When it comes to attacks on the Constitution, Ron Paul is all about the money this year. For the 2008 election, he tried triangulating with libertarian Republicans and liberal Democrats by criticizing the abuses of civil liberties under George W. Bush. That didn’t work out for him so well.
So, Congressman Paul has turned back to Texas politics. For his 2010 re-election campaign, in which he faces a tough Republican primary battle against Jeff Cherry. So, Paul is working to appeal to a purely Republican base now, libertarian and non-libertarian alike.
Ron Paul is no longer criticizing unconstitutional civil rights abuses, though many of those are continuing under Barack Obama, and others are being justified and defended by Congress. He’s fallen silent on those issues, silently accepting attacks against constitutional rights when they come to human rights. Those are, after all, not big campaign issues in Ron Paul’s home district in Texas.
Instead, Ron Paul has embraced whole hog the Republican anti-Socialist crusade of 2009. Representative Paul is aiming for Republican votes to help him fend off Jeff Cherry by resorting to the most base aspect of libertarian politics: The screech that Big Government is taking your money.
(Like most libertarians, Ron Paul never mentions the part about government giving you back your services and your infrastructure in return for that money.)
This year, Ron Paul is leaving higher ideals, and just promising to help people to keep a tight grip on what’s theirs. Thus, Ron Paul’s signature campaign is to audit the Federal Reserve, and then destroy it. That sounds ridiculous, and it is, but this is what Ron Paul himself proposes, in his own words: “Audit the Fed, Then End It!”
To support Ron Paul’s anti-Fed campaign, Paul’s supporters are selling the Audit the Fed tshirt you see here.
It seems like a populist message, on the face of it, and I have some sympathy for the motivation of people who want to give more scrutiny to the various forms of the government’s financial bailouts. There’s been waste. There’s been corruption. There’s been backward thinking…
… in the Federal Reserve, yes, but what I’m talking about is in the production of that Ron Paul tshirt. In order to understand the full implications of Ron Paul’s new money-only libertarianism, we need to consider where Paul’s Audit the Fed t-shirt comes from.
That tshirt is sold through Zazzle. Zazzle sells many kinds of tshirts. Some of them are made ethically, here in the USA. Others, on the other hand, are made in overseas sweatshops using outsourced labor where workers and their communities are abused. Often, in these outsourced garment contractors’ operations, people are paid a pittance, exposed to dangerous working conditions, and the surrounding area is contaminated with toxins. Money from the enterprise is often siphoned off to support autocratic governments or whatever corrupt warlord controls the area.
In order to support Ron Paul’s crusade against the Federal Reserve, Paul’s supporters are selling the Zazzle tshirts that are made by contractors with a history of sweatshop conditions. The shirt sold on RonPaul.com is not one made in the USA under ethical conditions.
That Ron Paul’s supporters are selling such products, made in questionable circumstances, says a lot about the discrepancy between what libertarianism promises and what it would actually deliver. Libertarian politicians like Ron Paul say that their anti-regulation, free-for-all policies would benefit average working people, but the truth is that those policies would strip away the protections that give working people a fair shake.
Here in the USA, it’s government regulations that prevent American workers from having to work in sweatshops, and provide at least some minimal protection to communities from toxic industrial wastes. The free market solutions Ron Paul is pushing don’t provide those protections. The free market doesn’t respect the rights of the average individual. Ron Paul’s libertarianism would take the sweatshop conditions in which RonPaul.com tshirts are made overseas, and recreate them right here in the USA.
I’m not supporting Jeff Cherry’s campaign. Cherry is as rotten as Ron Paul, only in a traditional Republican way.
My concern is to warn people who have supported Ron Paul, to begin to cast a critical eye at the reality behind the libertarian utopian promises. Look at what libertarians actually do. Look at their economic relationships with the companies that provide products and services to support Ron Paul. What you’ll find is that, underneath the populist veneer, there’s a current of economic exploitation.