This Ron Paul closing speech was recently posted at Right Mind (Religious Right Boos Ron Paul). I tried to post my entire response to Ron Paul’s speech there, but I guess I wrote too much. Anyways, here is my opinion on the matter.
While I agree with Ron Paul’s sentiments regarding limited government, I would strongly urge anyone to think very carefully about not legislating morality. That’s what legislation is: enforced (or coerced) morality. Who pays what taxes, for example, is morality, hence so many arguments about estate taxes and marriage penalties. I am not saying the government has not overstepped its intended boundaries, but such hyperbole without thought has consequences. Questions such as income redistribution are a morality issue, as is marriage.
When he first gets booed in his speech is when he talks about how gold and silver should be the currency of the land, and I’ve had this discussion before. Here is what I came up with then:
U.S. paper currency, along with the Federal Reserve Bank was created during the Civil War (or The War Between the States) to allow for a better interaction between locals on a financial level. Paper currency existed before that, too (including Colonial times). Each bank (which could the one down the block, a different one at the edge of town, or the State (not Federal Bank) issued it’s OWN money, which was actually a certificate for gold or silver stored at the bank. However, one bank would often (especially if across governmental lines, whether city, county, and definitely state) not recognize the legitimacy of the certificate from the other bank.
This created roadblocks to prosperity, especially if one had to buy stuff from a non-local source. The Federal Reserve system created a consistent methodology to allow currency to change hands with greater ease. The Central Bank only printed and issued money to a bank for a maximum of 60% of its gold, establishing a baseline of both gold value, and paper currency value. This system of reserves (gold, but later, silver) was in place until the 1960’s.
The founder’s did have concerns, very great concerns, that multiple currencies would inhibit commerce (and it did), but were unable to convince the states to go along with a common system.
Now as to the value of gold versus paper, it’s a straw man to me. I don’t value gold as a currency. I see its value, these days, as being a great electrical conductor. What has made it valuable in the human psyche is that we can decorate ourselves with it. And that is what made it valuable in the past, and still. It is what you can do with it. ALL currency is a simplified barter system. If I think that my product is worth 1oz of gold, but you think its worth .5oz, that is no different than my thinking that its worth $500, and you thinking it’s worth $250.
It is all based upon perceived value.
Many that believe themselves in the same camp as Ron Paul state that the federal government has no say right to make money, while Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution says, in part:
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States; To borrow Money on the credit of the United States; To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes; To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures; To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States; To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
Now all that being said, perhaps he meant returning to a gold/silver based backed system of paper and coins. Honestly, no matter what the currency is, no matter by what it is backed, it is all a matter of perceived value. The value of our currency is perception as well, hence his annoyance at the falling dollar. However, depending on the industry, that can be a good thing, except when you’ve outsourced everything, which is a another result of freedom.
Continuing past this, he makes valid (an in my opinion correct) point that there is a habit of looking to Washington,D.C. to fix the problem, and that habit has to be broken. However, the current batch of Republicans will not support that. How does he think they get elected?
He then attacks, rightly, the U.N., and for liberals (whether R’s or D’s) who look to the U.N. to justify (the U.S. gives too much money to actually look for real help from the U.N.) their more “progressive” desires. I also believe that there is validity to his implied point that we obey laws (or someone tries) that the U.N. has passed, without having any granted (by its members nations) power to it to do so.
However, we agreed to the WTO independently of the U.N., as a treaty I believe, obligating ourselves to it as a matter of trade. Now, Ron Paul could say let’s withdrawal from it, but the President (other than signing the bill) has no authority to do so. I am also not sure that the WTO has been effective, whether against or for the U.S., so this could just be another windmill to tilt at (please correct me if I’m wrong). I could probably be persuaded to get out of it purely on reducing government bureaucracy.
If he would stick to freedom (yes, I understand that he views the U.N. and the WTO as anathemas to freedom), where he shines, he would do much better. He is absolutely correct that far too many people rely more on the government than themselves. It will take at least 3 faithful and stalwart generations to break one generation’s failure (see Amit Shlaes abridged speech at Hillsdale)
He then goes on to the “Just War” theory, about which no one should speak, unless they speak of which “Just War” theory. The “Just War” theory has evolved from righteous war to no war at all. Depending on which version of the “Just War” theory you are using, and what you use as a rationale, any war could be just. It always boils down to which is a worse evil, the status quo, or a war (and its aftermath, which is the trust test anyways, not the war itself). As to WMDs (which he referred to as nonexistent), I believe we have a long way to go before we realize the (in)validity of multiple “intelligence” agencies (UK, French, German, Russian, and US all thought Iraq had them). However, I do think we rushed into that one. Maybe. Saddam was a very smart nut case (bad combo), and thus very unpredictable. Kim Il Sung, on the other hand, just throws a temper tantrum, gets his quiet money (or whatever vice he wants to fulfill), and goes and hides for a while, although perhaps the same “intelligence” that guided the Israeli Air Force to attack a site in Syria, and which guided the thoughts of WMDs in Iraq, made the same mistake again (although bureaucrats rarely take risks of repeating the same mistake, they prefer doing nothing) in regards to North Korean nuclear material in Syria.
Now his “declaring war” is kind of weird. Congress declared war by passing the resolution authorizing it. So his reasoning that we either wouldn’t be at war (so no troops lost), or we wouldn’t be arguing about it is off. Regardless of what our history books now say, we have declared war many times, and have still had plenty of protest anyways, especially in regards to continuing it. That is part of the process.
The last booing was at this point, and booing does not add to the discussion, nor do Ron Paul’s comments, frankly. The question before us is which is more evil, abandoning those in Iraq (the justification, or lack thereof, of the war is no longer relevant), or finishing the job (which, granted, still needs to be completely defined, which is part of the problem as well).
Now all THAT being said, I hope he stays in the race, in hopes that the Republican party will repent of their Democrat tendencies.
Sorry about going on so long. I think I’m done now.