Ralph Benko

Libertarianism, thanks, among other factors, to the emergence of leading presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, is coming to the fore. It is presenting itself in fresh, less eccentric, and increasingly attractive ways. Moderate libertarianism may be capturing the fancy of an overtaxed, fed-up-with-debt-fueled grandiose government, war-weary, live-and-let-live, Republican base and American people.

Time Magazine recently featured Sen. Rand Paul as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He was not just on the list. Time placed Paul on its cover for the first, (though likely not for the last time). This may signal the emergence of the Libertarian Moment.

We didn’t arrive into this “Grandiose Government” pickle absolutely positively overnight. Sen. Paul and others seek to lead us on the path out and to safety. It will make their job easier if we better understood how we ended up in this gutter in the first place.

The road toward serfdom was a long and winding one. How did the American government transform from our servant to master? Where did it get the resources to move from a small, frugal, lighthouse-keeping cluster of agencies to its status of world-record “Hey Big Spender” which, with federal 2013 projected outlays of $3.8T, spends more than the entire GDPs of every nation other than the U.S. itself, China, and Japan?

To put federal government spending into its spectacularly vertiginous perspective, this columnist elsewhere, about two years ago, noted:

 

The federal government spent $15 billion from 1789 – 1900. Not $15 billion a year. $15 billion cumulatively. [Ed. Note: by another source, it was $16.5B, an immaterial difference.] Uncle Sam will spend $10 billion a day in 2011. The federal government spends more every two days than it did altogether for more than America’s first century. Although these sums are not adjusted for inflation [or population growth] they give a correct impression of the magnitude of the change from what our Founders set forth and our early statesmen delivered.

 

How does Washington get its hands on so much money? Three ways. Taxing us, on which it is maxed out. Borrowing — deficits — to which there is a growing massive resistance. And there is a third and even more pernicious way: printing dollars.

The power to print money at whim is wrong. It is toxic to our personal and national wellbeing. And it is unconstitutional.

 

From $16 billion cumulatively over a century to $10 billion a day? Unconstitutional? Therein hangs a tale.


Ralph Benko

Ralph Benko, author of The Websters’ Dictionary: How to use the Web to transform the world. He serves as an advisor to and editor of the Lehrman Institute's thegoldstandardnow.org and senior advisor to the American Principles Project.