Dina Gusovsky: When it comes to the earthquake in Haiti, the Christmas Day incident, and the scandal surrounding the New York Federal Reserve, one political reaction seems to stand out. And that’s Congressman Ron Paul’s; he joins me today. Dr. Paul, thank you so much for being here. So first, the top story is the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Do you think that the United States is doing enough in terms of monetary support, in terms of rescue efforts? Barack Obama said that he would do anything he could to help the situation. How would you handle it if you were in the White House?
Ron Paul: Well, under the circumstances, you know, if we’re nearby and able to and if there is an emergency, I would say that we could help them out a bit. But the real help will have to come, I think, from the generosity of the American people. And they have, in the past, been very, very generous on problems and emergencies like this. And generally they can raise not only millions but literally billions of dollars and donate to people like this; and we could and we should.
You know, the biggest thing, though, long term that we could do for Haiti would be to introduce them to sound economic policies so that they wouldn’t suffer. I mean if buildings were built poorly and the people are so poor, and just handing out money is not going to solve that problem. They need to be introduced to the philosophy of free markets and sound money, so they can be more prosperous, build better houses. But in the meantime, if we’re in the region and nearby and people are suffering, some of our ability, whether it’s military or not, could be useful in helping them out just in a humanitarian sense. That would be a lot better than using the military personnel over in the Middle East lobbing bombs on different countries. So, under the circumstances I would say that would be a better use of the military.
Dina Gusovsky: Let’s talk about another major issue. Ever since the Christmas Day incident it seems like a lot of attention has been turned to Yemen. And you have some politicians calling for this country to sort of be the new front on the “War on Terror”, even urging Barack Obama to concentrate efforts over there. Do you agree with this assessment?
Ron Paul: No. And what they’re doing is not assessment. I mean, we’re just looking for another war. We’ve been lobbing bombs over there and we have another front. I think it’s a disaster; the continuation of the foreign policy of George Bush believing in preventive war. And if we think there are some people there who don’t like us, we’ll start bombing them. Then we bomb people and kill innocent people and all we do is make more people angry at us. I think the further we stay away from Yemen, the better off they would be and the better off we would be.
Dina Gusovsky: Barack Obama did mention that he is not going to send more troops over there. But it seems that the people down there, even this perception or notion that the government of Yemen is somehow cooperating with the government of the United States, is really enraging them.
Ron Paul: Sure. And I don’t know whether people will absolutely believe what we tell them. We say we’re not going to do it, that doesn’t necessarily reassure them that we won’t. And, you know, dropping a bomb from out of the sky is every bit as bad as sending on troops. Matter of fact, it might even make them angrier, the fact that they do it without any chance to have any retaliation. And these bombs and missiles can come flying in, supposedly only to kill bad people. But they might be just upset with us because we’re already over there and interfering in their government. And the government of Yemen is propped up by us and we send them a lot of money so the people who resent that are angry at their own government, they’re angry at us. So I think the position of non-intervention, non-involvement in the internal affairs of other nations would serve us well and would serve them well, too.
Dina Gusovsky: You’ve also raised the question of how 75 billion dollars towards intelligence gathering couldn’t have stopped this man, especially when we consider that his own father went to authorities and warned them about him.
Ron Paul: Yeah, it proves bureaucracies don’t work. And I think the responsibility falling on a 75 billion dollar bureaucracy that has 16 agents that are trying to coordinate the information proves it doesn’t work. I think all the responsibility should be on the airlines. The airlines should be responsible for who gets on airplanes, and they should be obligated. Government should never profile, governments don’t have a right to keep a log of all our fingerprints and label us and profile us and say that we have to check every Muslim that gets on an airplane. That would be wrong. But if you own the airline and you’re getting on the plane voluntarily and they have certain rules, they could manage this much better.
For instance, there is technology available to us today to carry a certain type of electronic gadget that identifies the person. But it only works if I put my fingerprint on it. But the airline registers the gadget. And we could work that out, so all citizens could have one to get on the airlines and no records would be kept. They could just prove that you are a citizen or a frequent flier; you’re not a threat to your country. And those lines would move quickly. The airlines then might chose to say, “Well, if you’re a non-citizen, you just came in from such-and-such country”, if they want to look at you more carefully, they have every right to. It wouldn’t be mandated by government, it would be a voluntarily contract between the person flying on the airplane and the airline company.
Dina Gusovsky: Well, speaking of technology, one of the other consequences of this terror scare is that now the government is looking to buy all these new machines, all this new equipment. Something like a 150,000 dollars each for one of these body scanners. And then you have British officials saying they’re not even proven to work. So is this really what it takes? All of these new rules that say you can’t go to the bathroom an hour before the plane lands and things like that. What is that all for, then?
Ron Paul: Just to make us obedient servants of the state. To teach us that they are in charge of us and tell us what to do and we’re robots and we’re supposed to obey them. That full body scanner actually is probably dangerous to us medically. It does have some x-ray involved. What it isn’t dangerous to is the company that makes them, who happens to be Chertoff, who used to be the Homeland Department Secretary.
Dina Gusovsky: And he’s promoting this left and right all over the media.
Dina Gusovsky: So, I mean, how cynical can we get. So no, that isn’t going to help at all. You wouldn’t need that if you were going to look at what I’m suggesting. You wouldn’t be taking elderly women and little kids and people in wheelchairs who are American citizens, who can prove who they are with a mere fingerprint on a gadget that the airlines would accept. We would need none of that except in a rare circumstance where you would have to have closer surveillance of individuals that might have a suspicious record and the airlines decided they want to check you. But the whole thing is 80% or 90% of people traveling in this country wouldn’t have to throw away their toothpaste and they wouldn’t have to take their belts off and they wouldn’t have to take their shoes off. One month you put your computer in your briefcase, then you have to put it in a tray, then you put your shoes in the tray, now you put them on the belt. It’s all just conditioning us to be obedient to the almighty state and I think it’s a bad sign for us.
The greatest threat to a government are the people who think for themselves. And if you can condition people everyday, all day, to depend on the government to do their thinking for them, then they become more obedient. So if we depend on the government to protect us from our food and all our habits and tell us how much salt we can have and whether we’re allowed to gamble or not, the government owns us. Instead of you owning yourself, the government owns you. And that would be very, very dangerous. So all of this activity with the federal government regulating our every economic and personal habit, is very, very dangerous. It’s not that individuals can be perfect, it’s just that governments are always imperfect. They always make mistakes and when they do, they’re very, very painful and they hurt every one of us.
Dina Gusovsky: Let’s shift gears and talk about another controversy: AIG and the New York Federal Reserve. Law makers are now demanding the release of certain documents that could show whether or not the New York Fed pressured AIG into not revealing certain documents and certain payments to the banks. And, of course, the real scandal here is that Timothy Geithner, who is now secretary of the treasury, was head of the New York Fed at this time. What do you think about all of these allegations?
Ron Paul: Well, it proves my point: we should have complete auditing of the Fed constantly and they shouldn’t be able to work in secrecy. The whole thing is we have a right to know and we should know. And I believe it’s probably true that they were probably pressured to not reveal it because certain companies got bailed out, other ones didn’t. Some got bailed out dollar-for-dollar, and I think that’s what happened with AIG and Goldman Sachs.
Dina Gusovsky: Well, it goes into the bigger question of should the Federal Reserve micro-manage the economy. Should it be the one responsible for fixing the financial situation? Because they’ve reported a record net income, they reported giving the treasury 46.1 billion dollars this year, that’s a new record. What do you make of all this?
Ron Paul: Well, it should be micromanaged by the people, by the consumer. In a free market the consumer is the king and decides everything; which businesses succeed and which ones fail, how much they get paid and how much profit there are and how much labor is paid. That’s what the market does. So it’s micromanaged by the consumer. But in this country, as in most countries of the world today, it’s being micromanaged by the central government and central banks.
Ironically, we here in America used to believe in the individual and the consumer micromanaging and taking care of things. But now the shift is away, financial and everything else, towards the East. For instance, China happens to be rewarding people who work hard and save money. And they’re getting to be in the driver’s seat; they’re our banker and all. So it’s an amazing shift that’s happened in my lifetime (in the last several decades) away from our traditional values and shifting over where communist nations once wanted to run every single thing are moving in the direction of free markets. And they will become the wealthier countries of the world. Markets work, individual freedom works, that’s what I argue for and right now we’re sort of losing ours and others are picking up on it.