Through my travels to numerous big city occupation sites on the East Coast, including Wall Street itself, I have noticed a bizarre phenomenon that has me completely baffled and, on occasion, has actually left me sleepless : Ron Paul fans.
Really? Seriously? Libertarian supporters of #Occupy? I thought no 1%, well established-in-the-political-system “leader” could or would change the policies of America for the better. And let’s face it, Ron Paul has been on and off in Congress for over 30 years; he may not receive any PAC cash, but plenty of individuals involved in the financial world have donated to his campaign. His net worth alone ranges from almost two million to over five million and that definitely does not make him part of the 99%.
Now, I have no problem with other people’s political affiliations; (even though I don’t personally believe that elections do anything given that corporations make all the policies) everyone has the right to argue with each other over issues, but the core individualism, isolationism and laissez-faire economics of the Libertarian belief system does not fit the communal and socialist ideals of #Occupy. Out of what only can be described as morbid curiosity, I decided to ask some of these folks why they have this affection for a man who is anti-organized labor, pro-nuclear and petrol energy, against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and would overturn Roe v. Wade; all of which is not a collective view from what I have seen to be involved in the Occupy movement. I was utterly shocked at my findings; these were not Libertarians, they were progressives.
Not being either Libertarian or Progressive myself (but thoroughly understanding both schools of thought), I decided to further my research into this seemingly paradoxical view to make sense of such a concept. I decided the best way to approach this complex outlook would be to make a list according to the demands proposed by #Occupy Wall Street’s General Assembly and compare it to the views expressed by Ron Paul himself.
#Occupy suggested: Policies to reduce/eliminate corporate influence in politics, eliminate corporate personhood, overturn Citizens United versus Federal Election Commission (2008 Supreme Court decision), campaign finance reform, election finance reform, public financing of elections.
Ron Paul: With regards to Citizens United, Paul said, “You should never restrict lobbying because the Constitution is rather clear about the people being allowed to petition Congress, and whether you’re an individual or you belong to a [special interest group] … you should be allowed to do that.” He argues that corporations should be able to spend their money in any way that they want. Paul also stated that “Corporations don’t have rights per se, but the individual who happens to own a corporation or belong to a union does have rights, and these rights are not lost by merely acting through another organization.”
– Paul, Ron (2011). Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom. New York: Grand Central Publishing. pp.28-31.
#Occupy suggested: Policies to reform the tax structure that includes progressive taxes, raise taxes on income above US $200k, increase taxes on corporations, make corporations pay their fair share of taxes, taxing financial transactions, eliminate tax loopholes, tax code that favors the middle class.
Ron Paul: Lowering corporate taxes to 15% (down from 35%). Let US companies repatriate capital tax-free. Extend all Bush tax cuts, and abolish income, capital gains, estate and personal savings taxes as well as the IRS. Provide more tax credits and deductions. Rely on excise taxes, non-protectionist tariffs, fees, and minimal corporate ones.
#Occupy suggested: Policies to create jobs, program for full employment, real jobs program, universal jobs program, organized discussion on jobs.
Ron Paul: Paul opposes hard-won labor rights, having voted against the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) provisions to let workers “form, join, or assist labor organizations, to provide for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts, and other purposes.”
#Occupy suggested: Policies related to healthcare, universal healthcare, single-payer healthcare, nationalize healthcare, affordable healthcare.
Ron Paul: Paul says that contrary to what most Americans believe, access to health care is not a right, but a good whose value should be determined by the free market.
In 2003, Paul went against the majority of Republicans and voted to block implementation of the Medicare Part D program, which expanded Medicare to cover the costs of medications for the elderly and disabled, and which prohibited the government from negotiating directly with pharmaceutical companies to try to get lower prices for the covered medications. Paul voted against re-authorization and expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which is a joint state-federal program to provide health insurance for children and pregnant women in low-income families who do not qualify for Medicaid. Paul was the only member of the entire Congress to vote against the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act in 2008, which prohibits health insurers and employers from discriminating against an individual on the basis of carrying a gene(s) that is associated with an increased risk for developing a disease. Paul opposes the federal law that requires physicians to treat all patients who go to emergency rooms seeking medical care regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.
He asserts that the law is unconstitutional. Paul opposes laws that require health insurance to cover pre-existing conditions. He argues that “once insurance companies are required by government to ensure against preconditions, it’s no longer insurance – it’s a social welfare mandate.
#Occupy suggested: Policies related to the environment and energy, eliminate use of coal, decrease dependence on oil, carbon free dividend system, green technology.
Ron Paul: Paul says he opposes government assistance to private businesses intended to help shape research and investment decisions, including to promote alternative energy production and use. Also, in
an October 2007 interview, Paul, whose congressional district’s largest companies are Dow Chemical, the former Union Carbide (a subsidiary of Dow Chemical since 2001), and many petrochemical companies, held that climate change is not a “major problem threatening civilization.” He also believes that nuclear energy is a clean and efficient potential alternative.
#Occupy suggested: Anti-war policies, end wars, abolish war policy ,end United States’ incursion in Iraq and Afghanistan, stop sending soldiers.
Ron Paul: Paul has made it very clear on numerous occasions that it is not okay to invade other countries that are of no threat to the United States. He also is a big proponent on bringing troops home from military bases around the world and stopping all foreign aid. In 2007, Paul said, “There’s nobody in this world that could possibly attack us today… we could defend this country with a few good submarines. If anybody dared touch us we could wipe any country off of the face of the earth within hours. And here we are, so intimidated and so insecure and we’re acting like such bullies that we have to attack third-world nations that have no military and have no weapons.”
#Occupy suggested: Policies to reform education, improve education, Serious overhaul of education, debt forgiveness for student loans.
Ron Paul: Paul has been an outspoken advocate of dismantling the public school system and replacing them with privatized or home schooling. He has stated that “the federal government has absolutely no role in education” under the Constitution, “regardless of what the Supreme Court has claimed.” He also says “education is not a right.” He opposes all federal government scholarships and government loans for higher education, but is supportive of the offering of financial aid by private organizations.
Okay, so now that there is a set list of views expressed by both sides, lets see what Ron Paul has in common with #Occupy :
Is it the corporate intervention in politics? No.
Is it the tax reform? Er, eh, no.
Is it the labor issue? Still no.
Is it health care reform? Clearly not.
Is it on energy? Wow, no way.
Is it education? Haha try again.
Okay, one last shot. Foreign policy? YES!
Wow!!! they have ONE thing in common! Let’s all vote Ron Paul because he is against war (insert other sarcastic remarks as needed)!
But in all seriousness, even a broken clock is right twice a day. And to compromise on all the other beliefs just because you found a candidate who is as strongly opposed to war as you are is just not conceivable. This man clearly wants to privatize everything and let the “free market” be the rule of the land, leaving behind the poor and the underprivileged to fend for themselves. If people in this country were so concerned about war and foreign policy as they all claim to be, why then, did the country not all go for Ralph Nader?
Andrea Egizi is an anti-war activist involved in the organization of Occupy Atlantic City.