Friday, January 04, 2008

George H. Smith Endorses Ron Paul

George H. Smith, author of Atheism: The Case Against God, gives his endorsement for Ron Paul.

11 comments:

Guy said...

Of course he did. From the back cover of Atheism:

Long a student and advocate of the libertarian point of view, George H. Smith studied philosophy at the Universty of Arizona. He is the associate editor of the Academic Associates Book News, a reviewer for Books for Libertarians, and a contributor to Reason magazine. He co-edits the libertarian periodical Invictus

Ron Paul is about as libertarian as they get, though I just don't see how reasonably well-educated individuals can get behind Ron Paul - libertarian or not.

Australian Atheist said...

Ron Paul is about as libertarian as they get

By that I presume you mean US presidential candidates, not people generally. Because Paul isn’t as ‘pure’ as some of his supporters seem to think.

Moridin said...

I find it interesting that an atheist would support a creationist for President. Ron Paul is a dangerous isolationist.

Aaron Kinney said...

Moridin,

I dont care if he is a creationist. He wants to eliminate the Department of Education, which would of course eliminate the possibility of a federal law demanding that creationism be taught in public schools.

And no, he is not an isolationist. To be an isolationist, you have to do things that isolate your country from the rest of the world. Thats what Bush and the pro-war people do: they isolate America through their pro-war imperialism and world policing.

Ron Paul is a non-interventionist, which is the exact opposite of an isolationist. Ron Paul would engage the country with the world in a peaceful and diplomatic manner that would encourage trade, cultural exchanges, and all around bridge-building with others.

Theres nothing "isolationist" about peace and friendship.

Guy said...

He wants to eliminate the Department of Education, which would of course eliminate the possibility of a federal law demanding that creationism be taught in public schools.

Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

David said...

Guy,

Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Private and tuition-based schools always outperform their tax-funded public counterparts.

For example, American public primary schools are among the worst in the developed world. But America's tuition-based universities are among the best.

The Department of Education is an impediment to education. Such is the nature of the state.

Guy said...

David,

My comment was in response to Aaron's argument that the elimination of the DOE would be benefitial as it would prevent any attempt at legislating the teaching of creationim in the science classroom - not a comparison of achievement between public and private institutions.

But, since you brought it up I see a couple problems with the argument that you are advancing.

For example, American public primary schools are among the worst in the developed world. But America's tuition-based universities are among the best.

I'm not sure that this comparison is a strong one, if for the simple reason that you are comparing primary education with universities. Also, other nations with very good primary education systems are state-run. IOW, it isn't necessarily a problem with state-run schools, but it could just be with how we run them.

In addition, a study by Lubienski and Lubienski in 2005 found the following:

This situation is a classic case of Simpson's Paradox: although within each subgroup, public school means are higher than private school means, the overall private school means are higher than public school means because of the larger proportion of higher-SES students in private schools. These results call into question common assumptions about public and private school effects and highlight the importance of carefully considering SES differences when making comparisons of school achievement.

IOW, there are many other factors that influence scores (such as SES) that are not necessarily within the sphere of control that instructors or administrators have.

HemlockMan said...

I'm an atheist, but I loathe libertarians who are, to my way of thinking, selfish idiots who are nothing more than the enablers of corporate interests over the interests of everyone else.

Equally, as an atheist, I find Ron Paul to be rather sickening. Not that I think any of the other candidates are less sickening, but Ron Paul is nothing more than a glib proponent of corporate interests.

In addition, Libertarians I have met are rather stupid. I don't care for them at all.

Aaron Kinney said...

Hemlock Man,

I understand your concerns about corporate interests, and I share them. With that in mind, please allow me an opportunity to respond to your charges and explain why a vote for Ron Paul is a vote to protect consumers and workers from greedy corporate interests.

I'm an atheist, but I loathe libertarians who are, to my way of thinking, selfish idiots who are nothing more than the enablers of corporate interests over the interests of everyone else.

Libertarians are actually against corporate interests. Lets use the most obvious example, 10-term congressman Dr. Ron Paul. He is known as "Dr. No" because he votes against any bill not expressly authorized by the constitution. There is a running joke in Washington DC political circles about why Dr. Paul is so skinny, and it is said that it is because no lobbyist will buy him lunch.

Corporate interests are served in Washington DC by politicians who are in bed with lobbyists, and who in turn pass legislation that favors those corporations. For example, did you know that Obama and Hillary receive the most campaign contributions from insurance indusrty lobbyists and executives? Its true: insurance companies are promoting those candidates who advocate universal health care.

At first this fact may seem odd, but the reason is because that Hillary and Obama would force all citizens to either purchase insurance privately or use the government insurance system. Also, the insurance companies know that universal coverage will result in large subsidies and tax breaks for them. It will artifically increase the profits of insurance companies dramatically.

Indeed, Dr. Paul's campaign fundraising reflects this fact. While Hillary and Obama have received numerous maxed-out ($2,300) donations from big shots in corporate America (ranging from weapons manufacturers to insurance companies), Ron Paul's campaign contributions come in small amounts (averaging under $100 a pop) and come from working class Americans, not rich stockholders in corporate America.

Kowtowing to lobbyists and catering to corporate greed is done through legislation that LIMITS, not promotes, market competition. Weapons firms, insurance companies, phone companies, etc. all lobby the government to LIMIT competition in ways that favor them.

A libertarian politician, on the other hand, will not get support from corporations and lobbyists, because libertarian politicians refuse to intervene with the competitive market process. This forces the large, inefficient corporations to compete fairly against nimble, quickly-adapting small businesses. Unrestricted libertarian-style competition is precisely what corporations try to avoid.

Libertarianism is the small-businesses best friend. Libertarianism reduces the costs of entering a competitive market, which benefits small business startups. Libertarianism says no to legislation and noncompetitive government handouts that benefit big businesses. Libertarianism also benefits workers and consumers for similar reasons.

Equally, as an atheist, I find Ron Paul to be rather sickening. Not that I think any of the other candidates are less sickening, but Ron Paul is nothing more than a glib proponent of corporate interests.

I am curious as to where you get the idea that Ron Paul is a glib proponent of corporate interests. Do you have any data like a quote from Dr. Paul, or a report on his policies, that show how he is in favor of big corporate interests?

FYI, I work for a very large insurance company. My company has thousands of employees and does over a hundred-million in business anually. And guess which candidates my company supports? They support Obama and Hillary, for the same reasons I described above. My insurance company stockholders WANT universal coverage to be enacted in the US cause they know that it would be a boon for their profits. I, however, am too moral to think in such selfish and anti-competitive ways.

In addition, Libertarians I have met are rather stupid. I don't care for them at all.

Ouch. What political ideology do you identify with? And since Im a libertarian, do you think Im stupid too?

Anonymous said...

aaron wrote:
========================
Kowtowing to lobbyists and catering to corporate greed is done through legislation that LIMITS, not promotes, market competition. Weapons firms, insurance companies, phone companies, etc. all lobby the government to LIMIT competition in ways that favor them.
===========================

Even Noam Chomsky agrees with that, but it's only part of the story. Corporations inherently want monopoly control...that's what free market competition, left unregulated, ultimately leads to.

aaron then wrote:
........................
A libertarian politician, on the other hand, will not get support from corporations and lobbyists, because libertarian politicians refuse to intervene with the competitive market process. This forces the large, inefficient corporations to compete fairly against nimble, quickly-adapting small businesses.
=============================

The corporations simply buy them out and shut them down or absorb them in most cases. The paradox is to keep the market competition process going requires intelligent, active government regulation (anti-trust action, etc) to counteract the natural tendency for market forces to lead to monopolies.

But gov't regulations of any kind are an anathema to Libertarian ideologues, absolutely verboten.

============================
Unrestricted libertarian-style competition is precisely what corporations try to avoid.
.............................

Corporations generally try to avoid regulations of any kind except anti-competitive regulation that directly benefits them like you mentioned; So Libertarians are marginally better than Republicans in standing up to anti-competitive regulations, but they are so uniformly against ANY regulation that you can eventually kiss goodbye the 40 hour work week, the EPA, or consumer protection legislation all because they can be cast as "anti-competitive", too.

aaron also wrote:
============================
Libertarianism is the small-businesses best friend. Libertarianism reduces the costs of entering a competitive market, which benefits small business startups.
------------------------------
Unless it involves gov't grant money generated from tax revenue, of course. Bye-bye to gov't programs supporting vulnerable minorities, women-owned businesses, etc.

=======================
Libertarianism says no to legislation and noncompetitive government handouts that benefit big businesses. Libertarianism also benefits workers and consumers for similar reasons.
------------------------------

Libertarians have such a naive, idealized view of how markets are supposed to operate and turn a blind eye to the ugly, brutal realities of how real-world markets do actually operate, how Government colludes with Capitalist elites, are inter-penetrated by one another, etc.

Libertarian "faith in the Miracle of the Market Place" borders on the quasi-religious, and it's no accident Michael Shermer included them in his book WHY PEOPLE BELIEVE WEIRD THINGS in a chapter called "The Unlikeliest Cult" detailing Ayn Rand and her closest followers.

Libertarians are utterly convinced of the ultimate beneficence of "The Free Market", while from my observations over the years, my response is, it just ain't so.

It may do some things very well, but it's not the end all, be all panacea to all socio-economic problems.

To change the subject to Education, the major threat from creationism in schools has always been at the local level, not the federal level.

Whatever reforms may be needed over at DOE--just eliminating that cabinet level department is like swatting a fly with a sledgehammer.

What I would like to see at DOE is a reversal of the trend to be tight fisted with grant money for higher ed and increasingly forcing people to rely on student loans, keeping them in debt most of their adult lives and in some cases garnishing social security checks in later life. Grants used be much more widely available and thus access to a real college education, too.

The chance of a Libertarian backing that kind of initiative is exactly zero. Too "anti-competitive", ostensibly. Banks would deplore it, too, since it deprives them of interest income on all those federally guaranteed loans.

Moreover, Libertarians would trash those Federal loan guarantees, greatly increasing and entrenching income inequality by making banks more reluctant to issue such loans at all. The last thing a Libertarian politician would do would be to tax wealthy elites and use the revenue to fund increased Pell Grants and similar educational grants to low-income-but-academically-gifted students.

By their faith in the market and steadfast refusal to regulate, to sit on their hands and let the market do whatever it does, Libertarians give aid and comfort to the already existing wealthy and powerful and turn a cold shoulder to the economically downtrodden--because the reason they're economically downtrodden must be due irrevocably to individual moral failing and NEVER on account of those omnibeneficent market forces, according to Libertarian ideology, regardless of the fact that moneyed elites use structural unemployment to exert a downward pressure on wages and keep their own profits high. Ah, the blessings of the Free Market in action.

I will even agree with Ron Paul that the Federal Reserve and its monetary policy is horridly corrupt, that the Fed exercises enormous, totally unaccountable power that often has quite negative consequences for working class Americans whether they realize it or not. I can get behind ditching the Fed, but not for remotely the same reasons as Ron Paul.

Libertarians are spot-on when it comes to Civil Liberties, but I rapidly part company with them when the discussion rolls around to economics. I always vote for them in local judicial races against Republicans (where the Dems don't even bother to run); I figure at least they'll respect civil liberties as judges, and will be no worse than Republicans when it comes to making legal rulings on regulatory actions.

I may yet cross lines and vote for RP in my state's primary for the hell of it, but he'd never get my vote in the general election.

Aaron Kinney said...

Re: anonymous

Even Noam Chomsky agrees with that, but it's only part of the story. Corporations inherently want monopoly control...that's what free market competition, left unregulated, ultimately leads to.

But without a government, those corporations have no easy access to a monopoly of power, and thus have much more difficulty limiting the free market competition to which they are vulnerable. So the truth is that you have it backwards. It is ONLY through a free market framework that companies CANNOT obtain a monopoly of control. A monopoly is BY DEFINITION the opposite of a free competitive market. And monopolies in the market are obtained through government intervention. Thats why corporations are always in bed with politicians.

The corporations simply buy them out and shut them down or absorb them in most cases. The paradox is to keep the market competition process going requires intelligent, active government regulation (anti-trust action, etc) to counteract the natural tendency for market forces to lead to monopolies.

Bullshit. Government has a monopoly on regulation and that is precisely what they use to provide monopolies to corporations in the market. Regulation, like any service, is a service that is best provided in a competitive framework. There should be competing regulatory agencies. A monopoly on regulation (ie government) is actually HARMFUL to the quality of the regulatory service that the customers want.

Unless it involves gov't grant money generated from tax revenue, of course. Bye-bye to gov't programs supporting vulnerable minorities, women-owned businesses, etc.

Governments give FAR MORE money to big corporations than they do to small businesses. Look at all the bailouts that have taken place in just the last decade alone. Who was the government bailing out, the mom and pop shops? Yea right. They gave multi-billion dollar bailouts to banks and insurance companies and airlines and railroads... BIG ASS CORPORATIONS.

It is the government red tape and the government favoritism towards rich corporations that acts as barriers for small businesses and startups to enter the market. Government is the TOOL that big corporations use to thwart upstarts and small businesses.

Libertarians have such a naive, idealized view of how markets are supposed to operate and turn a blind eye to the ugly, brutal realities of how real-world markets do actually operate, how Government colludes with Capitalist elites, are inter-penetrated by one another, etc.

Ha! Teapot, meet kettle. It is the governments themselves that facilitate the brutal actions of corporations. My god man, you refuted yourself in that very statement and you dont even realize it!

Moreover, Libertarians would trash those Federal loan guarantees, greatly increasing and entrenching income inequality by making banks more reluctant to issue such loans at all. The last thing a Libertarian politician would do would be to tax wealthy elites and use the revenue to fund increased Pell Grants and similar educational grants to low-income-but-academically-gifted students.

The government makes incentives that allow too many risky loans to be dished out and BOOM you got a bubble that eventually must burst. Students are defaulting on their college loans just like homeowners are defaulting on their mortgages, and then everyone suffers as a result, including you and me. This business cycle and bubble phenomenon wouldnt happen so frequently and so drastically if the government wasnt mucking around in economic matters all day long.