Monday, October 10, 2011

Will Wilkinson on Ron Paul

Will W gives an analysis of Dr. Ron Paul.

The U.S. could do worse, and almost certainly will do worse, for President.

But I really am confused how people identify RP with "libertarian." It just ain't so. A friend recently told me that RP was "the most libertarian of the major candidates." Okay. But Mussolini* was the most libertarian of the Axis dictators, but that doesn't make him a libertarian.

(*No, I'm not saying RP is Mussolini; I'm saying that the "he's the most XXXX of the YYYYs" doesn't mean the person is actually XXXX).

On the other hand, I was and remain sympathetic to the claim that the main part of the state-sponsored Repub party, and the state-owned media, ignore RP because he is TOO libertarian. That's a fair critique, as Jon Stewart points out.


Chris said...

Gary Johnson is finding this out the hard way too. Mike, I imagine you can relate to what he's going through as a fringe candidate. Don't know if you've heard of the "Gary Johnson Rule, but the video link below explains it in a humorous way.

CliffsNotes version,

Debate host: No Gary, you can't participate in the debate. You didn't poll high enough in our poll.

Gary: Yeah, but you didn't include me in your poll.

Debate host: Yeah, that's because you probably would have polled high enough.

Gary: #palmface

Chris said...

Dirty Davey said...

If Ron Paul is not a Libertarian, then either (a) he has completely changed his beliefs over the last few decades, or (b) the Libertarian party put a non-Libertarian at the top of the ticket in 1988.

nates said...

Immigration is a key failure of RP. To many left leaning libertarians immigration policy is the most important issue. Being able to veto a terrible government is the first step in imporving government throughout the world.

Anyway, Sept. 2, welcome to the internet.

John Thacker said...

Will W has a remarkably closed mind on the subject of importance of the Civil Rights Act.

He has always refused to even consider the argument that much of the progress in civil rights revolved around changing attitudes that occurred somewhat before the Civil Rights Act was passed. Racism, and the measured economic effects of racism, was declining before the Act, which is unsurprising, since it needed to decline in order to get the Act passed (since white support was necessary.)

Racism and its economic consequences continued to decline after the Act, but it's difficult to spot a difference in the trend line due to the passage of the Act. (There's some interesting data in books by Thomas Sowell on this matter.)

Now, I think a very easy rebuttal to this line of argument is to claim that the progress before the Act was the easy part, but that the Act was needed to help push the diehards. In other words, the low hanging fruit had been picked, and the Act was needed to keep progress going. That's a very plausible argument.

Will W, OTOH, simply has a completely closed mind on the subject and regards even bringing up this line of questioning as morally suspect.

John Thacker said...

But I do agree that Ron Paul is a politician and likes to have things both ways. One way he does so is by intentionally making the perfect the enemy of the good. He votes against trade bills because they're not perfect, even when they on net reduce trade barriers-- and even when his vote against causes the party whips to get someone else to for aye, but at the cost of buying their vote with some worse provision.

For a NC connection, see Robin Hayes and CAFTA; we essentially got extra textile tariffs thanks to Ron Paul's refusal to support.

His position on immigration tends to be equally vague and change depending on the audience, allowing people to read in multiple views.

Peter G. Klein said...

This is a bizarre rant by Will. Mostly incoherent. He picks and chooses his libertarian issues, giving us absolutely no basis for downplaying one and obsessing on another. "To deny that structural discrimination, with or without the backing of the state, can limit an individual's liberty more injuriously than a sales tax requires the triumph of dogmatism over commonsense." Um, no, Will, I deny it, vehemently, on libertarian principle, which I elevate touchy-feeliness, which you seem to favor.

Peter G. Klein said...

Sorry, "over touchy-feeliness."

sean said...

I have no idea how you can dispute that Ron Paul is libertarian. He supports a contractually based system with the only role of government being to uphold contracts and prevent fraud. If you claim he's not a libertarian, I'm a bit confused as to how you're defining the term. Perhaps you could clarify?

Tom said...

How much of Thomas Jefferson's property was justly acquired?

It's not any philosophical "issues" that "get complicated fast." It's the pursuit of actual justice that is complicated. Thomas Jefferson is a poor example, since his "property" has been preserved as a kind of national park. So, take ME for example.

I live on land that I improved after buying it (empty) from a developer, who bought it from a farmer, who inherited it from his father, who bought it from another farmer who -- yada, yada, yada -- who settled there believing it was unoccupied, some 500 years ago. There might have been an injured party 500 years ago. Let's say there was. That person has decedents, quite possible millions of decedents, who have a claim. With interest and inflation adjustments, it might be a large claim.

A philosopher will allow for the claim, but a plaintiff's lawyer sees a few little problems; all revolving around proving who owed what and to whom while 25 generations rolled by with poor and missing records. There is also a problem measuring value of apparent wilderness changing into modern, semi-rural neighborhoods.

A modern aphorism sums this up: let it go, Man, 'cause it's gone.

Even a philosopher might quail over these issues. To expect a politician to address them is ludicrous.

b said...

If Mussolini is a problematic comparison, try "He's the most cerebral of the three stooges."