I’ve been hearing a lot of libertarians and conservatives raising alarm bells about inflation recently. According to Ron Paul, a prominent critic of Bernanke’s job as chair of the Fed, the coming currency crisis “won’t be as bad as Zimbabwe… but perhaps something like 1979 or 1980.” Conservative rising star Paul Ryan told Bernanke recently that “Our currency should provide a reliable store of value—it should be guided by the rule of law, not the rule of men… there is nothing more insidious that a country can do to its citizens than debase its currency.”

There is evidence that Paul and Ryan’s concerns about inflation are misplaced.  Here’s a graph from David Leonhardt:

Kind of seems like there are other priorities that should take precedence over fighting inflation right now, no?

Ron Paul has nutty views on a lot of things, including monetary policy, and is a fairly fringe political figure. But Paul Ryan is a mainstream republican (he even gave the State of the Union rebuttal), which indicates how this inflation anxiety has permeated the thinking of right-leaning American political figures.

Of course, inflation is bad, and it should be a priority to keep it low. In the early 1980s, as you can see from the graph above, inflation was very high, and the Reagan/Volker tight money policy was exactly the right response. But the economic context is very different now, and instead of recognizing that, politicians like Ryan continue to keep pushing the same crude version of Reaganomics. In the absence of evidence indicating future increases in inflation, this dogmatic obsession with inflation just impedes economic recovery.

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Occasionally, I become deluded enough to forget the side of some Republicans that is homophobic, racist, creationist, and generally backwards-thinking. I forget how repulsed I am by this behavior and occasionally consider myself a Republican. At least in theory, the Republican Party supports limited government, federalism, and economic liberty. But sometimes I need to be reminded why I should never call myself a Republican.

At CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) this year, Alexander McCobin, head of Students for Liberty and generally cool guy, said in the context of gay rights:

…students today recognize that freedom does not come in pieces.  Freedom is a single thing that applies to the social as well as the economic realms and should be defended at all times.

Subtle boos – by what I hope is becoming a quickly decreasing demographic in the conservative movement – were overshadowed by cheers and applause. Then Ryan Sorba, author of a book called The Born Gay Hoax said

I’d like to condemn CPAC for bringing GOPride [sic] to this event. Civil rights are grounded in natural rights. Natural rights are grounded in human nature. Human nature is a rational substance in relationship to the intelligible end of the reproductive act of reproduction. Do you understand that?

Thankfully, Sorba was met with loud jeering. It made me happy to see that the conservative movement was, at least in this one instance, full of fewer homophobic supporters than true liberty defenders. The world (and the Republican party, if they feel like winning some elections) needs more Alexander McCobin’s and fewer Ryan Sorba’s.

I also think that this instance represents an interesting demographic shift between generations. Ryan Sorba doesn’t look that old, so I wouldn’t say that he’s a completely different generation than mine (aka around college age). But as I’ve briefly blogged about before, gay rights seems to be an issue that young people in general are much more supportive of than their parents.

Watch McCobin’s speech and Sorba’s weak-sauce reply:

Sarah Palin’s year and a half premature resignation makes no sense to anyone, it seems. Rumors are ripe about her possibly being under investigation for corruption, not liking her sudden rise to the top of national politics, or being involved in seemingly minor scandals. The most recent rumor suggests extramarital affairs committed by both her and her husband are prompting the possibility of divorce.

The world will have to wait and see, I suppose, why she actually resigned. I, for one, don’t buy that she did “what was best for Alaska.” I am glad, however, that she resigned. I hope that she never returns to elected office again, both for the good of the country and the good of the Republican Party. There was a time when Republicans stood for limited government, a non-interventionist foreign policy, and an alternate intellectual side to elitist Democrats. Barry Goldwater. Robert Taft. Bill Buckley (though not a limited government guy on some issues). Those were the people that were respectable Republicans.

Now? Sarah Palin represents, unfortunately, how anti-intellectualism is captivating the Republican base. Apparently the fact that Obama is educated and successful is a bad thing. Being smart is ‘elitist’. Conservatism, in Reagan’s heyday, was a respectful dissident intellectual movement. Today: a backwards-looking group of grumpy ideologues.

It has been encouraging to see a large amount of Republicans/conservatives/libertarians criticize Palin for her idiocy. But unfortunately, she is still popular amongst a lot of conservatives.

I don’t really care why Palin resigned, as long as she stays out of politics for the rest of her life.