This is an interesting video of two “pillars of economic thought”, Ron Paul and Paul Krugman, debating the role of the government in the economy. I’m only seven minutes deep at the moment, but I’m already struck by the remarkable ability Ron Paul has of utilizing obscure and abstract language to sound intelligent, while Paul Krugman comes off as brilliant by explaining his ideas with quick, down-to-earth words that my brain’s stomach finds far easier to digest. The Libertarian, for example, starts off on an ill-fated rant about the Romans and the Byzantines debasing their currency, claiming that the Romans were worse than the Byzantines and that the Byzantines stuck to a gold standard and never fought any wars for a thousand years as a result—a curiously remarkable achievement for a large medieval empire besieged on every side by rampant hordes of slavering barbarians—while the Keynesian rebuts his opponent by saying that he is not a supporter of the monetary policies of the Emperor Diocletian.
Until this point, just a few minutes into the debate (at 4:42), I was willing to give Ron Paul the benefit of the doubt. I couldn’t understand what he was talking about, but I was willing to believe that this was due to my ignorance and his expertise, but when he strayed into Byzantine territory, he strayed into my territory. Anyone who knows me knows that I was obsessed with this polity, this culture, whatever you want to call it, for several years of my life, and read everything I could find about it. I don’t have a doctorate in Byzantine Studies, I’m not an expert, but I know Justinian from Theodora, I know my chis from my rhos, my magister militum from my digenis akritas, my Bulgar-Slayers from my Apostates, my Iconoclasts from my Iconodules, and to say that these obscure people—the word “Byzantine” being just as obscure as all the other words that Paul uses, and itself sometimes even meaning obscure, overly complicated, or fraudulent—were peaceful and prosperous for a millennium due to their Ron Paul-esque monetary policy, is so obviously absurd that I had to stop and tell everyone.
It’s not even really necessary for me to go into the history. You’re welcome to do that on your own. All I really want to say is that if you want your economy functioning in the same “natural” way it did when most people were so poor they didn’t have any money to begin with, paying their taxes in kind to support a government that devoted most of its revenue to the church, the military, or the jewels of the emperor, then Ron Paul is absolutely your man. If you think that those methods are maybe a little out of date—and suspect that since he obviously knows nothing about ancient or medieval history, and yet has no qualms about pretending that he is an expert, his knowledge of economics may also be a little dubious—then you might consider lending your ears to Paul Krugman instead.