The Age of Enlightenment resulted in a new idea that our rights weren’t something handed down to us from the king, but maybe instead we have natural rights because we are human. If we are to live without a king then these human right needed to be protected by the law. If our rights are protected we can do anything we want as long as we do not hurt other people. Right now we have more people in prison than any other country because people want to use the law to force onto others what they think is right. Once people start using our laws to make other people do what they think is right, there is no end of do gooders and the laws that people passed to do good, ultimately fail to do what they are supposed to. The problem is that every time makes a big law that effects lots of people, it is never as good as it is when all the people work together to work out their problems. When people work out problems on their own there are good solutions and there are bad solutions among the different groups. If we learn from each other then competing ideas for our many problems leads to more solutions as the bad ideas fail and the good ideas spread. The problem is that people see the failures and say we need to do something. They go to the politician that writes the laws and say we need to fix the problem. The politician will spend money to hire the best experts and come up with an idea to fix the problem. Since these problems effect a lot of people, whole groups of people will have competing ideas on which solution is best. Ultimately a small group of people decide on a law that effects many people. We believe that the more people can work out their problems if the laws are used to protect our natural rights or human rights instead of trying to do good. The more we rely on the experts to solve our problems the less we compete and the worse off all of us are. For 99% of the history of man, small groups of people told the rest of the world how to live. Freedom and Liberty are rare in this world and they need to be protected. The very nature of man destroys liberty as we ask for fixes to our problems. It is only a few men throughout history who have stood up for the principals of Natural Rights and Liberty. Ron Paul is one of those people.
I am going to attempt to answer Jon Stewart’s questions as a thought exercise. Jon asked some tough questions and I want to attempt to think this through.
Is government the antithesis of liberty?
The government should protect our liberties.
One of the things that enhances freedoms are roads. Infrastructure enhances freedom. A social safety net enhances freedom.
This is true that infrastructure enhances our freedom, but the question is how to we do so sustainably? We quit laying rails and built an interstate highways system and a few decades later what has happened: the auto industries boomed, people did benefit from increased freedom of travel, but due to this boom we’ve increased pollution as trucking has become our primary means of transporting goods. The irony is that trains fuel efficiency is ten times better than a hybrid car so if we had just stayed out and let the markets and states deal with transportation, the most efficient forms of transportation would have become dominate. Building the interstate highway system just skewed the market towards gas guzzling trucks, just one of many government policies that has led us to a less than optimal system.
Freedom means freedom from government so a social safety net makes us less free. If we ask, “what can my country do for me” instead of, “what can I do for myself, my family, and my neighbors” then we become less free and more dependent of the government.
What should we do with the losers that are picked by the free market?
The losers go bankrupt and the businesses that are profitable buy the means of production and use those resources to provide more of the products we want for lower prices. The reasons business become market losers are either they produced a product at too high a cost or they were not producing a product that the people demand. The free market is what true democracy looks like and we each vote with our dollars for the winners in market.
Do we live in a society or don’t we? Are we a collective? Everybody’s success is predicated on the hard work of all of us; nobody gets there on their own. Why should it be that the people who lose are hung out to dry? For a group that doesn’t believe in evolution, it’s awfully Darwinian.
We do have a society and we have two general methods of determining how we interact. We can adopt the policies of our central planners or we can use free markets. If we look across the governments of the world, regardless of the form of government it is the countries with the strongest free markets that have the best standard of livings for the poor and the highest wages for the working class.
In a representative democracy, we are the government. We have work to do, and we have a business to run, and we have children to raise.. We elect you as our representatives to look after our interests within a democratic system.
This is true, but this is not what we see in politics today. Instead of looking out for the general welfare of the people, politicians are looking after special interests. The best way to keep the corporations from writing the regulations for their own industries is to shut down the offices of the regulators.
Is government inherently evil?
The government is inherently inefficient. If it takes $5 to pay for the government to give $1 to the poor, wouldn’t we be better off if giving, lets call it $2 to the poor more directly? The poor benefit more, people keep more of their money, and the people who might have administered the government agency would instead end up in the private sector, adding to our tax base instead of draining it.
Sometimes to protect the greater liberty you have to do things like form an army, or gather a group together to build a wall or levy.
Yes people cooperating is the basic fundamental of a free society. It is the role of government to protect us from foreign invaders, but people can cooperate on a smaller scale like community watch programs. Now if people get together to build a levy which causes the next town downstream to flood instead, then the government has a role in helping people protect the property rights of the flooded town. We don’t have the right to cause our neighbors land to flood instead of our own.
As soon as you’ve built an army, you’ve now said government isn’t always inherently evil because we need it to help us sometimes, so now.. it’s that old joke: Would you sleep with me for a million dollars? How about a dollar? -Who do you think I am?- We already decided who you are, now we’re just negotiating.
The question here really is, “what is the role for our military?” Is it a good use of our tax funds to keep military bases in most the countries of the world? Is it in our best interest to prop up dictators, overthrow regimes, and conduct drone assassinations?
You say: government which governs least governments best. But that were the Articles of Confederation. We tried that for 8 years, it didn’t work, and went to the Constitution.
Liberty is a very young idea in the history of the world and not everyone was ready to accept the idea. Many of the colonists liked the idea of having a king. In the history of the world, this has been the norm. Whenever we have a crisis, it is human nature to look to the government to fix things, but the fixes often cause the exact opposite of their intended purpose. The result is that now we don’t even follow the Constitution, we just keep increasing central control to try to fix our problems and the result has been a disaster.
You give money to the IRS because you think they’re gonna hire a bunch of people, that if your house catches on fire, will come there with water.
Why give money to the IRS. If we just went back to the budgets we had just a few years ago we can eliminate the income tax and you might be able to keep enough money to buy fire insurance.
Why is it that libertarians trust a corporation, in certain matters, more than they trust representatives that are accountable to voters? The idea that I would give up my liberty to an insurance company, as opposed to my representative, seems insane.
If you get a letter from Starbucks, you’re probably going to like the prices or products that they sent you. If you get a letter from the government it can be a frightening experience. Why? Because we can choose to do business with a corporation, but we have little or no choice in dealing with government. If we decided that $5 is too much for a cup of coffee then Starbucks would be forced to drop their prices or shut down their stores. If we decide our taxes are too high we have to compete with all the government agencies and special interests who want our tax dollars.
Why is it that with competition, we have such difficulty with our health care system? ..and there are choices within the educational system.
Both of these are great examples of planners trying to improve the general welfare of the people end up increasing costs and decreasing quality. As we get out of the business of trying to micromanage these industries, costs would go down and quality would increase due to increased competition.
Would you go back to 1890?
If we could apply the social and economic freedoms we had then to the society we have now, we could make great strides forward. Using modern standards, since that time our level of poverty had dropped from around 90% to around 10% in this time period and the standard of living for those in poverty today is higher than the standard of living for a king a hundred years ago.
If we didn’t have government, we’d all be in hovercrafts, and nobody would have cancer, and broccoli would be ice-cream?
If we look at Hong Kong and Singapore we can see that if we had true free markets and limited government we might have eliminated poverty and homelessness. If we abandoned central planning for true free markets we might have competitive education, better health care, higher wages, lower prices, and higher standards of living even for the poorest in society.
Unregulated markets have been tried. The 80’s and the 90’s were the robber baron age. These regulations didn’t come out of an interest in restricting liberty. What they did is came out of an interest in helping those that had been victimized by a system that they couldn’t fight back against.
Regulations are an invitation to the corporation to lobby. It if far easier for a corporation to influence a regulatory office when compared to the whole Congress. The first step in breaking the unholy alliance between big business and governance is to shut down the offices of the regulators and decentralizing control. Any time we decentralize control, you have more of a voice. You can’t influence a regulator as well as you can influence a congressman, but you have more influence over your governor or a mayor.
Why do you think workers that worked in the mines unionized?
The workers exercised their right to work together for mutual benefit. There is nothing wrong with that, but the people need to understand that everything the union has it takes from the workers, and when the union becomes too powerful the industries they represent become less competitive.
Without the government there are no labor unions, because they would be smashed by Pinkerton agencies or people hired, or even sometimes the government.
People have a right to cooperate with each other for mutual benefit and the government should protect that right. The unions do not have the right to keep non union workers out though, we each should have the right to choose if we want to participate in a union.
Would the free market have desegregated restaurants in the South, or would the free market have done away with miscegenation, if it had been allowed to? Would Marten Luther King have been less effective than the free market? Those laws sprung up out of a majority sense of, in that time, that blacks should not.. The free market there would not have supported integrated lunch counters.
Thomas Sowell is an economist who has looked at this issue in detail, and his conclusions are that the civil rights movement actually decreased economic opportunities among the black communities, while other minorities did not see the same decrease in opportunity. So free markets would have increased the economic opportunities of all the minorities more evenly and that isn’t something that would tend to lead to segregation. If you segregated today, the free markets would put you out of business.
Government is necessary but must be held accountable for its decisions.
Yes and the best way to achieve that accountability is to have decisions that are made locally at a state and county level, not in some far away place like Washington or the United Nations.
Ron Paul is the only candidate running for office who can restore sanity in Washington; Ron Paul is the only candidate who wants to restore the rule of law in this country; Ron Paul is the only candidate running for office who understands and has a vision to restore the economic principals that made this country prosperous; and Ron Paul is the only candidate who wants to reform the unsustainable policies that are leading to our decline. Obama and the rest of the field is only offering gimmicks to manage the decline while Ron Paul is bold enough to challenge the status quo on sound money, inflationary policies, corporate bail outs and hand outs, fraud, unsustainable military growth, and Ron Paul is bold enough to challenge the failed system of bureaucracy instead of trying to throw money at our problems.
Critics say that Ron Paul’s policies are radical, but revolutionary is much more appropriate. Our forefathers led a revolution against the British because they taxed too much and they were infringing on our civil liberties. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were put in place to protect us against tyranny, but once again we are threatened. We’re threatened with an economic collapse, we’re threatened by ever increasing debt and taxes, and we’re losing our civil liberties in the name of security. Fortunately for us we do not need a whole new system, we don’t need any bold new plans, we only need to have a President who will uphold his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Ron Paul served this country for five years in the military and he understands like our veterans understand and our Armed Forces understand, they take an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;”. Ron Paul is the only candidate who seeks to defend the Constitution from domestic threats which is why our troops overwhelmingly support him instead of the other candidates getting their support from the banks and the special interests.
Corporatism I feel is going to be a big issue because it reaches across party lines and as far as I’ve seen Ron Paul is the only one addressing the issue. First off we want free markets because free markets allow for a better standard of living even for the poorest in society. If we look at the World’s most free economies: Singapore or Hong Kong, their energy use per capita which is a good approximation for a standard of living, are leaps and bounds beyond any other country. Even though it is counter-intuitive that when people do less for each other in the form of social welfare in a society, the poor actually benefit more. When we have government programs that tax and spend to help the poor first we need to build a building to house the government workers, hire a bureaucrat to administer it, then hire a staff to work for the bureaucrat, and then use what money is left to actually help the poor. As we can see using this simplistic model is that waste is built into government thus logically even if there was less taken in as charitable donations compared to taxation, because the charitable foundations are more efficient than government the poor actually receive more. If you were hit be a natural disaster, who would you want to see, the red cross or fema?
Getting back to corporatism,…as long as we have planners in all the departments of our government who effectively chose winners and losers, the special interests will exist. This creates the revolving door between our different government agencies and the industries they are supposed to be regulating. Only by shrinking the size and scope of the federal government can we eliminate all the special breaks that all the special interests now receive. Anonymous is protesting campaign finance which is understandable after the Supreme Court’s ruling on Citizens United, but that alone will not address the issue. Free markets are proven to be more efficient than central control, but we can only have free markets if we are ready to assume responsibility. The question you need to ask yourself is this: if I didn’t have to pay federal income taxes and I know that a portion of my tax dollars used to go to social welfare, would I take responsibility and donate to the local food bank? Only if we can say yes to that question can we advance society.
There is a fundamental problem with the discussion today about social welfare. The welfare state is growing we are already to the point where less than half of the average American’s income comes from wages earned. Any effort by the right to cut spending is met with issues of a government safety net to help the less fortunate. Every discussion I see on social welfare issues comes back to this same issue. And this is an issue that needs to be addressed because there is nobody talking about the alternative to a government safety net: we need to look after one another.
If I pay taxes and some people at the IRS receive the payment, a number of pairs of hands later a portion of these taxes go to pay social welfare programs. It is the multiple people who are involved in this process as my tax dollars are allocated to government program and the inherent bureaucracy of government programs that leads to inefficiencies.
So the question I pose is this: if you were not taxed for every dollar you spent and every gallon of gas, would you spend some of the money you earned to donate to local charity organizations? If you could work less because you’re not being taxed for every hour worked, would you donate some of your time and skills to help the less fortunate?
Are we incapable of taking care of each other without the safety net of government? Are we advancing as a society or are we regressing? Isn’t the desire we see in this country of people wanting the government to solve our problems making us a more impersonal society? Instead of us willingly helping each other, divisive politics just bicker about who is going to pay for the ever bigger government.
There is no better example than Hurricane Katrina in my mind: this is an example where government forces kept people who were trying to help out of the area while our government forces proved how their inefficiency causes inept responses. Thousands of rescuers both public and private were turned away as Americans drowned. What have we become?
We look to the government for help instead of to each other. That is not to say that the government has no role is social welfare, it just suggests that our attitudes towards government has changed. If we want the government to solve all of our problems, then we have abandoned the principals of liberty which brought us such prosperity and we are doomed to a big government, forever in debt, which is good at nothing but wasting our money.
I am a Ron Paul Conservative. I consider myself to be a member of Regan’s, “silent majority.” I feel warmly about former President Bush even though he in the end, his policies let down conservative base.
We wanted revenge for 9/11. They took down two towers, we took down two nations. While I can sympathize still with that sediment, we need to step back and see what Teddy Roosevelt’s, “battleship diplomacy” has turned itself into. We have proved to have the best military in the world and as any conservative, I feel the need to support our troops where ever they are and no matter what they are doing. But that patriotism is not blind, we have a moral obligation to look at how our military might applies its violent means and what purpose do those actions serve. Now that we have our forces in Libya, its making me look back at history and really taking a look at where we have been and where we are going.
We have to start back at World War II to get our current state into perspective. I’m not a historian, not ever terribly well versed on the subject, but looking back at the period from 1940-1990 it appears to me that Democratic Presidents were the ones declaring wars and Republican presidents were the ones ending them. Then came 9/11 and now we have both political parties on the same side of the fence.
Where are the noninterventionalists? What happened to streamlining government? When we stopped kicking ass and decided we had to rebuild nations we went from serving the will of the people into something else. What are we doing? Well historically we have been in the business of setting up or supporting national leadership around the world. I can see how it used to make sense to want to support friendlies in bad neighborhoods, especially in bad neighborhoods with vital economic interests for us.
It’s not hard to see when one looks at the North Africa: the world has changed. Egypt and Tunisia are modern examples that Gandhi’s principles of nonviolence do work when widely accepted by the populace. These are some of the same principles brought to us by Henry David Thoreau and we should embrace these peaceful movements. We should applaud these efforts, but at the same time we should not alienate our friends. What we demonstrated to all our allies is that we are willing to abandon our friends; sometimes we are even willing to ask them to abandon their position. In Libya the position gets worse.
In Libya we have demonstrated a willingness to pick sides in internal conflicts and wage war on the side of our choosing. So if push comes to shove we might not support our friends and allies, but if we want we’ll unleash our military too? What gives us the right to intervene in Libya’s civil war? What right does President Obama have to tell a head of a nation state that he must go? I don’t know if we’ve turned into the UN’s attack dog or just a bully of nation states, but I do know it looks like an Imperialistic Revival in North Africa right now. If we keep on this path and Donald Trump gets his way, our military is going to become the world’s mercenary force. From his point of view it’s a sound business decision, but it’s time we need to look back and ask ourselves what we have gotten ourselves into. Is this who we want to be as a nation? What is the alternative?
The alternative is to relook at who we are as a nation. Do we want to be a beckon of hope, an example of prosperity that others can emulate or do we want to spread democracy by the sword? I think we can now look at the world and see that the blow back from propping up repressive regimes is proving to be a failure. I’ll paraphrase Ron Paul on the subject: when we prop up a dictator all it does is take money from poor people and put it in the hands of rich people. Our foreign policy entrenches the subsidized government leadership. The reason why we do it is because we want to see the countries reform. We think if we support people who promise to reform we will see reform. Clearly money and power we instill on reformers leads to many other things that aren’t necessarily in our best interests. What is in our best interest? I’ll suggest that American interests aren’t in nation building nor in nation bullying. We have a role to play in the world and for that I like our navy for one reason: on the world scale, the ships move real slow. If we hastily jump into acts of war, we can’t be sure what American interests will be. If instead we act deliberately and conserve our blood and treasure we still have a chance to reclaim our goal to be a beacon onto the world. We have 24 hour strike capability on anywhere in the world and to be frank it is much too easy for us to use it. I support Ron Paul’s call for deliberate military action with declared wars and with calling back our ground troops from all foreign shores.