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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Book of Matthew: Why I didn’t fall for Ron Paul

Published: November 30, 2007
Section: Opinions

I must admit that Congressman Ron Paul could not have picked a better time to launch a libertarian presidential campaign. We as a nation are dealing with an enormous budget deficit, skyrocketing oil prices, increased foreign competition, and a weak economy overall. Paul’s solution appears to be simple and painless: cut spending, cut taxes, cut government branches. It’s almost as if Ronald Reagan is back, telling us that, “We must not look to the government to solve our problems. Government is the problem.” Unfortunately for us citizens, such a solution will not work any better now than it did twenty years ago.

Lets take a look at Paul’s most publicized proposition, namely, the elimination of the Federal Reserve and the return to the gold standard.

Paul’s claim here is that the inflation that our economy faces is the product of a Federal Reserve that just wont stop printing money. He feels that if we were to use gold as currency instead of Federal Reserve notes, we would instantly cure our inflation woes and keep the government away from our money. On paper, this sounds like a fantastic idea, and for that reason most of Paul’s supporters don’t stop to consider it further. If they would, they would find a few problems.

For starters, we must remember that inflation is not a new phenomenon. All nations experience it, no matter what kind of currency they have, and yet their economies do not necessarily collapse as a result. Many economists argue that while high inflation is bad for an economy, low inflation that can be kept in check is not. It is a sign that an economy is growing, because of the slowly increasing money supply. The trick is to keep low inflation in check, and that is exactly what the Federal Reserve does. Contrary to the Paul doctrine, it does not simply print money and hand it out. It controls the economy by either buying or selling bonds, which either increases or decreases the money supply. In this way, inflation can be controlled, and economic growth can be maximized.

The gold standard, which Paul swears by, is not nearly as infallible as he makes it out to be. It is a system that relies entirely on quantity of gold. Inflation is possible and perfectly rational, if, say, a large gold deposit were to be mined, or a new use for gold were to be discovered. The price of gold does change, and if we used it as currency without the Fed to regulate it, such change could be disastrous. Paul may not like the fact that the government controls money, but we don’t have much of a choice. No one person can control the economy, and it would be foolish to let the masses try.

The rest of Paul’s platform is based on the same idea, that government has no place in our lives. This may appear to be a typical conservative stance, but he takes it much, much farther. In a time when our children are facing competition with children all over the world, Paul wants to eliminate the Department of Education. With global warming becoming a pressing world issue, he wants to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency. He expects all Americans to be self-reliant, and opposes Social Security and Medicare so we don’t have a choice. The man even opposes the UN, the one body that we can use to achieve global cooperation. In effect, Paul wants to dismantle every government institution that does some good for people. It’s ridiculous!

Supporters call his campaign, “The Ron Paul Revolution”, and they insist that their candidate will provide us with much-needed change. Well, here’s a quote from Paul that seems to illustrate his idea of “change” rather well:

“Why do we need the federal government? There’s no Cold War and no Communist threat. Many other nations are breaking into smaller and smaller pieces. The centralization of power in Washington occurred in a different time. Why not think about getting rid of the federal government, returning to the system of our Founders, and breaking up the United States into smaller government units?” (Austin Chronicle, 1996)

I’m not afraid of our government, and I would very much like to keep my government intact. What I am afraid of is Ron Paul. As primary season approaches, I can only hope that voters think long and hard before casting their ballots for a radical that we do not need.