Saturday, December 18, 2010

Krugman on the Frankness of Ron Paul

Paul Krugman doesn't understand the first thing about free markets and how they work, so he would think it is crazy to not want regulators, but at least he understands that Congressman Paul is consistent in his demands for liberty. Krugman writes:
In a way, I almost welcome the frankness of someone like Ron Paul, who tells us that there’s no need for any kind of bank regulations. It’s crazy, of course — even Adam Smith called for bank regulations, comparing them to building regulations designed to prevent the spread of fires. But at least the guy’s consistent.
I'm not sure if Krugman realizes how consistent Congressman Paul is, but I am pretty sure Paul would be against government mandated building regulations, also. As for Smith, it just shows that he was inconsistent in his free market advocacy. The man even became a commissioner of customs in Scotland!


  1. Ron Paul, too, is consistent in his advocacy of free markets, because he sees a role for "limited government" in social affairs, that is, the initiation of the use of force to solve social problems.

  2. No doubt there is plenty overregulation, but without building regulation to prevent fires, how do you prevent someone from putting up a building next to yours. Maybe he decides he's willing to take the risks of it catching on fire in order to save construction costs. But if it does go up in flames it poses a threat to the lives and property of others around him. Does the right to do as one pleases include the right to endanger others?

  3. Anon,

    What is the proper tradeoff between fire safety and cost effectiveness?

  4. To Taylor's comments. I think you meant to say he is "inconsistent". What social affairs is Paul advocating that gov't intervene. He has been accused of being liberal socially on that so not everyone agrees with that. Is it drugs? No. Abortion? His position is clear, this is out of the fed's hands. "The first thing we have to do is get the federal government out of it. We don’t need a federal abortion police. That’s the last thing that we need." He is pro life and so he does believe in punishing abortionists. Good!

    However to say he is inconsistent is not very realistic or informed. What do you want him to do? Introduce H.R.4321 "Abolish the Government" bill? He has to work within a very unlibertarian framwork in Congress to the best of his ability.

  5. On the issue of building regulations, I can definitley see where the free market could handle it. I am currently thinking of my own place of work as I write this. If I were a land developer and there were no government regs forcing me to build in accordnace with certain fire safety standards, I would on my own build to specifications that were even MORE strict than the gov't's. Why? Simple. What good would my property be if it were not maintained to standards. Where would the dollar signs be in a rubble or human lives lost? It would also be good advertizing if you knew others were not building up to par. "LEASE WITH US WE HAVE FIRE PROOF BUILDINGS" or whatever it would be. The other side is demand. Would you want to lease or purchase a building next to someone who isnt safe? No, so as a the building owner I would advertize strenously that my buildings are built with such quality. So in short it would be in my greedy, profit-making, self-centered interest to make my buildings and property extremely durable and very safe for the tenants. Of course Im purposely arguing exaggeratingly in order to show that if there is incentive to do this on purely profit making motives how much more so if you include actual concern for your fellow man.

  6. Well, banking regulations for fractional reserve banks are kind of strange. Some people consider banking fraud, and to them regulated banking is regulated fraud. The proper regulation might be to regulate fractional reserve practices out of existence.

    But if that is too severe, then a public deserves a audit system to expose excessive leveraging by fractional reserve banks so that the public can avoid those banks. The funny thing about the Federal Reserve is that its Chairman has repeatedly rebuffed request for openness to protect banks that have bad balance sheets and need to come to it for lending. Methinks, the wolf is guarding the hen-house.

  7. JR,

    Yes, that was a typo, I meant he was inconsistent.

    As for what I want him to do? Well, I should think it's clear I'd like him to be completely consistent with his principles.

    The fact that he's chosen to be a politician doesn't excuse him from the need to be consistent in applying his principles. Were that the case, I am not sure why we're whining against the principle-treason of all of the other politicians.

    As for your second remark on building codes, you've completely missed the point. The point Anonymous raises isn't answered by formulating some make-believe free market world where the actors behavior might predictably entail X in response to Anonymous's "profound" quandry.

    The response is: nobody has a right to fire safety. Similarly, no one is under any obligation to build a "sufficiently fire safe" building.

    Sure, try to prosecute the person for criminal negligence and reckless endangerment afterward. But in the meantime, if you're worried about fire safety, build your building even safer, and if you're truly worried, bear the cost of putting out your neighbors inevitable fire yourself.

    Again, how is anyone to know the objective, just trade-off between fire safety and building cost?

  8. "As for Smith, it just shows that he was inconsistent in his free market advocacy."

    I am inconsistent in my breathing advice. While I often recommend breathing, I advice against it when underwater, and when in an ammonia atmosphere.

  9. Gene Callahan,

    Ice-in-winter vs ice-in-summer.

    A rookie mistake. But who would've expected anything more from the likes of you.

    Good day, sir!

  10. To Taylor,

    Short of not engaging in any sort of political activity your "complete consistency" argument is not realistic. Neither you or I live that kind of consistency. In this anti-libertarian world you would have to be a hermit in the desert to be that consistent. Your are being more libertarian then even Murray Rothbard would have called for. He supported candidates who were woefully less to his liking but he knew the political world was not filled with pure libertarians. The kind of complete consistency you are wanting is not achievable. We try to get there as much as possible. Walter Block put it well, "For example, while not everyone goes to a public school or teaches there, it is the rare individual who does not: walk on statist sidewalks, drive on public roads, carry currency in his pocket, avail himself of the services of governmental libraries, museums, parks, stadiums, etc. Which of us has not entered the premises of the motor vehicle bureau, sued someone in court, posted a letter, attempted to attain a passport, or interacted with government in any of the thousand and one other ways it touches upon our lives? And this is to say nothing of seeking government permissions for commercial purposes, accepting social security payments, voting, taking an air flight (where we are "protected" by the security apparatus).

    If it is per se illegitimate for a libertarian to accept anything of value from this evil institution, then there are very few people who act fully compatibly with this philosophy: maybe a hermit or two. The implication here is that we are all guilty of the crime of statism; under a regime of full, complete and impartial justice, we would all be in jail".
    Block wrote this in the context of pointing out tha for Paul to accept matching federal funds would not violate any libertarian principle.
    (see also) Rothbard's article here

    I agree with you that our fellow libertarians tend cry too much foul when a politician votes on something that is not 100% libertarian prime. You can chalk that one up to lots of enthusiasm not being tempered with the practical realities on the ground. As for Paul, he is as consistent as you can get and doing a pretty good job of it. Perfect? No, but much closer to it than anyone in that cesspool of congress.

  11. As for the second part on building codes I understood quite well what Anon was saying. It might not have been the answer you were looking for but I understood what he was saying and addressed it. Your remarks however seem to fail to understand what I was saying. I also dont really know how to respond to yours other than to say I did address them. Im also having a hard time understaning you at certain points.

    The incentive is there to build fire safe buildings. There would be no obligation by force but there would be for love of profit. Putting out your neighbor's fire? Why wouldnt they do it themselves?

  12. your point of Adam Smith as a customs commissioner is discredited as you read the whole section your hyperlink refers to. His guardian, uncle and cousin were customs commissioners. Not the Economist Adam Smith. Many of his relatives were also named Adam Smith, as the section explains. Please read the source before you hyperlink to it, Robert. It makes you look dumb and partisan, spreading disinformation and looking for snippets that confirm your position instead of resorting to facts.

  13. @Anonymous 9:44

    Actually, the point of starting the reference where I did was to show I was aware of the lineage of Smiths in customs work.

    If you read beyond your nose to page 441, you will see that the Adam Smith who wrote Wealth of Nations was a customs commissoner.

    Hey, I got this great gal I want you to meet, her name is Megan. You two will get along just fine.

  14. JR,

    You wasted a lot of breath on a lot of nonsense. Neither you nor Anonymous have yet to address my simple question. Why? Beats me.

    My question: what is the objective, just tradeoff between fire safety and building cost?

    Anonymous' original curiosity hinged on the JUSTICE of building codes to prevent the construction of "socially unsafe structures". It did not have anything to do with the economic incentives in a free market to not build such structures.

    Anonymous implied that he and his government could dictate to the property owner how "fire safe" their building must be, at a minimum, to not infringe upon the right to life of others.

    To reveal the inadequacy of this reasoning, I asked one simple question that goes unanswered: what is the objective, just tradeoff between fire safety and building cost?

    Without being able to answer this question, Anonymous has no grounds of JUSTICE to stand upon in attempting to regulate the construction of buildings on private property. Without being able to precisely and objectively describe the marginal increment at which a building goes from being constructed in a "fire dangerous" manner to a "fire safe" manner, he is left to grope in the dark as he has no true way to measure whether one person is putting others in imminent danger or not.

    As for all your arguments from authority and appeals to my libertarian betters, please, don't bother. It is neither for you nor for they to tell me or anyone else what level of consistency is "realistic" and achievable here in this mortal plane. Please don't be so impressed with your own ability to reason and predict the future that you think you can dictate to others what level of justice they can and should expect from those they interact with.

    I concern myself in this specific discussion with what is right (absolutely), not what is possible (by your subjective estimate). Your declaration of what is impossible and unreasonable to expect of the world is as vacuous and arbitrary as the opponents of Ron Paul who might argue the very same thing about his calls for more consistency.

    Note the similarity in reasoning:
    Krugman-- "I almost welcome the frankness of someone like Ron Paul, who tells us that there’s no need for any kind of bank regulations. It’s crazy, of course — even Adam Smith called for bank regulations"
    JR-- "I almost welcome the frankness of someone like Taylor, who tells us that there's no need for any kind of regulations. It's crazy, of course - even Murray Rothbard, Mr. Libertarian himself, supported politicians who called for various regulations"

    It's so funny that you are arguing with me. All I did was observe that Ron Paul is not fully consistent in his own advocacy of free markets while he berates others for the same, and you jump all over me with whether or not such consistency is politically feasible and "realistic." Good god man. Does that somehow change the FACT that Ron Paul is inconsistent, as I pointed out?

  15. LOL that was funny Robert about what you said to Anon about hooking up with Megan. Right on! :O

    To Taylor for someone who is accusing me of wasting my breath you sure seem to do a lot of huffing and puffing about nothing relevant. As for accusing me of not answering your question , that may be but I wasnt intending on doing so since I was addressing Anon's underlying point quite well which you seem to convolute. Frankly, as I said also I really had a hard time understanding some of your ramblings or where you were going.

    Taylor, you dont seem to have mastered reading comprehension skills because if you had you would have read that what I was arguing about Paul is that your criticism of his supposed lack of consistency is not a criticism at all. Its silliness and philosophical immaturity. I pointed out that neither you or I are that consistent. For yout to tell me not to bother with my libertarian betters tells me that you are somone who thinks you are the only true libertarian in the world. I expect to see the cult of Taylor pretty soon where only the elect remnant will join. I bet you think Block and Rothabrd are heretics dont you? C'mon be honest

    You compare my reasoning to Krugman's. Taylor you are embarrassing yourself in front of everyone so please stop to think before you write, it really does help. My point was/is that how one tries to our libertarian beliefs is different from we believe. Krugman was talking about Paul's and contrasting it to Smith's . For your little attempt to liken my comments to Krugman to work you would have had to compare your beliefs to Rothbard's beliefs but you didn't you compared yours to his political activity. Rothabrd did not believe in any regs but he knew that politics was about the imperfect getting close to the ideal. You seem to think we live in that utopia already. You are someone who thinks you are more pure than Rothbard,Block, Hoppe, Rockwell, Kinsella, and Wenzel. My goodness where have you been Taylor all this time. Come save us! I see you did not comment on Block or Rothbard's practical advice to young libertarians. That tells me that you dont feel the need to listen to your elders.

    You seem to be living the stereotype of libertarianism that most people have. It doesnt mean that there is not authority to listen to or obey. It means that authority must be consented to and based on reason.

    Your enthusiasm is commendable but misplaced. Over time you will realize that what you say is quite frankly not rational and that what our libertarian betters said/say was/is based on reason, experience, and wisdom.

    Good luck.

  16. JR,

    You will have a lot of great points the moment Ron Paul says, "The only really consistent position, the one I'd ideally like to see, is no government, but until then, this is my personal, practical compromise."

    But that isn't what Ron Paul stands for. He doesn't just think that minimizing government/limiting government is the best we can do in the meantime of "heaven on earth". He actually believes that minarchy is a superior system, theoretically, than anarchy.

    In that, he contradicts himself and the weight of his arguments are lessened considering that he is an arbitrary hypocrite, just like his opponents.

    JR, you seem to run your mouth off quite a bit about me and what I do and don't believe when you have yet to address what little about myself and my thoughts I have revealed here to you in this comment thread. Meanwhile, my thinking is strewn all over this site in other comments and blog posts I've written. If you had any clue what you were talking about you'd hold your tongue.

    I'll let you have the last word (if you need it), but I do want you to know I find this whole thing so amusing. I point out Ron Paul is not consistent, on even a theoretical ground (theoretically prefers minarchy to anarchy... or have you read somewhere where he admitted he's an anarchist?) which is nothing but a fact and you emotionally rush to this man's defense because... why, he's good enough for you?

    Well he isn't for me. I don't know why that hurts your feelings so much that my opinion differs from yours. I say everyone is free to make whatever "practical" compromises they deem best in their own lives, so long as they all agree that theoretically, government of any size, shape or scope is a flagrant contradiction of their stated economic and political principles.

  17. JR,

    Oops. I just finally clicked your link and saw your profile, including your blog "The Imaginative Conservative."

    My mistake! I shouldn't have bothered to engage in discourse with a person who is as intellectually compromised as you.

    Of course, my boy (err, wait, he's my elder, so, "Father" Rothbard... that's how the conservatives like to relate to historic authority figures, right?) had some not so kind words to say about your errant political philosophy. Read on, if you have the stomach: Rothbard to Meyer on Conservatism

    Oooooh ho ho ho! Tough luck on that one, JR! Better luck next time.

    And, as I said, I leave the last word to you, in the most gentlemanly fashion possible. Good day, sir!

  18. Taylor, you seem to be a glutton for embarrassment. I'll leave for others to compare my comments with yours to see who is more rational about Paul. You go ahead and believe you are the only true libertarian in the world and start your cult of Taylor Conant. I do run my mouth about what you believe because you know full well I have you pegged down flat. Your comments only reinforce my understanding of you.

    "Oooooh ho ho ho! Tough luck on that one, JR! Better luck next time". Really? Are you being serious? Do you see why I say you are spiraling downhill? How old are you?

    Remember when I said you should think before you write? That was advice you really should have followed but then again you dont need advice. You see T.C. that blog "The Imaginative Cnservative" is NOT mine. I linked to it to follow any comments to my own there where (brace yourself for the part where you should be embarrased but probably arent going to be because you have built up an immunity to it)I was DEFENDING libertarianism and Rothbard. To further embarrass you, in my comment I in fact did mention that Rothabrd article to Meyers.

    Here's my comment on that specific blog back from August this year:

    The discusssion did not end with Kirk's uninformed piece above. Your readers would benefit by reading Hornberger's direct response to Kirk here and Rothbard's excellent corrective article which can be found here which was written two years prior to Kirk's piece which he obviously did not see fit to read before writing the above. Had he done so he probably would have been taken more serioulsy as a conservative critic of libertarianism. Please note Myths #3,4, and 5 which contradict Kirk's own assertions. Its as if Kirk deliberately chose to create a caricature of Rothbard's description and pass it off as libertarianism. Machan also corrected Kirk here and Rothabard's interaction with Meyer is also relevant reading but enough with the link dumps.

    As a libertarian in the natural rights tradition of Rothbard, et al, it seems the only encounter Kirk had was with the utilitarian wing of libertarianism. I am no enemy of classical conservativism as found in Burke, Kirk and Nisbet. Reading Kirk's The Mind of a Conservative I find very little I disagree with if there is anything at all to disagree with. I cant find anything at all to disagree as well with his Ten Principles. Once again Rothbard's piece should dispel any surprises that a libertarian could do so. I think it is sad that the older conservatives quickly rejected their libertarian leanings early on. Buckley did not stay close to Nock sadly enough and Kirk's first intellectual encounter with one of the founding mothers of libertarianism, Isabel Paterson, had a very small influence on him. Also I wonder why Kirk and other traditional conservatives have never given Burke's long forgotten A Vindication of Natural Society its due. I dont personally accept everything he says but it does seem he had, to use the dreaded a word, an anarchist element to his early thought. His later preface where he claims only satire is very disingenous at the very least."
    August 1, 2010 1:14 AM

    To use your own words

    Oooooh ho ho ho! Tough luck on that one, Taylor! Better luck next time.

    Much better luck.

  19. Ron Paul never claims to be some ultra principled libertarian. Sure, he leans that way, but he in no way has ever claimed that libertarianism is the definitive answer to everything. Yes, he philosophy is based on it, but its not the end all be all. What he cries for consistency about is the CONSTITUTION!!! thats what he first and foremost bases his decisions upon. Is it constitutional or not? Its not his fault that the constitution is a more free market, libertarian than it is any other philosophy...dont get caught up in who the better libertarian is, its the constitution that matters here