The Constitutionalist

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actually have an interesting 2008 presidential candidate — Ron
Paul. As Thomas Woods pointed out in "The
Revolutionary Candidate
" (posted 3/26 at,
"He is a bigger supporter of the free market than anyone
in Congress, but he's also the most consistent opponent of war."
He would indeed be a revolutionary change in Washington, because
he represents the ideals Americans fought a revolution for over
two centuries ago.

In a long
public life, Dr. Paul has always kept faith with the limited defensible
role for our federal government. He hasn't sold out that vision
to "buy" goodies extorted from others via government
coercion, truly representing those disenchanted with the ballooning
size and scope of government. As a result, he has been criticized,
including by those in his own party, for failing to "go along
to get along" or look the other way at poorly thought out
proposals and policies, both foreign and domestic. Yet what better
qualification is there for an office charged with benefiting all
of us, rather than some of us at others' expense?

He simply
knows that both logic and evidence imply that better government
requires far less government.

A fan of
the Constitution, Paul upholds its strict limitation of the federal
government to those roles enumerated in the Constitution. Instead
of fostering wasteful bureaucracies and boondoggles that erode
individual rights and incentives, government's role is to establish
and enforce property rights, equally applied, so all citizens
can increase their welfare through voluntary exchanges. In that
world, lobbyists could not use government to pick citizens' pockets,
and incomes would have to be earned by actually creating something
worth more than it costs to others.

Perhaps alone
among those plying their trade in Washington, Paul recognizes
and opposes the central danger of government: Its power will be
captured by organized special interests and used to advance narrow
objectives by imposing costs on others. He seems to be the only
one inside the beltway acting on the reality that it is impossible
for all citizens to gain from this, as those that cannot compete
as effectively in the political arena of special interest must
lose from the government transfer game.

Ron Paul
is best defined by what he would not do. He has steadfastly opposed
war. He rejects domestic subsidies and beggar-thy-neighbor policies
on the same basis. He would not support government policies that,
while depriving taxpayers of income and restricting citizen choices,
do not achieve their intended results. He does not support government
redistribution of wealth, as it forces involuntary, harmful "trades"
on citizens without their consent. He doesn't want to "soak
the rich," as he recognizes that the way for sellers of goods
and services to get wealthier in a market economy is to make others
better off, and therefore willing to voluntarily buy from them
(a characteristic not shared by government interventions). Essentially,
Ron Paul wants to treat Americans as adults, rather than as children
constantly begging their parents to give them what they want.
He believes in freedom from taxes that fund wasteful and ineffective
programs and freedom from a government powerful and intrusive
enough to routinely override individual choices, when those choices
do not infringe on the rights of others.

Dr. Paul's consistent, principled approach is also easy. His voting
record in the House speaks for itself. In addition, he has expressed
his beliefs extensively, in a clear, consistent and substantive
manner. The
Foreign Policy of Freedom
, recently released, lays out
those beliefs in the international area. But his domestic policy
stands are also easily available, with articles
archived at
. Consider the following excerpts,
all from the past year's archive, as an indication of where he

can't tax, borrow, and inflate forever. That's what we've been
doing, and our obligations are overwhelming."

it's a war on drugs, a war on illiteracy, or a war on whatever,
people say u2018well, it's a war; we have to be willing to sacrifice
our liberties and let the government take care of us'…we would
be safer and we would be more economically secure if we assumed
responsibility for ourselves."

hypocritical and childish to dismiss certain founding principles
simply because a convenient rationale is needed to justify interventionist
policies today. The principles enshrined in the Constitution
do not change."

routinely rubber stamp egregious violations of the 1st, 4th,
and 5th Amendments, and allow Congress to legislate wildly outside
the bounds of its enumerated powers."

of our mistakes can be laid at the doorstep of our failure to
follow the Constitution."

must rethink the very role of government in our society. Anything
less, any tinkering or ‘reform,’ won't cut it."

forget that those powers not explicitly granted to Congress
by the Constitution are inherently denied to Congress."

are not supposed to have power over us — we’re supposed to be
free. We seem to have forgotten that freedom means the absence
of government coercion."

that one’s relationship with the state is never voluntary. Every
government edict, policy, regulation, court decision, and law
ultimately is backed up by force…. That is why political power
must be fiercely constrained by the American people."

constitutional system…was designed to restrain political power
and place limits on the size and scope of government."

a free society, government is restrained — and therefore political
power is less important. I believe the proper role for government
in America is to provide national defense, a court system for
civil disputes, a criminal justice system for acts of force
and fraud, and little else."

truly limited government, [i]t simply would not matter much
who occupied various political posts, since their ability to
tax, spend, and regulate would be severely curtailed. This is
why champions of political power promote an activist government
that involves itself in every area of our lives from cradle
to grave."

power is inherently dangerous in a free society: it threatens
the rule of law, and thus threatens our fundamental freedoms.
Those who understand this should object whenever political power
is glorified."

get into trouble by not following the precepts of liberty or
obeying the rule of law."

cannot suspend the laws of economics or the principles of human
action any more than we can suspend the laws of physics. Yet
this is precisely what Congress attempts to do time and time
again, no matter how many times history proves them wrong…"

…you [pay] $1000 less in taxes next year, have you taken something
from the government that rightfully belongs to it? Or has the
government simply taken less from you? You don't cost the government
money, the government costs you money!"

never create prosperity."

importantly, federal spending must be dramatically reduced so
that all Americans can go back to working for themselves instead
of working to pay their taxes."

we accept that the federal government needs [trillions] from
us — and more each year — the only question left is from whom
it will be collected. Until the federal government is held to
its proper constitutionally limited functions, tax reform will
remain a mirage."

apply a very simple test to any proposal to overhaul the tax
code: Does it reduce or eliminate an existing tax? If not, then
it amounts to nothing more than a political shell game that
pits taxpayers against each other in a lobbying scramble to
make sure the other guy pays. True tax reform is as simple as
cutting or eliminating taxes."

throughout history have tried to solve every problem conceivable
to man, always failing to recognize that many of the problems
we face result from previous so-called political solutions.
Government cannot be the answer to every human ill. Continuing
to view more government as the solution to problems will only
make matters worse."

and power are important only because the government wields power
not granted by the Constitution. A limited, constitutional government
would not tempt special interests to buy the politicians who
wield power."

big government nanny-state…assumes people are not smart or responsible
enough to take care of themselves, and thus their needs must
be filled through the government's forcible redistribution of
wealth. Our system of intervention assumes that politicians
and bureaucrats have superior knowledge, and are endowed with
certain talents that produce efficiency. These assumptions don't
seem to hold much water…"

no consistent moral defense of true liberty, the continued erosion
of personal and property rights is inevitable. This careless
disregard for liberty, our traditions, and the Constitution
have brought us disaster…"

real solution to our problems will require a better understanding
of, and greater dedication to, free markets and private property
rights…. Our liberties and our prosperity depend on it."

has to wonder how Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin would
react to the current state of affairs. After all, they were
outraged by mere import tariffs of a few pennies on the dollar.
Today, the average American pays roughly 50 percent of their
income in direct and indirect taxes."

are not bashful about using government power to do ‘good’…always
speaking of the noble goals while ignoring the inevitable failures
and evils caused by coercion…. Once we concede government has
this u2018legitimate' function…constitutional limits on power and
its mandate to protect liberty are totally forgotten."

action rarely solves any problem, but rather worsens existing
problems or creates altogether new ones."

Ron Paul
is the only presidential candidate who has the principles and
character to stand for truly Constitutional government. He has
resisted the explosion in federal power and its intrusion, both
foreign and domestic, at every turn.

28, 2007

Gary M.
Galles [send him mail]
is a professor of economics at Pepperdine University.

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