Was YOUR father Just Like Ron Paul?

Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest men in the world, enjoyed the benefit of having a very Ron Paul-esque father. In fact, Howard Buffett was probably more like Ron Paul in his sound economic and liberal political views than any American politician until… Ron Paul himself in 1976.

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Howard Buffett was so sure he couldn’t get elected to Congress in 1943 that he hadn’t bothered writing an acceptance speech.

Howard Buffett (1903-1964) served four times as a Republican Congressman in Nebraska during the decade between 1943 and 1953. Unlike almost all of his political peers in Congress, Buffett was a consistent defender of liberty. The taxpayer was the “forgotten man,” in Buffett’s eyes; the government kept using his money He stood against interventionism both at home and overseas, opposing the Cold War, foreign aid and military conscription. Buffett tied together conscription and freedom in 1962 when he wrote “When the American government conscripts a boy to go 10,000 miles to the jungles of Asia without a declaration of war by Congress…. what freedom is safe at home? Surely, the profits of U.S. Steel or your private property are not more sacred than a young man’s right to life.”

Buffett was not completely alone in the fight for liberty in the 1940s and 50s. He was part of a group of Republicans known as “Taftites.” They were part of the “Taft” wing of the Republican Party led by the Republican Senator from Ohio Robert Taft. The Senator was primarily driven by a desire to stop the imperialist and expansionist internationalism sweeping the United States after the Second World War. Taft opposed new internationalist alliances such as NATO, favoring instead a return to international law in world affairs. Besides Buffett, other Taftites included Rep. Ralph Swinn of New York, H.R. Gross of Iowa and then Rep. George Bender and Frederick Smith – both from Taft’s state of Ohio (McMaken, 7).

Howard Buffett was a critic of the Office of Price Administration (OPA), which had the job of putting price controls on retail consumer goods to “stabilize” the economy. Lower prices are cute – for a short time, before they lead to shortages and you cannot buy the goods at any price. Buffett blamed the OPA for shortages in lumber, soybeans and corn. He thought price-fixing had a particularly pernicious effect on small businesses, claiming that price regulations had caused half-a-million businesses to fail in just three years from 1941 to 1943.

And the government price controls didn’t even do the only good thing it was supposed to do: end inflation. Buffett told the New York Times in 1952 that imposing price controls is a “fake remedy” for inflation. It “makes inflation worse by concealing and postponing its effects. It will ultimately destroy the free market that is the base on which American freedom rests,” he said.

The gold standard was both an economic and political issue for Buffett. It was so important for individual political rights, he thought, because gold-backed money was welcome all around the world and, thus, gave people the freedom of movement – they were not trapped into their own government. But, with the abandoning of the gold standard, the American citizen became “dependent upon the goodwill of the politicians for his daily bread.” This is probably not a safe position for American citizens.

 

McMaken , Ryan. A Brief History of the Old Right: Libertarian and Conservative Critics of Foreign Interventionism. Ryan McMaken: 2002.

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