Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Taking a Good Look at Ron Paul

Jonah Goldberg makes several excellent points, points that are quite libertarian, today in his article at entitled Tyranny of the Typical. Since Mr. Goldberg says it much more elegantly than I can, instead of making a hash of things let me just quote a couple of graphs. However, to set up the first quote, Goldberg is at pains to describe Murray Rothbard's "bias of the status quo." He does so by introducing a story that Mr. Rothbard had told in his Libertarian Manifesto called the "Fable of the Shoes.":

It's worth keeping this fable in mind as the reaction to last week's CNN-Tea Party Express debate hardens into popular myth. Moderator Wolf Blitzer had asked Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) what should happen if a man refuses to get health insurance and then has a medical crisis. Paul -- a disciple of Rothbard -- explained that freedom is about taking risks. "But, congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?"
First, why is the extremely liberal CNN moderating our first televised debate with a leftist moderator? Fox News has much higher ratings than CNN, and we could certainly find a neutral, if not friendly moderator. Brit Hume would be a good moderator, and would ask the kind of questions we really wanted to know the answer to, without the "gotcha." I am concerned that once again the media, and the Republican "establishment," whoever they are, are going to select our standard bearer. Dr. Paul is already being dismissed as not electable, and we haven't even held our first primary! It is in no small measure to the kind of questioning he got at the hands of Wolf Blitzer. Dr. Paul's message is not easily reduced to sound bites, so this style of debate does not show him well.

I will make a confession here. I got to see Ron Paul in October of 2007 at the Gun Rights Policy Conference held across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio. He was the only candidate then running, from either party, that bothered to show up. While his message was the same as it is now, I was turned off by the cult of personality that his supporters affected. Most of them were young people, kids to me at my age. Of course, they had no real experience, but they had tons of energy and enthusiasm.  I have since reread Washington's farewell address. I have reread Eisenhower's warnings about the military-industrial complex. I have been working my way through Glenn Beck's Original Argument. And I have lived with as close to a fascist dictatorship as I care to get. In short, I am a convert to small "L" libertarianism, thanks in no small part to my friend, Francis Porretto.

Frankly, Dr. Paul's message is as close to the original ideas propounded by the founders as anyone today running for President. His foreign policy, often dismissed as "kooky" would be met with general approval all around. The founders' view was that we should trade with all countries, but be absolutely neutral in their affairs. To that end, we should have a strong military, especially a strong Navy, to defend our neutrality. But, we should back out of all entangling alliances. We should get out of the hundreds of places where our troops are now stationed such as Korea, Japan, Germany, and who knows where else. America's greatness is not that she can overwhelm any other force on the planet. That role, if it was ever thrust upon us, is no longer needed. America's greatness is in the freedom and liberty she provides to her citizens. We should be a shining city on the hill, an example to others, and a rebuke to petty tyrants and dictators everywhere. 

Second, there is an unspoken assumption built into Blitzer's question "... are you saying that society should just let him die?" That assumption is that our stricken man does not in fact own his own life, that society has at least a partial ownership of him, and therefore it is up to society to see that he gets the proper care, or dies, based on its interests at the time. That is the whole, unspoken truth behind ObamaCare. It is a foreign idea that has insinuated itself in our culture that says we can not do for ourselves.  But we did for 141 years.

Paul calmly replied that he's not in favor of letting the man die. A physician who practiced before Medicare and Medicaid were enacted, Paul noted that hospitals were never in the practice of turning away patients in need. "We've given up on this whole concept that we might take care of ourselves and assume responsibility for ourselves," he observed. "Our neighbors, our friends, our churches would do it."
Just so.

If our republic is to survive, we must change ourselves, and our neighbors. Health care is not a "right," desirable as it may be. It is a good. Someone has to go to some expense to provide it. Socializing the provision of any good, be it health care or shoes, creates moral risks and unintended consequences. The unintended consequences include a scarcity of providers, and the eventual rationing of care because prices have been taken off the table. When that happens, one wonders which situation Blitzer would find moral: Letting the man die, due to his own decisions, or denying him the care he has been forced to pay for, thus letting him to die because government can not deliver on its promises?

Update: Steve McCann has an excellent summary of the steps the Obama regime has taken to bring us fully under a Fascist government over at the American Thinker today. The article is entitled Obama's Fascist Economy. It may be a good idea to keep this one close to hand when discussing the situation we find ourselves in with friends and neighbors.

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