NEW YORK (Frameshop) – Every time I force myself to watch the 2012 GOP field try to out whine one another in yet another televised “debate,” I cannot understand why Ron Paul is still on that stage. The other candidates may be unprepared and insincere, but Ron Paul spews nonsense–nonsense often laced with seemingly humane calls to end wars that he undercuts with promises to abandon the sick, poor, and elderly. Huge tracts of American government for the last 150 years are against the law? A monetary system not based on gold deprives people of liberty? Good lord this stuff is puerile hokum.
But then it occurred to me why people listen to him: because the media never takes the time to explain what will happen to this country if Ron Paul’s policies were enacted.
Bloomberg.com takes a useful step in this direction, today, by discussing some of what would happen if, by some unforeseen disaster, Ron Paul’s “economic plan” were put into practice.
Funny thing is that Ron Paul’s plan is not actually economic. It is just an excuse for eliminating huge sections of the Federal government on the transparently false argument that the Federal government in its current form has trapped Americans in a dystopian totalitarian nightmare from which they can only be freed if the Department of the Interior stops trying to keep mercury out of our drinking water and our monetary system takes a giant leap forward to 1892.
The Bloomberg editors–despite their false assumption that Ron Paul’s plan has anything to do with economics–does a good job at pointing out what would happen if it all came to be. One example is Social Security in a Ron Paul world:
Or let’s simply consider what would happen if the under-30 crowd stopped contributing to Social Security: The pay-as-you-go system would dry up, depriving today’s retirees of benefits. About 25 million elderly households now depend entirely on Social Security for income, leaving them unable to buy food or pay heating bills.
I will forgive Bloomberg.com’s editors for not exploring in greater detail for their readers’ benefit the tableau scene of American with 25 million elderly households thrust into 1850s-style desperate-starvation poverty. Allow me.
Imagine 25 million people working their whole lives only to arrive at 65, 75, or 85 with not enough money for food and shelter. That would mean tens of thousands of elderly in every city of America forced to live a life of scavenging, begging, and shoplifting to stay alive. Imagine every supermarket in America filled with haggard elderly in long coats for stealing. Eventually, grocery stores would be forced to hire security to keep hungry elderly from entering, forcing the starving seniors to compete with rats at dumpsters for food. Newspapers would routinely report scenes of panic and violence between the elderly in strip mall parking lots, resulting from fights for food.
Train stations, bus stops, and public spaces would be filled with hungry, diseased homeless elderly in various stages of decline. To keep hungry seniors from begging near windows and entrances, restaurant owners would promise them leftovers to be delivered in back alleys after closing. Movie theater dumpsters, parking lots, beaches, picnic sites, highway rest stops, and sports arena exits would all accumulate permanent camps of hungry senior citizens. Landfills would each support thousands of permanent elderly residents living in cardboard shanties under a cloud of circling gulls.
The combination of homelessness, hunger, and scavenging would lead to a rapid rise in outdoor elderly deaths from starvation, disease, and violence. Cities would be forced to allocate additional resources towards the disposal of the high number of elderly corpses that would crop up routinely, more often in winter, summer heat waves, and hurricanes.
In just a few years, non-elderly Americans would begin to develop feelings towards the rising population of indigent, homeless elderly. At first these feelings would be a mix of charitable pity, but this would soon turn to shame, annoyance, anger, and hatred. Younger people having never lived before Ron Paul’s reforms were enacted would view the elderly with ridicule. Physical abuse of homeless elderly would become common.
With increasing fear of being cast on the wrong side of the young-old economic divide after retirement, older workers would stay on longer past suggested retirement age, resulting in diminishing job prospects for younger workers. Forced to intervene in labor market for the benefit of younger workers, but ideologically opposed to any scheme that brought back any scheme like Social Security that had deprived Americans of liberty before Ron Paul’s reforms–city and state bureaucracies would quietly begin to find ways to move indigent elderly away from population centers, concentrating them in short-term housing with minimum resources. News of the horrific conditions of the elderly camps would begin to circulate in the media as a result of international elderly rights groups from Europe, China, and Latin America publicizing the worsening conditions in the United States.
Eventually, American political discourse would focus on the “elderly problem” as an explanation for some other economic downturn caused by unregulated financial markets spiraling out of control in multiple states now suffering from decades of unstable bank monopolies.
Younger voters whose life savings had been wiped out in the absence of FDIC protection would be easily manipulated by election-year rhetoric blaming “government support for the elderly” for current economic woes. Public support would emerge for candidates promising solutions in support of “cleaning up” the problem of the elderly.
In an environment filled with proposals to rid the country of the “elderly problem,” violence towards all elderly would increase, laws would be passed limiting the civil rights of the elderly, and “protecting” Americans from government action that might deprive people and markets from liberty by helping the elderly.
Ah…Ron Paul’s America. What a bright and beautiful future his proposals would bring us.
In reality, Ron Paul’s proposals are a big pile of cruel nonsense all built on the magic-fairy-land thinking that if we guillotine huge parts of the federal government, everybody will become a millionaire and problems will solve themselves.
Pay no attention to the hordes of starving elderly competing with cats at grocery store elderly. No, really–Ron Paul is for “liberty,” not against history and thinking.
The truth that gets drowned out by Ron Paul’s whining about the tyranny of Washington, DC, is a truth that most Americans would acknowledge if the media would stop pushing Ron Paul’s buttons like a fun house ride at a fair.
Government regulations of the financial markets, banks, and industry are not tyrannical. These regulations are the product of long experience with problems that caused unimaginable suffering for centuries as a result of out-of-control greed, selfishness, and disdain for others.
Left to their own devices in a free market system, industry and banks do not solve problems for the benefit of the general good. Despite Ron Paul’s nonsense about “liberty,” there is zero evidence that less regulation leads to more liberty, but there are mountains of evidence that good government regulation leads to broader and longer lasting prosperity for all.
Why? Because good regulation provides the channels through which a healthy industry and finance flows, allowing a national economy, society, and culture to thrive in a stable environment. When these channels are torn down, the economy quickly becomes a mess, and social unrest, hardship, and suffering follow quickly.
Our government is not unconstitutional as Ron Paul argues. Axing huge sections of our federal government may provide short-lived relief from some debts, but it will also set in motion long-term problems that will set this country back to solving the problems of the 19th and 18th Century–problems like widespread sickness and hunger amongst retired workers.
Do we want to return to a time where hordes of sick and hungry elderly clog our national economy and tip our popular culture towards political extremes? If so, by all means: vote Ron Paul.
As it happens, most Americans really loathe the kind of future Ron Paul’s reforms would bring. Instead, we want to return to a time when a life of hard, honest work resulted in a secure and happy retirement, resources for good health, a roof over one’s head, food–dignity. And we believe the way forward is not to pine for William McKinley’s monetary policy, but to re-introduce the hard-fought, smart federal regulations that kept our economy healthy, stable, and beneficial for decades. In that environment, the working class, middle class, and wealthy alike have benefited in the past and can benefit again in the future.
But first, let’s stop wasting time on Ron Paul. If he wants to keep prattling on about the tyranny of this and the tyranny of that–there are plenty of empty subway seats where he can do so uninterrupted for as along as he wants.