Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ron Paul: Freedom brings people together

From Snoop Dogg to Barry Manilow, the message of liberty presented by Ron Paul's presidential campaign is beyond profound. The United States is full of so many folks stuck in their red versus.blue tribal corners, yet the message of freedom cuts across divisions and unites people.

While other candidates take pot shots at each other for what they did or said on this and that policy, no one has had a more cogent message of how and why a free society is better than the status quo which exists today.

Ron Paul's speeches and campaign events attracts hundreds if not thousands of people. Why is this so? Why do droves of young people show up at campuses where Paul routinely speaks?

Again, the message of liberty is contagious and slices straight through to the fundamental question of how best does society want to organize herself and who owns you. Do you own your life? Or does someone else (the State) own you? Do you own the fruits of your labor or do you? Do get to determine how you spend your life and the fruits of your labor or does someone else?

These questions are obviously rhetorical and yet these are the ones only Ron Paul is asking. Maybe there is a method and reason why and the formula behind his success in changing the direction of the political discourse.

Please check out the RadioFreeMarket archive where you can find many other shows dedicated to liberty, economics, and politics.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Catholic Case for Ron Paul: Subsidiarity

Yesterday, I blogged about Tom Woods' persuasive case for Ron Paul over Rick Santorum from a Catholic perspective.  If you are unfamiliar with Tom Woods’ Catholic bona fides, please check out his website and his books (four of which are exclusively about the Catholic Church).

Now, as a faithful and devout Catholic, I have a foundation of moral principles which guides me on what is just – right versus wrong.  In the abstract, this is referred to as “ethics”.

Ethics, however, does differ from politics - which deals with decision making from a public policy perspective of those in government.  In politics, laws are passed to demarcate what is a CRIME versus a sin or viceWithout going into a law or history lesson, the States retained the plenary police power and jurisdiction to determine the criminal codes for its citizens. 

As each State might encompass different groups of people, norms, and values, common sense would logically follow the closer the government is to the people the more responsive and adaptive it would be.

Moreover, as Tom Woods mentioned in his blog post the Catholic Church’s teaching on Subsidiarity is another application of the de-centralized principle.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church discusses the premise of Subsidiarity as follows:

1883 Socialization also presents dangers. Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative. The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which "a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co- ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good."7

1885 The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism. It sets limits for state intervention. It aims at harmonizing the relationships between individuals and societies. It tends toward the establishment of true international order.

1894 In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, neither the state nor any larger society should substitute itself for the initiative and responsibility of individuals and intermediary bodies.

When power and intervention is prevented from being centralized, problems are solved and a community is much more likely to prosper in peaceful cooperation.  The framers of the country had this in mind and felt the role of government was to protect liberty and restrain power. 

Ron Paul’s positions are laid out reasonably well in a recent article in the National Catholic Register.  Throughout the article, Dr. Paul’s positions recommend issues be settled at the State level, which remains consistent with the principle of Subsidiarity.

In today’s political environment, our country resembles something of a national omnipotent government.  In contrast to Ron Paul, Rick Santorum wants to evoke the police power at the national level to codify Constitutional amendments about Marriage, Abortion, and other social issues. 

While I may personally agree with Senator Santorum’s definition of Marriage or be Pro-Life from a personal standpoint as a Catholic, the Constitution is silent on crimes since the police power resides with the States.  And, despite how much I might disagree with capital punishment or victimless crimes, these matters are best left to the lowest possible unit of governance to be settled.

Further, Santorum is someone who obviously does not subscribe to subsidiarity and projects a paternalistic parent who knows what is best for 300+ million people.  And, with this voting record of such programs as Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind, and the infamous bridge to nowhere in Alaska, these decisions should give Catholics pause as to what a Santorum Presidency would include.

Below is a short, yet precise description of what constitutes Subsidiarity from Acton Institute Founder, Fr. Robert Sirico. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ron Paul vs. Rick Santorum - Who Should a Catholic Choose?

Tom Woods presents a solid case why Catholics might favor Ron Paul (a Christian Presbyterian) over Rick Santorum, who happens to be Catholic as their choice for President.

I will be submitting my own Catholic case for Ron Paul in the coming days.

Update: My Catholic Case for Ron Paul can be found here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Homage to my personal heroes of liberty

Please check out my Podcast dedicated to this topic.  Thanks for listening and reading!

This post is really an homage to those I owe my political, economic, and philosophical framework.  I didn’t come to this philosophy lightly or without great discernment and reflection.

Obviously, I’m not a prestigious or scholarly person of the Ph.D persuasion nor do I pretend to be someone like that.  I really am just a layman like the rest of us out there in society (not sure I like that word but I’ll use it in this case).  With that being said, I feel much more informed and aware of the reality that exists around me than many of the Ivory tower types in D.C. or in higher education.  And, my hope is that those of you out there can follow the same path.

The 2008 financial crisis really launched me in what I’ll call my quest.  All of the media hacks and pundits tried to explain the dynamics of the crisis and how absolutely no one could have predicted the crisis.  The only consensus about the crisis was that there wasn’t a consensus on how it was caused.

I didn’t buy any of this nonsense.  But, three individuals were instrumental in curing my apathy and actually DID predict the crisis.

The person I want to recognize is Peter Schiff.  Schiff is the President of Euro Pacific Capital which is a global strategy and investment firm.  So, I had been following him on Headline News, Fox News, and CNBC and some of the other cable channels explain for awhile the dynamics of the bubble in Housing and the root causes of it (fiat money from the Fed and the increased money supply and artificially low interest rates).  The YouTube called Peter Schiff Was Right has more than 2 million hits and it’s a must see production. 

Peter Schiff took on an army of misguided Keynesian investment hacks and the comical part is how he was treated on these shows.  Many times he was laughed at on-air by the guest and even some of the hosts of these shows.  Peter remained un-phased in his arguments and theory (rooted in Austrian economics) about what caused the bubble and the ensuing housing bust.

So, I owe a thank you to Peter Schiff and his books like Crash Proof as well as How An Economy Grows and Why It Crashes, which is written as a children’s book caricature. 

The second person I want to recognize is Tom Woods who is an Economic Historian, best-selling author, and Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute.  Tom Woods is just a fantastic author who’s educated me on so many things. 

His book, Meltdown, is without a doubt the single best resource on the crisis, economic history, and the business cycle I can recall.  It’s really hard to sum up everything in Meltdown other than it’s a handbook you must own if you want to understand the free market, the Austrian theory of the business cycle, and sound money. 

How many times have you heard your friends or family say how the entire financial crisis was caused entirely by Wall Street and if not for them, all of this would have been avoided?  Or, it was caused by greed on the “free market” as fault of the financial collapse?  Meltdown just explodes these myths and gives you a bulletproof argument about the real cause of how the boom was started and why the bust was the likely result.

And, as a devout Catholic like myself, Tom Woods has written a wonderful book called The Church and the Market discussing common honest arguments and disagreements with the Church’s social teachings.  Whether it’s minimum wage, labor unions, inflation, or even the guild system, all of the arguments are well reasoned and posited in a polite manner with good scholarship and references to other Church teachings.  Even if you are not Catholic, the book is a brilliant read about the virtues of the market from a moral perspective.

The final person that I owe a deal of gratitude for getting me excited about the principles of liberty, free markets, and economics is Congressman Ron Paul of Texas.  I first was introduced to Ron Paul back in early 2007 when one of my old roommates from Iowa told me about him.  Once I actually grasped the arguments of Ron Paul, I wanted to know more and more and more.  It was like he was a highly addictive drug.  Except, Ron Paul wasn’t Meth or Speed.  He was (and still is) an antidote and cure to the disease of tyranny, power, and control.

Probably the most important part of Ron Paul’s message was on the topic of Foreign Policy.  I remember the moment during the GOP debates when Rudy Giuliani was utterly shocked at Paul’s theory of why Al-Qaeda and Bin-Laden attacked us on 9-11.  At first glance, I didn’t understand Paul’s argument.  But after reading the works of Michael Scheuer (the CIA’s Bin Laden unit Chief during the late 90s and early 2000s) – which were recommended readings by Ron Paul - I understood clearly the degree to which animosity breeds contempt from foreigners and those who view the United States as an instigator of trouble instead of a liberator, hero, or savior. 

A foreign policy of non-intervention, friendship, and trade with nations just makes sense and is not naïve as many make it out to be.  Being the world’s policeman is not a virtuous ideal that individuals around the world enable us to serve.  A national defense should be confined to protecting the borders and sovereignty of its own people and not to inflame conflict around the world just because it can do so.

But, Ron Paul’s message is not necessarily about politics as much as what the proper role of government.  And, his candidacy to be President is more than just a political endeavor as much as it is a strategy to create a bottom up movement.  This movement is aimed at unsuspecting citizens with the hope to awaken the principles of liberty and the application of such a framework.

After starting my blog, I’ve evolved in my opinion of government and what the concept of liberty entails.  Ron Paul (and the folks at Lew Rockwell.com and the Mises Institute) basically “cured my apathy” and “woke me up” like Morpheus did with Neo in The Matrix.  Ron Paul is our Morpheus and he hands us the red pill to wake up from the chains of government enslavement … of your mind.

In many ways, the contributions of Peter Schiff, Tom Woods, and Ron Paul encapsulate the red pill.  After all, there is no spoon if you believe in Liberty, Freedom, and Prosperity.