Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What's the difference between Ron Paul and Barry Goldwater?

Jonah Goldberg of National Review has this op-ed on who is scarier: Ron Paul or Mike Huckabee?
His conclusion is that Huckabee -- who he sees as a "conservative" on various issues who nonetheless advocates using government the way liberals do, should be more scary; yet he is seen as more "mainstream" in the GOP, and that's what he finds scary.

This got me thinking -- doesn't Ron Paul sound a lot like Goldwater? (I mean the Goldwater of 1964, not when he got grouchy and said he was for gay rights and legal abortion later on.) I'm not saying they are identical, but I think Goldwater would love just about everything Paul is saying about limited government, honest money based on something like gold, and even a "humble" foreign policy.

Has the Republican Party given up on what Goldwater advocated?

(And just for added irony, I'd like to know: which GOP candidate running for President worked for Goldwater in 1964? Because Hilary did--no lie!)


Anonymous said...

Barry Goldwater would love Ron Paul--in fact, his son, Barry Goldwater Jr. (who is a former congressman) endorsed Ron Paul this week!

Unfornately this major endorsement was totally overlooked in the MSM. But there is a press release that mentions it on the campaign web site ronpaul2008.com

Anonymous said...

Just an interesting fact: Ron Paul's current campaign manager, Lew Moore, volunteered to work on Goldwater's 1964 campaign at age 9

Anonymous said...

I just noticed you are a Catholic priest. At the recent Ron Paul Veteran's Day rally in Philadelphia, we had a Catholic priest (I think his last name was Anders) who was so inspired by Dr. Paul's message of freedom that he traveled all the way from his home in Germany to give the prayer at the rally and pray for Ron Paul.

Victor said...

Well, Father ... the world does move on. Paul truly has the one-track mind of an ideologue trapped in the 1780s -- excessive Constitution-worship that I would analogize to Protestant "sola scriptura"-ism if it wouldn't make me feel unclean to steal ideas from certain people

Take the gold standard. In pre-globalist economies (mostly non-capitalist, let it be said), gold was useful as a form of transfer value among societies with no routine contact, and thus no workable form of fiat money, for a bunch of reasons. It was rare, shiny, durable, divisible but sufficiently widely distributed to be known as all these things in every society -- and not coincidentally seen near-everywhere as a symbol of grandeur and wealth.

The world has changed. Easily convertible currency was neither a need nor a feature of pre-modern economies. The gold standard itself was a historical practice only made formal at about the time Paul et al privilege as the Eden before the Fall of modern society (and therefore worshipped). Arguing for it in this day and age indicates a mind trapped in amber, unable to accept that history happens per accidens, not per esse, that nothing is eternal in politics and yesterday's issues die.

We know fiat money works as long as everybody accepts it (and nobody has any reason not to).

Even as a purely intellectual matter, the requirement for "universal acceptance" is just as true of gold and silver -- their "value" is purely nominal (as is all "value"). The most one can say about gold and silver is that they were at one time a "universal nomos" (among the Great Powers) and Paul et al have mistaken this for "phusis," believing that gold somehow has natural or "real value" (a contradiction in terms). The only thing necessary for a currency, or any other "nomos," is acceptance, and if everybody accepts fiat money, there is no advantage to gold money. We could even have a "beef standard" just as easily as a gold standard as long as everybody accepted beef as a store of value. (Trade with India would be tough though.)

On the day of Paul's $4 million "money bomb," I jokingly rewrote the lead of out story on it, with the writer standing over me to share the laugh, from something like "Ron Paul raised $4 million" to "Ron Paul accepted agreements for $4 million in worthless promissary notes without real value."

Victor said...

As for a humble foreign policy -- Paul's call to respond to the September 11 attacks with counter-piracy and the commissioning of privateers against Al Qaeda (I'm not kidding) is certainly something to be humble about.

Clark said...

To Victor:

The gold standard prevents the federal government from making up money whenever it wants to spend more than exists. It also prevents the runaway inflation that happens when money is debt and any bank can create it out of thin air.


Victor said...

The gold standard prevents the federal government from making up money whenever it wants to spend more than exists.

The central conceptual error in your note, Clark, is contained here -- presuming that money is a thing out-there that exists naturally, prior to the government deciding to print currency. It isn't. "Value" exists prior to currency-printing, sure, but "value" is not in any way related to some amount of gold in existence. If it were, economic growth would be impossible (which isn't to say the government can print as much currency as it likes -- well, it can obviously, but at a cost in inflation).

As for hyperinflation, several problems with this:

(1) The gold standard is nothing but an honor system. A government determined to print currency can do it (at a cost, sure, but that cost exists under the fiat money system anyway, via convertible currency and floating exchange rates).

(2) There is no greater incidence of hyperinflation in the "hard currency" countries since they all abandoned the gold standard, and this has been more than offset by the total absence of long-term deflations and depressions.

Also did you actually watch that video? It says quite clearly that money is created by banks, not the government as you're presupposing. It was a cartoon in more ways than one and highly entertaining in a perverse way -- ominous quotes from a Rothschild, economic obscurantism and class envy worthy of a medieval pogrom, debt as a trick invented by greedy bankers.

I nearly wet myself laughing at "money used to represent value, now money represents debt" which the not-careful mind won't recognize as presupposing the whisked-in hidden assumption that fiat money doesn't represent "value" because it's not backed by gold, as if gold were the same thing as "value" and that only gold's (and silver's) value was somehow "real." The cartoonist himself had conveniently forgotten what he said earlier about the wide variety of things used to represent money in various societies, which would have cured him of that illusion. Money is a conventional store of value (always has been, always will be -- whether paper notes, gold coins or tulip leaves) and value is a thing created by man in trade that measures his wants. Nothing more.

Another amusing thing -- why does Ron Paul attract support from both Libertarian worshippers of unfettered commerce (some of whom even advocate private money) AND the sort of people behind that sinister cartoon with its obscurantist message that "banking is inherently duplicitous."

Anonymous said...

Refusing to allow his gay grandson to be treated like an Untouchable makes him "grouchy"?

I guess hating all the right people is the real sign of a true Christian.

Another good reason for me to renounce Christ and become a Jew.

Kasia said...

My dad, who has been a hard-core Democrat for all of my life, supported Goldwater in '64. I think he may have even worked on the campaign. Perhaps there was "something about Barry" that attracted some idealistic young liberals?

Father Martin Fox said...


That's a nice trick, inserting things into my comments, and then denouncing me for what you inserted!

I didn't say a word about Goldwater's grandson, nor was there any "hate" expressed.

Your post reminds me of the guys who show up once in a while and say, "great post...be sure to visit BingoBingoBingo.com!"

Anonymous said...

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