Ron Paul has been getting a lot of attention as an "outsider" candidate, and in fact, even here at Slashdot I've seen a lot of Ron Paul in sigs.
So I decided to visit his web site and see what he's all about. Uhhhhhh... why is this guy getting so much geek attention? I can only assume that people are focusing on some single issue, and haven't checked what the guy actually *believes*. Much like people who support the Libertarian Party, actually, who have some seriously crackpot stuff in their platform. But I digress.
What's wrong with Ron Paul? Here's a sampling:
"So called free trade deals and world governmental organizations like the International Criminal Court (ICC), NAFTA, GATT, WTO, and CAFTA are a threat to our independence as a nation. They transfer power from our government to unelected foreign elites. [...] And a free America, with limited, constitutional government, would be gone forever." link
Sheesh. Sure, the value of trade deals is debatable, but the rhetoric above is just silly. "Gone FOREVER" OH NOOOOO!! Typical Politician fear-mongering, if not out-and-out crackpottery. So far, I'm not impressed.
I oppose legislation that increases the FDA's legal powers. FDA has consistently failed to protect the public from dangerous drugs, genetically modified foods, dangerous pesticides and other chemicals in the food supply. Meanwhile they waste public funds attacking safe, healthy foods and dietary supplements. link
Oh, geez. The FDA is certainly not perfect, but to say that the FDA "consistently" fails to protect the public from dangerous drugs is just a lie. If it wasn't for the FDA, we would be flooded with quack drugs. The Libertarian would say that the consumer should decide what's good and what's bad, but it's impractical for every citizen to have to review all the studies to know whether the thousands of drugs are effective or not. Again, I'll listen to how the FDA can be improved, but overblown words like the above don't give me confidence that there's any substance to the man.
And then, to top it off, he attacks *all* genetically modified foods broadly, showing that he has an anti-science agenda, and is completely ignorant of the issue.
I am committed to guaranteeing parity for home school diplomas and advancing equal scholarship consideration for students entering college from a home school environment. [...] I will veto any legislation that creates national standards or national testing for home school parents or students. link
I'm a supporter of home schooling, but let me get this straight. He wants home-schooled kids to have equal parity for diplomas, equal consideration for scholarships, yet doesn't think they should be be tested to see if they learned anything?? How is that supposed to work? And is the government going to force universities to accept home schooled kids with no testing?
The framers of the Constitution never in their worst nightmares imagined that the words, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech......." would be used to ban children from praying in school, prohibit courthouses from displaying the Ten Commandments, or prevent citizens from praying before football games. The original meaning of the First amendment was clear on these two points: The federal government cannot enact laws establishing one religious denomination over another, and the federal government cannot forbid mention of religion, including the Ten Commandments and references to God. link
First of all, he's being disingenuous here. Nowhere are children "banned" from praying in school. What is banned is the SCHOOL leading prayer. That he doesn't seem to understand this (or is lying about it) is incredibly worrisome.
And then he doesn't seem to understand that freedom of religion means the government cannot advocate one religion over another, and in fact, should not be advocating religion at all. I don't feel like quoting more, but he then goes on to attack the idea of the separation of church and state. I think it's pretty clear that he's not going to be a big advocate of atheist rights.
This isn't everything I find disturbing. To be fair, I did see a lot I liked about the man (as I can say about any of the candidates, of any party). But as near as I can see, he is not deserving of the reputation that he seems to be building.
Can anyone tell me why they support Ron Paul, especially in light of the above?
Disclaimer: I'm not a Libertarian, though I'm sympathetic to *some* of their ideas. A lot of them are crackpot, though.
Universal health care has been traditionally an idea that Libertarians despise, because it's directly against the Libertarian ideal of personal responsibility, and not "stealing" from others to support oneself. In this small essay, I'm going to argue that Universal Health Care *is* necessary to a free Libertarian-style society.
First, let me say that for most of my life, I've been adamantly against Universal Health Care, primarily because I don't trust the governmen not to screw it up. I still believe this, but I've come to believe that UHC is necessary anyway.
The reason is because modern UHC is not directly subject to market forces, hence the reason health care costs are completely out of control in the U.S. The underlying reason is health insurance. Once people stopped paying directly for health care, they stopped caring what it cost. In fact, they had an incentive to get the *most expensive* health care. Why not? "The insurance company is paying for it." And the Doctors certainly have no incentive to keep costs down. Might as well order a few extra tests. The result of this are costs spiralling ever upward.
Now, Libertarian think tanks are aware of this, and their solution was the idea of "medical savings accounts", where people (in essence) get a refund for not using health care. This is a really weak incentive. It helps a little, but it still doesn't address the fundamental corruption of market forces. That this is the best the Libertarians can come up with ought to tell you how impossible it is to fix.
So given that market forces can't work, and in fact people are getting bankrupted every day by health costs, the only solution is really for the government to step in, as inefficient as that can be.
So, even if that's the only solution, why do I say this should be a "Libertarian Ideal"? Let me first start with what most Libertarians think the government *should* do. One of the most fundamental functions of government is to provide a legally level playing field, for example, contract law. Most (hopefully all, but you never know) Libertarians wouldn't argue that contract judges should be privatized. There needs to be a relatively fair legal environment for business.
So how does UHC fit into this? One of the fundamental tenants of Libertarianism is the idea of personal responsibility, that in the end, one should take care of oneself through hard work.
And that's the crux: someone *can't* take care of oneself if they are not physically capable of it. It's unreasonable to say to someone, "I realize that your leg is broken, so work harder so you'll have the money to fix your leg." People cannot be productive without being physically healthy, just like people can't be productive without a reasonable legal environment.
Note that health care is different from other items, say, food. If I'm hungry, it's *is* reasonable to say, "go out and work, so you can afford to buy food." Physical health is a very different idea. It can actually *prevent* the Libertarian ideal of working to support oneself.
So, just like a stable legal system is necessary for a healthy capitalistic society, so is a healthy workforce capable of working to support themselves.
Well, not really a conspiracy.
Continuing my recent habit of posting a journal entry every two years or so, I thought I'd share my experience with aspartame-induced headaches.
For a few years, I've been having on-and-off chronic headaches. They felt right behind my eyes, and I seemed to also be somewhat sensitive to bright lights. Sometimes it would be a dull throb, but every so often I get real ball-busters that lasted for over a day that meds just didn't make go away. I pretty much attributed it to getting older. It was annoying, but not life threatening.
Now, I'd heard a lot about aspartame conspiracies, and like most conspiracies, I figured it was all a bunch of crap, along the same lines as "multiple chemical sensitivity" and the like (no offense to people with legitimate allergies).
One day, I was reading along, and I saw a post (it may even have been on Slashdot) where someone said they had been having chronic headaches for a long time that went away when they stopped drinking Aspartame. The guy didn't seem like a looney, so I thought it was worth a try. Anything to get rid of them!
I started drinking water every day, rather than my usual diet sodas. Within a week, there was a noticeable drop in the incidence of headaches, and NO occurances of bad headaches. After a month, I had had only a few incidences of headaches, and still NO bad ones, which was pretty much unprecedented. It's been probably six months now, and my headache problem is pretty much gone. I still get headaches occasionally, but it's a much more normal rate, and not nearly the severity. Still haven't had a ball-buster since I stopped drinking it.
Now, I'm still not an Aspartame looney who wants it banned. Some people go into anaphylactic shock with peanuts, that doesn't mean we should ban peanuts. It just happens to have that effect on me, and doesn't for millions of other people. But it should be common knowledge that it CAN happen to certain people.
Oh, and I don't think it was caffeine that was doing it. I drank a couple of diet cokes a day, but mostly I drank diet Sprite specifically because I don't like a lot of caffeine. My caffeine intake is pretty much zero now, but I've been drinking caffeine for a long time (a LOT back in my 20s) and I never got headaches from it.
If you're having chronic headaches and drink a lot of diet soda like I did, it's worth a try to see if you have the same effect. And I used to pretty hate drinking water, but I got used to it, so I'm okay with it now.
Speaking of water, I also don't buy into the silly "water is better for you anyway" nonsense. Liquid is liquid, your body uses it the same way. And by the way, that "Eight 8-oz glasses of water a day" thing is totally wrong as well, but that's another journal entry (there is ZERO evidence that drinking more water leads to more health).
I'll probably be writing there more than here.
"May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house." -- George Carlin