Thursday, December 20, 2007

How to Prognisticate a Paul Presidency

Lots of debate about Ron Paul over at Marginal Revolution (see both the in-post links and the comments). The main question is whether Paul’s advocacy of the gold standard makes him a kook. I’m not much of a macroeconomist, so I tend to bow to my betters on this one. I’m naturally suspicious of having a government agency in charge of the money supply; but when a libertarian like Tyler Cowen says the gold standard is a bad idea, I’m not inclined to argue that vigorously. (On the other hand, I also trust the judgment of Steve Horwitz, a macroeconomist who is somewhat more friendly to Paul’s anti-Fed position.)

But is a debate about the Fed really relevant to the question of whether Ron Paul would make a good president? Every candidate has at least one crazy idea. I suggest we should not judge a candidate by his kookiest position, but by his kookiest position that actually stands a chance of implementation. It’s just not plausible that the Fed would be dismantled under a Paul administration. The President cannot unilaterally do such a thing; it would require the cooperation of a Congress that, realistically, would never agree.

What the President can do, with frighteningly little interference from Congress, is shape our foreign policy by (for instance) deciding whether to embroil us in lengthy and costly military adventures. The President can also dramatically affect the behavior of the Justice Department, especially with regard to the expansion of executive power at the expense of civil liberties. On both these fronts, I would trust Paul more than any other candidate, hands down.


Anonymous said...

Ron Paul gets his ideals from people you supposedly follow.

I have always given it as my decided opinion that no nation had a right to inter-meddle in the internal concerns of another; and that, if this country could, consistent with its engagements, maintain a strict neutrality and thereby preserve peace. George Washington – Letter to James Monroe, August 25, 1796

Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all. …The nation which indulges toward another an habitual hatred or an habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. George Washington – Farewell Address, September 17, 1797

Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none should be our motto. Thomas Jefferson – First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

If there be one principle more deeply rooted than any other in the mind of every American, it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest. Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) Letter to William Short, 1791

We certainly cannot deny to other nations that principle whereon our own government is founded, that every nation has a right to govern itself internally under what forms it pleases, and to change these forms at its own will. Thomas Jefferson – To Thomas Pinckney, December 30, 1792

Europe, by her arms and by her negotiations, by force and by fraud, has extended her dominion over them all, Africa, Asia, an America have successively felt her domination. The superiority she has long maintained has tempted her to plume herself as the Mistress of the World, and to consider the rest of mankind as created for her benefit. Alexander Hamilton on Colonialism, The Federalist Papers 1787

Anonymous said...

The president may also have an impact on trade and immigration... here Paul falls down. He is looking less like a libretarian and more like Nationalist-Buchanan 2.0 every day.

Anonymous said...

Here here on Paul's stand for a non-interventionist foreign policy.

On the trade and immigration issues I disagree with Paul but one cannot find a candidate they agree with 100%. I agree with about 5% of the other candidates and 80% with Paul. Why would I support another candidate that I only agree 5% with when I can support Paul with whom I mostly agree.