“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Tall Paul, Could He Be Your All?

"Congress should dramatically reduce its overseas commitments, as well as spending in areas like corporate welfare, and devote one-half of the savings to debt reduction and the other half to transitioning to a market system of retirement security and health care. This action will allow the government to meet its obligation to those relying on Social Security and Medicare while allowing younger people to escape the mountains of debt we are leaving--$60 trillion of liabilities.

"As president, one of my priorities will be restoring the 10th amendment and federalism. Decisions about issues like civil unions or right-to-die legislation should be made by the states, not the federal government. I will stop federal judges from imposing new definitions on the States. I will also return control over education to parents and local communities. Decisions about whether or not to fund vouchers, have merit pay for teachers or extend the school year should be made by parents and local school boards, not by D.C.-based bureaucrats.

"I will also pursue true free trade with low tariffs and less burdensome regulation. However, I reject the "managed trade" approach of the World Trade Organization, North American Free Trade Agreement and Central American Free Trade Agreement."

Real Money Says Ron Paul Has a Shot

by Bob Murphy

DIGG THIS Lew Rockwell

In addition to being a mild-mannered economist by day, I am an avid fan of gambling and all its devices. (Though since I still am the property of student lender Sallie Mae, I have been a mere spectator of the gambling world for the last several years.) I am here to inform Ron Paul fans that "the market" – the gambling website – says his chances of winning the GOP nomination are now 6.1%. In contrast, McCain’s chances are 5.4%, and Huckabee’s a meager 3.2%.

Beyond the fact that Ron Paul is now in 4th place – and being ahead of McCain, is now surely a "real" candidate – is his meteoric rise since late May. Just look at this chart from Intrade:

To make sense of all this, let me briefly explain how Intrade works. It is fashioned after a futures market (such as in oil or pork bellies), where participants can buy or sell contracts contingent on future events. Now in the case of the "2008.GOP.NOM.PAUL" contract, the buyer (as of October 2) pays $6.10 for a contract entitling him to a $100 payoff if Ron Paul gets the Republican nomination. In contrast, the seller of this contract receives $6.10, but might have to pay out the $100 if Paul gets the nomination. Obviously, if Ron Paul doesn’t get nominated, then the buyer of the contract gets nothing – he’s out his $6.10 – and the seller gets to pocket the $6.10.

There are imperfections due to transaction costs and other frictions, but the probabilities of all the possible outcomes should sum (close to) 100%, because otherwise there would be pure arbitrage opportunities. For example, if the sum of the contract prices totaled only $98, then someone could buy one of each, and be guaranteed a profit of $2 (since one of the contracts would "hit"). On the other hand, if the contracts summed to $103, then someone could sell one of each, earning $103, and then only have to pay out $100 when one of them hit – thus netting a guaranteed profit of $3. So generally speaking, the contract prices should all sum to $100.

Of course, people with inside information stand to profit by trading in this market. If a technician at a health clinic comes across a very disturbing heart exam for McCain, that person could rush out and sell contracts on McCain’s nomination – and thereby push down the price of a McCain contract. On the other hand, if a Romney campaign staffer learned that Mitt was going to receive an honorary degree from a university, he could rush to buy contracts on his candidate, and thereby push up their price.

It’s because of the arbitrage element, and the fact that people with inside information can trade on it, that leads economists to loosely say that "the market" assigns a probability of (right now) 6.1% to a Ron Paul nomination. Sure, there are all sorts of objections you could raise to that type of talk; some purists reject the very idea of statistical language in the arena of politics. But you get the idea.

Before closing, let me stress two final points. First, this isn’t some Podunk contract that four hicks (who like to spam Fox voting schemes) are trading back and forth. No, when last I checked, the volume was over 63,000 Ron Paul contracts being transacted. (So if this is manipulation, it’s very very expensive.)

Second, some readers might be thinking, "Big deal! Ron’s gotten much higher than 6.1% in various straw polls and other surveys." But that’s just the thing, folks, and why I’m so excited about this. The Intrade contract isn’t asking, "Which candidate do you want to be nominated?" It’s asking, "Which candidate do you predict will be nominated?"

And I think it’s incredibly encouraging – for lovers of liberty, that is – that Ron Paul has broken through the 6% mark, and is now in 4th place. The great thing is, the three front-runners are only a gaffe away from forfeiting their position, just as McCain did with his immigration photo op with Ted Kennedy. In contrast, everybody already knows what Ron Paul stands for; he doesn’t need to delicately protect his carefully scripted image.

The pundits are still dismissing Ron Paul as a fringe candidate who isn’t "serious." Well, there’s a lot of actual money on the table saying that he is indeed a contender for the GOP nomination.

October 3, 2007

Ron Paul Web site:


  1. I can't think of anything "snarky" enough to post on this.

    It's hard to post when you can't see through the tears (of laughter.)

    Well, as one who's tied with RP in all the polls of actual, uh, voters let me say I wish him luck. :)

  2. Maybe he can get Dennis Kucinich to be his VP. Oh, Lord, it's killing me.

  3. BTW, Romney at 8% is a wonderful bet. I make him to be at least 20% to be Prez. I'm really thinking 25%.

  4. I don't know if Americans can still bet on this site, but if we can I might bet a couple hundred on Romney.

  5. If only you could see what us Librarians see, peering over our books at your politicking and flesh-pressing!

    Why, look, its Ron Paul, talking about War, but his penis is calm and modestly flaccid, ready to pee and nothing more. He is truly neither a neo-con, nor an Project for a New American Century intern!

    And look at Ron Paul ask about the 9/11 investigation! He surely will not settle for the complacent electorate!

    Ron Paul is campaigning around USA, in his Firewood Storm campaign, wherein Ron Paul will stop in random people's backyards and split wood until they were sufficiently impressed by his ability to not be associated with anyone else on the government dole.