Ron Paul has a bestseller. That sounds so nice I’ll say it twice. Ron Paul has a bestseller. His new book, End the Fed, is number 30 on Amazon as this is written -- with 167 mostly glowing reviews -- and his reception last week on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show was hugely positive. Stewart, more-or-less a left/libertarian, clearly sees Paul as one of the good guys, and his audience seems to agree.
With all these doors suddenly slamming open, it’s easy to forget that just a couple of years ago Ron Paul was an obscure, eccentric Texas congressman whose presidential run was met with a yawn in the mainstream media. But when he stood up in the debates and made the case for limited government, sound money, and adherence to the Constitution, he struck a chord. It was clear (to libertarians at least) that he was telling the truth and that the political hacks who were treating him like a deranged uncle were the ones with the vision/character problem.
Paul didn’t win many votes (though out here in Idaho he did get 24% in the Republican primary) but he made an impression. And when pretty much everything he warned us about came true -- while virtually everything the hacks of both parties said turned out to be disastrously wrong -- he even gained a bit of mainstream cred. So when he introduced HR 1207 to audit the Fed, the response was at first respectful, and then enthusiastic. Instead of instantly dismissing him, people began asking their representatives why the Fed isn’t already audited. This law might just pass, with unpredictable but almost certainly amusing results.
But of course auditing the Fed is just the beginning. Paul’s ultimate goal is to eliminate the whole institution, along with other golems like fiat currency and fractional reserve banking, and to reinstitute sound, honest money and limited government.
For those new to this subject, End the Fed is a clearly written primer on how unsound money and expanding government have gradually become the unquestioned conventional wisdom rather than the dangerous delusions that they are. For more seasoned gold bugs the book provides some interesting history, along with plenty of useful debate ammunition.
Some of the high points:
• Paul makes it clear that the Fed isn’t the whole problem. It’s just one part of a system that first went wrong with the introduction of fractional reserve banking centuries ago (banks used to be warehouses, storing depositors’ money for a fee), followed by the spread of European central banks (really just scams to allow a few elite bankers and politicians to expand their own power at the expense of everyone else) and then, finally, the introduction of fiat currency, which freed governments to expand spending and borrowing without regard to, well, anything. The problem, in short, is the whole of modern banking and finance.
• The middle part of the book features transcripts of Congressman Paul grilling Fed chairmen Greenspan and Bernanke. Some of these transcripts date back to the early Reagan era, which means that for going on three decades Paul has been fighting this fight, and slamming into the same brick wall. The Chairmen feel no need to explain themselves to a lowly congressman, and respond with a mixture of lies and obfuscation that apparently fooled most of Washington. The generally-respectful Paul even refers to Greenspan as “pathetic” after one especially dishonest piece of testimony. Less charitable readers will, by the end of this section, want to take a congressional microphone and beat Greenspan and Bernanke senseless.
• Fractional reserve banking and fiat currency make war easier. Back when a ruler needed actual gold to field an army, invading a neighbor required some serious forethought. But once a dictator (or the world’s policeman) could just print a few billion pieces of paper and order some new tanks, “defending the national interest” got a whole lot easier. Hence the bloodbath of the 20th century, and perhaps the mess of the coming decade.
• Paul knows all the major sound money/Austrian economics classics, and he cites them liberally. The "recommended reading" list contains a year’s worth of serious research.
• Though he continues to fight, he’s not optimistic about averting the coming train wreck, which he refers to as the “BIG ONE”.
Anyhow, good book from a great man. Stay healthy, Dr. Paul, your journey into the mainstream has just begun.
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