about the killing (euthanasia) of a 17 year old human with such severe mental retardation as to have the equivalent sentience of a 1 year old?
            They are fair game to you?

            Fact is, you are willing to place the right of the mother to chose above the right of the fetus to live.
            interesting how you didn’t even address the issue of aborting at a developmental stage at which we KNOW that humans can survive.
            At that stage it is no more conjecture or belief as you claim, but incontrovertible knowledge.
            When, not if, medial science is able to let even an 18week old fetus develop outside of the womb, will you then start drawing the line there, while now that line would appear to be at maybe 22-24 weeks?
            Some standard that is.
            Or is it just the place of the fetus: no matter how old, as long as its in the body its not a life, even if it already would be one outside (for ex. by cesarian)?
            Absurd morality.

          4. Johnny American

            “typical relativism, nothing more.”

            I’ll take intelligent relativism over someone else’s idea of absolute reality any day. You can’t impose your ideas of what is absolutely true on me.

            “Animals are not humans, and if you can not see the difference, then you are hopeless.”

            Fetuses are not born people with rights, and if you can not see the difference, then you are hopeless.
            The point is that you can choose to have whatever beliefs you want about where to draw your lines, but you can’t impose those lines on others.

            “In fact, if you can not see the difference, then you should starve to death, because incontrovertibly, plants are living organisms no less than animals.”

            Lol. Still trying to tell me what to believe, huh? Again, you can choose to believe that. Personally, I don’t, and neither of us can impose our beliefs on the other. In China, they eat cats. You probably don’t. Why not? It’s meat, right? What’s the difference between a cat and a pig or cow?
            But of course it’s silly to fail to make a distinction between cats and cows, between plants and animals, between fetuses and human beings. If you can’t make any distinctions, then you should never wash your face, because you kill skin cells doing that. And don’t even get me started on masturbation. Billions of living sperm cells killed just for your momentary satisfaction.

            “Where in your relativistic world, do you take the right then to draw the line of acceptable baseness of a lifeform to consume plants but not animals?”

            Wherever I want to. Wherever it makes sense to me. Whether I draw the line based on a nervous system, or whether they have a face, or a mom, or whatever, that’s totally up to me. If you’re serious, we could discuss the details, but I suspect you only ask the question to try to force me into a corner, logically.
            You draw your lines and I’ll draw mine. That’s the point.

            “As to YOUR definition of life:”

            I never gave you my definition of life.

            “First of all, you are merely elevating your belief in science above a belief based upon something else.”

            OMG. Science is not based on belief. Wow. It’s based on observation and reproducibility. You think religious belief and scientific truths are the same?

            “So, by what criteria then do you ever make the killing of a human life an immoral act?
            Sentience?”

            Ah, that’s the point, it’s not so easy. If it were, we’d all come to the same conclusions. Not sentience, as obviously killing in war or self-defense is not murder.

            “What about the killing (euthanasia) of a 17 year old human with such severe mental retardation as to have the equivalent sentience of a 1 year old?
            They are fair game to you?”

            Not my decision to make. That’s kinda the point. I don’t want to make these decisions for others. But you do.

            “Fact is, you are willing to place the right of the mother to chose above the right of the fetus to live.”

            That’s right. The rights of a post-born human for autonomy, control of her own body, the right to make her own medical decisions, etc. She’s a real person. The fetus is not. It is a potential person, and yes, I put the rights of real people above the rights of potential people.
            You are free to decide to do it the other way. Neither of us has the right to impose our decision on the other.

            “interesting how you didn’t even address the issue of aborting at a developmental stage at which we KNOW that humans can survive.
            At that stage it is no more conjecture or belief as you claim, but incontrovertible knowledge.”

            Irrelevant. You can keep human tissue cells alive in a petri dish for a long time, too. Sperm cells are alive, yet you have to problem killing those. We’ve already discussed animals.
            Face it, we kill things every day. We all make decisions about what’s okay to kill and what’s not okay to kill. You make yours and I’ll make mine.

            “Or is it just the place of the fetus: no matter how old, as long as its in the body its not a life, even if it already would be one outside (for ex. by cesarian)?”

            Yup. That’s close. I’ll take the rights of an adult woman over any tissue inside her body any day.

            “Absurd morality.”

            So don’t adopt it. See how I’m not trying to force my morality on you? There’s a lesson in there…

          5. Chris T.

            “Not my decision to make. That’s kinda the point. I don’t want to make these decisions for others. But you do.”

            And that is where you logic breaks down.
            Becuase you believe that it is not just not yours, but not anyones decision to make.
            So, no one can make them.
            Therefore if I kill you, no one has the right to make a decision that what I did was wrong.
            And hence, just in keeping with your answer to the 17 year old handicapped question, there will never be any decisions to judge any murder/killing.
            In fact, your logic does not even permit the distinction between murder and killing, because that distinction is not in the act, it is the same, only in the judgement about the act. You make exactly that point when you mention self-defense.

            And your conflation of individual cells of an organims, even reproductive cells of same, with post genesis life, is definitely NOT in conformance with biology, a science you respect.

            My point about “belief” in science vs. religion is not that the two equate, but rather that science does provide absolutes, which is what you reject, and science is not on your side.

  66. joe

    This once again points at the problem of the mishmash of liberal/progressive/left that is an intentionally incoherent mess intended to coopt the left.

    If JFK is a “liberal”, and LBJ is a “liberal” — then obviously “liberalism” is pro-war and pro-empire. McNamara was a “liberal”. “Liberal” in that sense is simply technocratism, managerialism, it’s rational and competent but authoritarian under a veneer of democracy.

    How the hell could that be “left”? Except in contrast with Bircher’s and fascists? And why do so many of you continue to elide all these disparate political groups together, to the point of inventing these fantasy JFK’s and LBJ’s (one of the roots of conspiracy-insanity on the “left”)?

    Ron Paul does challenge “liberalism” — not because of his intellectual sophistication, but precisely because his ideas are so raw and primitive. They clearly show how the left/right game, the conservative/liberal game in the US is pure propaganda. He’s too simplistic to even recognize that reality — by accident (“the wisdom of babes”), he stumbles upon what the sophisticated have fooled themselves into misunderstanding.

    Liberalism isn’t “progressive” or “left” at all. It’s competent conservatism, a philosophy that was radical back in 1820 — maybe 1848 in some of the more benighted corners of Europe. This massive delusion — the kind of delusion that sees everything in colors from centuries ago (conservatives/liberals, fascists/communists, …) keeps anyone from seeing what’s going on now.

    As it should be, you stupid schmucks. How could you see anything? Nobody has had an original thought in 150 years.

  67. Chris T.

    Mr. Stoller:
    please get your facts straight!
    Lincoln WAS a racist, just read his speeches up to about 1861, and including his inaugural speech from 1861.

    In addition he did NOT free the slaves in those territories where he could:
    the slave states that remained in the Union.
    His proclamation only “freed” those slaves in states where he had no autority: the CSA.

    Lincoln’s ONLY concern, again, read his 1861 inaugural speech, was to maintain the Union for the benefit of his corporatist / northern masters.
    He had been a big railroad lawyer before the war, and never changed his loyalties.

    You do allude to his many unconstitutional acts, but the excess of his trampling on civil liberties, quashing habeas corpus, etc goes far beyond what you mention.

    So, the only redeeming thing you claim for this odious president, he didn’t do, and you underplay the egrious violations.
    There is a REASON why his “throne” in the memorial in DC has fasces on both sides!

  68. Kyle Michel Sullivan

    Talk about a dishonest commentary. I’m a liberal and I despise Ron Paul because he’s a racist, homophobic jerk who has no problem with government intervention on the state level, just the national one. His beliefs and mind hold nothing in common, and I’m sure I’m not the only progressive out there who feels that way.

    Besides, he’s not a libertarian, not in the true sense. He’d let Texas outlaw gay relationships, refuse the right of Latino and Black citizens to vote, make everyone follow a single form of Christian religion, and force women to bear the sons of their brothers and fathers. Why? He believes in the right of states to do that. Which is government intervention at its worst. How is that a Libertarian viewpoint? I honestly hope the voters kick not only that SOB but also his son in the teeth and send them back to the swamp they snuck out from.

    1. Chris T.

      such thoughtful commentary and well reasoned critigue.
      Were you able to wash the foam from your mouth yet?

  69. good2go

    Wow. Although Stoller makes a few good points, there are so many “liberal” straw men in this article that I had to take an antihystimine after the first paragraph. There are also tons of factual errors (in the comments, too).

    More often, however, he combines errors with a misunderstanding or incomplete knowledge of the events or people he labels. In short, this thing is a mess and embarassing to read. It should never have been released without competent editing and greater research.

    A “fellow” at the Roosevelt Institute? God, that’s cheap, isn’t it?

  70. Johnny American

    Interesting stuff about Paul, but I disagree with your interpretation of liberalism. You tie liberalism with war financing, but the wars of this millennium are fundamentally different than the civil war and the 2 world wars. Those were moral wars (even if specific actions taken in those wars were not). The current wars are totally different; not necessary; detrimental to our standing in the world, not beneficial to it, no specific goal or endgame, etc.
    You can try to paint liberals as pro-war and republicans as against the military-industrial complex, but that’s absurd given today’s reality.

    1. Chris T.

      There is no such thing as a moral war, and the concept is only proferred by the rulers to get the ignorant to go along.
      Certainly it is not true for the three wars you mention.

      The War of the Secession (it was not a civil war, which is where two factions fight over control of the same entity, not where one tries to get free from the other) had all to do with northern imposition of tariffs (Fort Sumter being the Federal collection station for these, and see Lincoln’s inaugural address from March of 1861). Slavery as an issue was only added by Lincoln three years later.

      WWI: Plesae show the moral principle.
      WWII: ditto. In fact, if you believe the Jewish question and Hitler to have been the reason for US entry into war, then it is not even what Roosevelt claimed to be going to war over (in fact he was careful to avoid even the slightest semblance of that, knowing the US would be less predisposed to go to war if that were the reason given).
      He certainly did NOTHING to save European Jewry, even turning refugee boats back!

      As for revenge for Pearl Harbor: ample evidence exists, that US policy throughout the 1930s had been to goad and provoke Japan. This was ultimately successful, and it is irrelevant, whether the government knew of Pearl Harbor or not, it was what they were trying to provoke.

      Both Churchill (as First Sealord in WWI and as non-affiliated politician) and Roosevelt were maneuvering for a way to get the “other side” to fire the first shot.

      Fact is, these wars, as the others are fought for the benefit of a ruling elite, which Eisenhower came to term the military industrial complex, nothing else.

      Morality is only cited to get the dupes to go along. Eventually even the dopiest during war comes to see the folly and all sides just wish for an end, no matter how ignoble.
      That last sentiment you will find in all European powers in late 1917, certainly in Germany (and prob. Japan) in early 1945, and in the US starting in the last year or two of the 1960s with respect to Vietnam, and so on.

      1. Johnny American

        As far as the civil war, I’m not an expert, but I think it’s absurd to reduce the causes to tariffs and to claim slavery was an afterthought. Even if you want to call it an economic war, slavery was a big part of it. I don’t think Lincoln was an angel, but to deny the existence of slavery as an issue is silly.

        As far as WW2, you’re right, it had nothing to do with stopping the Jewish genocide, as anti-semitism was rampant in the US and isolationism was strong. And yes, we wanted to be drawn in by Japan, and while I don’t think Roosevelt planned or hid prior knowledge of the attack, it certainly was used as a way to grow public support for the war.

        But the fact is that Nazi Germany was as evil an empire as we’ve ever seen, had taken over most of Europe, and was gunning for the rest of the world. We really were protecting freedom and our way of life back then.

        No war since then has been for survival.

        1. Chris T.

          if Nazi Germany had really been “gunning for the rest of the world” as you say, show me ONE thing in the German military arsenal that was developed to be, or actually was, capable of waging a war with the US ON US territory?
          Long-range bombers? Didn’t exist, were not developed (in fact, not even developed for a true fight with Britain)
          Navy? nothing there in even the remotest numbers necessary
          The V-2? not really from its intention, certainly not its use.
          As for the purported A-bomb, there was never a real program to develop one, as you can find out if you read enough.
          Fact is, a war with the US, to conquer the US, was not planned, and in any case, could not ever have been implemented or accomplished.
          Ditto for South America, or Asia.

          Its just after the fact propaganda.
          And it is really no different than:
          “they hate us for our freedoms”.
          I imagine you are one who cringes, as do I, every time I heard W, or now Santorum, spout that crap.

          1. Johnny American

            The Nazis certainly did have a nuclear weapons program, and the only reason they didn’t develop it first was that many of their nuclear scientists were Jewish, and Jewish professors and scientists were among the first victims of the Nazis, being kicked out of their posts. So they moved to the West and developed the bomb for the Allies.
            The Nazis were heading for England, had ships near the US coasts. Who knows what they could have done if they weren’t stopped. Even if they didn’t conquer the US then, if they controlled all of Europe, it would have been difficult. Anyway, this is all speculation.

            I maintain there is a huge difference between the Nazi threat and the non-threat of Afghanistan and Iraq.

          2. Chris T.

            No disagreement from me at all with respect to your thoughts on the AfPak war.
            My point is only, that even for the biggie, things are not as clear cut, and it is the ALWAYS used to justify the others.
            That is why EVERY time we want to demonize someone, the Hitler comparison is dragged forth.
            You heard it about Saddam
            You heard it about Ahmedinejad (sp.?)
            You hear it with the “that’s a Chamberlain, Munich 1938 argument”
            and on.
            Because it is so difficult to break the “clear cut”, black and white portions to WWII, the theoretical justification still exists for all those subsequent affairs we prob. agree on.

            That is no justification for Hitler’s policies, can’t be done, but for the positioning of the whole affair.
            Plus, as Walter Block wrote recently, there really is no such thing as a WWI and WWII.
            It is one World War with a 20 year pause.
            Meaning, without the first half, the second is unthinkable, and the evil would not have taken place.

            Finally imagine this dichotomy, just to gray things up:
            Recently on Garrison Keillor’s Writers Almanac, because it was the birthday of Trotsky, he featured the man, and read from his work.
            Now imagine if on April 20th, Keillor had done that with Alfred Rosenberg or Goebbels and their writings.
            Unthinkable, and rightly so.
            Yet for monsters of the left, who aided and abetted the various genocides as much as the latter two did, no such reservations.
            I like Keillor and his programs, it may very well not have occurred to him in that sense, but that is exactly the point.
            The Lenin/Stalin/Trotky axis was, without any contact to WWII as deadly as Hitler and his henchman, but those were our allies. No morals seemed to impede their.

            Indirectly, though I do not think intentionally, we are also in part responsible for all the evil that was done by the Soviet system during and esp. after WWII, all of which should only to serve to pull down the cloak of morality the war still enjoys.

      2. Patrick

        If you’re worried about “after the fact propaganda” Chris, look no further than your hilarious explanation of the Civil War. It was completely obviously about slavery. The whole “states rights, not slavery” canard was cooked up after the fact.

        As Confederate VP Alexander Stephens put it in 1861, “Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas [from the U.S.]; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.”

  71. Chris T.

    Well Patrick if one wants to be hilarious, I will laugh at you.
    For your benefit, I will requote Ra THa Man’s excerpt of Lincoln’s inaugural speech from 1861, see above, here:

    “The power confided in me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property, and places belonging to the government, and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion–no using force against, or among the people anywhere”

    Because you seem not to understand 19th century diction, let me rephrase that for you:

    I will use force to collect tariffs, but I will not use force for anything else.

    So, whose is the after the fact argument?
    Lincoln said this before Fort Sumnter, you don’t believe his words?

    BTW, Fort Sumnter did NOT belong to the Federal Government, it was leased, and the lease was terminated by the rightful owner, SC, but the tenant refused to vacate.

  72. djkumquat

    modern liberalism? are you really writing about the pre WWII era, or did you actually mean ‘contemporary’ liberalism. either way, we currently have a left than is fairly devoid of liberty.

  73. infinite54

    I agree with Stoller that the democratic party has itself lost in its own contradictions. Both the democratic senators in Virginia voted for the NDAA. If that’s not lost I don’t know what it. WE need to talk more about real options for liberals and progressives. Yes there are big problems with Ron Paul but I am considering him because there is NO ONE ELSE. The progressive wing needs to reorganize and get someone else out there running. Time for a new party? Otherwise a bunch of us are holding our noses and voting libertarian. Its better than the entrenched alternatives.

  74. DJ Earyummy

    This is an excellent critique.

    Liberals and the left in America need to grapple with individual liberties. Even Occupy in America is off base with the other global protest revolutions. Occupy has a collectivist mentality but fails to understand the other revolutions are about more individual liberty. I think the fundamental reason that liberalism and the left in America has not tackled this debate is because it is run by white people who have never had to experience oppression in any way and therefore, their worldview is fundamentally flawed.
    As a man of color who has lived in Europe, I cam tell you the drug war enables police across the United States to act like a gestapo apparatus. I served in the U.S. Army and would say I am sorry that I did because I think that America is about two steps away from Nazi Germany but enacts its oppression of people of color in ways which are not direct and which create a rubric where there is some fault borne by those who choose to sell drugs as a vocation.
    (Never mind that only 13% of drug users are people of color and the rest are rich white people).

    Police are usually the stupidest people in your high school class who have no other options. I believe most come from the lower evolutionary end of the intelligence scale and are given to brute behavior so they enjoy carrying out the will of the Wall Street/K Street Masters of the Universe without question. Rudolf Dreikurs did a study of police and found well over 60% were sadists. It’s a cycle of sickness that oppresses the individual liberties of very specific people: blacks and Latinos. Of course, most white liberals and leftists don’t have much experience with people of color so the needs of those other human beings are not taken into consideration when they are voting for policy like, oh, getting reimbursed for their new electric car.

    As a man of color, I could care less about Ron Paul’s alleged pandering to racists when his policies attack the racist superstructure of America at a more fundamental level by attacking the racist drug war and American interventionism which is, at its root, about stealing resources from people of color.

    In any event, I think there is only one way to end inequity in the globe: end the United States. It is a fundamentally corrupt country that is now on the verge of the same sort of imperialism as Hitler. If we go to war with Iran, that is where we will be and then, I think the only answer for the globe is to align and take down America. As a citizen of the globe, I also have to say that Americans are the stupidest, meanest and most brutish people I’ve ever met. I’m sorry I ever defended any of them, (and I was in a counter-terrorism position).

    But when it comes down to it, the only individual liberties that American liberals are concerned with are those of white people. Let’s be honest.

    I dislike Abraham Lincoln as well. The South is a distinctly different country than the rest of the United States and the South perpetuates the majority of the racism in the United States and forces their beliefs on the rest of the nation. Lincoln should have let them go. Every problem we have in the United States — from the racist drug war to the glorification of the military — goes back to the South. They did not want to adhere to the same values and so they wanted to split. Lincoln was no different than the British in the American revolution.

    What have we ended up with in this post-slavery society as people of color? Slave labor in prisons, low-wage jobs filled by people of color and endless wars that are fought, where? In lands where the majority of people are brown.

    What do liberals give people of color? Dependency programs with no real ladder up into the middle class, warehouses for schools, a liberal-run media that perpetuates stereotypes.

    I think the end of American empire is coming but it is going to come with a war. When it does, I’ll be fighting for the other side.

    I would rather have my individual liberty than some false sense of security. Ron Paul is the only candidate who grapples with the question of what it means to be fundamentally free as a person.

    White liberals are stupid, lazy and have usually not gotten anywhere by their own bootstraps. People of color are the opposite. I think we’d be OK in a Ron Paul society. I have no delusions about the world not being a violent place where we as individuals have to protect ourselves and our family. I can survive without government programs and would rather if the trade off is constantly being a suspect, even with Ivy League credentials. The question is, would white liberals? So many of them are employed by the racist dependency machine in useless non-profits and NGOs and ‘advocacy’ organizations. Maybe that is the real reason they oppose Ron Paul.

    In the end, though, I think there is one way to end American empire: end America.

  75. Jim Pivonka

    Those of us who have been reading – or who formerly had been reading antiwar.com – will recognize that Matt Stoller could have been writing for, or from that right wing, Austrian allied, site. It is, without doubt, anti war, anti Lincoln, anti government, and anti Federal Reserve.

    Somehow, in the course of the last decade, those positions have, in the minds of some been sterilized of their historical and logical connection to racism, classism, and anti labor and social reform. Sterilized in some minds – but not in mine.

    Probably in a manner similar to my immunity to smallpox, which I doubt Stoller and many people engaged in this “debate” share, I come immunized to this anti liberal position. This is by virtue if having been exposed to it during the national argument about the War on Viet Nam and seen its consequences in the years since.

    I have seen how this specious argument was used by the Right to weaken the liberal conscensus, buttress the “Southern Strategy”, kill government programs and effectiveness in every social sphere of operation, and eat away at the social programs of the New Deal. (I eventually, by experience and extensive reading came to see it as absurd and dangerous, began arguing that with friends by 1975, and saw my predictions of its consequences instantiated in the presidential election of 1980 and its sequelae.)

    Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, through their actions and intent, used the War on Viet Nam to turn a large segment of the US population against liberal thought and practice. They had a lot of help from “radical” antiwar academic analysts who reinterpreted the history of liberal reforms to bring the very term into disrepute among socalled “progressives”. These players and intellectual trends (disorders of thought) created a rightist – progressive alliance that has determined the course of US politics since.

    The invention of “progressive” as a term for attachment to a narrow set social issues separated from economic issues and the politics needed to sustain liberal social policies left a denatured, toothless, footless, political movement in custody of not just the reforms and social progress achieved by FDR’s New Deal, but also what liberal heritage our history had preserved from the foundation of the nation.

    Skepticism about the liberal basis of US society permitted the erosion of our public educational system, and allows continued attack on it from the far right to be advanced as “problem solving” instead of social warfare. Repeal, under Clinton, of New Deal legislation regulating financial firms left us naked in the face of the derivatives revoluiton, and bereft of much of our national wealth after 2008.

    I can, bitterly, congratulate Nixon, Kissinger, and the rest on their strategic coup and Reagan and the Bush’s on their effective use of the opportunity presented by the consequent disarray among their enemy, the people. But I can not forgive Clinton, or Stoller, for their apparent willing participation in the continuation of this charade and the way it has destroyed our nation, and returned us to a nation in which the wealthy have housemaids and the middle class has become extinct.

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