Ron Paul: Thank you very much. Thank you, Lew, I appreciate that very much, I appreciate what the Mises Institute does. There was a time when the Mises Institute was just starting, and I helped a little bit in the early years. Our crowds were much smaller, though. I think the future looks bright, and that, to me, is very encouraging. I also want to especially thank the host for this luncheon today, and that’s Carl Davis, and he’s, of course, at our table, and he’s hosting this lunch. But Carl is a good friend of liberty, but he’s also a good friend of Carol and me, I’ll tell you that. Because back in the old days, I represented the 22nd district, which was a different part of the Harris County area, and he was a constituent then. But he’s been a strong supporter of everything I’ve done, so I appreciate that very much, Carl, and I’m glad to see you here today. Also, Lew mentioned that I would be continuing to work on foreign policy, and we’ve organized a group which will be called The Institute for Peace and Prosperity, and it will be run under the Free Foundation. But I was fortunate in these last few years in Washington to have an individual who was a real expert in that area, and he will be heading that up, and Lew will also be advising us on that: and that’s Daniel McAdams, who will be on that board and running it. Thank you, Daniel.
It is great to be here, and over the years, it’s always been great just to get out of DC, let me tell you, because the atmosphere is so different. One of the things that people often talk about and bring up to me is, ‘When in Congress, or even now, how do you ever put up with it, how did you stand it?’ Because when they look at it and listen to it and see what’s happening and try to change the direction, they say, “Didn’t you become frustrated and annoyed and didn’t it drive you nuts?” And I said, “Really, it didn’t do it, because I think I went there with the proper expectations, I didn’t expect that I would change the world. Matter of fact, I’ve been surprised on the upside that we’ve gotten as much attention as we’ve had. But I think I was talking to myself to probably rationalize being there, saying it wasn’t quite so bad. But let me tell you, now that I’ve been home for a couple of weeks, I say, “How did I ever put up with that stuff up there?” But there have been some good things happening in Washington. When I see 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5, literally change the direction of how they’ve been thinking. And one of my closest friends in Washington happens to be a close friend of Carl Davis, too, and that’s the Congressman from North Carolina, Walter Jones. Now, Walter Jones was a typical neo-con, and he represented many, many military personnel, and he just felt like he had to do this-and-this-and-this. And he was the individual that, when the Iraq war broke out, he voted and supported it, and then he was the one that introduced this resolution to change French Fries to Freedom Fries, because he was annoyed at the French because they weren’t joining in the battle. Of course, the French are making up for that right now in Algeria, but that’s how annoyed he was. But shortly after that – and we visited quite often – it finally dawned on him that he was for the war because of one thing: they lied to him, flat out lied to him. He went to all the briefings and listened to all the experts and the CIA and the administration and the president on down, and he believed what they were saying. But it didn’t take him too long to find out they were lying, they were lying through their teeth about it. And then he started seeing the troops come back, the ones that were wounded, the ones that were killed, and he saw all the harm done, and he knew about the problems on the military bases. So now, he’s one of the strongest anti-war opponents, and this, to me, is a significant thing, because that’s what we have to change, we have to change people’s minds and understanding. And it became an important issue for our campaign as well, because as I travelled around the country so often, the neo-con average Republican would come up and many of them were, at least to my face, very courteous and polite. And they’d say, “Ron, we really love what you’re doing, you are such a good conservative, you always vote against all that spending and everything else, and we really like that. But we can support you, if you would only change your foreign policy”. So I tried to explain to them: where would the people on the college campuses and the young people and crowds like this be if the foreign policy was that of military adventurism. This is a major part of our philosophy, and is very, very important. So I would say, if we give up our foreign policy and accept the policy of intervention, we’ve given up way too much and we should never give an inch on that.
Washington has not changed a whole lot, and if you measure what’s happening in the country with what’s happening in Washington, you could become a little bit depressed. If you watch only the major networks on TV, you might even end up throwing things at the TV. But we live in a different era, and today, you don’t have to get your news off the TV. So if you look only at Washington and not at what’s happening elsewhere, we would be in a lot of trouble. But today, a whole generation is coming of age that don’t get their information from the TV, they get it elsewhere. And so, life is changing, I’ve been interested in these ideas for a long time, and many of you, I know, share this. It wasn’t so easy to get information. In the 1950s and the 1960s when I became fascinated with these studies, it was hard to find the information. I was so delighted when I discovered the foundation for economic education, the Leonard Read’s Group. It was fantastic that this was available, you could actually get a book and study and write off a book. Today, you can get a book instantaneously with a couple of clicks on your computer. So we live in the most miraculous of times. Victor Hugo said that you can stop an invasion of an army, but you cannot stop an invasion of ideas. And when I first heard that, I was so excited about that, because I’m really sort of a chicken at heart, I don’t like fighting and shooting and killing people. And if I thought I had to try to change anything by becoming violent, I didn’t want any part of it. So I decided that ideas are more powerful than armies, why not join the position of changing ideas and confront the people who have the military power, so we have the greatest weapon in our hands for fighting.
Washington, right now, is not much interested in some of the very important issues that are dear to our heart. They claim there is a lot of partisanship going on in Washington, and if you turn on the TV, there is a lot of partisanship. They yell and scream and fuss and fume and shriek and holler, and it’s not all fake, it’s real, because there’s always an argument over who has the power. Murray Rothbard used to write about the banking industry and how the Rockefellers would be fighting with each other, but when it came to endorsing the Fed, they endorsed the Fed. And this is sort of the way it still is, the Republicans and Democrats fight with each other, but when it comes down to the important issues, there’s way too much compromise, too much bipartisanship. We got into this mess because of the bipartisanship, but it was easy when the country was wealthy and growing and the prosperity and the momentum was there. We had a relatively good economy and a free society and sound money, and in spite of its imperfection, it created the most massive amount of wealth known to mankind. And this momentum continued, and even as the underpinnings of that system was occurring, there was still a lot of wealth to divvy up. And so, it was easy to compromise, like, “Okay, you want milk, we’ll give you tobacco subsidies”, and vice-versa. So there were no arguments. Now it’s a true argument because even our opposition realizes that there’s a limit to this, except for Paul Krguman, I don’t think Paul Krugman thinks there’s a limit. Because [according to him] if you’re out of money, the most important thing is people spend more money, and that would solve everybody’s problem. So if you don’t have enough money and the Fed wouldn’t print enough, or the treasury won’t borrow enough, just create a trillion dollar platinum coin, and cash it in for a trillion dollars, and it will be miraculous and all our problems will be solved. But guess what, a whole generation of people today, not only the individuals in this room, but a whole generation of young people on college campuses, know that it’s all a fraud and it’s not going to work, and they’re reading about the Fed and they know there will be a day when the Fed will be ended.
You know, I’ve been criticized on occasions for not calling an end to the Fed. Of course, I wrote a book called ‘End the Fed’, but they don’t like it because it sounds softer because my goal isn’t to send the troops down there and get rid of the Fed, I’m just waiting for them to self-destruct, is what I’m waiting for. But the Fed will end, we shouldn’t have the Fed, but my thoughts are that we should work more on just legalizing the constitution, and if we did that, they’d say, “Oh, that’s radicalism”. Just legalize the constitution, and then you wouldn’t go to jail if we used silver for legal tender, today you go to jail for that. I suggest that we look at the coinage act of 1792 to find out what the penalty was for; it was for counterfeiting money. We who use silver today aren’t the counterfeiters, it’s the Fed that’s the counterfeiters, and we should hold them accountable. But both sides support the Fed, both sides support the military-industrial complex, both sides support the welfare state and, therefore, the arguments are very superficial and distracting. Do you think the bankers and the military-industrial complex and others really worried a whole lot during this last election after it was narrowed down to two? Well, which one won, would it have made much difference? I don’t believe there would have been any difference, but there’s still this whole fanfare of beating the drums of this competition. But I think that’s our important job, to make sure that people know there’s an alternative, and that we’re not part of that system. And I think that’s what’s happening. For some very special reason, those young people in college campuses, as well as all of you – because I don’t see one person here over 30, so I think that is great – are open to these ideas, and are now studying. It just sort of bewilders me when I have young people come to me … matter of fact, today I had somebody come up to me and say, “I started reading about this because of you when I was 14”. I have people come up to my office in Washington and they say, “I started reading Murray Rothbard when I was 13”, and they’re reading it now. But, believe me, if what victor Hugo said is true, which I believe that ideas do have these consequences, we’re on a roll, as far as I’m concerned, I think it’s going great. And a lot of people deserve credit. Sometimes it’s an individual talking to a family friend or a neighbor, and sometimes it’s a teacher in a particular school, and sometimes it’s an organization or an institute like the Mises Institute that changes people’s minds. And this is what’s been happening.
And I’m impressed with the growth of the numbers. I remember in 2007, when somebody wrote to me about thinking about running for office, I said, “Yea, yea, I guess I’ll do it, but I can’t see much coming out of it”, and I gave him all those arguments. And this information was leaked out, it got out before I made the announcement that I would run in the presidential race. So it got out, and before I knew it, it got on the internet; and before I knew it, a lot of people knew about it. And I said, “What’s going on here?” and they said, “Well, it went viral”, and I asked, “Viral? I never even studied viruses of this sort in medical school”. So that, to me, was remarkable, but even what’s happen since 5 years ago [is remarkable]. But yes, the campaign was important, and I helped some, but believe me, a lot of people were involved planting the seeds. And when you see the exponential growth that is before us today, this, to me, is so impressive. And it’s not like it’s the 14th district in Texas, it’s not it’s in Texas, it’s not like it’s in the United States; with the communications that happen today … You know, the other day somebody called me up and they said, “When are you coming to Canada, we have a Mises Institute branch up here”, and they’re all over the place. So, this is what’s happening, and I have to tell you, I’ve had a little bit of personal delight in that time when Romney went to Poland. Anybody remember what happened when he went to Poland?
Ron Paul: And I don’t even speak Polish, so maybe someday I’ll go to Poland and meet those two people that were holding that sign. No, there are more than two people here and there, and I think there’re two reasons for that. I’ve talked a lot about the internet and the young people, but I think there’s another reason why this is happening, and it has to do with where we are in the scheme of things. The evidence of the 20th century is so overwhelming, that it can’t be ignored anymore: the overwhelming failure of socialism, the overwhelming literal liquidation of this communism, as Marx and Lennon proposed. I mean, it died, and we didn’t have to fight them, we didn’t have to go in with armies, we went in with ideas and the failure of theirs. So I think it’s the spreading of our ideas, but it’s also the failure of theirs. And I think this is what’s happening; it’s the failure of our foreign policy that changes the minds of people like Walter Jones, and it’s the failure of government’s credibility. The other day I was on a college campus and we had a nice crowd out, and I asked them, “How many here believe the government leaders when they make announcements from Washington, how many believe these things?” I didn’t see any hands up. I know I don’t think I’ll get any hands up in here, but at the college campuses, nobody believes the government. I would say that’s a healthy start.
You know, we all know the story about the policy of: the government shouldn’t be able to do anything that you or I cannot do. If we can’t steal and rob and all, the government shouldn’t be able to do it; if we can’t counterfeit, the government shouldn’t be able to counterfeit; if we’re not allowed to use violence, the government shouldn’t be allowed to use violence. I don’t know, this might be a radical idea, but maybe we can do it the other way. Anything the government assumes they have a right to do to us, we should assume we have the right to do that to them. Now, would it be too radical to say that if the government lies to us, we have the right to lie to the government? Do have a gun in your house, how many guns do you have? Do you have government in your house, how much gold do you have in your house? So, I think it makes a point, if nothing else. The government has assumed a role that was never intended for it in this country, but it’s been assumed that way, to one degree or the other, for literally centuries, if not millennium. And most people say, “Well, that’s the way it’s going to be, it’s been that way for thousands of years, governments are always too big, and they fight the wars and make innocent young people die. And therefore you can’t expect anything different to happen. And I am so optimistic, that I believe we can change that, or at least introduce this whole notion that it doesn’t have to be that way. If Switzerland can go for 300, 400 years without actively fighting a war, why can’t a lot more of us do the same thing? That’s what I think we ought to do. And that doesn’t mean you become passivist and give up defense, no, you put an ak47 in everybody’s house. Some people say, “Well, it’s Switzerland because they’re surrounded by mountains and it’s a special situation and nobody ever wanted to invade them and they didn’t have to participate. Well, didn’t we have a pretty special situation, and still do, even in this modern age? There’s a lot of water between us and any individual that might invade us right now, but I don’t think there’s anybody planning on invading us. I remember back in the early 1980s when they were planning to build these huge tanks, and we were building more tanks. And I asked and I said, “Why do we need more tanks, are we expecting the Russians to come across the barren sea and invade us with their tanks?” I mean, it just goes on and on, and I don’t think it’s too over the top to think that attitudes can change. I think two things have to happen, though, to get it; I think we need more resistance from young people to say, “We’re sick and tired of it all, we don’t want to fight more wars, and we’re not going to go and be cannon fodder, we need more resistance to these wars”. But we need more individuals in Washington who have different ideas and different programs, and I think that would be worthwhile, but I don’t think that would answer the question, because I think people abuse power when they get it. So if they’re able to, and they believe they can use this power to get into those positions, and it is thought by the people that government ought to have this monopoly of power, then I think they will always be abused. I think we have to get to the point where we tell anybody in Washington, “You don’t have this authority, you don’t have this authority to run our lives, you don’t have authority to run the economy, and you don’t have authority to tax us and fight wars that we don’t need to be in. And we don’t even want you in office if that is the case, because you don’t have the legal right to do it”.
You know, one of the biggest problems, of course, is trust in Washington, and most of that lack of trust is justified. But there was a commentator the other day talking to a senator about his promises in his oath, and the senator was changing his mind on his pledge to not raise taxes, and he more or less said, “I care much more about my country than I do about some (he didn’t use the word stupid, but he meant it) pledge I took 20 years ago not to raise taxes. And I think that is the attitude, because most of them either distort what the constitution is, or they figure, “That’s old fashioned”, they just say it, they don’t take it seriously. But then he just said, “My oath and my promise doesn’t mean anything”, and that, of course, would have to change. Another commentator asked a senator, because he was taking a position which, for us, wouldn’t be too much of a step to take, but he was a conservative and wanted to cut back a little bit. And the commentator said to him, “Isn’t this overly idealistic, why don’t you live with reality”. Well, the position of so many who are considered over-the-top and overly idealistic and not living up to reality, what do they mean by this? Because, in truth, if we were concerned about that, wouldn’t the budget not be something over the top, isn’t that extreme, isn’t that excessive? I mean, budgets and deficits of trillions and trillions of dollars, printing trillions and trillions of dollars of money, and they’re doing it in secret, and then they say to somebody who wants to cut something by a nickel is an extremist and over the top and radical. I think what we need to do is turn that around and show that the radicals and the extremist, those who believe bizarrely in ideas that we don’t agree with, have been in charge, and it’s time to change those individuals and change our attitude about what the role of government ought to be. Many years ago, when I was in Congress in my first go-around, I remember a conversation that I overheard. A bill had been on the Floor, and the Democrats were strongly in charge and Michel was a Republican leader. And yet there was a vote that was relatively close, and I don’t even remember what the bill was, but it was relatively close because I guess some Democrats were defecting. And Jim Right and Bob Michael worked out a deal where Bob Michel was able to gather together some moderate Republicans, and they came up and passed the bill. And I remember it, because as soon as it was passed, Jim Wright came over to Bob Michel on the floor, and he said, “I want to really thank you for doing what you did, because that was so statesman-like for to do what you did”. That is so statesman like to sell out. I think there should be a different definition for ‘statesmanship’. But I thought this really is the attitude, and what is the meaning of co-operation and compromise. I look at it as what we need is not more compromise, what we need is coalition-building. We’re not going to have everything we want as fast as we want in government. If you’re in politics, I think if you’re not a 100%, you’re wasting your time. If you’re in politics to move up the ladder, that’s a different story. But I think you should work with different groups, like on foreign policy and civil liberties.
You know, when I first went to Washington, if my decision had been that I wanted to have influence in the typical fashion, that meant I had to move up the ladder, and that meant I had to vote the way leadership told me to, etc. I was always amazed that when individuals who might be voting pretty well and were conservative, get a position in leadership … I remember one time going up to the individual and we were just having a vote and he was voting the wrong way, and I said, “What are you doing, you’re not voting with us today”. And he said, “Well, I can’t do it anymore, I’m in leadership”. He was in leadership, so he had to do what he was told. But if you work your way up the ladder, I guess if I would have stayed on and had done that, I could have become a chairman. But then the other concession you have to make, not only on all your principles, is you also have to raise a lot of money. I think the chairman said, “Each committee has a different amount”, it’s like ways and means, you might have to raise 10 or 15 million dollars for the club, for the Republicans. And if you don’t raise the money, you are never considered. So unlike Walter Jones and 3 or 4 others who got kicked off their committee because they didn’t bow to the leadership, I was never kicked off a committee, because I think the problem there was, and I heard Gingrich say this one time, “Well, we didn’t do this because we didn’t want to get too many emails from Ron Paul’s friends”. So working up the ladder is really the job that they have to worry about, but I believe that we’re facing tremendous opportunities that we have, and I think what’s happening today is so beneficial that we can’t let up. So often I get asked the question, “What should I do?” and I say, “Just do what you want to do”.
Everybody has a different job, but everybody has a job. And some people can do one thing and not the other. A lot of young people will come up and they’ll be 18 – 20 years old and they’ll say, “I like what you did, and I’d like to do what you did. How do I get into Congress, how can I run for Congress?” and say, “Don’t do it, don’t set that as your goal. That shouldn’t be your goal, you might end up doing it someday”. But you don’t want to set the goal of running for Congress. If somebody wants to get you into Congress because of your beliefs, that’s a different story. But if you set a goal to move up the political ladder, I think that’s very dangerous. Leonard Read was great on this, he said, “Educate yourself, learn and study and know the issues”. I still believe I try very hard to understand all the issues and learn how to explain the issues, and that is very important. Mises talked about that in “Human Action”, and he talks about how some people are inclined on writing and studying and on ideas and issues and are pure academicians; and others are responsible for making those ideas palatable. And I feel like I’m sort of in that category, I like being the education, I have an educational foundation, and I promote it. But it seems like I’ve listened carefully to what he said about taking ideas and making them palatable to yourself so you understand them. Then it makes it so easy for you to get your friends and neighbors. And now, how many people in this group might have a Facebook account? A few. So literally, in a room like this, if everybody had a Facebook account, we’re talking about tens of thousands of people. It could be a new definition for ‘viral’, who knows what happens on how ideas are spread. So this is a wonderful time to have a wonderful philosophy, it’s not complicated, it’s based very fundamentally on what life is all about. I think life is precious, and I think life comes from our creator, and if we think we can defend all other kinds of liberties without respect for life and the protection of all life, I don’t think we can spread these ideas of liberty that well.
But those who expect to defend liberty, most likely undergo the fatigue of supporting liberty. And people who come to groups like this have already invested a lot of time and money in these ideas, and I only encourage you, I thank all of you for coming, I thank Lew for the invitation. And, believe me, I’m very encouraged, and, in many ways, I feel the most released in a way because I don’t have to go through TSA quite as often. But I won’t stop arguing the case about why we need to get rid of the TSA as soon as possible. But let me just close, because I want to make one important point that I think so many respond favorably to on college campuses. And that is, what is concept of liberty all about? I’m convinced that a 100 yrs ago or so, for some reason, we went off track and we took the principles of liberty and cut them in pieces. And we have personal liberties and civil liberties, and then we have the foreign policy sitting out there, and then we have economic liberties. And people who don’t quite understand this, put them into categories and different groups. But if you believe in the individual as possessing liberty, and not as a group; and you don’t have group rights, you don’t have gay rights, and you don’t have women’s rights or minority rights and all these things, you just have individual rights and everybody deserves equal protection from the law, regardless. But if we have that liberty, this means the individual is in control, control of one’s own life. But it also means that what you do with that life, is your own business; you reap the benefits, but you also have to assume the responsibility and the consequences of your actions. Now, on most college campuses, left or moderate or whatever, the young people understand this. More challenging is when you go to Berkeley campus and you get a nice crowd out and you say, “Well, this is exactly the reason you have to believe in economic liberty. If you have a right to your life, you have a right to keep the fruits of your labor”. And, of course, if we have economic liberty and personal liberty and we understand the foreign policy, then we’ll have a totally different foreign policy, we’ll have a foreign policy of peace and prosperity. We cannot have prosperity with the perpetual wars. They claim that we’re involved in war all the time, and they act like it because they’re undermining our liberties all the time, and they call it a ‘global war on terrorism’. I think it’s a domestic war on our liberties, and that’s where the real problem is. So I chastise myself and others for not having done a better job, because we have a philosophy that I believe sincerely is the correct philosophy, which is the philosophy of liberty. But, how do we get painted? We get painted as uncaring, as if we don’t care about the troops, we’re unpatriotic, we don’t care about the poor, and we need welfare and all these things. And we lose the argument about humanitarianism, that we don’t have a concern for our fellow man. You know, if somebody accepts the libertarian position, and does it in a selfish manner and does a very good job of taking care of themselves and never give a penny away, they are no enemy of ours, they’re not an enemy.
But, the whole thing is that the nature of most people is that they’re very generous with helping people and taking care of their families and all these things. But if you want a prosperous society, and a society where people can promote their own excellence and virtue, you want a free society. If you want wealth, you want a free society. And we lose this argument all the time, that we don’t care about people, and that’s why the poor people need more help and we get more socialism. But, I believe the argument has gotten easier, it has gotten easier for me, because if you give the society welfare, you get Republicans and Democrats to endorse it because they don’t want us to be seen or called selfish or unpatriotic. But then when the crisis hits, when the thing collapses, as it did in 2008 …