When Michelle Bachmann confessed to taking the writings of Ludwig von Mises with her on vacation, I assumed she used the august Austrian economist as a soporific — not because Mises isn’t worth reading, or not exciting to read (I can’t tell you how my heart pounded when I first unleashed myself onto The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science), but because Bachmann has never said anything to suggest a scholarly or subtle mind, the kind of mind best suited for pleasure in reading Mises.
But a Salon writer, Andrew Leonard, has proven himself less dismissive of Bachmann than I. He, knowing nothing of Mises, set out to read Human Action. His conclusion? Well, he didn’t get very far into the book. But he did get far enough to tell us what he found. After reading a few chapters, he was struck by
Though John Hospers was never my hero, he came close. Now he’s dead, like most of the other philosophical writers I admire.
He died yesterday, a few days into his 94th year.
Since I grew up in one of the two states of the union in which his name appeared on the ballot for the U.S. Presidency, I must’ve come across his name in that year of 1972. But it didn’t stick. The renegade electoral college voter, Roger MacBride, who cast his ballot for the Hospers/Nathan Libertarian Party ticket, did leave an impression four years later, with his direct-to-the-camera spiel following the Democratic Nominating Convention.
That was probably my first notice of the word “libertarian” alone and naked, not prefixed by “civil.”
Ilya Somin over at The Volokh Conspiracy, it seems, is no more a fan of Ron Paul now than he was four years ago. His criticisms remain about the same. This time around, though, he’s got a candidate to contrast Paul with in Gary Johnson. His conclusion? Johnson is a better libertarian than Paul. My first response to this was laughter. This is my second response:
To start, Somin nearly lost me in his first sentence when he suggested that Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels was even on the radar for libertarians considering voting. If anyone thinks a hypocritical drug warrior, who might be most charitably described as untested on foreign policy issues (and much less charitably described as a propagandist for the Empire), should even be in the running, then they should probably be disqualified from commenting on the question of who the most libertarian candidate is. All that said, we’ll give him the benefit of his doubts about Daniels for now and move onto his criticisms.
Ron Paul’s Unlibertarian Positions?
Somin claims that Ron Paul “has very nonlibertarian positions on free trade, school choice, and especially immigration.” He goes on to criticize Paul’s views on the Fourteenth Amendment. He doesn’t spell these criticisms out in this piece, but rather directs us to an older article from 2007. We’ll take each one by one.
Supporters of free markets are often attacked for their “Do Nothing Principle” position, which tends to deeply upset policy wonks and media talking heads alike. Obviously this is buncombe, and to the contrary it is these would-be do-somethingers who are intellectually or ideologically incapable of grasping the sweeping scope of necessary changes that free market advocates are calling for.
For example, the charge that “Hangover Theorists” are selfish moralizers who want poor and middle-class families to needlessly suffer during a recession is prima facie incorrect. The interlocutor is simply misled by my yawning enthusiasm for his policy prescriptions into thinking I have no “serious” and “realistic” plan to help society, and that I want to “do nothing.”
Do nothing you say?
To the contrary, I advocate doing a lot, including the complete abolition of the Federal Reserve, the US Treasury, the US Federal Mint, the US departments relating to labor, trade, banking, securities, etc. It is those who want to merely tweak a bit here and there who are hem-hawing over making serious policy changes, and who have the gall to accuse me of advocating to “do nothing”!
One thing about Catholics is that, when it comes to partisan politics, they’re split pretty evenly. Only deeply ignorant people lump Catholics in with the “Religious Right” since about half of them are on the religious left. Many are admirably antiwar, and of course, there is even a nice anarchist pacifist tradition, in which one finds Dorothy Day or Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy.
Some Catholics, however, are absolutely terrible on issues of nationalism and war. This article below, written by a priest with whom I broadly agree on almost all theological and liturgical issues, was particularly tasteless. Fr. Zuhlsdorf, who is generally sound when writing about things that he actually knows something about, always ends up toeing the neoconservative line every time he ventures into foreign policy. Most clergy can be safely ignored when opining on political matters, and this case is no different. The text of his irreligious column is below with my comments in brackets.
Usama Bin Laden … Rest in… well… whatever… [How classy. Zuhlsdorf must have forgotten about Matt 5:44.]
by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
Pres. Obama announced tonight, fairly late on a Sunday night, that Usama Bin Laden was killed a week ago, as it seems.
I am guessing that he made this announcement tonight, USA, time, so that people rising in other parts of the world would get the fresh news during the morning at the beginning of a week, as markets open, etc. Had it come at the end of the week, it would have been fodder for Friday evening Muslim sermons. [Because all Muslims liked Osama bin Laden, you see. This assumption that all Muslims support violence is at the heart of the neocon ideology. Always ignored is the fact that a majority of "Christian" Americans support the dropping of American bombs on Muslim women and children.] It still will be, but after several days.
Nevertheless I find the timing of both the event of his killing by a small team of US operatives in a fire fight and the release of the news interesting. One friend called me to opine that they actually found him at a Taco Bell in North Carolina and flew him back to Pakistan before… you know. [ho ho] Moreover, the President seems now to be ready to quote a standard of American patriotism, the Pledge of Allegiance, with its strong invocation of God, when for sometime he couldn’t bring himself to quote the Declaration of Independence [written by an anti-Christian Deist] correctly with its reference to a Creator who gives us our rights. [Yeah! Why can't Obama be more like Bush who once said that the Constitution "is just a goddamn piece of paper."] Color me cynical.