Friday, September 4, 2015

A Response to Walter Block on Rand Paul

By Robert Wenzel

In response to An Open Letter to Walter Block on Rand Paul, where I ask Dr. Block "Just what positions does Rand hold that you would consider so libertarian that he stands head and shoulders above the other candidates?"

Dr Block has responded with his own question:
Please allow me to turn the question around, and put the ball back on your side of the net. Please specify policies on which other GOP candidates are more libertarian than Rand. Do any of them want to audit the fed? Are any of them better than Rand on foreign policy, taxes, minimum wages, drug legalization, government spying, victimless crimes, economic regulation, free trade, environmentalism? If so, please specify which one(s) and on which issues.
First, it must be made clear, in my initial question, at no point did I state that Rand was worse than the other candidates. I just wanted to know where he was better. It seems that his positions in most cases are in line with the other candidates, except on taxes, where Rand's position is far worse than most since he has called for a value added tax.

Here is Murray Rothbard on such a tax:
It is now easy to see the enthusiasm of the federal government and its economic advisers for the new scheme for a VAT. It allows the government to extract many more funds from the public — to bring about higher prices, lower production, and lower incomes — and yet totally escape the blame, which can easily be loaded on business, unions, or the consumer as the particular administration sees fit.
The VAT is, in short, a looming gigantic swindle upon the American public, and it is therefore vitally important that it not pass. 
Since Rand has not ruled out interventions by the Empire overseas, including, proof positive, via his signing of the horrific Tom Cotton letter, what good is he? As Justin Raimindo wrote:
.By joining the wrecking crew of Cotton & Co., Sen. Paul has proven he cares more about gaining the approval of neoconservatives who will always hate him than he does about preventing a major war in the Middle East. 
And Rand is not shy about war in Iraq either, Olivia Nuzzi reported last year:
“The most important” part of Rand Paul’s assessment of “questions of war,” the Kentucky senator told The Daily Beast this fall, is “how you go to war.” Now he’s putting that assessment into action with a plan to introduce a declaration of war against ISIS in the Senate next month...
And "non-interventionist" Rand has called for the U.S. to create a Kurdistan state out of other countries and arm it..

And who can forget Rand's shocking comment in TIME magazine about Russia and Ukraine:
It is our role as a global leader to be the strongest nation in opposing Russia’s latest aggression. Putin must be punished for violating the Budapest Memorandum, and Russia must learn that the U.S. will isolate it if it insists on acting like a rogue nation.
Who is to say where these meddlings by the Empire will eventually end up?

There is a HUGE difference between being against the Empire meddling overseas and simply setting different reasons for meddling. From the libertarian perspective the question of every candidate should be, "Are you a meddler or against meddling?" Not "what criteria do you use to justify meddling in other people's business?"

In short, Rand is as bad as the others on foreign policy, that is, he is a meddler, and meddling, for whatever reason can always lead to blowback, of one sort or another, or a major war.

So Rand is bad on foreign policy and worse on taxes than most of the other candidates, I repeat what good is Rand? It should also be noted that as part of Rand's call to audit the Fed, he has stated he wants the Fed to become more efficient. WTF? Do we want a more efficient money printer?

I repeat. even if Rand was only as bad as all the others, that does not justify support for him. However, his call for a VAT puts him on the ladder of evil far above most of the other candidates.

If it could somehow be justified, and I do not believe it can, that libertarians must support someone in the election, it is far from clear that Rand would be the person to support. Ben Carson is terrible, but at least he is not calling for a VAT.

But, why should a libertarian support any of the current candidates who may be marginally better on one issue and marginally worse on others? I ask Dr. Block, what does he see in Rand that makes him so much better than any of the others?  Does he think that Rand's call for a VAT is not a significant issue? Is he not concerned about Rand's signing of the Cotton letter as a serious signal about Rand's true inclinations about adventures of the Empire? Does he not object to Rand's call for an increase in the defense budget? Where is Rand good? On what issue? Outside of net neutrality, I can find none.

Wouldn't it better for libertarians to state when asked about the election. "I am not voting, the current candidates are all in one way or another advocates of a huge role for government.  I believe in live and let live, not coercion by vote"?

Dr. Block, you have stated that you have ranked Rand at 60 on your "own personal libertarian-o-meter," and that "no other Republican candidate gets more than a 30," just what positions of Rand's has resulted in your ranking him at this level, so high above the others?

I want to emphasize again, what I wrote in my open letter:
 I would support a candidate that was truly moving in the direction of liberty, a candidate who, for example, would advocate a major reduction in taxes of, say, between 25% and 50%. Not a candidate, who plays games and shifts the method of taxation as Rand proposes.
A candidate, who would attempt to shrink the Empire, not a candidate like Rand who tries to find justifications for wars and other military adventures that are none of the business of the U.S.

Aren't these the big issues? And even on lesser issues, it is not clear Rand stands anywhere close to being a libertarian. He has refused to say he is against the minimum wage. He has called for jail time for Edward Snowden. Do you honestly think that government spying would shrink under a Rand Administration? Is that why you are throwing your libertarian weight behind him, and damn the new VAT tax he wants, the continuation of a "more efficient" money printing Fed, the imprisonment of Snowden, continued foreign policy aid to "our friends." US operations, of one sort or another, in Iraq "to protect our consulate"? Is that how Rand managed to get up to 60 on your "own personal libertarian-o-meter," because of a weak, sketchy promise that he will stop spying on Americans?

Is that all libertarians should look for in a candidate before we support them, send them money and vote for them, a weak promise that they are not going to allow spying under their administrations, while they continue to allow the Fed to print money, seek the imprisonment of Edward Snowden, keep the overseas adventures of the Empire in operation?

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher at and at Target Liberty. He is also author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics


  1. "...just what positions of Rand's has resulted in your ranking him at this level, so high above the others?"


    Why do you keep asking the same question? I answered it last time: genes.



    (NB: I am not really Walter, for those who might be wondering)

  2. I remember reading a while back that Wenzel does't subscribe to the NAP, but instead, something else. I forget.

  3. Just remembered -- methodological individualism.