Electing Faithfulness: Part 4: All About the Benjamin$

[back to part 3: The Constitution]

“It’s All About the Benjamins”
or
“The Lower Class Needs Care and Dignity and Sustainability”
or
“Why A Budget is A Very Moral Issue” (and why you are very wrong if you disagree)

I am convinced that Ron Paul will actively slash the US deficit and do more than any other candidate to help bring the US out of debt.  I don’t know much about the logistics of economics, but I know enough about the philosophy of it.  I will discuss the philosophy and rhetoric of money and government.

Contrary to many opinions, economic issues are and always will be moral issues.  People who call themselves “values voters” or voters who “only focus on moral issues” and then neglect economic issues are ignorant and destructive.  You shouldn’t be surprised how many problems actually come down to money.  You know it happens in marriages, you know it happens in churches, you know it happens in schools.  This is one of our government’s greatest problem right now.  Do you say that abortion is a big issue?  Did you know that women in poverty are more likely to seek abortion when pregnant?  Did you know that after a baby is born it’s still human, and still needs to eat and be taken care of?  Money is directly related to these things.  And if we don’t care about poor families, then we are not “pro family” at all.
Ron Paul has consistently never voted to raise taxes, and it’s not because he loves rich people.  He doesn’t want to raise taxes on anyone.  He is also committed to drastically slashing wasteful government spending, so that taxes do not have to be raised.  This follows a wise model of spending: If you don’t have the money, don’t spend it.  One flaw of our society is the notion that just borrowing money you don’t have is fine and dandy because you can pay it back later.  The extent to which you are in debt is the extent to which you are enslaved.  I am in debt for my education, but I planned this and planned to actually have the debt paid off by a certain time.  I am not using credit card after credit card to add to and prolong that debt for another TV, another car, a boat, a new outfit, ect.  I am trying to be as responsible as I can, but my debt is growing partially because of the irresponsibility of others.

As a Christian, I believe that lenders are to be held more liable than borrowers, for the lender, having more money, is the one with the power to grant, as well as the one who can take advantage of the borrower through interest rates.  Our system has allowed too many people to borrow what they do not have, because the government allows banks to use imaginary credit, and the Federal Reserve prints money out of nowhere (which doesn’t increase the value of the money, but only prolongs the problem).  Lenders forgving debts and borrowers cutting spending are the only realistic ways of getting out of debt.  I believe Ron Paul will do more than any candidate to prevent governments and corporations from manipulating currency in order to take advantage of the poor.

Paul wants people in need to rely on individuals and private organizations rather than a single, overburdened government.  Though I prefer individuals and communities be the first line of economic justice for the poor, I am completely fine with a government offering benefit programs so long as it can do so responsibly and without overtaxing the poor.  This government has not demonstrated that it can do so.  Therefore, there must be a change in direction, at least until the debt can be resolved, which will take a long time.  We need to get to the point where we can stop having to borrow money from China to pay for wars in the Middle-East to obtain resources and bribe allies, all under the guise of protecting democracy.  China has been willing to accumulate reserves denominated in U.S. dollars.  Currently, China holds over 1 trillion in U.S. assets (of which 330 billion are U.S. Treasury notes).  Should China ever cast off a large portion of those increasingly valueless reserves, the value of our currency would shift dramatically, and we’d be in it much deeper.

Barack Obama, though he indeed did inherit a mess, advocates for a Keynesian system of government spending its way out of debt, which has never been proven to work.  Mitt Romney only claims to lower taxes on the rich because they have a magic “job creating” power that will fix everything.  However, he avoids showing us his plan.  Lowering taxes on the rich only/mostly is I believe a cretinous philosophy, as is the notion that 47 percent of Americans are feeding off taxes.  Romney has also said that corporations are people.  Well, if you can own a corporation…

Ron Paul on why the system is actually biased against the poor.

I don’t know much about the Federal Reserve, so I’ll leave the rest of that discussion to those that do.  I hear on the one hand that it was established to help control inflation, I hear on the other hand that it actually makes inflation worse.  I’m no economist.  I can completely understand why so many see Paul’s idea of ending the Fed as extreme.  But what I do wonder is what the harm would be in auditing the fed.  If there’s nothing wrong with it, there’s nothing for “the Fed” to fear.  If there was a serious problem, it would need to be disassembled.  He’s not asking for it to be abolished without being audited first.  He wants to give it a fair trial.

Here is a run-down of U.S. debt. accumulation by President.

As you can see, Presidents from both parties have contributed to this problem.  Reagan may have cut taxes, under his administration we also borrowed more money.  From then on we began to cross from mere inflation into climbing debt.  Since then Presidents have pulled different levers at the same machine.  We have yet to hit jackpot.  Granted, Obama may end up being the most debt-increasing President if he gets another four years, but it’s too soon to speak with certainty.  We could go on all day about who’s fault it is.  Paul just wants to implement a solution that he’s willing to show.  Gas prices have indeed doubled since Obama took office, but if you think Republicans are a solution, take a look at how gas prices rose under Bush.

This is Ron Paul’s press conference from a year ago wherein he proposes a plan to restore the budget.

Criticism: Here is where I talk about my disagreements with Ron Paul about Capitalism.

-To me, there is pure Capitalism, pure Communism, and everything in between.  Pure Capitalism is a world where govt. has zero say in trade and what businesses can do (like the Western frontier in towns that had no sherrif–like Deadwood).  Pure Communism is when the government has virtually all say on all resources (N. Korea).  Socialism is the general idea of governments spreading the resources for the people and comes in many functions, and some of America’s programs could be called “socialist” do a degree (like Medicare).

-Communism is an extreme form of Socilaism.  Corporatism is an extreme form of Capitalism.  I find Capitalism flawed because it gives too much power to private industries just as Communism gives too much power to the govt.  If the govt. can’t do anything about a factory abusing its workers, or a corporation lying about poisons in its product, then there’s a problem.  I believe in small government and small business, but in America right now they’re both too large.  I don’t have a label for what I am, but the best thing I can come up with is communitarianism and/or distributism.

-To Ron Paul, the difference is that Capitalism is a free market, but Corporatism is the government allowing Corporations to do what they want, and even working unjustly in their favor.  There is a big problem with that in this country.  Corporate lobbyists have too much power, corporations get too many tax breaks.  Where I feel I might disagree with Paul seems really like a semantic issue, although I am also more tolerant of socialist programs than he is.  To Paul, true Capitalism is when consumers are in control and both the government and businesses fear and respect consumers.  And I would not call that Capitalism, but I agree with it.  I would call it a free market.  A truly free market, not a market controlled by corporations (to me, Capitalism is a free market plus a set of added social imperatives such as competition, making more than you need, shooting for the goal of nonstop growth, and only caring for the poor if it helps your business).  As Paul points out, the military-industrial complex is a huge problem, a power triangle of government, military, and business seizing profit and hurting the poor in return.  Pres. Eisenhower warned about the rise of this complex, and his predictions came true.

-Unlike Mitt Romney, Ron Paul does not believe corporations should get special privileges because they produce a lot.  After all, why would you reward people for being rich?  Richness is its own reward.  Romney believes that corporations are people, that the housing market would be better off if families were renters instead of homeowners (i.e. helping banks put people out of their homes, as if half the foreclosures processed in America weren’t sketchy enough already), and that the wealth always “trickles down” from the rich to the poor if we just give the rich more benefits and tax write-offs (aka Voodoo economics).  I would never vote for someone who believed in that.

-Unlike Romney, Paul is actually willing to criticize corporations (as well as the government, unlike Obama) for the economic condition.  Wall Street actually is hugely responsible for a lot of economic problems, particularly in the banking and mortgaging sector.  Paul does not believe that you can make such a sweeping statement about the nation’s poor as Romney has, and he holds both the government and large corporations responsible, for they shake hands and put hands in each other’s pockets while the poor are manipulated.  It is hypocritical to scoff at Occupy demonstrators for scapegoating, and then turn around and blame Obama and Pelosi for all things recessionary.  Both Capitol Hill and Wall Street play an integral roll in the plight of many unemployed, indebted Americans, as well as many individual Americans themselves.

Ron Paul explaining his semantic definitions of Capitalism, Corporatism, and Socialism

Ron Paul explains why President Obama is not a socialist:  He’s a corporatist.

John Stewart brought up a good point in his debate with Bill O’Reilly: “Why is it that if you take advantage of a corporate tax break you’re a smart businessman, but if you take advantage of something so you  don’t go hungry, you’re a moocher?

O’Reilly said that our country has become too focused on entitlement, with people looking to the government for everything.  For many people that is true, such as the man who came to a friend of mine saying, “can you write a letter saying I gave you my resume and you said you weren’t hiring to I can collect unemployment?”  My friend actually was hiring.  The other man didn’t want to work.  However, Stewart pointed out that our country was founded on elitist entitlement, the “manifest destiny” philosophy that said some were entitled to take from others.  The poor and the rich can be susceptible to this disease of entitlement.

Romney wants to give tax breaks to rich men because they’re shrewd, essentially rewarding them with money for making money.  But when we want to lower taxes on people who are trying to make ends meet, or creating services for the poor with taxes from the rich we are “giving handouts”?  Ron Paul wants to lower taxes on all Americans, and encourage people to take care of one another.  If a tax break that allows you to make more money is an incentive to work more, that is a sad state of affairs.  Those who inspire me are not those who work to get more money, but those who work to do a good thing.

So, as I said before, I am tolerant of both Capitalism and Socialism.  I understand, for example, that my tax money being used for Public Broadcasting like Sesame Street (less than 0.01% of the national budget) is an investment I make in the nation’s future because public broadcasting provides an educational service to those who cannot afford cable.  However, under the Capitalist system I can choose which programs I want my money to go to, though I then run the risk of people around me not wanting to give enough money.

Both systems are flawed.  I am voting for Ron Paul because his Capitalism is nuanced enough that it is against opportunistic Corporatism.  I don’t think it’s about Capitalist and Socialist policies, but about getting an economy out of debt in a way that urges those who got us into that situation to bear the greatest weight: the government and corporations.

Here’s a question: If you believe America is a “Christian nation” and that Christian morality must be martial law (sexual moores, etc.), then you must say the same for economic morality, enforcing help through tax-funded programs.  I don’t believe America is a Christian nation in any martial, constitutional sense, therefore I do not hold those expectations.  I try to influence my government to make decisions that reflect my faith, but I do not expect de facto Christian laws.  So whether you’re a socialist or a capitalist, one thing is clear: Govt. and Corporations are hurting the poor, and Ron Paul wants do cut their ties to one another and get the economy out of debt.

[on to part 5: Foreign Policy]

4 responses to “Electing Faithfulness: Part 4: All About the Benjamin$

  1. I stand with Ron Paul on peace issues. Overall, however, I do not agree with his libertarianism. We need a more communitarian ethos in America. One of the problems with modernity and its attendant movements of industrialization, liberalization, and now globalization, is that it has ripped communities apart. It has changed the dynamic of families and neighborhoods, and not for the better. One issue I have with free market economics as embraced by libertarians–the sort advocated by the Milton Friedman crowd–is that it depends upon wants or preferences of individuals and scoffs at the idea that there should be commonly held values, virtues, and visions of the common good. Libertarian economics, for all its over-the-shoulder talk about local communities, individuals, churches, etc taking care of their own needy, is actually hostile to the very concept of a community which is possessed of the social fabric to effectively help those in need. Because the issues that create need are typically systemic in nature. For more on this, see William Cavanaugh’s insightful article “The Unfreedom of the Free Market” here: http://www.jesusradicals.com/wp-content/uploads/unfreedom.pdf

    Lenders forgiving debts and borrowers cutting expenses. I say bully, but there’s a lot of the second going on these days de facto and none of the first. You spoke of student debt. Why not just have the system set up so that students pay, say 10% to 15% of their incomes after graduation for a set amount of years? This was done, incidentally, at some Ivy Leagues 40 or 50 years back, and was working well–folks were getting quality educations that were affordable. So you ask, why did they stop? Well, you had these guys from Harvard, Yale, Brown, etc and they became millionaire lawyers, investors, whatever. And you had others who took less-well-paying jobs but served their communities well, and were well-trained to do so. Okay. Well, the Richie Riches started clamoring, “Now wait, 10% of my $4,000,000 is a lot more than 10% of Darrell Dogooder’s $40,000. That’s not fair!” And of course, Richie Rich was the one making the sizable donations to the endowment fund, Richie Rich is the one invited to sit on the board, so in time the program was put to pasture. We also need a system that’s heavier on paid apprenticeship, mentoring, etc.

    I could vote for Ron Paul if Dennis Kucinich was his Veep nom. THAT’s the sort of balance that keeps men honest.

    I tend to lean toward third way politics. I want a robust and HELPFUL safety net. I also want to see greater entrepreneurship, wealth creation, and people doing meaningful work for a living wage. I don’t see that either free market fundamentalism or top-down state socialist redistribution models are getting us there. I would like to see 1) as much centralization as necessary, as much decentralization as possible; 2) encouragement of bottom-up, community-focused civic engagement that will allow for greater localized self-determination; 3) opportunities for healthy public-private partnerships where one does not co-opt the other; 4) improving the labor supply through better investment in training (the apprenticeship and mentoring models I mentioned above), a more affordable education model (the 10%-15% payment plan I referenced above), fair wages and benefits; 5) a greater emphasis in policies and programs on human development–especially in the areas of sustainability, community preservation, personal and local empowerment, and cooperation (you can see how everything I’ve advocated in points 1-4 directly feeds into this goal); 6) respect for social capital (including not tearing families and communities apart in the name of growth and progress); 7) a robust environmental regard that focuses on sustainability, clean living spaces, and severe consequences for those who effect the environmental racism and classism that we have seen in our time; 8) a real tectonic shift in the medical industry away from a culture of cure to a culture of care–which is the only way I can see reigning in healthcare costs without bankrupting either private citizens or the government.

    Finally RE: the Reagan deficit. So yes, Reagan cuts taxes with this idea that if we reduce revenue to the government, the government will shrink by default. And of course this did not happen. There has to be a lot more planning, especially in the directions I just named in the last paragraph, Otherwise, you just have a deficit coupled with a lot of vulnerable people left in the lurch. One of the reasons I have been deeply suspicious of the designs of the TEA Party is that I know it was hand-crafted by folks like the Brothers Koch whose actual mantra is not Taxed Enough Already but Tax Everybody Else. It should be called the TEE Party. Heh heh. Okay, snark done. But seriously, Reagan’s idea was misguided but he was just so darned nice that I suppose folks didn’t notice. The Cheney-Bush era was not so darned nice.

  2. Thanks. I think you articulated the specifics more than I did. My definition of a free market is a market where the consumer is free, not just free to buy what they want, but free from the consequences of business decisions that look savvy, but are destructive. And I don’t therefore see it as synonymous with Capitalism. However, under the Ron Paul definition of Capitalism, it seems to be the idea that the competition model will drive companies to win over consumers who care about their communities, that consumers will stand up and say “we want this, so change your ways or else.” I just don’t see that happening in America where those who don’t want to act outnumber those who do. Same reason a reliance on government intervention doesn’t work either, because there’s no way to really produce local responsibility.

    but again, back to Paul’s nuanced Capitalism, you hear too much about “moochers” from the GOP crowd. But Paul emphasizes that while he champions Capitalism, he actually adds in the social imperative to take care of the poor as a community of individuals and private sectorites.

    But I hadn’t thought enough about that comparison to the flaw in Reagan merely slashing spending without a model for how the vacuum will be filled without people falling through the cracks.

  3. Caleb: First, re: “My definition of a free market is a market where the consumer is free, not just free to buy what they want, but free from the consequences of business decisions that look savvy, but are destructive.” Then your definition of free market is swimming against the current just as much as my calling myself a conservative is. I mean, there is something primal in free market theory that would say you are correct, but if you look into the dominant theories out there today, more and more have shifted into an extreme caveat emptor direction. Like after the financial crisis of ’08, the guys packaging and selling these toxic investments knew they were toxic, the folks brokering the deals did, too. But you call them on the carpet about it and they’ll say, “Look, I was just selling them what they wanted. It’s a free market. They ASKED for these.”

    Also, where is the teeth in a “social imperative”? It sounds to me as if you’re making Paul out to mean, “Now I’m going to champion capitalism. Y’all take care of each other. I mean it, now.” How will that work out?

  4. Pingback: Electing Faithfulness: Concluding Thoughts | CALEB COY

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