After seeing the first presidential debate of the republican candidates, a friend of mine mentioned the candidacy of Dr. Ron Paul, noting that I would likely favor Dr. Paul’s ideas on public policy. He was wrong; favor is an understatement. I am so impressed with Dr. Paul’s views and record that I regret that my current immigration status does not allow me to contribute to the electoral process in a more significant way. The most I can do is espouse his ideas of small government and individual liberties.
The idea of small government seems radical, and its easy to ridicule an old man waving his hand when Department of Health, Department of Education and their likes are mentioned as part of the government that need to be abolished, but pause to reflect before you ignore. The government machinery is perhaps the most inefficient means to solve a problem, this inefficiency, or dare I say incapacity, is further aggravated when these departments are run by federal government which has scant regard for peculiarities of local issues. And though it may seem that there are no feasible alternatives, the ingenuity of the market place and inventiveness of a new breed of entrepreneurs should not be doubted, least of all in America, a nation that has progressed to be the sole superpower in the world on the principles of capitalism. But let’s move from abstract philosophy and see how he explains these principles affect specific issues.
Rising cost of health care is arguably a leading problem in America today. People like to explain it as a result of expensive litigation and legal liability. That could be part of the reason, but is certainly not the whole story. Consider this, the cost of litigation, malpractice insurance, and legal liability account for less than one percent of the medical expenditure of the nation. Contrast this rising cost with another consumer oriented industry, say electronics. Dr Paul rightly points out that the cost of electronics has steadily declined over the years while the cost of health care has mushroomed. The same is true of education; the cost of education has steadily increased over the years. The difference is evident; free market forces and competition dominate the electronics industry, while health care and education is encumbered by government licensing and regulation. Department of Health is not a solution; it is in fact the problem. The common argument for its existence is: that it is needed to protect the citizenry from scrupulous corporations, that an average consumer cannot judge for himself what is good or bad for him, and somehow for some magical reason the government can do a better job of it. Consider FEMA’s management of Katrina, recall the recent mishandling of some popular medicines by Food and Drug administration, think of the lobbying practices Washington, think of the nexus between corrupt politicians and corporations, just pause and think of the government performance in recent past. Where is the reason for confidence? It’s best for the government to move out. And he is not suggesting that an individual be left to his own devices. Once the government moves out, the oversight is going to come from consumer groups, non-profit organizations, industry wide collaborations, personal interactions with qualified experts such as your physicians, and from the consumers best friend competition itself. Reflect on this: we are far more educated and have far more resources to evaluate HD DVD and Blu Ray DVD, than we have to evaluate our flu shots. Why?
Let’s take environmental pollution as another example. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) seems like an organization that is needed since the benefits accrue to people at large and not to individuals. But listen to what Dr. Paul’s has to say about the problem of pollution in his childhood hometown of Philadelphia during the 70’s. Long before the EPA was created, the pollution issue was resolved in Philadelphia by means of property rights and individual contracts. The simple principle, “you can do what you want on your backyard as long as you don’t mess up mine”, got it done. The function of the government, according to Dr. Paul, is to device means for people to establish ownership and undertake contracts with each other. The market forces and the desire of the people then guide the future in much more democratic way than anything else can. Hypothetically even complex problems have a solution under this philosophy. For instance, my share of green house gas consumption is available for sale to both: the environmentalist, and the industrialist. The former can buy it from me and not use it, to save the earth; and latter can buy it from me and use it, to make a profit. Let the market decide. The trouble arises, as in this case, when there is no individual ownership. And that’s the only place where the role of the government belongs, to govern that which cannot be individually owned, and to work to establish individual ownership for it. But what about other altruistic functions such as showing compassion towards the poor and the needy.
Dr. Paul believes it is not the function of the government to provide social security and safety nets for people. People are better off left in-charge of their own lives. To me the whole notion of welfare state is absurd; one doesn’t help a child who is having difficulty to read by helping him NOT to have to read. Perhaps that argument does not appeal to you; ignore it. Consider what Dr. Paul has to say: the only way our government is able to run the welfare state is by running a state deficit. The money that is put in these social programs actually does not exist; it is simply created by the government and shows up as inflation. Guess who does the inflation hurt the most? Does the whole hoopla over consistent drop in hourly wages in real terms for the past decade ring any bells? What the government essentially does is to tax the people, Dr. Paul terms it as “Inflation Tax”, and provide social services in its return. At best, this is a zero sum gain, but with government inefficiencies, it’s a whole new story. If you then argue what hope is there for people in real need, after all everyone needs a helping hand? Let me remind you, there will always be a helping hand for the deserving in a rich and a compassionate society. Charities and non-profit organizations will fill the place left by the government and will do a better job of it than the government. Here again Dr. Paul reminds us of his experience in serving in a hospital where he earned little over 3 dollars a day and in which no patient was refused. The social elite and the liberals are better advised to find the right vehicle for their compassion, if indeed it is heart-felt, and leave the government to its functional best.
I can keep going and describe how Dr. Paul stands out far ahead from any other candidate on his ideas on foreign policy, immigration, social equality and more, but I would like to keep that for another day. I would like to end this with the record of the man himself; who is one of those few politicians that has stood by his principles for more than a decade of service in the US Congress, and what is even more in life.
- Dr. Paul has never voted to raise taxes.
- Dr. Paul has never voted for an unbalanced budget.
- Dr. Paul has never voted for a federal restriction on gun ownership.
- Dr. Paul has never voted to raise congressional pay.
- Dr. Paul has never voted to increase the power of the executive branch.
- Dr. Paul does not participate in the lucrative congressional pension program.
- Dr. Paul returns a portion of his annual congressional office budget to the U.S. treasury every year.
- Dr. Paul voted against the Patriot Act.
- Dr. Paul voted against the Iraq war.
- Dr. Paul wants to remove Marijuana from the list of controlled substances.
Dr. Paul has consistently worked to limit the size of the federal government. He has always worked to reduce taxes. He has repeatedly supported the cause of free markets. He supported his children during their undergraduate and medical school years, not letting them accept federal student loans. During his medical career specializing in obstetrics/gynecology, he refused to accept payment by Medicare or Medicaid, preferring to not charge patients or to work out a cash payment.
The National Taxpayer’s Union has awarded Ron Paul their “Taxpayer’s Friend” award for the past ten years in a row, and doesn’t hesitate to explain why: “If every member of Congress voted like Representative Paul, Americans could enjoy much lower taxes and less waste in government,” stated NTU President John Berthoud. “Overburdened taxpayers in Texas and across the nation owe Mr. Paul a debt of gratitude for his hard work on their behalf. While many Members of Congress talk about reducing the size of government, Representative Paul backed up those words with votes. This award proves that he is a consistent and effective ally in our battle to restore fiscal responsibility to Washington.” 
If there is a candidate with a better record, I am all ears, but I doubt it. Even if you disagree with his philosophy, you can hardly challenge his conviction. All I ask is hear him out … check this out: