Event: Southern Republican Leadership Conference
Location: New Orleans
Ron Paul: It sounds like a freedom rally! Thank you very much!
Well, it’s great to see so much enthusiasm for the freedom movement and limited government. I want to thank the hosts of this convention for inviting me. I’m delighted to be here and I’m delighted to be among friends. My wife is here with me today and I’m pleased very much with that too.
This last week, there was a report that came out on Friday, just yesterday. It came from the Treasury and it even shocked me, having been concerned about deficits for like about 35 years. But yesterday it was reported by the Treasury that this past week, our national debt went up $106 billion in one day and I would say it’s time to end that kind of spending and get rid of the deficits.
Getting rid of the deficits is easily said. I guess everybody wants to get rid of the deficits. And there is an effort in Washington today on our side of the aisle which is well intended, might do some good, but I think it comes up way too short and that is the dwelling on earmarks.
Now let me tell you about earmarks. Earmarks, if you vote against an earmark, you don’t save a penny. What you do is you take the responsibility away from the Congress and you give the money to the Executive branch and believe me, they’ll waste it even more than the Congress will waste it.
But my argument is that earmarks, that is the responsibility of the Congress. We’re supposed to designate every single penny that we spend. We’re not supposed to let the President do this. I don’t like a strong Executive branch, I want a strong Congress that exerts its prerogatives.
What we need is not to tinker with earmarks but to vote against the entire package, vote against the appropriation bills until we get this budget under control.
Also, the definition of an earmark is very important. They claim that an earmark is when the government takes your highway funds, send it to Washington and your Congressman says, “Well, why don’t we get some of our highway funds back and spend it in our district?”, that’s what they want to stop. But when it comes to an earmark for building a embassy, which we are now doing in London, which is a fortress, it’s going to cost a billion dollars. Why are we doing that? Makes no sense whatsoever.
At the same time we’re tinkering around with some spending bills here and trying to build a highway. We have spent a billion dollars on an embassy in Baghdad, we’re spending another billion dollars on an embassy in Kabul. That doesn’t make any sense unless you think we have unlimited funds and we don’t. This is the message that is coming today.
The reason why the American people have awoken and they are so upset and annoyed and they’re acting outside the party system is because the country is broke and the people in Washington won’t admit it. We need to admit it. Which means, you have two choices if you think we should have a balanced budget. One, you raise taxes. I haven’t met a Republican in a long time who wants to raise taxes, thank goodness. But, the other side of the coin is, you cut spending. Now, if we were so good at cutting spending, where were we when we had the chance?
What we, as Republicans over the last several decades have created is a credibility gap. We talk a good game, but when we get the chance to do something, we haven’t done the job that we should have. I’ll tell you what though, we’re doing a better job now in opposition. The credibility is, is when we get the chance again, which I believe we will, how credible are we going to be? How well are we going to stick to our guns. How significant are we going to be when we take seriously our oath of office?
Just think, if we didn’t do anything else than elect individuals who you could trust that would always obey the Constitution, we’d get out of this mess in no time.
The question has been raised whether or not our President is a socialist. And I’m sure there are some people here believe it and I know this conference has talked about that already and I think that very important, he deserves a lot of criticism. But you know, in the technical sense, in the economic definition of a socialist, no, he’s not a socialist. What he is is a corporatist and unfortunately, we have corporatists in the Republican party and that means you take care of corporations and corporations take over and run the country. We see that in the financial institution, we see it in the military-industrial complex, and now we see it in the medical-industrial complex who runs medicine.
Just think of how the corporations got between the doctor and the patient, and believe me, I went through the experience of entering medicine when there were no Medicare and no Medicaid and the doctor and the patient made the decisions. Today it’s the drug companies, it’s the insurance companies, it’s the HMO and now with this passage of bill, if we don’t eradicate it and get rid of it, now we’re going to have thousands of government bureaucrats between the doctor and patient.
We have an obligation to do some changing here and hopefully after November we will. But I have a piece of legislation I’ll be introducing next week. Two thousand pages, of course the simple answer would have been to reject it and the next thing is throw it all out, that’s not going to happen. But there’s going to be one piece of legislation I’m going to introduce. It’ll probably be only one page long. And it will be to remove the mandate that you have to participate if you don’t want to.
I have a belief that if we always retain the option to get out, no matter how bad the government bears down on us, we can survive. For instance, education. Have you noticed it’s a mess ever since the federal government got involved in it?
Do you remember the old days of the Republican party when our platform says get rid of the Department of Education? But fortunately, we have had the private option protected. And that is, you still have the right and many of you are, I bet, exerting that right. You have the right to opt out, educate your own kids or send them to private school.
In medicine we need that same option. You need to be able to opt out of the system. You know, endlessly they talked about the public option, the public option, everybody knew that was the term for total socialized medicine. They didn’t win that fight but the corporations won the fight and they benefited. But if we allowed the people to get out of the system, this means that you could have a medical savings account and deduct it from your taxes, this would be so much better. Isn’t it amazing they talked about the public option all the time, how many times did you ever hear them say, “Oh, why don’t we consider protecting the private option?”.
If we’re going to get back to a balance, of course the Constitution would get us there. But we where we’re going to cut. Why don’t we cut anything? When have we cut anything over the last 30 or 40 years? It is because we as a people have accepted the notion that government should be doing all these things. Government really does reflect the prevailing attitude of the people.
And if you come and and if a politician comes and he wants to run for Congress and says, “Well, I’m going to vote against the spending, I’m going to all the spending that is coming to this district.” Traditionally, that guy lost. Something is stirring now because in this election, this year, that doesn’t hurt your chances of being reelected or elected.
But we only have two problems in Washington with spending. We have conservatives and liberals. They both like to spend. Conservatives spend money on different things, they like embassies and they like occupation, they like the empire, they like to be in 135 countries and 700 bases. Did you hear the news just this weekend? Kyrgyzstan, there was a revolution over there. Why was it important? Because we have an airbase there. Why did we have to have airbases in the Soviet Satellites?
Besides, we’re running out of money. No matter how badly you would like to have them, all empires end, not because they’re defeated militarily. All empires end for financial reasons and that is what the markets are telling us today.
Besides, if you want a strong national defense, it should be designed for defense, not to support preventative wars and not to support wars that are undeclared. Don’t you think it’s rather conservative to say, “Oh, it’s good to follow the Constitution except for war! Let the Presidents go to war anytime they want!”. I would say that if you want go to war, only Congress can declare the war. Declare the war, know who the enemy is and go fight and win it and get out of there!
And also, politically, it’s much easier and it makes a lot more sense to cut the militarism and the bases overseas than it is to cut child welfare here at home. There’s just so much room for that and I don’t hesitate for a minute because I know we would be stronger for it. When we went into Korea, I was in high school, that’s 60 years ago, believe it or not. But we’re still there. It costs us a lot of money. Why do we have to have troops there? We don’t have troops in Vietnam? We came back from Vietnam, people were embarrassed by that. But Vietnam in our defeat, are better friends now and more capitalistic than all of Korea.
North Korea’s not our friends. Twenty years, the French and the Americans trying to tell the Vietnamese how to be westernized totally failed at a fantastic, horrible cost to us and now we have won more in peace than we have ever won in war because they’re trading partners, we travel over there, their president comes over here, we can do better with peace than with war.
But once again, if there is a need to go to war, it should be done properly and then the rules would be quite different. But you know, personal liberty, if you’re an advocate of it as we all are in the Republican party, we’re advocates for limited government, small government. But small government is one thing, it’s easy to say yes we want less taxes and less regulations and that’s good, fine and dandy. But do we want to make sure that every individual has a right to life and liberty? I would say yes, everybody has a right to life and liberty.
And when we talk about protection of all life, I mean the protection of all life, not just life designated by liberals. I believe premature, preborn life is just as valuable and should be protected.
But it also means that if you’re going to protect liberty, you’re going to protect personal choices. We have no trouble protecting personal choices when it comes to our churches and intellectual interests? People are allowed to read and study and do what they want. But as soon as it comes to something that we want to put in our bodies, all of a sudden the government has to tell us what to do. And I would say that we don’t need the government to tell us whether or not you’re allowed drink raw milk or not. I would say that should be your own decision.
And of course, all smoking and drinking which are very dangerous, very harmful to your health, there’s good reasons. But those decisions are made by the individuals in a free society and not by the nanny state.
It’s gotten to the point now where they designate your diet, how much fat you’re allowed to have and whether or not you’re allowed to have salt, whatever. Yes, those are problems. But why have we lost our confidence in ourselves that we can deal with this. Dangerous things for our children should be handled by the parents, just as education is.
But we have a long way to go and we’re in a very very difficult situation. And to me the reason why we face the crisis we’re in is because we are bankrupt and nobody can come up with a solution.
The fact that so many people considering themselves conservatives and considering themselves champions of limited government aren’t acting within the party system because they’re frustrated and they want to see the credibility regained and it will involved cutting spending, but you can’t just pick and choose. You need to cut spending every place and get back to a balanced budget.
Now more specifically, why are we in the financial crisis, is this something that just popped up and there’s nobody to blame? Well, we have this commission up in Washington studying it. They have this whole commission, a bunch of guys on there and then there’s a bunch of witnesses coming in. Not once single person that is a member of the commission and not one single witness endorses free-market Austrian economics and that’s where you’ll find the economic answers.
The free market economists understand the business cycle, predicted the breakdown of Bretton Woods in 1971, predicted all the events since 1971, the destruction of the dollar. We’ve lost 97% of our dollar’s value to gold since 1971 and we’re rapidly moving into an inflationary stage. We’re not over the financial bubble, and the financial problem we have has just started. What I believe will happen, I hope I’m absolutely wrong on this, but as time goes on, we are going to work our way into a situation that is going to combine the vicious downturn of the 1930s with the vicious upturn of prices and inflation of the 1970s. That will be very devastating and that will indeed be a threat to all our liberties and institutions.
Medicare and Medicaid are bankrupt. You can’t save Medicare and Medicaid by creating another trillion dollar medical program.
In the 1930s they had a Pecora commission similar to the commission, that came up with the conclusion, oh “the problem was they followed the gold standard”, which they did not. And they also didn’t have enough regulations which we already then had too many. So what did they do in the 1930s? They got rid of the gold standard and piled on. That’s when they introduced the SEC and all the other programs and prolonged the Depression.
That’s exactly what we’re doing. The conclusion of all this looks like it’s going to be a lot more regulations. I’m for regulations, but the number one regulation is to regulate the Federal Reserve System, that’s what we need to regulate.
The beginning of the Tea Party movement came not too long ago, a year or two ago when it was during the financial crisis and they knew about the TARP funds. The TARP funds were appropriated by the Republicans and Democrats, the money was wasted, bailed our friends and hurt our enemies, the whole works and nobody knew where the money was going and this upset a lot of people and rightfully so. But then, when they found out that the Federal Reserve created $2 trillion out of thin air and passed it out to their friends, it got the attention of a lot of Americans.
The Federal Reserve is more powerful than our President. It’s a world currency. It can loan money to other central banks, other governments, international financial institutions, creating money out of thin air and making deals like that. It can be involved in foreign policy and who knows what. But I’ll tell you what they can’t control. They can tide things over and think they’re improving things and get some GDP numbers to come up but they cannot protect the value of the dollar.
That is what you need to watch and that will be a consequence of excessive government. That is what destroys nations, that’s what destroys republics and it is indeed up to us as the party right now of limited government and preaches limited government. But you can’t be for limited government halfway and reject on the other way. The whole way has to be limited government.
That’s the only way we can regain our credibility and that is what’s necessary. What we do as a party will not suffice and what we do as a party now and between November will make the difference. They have to believe that we believe in what we’re saying. Yes, we can say it, but are we going to do it? That is why we have people drifting outside the party and if you want the people back in and if you want the young people of this country, you better look at these viewpoints.
About a hundred years ago or so, freedom was divided into two pieces. Economic liberty and personal liberty. For no good reasons. The founders didn’t believe that. Personal civil liberties was the same as economic liberties. If you believe in civil liberties for personal choices, you ought to believe in economic choices as well. We need to put that back together, it makes sense. It makes sense to the young people that I talked to. Let me tell you, there’s a revolution on the college campuses right now and they’re not looking for handouts. They’re looking for their freedom so they can get a job and take care of themselves.
The ultimate goal of all our political action should be to strive for liberty, that is what I’m dedicated to. I’ve been for a lot of years. And there’s a lot more interest right now, mainly because the country is in trouble. But our goal should be for seeking liberty. Now, why do we seek liberty? Well the purpose of a free society is for we as individuals be responsible for ourselves, to take care of ourselves, financially and take care of our families. But it’s also there to seek excellence and virtue. That should be the ultimate goal of what we are as individuals. And if you have an authoritarian government, for whatever reason, if you only pick off a little bit of it and somebody else picks off a little bit, pretty soon it’s a total authoritarian government and that is what we’re approaching. We don’t have our privacy, we have intrusion by the government in everything that we do. And if we allow the government to take over this role, we should be personal. If we allow the government to promote economic equality, which the liberal do-gooders want. “Oh yes, injustices, we got to take care of it and it will be better and it will be fair and equal to everybody.” We know, everybody in this audience knows, socialism fails. It might make everybody equal, but they’re all going to be equally poor.
But the same argument can be made for this who will say you’re a better person for writing a whole lot of rules and the only person you’ve endangered by making mistakes is yourself. Governments can’t do that. Governments can’t protect you from yourself. That’s what we’re trying to do and I would say give up on it. Why don’t look to the rules and regulations that we have been given. They’ve been written down. It was the best document ever written, it’s just too bad that we don’t ever follow it.
I have a lot of young people come to my office and I’m delighted to see them because quite frequently, the young people is not just the college students, it’s high school students coming in, and they’ve gotten wind of the freedom philosophy. But you know what I love? It’s they come in and the parents readily admit it so I’ll ask them who discovered the freedom philosophy first and it’s usually the 16 or the 17-year old and and they’ve made the parents listen to it so that really pleases me.
But also, when the young people come, I have a bit of a habit of passing out constitutions. You know the Constitution is pretty thin, there’s not a whole lot of words in there and everybody in this room can read it. But I couldn’t understand what was in a 2,000-page medical document. It only took one page for me to discover I didn’t like it.
But the Constitution is understandable. It’s so great. It is the tragedy that we don’t follow it. But I hand the copy to the youngsters and I say “I know you’ll read this and I hope you do because you’re going to get a chance, a crisis is coming and you’re going to make a decision, your generation’s going to make a decision, what the role of government ought to be. Should the government be there to protect your liberty our should the role of government be there to run the economy, run your life and police the world?” And I say “the reason I give it to you is I haven’t been able to get anybody around this place to read it.”
I know a lot of people in here do a lot of thinking for themselves but H.L. Mencken said the most dangerous man to government and we are complaining about our government is the man who thinks things out for himself or herself. And that is what really counts and that is why for a free society it’s so important that you have this privilege and the access to the material. In the 1950s when I got interested in studying the freedom philosophy, I couldn’t find the literature. It wasn’t in my schools, it wasn’t on the TV, it wasn’t on the radio, it wasn’t with the politicians.
But if you could find some books, you could find Hayek and Mises and Rothbard and Austrian economics and Foundation for Economic Education. But the miracle for the freedom movement – is the Internet! The Internet, the information is spread, they’ll never put this back in the drawer. You can’t do it, it’s out, the people know about it. The movement is demanding liberty and limited government is growing by leaps and bounds and let’s hope and pray it changes this country because right now we’re in deep need of change.
I thank you very much for this opportunity to visit with you today.