Philip Pilkington: Of Idiocy and Anomie – Ron Paul vs. the Nanny State Liberals

By Philip Pilkington, a journalist and writer living in Dublin, Ireland

Matt Stoller recently ran a thoughtful piece on this site about Ron Paul. Stoller’s thesis is that Ron Paul confronts Big Government liberals (my term, not Stoller’s) with the dark underbelly of their policy prescriptions. Stoller points out that Paul’s ideology touches at least three very sensitive areas for the modern liberal: their ties between Big War and government spending; their ties to the Federal system and its related monetary apparatus; and their ties to Big Finance.

To deal exhaustively with any of these complex topics is a daunting task and one which I will not pursue here. But Stoller dropped a name when he invoked the contradictions of liberalism; one well worth bringing up: Christopher Lasch. Although Stoller didn’t really go into the links between Lasch, liberalism and Paul, he was certainly on the right track.

Some background first.

The Culture of Narcissism and the Nanny State

Lasch was a complex figure. A cultural historian by trade, he wrote many fascinating books on topics as diverse as the idea of progress and the origins of cultural politics. His most outstanding work, however, was his critiques of the modern welfare state (most especially in The Culture of Narcissism and The Minimal Self). Yawn, right? Well don’t switch off quite yet: Lasch was critiquing the modern welfare state from a left perspective.

Lasch claimed that as government intervention in the economy grew the state soon found itself mediating more and more social relationships. For example, as the welfare state flourished in the post-war era social workers soon became a significant social force. Lasch claimed that they would swoop in and destroy family ties, replacing these with artificial and technocratic relationships essentially ruled over by the state.

And it was not just in poor families that Lasch saw the creeping hand of the state. Middle class families too were coming to rely more and more on state institutions. From family planners to psychotherapists in public schools (guidance councillors) Lasch thought that many of our social relationships were gradually becoming mediated through a technocratic apparatus at the centre of which stood the modern state.

Lasch then went on to argue that such a shift was hollowing out everyday social relationships. As we came to increasingly rely on these supports our personal and family relationships became ever more distanced, ever more managed. Into this vacuum, Lasch claimed, swept celebrity and consumer culture. The state hollowed out our relationships – the market filled the void with tatty consumer goods and celebrity gossip. It is this mix that Lasch referred to as the ‘Culture of Narcissism’.

Lasch’s critiques struck a chord with many. The Culture of Narcissism became a bestseller and Lasch went on to advise speechwriters for President Jimmy Carter. To what extent Lasch’s critiques are true and to what extent they are projections of personal anxieties is difficult to say – surely a Freudian of Lasch’s eminence would smile at the term ‘Nanny state’. However, they definitely touched a nerve – and when read today they remain as fresh as ever.

The yearning to wean ourselves off the teat of the Nanny state is as strong today as it was when Lasch first wrote his books back in the 70s and 80s. It is to this sensibility that Ron Paul, the libertarians and the Tea Party appeal to.

Big Government Must Be Stopped

At heart, Lasch’s critiques had firm roots in the conservative tradition; this even though he considered himself a left-wing populist – indeed, he never tired of pointing out how the market buttressed the state by providing shallow imaginary relationships to people. And to a large extent it was conservatives like Ronald Reagan and Maggie Thatcher who appealed to peoples’ desire to roll back the state while later conservatives would soon take a community-oriented line (David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ nonsense being a case in point).

The grandiose visions of these doyens of mainstream conservatism, however, failed spectacularly. Both came to see – whether directly or indirectly – that the state is embedded to such an extent in our modern social economies that to really try to remove it would mean the destruction of these social economies themselves. What we got instead of supposed liberation and a return to organic community relationships was a watered down, neoliberal state – what Jamie Galbraith came to call The Predator State.

This is a state that keeps investment through government spending at levels that allow the Western economies to tick over while at the same time allowing for unemployment, stagnation and the formation of private debt bubbles. In dealing with poverty and unemployment it prefers to place more layers bureaucracy around benefits while increasing investment in police forces and prisons. Investment is largely channeled into (a) dysfunctional bureaucracies and (b) the military-industrial-prison-security complex.

Mainstream conservatives have largely contented themselves with this Predator State – all the while congratulating themselves on their supposed championing of family values and free market policies. But some on the sidelines have expressed their serious discontent. Among these are the libertarian and Tea Party movements in the US. These groups insist that Big Government must truly be stopped and the simplest way of doing this is by cutting off its funding.

This is the main reason why the libertarians insist on a gold standard and the destruction of the Federal Reserve system. By doing this the politicians would lash financial constraints upon the US government from which it would have very little wriggle room. It would also, of course, plunge the US economy into a depression from which it would take decades to fully recover. And as the US economy plunged into the abyss it would probably take the rest of the world with it.

Nor is it likely that Big Government would go away. Under such circumstances of heavy 20-30% unemployment rates the crime rate – which is already remarkably high in the US – would go through the roof. The criminal and legal apparatus would be forced to expand, thus contracting other government sectors even more rapidly and further reinforcing the unemployment rate. If things got really bad one could imagine the military being given powers that would make libertarians squirm in their seats.

The libertarians answer to this? As is so often the case with the libertarians it is a Leap of Faith. They believe that if government gets off peoples’ backs the economy will self-generate. Do they have any evidence of this? Certainly not. All evidence points firmly in the opposite direction (think: Yeltsin’s Russia and the rise of gangster capitalism). But this is not an evidence-based belief. It is an impervious and inflexible religious-like belief. When challenged with empirical evidence excuses are devised and scapegoats are found.

In this the libertarians are dangerous – I would almost say: very dangerous. And yet they appeal to people at a very deep level. They appeal to a very real sense of longing for more substantial social relationships and less government meddling. They appeal to people who watch modern developments in Big Government with distrust and suspicion. Indeed, they appeal to many liberals.

It is to this that Big Government liberals have no answer. But there is an answer and it has been discussed on this site before. I refer to the Job Guarantee scheme as put forward by the Modern Monetary Theorists.

Job Guarantee as Rejuvenator of Community

Much of the debate surrounding the Jobs Guarantee program – that is, the proposal for governments to hire everyone willing and able to work in a minimum wage job – has focused on its macroeconomic effects. The potential for such a program to generate inflation is, of course, the key focus. In actual fact the Jobs Guarantee program is devised in such a way that it puts a cap on inflation, but there has been much work done on this already and I see no need to repeat it here.

Instead we should focus on what the Jobs Guarantee program might be like as an institution. And it is here that we find it to be an antidote to the anomie and alienation that Lasch and the libertarians bemoan.

The Jobs Guarantee program is first and foremost a decentralised community-based institution. This is summed up well in a policy brief that I will soon be presenting to the Irish government.

The national government could set budget constraints for the local governments based on either a per capita basis or in relation to local unemployment rates. The local governments could then channel funds to already existing organisations – such as NGOs, grassroots community groups or charities – who could in turn use the funds to start up much needed projects and employ workers. If these organisations sought to expand their operations and required additional management staff they could then apply to the local government for an increase in funding. Local governments could also encourage the unemployed to form new organisations.

As the reader can see the idea here is to take a ‘hands off’ approach. The government simply provides the funding and controls the program through the levels of funding allowed. The organisations present the local governments with their plans and the local governments negotiate an amount of monthly or annual funding with them based on these plans, together with a spatially oriented understanding of the rates of unemployment in a given geographical location. When these organisations receive funding they then go out and hire people. Minimal bureaucracy, minimal oversight, minimal mess.

This is absolutely an initiative aimed at strengthening community ties and weakening the hand of Big Government. Consider the fact that everyone who gets a job will be working for community improvement rather than filling out detailed and intrusive forms for some faceless bureaucrat in a social welfare office.

What’s more, such a program has been tried before and it was remarkably successful. When a Jobs Guarantee program was set up in Argentina after their financial crisis the effects on community and popular organisation were palpable. Here’s how Pavlina Tcherneva and Randall Wray, two economists who studied the Argentinian Jefes program, summed it up:

[O]ne of the most interesting results of the Jefes program is that it demonstrates that a decentralized program can be used to increase political participation and foster grass-roots democracy among groups that had traditionally been marginalized.

The point that needs to be pressed home to those who favour a reduction in the powers of Big Government and a return to some more tangible community-based organisation is that the key problem is that of funding. Simply put: people cannot organise healthy communities without access to sufficient resources and in modern advanced industrial societies resources are wholly governed by monetary relations. Communities can thus only organise and develop if monetary resources are made available for them at a local level by national governments.

Yes, Big Government is the only entity in a modern society that can issue sufficient money to ensure that resources are fully employed – and in this, if the faucet is turned off by a Ron Paul the results will be highly unpleasant – but it does not follow that Big Government then have to set up large, intrusive bureaucracies to distribute this money. Instead we can work to establish ways of distributing this money at a local level and aim to foster organic community ties where they are fragile or lacking. It is only through initiatives like these that all those who yearn for greater substance in their social lives can be brought away from the empty promises and dangerous rhetoric of people like Ron Paul.

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  1. wunsacon

    >> the modern liberal: their ties between Big War and government spending; their ties to the Federal system and its related monetary apparatus; and their ties to Big Finance.

    What’s “liberal” about that? … Then, I guess anti-MIC/anti-FIC liberals should use a different label for themselves.

    1. Nonanonymous

      The federal bureaucracy has taken on a life of it’s own, and exists solely to perpetuate itself, thus the link between the state and wars on communism, poverty, drugs, terrorism, and now American citizens.

      Ron Paul offers the only alternative to the status quo, among all of the candidates.

      Anyone not supporting Paul can instead get out their checkbook and write a check for $202T to cover unfunded entitlements and obligations.

      After you cut spending and raise taxes on those who aren’t paying any, mainly corporations, but also the super rich, then you’ll find out the gap is still insurmountable, and we will be faced with entitlement reform, redefining pensions, etc.

      Paul offers the best chance to do this orderly or systematically, or it can be done at the point of a gun by a police state. The choice, simply put, is ours to make.

      1. tom allen

        Among all of the candidates so far, among the two major parties. There are other options, and eleven months till the election.

      2. Piano Racer

        Phil is naive in that he thinks that the collapse he describes is avoidable. It is not, and a modern-day WPA will not change that.

        When you let the government pick winner and losers rather than the market (what Phil is proposing), and when you use a currency convertible into nothing (the two are historically linked), this is what happens.


        The solution will impose itself upon us. Our monetary system will collapse and people will only accept tangible items of real value, gold or otherwise. Peak oil will ensure always-rising fuel costs, forcing us into a more local existence. THIS will restore the community bonds that have been lost, and nothing else.

        1. Procopius

          “When you let the government pick winner and losers rather than the market (what Phil is proposing), and when you use a currency convertible into nothing (the two are historically linked), this is what happens.


          You imply this has happened many times before. You seem very certain, so I guess you must have very strong evidence. I have been interested in history for many years, but am certainly not a professional historian. I cannot think of any examples. Would you please tell me the countries and time periods you have in mind when you make this assertion? I would think three or four would be enough to provide strong support for your statement.

          1. Piano Racer

            Here are a few dozen for you, my friend:


            Here are a whole bunch more from Wikipedia:


            Keep in mind that countries who “fixed” their hyperinflation by going to the US Dollar were, prior to 1971, moving back to a redeemable currency, as US Dollars were redeemable in gold until that time.

            The last 40 years have been an anomaly, to be sure, but by historical measures it really isn’t that long and things are now coming to a head.

            A nice graveyard of the many other fiat currencies from history, now worthless, can be found here:


          2. Piano Racer

            And when I say that they are historically linked, what I mean is that fiat money is almost ALWAYS coupled with spend-happy governments, as the primary / only purpose of fiat currency is to allow those that control the printing press (governments) much, much, much more economic power than they otherwise could’ve possibly had. When governments are spending as much as many Western governments are today, “market” (I use the term loosely) forces are completely distorted, as governments allocate the capital as they see fit and to their own benefit/preservation rather than how the markets dictate, hence the “picking winners and losers”. Then you get price controls which NEVER work and only tend to make things worse, and finally a hyperinflationary collapse.

            We’ve only made it for so long for two reasons:

            1. taking the scheme world-wide
            2. Cheap, abundant, but now harder and harder to access oil.

            Both of those have reached their inevitable maxima, and can no longer keep the scheme going.

          3. Piano Racer

            One last post, I promise!

            If you’re interested in a more detailed description on how this cycle played out in one instance, namely post-revolutionary France, I highly recommend this papery by Andrew D. White, founder of Cornell:


            I think you will find parallels to what we are experiencing today. A few choice quotes:

            “They had then learned how easy it is to issue it; how difficult it is tocheck an overissue; how seductively it leads to the absorption of the means of the working men and men of small fortunes; how surely it impoverishes all men living on fixed incomes, salaries, or wages; how it creates on the ruins of the prosperity of all working men a small class of debauched speculators, the most injurious class that a nation can harbor, more injurious, indeed, than professional criminals whom the law recognizes and can throttle; how it stimulates overproduction at first, and leaves every industry flaccid afterward; how it breaks down thrift, and develops political and social immorality”

            “The business of France dwindled into a mere living from hand to mouth. This state of things, too, while it bore heavily against the interests of the moneyed classes, was still more ruinous to those in more moderate and, most of all, to those in straitened circumstances. With the masses of the people, the purchase of every article of supply became a speculation — a speculation in which the professional speculator had an immense advantage over the ordinary buyer. Says the most brilliant of apologists for French revolutionary statesmanship, “Commerce was dead; betting took its place.”

            As they say on BSG: “All this has happened before, and all this will happen again.”

        2. Elizabeth

          Isn’t he proposing that the “market” — that is, communities — pick the winners and losers?

    2. Heron

      From the 1700s to the early 1900s, mass mobilization, nationalism, international trade, and centralized taxation were central to the liberal project. You have to remember that liberalism as a political philosophy arose in opposition to aristocracy in the wake of the Glorious Revolution, that conservatism solidified as a defense of aristocratic monopolization and particularism against the statism and cosmopolitan economics of liberals around the time of the French Revolution, and that early liberals turned to state power precisely because it was the only social actor with the money and authority to challenge entrenched wealth and privilege. The tension between empowering the state and protecting individual rights has always been there -even a cursory look at Kant or Mills or Hume reveals that- but these early thinkers felt, rightly I think, that the State, as a collective embodiment of popular will expressed via elections and a Constitution, was easier to limit and control than the wealthy, the natural egotism of which inevitably led them to use their influence to reduce other men to the state of property.

      The balance between making The State powerful enough to ensure equity between citizens while also limited enough to ensure it doesn’t tyrannize precisely those it is meant to protect from the tyranny of their “betters” is subtle and can be difficult to strike, of course, and I think most can agree that, in Europe and the US these days, that balance has been lost. It is important to remember how that came about though; through the rich using their wealth to subvert popular politics. In the US that has been through campaign financing, media monopolization and its concurrent epidemic propaganda, and the centralization/institutionalization of the Big Two political parties. In Europe, it has been accomplished by the banks via their influence on the EU and ECB, unelected non-national bodies which are -even as we speak- forcing into power unpopular governments and dictating unwanted policies to states like Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal with total disregard to what their actual citizens want, or what is in their best interests.

  2. Geojos

    Sounds nice, but it needs to be thought out more. Non-profits or community based organizations can be as bureaucratic. elitist, and stagnant as much as government. At least this is my experience over the past 40 years or so working with them or dealing with them. Theoretically, there is suppose to be some community controls through boards, but now these boards are selected and not elected. As a result, they become little fiefdoms. Innovation is not one of their strong points, as they are very risk adverse and play political games with local government units, usually backing them up and not mobilizing people. In this scheme they will still be dependent of Government for funds, and seems like the idea has not thought out the relationships and impacts of local government units. Do they disappear?

    The so called war on poverty- the weakest war we ever fought- can be illuminating here. At the start the focus was on community participation and organizing people, but whoops, people them railed against local government and businesses, and also became democrats. Community boards were then changed to reflect more the local power structure, and all organizing and innovative efforts ceased as they threatened this power structure. Now the remnants of these organizations are basically appendages of the state, and are often just plain incompetence and a source of jobs for the cronies who run them. Still to some, they have a mystique of being ‘community’.

    I personally would be interested in looking at the Argentinian model and do not know the situation in Ireland, but at first blush I can’t simply the model proposed by the distinguished writer as some kind of cure all. It really needs to be thought out more IMHO.

    1. Nathan Tankus

      You don’t think it hasn’t? This is a blog post. If you want to know more, read the academic literature.

      1. Geojos

        Thanks for the links, especially the one on full employment. I did find info by Wray on the Argentinian project, which as they note has some replication value here but is questionable as to how much given the differences in the two countries.

        Personally, experience has taught me that the government is needed to provide the funds as Wray and company say, and the efficiencies of the private sector are myths or should I say fairy tales. Hell, who now funds our biggest industry- the military, tech, security yada yada complex.

        Still leery of the ‘local idea’ here and also of the use of current NGO for larger projects. Maybe there is a way to identify projects that hold promise for job and economic development and fund the project directly. The Jefe model may be okay for one aspect of the problem.

        Ironically, many of the poorest areas are also the most conservative communities, and it would be dangerous to give these localities control and the bucks and expect the desired results. Tend to believe we romanticize the local as knowing what is best too much, but I am a class conflict guy. At the same time, most innovation and new ideas come from the ground-up, not bottom -down. Oh well.

        Still, the idea is fine, but like everything, the devil is in the details. Besides what we are doing now does not work unless you are a a certain kind of financier or own and control one of the companies in the military, industrial, high tech, security yada yada.

    2. Heron

      But that’s the primary problem in any political system; the natural human tendency towards nepotism, patronage, and self-aggrandizement. We should certainly be aware of that and stay vigilant against it, but any given suggested policy shouldn’t be abandoned a priori because of the possibility of its co-option.

      1. digi_owl

        or what we may well call the monkey hill reflexes. No matter how we flip it, our mental foundations are still genes passed down from when our ancestors behaved not much differently from a pack of chimps.

      2. George

        Of course, ignoring that possibility, which is a 100% certainty over a period of years, means that the system of government will fail every few generations.

        These failures are expensive, as we are seeing from the current failures. You know, the ones that Progessives instituted and that ignored the possibility that the government institutions they were setting up might be co-opted by the wealthy?

        Poor people are getting really screwed by this system. You know, the poor people that Progressives pretend to design the system to protect?

    3. Ransome

      “Innovation is not one of their strong points, as they are very risk adverse and play political games with local government units, usually backing them up and not mobilizing people”

      You have described the silo structure of corporations that leads to internal power building and corporate paralysis (Kodak). Some have moved on to a flat organization that democratized the decision making process but with mixed success as the skilled were dominated by the political. Ultimately, the most productive and most effective organization is a benevolent dictatorship, both corporately and publicly. Since a dictator is not without disadvantages, most likely a team of technocrats that are bounded by SOPs working with mandarins.

      The best example is the Fed. It is a technocratic organization with a single mission to manage the fiat system of currency led by a team of mandarins and a team leader. With the proliferation of money substitutes (counterfeiting) it’s role requires expanding.

      We have had other systems such as the Space Program. What does not work is the constant attack of political forces and special interests on working systems, for individual gain, made possible solely by wealth accumulation. We need a system of mandarins and mandates to replace the empty suit politicians and lobbyists, along with strict capital controls.

      It is true, the Fed let us down, but there should have been other mandarins waving red flags. The jettison of laissez faire has produced results. It is no accident that Keynes was known as a mandarin. We have no scholars that specifically study to become government mandarins. We have a bunch of public service volunteers blogging ideas and critiques and an official system of nationally ineffective, empty-headed, corrupt, dealmakers called politicians that specialize in the art of paralyzing self-interested silo-preserving politicking for special interests. What a system.

      Anyone know anything about the Chinese that had a system of governance that lasted for centuries, regardless who ruled them?

      1. Blissex

        Jefferson (IIRC) said that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

        The members of an organization have invest time and effort into being involved, or else whoever takes control of the organization will pillage them.

        USA citizens tend to think politics is a spectator sport, and they like that advertisers pay the costs of politics.

      2. Fiver

        Mandarins, i.e., technocrats, have “managed” our affairs, government, corporate, military, or any other institutional, for the past century. They “managed” to create something that cannot stop, indeed must keep expanding or start to consume itself, an expansion that has run smack into this planet’s physical limits.

        The last thing we need is further concentration of power in the hands of The Management.

    4. marcos

      “Sounds nice, but it needs to be thought out more. Non-profits or community based organizations can be as bureaucratic. elitist, and stagnant as much as government.”

      Well put. From my vantage point here in San Francisco’s Mission District, we have a large number of self-described community based organizations yet our community has no basis for organization, we are rife with organizers yet our neighborhood remains unorganized.

      The problem is that none of these so-called CBOs are democratic. The corporate model that oppresses us is not a suitable model for empwoerment. From my experience, well funded endowments and the public sector fund nonprofits that sop up the reserve army of activists, neutralizing them and any potential for resistance.

      So in order for any job creation program to achieve its desired policy goals, there will have to be democratic accountability and community-rootedness imposed on any intermdediaries.

      Of course the reason this will not happen in the US is that the activist class has been bought off with meal tickets at the nonprofits and whatever labor unions remain.

    5. jake chase

      It would make more sense just to give money to everyone while dismantling the entire federal bureaucracy. Let these parasites find some useful way of employing themselves. Surely, they have some skills, although I have been unable to discern what they are after fifty years of watching them shuffle paper and interfere in people’s lives.

  3. mutt50

    The Tea Party is not about big government. It’s about tribalism. The tea people love their big government medicare, SS, and endless war against the evil other. Ideology is not what motivates people. It’s the story we tell to justify ourselves. For the teabirchers, “Family Values”, religion, Free Market BS, is all a cover for stone cold fear and hatred of anyone outside the tribe.
    Jesus wants the “Real AmericansTM” to get their benefits, not those ghetto crackheads and decadent gay people.
    Arguing about economics with these people is like reading poetry to a hyena. They don’t care.

      1. Rex

        No doubt you have done a great deal of that chatting with the OWS, huh? My guess, you lean toward the teabircher and your feelings are hurt.

        1. andrew hartman

          i HAVE talked to a lot of OWS folks. they are as programmed in their
          responses as any tea party person. the tea party mistakenly believes
          small government is possible; the OWS crowd spouts the same comic
          book marxism that i have been hearing for almost 50 years. both are

          1. Travizm

            OWS is vulnerable and in my opinion has already done a fine job in orientating the unwitting to the scandals of big money.

            big money is going to win any argument via brute force…OWS it seems to me is deliberately vague and amorphous to fight gorilla V guerrilla.

            or this is how id be gaming at least…

          2. Jack Parsons

            Which Occupy group? Wall street itself, or other cities. If it’s Oakland, I absolutely believe it. There are still Maoists in Berkeley.

    1. marcos

      There is legitimate right wing populist outrage for many of the same reaons why there is legitimate left wing populist outrage.

      There are also efforts by the ruling elites, corporate and political, to keep us divided by playing us off on tribalism.

      We’re going to make no progress on the common populist efforts so long as we allow ourselves to be played against one another by the elites.

      We don’t need to be agreeing with everyone on everything in order to work with anyone on issues on which we agree.

    2. jonboinAR

      Are you sure you’re not just as tribalist as the group you’re criticizing? It seems to me you’re doing a bit of out-group demonizing, dismissing of the idea of the out-group having any legitimate issues, similar to what you might accuse them of doing.

  4. wolverine

    I live in Ireland and your proposal scares the life out of me.

    The notion that charities and NGO’s will do a better job does not sit well with facts on the ground.
    In Ireland,for instance many charities receive massive public funding to be spent overseas whilst their ‘liberal’ staff conduct their business (on high salaries) in lavish offices close to the seat of government ( a bit like K Street in Washington)
    Others receive public funding directly and indirectly and carry out idealogical political campaigns detrimental to Irish people (eg. the Immigration council of Ireland which promotes and supports illegal immigration into Ireland).

    There is also a Quango in Ireland which was called FAS which billions of euros were poured into to provide training and jobs yet its staff were caught spending millions on overseas trips to exotic locations on junkets.Its offices were distributed throughout the country and it was well grounded in local communities.

    Your example of gangster capitalism in Russia emerging following the breakdown of government is a fallacy.The system broke from communism to gangsterism and has, since then progressed to a mish mash of capitalism and oligarchy.There was no capitalism to begin there to begin with.

    Perhaps my examples above will be tut tutted as scapegoating as characterised in your piece.It has been the preferred option to those who oppose the Tea Party and Ron Paul while still demanding these people pay for big and small schemes (charities,NGO’s etc)
    So no thanks Mr. Pilkington ,I would rather a Ron Paul any day to what you propose.

    1. Philip Pilkington

      Ron Paul ain’t running in Co. Kerry. And this speaks for itself:

      “(eg. the Immigration council of Ireland which promotes and supports illegal immigration into Ireland)”

      Yes, I would consider that scape-goating. Typical Daily Mail gypsy-baiting. Quite literally, for those not aware, the LOWEST form of political discourse in Ireland. Real nasty stuff.

    2. jonboinAR

      What’s the answer then? You’re always going to have several of those who find themselves in a position to game the system, gaming the system. What’s the answer? When you remove central government authority and provision in this world you always seem to end up with warlords/local tyrants. The robust American middle class arose, I think, under the watch of a fairly strong central government, or a certain balance that we seem to have lost, coincident with “getting government off the backs of” the very rich.

  5. Timothy Gawne

    So let me get this straight – many liberals, turned off by Obama the Corporate shill and his selling out to Wall Street, tearing up our constitutional liberties, and engaging in a constant state of war, are going to vote for Ron Paul because, whatever his shortcomings, he is at least an honest man who will not turn America into a police state.

    Oh no, we hear, don’t vote for Ron Paul, instead “Foster organic community ties”. By doing what, exactly? By voting for Obama? The whore of Wall Street?

    Give me a real alternative, and sure, I’ll vote for someone other than Ron Paul. It is a crime that there is no democratic challenger to Obama. But there isn’t. Vote for Ron Paul, or vote for Obama/Wall Street Uber Alles/ a police state/permanent war/ deepening poverty. That is the choice. If you want another choice work to make it, nominate and support someone in the democratic primary. But whining is not an alternative.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Personally, I don’t find the rhetoric of infantilization (“whining”) all that interesting. And I’ve never understood why trying to force others into a frame of the bad choices that one has accepted for oneself is always presented as the perspective of a mature adult.

      Rest assured, however, that Paul’s 2012 version of hope and change will be a bait and switch of exactly the same scale as Obama’s in 2008, in the unlikely event that the powers that be decided to annoint him.

      * * *

      I like the idea of localized JG. Community gardens so localities are self-sufficient in food would be one obvious application. Home weatherization would be another.

      1. cwaltz


        It’s funny because one of his supporters was actually using Detroit’s poor public education system as a reason that we should elect Ron Paul.

        I had to inform the poor fool that in reality by supporting Ron Paul that he was supporting the exact system that he just sat and criticized since Ron Paul would decentralize and leave issues like education to localities, which is exactly what Detroit was.

        Most of Paul’s supporters don’t really seem to have thought through Paul’s positions to their conclusion. Sigh.

        1. 1whoknu

          Ron Paul has not thought through his positions to a logical conclusion either (or if he has, he doesn’t want you to know what they are). If you have ever heard him try to respond when called out on specific consequences of his policies, his voice get’s higher, he talks faster and he just repeats his policy position over and over like a computer with a logic error. A sure sign that he is either unable to logically defend his positions, or he is trying desperately to keep you from questioning them because the answer is one you will surely recoil in horror from.

      2. Anonymous Jones

        Whining is not restricted to infants. It is generally, in my experience, associated with childhood, but not solely infants; so I would not think infantilization is a relevant term. Further, I don’t actually think the use of the word ‘whine’ is some fancy rhetorical technique as much as an attempt at objective description. [Obviously, this is contingent on how broad your definition of rhetorical technique is.]

        Many adults act in a way that is sometimes fairly categorized as childish. [In fact, many people *want* to act in a way that they associate with their childhood, carefree and playing.]

        For better or worse, there is an almost ubiquitous species-wide culture-crossing concept of “acting like a man.” That concept does not include complaining in a public forum in a “woe-is-me” fashion. The opposite of “acting like a man” is generally “acting like a child.” It is a fair description of someone who is making complaints we don’t think rise to the level of wasting our time listening or reading (again, this level is obviously relative and unique to each individual).

        By all means, I’m always willing to incorporate better ideas and terms into my speech and writing. If you have a better term for this concept of complaining, please let it be known.

        As for now, I will continue using the term as a fair and accurate representation of reality.

      3. PQS

        “They appeal to a very real sense of longing for more substantial social relationships and less government meddling.”

        Is “government meddling” really what has taken the place of social relationships? Or is it unrestrained capitalism, buying and selling every moment of our lives, that people are sick to death of?

        I find the emphasis on the evils of “the Nanny state” to be misplaced and baffling. I live in a so-called “nanny state” in the Pacific Northwest and have yet to have a single technocrat come to my door and tell me what to do. The local school seems to be composed of dedicated professionals, and when I lost my job (twice – thanks, Wall Street!), I was happy to have the assistance of “nanny state” workers at the unemployment office help me stay afloat.

        The idea that the “state” hollowed out our relationships and in stepped consumerism seems exactly backwards…consumerism, big capital, and big business bought the state, too, so it could take over every aspect of our daily lives in the relentless pursuit of profit.

        1. PL_2

          “The idea that the “state” hollowed out our relationships and in stepped consumerism seems exactly backwards…”

          Interesting point.

    2. M

      Vote for Obama or vote for Ron Paul? I feel like I am being offered the choice between cutting off my left pinky or cutting off my right pinky. Both options are equally unappealing.

      I’m curious that all the people who are scoffing at those who trusted Obama are now trusting Ron Paul. I do not trust him.

      1. cwaltz

        He’s pinky swearing that the programs like Social Security and Medicare which he has repeatedly called unconstitutional will be safe under him(rolling eyes).

    3. Rex

      Timothy Gawne. Like the sound of that. Not sure if that really is your name, but I think it sounds like a plan most of us could support.

    4. Praedor

      While I fully intend to withhold my vote in the Presidential race come Nov 2012 and only vote local, there IS an invisible (invisible because the MSM has declared it must be so) GOPer you could look at OTHER than Paul. The former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer:

      His campaign is focused on anti-corruption (special interest money in politics) and his record is laudable…for a GOPer. I is certainly superior to any of the current flock of nuts and berries that the MSM pays attention to in the GOP field.

      1. 1whoknu

        Buddy deserves to be brought out of the shadows so that all the other candidates can respond to his arguments and policies. Then we would have an interesting primary.

        1. Iolaus

          Buddy Roemer campaigned for McCain/Palin in 2008; politics is politics, sure, but this is difficult to defend, and he can’t pretend he didn’t do it. Even so, he is the only candidate talking seriously about campaign finance reform, which I believe is widely regarded as Step One in any effort to reform U.S. democracy.

          It isn’t going to be any fun to be an American voter in the 2012 election; we either sit it out (an effective strategy only if enough people do it to delegitimize the election results–not that this would stop anyone from declaring victory, etc.) or we think about which set of unthinkable policies we’ll feel least uncomfortable with.

  6. wolverine

    ”“(eg. the Immigration council of Ireland which promotes and supports illegal immigration into Ireland)”

    Yes, I would consider that scape-goating. Typical Daily Mail gypsy-baiting. Quite literally, for those not aware, the LOWEST form of political discourse in Ireland. Real nasty stuff.”

    Clearly you resent the substance of your article being challenged.
    Your characterisation above is abusive and is based on prejudice (your own) and not on what I wrote.
    The assertions in my response can be verified by anyone in the US with a little online research.

    1. Philip Pilkington

      This has nothing to do with your ‘criticisms’ of my article. It has to do with your Daily Mailesque gypsy-bashing. For those who don’t know, the equivalent in Ireland to Rush Limbaugh et al is this sort of thing.

      People ring up radio stations saying that the problem is ‘illegal immigrants’. Most of this is code for (a) blacks from Nigeria and (b) Romanians fleeing from brutalisation in their home countries.

      This gets play in certain rag newspapers like The Daily Mail (a conservative tabloid run by some of the lowest, most feral creatures in the journalism profession). The Mail ruins ‘news reports’ of immigrants being given Mercedes cars and fancy hotel rooms by the local government.

      It’s really sick stuff and I’m not having it as a ‘response’ to my post. For the Yanks on here just think Beck and think Limbaugh. You know, the codewords they use to evoke racist sentiments in their audience. That’s what we’re dealing with here.

      1. Jack Parsons


        Talking to Americans about libertarianism is like talking to French people about whether culture is important, or to Japanese people about racism. Americans are massively neurotic about the Social Contract, and trying to get real objective and incisive thought out of us Yankees on this subject is near-impossible.

  7. George

    Isn’t belief that debt spirals can continue to be paid
    by the issuance of ever more debt a leap of faith?

    “Gangster capitalism”? How about “gangster charities”?

    Where I worked, a certain percentage of our pay was given to the United Way whether I liked it or not. Sure it was
    “voluntary” but the manager portrayed it as a civic duty
    and a requirement to be employed.

    1. Carla

      “Isn’t belief that debt spirals can continue to be paid
      by the issuance of ever more debt a leap of faith?”

      It is my understanding that in the Modern Monetary System of fiat money by which the U.S. has been operating since Nixon took us entirely off the gold standard in 1971, there really is no federal government debt.

      The persistence of the mistaken idea that the national economy operates like a private household budget in any respect is really frustrating.

      1. Ransome

        The debt and deficit are metrics used to evaluate how well the economy is functioning. It is safe to say that a three legged horse will not win any races and needs assistance. It is also becoming clear that selling debt to those outside and paying interest was not the smartest idea when you can control the production and extraction of money. It is even worse when you can’t control production, it is controlled by profit seeking money center banks. A relic from gold.

  8. Cynthia

    The Overton window has been pushed so far to the Right that Ron Paul is the only presidential candidate who opposes corporatism, militarism, and the national security state. So if this puts him far outside the mainstream of presidential politics, then I’m looking to vote for a presidential candidate that’s nowhere within the mainstream.

    I imagine that I am like most progressives in that I hate the fact that Ron Paul opposes labor unions, worker rights and minimum wage laws. After all, these are the only weapons workers have to maintain some sort of reasonable balance of power between themselves and their greedy and power-hungry bosses in management. Plus I find it absolutely deplorable that he wants to shut down the Department of Education and other federal agencies that provide much-needed social services to ordinary Americans. But to me, Ron Paul’s strong opposition to militarism, the national security state and a Federal Reserve that’s shrouded in secrecy and steeped in cronyism all far outweigh any opposition he has for using the power of government to create a fair and equitable workplace and provide a secure and dependable social safety net for Americans from all walks of life.

    As many in the antiwar and civil libertarian community have pointed out to me, the president can’t shape domestic policy without consent of Congress, unlike he can with regards to foreign policy. So even if Ron Paul wants to rid the workplace of labor unions, worker rights and minimum wage laws, and shut down the Department of Education and other federal agencies that provide much-needed social services to ordinary American, he can’t do these things without the full consent of Congress. And because Obama has made the very fascist move to invoke the state secrets privilege in order to protect our Wall Street bankers from persecution, not only is the president free to shape foreign policy without consent of Congress, but he is now also free to do this with regards to banking policy.

    It’s bad enough that we have a president who has given himself the unchecked authority to wage endless and unjust wars against sovereign nations, but it’s even worse that because of Obama’s very fascist move to further militarize our civilian police forces and lock up our civilian population indefinitely without due process, we also have a president who has given himself the unchecked authority put a bullet through the head of our civil liberties!

    Ron Paul is the only presidential candidate that has expressed any interest in rolling back many of the very fascist powers that Bush and Obama have given themselves and all future presidents, and restoring our Constitutional Rights back to where they were prior to 9/11. Plus as “b” of Moon Of Alabama has pointed out to me, Ron Paul is the only presidential candidate that can push the Overton window back to the Left. For this reason alone, he gets my support!

    1. Cynthia

      Let me also mention that Ron Paul, as far as I can tell, has nothing against corporations per se. He just opposes corporatism, which means that he opposes corporations being able to buy politicians in order to rig the game of making money in their favor and to prop themselves up with taxpayer dollars when they are incapable of surviving on their own in a competitive marketplace.

        1. Cynthia

          For starters, he would propose that we rein in corporate crime on Wall Street, and cut off all welfare checks going warfare and the national security apparatus.

    2. Fiver


      You make a reasonable argument re Ron Paul – which disqualifies you from receiving a response from PP. That Paul has advocated the end of Empire for decades suggests he actually believes it. That in itself would be so valuable to the US and world, its achievement would rank among the greats in US and world history.

  9. reason

    I don’t understand the appeal of a guaranteed jobs program. It is riddled with micro-economic issues. Why not just provide income support via a “national dividend” (or if you like you call it a guaranteed minimimum income – I prefer national dividend because it is indeed the return for the investment the society has made – and it suggests that the society has a surplus that hasn’t been wasted). It does indeed get money into local communities (in fact the regional aspect is one of its strongest points).

    The problem with a job guarantee is that the modern is comprised of a very complex web of co-operating specialists, supported by investment goods. Where will these come from, and who will manage this labour and ensure it doing something useful. And how will this complex organisation cope with the flows into and out of these jobs?

    It is easy to think – well they can sweep streets or build infrastructure, or mind children or whatever. But there are already businesses and individuals specialised in those tasks. What will happen to them?

    A guaranteed jobs programs sounds easy when you speak it, but I think it is massively complicated. Why not just give people the money and let the local economies thrive? Then the money will trickle up to the best suppliers and you can tax it back. The rich will still be rich, but the poor will have a better, securer life.

    1. Ransome

      Not to worry. Unemployment is a waste of national resources. During times of high unemployment, local government decays. The national government spends to preserve national assets, including those under local jurisdiction. Since the locals are contracting, putting the unemployed into a government jobs program is not crowding out, the government becomes the employer of last resort.

      1. reason

        But how would this actually work? You see what happens when the crisis is over, but the projects started to employ excess labour are still going? Why wouldn’t these projects make it harder for growing firms to find the labour/resources they need? Why wouldn’t they discourage labour from relocating to areas with better growth prospects? I’m fine with the macro-economics – but not with the micro-economics.

  10. Pitchfork

    In this otherwise thoughtful article, we get this bit of fact-free, speculative nonsense about Ron Paul’s fiscal policy.

    “It would also, of course, plunge the US economy into a depression from which it would take decades to fully recover. And as the US economy plunged into the abyss it would probably take the rest of the world with it.

    Nor is it likely that Big Government would go away. Under such circumstances of heavy 20-30% unemployment rates the crime rate – which is already remarkably high in the US – would go through the roof. The criminal and legal apparatus would be forced to expand, thus contracting other government sectors even more rapidly and further reinforcing the unemployment rate. If things got really bad one could imagine the military being given powers that would make libertarians squirm in their seats.”

    Let me just point out that this is almost precisely what Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke were telling people in the fall of 2008 — keep soaking the taxpayer or else the world will end and there will be tanks in the streets. Good grief. I’m wondering whether Mr. Pilkington is familiar with Robert Higgs’ _Depression, War and Cold War_, which deals with the post-WWII contraction in govt. spending. In any case, an argument must be made for the claims being made here about Paul’s plans for a reduction in the Federal budget.

    1. Ransome

      Gold creates an inflexible money supply, wealth ALWAYS trickles up until you have the Long Depression or the Great Depression, with people in the streets. Hank and Ben were describing the same scenario except it would happen overnight, a result of a liquidity trap, caused by faulty money substitutes, leveraging and networking. Every money market account, pension fund, annuity and retirement savings account would disappear as underlying collateral collapsed triggering the exercise of 600 trillion CDS. There would be people in the streets.

  11. Eleanor

    Here in Minnesota, a lot of services are already provided by NGOs working under government contracts and with government grants. This includes a LOT of human services. If you are poor and facing hard times here, you are likely to be dealing with a case worker who works for a nonprofit, not the government — and who is not unionized and who makes lousy money. Well-known organizations such as the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities work under government contracts, which is why they have to obey government rules on fair treatment of employees and clients, including gay people, which is why they do so much screaming about their religous rights.

    The system works reasonably well, though small and medium sized nonprofit organizations can be inefficient and unresponsive, and don’t get me going about some of the religious NGOs.

    I am not sure I would want NGOs to build bridges or maintain the state highway system. The current system, giving contracts to private, for-profit contractors who specialize in bridges and highways seems like a better idea. (I say this, in spite of the bridge that fell down. That was bad maintenance, because the State Department of Transportation is not adequately funded.)

    The problem with the system right now is, the nonprofits are not getting enough money from the government or private donors. The MMT plan could deal with this.

    However, minimum wage is not enough pay. After FICA, minimum wage is something like $1,150 amonth. A single bedroom apartment in the Twin Cities area is something like $750. That leaves $400 for food, clothing, utilities, transportation, health care and the cost of children or other dependents. I would say a more reasonable amount of pay would be double the minimum wage, which is $30,000 a year, about the amount of money a nonprofit human services case worker makes.

  12. XoJar

    This is a brilliant article. I really enjoy how the author made the connections with ideas from Christopher Lasch who I knew through my friendship with Norman O. Brown.

  13. Eleanor

    I guess I am saying that we have a system already in Minnesota where Federal money moves to the state and then to a wide variety of organizations, many of them private. A lot of government is about distributing money and supervising how it is spent, rather than spending it directly. So the face of big government is the for-profit contractor building a highway or your local community support program or shelter, run by a nonprofit.

    The other question is what do the people who are hired do? The NGOs that have contracts with the government don’t — at present — hire anyone off the street. They require certain skills and abilities. You may need licenses. You will have to pass a background check and a TB test, if you work with people.

    This is leading us back to the CCC and the WPA, programs designed to give work to people who were unemployed. I, for one, am grateful for the trees planted, the park buildings built, the post office murals…

  14. Ransome

    When the Nanny State became the Predator State, blame was deflected to the government. When the neoliberals pursued rabid privatization, the 1% saw wealth trickling up and even more wealth if they could cut costs (jobs). The financial sector looked for pools of assets to strip. No one ever asked how people were going to afford the additional expense of privatization, especially the semi-skilled and unemployed. The only response was to become a knowledge worker and borrow. The neoliberals are still attacking the public sector and Unions to cut wages and services. But the 1% now have a golden parachute, dual citizenship and a plane ticket in the top drawer as the 99% begin to circle their stash. To have your name appear on a top 400 list produces feelings of anxiety and the purchase of security services.

  15. Susan the other

    Kucinich’s Bill for the right to have a job would be a good starter in this country. NGOs seem a little too specialized to make a dent in unemployment. And This country is so big and diverse giving money to NGOs would be an accounting nightmare. But we do have State Governments. We do have local governments. We can write muni bonds. And, it turns out, the Fed can take/buy them from the States. Don’t know how that revolving door works. But getting money to the States for full employment at a living wage would be the best thing we could do right now. And for some years to come. And the States could organize projects worth the time and money. Anomie is a good word. We have to find our way again. And the scariest thing is that our national government does not govern.

  16. George Phillies

    Ron Paul is a Christian conservative who makes libertarian noises when he sees a chance to prey on libertarian donors.

    He is in no sense a libertarian: He is an anti-abortionist, supports the racist “states’ rights doctrine[under which states could decide if gays could marry, women could have abortions, or (within my lifetime) African-Americans could vote, attend public schools, or ride at the front of the bus], wanted gays expelled from the military until that became impolitic, disbelieves in global warming and evolution, and is a Christian dominionist. He is also an advocate of commodity-backed currencies (hint: there is a reason why commodity investing is called ‘speculation’), far-right-wing rants about ‘fractional reserve banking, and spends a fair piece of his time in the company of conspiracy theory collectors like Alex Jones. His interview on is particularly revealing.

    Having said this, the person previously interviewed as being a representative libertarian, well, wasn’t.

    1. F. Beard

      far-right-wing rants about ‘fractional reserve banking, George Phillies

      What is very sad is that the Left has no serious problem with theft of purchasing power from the poor they are supposedly concerned about.

    2. Fiver

      You do not have to be from the “far right” to detest the Federal Reserve’s debt-based stupidity or KNOW that there is a very substantial measure of truth in some (not all, of course) “conspiracy theories” – all you have to be is an informed realist.

      I find it astounding that we have veritable mountains of documents attesting to the fact that we’ve been fed a steady stream of utter bullshit covering up monstrous acts for a century, and the complete moral depravity of our leadership elites, and yet it’s instant marginalization unless you adopt the pathetic standard stance: “We couldn’t POSSIBLY believe our leaders capable of ‘x,y,x’. That’s just too far out there…”. Because admitting our leaders could be that disgusting RIGHT NOW means not doing something about it is collective moral decrepitude or cowardice.

      As for other principled positions, eg, State’s Rights, it’s one thing to point out particular legislative outcomes that PERHAPS would not occur, and quite another to insist the position is adopted specifically to block those outcomes.

      I’m a leftist. Life long. There is much to Paul’s thinking I don’t like. But nothing, and I do mean nothing, would be better for the US and world than an end to Empire. I do not for 1 minute believe that is not his real position given how deeply entrenched idolizing that Empire is, and how difficult for him to maintain same under such conditions for many decades.

  17. wolverine

    ”This has nothing to do with your ‘criticisms’ of my article. It has to do with your Daily Mailesque gypsy-bashing.”

    Nowhere did I mention Gypsies or the Daily Mail.I did not mention Romanians,Nigerians,Limbaugh or Beck.These are all out of you brain.

    You state;..”(b) Romanians fleeing from brutalisation in their home countries.”

    Factually this is false.Romanians were allowed EU accession post 2004 when they were deemed by the EU to have fulfilled their humanitarian obligations to minorities within Romania.
    Romanians can travel anwhere within the EU and they are not illegal immigrants as you infer.

    You also state ”This gets play in certain rag newspapers like The Daily Mail (a conservative tabloid run by some of the lowest, most feral creatures in the journalism profession). ”

    The ”lowest,most feral creatures…”.. ???

    That is extraordinary language for a contributing writer to use on this site,it is inciendary and hateful.

    The intro to your article states you are a journalist and writer living in Dublin, Ireland.
    A leading Irish journalist Gene Kerrigan of the Irish Sunday Independent wrote on January 1st …”As a journalist, it isn’t in your job description to pick a side..”
    You are a political activist as decribed in your article trying to influence a jobs initiative by the Irish government and not a journalist in the true sense.

    I have asked several people of varying backgrounds in the last hour in Ireland and no one has heard of you.
    I would rather deal with facts but I will challenge you and your almost fascist subjugation of dissent as below which is based on nothing I wrote but rather what is in your head.

    ..”It’s really sick stuff and I’m not having it as a ‘response’ to my post.”…

  18. F. Beard

    This is the main reason why the libertarians insist on a gold standard … Philip Pilkinton

    Government recognition of gold as money is not libertarian; it is fascist. Why should government (and by extension the population) have to buy or borrow someone’s favorite shiny metal to expand its money supply?

    The genuine libertarian solution to the “stealth inflation tax” is to allow genuine liberty in private money creation for private debts. And no, Ron Paul’s idea of private currencies which are all PM based is not genuine liberty in private money creation. Government should not attempt to define what private money is but rather what government money is. Private monies would then be all monies that are NOT government money.

    Genuine liberty in private money creation must include removing all government privileges for the banks including a lender of last resort and government deposit insurance. The government itself should provide a risk-free storage and transaction service for its fiat.

    1. George

      Judging from your many posts, you are seriously hung up on the government being required to supply liquidity.

      Britain had private suppliers of money, a gold standard, and built quite a serious economy without any fiat money.

      I do not see any reason for fiat money supplied by the government, but it seems to be an article of faith for you.


      1. F. Beard

        I do not see any reason for fiat money supplied by the government, but it seems to be an article of faith for you. George

        Who else should supply government money but government? You, me, gold owners, gold miners? Can’t you see that is fascist?

        But yes, the necessity of separate government and private money is an article of faith with me since it is Scriptural. See Matthew 22:16-22. And it also makes perfect sense since government is FORCE and the private sector should be voluntary trade.

        The only place for gold as money is the private sector (assuming it can survive there if genuine liberty in private money creation is allowed).

  19. F. Beard

    The libertarians answer to this? As is so often the case with the libertarians it is a Leap of Faith. They believe that if government gets off peoples’ backs the economy will self-generate. Philip Pilkington

    Let’s get real. The chief benefit of government spending is the MONEY it injects into the private economy. But that does not require government jobs; it only requires a means of distributing government money.

    Libertarians might (rightly) complain of “government on their backs” but how many of them would not cash a Social Dividend or Minimum Income check from their respective governments?

    1. F. Beard

      Yes, Big Government is the only entity in a modern society that can issue sufficient money to ensure that resources are fully employed – and in this, if the faucet is turned off by a Ron Paul the results will be highly unpleasant – but it does not follow that Big Government then have to set up large, intrusive bureaucracies to distribute this money. Philip Pilkington [bold added]

      Agreed. If the goal is to inject money into the economy then let’s directly inject money into the economy.

  20. nowhereman

    An excellent article that touches briefly on the major problem in government today, but as usual, glosses over the impact.
    If the US is to survive, the first thing required is to outlaw the “Social Sciences”. Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology and Economics. And, yes, most people don’t realize that “Economics” is a “Social Science”.
    The erosion of the Constitution began in earnest when people who believed thay knew better than you started to “plan” your existence.
    That’s right, “Central Planning” has become the basis of government, predicated on the fact that the “State” knows better than you, “What is good for you”. This is the very definition of the “Nanny State”
    The ideology is so prevalent and deeply engrained in US society as to be a crutial aspect of US Foriegn Policy.
    What critics of Dr. Paul fail to understand is that he is challenging your unconscious understanding of what true freedom actually is, and how it is to be achieved.
    It is not what Sociologist describe as what the governments role is. It is not as Economists describe as to how the “economy” functions. And it certainly is not the Psychological use of fear that requires us to give up our Constutional rights for the fallacy of safety and security.
    I read the comments here and I realize that most intelligent people don’t realize that they have accepted the underlying precepts of the “Social Sciences” and don’t recognize that they have done so.
    Before we can come up with a valid alternative, we must examine our fundamental beliefs, and why we hold them.
    No, it is not right that the US government believes that they know better than other sovereign governments how their country should be run.
    No, the government should not be involved in dumbing down society through control of the education system.
    No, the government should not grant favors to any industry over another. Crony Capitalism must cease.
    No, the government cannot and should not meddle in the everyday lives of it’s citizens, and should refrain from doing so immediately.
    I could go on and on, but it would be simpler to have you listen to what Dr. Paul is really saying.
    Get rid of the Social Science so called “experts”. Understand the brainwashing that the State run education system has achieved, and question why you should be required to give up any right granted to you under the Constitution.
    Wake up America, the time has come, the government is not responsible for you happiness, only to allow you the unfettered ability to persue it.

    1. proximity1

      nowhereman, you write,

      “Before we can come up with a valid alternative, we must examine our fundamental beliefs, and why we hold them.”

      Very good!

      But you’ve already urged that it’s imperative as a first step that we “…[If the US is to survive, the first thing required is to] outlaw the “Social Sciences”. Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology and Economics.” ….

      So, as I understand you, to save ourselves, we’re obliged to “examine our fundamental beliefs, and why we hold them” but in doing that we must not avail ourselves of “the “Social Sciences”. Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology and Economics.

      Have you really thought this through carefully?

      1. Cris Kennedy

        nowhereman has it right. Centrally planned economies do not work. It is absurd to believe that a jobs program for everyone with centrally-provided funding but “hands off” the day-to-day decisions……..lasts about one or two or three election cycles……and then you’ll be right back to the bureaucrats in Washington dictating every mandate imaginable.

        We have 40,000 new regulations from DC this January 1st. The budget deficit is beyond belief/understanding, and you MMTers think you know what you’re doing??

        Tell you what. Why don’t you just vote for President Zero again so you’ll get your centrally-planned economy in spades? Or,…..

        ……if you pause for just long enough to hear what Ron Paul is saying (rather than listening to/participating in the smear) you might hear the sound of the Constitution of the United States……….or wisdom……..peace……..a calm voice.

        1. rotter

          You are so throughly attached to what your getting from the usual brain dead sources that you probably should not be allowed to even comment on this crap much less vote, if you Think Obama has a “central plan” which is somehow different from Ron Paul’s . If you think That Ron Paul and Barrak Obama would govern in a substantively different way, you are simply playing the same ol rottiserie political game. You get your score card from FOX News and Rush Limbaugh your “opponenets” get theirs from Chis Mathews and Jonathan Alter. If you ever stopped to exchange cards youd notice they are exactly the same. Barrak Obama and Ron paul have the same central plan, and theres not much in it for you. Like that Gentleman a while back who enjoyed exposing spiritism, who used to give everyone in his class a horoscope on the first day. “Do they accurately describe you”, “Now hand them to the person directly behind you.” They were all the same.Identical. So much for “the partisan divide in America”.

          1. Cris Kennedy

            Are you seriously commenting on what I wrote? Obviously, you haven’t noticed the Ron Paul 24/7 smear going on at Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Chris Matthews, and virtually all the mainstream/non mainstream media? Tell ya what. Can you name me one media person who has come out and endorsed Ron Paul? Didn’t think so.

            Only person I know of is Jerry Doyle–doubt you’ve heard of him.

            Anyway, just forget that argument and try to focus on what Paul actually says. It has a lot to do with the Constitution of the United States. Hint: his main contributors are active members of the military—hmm, by a strange coincidence the group that takes their oath seriously……something about “defending the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic.”

            Now, rotter, don’t give me that what’s-so-special-about-the-Constitution nonsense. People will think you don’t know what it says.

      2. nowhereman

        If you honestly believe this, you are either a social scientist, or an individual who is unable or unwilling to take a close look at yourself and how you came to believe what you believe, and know what you know.
        I can tell you right now this information is not innate. You picked it up along the way, and know this would be a really a good time to examine the sources, because some of your preconceived notions about what it means to be a citizen are about to be severely challanged.

      1. nowhereman

        All you need do is witness the ritual before any major sporting event to see what the “state” is.
        The State is the group of people telling you what and how to think, and many people are just fine with having these “experts” tell them what to think, what to be afraid of and who to hate.
        If you don’t see this, I’m afraid there is nothing I can say that will convince you. You have to experience it for yourself, then, and only then, can you possess the freedom that you only think you have.

  21. Mattski

    Lasch: indispensable for understanding how liberals got to the reactionary place they now inhabit.

    1. Nomen Nescio

      These labels are killing me. Looking at the major problems this country has (un-Terrorism, War, and the Great Recession)… there’s not a lick of difference between Liberals and Conservatives. D’s and R’s: Birds of a Feather.


  22. the real deal

    If the presidential self selection process could actually produce a well intentioned and effective candidate for reform, then there would be no need for reform on that level.

  23. Hugh

    Lesser evilism just never seems to die. It’s what the Democrats sell with regard to the Republicans and what the Paul supporters are selling to Democrats and Republicans alike.

    The only real question to ask is whether things will get better with any of the current crop of candidates from the two parties. And the answer to that is no. Everything else is some variant of lesser evilism. In this regard, Paul is as much a deadend as Obama, Romney, or whoever.

    The two parties are like machines guaranteed to give you the wrong answer. So with Einstein’s definition of insanity in mind, why do you keep going to them for answers?

      1. EconCCX

        >>What a negative dark post. Are you going to crawl under a rock with your binky and cry?<<

        That post will define you here forever, Cris, as a known troll out to silence discussion through intimidation. May you be shunned accordingly.

        1. Cris Kennedy

          Good grief, EconCCX.

          I’m not intimidated, and I doubt many others here are. If you are, you might want to reassess what passes as “discussion” here, and elsewhere in your life.
          If I can’t ridicule the negativity of a post that whines “Paul is as much a deadend as Obama, Romney, or whoever,” without being called a troll, I agree with you. And more power to the trolls.

          1. Cris Kennedy

            Would you make up your mind, please?
            Either shun me as a troll or do me as a bully.
            Or how about, let’s just be friends.

      2. Hugh

        It rather looks like you are the one having difficulty facing the darkness. Libertarians are good on a few issue, batshit crazy on others, and standard right wing Republican on yet others. That’s Paul, and that is also lesser evilism. Lesser evilism is what got us where we are on. How is more of it any different than Einstein’s definition of insanity?

        Of course, Paul is a deadend. They all are. There is no such thing as a good Republican or a good Democrat. It is just the fool’s game of lesser evilism to think that hey, over here or over there, there are a few good Republicans or a few good Democrats around whom we can build some kind of a movement. Kleptocracy has been going on for 35 years now. If a Democrat or a Republican was going to speak out against it and fight it, they could have done so years ago. None of them have. Sure, Paul is against the Fed but otherwise he is as corporatist and a defender of the wealth inequality that is the whole reason for being of kleptocracy as any of them.

  24. b.

    “This is the main reason why the libertarians insist on a gold standard and the destruction of the Federal Reserve system. By doing this the politicians would lash financial constraints upon the US government from which it would have very little wriggle room.”

    Methinks you credit to much. Isn’t this one of several competing attempts to refit nostalgia and superstition with some elaborate “theory”?

    This is a critical point. The true constraints on government are the governed. In any enlightened, open society, that is the only constraint that counts. Anything else is technocratic – hence oligarchic – engineering to circumvent checks, balances and accoutnability. Is democracy fragile and unstable? Yes. Do checks and balances fail? Spectacularly. But what is the alternative? We need to have a meaningful discussion about how to make democracy – like a nuclear fission plant – inherently safe, evolutionary stable (pace John Maynard Smith), sustainable, resistant to Too Big And Wealthy To Be Governed.

    Case in point: a “job guarantee” is as much bullshit as “growth”. Jobs are a side issue. Sustainable democracy requires informed, educated citizens that *have the time to participate in the public square*. We do not need “jobs”. What we need are ways to allocate the increasingly scarce resources we have in a manner that makes the best use of the scarcest resource of all – human beings – in a way to sustain open society. It is entirely possible that there will not be “enough jobs”. It is even possible that, if the religious obsession with “free” markets and “jobs” continues, there won’t be enough food or water. “Jobs” are an artifact of a system that claims to maximize “utility” through corporate structures of state-sponsored economical dependency. In the process, autonomy and independence – prerequisites for being a citizen – have gone straight out of the window. The purpose of welfare – such as national health care – is to guarantee a minimum level of dignity and opportunity to anybody, whether or not they proceed to take advantage of it. We shold pity those that spend their lives waiting, not despise them – they have not realized their own value, and maybe as a society we are trying very hard to prevent them from that recognition.

    The attempt to replace Big Gov with a “local” Swarm Gov is the ultimate self-licking ice cream cone of Big Gov – adding layers of bureaucracy to fight bureaucracy. Like an office to declassify classified information. Pace Keynes, we have enough real – global, large scale, Big Crap – problems to create more than enough “jobs” on a national and international “planned economy” scale. Sometimes, Big Gov is simply the expresssion of Big Consensus, and without the latter we will just drown in Big Crap. See Noami Klein’s recent article on the reality-based politics of climate change.

    1. Fiver

      It always and everywhere only gets a smattering of attention, but the fact that we have been on an accelerating arc of stupidity consisting of technologically thrusting people out of work faster than we can re-employ them in ever-more-demeaning “service” jobs amply demonstrates just how willfully blind we’re prepared to be in order to NOT face up to real problems.

  25. proximity1

    C. Lasch wrote and published >The Culture of Narcissism (TCoN) at very approximately the “early-cruising-speed” of this consumer-debt-driven society, in which people, losing the rights, their values, their moral way, their sense of self and purpose, and their already-tenuous hold on their own economic stabilities, reacted to these trends by trying to keep up and to make up for growing losses by consuming stuff.

    This strategy was a study in the law of diminishing returns. What had been lost and what was continuing to be lost were not the sorts of things for which one could substitute mass-produced consumer material goods–or even, for that matter, non-material goods such as films, television and pop music, though all of these enjoyed robust years as people turned away from everything which posed moral, emotional and intellectual challenges in favor of anything and everything which was superficial and, thus, did not pose those challenges.

    While quite interesting in its own way and as far as it goes, the trouble with Lasch’s work was and is –as it has become for some now more evident, more perceptible–that these issues are themselves relative side-show aspects of other much more fundamental and serious dilemmas. That may be recognized by imagining (if possible) not only how the world in which TCoN was written would have been different had these socials ills not been so acutely present, that is, what society should have been like without the culture of narcissism, but, also, by comparing how very similar was the social situation Lasch was critiquing with the situation which presumably preceded it–the decades of the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s before the narcissism had set in as he described it. In other words, the social issues on which Lasch focused his attention and efforts in TCoN, while interesting and important, were not, at the time he wrote, particularly recent in either in their forms or their effects, they were simply more pronounced and well-established in the prevailing culture’s norms.

    Making such a comparison, however, was not something average people then (1979) reading his book were in much position to do and they’ve since become even less inclined and capable of making such a comparison. The habit of reading hasn’t improved since 1979 and the authors which even then had fallen out of sight and out of mind are all the more so today in addition to being “out of print”.
    Thorstein Veblen, Charles and Mary Beard, Frederick Townsend Martin and so many others would have found much familiar in the observations of Lasch. The technology had become so much more powerful, so incredibly faster than any of the just-mentioned knew and that made for some important differences, differences of scale. But a cult of power worship and of massive-scales in time, distances, construction and communications, were already becoming well established in the terrible decades after the U.S. Civil War. It was then that our present courses and assumptions found their early establishment. Since then, scale and, in particular, speed, has grown immensely. But the trends and directions had been laid out. Power and gargantuan scale inform the technology that determines so much about our lives. And that cult of power and scale is as deeply installed among present-day morally lost liberals as it is among their supposed opponents, the “conservatives”.
    In that, Lasch’s critique, which tended not to spare the Left or the Right, had got it right.

    1. Fiver

      Scale and power have been around since Day 1. Speed is the game-changer. We’re in many respects on an exponential curve that is very nearly completely out of our control and headed for a very bad outcome unless we do the one unthinkable thing, which is to SLOW DOWN.

      Which is why I favor trashing this debt-based idiocy completely. Mass debt was the enabler, the accelerent, for building what we see all around us – things like an Internet that is now VITAL (perhaps a collapse in civilization itself were it to be somehow suddenly destroyed) that did not exist 15 years ago. We don’t even bother to think about consequences – we just roll it is out and assume we’re as clever as we need to be, no matter how many times it’s proven we’re not. Savings-based meant decisions and outcomes took a good deal longer, with much more thought, and re-thought.

  26. Fiver

    While drawing attention to Lasch was a useful reminder that it was once the Left that was deeply suspicious of what Vietnam/Cold War Government had become – essentially a permanent war machine; corporate power enabler; unbelievably lousy education; social programs aimed more at employing white collar professionals than actually assisting the people who so desperately needed help and more, I found his analysis of what the PEOPLE were becoming to be of greatest import – thus the “Narcissism” in the title. Because whether you agree with his causal formulation or not, there is no doubt whatever that the ’60’s and ’70’s had molded the most pampered, infantile, selfish, instant-gratification generation in history.

    Anyway, to then take what might’ve been a good tip for people to read Lasch and turn it into yet another attack on the enemy that IS NOT THE THREAT, i.e., Libertarianism (the real threat being global corporatism with the US military as enforcer)is a shame.

    Other notes:

    1) The notion that it is now impossible to meaningfully shrink Government is absurd. As someone who worked in Government, I can assure you that there is immense waste, rampant stupidity, self-interested game-playing and a singular lack of courage or vision. We absolutely need a major Government role in many areas. But that it is done so poorly, so often, for so long, speaks volumes to the need to ALWAYS be alert to the dangers of entrenched interests no matter what their source.

    2) The NGO/CBO option sounds good until you realize, again, how much of the money goes to the administrators as opposed to those being assisted – very like what’s happened to charities. They can play a role, but what’s needed is truly decisive leadership at the top – otherwise, most of the money will be totally wasted in yet another short-term flurry with no substantial gain.

  27. wolverine

    ”What critics of Dr. Paul fail to understand is that he is challenging your unconscious understanding of what true freedom actually is, and how it is to be achieved.”

    ”Nowhereman”.. the above comment is in my opinion the most insightful one here of the Ron Paul Philosophy.

  28. proximity1

    “Libertarianism”– which is short-hand for a philosophy by which people are treated as and held to be actually fully responsible for everything that happens to them no matter the sources of or the terrible consequences of those things for either the individuals concerned or for the larger society as a whole– is a throw-back or simply a refurbished work-over of very old and utterly worthless conceptions derived from mid-19th century (and later and ever-since) “Social Darwinism”.

    Ayn Rand’s half-baked social blatherings were essentially derivatives of Social Darwinism’s view that Nature works in all out in her wonderful if inscrutable-to-man ways. Such a view, applied to human affairs and, above all, to economics, is a recipe for exactly the kind of stupendous folly that has been its product ever since Herbert Spencer got busy.

    Libertarianism is a special case, a sub-species of human nonsense that is very much a threat, a false trail and clap-trap cover which comes in very handy as a catch-all blame-and-dismiss mechanism.

    Ironically, Darwin’s crowning insight, he over-arching contribution, was to show how, in Nature, practically everything is under random chance’s purview. Your life, with all that it contains, sprang from your parents’ chance meeting, the random combination of their chromosomes’ endowments and, in the mix, a truly unfathomable confluence of other, non-genetic social, economic and other humanly-produced chaos. From the confluence of these, you got your place in the already-in-progress human race’s race. And everything that has happened to you since birth has had a very large component of luck, of random chance, involved.

    That means that your (and everyone else’s) successes and failures in life are only very partially matters which your plans and efforts guide and influence.

    Libertarianism is a kooky philosophy which is made to relieve its followers of the terrible emotional load of all this human and Natural randomness in life; its similar in its soothing comforts to older religious doctrines which also left from man the terror of random chance’s intervention by making everything God’s design.

    Libertarianism says, never mind all that complexity. The beauty of the world is that every one ultimately gets what he and she deserves from his and her individual efforts–or the lack of them. Society not only needn’t, it mustn’t interfere with this marvel of social sorting which supposedly is best at determining society’s winners and losers.

    That is what Libertarianism has to offer us and today and, just as it was one hundred and fifty years ago, that is sheer bunkum.

    1. George

      No, libertarian philosophy is a means to reduce positive feedback loops that destroy society. It is a sustainable philosophy, which no government-directed system can ever be.

      The philosophy of responsibility for the results of your actions focuses people on the local. It doesn’t mean there is no community, no family, … but it means you personally have to spend at least a part of your efforts in building and maintaining those links.

      All of the collectivist philosophies remove that last link, their societies stop working, dishonest becomes endemic, and they delude themselves that they can manage the complexity of the economy. Then they fail.

      You cannot provide examples of any other outcome : all of the countries that have tried to provide social safety nets, etc. are failing dismally.

      The collectivist philosophies do not produce sustainable systems.

      1. F. Beard

        The collectivist philosophies do not produce sustainable systems. George

        Yet we should all be forced by government to “collectively” use gold as money?

      2. Skippy

        “The collectivist philosophies do not produce sustainable systems.” – George.

        WOW what a statement. Where is the data?

        Try : In addition to questions of efficacy, to the extent that peoples or groups have rights to collective self-determination, intervention by a liberal group to induce a non-liberal community to adopt liberal principles will be morally objectionable. As with individuals, liberals may think that peoples or groups have freedom to make mistakes in managing their collective affairs. If people’s self-conceptions are based on their participation in such groups, even those whose liberties are denied may object to, and perhaps in some way harmed by, the imposition of liberal principles (Margalit and Raz, 1990; Tamir, 1993). Thus rather than proposing a doctrine of intervention many liberals propose various principles of toleration which specify to what extent liberals must tolerate non-liberal peoples and cultures. As is usual, Rawls’s discussion is subtle and enlightening. In his account of the foreign affairs of liberal peoples, Rawls argues that liberal peoples must distinguish ‘decent’ non-liberal societies from ‘outlaw’ and other states; the former have a claim on liberal peoples to tolerance while the latter do not (1999a: 59-61). Decent peoples, argues Rawls, ‘simply do not tolerate’ outlaw states which ignore human rights: such states may be subject to ‘forceful sanctions and even to intervention’ (1999a: 81). In contrast, Rawls insists that ‘liberal peoples must try to encourage [non-liberal] decent peoples and not frustrate their vitality by coercively insisting that all societies be liberal’ (1999a: 62). Chandran Kukathas (2003) — whose liberalism derives from the classical tradition — is inclined to almost complete toleration of non-liberal peoples, with the proviso that there must be exit rights.

        Then you have stuff like: “Collectivism demands that the group be more important than the individual. It requires the individual to sacrifice himself for the alleged good of the group. Although different from altruism, collectivism complements it well. Altruism demands sacrifice for others, collectivism demands sacrifice for the group. Collectivism leads to altruism.”

        Personally I prefer the bottom of the chart: Trust is placed in the group vs. Trust is placed in the individual.

        Skippy…burn the arm chairs… or all is lost… lmao.

        PS. libertarians stop telling your kids what to do[!], parents are collectivists[!], the universe is so collectivist! Planets, solar systems, etc, are under the influence of lager body’s! The Universe is unjust!

        PS. Thanks Phillip, your posts always brings out the fun crowd. Ta.

    2. Cris Kennedy

      It took you 8 paragraphs to say libertarianisn=nonsense=Social Darwinism=nonsense=bunkum.
      Is that all you’ve got?
      Why don’t you try to explain (and thereby understand) WHY you believe what you believe, and not just rustle up a bunch of words to describe an emotion that recurs in your brain over and over when you think of Ron Paul.

      1. Skippy

        Trust is placed in the group vs. Trust is placed in the individual.

        Skippy… are libertarians a group? lol.

    3. Fiver

      The Libertarians and far right-wing candidates have been rolled up and knocked out systematically over a period of 5 months. It was absolutely evident elite opinion had made a decision, like hitting a light switch. The threat they posed was to Republicans’ and Democrats’ ease of orchestration of key outcomes. Ron Paul is about to be bounced. And that’s it. They and the Tea Party are exiled. It’s not inconceivable their appearance was scripted in toto.

  29. Nomen Nescio

    I never read Ayn Rand or really knew anything other than she wrote a book. I just listen and pick who makes sense. No more wars? Sounds good to me. Decriminalize pot? Sounds good to me. I think the mistake is thinking us average Joe’s are all Bamboozeled by some Libertarian philosophy…


    1. Rex

      “I think the mistake is thinking us average Joe’s are all Bamboozeled by some Libertarian philosophy…”

      I guess you are saying that not ALL average Joes are bamboozeled by Libertarian philosophy. You seem OK with hearing a few things you like and ignoring the rest. Oh well. That worked pretty well for Obama. And it’s pretty much standard form for all candidates, now that I think about it.

  30. Jim

    Philip Pilkington stated: ‘…the libertarians are dangerous…yet they appeal to people at a very deep level. They appeal to a very real sense of longing for more substantial social relationships and less government meddling.”

    Marco at 11:15 stated: “From my vantage point here in San Francisco’s Mission District we have a large number of self-described community based organizations yet our community has no basis for organization….in the U.S. the activist class has been bought off with meal tickets at the non-profits and whatever labor unions remain.”

    Eleanor at 10:35 stated that “Here in Minnesota…a lot of services are already provided by NGO’s working under government contracts and with government grants…The problem with the system right now is, the nonprofits are not getting enough money from the government or private donors. The MMT plan would deal with this.”

    PQS at 11:25 stated that “…the idea that the state hollowed out our relationships and in stepped consumerism seems exactly backward…consumerism, big capital and big business bought the state too, it it could take over every aspect of our daily lives in the relentless pursuit of profits.”

    PQS, is it conceivable that cultural disintegration in the U.S. took place prior to the manipulation of consciousness by the market? Could it possibly be the case that cultural and political processes (i.e. the construction of a centralized state)precipitated the social disintegration
    necessary for the smooth functioning of consumerism and unlimited capitalist growth?

    Eleanor, is it conceivable that Minnesota, since its origin, can be seen historically as one of a number of states who have always had a relatively high proportion of its budget underwritten by federal funding? Did the Federal Government create Minnesota as well as Colorado and other land grant states in the process of expanding and penetrating the continent–being literally called into existence by the center–in contrast to the original 13?
    What have been the cultural, political and economic consequences of turning the original American federation into a modern nation-state?

    Marco it is fascinating to me that Obama was also a community organizer who eventually used his carefully cultivated connections to Big State and Big Capital to become the chief enforcer of an ever more centralized power.
    Where do the interests of much of the U.S. intelligentsia actually lie–with the nation-state or with their local communities?

    Philip, is it possible that many liberals and progressives label anything expressing popular sentiments unmediatized by certified intellectuals as short-sighted, dangerous and crazy and in the process destroy the originalty of people’s really exisiting cultures, traditions and customs?

    1. Skippy

      “originalty of people’s really exisiting cultures, traditions and customs?” – Jim

      Skippy… quite the stuffed bag there Jim. Originality is the best part, total vagary dressed up as some form of meaningful metric.

    2. marcos

      Smaller is better, I support decomposing the US into biogregional autonomous democratic republics.

  31. Zhu Bajie

    Under other names, Libertarianism got a good try in the 19th century and was found seriously wanting.

  32. Dan G

    Paul’s record (actions speak loUder than words) of consistency has no rivals in the current race. His stand against crony capitalism is refelcted in his policy on campaign contributions, and he has been this way for years.
    The system has become soo corrupted, we need massive change that only Paul offers. There is no way that the kleptocratic oligarchy would allow funds to be taken from the military industrial complex to give to states for jobs. If they did, more than half would end up wasted on the legal bribes of lobbyists, insiders and politicians; and if not from the military, where would the funds come from?
    No matter who gets elected, the coming years will see world depression because of the tremendous leverage used in the current fiat system. The destruction of currency has led to incredible inflation over the past 40 years. The crony cpaitalism, the overleveraged destruction of currency,and the war mongering for energy have made you believe, Phil, that kleptocratic capitalism in the form of bankers like Romney or flip flopper carreer politicans like Gingrich could possibly save the union. They would just kick the status quo can down the road till the next implosion.
    It will be bad no matter who getrs in, but Paul offers some genuine reform of a system that is broken.

  33. rps

    From Ron Paul’s website: Dr. Paul’s…belief that life begins at conception, and he believes it would be inconsistent for him to champion personal liberty and a free society if he didn’t also advocate respecting the God-given right to life—for those born and unborn…….

    Immediately saving lives by effectively repealing Roe v. Wade and preventing activist judges from interfering with state decisions on life by removing abortion from federal court jurisdiction through legislation modeled after his “We the People Act.”

    * Defining life as beginning at conception by passing a “Sanctity of Life Act.”

    The Ron Paul elephant in the room is his status quo privileged white male superiority complex in the oppression of women as the accepted norm. His self-aggrandizing argument is against women’s self-ownership and independence. Do women have the inalienable right to self-govern their bodies as granted to men? Are women not sentient beings, able to think independently, make informative decisions, and live life without male dictates, controls, and interference of our bodily functions? Men do not need to defend their autonomy yet women must fight for autonomy and ownership of their bodies.

    Women voting for Ron Paul is like the slave voting for the master or worse back alleys and wirecoat hanger abortions.

  34. Aquifer

    It seems to me that, in the end, or the beginning, depending on how you look at it, there is politics – the process by which we organize our affairs as a society. And the mechanisms of politics are, literally, fleshed out, through individual human beings. How these humans function in their appointed tasks depends on so many factors, of which theory is just one.

    So, as we discuss RP and other public figures who seek to assume positions of power – i suppose it may be useful to discuss the various abstractions that may, or may not, guide their actions, but ultimately it is a unique combination of many factors that determines how they will behave – so i think, although it may be useful to describe so and so as a such and such – the bottom line is how will that particular person approach this particular issue or set of issues. All “libertarians”, e.g., or “liberals” or “conservatives” for that matter, are not created equal and they will not behave the same in similar circumstances – so i guess my rather more simple, and considerably less erudite, approach is to try to figure out, for practical purposes, what this dude or gal would do if we gave him/her power, for, in the end, the effect on our lives will depend on the individual proclivities of that particular soul seeking political substance. All this by way of saying that is why i focus on the importance of picking the right (as in correct) person, more than the right “philosophy” for the job at hand, for it will be the person and not the philosophy that “makes the rules” ….

    Just a thought ….

  35. Fiver

    Glenn Greenwald’s had an excellent piece a couple weeks back (possible what prompted PP to pen this piece) that makes clear that it is beyond hypocritical for so many who view themselves as “liberal” or “progressive” to go for Paul’s throat rather than target those who we KNOW are to be despised, because they have engaged in despicable acts – like most everyone in the current Admin, for example:

  36. JohnT

    Once again Pilkington is confused. Let’s pass over the work of Lasch to start with the statement “The libertarians answer to this (i.e. his own delusion that the economy would be significantly reduced if people were able to freely exchange good and services for their mutual self-benefit WITHOUT government interference)? As is so often the case with the libertarians it is a Leap of Faith. They believe that if government gets off peoples’ backs the economy will self-generate”. I guess he has never read about the American Revolution in the late 18th century which had EXACTLY what he thinks has never existed!?!

    And what does he propose as a solution, the biggest government program ever concocted, the Jobs Guarantee Program!?! Who will decide what products and services are needed? The government bureaucrat!?! Because of course, the government bureaucrat is sooooo knowledgeable about all things big and small that THEY are able to figure it out!!! Hmmmm…. I seem to remember these ideas being shot down MORE THAN 100 YEARS AGO by Mises as well as Hayek. But no matter! Pilkington knows soooo little about economics and especially libertarian economics (as he seems to believe in the Marxian view of the labor theory of value – again shot down by Mises – or to say in another way Pilkington believes that even when someone spends time developing and building say a Microsoft Zune, it has REAL value that can be measured because they used their labor on it despite the fact that NOONE wants to buy it!?!).

    And the best of all is he ends his discourse by stating that it is only by Big Government issuing fiat money (i.e. counterfeiting) can the resources be efficiently used by the economy!?! But that begs the question, haven’t they been doing just that in bigger and bigger quantities for the last hundred years and where has that left us?

    1. marcos

      Libertarianism is a lot like Stalinism, each has been tried in general in many instances, in a few cases each has been pushed to its limits and failed.

      Demoratically residents of a community can come together to decide on how to use its monetary sovereignty, no government bureaucrats, no authoritarian corporations, just neighbors in a room working through the trade offs and coming to an agrement.

      Democratic power over economics really scares Libertarians and proves Marx correct in one aspect, that they agree that it is impossible for a capitalist economic base to support any legal and political superstructure that is not capitalism, that is a capatalist economy commands a capitalist government.

      Mises and Marx, together at last.

  37. Jack Straw

    I cut my philosophical teeth learning to swim in some pretty strong Straussian soup, and yes, I swore a blood oath of undying war on social science. No sooner had I done that, than I overheard (more-or-less reverential) conversations in the inner-sanctum about Freud, Weber, Neitzsche, Rawls, and how Locke had lied!

    Rep. Paul, in my opinion, is a good-enough guy. He has a decades-long record of standing firm for his way of thinking. He’s given it a pretty commendable 4-plus year run advocating for his way of thinking. He’s built a national network of support. He’s had a self-selected, filtered audience, where 90-plus percent of the ideas and arguments made (limited government, fiscal rectitude, economic growth, tax policy, entitlement reform, etc,) could be heard on Rush and Hannity or their local counterparts’ shows, or read in the WSJ, Forbes, Washington Times, Red State, Drudge, and often enough in Newsweek, Washington Post, New York Times, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, and occasionally in the New Republic or Harpers.

    It’s not as if Rep. Paul is making arguments that don’t have large receptive audiences, or at least audiences who would adamantly claim to be receptive to them. But how do you explain a third-place finish? I don’t think it’s because he’s a jerk like fellow Pittsburgher Sen. Santorum (go Steelers!!!!!) – even if many of his true believer followers kinda are.

    Actually, I think it is that the vague Republican variety of libertarianism is pretty much hot air. It’s popular ONLY so long as it’s vague. The 79% percent of Iowa caucus-goers who didn’t vote for Rep. Paul surely have a very high percentage of folks who are concerned about intrusive big government, high taxes, the EPA, property rights, etc. I mean where was the candidate who was explicitly in favor or more government, higher taxes, better environmental regulation?

    While this may be an unfair generalization, for every Ron Paul caucus voter in Iowa who wants to abolish the Fed, there’s another like the guy at the Rick Perry town hall that wants a law to put an end to food packaging labels that include non-English (h/t Prof. Black). Republican operatives believe its more than one-to-one – more like 79/21 more “guys.” Maybe this ratio improves in New Hampshire, but I would expect it to revert to its historical level in South Carolina and elsewhere, where it represents maybe 10% of the public – same as it ever was. (Math show: if Republican voters are 1/2 of all voters, and Rep. Paul gets 21% of them, then it’s 10.5% of all voters. Pretty crude, I know, but I did swear an oath against this type of analysis).

    One final point: liberalism or whatever you want to call New Deal-friendly politics has a huge practical problem, and that is so much of the public works agenda of the WPA, for example, is extremely hard to get done anymore. Vaguely, it may be very popular. But as the goals become specific, like highway expansion, sports stadiums, public transit, public space of any kind, it takes forever to get anything decided, let alone built. Plenty of folks above mentioned aspects of this, but the idea of “public work” seems less susceptible of consensus than ever.

    But, I’m hopeful …

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