Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Rand Paul versus Murray Rothbard on Ronald Reagan

In the Spring 2014 issue of the Intercollegiate Review, Rand Paul writes:
To paraphrase President Ron­ald Reagan, big government is the problem, not the solution[...]

In his farewell speech in 1989, President Reagan said, “As government expands, liberty contracts.” [...]

 Ronald Reagan entered office as the country was in the grips of a brutal recession. He cut taxes and reduced regulations, and the Federal Reserve stopped printing money like mad. Soon the economy took off, creating millions of jobs[...]

In the past, leaders like Ronald Reagan have effectively communicated the message of liberty, showing the importance of smaller government that respects freedom yet is strong enough to protect America.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that Rand whitewashes the evil that Reagan did, because in many ways Rand is like Reagan. In fact, Reagan probably talked a more consistent libertarian game than Rand. Rand might talk freedom, but  it is a muddied freedom, always with room for some type of government intervention.

Thank the heavens for Murray Rothbard, who set the record straight on Reagan. In Liberty, Vol. 2, No. 4, March 1989, Rothbard wrote: Ronald Reagan: An Autopsy.

Key snippets:
Eight years, eight dreary, miserable, mind-numbing years, the years of the Age of Reagan, are at long last coming to an end. These years have surely left an ominous legacy for the future: we shall undoubtedly suffer from the after-shocks of Reaganism for years to come. But at least Himself will not be there, and without the man Reagan, without what has been called his "charisma," Reaganism cannot nearly be the same. Reagan’s heirs and assigns are a pale shadow of the Master, as we can see from the performance of George Bush. He might try to imitate the notes of Reagan, but the music just ain’t there. Only this provides a glimmer of hope for America: that Reaganism might not survive much beyond Reagan.[...]

 In all my years of fascination with American politics (my early childhood memories are couched in terms of who was President or who was Mayor of New York City or who won what election), I have never seen anything remotely like it. Anyone else universally beloved? Franklin D. Roosevelt was worshipped, to be sure, by most of the American electorate, but there was always a large and magnificent minority who detested every inch of his guts. Truman? He was almost universally reviled in his time; he has only been made an icon in retrospect by the conservative movement. Jack Kennedy, too, is only a hero now that he has been safely interred; before his assassination he was cordially detested by all conservatives. Nobody ever loved Nixon. The closest to universal lovability was Ike, and even he did not inspire the intense devotion accorded to Ronnie Reagan; with Ike it was more of a tranquilized sense of peace and contentment.

But with Reagan, it has been pure love: every nod of the head; every wistful "We-e-ll," every dumb and flawed anecdote, every snappy salute, sends virtually every American into ecstasy. From all corners of the land came the cry, "I don’t like his policies very much, but I lo-o-ve the man." Only a few malcontents, popping up here and there, in a few obscure corners of the land, emerged as dedicated and bitter opponents. As one of this tiny minority I can testify that it was a lonely eight years, even within the ranks of the libertarian movement. [...]

How did Reagan manage to pursue egregiously statist policies in the name of liberty and of "getting government off our backs?" How was he able to follow this course of deception and mendacity?

Don’t try to get Ronnie off the hook by blaming Congress. Like the general public – and all too many libertarians – Congress was merely a passive receptacle for Ronnie’s wishes. Congress passed the Reagan budgets with a few marginal adjustments here and there – and gave him virtually all the legislation, and ratified all the personnel, he wanted. For one Bork there are thousands who made it. The last eight years have been a Reagan Administration for the Gipper to make or break[...]

There was no "Reagan Revolution." Any "revolution" in the direction of liberty (in Ronnie’s words "to get government off our backs") would reduce the total level of government spending. And that means reduce in absolute terms, not as proportion of the gross national product, or corrected for inflation, or anything else[...]

Creative semantics is the way in which Ronnie was able to keep his pledge never to raise taxes while raising them all the time[...]

The way Reagan-Greenspan saved Social Security is a superb paradigm of Reagan’s historical function in all areas of his realm; he acted to bail out statism and to co-opt and defuse any libertarian or quasi-libertarian opposition. The method worked brilliantly, for Social Security and other programs[...]

The Gipper deregulated nothing, abolished nothing. Instead of keeping his pledge to abolish the Departments of Energy and Education, he strengthened them, and even wound up his years in office adding a new Cabinet post, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Overall, the quantity and degree of government regulation of the economy was greatly increased and intensified during the Reagan years. The hated OSHA, the scourge of small business and at the time the second most-hated agency of federal government (surely you need not ask which is the first most-hated), was not only not abolished; it too was strengthened and reinforced. Environmentalist restrictions were greatly accelerated, especially after the heady early years when selling off some public lands was briefly mentioned, and the proponents of actually using and developing locked-up government resources (James Watt, Anne Burford, Rita Lavelle) were disgraced and sent packing as a warning to any future "anti-environmentalists[...]

Foreign aid, a vast racket by which American taxpayers are mulcted in order to subsidize American export firms and foreign governments (mostly dictatorships), has been vastly expanded under Reagan. The Administration also encouraged the nation’s banks to inflate and pour money down Third World rat-holes; then bailed out the banks and tin-pot socialist dictatorships at the expense of U.S. taxpayers (via tax increases) and consumers (via inflation)[...]

I have been cleaving to the strictly economic realm because even the staunchest pro-Reagan libertarian will not dare to claim that Ronnie has been a blessing for civil liberties. On the contrary. In addition to his reign of terror on Wall Street (who cares about the civil liberties of stock traders anyway?), Reagan worked to escalate toward infinity the insane "war against drugs." Far from the 1970s movement toward repealing marijuana laws, an ever greater flow of men and resources – countless billions of dollars – are being hysterically poured into combating a drug "problem" that clearly gets worse in direct proportion to the intensity of the "war."

The outbreak of drug fascism, moreover, is a superb illustration of the interconnectedness of civil liberty and economic freedom. Under cover of combating drugs, the government has cracked down on our economic and financial privacy, so that carrying cash has becomeprima fade evidence of "laundering" drug money[...]

I am convinced that the historic function of Ronald Reagan was to co-opt, eviscerate and ultimately destroy the substantial wave of anti-governmental, and quasi-libertarian, sentiment that erupted in the U.S. during the 1970s. Did he perform this task consciously? Surely too difficult a feat for a man barely compos. No, Reagan was wheeled into performing this task by his Establishment handlers[...]

So libertarianism was on a roll in the 1970s. And then Something Happened.

What happened was Ronald Wilson Blithering Reagan.
Why I am not surprised at all that Rand is going around quoting Ronald Reagan?


  1. If you want to be a player in the politics of The Stupid Party then you have to worship Reagan and Lincoln. I wonder if Rand is just playing the game by the rules or if he really believes this claptrap. Murray had it right, Reagan was largely a fraud. His amazing success in politics is due more to his acting ability and innate understanding of the theatrical nature of the game than anything else. This is why The Evil Party is more successful than The Stupid Party. The Evil Party understands that voters want to be entertained with soothing nostrums and convenient lies. The secret to success in politics is to find out the lies that voters want to hear and repeat them with all the false sincerity and cunning you can muster.

  2. Rand knows exactly what he is doing.

    1. Yes he does.
      And only neocons have reason to relax.

  3. Reagan Vs Clinton:
    1) Money Printing: M2 grew 48% faster under Reagan
    2) Federal Spending grew 106% faster under Reagan than under Clinton
    3) Reagan's 1982 tax hike was the largest since 1968.

    M2 Money Stock (M2), Billions of Dollars, Annual, Seasonally Adjusted
    1981-01-01 1678.7
    1989-01-01 3051.9 81.8% increase or 7.7%/year

    1993-01-01 3437.2
    2001-01-01 5176.0 50.5% increase or 5.2%/year

    Federal Government: Current Expenditures (FGEXPND), Billions of Dollars, Annual, Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate

    1981-01-01 706.3
    1989-01-01 1197.5 69.5% increase, 6.8%/year

    1993-01-01 1540.6
    2001-01-01 2012.8 30.6% increase, 3.3%/year

    Tax Hikes:
    Biggest Tax Increase in History? The tax increase signed in 1982 by President Reagan becomes the largest since 1968

    1. You don't have to convince us, Wolfgang.

      Libertarians know Reagan was a silver-tongued fraud.

    2. Most libertarians already know this stuff Jerry, you might be better off posting it in a "conservative"/neocon forum if you are looking to be seen as an educator.

    3. LOL @ The Wolf. He thinks he's trolling when in fact he's just pointing out what Rothbard wrote about. Good job, Wolfie.

  4. Ronald Reagan's maudlin love affair with the military pushed the vast majority of the American people into an unnatural relationship with men and women in uniform that bordered on outright worship. I despised Ronald Reagan because he was able to erase the healthy skepticism toward the U.S. military that had developed in the minds of many Americans prior to 1980. Fast forward 34 years and we can see that the soul robbing worship of the military has been so ingrained in American culture that people under 47 years of age think it has always been this way.

    Ronald Wilson Reagan was similar to what people call a horse whisperer, but Reagan had the ability to whisper sweet nostrums into the American psyche that put people into a suggestive state. Reagan made people wholly believe they would be free from government tyranny, their burden lightened, all while putting a great saddle of debt on their backs and a statist bit in their mouths. He was a master of human communication and misdirection that will not be equalled by anyone in my lifetime.

    The thing about Rand Paul that should frighten most people who are on the fence concerning him would be the things that he never questions in a serious manner. The long list of items that he will not touch with a ten foot pole should raise serious doubts about Rand Paul's love of liberty and individual freedom.

    Now, try and image how old you would have to be to remember a time before the following items entered our lives.

    The Federal Reserve, 114 years of age
    The IRS, 114 years of age
    Opium outlawed, 111 years of age
    Federal Propaganda, 110 years of age
    The FBI, 94 years of age
    Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Outlawed, 89 years of age
    The Pledge of Allegiance Adopted, 85 years of age
    The Internment of US Citizens, 85 years of age
    The National Security Act, 80 years of age
    The CIA, 80 years of age
    The NSA, 75 years of age
    The ATF, 59 years of age.
    SWAT Teams, 58 years of age
    The War on Drugs, 57 years of age
    FEMA, 48 years of age
    Militarization of American Police Forces, 45 years of age
    Destruction of local, and state control of real estate transactions by MERS, 32 years of age
    The NSA spying on all Americans communications, 26 years of age
    DHS, 25 years of age
    TSA, 25 years of age
    Fusion Centers, 25 years of age
    Military Surplus to Local Police Departments, 25 years of age
    The Idea of US Citizens as Enemy Combatants, 25 years of age
    Torture Institutionalized in the US Military, 25 years of age
    Militarization of the Border and 100 Mile Constitution Free Zones, 25 years of age
    Drones, 25 years of age
    Free Speech Zones, 23 years of age
    The KELO Decision, 22 years of age
    Biometrics ID, 18 years of age
    Smart Meters, 17 years of age
    NDAA, 15 years of age

    How many of these impediments to our freedom as individuals has Rand Paul spoken of while on Fox News or "Meet The Press"? Zero!

    1. And it should be noted that even if we accept that he does not want to "lure" libertarians into his honey trap, he has gone and called himself a "constitutional conservative" as well, and YET all of the above came into life long after.

      So to reiterate what i said elsewhere, Rand Paul is not only not a libertarian, he is ALSO not a constitutional conservative.
      As a matter of fact, Rand Paul has made clear recently he does not want to legalize heroin, even though opium was only outlawed 111 years ago. So what does he mean he is a "constitutionalist"?
      ONLY when it is convenient to get sympathy from his potential voters, which makes him... precisely like all other politicians.

  5. JW just commented in support of Murry Rothbard. Six months more learning and he'll be full fledged AnCap.

    1. I've said it before: JW is a covert Austrian who makes Keynesians look even more dumb.

  6. Ron Paul also talked about Reagan approvingly and put his photo on campaign literature. This post could've been written about Ron as well. It just shows the intense hatred, who knows why, Wenzel has for Rand Paul.

    1. Ron Paul LEFT the Republican party in the 1980s because of Reagan, dummy.

      And even aside from that, you have done ZERO to prove that Rand's sympathy for Reagan does not make him a liar, since it is a given fact that Reagan grew the state in almost every way.
      So why, even *if* Wenzel's dislike of Rand was overdone at some times, would you even feel the need to defend Rand on this issue? Don't like the message, so shoot the messenger?

      It just shows the intense worship, who knows why, YOU have for Rand Paul.

  7. I get calls every now and then from various conservative groups. How they got my number I dont know but anytime they bring up their statist demi-god Reagan I stop them and ask them if they ever read Rothbard's work on him after Reagan left office. Sometimes they don't know who Rothbard is but the ones who do then I start quoting from the "An Autopsy" piece. Eventually they get annoyed and hang up because I ruined their delusional world view that Reagan was this liberty lover that never existed during his reign.

  8. The sadly ironic part will be the very thing that killed the USSR (military spending that broke it's back), which was kicked into high gear by Reagan's out of control military spending (and tripling of the deficit) will be what kills the USSA.