Ron Paul: Thank you. I heard there was going to be a party in Richmond, so I decided to come. You know, I like the fact that you include the word “patriot” with this Tea Party Convention. That, to me, is great. Somebody asked me the other day in the media, and they asked, “What does patriotism mean? What is a patriot?” I said, “A patriot is an individual who is willing to stand up against one’s own government when the government is wrong.” Unfortunately, these days that’s quite frequent. Maybe that’s why we have so many people in the Tea Party Movement. No, but you deserve a congratulations. This is a grand meeting we’re having here today and also the movement is fantastic. A few years ago during the presidential campaign, there were few who coined the term of “revolution” and indeed I endorse the idea of revolution. I endorse the idea of an intellectual revolution, and that’s, to me, very important. So, the intellectuals who have given us this mess that we have today have to be challenged on the issues themselves. For instance, the economic system that we’re suffering from is not free markets, its Keynesian intervention, inflationism driven by a Federal Reserve that we need to get rid of.
One thing with certainty, I am convinced that the government a people get is the government they deserve. You say, “Oh no, that’s not fair. We’ve been complaining for a lot of years, and look at what we have”. But when the general sentiment, when the majority of the people change their sentiment, governments will change. Now, for too long, we the people have been too complacent. For too long the Congress, especially, has been complacent and given up all its responsibilities and prerogatives in allowing the executive branch and the judicial system to run roughshod over us. Today, though, I am convinced the people are waking up and they said enough is enough. So it is very important what we believe in. And I believe we’ve come together with many, many beliefs that we agree with. I’m sure there are few that might be some disagreements on, but I believe we can agree on the fact that the government we have in Washington DC is too big. And you can hardly solve the problem of a government too big by making it bigger; that makes no sense whatsoever. You know, we’re in this economic crisis because we spent too much money we didn’t have, we borrowed too much money, we regulated too much, and we printed too much. So the predictable crisis arrived. Austrian free market economist predicted for years that we have a bubble out there; there’s a housing bubble, there’s a NASDAQ bubble, and something bad is coming. And when it comes, what do the people in charge say? Do they come to the economist who made all the correct predictions and said it was coming and understood what was wrong, do they come to them and ask them what to do? No, what they do is they spend more money, they borrow more money, they print more money, and they come up with more regulations and they think it’s going to help. I say we need to do the opposite. The opposite means that we have to start from scratch, we have to start from scratch deciding what the role of our government should be. The founders went through that, they didn’t like the role of the government under the king. They said the role of government should be different. The role of government ought to be there to protect our liberties, the role of government ought to be there to provide a strong national defense, the role of the government ought to be to give us a sound currency, not a bunch of few people in secret rooms that have monopoly control over the money supply and the interest rates, that’s not in the Constitution.
So how did we get into this mess? The people were complacent, the Congress voted things that weren’t Constitutional, and we drifted because the wealth created by free-markets and free people was so overwhelming, that we lived off our wealth for so long and the world trusted us. They trusted our dollars, they trusted our military power and the momentum continued to grow even after we failed at understanding what real liberty means. So what did we do? We didn’t want to cut back, like a family or a business has to do. The country, as a whole, just went on a borrowing spin, and therefore, we now are suffering from the prosperity that has accumulated with debt. So it’s not real prosperity. If you’re in trouble and I say, “Well, the solution is go out and buy a fancy new car and you’re going to feel better”, nobody does that, except in Washington. They go out and they spend money and think that the country is going to feel better. It’s absolutely the wrong thing to do. Free market economics teaches that if the government, and particularly the Federal Reserve, produces bubbles and gets the economy out of wack, you have to allow corrections to occur. You have to liquidate the debt. Okay, they sort of paid attention to that a little bit. “Yea, there is too much debt, the banks have too much debt, the mortgage companies have too much debt, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have too much debt, there’s too much derivative debt”. So what do they do? They took all the debt and put it in the Federal Reserve and treasure and put it on the tax payer. That’s criminal. Eventually, though, all debt has to be liquidated. We are not likely… as a matter of fact, it’s virtually impossible for we as a people to pay this astronomical debt which is growing exponentially. So, unfortunately, the bad message is that it’s going to end badly because the debt will be liquidated. That doesn’t mean it will be liquidated like you would liquidate your debt if you had to go through bankruptcy: file for bankruptcy and the debt would be dissipated and liquidated. Countries don’t do that. They’re much more corrupt and they counterfeit their way out of it. They print money and pay off their debts with money with shrinking value. That is essentially how we got into this mess. We couldn’t have gotten ourselves into this mess without a central bank that had so much power and authority. The central bank, especially the Chairman of the Board, is more powerful than the president because he gets to print, create the reserve currency of the world, determine how much money supply there should be in the world, and what the interest rates should be. That’s way too much power. He is a counterfeiter and he is a taxer, because if the Congress passes a bill and they don’t have the money, the Fed prints the money and your prices go up. That’s a tax on us. It’s the wrong thing to do and it has to stop.
You know, there are a couple of images of America. The image that I like to think about, and so many of us are fighting for, is the image of America that’s self-reliant, self-dependent, hardworking, believe in the work ethic, believe in the market place, believe in sound money and believe in voluntarily co-operation, and a tax system that allows you to keep what you earn. That’s what we should have. Now it is my opinion that if you truly believe in liberty and you truly believe you have the right to keep what you earn, you have to truly believe that we get rid of the IRS and the income tax. But unfortunately, and one of the reasons why you’re so motivated, is the image of America has changed. We’re debtors, we’re the worst debtor in the history of the world, we have a currency that’s destined to fail, we’re indebted over our heads, and the government is bigger than ever, our civil liberties are being undermined, we’re pretending we can police the world and take care of everybody while ignoring our people at home, and our image is that of one where we are invading and bombing and threatening and using all sets of techniques overseas that undermines our liberties here. So our image is exactly opposite of what the founders wanted it to be. They wanted us to have a country where we were not intervening in the internal affairs of other nations. And, of course, Eisenhower warned us; he said, “Watch out. If you’re not careful, the military-industrial complex will eat our lunch”, and that’s what they’re doing today.
So if we are for balanced budgets, as I assume we are, and if we are for limited government, you can’t pick and choose. You can’t say, “Well, let’s cut this program, let’s cut this program. We can cut the food stamps for the poor, but you don’t cut the food stamps for the rich, you don’t cut the food stamps for the overseas partners that we have.” What you have to do is you cut government back to its Constitutional size. That’s what you need. I believe that’s what they Tea Party Movement is all about: cutting it back to size, believing in the Constitution. It is great there’s a 10th amendment movement, is that fantastic. Isn’t it great that we’re talking about sound money again and the gold standard; these are all wonderful things happening. Isn’t it amazing that we’re talking about the Constitutional right from the states to nullify bad Federal laws?
This, to me, is rather amazing. I went to Congress quite a few years ago and I believe my role would be to go and vote the way I promised, the way the Constitution says, even if I would be alone. And that not much would happen, that it would be probably not noticed and someday I would go back home and hopefully leave a record that people would notice someday in the future. Today, though, I am pleasantly surprised to find out there are so many of you who really care and you’re sick and tired of what you have in Washington DC.
The purpose, as far as I am concerned, for all political action is to preserve liberty. That should be the goal. It shouldn’t be for any special interest. Preserving liberty means you have a strong national defense and you have free markets and property rights and all these things. That is what the Constitution was written for and they had a lot of prohibitions, not against the people, the prohibitions are on the government, not the people. So if we can do that, if we can achieve that, that we preserve our liberties, what is the purpose of liberty? Well, that is the key. The purpose of liberty is to make ourselves better people, that gives us the opportunity to work for excellence and virtue, which should be the goal of all of us in our lives. Because governments, once they get involved in dealing with making you more virtuous and a more excellent person or more economically equal among you, the government can’t do any of that without undermining your liberties. If they decide, if our government decides that what we have to solve the problem of the world, we have to impose our goodness around the world, therefore, you have to undermine somebody else’s liberty. And you know what? Besides, when government embarks on any of those efforts, it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. What we need is to restore the confidence in this country, in the people, that freedom works, that freedom is the solution to our problems, that our liberties ought to be protected. Now, sometimes it’s easy. Everybody is for freedom. I’ve never met anyone in Washington that said, “Oh, I’m not for freedom”. You know, I’ve never heard of a congressman running for Congress say, “Oh, I don’t plan to uphold the Constitution”. No, they’re all for the Constitution, they’re all for limited government, they’re all for freedom. So we have to be very precise. What does it mean to have liberties? To me, if I have liberty and you have liberty, guess where the responsibility falls? It falls on you, the individual. It falls on you to take care of yourself, it falls on you to assume that if you work hard, you can reap the rewards of your hard effort. And that would be a tremendous incentive. That is what gave us the great prosperity of this country. This idea that we could have this incentive and actually keep what we have, keep what we earn. But you know, there’s another thing about liberty, and then sometimes there’s parts of liberty that nobody wants to concede that is the case. Actually, what liberty does is it allows you to make all choices in all matters. It means, of course, that you can spend your money even when you waste your money. The government can’t come in and say, “Quit wasting your money”. The liberal side says, “No, we have to tell the people how to spend their money, we have to regulate every consumption item because somebody’s going to take advantage of the people and therefore abuse the people. So we need regulators. I had one congressman tell me once, I said, “Why are you voting for this bill? Why do we have to tell the people what they can do and can’t do?” He says, “You know what? People are too stupid”. And believe me, that is an attitude that prevails in Washington. Anybody that advocates big government, a lot of laws and a lot of regulations, a lot of taxation, believes you are not capable of taking care of yourself, and that is what has to be reversed. Because we sat on our hands for so long and made those assumptions, we carelessly allowed things to flow, we lost a lot of our liberties and they’re being continuously challenged. So we have to look at this. We want you to be able to spend your money as you chose, but also what you do with your life. We know that the government’s not supposed to deal with your religious values, what you put into your soul, or into your mind. You’re allowed to read things that you chose. But why is that so often we think it’s okay for the government to tell us what we can put in our mouths or put in our lungs or put in our body and assume, “Oh, the government will take care of us.” So, therefore, you have government at the Federal level telling you, for instance, that it is in your best interest that we tell you that you’re not allowed to drink raw milk.” That’s how they’re going to protect you.
Now, you take, for instance, in the drug war which, if you’re caring about liberty, you have to address this subject about how the drug war undermines personal liberties. But the drug war has drifted over into the total curtailment of the growing of hemp. You know, hemp is a great product, but it competes with other products that are subsidized by the government, and they don’t want competition. Hemp is related to marijuana, but if you want to smoke hemp, you need a cigarette as big as a phone pole to get anything that you would feel any changes off. And here we are on an insanity course of saying, “Nobody can grow hemp”, a fantastic product that makes many, many different products where we begged and pleaded for our farmers to grow during World War II. So it’s those kinds of things that spill over in this effort to regulate behavior for so called good reasons also has many unintended consequences.
We believe that we should have protection of life and liberty and, of course, pursuit of happiness to keep what we earned. But I think the most important of all that: liberty is important, obviously, but you cannot protect liberty if you don’t protect all life. Once human life is identified, if you ignore that, you can’t protect liberty. If we can do that, we will have a free and prosperous society. Freedom, to me, is so wonderful, and I have such confidence in how well it works if we can just protect that and guarantee that you have your God-given rights to your life and your liberty where our freedoms come from, not from our government. If we allow that and understand freedom is tolerance. Think of the first amendment. The Federal government says the Congress shall write no laws regarding the many things that they list there. Write no laws: that means that certainly the administration can’t write laws, they’re not supposed to be able to write regulations or executive orders or anything else. They’re not allowed to under the Constitution. And certainly if we are told that the Congress writes all laws and the executive branch is not allowed to either, why in the world have we allowed our judicial branch to write laws. They shouldn’t write laws either. I would believe in freedom and freedom markets if it did not produce greater wealth. But we who believe in freedom, we don’t even have to argue that because history is on our side. History proves the freer the market, the sounder the money, the greater prosperity and the more people that can enjoy it. So freedom is defendable in a very practical way. So this is something that we fail, I think, to project. But freedom also works in a social way. Freedom does bring people together, freedom should not be divisive. If the first amendment says that you can say things that are controversial, you should be able to tolerate other people who are controversial too, as long as they don’t impose their will or their rules and their beliefs on you.
I have every reason to be optimistic. As pessimistic as I am on the economy, it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. We’re going to have a monetary crisis, they’re going to be a challenge, so I hope that this group, the Tea Party Movement and others continue to grow and have a significant intellectual influence on Washington DC, because things will get a lot worse. But freedom is alive and well, let me tell you. Not only do we see the movements like this, but I go constantly to the universities. And if you have a true intellectual revolution, the universities will express it, and believe me, on the campuses of this country, they care about freedom, they care about liberty, they care about our Constitution and they are going to be the next generation. We will have no magic cure in November. We will significantly see some changes, hopefully, and that will be good. But the major challenge will be when we have a dollar financial crisis and the whole system is going to be challenged. But intellectually, the belief in liberty is growing by leaps and bounds and you are reflecting that. So I come here with great gratitude for having been invited, and I go away with great excitement and belief and enjoyment that I know so many of you care.
Thank you very much.