Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Response to “Voting for Ron Paul Would Be Harmful to Humanity and the Earth”


Yesterday on Facebook, I saw my good friend Seth Chambers debating Ron Paul. One of his friends had linked this image (http://www.facebook.com/NoToRonPaul) which bears the title “Voting for Ron Paul Would Be Harmful to Humanity and the Earth.” I started reading the claims and got a little mad. Most of the accusations are misconceptions, biased media talking points or outright lies. I decided that I had to refute every one of these claims, or at least put them into context. While I don’t agree with all he believes in, Dr. Paul is the candidate for those who believe the Constitution and the ideas that made America great still mean something. So other potential voters will not be scared off by these wild allegations, I have outlined each issue in detail with plenty of links for you to verify yourself. Sorry, but you guys asked for it.
*note: I have changed the order from the image to group similar topics together
Eliminate the EPA/ Allow Drilling on Protected Land
Yes, Ron Paul is for eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency. So this means that he hates the environment and is an enemy to Mother Earth, right? I would argue against this assessment of Paul’s environmental policies. His position is that we should not rely solely on the bloated, corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy of the EPA to protect the environment.
Dr. Paul’s website (http://www.ronpaul2012.com/the-issues/energy/) elaborates on his stance on the issue, stating, “Eliminate the ineffective EPA. Polluters should answer directly to property owners in court for the damages they create – not to Washington.” He believed that through the courts, polluters will have a greater risk for being held responsible for their crimes than through the EPA regulation.
This agency has all the corruption inherent in a bureaucracy of such a size. Often large companies that have influential lobbyists with deep pockets receive fines that are pittance for them to pay and are allowed to continue on in their practices. In cases like these it seems the EPA has shielded offenders from punishment rather than providing it. If individuals and communities take their polluters directly to court rather than everything having to go through the EPA, then a judge could hold the company responsible in monetary damages and/or in injunctions to stop such practices. All this could be done without the broad EPA regulations that hurt our economy and new job growth.
The EPA hurts the economy? This article from the Washington Times (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/aug/31/epa-regulations-violate-constitutional-rights/) asserts that “EPA regulations cost more than 5 percent of our annual gross domestic product - the equivalent of the costs of defense and homeland security combined.” That piece also details a few examples of when the EPA has abused its power and walked all over the rights and livelihood of American citizens. The EPA is ineffectual at its job, a waste of money, and thus, not a part of Ron Paul’s vision for America.
 Drilling for oil in protected areas is another related contentious issue. There are estimates that the United States has perhaps as much as 2 trillion barrels of oil (http://www.kiplinger.com/businessresource/forecast/archive/The_U.S._s_Untapped_Bounty_080630.html) in untapped reserves, over a trillion more than the next biggest holders, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Most of this is in environmentally protected areas, so it remains unused. If we were the largest oil producing country in the world, I believe the Middle East would become a lot less important to the global political landscape. Energy independence is not a dream of the future for our country, it is possible now.
I don’t particularly love the idea of drilling in protected nature preserves, but I think the risk of the benefit outweighs the risk of harm. A spill in the Arctic would be catastrophic, but so are the thousands upon thousands of deaths that result from our wars in the Middle East, which have to be caused at least in some part by protecting our overseas oil interests.  
Eliminate Public Schools/ Privatize Education
The idea that a Paul administration would eliminate public schools is a ridiculous notion. What the author of this image probably meant is that he would eliminate the Department of Education. This definitely does not equate to the getting rid of public schools. The federal government does not set up public schools, nor does it directly fund them. The Department of Education has been around since only 1980. Until that time, the administration and funding of public schools had been the responsibility of state and local governments.
So in the thirty years the federal Department of Education has existed what has it achieved? I would argue not much. One thing that has coincided with the DoE’s reign has been the plummeting performance of US students compared with the rest of the Western world. According to the latest statistics (http://www.geographic.org/country_ranks/educational_score_performance_country_ranks_2009_oecd.html#science) the United States ranks 33rd in reading literacy, 27th in math and 22nd in science. These numbers are way down from 1980 levels, when we were among the educational leaders of the world, and come at a cost of the approximate annual Department of Education budget which is around $50 billion.
What Ron Paul would do is put the public schooling system back into the hands of the local and state governments without federal control or programs such as “The No Child Left Behind Act,” which ties performance on standardized tests to funding. He has also proposed a tax credit of $3,000 to families to give them their choice of schools; whether their choice is public, private or home school. The theory behind this is that public schools would be forced to clean up their act if all students had the ability to choose private schools or homeschooling as opposed to attending public school as their only choice. This is applying free market concepts to education, but does not mean privatizing education on a national level and barring the doors of public schoolhouses.
I am all for getting the federal government out of education. As someone who has worked in education for several years now, I have seen how the focus on these tests can suck out a lot of the creativity and enthusiasm of both teachers and students.  Also, I believe that school lunches that do not provide adequate nutrition and the prevalence of soda and candy vending machines in schools advocate a lifestyle that has led to an epidemic of health problems in our nation today. In the case of food at least, it seems schools are interested more in promoting certain companies and their products over educating students on proper health and nutrition.

Deregulate the Market and Banking/ Deregulate Industry Including Big Oil
I have been seeing a lot of anti-Paul people out there claiming that the free market has led to everything from the housing bubble bursting, to the recession, to the banking crisis and its subsequent bailout. They say that if Dr. Paul’s economic policies of open market are put into place, then we will be even more vulnerable to these types of economic disasters. I would argue, however, that the opposite is true. That it was because we weren’t practicing true free market principles that led to these calamities.
When the government protects certain industries, or gives some companies advantages over others, then that is not a free market. Ron Paul knew this when he predicted that the housing bubble would burst ten years before it did (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHNp1wf1T_k). He is not a clairvoyant, he just understands economics. He knew that if the government kept giving preferential treatment to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, then housing values would become artificially inflated. If prices are inflated artificially, then they are not based on real value, and the market will eventually correct this fluctuation to reflect what the given commodity is really worth.  
The same goes to the banking industry. When several big financial institutions were on the brink of collapse, the government cut them a check to prop them up. Among the cries of “too big to fail,” and “we need to buy up the toxic derivates,” Dr. Paul called was a lone voice of reason. He later wrote that, “The net effect of all this new funding has been to pump hundreds of billions of dollars into the financial system and bail out banks whose poor decision making should have caused them to go out of business.” Under a free market they would have gone under, and the United States would have avoided this extortion by the financial sector.
The deregulation of industry could provide the biggest boost to the growth of jobs and development. Ron Paul wants to cut the corporate tax rate to 25%, which would make us much more competitive in the world. Our current rate of 34%-35% for most medium to large businesses is among the highest in the world. The taxes we impose on corporations have sent more jobs out of country to Mexico and China. Cutting this tax and removing lots of the regulations on industry would be the most direct way to bring jobs back to America.
Plus, if Ron Paul was so pro-corporate and pro-bankers, then why do they hate him so much? Why do major television networks trip over themselves in trying to ignore him? It’s because they are against free competition. As noted industrialist John D. Rockefeller said, “Competition is a sin.” The mega corporations and banking institutions make their billions by playing with rigged dice and don’t want a level playing field. They would much rather have Obama or Romney and continue their cozy relationship with the government.

Eliminate the Minimum Wage/ Destroy Unions and Workers’ Rights
But who wants a job in a factory that pays ten cents an hour? If the minimum wage is abolished, what will protect workers from unfair pay or dangerous conditions? The minimum wage is seen almost as a universally good thing, and it’s hard to argue against it. However, it is still the federal government meddling with the free market and thus produces certain effects. Some of these effects are a raise in prices by companies to offset money lost in paying employees more, large businesses having an even bigger advantage over smaller ones, and discouraging of further education or training in workers. Studies have shown that the institution of a minimum wage is not especially effective at reducing poverty and can actually damage business, leading to a loss of jobs. Most people don’t make minimum wage, and what you make is simple supply and demand; what you are worth and what you are willing to take as pay.
The assertion that he would destroy unions and workers’ rights stems from his support of the “Right to Work” laws. “Right to Work” laws prevent unions from forcing mandatory membership dues on employees. There are currently 22 states that have “Right to Work” laws. The argument against such laws is that they weaken unions and lead to worse pay and conditions for employees. Ron Paul is not against unions or workers. He has said in the past that he is for workers exercising their right to organize, but is against forced unions that extort money out of people in order to get or keep a job.
  
Allow Discrimination/ Destroy Women’s, Gay and Civil Rights
That “allow discrimination” was on this list shocked me at first. One of Ron Paul’s major concerns has always been civil rights, so how could he wish to allow discrimination? Due to the infamous newsletters that Ron Paul didn’t write 20 years ago, accusations of racism aren’t new to him. When he was asked about the newsletters and these charges at the final debate before the New Hampshire primary, he was more interested in talking about “true racism in this country. It’s in the judicial system, and it has to do with how we enforce the drug laws.”(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EjHH2XcAEY). Paul goes on to say that, “the percentage of people who use drugs are about the same with blacks and whites, and yet, the blacks are arrested way disproportionately, they’re prosecuted in prison way disproportionately.” Unsurprisingly, no other candidate would deign to comment on such nonsense as questioning the War on Drugs, and the debate went promptly to commercial.
After doing a little research online, I found some other concerns over what a Paul presidency could mean to civil rights. The limited scope of a federal government in Ron Paul’s vision of America and his support of the rights of states has led some to argue that states on the extreme ends of the political spectrum could pass laws that violate the rights of its citizens. This would be especially so with controversial issues like abortion, same sex marriage and drug decriminalization.
Ron Paul critics have argued that because he is pro-life he is an enemy to a woman’s right to choose. He believes as a gynecologist who has delivered thousands of babies in his life that life begins at conception. He introduced “The Sanctity of Life Act” to Congress which would have made this belief law. However, he has also said that medical regulations like this should be made on the state level. However, he also voted against restrictions of teens going to a different state to get an abortion. While Ron Paul personally believes that abortion is wrong and may be against a national position on the subject one way or the other, I do not think he as president will ultimately oppose what someone wants to do with their own body.
Paul’s position on gay marriage is unlike any other candidate’s. He has stated in the past that he is against any federal definition of marriage, which he views as the religious covenant between two people that it is. He has also said that “he doesn't want to interfere in the free association of two individuals in a social, sexual, and religious sense,” and  when asked directly if he supported same sex marriages, Paul said, "I am supportive of all voluntary associations and people can call it whatever they want." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_positions_of_Ron_Paul#Constitutional_rights) However, he is against requiring all states to recognize marriages performed in places where such unions are legal. So ultimately, like abortion, he would oppose gay marriage on a national level while still allowing states to decide the issues for themselves.
I do not think this is a bad policy. I think that America is too large and diverse a country to take national stances on the most controversial issues. If something is not clearly outlined in the Constitution, then under the 10th Amendment it is under the jurisdiction of the states. Through voter referendums and closer proximity to the government, state policies and laws are easier to change if a majority of a states’ population disagrees with the status quo than compared with changing it at a national level. Plus, as citizens of the United States, we are free to move to any state that is more conducive to our lifestyle if we so choose. With the differences in regional populations, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to allow the states some self-determinism. And I don’t fear that this way of government will lead to laws legalizing discrimination against certain groups. Any law passed would still be subject to challenge in the courts if it blatantly violated the rights of any individual or group as defined by the Constitution.
Included in Ron Paul’s record against the invasion of civil liberties include his opposition to the Patriot Act, a national ID card and this year’s NDAA.

Abolish All Gun Laws
There’s a reason that the amendment protecting the right to bear arms was listed second only to freedom of speech and religion in the Bill of Rights; it’s really important. The right to own and carry guns isn’t just about personal protection and hunting. Our Founding Fathers knew something that we have forgotten. They knew that the government was the bad guy. There have been some notable exceptions throughout history, our perhaps most notably, but for the most part, governments have always been the enemy of the people. In the last hundred years, the number one cause of unnatural death is people being killed by their own government through starving them, working them to death, or directly killing them. This may seem surprising until you consider: Mao- 50-80 million, Stalin- 20 million, Hitler- 12 million. The simple fact is that if the people have more guns than the government, the latter will be much more careful in how they treat them.
Furthermore, more guns owned and carried by responsible citizens are the best way to combat crime, domestic terrorism and even a foreign invasion should one ever come. The logic that crime goes down when more people have guns is based on the idea that offenders are much more hesitant to mug, rape or kill someone that may be packing. This idea is put forward in John Lott’s book “More Guns, Less Crime.” In the book he cites studies that show violent crime goes down when citizens are allowed to carry concealed weapons. Also in the days of terrorism and school shootings, one has to ask questions like, “If there was one person on each plane with a gun on 9/11, would the attacks have happened?” or “if there was one legally carrying teacher at Columbine, would so many people have died?” With tens of millions of gun owners who own hundreds of millions of guns in the US, any threat of war on American soil will meet with stiff resistance. In a quote that sums up my views on gun control perfectly, Robert Heinlein says in his book Beyond This Horizon, “An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life. “

Promote Less Taxes for the Top 1%
Ron Paul wants to cut the size of the federal government and abolish the income tax for everybody. It’s inarguable that it benefits the rich, and it’s probably inarguable that it benefits the rich way more than people of my station. Just like on the regulation issue, if he is so pro 1% then why are they so against him. The television networks that are owned by the largest conglomerates and richest men in the world are intent on discrediting Dr. Paul, yet then his critics say he is working for them? Paul’s tax reforms will not just be limited to personal income, and I think a more competition friendly business environment will end up being beneficial to everyone.

Promote Creationism over Evolution
I have seen a lot of people online lately calling Ron Paul a moron and saying that he doesn’t understand science. I would bet that Ron Paul, who is a medical doctor and reads, books, a lot, probably knows more about science than these people posting typo ridden ugliness on message boards. I am against teaching religion in schools and Ron Paul has always stated that he is against forcing any beliefs upon students in schools. What he is really against, as usual, is the government overreaching the bounds of the Constitution. There was the case of Edwards vs. Aguillard in 1987 which prohibited teaching evidence against Darwinism (http://kevincraig.us/EndTheWall/war.htm#AGUILLARD). Since it is not anything clearly enumerated in the Constitution, the teaching of alternatives to the theory (and yes, there are a lot of facts that back up our understanding of evolution, but how it works is still just a theory) of evolution would thus be under the states’ jurisdiction under the 10th Amendment. This is another case of critics attacking Dr. Paul for his personal beliefs and creating the myth of him creating some Christian theocracy to scare people away from him, despite the fact he has been against infringing on anyone rights throughout his political career.

Eliminate All Public Safety Nets
This is just not true. Ron Paul has not said he would cut Social Security, but only allow young people to get out of the system if they so choose to. From his defense cuts, he has pledged not to take one dime away from the care of veterans. He would probably love to get rid of Medicare and Medicaid, but that is probably far on the horizon. His position is that continually spending money does not solve these problems, but deepen them, and one of the goals of his presidency would be to begin to wean our society off of its entitlement culture.

Protect the Privacy of Sexual Predators
People who expose this view are either ignorant of the actual issue or purposely trying to misinform you. They allege that he voted to protect the privacy of sexual predators online. He voted for this because he is a staunch defender of internet freedom, not because he is a fan of sex offenders. The internet is under attack and there may come a day soon when certain sites are blocked from viewing like they were when I was in China. To anyone who doesn’t think so, Google SOPA.  For the record, he also voted for the Deleting Online Predators Act and co-sponsored the No Parole for Sex Offenders Act.

Give No Amnesty or Immigration Rights
A lot of Ron Paul’s stances that seem perfectly logical to me are deemed to be wildly controversial. There are legal channels of immigration. If people forgo those and enter the country illegally, then they broke the law and should not be given citizenship or amnesty. His stance of not giving automatic citizenship to babies born in the United States of not American parents is not a civil rights issue. It is based on a misinterpretation on the 14th amendment (http://www.dailypaul.com/132657/original-intent-of-the-14th-amendment) that never intended on granting citizenship in this way. This is a loophole for getting into America that has been long exploited. Once the “anchor” or “jackpot” child is born, the parents can then legally stay in the country as well. However, this loophole has given America Bruce Lee and Juan from “The Big Green,” so maybe I need to think more about this.

Value Property Owners over All Others
This is a misconception of libertarian views. Paul detractors claim that his property owner rhetoric harkens back to the old system of only landed white men voting. However, the libertarian idea of a property owner is much broader. It is based on the ideas of the Founding Fathers and John Locke who said, “Every man has a property in his own person. This no one has a right to but himself.” From the radical idea that we own our own life came the declaration that every man has the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” So, Paul emphasizes basic personal (as in your body) property rights over all others and this extends to tenants, squatters and even bros living with their ‘rents like me.

Eliminate U.S. and Foreign Disaster Aid
FEMA is a scary thing. I agree with Ron Paul that it should be eliminated as soon as possible. It costs tax payers over 5 billion dollars a year and was largely responsible for the post-Katrina debacle in New Orleans. I don’t think any president will ever refuse to send aid to a place where disaster has struck, whether in the United States or without, but Ron Paul recognizes that it can be done without this wasteful, bloated bureaucracy.

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