I finished Ron Paul’s Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedoms. I have two items.
1. His chapter on “Unions” pretty much contained the usual conservative and libertarian arguments: that unions artificially increase wages and thus decrease opportunities for employment, since people cannot come forward to work for lower wages, independently of the unions. But what would be the good of having more jobs if they don’t pay much? Ron Paul believes that companies in a free market will compete for workers and offer them good wages that way. Paul also sees a potential danger in the federal government having authority in labor disputes, for the federal government can use its authority to set limits on wages (as occurred under Richard Nixon’s wage and price controls) or to benefit the rich.
I think that Ron Paul is overly optimistic about the free market setting decent wages. To what would he attribute the stagnation of wages that has occurred in America over the past thirty years? At the same time, the opposite extreme (unions making it expensive to hire a new worker, if that’s what happens) looks problematic, too.
While Paul makes a good point about the problems of giving the government authority, my question is this: Is there a way to ensure that the government uses its authority for good and not for evil? I don’t know. I suppose that elections are a way, but special interests in our republic play a significant role in those, and that has encouraged the government to do things that are hurtful to a lot of people.
2. Ron Paul’s chapter on Zionism essentially argued that the U.S. should stay out of the Middle East and let Israel work things out with her neighbors, and he says that we have hindered through our involvement such attempts to work things out. Paul also is critical of how we fund both Israel and also the Arabs, then he throws in the point that Israel would still be at a military advantage were we to cut off our aid to both sides. (I’m not sure if Paul considers that a good thing or a bad thing, or even why he’s mentioning it.) At the same time, Ron Paul is a strong supporter of trade, which he believes is conducive to peace.
Regarding who has a right to the land, Paul says that he feels compassion towards Arabs whose homes were taken away by the Israelis. He’s not entirely against Zionism, however, for he hearkens back to the time when Jews were moving into Palestine peacefully, before the UN granted them a state. Paul also raises the point that so many people-groups have been in Palestine, that it’s really hard to determine who has the rights to it, and he does not feel that appealing to religion helps matters. Essentially, he wants people in the Middle East to solve their own problems, and he appears to be optimistic that the younger generation is eager to do so.
I wouldn’t be surprised if things are more complex than Ron Paul presents, but I’m sure that he has good observations in his analysis.