Ron Paul at UVUBy: Mormon Heretic
In case you thought that Mitt Romney had unanimous support in Utah, you may be surprised to find out that Ron Paul was given rock star treatment at Utah Valley University a few weeks ago. KSL noted that Ron Paul supporters turn out in droves for speech at UVU.
You may wonder why I attended a Ron Paul rally. The fact is that presidential candidates usually skip Utah to campaign, because it is a foregone conclusion that Utahns will vote for the Republican candidate. (The last time Utah voted for a democrat was in 1964 for Lyndon B. Johnson.) It is true that Romney and Obama have visited Utah, but these visits were strictly fundraising dinners closed to the public. I wanted to see a presidential candidate in Utah, even if he is not on the ballot, and I wanted to see Ron Paul for myself. Frankly, I was astonished at the boisterous reception he received. I didn’t know UVU was a bastion of libertarianism.
Ron Paul runs a different campaign. His campaign is the “Love Revolution.” He is really trying to start a revolution, and he’s not dissuaded by the lack of support. He noted that few Americans supported the revolution, yet threw off British rule anyway. He feels the same can happen with his campaign of libertarianism. He even said that liberals support some of his ideas, such as his strong support for civil liberties.
Points of agreement
There are things that Ron Paul talks about that I support, and his support of civil liberties of something that resonates with me. I do find it ironic that republicans claim to support small government, but have no qualms about supporting big government invasive airport scanners that virtually strip search passengers. On this point I agree with Ron Paul. We have given away much of our civil liberties and freedom in the attempt to thwart terrorism. I am encouraged at reports that some of these scanners are being removed from airports.
Ron Paul wants to repeal the Defense Authorization act. He hates this whole idea that presidents can assume responsibilities and powers, creating kill lists, that allows for the assassination of citizens. The act gives president authority to arrest anyone, put them in prison without a trial, and they can be held indefinitely. He noted that there are arguments that the law has not been used, but Ron Paul is skeptical. He says that the law starts a little, but the principle allows it to grow when economy gets worse. We should look at other countries. We won’t be immune. Our job is important. It is up to us to understand freedom, and not to succumb to temptations.
Ron Paul questions the war on drugs. I think this is a fair question. Is the war on drugs working? Would it be better to legalize and regulate drugs? Would legalizing marijuana, cocaine, and other drugs, and regulating them out of a “state liquor store” be a better option, rather than filling our jails with drug addicts? Would it be better to collect taxes on pot growers, rather than not? I think these are questions worth exploring.
Ron approaches it from a different perspective than I do. I want to look at this issue from an effectiveness point of view. Are there more effective ways to deal with drug addiction? I think throwing addicts in jail does not solve the problem, and trains criminals to be better criminals, rather than helping them. (I suspect Ron Paul agrees with me on this point.) But Mr. Paul approaches this from a personal responsibility point of view. He says that some people worry that if you endorse freedom for individual, they might do things you don’t approve of. Yes that is true, but it is not our responsibility to regulate others unless it hurts them. Some bad habits hurt people and they should assume the responsibility. Ron Paul says that they should suffer consequences.
I think Paul’s point of view is a bit simplistic. Some people may say that doing drugs only hurts themselves. In some cases, that may be the case. However, when people do drugs (or alcohol), have sex, get pregnant, that drug or alcohol now affects a soon to be born child that will require intense medical care. Babies are born with fetal alcohol syndrome, or addicted to drugs. Now, society needs to decide what to do with this child. Do we let the child die because the parents were so irresponsible? Do we try to rescue the child?
If we choose rescue, there is a good chance that the child will suffer learning disabilities. There is a good chance the child will suffer psychological problems. There is a good chance the child will need to turn to a life of crime in order to survive. There is a good chance the child will repeat the bad decisions of the parents. So, I don’t think that it can be argued that the parents choice to do drugs only affects themselves. It affects their children, and that affects crime against you and me. Just what are the consequences that we should impose upon parents who get high and get pregnant?
Ron Paul wants us to get out of Afghanistan. This does resonate with me, but I don’t know how practical it is. Ron Paul says that American foreign policy is bad. We prop up bad governments, and there are litanies of examples we can give. We supported Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war. We supported Osama bin Ladin in Afghanistan’s war with the Soviets in the late 1970s and 1980s. We supported Egyptian President Mubarak until his people turned against him. These are just 3 examples anyone can cite to show that American foreign policy often gets to pick from a bunch of bad choices. Would Paul have supported the Ayatollah instead of Saddam? Was it wise to allow the Soviets to invade Afghanistan unimpeded? Now that the Muslim Brotherhood has taken over Egypt, is that a better option than Mubarak? I think it’s easy to criticize, but what exactly would Paul have done differently?
Where Ron Paul loses me is his talk of ending the federal reserve (which brought boisterous chants at UVU “End the Fed!”) and returning to the gold standard. Ron Paul said that the federal reserve causes inflation (he may be right there), and he assailed Keynesian economics, but honestly, would returning to the gold standard really bring more stability to the economy? Wikipedia lists the depressions and recessions in U.S. history. Let’s compare the number of economic depressions (I’ll ignore recessions or the list would be too long) prior to the implementation of the federal reserve when the country was on the gold standard.
- Panic of 1797
- Depression of 1807-1810
- Depression of 1815-21
- Recession of 1836-1838 (this led to the Kirtland Banking Crisis)
- Panic of 1857
- Panic of 1873-1879
- Panic of 1893
- Panic of 1896
- Panic of 1907
- Panic of 1910-1911
Creation of the Federal Reserve December 1913
- Depression of 1920-21
- Great Depression 1929-33
Ok, so which era looks more stable to you: Gold standard or Federal Reserve Era? We haven’t had a depression since 1933. Hmmmm, my money says the federal reserve appears to be more stable. Really, what makes Ron Paul think that the gold standard is all that and a bag of chips?
Now, I’d love to hear any persuasive arguments. One of the things that tires me about political posts almost anywhere is that the discussion is dominated by a few people. Please don’t dominate the discussion (especially W, J, and D). What are your thoughts about libertarianism and Ron Paul?