Monday, March 26, 2012

The Tea Party Goes to Washington by Rand Paul

I read Ron Paul's book, The Revolution: A Manifesto, quite a while back (when I was on break from writing reviews) and enjoyed much of what he had to say. When I ran across a reference to his son, Rand's book, I decided I ought to check it out. Rand is now considered to be one of the leaders of the Tea Party movement in America, and he represents a growing sentiment in our country that things have gotten off-track and out of hand in our government.

"Voters in our survey said that they believe that the current leadership in both parties has failed to achieve policies that address their most pressing concerns - creating jobs and fixing the economy. Furthermore, respondents were clear that they want a pro-growth agenda, fiscal discipline, limited government, deficit reduction, a free market, and a change from politics as usual."

Contrasting the main stream media's portrayal of the Tea Partiers:

"...when discussing the subject of welfare, liberals are always quick to defend welfare programs despite the many recipients who take advantage of the system. When discussing Islam, respectable journalists are always careful to note that terrorists and radicals do not define that religion. But the Tea Party is regularly held to an entirely different standard, where if a few people show up - out of a crowd of thousands - with signs comparing the president to a fascist or communist dictator it becomes enough to disparage and dismiss the entire movement."

On the subject of who's really governing in Washington:

(regarding the bank bailout bill) "My father, a Congressman, told me that he had banking lobbyists calling him and asking him about certain sections of the bill, and he said 'What bill?' He didn't have a copy yet. They replied, 'We do, would you like to see it?' You know government is out of control when lobbyists have the bills before members of Congress."

He has quite a bit to say about the most recent Republican administration's profligate spending. As one might expect from his father's rhetoric, and his history, Paul is adamant that we must decrease federal spending in all areas, including the heavily Republican-defended Defense budget. He quotes former Reagan advisor Bruce Bartlett:

"The point is that George W. Bush has never demonstrated any interest in shrinking the size of government. And on many occasions, he has increased government significantly...big government a contradiction in terms."

I think many of us in America today have the gut reaction that if we are required to make our household budgets balance to avoid ruin, we must demand that our government also balance its budget, and quit spending needlessly and frivolously, no matter how good its intentions, lest our country also fall into ruin.

On the ever more present security state:
"We should also ask, despite all their groping and intrusive tactics, has the TSA ever caught a single terrorist or intercepted a single bomber? With our vast security apparatus why were there no red flags over Fort Hood terrorist Nidal Malik Hasan or intelligence sharing concerning the Christmas Day underwear bomber? Why, a decade after 9/11, has government not come up with a better method of recognizing frequent fliers and cutting down on unnecessary inconvenience, something a privatized system would likely have already accomplished. Why has the federal government not better addressed our porous borders an illegal immigration problem with eh same level of focus it now devotes to policing American citizens who choose to travel? much are we spending to be treated in this manner, and when, exactly, will our lives return to normal"

Amen! I've long been saying that the Israelis already have a method that works incredibly well to keep terrorists off El Al airlines. Why in the world don't we just borrow their methods and technology? I go on the same rant about high speed rail and pebble-bed nuclear reactors, as well - our American arrogance evidently demands that if it wasn't made in America, it's no good. Don't get me started.

However, the point of the preceding quote is that we're spending millions, perhaps billions,  to allegedly defend our country from terrorists, and all we're really doing is building a work force and bureaucracy that grows ever more restrictive of our freedoms. Everyone seems to trust that the feds will act in our best interests when their own party is in power and enacts ever more stringent measures, but when they are out of power, suddenly we're concerned with civil liberties. Let's keep all of these people's hands and eyes out of our wallets and bedrooms.

There's been a bit of kerfluffle in the news recently about lottery millionaires keeping their food stamps. Paul mentions an even stupider bit of government oversight:

"Months after the 9/11 attacks, some of the dead nineteen hijackers were even reissued their student visas."

Quote of the book:

"No political party has a monopoly on hypocrisy; it seems to be a bipartisan trait."

He seems to have had a fairly ordinary upbringing as the son of a successful doctor, and our sole avowed libertarian congressman from Texas, becoming an optometrist, marrying and raising very presentable children. His book tends to wander on and off topic a bit, and he doesn't do that skillful of a job of weaving his personal narrative into his political philosophy, but overall it's pretty good.


Anonymous said...

Shrinking government is fine, but to ask for austerian measures at this point in time where our economy stands is like asking to shoot yourself in the foot. It is a downward spiral.

Deficit reduction has to be applied during upshoots in the economy to be most efficacious. It cools off the economy and reduces the bubble effect. Then we can have our government shrinkage and a stable economy as well!


Jon said...

Thanks, Anonymous, for your thoughtful comments. What about austerity measures in areas that wouldn't directly affect the U.S. economy, however, like foreign aid? Might be a starting point.