Christian Files: Hi, my name is Christian Files, and on behalf of Robert Ringer, I’d like to welcome everyone to today’s call. Today, Robert is going to be speaking with Congressman Ron Paul, a medical doctor who millions of people believe is Congress’s leading advocate for freedom. Dr. Paul is a rare politician who actually sticks to his principles. In fact, he is known and respected by his congressional colleagues and his constituents for his consistent voting record. Congressman Paul never votes for legislation unless the proposed measure is expressly authorized by the constitution. He consistently votes for limited government, a dramatic reduction of Federal spending, less regulation, lower taxes, free markets, and a return to a gold-backed currency.
As a member of the House Banking Committee he was, and still is, a strong advocate for sound monetary policy and is an outspoken critic of the Federal Reserve’s inflationary policies.
In 2008, Dr. Paul’s campaign for President of the United States ignited a nation-wide grass roots phenomenon, setting fundraising records, mobilizing countless volunteers and winning in excess of 1.3 million votes. Dr. Paul is also an unwavering advocate of pro-life and pro-family values. He recently founded the Campaign for Liberty to help continue the pro-liberty movement that his candidacy inspired.
And with that, I’d like to turn things over to Robert Ringer.
Robert Ringer: Thanks a lot, Christian. Congressman Paul, first of all I want to welcome you to the Liberty Education interview series and thank you for taking the time to be with us. How are you today?
Ron Paul: I’m doing fine, it’s nice to be with you.
Robert Ringer: Great. In any event, I guess I haven’t spoken to you in two or three years and a lot of water has gone over the political dam in that time, so I have very much been looking forward to this interview. There is a wide array of issues that I’d really like to talk to you about, so, we’re going to have to pick and choose carefully what we discuss here so we don’t go off in too many directions.
Why don’t we begin by explaining why you decided to run for president as a Republican rather than on the Libertarian ticket like you did in 1988?
Ron Paul: Right, it wasn’t much of a decision. I basically have been in the Republican Party most of my life. I was out of the party for a year-and-a-half or so when I did that in 1988. But I’ve been elected to Congress at the time over ten times always as a Republican. I’m in the Congress as a Republican. So the decision was to run as a Republican. It was not something that I was just dying to do as much as I was responding to people who were pleading that I at least participate and see what we could achieve. So that was the logical decision for me to make, so with a Republican primary and also as you may well remember, getting attention in the Libertarian Party is not all that easy because the system is so biased against competition in politics.
One comes to the conclusion that the Republicans and the Democrats are one and the same, and there really is no competition because it’s very difficult to get on balance, it’s very difficult to get into debates, and it’s very difficult to get into the news cycle. So, therefore, there are so many strokes against us in doing it outside the two-party system.
Robert Ringer: You know, it’s interesting that you should bring that up, because there is a great quote from Aldous Huxley which I pulled out here. It may have been from 1984, I’m not sure where I got it from, but I’m sure you’ve heard it many times. Huxley said, “Great is truth, but still greater from a practical point of view is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects… totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have done by the most eloquent denunciations”. And I have to tell you, I got so frustrated during the debates. Wasn’t it frustrating to have the mainstream media simply ignore you because it kept making me think about Huxley’s quote?
Even Fox dropped you out of the race when you were still in, and I was in absolute disbelief and on one occasion they didn’t even invite you to a GOP debate featuring all the other presidential candidates. The only one I tip my hat to is Glenn Beck who did a whole hour with you. So, even though you were a Republican candidate they were still ignoring you. How did you that go down with you?
Ron Paul: Well, it was rather aggravating because one of the key exclusions occurred the day or so before the primary in New Hampshire, which was a key primary, and they excluded me in the Fox debate. But I try to look at things on the positive side and figured that even though I had a lot less time in all the debates, without the debates we would have achieved very, very little. It was the exposure in the debates that got people interested, they went to our website, they spontaneously started sending in money. So I think the strength of the message was enough to overwhelm the neglect by the media to give us fair coverage.
We had the other tool of the Internet to spread the message. So, just getting a little bit of time on the debates and with the Internet available to us we were able to build up some momentum thathopefully we can carry on.
Robert Ringer: You know, one thing that stands out in my mind is, and I don’t know for sure if it may have been Wolf Blitzer, but one of the debates they were asking each of the candidates a very legitimate debate question and when it came to you they asked something crazy like, “Why do your supporters say 9/11 was caused by the United States? What do you say about that?” I know you remember that moment because I was very proud of you and I thought you handled it in an excellent manner. In so many words you kind of said, “No, of course, I’m not responsible for what these people say and of course I don’t believe that. Could I get in on the debate?”
Ron Paul: Yea, and then I insisted on answering the question that everybody else got asked.
Robert Ringer: Yea, was that Wolf Blitzer who….?
Ron Paul: No, I’m not positive. I think it might have been someone on Fox, because they had a couple of debates, but I’m not certain.
Robert Ringer: No, I thought you handled it great. Basically what you said was, “Can I get in on the debate now and ask me a legitimate questions”.
Another time I though you were treated rather roughly was by Tim Russert, may he rest in peace. I thought he came at you pretty good and, of course, there are only a few places where people can attack Ron Paul, and I would love for you to give your stances on some of these issues where you get attacked and, of course, the one he hit you on was accepting earmarks for your district. And why don’t you explain your tax-credit position theory on this, the way you look at it… I believe that’s the way you look at it.
Ron Paul: I support the principle of earmarks. I believe it is a Congressional responsibility to earmark every penny and say how it’s going to be spent. I don’t believe that we should turn it over to the executive branch and let them have a checkbook to spend it the way they want and use it as a political weapon against everybody. So I strongly support the principle, yet I never ultimately voted for any, because although I might support it in an amendment process saying, “Yes, this is the process we should use, we should earmark it”. But I always voted against the appropriation.
But the same individuals who brag about their conservative credentials by making it their ultimate cause to get rid of earmarks, are the same ones who say nothing about earmarking money for some useless weapon, or building an embassy in Iraq or rebuilding the infrastructure of the whole country of Iraq or whatever. Those are earmarks too. I think everything is earmark, it’s just that they decide that if money is coming back to Texas and some money is earmarked for a particular highway, then there is something sinful about that.
I think the real problem is that they took the money from us in the first place, then then when it comes back, I think everybody should have a responsibility to try to get some of their money back. To me, I compared it to a tax credit. I don’t want the income tax, but if there is any tax credit, even if it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, I give the tax credit and say, “Well, it’s their money, let them keep their money”, arguing the principle that the more money that is left in the hands of the people the better.
Robert Ringer: Exactly. Speaking about that question that you deflected so well, I should say answered so well, I remember like yesterday Rudy Giuliani really becoming indignant with you for implying that 9/11 was caused by the U.S. And I know with my writings I get frustrated when I am very clear and articulate about what I am saying and then some nut will write me an email or a blog taking me over the coals, and it’s clear that he read the words he wanted to read, he didn’t get the whole thing. I think Rudy Giuliani, although I don’t think he probably really meant it, he kind of used it as an opportunity to jump on you and to kind of pound his own chest.
Why don’t you make it clear to our listeners what you were saying and what you believe about 9/11 and our meddling in other affairs, and what part that played in 9/11, and then subsequently how you feel about going into Iraq. There’s really three issues here: Going into Iraq, and another issue that you get hammered on pretty good is your stance on the U.S.’s relationship with Israel. So can you kind of tie all those up together?
Ron Paul: Okay. Yes, it’s easy for somebody like Giuliani to come back and if they disagree with you in what you are saying, you might be making a strong point but they’ll just come back and say, “Oh, you’re just part of the ‘Blame America’ crowd”, to try to destroy the messenger rather than answer the question.
The confrontation came up over this point that I made as frequently as possible, that our foreign policy is flawed. It’s not a good policy. It’s not in our national interests, that we do too much. I like what George Bush said in the year 2000 that we shouldn’t be the policeman of the world, and we shouldn’t be involved in nation building because he was highly critical of what Clinton was doing. And the CIA has studied this closely about our oversees involvement and that we should be more cautious, because there is such a condition called “blowback”, that is when we offend people and do things that we shouldn’t be doing and we invade them or bomb them, it upsets especially the radicals who want to retaliate.
And we’ve being doing a lot of that. We’ve been in the Middle East for way to long, and 9/11 was a consequence of radical violent people who say, “Enough is enough”, and we have to tie that together because actually we fell into a trap with Osama Bin Laden, because he participated in what was happening in 9/11 and he knew we would retaliate. But he never dreamed that we’d be so foolish as to invade two Muslim countries and occupy them and then start bombing a third one, which makes it so easy for his recruitment.
So, it boils down to our foreign policy, and I’ve argued the case that we need to change it. We shouldn’t pick sides, we shouldn’t pick Israel over the Arabs and we shouldn’t pick the Arabs over the Israelis. We should deal with what is best for America.
Robert Ringer: Yeah. I think that’s well put. I do a great Ron Paul imitation, by the way, because I’ve heard you many times in interviews talking about this stuff and telling the interviewer many times, “We don’t have the money”. And they just have blank stares thinking, “What’s that got to do with it?”
I know that since I’ve known you, you have been preaching this. And speaking of money, we probably should get to what is probably your greatest area of expertise, in my opinion, which is fiscal and monetary policy. How do you ever get people to understand that a depression, which is what I think we are in, or at least a severe recession, is the best thing that could happen to America right now? Then, you know, the left-wing democrats and Obama come up with this phony stimulus package which last night, interestingly he finally admitted was a spending package, and is based on the false notion that for years people bought into because nobody challenged them, that FDR’s new deal got us out of the great depression. Of course, as we both know that isn’t the case at all.
The fact is that… and I’m always trying to educate my readers to this… government isn’t supposed to spend us out of a depression. Individuals and companies are supposed to do the spending. So, can you encapsulize your whole view of what’s going on with this insane so-called stimulus package in Congress?
Ron Paul: Yes, and I think you have to be ready for those challenges because they will come back and say, “Oh, you don’t want the government to spend, you don’t care. You just want them to suffer”.
The real answer is, “Sure we should have more spending”, but the question is, who should be doing the spending, and of course, the people should be doing the spending. But they don’t have enough money because we over-tax them. So the answer really is to cut government spending and to reduce taxes and then allow the marketplace to liquidate the mistakes and all the mal-investment and get rid of the debt.
And yet we’re not doing that. We’re in a situation now where we have 19 million houses that are unoccupied and the clowns in Washington say, “You know, what we need to do is we need to keep the prices of houses high and stimulate housing, we need more housing”. Instead of saying, what you really want to do is serve the interests of the poor people who saved some money and let the housing prices go way down and let those houses be used, and eventually building of houses will come back again.
But this is all intertwined, you know, with foreign policy because I can remember the debate that Russert was running. And he said, “Well, this is going to be on economic policy, the other debates have dealt with foreign policy”, but you can’t separate the two. And I even mentioned then, I said it’s the Empire that causes us so much harm because we’re spending a trillion dollars a year running around, causing trouble, undermining our national defense and draining the country from these resources.
So, we have to look at the entire picture. Change the foreign policy, stop spending that money, let this money come home. Reduce the spending, reduce the deficit and then allow the people to spend the money. But, the business cycle, the boom periods, the recessions and the corrections are closely related to the Federal Reserve policy and the thing that I have been the most pleased with in the last couple of years is the amount of attention that the Federal Reserve has been getting, and getting more every day.
More people are recognizing every day that Greenspan… I always wondered whether Greenspan would go down in history as a great hero and a great maestro, but right now I think he has lost his reputation because he orchestrated this. A lot of people still don’t understand the Austrian explanation of the business cycle. It is our goal that the real source of the business cycle and the problems, the inflation and the recessions and depressions should be laid at the doorstep of the Federal Reserve System.
Robert Ringer: Don’t you find it amazing that Greenspan was once a member of Ayn Rand’s inner circle?
Ron Paul: Yeah, and as a matter of fact I tell the story about, you know, taking the original objectivist newsletters that I have from 1966, I believe, where he wrote that great article on freedom and gold, and I took it to him to have him sign it. As he was signing it I said to him, “You want to put a disclaimer on this thing right now?”, and he said no. And the amazing thing was that he said, “No, I just read this rather recently and I still endorse everything I wrote”. But when I pressed him on the same subject in public, then he denied. He said, “No, might be there’s some change over the past forty years”, like we all know.
Robert Ringer: Yeah, it is just absolutely amazing. I think the economy refers to it as something called “philosophical confusion”. So, this all has to do what your “End the Fed” program. What does that really entail? What are you after?
Ron Paul: Well, you know I have a couple of approaches. I have one approach that we should legalize competition in currencies, which is probably the most practical way to get rid of the legal tender laws. The other approach is just to have a lot more surveillance of the Federal Reserve and start reigning it in or at least be able to audit the Fed. But, ultimately, what you need to do is just get rid of the Fed. It was just this past week that I did introduce that bill once again which would abolish the Fed. But that’s a radical position and if you have an opportunity for a transition you probably wouldn’t want to do it.
But if you have a calamity like we’re working on and it collapses and we need to start from scratch, we ought to give up the idea of the Federal Reserve. So, we’re advancing rather rapidly now, calling attention to the shortcomings of the Fed. I think that’s very important because there has to be a new system. The Bretton Woods ended in 1971 and this fiat dollar standard since 1971 up until now has descended, so something has to replace it. The only question now is what is it going to be replaced with. Something that we would like with the free market and with the commodity standard, or are we going to have the United Nations and the World Bank and the IMF devise a world monetary system, which I dread.
Robert Ringer: Even I worry about it and I agree with you totally. You and I, along with many others in the so called “Hard Money Movement” were predicting what is happening today more than thirty years ago. In all honesty, I thought it would happen much sooner than this, so I was way off on my timing and Harry Brown used to say that because the government has a monopoly on the use of force, printing presses and so forth, you couldn’t really predict the timing. But my focus was on the inevitability of runaway inflation because, as you put it in one of your interview, it doesn’t take a genius to predict that if you print a lot of money it loses value.
And what concerns me, and I really want your take on this, is that runaway inflation is almost certain to lead to a dictatorship. Of course, we’re all familiar with what happened with the Weimar Republic and Hitler coming to power, and in many respects the Democrats are kind of scary. They’re already close to having one party rule. They are in effect buying or trying to buy over 50% of the votes so they can have a permanent majority. And already as we see, they pretty much do anything they want, they don’t seem to care what people think. The stream of flawed cabinet appointees, the bank bailouts, and now the trillion dollar phony stimulus package are perfect examples of this. So, how do you see ever getting rid of this whole issue and how do you see avoiding a runaway inflation? Or do you disagree with me that a runaway inflation is inevitable if one trillion leads to two and two leads to three and pretty soon people get out their wheelbarrows and start going to the store with a wheelbarrows full of money to buy a loaf of bread? Isn’t that going to lead to a dictatorship, Congressman Paul?
Ron Paul: Yes, I think that once you get economic chaos and runaway inflation, it leads to very, very serious political problems. And this time around I think it is going to be worldwide, you know, when the British lost their key hold on the system with the pound, you know the dollar was there because it was stronger and picked up the pieces.
But today all the Central Banks work together, they work in collusion, they inflate together and they keep interest rates low, and when the people and the world start to reject the dollar… I think they are going to reject all the currencies because it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense to leave the dollar and say, “Oh, the euro will be the currency of choice”. But they’re as socialized and dependent on spending as any other place. So I think we’re going to have a world calamity and it’s going to be very, very big.
Maybe one good thing that will come from it is that we will be poorer and we won’t be able to afford our empire and maybe we will wise up and say, “Bring the troops home”, and you know, and quit adding war onto it.
But, like you mentioned, governments are power, and they have a monopoly on it and who knows what will come about it. Right now it looks like Obama is not going to slow things up in the Middle East, he’s determined to spread what’s going on and go into Pakistan and pick sides in that fight over there. So, whether we get to runaway inflation or not, I keep thinking, “Oh, maybe when it’s real, real bad we’ll finally come to our senses and do the right thing”. But right now there is no evidence of it, because all they’re doing now is spending more money and borrowing more money and printing more money… the very problems that brought us this deep recession.
Robert Ringer: You know, I should probably bring up the flat tax and the fair tax. I interviewed Dick Armey and he, of course, is a proponent of the flat tax. Mike Huckabee is absolutely sold on the fair tax. Dick Armey says that the fair tax has been tried in Europe and other places and it has never worked. You have any opinions on either of those?
Ron Paul: Yeah, I don’t get into that debate, because I think spending is the tax because once the government spends it’s a taxing process that goes on. Sometimes they levy direct taxes, sometimes it’s the sales tax, sometimes it’s the income tax, sometimes they just go borrow. But if they print money, it’s an inflation tax which is a very sinister tax.
I don’t sign up on the bill for the fair tax. I probably would vote for it if it was the only choice because anything to disrupt the IRS and the current system would be good. But there are a lot of unfair things about the so-called fair tax. I think the issue is spending. I sincerely believe this country could exist, and it did exist for a long time without an income tax. And when they ask me, “What are you going to replace it with? How are you going to pay for government?” I am not going to replace it with anything. I want to get rid of the income tax, I don’t want the fair tax, I don’t want to worry about the flat tax. I want the government back to the constitutional size, and we don’t have to have that. So I emphasize the spending rather than the debate going back and forth on fair and flat tax.
When the Republicans took over in 1994, Dick Armey and Bill Archer went around the country debating this issue. Then when they finally had control of both houses and the presidency, they did absolutely nothing. All they did was resort to more spending. So, it was exasperating. It was all just talk to help themselves get into office and all they did was make it so that the Republican party lost total credibility.
Robert Ringer: Speaking of exasperation, I take a lot of heat for consistently saying that I think all entitlement programs, not some but all, should be eliminated because you always say, “They aren’t called for in the constitution”. And I know you are against any program not stated in the constitution, but I guess the practical question that my readers always have is, “How in the world can you ever get people who have been brainwashed for generations now, through gradualism, to go along with cutting out all entitlement programs?” I mean, when you mentioned sacred cows like social security and medicare, which no one would have dreamed of before FDR, people are ready to lynch you. I mean, what practical advice can you give people who get attacked when they come up with what is perceived as a very radical viewpoint?
Ron Paul: Well, realism will set in when the welfare programs continue and they get checks but the checks don’t buy anything. Then they’ll say, “Hey, this system doesn’t work”. And we’re getting pretty close to that. Now, if we came to our senses and worked out a transition program, I’d be willing to support some of these programs if we would cut spending enough to save enough money to pay down some of the deficit and keep some of the programs that are….
You know, why should we start with child health care instead of…. like some conservatives say, “Well, we finally have to cut back”. So they want to cut 10% of child health care. That doesn’t make any political sense when they want to spend a trillion dollars overseas doing things we shouldn’t be doing. So I would cut money from overseas, and I have made the statement during the campaign that American people are expected to pay for the bombs that we use to go over and blow up the bridges in Iraq, then we’re supposed to rebuild the bridges in Iraq, while at the same time our own bridges are falling down.
So, in the transition I am willing to support these programs as long as they are paid for in the sense that you cut the spending in someplace else and you wiggle away at the deficit. We could work our way out of it, but that’s not likely to happen. But the people who have become dependent on these programs, even though they are scared to death if they get cut, when the money stops, liked you talked about earlier on runaway inflation, then they’ll know that they have to start from scratch again.
Robert Ringer: Great. I wish we had about 8 hours to do this, but I think a good note to end on today is to remind people about what you have said so often, that it’s about time we started talking about freedom, rather than how the government is going to take care of us from cradle to grave, invade our privacy, fight wars and run the economy. So, why don’t you leave us with some Ron Paul words of wisdom on the concept of liberty, which is a concept that is becoming more and more foreign to each new generation as a result of gradualism, because that is what I always get back to and nobody seems to want to talk about liberty?
So, in closing out here today could you address that, Congressman Paul?
Ron Paul: Of course. We as Americans have benefited by one of the best systems ever devised and that has been our constitution, which starting getting ignored rather early on, for the last hundred years its being ignored. But the purpose of government ought to be to preserve liberty. But to preserve liberty means you have to understand that liberty comes to us in a natural way or a God-given way, rather than the government giving it to us. If the government gives us our liberty, then they can take it away.
But if the purpose of government is to protect liberty, it has to be very, very small. It can’t be there to tell us how to run our lives, it can’t be there to run the economy, and it can’t be there to police the world. It is designed there to make sure that people follow up with their promises, that you have a sound currency, that there is such a thing as property ights, and guess what, the results will be prosperity.
But the goal has to be liberty if you want prosperity. If the goal is prosperity with a neglect of liberty, you know, you will have neither one. And we became soft because we became very wealthy and people concentrated on using the government to get more of all these special benefits, and that is what caused the erosion of the concept of liberty. So, right now the argument shouldn’t even be dealing with, “How am I going to pay my bills?”, but, “How are we going to restore my liberty?’ If we can do that we will be prosperous again.
Robert Ringer: Well said. A great note to end on. Congressman Paul, I want to thank you for giving us so many important things to think about today and I want you to know that I feel honored to have known you all these years and I am looking forward to you continuing your great work for the people of this country in the years ahead.
Ron Paul: Thank you.