Ron PaulI love Ron Paul. This guy is my dream presidential candidate. He’s articulate and smart, slightly old-codgerish, and outright, honest-to-God, straight-up libertarian.

Not only that, he’s gaining ground. Yesterday recorded the biggest single day of fundraising by any Republican candidate, ever. And that candidate was Ron Paul. As the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Chris Reed noted, there exists a “huge group of Americans” who are not at home with either a conservative nor a liberal mindset, and to whom Ron Paul sounds extremely appealing.

It’s this groundswell of support that has people talking about libertarian ideas. One small example is an article which appeared today in The Hawk, which is the student newspaper of Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA. It’ll be the perfect little piece to dissect, since it’s titled “Libertarian ideology will only lead to corruption and inequality.” Beautiful. So what I’ll do, in typical fashion, is to quote from the article by Justin Heinze, and interrupt when the stench of bullshit gets too pungent.

“The heart of Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul’s libertarian ideology revolves around decreasing the size of the federal government through low taxes and free market policies, ostensibly promoting freedom for all Americans. Yet the fact is, the true freedom will be in the hands of a few rich Americans, while the common man, both in our country and abroad, will suffer the very real consequences of Paul’s big business and non-interventionist stances.”

At this stage I presume he’ll try to support this belief by appealing to some facts somewhere, though he’s already establishing himself as someone who is opposed to freedom. It isn’t yet clear how “big business” is anything to do with it. Does Wal-Mart control your life, son? Is McDonald’s making you “suffer”? Let’s find out.

“Domestically, unregulated business leads to corporate corruption and concentration of wealth, a trend magnified by low taxes…”

He doesn’t say what he means by “corporate corruption”, but even the most regulated of businesses have suffered from it, and it’s already illegal in most such cases. Enron is an example of corporate corruption which was entirely illegal and yet still occurred. What more can be done, except to prosecute those who are already breaking the law? (Perhaps Heinze didn’t expect anyone to scrutinise his article this closely.)

“which benefit the rich while bankrupting the government of the ability to help the needy poor.”

This should read: “…while bankrupting the government of the ability to take money from portions of society and give it to others as though they owned it.” More on that in a bit.

“Argue all you will for the immorality of “imposing our morals” or “restricting freedom”, but the fact of the matter is that a far greater number will have their freedom restricted if we let the federal government all but disappear.”

No-one is suggesting that the federal government will “all but disappear”, though it would be downsized significantly were Ron Paul in charge. Perhaps Heinze could list all of the freedoms he would expect to be “restricted” from “a far greater number” if this were to happen.

“Last week’s article by Jonathon Norcross aptly noted that ‘those who reject libertarianism are afraid of freedom;’ and that is true. We should be afraid of giving absolute freedom to business leaders whose only responsibility is to their own pocketbook.”

Wonderful. Do you think anyone has shared with Heinze the fact that there are many countries that aren’t based on the constitutional values of freedom and democracy? He’s welcome to apply for residency in any one of them. Speaking of the Constitution, he’s certainly confirming what a lot of us already know: that people who share his ideology aren’t very interested in what it has to say.

“Internationally, we can make all the fancy convenient excuses we’d like for our recent foreign policy, whether that policy be isolationism, war, or “doing business” with foreign countries, as Mr. Paul advocates, but the fact is that no foreign policy of the United States has taken serious steps towards eliminating the tremendous poverty, suffering, and unjust war in the world.”

Libertarians aren’t making any “excuses” for our government’s foreign policy. But what gives Heinze the idea that the purpose of a foreign policy is to deal with “poverty, suffering” or “unjust war” in the first place, any more than its purpose is to deal with steroid use in Austria, obesity in Japan or bestiality in Russia? Let’s start with the purpose of a foreign policy: how do we defend ourselves from outside aggression? Frankly, anything more involved than that will be rejected by libertarians like Paul on principle.

“Whether it is pure apathy in some cases…”

No, it’s pure principle.

“…or a feeling that it is not our place to impose our morals…”

Not a feeling but a principle you have not refuted.

“…the cold hard fact remains that as a nation we have the power and the resources to make the world a much better place, and we do not exercise it. Yes, you can cite our donations to AIDS camps in Africa, or to private humanitarian efforts for the genocide in Darfur. But it is like the parable in the Bible, of the rich man who gives a small percentage of his wealth to charity, while the poor man gives all he has.”

See, this is where some basic understanding of libertarianism would be helpful. First, Heinze is entirely free under libertarian policy to give “all he has” to the third world. And every individual American is free to do likewise; multitudes of them already give huge wads of cash to various charities in the US and around the world every year (most of them conservatives rather than liberals like Heinze). The point is this: those people are giving their own money away, because they earned it and it is therefore their own to give. It’s a concept known as the right to private property. What Heinze is advocating is known as socialism and involves the lack of private property rights, and the ability of the government to take whatever it wants on behalf of the collective “greater good”. That is a morally vacuous, philosophically stunted, self-refuting, groundless ideology that Heinze hasn’t even begun an attempt to defend.

“Yes, the United States may offer more help in terms of pure numbers. But by no means do we do all that we can, and in fact many believe that we should not do all that we can.”

Well then, go and drive support for a charity, or join a humanitarian group, or go to Africa and start a school or a hospital! Too much hard work? You see, Heinze has learned from someone that the way to get these things done is to stomp over the rights of his fellow citizens to own the fruit of their own labour, then to steal it from them and lavish it upon the third world. He couldn’t make a bigger mistake of principle, or of practical reality.

“Should we submit to the libertarian agenda, taxes would be erased. It sounds so great. But in the right hands, that tax money could be used towards an intelligent foreign policy that helps destitute foreign countries.”

One can only give away what one owns, and Heinze does not own the product of my labour, or anyone else’s with the exception of his own. Despite what he thinks, a foreign policy intended to redistribute the wealth of its citizens – to steal from them what is theirs and give it to others, no matter how destitute – is not an “intelligent foreign policy” at all, but an immoral, stupid one which as history will attest could never meet its own objectives. It becomes the opposite of a good deed when theft is involved, as it is wherever taxation is involved to do it. It’s this fact that libertarianism, and Ron Paul, is invested in pointing out.

“We should enforce peace talks and use our vast power and resources to save lives, instead of advancing one government ahead of another.”

Libertarians agree. How does this fit into Heinze’s article against libertarianism?

“Paul is probably right in saying that taking sides in other countries’ wars makes us less popular abroad, and ultimately leads to anti-Western terrorism.”

Yup. Glad Heinze agrees with the libertarian position he started out trying to criticise.

“The current state of the world should not be acceptable to any person of good morals, of Christian upbringing.”

And for those of bad morals, or of Buddhist or atheist upbringing?

“Saying ‘they’ll work it out on their own,’ or ‘it’s not our responsibility,’ is a simple way of deflecting blame and avoiding economically inconvenient assistance. Which God is it, again, that so humbly forgives such harmful hypocrisy, and, above all, indifference?”

Indeed, and which God who advised giving to Caesar only that which was Caesar’s?

What a strange, rambling article that was. Yes, it’s just a faculty publication. But it’s this idea that ‘socialism’ and ‘social action’ are inextricably linked that Ron Paul is having to refute in his presidential campaign, and that libertarians must confront in general. People who want to do something about injustice and inequality are still finding a home in left-wing politics, despite its atrocious track record. But libertarians like Paul know that the real way to end injustice and inequality in the world is by advancing freedom, as he is. After all, what Heinze singularly fails to identify in his article is the primary difference between the first and third worlds: the reason we’re rich and they’re poor, the missing ingredient without which they are oppressed and in poverty and unable to build wealth. Anyone know?

Freedom; the very thing he’s against. Capitalism; private property rights. Libertarianism; the right to own the product of your labour.

Now isn’t that ironic?