Some Observations on Four Terms in Congress
by Ron Paul by Ron Paul
Before the US House of Representatives, September 19, 1984
Mr. Speaker, I shall be soon leaving the House and have asked for this special order to make a few comments regarding the problems our nation faces and the actions needed to correct them. Having been honored by the 22nd District of Texas to represent them for four terms, I have grown to appreciate the greatness of this institution. I only wish the actions performed by the Congress in recent years could match the historic importance of this body.
Thousands of men and women have come and gone here in our country’s history, and except for the few, most go unnoticed and remain nameless in the pages of history, as I am sure I will be. The few who are remembered are those who were able to grab the reins of power and, for the most part, use that power to the detriment of the nation. We must remember that achieving power is never the goal sought by a truly free society. Dissipation of power is the objective of those who love liberty. Others, tragically, will be remembered in a negative way for personal scandals. Yet those individuals whose shortcomings prompted the taking of bribes or involvement in illicit sexual activities, have caused no more harm to society than those who used “legitimate” power to infringe upon individual liberty and expand the size of government. Morally the two are closely related. The acceptance of a bribe is a horrible act indeed for a public servant, but reducing liberty is an outrageous act that causes suffering for generations to come.
Since the time of our founding, few who have come to the Congress have been remembered for championing the cause of freedom. This is a sign of a declining nation and indicates that respect for freedom is on the wane.
Serving here has been a wonderful experience, and the many friendships will be cherished. I am, however, the first to admit the limited impact I’ve had on the legislative process. By conventional wisdom, I am “ineffective,” unable to trade votes, and champion anyone’s special privilege — even my own district’s. It places me in a lonely category here in Washington. If the political career is not the goal sought, possibly the measuring of “effectiveness” should be done by using a different standard.
The most I can hope for is that someday a suggestion I’ve made is remembered: that the debate would shift to a different plane. Instead of asking which form of intervention and planning government should impose, perhaps someday Congress will debate intervention versus nonintervention, government versus voluntary planning, U.S. sovereignty versus internationalism — the pros and cons of true liberty. Today the debate basically is only that of deciding who will be the victims and who the beneficiaries. I hope the hours of debate over the mechanisms of the political system orchestrated by the special interests will give way to this more important debate on freedom. The lack of this debate was my greatest disappointment. Only rarely did I see small fragments of this discussion, and then merely as a tactic for short-term gain rather than because of a sincere belief in the principles of liberty and the Constitution.
Some have said my approach is not practical, but most concede, “At least he’s consistent.” Since I first came here in 1976, the number of lobbyists has doubled and the national debt has tripled — $550 billion to $1.59 trillion — to me a most impractical trend. Business cycles, unemployment, inflation, high interest rates, and trade wars are the real impracticalities brought about by unwise political and economic policies. I’ve been impressed over the years by those who concede to me the consistency of my views, yet evidently reject them in favor of inconsistent views. Who, I might ask, is served by the politicians of inconsistency, the special interests or the general welfare?
The petty partisan squabbles that are today more numerous and more heated serve no useful function. The rhetoric now becoming personal is not designed to solve problems, nor does it show a correct perception of our country’s problems. All are motivated by good intentions, but that cannot suffice. The narrow partisan squabbles are a natural consequence of an intellectual bankruptcy, whereby correct solutions are not offered for our economic problems. The “good intentions” prompts those involved to “do something.” It seems that narrow partisanship on the House floor contributes nothing to the solutions of today’s problems.
Sadly, I have found that individual Members, even though we represent our half-million constituents, are much less important than most of us would like to believe. The elite few who control the strings of power are the only ones who really count in the legislative process. Votes, of course, occur routinely after heated debate by all those who want to ventilate. But as C. Northcote Parkinson pointed out, the length of debate on an issue is inversely proportional to the importance of an issue. Many times debate is done either for therapy or as a ritual to force Members to make public commitments to those who wield the power, a mere litmus test of loyalty, thus qualifying some quietly to receive largess for their particular district.
More often than not, the floor debates are a charade without real issues being dealt with — a mere chance for grandstanding. Budgetary votes are meaningless in that continuing resolutions and supplemental appropriations are all that count. If covert aid to a nation is voted down, the CIA and the administration in power can find the means to finance whatever is desired. Emergencies are declared, finances are hidden, discretionary funds are found, foreign governments are used, and policy as desired is carried out, regardless of the will of the people expressed by Congress.
On occasion, a program requested by the administration is “stopped” or voted down. But this doesn’t really change the course of events — the “price” is merely raised. The vote can be reversed on the House floor or in the conference, and the “enlightened” Member who cast the crucial vote will receive an ample reward for his or her district. These arrangements or deals are routine and accepted practice. The better one is at making them, the higher is one’s “effectiveness” rating and the easier the next election.
Recently, the national Taxpayers’ Union gave me their annual Taxpayers’ Best Friend Award for voting for the least amount of taxes and spending of any Member of Congress. I realize this does not qualify as a news event, but I have, over the years, tried to emphasize how dangerous is the problem of overspending and have voted accordingly. This past year, I am recorded as having voted against 99 percent of all spending. To me that means voting for the taxpayer 99 percent of the time and against the tyranny of the state at the same percentage. I must confess, though, to the possible disappointment of the anarchists, that I endorse more than one percent of our expenditures — possibly even 20 percent. Due to the seriousness of the problems we face, I believe it’s crucial to make the point that programs are bloated, and overspending, deficits and monetary inflation are a mortal threat to a free society. Those not willing to vote for the cuts either must believe they are not a threat or do not care if they are. I suspect the former to be the case.
Deficits are in themselves very harmful, but it’s what they represent that we must be concerned about. Deficits are a consequence of spending, and this tells us something about the amount of power gravitating into the hands of a centralized authority. As the deficits grow, so does the power of the state. Correspondingly, individual freedom is diminished.
It’s difficult for one who loves true liberty and utterly detests the power of the state to come to Washington for a period of time and not leave a cynic. Yet I am not; for I believe in the goodness of my fellow man and am realistic enough to understand the shortcomings of all human beings. However, I do believe that if the Democrats and the Republicans played more baseball and legislated a lot less, the country would be much better off. I am convinced the annual baseball game played by the Republicans and the Democrats must be considered one of the most productive events in which the Members of Congress participate.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to take some time to point out some of the contradictions that I have observed in my four terms in the Congress. These I have found frustrating and exasperating and, if others agree, possibly this recognition will someday lead to policies designed to correct them. I find these contradictions in three areas: foreign policy, economic policy and social issues.
I have trouble believing that the foreign policy of the past 70 years has served the best interests of the United States. The policy of international intervention has been followed during this time, regardless of the party in power. The traditional American policy of strategic independence and neutrality based on strength has been replaced by an international policy of sacrifices, policy that has given us nearly a century of war. The last two wars were fought without formal declaration and without the goal of victory in mind. There are many specific examples to show how irrational this interventionist policy is.
We pump $40 billion a year into the Japanese economy by providing for essentially all of Japan’s defense. At the same time, Japan out-competes us in the market, in effect subsidizing their exports, which then undermines our domestic steel and auto industries. The result: greater deficits for us, higher taxes, more inflation, higher interest rates, and a cry by our producers for protectionism. We insist that Western Europe take our Pershing missiles. We get the bill, and the hostility of the people of Western Europe, and then act surprised that the Soviets pull out of arms negotiations and send more modern nuclear submarines to our coastline. It’s a sure guarantee that any conflict in Europe — even one between two socialist nations — will be our conflict.
Loyally standing by our ally Israel is in conflict with satisfying the Arab interests that are always represented by big business in each administration. We arm Jordan and Egypt, rescue the PLO (on two occasions), and guarantee that the American taxpayer will be funding both sides of any armed conflict in the Middle East. This policy prompts placing Marines, armed with guns without bullets, between two waning factions. Our F15s shooting down our F-5s in the Persian Gulf War is our idea of neutrality and getting others to test our equipment. America’s interests are forgotten under these circumstances.
We condemn the use of poison gas by Iraq at the same time we aid Iraq, along with the Soviets, in preventing an Iranian victory, forgetting that Iraq started the war. Inconsistently, the administration pressures Congress to manufacture new nerve gas so we have something with which to go to the Soviets and draw up some unworkable treaty regarding war gases. We allocate low-interest loans through the Export-Import Bank to build a pipeline for Iraq, giving huge profits to Shultz Bechtel Corp., while hurting our domestic oil producers.
On the day we “stood firm” against Communist aggression in this hemisphere by invading Grenada, our president apologized to those liberal House Members who were “soft on communism” and pleaded for their vote to ensure the passage of the IMF bill, so the “Communist dictators” can continue to receive taxpayers’ dollars — dollars used to support Castro’s adventurism in the Caribbean and in Central America.
Our official policy currently is to be tough on communism, but at the same time promote low-interest loans, allowing Red China to buy nuclear technology, F-16′s and other military technology — all this by the strongest anti-Communist administration that we’ve had in decades. We participate in the bailout of bankrupt Argentina as she continues to loan money to Castro’s Cuba, which then prompts us to send men, money and weapons to counteract the spread of communism formed by Castro. It’s doubtful if any of these loans will be repaid, and the military equipment and technology will probably end up being used against us at a later date. We talk about a close alliance with Taiwan while subsidizing their hated enemy, Red China.
We subsidize Red China’s nuclear technology; at the same time, we allow Jane Fonda to ruin ours.
We continuously sacrifice ourselves to the world by assuming the role of world policeman, which precipitates international crises on a regular basis, all the while neglecting our own defenses. New planes go overseas while our Air National Guard is forced to use planes 20 years old. We neglect our defenses by signing treaties like Salt I and the ABM Treaty that prevent us from building a non-nuclear defense system — and follow Salt 11 without even signing it. The result: a massive arms race based on a doctrine of mutual assured destruction.
Praising the greatness of the Vietnam veterans and honoring them can never remove the truth of our failed policy that took us there. Resurrecting heroes will never erase the pain and suffering of an interventionist foreign policy that prompted unnecessary military activities and a no-win strategy.
There are 42 wars now going on in the world, and it’s reported we’re involved in many of them — on both sides. We have troops in a total of 121 countries. National security is used as justification for all this activity, but rarely is it directly involved.
Our Export-Import Bank financed the building of the Kama River truck plant in Russia — trucks then used in the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan over a road built by our own Corps of Engineers. Our response? Draft registration and an Olympic boycott!
In pleading for the MX funds, the administration explains we need it as a bargaining chip. I guess to bargain away to the Soviets whom we can’t trust anyway. We even modify the MX to conform with the Salt II Treaty — a treaty we never even signed.
If we look closely at the record, we find the conservative hawk is frequently the one who appeases and subsidizes the Communists, and never starts the war; the liberal dove is the one more likely to involve us in a war to protect democracy and stop Communist expansion. Images play tricks on us and policy is achieved by deception. Is this a mere coincidence, or is it contrived by those dedicated to internationalism?
The carnage of the 20th Century, as compared to the 19th Century, must someday make us aware of the difference between the two policies pursued. Does the modem age mandate that we reject a policy of self-interest and non-intervention, or is it just possible that worthwhile policies are of value, regardless of the age in which we live? It’s an important question, because it will determine whether or not we will enjoy peace and prosperity in the generations to come.
Our economic policy is no less contradictory. It’s fair to say that even with all the good intentions of the Members, the planned welfare state has been a complete and miserable failure. For the most part, the programs achieve exactly opposite results from those sought. There is a limit to how long the economy can tolerate these insults before we all suffer from the severe consequences. What we say and do are in conflict with each other. We talk boldly of balanced budgets, full employment, prosperity, low interest rates, and no inflation. So we either do not believe, as a body, what we say, or we are inept in our ability to pursue and achieve the goals that we seek. Either way, the results remain the same.
The economic contradictions are numerous. Conservatives, for years, preached balanced budgets — until in charge — then the deficits soared to $200 billion per year. Liberal big spenders who led the way to runaway spending quickly excoriate conservative deficits and nothing happens; the deficit financing continues and accelerates.
Campaigns are won on promising tax cuts; some are given, but are quickly canceled out by numerous tax increases associated with accelerated federal spending.
Congress and the administration are quick to blame the Federal Reserve System for high interest rates and do nothing about the huge deficits. Congress totally ignores their responsibility in maintaining the integrity of the money and refuses to exert their rightful authority over the Federal Reserve. We routinely preach about helping the poor, then plunder the working class to subsidize foreign socialist dictators and the welfare rich through abusive taxation and inflation.
Our government pursues a policy of currency debasement, causing steadily rising prices, and blindly treats only the symptoms while punishing, through regulations and taxation, those capable and willing to take care of themselves.
Vocal support for free trade is routinely heard, as protectionist measures march on. The steel, sugar, textile, shoe, copper, and automobile industries all come for help, and we do nothing to remove the burden of taxation, inflation, high interest rates and labor laws that put our companies at a competitive disadvantage. Our protectionist measures then hurt our trade partners, precipitating our need to send them more foreign aid to help out their weak economies and to relieve their debt burden.
Archconservatives champion tobacco subsidies, which are criticized by archconservatives who champion milk subsidies. Government then spends millions of dollars to regulate the tobacco industry and points out the hazards of smoking.
A liberal champion of the peace movement and disarmament pushes for the B-1 bomber as a reasonable alternative — and because it’s good for the economy — the bomber, by coincidence, to be built in the Senator’s home state.
The well-intentioned do-gooder legislates minimum wage laws to help the poor and minorities, causing higher unemployment in the precise groups who were intended to be the beneficiaries.
We learned nothing from the Depression years and continue to pay farmers to raise crops not needed, then pay them to stop planting. Our policies drive prices of commodities down, so we prop up the prices and buy up the surpluses. The consumer suffers, the farmer suffers, the country suffers, but our policies never change; we just legislate more of the same programs that cause the problems in the first place.
Our steel plants are closing down, so we pursue protectionism and stupidly continue to subsidize the building of steel plants throughout the world through our foreign-aid projects.
We pay for bridges and harbors throughout the world and neglect our own. If we feel compulsion to spend and waste money, it would make more sense at least to waste it at home. We build highways around the world, raise gasoline taxes here, and routinely dodge potholes on our own highways.
Why do we cut funding for day-care centers and Head Start programs before cutting aid to the Communists, Socialists, and international bankers?
A substantial number of businessmen demand the rigors of the free market for their competitors, and socialism/fascism for themselves.
Economic interventionism, a philosophy in itself and not a compromise with anything, is the cause of all these contradictions in the economy. Rejection of government planning, controlled by the powerful special interests, at the expense of the general welfare is necessary, and even inevitable, for that system will fall under its own weight. The question that remains is whether or not it will be replaced with a precise philosophy of the free market, rejecting all special interests and fiat money, or with a philosophy of socialism. The choice when the time comes should not be difficult, but freedom lovers have no reason for complacency or optimism.
Social issues are handled in a contradictory manner as well. A basic misunderstanding of the nature of rights and little respect for the Constitution has given us a hodgepodge of social problems that worsen each day.
At one time, we bused our children long distances from their homes to force segregation; now we bus them, against their will, to force integration.
We subsidize flood insurance in the low-lying areas of the country, prompting people to build where market-oriented insurance companies would have prevented it. When flooding problems worsen, land control and condemnation procedures become the only solution.
The Supreme Court now rules that large landowners must, against their wishes, sell to others to break up their holdings. This is being done in the name of “eminent domain.” This is land reform ” la U.S.A.”
Certain individual groups, against the intent of the Constitution and the sentiments of a free society, agitate to make illegal privately owned guns used for self-defense. At the same time, they increase the power of the state whose enforcement occurs with massive increase in government guns — unconstitutionally obtained at the expense of freedom. Taking away the individual’s right to own weapons of self-defense and giving unwarranted power to a police state can hardly be considered progress.
We have strict drug laws written by those who generously use the drug alcohol. Our laws drive up the price of drugs a thousandfold, to the delight of the dealers, the pushers, and terrorist nations around the world who all reap huge illegal profits. Crimes are committed to finance the outrageous prices, and drug usage never goes down. Enforcement costs soar, and its success remains “mysteriously” elusive. The whole system creates an underground crime world worth billions of dollars; and addicts must then entice others to join, getting new customers to finance their habits — forever compounding a social problem epidemic in proportion. Any new suggestions for changing our drug laws that is, liberalizing them — is seen as political suicide by the hypocritical politicians and a society legally hooked on alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, aspirin and Valium.
Talk is cheap about freedom and civil liberties, while privacy and individual liberty are continuously undermined and government force is used to protect the privileges and illegal demands placed on government, by the special interest groups. Computers are routinely used to enforce draft registration, involving Selective Service, IRS, Social Security, HHS and ice cream parlor lists.
The shortcomings of South Africa’s apartheid system are denounced continuously by the same politicians who ignore the fact that, in Communist countries, dissidents aren’t segregated; they are shot or sent to concentration camps. In comparison, segregation is seen as more vicious than the exiling and the killing of the political dissidents in Russia. South Africa, for their defective system of civil liberties, is banned from the Olympics, while we beg the murdering Communists to come.
Government responsibility to protect life and liberty becomes muddled when the government and courts chosen to protect them, under the guise of privacy and civil liberties, totally ignore the real issue. The abortionist who makes a fortune dropping fetuses and infants into buckets, instead of being restrained by government, is encouraged by the courts and the law. Some show greater concern for the lives of seals than for the life of a human baby.
The government writes thousands of pages of regulations designed to protect workers in private industry — without proof of any beneficial results — and at the same time 50,000-plus are killed on government engineered and operated highways.
Good conservatives explain why guns and teachers shouldn’t be registered, and beg and plead and coerce the government into registering their own kids for the draft.
We have seen cases where harmless elderly women, having committed no act of violence, are arrested for: one, defending against an intruder with the use of a “Saturday night special”; two, raising marijuana in the yard to use for relief of severe arthritic pain; and three, selling chances in a numbers game — the fact that governments run the biggest crap games seems to have no moral significance.
Federal officials — IRS agents and drug enforcement agents — have been known to destroy the property and lives of totally innocent people as homes are entered mistakenly without search warrants. Confiscation of property without due process of law is becoming more commonplace everyday with the tactics of the IRS.
The products produced by businessmen are regulated to the extreme by so-called liberals who would never accept similar regulations on the products of the mind and the media. Yet the ill effect of bad economic ideas and bad education is much more damaging to one’s economic health than are the products manufactured in a totally free and unregulated market. The conservative’s answer to regulating ideas in a similar way to regulating goods and services is the risk of pointing out this inconsistency.
THE PROBLEMS WE FACE
Contradictions are all about us, but we must realize they are merely the manifestations of more basic problems. Some of these problems are general, others specific; but all are a consequence of the precise ideology to which the nation’s intellectuals ascribe. Understanding this is imperative if we ever expect to reverse the trend toward statism in which we find ourselves.
Our government officials continue to endorse, in general, economic interventionism, interventionist control of individuals, a careless disregard for our property rights, and an interventionist foreign policy. The ideas of liberty for the individual, freedom for the markets, both domestic and international, sound money, and a foreign policy of strategic independence based on strength are no longer popularly endorsed by our national leaders. Yet support by many Americans for these policies exists. The current conflict is over which view will prevail.
The concept of rights is rarely defined, since there is minimal concern for them as an issue in itself. Rights have become nothing more than the demands of special-interest groups to use government coercion to extract goods and services from one group for the benefit of another. The moral concept of one’s natural right to life and liberty without being molested by State intervention in one’s pursuit of happiness is all but absent in Washington. Carelessly the Congress has accepted the concept of “public interest” as being superior to “individual liberty” in directing their actions. But the “public” is indefinite and its definition varies depending on who and which special interest is defining it. It’s used merely as an excuse to victimize one individual for the benefit of another. The dictatorship of the majority, now a reality, is our greatest threat to the concept of equal rights
Careless disregard for liberty allows the government to violate the basic premise of a free society; there shall be no initiation of force by anyone, particularly government. Use of force for personal and national self-defense against initiators of violence is its only proper use in a moral and free society. Unfortunately this premise is rejected — and not even understood — in its entirety in Washington. The result is that we have neither a moral nor a free society.
Rejecting the notion that government should not coerce and force people to act against their wishes prompts Congress to assume the role of central economic and social planner. Government is used for everything from subsidized farming to protecting cab monopolies; from the distribution of food stamps to health care; from fixing the price of labor to fixing the price of gasoline. Always the results are the same, opposite to what was intended: chaos, confusion, inefficiency, additional costs and lines.
The more that is spent on housing or unemployment problems, the worse the housing and unemployment problems become. Proof that centralized economic planning always fails, regardless of the good intentions behind it, is available to us. It is tragic that we continue to ignore it.
Our intervention and meddling to satisfy the powerful well-heeled special interests have created a hostile atmosphere, a vicious struggle for a shrinking economic pie distributed by our ever-growing inefficient government bureaucracy. Regional class, race, age and sex disputes polarize the nation. This probably will worsen until we reject the notion that central planning works.
As nations lose respect for liberty, so too do they lose respect for individual responsibility. Laws are passed proposing no-fault insurance for injuries for which someone in particular was responsible. Remote generations are required to pay a heavy price for violations of civil liberties that occurred to the blacks, to the Indians, and to Japanese-Americans. This is done only at the expense of someone else’s civil liberties and in no way can be justified
Collective rights — group fights, in contrast to individual rights — prompt laws based on collective guilt for parties not responsible for causing any damage. The Superfund is a typical example of punishing innocent people for damages caused by government /business. Under a system of individual rights where initiation of force is prohibited, this would not occur.
Short-run solutions enhance political careers and motivate most legislation in Washington, to the country’s detriment. Apparent economic benefits deceive many Members into supporting legislation that in the long run is devastating to the economy. Politics unfortunately is a short-run game — the next election. Economics is a long-run game and determines the prosperity and the freedoms of the next generation. Sacrificing future wealth for present indulgence is done at the expense of liberty for the individual.
Motivations of those who lead the march toward the totalitarian state can rarely be challenged. Politicians’ good intentions, combined with the illusion of wisdom, falsely reassure the planners that good results will be forthcoming. Freedom endorses a humble approach toward the idea that one group of individuals by some quirk of nature knows what is best for another. Personal preferences are subjectively decided upon. Degrees of risk that free individuals choose to take vary from one individual to another. Liability and responsibility for one’s own acts should never be diminished by government edicts. Voluntary contracts should never be interfered with in a free society except for their enforcement. Trust in a free society even with its imperfections — if we’re to strive for one, must be superior to our blind faith in government’s ability to solve our problems for us.
Government in a free society is recognized to be nothing more than in embodiment of the people. The sovereignty is held by the people. A planned coercive society talks vaguely of how government provides this and that, as if government were equivalent to the Creator. Distribution is one thing — production is another. Centralized control of the distribution of wealth by an impersonal government that ignores the prescribed role of guaranteeing the equal protection of liberty ensures that one day freedom will disappear and take with it the wealth that only free men can create.
Today the loss of the people’s sovereignty is clearly evident. Lobbyists are important, if not the key figures, in all legislation — their numbers are growing exponentially. It’s not an accident that the lobbyist’s and chief bureaucrat’s salaries are higher than the Congressman’s — they are literally “more important.” The salary allocation under today’s conditions are correct. Special interests have replaced the concern that the Founders had for the general welfare. Conference committees’ intrigues are key to critical legislation. The bigger the government, the higher the stakes, the more lucrative the favors granted. Vote trading is seen as good politics, not as an immoral act. The errand-boy mentality is ordinary — the defender of liberty is seen as bizarre. The elite few who control our money, our foreign policy, and the international banking institutions — in a system designed to keep the welfare rich in diamonds and Mercedes — make the debates on the House and Senate floors nearly meaningless.
The monetary system is an especially important area where the people and Congress have refused to assume their responsibilities. Maintaining honest money — a proper role for government — has been replaced by putting the counterfeiters in charge of the government printing press. This system of funny money provides a convenient method whereby Congress’ excessive spending is paid for by the creation of new money. Unless this is addressed, which I suppose it will be in due time, monetary and banking crises will continue and get much worse during this decade.
Congress assumes that it can make certain groups economically better off by robbing others of their wealth. The business and banker welfare recipient justifies the existence of the system by claiming that it is good for jobs, profits and sound banking. The welfare poor play on the sympathies of others, and transfer programs based on government force and violence are justified as “necessary” to provide basic needs to all — at the expense of liberty needed to provide for the prosperity everyone desires.
Government cannot make people morally better by laws that interfere with nonviolent personal acts that produce no victims. Disapproving of another’s behavior is not enough to justify a law prohibiting it. Any attempt to do so under the precepts of liberty is an unwarranted use of government force.
Congress reflects prevailing attitudes developed by an educational system and the conventional media, and in this sense Congress rarely leads, but is merely pushed and manipulated by public opinion. This is even done with scientific use of public-opinion polls. “Show me the direction the crowd is going and I will lead them,” is sadly the traditional cry of the politician. Statesmanship is not the road to reelection. Statesmanship is reserved for a rare few at particular times in history unknown to most of us. Leadership in great movements is infrequently found in official capacities. Lech Walesa, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, et al., are not legal officials, but are nevertheless great leaders.
Today the deficits, the skyrocketing real interest rates, total government spending, and the expansionist foreign policy have delivered to us a crisis of confidence. The politicians’ worries and concerns on the short run reflect the lack of plans made for the future. The interest rates on 30-year bonds tell a lot about the trust in the economic system and especially the integrity of the money.
It’s become traditional, especially during the last 70 years, for foreign policy to be pawned off as “bipartisan,” meaning no dissent is permissible and all true debate is squelched. Congress, it is said, has no role in formulating foreign policy, for the Constitution gives this power to the president. Nowhere is this written. Many more powers and responsibilities are to be assumed by the Congress than by the president in the foreign policy area, according to my reading of the Constitution. Monopoly power for a president to wage war without declaration, as was done in Korea and Vietnam, is a blatant attack on constitutionally guaranteed liberty. I hope the caution shown by the Congress in recent years will prevail, yet the Grenada invasion was not reassuring.
Unfortunately, economic egalitarianism has taken over as the goal of most congressional legislation. Any equality achieved will come about by leveling — a lowering of everyone’s standard of living — not by raising it. It is achieved by ignoring the sanctity of the voluntary contract and the prohibitions that should exist against government initiating force against the citizen. This concept must be rejected if we’re to reverse the trend toward the Orwellian state.
Many Members of Congress defend liberty, but only in minute bits and pieces as it appears convenient. I find in Washington the total absence of a consistent defense of liberty, as this principle applies to the marketplace, our personal lives, and international relations. Bits and pieces of liberty will never suffice for the defense of an entire concept. Consistency in defense of freedom is necessary to counteract the consistent aggressive militancy of interventionism, whether it’s of liberal or conservative flavor.
Government today perpetuates violence in epidemic proportions. Most of the time, the mere “threat” of violence by the agencies, the bureaucrats, the officials in charge of writing the final drafts of legislation, is enough to intimidate the staunchest resister. Courts, legal costs, government arrests, government guns, and long-term imprisonments have created a society of individuals who meekly submit to the perpetual abuse of our liberties. All this in the name of the “social good,” “stability,” “compromise,” the “status quo,” and the “public interest.” The IRS, the EPA and other agencies now carry guns. The colonists would have cringed at the sight of such abuse of our rights to live free. They complained about a standing army that carried guns; we now have a standing bureaucracy that carries guns.
Government today has accumulated massive power that can be used to suppress the people. How is it that we grant our government power to do things that we as individuals would never dream of doing ourselves, declaring such acts as stealing wealth from one another as immoral, and unconscionable? If a free nation’s sovereignty is held in the hands of the people, how is it that the state now can do more than the people can do themselves? Planning our people’s lives, the economy, and meddling throughout the world change the role of government from the guarantor of liberty to the destroyer of liberty.
Our problems have become international in scope due to the nature of the political system and our policies. This need not be, but it is. The financial problems of the nation, although clearly linked to our deficits and domestic monetary policy, cannot be separated from the international schemes of banking as promoted by the IMF, the World Bank and the Development Banks. It is much clearer to me now, having been in Washington for seven years, how our banking and monetary policies are closely linked to our foreign policy and controlled by men not motivated to protect the sovereignty of America, nor the liberties of our citizens. It’s not that they are necessarily inclined to deliberately destroy our freedom, but they place a higher priority on internationalism and worldwide inflation — a system of government and finance that serves the powerful elite.
All the military might in the world will not protect us from deteriorating economies and protectionism, and will not ensure peace. Policies are much more important than apparent military strength. The firepower used in Vietnam and the lives sacrificed did nothing to overcome the interventionist policies of both the Republicans and the Democratic administrations. When foreign policies are right, money sound, trade free, and respect for liberty prevalent, strong economies and peace are much more likely to evolve. The armaments race, and the funding of enemies and wealthy allies, only contribute to the fervor with which our tax dollars are churned through the military-industrial complex.
The crisis we face is clearly related to a loss of trust — trust in ourselves, in freedom, in our own government and in our money. We are a litigious welfare society gone mad. Everyone feels compelled to grab whatever he can get from government or by suit. The “something for nothing” obsession rules our every movement, and is in conflict with the other side of man’s nature — that side that values self-esteem and pride of one’s personal achievement. Today the pride of self-reliance and personal achievement is buried by the ego-destroying policies of the planned interventions of big government and replaced by the “satisfaction” of manipulating the political system to one’s own special advantage. Score is kept by counting the federal dollars allocated to the special group or the congressional district to which one belongs. This process cannot continue indefinitely. Something has to give — we must choose either freedom and prosperity or tyranny and poverty.
Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.