From the diaries...
Last week, the House Committee On Financial Services announced that Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Ron Paul (R-Crazytown, TX) would hold a hearing “to examine the impact of Federal Reserve policies on job creation and the unemployment rate”. The hearing is scheduled for tomorrow, February 9, and in their press release, the committee says that witnesses “will be announced at a later date”.
Well, the witnesses have been announced. Here is the agenda, and it is clear, for anyone who had doubts, that Ron Paul is going to use his subcommittee for the sort of political theater that makes the GOP look bad and reinforces stereotypes about conservatives being extremists. Dr. Paul, we want those committee assignments back.
Two of the witnesses, Dr. Richard Vedder (Professor of Economics at Ohio University) and Dr. Josh Bivens (of the Economic Policy Institute) appear to be serious scholars, and I don’t mean to impugn them at all (I don’t know much about either). Dr. Vedder, in particular, is impressive, an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, one of my favorite think-tanks.
The first witness on the agenda, however, is Dr. Thomas J. DiLorenzo, who is an affiliated scholar at the League of the South, a Southern nationalist organization that advocates a second Southern secession. He is an associated scholar with the Abbeville Institute, a relatively unknown but surprisingly large pro-secession organization, named after the hometown of John C. Calhoun, the seventh President of the United States, who openly advocated for slavery as a positive good. He is also associated with the Von Mises Institute, a think-tank that paleo-libertarian Lew Rockwell uses to spread his, ahem, ideas.
Dr. DiLorenzo publishes frequently on lewrockwell.com and doesn’t have much use for the fourteenth amendment. His books include The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, Lincoln Unmasked: What You're Not Supposed To Know about Dishonest Abe, and Hamilton's Curse: How Jefferson's Arch Enemy Betrayed the American Revolution – and What It Means for Americans Today.
One of the things that’s always embarrassed me a bit about the South is the existence of people who go beyond defending General Lee and Stonewall Jackson (men of honor and American heroes both) to defending the institution of slavery, which led the South to become, if only for a handful of years, the Confederacy. There aren’t very many folks like that anymore, and I’m thankful for that. There are plenty of legitimate arguments for and against the Confederacy, and Lincoln was far from perfect, but Dr. DiLorenzo’s one-note tune about him being a tyrant smacks a little too much of the sort of things I heard once in a while growing up here in North Carolina.
Over the years, Dr. Paul has been criticized for a number of things, most notably being a conspiracy theorist, being overly close to extremists and accused racists (particularly Lew Rockwell), and using his position as a congressman as a megaphone for weird ideas far outside of the mainstream. It’s a pretty common complaint about certain strains of libertarianism, and reading about anarcho-capitalist Murray Rothbard, his disciple Lew Rockwell, and their acolyte Ron Paul started the process, for me, of questioning libertarianism, but that’s another story for another day (and I’ll post a piece about it when I’m done writing it).
This subcommittee hearing is a great example of Paul’s inappropriate oddness. With all that government needs to do, and all that it needs to stop doing, the last thing we need is a series of hearings on how the Federal Reserve is causing massive unemployment. That’s probably what Dr. Paul will “uncover”, and while there’s obviously a relationship between monetary supply, inflation, unemployment, and the like, blaming all of our problems on “The Fed” (which he asserts we need to end) is lunacy.
But that’s Ron Paul. He wants to end fractional reserve banking. He claims that gold is “real money” and paper is not (to say nothing of debit cards), without thinking of how uncomfortable mattresses are when stuffed with gold coins instead of dollar bills. He blathers on about 9/11 cover-ups" and comes pretty close to blaming 9/11 on America (Many say that he crosses that line).
Now he’s using subcommittees to give his manic conspiracy theorizing a patina of respectability, which is what many of us figured he’d do. I’ve said it before, but it can’t be repeated too many times: Ron Paul is an embarrassment, and he needs to be kicked out of the GOP. If we can’t do that, it’s time, at the very least, to take away his committee assignments. No more monetary policy for him. And absolutely no Fed oversight.
He’ll still need to do committee work, though. It’s part of the job. I propose that Speaker Boehner has him assigned to a new committee of board game research with Dennis Kucinich. Their salaries are already going to waste. At least they couldn’t do any harm there. The two would be in hog heaven; they can feel like they matter and titter about ending the fed and saving the children while they play Risk and whisper excitedly, “This is just like what the American Empire does to its colonies. It’s kind of fun to be an imperialist pig. Ooh. Look! I just conquered Tasmania!”