Friday, January 20, 2012

"Conservatives" don't understand Ron Paul

Okay, I thought I was done with Ron Paul for a while (I do have more material--there's always more!). But I was wrong. I'm hearing too much crap from people I would normally expect to know better. I need to get something off my chest.

I've heard this question, or variations of it, too many times now, usually from blowhards on the right. The basic assumption is that Ron Paul is great on domestic and fiscal issues, but he is some kind of nutjob on foreign policy and therefore not qualified to be president.

Tangent: Yes, I realize that Ron Paul has little chance of becoming president. I think he realizes that, too, which is why I don't think he will mount a third party run for the presidency. At this point he is building a movement, carving out a niche for libertarian and fiscally conservative views within the Republican Party. Leaving the Party at this point would undermine all the progress he has made (and perhaps hurt his son's future prospects within the Party).

Back to my point. It seems like people wish they could chop Ron Paul in half and retain only his fiscal policy positions, discarding his foreign policy. The question is often phrased like this: How well would a candidate do with Ron Paul's economic positions but with mainstream Republican foreign policy positions?  Essentially get only the "good" part of Paul.

People who ask this question, or variations of it, betray a fundamental lack of understanding of Ron Paul. They miss the whole point. They don't realize that you can't separate Paul's economic policy positions from his foreign policy positions.  The two positions are flip sides of the same coin. The welfare state and the warfare state, inseparable. Any candidate with "mainstream" foreign policy cannot be strong on fiscal policy because such a candidate doesn't truly believe in limited government.

Any state large enough to police the world will also waste money at home and abuse civil liberties. Even if one man could do the former and resist the temptation to do the latter, what about the next guy? And the next?

Turn the question around to see how absurd it is. Can someone who wants military bases around the world, who wants to intervene in conflicts everywhere (regardless of U.S. strategic interests) ever cut the size of government? The big government conservatives (the Republican Party as a whole) are taking the government to the same place the big government liberals (Democarats) are. Different route, same bankrupt destination.

So what do we do? Let ourselves be attacked? Of course not. But we can't police the world. There has to be a lower level of military spending that is consistent with the Constitution yet large enough to protect us. I happen to think that this level would result in a significantly smaller military than we have now, with fewer deployments around the world.

Why Ron Paul Matters

Why do I support Ron Paul? This column gives a good summary. From the Wall Street Journal:

"Why Ron Paul Matters: by Edward H. Crane

The tagline for the article sums it up perfectly: "Among all the GOP presidential candidates, he's the only one who stands for constitutionally limited government."

That's right, for all their hot air, blowhards like Gingrich, Santorum, and Romney have no concept of what limited government even is. I would add that this is not just true for Republican candidates, of course. the Democrats are even worse. But in the end Republicans are almost as bad. They don't realize that if they support a large federal government for their purposes, it will just as easily be used for illegitimate left wing purposes when the Democrats are in power. Only Ron Paul understands this.

Back to the article.
"Mr. Paul would cut the federal budget by $1 trillion immediately. He can't do it, of course, but voters sense he really wants to. As Milton Friedman once explained, the true tax on the American people is the level of spending—the resources taken from the private sector and employed in the public sector. Whether financed from direct taxation, inflation or borrowing, spending is the burden."

"Mr. Paul has tapped into a stirring recognition by limited-government Republicans and independents that an overreaching military presence around the world is inconsistent with small, constitutional government at home."

"...our current [military] expenditures equal what the rest of the world spends, which makes little sense. It is futile to try to be the world's policeman—to try to create an American Empire as so many neoconservatives promote. And we can't afford it."

"Mr. Paul's huge support among young people is due in large part to his fierce commitment to protecting the individual liberties guaranteed us in the Constitution."

Here's one of the hot items at the moment: "...the Stop Online Piracy Act moving through the House is a clear effort by the federal government to censor the Internet. Mr. Paul stands up against all this, which should and does engender support from limited government advocates in the GOP."

I totally agree with this: "Austrian economics. Mr. Paul is often criticized for references to what some consider obscure economists of the so-called Austrian School. People should read them before criticizing. Nobel laureate Friedrich von Hayek and his mentor Ludwig von Mises were two of the greatest economists and social scientists ever to live." Amen.

"Mr. Paul, like Austrian School economists, understands that we would be better off with a gold standard, competing currencies or a monetary rule than with the arbitrary and discretionary powers of our out-of-control Federal Reserve."

And just for fun, here's a cool meme:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Best Google Logos Of 2011

I haven't taken a look at many "best of the year" lists this past year (unlike last year when I did a fair amount of surfing). But I did see a couple I did like and had to pass them along. First, from Marketing Land:

"The Best Google Logos Of 2011" by Danny Sullivan

Next, from Mashable:
"30 Best Google Doodles of 2011" by Christine Erickson

I loved seeing these Google Doodles when they came out during the year and it was fun to take another look at them.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Some recognition that subsidies are a waste

Never saw this coming. Even the notoriously liberal Washington Post appears to be recognizing the folly of government intervention. I won't hold my breath and expect them to think rationally in the future, but it's a start.

"Overcharged" by the Editorial Board

I am happy to see that ethanol subsidies and subsidies for installing a 220 V electric car charging stations are now history. In a sign of growth, the Washington Post finally recognizes the ethanol subsidies (for internal subsidies on domestic ethanol and tariffs on imported ethanol) as "two of the most wasteful subsidies ever to clutter the Internal Revenue Code..."

Check out this interesting wording from the Post: "Evidence is mounting that President Obama was overly optimistic to pledge that there would be 1 million EVs on the road by 2015. Electric cars are not likely to form a significant part of the solution to America’s dependence on foreign oil, or to global warming, in the near future. They simply pose too many issues of price and practicality to attract a large segment of the car-buying public. More prosaic fuel-economy innovations such as conventional hybrids, clean-diesel cars and advanced gasoline engines all show much more promise than electrics."

That's the nice thing about having a brain, I don't have to wait for the Post to tell me this stuff. I can figure it out for myself.

I wish people would realize that it's not just ethanol or electric car subsidies are wasteful. Government shouldn't be getting involved in picking winners and losers in the market. They just make things worse.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Our crazy stupid debt--explained!

So, we need to increase the debt limit? AGAIN? Watch this video to put our government in terms that we can easily understand.

By the way, what is the point of having a debt "limit" anyway? Is there something about the word "limit" that politicians don't understand?


This is funny, but it's also very sad. Especially the part at the end.

Monday, January 16, 2012

White Christmas?

Okay, so no post illustrates just how far I've fallen behind on my blog than this one. I meant to post this BEFORE Christmas, obviously! Still, did you know that NOAA publishes the probability of having a White Christmas across the United States?

Tangent: Did you know that we even needed the government to do this for us? Well, it turns out that it's right there in the Constitution. I was as surprised as anyone, but apparently Americans have a right to know whether they will have a White Christmas or not. :)

"White Christmas?"

Click the "Probability Map" to see the odds of YOU having a White Christmas.

Even northern cities like Milwaukee and Minneapolis are not locks to have snow on Christmas (and this year I know that Milwaukee didn't). For the record, only once in my life have I not seen Upper Michigan have a White Christmas.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Conservative Talk Radio: A Documentary

I used to live in Milwaukee and I am a big fan of talk radio. Milwaukee has some very good talk radio, so I listened to a lot of talk radio when I lived there. Once podcasts became popular, I resumed listening to talk radio from various places I used to live. I was fascinated by this documentary discussing some of the people I listened (and still listen) to in Milwaukee.

"Liberty or Lies, Conservative Talk Radio in Milwaukee, Wisconsin"

I really enjoyed this documentary. Lots of views presented and very well done.

One of the biggest criticisms of talk radio is that it's biased. I completely reject this, and I thought that those who presented this argument in the documentary were pathetic. Sure, individual shows are biased (and they do a much better job of stating their biases than the mainstream media). But the medium as a whole is not. Anyone is free to start their own show. Radio stations are motivated by money, not ideology. If a left wing show would make money, radio stations would air it. Air America tried this, and failed.

So why is talk radio overwhelmingly conservative? I believe it's because when you HEAR an argument you respond much more to the logic of the argument. Whereas visual media (pictures and video) tend to favor more emotional (and more shallow) arguments. Right wing talk radio shows succeed because more often than not they have the facts on their side.

Radio is not the only source of news. Newspapers and television stations tend to favor the left. Why don't the same people who criticize radio for being biased towards the right also criticize newspapers and television stations for their leftward bias?

I found out about this documentary from John McAdams' "Marquette Warrior" blog. Specifically, these two posts:

"Documentary on Conservative Talk Radio, With a Milwaukee Focus"

"Documentary on Milwaukee Conservative Talk Radio / More"

Incidentally, I, too, am a Marquette Warrior. Not a Golden Beagle, a Warrior. :)