You gotta love Ron Paul. You don’t have to love him for public office specifically (I didn’t), but you do have to love him in a sort of “Doc Emmett Brown” kind of way. Man, what I wouldn’t give to see Ron Paul say “Great Scott! 1.21 gigawatts!!” during a debate…but I digress.
Sorry. Back to the present, or at least back to the point. Ron Paul and his unique ideas are in the news again, this time with regard to his plan to fight piracy on the high seas, and he’s got a great idea.
Article I, Section 8.10 of the Constitution gives Congress the power to, “define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas,” but there’s more to it than that.
Ron Paul’s proposal is clearly rooted in Article I, Section 8.11, which is the section giving Congress the power to declare war. But in addition to declaring war, Congress may also “grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.”
Aside from the name of the soapbox Ron Paul is standing on, a letter of marque is an official commission from the government giving a person the power to annoy, search, sieze, blow up, shoot at, destroy and otherwise make life very difficult for any foreign party on the high seas which has committed piracy or some other offense against the laws of the issuing nation.
Or, to put it simply, it’s a bounty hunter (pls see: Boba Fett) contracted by the government to fight against someone who’s really being a pain in the ass (aka: Pirates. Or as Fatty Limbaugh calls them in his inability to praise Obama’s success in rescuing Capt. Phillips, “Teenage black Muslim Merchant Marine Organizers out for a joyride”), but not enough of a pain to declare war. And if you didn’t know, this is where the “privateers” came from. Also, the French version of a letter of marque was called a “Lettre de Course,” and that’s how the “corsair” was born . . . some relevant trivia to discuss during your next wine tasting or game night.
Congress hasn’t issued a letter of marque since the War of 1812 (conspiracy theorists will tell you otherwise), but considering all that’s been happening with the Somali Pirates, this could be an excellent example of how old ways are the best ways. Sure, 197 years might have passed since the last letter of marque, but Captain Richard Phillips was also the first American captain to be kidnapped by pirates in 205 years.
Of course, the biggest advantage to resurrecting the privateer in this day and age can be justified by fiscal conservatism alone. Unconfirmed reports (also called “guesses”) put the recent Navy SEALS operation to rescue Captain Phillips at tens of millions of dollars.
A privateer only needs the government’s permission to carry out a bounty and to be there when the government pays out a reward for a job well done. It’s doubtful that reward would end up as lofty as a Navy SEALS operation.
But there are other advantages to resurrecting the privateer as well, so if we’re discussing Ron Paul’s unique approach to battling piracy, we might as well pair it with the late George Carlin’s plan to balance the budget: television.
If we armed a high profile bounty hunter with a letter of marque and a camera crew, we’d have the biggest reality television smash hit on our hands since the first season of Survivor.
Think about it; we’ve already got Dog the Bounty Hunter, why not Dog the Pirate Hunter? I’m sure he’d be up to it, and he already lives in Hawaii so I bet he’s got access to a killer boat.
Better yet (and this is where Carlin comes in), make it a pay-per-view episodic television event with each action-packed episode selling for $15 each, apply the profits to our national debt and we’d have a balanced budget in no time.
Hell, if the government could get production credit for a show like that, they might even end up with an Emmy.
Precious, precious booty indeed.