Ron Paul, Daniel Hannan on Freedom Watch

This Wednesday afternoon, Ron Paul joined Daniel Hannan, Lew Rockwell, Tom Woods, Peter Schiff, Shelly Roche and Tom Palmer on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s online show “Freedom Watch” in an insightful discussion about secession, the Constitution, the rule of law, and the latest political and economic developments.

Part 1: (Ron Paul)
Part 2: (Ron Paul)
Part 3:
Part 4:
Part 5:
Part 6:

Channel: Fox News Strategy Room (online only)
Show: Freedom Watch
Host: Judge Andrew Napolitano
Date: 5/13/2009

Transcript of Ron Paul’s appearance: (starting here)

Judge Andrew Napolitano: Congressman Ron Paul, Mr. Daniel Hannan, Lew Rockwell, Tom Woods, Peter Schiff, Tom Palmer from Cato are all here, and that’s our lineup. It’s now my great pleasure to introduce Congressman Ron Paul, member of Congress from the great state of Texas and Daniel Hannan, a member of the European Union, together right here for the first time on Freedom Watch. Congressman Paul, Mr. Hannan, welcome here.

Daniel Hannan: Thanks very much for having on judge. It’s a huge honore to come here.

Ron Paul: Thank you.

Judge Andrew Napolitano: Okay, now, Congressman Paul, to you first since last we spoke, which was about two weeks ago, there had been a number of interesting developments. There’s a new timeline in the torture debate. We now know that President Bush ordered the CIA to do certain things after he had signed a law prohibiting it and after the Supreme Court had said that the Geneva Conventions apply.

We’ve had the governor of your home state say that the laws are becoming so oppressive that it’s time to secede from the Union and that caused quite a […] and sent people like you and me to the history books, and we’ve had the Secretary of the Treasury say yesterday that he thinks that he has the power to somehow under the Constitution and the laws to regulate the salaries of executives at banks that did not take TARP or other funds.

Let’s start with the last of these three. First, where would the Treasury get the chutzpah to say to a bank that took no aid from the federal government, “You’re paying your executives too much. We want you to trim their salaries.”

Ron Paul: Well, they get it because of the lax attitude of the people and the Congress. They have no authority. They know that, but if you look at history, traditionally, anybody who is given any power in government, they always tend to abuse it. This is almost inevitable. But the restriction should be placed on the people. That’s what the Constitution is supposed to do.

So because some individuals in government tend to act like many had predicted they would act, it doesn’t mean that it’s all their fault. It’s our fault, too, for not restraining it. Why don’t we do more in the Congress? Why aren’t we yelling and screaming and restricting what these officials are doing? Why aren’t the courts in support of restraining these individuals?

But anytime these issues get… you take the monetary issue, when it gets into a court, it always rules in favor of the state. So the courts are derelict in their duties. The Congress is derelict in their duties to restrain individuals like Geithner and the Fed Chairman and our presidents and the people are derelict because we still have a system that if we really got riled up, we’d throw a lot of these people out and insist that we restrain the government.

Judge Andrew Napolitano: Mr. Hannan, would you be surprised if Gordon Brown and his chancellor, the exchequer, a job that the prime minister himself held for a number of years, years he would just as soon forget I’m sure, tried to regulate the salaries of bankers at banks that did not receive direct aid from the British government or from the Bank of England?

Daniel Hannan: Well, there’s nothing that would surprise me about these guys anymore. Let me say for a second, it’s a real honor for me to be on the same show as Congressman Paul. He’s a real patriot. He’s a great American and he is a champion of freedom lovers on every continent.

And I agree very much with the point that he just made. I mean, one of the things that I admire about the congressman is his belief in the Constitution and I think the people who drafted your Constitution knew what they were doing when they put Congress in Article 1 and the Presidency in Article 2 and congressmen cannot get off the hook and say that this is all the problem of executive officials.

I think you have to take responsibility as elected representatives. Would it happen in Britain? Well, we did it in Britain. We did it in Britain in 1970s. We had an appalling sense of policies called collectively the prices and income policies where the state tried to do exactly that. They tried to regulate the price of things in the shop and the amount that you would pay, and it led to stagnation and debt and eventually national bankruptcy.

It would have seemed inconceivable a couple of years ago that we could ever go back to that, but this Labor government is revisiting the 1970s in lots of other ways. You know, we’ve gone back to the printing of money. We’ve gone back to the huge deficit. We’ve gone back to the socialism and the class war. So, yeah, I could totally see something like this happening.

Judge Andrew Napolitano: Congressman Paul, since we met last, the state of Montana enacted legislation saying that if a hand gun is manufactured in Montana, says it’s manufactured in Montana and never leaves the state and if the same is the case with ammunition that as far as the state of Montana is concerned, that gun and its operator are free from any federal regulation. This is, of course, a modern version of nullification, some of which we have a little bit already, as you know; Indiana and Arizona reject the federal time zones, there are states that reject the federal ban on marijuana and use it for medicinal purposes and the federal government has stopped prosecuting people in those states.

What do you think of this effort by Montana to take a stand for nullification and for states’ rights. Is there, in your view, a chance that this is a flame that could spread throughout the country? Or is it hopeless once it makes its way into the hands of the collectivists in Washington?

Ron Paul: No, I think this is very encouraging. I think it’s not a single flame, but is a part of the flame that is starting to burn throughout the country in many, many states. But then in a way it’s sort of sad that we have to go out of this way because this should have been on automatic, so we’re trying to nullify what the courts have done.

If we had correctly interpreted the interstate commerce clause like originally, it was to make sure you could trade in and out. You should have never used the interstate commerce clause to restrict people’s use of certain products. We were supposed to have a free market economy; people and goods and services could go back and forth.

But since they used the interstate commerce clause to restrict even what was, you know, interstate, they are now making this point, which is absolutely correct as very beneficial, but we also must emphasize that the original intent would have never permitted us to get into this situation.

So I think this is encouraging. I think more is coming because as time goes on, our federal government is going to be so inept in delivering their promises, so even if they don’t come to us because of the morality of our position, they will come to us because they will say, “Well, the money doesn’t work. The checks are bouncing. The government can’t do it. They can’t run our foreign policy; therefore we have to have a new system.”

I think there’s going to be a de facto secession almost. You know, what if the money doesn’t work? Why send any money in?

You know, the tax revenue may just dwindle, so in a way, I think it’s very healthy. The danger is, of course, if the system breaks down, which it very well could, is that too many will resort to… “what we need is a firm hand” that will remove it toward dictatorship move along toward a tyrant running our socialist economy, and that’s why it’s scary when you hear Geithner and others talking about setting salaries and owning businesses.

So we live in precarious times, but I’m still hopeful that we can alert enough people in this country and essentially around the world to rise up and say, “Freedom works. We don’t need the government to take care of us any longer.”

Judge Andrew Napolitano: Mr. Hannan, as you know, Ron Paul is not only a patriot. He’s a hero and he’s fearless because he’s not afraid to touch the third rail in American politics, which is the notion of secession. Something about I know you have a personal interest in. Of course, we fought a civil war over the issue of secession, but since that civil war, there’s Supreme Court opinion saying, “Yes, a state could secede, if enough of the other states agree with it. Congressman Paul also raises, and this I’d hear you on, the issue of the regulation of interstate commerce.

When Madison wrote our Constitution, he gave the Congress the power regulate interstate commerce. At the time “to regulate” meant “to keep regular”. To make sure that there is interstate commerce, not to decide the who, what, when, where, how and how much we can tax of interstate commerce and what we can prohibit in it. What are your thoughts?

Daniel Hannan: Well, I mean, I’m not a US citizen. I think it would be presumptuous of me to get into details of debates about nullification or secession or the Madison vs. Jefferson argument. Let me just say this. The US has the enormous strength that its Constitution and its policy is based around the dispersal of power and it’s been the reason that the US has become prosperous and free and strong.

You look around the world and you look at the really wealthy, successful states. You know, eight out of the top 10 are tiny little micro-states. It’s the Monacos, the Channel Islands, and the Bruneis. The reason why the US is up there as a wealthy and successful country is because it’s governed like a confederation of statelets. It devolves power to a very low level in a way that very few states do and to see what I mean by that, compare your Constitution, your way of doing things to the way they do it in the European Union. Whereas you begin from the proposition that power is vested at the lowest level and is lent upward on a contingent basis, the EU in the very first line of the very first clause of its foundational treaty, the Treaty of Rome, commits its signatories to establish an ever-closer union.

So we, if you like, are about the opposite of the Jeffersonian principle. We’ve got the principle, the power should always go upwards and the result of that is that the European Union has become sclerotic. It has become inefficient. It has become uncompetitive. It has a shrinking share of the world market. So just to look around with the rest of the world, guys, and you can see how much more advantageous it is to have a system that allows power to be exercised at the lowest possible level.

Judge Andrew Napolitano: Congressman Paul, Mr. Hannan uses a terrific phrase. He says that power was loaned from the lower parts to the upper parts, from individuals through the state to the federal government on a contingent basis. Now, we all agree with that, Mr. Hannan, you and I, that the power can come back. But if I get one e-mail a day, I get a hundred saying, “Judge, what can we do? What can people do to get power back from a federal government that utterly rejects the footprint that the Constitution lays out for it?”

If the power was given to the federal government on a contingent basis, Congressman Paul, and if the contingency is that you stay within the confines of the Constitution, something they haven’t done since George Washington was president, how do we get that power back?

Ron Paul: Well, ultimately, the very best way would be to educate the people to understand our history and understand why nullification as well as secession are proper positions to hold, but right now, the practical answers are probably going to come essentially when the system fails and states will have to take over their prerogatives and do what they are supposed to do.

One analogy that I’ve used that sometimes will influence both the conservatives and the liberals will be that how many people think that we should be bound and belong to the United Nations even though we might pay more proportionately speaking of the dues than anybody else, and at the same time turn over more votes to states that pay nothing, and we have already boycotted some of the events of the United Nations.

And, you know, still as supportive as the people of America are to the United Nations, 25 percent think we should be out, but I think a large number of those 75 percent think that if it gets too bad, we have this right to leave. So I think it’s this understanding that it’s not permanent, that we came together in a voluntary fashion and there’s great tradition. If people on the Left would study secession, they’ll find out that New England states wanted to secede a long time before it was considered to be an ultra right-wing issue because New Englanders didn’t like to be under control of the Southerners. They wanted to separate themselves.

So I still think studying history and philosophy and our Constitution and just plain morality will be the ultimate solution, but in the meantime I think the practical answer is going to be the failure of the federal government. It’s going to mandate that the states as well as the individuals take it upon themselves to take care of all their needs.

Judge Andrew Napolitano: Mr. Hannan, before I let you go, Prime Minister Brown recently says “British jobs for British workers” and President Obama says, “We’re going to save Chrysler, so that Americans can buy American cars.” Do they know what they are talking about?

Daniel Hannan: I mean, I think they do know. I think the really depressing thing is that they are both intelligent people and they both understand how the last thing the world needs at the time like this is a retreat into protectionism, and they have these various summits where they agreed that with each other.

And then they all go home and play to the domestic audience like this, which is incredibly depressing. I mean, there are all sorts of ways in which the G-20 countries, which keep on promising to work against protectionism have imposed various non-tariff barriers. I mean, they may have been within the letter of the WTO, but, you know, the rules on competitive tendering, the subsidy is a kind of protectionism and we don’t call it that way, it works exactly the same way. It’s the last thing you need.

You know, of course, supporting Chrysler can be good for Chrysler, but it is always bad for the American economy overall if you’re protecting one part from competition elsewhere. It makes that bit of the economy flabby, and inefficient and it makes everybody else to pay more to keep it going, and we all know that.

You know, our leaders are not illiterate, and that’s the most depressing thing. If they were stupid, you can forgive it. But when they are being cynical, it’s much harder.

Judge Andrew Napolitano: Before I let you go and I’m going to invite Congressman Paul to reply directly to you. Are you as frustrated with the collectivist big government mentality in the European Union as Congressman Paul is with the collectivist big government mentality in the American Congress?

Daniel Hannan: I would gladly swap my problems to his, if I could shut my eyes on Northridge. You know, of course, you’ve got problems. Every country in the world has problems, but nothing like the level of socialism or intervention and the absence of democracy that we have here. I mean, just one example, we’re applying a new European Constitution, which takes even more powers from the member states and centralizes them in Brussels. This Constitution has been rejected three times in the ballot box in referendums. Fifty-four percent of French voters said no. Sixty-two percent of Dutch voters, fifty-three percent of Irish voters.

Judge Andrew Napolitano: Right.

Daniel Hannan: And you know what? They’re just disregarding those results and carrying on anyway and the decisions are being made by people that nobody gets to vote for it at all. Now, you know, I can see that there are problems with the US and if I was there, I would share a lot of the Congressman’s critiques, but, you know, you should give thanks to the visionaries who wrote your Constitution that you don’t end up with a system like ours and you really would understand what overcentralization means.

Judge Andrew Napolitano: I know you have to go, Mr. Hannan. Thanks very much. Congressman Paul, any reply to that? Certainly we’re not going to circulate a new Constitution around, are we?

Ron Paul: No. No, I think it’s great. Mr. Hannan gives us a good excuse to be optimistic because now, we could say, “Yes, as bad as we are, we’re not as bad as the European Union” and I guess maybe many of that is true because, you know, they’ve been socialized a long time and they’re moving towards huge centralized control of all those countries, but nevertheless, we still face a lot of problems.

As a matter of fact, this is a worldwide phenomenon. The attack on personal liberty as well, as a worldwide phenomenon on the financial problems that we faced because this is a worldwide financial bubble based on the dollar being the reserve dollar standard, so this is a worldwide problem that we face and, of course, if there’s a collapse of the dollar and the collapse of the liberties, it won’t be just here in the United States and not just Europe, but it may threaten the entire world and who knows what it could deteriorate into.

So I would say that we have the tools and the ability and the knowledge to know what we should be doing, so let’s hopefully change things to the better without having any violence.

Judge Andrew Napolitano: Congressman Ron Paul, it’s always a pleasure.

Ron Paul: Thank you.

Judge Andrew Napolitano: Until next Wednesday on Freedom Watch. Daniel Hannan joining us from England, it’s always a pleasure, until you can come back on Freedom Watch as well. Gentlemen, thank you very much.

Daniel Hannan: Thank you.


  • Best show running. I love how the regular guest list keeps growing win great new additions. You can’t find another show with so many great guest speakers that truly are into liberty.