Recently a regular Midtopia reader who I greatly respect took me to task in this post for curtly dismissing Ron Paul as a nutty libertarian. It’s a fair point, so I decided to go into detail about why I think Paul is too far out there to be considered a good presidential candidate.
I think Ron Paul is great in some respects. I’ve got enough libertarian leanings that I voted for Jesse Ventura, and I certainly respect Paul’s commitment to principles. But I think he often follows those principles out the window. Further, he’s a strongly conservative libertarian, with whom I disagree on substantive policy issues.
Let’s just go through the positions he admits to holding, on his campaign web site:
He opposes free-trade agreements as infringements on American sovereignity. He specifically sees NAFTA as part of a master plan to form a North American Union with Canada and Mexico. He opposes the International Criminal Court, World Trade Organization, GATT, etc. He in effect opposes any practical agreement that will work in a multilateral world, where the only way you make progress is if you get buy in — and enforceability — from dozens or hundreds of nations. He also opposes nearly all forms of foreign aid, which besides providing humanitarian benefits is a crucial diplomatic tool.
He’s strongly anti-immigration, which is fine, and his proposals aren’t actually nutty. But he elides over the cost of his plan, and I think his proposal to “eliminate welfare for illegal aliens” will have unintended and self-damaging consequences, particularly because he defines “welfare” as using hospitals, schools and roads, as well as social services.
DEBT AND TAXES
He supports low taxes and low spending, but he fetishizes the former as an absolute good and doesn’t spell out how he’s going to cut spending. He opposes the Federal Reserve system, mirroring conspiracy and gold-bug arguments that misunderstand the nature and function of the system and the money supply. He would return us to a gold standard, which is good for retirees but bad for economic growth unless it is jiggered to be essentially a fiat currency system like the one he decries.
(continued over at Midtopia)