Friday, March 1, 2013

Rand Paul: Action Hero or Performance Artist?

Ilana Mercer observations:

Rand Paul is front-and-center in mainstream media, showing what some call “leadership.” Not a week goes by when the son of Ron Paul – the legendary libertarian legislator from Texas – is not introducing one act or another, ostensibly to lighten the incubus of government.

This week it’s the REINS Act (“Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2013″). Last week it was the “Sequester Alternative Plan.”

I like the senator from Kentucky’s energy. The question is: Is this political Brownian motion – the case of activity substituting for achievement – or real Randian energy in furtherance of liberty?

Rand’s “Sequester Without Layoffs” suggestions trump most debt theatrics out there – except that they display the kind of philosophical compromises that attached to the senator’s Tea Party State of the Union 2013 rebuttal. For one – and from the libertarian stand – the goal is to reduce the malign effects of government, scope and size, not only its costs. Why exclude layoffs?

Another bum note Rand sounded was on the Balanced Budget Amendment. “To begin with, we absolutely must pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution,” he roared.

It’s the sort of compromise his father would not have made. Ron Paul would have demanded that entire departments be shuttered – not that the bums merely bring into balance what was stolen (taxes) with what is squandered (spending).

Besides, what a balanced-budget requirement implies is that government has the constitutional right to spend as much as it takes in – that government is permitted to waste however much revenue it can extract from wealth producers.

Not so.

Paul misstepped again by demanding an “end to all foreign aid to countries that are burning our flag and chanting death to America.” Better to end foreign aid, period. Yes to private U.S. aid, no to USAID (United States Agency for International Development).

As for Rand’s expressed dread of “another downgrade in America’s credit rating”: why? A well-deserved downgrade is a good thing – a must. The U.S. government is insolvent, and no spending cuts have been forthcoming.

Like most Americans, I like an action hero. I am just incapable of telling whether Rand Paul is such a hero, or whether he is no more than a political performance artist.

It is a smart libertarian who retains a healthy contempt for politicians, even the libertarian ones. Ultimately, they’re all empire builders, who see nothing wrong in using fame and the public dime to peddle their influence and their products.

The people – at least those who’ve never fed at the “public” trough, unlike every single politician and his aide – are always morally superior to the politicians.

In all, some politicians are less sickening than others, but all fit somewhere along a sick-making scale.

Read the full column here.

Ilana Mercer is a classical liberal (libertarian) writer and a fellow at the "Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies." She is the author of "Into the Cannibal's Pot: Lessons For America From Post-Apartheid South Africa." "The titular tease," explains Ilana in the book, "is meant as a metaphor and is inspired by Ayn Rand's wise counsel against prostrating civilization to savagery." Ilana's website She blogs at
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1 comment:

  1. Mercer is a bigot if you read her older wnd columns.

    However, this is a good article.