Too many libertarians pounced on the promise of having a libertarian candidate for president. Hence, Rep. Ron Paul generated significant support from libertarians last year. He still receives many kudos. Unfortunately, Ron Paul is not a libertarian. The few labeling him as such harms us all. Yesterday Andrew Sullivan linked to a story about Rep. Paul with this introduction:
Even libertarians get their pork:
Rep. Ron Paul vehemently denounced the $410 billion catch-all spending bill approved last week by the House of Representatives.
But although the libertarian-leaning Republican from Lake Jackson cast a vote against the massive spending measure, his fingerprints were on some of the earmarks that helped inflate its cost.
Paul played a role in obtaining 22 earmarks worth $96.1 million, which led the Houston congressional delegation, according to a Houston Chronicle analysis of more than 8,500 congressionally mandated projects inserted into the bill. His earmarks included repair projects to the Galveston Seawall damaged by Hurricane Ike and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
Rep. Paul is touted as Dr. No because he votes against what he believes to be beyond the legitimate powers of the federal government. That would earn my endorsement, except he behaves without principles. Yes, that money is going to be spent somewhere else if Rep. Paul doesn’t request it for his district. That does not mean he has to request it. He requests it, repeatedly, because he figures it might as well go to his district. His actions legitimize the illegitimate expansion of the federal government. He harms the credibility of libertarianism as a political philosophy.
This reminds me of something I posted early last year when the Ron Paul newsletter mess was in the news. It’s a quote from Wirkman Virkkala:It is an odd thing, trying to be a civilized person in the libertarian movement — or in modern society. You have to keep some independence of mind. You cannot allow yourself to become part of any cult. For all the leaders will betray you. All the prophets will prove false. All the gems will prove brummagem.
As libertarians do we really need to keep repeating this lesson? Shouldn’t we understand this by now?
More from the Houston Chronicle article:
Earmarks, said Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble, “allow lawmakers to have a say in how taxpayer dollars (are) spent.” His nine earmarks included $712,500 to mitigate airport noise at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
“It is in the best interest of the taxpayers,” Poe said, “to have their member of Congress secure funding for local projects than to leave it up to unaccountable and un-elected bureaucrats in Washington.”
It is in the best interest of the taxpayers to have them make their own funding decisions for projects they endorse and deem necessary. Don’t act pious because you redistributed my money rather than a bureaucrat. Taking my money and giving it to someone else is still taking my money. Why should I pay to repair the Galveston Seawall, which is more than 1,400 miles from my home?
6 thoughts on “Ron Paul is still not a libertarian.”
That really is an excellent Wirkman quote; I think it was one of the first things of his that I read and instantly got me hooked on reading him.
I suppose the ultimate lesson is that anyone who seeks to truly lead a movement based on a notion of distrusting leadership is almost certainly a charlatan.
“his fingerprints were on some of the earmarks that helped inflate its cost.”
Although it didn’t inflate the cost. I read a great analogy on anther blog of a group of office workers that contribute to a “Lunch Fund”. As lunch roles around they put up a vote. 9 out of 10 wants to buy pizza. The one person wants chinese. He has a share of whatever the out come is. The spending is already going to happen, whether they order pizza or chinese. Is it fair that just because he didn’t “vote” for pizza that he isn’t allowed a piece of it? So of course he’ll vote AGAINST pizza but can still receive a portion of the pizza for himself to eat. If he didn’t earmark a certain amount of slices for himself, he’ll end up paying for pizza that he’ll never get to eat.
With the spending bill, the cost has been determined. He may know it’ll pass regardless of his vote and regardless of this knowledge his tax paying constituents whom which he represents deserve their piece of the “pizza”. If he didn’t, his tax paying constituents would be furious at the fact that they paid their taxes but received nothing when appropriations were made.
I don’t understand why this concept of earmarking isn’t easy enough to understand.
I understand what he says he is doing. He’s still a hypocrite.
On Fox News yesterday, Rep. Paul said he always votes for tax credits because taxpayers should get their money back, no matter how ridiculous the tax credit. It was a throwaway line to prove his credentials, but if I take it at face value, he also votes for tax credits that reduce an individual’s tax liability below zero, triggering a “refund”. Is that person getting his money back, or is he getting my money back?
As for the lunch fund, it requires an assumption that everyone contributes voluntarily to the fund. That clearly is not the case with taxes, is it?
I’m going to have to agree with Steve on this one. The “voluntary pizza fund” is analogous to being a member of congress, not being a tax payer. As a member of congress, Dr. Paul voted against the bail out. Since he was outvoted, it’s his congressional duty to his constituents to get a piece of the funds to help pay for some things that need to be fixed any way. Not accepting money that’s going to be spent elsewhere would only send the message that he’s a moron not willing to help his constituents when he had the chance. It has nothing to do with whether or not he’s a tax payer.
I think the lunch fund comparison is ultimately to the taxpayer because that’s who is paying the bill. But I’ll leave it because it’s beside the point. Also, I think focusing on earmarks is missing the big issue. They’re not the problem in the budget. And he’s playing the game as it is.
For me it’s the principle involved. Embracing these rules has no chance of changing anything. How does he decide who among his constituents should get “their” money back? Does everyone in his district benefit from something like shrimp-fishing research? For the Galveston Seawall, isn’t it more likely to continue the government’s habit of subsidizing and encouraging risk?
Anyone who follows a movement based on, or simply does, distrust leadership for the sake of …them being leaders, is an overproud moron. Things always work fine when they’re left alone right? well except for all of human history
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