Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ron Paul Not A Republican?


While I'm not a great fan of Dr. Ron Paul as an effective politician, I do respect Dr. Ron Paul as a consistent representative of hands-off conservatism.

If you have read this blog for any time, you will see that Dr. Paul's positions are not that far from what has been written here.

Dr. Paul's position on illegal immigration is correct:

His fiscal conservatism makes great sense:

... but I'm not sure that claiming our fiscal woes are all due to military spending is necessarily correct.  While such spending has increased since 2000, it is below pre-1990 levels.  The military, in fact, has been required to do more with less for quite some time.

A larger percentage of federal spending has been for social programs over the past 2 decades.  If there is borrowing needed, it is to cover mandate after mandate... program after program.

Regardless, one has to question what Dr. Paul's interpretation of "defense" is rather than "military spending."  Without a doubt he is correct that the military expenditures... for all reasons... have increased due to the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.  That, I would argue, is from the misuse of the military due to politically-correct, media-focused, directed-by-civilian strategies than the military wasting money intentionally.

With regard to Dr. Paul's position on "military" versus "defense," I find his proposed dichotomy a bit simplistic.

I absolutely agree with his position that the military should never be used for nation building or policing.  Our politicians' approach to Iraq and Afghanistan was that we were deploying engineers and social workers who happened to wear military uniforms... and they better not do anything impolite.  Not a way to conduct military operations.  This situation is the reason why so many military personnel back Dr. Paul.  It's their way of telling our politicians that this is not what they signed up for.  But it goes beyond fixing a misuse of the military to a position of military isolationism.

Dr. Paul wants to believe that if we just walk away militarily from the rest of the world, we will be left alone.  Sorry, Dr. Paul, the world doesn't quite work that way.  He doesn't have that same attitude with regard to trade.  Quite the opposite.  That's pretty much open borders.

The military's global presence is a factor in the overall defense of this nation.  Do we need 80,000 military personnel in Europe?  I think not.  Do we need naval ports and air fields in strategic locations for our Navy and Air Force.  I think so.  They serve as a very strong reminder that any attack on the U.S. or its allies is not an action without consequences... and provide the means to back up that implication.

There is a difference between nation building and policing... and peacekeeping [not the Peace Corps version, but the "speak softly and carry a big stick" version].  This is not a furtherance of Obama's Libyan policy.  Our goal should not be to fix every political system... just keep their armies in check and their missiles out of Venezuela.

So, while I agree in part with Dr. Paul, I disagree in general regarding military spending and defense spending.
He would argue, "It's not our job to be a global peacekeeper."   
I would answer, "Who then?"   
He probably would respond, "It's the responsibility of each nation."    
I would ask, "And if the strong, anti-individualism, dictatorial powers want to prey on the pro-individualism democracies, must they stand alone?"   
And he would respond, "Let them work it out.  It's not our problem."
And that's where I have a problem... because it eventually becomes everyone's problem.
My wife astutely pointed out that, as President, Dr. Paul would have only some say in matters economic... programs and spending being the purview of Congress.  But in matters military and foreign policy, President Paul, as Commander In Chief, would wield enormous power.  
I'm not prepared to back a foreign policy summarized as "see you later," nor a military strategy that says "everyone go home and we'll call if we need you."  Can the military be pared back?  Yes, but not Obama style.  A major concern is approaching cutbacks the post-Vietnam manner... cutting fat, muscle, bone, and spirit.

Dr. Paul may be a Republican, but he is facing an uphill battle convincing Republicans that he really represents them... especially in matters of national security where the President is the key figure.  But he's not that far off the mark on many other things.  That's part of it.

Another part of the process of being electable, however, is displaying the presence, the image, the tone of someone in charge.  Obama has done that well... even when he has no idea about that which he is expounding.  Sure, Obama occasionally gets to stumbling without the teleprompter, but for the most part he displays the presence, the image and the tone expected of someone in charge.  Obama can make stupid ideas sound perfectly reasonable and logical because he knows how to play to our eyes and ears.

(AP photo) Dr. Paul, on the other hand, suffers from an image of a whiny eccentric because of the way he speaks, his tailored-by-Walmart suits, and his visually and verbally rambling style.

He can get people's minds nodding yes to what he says while a visceral reaction to him being the President of the United States is, "No, not him, no way."  That's not fair and certainly not a reasonable way to choose a leader, but it is the case.

He is like that odd professor we had as a sophomore in college who never quite seemed to be talking to us... but we were never sure if he was talking to someone else either... someone only he could see.  He made a lot of sense, but ... maybe he'll grow on us... like that professor.  Or maybe not.

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There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
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- O. Henry
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Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)