Saturday, February 19, 2011

Rand Paul's reading list

I've got high hopes for newly elected Senator Rand Paul, despite his unfortunate alignment with the Boehner Boehlout Roehpublicans. 
Every time I've heard him speak or read his interviews, I come across familiar, comforting phrases and concepts. 
I think the guy is libertarian to the core. 

I just picked up a copy of his new book, The Tea Party Goes To Washington. 
The "suggestions for further reading" in the back look like they were written by someone trying to get more Karma for his Libertarian Reddit account. 
Seriously.  Nobody's reading list is this perfect.  Well, there are a few outliers....

If you're looking for a good place to start learning about the libertarian philosophy and movement, you could do a lot worse than this list.  Man, can you imagine discussing this stuff with Dr. Ron Paul around the dinner table every night? 
Here's what he lists under "Must-read classics in the cause of liberty":
  • The Road to Serfdom, Friedrich A. Hayek
  • The Conscience of a Conservative, Barry Goldwater
  • Human Action, Ludwig von Mises
  • Conceived in Liberty, Murray N. Rothbard
  • Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
Some of you might quibble with the inclusion of Barry Goldwater, but I think Goldwater gains admission to the pantheon of great libertarians because of his firm stance against the theocrats of the religious right.  His quip that "Every good Christian should line up and kick Jerry Falwell's ass" was some sound advice that fell on deaf ears. 

Rand Paul's next reading category proves that he is, after all, his daddy's boy:
  • The Revolution: A Manifesto, Ron Paul
  • End the Fed, Ron Paul
  • A Foreign Policy Of Freedom, Ron Paul
The Foreign Policy title is almost unknown, but I wish more Libertarians would check it out.  It took some guts to write that thing at the time Dr. Paul wrote it.  His advice that the U.S. should mind its own business wasn't and isn't popular among Republicans, Democrats, Defense Contractors, or anyone else whose wealth depends on us periodically going overseas to blow up brown people. 

Next, he lists some economics titles:
  • Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse, Thomas E. Woods Jr.
  • The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal, Robert P. Murphy
  • Broke: The Plan to Restore Our Trust, Truth and Treasure, Glenn Beck
  • Economics in One Lesson, Henry Hazlitt
Why do Libertarians concern themselves so much with economics?  Because they know that debt restricts freedom.  They know that taking money from productive people and giving it to political parasites restricts freedom.  And Libertarians don't like restrictions. 
A brief aside about Glenn Beck and his inclusion....I can't watch his TV program without dosing off, although he often quotes many of the writers listed here.  His "weepiness in front of the chalkboard schtick" exhausts me.  His books look like they are formatted by the same people who produce middle school Social Studies textbooks, and that format makes my eyes hurt.  But I've browsed his "Broke" a couple of times, and can't find anything in there to disagree with.  Even a blind hog can sometimes find an acorn. 

Next are some titles about how the Constitution relates to the Tea Party, and vice-versa:
  • Who Killed The Constitution?: The Fate of American Liberty from World War I to George W. Bush, Thomas E. Woods Jr. and Kevin R.C. Gutzman
  • The Constitution in Exile: How the Federal Government Has Seized Power by Rewriting the Supreme Law of the Land, Andrew P. Napolitano
  • Red State Uprising: How to Take America Back, Erick Erickson and Lewis K. Uhler
  • The Last Best Hope: Restoring Conservatism and America's Promise, Joe Scarborough
If you've never set up a Libertarian Party Booth at a Tea Party rally and discussed the constitutionality of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, well, you've missed a controversial afternoon.  If memory serves, the Woods and Napolitano titles deal with this issue, but I'm not familiar with the other two.  Let's just say that there are a lot of people who call themselves economic conservatives who think Jefferson, Madison and Monroe woulda loved the idea of an entrenched welfare state. 

Here are Rand Paul's suggestions for Foreign Policy reading:
  • The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War, Andrew J. Bacevich
  • Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, Chalmers Johnson
  • Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror, Michael Scheuer
  • Where the Right Went Wrong: How Neoconservatives Subverted the Reagan Revolution and Hijacked the Bush Presidency, Patrick J. Buchanan
  • Silent Night: The Remarkable Christmas Truce of 1914, Stanley Weintraub
I've only read Blowback, by the late Chalmers Johson, Silent Night, and the Pat Buchanan title.  Blowback is greatness.  Buchanan is good on the evils of an American Empire, IMAO, but he wants to turn us into something like Feudal China when it comes to foreign trade. 
My little brother, the history prof, turned me onto the Silent Night book a while back.  If you aren't familiar with the Xmas Truce of 1914, it's a beautiful story.  The troops on both sides of the trenches said "screw this", played soccer, made toasts, swapped a few presents, and just generally hung out and wondered why they were trying to kill each other.  The next day, the mindless slaughter resumed.   

Ok, here are some of Rand Paul's suggested Websites and Organizations:
  • Cato Institute
  • The Heritage Foundation
  • Campaign for Liberty
  • Young Americans for Liberty
  • The Ludwig von Mises Institute
  • and several others
I don't have time to look up links all night, but you can Google them.  The Cato and von Mises folks make me look like Harry Reid.  Hard-core libertarian to the core. 
And finally, Paul lists several other people, thanking them for permission to quote from their original material.  Included are:
  • Peter Schiff
  • Matt Welch (of Reason magazine)
When it comes to freedom and liberty, those two guys are greatness. 

So....I think we can safely say that Senator Rand Paul is a Libertarian.  That's a great reading list, and I hope you'll check out some of the books he listed.  Good, good stuff. 


Brett said...

His stock just skyrocketed in my book.

Anonymous said...

It was a good list until we got to the Glenn Beck title. Unfortunate, that.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Anon #2,
I agreed until I dipped into the book. But next time you're in a bookstore, flip through "Broke" and tell me what parts of it you disagree with.
I'd rather have Glenn Beck inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.

Anonymous said...

Hmm.. A bit surprised that Bastiat's The Law isn't on that list. I've heard Rand refer to it several times in his speeches.

Dr Ralph said...

From Rand Paul's website: "I am 100% pro life. I believe abortion is taking the life of an innocent human being. I believe life begins at conception and it is the duty of our government to protect this life."

From the Libertarian Party's website: "Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration."

Not that Rand Paul is the first politician to say whatever he needed to to get elected. Just the latest.

It's always interesting to see which Libertarian principles you're ready to jettison and which ones you aren't.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Ralph,

Even *if* the LP platform was the default "libertarian" stance, and it is not necessarily so ... the LP is neither the barometer of being a libertarian, or that consistent itself.

The platform you link to used to read very much pro-choice (though I do forget the exact wording), and then the Libertarian Reform Caucus gained greater prominence in the party. Their mission statement reads, and I quote:

"It is time to reform the Libertarian Party, to make the platform moderate enough so that victory is possible."

These articles can help illustrate what happened internally to the LP just a few years ago. They explain a bit why the party itself is now a very poor barometer for the opinions of those we would ostensibly assume to be (capital L party member) Libertarians, but now consider themselves (as I do) "lower case" libertarian.

LL said...

This libertarian leans pro-choice but that's because I lean toward the idea of experience being the best teacher.

The reading list is good but expected. I didn't have high hopes for Rand but he seems to be publicly moving toward his father's positions now that he's an elected rep. In the words of rapper Sage Francis, "Asking all these questions
Isn't highly recommended
They'll eventually get answered
If you put time into friendship
That's assuming that what you're doing is helping
And it's not like you'll know until you... uhhh...
Reach the ending"

And xoxo to RightC0ast...