I wanted to like Paul Ryan.
Before he was nationally known, Rep. Ryan visited me at ABC, and we went to lunch. He was terrific. He was a rare politician, one who actually cared about America’s coming debt crisis and the unfairness of entitlements. He even talked about F.A. Hayek‘s “The Road to Serfdom“! If only more politicians thought that way.
But then the housing bubble burst. Ryan voted for TARP. Then he voted for the auto bailout. Who is this guy? I thought he believed in markets!
It’s easy for me to throw grenades, especially because my voice is so small and my opinion often discounted. And Stossel is one of my favorite libertarians. In fact I often question why Fox allows him on the network at all, given their statist mindset.
But Stossel has done the libertarian movement a disservice here, I think. He expresses admiration for Paul Ryan as an economic conservative: “He [Ryan] even talked about F.A. Hayek’s ‘The Road to Serfdom’”!
But it didn’t take. I read it in the sixth grade, and it took. Especially the chapter “Why the Worst Get On Top.” And I am in distinguished company. Gerald O’Driscoll of the Cato Institute wrote this:
In perhaps the best chapter of The Road to Serfdom, Hayek details “Why the Worst Get on Top” in totalitarian societies. The chapter begins with a quotation from Lord Acton: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Hayek then elaborates the Actonian insight.
From that chapter which has informed my outlook on government and politicians ever since I have nothing but contempt for those who try to “fix things,” and interfere with our lives as a result. Many of them are, in the words of Mr. Welch—the founder of the John Birch Society—just “useful idiots” in the employ of darker forces bent on establishing a totalitarian dictatorship. I put Paul Ryan into that camp.
And now, unfortunately, so do I put John Stossel.
Ryan voted for TARP and the auto company bailouts and now regrets it. Stossel thinks that’s OK: Ryan has changed his mind: “I wish he had voted against those bills, but the political class was in near panic, and Ryan is a politician.”
Color me disappointed.