Teabaggery and gold-buggery

Ron Paul’s “investment letter” illustrates an important source money source for wingnut pundits and websites.

So the latest bit of filth Ron Paul signed but says he didn’t write was a pitch for an “insider” investment newsletter warning of a “coming race war” and “the federal-homosexual cover-up on AIDS.”

This should presumably put “paid” next to the Ron Paul account and leave anti-Romney Republicans looking for yet another flavor of the month.

But there’s a broader point here, not raised in any of the coverage I’ve seen: the relationship between right-wing politics and pure con artistry.

The hard-core, true-wingnut, John-Birch-Society, Tea-Party faction of the GOP contains a disproportionate share of conspiracy believers; that’s one reason Glenn Beck appeals to them. Some of these folks are convinced that a ring of “insiders” knows what’s really happening, and can make profitable investments as a result.

So scammers like Dr. Paul can fleece these sheeple by promising to bring them the inside scoop that will allow them, too, to make a killing by buying or selling the right securities and commodities. After claiming that his terms in Congress left him with a network of “sources” from “House and Senate Committees, the White House, the Treasury, the Fed, the Justice Department, and even the IRS, Paul (or his ghostwriter) promised his intended victims:

… I give you the facts and analysis – and specific recommendations – you need to protect yourself, and dramatically increase your wealth, in the spastic economy of the 199os … as the only former high official to publish a financial letter, I supply facts and analysis available nowhere else.

The “investment letter” racket represents a substantial source of income for wingnut pundits and websites. And some of the fanaticism about returning to the gold standard comes from people who fantasize that their own Krugerrands will suddenly appreciate sharply as a result.

To my knowledge, there’s nothing even vaguely comparable on the other side of the aisle.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

11 thoughts on “Teabaggery and gold-buggery”

  1. Do you happen to know the date? I am also wondering about the authentication of the document. Neither is clear from the data available. I assume that there are multiple sources for the document and some hints as to its history. I assume that “President Bush” refers to Bush the First. This must have been written between 1989 and 1993, but there is much that is obscure regarding the facts surrounding this particular document.

    1. The letter is dated “Monday morning,” which you’ll have to admit is pretty precise. The news story dates it “about 1993.” The Paul campaign hasn’t tried to challenge the authenticity of the document, found in a university archive of political literature.

    2. I think it is earlier than 1993 because of the absence of any mention of Clinton, who could not have been president-elect at the time. If Bush drove Paul through the roof, imagine what he would have said when Bill and Hillary came into town. He was out of Congress when this was written, and he was out of office during the Bush I administration. There is mention of welfare riots in the big cities, but no mention of the aftermath of the Rodney King riots from late April of 1992. Again, it is hard to imagine not mentioning these riots in the context of that paragraph. Maybe others can narrow the window further.

  2. I wonder how many wingnut “investment” letters are used for outright securities fraud. A few thousand loyal rubes are a very effective platform for doing pump and dump scams with very lightly traded stocks. Of course, there’s no evidence that Ron Paul’s project is involved in fraud, but I’d be amazed if none of the “investment” letters in the wingnut-o-sphere have ever done pump and dump.

    1. There’s plenty of evidence that Ron Paul is involved in a fraud. He supports a return to the gold standard at the same time as he invests primarily in gold. That is pretty strong evidence that he’s involved in fraud. Even if he is a completely insane person who really does believe in a return to the gold standard, that’s fraud.

      1. To defend Paul; fraud would require some pattern of pump & dump, or some other selling of securities with no values.
        It’s not like Paul actually has the power to inflict the Gold Standard after all.

  3. Speaking of con artistry, it’s worth recalling that Ron Paul was at one point claiming he could help Americans to get Peruvian citizenship to ensure their survival. I mean, Peruvian citizenship as a survival measure!


    Sept. 26, 1996, Austin American-Statesman:

    “Fortunately, several types of accounts are tough for the IRS to investigate,” Paul wrote. “For instance, it’s still legal to open a bank account without revealing your Social Security number.”

    He also offered to help readers get a foreign passport.

    “Peru recently announced that it will sell its citizenship to foreigners for $25,000,” Paul wrote. “… People concerned about survival are naturally interested in a second citizenship and passport. If you’re interested, drop me a note and include your telephone number, and I’ll get you some interesting information.” […]

    Paul, a Surfside obstetrician, former member of Congress and 1988 Libertarian Party nominee for president, said Morris quotes material out of context. Paul also said his advice was appropriate at the time it was published.

  4. Some of these folks are convinced that a ring of “insiders” knows what’s really happening, and can make profitable investments as a result.

    They’re called Investment Bankers, Wall Street Executives, arbitrageurs, etc.

  5. I guess in some ways it’s kind of appropriate that right-wing, as opposed to left-wing, conspiracy theorists are thinking about how they can individually profit from inside knowledge of the con. That doesn’t strike me as a particularly relevant to the comparative moral luster of left-wing as opposed to right-wing conspiracy theorists. What’s more relevant is that mainstream conservatives, if there are any any more, seem to have a hight tolerance for this sort of thing, to their shame.

  6. My favorite part is the footnote at the end that says “Your subscription may be tax-deductible. See the enclosed subscription form for details.”

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