As part of a project sponsored by C-SPAN and Comcast Cable to encourage dialog between students and national figures, Representative Ron Paul talked to students at Ballou High School in Washington, D.C. Topics included the beginnings of his political career, the Constitution, and monetary policy. Following his remarks he answered questions from the students.
Event: C-SPAN’s Students & Leaders
Date of recording: 5/14/2009
Date of airing: 5/27/2009 and 5/28/2009
Commentator: C-SPAN hosted its fifth Students & Leaders series earlier this month, giving high school students the opportunity to speak with policy makers, journalist and others from the world of politics. This time C-SPAN taped these series in Washington DC public high schools. Two-time Presidential candidate and Texas Congressman Ron Paul participated at Ballou Senior High School, located in the south-eastern part of the city. This is about an hour.
John Davis: Good morning everyone, I want to welcome you to C-SPAN’s Students and Leaders series. We are very, very excited to be at Ballou High School today and to start us off I want to introduce one of the student leaders here at Ballou, Royelle Jones who will be going to China this year as she applied in a program and was awarded that as one of the DC PS students that gets to visit China. So, Royelle.
Royelle Jones: Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m introducing to you today Mr. Ron Paul. He is part of the House of Representatives, a member of the House of Representatives. He has made many, many, many decisions being with them. He has become a doctor, he has served in the Air Force, he has done many things. He has delivered many babies, he has done many things. He has delivered many babies, of course. Excuse me for my nervousness. But, he has been a wonderful person, he has helped out with so many things and so many people in the Air Force, like a lot of people. He has helped out with lots of things and it is my honor to introduce to you today Mr. Ron Paul.
Ron Paul: Thank you. Thank you very much, it’s real nice to be here and I see a lot of you are smiling. That must mean you’re glad you’re not in class today, right? Instead you get to do this. But this can be a lot of fun because hopefully you will learn something and hopefully I can learn something as well. And I particularly like to talk to young people because you’re at the age now that you’re inheriting this system and so you better know something about it because there are a lot of problems out there.
When I was your age, when I was in high school and even when I went through college I never thought about politics. I had no interest in it, I was studying hard and I worked my way through college and at the same time I wanted to go to medical school. So I was pretty busy and I didn’t think about politics at all. I never met a Congressman in high school, I never met a Congressman when I was in college. It was many, many years later before I had ever met anybody who held any office at all.
So it is something that can be an advantage to you. I know you live in Washington, but many young people come to Washington to visit from around the country and they are only a small number of people who actually come to Washington and sometimes when you live in an area you don’t really know a whole lot about it. You take it for granted. For instance I went to college at Gettysburg College, but in four years I was there I never studied about the battle of Gettysburg. I never traveled around. I was not like a tourist; a tourist can go in and learn more about it in a short period of time. But you live in DC and my guess is that some of you take it for granted. You don’t realize what is available and what you can find out about it.
But I got interested in politics quite a few years ago. It was after I’d started my medical practice which was in 1968. But we had financial problems then just like we have now. We had a lot of inflation and problems that the government didn’t seem to be doing much to solve them. So I went and started studying economics on my own and there are a couple of branches of economics that you will learn about as time goes on. And I just thought, “The government’s doing the wrong thing”. And therefore I thought, “Well, what am I going to do? I’m going to speak out and I’ll run for Congress”. I thought that nothing would come out of it.
I remember telling my wife that I’m running for Congress and she thought it would be a dangerous thing to do. I asked why would it be dangerous. She said, “You could end up getting elected” and I said, “I don’t think so, because I don’t know anything about that, I just want to talk about economic policy”. And lo and behold, it led to a sort of a career in politics. But I feel very lucky. I think that in spite of all the problems this country has, I feel very unfortunate to live in a country where I was able to work my way through school, become a doctor, become a surgeon and at the same time get involved in politics and speak out and get elected to Congress.
And it’s that system that I think so much of. A system of opportunity where people, if they’re ambitious enough and want to do it in spite of all the handicaps and roadblocks it’s still available. There’s a lot of things available to a lot of us if we can look on the positive side and get over the obstacles. I think that’s the biggest challenge that we have.
But I got involved around 1974 when I ran for Congress. It was a special election, I didn’t win that election but then ended up winning a couple of years later. But I was there in the Congress for four terms, not quite eight years and I decided that I didn’t want to be a politician, I didn’t expect to win, I didn’t like being there and I didn’t want to stay there and I missed practicing medicine and I missed delivering babies. I didn’t miss staying up the whole night, but I missed delivering babies so I went back home and I had 5 kids and they were going through college and through medical school as well. So I had some obligations there that I couldn’t meet by staying in the Congress. So I went home, went back to medicine and did that for 12 years.
And then in 1996 I decided, “Well, maybe the country is willing to look at some of these problems differently, like how I have been looking at them, and maybe they will change their attitude”. And I ran again and once again I thought, “Well, it’s going to be difficult” because I didn’t get support of the political party. I always ran as a Republican and at that time the district I was in never had a Republican, it was always Democrat. So I thought this is not likely to happen. But, I ran again and was elected. I’ve been in the Congress since and I’ve always had an interest in monetary affairs.
That is the money system because I think it’s so important because, you know, if your money doesn’t buy anything or if gasoline goes from 1 dollar a gallon to 4 dollars a gallon, it doesn’t take a whole lot to figure out that’s a big burden on you. And this is the kind of thing that concerned me, so I spoke out once again on this issue.
But my approach has always been that there are two things. Something what we believe in and what the government should do, and also what we call the rule of law, what you’re allowed to do. And I contended that in Washington, in the Congress there is not very much respect for the rule of law. There is not much respect for the constitution. And I brought a copy of the constitution, it’s not very complicated. All of you could read this and understand it.
But I can’t even read the bills we pass over in the house floor. They’re too complicated. They might be thousands of pages at times and they’re spending money and undermining our freedoms and passing things like the PATRIOT Act, invading our privacy, going to war and it’s all done without anybody fully understanding it. And yet, this little document tells you what the government is allowed to do and what it’s not allowed to do. It’s very clear and very explicit. There shouldn’t be that much debate on it. And yet it generally is ignored in the Congress.
Now that doesn’t mean that this is a perfect document. But the principle of the rule of law, following the rules, that is very important. If there is something in here, as the original document had many infractions and errors, but it should be changed and there is provision on how you change these laws if you don’t like it, and that’s through amending the constitution. Because if you allow the Congress, if you allow the courts or if you allow the President just to ignore it and say, “Well, we don’t have to protect the fourth amendment which protects your privacy. We don’t have to, you might be a terrorist so we don’t respect your privacy and we’re going to spy on you. We’re going to listen to your phone calls and look at your emails and everything else and ignore the fourth amendment”… what else is left in here? Is the first amendment left in there and is the second amendment left? Is the ninth and tenth amendment left in it? Nothing is left if the Congress or the courts or the President can ignore certain provisions.
Take for instance since World War II, we’ve had to fight a lot of wars. When I was in high school one of my teachers was called back because he had been in World War II. He was called back, went to Korea, he was killed over there. It was an undeclared war. We went there under the provision of the United Nations. The Congress didn’t even declare the war. And this booklet says, only the Congress can take this country to war. So as far as I am concerned it was an illegal war, a lot of people died. We’re still in Korea, you’re still paying for it and you’ll pay for it for a long time. We’ve been there for 50 years.
Then along came the 1960s. I was in college and medical training. And once again the government was drafting individuals out, me included, off to Vietnam. That war was undeclared and we lost that war. 60,000 Americans were killed, it was never declared just because they didn’t care a hoot about the constitution.
And now it’s continued. We’ve been in Iraq, we’re in Afghanistan, we’re now expanding the war into Pakistan and believe me, you’re on the hook for this financially. And also there may be a draft again. We haven’t had a draft recently, but there could be again because now they’ve taken this Americorps program which sounds good on the surface, but it could be compulsory service.
Now I believe in voluntary service, but I don’t believe in compulsory service. I think your life is your own, you can do with it what you want and you ought to be able to keep the fruits of your labor. But for the government to come in and compel you to serve the government…?
A lot of times you will hear, “You’re an 18 year old, you’re almost 18. You owe something to your country”. See, I don’t buy into that. If there is a war and it’s a really necessary war and a declared war, why would you as a 18 year owe more to your country than a 48 year old. The 48 year old has lived well and has had a lot of benefits from it. So I don’t buy this idea that your life is worth less and that we can draft you or send you off and fight no-win wars. And that’s essentially what we’ve been involved in, and it costs a lot of money. We now are in a 130 countries around the world. Our military is there.
Now who do we blame? Do we blame George Bush or Obama? No, we blame a philosophy that’s been around for a hundred years because of neglect of the constitution. It doesn’t give us the authority to be the policeman of the world or pretend that we can practice nation-building. That is not what was intended.
That doesn’t mean we don’t care or we can’t help people. But if we are a free and prosperous people, then people will want to emulate us and we should set a good example and we should voluntarily help a lot of people. But once we use coercion to bring about changes then you’ve overstepped the bounds of personal liberty. And that’s basically the way our government is run; by coercion. Whether you want to help this group, you got to take from this group. Whether or not you want to make this group better and make sure their habits are sound and that they don’t gamble or smoke or drink, then you have to take away their freedoms to do this.
Or if they say, “Well, we don’t like the leaders in Pakistan, we should change that leadership”. We’ve been doing that for decades. As a matter of fact, the reason why we’re fighting so much now and arguing with the Iranians is because in 1953 our government, our CIA went in and overthrew an elected leader.
And we say that we must use force to impose democracy around the world? We haven’t proven that we really care about democracy because if we have an election oversees that we promote and the wrong guy wins and we don’t like him, we don’t accept the election. So, we can’t force people to do things they don’t want to do. If you have some habits, no matter what we do with force, it’s not going to change it. It’s going to be up to you.
There is one limitation on this freedom that I want to promote, and that is, you can have freedom to make up your own mind about your own lives and how you want to spend them or how you want to waste them. But don’t mess with your neighbor. Don’t mess with your neighbor’s property, don’t hurt other people, don’t steal from people and then the incentive system really will work. That is what has been proven over the centuries, that there is more prosperity and better distribution of wealth the freer the country is. The more coercive it is and the more control there is more the government redistributes the wealth and tells you what you can do and telling people overseas what to do, the less prosperity we will have.
You’ll say, “Well, some of these people really need help. We got to go over there…Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, we have to go over there and get him.” And just think of the costs of it. We’ve lost 5,000 people over there already, probably wounded 30,000 people. Hundreds of thousands if not a million civilians over there have been killed, which only antagonizes the people to drop more hatred toward us.
So, the evidence that this is successful is not there. Besides, it costs a lot of money and we’re flat out broke. If you look at what’s happening to the deficit you should be concerned because all you need to know is about arithmetic. You don’t need to know about the politics, you don’t need to know trigonometry. All you need to know is little bit of arithmetic that right now our government is spending more than two trillion dollars a year that they don’t have.
And they say, “So what? Pay the bills, borrow the money. China will loan us the money. If we come up short, print the money”. That doesn’t make any sense, and it was this money issue that has driven me for so many years because what do you think would happen if you had the right to the printing press, the treasury and you could print the money. Would you have an incentive to work? No. Why? If you did too much of it, wouldn’t the value of that money fall? I mean, it would be like monopoly money. But the whole world operates on this notion, this almost insane idea that the world can have wealth by printing pieces of paper.
And if you know anything about history, whether it’s the runaway inflation of our early years with the continental dollar, whether it was the inflation of the civil war period, whether there was the inflation in Mexico where they had to destroy the currency, whether it was the inflation of Germany, whether it was the current inflation going on in Zimbabwe. You know, for a loaf of bread you might pay 5 million dollars for a loaf of bread in Zimbabwe. I mean, you just can’t print money and think it has wealth. And that is the subject that I think young people have been attracted to during the campaign and the talks about giving over the last several years because they’re looking into the Federal Reserve.
The Federal Reserve does this and they have the absolute protection of privacy. The government invades your privacy and wants to know everything that you do, and yet government becomes more secret. More secret all the time. And it’s not partisan, it’s bipartisan. Economic policy, both parties are always essentially the same. It’s an essential attack on your liberties, on what you do with your habits and the policies overseas.
You know, I was hoping we would have a change in the foreign policy, and we’d be less aggressive, we’d come home from Iraq… The war is getting bigger by the day over in the Middle-East and they have for centuries been trying to occupy and control Afghanistan. I’ve been over there, it is the most mountainous, wildest region in the world and since Roman times no foreign nation has ever conquered the Afghan people.
As recently as the 1980s the Soviets were there. They went bankrupt, their whole system collapsed because they did more than they could afford. And that, unfortunately, could happen here. The system could collapse because the money won’t work anymore. We know the financial system has collapsed and that’s why we have a recession and all these bailouts and all this spending and all. So it’s a great burden that is being placed on your generation, but the truth is that it’s not all that complicated. The answers can be found in here (the constitution).
If you come up with money how do you keep the inflation from coming? Don’t print it. Use gold and silver as legal tender. What about foreign policy? Follow the constitution and you can have a strong national defense but you have no authority to police the world.
Does the federal government have the right to go into a place like California? Marijuana happens to help sick people and in California they legalized it for medical reasons. And the federal government violates the rights of the state by going into California and arresting the people who are in wheelchairs taking marijuana when they’re getting treatment for cancer or for AIDS.
And two problems there are first: I believe that people should make their own choices and second: it shouldn’t be the federal government. That means if the federal government becomes intrusive into what the states are doing. So what I talk about is the ideas of the principle of personal liberty and personal responsibility, following the constitution, and then for us to be more creative. Once you have your freedom people become more creative, there is more incentives, there is more wealth and there’s a greater ability to share in that wealth.
But as soon as you use government force, the whole thing comes down and I’m afraid that is what you’re witnessing. But overall, in spite the problems I am describing I am fairly optimistic, because I have talked to a lot of people in your age group around the country in the last two years and, believe me, they are very open to the views that I’m talking about and they’re very open to studying monetary policy. They’re open to looking to studying the constitution and looking at our traditions because we truly have been a very wealthy country and we have been a good country.
But we have, in the last several decades especially, been living on borrowed money. You can’t do that forever; eventually people catch up. And right now China… we call them a bunch of communists… well, they’re pretty good capitalist. They make stuff, we buy stuff. They have a trillion dollars of our money, they loan it back to us and they, in a way, are getting ahead of us. We become more socialistic, they become more market oriented. So, it is a challenge so I am delighted that I could come and visit with you and hopefully stir your interest to reinstate the constitution and reinstate what personal liberty is all about and personal responsibility, because that is what will make the difference.
Thank you very much.
And now I understand that we’ll have time for questions.
Student 1: You came into politics as a Republican, right? Are you still a Republican?
Ron Paul: I am in the Republican Party.
Student1: Okay, and from what I have learnt, Republicans are supposed to be against abortion and gay marriage but you seem like you have this stand where you say, “It’s your life, do what you want”. What does that make you?
Ron Paul: She asked what am I because it doesn’t sound like I am Republican, and if I get to define myself I say I am a strict constitutionalist because I believe in the rule of law.
I believe that the founders of the country were libertarians, they believed in liberty, and that is a little bit different. But on the two issues that you brought up, you brought up abortion, what was the other issue… and gay marriage. See, I think it’s very easy for me to deal with it from the federal level. The government should have nothing to say about that at the federal level. It should just be out of it. And for some religious conservatists it is offensive. Freedom can encourage people to do things that are rather offensive.
I speak out about the removing of all these horrible drug laws and putting so many people into prison for non-violent crimes. But the last thing I would do is use one of the drugs because, you know, I’m not interested in that.
On the abortion issue, I happen to be a what I call “right to life libertarian” because I believe the government should protect all life. There is a very limited amount of responsibility for the government, and that is to protect life and liberty. Now, as an OB doctor let me tell you that if I have a patient that’s eight months pregnant and I see a baby in there that weighs eight pounds, has a heartbeat and sucks his thumb and everything else, if I hurt that baby I can get sued. If you’re in a car accident and kill a baby that’s still in the mother you’re in big trouble. I mean it’s a homicide because you’ve killed a person. So I think life is very precious and should be protected.
But once again I don’t want any federal laws. The federal government should never pay for abortions, even if you conclude that abortions could be legal in some states, you never want the government to pay for it because it is so offensive to people who are “right to life”. To take money from people who are “right to life” and give it to people who are going to commit an abortion is very bad. So I want the federal government out of it. The states would deal with it and it wouldn’t be perfect, there would still be abortions done under circumstances.
But right now to argue… see I can’t accept the libertarian argument for abortion which is that it’s your life, it’s your body, you can do with it what you want. But you know, it’s a little bit more than just your body. Because there are two lives involved in the legal aspect and there is a difference. And I think the states should work it out and it’s not perfect but once the federal government, like the courts came in and legalized abortion all the way up to birth, even in the third trimester, that’s what Roe vs. Wade did, and the federal government shouldn’t even have heard the case. I believe those things should be handled at the state level.
And on the marriage, we’re in a mess over all this definition of marriage. I personally know how I define marriage. If you want to define it some other way then that’s your business. But you can’t impose your definition on me and I can’t impose my definition on you.
But, we didn’t always have the government involved in marriage. 150 years ago I don’t even think they had licenses. Now if you want to get married you got to get a license. But I think it should be a personal decision whether it’s secular, you can have a legal party getting together, but you want to go to church, you’re married. But I don’t think the government should make the definition. That would have avoided all this argument and fussing on how you define it. Well, define it the way you want. I don’t have a right to impose my definition on you, and you don’t have a right to impose on me the type of relationship that you call marriage. So that to me seems to be a pretty easy answer, but we’re not there. It’s either you believe my way or you believe my way; and it just ends up with fighting.
Another question? Here we go.
Student 2: I know you’ve been in the Air Force, so coming out of the Air Force how was the transition to a new different type of lifestyle? How was that?
Ron Paul: She asked about my Air Force experience. I went through medical school at Duke Medical School and then I went up to the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and I was in what we call internal medicine, that’s general medicine. I was in a residency then and I was in my second year and the Cuban crisis came up and that was in October 1962 and I got drafted.
But the draft letter said “You’re drafted in the army as a buck private”. Which meant, “Holy man, I’m a buck private, I’m going to end up going to Vietnam”. I wanted to finish my medical training. But they had a clause in there that said, “But, if you volunteer and join whatever service you want, we’ll make you a captain and allow you to practice medicine”.
So I always tell my veterans group, “I immediately volunteered”. So even though there was the pressure of the draft I volunteered. I was interested in flying and became a flight surgeon and I spent 5 years in the Air Force. Of course, I wasn’t looking forward to it, but I decided to make the best of it even though I didn’t believe in the draft, and I didn’t really believe in the war. I wanted to make the best of it and I didn’t have to serve in Vietnam. While I was in in 1962, Vietnam wasn’t quite as hot as later on and then I was in the reserves and I was back in my training when Vietnam got much worse.
The transition wasn’t too great. Actually going into the military we made the best of it and wow, I thought I was a very rich man because I got paid $700 a month and we had 3 kids and I thought that was a tremendous amount of money. And I talk about that because when I was in the military I wanted a little more training and I wanted a couple more dollars, so I was doing moonlighting. I was in San Antonio and I went to a hospital called the Santa Rosa Hospital, it was a catholic hospital, it was before Medicaid and Medicare, before government was really involved. So I went there and I would work for 12 hours a night and I worked 3 nights a month and I got $33 a night, so that turns out less than $3 an hour.
And the most amazing thing was that a lot of sick people came, people that were injured all came here but nobody was asked what their income was and nobody was turned away. There was nobody in the streets without medical care and yet the government wasn’t there. So this idea that if you don’t have a government taking care of everything, isn’t true. The government is inept in almost everything it does. And so even back then medical care was delivered in a different way.
And I enjoyed doing this, I had more time off actually than before. But I was ready to go back and I finished up my residency. That’s when I changed my course and I went back and then I did OBGYN and I found that to be a very happy part of medicine and I enjoyed that an awful lot too.
Student 3: What are your ideas to improve the economy as far as unemployment?
Ron Paul: Okay. Now this is tough one: How do you improve the economy and get rid of the unemployment? We have the problem because a lot of mistakes were made and when government makes mistakes, when they inflate a currency and they print money and cause interest rates to be lower than they should be, the economy works differently. It makes a lot of mistake, it borrows too much, there’s too much debt, they might be building too many houses. So there are a lot of imbalances, we call it malinvestment. So, when the crisis comes as a consequence of government’s pervious mistakes what you want is a correction.
And before the Depression, the corrections would come because we had the same kind of mischief before, the correction would come, the government never assumed the role that we had to keep prices up and interfere and take care of everything and bail out rich bankers and give these huge salaries and appropriate hundreds of billions of dollars. What they did [instead] was they allowed the correction to occur, so what I would have strongly advised is just get out of the way. If people are bankrupt, if General Motors is bankrupt there is no reason to further penalize you by giving you greater debt and printing more money and giving you inflation. They’ll give you gasoline prices at $4 a gallon. So I would want to get away.
Now for the immediate help to try to stimulate things, instead of the Federal Reserve creating literally trillions of dollars that we’re not allowed to know about, and the hundreds of billions of dollars by the Congress that gets out of the way and ends up helping people get their bonuses and their retirement benefits… instead of that what I would have done is I would have gotten rid of the income tax, and that means everybody who was working all of a sudden would have a big boost in their income and that would have cost some money because it would be less revenues to the government. But it would probably have been 1/10th of what it would cost when you bail out people and give money to the special interests.
And I just think that the whole country would have been better off and then there would have been an incentive if all of a sudden you know, “If I get a job now, even if I get a job at McDonald’s or wherever”, instead of taking out Social Security and all this stuff, all of a sudden you get the whole check. It increases the paycheck. This would have helped people a lot; it would have increased the incentives.
But the most important thing is to allow the bankruptcies. General Motors was bankrupt; it should go bankrupt. The good parts should be sold off. Ford is doing differently, the Japanese cars are doing differently, so there is no reason why people who ran their companies efficiently be penalized by bailing out the guys that messed up. It’s the wrong thing to do.
The people who saved their money, ran their companies adequately, should be rewarded by buying up the assets of the companies that went bankrupt. Instead, we don’t allow that.
For instance, people say, “The housing crisis… the bursting of the housing bubble is a problem. Alright, what we want to do is prop the prices of houses up and stimulate housing”. There are 19 million houses unsold, so you don’t need more houses. And what you don’t need if somebody bought a house for $100,000 it went to a $150,000 and they borrowed against it, they should go bankrupt because they shouldn’t have borrowed a $150,000 against it.
So what you want to do is get out of the way and let that $150,000 house go to a $100,000, maybe down to $50,000. Then the poor people could buy the houses. You know, when the price gets low enough it’s a benefit to the poor person who literally was able to work and save and take care of themselves and they should be rewarded.
So I’d have a lot less government, it quit printing the money, I’d balance the budget, I’d bring our troops home. That’s where I would save the money initially. I would balance the budget. We spend about a trillion dollars running around the world telling people how to live. And that, believe me, is one of the strongest incentives for terrorists to attack us because we’re over there bombing and killing innocent people and it really gets them angry and we’re still doing that so we’re still endangered because of that policy, and it’s not because we don’t torture enough people, believe me. We don’t need to torture anybody. But what we need to do is treat people differently.
So there is no way you can snap your fingers and correct this because this bubble has been building for 35 years. It’s huge and it’s worldwide and unfortunately I think it’s going to get worse but the big question is if the dollar quits working what are you going to do about it. If you just say, “Oh well, we need a stronger government, we need more control of our lives, we need more controls of the economy, we need to send more troops around the world because war stimulates the economy”, believe me, you won’t see a prosperous American for a long time. But the answers for that is right here in our constitution.
Student 3: What made you come from being a doctor to want to become a President?
Ron Paul: Okay, she asked what was it that made me sort of change course or add to the course from being a doctor and then getting involved in politics, in particular to be President. It’s been mainly the concern about the economy and personal liberties. I am so convinced that if tomorrow if the whole country is broke, the rich and the poor all the same were all broke, the most important element to get wealth back again would be freedom. That would be the incentive to work and save and to keep what you earn.
So that became so important that I decided to speak out. Now the presidential race was something that I had to be talked into because quite frankly I got a lot more attention in that race than I ever dreamed I would because I believe I’m just a little bit ahead of the game and that people aren’t quite ready for having this significant change.
How many here heard my name before today? Anybody? A couple. During the Presidential campaign? Is that when you heard it? Okay. Like I said earlier that I feel very lucky that I could do both medicine and politics and that’s the great part of the country that’s available to us. But one thing that is not available so easily is to do it outside the Republican and the Democratic party. I was asked the question, “are you really a Republican?”
But, you know, policies never really change. The Federal Reserve always prints money. The deficits are always growing, we’re always involved in our personal lives from our government and the foreign policy stays the same. And if you happen to be a more progressive individual and a good friend of mine is Ralph Nader and he’s run for President over the years, but he runs on a principle and we don’t agree on a lot of things but we really agree on many things, you know. But the laws are biased. If you want to compete and challenge the status quo you have to challenge what’s in the Republican and Democratic Party.
If you do that in a third party, you know, you can’t get on the ballot, you can’t get in debates. I wouldn’t have been in the debates last year if I was running on a third party ticket. They don’t care. It’s real hard to get on the ballot. The Republicans and Democrats make it difficult. You have to have all these signatures, you spend most of your money just trying to go to court and try to get your name on the ballot.
So we don’t have a very good democratic system here. We pretend that we think we do because we pretend that we argue between Republican and Democrats but that’s just all superficial. Then we go over and send our troops over and we die “spreading democracy” and yet here we could improve ourselves. So I claim that we shouldn’t be so critical of others until we are much better ourselves and I believe if we want to spread the goodness of America we better do it by setting an example rather than thinking you can coerce people.
Same way, if I think your habits have gotten screwy and I want you to change your habits, me writing a law or trying to force you won’t matter. I think gambling is bad and a law against gambling really doesn’t work. I think those kind of things have to be solved by individuals deciding it’s in their best interest not to be involved.
Student 4: Hello, Mr. Paul. My name Regina and I wanted to know during your childhood years growing up what did you want to be? Were your parents around and how was it?
Ron Paul: That’s interesting. Very good. Like I said earlier on while I was in high school, you’ve thought more today about what’s going in the government and being somebody than I ever dreamed of when I was in high school. I spent most of my time working hard and going to school and I loved sports. I was very much involved in track and other sports like that. But I didn’t really have a firm grasp on what I wanted to do. We used to have these aptitude tests, “What am I inclined to do?”. I guess you still take those things. Every time I took one of those most of the time it said that I wanted a job outdoors, and I’m still like that because like this morning, I got up early enough to ride on my bike for ten miles, you know.
That’s what I love most, getting outdoors and spending time and in the evening to walk 2 or 3 miles. But I never got a job in the outdoors and I never thought of medicine. I didn’t think of medicine till I was a junior in college. So, I have a grandson right now who happens to be going deaf and he has only about 2% of his hearing left and he’s real worried and he’s getting into college and he doesn’t know what he can do or wants to do. He really has a tough job. I say, “Just relax. It will come.” I can’t imagine that you all know exactly what you want to do with your life. But the most important thing is to make it productive. I think when people are productive is when they really enjoy life, and no matter what you do not only should you be productive, you should enjoy it. And that’s one thing in politics, you know, I’ve enjoyed it.
But in high school I never thought about what I would do long term. Early on I thought about teaching and maybe coaching. I did well in high school biology. I took biology and did well and I made it my major and I thought I could be a teacher in biology. And then I went on a little bit further and I had a notion about being a veterinarian because I loved animals too. But I went on and visited some veterinarians on some work they had to do. And I can’t tell that story here, but believe me, I can remember coming back after witnessing a procedure I didn’t like. I wasn’t sick to my stomach but I could have been. I came back and I remember the veterinarian and this was out in the countryside in Pennsylvania (I was raised in Pittsburgh), and I came back and I saw these kids… I remember this so clearly… I saw these kids running up and down the drive way and I thought, “Boy, I think I’d rather take care of the kids than the animals”. So, that’s when I changed my mind and decided to go to medical school.
But I think if you’re uncertain what you want to do, I think that’s normal and natural but just look that still in spite of all these obstacles there is tremendous opportunity. If you’re interested in economics look into Austrian economic because you won’t generally learn in college Austrian free-market economics and gold standard, because you’re supposed to be some kind of kook if you believe in the gold standard. But I keep thinking, it’s a kooky idea that if you just print money it has value. You know, you print a piece of paper and you put a “1” and it’s a dollar, and you put a “0” after the “1” and it’s worth ten times as much. Wow, that’s pretty neat. But that of course brings our problems.
But all I would do is just believe that there is something out there and there is no reason why you can’t be productive. If you’re productive you will have fun, if you feel like you’re lonely at times you associate with like minded people. For a long time the views I have talked about there might have been a couple of hundred of us in the whole country. Now we literally have millions of people talking about this because everybody is realizing that the system we have had has failed. So be positive in spite of everything. And you have to be realistic too because you can’t say, “Oh okay, looks tough, I can’t get a job, the government is going to take care of me”. But you’re the government, you know. Where are you going to get the money? It just doesn’t happen? But there is reason to be optimistic about it.
Okay, I’ll go back here first.
Student 5: I overheard you say back when you were young you were talking about your wife and she said that she was afraid of you getting elected. I would say that was a good thing so what might she have been afraid of?
Ron Paul: He is asking about when I told my wife she said it was dangerous because I could get elected. And the point being not real physical danger. I kid when I tell this story at home and I say, “She’s not even into the conspiracy”, as if somebody is going to get me because it’s a dangerous thing for me to speak out. No, she saw it as a danger because we were married in my last year in college, so she worked my way though medical school. She worked and then I went through residency and then I went through the military and then I went back and did another residency. I got 33 years old before I got my first real job and then it was probably six or seven years later that I ran for Congress and my practice was really a great practice. I was the only OB doctor, probably too busy, in that whole county. I was delivering all these babies, I ended up delivering 4,000 babies and doing surgery, and I loved it. To her the danger was, “You’re going to mess up our family liFe. You’ve going to mess this up. You’re going to be running off to different places, our income is going to change” and all this. So, that was her idea of it being dangerous.
Student 6: What was your best moment in medicine?
Ron Paul: Best moment in medicine? That’s an interesting question. The best moment in medicine… I guess there are several but they’re very similar. Since I was an OBGYN there were a lot of times I felt very good about taking care of difficult cases or doing difficult surgery or finding a cancer very early and being able to cure the patient. All those gave me a great sense of satisfaction.
But one day somebody came in and I was the only OB doctor there and I was in my office doing a practice and they called and they said, “This woman is pregnant and she is not your patient, she goes elsewhere to a doctor 50 miles away. She can’t get there and she’s hemorrhaging and she’s totally in shock and she has the afterbirth broke loose”. And that’s what we call an abruption. It breaks loose and it’s not a little bit of bleeding. I mean, she was in total shock, she probably lost 2/3rds of her blood. So she was unconscious from that and so I said, “Get her ready”. And you know I had to take their word for it and I knew she was bleeding and I didn’t know where she was bleeding from and I had no time to talk to her or her family or anybody else. So I rushed in and I was probably the fastest c-section I ever did. By the time I arrived to get the baby out and make the bleeding stop it took about 3 minutes. I always felt like maybe it doesn’t happen quite as dramatic as that, but to think that I was able to do that it that quickly and the baby survived too. She couldn’t have lived 5 or 10 more minutes, because she had no blood and they didn’t have time to [...]. So it took me about 5 minutes to get to the hospital and then the patient was ready, I walked in and did it. I thought, “Well, you know that’s pretty neat that I was able to do that”, and that’s what I was supposed to be doing. That’s what doctors get paid for.
I have a very open mind in all these things. I believe that midwifes are fine and home deliveries are okay if you know the risk and you have somebody to take care of the emergencies because there are emergencies like this. And if you’re at home and you have this happen it’s very, very dangerous. So, if you have medical personnel that might not be MDs I think that’s okay. But you have to plan to take care of emergencies like this and get them to the hospital and have the care. I always claim that the doctors are trained. Sometimes you will have the opposite happen. The patient you’ve been taking care of for nine months, she is rushed into the hospital and she delivers on the way or delivers before you get there and everybody is supposed to feel so bad about that. Everybody does, they’re disappointed because you’re not there and the patient gets scared thinking, “My doctor is not there”. I always tell them, “If that ever happens, be thankful because, believe me, that means the baby is coming easy, there are no complications and I’ve never seen any real problems from that”. The easy deliveries are okay but that was the one case I would think that I remember most clearly.
Okay, here we go.
Student 7: Growing up as a teenager who influenced you to become a Republican?
Ron Paul: Okay, what influenced me to become a Republican. Probably nothing conscientious. It was probably family. I was in a Republican family but it was the evolution I went through that where I picked and chose what I wanted to believe about the Republican Party. And like the foreign policy, in the old days the Republicans were better on foreign policy, they didn’t like all this warmongering. So I then over the years learned to pick and chose by studying more.
But you know, this morning… what’s that radio station? It’s called Air America. It’s a very liberal, Democratic station. I was on there last night. I was on one this morning already too. But the talk shows host explained it. “These are all Democrats and they’re all very liberal but we really like you.” But they wanted to talk about my opinions about growing hemp and states allowing marijuana be legalized and they wanted to talk about foreign policy.
So I think the views of the constitution bring people together and that’s what I saw in our rallies that we had during the Presidential campaign. It was very broad spectrum, people came together for different reasons. Whether it was for personal habit reasons, whether it was for economic reasons or whether it was foreign policy. But I truly believe freedom and the constitution bring people together. And the biggest job though is when you legalize freedom and you legalize freedom of choice for your neighbor and they spend their money in a way that you don’t like, you have tolerate it. But the market determines that. The main thing that is important is that there are some rules. That means you don’t believe in government? No. The government is there not to destroy the money but to protect the money and give real value to the money. Not to police the world but to give you strong national defense. Not to interfere with contracts, the government interferes with contracts all the time, but to honor and protect contracts. So there’s a lot the government has to do, but it’s different when the government comes in and tells you, “I’m going to run your life this way and I’m going to run the economy this way, and I’m going to run the world this way”.
When I ran for the presidency I really would sort of imply that it’s not likely that I can win this. Because I don’t want to be President for the thing I don’t want to do. You know, everybody wants to do these things. I don’t want to run your life, just don’t hurt other people. I don’t want to run the economy, I don’t know how to tell you how to spend your money, and I don’t want to police the world. I just don’t want to do that. Besides, we can’t afford that anymore. So it’s a different approach but it’s not my approach. These ideas have been developed over many, many centuries. They had inklings of this back in Roman times when they had a Republic and certainly ours was the best experiment. And it was fragile, obviously. And we went through rough times and we continue to do it but the real improvement with the industrial revolution and the freedoms we have in this country gave us the great wealth. In spite of all these problems we had there was still a lot of wealth out there. If you compare what we have even today, just think how much wealthier we are. We are wealthier than probably 90% of the countries around the world. That’s one of the reasons they still trust us because we have a strong military and we still have a lot of wealth. The problem is that it’s based on borrowed money and it’s not going to continue to last. So there is every reason in the world for us to be optimistic and believe that freedom is the solution and freedom will bring us all together.
One more question, is that it? Well, who hasn’t had a question that wants one? Now I’m going to have to pick. Alright, sorry.
Student 8: Back in the day when you was going through the Great Depression, your generation was going through the Great Depression, Hoover had the whole idea that the government should stay out, it’s no his problem. And things got worse though, but when Roosevelt got then the government stepped in to make things better. So like back then I guess we can say when the government stepped in it was a good thing.
Ron Paul: Okay, that is a key question and I’m going to challenge you because I’m going to disagree with you and I’ll challenge you to study it more because if you believe that it’s a problem for us. That’s what they believe today. That’s what Bernanke and all believe that it was all Hoover’s fault because he wouldn’t interfere. But the truth is the Federal Reserve interfered in the 1920s by printing a lot of money and there was a bubble. So people predicted, the free-market economists predicted the collapse of 1929, and it came. So, when that happened Hoover introduced all the programs that FDR carried out. But Hoover was very much involved. The common history you need to look at is 1921. We inflated for World War I, had a bubble. In 1921 a depression came. Very, very bad depression and it lasted one year. But you don’t really hear about that in your history books because Harding was a do-nothing President, not Hoover. So he did nothing and like we talked earlier, the debt was liquidated. People went bankrupt and it was over in a year and everybody went back to work again.
Hoover did a lot of things wrong. If you want to write this down, if you’re very interested in it read a book by Murray Rothbard, “The Great Depression” [pdf]. He will explain this to you, because Hover struggled on the wrong track, he tried to keep prices fixed up. Hoover was the one who along with Roosevelt said, “You know, farmers need a good income. If farmers have good income they’ll buy tractors and then they’ll keep the economy going”, but prices were too low. So our government said well you need prices to be up. But there were poor people starving, so what does our government say under Hoover? Plough the crops under. When the people were poor and starving they had this idea that you had to keep prices up. No, you want the prices to go down. Roosevelt came in and did the same thing, only he did it much more so. And the Depression didn’t end, people say, “Oh no, the depression ended with Roosevelt”. He came in 1932. In 1938 unemployment was still 17%, 18%, it was huge. And then they said, “Oh, what ended the Depression was World War II”. You want a war to end a Depression? Truth is it didn’t end with World War II because I remember that period of time. During World War II things actually got worse, but employment went up because we drafted 3 million people and sent them oversees. Hundreds of thousands were killed and we spent all this money. But during the war time period was the debt was liquidated. So the Depression ended in 1945.
But what you’re asking, all I ask you to do is read and really study that and look at it. You can find this on the Internet and look at Austrian economic, look at Murray Roithbard, look at the Great Depression. There is an explanation for this because I believe the mistakes that we made back then are being duplicated once again. They’re saying, “Oh, there is too much freedom.” They’ll tell you today that the crisis came today because there was too much capitalism. We have too much cronyism, too much crony capitalism. When the military-industrial complex gets all your money that’s not capitalism. That’s special interests. Capitalism was when you have freedom and that means you can go bankrupt if you don’t do your job and provide goods and services. So, it is key but if we believe that the Depression occurred because Hover wouldn’t do anything, I think it’s misleading.
I guess that is it. I was told this is the end and I thank you very much. You had great questions. Thank you.