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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Five Essential Reasons I Oppose Ron Paul

There are many good arguments for ignoring or even opposing Ron Paul on grounds that he is a Republican, and that supporting Paul is to support, indirectly, the modern Republican gang.

But this isn't my reason for opposing Ron Paul. I oppose him on policy. Not tiny little issues like DOMA or Abortion or this-and-that. These are core policy issues that drive me to oppose him openly, verbally, and with every fiber of my being.

And I'm a Libertarian.

1. Civil Liberty.

Ron Paul says he is for civil liberty. This is not true. He believes in privatization of everything, and that private businesses have a right to discriminate for any reason whatsoever. If roads were privatized, the "road company" could deny access to travel for any reason. This is not civil liberty.

I am all for a reasonable discussion about private employment rights.  They certainly don't exist today.  And it's the lack of such protections that made ideas like Unions and Affirmative Action important parts of our history.  It would be nice not to need unions or affirmative action.  Paul would like to simply get rid of any protections whatsoever.  This is not civil liberty.

It is good that he argues against prohibition. It is good that he argues against arrest for non-violent actions. This doesn't means he stands for civil liberty.

2. Monetary Reform.

Ron Paul says he wants to "End the Fed". He says nothing about ending fractional reserve lending (banking privilege, aka "fraud"), or ending the privatization of currency that exists NOW under the central banking system. He just wants to end the federal bank and let state banks do what they want.

He also claims that a gold standard is prescribed in the US Constitution. It is not. In fact, a gold standard is arguably NOT constitutional. William Jennings Bryan tried to oppose the central banks prior to 1913. Ron Paul is certainly no Bryan.

Real monetary reform is an important issue for me, rooted to American history and our national struggle, our world struggle, against enslavement to central banks.  I will not allow him and the Austrian School to crucify mankind on a cross of gold.

(Edit, 2013:  This was posted before I had heard of MMT, which I'm following now)

3. Social Welfare.

Ron Paul says he wants to end Medicare and Social Security, all activities that aren't authorized by the constitution (in his mind). This is crap, and his followers mimick this drivel on every facebook and youtube post in America.

The only argument against social welfare is taxation.  Resolve the tax issue and there's no reason not to include social welfare (i.e. safety net or whatever) into public policy.

Never mind endless arguments over USC Article 1 Section 8.  Never mind trying arguing that, by definition, Medicare isn't "socialism".  They will not budge, and raise their bible in hand as if they are the only ones privy to the Holy Word. Idiots.

4. Foreign Policy.

Ron Paul says we should never involve ourselve in foreign affairs. He's the conservative who wants to adopt an isolationist foreign policy. While I agree to a large extent, it is a very naive view to think that the US has spread the plague of world poverty and oppression.

There are sound reasons to intervene in the "affairs" of other nations.  This should not be done by volunteers as it has with the IRA or in the Spanish Civil War.  It should not be done by corporations hiring death squads in El Salvador or Columbia.  We should not be a nation of mercenaries.

And I will not trade "End the Wars" for "End Welfare". They are two completely different issues. If people can't see that, they are probably Ron Paul supporters.

5. States Rights and the Constitution.

This "Revolution", the R-Love-ution, that Paul is building is not the 1776 version; it's the 1861 version. The oppression of a State is no different than the oppression of a Federal government. And in cases where States are in the wrong, it is the responsibility for the other states, through the Nation, to resolve the problem.

Rights are universal, to all human beings. Sovereignty is of the Nation, not the individual States. The South may be rising again, but I will be on the side of Union.


These are not simple policy differences that I should simply ignore in exchange for some higher "message" or "movement". These are core issues that affect the millions of people being oppressed by bad government.

Government is not evil; corruption is. When government is controlled by plutocrats, by a covert aristocracy, by corporations or banking interests, then it is corrupted.

I am convinced that the whole of Ron Paul's C4L movement exists to pull young and poor people into the Republican fold, to offer pie in the sky (like ending military intervention and legalizing pot) in exchange for moral, grassroots support of deregulating and removing taxes from the richest 1% of Americans (i.e. Republican policies).

Libertarians need to get their heads out of their asses and understand truly who they're supporting and what they're doing. In my opinion, these Ron Paul supporters are fighting for the wrong people. They're certainly not fighting for me.


  1. Ron Paul's presidential campaign in 2008, formation of the Campaign For Liberty (and my involvement in that) led me to do constant reading. It led me to see the inherent problems in the Republican Party and to strive for more liberty. It led me to the Libertarian Party. It led me to run for office as a Libertarian and promote Libertarian principles. The core of his message, and the message of the C4L is liberty. While the national C4L group has a lot of problems (some of which caused our local county chapter to break off from the national group), no where in the 2 years I was a county coordinator for it, did it say anything about being a Republican, recruiting people to the Republican Party, or any such thing. If anything, it encouraged participation from any party and to promote liberty.

    "...convinced that the whole of Ron Paul's C4L movement exists to pull young and poor people into the Republican fold..." that's incorrect.

    Mike Koffenberger

  2. With due respect, Mr. Etzel, I do not think this collections of positions can be characterized as Libertarian. I write not so much to stick up for Ron Paul, but to stick up for libertarianism and prevent your readers from thinking libertarianism is defined by what you've written here.

    Let's take issue 1. The reason nearly everyone uses the phrase "civil liberties" rather than your phrase, "civil liberty," is because the phrase refers to a fairly numerous group of specific limitations on the power of the government. Your number one criticism of Ron Paul seems to be that he only wants to rein in government power, leaving powerful private interests alone. But leaving private interests alone is what it means to limit government power.

    Thinking about civil liberties as restrictions on private action makes no sense. The government isn't allowed to favor one religion over all the others. Should individuals be similarly prohibited from favoring one religion? The government generally can't allow speakers with one viewpoint to speak on its property while denying an equal opportunity to speakers with other viewpoints. Should you have to allow me into your home to speak on my libertarian principles whenever you and your friends are discussing politics? The government can't search your property without a warrant. Should you need a warrant to search your own property? As a libertarian, of course I believe fervently in your right to believe our constitution would be improved by extending the constitutional rules known as civil liberties to cover private action, but that is emphatically not the constitution we have. I think it is also not a viewpoint that is compatible with any form of libertarianism.

    Monetary policy (your issue 2) is tougher because I don't know how many of the background principles you and I already share. But I think it is safe to say that libertarian monetary policy would leave private individuals and businesses free to use whatever form of money seems best to them. Historically, wherever and whenever people have had that choice, by far the most commoly chosen forms of money have been gold and silver. Similarly, we should leave banks free to adopt fractional reserve banking if they want -- but no one should be required to put money in a bank that uses fractional reserve banking. It is government regulation of banking, rather than the avarice of bankers, that makes it hard for you to find a bank that does business differently.

    As for the notion that abolishing the Fed leaves state banks free -- well, if it looks to you like running a state bank is too easy a path to power and prosperity, you should go start a state bank. Some people will -- and the competition will limit the power of all of them. The problem with the Fed is not (primarily) that it's federal, it's that it's a monopoly maintained by government force.

    I could continue, but no one appointed me the intellectual censor of libertarianism and perhaps it's probably not likely that you and I come to agreement on all these points, and it's almost certainly unimportant whether we do or not. I simply wanted to lay down a marker here so that casual readers who are interested in libertarianism don't come away with the idea that libertarianism is what you say it is rather than what Ron Paul says it is. If people who agee with Ron Paul think they ought to be Republicans instead of Libertarians, that's bad for libertarianism and in my opinion bad for the people who are thus wrongly diverted into a party that's not going to stand up for liberty when it's unpopular.

  3. 5 essential reasons I oppose your argument…or lack of one.

    1. Civil Liberty.
    Private businesses DO have a right to discriminate for any and whatever reason. That's liberty, if you wanna discriminate, go ahead. If you are not hired at one job you can certainly go and apply at another one. If you are honest and hard working any business that's not discriminating would love to hire you. When and if a business does discriminate there will be 5,000 more businesses that do not discriminate. It is illogical and pretty much impossible that ALL business will discriminate against ALL the same people. Even if that argument is plausible. With better (little to no) laws regarding entrepreneurship it would be easier to start your own business and help others out like you. THAT is civil liberty. You state something very obvious. Yes, a road company could deny access to a road…so what…there are tons of other roads and road company’s. I don’t know about you, but when I go somewhere there about at least 5 different ways to go somewhere, would that change? Also, he has never argued for privatizing roads, just other non-necessary things like Medicare etc. So arguing against prohibition and against arrest for non-violent actions doesn’t mean that he stands for liberty? Explain that please, because you don’t in your post.

    2. Monetary Reform.
    Ron Paul has indicated his want to end fractional reserve banking ( ). Obviously you have to have priorities. The battle against the FED is foremost, you can’t possibly end fractional reserve banking until you End the Fed. That’s putting the cart before the horse. One thing at a time. He has also never said JUST a gold standard, he advocates one but he also advocates competing currency’s (, ) How is competing currency’s and free banking letting the states do what they want? I’ve never heard, read or seen that he claims a gold standard in the Constitution, show me. He does state that the only substances that were ever declared as money in the U.S. were gold and silver. Even if he did state that a gold standard is mandated in the Constitution, he certainly doesn’t advocate one, so what’s the problem?

    3. USC article 1 section 8 is big, are you talking about the power to lay and collect taxes, or general welfare? How is social security and Medicare general welfare, am I really that dumb that I can’t save for my future/retirement. If I am, then so be it. If that happened it would be my fault. Not the taxpayers. That is freedom to dispose of your money how you wish. Also, didn’t your mother ever teach you not to call names?

    4.Really it’s hard to see that we’ve spread the plague of world poverty and oppression? The IMF and World Bank policies COMBINED with our continuous bombing and killing is enough to drown everyone in fiat money and blood.

    5. Coercion is coercion whether it’s the state or federal. To oppress the state (federal or otherwise) is to oppress a band of robbers that’s continuously murdering and stealing from me. Honestly, I don’t see a thing wrong with it.

    Government is evil, it is coercive and violent. Government is a breeding ground for corruption and you certainly cannot have government without corruption.

    As far as the C4L movement, Mr. Koffenberger certainly hit the nail on the head.

    You are not a Libertarian, but merely a conservative republican.

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  5. Although Mr. Etzel and I agree on one thing, that is that neither of us support Ron Paul.

    However, Mr. Etzel enumerates several positions that are anti-libertarian. In his point on "civil liberties" he supports government imposing upon private individuals rules and regulations to promote liberty. This is not liberty, but tyranny. Our Constitution limits government, because it is to government that we have given the right to initiate force against individuals in certain circumstances to impose its will. We do this in order to give the government limited power to protect our rights.
    (Whether this is effective or not is the argument between anarchists and minarchists).

    In a free society, individuals do not have that power, as others are always free to take their business and their associations elsewhere should they so choose. Taking up Mr. Etzel's example with respect to road companies, although it is true that a road company could discriminate with its own property, others are free to start their own road companies. Also, road companies would necessarily have to operate from contract with the users, and to refuse a contract for irrational reasons would cut the profit the company might expect to earn.

    I think all of the misapprehensions Mr. Etzel conveys concerning Ron Paul and Libertarianism stem from this statement: "Government is not evil; corruption is. When government is controlled by plutocrats, by a covert aristocracy, by corporations or banking interests, then it is corrupted."

    I will counter with this statement attributed to George Washington: "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence it is force. Like fire, a fearful master and a troublesome servant."

    It is a fearful master and troublesome servant precisely because the use use of force, even to achieve what are generally considered to be just ends, tends to concentrate power into the hands of individuals who want it. It matters not whether they are career politicians or what Etzel calls "plutocrats." Men who are given a little power tend to develop the desire for more. Government is innately corrupting, and this is why we restrain it with the Constitution.

    1. Your attribution to George Washington isn't an historical statement, but I get your point here.

      You believe in liberty for some, not liberty for all. This is evident in your dream of road privatization. You believe the liberty of some is moral at the expense of liberty for those discriminated against.

      This is the old Lester Maddox argument from half a century ago. Liberty and democracy are not opposing ideas.

      I'm afraid that the rights of "liberty" you claim to serve is really just "property". There is a difference.

  6. It seems I am correct in identifying C4L and "conservative libertarians" as being against civil liberty. The "right to discriminate" is lauded by every pundit on Fox and every right wing think tank from CATO to AFP.

    So, it is the right of Lester Maddox to chase a black guy out of his diner. It is the Right of the private owners of a highway to discriminate, to thus isolate and embargo people while claiming divine right to land etc..

    Combined with the States Rights arguments and you have support for the New Confederacy. Texas will lead that charge . Good luck guys with your struggle for "liberty".

  7. It seems time to confront the notion that "anarchy" is somehow the moral standard of libertarianism. I suspect, and can provide great piles of evidence, that it is the moral standard of plutocracy, and that liberty is betrayed this position.