A libertarian's lament: Why Ron Paul is an embarrassment to the creed

Paul’s candidacy that year, as we all know, didn’t lead him to the White House or anywhere close. But he evidently wasn’t discouraged. Four years later, Paul is not only back on the campaign trail, he’s doing better than ever in the polls. And I’ll admit I still vibrate happily to his indignant disquisitions on foreign policy. (Why shouldn’t Iran have nukes!) I just can’t get myself to regret that $50 when I hear him say “blowback” in the vicinity of Mitt Romney…

So when it comes to protecting the wealth of propertied Americans, Paul is an absolutist who will brook no compromise. Taxation is slavery! But when it comes to defending an equally basic, principled commitment to free immigration and unrestricted labor markets, Paul develops a keen sensitivity to complicated questions of feasibility, hemming and hawing his way to a convoluted compromise that would continue to affirm the systematic violation of the individual rights of foreigners who would like to live and work in America, and those of Americans who would like to live and work with them…

But let’s give Paul the benefit of the doubt, and assume his opposition to anti-discrimination legislation is a principled stand untainted by prejudice. Even then, it’s not so clear his stance is underwritten by his stated principles. Paul’s third principle of a free society says that “Justly acquired property is privately owned by individuals and voluntary groups, and this ownership cannot be arbitrarily voided by governments.” I follow Ron Paul enthusiasts in endorsing this principle wholeheartedly. Nevertheless, it’s hard to say exactly what “justly acquired property” amounts to in a country built in no small part by slave labor on land stolen from indigenous people. How much of Thomas Jefferson’s property was justly acquired?