We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

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Samizdata quote of the day

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and the government doesn’t define what happiness is. You do.

– Paul Ryan, quoted in this report.

What do our American commenters make of this guy?

He seems to make a lot of good noises, which I think is a hell of a lot better than no good noises. Put it this way, if America did not now vote for these good noises, that would really be a disaster, I think.

44 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Laird

    Personally, I’m quite positive about him. He’s extremely knowledgeable about the budget and all things fiscal (which is mostly what I know about him), but he seems pretty good on other things, too. He’s a good speaker (doesn’t rely on a teleprompter, like some people we know!) and should absolutely shred that buffoon Joe Biden in the VP debate. Mostly he’s a serious person, and interested in putting important questions, such as dealing with the long-term problems of our entitlement programs, into the public debate, rather than wishing them away as most politicians do. His selection was probably driven largely by Romney’s desire to strengthen his relationship (which is tepid, at best) with the Tea Party and libertarian wings of the Republican Party, but I think when the public gets to know Ryan better his appeal will be even broader.

    My pick would have been Condaleeza Rice, but Ryan was an excellent choice. I think he has the Obama camp scared.

  • Even if he doesn’t mean it, he thinks saying it will get people to vote for him. That is good news.

  • lucklucky

    His budget doesn’t fix the problems at time to stop the disaster. He does some right noises but until now nothing much.

  • Paul Marks

    I am not American – but I am going to comment anyway.

    Paul Ryan is a moderate who wants to avoid government bankruptcy.

    The interesting thing is that entire establishment denounce him – in very strong terms.

    So what do they want?

  • Laird

    luckylucky is correct: Ryan’s budget (excoriated though it was by the Democrats) won’t fix our problems. But it does start us on the right road, and when people see that the world doesn’t come to an end perhaps we’ll be able to move even farther toward a permanent solution. You can’t expect to fix everything all at once.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    He has the words and music, but it remains to be seen if he has the dance steps. I do worry that his budget plan doesn’t do enough to control spending, but maybe his being elected VP will put the steel needed to do what’s necessary in what congressional Republicans use for spines. At any rate, ABO.

  • He’s a very hard worker, as is Romney, and he’s very bright.

    It took guts to challenge the Dems on Medicare, they’ve been using the “Republicans want to kill grannie.” theme with some success, for decades. Obama cut 700+ billion out of the program to help pay for Obamacare and now the GOP has some ammo they can use against him and against the rest of the Dems.

    Ryan’s overall plan is a small step in the right direction, the real key to smaller government is less regulation and fewer laws,that implies fewer bureaucrats, fewer lawyers and fewer lobbyists. Above all it means less power for politicians.

    Obama stands for much more power for the political class and in spite of all his flaws, Romney stand for less power for the political class.

    Romney’s choice of Ryan makes that choice clear. It’s a good pick

  • RDC

    One question, Brian. With a total cipher like Joe Biden as the nominee, were you asking the same question 4 years ago?

    No worries, though. All will be made clear in the first Biden-Ryan debate.

  • Alisa

    I doubt it was politically feasible for anyone to introduce in Congress anything more “radical” than Ryan’s budget. Besides, Romney (wisely) maintains that he is not necessarily committed to Ryan’s version.

    What worries me about Ryan is that he allegedly supported TARP – I wonder how did that happen. Other than that, I like the guy. He is not the only VP that could be good for Romney, but he is certainly one of the better ones.

  • Alisa

    Taylor: as Dennis Miller put it today, if the granny in that ad was Pelosi, I’m all for it:-)

  • Surellin

    I have always liked Ryan, basically because he’s a fiscal hawk in the mold of Jack Kemp (who was his mentor, I believe). He’s certainly not known (to me, at least) as a particular social conservative, so I look at those fiscal credentials and his 2nd Amendment principles and think, “Lookin’ pretty good, Paul”. He’s also smart, direct and a really good speaker. And, if I understand correctly from various feminine sighs, this is a really, really photogenic pair of GOP candidates. Even my wife is enthusiastic since Ryan went to her university. Impressive candidate, no?

  • Bod

    “The walk of a thousand miles is begun with a single step …” etc.

    Ryan’s being touted as a budget hawk and all round sooper-genius financial egghead, (which I think is true) and he also sliced and diced Obama quite gratifyingly in some debates in the past, but he’s no libertarian superhero. Talk’s cheap, and Ryan’s good at talking – that quote probably came out unrehearsed – and probably comes out every time he kisses a baby and shakes some poor,old grandparent’s hand, only slightly more consciously than saying ‘bless you’ when someone else sneezes.

    Look – he voted *for* TARP, and is on record for support of a bunch of other legislation that puts him in the same bucket as a lot of other American pols who should be run out of Washington on a rail. Sure, it’s possible that he’s “evolved”, and we all know that achieving any position of power in the US is an exercise in threading a very difficult moral needle (assuming that any pol feels any need to be moral).

    In passing, I’m not ‘down’ on Romney as much as many people are for RomneyCare – it really should be named “The MA Healthcare package that Romney Couldn’t Not Sign because it was the price he paid an overwhelmingly Democrat chamber in order to be permitted to get any other legislation through” but he DID sign it, and I’m not seeing much of a public act of contrition concerning that, although I suspect one might be forthcoming later in the campaign.

    It’s clear that Romney doesn’t consider US Foreign Relations to be anywhere as big an issue for the electorate as the economy – and he’s probably right – but I hope he’s got his shortlist for Sec State in place, and I’d want to see Rice near the top, but I’d like to see John Bolton higher on the list than Rice.

    I find it interesting that Romney (who really has nothing to be embarassed about when it comes to his business bona-fides) considers that he needs to nail down the economic raison-d’etre for the GOP – even if he is a statist f*ck cloned from the last viable cells of Nelson Rockerfeller.

    Intellectually and emotionally, I’m right there with the TEA Party at the moment – I have to say, that I don’t see *much* evidence of the ‘movement’ being hijacked by slobbering theocrats, but then I’m in Connecticut, and most of the TEA activists I know up here up here are closer to Peter (or for that matter, Irwin) Schiff in their views.

    I (along with a number of my CT-TEA compadres) am taking a ‘trust, but verify’ approach on Ryan and the Romney campaign in general, and being as cynical as I am when it comes to US politics, I’m a bit diffident regarding whether Ryan is the real deal – you can’t (realistically) stop an out-of-control train without reducing its velocity first.

    I know gradualism is far from a universally-appreciated approach here on Samizdata, but it’s the only thing that’s likely to work here in the US; I just want Ec-Cons in the US to come out of the woodwork and be prepared to hold (and continue to hold) the future Romney administration’s (and Congress’) for their behavior.

    So, in conclusion, I’m somewhat optimistic, but I’m expecting to be disappointed.

  • I know gradualism is far from a universally-appreciated approach here on Samizdata

    My problem is that gradualism has been the preferred Republican approach for rather a long time now… and that means “Talk Free Markets but actually just market the Republicans as introducing an ever more activist state, but more gradually than those mean ol’ Democrats”.

    Sadly ‘gradualism’ only works one way.

  • Snorri Godhi

    “My problem is that gradualism has been the preferred Republican approach for rather a long time now.”

    What looks like a long time to an American does not necessarily look long to a European, let alone an Asian.
    In other words, I still remember Reagan.

  • llamas

    Paul Ryan – better than we had any right to expect from the current iteration of the Stupid Party. I wish the ticket were the other way about.



  • Tedd


    Interestingly, Timothy Sandefur argues against a Romney/Ryan vote because of what might be called gradualism. He argues that voters who believe in freedom and limited government need to push the Republican establishment to give them genuine pro-freedom, pro-limited-government candidates. More leaders that only talk the talk will just lead to more big-government Republicanism.

    Most of all, the Republican leadership simply must be sent the message that they cannot continue to put forward anti-freedom, big-government Establishment candidates and count on the support of those who believe in free markets and limited government. We can no longer tell ourselves that we will accept a candidate who has nothing in common with the Goldwater/Regan legacy “for now,” on the promise that some day we will get a genuine pro-freedom candidate.

    Read the whole thing, as the saying goes. I’m not necessarily convinced by Mr. Sandefur’s argument, but I do in general have a lot of respect for his thinking.

  • Mose Jefferson

    Ryan is focused on fiscal conservatism, despite a questionable voting record. Couple that with his gestures towards founding principles, and I’ll gladly take him. Better a strong fiscal conservative than a socially conservative economic know-nothing.

    Romney is very intelligent. I hope he picks a good set of principles to lead by.

  • M. Thompson

    Well, it means Mr. Romney wants to win this year first of all.

    Mr. Ryan is at least aware there’s not always need for big government. It’s a step in the right direction.

  • The problem with Mr. Ryan is that the only reason he is being brought on board is to mop up the votes for people wanting someone less wet than Romney.

    Even if Mr. Ryan does go all the way and becomes Vice President in a Romney administration, the “veep” has very little genuine political power.

    The 32nd VP John Nance Garner famously described the role as being “not worth a bucket of warm piss”.

    Personally, I like Ryan, but this is just electoral PR.

  • veryretired

    At this point it’s all PR.

    Watch what they do, not what they say—pols will say anything to get elected.

    If the R’s don’t take the Senate, and actually put forward a budget, which hasn’t happened in 3+ years, all the talk won’t matter much.

    It would be good to end the blatant criminality of the current regime, though, even if the new bunch can’t solve much of the rest of the problems.

    This will be the dirtiest, nastiest, and bloodiest electoral cycle since 1968.

    Every journey starts with one step.

  • RRS

    the real issue on which to judge the adequacy (not perfection) of the candidates is:

    The conditioning and expectations of the electorate

    The electorate of today has been conditioned to, and accepts, that the functions of the Federal Government include:

    Dole for the Ol’

    Operation of a large insurance entity (MC)

    Indigent Medical Care (MA)

    The bulk of the electorate expects those “entitlements,” without question as to “why.” It is the frame of the electorate that sets these limits, not the quality of the candidates.

    The electorate will not respond to more than a series of transitions.

    So the test becomes how good and effective a transition can these men frame; not issues of “conservative,” “libertarian,” “statist,” “past pragmatics;” can they get the transition started, the incumbent surely will not.

    Forget the past Budget submissions, they are dead letter now. They failed in the Senate. What is to come is what will count.

  • I may have said this in this space recently, but…”Talk Conservative, Vote Liberal” is a proven strategy, and its cheat never seems to go stale. I just hope Ryan is serious, and that he’ll have enough pull in a Romney White House to stiffen the line once the budget battles commence.

  • Just as you go to war with the military you have, so you go to the elections with the fiscal conservatives you have. Let’s not have any unrealistic purity tests–John Galt’s never going to be on the ballot.

  • Jordan

    Let’s examine his voting record. He voted for Medicare Part D, NCLB, TARP, the auto bailouts, the wars, the Patriot Act, CISPA, NDAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, Davis-Bacon and is generally bad on the Patriot Act, bad on indefinite detentions, bad on surveillance, bad on the border fence, bad on the drug war.

    Paul Ryan is just Obamney with a decent Medicare reform proposal.

  • Paul Ryan is just Obamney with a decent Medicare reform proposal.


    He was picked to make soothing noises to the ‘right’ who detest Romney so that they can convince themselves, regardless of the copious evidence to the contrary, that Ryan is ‘one of us’.

    It is all, to use the vernacular, utter bullshit.

    I hope Obama and the Evil Party wins and is in office during the progressive collapse rather than see the same shit served up by Romney and the Stupid Party.

  • Bod

    On Gradualism

    In general, I don’t disagree Perry; the prospect of an R&R Administration is still a shit sandwich except for a bit more mayo and bread (hopefully a bit less shit), but it’s still a shit sandwich. Rothbard and De Soto aren’t on the ticket and aren’t calling me back.

    On the Progressive Collapse

    When I look at the likely trajectory after such a collapse, I see France in 1789 as far more likely than the 13 colonies in 1776, and that’s somewhere I’m prepared to work very hard to avoid.

    Thru’ nobody’s fault but my own, I’m not fully ready (psychologically or logistically) for the ‘Progressive Collapse’ you so regularly yearn for.

    Maybe I’m just some kind of milquetoast minarchist and lack the cojones to be a full-blown post-apocalyptic libertarian swashbuckler – but the latter are going to be few and far between if (or as you hope, when) push comes to shove.

    So, I’ll keep on challenging coworkers why they continue to permit their lives to be destroyed by their servants and poison their faith in the machinery of the state, and hope for the best.

    Oops – must go – just got a delivery of 3,000 rounds of 5.56 I have to get in the bunker before the neighbors see.

  • lucklucky

    If there is “gradualism” in Republican Party – we can extend that to British Tories or here in Portugal the so called “right” or in most of Europe is towards increasing socialism.
    Everyone of them increased heavily the spending in last 20 or 30 years.
    We can very well call all them the Socialist Right.
    The budget of Mr.Ryan doesn’t stop increasing the spending just stops the increasing rate of increasing spending. Very different things. Supposedly only around 2030 or so USA will be able to have 0 zero deficit and that is assuming the “evil Ryan plan” in words of even bigger Socialists is ever implemented.

    Too late. Disaster will strike first.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Well I’ll confess to being basically a single issue kind of guy and that issue is “defence of the weak”, which is the only thing I think governments are good for.

    And since Paul Ryan is consistently anti-abortion and pro-RKBA I quite like him. I find it hard to process any issues beyond these two points because they are my benchmark. If the state is protecting those who cannot defend themselves, while enabling those who can – then truthfully I’d be a happy bunny.

    I’m aware many on here don’t consider abortion a “defence of the weak” issue, but imagine for a moment that you considered the unborn 100% human and you’ll maybe catch a glimpse of my thinking on this matter.

  • Allan Ripley

    There is an important time element in this kind of question, viz., “If America did not now vote for these good noises….” It has two dimensions: ‘now’ and ‘later’.

    For ‘now’, the oft-mentioned point that the Republican candidates make the right noises is correct. Those noises are clearly an improvement on the stated goals and general rhetoric of the incumbent party. So we should vote for the Republicans.

    The problem lies in the ‘later’. Mitt Romney is, I’m sure, a decent man with many good qualities befitting a good leader. He is also an man well-indoctrinated in obedience and loyalty and he is the child of the plutocratic class. Paul Ryan is also, I’m sure, a decent man who is an ambitious politician, very good at math (and politics). He would be a sort of technocrat who favors government oversight of everything but with the relief valves of instances of free market operation. There has been nothing in his voting record to suggest that he holds individual rights or smaller government as his defining principles although it seems they might be useful as political tools.

    The ‘later’ will be, then, the same ol’ thing with a different style.

    So what do we do? Vote for the short term improvement? Will we take more aspirins because the tumors hurt so bad?

    I think this ‘gradualism’ meme is false. There is no gradualism. There is no smooth curve between one political reality and another. For us in the US, the curve is stepped and the steps correespond to 2-, 4-, or 8-year time frames. The average of these steps, over the past 100 years or so is in the direction of increased government intervention in everything, a greater U.S. government intervention in the affairs of other nations, and a signature reduction in the rights and privileges of the citizens of this country.

    Lizards are, after all, lizards.

  • Chip

    Margaret Thatcher increased real spending on the NHS by about a third, raised salaries for public workers and lavished money on state schools. And what were her taxes on North Sea oil? About 90% or so?

    Does this mean she was no different from Labour leaders at the time?

    Romney/Ryan are problematic but they are different. And that’s enough reason to vote.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    Life, liberty and the PURSUIT of happiness. As soon as you find something that makes you happy, you would stop working and just be happy- if we all did that, the economy would collapse (no-one working). Therefore the government has to stop us actually BEING happy, which is why so many things are banned! See, the government has it all figured out, oh ye of little faith!

  • Johnathan Pearce

    A lot of libertarians that I read have been quite nasty about him, saying his support for TARP, for instance, or the Patriot Act, means he is not consistent. On that basis, not a single, major GoP politician is acceptable, not even Ron Paul, who is less than perfect on issues such as immigration and for his, er, rather checkered record in hanging out with lunatics.

    Ryan does, though, seem to have impressed by his willingness to talk openly about the need to reform entitlements, and in particular, Social Security and health spending. For that, he was branded evil by the dopey Dems. The fact that Romney is willing to pick him is encouraging in a way – it means he realises that the core issue of this election is whether the US can avoid falling off a fiscal cliff.

    I don’t have a clue what Ryan thinks on issues such as foreign policy or trade. Let’s hope he is not an adventurist and supports free trade.

  • Snorri Godhi

    “As soon as you find something that makes you happy, you would stop working and just be happy”

    Wrong: only rewarded* work can make you happy.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    George Will once commented that ‘the pursuit of happiness’ meant the practice of (as in ‘the pursuit of law’), not the chasing of happiness. A right to enjoy life’s pleasures, then, although chasing after them certainly is a part of that.

  • Laird

    And so Will is wrong once again. “Pursuit” means “pursuit”, as in seeking or chasing after something. The happiness is in the journey, not the destination.

  • Laird

    By the way, that also works as a rejoinder to Nuke’s comment.

  • Saxon

    “I hope Obama and the Evil Party wins and is in office during the progressive collapse rather than see the same shit served up by Romney and the Stupid Party.

    Posted by Perry de Havilland at August 16, 2012 09:42 PM ”

    This is not a wargame strategy session, PdH. In real life there will be a lot of hurt and destruction before anything collapses in the US.

    So, you should give it a rest. If you want to cheer for the collapse of “the system”, start with EU or UK … we would like to walk back from the cliff instead of jumping off and starting from the abyss.

  • Dishman

    Perry wrote:
    I hope Obama and the Evil Party wins and is in office during the progressive collapse rather than see the same shit served up by Romney and the Stupid Party.

    Bod wrote:
    When I look at the likely trajectory after such a collapse, I see France in 1789 as far more likely than the 13 colonies in 1776, and that’s somewhere I’m prepared to work very hard to avoid.

    I am afraid Bod is an optimist. I see about a 20% chance of global excess mortality exceeding 20%.

  • This is not a wargame strategy session, PdH. In real life there will be a lot of hurt and destruction before anything collapses in the US.

    For sure, I have never thought otherwise.

    So, you should give it a rest. If you want to cheer for the collapse of “the system”, start with EU or UK … we would like to walk back from the cliff instead of jumping off and starting from the abyss.

    But it is not an option. Catastrophe is now a ‘when’ not an ‘if’… and years and years of essentially good people voting for The Lesser Evil is how we find ourselves in such a lose-lose situation.

    That is why I am more interested in how to ‘win the aftermath’ rather than trying to convince myself that walking back from the cliff is even possible when all the evidence suggests the system cannot be reformed without first imploding.

    Hell, we are probably all like Wile E. Coyote… we have already gone over the cliff and all that remains is for us to look down and realise it.

  • Allan Ripley

    “But it is not an option. Catastrophe is now a ‘when’ not an ‘if’… and years and years of essentially good people voting for The Lesser Evil is how we find ourselves in such a lose-lose situation.”

    Spot on, Perry. it is for this reason that I continue to support the man whose name must not be mentioned. Under his administration there would have been, unquestionably, a great deal of upset. But we would have known why and we would have known that there was method behind the madness.

    What we are actually now facing is madness without reason. Of course, this being modern times, we have ‘choices’ like different choices of ice cream bars. But once you have licked off the coating, it is the some old stuff on the inside– updated for 2012– but the same old stuff none the less.

    With ice cream bars, it’s not so important. One can always elect to choose an entirely different treat. No so much with presidents and their cliques.

  • Paul Marks

    Alisa – Paul Ryan did indeed vote for TARP, to do otherwise would have meant having to resign from all leadership positions.

    Even Glenn Beck supported TARP (for three days). People were told that if they did not there would be another Great Depression.

    And this was the TRUTH – but not the full truth.

    In reality the massive bailout delayed (not prevented) economic meltdown – and made it worse.

    When will the meltdown start being obvious?


    As for other matters….

    Paul Ryan is a moderate – he is interested (as I have already said) in restraining (not “cutting”) government spending just enough to avoid bankruptcy.

    Actually his sums might even add up – if it were not for the massive economic downturn that is going to start next year.

    But no one has answered my question.

    Paul Ryan wants to restrain government spending just enough to avoid bankruptcy – and his numbers are based on a rosey view (not a gloomy view) of the economic future.

    Yet the entire establishment DETEST him – they throw buckets of filth at him (and have for years).

    What does that say about THEM?

    About the politicians, about the media, about the academics who HATE Paul Ryan?

    The establishment left (the collectivists – the “Progressives” whatever you want to call them) are NOT, decent people with another point of view, they really are not.

    Look at the book on “thinking” that W.H. Smith is pushing now at airports and so.

    The one written by the “Nobel Prize winner” (always a bad sign these days).

    And with blurbs of praise from the authors of “Nudge” and “Freakonomics” and other establishment “classics” of our time.

    What is the message of the work?

    That people are not really people – that we are not human beings.

    That humans do not make rational choices – that our reason is an “illusion”……

    So (of course….) a wise elite should use the state to control everything, and this is not really violating freedom (because freedom, the reasoning “I”, does not really exist).

    Of course, it is not said as openly as the above – but that is the message.

    The elite are not good people with another point of view – they are EVIL.

    They wish to ENSLAVE people – using economic crises as an excuse.

    “Going too far Paul” – no it is not.

    If I was going to far (if I had got things wrong) the elite would support moderate reform (in order to save the “entitlement programs” and so on) not fantically oppose it.

    And they would not strain every capacity they have (their influence in the education system, television, radio…..) to push books that are utterly evil.

    We can not continue to hide from the truth (not if there is to be any real hope) we must face the truth – and face it squarely.

  • Bod

    Dishman’s somewhat correct, I think I may be being an optimist, but on the other hand, I recognize that whatever does happen will not be ‘just like last time’ or even just like some other historical event. If the world goes tits up, it’s not going to follow ANY armchair strategist’s trajectory.

    I and my family could end up being killed by a band of rampaging city dwellers foraging for food when they finally abandon NYC; or just as easily occur at the hands of a couple of town cops who come to the house to ‘persuade’ us to surrender our weapons. We’d be just as dead anyway.

    You do what you can to protect yourselves against the threats you can predict. You try and imagine other plausible threats and cover for them. If the need arises, you get religion and pray. (sounds awfully like Rummy’s knowns-and-unknowns quote that he was pilloried for)

    Then you do what you need to do to get by. If your scenario pans out, I’m going to try real hard to avoid being one of the 20% you estimate.

    I’m not at all optimistic, but I don’t even pretend to anticipate what’ll happen. I just have to make sure I have enough brass, lead, food and fuel to have a fair shot at weathering the storm. I believe that over-thinking the issue is somewhat dangerous.

    The second AR-15 went on order today (I shit you not).

  • Kim du Toit

    I think everybody’s missing the biggest part of this. The standard mindset is “What will the Romney/Ryan ticket do?”

    The more important question is, “How much will a Romney/Ryan ticket get done with Tea Party support?”

    Remember, despite all the crap being written about the Tea Party, the plain fact is that the Tea Party is first and foremost a financial/fiscal/budgetary pressure group, and their leading light is Paul Ryan because he is the first politician in living memory to have a serious plan to turn the looming fiscal calamity around.

    It is also the first sign from Romney that he’s actually taking both the fiscal problem and the Tea Party’s position seriously. Many conservatives view Romney with a jandiced eye — I know I certainly do — although we grant the man his undoubted skill as a business executive and manager. But his choice of Ryan means the fiscal problems are going to be front and center in his administration, and that’s is more important than anything the Democrats (never mind Obama) have done since before harry Truman..

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    Laird, your ‘refute’ of my statement doesn’t make sense! If you find happiness in pursuing things, then the pursuit of happiness becomes the pursuit of pursuit, endlessly chasing after something new, and never being content with any one thing. This sounds more like a neurosis!