Nov 5, 2011

Ron Paul: The Unwanted Party Crasher




In school, we'd occasionally throw keggers. It is assumed that the reader knows or can guess what the general gist of these gigs was all about. When convened, they would tend to be massively popular. That massive part is what sometimes caused us problems.

Three distinct tribes of the local population would show up at these pow wows. The majority of the frolickers were the expected and welcomed college crowd, whether they were close pals, the folks you kind of knew from a class somewhere and the friends of a friend of a friend types. But on the fringes lurked two not-so-welcome groups of strangers: those we called townies (local kids) and jet heads (primarily Okies from the nearby Air Force base). The townies were usually crashing the party for the free beer buzz, while the flyboys were there on a mission to kick some ass and steal our women. It was a toxic three-part mix.

For some unknown, reason, that thought hit me when reflecting on the Occupy Wall Street movement. In observing the actual gatherings, via both media coverage and having swung by lower Manhattan on two occasions for an eyewitness view, I see the same type of dynamic in play. The vast majority of the protestors are of the expected type; looking the part, holding the right signs and voicing the proper slogans. But just like those old townies and jet heads from my carefree youth, out there on the fringes are those “what exactly are you doing here?” and not-so-welcome characters that seem very much out of place.

Communists, anarchists, Native American radicals, back-to-the earth extremists and similar; they're all down there. Sure, all these people have some skin in the game, but they really didn't read the OWS playbill before heading downtown, now did they? Worse, they provide ammo to the right wing media's scheme to conveniently file the whole shindig into one of these pigeonholes, all with a goal of alienating Middle America. I think we're all on to that game by now.

Most confusing to observe, however, were several small spatterings of Libertarians, with the requisite Ron Paul for President, End the Fed and Get Gov't Off My Back signage. These folks, even more so than the above mentioned groups, either totally missed the memo or took the wrong train to the hootenanny.

Granted, one can counter that there really isn't a clearly defined OWS playbill or memo, and that is a fair enough point. But there does at least exist a near-universal consensus that the general Occupy Wall Street rallying cry orbits around the central tenet that the delicate fulcrum balancing America's state interests and its commercial interests has swung too far in the direction of the latter — and that needs to change, pronto. Given that, we can easily conclude that this is not the Libertarians' garden party.

Their waaaaaaaaa'mbulance can he heard backing up to the back gate right now: where is the individual's interests (liberty!) in all this, they will ask? A fair question, but one that is misguided because it doesn't understand (or accept) that the individual is embedded throughout the above equation, on both sides of the divide. To help by way of example...

Joe Everyman, in exercising his liberty on any given morning, might take advantage of a state-financed water & sewer system, roadway and sidewalk to get to the office, where he then wages battle on behalf of a corporation for the next eight hours. This inter-meshing continues all day and night and into the weekend. Our citizen hero is a vested party not in one side or the other, but in the whole system.

Libertarians reject this reality. Instead, they choose sides and frame the push-pull as being the state vs the individual, with the commerce side either getting a free pass or being folded into the same anti-state union (hello Citizens United ruling). But both the Free Pass and the Damn That Big Gov options seem to be nothing more than convenient distractions for not being able to explain the natural end-game of their beloved laisse-faire's calamities; i.e., the ugly excesses of the financial industry, the recent mortgage/banking crisis,consolidation, monopolies, political influence, and so on. After all, if the central dogma is to get out of the way of business, how do you prevent all of the above nastiness? If anyone out there can buck that trend and tell us, please do so and get back to us. You have the address.

Back to our Joe Everyman, again. As he jumps back and forth between the State and Commerce camps, we can make a few predictions on how he would react to the possibility of being forced to move various aspects of his life from one to the other. It seems safe to assume that he thinks it best to let the EPA regulate drinking water quality, and not to force him (via the closure of that agency) to build a lab in his basement to test the H2O coming into his family's household. The same likely holds true with his being asked to now become a cell biologist in order to determine the safety of of the 100's of medicinal options for treating his daughter's nasty cough; he'll rely on (and appreciate) the FDA for that research, thank you very much. And he probably wouldn't take kindly to being forced to use one (the only one) cell phone provider, after all the previous competitors exercised their Libertarian rights and merged into one big monopoly.

The spirit of OWS says that all of that is pretty bad stuff. It would then conclude that the primary cause of our current economic dilemma is our having tasted a few chapters of this Libertarian KoolAid – of moving that fulcrum towards the right-hand or commerce side of that spectrum. Whether you agree with that logic or not is one thing, but there should not be any doubt as to how the so-called 99% feel about it.

Why, then is the Ron Paul crowd down there in Manhattan? An honest misinterpretation? An attempt to co-opt the movement? A hankering to just rile things up? The guess here is that is is confusing OWS's “Clean Up the Fed” cry with its own “End the Fed” stupidity. Again, those are two very different goals: most OWS'ers would think that requiring banks to maintain a certain level of assets in reserve (and regulating them, in general) to be a good thing, not a bad thing.

It is easy to see how the Libertarian philosophy has it appeal. After all, that rugged frontiersman knocking down those trees to build his home in the virgin woods is part of the branded American iconic legacy. But America has voted with its feet, as they say: today, 92% of the population lives in urban areas. That old frontier epic, now transformed into its current replacement of a delivered home along side a county road fifteen miles from town and six miles from its nearest neighbor, is out of synch in dealing with the modern day reality.

Now someone please tell that to Ron Paul and his blind mice.


Ron Paul is a loonie but his son is plain old dangerous said...

Ron Paul's backers are pretty much the Tea Party, one and the same. They can't follow arguments and logic to the level you have written here. They need it in short catch phrases so they don't need to spend time thinking. Remember the phrase KISS keep it simple stupid? The talk radio crazies and Fox News have mastered this process, and that is how they've tapped into this large number of people to have them spread their poison.

West Side Black Guy said...

When Ron Paul returns to the Earth, his followers believe he will restore the constitution so well that the ink will smell wet and also miraculously restore the moat around America to its pre-civil war glory.

To a Ron Paul supporter the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution is THE BILL OF WRONGS.

Kim R said...

I liked your FB comment on the Republican field: the Insane Clown Posse.

You funny.

Are you in NYC next week by chance?

eeeeeeeeeek said...

What's Ron Paul's last name?

Anonymous said...

I don't too much agree with you, but it's a pretty good essay nonetheless.

On another matter, I hope everyone goes to the polls in Saratoga tomorrow. But i would encourgage folks to make the effort and do their homeworkd and research before going.

We don't need more people voting, we need more informed people voting/.