Jonah: It’s news to me that Ron Paul wants to “dismantle the military.” If you can give me chapter and verse on that, I will certainly ponder it. It seems hard to square with his much-repeated assertion that he is getting more campaign contributions from active-duty military personnel than any other candidate. That assertion may be false; Paul may be misinformed, or lying. If so, however, I’m surprised the falsehood hasn’t been uncovered by now: I’ve been hearing that assertion for months. Hard to square, too, with his vote of funding operations in Afghanistan after 9/11.
I haven’t seen anything to suggest to me that Paul is a pacifist who wants to “dismantle the military.” He strikes me, in fact, as a “rubble doesn’t make trouble” guy, so far as attacks on the U.S.A. are concerned — just so long as things are done by the strict letter of the Constitution, with a proper declaration of war by the people’s representatives. That’s an arguable position; but pacifist it ain’t, and “dismantling the military” it ain’t, either.
Paul’s libertarianism does not strike me as “purist,” Ramesh. On immigration, for example, he seems to be pretty much at my “Libertarianism in One Country” position, to the anger of many truly purist libertarians. Similarly with Social Security — though here I suspect, my previous post notwithstanding, that in a one-on-one with Paul, we’d find some disagreements. Completely private provision for old age is as much an ideological pipe dream as completely open borders. The government — and I think necessarily the federal government — must be involved at some level, if only in the regulation of investment funds (a function I don’t think even purist libertarians deny). Some minimal, universal, government-managed provision — “Gimme a check!” — seems unobjectionable to this sort-of libertarian…though there must surely be some better way to fund that provision than the current flat payroll tax.