I Do Not Support Peter Schiff For Senate

Peter Schiff is an excellent economist and his appearances on various financial shows (and the corresponding Youtube clips and blog posts) have contributed to the economics education and financial health of thousands of people. Why on earth is he running for the Senate?  ((Schiff’s campaign website has been taken down.)) Does he really believe that the political process has even a remote chance of limiting the size and scope of government? Such a belief is truly absurd for two reasons:

  1. The inherent inertia of the political workings of Washington D.C. makes it nearly impossible to slow down the growth of government; actually shrinking the government from the inside borders on impossible.
  2. Even if I am wrong that it’s an impossibility to shrink government from the inside, what it would require is more than three libertarians. Were Schiff to win, and Ron Paul’s son Rand Paul to win also, that would make 3 libertarians in Congress (I’m generously calling Rand a libertarian, mind you) vs 532 socialists of varying degrees; worse, their forces would be split, as Schiff and Rand would be in the Senate (2 vs 98) and Ron would be in the House (1 vs 434). You’ve got to be kidding me.

I’d prefer to see Schiff save his money and that of all the people who would donate to his campaign (freedom-lovers) so they can use it to brace for the impact of this onsetting depression. Tossing so much into the political advertising money pit is a total waste. That’s an enormous amount to spend ($30 Million or so?) in the hopes that Peter can get elected and make great speeches on CSPAN, given that he already gets invited to speak on the financial circuit with little or no out-of-pocket expense on his part. In fact, Schiff has already had to cease appearing twice per week on one of the financial shows due to campaign laws, so now we’re back to all Keynes all the time. And even if he were to win, it’s doubtful the Republican leadership would seat Schiff on any of the important financial committees, so what would he really accomplish in the Senate? Maybe introduce a few bills which never make it out of committee?

Worst of all, I fear Schiff doesn’t really have a shot of winning since libertarianism doesn’t really resonate with the masses (yet), so all of that time and money campaigning will likely be wasted. (Yes, I know I just made an objective truth claim about others’ subjective evaluations which is an Austrian no-no.)

11 comments… add one

  • I agree with your sentiment – campaign money clearly is a waste and Peter probably won’t win, but he could do some good. Would yo have rather Ron Paul not have been in the House all these years? Think of all the good he has done in spreading the message of liberty and free-market, Austrian economics. Having another voice of reason (now in he Senate) is a good thing, but you have an argument that it is not worth the cost, because no matter what, government grows. However, I’ve loved having Ron Paul in government. Even if he couldn’t stop the Leviathon from increasing in power, he as done much good behind “enemy” lines. Why can’t you support Peter Schiff?! Send him $5 – that’s what I did. It’s all I can afford to do right now. I must save up in silver. Did you not support Ron Paul in 2008? Money is needed, unfortunately, to spread the message of liberty in this corrupt, socialist world we live in.

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    • Well Dr. Paul wasn’t a regular on the television financial circuit before becoming a congressman. Schiff is (well, now I guess we say was) a regular on these shows and, in fact, had just agreed to do a twice-per-week segment as a regular on one of them, I forget which. There’s no way Schiff’s being in Congress will compete with what he’s been doing for the last 5 or so years on television. Not a chance in hell. If he even wins, he’s going to disappear into obscurity except for the occasional appearance on Judge Nap’s show on Fox. In the meantime, we lose out on countless TV appearances and a ton of valuable financial advice and economic analysis. And the truth is, he’s probably going to lose anyway. See?

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      • So you’re saying he’s much more valuable in his TV appearances than he would be in the Senate. Therefore, you don’t support his candidacy for the Senate. I can see your point, and you very well could be right.

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  • I am grateful that there are people like Peter Schiff who put so much on the line for a noble cause. A dear Vietnamese friend once said, “Eternal struggle brings final victory.” Let’s not cower before the evil forces and go out with a whimper.

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    • Nona, serving in Congress is not a “noble cause”, in my opinion.

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  • If he were elected and he stayed true to his Austrian views, I think it would be a great thing to have Peter Schiff in the Senate. I think you would still see him in the media very frequently, he would have lifelong mainstream credibility because of the title, and, in such a small body, he would have a realistic chance of making it more difficult for the Senate to “accomplish” certain things.

    The trouble is, he has zero chance of winning in the state that has regularly elected Christopher Dodd and Joseph Lieberman. I don’t know how he or anyone else could think otherwise.

    I agree that campaign contributions are a waste of money for any given individual. I gave just a little bit to Ron Paul’s presidential campaign. What do I have to show for it? His campaign would have had exactly the same amount of success (politically and in its primary educational mission) with or without my help. The marginal dollars meant nothing.

    On the other hand, if I’d given that money to, say, the Mises Institute, it would have funded some particular thing — a student scholarship, the publication of a book — that would have advanced the cause of liberty in some small way. So from my perspective it’s always better to do that.

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  • Good post, Interdictor.

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  • Has the austro-libertarian movement in the past few years grown only due to the regular promotion and word of mouth by Mises Institute and other such organizations? Or has the Ron Paul presidential campaign spread the message further than ever before? I’m not american and I haven’t been to States-side for few years now but what I can tell from internet Ron Paul campaign brought a lot of new blood to the movement.

    Peter Schiff campaign and possible senatorship has the same potential. Actually, that is his stated goal – to educate other senators (and hopefully the public) about sound economics. If he will stuck to his contrarian nature he could well end up being the most visible senator.

    Message of liberty needs many salesmen addressing different segments of society. That’s why there is not only mises.org but there is also lewrockwell.com and there is also Young Americans for Liberty and Campaign for Liberty plus many others. We need more entrepreneurship in finding the better ways to get our message out. We will not get immediate and obvious returns but the later dividends might be greater than we expect (did anyone prior to 2007 expected Ron Paul to become that widely known?).

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    • Paul, my argument is that Schiff’s current audience is huge due to his various television appearances and that his campaign for the Senate has already cut into in those appearances in a huge way (and is a money sink). Furthermore, Ron Paul was virtually unknown in Congress until he ran for President in the most recent election. Schiff’s Senate campaign is not going to have nearly as many eyeballs on it as Paul’s Presidential campaign. Furthermore, even if Schiff makes it to the Senate, he won’t get anything of value done there, as I describe in my post.

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      • After he gets into Senate, that might become an springboard to higher positions in the future (run for President), it will give him new audience. Ron Paul example shows that this is possible. Before he would run for President, he had to stay in Congress 20+ years. I think it was obvious in 1976 when he first ran that he won’t get anything of value done there. Yet here we are.

        The point is that future is uncertain and some things you just won’t find out unless you try. That’s what entrepreneurship is all about. What I a disagree with is the certainty that he will loose audience.

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  • “Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    the courage to change the things I can,
    and the wisdom to know the difference.”

    Does this mean you will not be blogging about politics, politicians or policy anymore?

    ;)

    Reply

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