Advice for Ron Paul’s Campaign

Written by Dr. Walter Block, professor of economics at Loyola University – featured by Lew Rockwell (September 30, 2011)

Ron Paul is doing just fine in his campaign. He is promoting liberty at a magnificent clip. He is converting people to libertarianism en masse, perhaps more so than any other person in the entire history of the planet (with the possible exception of Ayn Rand; however, she abjured the libertarian philosophy, while Dr. Paul embraces it enthusiastically).

So, Congressman Paul certainly doesn’t need any advice from me. Will that stop me from offering him some? Of course not. Lack of knowledge and expertise (as my critics tell me time and time again) never stopped me from mouthing off, and it won’t this time either.

On the other hand, I am fully aware that in the matter of politics, the only libertarian congressman from Texas is the master, and I am but a humble student. Yet, sometimes, out of the mouths of babes come interesting thoughts. And, also, brainstorming never hurts, even if only one out of a thousand off-the-wall ideas has any merit. So, it is in this self-effacing spirit that I offer some food for thought for the Ron Paul rEVOLution.

I. Send out an open letter to all other candidates for the Republican nomination, along these lines:

Dear fellow candidates for the Republican nomination:
In order to rectify the wildly unjust situation, I suggest the following (I am open to all friendly amendments):The present format for our debates is unfair; some competitors are given way more of a chance to speak than others. Imagine if Usain Bolt were given a five yard head start because he is expected by the judges to be the winner of the race; posit that Michael Phelps were allowed to start swimming a few seconds earlier than his competitors on this ground. The officials responsible for such outrages would be summarily fired, not to say lynched by sports fans. And yet that isprecisely what occurs in these debates for the Republican nomination for president. These umpires, too, ought to be severely rebuked.

1. Equal time be allotted to all competitors (what could be fairer than that?)

2. Our positions on the podium be determined by lottery

3. The order in which we are asked questions be determined by a coin flip

4. We all be treated as equally in every other way as are the runners in the 100 meter race at the starting line, and all throughout the race.

As soon as XX numbers of us sign this petition, we publicize this fact, and, agree not to be on the same stage as those who refuse to sign it.

Yours truly,
Ron Paul

II. Social security

This is obviously just a first draft, but, I’m sure you get my gist. Romney and Perry, I expect, will at least initially refuse to sign this Open Letter; the others will likely do so. Perhaps those two can be embarrassed into signing it. If not, I think that Ron will benefit from allowing those two to debate each other alone all by their lonesome, provided there is enough of a chance that a debate of all the signatories to this Letter will actually occur on prime time TV, and be more popular. On the positive side of this suggestion, the American people, I think (well, I hope) have some sort of sense of justice and fair play. When this open letter is publicized (of course not in the mainstream media, at least at first – thank God for the internet), my hope and expectation is that there will be sufficient howls of outrage against the MSM, and Romney and Perry for not signing on (if they do not). On the other hand, there is some real danger that the MSM will jettison all other candidates, and conduct their future interviews with Perry and Romney alone, as is their heartfelt desire.

The radical libertarian position on this institution is clear. Not only is it a Ponzi scheme, but it is a compulsory one. It ought to be ended, forthwith, and all payments stopped. What about the elderly retirees? They are the victims. They should sue those responsible for foisting this system on them, but should not collect a penny more, ever, from the long suffering taxpayer, for to do so would be to violate the rights of the innocent. (Full disclosure here; at 70 years of age, I now collect social security payments. I support the ending of this scheme, but am not at all about to decline my own checks for reasons mentioned herehereherehereherehereherehereherehere and here.) What should be done about the perpetrators of social security? They should be treated roughly in the manner meted out to Bernie Madoff.

There is of course a more moderate position, at least roughly compatible with libertarianism: end social security now!, but in an altogether different, less radical, manner: do not enroll any new people on it. Allow all others now on the books to stop their payment contributions forthwith if they wish to sever their relationship with it. As for the others, enable them to continue, and pay retirees what they have been promised.
It should be emphasized, moreover, that in addition to the unsavory financial elements of this system, it tends to weaken and even break up the family. And, the family, a strong united family, is the backbone of our country. In the days before social security, the common practice was for middle aged people to take care of their parents, with the full expectation that their own children would return the favor to them. But with the government thrust into this situation (whether federal or state it matters not) these familial bonds are weakened. Even did not social security constitute fraud and theft, it ought be ended on that ground alone.It has been said that “gradualism in theory is perpetuity in practice.” Well, perhaps not in this case. Present enrollees and recipients will be grandfathered in, and this pernicious system will continue, for them, but, eventually it will end, starting right now. In that sense, this proposal is “gradualistic.” But, in refusing to bring any young people into this Ponzi scheme, it will start to end immediately.

III. Drugs

The radical position on drugs is clear. End. The. Prohibition. Now! And, again, imprison all of those responsible for perpetrating it, as the non violent prisoners of this victimless crime are freed. And, while we’re at it (right after ending the Fed) end the FDA. This latter institution will not even allow those on their last legs to take a crap shoot with experimental drugs. For shame.

In the free society, the FDA would be supplanted with a competitive certification industry filled with the medical and pharmaceutical equivalents of Fitch, Standard and Poor, Kosher foods, the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, Consumer Reports, Moodys, etc.

But, there is a moderate libertarian position open to Ron Paul as well: “Immediately upon becoming president, I will legalize marijuana, and release all prisoners who are guilty of using or trafficking in, this drug.” (I haven’t got the foggiest notion of whether or not the president of the U.S. has this power. I don’t care about that either. Let the politicos wrestle with that one. I am an ignoramus on these sorts of issues. My only goal here is to promote liberty. This is what shouldhappen, whether it can or not.)

IV. Gary Johnson
If asked to distinguish himself from the “libertarianism” of Governor Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, the next president of the U.S. (boy, I like the sound of that) could say the following:

“Unlike the Democratic wing of the Republican Party (Perry and Romney) we in the libertarian wing of the GOP do not relish the idea of interminably arguing back and forth over Who Said What, When and Where. Rather, we focus instead onideas for liberty. And in this vein I welcome Governor Johnson to the podium. He, too, supports the constitution, free enterprise, limited government, legalized drugs and a purely defensive foreign policy. Gary may well take some libertarian Republican votes away from me, but I am delighted that he is here at my side since he also promotes liberty.”

Now, I realize that Ron will never in a million years say anything like that. He is simply too much of a gentleman to bash Perr-ney (hey, that’s Perry and Romney combined; get it?). But, I couldn’t resist offering this advice to him. Also, I have no idea whether or not it would be wise to be so supportive of Johnson. For an alternative view on that, see here. I offer this one, and all these other ideas, in the spirit of brain storming, only.

P.S. I saw Ron Paul at the Campaign for Liberty recently held in Reno. His speech there brought tears to my eyes. I love this man.


6 thoughts on “Advice for Ron Paul’s Campaign

  1. So I promise to avoid commenting on everything that gets posted about Ron Paul, but in reading this article I would like to add on to Dr. Block’s advice: give serious consideration to everything you say before you say it.

    It has been less than 24 hours since Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in Yemen. This is the same man who, in speaking of his response to US aggression against Islamic countries, said:

    “I eventually came to the conclusion that jihad against America is binding upon myself, just as it is binding on every other able Muslim.”

    Article III, Section 3, Paragraph 1 of the Constitution defines treason as follows: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

    Now, does Ron Paul have a point in saying that an American citizen deserves a fair trial? Sure. Do I see the danger in endorsing government action against US citizens without due process. Absolutely! But practically speaking, al-Awlaki has confessed to treason by way of live, recorded and written messages. He has chosen to wage war against the United States during a time of war (I know it sounds redundant, but it matters). He is a leader of a group of unlawful enemy combatants and therefore not protected by the laws set forth in the 3rd Geneva Convention. He was killed, and I believe that the world (not just the US) is safer because of it.

    To get to the point, why did Ron stick his neck out on THIS issue. I fully understand his point on purely ideological terms, but I question his judgement here as I questioned his judgement for making ANY statement, WHATEVER the context, about considering the abortion-loving Dennis Kucinich for a cabinet position.

    Many of Ron Paul’s ideas would do so much good in this country, but I fear that statements like this will continue to keep him from having the opportunity to implement them and will continue to reinforce his status as an “unelectable” candidate. It makes me sad: I really like the guy.

  2. Michael,
    Thanks for your comment.
    You failed, however, to complete your quotation from the Constitution. Article III, Section III goes on to say, “No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.” Note that this section of the Constitution addresses the judicial powers of the Supreme Court. Unless the justices pulled the trigger or pushed the button after his trial took place, what happened was the assassination of a U.S. citizen without a trial and in violation of the Constitution.

    Now, I do agree that Ron Paul is unlikely to win political points for his position, but that should frighten us for the political landscape. Republicans and Democrats alike will likely never even consider what actually happened here. They will simply applaud and pat themselves on the back over his death. Don’t get me wrong, I agree that al-Awlaki was a hideous man and don’t doubt that the world is better off without him. But if we do not follow the Constitution, what protection do we have when the government defines “bad man” a little differently?

  3. Point taken, and I agree that there are significant concerns that must be addressed whenever we give the government the authority to kill one of its own without trial. That being said, one could argue that al-Awlaki was only a US citizen because any attempt he would have made to revoke his own citizenship would have resulted in his arrest, conviction and possible execution. After all, in order to renounce one’s citizenship you must appear in person in a consulate or embassy and sign an oath of renunciation. If I’m at war with another entity, the last thing I’d ever do is voluntarily give myself up to be killed.

    I think you also have to admit that it isn’t as though al-Awlaki was sitting in his suburban US residence when, out of nowhere, he was picked off by a drone. He left the country, joined and eventually helped lead al-Qaeda, and engaged in planned warfare against the United States. Would Ron Paul be as upset if, in the course of al-Awlaki’s attempt to kill a soldier, he were shot? Is there a difference in war between killing a man while he is in the process of killing others and killing him in between his having killed some and planning to kill others?

    And what of our justice system? You have already pointed out in your entries regarding capital punishment that our justice system is incapable of appropriately administering the penalty of death. Is the answer then to bring this man to trial, convict him and then spend millions of taxpayer dollars supporting his physical well-being until he perishes?

    In my opinion, as little as it is worth, Anwar al-Awlaki was only a citizen of the United States by way of a technicality. His actions from 9/11 onward were an ongoing testimony to his renunciation of his citizenship, and he deserved no more rights under the law than any other military combatant. There is a difference between what it meant for the government to do what it did to al-Awlaki and what it would mean for the government to do that to you or me. Failing to recognize that is, I believe, a little naive on Dr. Paul’s part. Just my opinion…take it with a grain of salt:)

  4. Thanks again Michael.

    Let me answer by pointing out a couple of things. First, there is no such thing as citizenship “by technicality.” We do not “revoke” citizenship simply because someone breaks the law – even in a really big way. To allow for that would allow for the government to revoke all of the rights of citizenship and due process to any criminal, so long as public opinion was with them. By the way, your argument would pave the way for revoking citizenship for anyone perceived of as an “enemy of the state.” Perhaps even me for questioning this particular circumstance (I know that’s not what you’re saying).

    Second, yes, the drone attack in Yemen was different than a drone attack in the U.S., but only because people would be more upset if it happened here. Remember, he was riding in a car when he was killed. The knew full well where he was. If they could pinpoint him, they should try to apprehend him. If he shot at them, then have full right to kill him. They do not have the right to intentionally kill, in premeditated fashion, a man who was still a citizen (whether we like it or not) and had not been formally charged, never given a trial. They never even tried to apprehend him!

    As for our judicial system, I agree that it is in disarray, but it is in disarray because they have forgotten the Constitution. The mess they have made doesn’t mean we should let them make a bigger mess.

    The Founding Fathers wrote these protections for a reason and they had to put it in practice quite quickly – the Revolutionary War, in fact. Besides, if we leave the Constitution behind because “times have changed” or circumstances are different, then we have a “living document” that can be used to say anything.

    In my mind, however, the biggest question is, what do you gain by letting the government do this? In other words, by my argument, you have to have a trial and you preserve the Constitution – he still ends up dead. In your argument, what is gained? The Constitution is ignored, a man is dead, a precedent for such killings is set, and one more right of citizenship is removed.

  5. All good points. It is a difficult case by all means. I just wish Ron Paul hadn’t stuck his neck out there on this one. He and Kucinich the Weasel are tag-teaming this issue tonight (again, why, why, why). How much of this is done for the purpose of making headlines is hard to tell. Thanks for the feedback. Be on the look out in the skies: you never know where the drones are:)

  6. I do agree that this is a tough case and, perhaps, that Ron Paul did stick his neck out. He’s being consistent, but it could cost him some support.

    As for Kucinich, I’m not a big fan either, but his views of the Constitution do mirror many of Paul’s. The abortion is a big difference, but at least putting him in the Cabinet means no vote for him in the Senate. I would guess he would work with foreign policy or something.

    Yep, apparently we don’t know who the drones will come for next! 🙂

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