A periodic blog dedicated to providing commentary and encouraging debate on topics in Economics and Finance.

About Me

Age: 26 Occupation: Private Equity

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving! (One Day Late)

Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts on this blog!

Friday, November 16, 2007

A discussion of Ron Paul

I have recently become aware that there are allegations on the internet that Ron Paul is a racist. After examining the facts, I must say that most of the things used to support the allegations were "snippets" compiled by a Democrat running against him in a congressional election in 15 years ago in 1992. As I can't examine the context of the statement or the validity of the claims, I cannot pass judgment, though it would be very easy to. While I generally like "easy," it has become painfully apparent to me in cases of character attacks that easy is often unfair. What I can tell you definitively is that Senator Paul has written several essays on racism in the 15 years since then , including the one below. I'll also take a moment to comment on how certain factions in the media and academia use such "branding" to the general detriment of intelligent dialog.

Government and Racism

by Ron Paul
by Ron Paul

The controversy surrounding remarks by talk show host Don Imus shows that the nation remains incredibly sensitive about matters of race, despite the outward progress of the last 40 years. A nation that once prided itself on a sense of rugged individualism has become uncomfortably obsessed with racial group identities.

The young women on the basketball team Mr. Imus insulted are over 18 and can speak for themselves. It’s disconcerting to see third parties become involved and presume to speak collectively for minority groups. It is precisely this collectivist mindset that is at the heart of racism.

It’s also disconcerting to hear the subtle or not-so-subtle threats against free speech. Since the FCC regulates airwaves and grants broadcast licenses, we’re told it’s proper for government to forbid certain kinds of insulting or offensive speech in the name of racial and social tolerance. Never mind the 1st Amendment, which states unequivocally that, “Congress shall make NO law.”

Let’s be perfectly clear: the federal government has no business regulating speech in any way. Furthermore, government as an institution is particularly ill-suited to combating bigotry in our society. Bigotry at its essence is a sin of the heart, and we can’t change people’s hearts by passing more laws and regulations.

In fact it is the federal government more than anything else that divides us along race, class, religion, and gender lines. Government, through its taxes, restrictive regulations, corporate subsidies, racial set-asides, and welfare programs, plays far too large a role in determining who succeeds and who fails in our society. This government "benevolence" crowds out genuine goodwill between men by institutionalizing group thinking, thus making each group suspicious that others are receiving more of the government loot. This leads to resentment and hostility between us.

The political left argues that stringent federal laws are needed to combat racism, even as they advocate incredibly divisive collectivist policies.

Racism is simply an ugly form of collectivism, the mindset that views humans strictly as members of groups rather than individuals. Racists believe that all individuals who share superficial physical characteristics are alike: as collectivists, racists think only in terms of groups. By encouraging Americans to adopt a group mentality, the advocates of so-called "diversity" actually perpetuate racism. Their obsession with racial group identity is inherently racist.

The true antidote to racism is liberty. Liberty means having a limited, constitutional government devoted to the protection of individual rights rather than group claims. Liberty means free-market capitalism, which rewards individual achievement and competence, not skin color, gender, or ethnicity.

More importantly, in a free society every citizen gains a sense of himself as an individual, rather than developing a group or victim mentality. This leads to a sense of individual responsibility and personal pride, making skin color irrelevant. Rather than looking to government to correct our sins, we should understand that racism will endure until we stop thinking in terms of groups and begin thinking in terms of individual liberty.

I do believe that his argument is too simplistic, namely that the "holy grail" solution to racism is "liberty." On the other hand, I don't see anything in the above indicating that Ron Paul is a racist... just that his views on the issue are different that we are used to seeing.

That being said, would it not be easy for someone to turn the above into the sensational headline RON PAUL SUPPORTS DON IMUS? Eventually, Ron Paul could even come to equal Don Imus (just like Finkel and Einhorn... name that movie for 10 points) after enough spin, even though his essay was only in defense of Imus' right to free speech, however unseemly. I support his right to free speech as well. If we don't want to hear it , which I don't(I believe Imus was way, way, way out of line), I can simply switch the station.

Unfortunately, I believe his willingness to broach topics such as those above works against him (as it did with Larry Summers' infamous "genderalization" speech, which resulted in his ouster from Harvard's presidency). The primarily liberal academic elite have worked very hard at making certain stances on topics "off limits" without any further examination required (this is curious for a group whose ideals celebrate diversity and open-mindedness). As a graduate of a very liberal academic institution, I am well aware as to how someone can become "branded" (as a nut, a sexist, basically insert something you wouldn't want to be called in here) in such a way, and how "the establishment," for lack of a better term, can discredit a person a priori, regardless of the logical coherence and intrinsic merit of her views at even the slightest hint that it conflicts with "the rules," as decreed by the liberal elite. In this way we attack the person, and not the argument. Such ad hominem methods, while intellectually dishonest and logically fallacious, seem to work marvelously with the general populace, don't they? An argument is doesn't seem to matter much in the realm of popular opinion after you successfully characterize its author as Hitler.

Examples of how this happens can be found in any discussions on differing aptitudes between ethnic groups, or between the sexes. Despite all of the evidence that some differences exist(I can think of at least one ethnic group that is disproportionately represented in elite levels of athletic competition, for instance), discussions of the sort are quickly dismissed as racist or sexist or otherwise out of line without any further examination. Doing such hinders much academic progress in the world today.

Why should we find out if the arguments have merit when we can storm out of the room in a fit of rage, or simply shut down or switch the topic? Such responses are based on emotion, and not logic. We often hear things that are inconsistent with our beliefs. When faced with such cognitive dissonance, we often choose to discredit the opposing viewpoint even in the face of overwhelming evidence. Stifling progressive debate that we simply "don't like" is an example of this. All of this is an attempt to make it easier for us to sleep at night, assured that our beliefs about the world are correct. Facts be damned.

All of this is not to say that some of us are not truly deserving of the brands that we receive. I find, however, that such brands often are put in place for self-serving reasons... to knock someone down in a furtherance of whatever cause we champion. It is easy to imagine how things that Ron Paul might or might not have said 15 years ago may have ruffled somebody's feathers, giving someone cause to brand him as a racist and allowing us to categorically dismiss his views that are outside of the box, the boundaries of which are determined by the liberal elite. Because I know all too well how this happens, I cannot pass judgment on Ron Paul based on sensationalized snippets that were amassed for political gain. Doing so would be intellectually lazy, and completely unfair to the Senator. However, I would like to hear a credible explanation from him before I resume supporting his candidacy.


For what it's worth, I find it hard to believe that anyone as intelligent as he is can hold any sort of truly racist view. We know that the belief that one person is superior to another based solely on the way he or she appears can not hold up when confronted with reality.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ron Paul Issue of the Day: Get out of Iraq

Getting out of Iraq
... The cost of the war is approaching $1 trillion, funded almost entirely by debt (debt that the boomers won't have to worry about too much, but the under-40 crowd will have to work hard at paying off). Iraq has gotten plenty of help and it's time to let them sort it out for themselves. RON PAUL IS THE ONLY REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE SUPPORTING A COMPLETE PULL OUT FROM IRAQ.

We can't afford to increase our massive national debt further by spending ruinous amounts of money carrying out an interventionist foreign policy (anyone remember what happened to those guys from Italy about 1600 years ago? You know, I think they were based in Rome...)

Ron Paul has consistently voted against the Iraq war (Hillary, eat your heart out!!!).

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I'm going to opine on political issues for a moment, even though I normally detest all things related thereto. In fact, I have been so disgusted with the choices for president in the two elections in which I was eligible to vote that I abstained from voting altogether. For once, I've found a candidate worth backing.

It's worth mentioning that the key issues we should be concerned with are the ones that will directly affect us. For the vast majority of Americans, their only interaction with the Federal government is the payment of taxes. On that note, I'd like to throw my support behind Senator Ron Paul for president of the United States in 2008, who supports low taxes, limited government and limited foreign intervention. I believe that he is the one candidate running today who has the right mix of competence, integrity and economic knowledge to get us out of the quagmire that we're currently in.

While he is a candidate of the Republican party, Ron Paul doesn't quite fit the Republican mold as we have come to know it recently, which now includes wasteful government spending, huge federal budget deficits and a ballooning national debt. From a generational standpoint, Senator Paul's policies, I believe, will give us non-boomers the best chance to enjoy at least a half-decent life compared to our elders.

I'll be posting Senator Paul's key platform issues, and why they're good for you, over the next few days.

- eternitus

BTW - It's only extra icing on the cake (I wouldn't vote just because of this), but Ron Paul, like eternitus, is a native Pittsburgh.