"Tent cities on the edge of empty neighborhoods" are cited by Congressman Ron Paul as evidence that "now the crisis has come" for America's economy, as he has long warned. He makes the claim in his own words on TV and radio spots for his presidential campaign, airing in Colorado ahead of the Feb. 5 caucuses. It's a dramatic and powerful image, evoking the darkest days of the Great Depression. But how valid is it? If there were any sort of national outbreak of Bushervilles resulting from the subprime mortgage mess, you can be sure major media organizations would be all over it. But a web search turns up no evidence of same -- even if an outbreak is defined to mean two or more.
Google "tent cities" and you come up with exactly one (1) relevant result, a YouTube video depicting some tents pitched in Southern California "after the housing bubble burst." The only other search results from current news, a cluster of church-sponsored homeless encampments in Seattle and 84 shantytowns erected across the country by deaf activists upset about Gallaudet College, don't seem relevant to the candidate's generalization.
Like Ron Paul, I sympathize with the hardship of those who have lost their homes through unwise borrowing. But also like him (presuming the sincerity of his free-market professions) I can't blame that unwisdom on anyone but the borrowers themselves. For Rep. Paul to blame policymakers and regulators, as these ads imply, would be unworthy of him as a small-government constitutionalist and apostle of personal responsibility.
What am I missing here? Maybe you Pauliacs can tell me. Absent some documentation of numerous tent cities and some theory of liberals' responsibility for them, your man's broad hint to voters that as President he, of all people, would have an interventionist plan to remedy or prevent mortgage foreclosures leaves me with the uneasy feeling of intellectual dishonesty bordering on demagoguery.
Such over-claiming hurts the credibility of an honorable man who is right about a lot of things, economically and politically. It makes him sound like just another of those doomsayers and hard-money pessimists who have correctly predicted 13 out of the last three recessions.
Disclosure: I will be advocating for Mitt Romney when I chair my precinct caucus in Centennial on Tuesday night.