Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ron Paul versus Gary Johnson

BTW, with regard to my "hardball" questions that Gary Johnson supporters are up in arms about, that I asked during my interview of Johnson, such as my question on what books on liberty and Austrian economics he has read, I asked Ron Paul the same question when I met with him in May of last year and reported on it at the time:
 I asked Dr.Paul what books on economics he has read. He told me he has read all the Austrians, Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, Friedrich Hayek and Henry Hazlitt. He also told me he has a copy of The General Theory by John Maynard Keynes. He said he still uses the book as a reference to check a quote when he is preparing a speech.
I guess Ron Paul can hit hardballs.

52 comments:

  1. This is not an election between Ron Paul and Gary Johnson. The truth is that either of these candidates represents the cause of liberty and are a superior choice to either Obama or Romney.

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    1. Someone's butthurt.

      Johnson messed up. And no, he can't represent the cause of liberty - he completely unfamiliar with its underpinnings.

      Now to be fair, he does seem to be somewhat genuine and doesn't come off as a sociopath. As such, its worthwhile to encourage him to head over to the Mises Institute ASAP to do some real book learnin'.

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    2. The underpinnings of liberty? What would those be?

      All he needs is the constitution and common sense.

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    3. "All he needs is the constitution and common sense."

      HA! Is that a joke?

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    4. Johnson is just a nicer Bob Barr, paying lip service to libertarianism, in beltway style.

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    5. No joke..... actually all he needs is a love for freedom and axioms that support freedom ... individual freedom .... it is no more complicated than that 99guspuppet

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    6. "All he needs is the constitution and common sense."

      Uhh, we want him to learn about Liberty, not convoluted, arbitrary statist doctrine.
      A good read of "Man, Economy, and State should do the trick" ;)

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  2. I think the commenter Dan in the last post said it the best:

    "He asked a bunch of soft ball questions. What does libertarianism mean to you? Who are your libertarian influences? What libertarian books have you read? Are these supposed to be difficult questions?"

    And then saying Friedman was someone he looked up to, and then claiming Friedman had the exact opposite position that he really had. Then not even knowing what ABCT is. Then making a Keynesian argument saying booms and busts are natural on the free market. Then calling Ayn Rand's objectivism "objectionism". He sounded like an idiot on his own. You asked him very simple questions, and he blew it.

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    1. Milton Friedman has done more than even Ron Paul in promoting freedom. Seems like that's something to look up to.

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    2. Yes, we certainly see his impact everywhere we look as we live in a totalitarian police state. Thanks Mr. Friedman for having such a lasting, positive impact

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    3. uhhhhh. no.

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    4. "Milton Friedman has done more than even Ron Paul in promoting freedom. Seems like that's something to look up to."

      Was this a serious comment?

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    5. Sorry, I think I wasn't clear with what I meant. I have absolutely no problem with him looking up to Friedman. Friedman was great on many issues. The sad thing was the he was the worst on the issues he talked about and thought about the most. But sure, I don't mind libertarians looking up to Friedman for the issues he was libertarian on. What bothered me was Gary Johnson didn't even know Friedman's position on the withholding tax. Not only was Friedman not against the tax, but he played a vital role in inventing it. Johnson made himself look like a fool. Dr. Wenzel asked simple, easy, soft-ball questions, and Johnson blew it.

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    6. @ Bharat "Are these supposed to be difficult questions?"

      Well, apparently for him they were.

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    7. "Was this a serious comment?"

      Was yours?

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    8. MyFirstNameIsPaulJune 4, 2012 at 6:19 PM

      I would have never heard of the free market, specifically the arguments for abolishing the FDA, if it weren't for Milton Friedman. Then, years later, when I saw some old dude who was a Republican representative being interviewed on Bill Maher, to my amazement, talking about abolishing the FDA and most of the federal government, without Friedman I would not have been properly primed to see the value of these arguments.

      I find too many libertarians to be completely out of touch with what average people think and know about economics, and as such, totally oblivious to the enormous (net) good that Milton Friedman did for the cause of freedom.

      If that isn't good enough for you, then tell me why Ron Paul quotes Friedman as often as anyone else he quotes?

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    9. Yes, thanks to Friedman when he was "employed in the Treasury Department in the early 1940s, it was largely his innovation to have income taxes withheld each payroll period.."

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  3. Gary Johnson: in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king (or rather president).

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  4. I just came over here to the website after watching that interview.

    Talk about a total and complete ass whipping.

    Gary is a nice guy, and I realize he is by no means dumb, but if you are going to do an interview with a brain like Robert Wenzel please do a little preparation.

    The slip where earlier he said he read Rothbard, and then was asked to name a book, and couldn't, as he RETRACTED saying he read Rothbard, is very telling.

    I realize people might say that he is better than Obama and Romney, and they might be right, but consider that if someone so spineless and slimey from a character standpoint were to actually make it to the top...........where would the wind blow then?

    He knows Cato, and Reason, but says nothing of Rockwell or the Daily Paul, or the Economic Policy Journal, or even Justin at Anti-War.com

    I guess the question is if he is simply a "paid to be ignorant" insider or genuinely ignorant outsider.

    As much as I think Gary Johnson is a clown, I actually believe the latter. For instance, Wenzel is the first in our camp, that I know of, to actually reach out to Gary Johnson and try to influence him with our values.

    I would love to see a lot more of it.

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    1. Good comment. If I had a dollar to give, I'd send you one.

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    2. A brain like Robert Wenzel ???? I would say that Wenzel looked dumber than Johnson after the interview concluded..... Wenzel was trying to prove how smart he was... and GJ was trying to have a conversation.....

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    3. @Jon - Totally spot on comments all around, +1

      @anon - Wenzel only sounded to you like he was "trying to prove how smart he was", only because he was direct and persistent about finding out where GJ stood on the libertarian spectrum.

      He did not back down when Gary was obviously floundering and out of his depth - thereby showing his true hand when it comes to understanding to bedrock principles of liberty economics and governance.

      And Gary showed exactly where he stood on the libertarian spectrum:

      With Friedman, Cato, and Reason.

      Personally - from what I've seen - I don't think this is where the majority of the modern liberty movement are lining up behind. Because we know better.

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  5. I wonder where he learned to hit those hardballs:

    http://deadlinelive.info/2011/07/15/ron-paul-hits-home-run-literally-a-first-ever-for-the-annual-congressional-baseball-game/

    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/ron-paul-stars-astros-rainbow-uniform-76-congressional-135224691.html

    Didn't some famous "journalist" ask Sarah Pallin what she read and she drew a blank?

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  6. I have great respect for Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, Friedrich Hayek and Henry Hazlitt. They are great economists, philosophers, and genius's of the highest order, but they were not politicians. And like it or not policy is made by politicians. Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, Friedrich Hayek and Henry Hazlitt have never:
    Balanced a state budget
    Cut government jobs
    Put a bill to legalize marijuana
    Cut taxes
    Because Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, Friedrich Hayek and Henry Hazlitt have never:
    Won an election!
    Gary Johnson has! And what we are in the middle of is an ELECTION.
    Should Gov. Johnson get around to reading those books? Yes, of course. Does having not read them impede his basic understanding of simple concepts like "big government is bad" "interventionist foreign policy is bad" "maximum freedom for the people is good" "the US constitution and it's intent to bind government is good" I don't think it does. Gov. Johnson is also the most popular politician to accept the nomination of the LP since Dr. Paul (who would refuse it if offered today) and popularity wins votes. Popularity gets people on TV and spreads the message to the masses.

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    1. Mike,

      This is the danger in not reading enough and learning from others. Mises was a major influence in economic affairs for a period when he lived in Austria. Indeed, he considered himself the "economist of the country" and he had a lot to say on practical political/economic matters, including the difference between politics and high theory.

      Hayek road a damn book, The Road to Freedom, on why it is dangerous to elect the "can do" people.

      They all warned about the Gary Johnson types. If you are not familiar with the deep theoretical meat of social theory, you can become a very dangerous politician. Johnson has exposed himself as a surface libertarian, who has never advanced his libertarian thinking beyond taking the Nolan quiz.

      The man doesn't even know when he is spouting off Keynesian rhetoric!

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    2. And Ayn Rand, whom he claims to have read and admires dismissed the libertarian party in it's entirety for this very reason.

      She correctly stated that it absolutely does matter why you believe in freedom, not just that you do because if you don't understand why, then even if you were elected, you would be doomed to failure because everything you built would have no foundation and thus would crumble at the most basic inspection.

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    3. For crying out loud.....this is just the "Romney is more electable" argument repackaged for Gary Johnson.

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  7. I don't recall his exact words, but I found it interesting when Johnson referred to jailing those for drug offenses as, initially, a 'victimless crime,' but then he redacted and replaced it with 'nonviolent.' Probably just a momentary lapse of reason though.

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    1. Drug offenses are both nonviolent and victimless. What do you mean?

      (Obviously drug offenses can be paired with violent crimes, but i didn't think that's what you meant)

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    2. I just listened to that again. The way it sounded to me was that Johnson was calling it both victimless and nonviolent.

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    3. Oh I just thought it was interesting because some crimes, such as fraud, are nonviolent but certainly involve a victim whereas, yes, drug offenses are nonviolent, but more importantly are victimless. I was probably just reading into it too much and as Bharat pointed out, perhaps I misheard him.

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  8. I didn't think the questions were hardball, but I did think they were too politically correct. It certainly doesn't come as a shock to me that Gary Johnson, like John Stossel, Drew Carey, and numerous other people who had endorsed Ron Paul in 2008 are not particularly familiar with Austrian economics. What Libertarian Party candidate other than Ron Paul has EVER embraced Austrian economics? I don't think that hanging on every word ever uttered by Murray Rothbard is the ultimate test of libertarianism.

    Mr. Wenzel, this site is excellent on economics, but I am struck also by your naivete in politics as, for example, when you suggested that Rand Paul as VP for Romney would be a good idea. Even Ron Paul does not believe that the Federal Reserve should be abolished immediately and even Murray Rothbard was willing to endorse Pat Buchanan for president even though Buchanan never even claimed to be a libertarian.

    I don't find any particular problem with the questions you asked in the interview, what seems strange to me is your assumption that you were going to get tidy, scripted, Rothbardian replies. There is a whole world out there that has never heard of Austrian economics, and some people in that world actually consider themselves libertarians. And Milton Friedman probably has been more effective at spreading the libertarian message, however imperfectly, than Rothbard or Hayek has been.

    But at this point, the goal of the liberty movement must be to be ready to battle the statists when it comes time to pick up the pieces after the crash that they are producing takes place and the present system goes down. To do that, we are going to need to work with libertarians, paleo-conservatives, Tea Party people, and civil libertarians. We cannot do that by wrapping ourselves in an Austrian cocoon. We will need a broader coalition, and the Gary Johnsons of this world are among the people we need to work with.

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    1. Correction: Stossel has read Hazlet, Hayak and Mises. He has quoted directly from all 3. As for Rothbard, he's never said anything but I would guess if he hasn't he will soon.

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    2. But if we are to pick up the pieces after the crash, and the libertarian alternatives have been no different in their economics than the mainstream, all that work will have been for nothing.

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    3. I wish we could have a Woods/Stossel ticket or something...

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    4. The austrian school of economics is very important for libertarianism because it gives us more intellectual tools for taking down statists. How are you gonna debate a statist keynesian when you cant articulate the free market alternative? Gov Johnson could start out by reading Bastiat's "The Law".

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    5. I was hoping Johnson would at least say he's intrigued by the Austrian school. But he seems completely content with Beltwaytarianism. That's the kind of candidate that can deliver libertarians the blame for the disaster the Dems and Reps have been building for so long, allowing the situation to continue for another generation.

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    6. Considering that Murray Rothbard pretty much founded the modern libertarian movement, I would say that yes, reading Rothbard is a requirement for being a serious libertarian.

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    7. "Considering that Murray Rothbard pretty much founded the modern libertarian movement, I would say that yes, reading Rothbard is a requirement for being a serious libertarian."


      Exactly. This.

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  9. Knowing why you are for a specific policy is one thing. To be able to explain why your opponent is wrong is totally different. This is the problem if he has not read and is unable to explain the Austrian School's ideals, he will just look like a bumbling fool in a debate. I know that Ron Paul is not the most articulate but at least he know the subject matter. I don't think Gary Johnson is dumb by any stretch of the imagination just think he would help his case if he could articulate why this mess is wrong, not why he is right. That comes from the ABCT and Mises.

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  10. I think that comparing anybody's libertarian credentials to Ron Paul's is almost unfair. Ron Paul is probably the only true elected libertarian statesman in American history. There are probably 5-10 people alive that could match his knowledge of libertarianism, and none of them are politicians.

    I would not dream of telling anybody what to do with their vote in November. For me, so long as Gary Johnson advocates the libertarian view on foreign policy and government spending, I will vote for him. In the unlikely case he is elected, there would at least be some incremental improvement in the general state of affairs.

    Of course I'm still holding out hope that the Paulians pull off a miracle at the GOP convention!

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  11. I was wondering.... if Ron Paul wins the Republican nominattion will Gary Johnson drop out and support him ?

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  12. Obviously there is a difference between learned men and wise men. I am not saying Gary Johnson is wise or learned(he may be I dont know) but I am certainly saying that the learned men here are not incredibly wise. Since they cannot imagine a person understanding human nature, natural rights and human action without having read books. The so-called Rothbardians are after a guy for not having read his books while Rothbard himself always recommended persuasion to our ways.

    The freedom loving, individualistic gang requires conformity to their way of 'learning' about freedom and individualism. Why not try to turn those who are instinctively libertarian our way through persuasion and debate (on issues) rather than bullying them about not having read books. While this (books & reading) is an important point to bring in distinguishing Ron paul against all candidates, it is hardly a point which disqualifies or makes Johnson disappointing(By my own logic I am probably unwise as well for becoming wildly mad at reading the comments above and commenting here. However I recognize and accept the charge.)

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    1. "Since they cannot imagine a person understanding human nature, natural rights and human action without having read books."

      Not only has he not read the books, he doesn't understand any of those concepts. You can have a fairly basic understanding of those concepts from reading a few articles. Johnson hasn't even done that. He can't name ANY libertarian books he's read. He cites Milton Friedman, then claims Friedman has the exact opposite position than what he actually he had. He thinks Ayn Rand's philosophy was called 'objectionism'.

      Cmon, you're just making excuses for the guy. Dr. Wenzel was not bullying him at all. Gary Johnson looked ridiculous because of his own lack of knowledge, that Dr. Wenzel exposed with extremely simply and easy questions. At the end, he didn't bully him. He suggested that he learn more about economics and libertarianism from reading; otherwise he would get destroyed in debates, namely on economic policy, which Johnson doesn't understand at all.

      I completely agree with you that we should try to convince other libertarians toward more principled libertarian stances, rather than "cost-benefit" analysis through persuasion, not bullying. But you're implying that this interview was bullying. That simply isn't the case. The only reason Dr. Wenzel pressed him about what he had read was because he had stated earlier that he had read Rothbard and Mises. The only reason he pressed him about ABCT was because Johnson said he knew what it was. I'm glad there are people like Johnson with libertarian views, but if he's running for PRESIDENT of the United States, he better damn know at least the BASICS of what he's talking about. But he doesn't even know the basics.

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  13. Obviously Gary isn't Ron Paul, but who is? I know we all are looking for someone who hates the state, but short of that I'm ok with someone who merely distrusts the state. If there's no better option, I'll still vote for him and rationalize it the same way I did with Bob Barr... it's a protest vote for the Libertarian Party.

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    1. The problem isn't that Johnson distrusts the state, it's that he thinks you can make the state better with better policies.

      It completely misses all of the Austrian and pre-Cato libertarian critiques of the state, from Konkin to Bastiat, from Hoppe to Nock.

      I couldn't listen to the whole thing. I got about 40% of the way through. Johnson was embarrassing to listen to. It's terrifying to me that he has got this far, and doesn't actually know anything about libertarian economics or political philosophy.

      That should bother Gary Johnson supporters and LPers as well. This guy does not represent the brand well.

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  14. If voting changed anything, it would be illegal.

    Don't be a sucker. Help educate people thus reducing the scope and prestige of the state.

    If you really believe it is wrong to attack innocent people (non-aggression) you cannot support the state. The state has to attack innocent people to exist, and that contradiction exposes a lot of people as ethically bankrupt.

    Again, voting is a waste of time. You won't change anything in a system which is fundamentally about violence. You also won't be free if you think a government or a piece of paper has anything to say about your "rights" as a human being. Your "rights" belong to you, they exist, before, during and after any government or constitution. Read some Lysander Spooner for crissakes.

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    1. I vote because it helps educate people. As Tom Woods has written:

      If these ideas win more than 2% of the vote, it makes the rest of us look less weird. Let's face it: most people lack the courage to adopt views they think are "fringe" (by the way, the sign of a terrible writer is that he uses this word to describe his opponents). And most people do indeed draw conclusions about political ideas on the basis of their political strength. But if even 10% vote for them, it can detoxify them in the minds of people who might otherwise never have given them the time of day. It can also confirm demoralized good guys in their views: you're not alone, man. It's not just you and 0.01% of the population. There are lots of us.

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    2. That's a non sequitur. You can educate plenty of people without voting. Look at Stefan Molyneux or Hans Hoppe.

      No part of you going to a polling station and completing a ballot is necessary for educating people about voluntaryism.

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  15. Three things occur to me. 1) One running for President on LP ticket is really an educational activity. How can Johnson educate if he relies on "common sense" instead of a firm grasp of libertarian principles gained by exposure to the great libertarian thinkers? He is a bit like Rand in that regard, she wasn't terribly well read and liked to pretend she had devised objectivism by herself with a nod to Aristotle.
    2) Paul himself once commented that absolute power corrupts, and if elected, he hoped he wouldn't give into temptation. Would Johnson be able to avoid temptation without the bedrock of principles Paul has?
    3) How can Johnson offer any hope in solving our economic problems if he doesn't understand ABCT? Does Johnson see our economy through Keysenian lenses?

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