Giving Ron Paul the Media Attention He Deserves

There's been a lot of press recently about how Rep. Ron Paul's (R.-Tx) been unfairly treated by the media and deserves more attention.

As anyone who's been following me knows, I'm no fan of Ron Paul. Rep. Paul's recent endorsement by the John Birch Society (JBS) is only the latest event in what I've demonstrated has been a long, close relationship between the Congressman and the JBS. As my readers also know, to my mind the JBS has been the seed bank of many of the right wing's most extreme ideas, not to mention a major force behind the Tea Party.

But if you ask me, Rep. Paul's earned the treatment by the press he's been complaining about, just on the merits; because his positions on many of his favorite issues just don't stand scrutiny.

Take, for instance, one of his favorite hobby horses -- that anybody should be allowed to mint money. It's the main idea behind his Free Competition in Currency Act of 2011.HR 1098.

There's a big problem with this proposed law. It's: unconstitutional, and there's nothing obscure about the Constitutional language.

Article 1, Section 8, paragraphs 5 and 6 says that only Congress has the power: "To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures; (and) To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States."

Only Congress: Not just anybody. No wiggle room. If you want people to be able to coin their own money, you need to amend the Constitution -- not pass some law.

Since one of the cornerstones of Rep. Paul's entire career has been that he's a strict Constitutionalist, and that the United States must return to a strictly Constitutional government, this raises an awkward issue: Either Ron Paul knows his law is unconstitutional, or he doesn't.

If he does: What kind of Constitutionalist is he?

And if he doesn't, why even listen to him? After all, if he didn't understand the plain language of the Constitution, what else doesn't he understand? Falsum in uno, falsum in toto, as right wingers like to say.

Then there's another of his favorite causes: The United States should return to the gold standard.

We can assume that when he says we should return to the gold standard--abandoned in 1971 by Richard Nixon--he means every US Dollar would be redeemable for $1 in gold; otherwise, only part of every dollar would be backed by gold, and the whole idea of a gold standard becomes mere symbolism.

The problem is, we don't -- and won't -- have enough gold to do that. All the gold mined since the beginning of history totals about 166,600 metric tonnes, There are 32,150.722 troy ounces in every tonne, and gold closed on Friday, August 26th, at $1,813.80 per troy ounce. So all the gold ever mined was worth, at Friday's close, about $9.7 trillion. And there's about $9.3 trillion in Dollars in circulation.

But the US has only 8,133 metric tonnes of gold in its vaults, something like 4.8 percent of all the gold ever mined.

So anybody willing to do the math can see that an honest return to the gold standard -- one in which you could exchange a Dollar bill for $1 in gold -- would mean deflating the Dollar -- along with the value of every asset in America -- by more than 95 percent..

Rep. Paul, an intelligent man, seems to have forgotten to tell us this.

Rep. Paul's problem with these two matters: He seems to have a substantial conflict of interest, because much of his personal fortune is gold-related--according to his 2011 Congressional financial disclosure form, by as much as about $3 million out of a maximum total of about $5.4 million.

Needless to say, returning to the gold standard, or allowing people to print their own money -- gold-backed money included -- would do nothing to harm Rep. Paul's finances.

So maybe I've been wrong. Maybe Rep. Paul has earned closer media scrutiny.

This post has been updated from a previous version.