The following is the second paragraph of Barry Germansky’s op-ed Tea Party Heroes Ron and Rand Paul Make for a Bitter Brew, from earlier this year, interspersed with my rebuttals from within the last few days.
BARRY GERMANSKY: The primary flaw in the Pauls’ mandate to implement a free market libertarian society is that they claim it is the constitutional way to manage federal government. Furthermore, they argue that most federal programs – from the department of education to the FDA – are unconstitutional for the sole reason that they are not mentioned in the Constitution.
HENRY MOORE: As noted before, there is no one “way” enumerated in the Constitution as to the type of economic system envisioned by the Founders. It merely enumerates certain powers of government that may be used, though it does not state that these power must be used. Given the limited nature of these powers, and given that these powers are discretionary and not mandatory, an approximate Free Market system, though certainly not the only possible system compatible with the Constitution, is indeed compatible with it. If not ideal. The Ninth and Tenth Amendments, and the Bill of Restraints (Bill of Rights) as a whole further clarify just how limited these powers given to the Federal Government really are.
BARYY GERMANSKY: The Pauls are empirically incorrect on both fronts. First, the Constitution does not once mention the words “free market” or “capitalism” or “libertarianism”. Second, it does not specify what the people can decide to implement through the appropriation of tax dollars. Therefore, the Pauls have either misread the Constitution or purposely distorted it to suit their personal ideology.
HENRY MOORE: It seems you have a double standard: Constitutionalists may not, in good conscience, advocate certain things (free market, capitalism, libertarianism) not mentioned in the Constitution, but other things (DOEd, FDA), though not mentioned in the Constitution, are Constitutional. Because, according to you, the Founders “never specified what the people can decide to implement through the appropriation of tax dollars.” While your claim about what the Founders “never said” may or may not be true, one thing is certain: the conclusions you draw are empirically incorrect.
Also, the Pauls do not advocate that the free market “manage government.” Rather, that the government cease (mis)managing the market, especially where it has no legal authority to do so. A market free from “planning”, i.e., mismanagement, is a free market.
And neither do “the people” decide how to appropriate or spend revenue. Such things are determined by special interests via their lackeys, the United States Congress. You have either misread the Constitution or purposefully distorted it to suit your personal ideology. That is, if you’ve read it at all.
BARRY GERMANSKY: They also seem to use the “reference the Constitution” rebuttal whenever they are questioned by the media for wanting to dismantle federal departments.
HENRY MOORE: The media rarely question the Constitutional grounds for getting rid of government departments (which, if the things they are doing are not specifically enumerated as government powers or duties, are clearly unconstitutional). They usually sidestep that issue because they know they would be incorrect. Instead, they appeal to the emotional side of things. “You just can’t cut the Department of Education! Thousands, no, millions, of children will grow up ignorant and illiterate!” Not only are such arguments largely irrelevant to the task at hand (and thus they are fallacies), but they are based on the false premise that “the government can.” Almost every program the government starts or grows has unintended consequences that often worsen the problem the program was intended to fix. This can be seen with the Federal Reserve, Social Security, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the SEC, the Military, the FDA, and the Department of Education, to name just a few departments, programs, agencies, and institutions. The Paul’s “reference to the Constitution” is something that every elected politician is meant to do. Why take an oath to defend and uphold a document that can be bent and broken and tweaked and twisted into meaning just about anything the mob wants, this instant, as you seem to portray it?
BARRY GERMANSKY: The Pauls do this because they know most Americans have no knowledge of the document, and will be unable to counter their fundamentalist interpretations.
HENRY MOORE: Just as with last time, you are right about one thing: Americans are largely ignorant about the Constitution. But to say that the Pauls are somehow taking advantage of this when they are in fact urging people to read and study it, is sheer nonsense. The Pauls may very well be responsible for more purchases and internet searches of the Constitution than any other living individuals. Yet they are keeping people in the dark so they can deceive them about its true meaning or their true intentions? I don’t think so!
BARRY GERMANSKY: This allows their grotesque and highly contradictory misreading of the Constitution to go uncontested.
HENRY MOORE: You are stating an impossibility. Their interpretation, if wrong, could not possibly go uncontested, unless every single other person in the media or in politics 1) absolutely agrees with the Pauls, or 2) are themselves totally ignorant of the document. In the former case, there would be proof that the Pauls are at least somewhat in the mainstream, so who are you to call them liars or fools? In the latter case, there would be proof that their opponents have no idea what they are talking about, so who are you to ascribe any validity to their interpretations?
BARRY GERMANSKY: But, now that this dishonest manoeuvre has been revealed, it alone discredits their free market libertarian mandate.
HENRY MOORE: The two things that you are attempting to discredit (Constitutionalism and Libertarianism) are not mutually exclusive, even in the Pauls’ own view. So exposing the dishonesty in one (which you have failed at doing) does not necessarily taint the other. Certainly not all on its own.