Ron Paul Polls Nearly as Well as Romney in a General Election Against Obama

Now that Santorum has exited the Republican primary it is all but a certainty that Mitt Romney will get the Republican nomination.  However, it is still an interesting statistic that the supposedly unelectable Ron Paul is polling just a few percentage points behind Romney in a head-to-head contest against President Obama in a general election.

Real Clear Politics shows the following polling data for Romney against Obama in a general election:

Poll Date Sample Obama (D) Romney (R) Spread
RCP Average 3/20 – 4/9 48.5 43.2 Obama +5.3
Rasmussen Tracking 4/7 – 4/9 1500 LV 45 45 Tie
ABC News/Wash Post 4/5 – 4/8 RV 51 44 Obama +7
IBD/CSM/TIPP 3/30 – 4/5 816 RV 46 38 Obama +8
USA Today/Gallup 3/25 – 3/26 901 RV 49 45 Obama +4
CNN/Opinion Research 3/24 – 3/25 925 RV 54 43 Obama +11
McClatchy/Marist 3/20 – 3/22 846 RV 46 44 Obama +2

They show the following data for Ron Paul against Obama in a general election:

Poll Date Sample Obama (D) Paul (R) Spread
RCP Average 3/10 – 4/1 47.2 39.6 Obama +7.6
Rasmussen Reports 3/31 – 4/1 1000 LV 43 40 Obama +3
McClatchy/Marist 3/20 – 3/22 846 RV 50 40 Obama +10
PPP (D) 3/15 – 3/17 900 RV 46 43 Obama +3
Reason-Rupe 3/10 – 3/20 1200 A 47 37 Obama +10
FOX News 3/10 – 3/12 912 RV 50 38 Obama +12

Granted Romney has a statistical lead over Dr. Paul in the polls – Obama leads Dr. Paul by an average of 7.6% across all the polls, while Obama enjoys only a 5.3% lead over Mitt Romney.

But consider the amount of media attention that has been paid to the Romney campaign.  Consider the amount of talk-time given the putative Republican nominee in all of the various debates that have taken place, all of which featured Romney center stage with Dr. Paul relegated to a far corner of the stage.

In contrast, the Paul campaign has been all but ignored by the media.  News commentators and political analysts have openly discounted his campaign and have called him unelectable.  In one 90-minute debate he had a whopping 89 seconds of talk time in the entire program – the broadcast channel that hosted the debate justified this by saying that they weighted the amount of time for each candidate based on where the candidates were in the polls, but in fact Dr. Paul was pulling third place in most polls in what was then a field of eight candidates.

One wonders where Dr. Paul’s polling numbers would be if there had not been a concerted effort in the media and by the Republican party to marginalize his campaign.  What the polls show is that despite the best efforts of the “establishment,” Ron Paul is – and always has been – a serious candidate for the highest office in the land.

The Inflation Tax

The “Inflation Tax” is a very real phenomenon, and it is very much a part of our current economic and political condition.  Why can’t the government just go and print the money for all the spending we want to do?  Until you understand that inflation is a tax, you will never really be able to give a great answer to that question.

The first thing you need to understand is that no government, no matter how big or how small, has any purchasing power of its own; it has to get its purchasing power from its citizens.  If a government wants to spend $100 on a new street sign, it first must go to its citizens to get the money to do so.  This is all very simple and obvious when you are talking about a local or state government, but it becomes less obvious when dealing with the Federal government because of the size of the budgets, and because of the Fed’s ability to print money.

In general, the government has one of three sources for its purchasing power: taxation of its citizens, borrowing from foreign and domestic lenders, or the printing of money.

It is the money-printing thing that causes all of the confusion.

The second thing you need to understand is that there is a difference between wealth and money.  Wealth is an accumulation of purchasing power – it is the difference between what you produce versus what you consume.  This is true of a household and of a nation.  If you produce a lot but consume relatively little, the production that you did not convert into consumption will accumulate as future purchasing power. Thus you have created wealth.

Money is NOT wealth – it is the tool we use to allocate purchasing power among members of a society.  Increasing the amount of money in circulation does NOT create more wealth, it just changes the allocation of the existing purchasing power.  The creation of wealth has nothing to do with the money supply – wealth can be created even if the money supply is decreasing as long as production exceeds consumption.  It can also be created when the money supply is increasing, but the point is that the expansion of the money supply is not what creates a nation’s wealth.  Just ask the folks in Zimbabwe.

To return to our first point, the government has no purchasing power of its own, so when it prints money it creates this illusion that it has fashioned wealth (or demand, or whatever term they want to use) out of thin air.  But it is an illusion.  They have not created more wealth nor more purchasing power, because the government has no purchasing power of its own that it has not taken from its citizens in one form or another.  By printing new money, the government transfers some of the purchasing power of the dollars that are currently in circulation to those new dollars that roll steaming off of the figurative printing press.

That means that the government gets new dollars that can buy things, but at the expense of your old dollars that cannot buy as much as they used to before the new ones were printed.  There is no increase in purchasing power because the printed money has not produced anything – there has been no creation of wealth and thus no increase in purchasing power.

It would be like adding yards to a football field, but leaving the field the same actual length.  You could double the number of yards on the field and it would not make the field any longer – it would just reduce the size of each yard.  But the consequence of playing football on a 200-yard field that is the same physical length as the 100-yard field with which we are all familiar would be that the players on the “200-yard” field would re-write all the statistical records.  There is no increase in the factual length, but there is a difference in the way it is measured.

If you can imagine your purchasing power as yards on that football field, when the number of yards on the field were doubled the actual length of your yardage was cut in half.  Maybe you had 6 yards on that field; when the field was increased to 200 yards you still had your 6 yards, but they were only worth what 3 yards would have been worth before the measurement was changed.

That is exactly what happens when the government prints money.  It robs the dollars you presently own of some of their purchasing power by putting that purchasing power in the new dollars they create.

For all that the proponents of inflationary money printing will say that it is for the good of the working man, nothing could be further from the truth.  Working-class people have precious little savings to begin with – the last thing they need is for those savings to be diminished by the printing of money.  Furthermore, their wages are also eroded by the shrinking purchasing power of each dollar they earn, so their cost of living skyrockets and their standard of living plummets.  Inflation is THE most regressive form of taxation that could ever be conceived.

It is an insidious and dishonest way to fund a government.  By printing money the politicians can seize your purchasing power without taxing you, and that usually means that they can do so without you really realizing it.  They can then use that purchasing power for whatever purpose they want – but you can be assured that at the end of the day the purpose they choose will be one that gets them reelected.

This is the reason that sound money is crucial to the survival of a society.  A money supply that is based on a real and tangible sum of wealth cannot be debased so easily or so casually.  Sound money – a gold standard – imposes discipline on lawmakers and forces them to spend only that purchasing power they come by through honest and transparent means.  Without that discipline the only thing that stands between the US and Zimbabwe is the character, integrity, and intellect of our elected officials.

Does that concern you as much as it concerns me?

The Comedy of Presidential Politics

I will admit it: I am a political junkie.  Every election gets my attention, but every four years we have the equivalent of the Olympics of politics in the US Presidential race.  I cannot help but get caught up in the process, and have spent more time than I could honestly spare watching the Republican primary debates.

I am perplexed by my own fascination with the primary process, because in a very real sense I do not believe that it makes a bit of difference who is nominated.

The Republican party has managed once again to assemble a field of candidates that are firmly representative of the “establishment” viewpoint.

There is one lone voice in this election season who represents a return to Constitutional principles, but he has been overlooked, ignored, and marginalized with such complete and utter disregard by both political parties and the mainstream press that his apparent invisibility has been fodder for hosts on Comedy Central.  The only people who appear to know Ron Paul is running for the Republican nomination are his ardent and loyal supporters; for the rest of polite society in political circles it is as if he does not exist.  And yet, he has forced the establishment candidates to at least talk about some of the issues that are so important, but have traditionally been verboten in presidential politics.

There are presidential candidates actually talking about the Federal Reserve and the role it is playing in our on-going financial crisis…

But back to the topic at hand.  I am reminded of a conversation I had last presidential election with a member of my family who is a Democrat, and who is admittedly very liberal.  We were talking about the field of Republican candidates and I mentioned that while I considered John McCain to be an American war hero, I did not want him as my candidate for president.  When I said that, she responded that she could not see why I would dislike him because he was the only participant in the Republican primary that she could actually consider voting for.

I replied that this was exactly why I did not like him.

This year is no different – by all appearances we are going to have a Republican nominee who will talk the talk in the primary, but who will not walk the walk if he manages to get elected.

It is a crazy, mixed-up world in which we live.  Neither of these parties holds to any ideology anymore – it is all rhetoric.  The Democrats pay lip service to the idea that they are looking out for the working man; but when they are in office they pursue policies that destroy jobs, saddle employers with mountains of regulations, and openly support policies that rob working people of their purchasing power by debasing the dollar.  Republicans talk about a belief in strong American traditions, constitutional values, and the power of the individual; but when they get into office they pursue policies that abrogate American citizen’s Constitutional rights to due process, and in the end continue to bankroll the special interest groups that hold Washington DC hostage at the expense of the “individuals” whom they profess to hold so dear.

The United States of American is facing a crisis.  We started at the middle of the 20th century as the wealthiest nation on earth; that wealth (and our status as the reserve currency of the world) has enabled us to delude ourselves that we have an unlimited and unbreakable piggy-bank in our public coffers and that we can spend wantonly without regard for the consequences.  We are now the biggest debtor nation in the history of the world, and our leaders are telling us that our real problem is that we are not deep enough in debt, that we need to borrow more so we can have the government spend the money to “stimulate” the economy. It has to end before we completely bankrupt the nation.

There is a spigot of money flowing out of the Federal Reserve coffers.  If you want to know what Presidential politics is really about, it is to gain control over that spigot of money and thus be able to direct into whose pockets it is spilled first.  I will watch the whole sordid mess as it unfolds, and I will probably get caught up in the excitement of the moment when the elections are actually taking place this November, but I do not hold much faith that the outcome will solve anything.

This is not yet the election year for real solutions.  But I fear we are running short on time…