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The single-issue voter: A birder’s look at Ron Paul – R

August 30, 2007
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It’s that time again. As civic-minded individuals do, I’m oft interested in how the platforms of those running for president affect my life, that’s as a birder naturally. With so many candidates and elections still more than a year off I decided to do the work so you, dear reader(s), don’t have to. So here’s what I hope will be a regular look as those who would be birder-in-chief. Starting with the long-shots and working my way up so that you all will be prepared when the time comes to cast your ballot. The sixth part of The Drinking Bird’s however-many-part series.

Texas congressman Ron Paul, polling around 2%, considers himself a Republican in name only. His political ideology swings strongly towards libertarian and he claims to never vote for any legislation unless it is expressly authorized by the Constitution. This hasn’t stopped him from acting on issues of bird-related importance, despite the fact that our founding fathers deemed such issues unworthy of the Bill of Rights. Paul has gathered a fervent internet following based primarily on his opposition to the war in Iraq. His view on other issues appears consistent with his libertarian philosophy, that the national government should do pretty much nothing and most of the government’s responsibilities should be passed on to the states or private industry. But when birds and business collide, well, let’s just say the birds don’t end up on the winning side of that fight very often.

Ron Paul doesn’t think the government should regulate natural resources, but he does think that the government should continue to provide subsidies for oil and natural gas exploration. In my mind, that’s something of a inconsistent stance, and one that doesn’t bode well for birds that depend on places like ANWR, the shortgrass prairies of the American West, and the Gulf of Mexico, all sites where natural resource exploration and extraction look to occur if such restrictions are rolled back or ceded to the states. More consistent with libertarian ideology but equally bird unfriendly is his belief that regulations currently protecting clean air and water should be removed allowing industry to police itself with regards to individual environmental practices.

Ceding environmental regulation to individual states as Paul suggests ignores the fact that animals (birds especially) ignore arbitrary state boundaries. That a species could be considered endangered in one state but not in a neighboring state indicates a fundamental problem with Paul’s ideology, one that can only be handled effectively with a strong federal environmental policy. He simply lets his devotion to these libertarian beliefs get in the way of reality.

The inconsistency of a Ron Paul administration would likely be disastrous for birds, but I should add, you could probably do worse.

Next: Dem de dem dem…..DEM

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9 Comments
  1. Joel permalink
    August 30, 2007 9:40 am

    Please support your claim that Ron Paul “does think that the government should continue to provide subsidies for oil and natural gas exploration”. Dig in a little deeper and you will find that Ron Paul opposes corporate subsidies of every kind, particularly those for oil and natural gas companies.

  2. August 30, 2007 12:31 pm

    In January of 2007 Ron Paul voted against the Creating Long-term Energy Alternatives for the Nation (CLEAN) Act.

    Title I of CLEAN was the Ending Subsidies for Big Oil Act– which would deny a deduction for income attributable to domestic production of oil, natural gas, or their related primary products.

    Votes are here

    Ipso Facto, Ron Paul supports subsidies for Big Oil. I think I dug deep enough.

  3. Joel permalink
    August 30, 2007 2:47 pm

    Title III is the reason he voted against it. Title III creates a new ‘Strategic Energy Efficiency and Renewables Reserve’ that enables our government to pick and choose which alternative energy projects they want to invest in. The elimination of oil and gas subsidies would be fine on their own, but they had to add in this vauge reserve. Ron Paul does not vote for any spending not specifically authorized by the Constitution. As this kind of spending is not authorized, he voted against, no matter what else was contained in the bill.

    So it’s totally misleading to say “Ron Paul supports subsidies for Big Oil” when you cherry-pick part of a bill he voted against that contains other substantial items.

  4. August 30, 2007 3:58 pm

    Fair enough about Title III, but I don’t think that enabling the government to invest in alternative energies is such a bad thing, despite the fact that Congress seems mostly sold on the biofuel hoax.

    I guess it’s a matter of priorities for Paul. Had he voted for CLEAN he would have come across as inconsistent insofar as gov’t funding for alternative fuels, a no vote makes him come across as inconsistent on Big Oil subsidies. It’s a raw deal for him either way really, but he did choose to stick with Big Oil rather then alternative fuels, the greater of two evils environmentally.

    It just puts him in a position where he can be second-guessed by guys with bird blogs.

  5. Dan permalink
    August 31, 2007 1:22 am

    I am teaching my parrot Paco (who is a hand fed cherished timneh grey) to say “Say Yes To Dr. No.”

    He knows Dr. Paul does not want to subsidize big oil. Why don’t you listen to what he says.

  6. hippo permalink
    September 9, 2007 11:45 pm

    I find it interesting that you would be in favor of having the Federal Government invest in alternative energies even though, as you put it “they seem mostly sold on the biofuel hoax.” If this were a more localized issue, there might be more of a chance of people’s input meaning something about where the money is spent. As it is, when was the last time the Federal Government actually did something that worked out the way it was supposed to? And why would we want people who are sold on the biofuel hoax be in charge of such things? I believe that if the marketplace demands alternative energies (that is, if people are willing to spend their money on it), then will not the marketplace provide it?

  7. September 10, 2007 8:37 am

    Hippo,

    I agree in principle, I think the marketplace will eventually demand alternative energies, especially with regards to fuel for autos. Whether or not I think biofuel is the answer, and I don’t at all, doesn’t really matter.

    But the marketplace can’t be trusted all the time. Take coal, it’s plentiful, cheap and efficient, but incredibly dirty. If the market has it’s way we would continue to use coal because it’s cheap and local despite the obvious environmental issues. Without a comprehensive national policy different states will be able to deal with coal and its by products in different ways. NC, where I live, has been on the forefront of so-called “clean-coal” technology, but next door in TN they burn coal like we’re running out. The smoke from TN comes into NC and fouls our air and drops acid rain on our forests. Without a national policy we wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. Plus it’s more inefficient for energy companies that do business in different states to deal with different regs and different bureaucracies everywhere they go. More inefficient than an overarching government policy.

    You’re right that there are lots of things the government doesn’t do well, but I’m not comfortable throwing the baby out with the bathwater so to speak.

  8. hippo permalink
    September 15, 2007 3:14 am

    n8: I must disagree. I believe that the marketplace CAN be trusted all the time. But that is a different issue than harming your neighbors with your practices as you describe. If your state is on the forefront of “clean coal” technology, but your neighboring state is damaging you with acid rain and smoke, then how does putting the other 48 states under the same blanket solve this problem? After all, in California our concerns are not about coal, so it would not be an issue for us. If it is an issue for a state (like yours and your neighboring state), then they should be able to negotiate on a more local level than having the entire nation be bound by statutes that are not an issue in most states. One size does not, after all, fit all: that’s what strong central government tries to do, and it never succeeds. This sounds like a problem between one state and another, and having the Federal Government create regulations to cover that issue and include all 50 states just cannot work. Even IF the Federal government could come up with laws that would solve this problem between your two states (which I sincerely doubt), nobody can even IMAGINE the unintended consequences of applying such laws across such a large country, the vast majority of whom would have to comply in ways they can’t even imagine but that would be completely irrelevant to or even antithetical to their local jurisdictions. If it wasn’t for everyone looking to the Federal Government to solve problems such as these, perhaps the states could work them out between them. That is, of course, conceding the point that the Federal Government has any Constitutional authority to be involved in such issues, which try as I may I can find no such authority. Mustn’t the Federal Government obey the law, even though breaking it may sound like a pretty good idea to some folks?

  9. September 16, 2007 6:58 pm

    hippo-
    Point well taken. I think at this point it’s a disagreement over what states should and shouldn’t do and one’s personal opinion over what the role of government is. Your’s is obviously different than mine, but it’s all academic at this point.

    I will say this, I do in fact like Ron Paul. I think he’s an important voice of change it what had become an increasingly homogeneous party and I appreciate his opinions as something different to think about, but there’s not a lot we can say about what would happen either way because at this point we don’t know. The discussion for discussion’s sake is certainly worthwhile though.

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