Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ron Paul or Gary Johnson?

With Gary Johnson's entry into the 2012 presidential race, David Wiegel has an interesting article. The article's subhead presents an interesting conflict for libertarians: with Ron Paul in the race too, who should libertarians support?

In my view, libertarians should support Johnson over Paul for three major reasons:
  • Paul's immigration stance. For all of America's bad regulations, perhaps none have a bigger humanitarian cost than immigration restrictions. For example, minimum wage laws might create unemployment. However, the suburban teenager who lost a potential job at McDonald's has lost far less than the Haitian who cannot shine shoes here legally despite suffering from dire poverty and malnutrition abroad. Unfortunately, Paul's record on immigration has been Tancredoesque.
  • The perfect is the enemy of the good. As Ilya Somin has noted, Ron Paul has opposed relatively libertarian policies such as free trade agreements and school vouchers. As Somin puts it, "[e]ven if trade agreements and vouchers are not the optimal libertarian policies, they are surely superior to the status quo of tariffs and government monopoly schooling."
  • Johnson's main issue vs. Paul's. Realistically, neither Paul nor Johnson can win the Republican nomination. Their primary value in an election is sparking a national debate over certain issues. Ron Paul's main issue is, arguably, monetary policy. And most Americans, myself included, do not care about monetary policy. Johnson, on the other hand, has made marijuana legalization one of his top issues. His focus on the issue in debates might attract young voters to the libertarian movement. After all, "legalize pot" is a far sexier political slogan than "end the Fed."


  1. A private central bank issuing the public currency is a greater menace to the liberties of the people than a standing army. – Thomas Jefferson

    The next three are all from Henry Hazlitt:

    “Inflation is the autosuggestion, the hypnotism, the anesthetic, that has dulled the pain of the operation for him. Inflation is the opium of the people.”

    “Inflation itself is a form of taxation. It is perhaps the worst possible form, which usually bears hardest on those least able to pay.”

    “Like every other tax, inflation acts to determine the individual and business policies we are all forced to follow. It discourages all prudence and thrift. It encourages squandering, gambling, reckless waste of all kinds. It often makes it more profitable to speculate than to produce. It tears apart the whole fabric of stable economic relationships. Its inexcusable injustices drive men toward desperate remedies. It plants the seeds of fascism and communism. It leads men to demand totalitarian controls. It ends invariably in bitter disillusion and collapse.”

  2. I will be reading. I hope to witness a J-Rod/Milad fight one day as well.



    Perhaps it comes down to how you define libertarianism in regard to national security and foreign policy, but Ron Paul would seem to be much stronger on civil liberties and against torture and indefinite detention. It is also curious to me that the "libertarian" Governor Johnson is against abolishing departments of the federal government such as the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Commerce.

    Anyway, hope all is going well for you during finals. And I know you're excited about the upcoming Heat-Celtics series.


    1. Dear Blogger, If you don't care about monetary policy, then you're doomed to failure and debt-slavery (serfdom). Good Luck, and I seriously mean that!