Saturday, December 31, 2011

Why Republicans Must Choose Ron Paul

Every single election, the Republicans make the same sales pitch to independent libertarian voters: this election is so critical, support us in this, and maybe later once the enemy is defeated we can maybe support issues that are important to you.

It is an offer that will never be reciprocated. In the odd even that a Libertarian candidate is the stronger candidate, the Republican Party has no intention of ever supporting that candidate. Although Massachusetts senate races are usually decided by a 2-1 ratio in favor of the Democrat candidate, in 2002 when there was no Republican candidate the Libertarian candidate only received 18% of the vote. There is no evidence of Republican support.

Progressives like to make rhetorical use of the alleged sympathy between libertarians and conservatives, and one of their few offered proofs is Ron Paul and his election to the House of Representatives as a Republican instead of as a Libertarian or Democrat. The treatment of Representative Paul by the Republican Party should be sufficient disproof of that point, but facts do not interfere with that rhetorical usage.

Further disproof of that sympathy is shown by the upcoming Iowa caucus. The Republican Party leadership has come out strongly against Ron Paul winning that caucus, to the point where they have threatened to strip Iowa of their "first in the nation" status if Paul wins, and have even moved the counting over alleged threats from Occupy.

If Representative Paul does win Iowa, the threats are there for the whole Republican establishment to come out and attack him. It is unknown what will happen if Representative Paul manages to pick up a majority of delegates, although it does appear they have a plan in place to discount the effect of all delegates from early states.

If the nomination is actually stolen from Representative Paul, if it is given to Mitt Romney, that would be an absolute proof that the "big tent" ceased to exist years ago and that the whole "Libertarian Republican" meme is nothing but a charade designed to fool libertarians into wasting their votes with Republicans and to give rhetorical ammunition to progressives.

If the Republicans want to keep up the sales pitch to libertarians, they have to allow Representative Paul to win. The alternative is to stop pretending there is a big tent, to stop pretending that there is anything in common between libertarianism and the Republican Party, and to lose the race by losing Ron Paul. If the Republican Party wants a future, they must choose Ron Paul.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Don't do it Gary

Right now there is intense speculation (in libertarian circles) about Republican Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson and a possible move from the Republican Party to the Libertarian Party to seek the presidential nomination.

That would be a bad idea.

Yes, Governor Johnson has reason to feel slighted. The press is giving much more coverage to all the other two-term governor candidates than to Governor Johnson, and he is being snubbed from the debates in spite of having polling numbers similar to other two-term governor candidates. The second debate that he was invited to was to see if the press could get him to attack Representative Ron Paul on who is more libertarian, and when Governor Johnson refused to play that game the press lost all interest.

Governor Johnson entered the race hoping to be the "Ron Paul of 2012" but when Representative Paul entered the race the two had to compete for the same initial slice of support, donations, and votes. While followers of one would generally be content with the other, a choice had to be made factoring in both the credentials of the candidates and the likelihood of making it through the primaries. The public settled on Representative Paul as the one most likely to have an impact in the 2012 race.

But that is not a reason to quit. Representative Paul has indicated that if he does not receive the nomination in 2012 he will retire from politics. If Governor Johnson sticks through with the Republican Party he can go in four years from ignored to a prominent voice, much the way Representative Paul did from 2007 to 2011. He will have shown the determination to pick up where Representative Paul has left off and move forward from there.

However, if he leaves to join the Libertarian Party and seek the presidential nomination there are many problems associated with doing so. The first of such problems is that the Libertarian Party is NOT a dumping ground for disaffected Republicans. The Libertarian Party of Alaska was wise enough to say no to Lisa Murkowski, and the Libertarian Party of Rhode Island was wise enough to say no to Daniel Gordon.

But the Libertarian Party was not wise enough to rebuff conservative Bob Barr, with whom Governor Johnson will be repeatedly compared. This is a comparison that will not go well considering that Governor Johnson's views on war are reported to be not as pure as those of Representative Paul's views. It is true that Governor Johnson initially supported the war in Afghanistan, but does not currently do so. It is also true that Governor Johnson wants to tie United States foreign policy to another country. A foreign policy of non-intervention is core to libertarianism. Given how both the Republican Party (except for Ron Paul) and the Democratic Party are pro-war, being pro-peace is very critical for anyone who would be as much of a spokesperson as the presidential nominee.

And on the issue of peace and war, the person who appears to be doing the most to bring Governor Johnson into the Libertarian Party is pro-war soi disant libertarian spokesperson Wayne Allyn Root, Bob Barr’s former running mate on the libertarian ticket in 2008. Perhaps Governor Johnson doesn’t know just how controversial Wayne Root is within the Libertarian Party, and how much his endorsement can actually hurt Governor Johnson within the party.

Riding on Bob Barr's coattails and being associated with Wayne Root - that is not the way to make a grand entrance into Libertarian Party politics. Doing so after not gaining ground in the Republican Party does damage to the image of the Libertarian Party with all of the false associations the press creates between the two parties. It would be a bad idea, both for Governor Johnson and for the Libertarian Party, for Governor Johnson to seek the Libertarian Party nomination.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

This is not a victory for Obama

When Senator Obama ran for the presidency he promised, among other things, to end the Iraq war. Upon achieving the office, President Obama made it very clear that he had no intention of keeping that promise. It was the peace vote that formed a very solid vote in his favor, even though Candidate Obama had promised to escalate hostilities in Afghanistan. He did promise to end the occupation of Iraq, and won a Nobel Peace Prize for the achievement of being someone other than George W. Bush.

The final insult to those who vainly supported President Obama in the hope that he might, eventually, possibly keep his Iraq promise was when he declared that all "combat troops" were leaving Iraq, and that the 50,000 remaining troops were "non-combat troops." It was a clear signal that President Obama had absolutely no intention of even pretending to end the occupation of Iraq.

Since then, the Iraqi government has directed the United States government to withdraw all troops.

This puts the United States government in an awkward position. The rhetoric is that the current government of Iraq is legitimate and democratically elected. This legitimate and democratic government voted that the United States military should depart. If the United States government refuses the directive it puts to lie many of the already shallow claims about the Iraq war.

So in spite of not wanting troops to depart, in spite of all his efforts to keep troops in Iraq, President Obama has reluctantly decided to declare victory instead. He is claiming that he worked to keep his campaign promise, when the truth is that the promise was kept in spite of his best efforts otherwise.

The broader implications of this move are yet to be determined, as Iraq is a central launching ground for attacks throughout most of the Middle East and obviously a front in the evitable war with Iran.

Sadly, most of the Republican candidates will likely not only allow the lie by President Obama, but will encourage it. Their rhetoric will be that President Obama withdrew troops too early and is leaving behind a fragile Iraq, so that they may appear to be strong and determined on foreign use of the military. Only one candidate, Ron Paul, has the credentials to actually challenge President Obama on the actual facts of the Iraq withdrawal.

It is a good thing that the Iraq war is finally ending. It is unfortunate that President Obama will get credit for achieving that which he opposed simply because he happened to be in office at the right time.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Economic Principles outside Economics

Although most people would deny it, economic principles apply in many areas of human life, beyond the labor market and the shopping market. Most people do not think of it in this way, but exchanges of value occur in every aspect of life. Perhaps that is why Ludwig von Mises referred to the subject as "Praxeology" instead of "Economics" because Praxeology is the study of human action. Praxeology studies what people do, in contrast to Psychology which studies what people think.

The simple act of who a person chooses as a friend to spend time with is in this sense an economic decision. When a person chooses a friend, the person says "you have sufficient value to me that I consider you worthy of the investment in time and emotion." As Ayn Rand noted, a person would not choose a friend who does not reflect the values of that person, but this can be expanded through an economic perspective.

A person would not invest with someone beneath them, and would be unlikely to achieve that investment from someone far above them. Of course value is relative, so therefore the terms "above" and "beneath" are relative as well, so that statement does not imply that there is an objective system of values that says some people are intrinsically better than others.

This is even more true in more intimate relationships. It is true that if someone were desperate enough that a sexual partner could be easily found, but there are many who would never lower themselves to the necessary level simply for some physical satisfaction. A persons body is a commodity that is not shared freely, but is instead traded with those who a person feels worthy of the trade.

Social activities outside of work and family reflect economic decisions as well. Some people are involved in religious activities, others in athletics, others in community artistic endeavors, and yet others in politics. The choice one makes are an investment of time at the expense of the opportunity cost of other activities.

This isn’t news to anyone who has studied the basics of economics, which includes all libertarians. Why therefore does it need to be stated? Because while most people have various economic beliefs other than laissez faire, they do not practice those other beliefs in their own lives. And their failure to do so, and what they actually practice, should be noted to them.

There are some ways this is done contrasting capitalism and socialism, such as various stories about students sharing grades. But that fails to capture the full range of economic ideologies, leaving out most notably Kenyesian and Welfarist economics. That leaves only the question of how one would apply those decision making theories to the decisions that take place outside of the labor market and the shopping market.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

The Progressives Did It to Themselves

It is a rather humorous take on Occupy Wall Street - the corporations control the government, so therefore we need more government to control the corporations. It would seem to indicate a flaw in progressive thinking, if the goal of progressivism was to regulate the economy for the benefit of the people.

But a look at history, when liberals and progressives were considered to be something different instead of today's misunderstanding which considers them the same, reveals a different picture of what progressives stand for and why.

When the so-called "Gilded Age" gave way to the "Progressive Era" the succession of William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft show the actual motives of the progressives, and why they actually sought to increase government power in spite of claims that it was for the good of the masses.

A significant portion of United States history can be explained by the conflict between the Rockefeller family and the Morgan family, with each family backing political candidates. The goal was to use the government to attack the interests of the other. Theodore Roosevelt was sponsored by, and acted for, the Morgan family. William McKinley and William Howard Taft were candidates of the Rockefeller family.

With all three, the appeal was made to give the government more regulatory powers, while the motive was to use those powers to attack the interests of the other family.

Libertarians and progressives both have a product to sell, and the target audience of both is liberals. Right now progressives are the more successful salesmen. They know how to frame their ideas in terms that appeal to liberals. They are able to frame the issues more successfully, because control for the sake of control isn't a liberal value.

The combination of Occupy Wall Street and Ron Paul preparing to face Barack Obama in the general election has thrown the whole issue of progressivism's true values into sharp relief. It is getting harder and harder for progressives to sell their poisoned product to liberals, and that is why progressives really are more terrified of libertarianism than ever before and so staunchly oppose the candidacy of Ron Paul.