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Ron Paul and the Power of Hype

Ron Paul Campaign Mgr
In a short piece on Ron Paul's insurgent campaign, this quote struck me as odd:

"I was looking at Obama as somebody I was thinking about supporting," Lindley recalled. Then his friend and roommate Krauss told him to look into Paul's views.

"I looked at his policies and they made a lot more sense than anybody else's."

John Lindley is a college student and the fact that he, on a dime, switched his support from Barack Obama to Ron Paul illustrates the power of hype. I don't know how any thinking human being who has done even the most basic research into a candidate could go from Barack Obama to Ron Paul. But such is life in American politics today.

I guess I shouldn't hold it against Lindley. He's a victim of the celebrity reporting where the candidate who generates the most buzz gets the most ink, and Ron Paul is certainly this season's Barack Obama. Paul, who is running as a strict constructionist libertarian for the GOP nomination, has caused quite a stir with infinitely quotable sound bites and by forcing the Republicans to force the ugly truth that they are anything but conservative these days. What "conservative" would federalize education, expand Medicare (with a sop to pharmaceuticals), and attempt (half-assed) nation building in an Arab land? But that's how bad it's gotten under George W. Bush's command. What was once a sure landmine among the fiscally tight set, is now part and parcel in a power-hungry, money blind Bush administration. Where's a guy to turn?


It makes sense that traditional conservatives would look to Ron Paul, who in his rhetoric and actions is a ghost of the Goldwater variety. This is a dude who believes in a limited federal government and a borderline isolationist foreign policy. The kind of shit that makes BushCo. laugh at his antiquity.

But how does one start off supporting Barack Obama, an avowed proponent of progressive politics, to Ron Paul? Hype. Last summer, everyone—EVERYONE—was talking about the junior senator from Illinois as a "breath of fresh air" and an arbiter of "new" liberalism. Here we had a supremely articulate intellectual taking on the toughest problems of the day and making it seem like it was no more than a tough NYT crossword. Sure, you had to think about these problems, but they weren't impossible to solve. In fact, it's fun to solve them. Did I mention Barack Obama is black? The specter of helping elect America's first African American president certainly inspired more than a few volunteers and supporters. He was the anti-Bush and there are few people who want nothing more than the opposite of Bush.

Enter: The Hype Machine

He is a dream. He is "different." He is, as his wife Michelle says so often on the campaign trail, The Answer. Supporting Barack Obama makes you feel better about America. After six years of Bush's dismantling of everything right with this country, you can't blame someone for wanting to believe in their Commander in Chief again.

But now some people are looking at the politics and realizing that support of the man is support of those policies. Much as it pains me to say, not everyone believes in progressive (read: liberal) policies in this country. Where do those people turn? The top-tier Republican nominees are, amazingly, touting themselves as Bush-plus. They will not only continue Bush's miserable foreign policy and disregard for the rule of law, they will blow that shit out of the water and make the Bush years look like the Enlightenment. The time for pussies is OVER.

That leaves only Ron Paul for those who believe in the tenets of traditional conservatism. It is their ideology that has been warped and twisted into the ugly mess that is "neo conservatism" and pre-emptive strike. With every utterance of those original guiding principles, Paul sets himself up as both a fundamentalist and a radical. To think that it is shocking to suggest that wars be paid for by taxes is a testament to how truly weird things have gotten in the GOP. Ike would be drummed out of this party like a leprous pervert.

So live it up Ron Paul. You are today's media darling. Raise some money and keep banging away at the issues true to your heart. This is your only opportunity because regardless of who wins the 2008 election it won't be you and you can bet they won't want to talk.


Did I mention Barack Obama is black?

So of course, anyone who opposes him must be a racist.

Nice! We have hype working in our favor now! Ron Paul is going to win! www.ronpaul2008.com

There are a lot of us who have supported Paul long before the hype! Paul represents what America really is more than any other candidate. No more pussies, no more bullshit. Life, Liberty and the Power of the People. Barack is a good man but very limited with experience and life knowledge. He should run again after we have 8 years of Ron Paul; he might have a chance to spread some of that progressive thinking.

It's probably more a case of someone realizing that Barack is of no substance. All his "change" BS is nothing more than rhetoric. He has no real platform and is noting more tan an extremely enticing empty suit.

That's why people are making the switch.

Joe, I am not in any way implying that those who oppose Barack Obama are racist. I am saying that part of the hype around his campaign is because he's a black man. It's sad to say that it even matters, but it does.

And I should clarify that I understand Ron Paul has some dedicated supporters who believe in him because they believe in his principles. I cannot believe that anyone who supported Obama (or any Democrat) and then switched to Ron Paul did so based on anything short of a complete poltical re-evaluation or by being a victim of hype. That is my point.

This article doesn't seem to make it's point very well. the author implies that the person quoted in the TIME article hasn't done basic research into the candidates positions and is just responding to media hype. This assertion seems contradicted by the quote itself: "I looked at his policies and they made a lot more sense than anybody else's." Lindley clearly states that what attracted him to Paul's campaign was Paul's policies as opposed to Obama's hype. It's seems that the kid(and he is a kid) is still fidning himself politically(and who isnt in college?) and found his match after following up on a friend reference and researching the candidates himself.

also, the quote makes it clear that he didn't switch from Obama to Paul. he states: "I was looking at Obama as somebody I was thinking about supporting," Got that? "as somebody i was THINKING of supporting", until he looked into Paul's policies.
Seems to me that the kid did a tremendously mature thing and looked past the hype of Obama and Paul and settled on the one who had a position on the issues that most matched his preferences.

sorry, i said TIME article, when the link goes to MSNBC.

Hey Miranda, good points. But I think my premise is the same in that some people are bouncing from one hype candidate to another when the two couldn't be further from each other on policy. Why in the world was Lindley even considering Obama if Paul is closer aligned to his political beliefs? Could it be because the hype told him to consider Obama and is now telling him to consider Paul?

But you're absolutely right that we all change our political beliefs through life. It's great that Lindley is actually researching candidates and finding someone who represents his views. I wonder how many people out there do the same?

Even if it isn't just hype and Paul starts to attract more public interest, I would bet that the GOP establishment would turn their backs on him, much like the Democratic Party abandoned Howard Dean in 2004 because he made too much sense (from a liberal perspective) and the party leadership feared that he wasn't "electable" enough.

By "keeping it real," so to speak, Paul is a threat to those who have invested a lot, if not all, of their political capital in supporting the Iraq war, warrantless wiretapping, condoning torture, and the rest of the politics-of-terror agenda that has served the GOP so well since 9/11. The GOP didn't come all this way to have some independent-minded maverick screw things up.

Perhaps Paul should think about an independent run (?).

A young person, sure, but also a KKK-card carrying racist for abandoning Barack!

To me the most interesting thing about our modern elections is that "fringe" candidates like Ron Paul, or independents, are far, far more representative of the average voter's views and far more honest in their approach to the issues--yet media works double-time to make sure they stay fringe. These figures are ridiculed by pundits and late-night talk show monologists alike. THAT is the story of democracy in our time.

There is already Ron Paul "backlash" among conservative outlets, because his passionate grass-roots support shakes certain people up.

If one were to take the image-making apparatus away from candidates, and voters only had written policies and platforms to choose from (inconvenient/impossible, I know), I think we'd be very surprised who our elected leaders turned out to be.

"Could it be because the hype told him to consider Obama and is now telling him to consider Paul?" Possibly, buy personally i don't believe so and i'll tell you why. OBama was a big hit right away for the very reasons that you states (electable black candidate, young, against partisanship ect). that's were the hype came in. Ask an Obama supporter why the support Obama and i don't think you'll hear more than the soundbytes(freash change ect). If you've had a conversation with a Paul supporter who'll quickly realize(at least in my own experience) that they've almost memorized their candidates platform. From immigration to abortion, the gold standard to non-interventionism, they clearly know who their guy is and what he stands for. If you can prove me wrong i'd like to know but the fact that Paul's Hype follows his grassroots surge and internet popularity instead of proceeding it suggests to me that Hype isn't the culprit.

True dat, B.

excuse my typos, am at work and bz.

Damn, Miranda. You're keeping me on my toes! Another great point.

What I am referring to is the media hype around Paul today. His greassroots support has been smal, but vocal and very loyal, for a while now. Only recently have we seen the big media outlets pay any attention. Some of that is due to his great zingers in the debates, some of it is because his fundraising has jumped dramtically in the last quarter...some of it is because they need a new Don Quixote. Like B said, he's an "outsider" a fringe player who is bucking the system. That makes for great copy. Great copy makes for great hype, which influences voters. Maybe another article should look at the diagram of hype, but this article was focusing on how hype seems to influence voters much more than would seem possible if anyone took the time to research their candidates.

Derek, i see your point, though i disagree. What i see with the Paul campaign is a reluctant yet increasing amount of MSM coverage as a reaction to the unexpected popularity of a candidate who was supposed to be only fringe(ex, kucinich is fringe and might be hyped by his supporters, nader is not mainstream but i dont think his popularity was hyped as it actually existed). If that is Hype then hype is merely coverage of already existing popularity(which i believe is what is going on) and not distinguishable from exaggerated and/or fictional popularity(such as we see with the Guiliani campaign).

"Damn, Miranda. You're keeping me on my toes!"

That's generally one reason why they hate us Paulites, wether they'll admit it or not, it aint about the conspiracy-minded folks.

So, do you think Ron Paul actually has a chance of capturing the nomination?

I don't know, but i think a lot of pundits are being to quick to rule it out. no one though clinton was going to capture the nom in '92 until he started winning straw polls, and carter was an unknown until he started winning primaries. also don't forget that robertson came in 2nd a couple years back in iowa and NH was once known a buchanan country. the nom? i don't know, but i think he has a shot at the primaries if he can get his people out to vote(which i dont see as a problem). Thing only passion that the other candidates have going for them is that they are not Hillary, i dont know if that's going to generate into votes in NH or Iowa. let's just say i'm not counting him out.

Also, this is a golden moment in history for an anti-establishment candidate to run given the last 2 decades of Bush/Clinton/Bush, and voters are getting awfully nervous about the stability of the economy which play more into Paul's hands than anyone else's...

But do you think most Americans are really as libertarian as Ron Paul? I get that his supporters are, but I truly wonder how wide that support is once you start talking about cutting programs people actually use.

As a libertarian i'm obligated to say that most are, they just dont know it. ;-) Seriously though, i think it's just a matter of fine tuning his message, not pandering, just making sure that the campiagn is the one controlling what gets presented. Most liberals that i know who are not as deep into politics as the pundits don't give a crap about the programs. You want to reach the liberals then you need to bring up the "war on drugs", the "war in iraq", and the "war on terror", downplay the whole culture war thing it isn't Paul's thing anyway other than choice vs life and gun control but i think those can be downplayed. Bring civil liberties and abuse of executive powers to the forefront. You want to reach the conservatives then bring up gun control, right to life, fiscal responsibily(not so much hate towards the fed, but bring up outrageous spending and taxes), and Paul's past with Reagan and lineage of Goldwater/Taft. You want to win moderates keep playing up the smarter way to "win" the "war on terror" and our need to lessen dependence on foreign oil, also reassure moderates that he is not going to gut those federal programs, the congress will not allow him to anyway, but present it as going for a leaner open, more effective government. He's already got the hardcore so he should probably downplay the whole anti-nafta anti-u.n. anti-fed reserve angle.
and the libertarians don't need persuaded. his stumbling block might be the environment.

Thats the way i see it anyway. As i said, most people are libertarian already, you just got to show them that they are...

personally speaking, eventually you got to let people know that those programs don't help them as much as keep them dependent and poor. i mean we have more social programs than ever before and yet my generation is living on debt. we make less than our parents did at our age, we are way in debt as a country, the programs we have set up keep getting raided for other things and the schools are still crap. it's time to rethink the whole "create a department and give our money" approach to these issues.

Miranda said,"personally speaking, eventually you got to let people know that those programs don't help them as much as keep them dependent and poor. i mean we have more social programs than ever before and yet my generation is living on debt."

Huh? Okay, I concur that we should avoid creating a state of dependency for people who could be self-sufficient, but what does that have to do with debt or our incomes vs. our parents' incomes?

We live in a time when virtually nobody in America can count on keeping a job indefinitely and fewer and fewer of the jobs that are available offer worthwhile benefits because the corporate class has chosen to pit the American worker againt peasants in communist China. Of course, the Republicans count this among their greatest achievements - a global labor free market. So what if it means Americans can't work?

As far as debt is concerned, medical bills are now the #1 cause of bankruptcy in America.

I don't think the relationship between social programs and wages/debt really holds water. There are a whole lot of other forces at work here.

By the way, I always hear conservatives talk about getting rid of "social programs" in an abstract sense, but very rarely do I hear anybody talk about specific program that they would like to eliminate. "Socail program" could mean virtually anything from Head Start to the entilre Department of Justice, depending on how one defines it. So, if you had your choice, what specific programs would you eliminate and what do you think the consequences might be?

I think libertarianism is one of those ideologies that works best in an ideal world. Most people would love to pay lower taxes…until bridges collapse or they lose their job or they get swindled by unscrupulous businesses. Then, you want someone to come in and ensure that you’re protected.

That said, I have a lot of sympathy for those who rail against a Nanny State. Some things are simply accidents and we don’t need to outlaw bad luck. I’ve dallied in libertarianism myself and still hold fast to some (very few) of the tenets. Mostly, I like the ideas but prefer a moderate implementation. I like the second amendment and even like shooting guns. But I think some level of gun control is common sense and that level of control is maybe different for different communities. I also like the idea of moderate regulation in business. As we see all too often, business does not always put the health and safety of the community at the top of their concerns. Leaving those grievances to the individual to sort out might not be in the best interest of the public when you consider the resources of some major industries.

So, while I appreciate your point of view Miranda, I think most people are libertarian in theory and liberal in practice—especially when they’re in trouble. People seem to forget what it was like before we had social programs. Your grandparents and their parents most likely benefited greatly from them.

"I think libertarianism is one of those ideologies that works best in an ideal world." Oh, sort of like liberalism or conservatism. ;-)

Jude- financially, i don't believes planned economies have shown to work toward the benefit of anyone other than those managing it. You are correct there is more to it, but my point was that government hasn't done much in the way of fixing the core problems decades after the New Deal we still have poor we still have homeless and there is still finaincail inequaility. i'm not saying to go back in time and ignore social plight again, i'm saying lets use a vehicle other than beauracracy to address those issues. a sfar as "conservatives always say", well i'm not a conservative talk about social programs", i'm not a conservative so i want attempt to reply on their behalf. i will say that i'd rather get rid of departments than programs, starting with the latest the DHS, which is a classic example. It's not doing much in the way of fighting terrorism but boy is it doing it's part harrasing U.S. citizens about what they check out at the library. The department of education, never recieved a lot of funding until "no child left behind", anyone else enjoy see their kids art and music classes cut and their funding shrivel up because they've become dependent on federal funds and no the feds have strings attatched(no surprise). How about the Fed, remember it proceeded the Crash and has brought nothing but asset bubbles and instability since it was created. You mention corporations, if i remember correctly corporations were created by the states, no? when you give a business partnership personhood status problems are going to arise. It's called the military-industrial complex because the state and the corps work hand in hand, neither is interested in placing checks on the other's power, it's just a question of who shares what % and what amount of $. Anyone else watch SICKO, or Farenheight 9/11? what i got fromt hose is prime example of how business and state execute their incest liek relationship. they feed off each other. Any way, we've seen what overrelaince on a State leads to, and i've yet to come across a positive example(european democratic-socialism doesn't count if America is propping them up and paying for their defense(nato anyone). i'm ranting at this point, but ideeal libertarianism is utopic and unrealistic, just as liberal/socialism and conservative/traditionalism are. but i like to think my puts more faith in people than in institutions

again, sorry for typos

okay, the ranting makes me look like an idealogue whose not grounded in reality. Examples:

The big issues of the day are Health care(as jude pointed out), Housing, and College education(specifically rising costs).

What do this have in common? Well, the price of all three have been rising about twice as fast as other prices, also they are all subsidized by government(which i don't think is a coincidence).

College: There are many reasons why colleges want or need to raise tuition. But the real reason, of course is from a business perspective, because they can, and the one thing proven to drive down prices(competetion and consumer demand)is nullified by the ever-increasing amount of public money pumped into the system in an effort to keep college "affordable." In actuality, these subsidies have effect of shielding colleges from the kind of market discipline that would have forced them to hold down prices by constantly improving their productivity and efficiency, as happens in just about every other industry. the same analysis can be applied to healthcare with the tax deduction for employer-paid health insurance and housing wich is supplemented with billions provided via Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the like.

Throwing state money doesn't solve the problems, increasing competition and consumer power does.

To me it just seems like common sence, i can have funds taken from my check each month to subsidize someone else's retirement(which results in maybe them thinking about there's even less) or i can keep my money and use it how i like(like maybe toward securing my retirement, and the other person, not expeting government bailout, can do the same).

also, ask any any space nut why NASA should be terminated and private industry given the reigns, because private industry is aware of something called cost effeciency while government just keeps raising the bill owed for the same results(via your paycheck and the average person's apathetic "government will take care of it they've told me they have answers").

you want results privatize, you want ineffeciency and monopolies use government.


You're quite right that some corporations and government agencies enjoy lucrative incestuous relationships at the taxpayers' expense. I'm at the point where I think the Iraq war was designed specifically NOT to be won quickly because it is such a cash cow for Halliburton, KBR, Bechtel, et al. The Military Indusrial Complex has become a cancer of sorts.

And what the hell does the Departement of Homeland Security do anyway that wasn't done by police or military or intelligence services? Another cash cow...

Gotta run now. Thanks for some good conversation.

"'I think libertarianism is one of those ideologies that works best in an ideal world.' Oh, sort of like liberalism or conservatism. ;-)"

Yes, actually. I'm not an idealogue of any color, so...

"The big issues of the day are Health care(as jude pointed out), Housing, and College education(specifically rising costs).

What do this have in common? Well, the price of all three have been rising about twice as fast as other prices, also they are all subsidized by government(which i don't think is a coincidence)."

I think it could be argued that de-regulation of two of the three (housing and health care) could be identified as culprits.

Education baffles me. That's one where you might have a really good point. I don't know where all that money goes. I do know that I believe in public education and privitizing education means some will be left out. That's not acceptable.

You say that if you want results, privatize. How does that stand up in the face of Blackwater, Halliburton, et al.?

Also, anyone who's taken an econ class has got to appreciate what Dr. Paul says about the Fed Res, and unlike what a lot of his supporters may imply he doesn't want to go back to the gold standard he wants to be able to have gold used as legal tender and have competing currencies again. the inflation of the dollar and the reent market fluxes are prime examples of the problems arising from a state sanctioned monopoly, made doubly dangerous by the fact that currency affects us all. Bernanke needs to be honest and admit that he doesn't know ehat the hell he's doing and so far he's just plugging his finger into a widening gap, not so much caused by "subprime woes" as much as problem inherit in a fiat money system(debt/credit based) and a state sanctioned monopoly.

"How does that stand up in the face of Blackwater, Halliburton, et al.?" Well, personally i can't stomach mercs(although technically speaking anyone serving in a volunteer army is a merc of some sor, no?) But in a truly free market(here i go sounding like an idealogue again) you wouldn't have those good ol'boy no-bid contracts, no blanket immunities against prosecution, and bad PR would cut you lose awfully quick, but again thanks to the state we have state capitalism which isn't free market at all but mafia criminal. Private defense business in itself isn't wrong, but it's the whole military-industrial(media too) relationship that creates something sick like halliburton and blackwater. companies like these only exist because we don't reign in the state more often(specifically if it weren't for our over seas adventurism you'd never have heard of either), so i don't see that as a consequence of using the market but of allowing the state to abuse the market.

also, like the colleges, the administration has given these mercs an incentive to keep that chaos over there in flux. if the relationship was truley market base halli and blackwater wouldn't be given open-ended no-bid contracts(they are getting paid to be involved, not produce acceptable results). Why would they want a stable society over there if it means an end to their cash-cow(as jude put it)? it's the equivalent of letting your cousin do your landscaping at a bloated price, regardless of the job he does simply cause he's your cousin and the family lets you make that decision with out having to answer to them about it. You crappy bushes and dying rose garden have nothing to do with paying someone to care for them and everything to do with how you are conducting that relationship and with whom.

"I do know that I believe in public education and privitizing education means some will be left out. That's not acceptable." Why would some have to be left out? It's just a matter of lowering costs for the education and freeing up the funds to pay for it. We already pay for education, we just do so through a middle man(government) that has a tendency to take more than it's fair share as compensation and doesn't give very good results because no one else is allowed to do the job it's doing. I know in here in ohio the the supreme court has ruled the way education is paid for as unconstitutional and unfeasable. the state just keeps raising property taxes to paying for treating terminally ill system, they don't allow competition and schools are still being shut down(ie kids are still not getting a good education even when the state is allowed to run it as it pleases).

Right--at least get the federal government OUT of education. It is nothing but a political football to punt back and forth.

Well, when private interests are involved, that means you have to "perform." What impedes performance records? That means poor performing students get left out of admissions at better performing schools. It's happening already in private schools that accept vouchers. Students are required (often) to take evaluation tests and those who show less than optimal performance are wait listed. Shcoker: The wait list never catches up to these students.

The fact of the matter is there will always be some students who progress at a slower rate than others. They're not stupid, they're just progressing slower. Ok, some are stupid...but they ALL deserve a minimal education. When schools have to compete for business, thse students are left out.

OK, so let's say we get rid of the Department of Education. That's about, what, $56 billion? The 2008 Bush proposed budget is $2.9 trillion. Let's say we want to get the budget down to Clinton era budgets - $1.8 trillion in his last and largest budget. Even with the Dept. of Ed. off the table, there's still more than $1 trillion of cuts we need to make. What else do we cut to make up the rest? $50 billion for the war on drugs. $15 - 20 billion for farm subsidies. What else?

Mike- the DHS, the IRS, and pull back our over seas military spending(isn't 55 years in S.Korea long enough, we still have bases in germany and japan, how long are we going to be tasked to provide protection for the rest of the world, why is it incumbent on our citizens to provide those nations with defense). Lets not forget all the "foriegn aid" that could be going toward those bridges and levees...

OK, so we get rid of DHS. Their budget is about $45 billion, but you can't get rid of all of that, because we still need INS, secret service, etc. Why get rid of the IRS? How are we going to pay for government and pay down debt without an agency that collects revenue? Sure, let's get rid of - or significantly reduce - our int'l military presence and reduce military focused foreign aid. That's maybe another, what $100 billion? That still leaves a huge amount of budget cuts we need to make. Also, can't forget that we need to pay interest on the national debt - $300 billion and growing - and the need to have a surplus of a couple hundred billion each year so we can pay down debt.

I think in combination with spending cuts, we need to raise taxes on the rich. Bill Clinton did it, the universe didn't collapse, and we saw the longest peace time economic expansion in the history of the country while he was in office.

Derek- Well, derek, first things first, I'm not an anarchist, i'm a libertarian, so i'm not saying ALL schools need to be completely privatized, but lets start with getting red of the Fed involvement which hasn't been around for very long and hasn't had a good track record since it's implementation(and it's increase in funding and control under GWB). I'm not calling for a dismantlement of government just a scale back. If you got a family who honestly can't afford a decent education then yeah locally funded public schools are a good answer, but like other state run social programs it should be one option of many and frankly used as a last resort given it's poor performance. You wouldn't want all families or even most families having to rely on medicaid and food stamps no matter how much you approve of those programs, you want them thriving and getting the health care and food that they need and want without having to rely on government, why is it different for education? Personally i don't like voucher programs because i see it as the state getting too involed in private education. I think a better way to run the system is to have most schools defacto private schools(of course we have to free up the funds for families to pay for it), parochial, or homeschooling and have the public schools that are needed for the poor being paid for by state sales tax instead of property taxes. As far as performance based is concerned, i don't hear anyone complaining that Duke and Harvard get to choose who attends their universities, if you want to advance you need perform and it enourages the best and the brightest to show their stuff. If you have students who are, as you say, slow not stupid then private education is sometimes the better option as well, smaller classrooms, more individualized care given, not to mention greater # of options available to the parents and the student for that students educational needs. I know my younger brother isn't qwhat you would call quick on the draw. My parents had him in public schools where they wanted to put him in the "special ed" classes with the down syndrome and cerebal palsy kids, claimed he ADD and wasn't too bright. well they told the school to shove it, moved to a state were homeshooling is allowed(they don't have a lot of funds) and now 9 years later at 17 years old he's looking at several different colleges, his test scores are awesome and he's smarter than most people i know, though still a little odd. if he had stayed in that system he would have dropped out, which happens to about 1/3 of highschoolers in this country right now under the current system.

Mike- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FairTax

We don't have to argue about the merits of the fairtax, but let's just say there are other option, the IRS is not a must-have...

Mike- Don't forget about the other side of ending the War on Drugs, not oonly are you not paying to finance to ill-advised and forever failing policy, you also get to start collecting revenue from those once banned substances. Decriminalize at least soft drugs and slap a tax on them.

with those figures you have are just including the funding that the DEA and the like get to fight this "war" or are you also considering the societal costs such as the cost to imprison these people: There have been over eight million cannabis arrests in the United States since 1993, including 786,545 arrests in 2005. Cannabis users have been arrested at the rate of 1 every 40 seconds. About 88% of all marijuana arrests are for possession - not manufacture or distribution. (FBI Uniform Crimes Report). i wonder how much that adds to?

Mike0 i will say this much about the fairtax, economists seem to like it, civil libertarians like it, business likes, socialists and idealogues don't. please research it before forming an opinion.

Mike- What do you mean by "our int'l military presence and reduce military focused foreign aid. That's maybe another, what $100 billion?", are you including 2 current wars being waged and the so called "war on terror"? WAY more than 100 billion...

Miranda - on the drug war and imprisonment, you raise a good point. We can definitely save money there, too, and tax marijuana products.

I didn't include Iraq and Afghanistan in the $100 billion savings; I was looking at reducing foriegn aid, closing bases in Germany, etc. Factor those wars in, and there's another $200 billion. Getting closer.

I'll take a closer look at the FairTax stuff - thanks for the pointer.

"As far as performance based is concerned, i don't hear anyone complaining that Duke and Harvard get to choose who attends their universities, if you want to advance you need perform and it enourages the best and the brightest to show their stuff."

First, secondary education is not guaranteed. We have a minimum expectation of education through 16 years in this country. But your comment there proves my point. Expecting children to compete for a good education is not acceptable to me.

Prices after FairTax passage would look similar to prices before FairTax - not "30% higher" as opponents contend - competition would see to it. So, the FairTax rate (figured as an income-tax-rate-non-comparative, sales tax) on new items would be 29.85% (on the new, reduced cost of items because business isn't taxed under FairTax - thus lowering retail prices by 20% to 30%), or 23% of the "tax inclusive" price tag - this is the way INCOME TAX is figured (parts of the total dollar).

The effective tax rate percentages, that different income groups would pay under the FairTax, are calculated by crediting the monthly "prebate" (advance rebate of projected tax on necessities) against total monthly spending of citizen families (1 member and greater, Dept. of HHS poverty-level data; a single person receiving ~$200/mo, a family of four, ~$500/mo, in addition to working earners receiving paychecks with no Federal deductions) Prof.'s Kotlikoff and Rapson (10/06) concluded,

"...the FairTax imposes much lower average taxes on working-age households than does the current system. The FairTax broadens the tax base from what is now primarily a system of labor income taxation to a system that taxes, albeit indirectly, both labor income and existing wealth. By including existing wealth in the effective tax base, much of which is owned by rich and middle-class elderly households, the FairTax is able to tax labor income at a lower effective rate and, thereby, lower the average lifetime tax rates facing working-age Americans.

"Consider, as an example, a single household age 30 earning $50,000. The household’s average tax rate under the current system is 21.1 percent. It’s 13.5 percent under the FairTax. Since the FairTax would preserve the purchasing power of Social Security benefits and also provide a tax rebate, older low-income workers who will live primarily or exclusively on Social Security would be better off. As an example, the average remaining lifetime tax rate for an age 60 married couple with $20,000 of earnings falls from its current value of 7.2 percent to -11.0 percent under the FairTax. As another example, compare the current 24.0 percent remaining lifetime average tax rate of a married age 45 couple with $100,000 in earnings to the 14.7 percent rate that arises under the FairTax."

Further, per Jokischa and Kotlikoff (circa 2006?) ...

"...once one moves to generations postdating the baby boomers there are positive welfare gains for all income groups in each cohort. Under a 23 percent FairTax policy, the poorest members of the generation born in 1990 enjoy a 13.5 percent welfare gain. Their middle-class and rich contemporaries experience 5 and 2 percent welfare gains, respectively. The welfare gains are largest for future generations. Take the cohort born in 2030. The poorest members of this cohort enjoy a huge 26 percent improvement in their well-being. For middle class members of this birth group, there's a 12 percent welfare gain. And for the richest members of the group, the gain is 5 percent."

At the end of the 18th Century, America proclaimed its independence from the tax slavery of Britain, and codified our soverignty, self-rule and liberty, as citizens, in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. In 1913, the wealthy elite conspired with politicians to persuade an elitist president (a former president of Princeton University) to buy into a scheme to again make us slaves by signing the Federal Reserve and the Income Tax acts. The Fed would print money, at interest, and the income tax would ultimately be the vehicle to ensure its payment. It would be the bankers who would pat themselves on the back.

President Wilson would later say ( 3:42 into Russo video), "I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is now controlled by a system of credit. We are no longer a government of free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men."

Many Americans will refuse to work harder, today, because of the increased tax bite that will be taken from their paychecks. If you ask any worker about it, more than likely, you'll receive a remark that expresses frustration, powerlessness, and the feeling like politicians are in control. Will the FairTax movement succeed in changing this tax slave / victim psychology? Do we, as individuals, have the ability to influence Congress to relinquish the power they've usurped from We, The People, freeholders engaged in free-enterprise?

Simply put, "If it's to be, the FairTax effort requires you and me." Based on my own research, I believe the tax code must be scrapped. We must bring about a system where government is paid the way America's working men and women are paid - when, and because, something is sold. My actions? Setting up recurring donations to Mike Huckabee's organization (every two weeks through my Bill Pay service) and a monthly credit card debit to the FairTax.org. Additionally, I've voluntarily incurred opportunity costs to free up time sufficient to review blogs and articles, and to write and post comments such as this one.

We can expect our current slavemasters to scoff, "The FairTax is going nowhere." They do not believe we're capable of removing our shackles because it's all most of us have ever known.

Working together, we're on the way to making April 15th just another pretty Spring day.

(Permission is granted to reproduce any of my posts, in whole or part. - Ian)

Public education is a beautiful thing.

Still, get the federal government out of education. As Miranda says, it hasn't ben there that long, but it has been ineffective and divisive.

Anecdotally speaking, I have one kid in public school and another in a private school. There are benefits and drawbacks to both. The differences I observe are rather telling. So far I love Miranda's ideas about it, though--getting the publics back to where they're run more like privates.

Also, Fair Tax is a GREAT idea, almost a no brainer, but don't hold your breath for it. The folks who control stuff are addicted to tax status quo.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a supporter of No Child Left Behind, which imposes standards that are nearly impossible to sustain and sets up schools to fail. I am just saying that one of the things that makes this country great is free access to education for all.

And of course you can have private and public. We have that now. I don't have a problem with private school existing, in fact I love it. But that doesn't mean public schools should be ghettos.

DP I wasn't saying those were your positions. Just pointing out something about the fed in ed.

Public schools that are ghettos are usually in ghettos and suffer from everything that entails, more than what schools alone can address. I completely agree that all are "entitled" to an education ( not Constitutionally, of course, but because we have a generous, enlightened society), and that education should be a safe experience. But it will never be an "equal" experience. It never has been.

Here's my "anecdotal" observation, that may or may not mean anything. I mentioned I have one kid in private, one in public: both decent schools with their own strengths and drawbacks. When these schools have Parent Night, I observe what I think is a very telling phenomenon.

In our private school, every kid is represented by at least one, but usually, both parents. 95-100% representation.

In our public school, I would say 35-40% of the kids' parents bother to show up. Always less than half.

These parents who do show up are inevitably the same ones that show up to all the school events, do the fund raising, take time off work to help with parties, etc.

There are probably many interesting social speculations one can make, a can of worms I won't get into. But here's what I think is the bottom line: with the private school, you have a school in which the parents are literally invested.

Whereas, to me at least, it is abundantly clear that the public school is viewed by many as an entitlement to be taken for granted, a glorified public daycare facility that also provides many social services.

Therein is the problem with looking at education as a "right" and not a privilege.

Addressing this phenomenon has to be part of any meaningful education reform. Simply throwing good money after bad won't do it--this is what happens when education becomes a political football. Again, I also am a BIG fan of public education, it's a great institution, and I applaud what these schools are able to do. These problems are primarily social, and not the school's fault.

Parent invlovement is always the most imporatnt factor in a kid's school success. That's true of private or public education. But what of the kids who don't have that involvement? Should they all be gathered segregated to an underfunded school where they wait to drop out? Or would it benefit everyone if they were helped?

And yes, there will always be failing students and you can't save everyone. But defunding public education is a disaster of a solution.

And if we only guaranteed the rights listed in the originally ratified constituion, we'd all be a shit house of trouble. Afterall, there is no explicit right to privacy guaranteed in the constitution (and some of our current lawmakers want to exploit that fact).

The Feds are welcome to send money; I'd rather they do that than spend it on a weapons system that will be obsolete in a year.

Problem is, when they send money, they typically want a say in the matter: hence, "no child left untested." Whether it works or not, they'll never have to answer for it--they'll just punt it off.

As the person that this article adresses I will say this. Ron Paul is a smarter choice for president than any other candidate. I have reasearched his policies, not based on any media hype, but based on the advice of a friend, who is also an ardent Paul supporter. I did not switch on a dime, I gave careful thought before I openly declared my support for Paul. The main deciding factor was the war. Obama states he is against it. Paul has proven he is against it with his voting, and not just this war, but all intervitionist wars. My choice was not based on any media hype but on my candidates background and clear voting record.

P.S. I think i love you Miranda.

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