From May 22 to 24, 2009, Ron Paul, Tom Woods and other Campaign for Liberty members gathered in Seattle to celebrate freedom and network, learn, and build their local organizations. Below is a recording of the May 22 evening program. (Ron Paul’s speech starts in video #7)
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_3wZ7jVUHc (Anthony Gregory, John Tate)
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_9zcF-2Tgk (John Tate, Katja Delavar)
Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owmCTfHhdf4 (Katja Delavar, Gary Condotta, Matt Shea, Tom Woods)
Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f88D82Eskhc (Tom Woods)
Part 5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpV4sUDVaCg (Tom Woods)
Part 6: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5TXszdOonQ (Tom Woods, Katja Delavar, Anthony Gregory)
Part 7: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLI3GzTeZ5s (Ron Paul)
Part 8: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cc04RRJOcgU (Ron Paul)
Part 9: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G07YmbTEolM (Ron Paul)
Part 10: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQyCDKfw2kI (Ron Paul)
Part 11: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8MNHH3oNT0 (Ron Paul)
High resolution torrent: http://thepiratebay.org/torrent/4917388 (1.84 GB)
Audio only:Download MP3 file
(More videos from the conference after the transcript)
Transcript of Ron Paul’s speech
Anthony Gregory: In the history of the struggle for liberty there are few people who stand out as giants. There are few who not just for their dedication to principle and their consistency and integrity, but their impact and their willingness to commit so much of their time to fight for what they believe to be right, to fight for a free country.
You know, in the 1970s when Ron Paul was first in Congress he warned about this stuff. He wasn’t just warning people since a few years ago or ten years ago, but for decades. And he was warning about the U.S. Empire, how our interventionist foreign policy would lead to blow back. And when he was vindicated on 9-11 he kept telling the truth. He kept opposing preventive war and torture and destruction of our Bill of Rights. He stood up to Rudy Giuiliani in that great debate in South Carolina, sending shock waves through the country. He did not back down, and it turns out he was right and even though more and more people realize this about Iraq, it doesn’t seem to matter even though we have a new President.
Likewise, for decades he took to a cause, along with all the other causes of individual freedom and civil liberty and constitutionally limited government, a cause that was seen as obscure, as Tom has mentioned, for probably about a century now; he stood for sound money. He stood for the idea that the Central Bank, inflating away the currency, was empowering an unconstitutional government and impoverishing the American people, especially the poor and middle class. And he warned, just as he warned about U.S. foreign policy was going to lead to destruction of American lives and liberty, he warned about how this Central Bank inflation was also going to have its day of reckoning.
And again, they laughed at him in those 2008 debates. Practically all of the other Republicans were saying, ‘Of course, the fundamentals of the economy are sound’ I mean, how could they not be? We’ve, had a Republican President and a Republican Congress for so long, right? But they didn’t want to look at the Central Bank, and lo-and-behold, in the last year he has been vindicated once again.
Now, along with being right and dedicated to principle for all this time, he has a special place in the history of the ideas of liberty, because he didn’t just bring a lot of people together, he has also exposed and revealed how many of us there actually are. And he has shown that the future can be much brighter as thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands and millions of Americans have become receptive to this message that many of them have been instinctually holding on to for all this time, but they just wanted to hear someone say it. Now I think there is far more of us than many of us could have ever dreamt of.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my tremendous honor to introduce one of the greatest Americans in the history of political life and the ideas of freedom. I really mean that. Ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Ron Paul.
Ron Paul: Thank you, thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you, thank you. Sounds like there is a campaign going on or something like that, thank you. Before I start I want to introduce the one granddaughter that came with me. Not too many people came with me from Texas, but Valery, my granddaughter, with her husband Jesse, is over here.
I’m sure I should go down the list and thank all the special people here who have worked so hard to put his together, but I think everybody needs to be thanked, and I thank everybody for joining this effort because it’s starting to pay off and I’m starting to get excited about what’s happening.
It used to be I thought it was a lonely fight, but I don’t think it’s so lonely any more. As a matter of fact, I think you were out there all the time, I just hadn’t heard from you. But it’s been wonderful, things are changing in Washington. I’m not the speaker yet, but you know… but they know you are out there and they’re starting to pay attention. It came out of the Presidential campaign along with the Campaign for Liberty. Numbers do make a difference. Politicians in Washington look at numbers, they look at who can raise some money and who can find some people and then all of a sudden they say, “Those views must be pretty important then”.
So, they know we exist and it isn’t just Republicans or just Democrats, it’s both. Specially those who are in marginal districts, they think, “Oh boy, we got to support your bills” and they come around and they’re very supportive. Our numbers are growing and you’ve heard the numbers.
HR 1207 – Audit the Federal Reserve
You know, that little bill we’ve introduced to just do that little trick to find out a little bit more about the Federal Reserve, HR 1207, think about 174 people right now that we have signed on to that.
Actually things have come together on that. The effort has been there for a long time before I started. You can go back to Wright Patman and Henry Gonzales and others who have talked about looking into the Federal Reserve, they knew there were problems with the Federal Reserve. And they never got anywhere because the pressure wasn’t all that great and a lot of people didn’t understand it, but the conditions are a lot different today.
Since the campaign along with the collapsing of the economy, people are looking for answers. I think what really got their attention was when the Congress immediately responded, like they usually do in any emergency, by passing legislation. The bigger the better, the less they read it it seems like it’s supposed to be better. You know, like after 9-11 they said, “Let’s pass the PATRIOT Act, we’re all patriots now, so we’ll pass the PATRIOT Act”. So, of course, there were many bills passed, but the TARP was the big one with 700 million dollars. And all of a sudden the people, the voters started asking, “Where did the money go?” Oh yea, a couple of big shots got some bonuses and then they went and retired. Tens of millions, if not billions of dollars down the drain and nobody knew where they went. So they said, “You know, you ought to find out where they spent the money”. So the idea of oversight and transparency came up, but then we were able to get their attention and say, “You know, the Federal Reserve has something to do with this too. They don’t deal in 100s of billions, they deal in trillions of dollars. It’s about time the American people find out what they are doing behind the scenes”. And this came together and that’s how it came about.
But if you had not been active it wouldn’t have happened because by my nature I’m not one to badger my colleagues and go and say, “Will you sing on this, will you sign on that” because the general tradition is ‘you sign on this and I’ll sign on this’ and there is always this tradeoff. I had to have the motivation to do it and the people have motivated me. And I understand that in this state I think you have motivated 7 out of 9 [congressmen who co-sponsored HR 1207]. That sounds pretty good to me.
The Financial Crisis
But the economy has obviously been a big issue that we’ve been dealing with in Washington these last few months. And I think there are some good things coming out of the debate. It’s similar in some ways to what happened after the crash in 1929 when we had the Depression. It was a tragedy then because Keynesianism was just coming into vogue and the challenge there was, “Well, there’s too much capitalism, too much freedom and too much gold-standard. And that is the cause.” They more or less won that argument. They dispensed with the gold standard and they went welfareism and interventionism and pseudo-socialism and that’s what we’ve been living with all these times.
So, we have another crisis, a predictable crisis. Most of us expected it would come, we couldn’t name the date it did come on. And now they’re doing the same thing all over again. But this is the intellectual fight once again. Who is going to get blamed? That is going to be the key. Who brought on this crisis, and you can listen to the news on a nightly basis and generally they say it’s because there’s not enough regulation, too much freedom, too much capitalism. But we know that it was too much cronyism, too much special interests, too much corporatism, too much inflatism and too much Federal Reserve.
And this time we have the upper edge. They can’t blame the gold standard this time. We can blame the paper standard, that’s where the problem came from and it was the abuse of the gold standard back in the 1920s and before that. Because you know, it really didn’t take too long for the Federal Reserve to show its true colors. It was established in 1913; they inflated for World War I and then we had the depression of 1921, but at least back in 1921 we had the sense not to overdo it.
But, a lot has happened, a lot has transpired. The conditions are ripe and conditions are more different than they have ever been in the history of the world. This has been the biggest financial bubble ever recorded and the origination of the bubble came from this country with the dollar because we had the dollar as the reserve standard. We had the privilege of printing the gold, and printing the money where other countries took it and they monetized our debt. It looked like magic for us. We were getting away with economic murder, so to speak, because we were living way beyond our means and we had a great deal of wealth and everybody looked at their 401ks and thought, “Boy, I’m wealthy, I’m retiring next year”. Now, a lot of them aren’t retiring next year because that wealth was fictitious and it was based on a lot of debt and a lot of foolishness that they came to light.
And now it will not be a country here and a country there, it is worldwide. Since we are the biggest debtor of the world and it originated with the dollar we will probably suffer the most because we benefitted the most. The people who had the greatest degree of the bubble right now in this country are suffering the most. If there is a bigger bubble in California and Nevada for housing than there was in Texas… Florida was big… and they of course are suffering the biggest changes. I think we as a country will probably suffer more because I believe the next leg in the economic crisis will be the credibility of the dollar. And even this very week we have seen some sharp rises in interest rates. It’s nothing like what we’re going to see, but there are some significant changes. They just can’t sell.
You know, it used to be a million, billion, 100 million, 100 billion, 100s of billions, but now it’s trillions. Trillions of dollars. Even though I am sort of attuned to this stuff it still shocks me to think that they continue to do it. But what really is shocking is that the people I know in Washington hardly blink an eye. Behind the scenes they will express a little bit of concern, but not really. But the people who come to Washington, those who are lobbying, it seems like they don’t quite grasp it. Instead of saying, “Oh you’ve run out of money, the debt is out of control, there’s two trillion dollars worth of debt this year, we better not ask for any money”. No, they come more aggressively than ever before because I think they sense it’s coming to an end. They’re all out there grabbing to see what they can get. But it’s going to go on and on.
Do you think this country is going to let California go broke? They’ll bail out California. If they can bail out car dealers and banks and AIG, they’ll bail out California. Today the President announced, or yesterday, or whenever, he announced… he announced [applause]… That wasn’t even in my speech. He announced that we, the taxpayer, are going to give the IMF a hundred billion dollars. Where is he going to get it? “Oh okay, that’s right, we have a Federal Reserve.” But he doesn’t realize that the Federal Reserve is on its last legs and he has a problem.
Now, as important as HR 1207 is in reforming and getting rid of the Fed, is the possibility of the Fed just self destructing. Probably there is a greater chance of that, but that doesn’t diminish the need for us to do what we are doing. But you know, right now even though we’re getting a lot of co-sponsors, to go through a transition and first open up the books and study the books and then have a logical transition from the system we have to a gold standard, that’s a pretty tough job. But, nevertheless, it will end. There is a big difference between what we have now and what we had after the Civil War. During the civil war we went off the gold standard and the gold prices soared up a couple of hundred dollars. And then in 1875 with the Resumption Act they announced we’re going back to the gold standard. They quit printing greenbacks, they balanced the budget, they started withdrawing some of the greenbacks and lo-and-behold, the people actually believed their government back then, and then they went and overspent. But today if we announced in Washington today that we’re going to balance the budget next year, we’re going to take all the pressure on the Federal Reserve to monetize debt. I mean, how many people would believe that. Nobody would believe it.
So that’s why I anticipate that when we have to sort all this out it’s going to quite possibly be under dire circumstances. But regardless, you work for the transition, you work for the most peaceful and graceful transition that you can have and I’ve talked about that a lot over the years about how and where you could cut if you get the political stamina to do that. And do it without necessarily hurting people, but I think it’s going to happen in a different way.
I think just as they could not predict and they could not prevent the collapse of the financial house of cards and it went quickly. And that is what happens to currencies. If you look at the history of currencies you will find that currencies go quickly at the end. Although people know they’re inflating and the currency maybe dropping and dropping, but when confidence is gone in the system, it drops off. And as I said, since this dollar system is so huge, and so worldwide, it’s going to be a big event. The real challenge then is how much of our freedoms we have, how do we pick up the pieces? And that’s what campaigning for liberty is all about.
I’m convinced that if we lost all our wealth and we had the crisis, but if we maintained and retained our liberty and had a very, very small government. A government that guaranteed property rights and contract rights and guaranteed that the money could not be counterfeited and that there would be no IRS and there would be incentives, we would be all back on our feet within a short period of time.
As a matter of fact, a good test of this… A lot of times I get asked this question, “Well, if you would happen to be the President what would you have done?” Well, I couldn’t have done too much at all unless we convince the Congress what to do, but this is what I would have asked them to do: instead of passing all these bailout packages, all these appropriations, all that inflation and more deficit, I’d say let’s just do one thing. It’s going to reduce the amount of income to the government but we’re going to have to cut spending as well. But what I would have done is just immediately repeal the income tax and just let everybody keep everything that they have.
And that probably would have been a fraction of what we spend, so it would have made a lot more sense to have the money in the hands of the people who have the incentive to go out and work. But instead what are they doing? They’re raising taxes, regulating the economy, inflating the currency, running up these deficits. And of course, the place where I have always suggested to be the first place to cut spending and come back to our senses would be the overseas spending.
But what do we do instead? We have these 100 billion dollars, it’s going to go to the IMF. Did we get a cut in the military like we were supposed to get? No. The first thing done by the President was increase the military budget by 10%. Oh sure, we’re going to bring all the troops home. Well, as soon as things get settled in Iraq I think maybe a couple dozen will come home. But I believe they are going to be there because the chaos and the violence is escalating. But more troops in Afghanistan and invading and bombing Pakistan, and that was the peace candidate? Holy man. So nothing is being cut.
I think the Senate just yesterday passed the supplemental bill. The President asked for 84 billion dollars for the supplemental war budget. We weren’t supposed to have a supplemental war budget anymore, but we did and by the time it came to the House the Democrats in the House added 12 billion dollars so it went up to 94-95 billion dollars. I think the Senate passed a little less to go to conference.
But it was a closed rule, which means the fiscal conservatives didn’t have a chance to amend it. And the talk went on and on and Republicans were just condemning those Democrats for spending all this money and it was just terrible what they were doing. The Republicans had one amendment, that is the re-committal amendment. Sending it back to the committee, they had once chance to amend the bill, and they asked to increase it by 3 billion dollars. And you wonder where they’re coming from, but it also demonstrates so clearly why we’re in such a mess. But let me tell you that you’re way ahead of the Congress, the people are ahead of the Congress, and it takes them a long time to catch up.
War on Drugs
I’ve always thought that the Congress was way behind the people on this war on drugs. I have been convinced that the people are way ahead on that. I always thought that if the people weren’t way ahead, I would have never been re-elected to Congress a long time ago, because I had been out for 12 years and went back in 1996 and they knew by that exactly what my position on the war on drugs was. And that is that the war on drugs is worthless, it’s a war on the people, it’s a war on our liberties.
And I have a Bible Belt district, it’s very, very conservative, it’s very religious and people detest drugs as I do. I think the use of drugs are horrible. Even as a physician I think most of the drugs the doctors prescribe are horrible too. I understand there is a radio talk show host… can’t think of his name… he got into trouble with some of those prescription drugs too. But my suspicion about why that never hurt is because both Republicans and Democrats spent a lot of money… that’s been ten years ago… against me on this drug issue. And it never seemed to stick. Because I think a lot of people, some kid or some relative you’ve known or somebody that got into drugs and ended up in prison and all kinds of stories. And besides, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that maybe we should think about treating somebody who is addicted to a drug. Maybe it’s something like being addicted to alcohol. What if we put all our alcoholics in prison? The trouble is that when I say that stuff in Washington there is always somebody who popped up and said, “Yea, that’s what we ought to do”.
And you know, I thought this administration would be a little bit better on that issue but so far they have not been. But it’s one area where I tend to be optimistic. I keep thinking that the country might be like they did after the prohibition of alcohol when they sort of woke up and said, “Hey, this was a dumb experiment”. And then, of course, they repealed prohibition.
But isn’t it remarkable… and that’s not so long ago that they figured they wanted to go into social engineering and tell people what to do and what they can drink, they actually thought they had to amend the constitution to tell people about that. So they amended the constitution and then they amended it again to get rid of it. Now, they don’t have anything to do with it, they just go and do these things without even considering the constitution. But you know, the drug issue has been an interesting one that I have been able to use against many liberals who might not be sympathetic with some of the things, especially if you talk about states’ rights and states’ sovereignty, that’s a turn off. That means you’re really out of it if you talk about that.
States’ Rights and Individual Freedom
But if I get on a show that I know has a liberal audience and I say, “I think that California deserves to have some states’ rights.” Maybe they’d pay their own bills, that would be one thing. But if they had enough compassionate conservatives in California that say that sick people, people who have cancer or AIDS, would be permitted to use their own marijuana and maybe get some relief, maybe the state of California ought to have the right to say that instead of the federal government coming down hard on the state and telling them what to do. And they understand that argument.
As a matter of fact, the left understands the argument about environment regulations. Some states are much stricter on what they want done and under the constitution that might not be a wise choice, but under the constitution Washington shouldn’t be telling the state of Washington or California or any state exactly what they want to do. And the previous administration was always in favor of nationalizing regulations. And they tended to even have national regulation overtake state regulation which would be stricter. Now, there is a shift where there is a recognition. But that should be used as a principle, you know. If it’s good on marijuana and good on environmental regulations, why isn’t it good for all the other issues? Maybe someday that will sink in and we’ll have this principle that local government is best.
Our problem though isn’t so much that we have to explain and show them how the federal government messes up so much. They, the opposition who likes government wants bigger government and they want world government. This is what will likely come out of this economic crisis if we don’t win this fight. They want to have another international bank, they want the United Nations and the IMF running it, they want these Special Drawing Rights, this stuff they used to called ‘paper gold’ to be the money of the world. And they want all the financial regulations to be internationalized. They’ve already started that. When you talk about the regulations of vitamins and nutritional substances, the drug companies want to regulate that under the WTO. So, that is a big problem for us too. So we not only have to deal with what we have in Washington, we also have to deal with those would have an even bigger government.
If you’re looking for advantages and opportunities in the midst of a crisis, if it’s really major, which I am expecting it to be, there’s been a lot of these resolutions passed by the states. States’ rights, 10th amendment issues and states’ sovereignty issues, and a lot of people who have no understanding of that whatsoever are coming to rallies because they know there are enough people now who are demanding this. And yet if there is a total collapse of the dollar, you know what I think will happen? I don’t think there will be secession, I think that people will just ignore Washington. I suggested to one audience that that could be possible, I know it wouldn’t be in this audience, but some of them said, “There are few who already just ignore Washington”.
We should use it as an opportunity, but the groundwork has to be laid, and that is the intellectual fight has to be won. People have to know how to defend sound money and they have to understand how to defend the free market. The biggest challenge in defending the free market is that we are always said to be the ones that have no compassion whatsoever. We don’t care for our fellow man. A bleeding heart liberal really cares. And there are a lot of bleeding hearts liberals that I know and like and I work with.
And one I talked to on the floor the other day and we were talking about the credit card bill, and the credit card bill is designed to make sure that the credit card company doesn’t gouge you with interest rates. Sounds very good, but that means that people who pay their bills have to pay more and people that don’t pay their bills get a lower interest rate. And I said, it’s like price fixing, and besides, those people borrow too much money. They shouldn’t be borrowing that money if they can’t pay it back. He said, “Yeah, but a lot of people out there are real dumb”. So he was smart and then he knew how, so that means that they have the assumption that people are dumb and therefore we’re going to tell you what you can read, what you can ingest, what you can smoke, what kind of habits you can have, what sexual preferences are and on and on because “people are dumb”. And then maybe they’ll talk about intellectual curiosity and other things that the government should regulate.
Right now we still have a fair respect for intellectual and religious freedom, but when it comes to what we put into our bodies, all of a sudden the country for a hundred years has accepted the idea that people are dumb and the government has to tell us what to do. Besides, don’t you know if you didn’t have… I think this Mr. Ed guy said the other day that if we didn’t have the Department of Agriculture, none of the food would be safe. And I was working with somebody from the left on the marijuana and hemp issue and I thought he would automatically be with me on the raw milk issue. But instead he said, “No, no. You can’t legalize raw milk because somebody might drink raw milk that isn’t safe.” So, the rationale is amazing.
But I believe the philosophy of liberty and the constitution and the principle that we take care of ourselves and help our fellow men voluntarily makes so much sense that it’s the most humanitarian system and the most viable system. It can produce the greatest amount of abundance and the fairest distribution. There is no reason why we can’t win this argument.
Car Companies, Cap & Trade, Budget Deficit
Of course we’ve had a lot of debates about the car companies. They’re getting a couple of our dollars and I guess they will still go into bankruptcy. Just think if General Motors had gone bankrupt a year ago, it probably would have been all ironed out and we might have thought it may be safe to buy General Motors’ cars again if the good part of the company was salvaged. But anyway, we pumped in some money already, they will go through bankruptcy and the company […] will have to pay higher taxes. But the new administration will put more emission standards on the car, make the car smaller and less safe, more people will die from accidents, and on and on.
And this whole idea of cap and trade, they’ll be well motivated, “Oh yes, we’re going to purify the air for ever”, but what this is going to do is it is going to liquidate your wallet forever. That’s what this is going to do. It is just a huge tax, it’s been tested in other countries and it hasn’t worked. It cost a lot of money and it didn’t change the environment in any way, and that of course is being proposed right now.
So there’s a lot of attempts to raise taxes, but you know the budget is soaring, the deficit is soaring. But we were told not too long ago by our President that we had to get control of the budget. And he proposed a 17 billion dollar cut. You know, 2 trillion dollar increase, and a 17 billion dollar cut. And it was only a cut in what was already increased. And they put that stuff out there like we are supposed to believe this, “I guess they are doing the best they can”, but that is all ending. That is all ending.
People Are Ready For Change
What is happening today is that people are losing confidence in the droves. And the one place that I have been encouraged is that the people who aren’t buying into this are the young people who are inheriting this. So that’s where I’ve been encouraged and I still go to campuses and we get large crowds out. We get young people to crowds like this and I have a lot of young people coming through my office in Washington. High school kids and college kids interested in the constitution, interested in monetary policy, interested in freedom and responsibility. So I believe that the young people will be able to figure it out and that’s what we really have to do. We really have to help people understand this because it will not come quickly, you do have to educate.
Now, the surprise to me if I would have been asked this before the campaign started last year, what kind or response I would expected, I would say probably about average like I generally have. I get 30 people out here and there. But there were a lot of people out there that had already heard about Austrian economics and sound money. It was unbelievable to see people and hear people talking about it and they knew about Mises and Hayek and all these wonderful books that have been around. The information has been out there and it is so much easier, and this is probably the reason, it is so much easier to get access to it through the Internet.
I struggled. I was curious enough and I think that’s the main thing we all ought to have because we don’t have all the answers and that’s what is wonderful about freedom: since we don’t have all the answers we don’t impose it on other people. But information is important to understand the system. But we have to be curious to try to figure it out, because I think there are some serious things to consider in environment. But you know, the marketplace… good principles of the market handles a lot of that as well because you don’t have a right to pollute your neighbor’s property. You can’t dump your garbage in your neighbor’s property, you can’t pollute people’s water, you shouldn’t pollute people’s air. But this is done with property rights, it’s not by international regulations and taxations and doing silly things and then not figuring out, is the earth is really warming or is it warming in one spot and getting cold in another spot? Or is this just part of natural occurrences.
And for people in Washington especially, if you challenge the status quo, the conventional wisdom about global warming, boy you are painted as somebody from the very, very dark ages. But the truth is that it does deserve a lot of attention and a lot of study. But that is our job, to make sure that we can answer these questions. But I don’t have any hope at all with the economic bailout programs, the recovery programs. They only know one thing, they did diagnose it, they figured the deficits were too high and there was too much debt, so they came in, “Well let’s spend more money and they run up the deficits even more and print even more money and regulate more”. So they might have sensed that there is a problem but they are just doing more of the same things that I don’t have any confidence at all other than the fact that they will contribute to the demise of the dollar.
This past week we had some major conversations on the House floor dealing with torture. Now you think maybe the issue ought to be, “Has our country been involved with torture?” and I think if you saw some pictures a few years ago it looked like we were involved in torture. And it looked like it didn’t do us any good at all around the world. It did us a lot of harm and I believe those individuals who have assessed it and said that is a strong motivation for people to join the Al-Qaida. Us being over there, us bombing their country, killing civilians, causing a lot of refugees and then also torturing people. So, if that is the case, the question is, is it legal? Well, no it’s not legal. It’s illegal under our laws, it’s illegal under international law. Is it moral? Well, from my view point it think it’s immoral. And does it do any good? There is no evidence that it does any good whatsoever. Even though there are some that would say, “Oh no, you can’t imagine how many terrorists that we have saved from coming here because we tortured people and got information”.
I had somebody, I have a little group in Washington that comes to my office, it’s called the Liberty Congress of other members, and we had a speaker a couple of weeks ago named Matthew Alexander. He’s written a book and it’s called, “How to Break a Terrorist” and he has experience. He was in the air force but he was trained in interrogation and he did over three hundred interrogations in Iraq. He was asked on numerous occasions by his superiors to torture, and he absolutely refused to do it.
And he wrote a book and talked about this, and he says – and I believe him – that he got more information than any other of our people that tortured the so called suspects and terrorists. So, that I do believe and there is every reason in the world. But is that what we were discussing this week about whether we should have an investigation to find out why we tortured and put this behind us? No, the debate was on what the CIA told Nancy Pelosi four years ago and who said what and what, and was in her notes. So the Republicans said, “What we’re going to do is we’re going to demand an investigation of Pelosi’s conversations and the CIA”. Now to that I wouldn’t have been invited to because that was just for the leadership, but we do get invited for top secret briefings about what’s going on around the world. And I have a rule; I never go.
There’s two reasons I never go. First, you never learn a thing and second, if you do go all you hear is propaganda. So why go and listen to them. And of course a lot of our members and some on our side were very sincere. They went to all this and listened to so many of their briefings and they were convinced that Saddam Hussein was about to drop a nuclear weapon on Washington DC. It was that kind of scare tactics. But that’s what they want to do instead of maybe looking into it.
So what happens in Washington when they deal with these subjects is that it becomes very, very partisan and there are days when I think it’s almost deliberate. Because policies don’t change. Here we are concentrating on this so it diverts the attention from Guantanamo. You know, all of a sudden Democrats say, “Oh, we don’t have enough money to close down Guantanamo”. They have enough money to send troops over into Afghanistan. No money was appropriated to go into Iraq. But the President didn’t wait for the appropriation, he went and sent the troops into Iraq… like there is not enough money to close down Guantanamo without a special appropriation? I mean just a maintenance fees that you run you could use it. So it’s just a distraction. I do think there is a real fight for power and control, but it is also a distracting from the real issue.
Have we really talked about a change in our foreign policy? There is no change in our foreign policy. More money than ever, more threats to more people and we’re in every bit as much trouble as ever before. So, there is a lot more that we should and could do, but under today’s circumstances I think we can’t hold our breath. The fact that we’re wondering about whether we should be over there… the argument they make is “if we fight them over there we won’t have to fight them over here”. But the whole thing is that doesn’t add up at all. They were over here. They came over here and 3,000 of our people were killed which is a terrible, terrible thing to happen, and yet the real job should be “why and what were their motivations and what’s going on”. So we go over there with the argument, “We got to go over there and fight them.” When we went over there we lost 5,000 more American and we had 30,000 severe injuries with people losing arms and legs and eyes. A million people have died, 2.5 million people were displaced.
And there are people who have long memories. I say Americans remember nothing and the people in the Middle East forget nothing. They remember everything. So, you know, those memories go for a long time. So this whole idea that all we did is make it easier for them to get us. As a matter of fact, Osama Bin Laden actually that; “we’re going to get you over here, where it is easier”. But then he said, “We’re going to bankrupt you. We’re going to bog you down just like you helped us bog down the Soviet Union.” Once time that’s we were doing as his allies, the same think. You think they would learn but they never do and that is why I anticipated that the bankruptcy will be coming.
Optimism, Honesty and the Future
This whole idea about whether or not we should be optimistic or pessimistic… Ronald Reagan had an upbeat and he was optimistic, and politicians sort of like to follow. Everybody likes to be optimistic and tell you things are okay, things are doing good. But I think that we have to understand that a little bit better. I think the optimism doesn’t come from just talking about a good time tomorrow and everything is going to be okay. I think optimism comes from telling the truth, having transparency, and no secrecy in government and letting the people know where we stand.
Then, if we’re confident with our ideas and we have traditions that we can return to and we have a document that we might follow, then there are reasons to be optimistic. On the other side of the coin, if there is total denial, if they won’t admit the truth, if there is secrecy and all we hear are the lies… You know if I can’t go to a briefing because I don’t expect to get any information, I mean, the people, you, you must think, “Who am I going to listen to, who do we believe in Washington?”
Then they can turn around and say, “It’s okay, we’re going to take care of you. Your kids need education, we’re going to give you money, oh you need healthcare, we’re going to give you free healthcare. Oh you need a house, we’re going to give you a house. Well we own the car companies now, we’re going to make sure your car companies are safe and sound. Insurance companies, we own the banks, we’ll bail you out. We have all the insurance in the world”. And eventually the people will not believe, and that’s what is happening now. They no longer believe and that is justifiable. It is going to be that this is going to spread. It’s here in this room, but it’s going to spread. There are still a lot of people. Like I said, a lot of people still come to Washington and think, “If we just get there and start lobbying and grabbing our share then we’re going to get more and we’re going to be taken care of”. But in time it’s going to change.
This is why I am so convinced that it is important that you continue to do what you are doing in the Campaign for Liberty because it isn’t what I do so much in Washington. I help along but I can’t change Washington. It’s impossible. I give a speech, sometimes somebody listens and sometimes not. A few of you might hear of it. But the solution comes from you, at the grassroots level. People so often ask me, “Well, what should I do?” Well, do what you want to do. Everybody has a different job. The most important thing is we understand the issue, the concept, our history, understand the morality of freedom, the importance of the rule of law.
The constitution is not perfect, and yet the rule of law is very important. And if we can do in the Congress whatever we want with ignoring the constitution, then the President can go to war without a declaration and the courts can do whatever they want, what’s left? All you have to do is have one or two or three things you ignore and you ruin the whole principle. So the rule of law is crucial.
They say, “Well, this is old fashioned, it’s a developing document that has to be modernized”. Well, sure, fine. Amend the constitution as necessary. But fortunately it hasn’t been amended too much, unfortunately it’s been too often ignored. So we do have the tools, we need the energy, we need the people to study and understand, and that’s why I am encouraged because I think there are a lot more now than ever before. There were so many people out there that weren’t so young that knew about this and understood it and have been studying about it, but then the attractiveness of these views to young people really should encourage all of us. Because this will make all the difference.
Have you ever watched television when there are attempts at overthrows or revolutions taking place in other countries? It’s usually on campuses. Just think about Tiananmen square, you know even though that ended badly, China changed to some degree. But it was the young people who get energized and that’s why it is so important. So when I see young people and when they tell me why they are interested in this, and this is not just 5 or 10 people, it’s literally hundreds, and not one comes in and say, “Well, we want a Pell grant. It isn’t that, so this whole idea. Really, enjoyment in life comes from self reliance and the idea that we can take care of yourselves, and only liberty can provide that for us.
In life we should strive for excellence and virtue. If we live in a free society we have a reasonable chance to have a fulfilled life doing that. If you allow government to seek out and decide what is virtuous for us and what is good for us economically, they can only do it by taking away our liberty. So that is the key to it. It is our liberty that is key to all our solutions and belief in that and conviction of that.
And believe me, I’m optimistic we can work our way out of this.
Thank you very much.
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Transcript of interview:
Michael Delavar: I’m Michael Delavar with “Campaign for Liberty” and I’m sitting with Texas Congressman Ron Paul, and he’s also the champion of the constitution and the founder of the Campaign for Liberty. Dr. Paul, would you describe exactly what “Campaign for Liberty” is?
Ron Paul: “Campaign for Liberty” is a group that was a follow-up from the presidential campaign to continue to spread this message of liberty. It’s a grassroots organization, it’s technically a C4 organization, but it’s mainly to educated and be involved in promoting certain types of legislation.
Michael Delavar: I think we can all agree that there is a lot of work to be done at the federal level to return to our constitutional limited government roots. Your “Audit the Fed” bill HR1207 has received about 170 co-sponsors, including 7 of our 9 representatives here in Washington State. Would you talk for a moment about how we can make real progress with non-partisan, common sense bills, and the limitations of partisanship?
Ron Paul: Well, I don’t think you will ever get rid of the partisanship, because they’re always struggling to have power. Sometimes they don’t even argue over the issues as much as just partisanship, they just want to know who’s going to be in charge.
But there are certain pieces of legislation that will cross party lines and they have to be timed right. The reason the HR1207, the transparency bill of the Fed, is so popular is because it happens to be a time when we’re in a midst of an economic crisis and people are trying to figure out what’s wrong and they know Congress is spending money like crazy and they know that it’s being done irresponsibly and they appropriate hundreds of billions of dollars and they don’t know where it goes and it ends up into some of the companies that are bankrupt and are paying these exorbitant retirement benefits.
Then when they hear that the Federal Reserve gets involved in trillions of dollars, the people become outraged too. So that’s why the Democrats have joined a lot of us in the Republican Party to ask for opening up the books to find out exactly what they have done. We’ve never known exactly what the Fed has done, but as long as the economy was perking along they figured, “Well, they’re taking care of things”. But now that we’re in trouble and we’re calling attention to the fact that the Federal Reserve has contributed to this problem, then there is a clamor now at the grassroots level.
It makes a big difference and that’s where the Campaign for Liberty has comes in, because they’ve been able to spread that message and get people at the grass roots level to ask their members of Congress to support the bill. So, it is a reflection that the system can work. If people are energized enough and the people are concerned enough, they will bring about changes.
Michael Delavar: I’ve noticed that you lead by example, and one of the examples that I’ve noticed is that you don’t speak badly about people publicly. Have you found that you have gained allies in Congress by not talking negatively in public in a negative partisan fashion? And what suggestions do you have for your supporters as they begin their grassroots activist careers?
Ron Paul: Yeah, and sometimes it’s not easy because I never liked a foreign policy in the last eight years and it’s hard to talk about foreign policy and not personalize it with a President or a Vice President. But usually I would rather talk about the administration or the president rather than using names. Because I want it to be a philosophical argument and an issue argument, and I think it does help.
I think what helps me get along with the Democrats as well as the Republicans is always voting on a set of principles. Everybody knows what my principles are and if the chips fall where even though I am a Republican supporting the Democratic side, you get some respect from them at least. But sometimes, of course, it works both ways. Sometimes it will annoy the Republicans if you don’t just stand on the party line. But I think overall in the long term people will respect the positions that you take if you do it on principle.
Michael Delavar: Many lobbying organizations attempt to activate their members to pressure Congress to vote against bills. And while this is important, it’s only half the battle. In order to have limited constitutional government we also have to actual legislations to undo regulations, if you will. And having HR 1207, the Audit the Federal Reserve bill, as a flagship activity of Campaign for Liberty, is this a taste of the positive actions to come? In other words, not just negative pressure but positive solutions?
Ron Paul: Well, I think partially so. I mean it doesn’t give the answer but it’s working towards an answer because we are opposing the secrecy. So almost everything that is positive is negative as well. So if you’re against the government intrusion in our privacy, you are for personal liberties.
I think it should lead to the stage where you’re have to decide what you’re going to replace this system with. We think the Federal Reserve is bad, we think paper money is bad, then we have to have a substitute. Of course, you don’t have to come up with anything totally creative about that, maybe just read the constitution and we might find the answer.
But there will be a challenge. We just can’t go from where we are and snap your fingers and have the Federal Reserve System undone. There are ways you can work transitions, so I think the first step was to get attention of as many people as possible to say that there is something wrong with the Federal Reserve, we need to look into the policy. And the responsible position is for Congress to have oversight.
Michael Delavar: Dr. Paul, on behalf of Washington State Campaign for Liberty members, I thank you for your service to your nation and also I thank you for taking the time to speak with us.
Ron Paul: Thank you very much.