TOS Blog: Daily Commentary from an Objectivist Perspective

Ryan’s Pro-Freedom Rhetoric Clashes with His Promise of Government Controls

At times, Paul Ryan says things that would make the Founders proud, as with the following comments from his convention speech:

When I was waiting tables, washing dishes, or mowing lawns for money, I never thought of myself as stuck in some station in life. I was on my own path, my own journey, an American journey where I could think for myself, decide for myself, define happiness for myself. That’s what we do in this country. That’s the American Dream. That’s freedom, and I’ll take it any day over the supervision and sanctimony of the central planners.

Ryan also summarized Barack Obama’s presidency in a single sentence: “None of us have to settle for the best this administration offers–a dull, adventureless journey from one entitlement to the next, a government-planned life, a country where everything is free but us.”

Unfortunately, Ryan’s political proposals fail to live up to his pro-liberty political rhetoric. Rather than recognizing people’s rights to think for themselves, decide for themselves, and define happiness for themselves, for instance, when it comes to planning for their retirement and health care expenses, the “Romney-Ryan administration will protect and strengthen Medicare,” a massive entitlement program. Rather than leave people free to decide how to spend their own wealth, Romney and Ryan “will keep federal spending at 20 percent of GDP, or less.” In other words, the federal government will leave us only four-fifths free to use the fruits of our labor—and state and local governments will seize “only” another fifth or so of our wealth.

Nevertheless, Romney and Ryan promise at least to slow the growth of government and the increase of rights-violations, and this can buy time for advocates of genuine liberty to educate more people about the moral foundations of a free society.

And Romney and Ryan at least recognize commonsense justice: “What [businesspeople] deserve to hear is the truth: Yes, you did build that.” That’s a lot more than can be said for Obama.

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: Individual Rights and Law, Politicians and Candidates

Comments are welcome so long as they are civil.
  • Mark Wilson

    Ryan’s speech is another example of why an unprincipled approach to ‘limited government’ – one that is not built upon a firm foundation of reason and individual rights, will always lose to the progressives. It always has and always will. Such bromides have no foundation. They float. Like the balloons they release at the end of the convention.

    We should NOT be cheering Ryan on – we should instead be asking him and all the like-minded ‘conservatives’ – why should government be limited? Limited to what? Why should government spending be capped at 20% of GDP? Where does that number come from? What current government programs are legitimate and why? What is the purpose of government? What are rights? Where do they come from? What is it about human nature that demands a government?

    Because floating bromides is how some hold the concept of ‘limited government’ – they sit back and admire these phonies and pretend that they are better than the progressives. As Ayn Rand said, they are actually worse, because they hold out the pretention that the are principled supporters of individual rights. But they are not. Their concept of rights is inherently mystical. You heard them say repeatedly that rights come from God (or Nature, but what they really mean is Nature’s God – see John Locke).

    These phonies do not trick me, nor should they you. Why do they fool so many freedom-loving people? Because many, knowing better, get caught up in the hysteria of the moment, focus on their perceptions of colored ballons, applause and hand-waving rather than their conception of principles, and forget that the only antidote to rising statism is the principle of rights.

  • jayeldee

    “Phonies” is right. But they are so transparent, I doubt that many are actually “tricked”, or taken in, by them–at least, not by this current crop (who are all terrifically bad actors: did you see any convincing intellect at the RNC? And please don’t say, “Ryan”; his acting’s slightly better than the rest, but he’s only a religious phony, as you know).

    But what IS clear, at least to me, is that these phonies are, sorry to say, an improvement over the malicious left. Not much of one–but an improvement, nonetheless. (I know this is a sweeping statement: there are “considerations” back of it, but suffice to say, here, that the contrast in levels of malice exhibited at the two conventions convinces me that the left is the greater menace…. In addition, I do see some value simply in interrupting the momentum of the left, by throwing it out, and ringing in a whole new crowd, however miserable.)

  • jayeldee

    But of course, you’re back to mentioning only rights having directly to do with economics. This Ryan chap should never–NEVER–be criticized in broad terms that neglect to mention his fervent desire to control the interior environments of individual human bodies. It’s just crazy to enumerate his faults without naming THAT one–which is the most bloody and glaring of all. Don’t let’s let him off the hook, for that–not EVER. (And given that demented desire of his, I seriously doubt that the “time bought” will be worth all that much, anyway; something, perhaps. But not much. Perhaps precious little. Perhaps nothing…)

  • Mark Wilson

    I have to respectfully disagree. The left has had their chance historically and failed. Their ideas are worn out, unoriginal, and hardly taken seriously – even by those on the left. The real menace to the future is a resurgent right backed by mysticism and theology. I’m hoping for political stagnation, in-fighting, partisanship, and gridlock in Washington until enough people can learn about rights and fundamentally change the course of history.

  • jayeldee

    I, too, hope for all of what you enumerate in your last
    sentence, here, regardless of which party assumes executive power. BUT: I think there’s a very significant difference between the old and now discredited political Left (as exemplified by just about every Democratic administration since FDR’s)—and the Obamaists. Many in “Objectivist circles” have been pointing out that this new breed are not merely socialists, but nihilists—and are pursuing politics solely for the sake of value-destruction. While this type may use shopworn socialist ideology to advance its cause, that cause is not restricted, as it was for the old left, to redistribution of wealth from haves to have-nots—but to the destruction of wealth, as such; and to the destruction of every other rational value. And this, I think, is something entirely new (at least in American politics).

    I have to confess that I wasn’t fully convinced of this until I viewed (or tried to view) the Democratic convention—every portion of which (that I was able to force myself to watch) oozed with unbridled malice. These are definitely not the FDR or LBJ or JFK or Carter sort—but an entirely new breed of thug (of which, Clinton was a harbinger; and of which, his wife is now a full-fledged realization). And, to their further discredit, I don’t see many phonies in evidence: they do tend to say what they mean; and they certainly mean what they say.

    But of course, as you point out, the Republicans are, almost to a person, only laughable phonies. As such, I think they are currently much less dangerous to us (“currently” being the operative word, of course….), especially with such a one—that is, such a zero—as Romney in charge.