Michael Berry: Congressman?
Ron Paul: Michael, it’s nice to be on your show.
Michael Berry: It’s nice to be with you. I don’t know if Tracey told you, but I’ve been begging for a three-hour sit-down.
Ron Paul: Yes, she was telling me about that, and I wasn’t quite in the position where I could promise that, so I thought it’s better that I get 30 minutes on your show.
Michael Berry: Congressman, I’ll take 30 seconds. I went back and was doing some prep on you today, and I was looking back at speeches you’ve given and comments you’ve made, and I say to myself, “How ridiculous that you’re on the floor of the House of Representatives talking about Ludwig Von Mises amongst a bunch of bewbs who have no clue what you’re talking about”.
Ron Paul: Yes, I know you wonder why I do it, but I’ve thought about that, and Mises is so important because he and other Austrian economists have explained the business cycle, which seems to me to be a pretty important issue on why we have booms and busts and unemployment. And I thought, “How many people in the Congress have heard of his name?” And you’re right, there are several that do, but I don’t believe I can name five people who actually understand the Austrian business cycle explanation. And that, to me, is crucial. If you don’t understand that, you do all this nonsense that we get: tinkering with the tax codes, spending, and letting the Fed do whatever they want. And then they wonder why things don’t get any better. So I thought about that very thing. But what I have done over the years hasn’t been with the idea that I was going to give a powerful speech and convert my fellow-colleagues. If I had done that, I probably would have been too frustrated to stay there, but I knew that there might be somebody else listening, and maybe a couple did.
Michael Berry: Congressman Ron Paul, I’ve said numerous times throughout the presidential election and over the last few years that you don’t have to vote for Ron Paul, you don’t even have to like Ron Paul, but you cannot call him crazy. And I find that what’s been done to you … let’s take Bill Kristol, for instance. Bad people like Bill Kristol (I think I have a very cynical view of them and their motives) have managed with a great number of the unwashed to convince people “Oh, let’s not even discuss what Ron Paul’s talking about, because he’s crazy”. And when you can do that, you can prevent an honest discussion of ideas.
Ron Paul: Yes. Well, if they can’t refute your ideas, the saying goes that they go after your character, so they want to attack character so they don’t have to refute ideas. So I would make the case that he ought to talk about the issues. If he thinks my position on monetary policy is foolish, he should try to refute them and defend paper money and Federal Reserves and endless credit and 15 trillion dollars of bailouts for foreign banks and foreign governments. He should be put on the defense. But when he gets on TV, he’s never asked those kinds of questions, he gets to criticize others.
Michael Berry: For 40 years, Dr. Ron Paul, you’ve been in public life fighting the good fight politically and intellectually. You’ve been consistent, you ran for President three times. What is the greatest accomplishment of your live, your public life outside of being a doctor and outside of being a father and outside of being a husband? What’s your greatest accomplishment to date?
Ron Paul: Well, I haven’t thought a lot about that, because I think that’s somebody else’s job. But if try to come up with something, it wouldn’t be precise and dramatic, but hopefully it is just getting people to think about important issues and at least think about what I’m saying, and maybe agree or maybe challenge me. But I think it’s getting people to pay attention to the problems, and I think there’s been a little progress on that. Because I’ve been there a long time, but it was after the financial crisis hit, that the credibility seemed to improve a bit. So hopefully I got people to think about why free-markets and individual liberty are so important to both, peace and prosperity, because I think that should be our goal in life: peace and prosperity, so that we can seek fulfillment in life.
Michael Berry: Dr. Ron Paul, I have three minutes left in this segment, and I want to give you time to answer this question as best you can in that amount of time. Reading some things about you, one of the things you talk about was Nixon taking us off the gold standard and stepping away from Bretton-Woods. For people who don’t understand the gold standard, why is that important to the average person that we went off the gold standard?
Ron Paul: Well, because it gave license to the government to expand and not be responsible. And this is a deliberate issue, because from 1913 onwards, the movement was away from restraint on government spending. But if governments have a vehicle where they can print money to pay the bills, they will, and they have done it endlessly. So, when Nixon finally took us off the gold standard, even though we weren’t on much of a gold standard in 1971 … but finally he closed the gold window, foreigner weren’t allowed to reclaim gold for dollars, and on august 15th of 1971, I said to myself, “You know, this is going to lead to really serious problems according to Austrian free market economics”, and that’s what’s happened. The dollar is worth about 10 cents, it’s lost 90% of its value since 1971, its lost 98% of its value since 1913.
And look at the spending and the deficits. If the Fed couldn’t print money to buy treasury bills, interest rates would go up and the Congress would have no other choice than to cut back on spending. So it’s a vehicle to enhance the welfare state, and it enhances the warfare state, too, because there are a lot of things we do under the pretence of national defense, but its’ really militarism. And the things that Eisenhower warned us against, none of that would happen if the Fed couldn’t print the money. The Founders knew this, and that is why they put it in the constitution that only silver and gold could be legal tender, because they knew what would happen because they had just gone through a runaway inflation of the continental dollar. To me, it’s a very, very important issue, and hopefully a lot more will study about it, and, quite frankly, a lot of college people and young people have started reading and studying about the importance of the Federal Reserve.
Michael Berry: You ran for president 24 years ago as a Libertarian, for the last two election cycles you ran as a Republican. Are you a Republican?
Ron Paul: Well, yes, but I don’t know what that really means. I was elected as a Republican every time I ran for Congress, and I worked within the Republican Party. And, in many ways, I think I qualify to be what they pretend to be when they talk about limited government and balanced budgets and personal freedoms and a strong national defense and honest money. So I think, in that way, I may be more Republican than some of the others who get in office. Just to think that the Republicans didn’t do all that well when we had the House and the Senate and the Presidency; the spending continued and the deficits exploded. So I don’t think the Republican Party really has a precise philosophy. I always tried it as a vehicle, and other vehicles aren’t much available to us these days because it’s very hard for third parties to get anywhere. It’s hard to get on the ballots.
Michael Berry: You ran for President three times, people who support you, don’t just support you, they are adamant. Sometimes they drive me crazy, because they are such intense supporters. Nobody else in politics, not even Barack Obama, has the level of support that you do, and I don’t mean blacks who support Obama who say, “He’s black and I’m black”. I mean, they understand everything you stand for, they can repeat your platform, they can talk about ideas. I don’t think there’s been anybody in public life … Reagan would come the closest, and he’s not even in the same realm. It may not be 51% of the people, but it is this following of people who really understand your ideas. They don’t think you’re pretty, they don’t share your race, they don’t want to be your friend, they espouse your ideas. Why can’t we get that to 51%?
Ron Paul: Well, in some ways, you don’t have to worry too much about that, because you concentrate on a small number of people who influence the 51%. The 51% is important, they have to endorse the government, and their endorsement will allow certain governments to exist. But you have to have people in leadership to espouse something worth believing in. So I’ve challenged the status quo. The 51% or greater endorse the system because we’ve been taught to for the past 100 years, whether it’s foreign policy or monetary policy or the welfare system or the inflationary system. It’s been endorsed, it’s been taught to. Even those individuals over this last century who had instincts that opposed this, were browbeat, the system browbeats them, the media browbeats them, the schools and the movies and the government browbeats them up to the point where you’re told that you’re unpatriotic and you’re stupid, and therefore you don’t stick to your guns. But now that this is coming unglued, I think the opportunity presents itself to allow something else to come about. And I think the young people especially are aware of the seriousness, they’re more prone to believing in principle, and to look for consistency. So I think the opportunity is there, I think I happen to be at the right place at the right time, but I think there’s a great need for this message. It’s not a Ron Paul message, it’s really a message that’s been around for a long time, it’s a continuation of what the Founders actually dealt with in our early history. And, right now, I’m excited because the young people have been attracted to these views.
Michael Berry: And it’s amazing to me what a following of young folks you’ve had, and how passionate they are, when these are ideas you typically arrive at later in life, as Churchill alluded to. There are a number of things I want to get to, I’m trying to decide exactly. You did not endorse Mitt Romney, why?
Ron Paul: I didn’t have enough agreement with him on his views, and I didn’t want to endorse the views. I happened to get along with him really well, and he was probably one that I talked to and was friendly with as much as any of them when we did our debate. But I think he understood me pretty well, and I understood him, and when we talked about family and children and all, we did quite well. But he didn’t quite come close to what I was trying to say on the foreign policy, he didn’t have a lot of interest in the monetary policy and that sort of thing. I just didn’t want to endorse him, because I really didn’t think he was going to do a whole lot to move in the direction that I was trying to go.
Michael Berry: In the long run, is the republic better off that he lost?
Ron Paul: Oh, I don’t think better off, you could make the case for either way. And I think it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference, there’s a different flavor, and I know generally how you feel and how I feel and how a lot of people who listen to you feel about our current President. But the current President hasn’t really changed foreign policy, he doesn’t change monetary policy from the Republicans, he doesn’t change the welfare system. He might be more aggressive on it and Republicans will talk about cutting back. But the system is ingrained with interventionism, intertwined in our personal lives, intertwined in the economy, intertwined in the affairs of other nations. And although Republicans and Democrats have strong rhetoric and they seem to be fighting and all, I think there are some very powerful wealthy people that are global in nature that really didn’t care that much. I think their interest would be protected with either president. So I don’t think that we’re better off or worse off, I think we’re only going to be better off if we change the direction of our country by changing our attitude about what the role of government ought to be. And nobody seems to want to ask the precise question “What should the role of government be?” This is what the Founders asked, and they tried to describe what the role of government should be in the constitution. But today, the role of government for 90% of the people in government is always to run the nanny state, have a welfare system, print the money when you need it, deficits don’t matter that much. We have an obligation to be involved in other countries, and if we don’t like somebody, we send them a drone missile over there and kill them, even if we kill a bunch of kids. And both sides have being doing that, so I just think that we have to ask that precise question of what should the role of government be.
Michael Berry: Ron Paul is our guest, am I hearing you saying in that last answer that there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties?
Ron Paul: I think on the surface they pretend to be different, but their long-term policies don’t change. I think from my viewpoint of strict philosophy, I don’t think there’s a whole lot of difference. But I don’t even think they pretend to be a lot different, they want to sort of meld themselves into the same thing. Republicans don’t want to be seen as being cold-hearted and not believing in the welfare state, they have to endorse that. And if Democrats say, “Well, we shouldn’t be fighting so many wars”, then they’ll be weak on defense, so they have to show how tough they are and they have to go start another war. So I think, ultimately, there’s not anything different on the resolve.
Michael Berry: Ron Paul is our guest, is the threat by Iran to American security overstated?
Ron Paul: Grossly so. I mean, it’s a third world nation and they don’t have a significant army, they don’t have intercontinental ballistic missiles, and they’ve been harassed for a long time. They haven’t invaded a neighboring country in centuries, and if we’re honest with ourselves, we can look and see why they are angry at us, why they are annoyed with U.S. government. Well, maybe it’s because we threw their elected leader out in the 1950s and ushered in the radicalism of the Ayatollah by 1979. And then when we encouraged and supported Iraq to fight the Iranians, the Iranians would feel, “Why are the Americans always wanting to kill us, why are they getting involved?” But they don’t have an army or navy, they’re 6000 to 7000 miles away from us, they haven’t threatened us, they don’t have a nuclear weapon. Just think of the time we have spent over the concern about a nuclear weapon that doesn’t exist, and yet we lived through (and I was in the military during this time) the Cold War when the soviets had 30,000 of them, and some of them were 90 miles from our shore. I mean, in comparison, we’re just looking for trouble. And now all we do is put sanctions on these people, try to starve them and punish the people, and then they get angry at us, which ruins the dissidence in Iran who would like to get rid of their ruthless leaders. We do all these things and think, “Well, that means they’ll get mad at their leaders”, no, they get mad at us and they rally around their leaders. So I think our foreign policy is so foolish, and Iran just does not pose a threat to us. I think it’s there to stir the people up and always have an enemy out there. First it was Iraq, remember how they built up the Iraq war? They were about to bomb us and invade us, and they had nothing, they had zero, and we were their allies for 30 years. It’s just on again, off again and it’s disgusting. Think of all those years during which we pumped those billions and billions of dollars into Egypt …
Michael Berry: Ron Paul, I have 10 seconds left. I would be remiss if I didn’t say on behalf of our listeners, for folks who voted for you and those who wish they had, you are a true American patriot, and I have a lot of respect for you, sir.
Ron Paul: Thank you for having me on.
Michael Berry: Thank you for being on.