Ron Paul: Hi reddit. I’m Congressman Ron Paul and I’m here to answer a few questions.
This question comes from Kitanata: “Dr. Paul, you have stated that you do not support net neutrality. Could you define net neutrality as you see it, and then elaborate on what aspects of net neutrality you do not support and why?”
Well, first off I don’t claim to be an expert on this and my definition might not be as clear cut as somebody else’s. But, net neutrality means to me that the Internet services will be… the people who use the internet want equal access to the internet, and in order to achieve that they want the federal government to come in and regulate it. Since I’m not a regulator, I’m not in support of that because it would be a solution come about by regulation. Even though some of these problems come up because of regulations, you should get rid of the bad regulations. But I want free access, I want the free market to handle it. I do not believe net neutrality is a totally free market answer to that problem.
Okay, next question. This is from Fauster. This is a long question. “Do you think that scientists are politically motivated with regard to issues of global warming and evolution? As a medical professional, you probably understand the value of deferring to specialists outside areas of your expertise. Nonetheless, you openly disagree with overwhelming scientific consensus in these two areas. While hardly anyone thinks Greenland will melt in twenty years, the overwhelming majority of scientists believe the effects of climate change will be lasting and severe in the next 50-100 years. With regard to evolution, almost all biologists, geologists, and physicists would say it’s better characterized as a law than a theory. Do you think the Bible provides a superior account of the origins of life on Earth, and thus claim a different source of expertise? Or rather, do you believe that scientific claims are grossly wrong, biased, or politically motivated?”
I would say this question is politically motivated. That’s where the problem comes from because I think there’s good science on both sides of the argument. I think for somebody to claim totally that all the science is on the side that we’re in a disaster period of global warming, I think that’s completely false. To totally ignore it would be completely false. For every scientist you come up with and say that “You better worry yourself to death by global warming” others can find a scientist that will refute that just as well.
For instance, in the last 10 years the globe hasn’t been warming and the science is back and forth on this. Quite frankly, I think we spend way too much time on this issue, saying that if you don’t support the thesis that we’re in this period of global warming, somehow we don’t care about the environment. What we should care about is pollution. And the whole problem is that pollution can be better taken care of under a private market system, under private property. Because nobody has a right to pollute their neighbor’s property, their neighbor’s air or their neighbor’s water. And if we had had strict adherence to this we wouldn’t have had so much pollution.
In the industrial revolution, industries and cities and other government agencies have always been given license to pollute. And today probably the biggest polluters are our governments, our Pentagon, for instance, are great polluters. You never see what they’re doing with these burn piles in Afghanistan. All the waste that they’re burning and all the petroleum products they burn at the Pentagon. So there is a lot of concern for this, but it’s not so clean cut as saying “Well, you either agree or disagree with what’s happening on global warming” and I think that there is too much demagoguing on both sides of that issue.
With regard to evolution, I mean… I just don’t spend a whole lot of time on this, especially in politics. “Do you believe in evolution or don’t you believe in evolution? Yes or no? And then we’ll decide whether you should be President or not.”
You know it is a theory, nobody has concrete proof of any of this. But quite frankly I think it’s sort of irrelevant, that because we don’t know the exact details and we don’t have geologic support for evolutionary forms, it is a theory, even though it’s a pretty logical theory. But my concept of understanding of a creator is not related one bit to whether or not I or anybody has to believe in evolution or not believe in evolution.
The idea that if you don’t [?] believe in evolution means that you don’t believe in a creator is total nonsense. So I think this once again is overly played and we spend too much time on it. And besides, if you’re in politics it shouldn’t be a bother. This is something maybe not dealing with science as much with your own spiritual life, your personal beliefs. The important thing is that you have a political system where you can debate this and make a decision and government rule shouldn’t be based on this. If you have governments basing their rules on this, then it becomes very important. But in a libertarian society these beliefs aren’t nearly as critical.
When you have government schools it becomes important. “Are you fair in teaching that the earth could have been created by a creator or it came out of a pop, out of nowhere?” In a personal world, we don’t have government dictating and ruling all these things; it’s not very important. So the problem is the political environment that makes these issues so important in deciding what one believes in.
Okay, the next question I have here is from SquirrelOnFire. Alright, this one says: “Congressman Paul, the current health care legislation seems to be moving closer to the insurance industry’s ideal (minimal change + mandatory insurance) each day. What can be done to tip the balance of power in the Congress away from lobbyists and towards the voters? Thank you for agreeing to speak with us.”
You know, I think there is a very important point here about tipping this whole process away, not only from the insurance companies, but from the lobbyist and the drug companies or HMOs. And they’re the ones who have been in charge and that that’s part of this corporatism. And right now, I sense that corporatism is alive and well with this administration, so that is a big deal.
Now, when it said “toward the voters” you could interpret that different ways. The voters might vote for total freedom. The government get out of the way, you don’t have a right to medical care, you have a right to take care of yourselves and work hard and keep all your earnings and just get out of the way. But somebody else will say, “Well, if you can get 51% of the voters to vote against the 49% of the voters, and demand free medical care”, you know, that’s entirely different.
So it isn’t so much what the majority votes for, because the majority might vote to take away the rights of the minority and that’s really what’s going on. This has nothing to do with insurance. The definition of insurance is completely messed up because we’re talking about social welfare programs because insurance measures risk and what we’re talking about today in medicine doesn’t measure risk at all. Everybody wants the first nickel paid for. There is no responsibility. The only thing left in insurance and medical care is if you have a medical savings account, that you get your tax money back for your medical saving account. And then you have a chance to buy a major medical policy to take care of major, major accidents and major illnesses. Now that would be real insurance.
But I think the implication of this question is: are the insurance companies on the take here? Do they have a lot of influence? And I would say yes. That’s part of the corporatism that is involved. It’s been involved since government got involved wholesale since the early 1970s. So part of my plan is to get rid of that whole system and allow the marketplace to work. And that is give everybody a 100% tax credit on everything they spend on medical care and make sure that everybody is treated equally, that you don’t have a tax benefit if you belong to or work for a large corporation. But you don’t get advantaged if you’re an individual or small company. That’s where the real mess has come from, and we may need to force the insurance companies to be competitive, not to have monopolies in certain states. But insurances should be sold across state lines and if it’s true insurance, the rates will come down. So there are a lot of other things I would suggest about medical care, but this question dealt with mainly the insurance.
Next question is from blackf1sh. “Government investments in science and technology have historically yielded great returns. For example, it has been estimated that, ‘technologies derived from quantum mechanics may account for 30% of the gross national product of the United States.’ Money from the US government has led to the development of the internet and a long list of NASA spin-off technologies have contributed to our daily lives. In contrast, the risk-averse private sector has little incentive and a poor track record for funding these types of long-term projects. Although the exploratory research in academic settings is often inefficient at achieving specific goals, it has the unique potential to yield unexpectedly amazing results on decade-long timescales. How can one justify reducing the budget for science and technology in spite of the quality of life and national security afforded by the developments from government-funded research?”
This is a clear demonstration of a very poor understanding of economics. Because what you’re saying is that if the government does something and it happens to produce good results, you never ask the question: “instead of what?” What if they take a billion dollars out of the marketplace and spend a billion dollars and they get a half a billion dollar of benefits. They say, “Oh yeah look, we have a half a billion dollar of benefits, we didn’t waste a penny and we didn’t have any distributing this money because of political interest. Nothing was politicized.” At the same time, you don’t ask the question: “Where did the money come from?” You took a billion dollars out of the marketplace, they might have done better. They might not have wasted so much money. Although there are some good results with the government research, there is a lot of waste in there. What if we take a 100 billion dollars and go to mars? You say, “Oh that’s wonderful, we have all this technology and everything”. Well, what if that 100 billion dollars was taken away from medical care or the private sector or something else? You have to ask instead of what.
The inference here is that government is perfect, you give it to government and they’ll be no shenanigans. Government is the people who got hold of TARP funds. The government’s the people who run AMTRAK, the government are the people who run the post office. And here the government has messed up our medical care system. So R&D should be left in the private sector. Sure there is risk averse, but the will make their decision. Today, when the government does it, there is no risk involved. They don’t care about waste and fraud because it’s the tax payer’s [money]. What you want to do is when people do research and say they have to pick and chose.
This idea that good things wouldn’t happen if the government hadn’t done it. Like one time I remember people telling me, “Just think the jet propulsion airplane came out because we needed a fighter jet at the end of World War II.” That’s total nonsense. I mean, it’s true that that’s when it originated. But it’s total nonsense to believe that it wouldn’t have come in the private sector. It was the private sector that actually developed it and the government just funded it for war purposes. But to assume these things wouldn’t happen [without the government is wrong]. I think it would happen bigger, faster, fairer and more efficiently than depending on government which has a proven record of inefficiencies and ineptness. And to turn it over to the government and say that they can do a better job is just literally sacrificing our liberties and sacrificing an efficient system.
Okay, next one. Let’s see. This is rightc0ast. I’ll tell you what. No short questions. Everybody has a little discussion here. “Dr. Paul, regarding the theory of evolution”… another question on evolution, I think i explained that pretty well but… “I realize you have said you don’t feel the issue is important, but it’s been a topic discussed at great length at reddit and other websites”…
Well that’s perfect, alright go discuss it all you want. Just don’t impose your views on somebody else that wants to disagree, just have a debate, and only a free society can provide that…
“Allow me to clarify. Many people mistakenly confuse actual evolution with abiogenesis, or life coming from inanimate matter. Evolution is not a theory of creation. It is a theory encompassing genetic drift and selection, and describing changes in the genetic material of a population of organisms from one generation to the next. Do you accept evolution in this regard as the foundation upon which nearly all biological knowledge is based, or do you truly believe change within species from generation to generation does not occur?”
I don’t know. I have no idea, there is no proof that it does. I mean nobody shows the actual body skeleton or the genetics of somebody that transitioned from a more primitive primate to the human being. This sounds like the place for it to be discussed. But I happen to be in politics. The politician doesn’t need to be involved with this and impose his views. Like I said before, you don’t want public education because one group has to fight with the other one to present their views. So we have private schools who teach the fact that creation came from a burst of energy coming from… we don’t know. We have faith in where it came from. Well, I have faith that it came, but I don’t know where it came from. But that doesn’t make sense; it couldn’t have been some creator that did this. I think this whole idea should be like a hobby because it doesn’t change the nature. The only thing that changes the nature of our life is our understanding about what personal liberty is and restraining the government and making sure we have a government that will never restrain you in making the discussion on these topics. And if you have scientific proof that you think has to get out there and you want to be an absolutist on evolution and you know exactly where everything came from and where everything is going and you have that much knowledge, so be it. Other people like myself just have too many things to worry about. I worry more about things like auditing the Federal Reserve than I do about worrying about some of these other things. But I can understand the interest and that’s great, but just keep the politicians and the government out of it.
Other than the fact that you have the freedom to discuss it and express yourself and make sure that you don’t have a government. You say, “Oh no, as long as the government teaches evolution, this is okay”. But what if the government gets controlled by those who disagree with you? Then they have control of the educational system. But people who have an absolute perfect answer to all these things, quite frankly, I think it’s a stretch because you’re talking about billions and billions of years of changes that have occurred, evolutionary changes. And that’s fine but I think it needs little bit more study.
Okay. This next one is doesmykeyboardwork. I hope we don’t have another question on evolution.
“What would a ‘return to sound currency’ look like? Realistically, how would it play out? Would people exchange their dollars for a new gold/silver backed currency? As much as I agree with you (donated for the original money bomb, sticker on my car, wrote you in for the election), the defeatist in me thinks this is impossible and the entire system is eternally ruined.” I can understand your frustration. “I thank you (and sorry for the pessimism).”
This depends on the circumstances, on what it would look like. It depends on the breakdown of the dollar system, which will come. It depends on the prevailing attitude of the people, how we will respond. It depends on the respect we have for our Constitution. It depends on our understanding of Austrian Economics.
But I can tell you, one example that you can look at to try to understand this, is to go back and look at the resumption act of 1875 after the civil war period. Lincoln suspended the gold standard. He printed greenbacks. The gold price then went way up over $100/ounce, it might have been as high as $200/ounce. There was no convertibility. With the resumption act they said there will be a three year period [when] they would withdraw greenbacks, they would not expand spending, they would quit printing money, and they would balance the budget. Back then there was a lot more trust in government and they said that and people gained some confidence. And the market knew what was happening. After three years the conditions would be set to re-convert the dollar at $20/ounce, and that happened. The price kept dropping down. On the day of resumption, the dollar was $20/ounce. The people went into the bank and they wanted to know that the dollar was backed by gold, so they would put their money down and see that the gold was there. Most of them didn’t take the gold. They would take a certificate because they knew that the certificate was good and the gold was too heavy to carry. The confidence was restored and it really was a non-event. It won’t happen that way today.
My idea of doing this is to legalize the Constitution and legalize a parallel standard. Allow gold and silver to circulate next to the dollar and that way people who don’t trust the paper system and think their dollars might be wiped out can save their money in gold accounts or silver accounts and make contracts in gold and silver.
In a way, Mexico [which] too often we look down on and think of as a backwards nation has done a couple things recently: one is they’ve modernized their drug laws which is going to be a tremendous help on our border and hopefully in Mexico and cut down their crime rate because they are not going to arrest people for almost any drug in small amounts that they hold. I think it’s wonderful. They also legalized a competing currency. Mexican citizens and middle class have been wiped out so often with runaway inflation that they now are allowed to put their money in the bank and say, “I want it in silver.” If the peso goes to zero again, like it’s done quite a few times, people [who] have the silver are going to come out alright, and I think that’s a wonderful thing that has happened.
So, there is no easy answer and say, “Just do this and everything is going to be all right” because under today’s circumstances, our main problem is we spend too much, the deficit is exploding, the welfare state is exploding, the warfare state is continuing. Obama’s not slowing up any of these things. He never pretended to slow up the welfare state. He indicated that he would like to come out of Iraq, which he isn’t. He’s expanding the war in Afghanistan and this is going to cause a lot more debt and a lot less enthusiasm to buy our debt which puts more pressure on the Federal Reserve to print this. So it’s going to get a lot worse. So the sooner we come to this reality there will be a new standard.
I know you’re pessimistic about us winning this, it’s difficult. If we don’t win this fight they will come up with a new currency and it’s going to be a world currency. It’s going to be special drawing rights under the IMF or something like that, and believe me, if you think you’ve lost a lot of your rights and privileges with the federal government and what they do to destroy your money in the Federal Reserve system, you can imagine what it will be like when the UN has control of a world central bank.
TheHiveQueen: “Dr. Paul, How do you reconcile the fact that you believe that the Federal Government has no place in Gay Marriage debate with your support of DOMA?”
Well, DOMA doesn’t excite me. I wasn’t there when it was voted on so that’s not the most important thing. But, when it comes to welfare benefits it puts me in a predicament because I don’t think the government should be involved at all with marriage – state governments or anything, that would be my preference – only the individual. If two individuals want to call themselves married, fine and dandy (waves hand). That’s their business, they don’t have the right to impose their relationship on somebody else. But somebody who is heterosexual, can’t impose on them their definition of marriage. That should be settled.
But the question is about DOMA. The predicament there is, this has to do with benefits, and this has to do with economics. I don’t believe in any of that welfareism. But what if I vote on a bill that adds 50,000 or 100,000 new beneficiaries because they are called spouses? That becomes an economic issue. I wouldn’t have voted for the benefits for the individual anyway – the single individual. So I am not anxious to expand the benefit. Now the one way you could get around this, to a degree, is say Social Security benefits. I don’t think we should have Social Security – I don’t think that’s a proper function – but I don’t do anything to destroy it. Matter of fact: I’ve made some provisions to try to save it, and that is, isolate the funds, not allow the general revenues ever to rob the Social Security trust fund and have a real account there. What happens today, if you have an account and you die, it just disappears. Your beneficiaries don’t get it. So if you are an individual and you call yourself married, whether same sex or opposite sex, you ought to say well there’s ownership there, and that I designate that my partner get that money. That would be one way around it that would be an in-between. But the biggest predicament I personally would have would be to expand the welfare system by coming up with, expanding the definition of marriage. And I don’t want to be in the business of the definition of marriage. But the contract of designating a beneficiary, I think, would be a pretty good solution to that.
This is number eight. I understand we’re going to about number 10. So we’re getting there. This is from playeren.
“Sir, should the government be able to keep secrets from the public at all? Is ultimate freedom more important that ultimate security?”
No, if we have to make a choice I’m for ultimate freedom because I don’t believe the government can give you ultimate security. I don’t think we can get ultimate freedom or ultimate security. You know the old saying, if you try to have both you end up with neither and I’m convinced of that. The Constitution was written, especially with emphasis on the fourth amendment, that you have privacy. That should be as ultimate and as personal as possible with law enforcement officials only knowing about what you’re doing through proper channels, and that is search warrants. But the government should essentially have no secrets.
But right now, the government has all the secrecy and we’ve lost our privacy. It’s been turned on its head. There’s a big argument today about the CIA: “don’t prosecute anybody in the CIA even though they committed all kinds of war crimes and tortured and killed people and committed assassinations.” Right now our CIA is running the Predator program bombing citizens. They claim they are bombing terrorists but they are bombing a lot of innocent citizens over in Pakistan. No, they shouldn’t have this secrecy. Congress doesn’t give them permission, “Okay, go ahead and start bombing Pakistan.”
So I would say no, not really. About the only time I could see it is if you had a truly legitimate war of national defense, and it was a declared war and you were placing troops and you had a secret invasion. Yeah, you shouldn’t put that on the front page of all the newspapers, but that is so rare. How long has it been since we’ve had a legitimate war where we’ve declared it? We don’t even have those anymore. So, no, I don’t want the secrecy of the CIA. I don’t think they provide us any services and if you think you need secrecy for them to be over there torturing people so that we’re safer, I think it’s destroying the soul of America by permitting that.
Even if people see this in two extremes, let me tell you, the government has way too much secrecy so even though we would never get to where I would like to be, just moving it in that direction is so much better. And there is essentially no privacy of an American citizen and this medical bill is going to make it that much worse. The government is going to know everything about your medical problems and every bit of treatment and drug prescribed is going to be monitored and supervised by bureaucrats both before and after. So that’s the type of loss of privacy that we have and it’s a pretty bad situation.
This is number nine, chungkaishek it looks like.
“Dr. Paul, given your well-established belief in the merits of the free market system, I’d like to know how you feel about the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA establishes restrictions and requirements on businesses, something I imagine goes against free market principles, yet it also ensures, for example, that a blind customer with a service animal such as a seeing eye dog will be treated like any other customer and not turned away for bringing a dog into a store. Should a free market decide which customers get service, or is this the responsibility of the federal government?”
No. It’s the responsibility of the businesspeople, it’s private property. If they mistreat people who are handicapped, don’t go. Boycott them. Advertise and say, “This is what they did to me.” The ADA should have never been passed. It’s well-motivated, who can vote against it? And yet it is an intrusion into private property rights. I remember very clearly flying on airplanes a long time before the Americans with Disabilities Act. Guess what? Airlines went out of their way to take care of people who were in wheelchairs and couldn’t get up the stairs and they got them on. I’ve seen them take them up even on commuter aircrafts, and they had techniques for doing this because first it was a humanitarian thing to do and second it was good for business.
But if people do things that you consider immoral and a bad behavior they should suffer the consequences, and you have every reason and obligation to boycott these people. But to say that the federal government has to come in… you know, I remember when this law came into effect and I’m practicing OB/GYN I ran into the doctor’s parking lot in a big rush to get to a delivery. No doctors in the hospital were handicapped, but there were six parking spaces that were closest to the door and I wasn’t allowed to park there. If I parked there I was in big trouble. But why couldn’t a hospital make this decision? Why does some federal bureaucrat come down and do this? This idea that you can’t improve society without a mandate from the federal government… I think we improve ourselves. We can come up with common sense. But the worst part is the rejection of the private property right, and that’s where we get into trouble. Business property to me is the same as owning your home. So far they haven’t come into our homes, but they tried to and they probably will. But all of a sudden if you have a store that’s public property and you have to follow everything the federal government says because they say you are part of interstate commerce or some other thing like that.
And this looks like the last question (by jboeke).
“I’m trying to be a good libertarian, but I’m conflicted. I live in Phoenix, AZ and we just started up our light rail system earlier this year. I love it! I use it to commute to work and take it to the bar on weekends so I don’t drive drunk. But, light rail was a big public works project which took millions in taxpayer money from the three different cities and the Federal government. Unfortunately, I can’t imagine a scenario where something like light rail would have ever been built by the free market. How can I enjoy this project and still be a good libertarian?”
I hope you always feel agitated about it, that’s what I hope, because the metro in D.C. has been around for a long time. I’ve never been on it, and I don’t plan to get on it. It’s not that all of us can avoid government subsidized things, I do use the post office because there is no good alternative. And I do go on highways and they are paid for. But I’ve thought a lot about this, and I think what would have happened if we had never had any of this government interference, first, if we didn’t have government subsidized highways, at least at the federal level, to get all these wonderful superhighways going from city to city and downtown, there would have been a better incentive for the market to develop transits, trains going back and forth. Before the government got involved, before Penn Central and these other railroads were destroyed by regulations and union wages and featherbedding, we did have private transportation. By subsidizing highways and destroying mass transit, we ended up with this monstrosity.
So I can see that you say this is a benefit, but let me tell you, if you see some benefit by the government coming in, you have to question one thing. It was wasteful spending because they are spending more money than they get back for it. In Washington, I don’t know what the numbers are, it might be 50% or 100% higher in cost than the people pay for it, so it’s always being subsidized at other peoples’ expense. In a moral sense it’s wrong for the people that never use the railroad to subsidize the people who use it. If it was developed privately it would have been done by market decisions and I suspect we would have had less fancy highways, more mass transits, we probably would have had statewide and maybe even interstate highways that would have had privately owned. Probably our cars would have been carried on railroad trains where you put your car on, ride 2,000 miles, and take your car off. There would have been all kinds of things that they could have developed, but once the politicians get involved then it becomes a political football.
Today we have a highway tax, we send it up to Washington, they spend it on other things. The highway trust system then has to get money from somewhere else, and the money instead of going back proportionally to the states who paid the taxes, they send it back on your political clout in Washington, and then you have to fight for getting a couple dollars back. It’s a rotten system. In the marketplace, that money would go to what you like best. If you like railroads more you would spend more money on the railroads. If you use the highways, you would have been charged to use the highways. But when everything is free and the government gives it to you then things get distorted. That doesn’t mean that every road and highway would have been a toll road. There are now a lot of government toll roads because it does provide a little of a market incentive: you pay a little bit more, you get a better ride. That’s trying to encroach and take a little bit of the market incentive. But all of that would have been so much better than the system that we have developed.
Nevertheless, I was kidding when I said, “I hope I make you uncomfortable” but we should all feel a little uncomfortable. We should be uncomfortable when we think we are getting benefits because it will motivate us to try to think these things through and come up with alternative ideas. I’m just so convinced though that all these problems from evolution to railroads to highways to medical care can be solved in a non-controversial way in a free market. Freedom really does bring people together. It’s non-confrontational. The marriage issue is a perfect example. Don’t dictate, don’t define, don’t tell other people. But don’t allow other people to impose on us, that’s the way it should be. It should be freedom of choice and believe, me the world would be a much happier place and that’s why I was so pleased in the campaign because when we would get groups of people together to the tune of thousands, believe me, they were very diverse and they understood this message very well.
Thank you for listening.
This is the new book that I’ve written. It will be coming out on September 16th. And we’re looking forward to a lot of excitement with this, especially since the monetary issue is forefront and the audit of the fed is forefront. We are looking for a book bomb on the 16th and people who want to pre-order it would be very helpful either with Barnes & Noble or with Amazon.com. I would appreciate it.