Ron Paul: Nineteenth Century Mind In 21st Century

Ron Paul is a very nice man. Unfortunately, he appears trapped in a nineteenth century approach to confronting 21st century issues. At times, one wonders if Congressman Paul ever studied any aspect of America’s labor history or actions of 19th century robber barons. He captivates many young people with cries of ending government intervention in the lives of the population and offers an interpretation of American government which bears slight resemblance to reality of the past. His followers urge a return to olden times when government was limited and individuals had more rights. The Paul interpretation of America’s past is fantasy, not reality. The American government was always involved in the lives of people, unfortuantely, more often on the side of the wealthy and corporate leaders.

American history from, literally day one, of this nation entailed government being involved. For example, here is a short list:
1. Northwest Ordinance which banned slavery in the region and allowed for sale of land to establish schools.
2. Purchase of the Louisiana Territory which doubled the size of the nation.
3. Building of the National Road(later, Highway 40) to assist transportation needs.
4. Establishment of the Bank of the United States.
5. Purchase of Florida.
6. Government expenditures to build roads and canals.
7. Removal of Cherokees from their land.
8.. Passage of protective tariffs to assist new American industry. Famous Tariff of Abominations which upset many southerners.
9. Alien and Sedition Acts of the 1790s which abridged freedom.
10. Missouri Compromise.
11, Declaration of war against England in 1812 which was unpopular in New England.
So far, the list really doesn’t go past the 1840s. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, the growth of industry resulted in workers toiling in unsafe conditions and extensive child labor under control of strangers rather than family members. The so-called “free enterprise” system Mr. Paul extols resulted in abuse of working people, and the necessity of government action to force employers to install safety conditions, to have preparation of food, etc.. Has Congressman Paul forgotten Theodore Roosevelt, a great Republican who challenged Big Business by seeking government action to break up monopolies?

In a sense, Ron Paul presents the history of America from the top down. He apparently believes there were benevolent business leaders, who when left to themselves without government scrutiny, behaved admirably. There is a famous picture of Walter Reuther, head of the United Automobile Workers, whose face is bloody after being beaten by Ford Company goons. Does Mr. Paul realizes America needed an active government to end child labor and unsafe working conditions and to assist workers in their efforts to form unions? Does he understand we needed an active federal government to create a program for retirement?

Mr. Paul is obviously against the income tax. What exactly does he want to replace it? Many of his supporters seek to end the income tax and substitue a sales tax. The wealthy of this nation would be deliriously happy if the income tax was replaced by the sales tax. However, the poor would suffer. My problem is that Congressman Paul appears to be oblivious of the needs of the middle class and poor people. They need universal medical insurance, not tax deductions. I find it shocking a doctor opposes the necessity of national health insurance.

Mr. Paul is a nice man. He seeks to end the war in Iraq and have the military come home. I agree with that goal, but he lacks any comprehension of what is entailed to have the military return home. It can not happen in a week or a month. It will take time and planning. His anti-Iraq war stance is simply another indication of a lack of sophisticated analysis of 21st century life. We inhabit a planet in which there is a global complex economy. The actions of a suicide bomber in Afghanistan can impact our stock market. The nice congressman simply lacks comprehension of modern complexity and can only mouth platitudes that might serve nineteenth century life, but are outmoded.

The best thing he has done for America is to energize youth to become politically active. The next step for those individuals is to read history.