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The Vindication of Ron Paul?

Professor Horwitz, I'm glad to see you post this. I've always thought that Ron Paul has possessed a very nuanced understanding of Austrian business cycle theory and monetary policy. I think it comes through in his writings much better than his speeches.

Ron Paul is arguably the only person in the Federal government espousing the Austrian view and standing up to the bailout mentality with no exceptions, no compromises. This is not surprising, after all, it's Dr. No we're talking about. However, I do find it a little surprising that the "Austrian" community and elements of the libertarian movement in general seem to be lukewarm or indifferent to Ron Paul's advocacy. Of course, there are some policy differences with certain libertarian factions (e.g. immigration, [incidentally the only issue on which I disagree with RP]) that help to explain the less-than-total enthusiasm toward the "r3volution."

I think the crux of the "Ron Paul" problem, however, runs deeper than mere policy disagreements. After all, here is a true voice in the wilderness speaking out for classical liberalism in a world gone mad.

Ron Paul is an amateur economist and an outsider to the establishment (whatever that means;-). He is not a great orator; although always a clear speaker, he's not a smooth talker, and he lacks the charisma of an Obama or a Clinton (Bill). Furthermore, Ron is humble almost to a fault. Whereas swifter orators would consistently answer the questions that come right over the plate with boldness and leadership, Ron usually comes across with an "aw-shucks" type response. For instance, although he did have some great moments in the debates (e.g. "I take my marching orders from the Constitution"), his TV comments on the current situation usually begin along the lines, "well, I don't think this is such a good idea..." Strangely, Ron's leadership style is almost to not lead; he's very concerned with not telling people what to do or how to live, that he might undercut his effectiveness in boldly telling the rest of government what not to do. Because people undergoing a crisis yearn for pro-active talk rather than re-active (or pro-scriptive), Ron's comments are already at a disadvantage. I wish he would get a little more bold and a little more proud, but then he wouldn't be Ron Paul.

I love Ron Paul for these reasons, however. He's the embodiment of Ludwig von Mises and our self-reliant, hard-working, red-blooded American grandfathers. He's embued with both common sense and folksy wisdom, with a smattering of sound, Austrian economics. I think he's the greatest political asset for liberals/pro-freedom forces, yet undervalued within his own camp.

I'm taking this opportunity to share my thoughts on the rhetorical effectiveness and socio-political impact of Ron Paul, especially upon the libertarian movement. I'd be interested to hear others' thoughts.

Tyler - rather than re-open my concerns here, I'll just point you to these posts from earlier this year:

http://hnn.us/blogs/comments/45044.html
http://hnn.us/blogs/comments/45364.html
http://hnn.us/blogs/comments/45420.html
http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/46313.html
http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/46477.html

and for a positive post on Paul:
http://hnn.us/blogs/comments/44523.html

I do not want this thread to turn into another shouting match about Ron Paul or "cosmos" and "paleos" etc., so I will delete comments that take it in that direction.

Prof. Horwitz,

Thanks for the links. I hope my post didn't come across in a confrontational manner- I'm truly interested in the sociology here (admittedly as a bona-fide Paulian).

Horwitz,

After reading your HNN posts, it is evident that you have been fairly magnanimous towards Ron Paul; I salute you for posting the CNN piece.

More than the CNN piece. I found this speech Paul gave in 2003(http://blog.mises.org/archives/008572.asp), shockingly on target.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Prof Horwitz, why hasn't there been any other deep analysis of the Austrian take on the issue, apart from Ron Paul?

Sorry the Link seems off : http://blog.mises.org/archives/008572.asp

Deane:

Well, here´s Mark Thornton´s take:
"The Economics of Housing Bubbles",
http://www.mises.org/journals/scholar/Thornton13.pdf

It is - as of yet - the "deepest" analysis from an "Austrian" economist. Needless to say, it´s still not "deep enough" (i.e. there´s no discussion of excessive risk taking and perverse incentives of mortgage brokers etc. etc. etc.).

Yes, some elements are missing from Thornton'sanalysis, but his paper is excellent in showing that Austrians were understanding what was happening as early as 2004 and predicted the outcome !

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