Why Do Liberals Care About Ron Paul’s Goldbuggery?

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59 Responses

  1. What exactly are the chances that Ron Paul, if elected, would get his way on any of this?

    Well, a president has quite a bit of sway over whether or not we’re on the gold standard. Nixon took us off the gold standard one weekend in 1971. It was contrary to our longstanding international commitments (and I believe against the law), but hey, he who has the gold makes the rules. (What’s more, the GOP, having shed its previous lodestar, Bush Is Good, for the new one of Obama Is Bad, is more receptive to gold standard talk than it was a few years back, so who knows what Ron Paul’s Congress might produce). So, chances substantially above zero.

    Do you really, honestly, think that what young Republicans find exciting about Ron Paul is that he believes weird things about money?

    Yes.

    The fun thing about the gold standard is that it’s a simple concept to explain everything. If Paulites were primarily interested in foreign policy, there are plenty of other places they could turn to pursue their non-interventionist interests.

    Now, I agree that Paul has received insufficient media coverage, I think a world where Ron Paul has a place in presidential debates and on Sunday morning TV shows is a more thought-provoking world than the one we live in.

    But it’s really not unfair, nor peripheral, to criticize his crankish economic views in posts about his candidacy.Report

    • “If Paulites were primarily interested in foreign policy, there are plenty of other places they could turn to pursue their non-interventionist interests. “

      I’m not a Paulite, but I’ll bite: Where?Report

      • Avatar gschu in reply to b-psycho says:

        I would say the anti-war left. Dennis Kucinch, and many on the left, have advocated for a much reduced role for the military in foriegn policy. The reason people flock to Paul is in part because of his economic views. I would argue that if non-intervention and civil liberites were the main thrust of Ron Paul and his supporters they would probably find a better fit with the Democratic Party. But economic and monetary policy are important to them, and that leads them to at semi identify with the Republican Party.Report

        • Avatar b-psycho in reply to gschu says:

          Dennis Kucinich has even less pull in his party than Paul does in his though.Report

          • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to b-psycho says:

            To be fair, a lot of those problems are DKu’s. For example, I’m sure if Bernie Sanders ran in the Democratic primary in 2012 if Obama dropped dead, he’d get a lot more votes than DKu despite having the same views by the by.

            On the other hand, yes, libertarians probably make up 10% of the GOP primary base. Hardcore anti-war people probably only do make up 5% of the Democratic base.Report

  2. Avatar Mike says:

    Good lord.

    Young kids get wrapped up in Ron Paul’s cult the same way they wind up in Lyndon LaRouche’s cult or in any other cult. It has nothing to do with anything he has making any sort of sense, it’s just cult-of-personality bullshit.Report

  3. Avatar Jakecollins says:

    Being a goldbug is perhaps analogous to being a scientologist. From the perspective of the atheist, perhaps Scientology might seem no more ridiculous than christianity (which is here analogous to belief in subsidies).
    On the other hand, being a goldbug or a scientologist indicates that you do not let the bounds of polite opinion restrain your tendency towards pronouncing batshit crazy opinions.

    Making fun of the ridiculous is what makes us human, and the bounds of the ridiculous are moving social conventions not subject to the rational analysis attempted in this post.Report

  4. Avatar Sam MacDonald says:

    “And how exactly is any of this wackier than any number of things the current president believes about the Drug War, foreign policy, farm subsidies, and so on?”

    I am not sure it’s wackier, but I think people might be a little concerned that he actually believes it, and would at least try to make something happen. Did anybody really think that Obama was better on civil liberties? That the current crop or Republicans actually believes in smaller government?

    Ron Paul believes what he says. He’ll even make libertarians mad if he has to. (Immigration. Abortion.) He’d appoint a fellow traveler to head the fed, and leave the position unfilled if that guy couldn’t get past the senate. He’d wear out one veto pen after another. And the threat of not getting re-elected would not bother him in the least.

    That last part is the issue, I think.Report

  5. Avatar John Casey says:

    If one can fantasize Ron Paul winning the Presidency, one can fantasize a House and Senate eager to enact his desired policies.

    And if we aren’t to discuss the policies he advocates, what of him do we discuss? His nice complexion? His grandfatherly mien? His racist past?Report

  6. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Liberals should be rooting for Ron Paul with all their might.

    First of all, he’s more or less on the liberal side of the war on drugs, the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, the war in Libya, and the war on terrorism. Granted he’s no liberal himself (e.g., abortion). But I’m not saying they should vote for him, just hope that he makes an impact in the GOP. After all, the other likely nominees from the GOP aren’t exactly any better from a liberal’s perspective.

    Secondly, were lightning to strike and the planets align as necessary for Paul to actually be competitive in the primaries, this would force substantial policy changes in the eventual GOP nominee’s position, at least some of which changes liberals would find palatable.

    Thirdly, were I to indulge in a flight of imagination more fantastic than the previous paragraph, a Ron Paul nomination would pretty much guarantee an Obama re-election. Obama could slit a guy’s throat on live TV out in the Rose Garden and still get re-elected against Ron Paul a week later.Report

    • Avatar James K in reply to Burt Likko says:

      I’m not so sure about that last part. Last election, InTrade gave Paul the best odds of beating the Democratic nominee, conditional on being nominated.

      Try mobilising your anti-war base when your opponent is Ron Paul.Report

      • Avatar Ogro in reply to James K says:

        For Obama, I wouldn’t see that as being too hard, since if it looks like Paul will be the Republican candidate, you can speed up withdrawals in Iraq/Afghanistan, point to the elimination of the Gaddhafi regime, and then go on a huge offensive about how much better you are on policies the average liberal and moderate would find way more palatable than Ron Paul’s more populists Christianist elements (immigration, reproductive rights, environment, public sector roles, etc.). The Republican establishment would have to really hammer hard on the Christianist elements i just mentioned, as two of the three major parts of their governing strategy (corporatism and unilateral interventionism) would be a non-starter with the Doctor, and thus the only elements of the nation that would reliably vote R would be the tea party-types, isolationists, and hardcore libertarians. I really hope this happens, btw, since a Paul primary win would suggest that the conservative base is actually serious about cutting military spending, which hopefully would signal to the President that it is a popular position, and thus eliminating a lot of that spending in the FY 2012 budget.

        Unrealistic, I suppose, but one can dream…Report

        • Avatar Katherine in reply to Ogro says:

          If any of the Republican candidates aren’t Christianists, it’s Ron Paul. His views on immigration are paleocon nativism, his views on the environment and public sector are libertarian, and I would guess that his views on abortion are significantly influenced by having been an ob/gyn.

          He’d still lose against Obama, of course, because the centre would all vote for Obama, but it would be the one election in recent history that lacked culture war aspects.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to James K says:

        James,
        look at 538, intrade is notoriously “influenced” by a small number of people.Report

      • Avatar Jeff in reply to James K says:

        The base could be mobilized on abortion.

        The StormFront issue (whether it has any meaning at all — since when has truth mattered in politics?) could motivate a lot of people, especially if combined with “Republicans are Racist”.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to James K says:

        The anti-war base is also pro-Social Security, Medicare, and student loans.Report

  7. Avatar Dan Miller says:

    “What exactly are the chances that Ron Paul, if elected, would get his way on any of this? How likely is the US to return to the gold standard or abolish the Fed?”

    About the same as the chance that first the GOP primary electorate, and then America, would elect Ron Paul. If Ron Paul wins the election, that’s a world where Ron Paul is popular–and thus one where we’d have a real chance of returning to the gold standard, despite its being utterly nutball.Report

  8. Avatar Dan Miller says:

    I also think loss aversion explains some of this. It’s worth noting that, from a liberal perspective, there’s a difference between goldbuggery and the Obama position on civil liberties. Both are bad ideas, yes. But the gold standard is a bad idea that’s been defeated–after great suffering and decades of struggle, the sensible people won! Whereas Obama’s civil liberties abuses, while bad, are pretty much in the broad range of what both parties have done, and in line with at least some strands of mainstream opinion.

    So from the perspective of a liberal, Obama’s civil liberties stance is bad, but it merely continues the bad status quo. On the other hand, Paul’s gold fetish is actively a step backwards, opening up a fight that we thought was over a long time ago.Report

  9. Avatar Jakecollins says:

    Shouldn’t this post have ended with the headline? That is, assuming you honestly wanted to know and weren’t just concern trolling.Report

  10. Avatar trizzlor says:

    Imagine a president who’s great on non-interventionism, but also happens to believe in the fluoridation plot and IQ-based sterilization. Would the argument that his crazy positions are unlikely to get passed convince you to vote for him?

    Paul’s position on things that he is unlikely to have control over still give us an idea of his judgement and the way he would react in new situations where his input is necessary. Honestly, the fact that he believes fiat currency & the Fed are the biggest threats to America leaves me with no clue how he would think in new situations. Obama may believe wacky things but at least I understand the train of thought that brought him there.Report

  11. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    Enough crankery on enough issues tends to indicate, well, a crank. (And here I am suggesting a subjective understanding of crankery.) And cranks tend to be inured to the kinds of pressures that generally keep politicians from bringing crankish ideas like goldbug policy from coming into effect. Extensive goldbuggery may not be the result of a Ron Paul presidency (and while I view the chances of his nomination as remotely as Burt does above, I view the chances of his election is nominated significantly less remote than Burt does, though still fairly remote), but the indication of crankery given to liberals by Paul’s goldbuggery raises questions about what other crankish ideas may guide a Paul presidency, and moreover, decreases confidence that the normal pressures that keep crank ideas, or just bad ideas, from becoming policy would in fact do so in such an administration. And that is why liberals care about his goldbuggery, aside from simply wanting to resist the effect that his gaining greater status and support from them would tend to work against the consensus that goldbuggery is a crank set of ideas.

    I’d remind you that liberals flocked to a candidate who ran on expanding the war in Afghanstan in 2008. So on the issues you think liberals ought to focus on when they think about Ron Paul, the match may not even be so great on those either.

    I do find it odd that you start a post asking why liberals care about Paul’s goldbuggery and end it with a strenuous castigation of a liberal for thinking that young Republicans might care about Paul’s goldbuggery. (Are you really so sure you know what young Republicans care about when it comes to Ron Paul?) So what is this post really supposed to be about? Why liberals care about Ron Paul’s Goldbuggery, or just telling liberals and others what they should pay attention to and what they should think when it comes to Ron Paul?Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

      One other thing: this is bizarre way to try to think about 18-29 year old Republicans’ views on issues. Ron Paul doesn’t have to be the proxy for figuring out what they think about the Iraq war or anything else. We can just look at polls directly for that.Report

  12. Avatar Steve Horwitz says:

    Two points:

    1. There’s a difference between wanting to get rid of the central bank and “goldbuggery.” There are a number of serious professional economists (myself included) who think our economy would do much better if we really could replace the Fed with true competition in the production of money. Such a system might involve gold, but it might not. In any case, how is it that the left is okay with a small group of economists and bankers making decisions that affect every single American, and much of the rest of the world, with near-zero accountability? I thought liberals didn’t like monopolies.

    2. Whatever else one thinks of Ron Paul (and I disagree with him strongly on abortion and immigration and SSM to name three issues), his opposition to the war and his opposition to central banking are NOT UNRELATED. The history of central banks and government intervention in money more generally is pretty much the history of governments wanting a source of funds for their imperialist adventures that the public would not lend them money for (nor accept higher taxes). Having a central bank is precisely how you pay for unpopular imperialism.

    Ron Paul gets that totally. Calling for an end to the Fed and opposing the war are, uh, two sides of the same coin.

    Maybe, just maybe, some of the young folks get that too.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Steve Horwitz says:

      …so, yeah…Report

    • The history of central banks and government intervention in money more generally is pretty much the history of governments wanting a source of funds for their imperialist adventures that the public would not lend them money for (nor accept higher taxes). Having a central bank is precisely how you pay for unpopular imperialism.

      1. The following large states have, since the foundation of the Bank of England, been composed of a multi-ethnic assemblage of territories, or been cobbled together from a mass of formerly sovereign kingdoms, or have assembled a portfolio of peripheral or overseas dependencies:

      a. Tsarist Russia
      b. Hohenzollern Prussia
      c. Hapsburg monarchy
      d. post-Risorgimento Italy
      e. Spain
      f. Portugal
      g. France
      h. Britain
      i. United States
      j. India
      k. Pakistan
      l. post-Tokugawa Japan
      m. Indonesia
      n. China
      o. Soviet Russia
      p. Nazi Germany

      2. Which one made use of a central bank in this manner, and when?

      3. How does one verify that public opinion in each case was opposed to whatever the government’s adventures are conceived of as being?

      4. How would such activity discredit the use of a central bank by ordinary territorial states with more-or-less stable boundaries?

      5. How in particular does your thesis work in an American context, given:

      a. During the period this country was most invested in acquiring and holding overseas dependencies and protectorates (1898-1946), the central government tended to be small. There was immense public expenditure during national mobilizations conducted in 1917-19 and 1941-46, but neither of these were driven by territorial acquisition. In contrast, the federal government was devoting 0.9% of domestic product to the military in the fiscal year ending in 1929. It was also maintaining the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the Danish West Indies, the Canal Zone, Alaska, part of Samoa, and Guam as dependencies; occupying Haiti; and running a counter-insurgency in Nicaragua. The sovereignty of Cuba and Panama were also compromised by treaties. Most of these places were small potatoes, but the ratio of the contemporary population of the Philippines to that of the continental United States exceeds the ratio of the population of Iraq to the population of the U.S. in our own time.

      b. The ratio of military expenditure to domestic product declined (not quite monotonically) during the period running from 1959 to 1973 and the government balanced its budget in the fiscal year ending 30 June 1969 (when our troop force in VietNam stood at its peak – some 630,000 or thereabouts).

      c. The cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could have been met with with a surtax of 1.25% on incomes and consumer price inflation after 2001 did not exceed 3% per annum.Report

    • One can add the Netherlands, Belgium, and the Ottoman sultanate as well.Report

    • I thought liberals didn’t like monopolies.

      The left likes monopolies. It’s “monopolies” that they don’t like.

      That is, if a firm which is not a true monopoly (i.e., there are no legal barriers to entry) manages to win a large market share, leftists will call it a monpoly and demand that it be broken up or heavily regulated.

      However, they do not generally object to true monopolies, and often favor even stronger protections for them. Hence their support for unions, public schools, single-payer health care, the FDA, Social Security, central banks, the USPS, and other genuinely coercive monopolies.Report

  13. Avatar Steve Horwitz says:

    Can one or more of the critics of Paul’s “goldbuggery” explain to me exactly WHY it’s a “crank” idea? Or more precisely, can you explain to me why ending the Fed and allowing money to be produced in a competitive marketplace is a “crank” idea? I’d even be happy if any of the critics could explain why it’s a *bad* idea, much less a “crank” one.

    Again, I could produce a LONG list of books and articles by reputable economists that have explored these issues and made such recommendations. You can start with a 1994 literature review in the Journal of Economic Literature (one of the flagship journals of the AEA) by George Selgin and Lawrence H. White. Normally “crank” ideas don’t get lit reviews in a flagship journal of a professional society, so please clue me in. I’d love to hear a cogent argument.Report

    • Avatar mb in reply to Steve Horwitz says:

      “Can one or more of the critics of Paul’s ‘goldbuggery’ explain to me exactly WHY it’s a ‘crank’ idea?”

      It just, you know, is, man.

      Christ, if this comments section doesn’t convince every non-Obamaton alive that American liberals are in fact the most conservative group around, the smuggest, most ardent defenders of the status quo who ever existed, then I don’t know what will.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Steve Horwitz says:

      Perhaps even the author of the post, who repeatedly says that what Paul says about money is “wacky.”

      As far as I’m concerned, this is why I qualified my explanation of liberals’ concern with this matter in terms of subjective assessments of what is crankery. I really don’t claim that it is absolutely crankery, certainly not to the extent that I can explain to a skeptic of the notion why they should think it is. But it would seem to me that it would behoove those people who seek to downplay their place in Paul’s political program to explain why his ideas on the topic are “wacky,” or else explain they, while they personally don’t necessarily so much oppose this particular part of their protagonist’s agenda, they can assure the rest of us that it would be a political nonstarter of an idea were their ranks to suddenly prove effective enough to propel him to the White House.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Michael Drew says:

        I’m a physicist, not a chemist. But DAMN, if you pegged America to gold, you’d have someone crashing America’s currency in three shakes of a lamb’s tail (probably China, through extracting gold from seawater).Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Steve Horwitz says:

      Steve – I don’t know if the gold stuff or the end-the-Fed stuff is crankery so much as it is radical so far as contemporary politics go. I think people react to big leaps more strongly than to baby-steps, whether or not there is merit to these ideas. This may not be as true when it comes to military stuff since it’s overseas and we are relatively insulated from our actions. But talk of ending the Dept. of Education is seen in much the same light, for similar reasons. In that sense, it’s a bit of an unrealistic goal at best, and certainly radical, and people like baby steps.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        E.D., if you dissolve the federal Department of Education and simply cut the state governments a check for the amount of its budget (distributed according to a formula which takes into account population and per capita income), the result will be a process of deliberation in state legislatures and on school boards as to whether to continue each of the projects and programs for which they were getting dedicated funds. Nothing radical need happen in any given area. It would be upsetting to various and sundry vested interests for elected officials to exercise discretion in this manner, but that is their little world, not ours.

        By contrast, replacement of central banking with a currency board or gold standard would have a effect on business cycles noticeable by just about everyone. You can ask the Argentine government how it worked out for them.Report

    • Avatar Katherine in reply to Steve Horwitz says:

      I’ll bite. Goldbuggery is a crank idea because it’s based on an complete misunderstanding of how the money supply works.

      What the economic crash of 2008 did, was destroy a vast amount of this non-currency money. That’s why the Fed has been producing vast amounts of money since then – to restore the money that has been lost. All of the Republican candidates, who raise the spectre of inflation, fail to understand what’s going on here. The money supply is not being increased: it is being restored to its prior level. When there actually starts to be significant inflation, that’s our signal that we’ve replaced the money that was lost in the crash. Then we can stop pumping more money into the economy.

      A return to the gold standard would do the same thing that the housing crash did – it would destroy huge amounts of money, and thus plunge the United States and the world into a recession as bad as or worse than the Great Depression. It would cause deflation – which, despite being the opposite of inflation, is NOT a good thing, because it means people don’t spend their money (it makes more sense to hold onto it, as it’s going up in value) and the economy grinds to a halt.

      In addition – the current system is simply more rational than the gold standard. Under the gold standard, the value of money is based on how much obtainable gold there is in the world, which has no real relevance to anything. Under the current system, the value of the US dollar is based on how much faith investors in the rest of the world have in the US dollar (and the US economy), which actually makes sense.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Katherine says:

        What you had in 2008 was an abrupt increase in demand for cash balances (due to the public’s reaction to economic uncertainty) and a decline in the money multiplier (due to the Federal Reserve beginning to pay interest on reserves). Increasing the monetary base was necessary to avoid a rapid deflation. You did not have any destruction of the existing money stock.Report

        • Avatar Katherine in reply to Art Deco says:

          What’s invested counts as money. When there’s a sharp stock market drop, there is a decline in the amount of money.Report

          • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Katherine says:

            No it does not. None of the common definitions of money made use of by the Federal Reserve for policy (m0, m1, m2) include equities. There was at one time a very broad definition denominated ‘L’ which included some securities (e.g. Treasury bills). The Federal Reserve no longer reports the quantity of m3 or L.Report

  14. I believe that the Federal Reserve was and remains responsible for our current economic disaster. Getting rid of it and creating a new monetary authority seems… just.. to me.

    Frankly, I see no value to having the monetary authority have trappings of a private bank.

    I am very skeptical of the gold standard, and favor a target for nominal GDP. And the Fed could change its policy approach. But I see some benefits from setting up a new monetary authority to implement the new monetary approach. Getting people to believe that there is a new plan–one that will generate sufficient spending on output, would be an advantage of making this change.Report

  15. I am confused by this piece. So I am to believe that I shouldn’t fear a Ron Paul presidency because the likelihood of his batshit policies being implemented are slim? Should that not tell you something about the candidate in question?

    I don’t know much about the “liberals” you speak of who like making fun of people “for being dumb.” I am also not a liberal who believes we should pull out of Afghanistan, or has embraced much of Paul’s foreign policy for that matter. Might make me just some commie outsider, but that is something I can live with.

    As for Ron Paul’s strong showing in polls, well I would remind the author that the only poll that matters is the poll box on Election Day, something Ron Paul will never win. Not in a thousand years. He can rock all these bullshit straw polls with his cult members as often as he pleases; most of us recognize that they don’t mean much in the end.
    I should also add that Ron Paul’s history of racist connections, and the cult-like group that follows him about as if he is Jerry Garcia raised from the grave sure doesn’t help his case.

    http://adamholland.blogspot.com/2011/05/unanswered-questions-why-ron-pauls.html

    So you can add that long list of infractions to the reason liberals care about Ron Paul.Report

  16. Avatar James Cameron says:

    I’ll make my usual argument, I guess. The public does not deal with actual policy when making political judgements. No one reads projected cost graphs unless they’re simple little pictures, no one looks into the methods behind statistical surveys, and for goodness sake no one looks at economic journals to discuss the relative merits of the gold standard. Paul’s goldbuggery is a convenient shorthand his detractors can use to express their contempt for his overall strategy and stubbornness. I mean, it’s just as much of a code word as “neoliberal”.Report

  17. Avatar Alan Scott says:

    After what happened with the debt limit, I’m very wary about candidates with wacky ideas about how our country should handle money. Especially when those ideas come with good soundbites.

    That said, goldbuggery is never the problem I had with Paul (though I suppose it’s a symptom). Mostly I just resent the fact that he gets to be the “libertarian” despite being wrong on almost every libertarian issue I hold dear.

    Which is fair. I’m a liberaltarian, and he’s , what, a conserbertarian? I just look at him and see what might have been, and it makes me a little bit resentful.Report

  18. Avatar Ogro says:

    My question to those liberals who are fearful of a Ron Paul presidency is this: which of the insane position that Paul holds would President Bachmann be any better on? How about President Parry? Not saying Paul would be great in the presidency, but the Republican party currently is under the sway of such a nonsensical chunk of the base that being anti-war and pro negative-liberty is probably the best we can get from them. And maybe, just maybe, Paul can get people talking about the Fed, and then real economists may have a podium by which to air more realistic complaints about the role of the Fed in deepening the recession.Report

    • Avatar gschu in reply to Ogro says:

      From the discussion with liberals that I have had I think most if not all would be more supportive of a Paul presidency than that of Bachmann or Perry. Romney is a different story because I think people assume he will tack to the center as he did in Mass.Report

  19. Last time Paul ran, his position on “monetary policy” was make it possible for people to use alternative monies if they wanted, and gold is one possibility.

    In my view, such a proposal would do no harm, but would do little good. Only in the context of a hyperinflationary disaster would it make some difference. That Paul focused on this so much suggested that he considered a hyperinflationary disaster more likely and more eminent than I. That is a little troubling.

    Now, perhaps this time around he has a new plan that involves a shift to a gold standard.

    A more worrisome scentario is that he would appoint people to the Board of Governors of the Fed who believe in freezing the quantity of the monetary base.

    As I said above, I would be happy if “abolish the Fed” were on the agenda. I doubt I would agree with Ron Paul regarding what replaces it.Report

  20. I checked:

    “As President, Ron Paul will work for passage of comprehensive audit legislation, and he will also fight to legalize sound money so Americans will have alternatives to the Fed’s inflated paper money.”

    So, Audit the Fed and make it easier for peple investing in gold. Nothing radical at all.

    “Ultimately, he will lead the charge to end the dishonest, immoral, and unconstitutional Federal Reserve System, enabling America to take a giant step toward economic security, financial responsibility, and lasting prosperity.”

    Nothing specific here because he doesn’t intend to do anything but use the “bully pulpit.”

    As I said above, I think the greater worry is he would pick people for the Board of Governors that favor fixing the quantity of base money. Whether they would be confirmed, or not, I don’t know.Report

  21. Avatar gschu says:

    The main idea behind this post seems to me to be misguided on two levels. One is that a persons holding unconventional beliefs should be a topic of conversation, at least in my opinion. These opinions provide insight into the thinking of the person in question, the way they gather, process, and accept or reject evidence and information is useful as a proxy for judging some of their other ideas. This is not to say that one can dismiss all of someones ideas because I think they used incorrect methods to reach a invalid conclusion. This is just acknowledging that we are presented with huge amounts of information and we need some way to whittle down what we are going to pay attention to.

    The other reason is that Paul is the chair of the monetary subcommittee in the House. While that may sound insignificant it does allow for Paul’s views to have some effect on the discussion of monetary policy in this country. And I think this is born out by the current policies advocated for by the Republican Party. The tight money that is has become almost party dogma is in some measure influenced by Paul and his followers, and it should go without saying that this does have real world consequences.Report

  22. Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

    http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/story/ron-paul-takes-abortion-most-important-issue-our-age

    “Stuck in Washington as Congress faces votes on continued funding of American military action in Libya, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, making his third bid for the White House, spoke via Skype to pro-life activists convening in Jacksonville.
    “I talk a lot about right-to-life,” said Paul, who called it “the most important issue of our age.””Report

  23. Avatar Katherine says:

    Short answer: the chances of Ron Paul ever being elected president are somewhere between 0% and 5% – probably very close to the low end of that range. The problem is not whether he’s actually likely to ever be able to abolish the Fed.

    The problem is that it’s next to impossible to present someone as a credible, thoughtful, intelligent voice in politics when some of his major political positions are that kooky. When his economic platform boils down to “if elected, I would endeavour to plunge the United States into depression as bad as or worse than the 1930s, because I don’t comprehend first-year university economics”, it’s very, very, very difficult to say to people “Listen to this guy, he’s got common-sense ideas on foreign policy and the drug war!” and get a response other than laughter.

    In addition, in policy terms, even if he by some crazy event got elected president, even if he couldn’t abolish the Fed he could put some pretty heavy constraints on the amount of monetary stimulus they can employ, which, as long as the economy remains in recession or is flatlining, would be a very bad thing.Report

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