This is an era when the following problems, among others, confront the United States:
- Americans spend more money per year on taxes than they do on food, clothing and shelter combined — and receive virtually nothing of value in return. Even worse, governments use citizens’ own money against them to further erode their standard of living and persecute them for peaceful, voluntary behavior.
- Prior to the Iraq War, the Bush administration balked at estimates that it could cost even $100—200 billion. To date, it has cost over $500 billion. The most conservative estimates are that 655,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed; 3.4 million Iraqis have fled their homes; as of May 14, 4,079 U.S. service people have been killed, and another 30,004 have been wounded. Every rationale for the war has been proven false. And there is no end in sight.
- The neocons are agitating to start a similar debacle in Iran, another comparatively poor country (and another former U.S. ally) with a military budget about 1% of the size of that of the United States.
- The federal government is about $9 trillion in debt.
- The president now has the authority to detain anyone — even American citizens — indefinitely, without charges.
- The United States has the highest number of people in prison of any country on earth, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of its population, and over 50% of them are incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses.
- According to David Walker, the Comptroller General of the U.S. Government Accountability Office, if present trends continue, by 2040, 100% of the federal budget will be consumed just by Social Security and Medicare, and even that will require annual confiscation of 40% of the private sector’s output. At that point, the government’s only option for balancing the budget would be cutting the federal budget by 60% (and defaulting on the Social Security and Medicare promises) or doubling federal taxes — meaning the government would be confiscating 80% of the private sector’s output just to fund Social Security and Medicare. And the economy would have to grow by double-digits every year until then to grow its way out of this outcome. When was the last time we had double-digit growth for even one year?
- In addition to gasoline prices (which are rising due to various distortions in the economy imposed by government, including inflation and regulations that prevent sellers from increasing production to lower prices), the media has reported the following snapshots of inflation during the past week, courtesy of the Associated Press, since they pertained to people’s Memorial Day plans: since last Memorial Day, the average price of hot dogs is up 7%; a bag of chips and a two-liter of soda are each up 10%; and hamburger buns are up 17%. (Unfortunately — but not surprisingly — none of the reports I saw went on to explain that rising prices are a symptom of inflation, not inflation itself; and that inflation results from the government printing money out of thin air — which is called counterfeiting when a citizen does it; and that its main purpose is to transfer wealth from the poor and middle class to the power elite. Then again, I don’t blame the reporters, because I doubt many of them even know this, and it’s even more doubtful that their bosses would let them report it if they did.)
As Lysander Spooner wrote in No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority, ". . . whoever desires liberty, should understand these vital facts, viz.: 1. That every man who puts money into the hands of a ‘government’ (so called), puts into its hands a sword which will be used against him, to extort more money from him, and also to keep him in subjection to its arbitrary will. 2. That those who will take his money, without his consent, in the first place, will use it for his further robbery and enslavement, if he presumes to resist their demands in the future."
Despite these facts, the following are questions one is likely to hear currently from the mainstream media:
- Why doesn’t Obama wear a U.S. flag pin on his lapel all of the time?
- Who will be McCain’s running-mate?
- Who will be the Democratic nominee, Obama or Hillary?
- Michelle Obama said that she only recently became proud of America for the first time. Does that mean she hates America?
- Who leads in the popular vote, Obama or Hillary?
- Does Obama endorse the views of Jeremiah Wright since he attended Wright’s church for years?
- Is Obama an elitist, or a Regular Joe?
- Who leads in pledged delegates, Obama or Hillary?
- Does John McCain endorse the views of preachers who endorsed him, like John Hagee and Rod Parsley?
- How many delegates are at stake in the remaining Democratic contests?
- How many Super Delegates does Obama have? How about Hillary? How many are undecided? What are the chances any of those who are decided will switch sides?
- Will Obama and Hillary run on the same ticket?
- Who would fare better against McCain, Obama or Hillary?
- If Hillary loses and isn’t chosen as Obama’s running-mate, will she run for president again?
The False Choice
Wise up: There is only one political party in America: The Government Party. The phony left-right paradigm is a shell game perpetrated by the ruling elite to distract people from that fact, because if it were overt that there’s only one party, the entire political system would quickly become widely despised, and the people would be more likely to overthrow it.
And elections — especially presidential elections — are basically scams where the elite field two basically interchangeable candidates — both of whom are acceptable to them and are in their pockets — to con the rubes into thinking that they are running the government.
Politics at high levels of government basically consists of a symbiotic relationship where politicians and bureaucrats earn higher incomes than they could earn on the market in exchange for perpetrating the structures (like the pharmaceutical-industrial complex, the military-industrial complex, and the Federal Reserve System) from which the power elite profit at the expense of the average person.
Ron Paul summarized the political shell game on The Alex Jones Show on May 20, when he said about Clinton, Obama, and McCain, “There really is no choice there; they all belong to the same group, they are beholden to the military industrial complex and the medical industry, the media industry, the whole works, the banking industry. The rhetoric is different but they’re all after power, and there is not going to be a lot of difference.”
Exactly. No matter how many rally signs and banners he has made with the word "change" on them, the very fact that Obama is being promoted incessantly by the mainstream media as a legitimate candidate is de facto evidence that he isn’t going to fundamentally change anything.
Journalists are also a part of this symbiotic relationship with the power elite, and they don’t dwell on trivialities because they’re stupid; quite the opposite, they do it because they’re savvy enough to understand that making it to high levels in journalism also provides a high income and a level of fame, and the best way make it to that level is to help perpetuate the system, rather than harp on fundamental questions about the system’s legitimacy. And a reputation for asking fundamental questions that put politicians on the spot and make them look bad would make it hard for journalists to get them as guests/interview subjects — or to even get anonymous quotes from people in government, which is a major source of information.
Another part of advancing in journalism involves attacking anyone who threatens the system. Ron Paul epitomizes such a threat, and he has obviously been in the crosshairs of the elite since his popularity took off last year.
An example of such an attack can be seen in a story in the May 27 mouthpiece of the federal government, The Washington Post, which reports that Ron’s presidential campaign relied heavily on work from family members; the implication is nepotism and unethically funneling campaign donations to the family.
The blatant intellectual dishonesty is revealed in the first paragraph, which reads that Ron Paul "has built a national following largely by preaching an isolationist foreign policy. Stick with your own kind, says the maverick presidential candidate." Yes, Ron’s message of peace, free trade, friendship, diplomacy, international neutrality and non-interventionism equates to "stick with your own kind." Since the story includes a photo of Ron, why don’t they just Photoshop a Klan hood onto his head while they’re at it?
The Revolution: A Manifesto
It is with decrying such false choices, trivial questions and intellectual dishonesty that Ron Paul opens his new book, The Revolution: A Manifesto.
Ron writes, "Every election cycle, we are treated to candidates who promise us ‘change,’ and 2008 has been no different. But in the American political lexicon, ‘change’ always means more of the same: more Government, more looting of Americans, more inflation, more police-state measures, more unnecessary war, and more centralization of power.
"Every election season, America is presented with a series of false choices. Should we launch preemptive war against this country or that one? Should every American neighborhood live under this social policy or that one? Should a third of our income be taken by an income tax or a national sales tax?
"The supposedly conservative candidate tells us about ‘waste’ in government, and ticks off $10 million in frivolous pork-barrel projects that outrage him — the inevitable bridge-to-nowhere project, or a study on the effects of celery consumption on the effects of memory loss — in order to elicit laughter and applause from partisan audiences. All right, so that’s 0.00045 percent of the federal budget dealt with; what does he propose to do with the other 99.99955 percent, in order to return our country to living within its means? Not a word.
"I am also unimpressed by the liberal Left. Although they posture as critical thinkers, their confidence in government is inexcusably nave, based as it is on civics-textbook platitudes that bear absolutely zero resemblance to reality. Not even their position on unnecessary war is consistent."
When was the last time you saw such clear-headed, consistent, principled, specific points even being mentioned, much less discussed thoroughly, in mainstream political discourse?
Ron continues, "No wonder frustrated Americans have begun referring to our two parties as the Republicrats. And no wonder the news networks would rather focus on $400 haircuts than matters of substance."
The Revolution has been in the Top Ten on The New York Times Best-Seller List, which is widely considered to be the most prestigious list of best-selling books in the United States, every week since its release last month; it reached #1 for the week of May 18 and is #5 on the latest list, for the week of June 1.
To understand the significance of that accomplishment, here’s the least of what it means: while it appears that different lists use different criteria (which they don’t disclose), and "best-seller" is probably determined relative to other books in its category — rather than on a fixed number of sales, Publisher’s Weekly estimates that 200,000 new books are published in the U.S. every year, and less than 1% become best-sellers by any criteria.
I have no idea what the sales figures are for every libertarian book ever published; I do know off-hand that some books by libertarians with "how-to" themes, which gave the books obvious popular appeal, were best-sellers: Harry Browne and Doug Casey both had investment books in the ’70s that included anarcho-capitalist treatments of subjects like inflation and government distortions in the economy, and Harry and Robert Ringer both had best-selling self-help books in the ’70s that helped people apply libertarian ideals to their personal lives.
But I wouldn’t be surprised if The Revolution is the first libertarian book that’s entirely a political treatise to become a best-seller, and it almost certainly is the best-selling libertarian book of any kind to be published for the first time in this generation. And it must already be one of the best-selling political treatises ever, of any type — libertarian or otherwise.
Given its sales, someday we’ll probably look back on this book as being of incalculable value in spreading libertarian ideals.
That value comes not just from the fact that it’s a best-seller or that it exposes the false choice in American politics; it comes from the fact that it not only raises those forbidden questions, but provides libertarian answers to all of them — all in a small, simple, easy-to-read, inexpensive book of about 170 pages.
Demolishing the Straw Man . . .
Regardless of whether it’s intentional or due to honest misunderstandings of libertarian positions, critics of libertarianism almost always seem to resort to straw man arguments, rather than presenting libertarian ideas correctly and then thoroughly refuting evidence that contradicts their arguments.
(Some don’t even bother with straw man arguments, and instead resort to nothing but ad hominem attacks.)
While there isn’t necessarily one libertarian position on every issue, no position is libertarian unless it abhors coercion, except possibly as defense from, or retribution for, coercion. So, while Ron Paul doesn’t necessarily speak for all libertarians, nor are all libertarians necessarily fans of Ron Paul, the beauty of The Revolution is it presents the plumb-line libertarian view on so many vital issues so clearly and simply — and refutes so many common, ignorant objections to such views equally clearly and simply — that it makes it impossible for any intellectually-honest critic to resort to such straw man arguments in critiquing the book; anyone who does so is either dishonest, not very bright, or hasn’t really read it.
. . . And Refuting the Myths
Here are some of the major misconceptions about libertarianism that Ron Paul demolishes in The Revolution (I’ll be quoting Ron heavily, because he states things so succinctly and clearly that it’s difficult for me to improve upon his words. And, yes, these issues should be subject to more debate than what will be presented here. But addressing all of their objections would turn this article into a book, and the point is the types of viewpoints and fundamental questions raised in The Revolution are usually not even allowed in mainstream political discourse so that they even can be debated further.):
Libertarians care nothing about the poor.
In a 2006 Mises.org story, economist Mark Brandley reported that the median family income in the U.S. in 2005 was estimated to be $44,389, or $28,853 after taxes, then he went on to explain that if one assumes that taxes and regulations reduce GDP by only 1%, adding 1% to the GDP just since 1959 would make the median income $68,800 — with the worker keeping all of it. So the most conservative estimate is that the average person would be twice as wealthy today without government. If taxes and regulations reduce GDP by 2%, which is still a modest assumption, adding 2% just since 1959 would make the average income in the U.S. $108,000 in 2005, again with the worker keeping all of it, which would make the average person about three-and-a-half times wealthier than he is.
Of course, taxes and regulations have been reducing economic output for a lot longer than just since 1959. What about adding 1—2% to the GDP since 1913? It’s not unreasonable to think if we still had government at all levels combined taking about 5% of the national income, as they did 100 years ago, the average income in the United States today might be several hundred thousand dollars.
But a further point can be made regarding Bastiat’s lesson about the seen and the unseen: the standard of living of everyone — including the poor — would undoubtedly be higher still than a doubling or tripling of their incomes would provide, because surely numerous products and services, of which we can’t even conceive, would’ve been created were it not for various government-imposed distortions in the economy.
Further still, people’s savings and purchasing power wouldn’t be eroded by inflation in such an environment.
Good thing the government is there to help the poor.
Leftists never seem to learn that there is not a fixed amount of wealth available in the world, and that poverty is not caused by certain people having unequal shares of that fixed amount. As Mises wrote, the standard of living of the poor is directly correlated to the number of wealthy people in society, because people only become wealthy through voluntary exchange on the market by first improving the standard of living of others.
Ron writes, "Americans have been given the impression that ‘regulation’ is always a good thing, and that anyone who speaks of lessening the regulatory burden is an antisocial ogre who would sacrifice human well-being for the sake of economic efficiency. If so much as one of the tens of thousands of pages in the Federal Register, which lists all federal regulations, were to be eliminated, we would all die instantly.
"The real history of regulation is not so straightforward. Businesses have often called for regulation themselves, hopeful that their smaller competitors will have a more difficult time meeting regulatory demands.
"It is not unusual for American students to find their textbooks telling them that injustice was everywhere before the federal government, motivated by nothing but a deep commitment to the public good, intervened to save them from the wickedness of the free market. Alleged ‘monopolies’ dictated prices to hapless consumers. Laborers were forced to accept ever-lower wages. And thanks to their superior economic position, giant corporations effortlessly parried the attempts of anyone foolish enough to try to compete with them.
"Every single aspect of this story is false, though of course this version of our history continues to be peddled and believed. I don’t blame people for believing it — it’s the only rendition of events they’re ever told, unless by some fluke they have learned where to look for the truth. But there is an agenda behind this silly comic-book version of history: to make people terrified of the ‘unfettered’ free market, and to condition them to accept the ever-growing burdens that the political class imposes on the private sector as an unchangeable aspect of life that exists for their own good.
"An argument we hear even now is that a hundred years ago, when the federal government was far smaller than it is today, people were much poorer and worked in much less desirable conditions, while today, with a much larger federal government and far more regulations in place, people are much more prosperous. This is a classic case of the post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy. This fallacy is committed whenever we carelessly assume that because outcome B occurred after A, then B was caused by A. If people are more prosperous today, that must be because the government saved them from the ravages of the free market.
"But that is nonsense. Of course people were less prosperous a hundred years ago, but not for the reason fashionable opinion assumes. Compared to today, the American economy was starved for capital. The economy’s productive capacity was minuscule by today’s standards, and therefore very few goods per capita could be produced. The vast bulk of the population had to make do with much less than we take for granted today because so little could be produced. All the laws and regulations in the world cannot overcome restraints imposed by reality itself. No matter how much we tax the rich to redistribute wealth, in a capital-starved economy there is an extremely limited amount of wealth to redistribute.
"The only way to increase everyone’s standard of living is by increasing the amount of capital per worker. Additional capital makes workers more productive, which means they can produce more goods than before. When our economy becomes physically capable of producing vastly more goods, their abundance makes them more affordable in terms of dollars (if the Federal Reserve isn’t inflating the money supply). Soaking the rich works for only so long: the rich eventually wise up and decide to hide their income, move away, or stop working so much. But investing in capital makes everyone better off. It is the only way we can all become wealthier. We are wealthier today because our economy is physically capable of producing so much more at far lower costs. And that’s why, just from a practical point of view, it is foolish to levy taxes along any step of this process, because doing so sabotages the only way wealth can be created for everyone."
Libertarians are "isolationists."
The kind of dishonesty seen in the aforementioned Washington Post story is rampant.
But, as an anonymous message board user wrote last year, "Calling Ron Paul an ‘isolationist’ is like calling your best neighbor a ‘hermit’ because he doesn’t do donuts on your front lawn and throw bricks through your windows."
What a great analogy; no intellectually-honest person could say Ron Paul wants to "isolate" America from the world, considering that he has consistently called for diplomacy and a complete, immediate removal of all embargoes and sanctions on all foreign countries.
In the bizarro neocon world, peace, diplomacy and totally unfettered trade isolates America from the world, while attacking foreign countries with no provocation, killing civilians, blowing their limbs off and otherwise maiming them for life, rendering children into orphans and adults into widows and widowers, and destroying billions of dollars worth of property and infrastructure, constitutes spreading love and goodwill.
Ron writes, "Anyone who advocates the non-interventionist foreign policy of the Founding Fathers can expect to be derided as an isolationist. I myself have never been an isolationist. I favor the very opposite of isolation: diplomacy, free trade, and freedom of travel. The real isolationists are those who impose sanctions and embargoes on countries and peoples across the globe because they disagree with the internal and foreign policies of their leaders. The real isolationists are those who choose to use force overseas to promote democracy, rather than seeking change through diplomacy, engagement, and by setting a positive example. The real isolationists are those who isolate their country in the court of world opinion by pursuing needless belligerence and war that have nothing to do with legitimate national security concerns."
Libertarians are anti-Semitic / anti-Israel.
This is an off-shoot of the "isolationist" smear, and it’s similar to the racism charge, where people equate neutrality in the never-ending Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and no foreign aid for Israel (nor for any of its enemies), as lack of support for Israel, and such "lack of support" is another forbidden view in mainstream political discourse.
Ron writes, "I see no reason that our friendship with Israel cannot continue. I favor extending to Israel the same friendship that Jefferson and the Founding Fathers urged us to offer to all nations. But that also means no special privileges like foreign aid — a position I maintain vis–vis all other countries as well. That means I also favor discontinuing foreign aid to governments that are actual or potential enemies of Israel, which taken together receive much more American aid than Israel does."
Without government, the poor wouldn’t have health care.
Ron writes, "It’s easy to forget that for decades the United States had a health care system that was the envy of the world. We had the finest doctors and hospitals, patients received high-quality, affordable medical care, and thousands of privately-funded charities provided health services for the poor. I worked in an emergency room where nobody was turned away for lack of funds. People had insurance policies for serious health problems but paid cash for routine doctor visits. That makes sense: insurance is intended to protect against unforeseen and catastrophic events like fire, floods, or grave illness. It has nothing to do with that now.
Ron goes on to explain how Medicare, Medicaid, the HMO Act, and regulation upon regulation on the insurance industry has gotten us into the mess we’re in now, when prior to that a one-week stay in a hospital for routine surgery cost about $1,000 in today’s dollars — and that was the total bill, before insurance paid anything.
As good as this section is, Ron should’ve expanded it to discuss other government distortions, like the FDA (Dr. Mary Ruwart, who worked in the pharmaceutical industry for many years, has offered detailed analyses that conclude that it’s conservative to say that drugs in a free market would cost 15% of what they do today) and medical licensure, which was implemented in the late-1800s to increase the incomes of medical professionals by artificially restricting the supply, and had nothing to do with protecting the public.
Of course, these are still more examples of viewpoints forbidden in mainstream political discussions, which isn’t hard to understand since they call into question the pharmaceutical-industrial complex.
Regarding "universal" health care, Ron writes, ". . . those who favor national health care schemes should take a good, hard look at our veterans’ hospitals. There is your national health care. These institutions are a national disgrace. If this is the care the government dispenses to those it honors as its most heroic and admirable citizens, why should anyone else expect to be treated any better?"
Libertarians care nothing about the environment.
Ron writes, "Some people falsely believe that advocates of the free market must be opponents of the environment. We care only about economic efficiency, the argument goes, and have no regard for the consequences of pollution and other examples of environmental degradation. But a true supporter of private property and personal responsibility cannot be indifferent to environmental damage, and should view it as a form of unjustified aggression that must be punished or enjoined, or dealt with in some other way that is mutually satisfactory to both parties. Private business should not have the right to socialize its costs by burdening other people with the by-products of its operations."
Ron further explains that pollution is largely another government-imposed distortion on the economy, since in the 1800s, the courts began rendering decisions calling pollution acceptable since it benefitted "the greater good." Applying Bastiat’s lesson about the unseen, Ron speculates that, without such court decisions, non-pollution-intensive technologies probably would’ve been invented by now, because the polluters would have to bear the costs of the by-products of the previous technologies themselves.
No one, libertarian or otherwise, wants to breathe polluted air or drink polluted water. But the only way the environment can be protected is through strong private property rights. That, and increasing technologies brought about by a free market that make older, more-polluting technologies obsolete, is the answer to environmental concerns — not more government.
The government has unlimited resources.
It’s amazing how many people think that government is not subject to the same laws of economics as everyone and everything else, that it can wave a magic wand and create resources out of thin air, in order to give everyone something like "universal" health care or to run an empire, with no consequences. Governments don’t create anything; they only have what they take by force from the private sector.
As Ron explains devastatingly in The Revolution, the question of whether the government "should" run an empire or continue the entitlement system is moot, because the government is going bankrupt.
In addition to the aforementioned statistic about present trends leading to just Social Security and Medicare consuming 100% of the federal budget by 2040, Ron asks about military expenditures, which now total $1 trillion per year, "With a $9 trillion debt, perhaps $50 trillion in entitlement liabilities, and the dollar in a free fall, how much longer can we afford this unnecessary and counterproductive extravagance?
"Our present course, in short, is not sustainable. Our spendthrift ways are going to come to an end one way or another. Politicians won’t even mention the issue, much less face up to it, since the collapse is likely to occur sometime beyond their typical two-to-four-year time horizon. They hope and believe that the American people are too foolish, uninformed, and shortsighted to be concerned, and that they can be soothed with pleasant slogans and empty promises of more and more loot."
Libertarians are pro-drugs.
This is an example of people conflating libertarian with libertine, and Ron also deals with this devastatingly in The Revolution.
Ron explains that the first federal drug law, The Harrison Tax Act of 1914, came in an era where constitutional restraints were still recognized. So, rather than banning anything, it merely levied prohibitively-high taxes on certain drugs; when someone was found possessing any of those drugs, they were charged not with possession — which wasn’t illegal — but with tax evasion. This is an example of how the government will always find ways around any supposed constitutional restraints.
But the evidence Ron presents on the origins of federal drug prohibition, The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, is especially damning. Ron reveals that the move toward prohibition resulted from a contempt for Mexicans, with whom the drug was widely associated at the time, when he writes, "On the floor of the Texas Senate, one senator declared, ‘All Mexicans are crazy, and this stuff is what makes them crazy.’ . . . Harry Anslinger, who headed the government’s Bureau of Narcotics, said that, ‘The primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.’
"The resulting Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 — yes, federal prohibition is really just seven decades old — had little do to with science or medicine, and a lot to do with petty ethnic grudges, careerism in the Bureau of Narcotics, and disinformation and propaganda in the popular press, where yellow journalism still lived."
Ron further reveals that the entire hearing on federal marijuana prohibition lasted just two hours. Only two people testified: one for the legislation, and one against; the alleged expert in favor was obviously an insane quack (who was rewarded afterward for his support by being named the government’s "Official Expert" on marijuana at the Bureau of Narcotics); the expert against was from the AMA, who testified, "The American Medical Association knows of no evidence that marihuana is a dangerous drug," to which one Congressman replied, "Doctor, if you can’t say anything good about what we’re trying to do, why don’t you go home?"
The debate among the legislators that followed lasted a minute and a half, and the Speaker of the House lied during it, telling Congressman, who weren’t at the hearing, of the AMA, "They support this bill 100 percent."
One shudders to think how many people’s lives have been ruined because some lazy legislators were probably in a hurry to go home that day.
Ron also deals with the economics of black markets, the impossibility of prohibition, and the complete failure of the War on Drugs, which is evidenced by the fact that drugs are widely available to anyone who wants them — including people in federal prisons who are literally under lock-and-key 24 hours a day. Why in the world would anyone believe the government can create a "Drug-Free America," assuming that were even desirable, when it can’t even keep drugs out of its own prisons? They might as well pledge to create a "Gravity-Free America" or a "Sun-Free America."
Earlier this year, Ron’s neocon opponent gave an excellent example of this type of idiotic propaganda when he wrote on his campaign site that Ron Paul (a man who has been married to the same woman for 51 years and has five children, 18 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild) "Opposes Traditional Family Values," in part because "He supports the legalization of drugs that harm our children and ruin our families."
Prior to 1914, there were no federal drug laws — not even prescription laws. The pharmaceutical companies manufactured heroin and cocaine as pain relievers, and a child could walk into a drug store and buy them, yet back then drugs caused no significant harm to children or ruin to families. But it’s the drugs, not the black markets caused by prohibition, which are the danger.
Ron further explains that the "War on Drugs" is nothing but a scam to make work for police, court officers, prison contractors, etc., and enriching the pharmaceutical-industrial complex, by ruining the lives of innocent people.
And he addresses the fact that there’s no constitutional authority for federal prohibition, and that it’s a violation of states’ rights.
Now, given this information (not to mention the basic human right of self-ownership), should medical marijuana by allowed in certain, tightly-regulated conditions, or not? Should the penalties involving a certain drug be increased, or remain the same? Should a given drug remain on Schedule I, or be removed to Schedule II . . .
Libertarians don’t support the War on Terror / they care more about civil liberties than saving American lives / they "blame America" for 9/11.
In his cell at the Nuremberg trials, Hermann Goering, the second-in-command in Nazi Germany, said during an interview with prison psychologist and U.S. Army Captain Gustave M. Gilbert, “Why of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don’t want war neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood.
"But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.
"Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
Libertarians don’t support the "War on Terror," because there is not — and can never be — a "War on Terror," because "terror" is a tactic, an abstraction; "terror" or "terrorism" is not a concrete entity, like a person, or an organization or nation-state with a leader, who can surrender. The very concept of a "War on Terror" makes no more sense than a "War on Air Strikes" or a "War on Wind." Like Goering said, the government has exploited fear and anger over 9/11 to convince people to give up their liberties and to siphon money to the military-industrial complex and to government bureaucracies.
Ron cites experts like Michael Scheuer, former chief of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden Unit, and Philip Giraldi, former counterterrorism expert with the CIA, and even Paul Wolfowitz, who say, as Ron does, that 9/11 was blowback for decades of U.S. meddling in the Middle-East
But looking for explanations or motives for 9/11 doesn’t entail excusing it, and Ron voted after the tragedy to go after al Qaeda in Afghanistan. And looking for motives in order to prevent further atrocities like 9/11 doesn’t constitute "blaming America," an idiotic, meaningless red herring intended to keep people from questioning the foreign policy that benefits the power elites. America is not a monolith, and the idea that the citizens and the government are the same is a statist notion of the highest order.
Ron further decries other examples of Goering’s comments, like the PATRIOT Act that gives the government the power to spy on American citizens without a warrant or probable cause; and the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which gives the president the authority to detain anyone — even American citizens — indefinitely, without charges.
But the government must take away our freedoms in order to preserve those freedoms; otherwise, we’re all going to die.
Constitutionalists deify the Founders and worship the Constitution, and ignore the fact that the world is different than it was in 1787.
The argument that constitutional restraints on state power are pretty much worthless is a strong one, given that words — no matter how apparently objective — must be subjectively interpreted: consider, for example, the debate over the word "no" in the First Amendment, which has been raging since the ink in the constitution was dry. Better yet, consider the fact that the Ninth and Tenth Amendments make virtually everything the federal government does today illegal, given that there have been no constitutional amendments to allow for the FBI, BATF, DEA, FDA, CIA, War on Drugs, federal involvement in education, health care, welfare, etc. But that doesn’t stop it, does it?
But that’s another subject for another time, and one that Ron doesn’t address in the book. If one presumes a state, then the saying is probably true that a constitutional republic is the worst form of government — except for all of the others. Here, let’s examine the arguments against the constitution that Ron does address, the ones that come from the other, statist direction.
First, I know of no libertarian, including Ron Paul, who worships the Founding Fathers or who regards them as infallible. Even those Founders who were the strongest advocates of liberty were human and all had personal foibles (yes, including the typical leftist check-mate that’s usually irrelevant to the point at-hand: they owned slaves!).
What is as unchanging and as true always and everywhere as the law of gravity are the principles of the American Revolution, the truths about liberty and the state: all coercive encroachments on peaceful, voluntary behavior are both immoral and inefficient; and that political power, to the extent that it exists, should be as fractured, local and decentralized as possible.
Second, even if one rejects that view, the constitution is supposed to be amended for federal powers to be expanded: the constitution is basically a list of what the federal government is allowed to do; the Ninth and Tenth Amendments prohibit the federal government from doing anything not explicitly authorized on the list; and the list specifies the specific procedure, called a constitutional amendment, for adding, deleting, or changing things on the list.
Arguments about a "living" constitution or a "changing world" are red herrings; if the federal government can just do anything it wants (citing the "general welfare" clause or any other rationale other than a proper amendment), then why even have a constitution? (Why, indeed: except for the parts defining the basic branches of the federal government, the constitution has been dead at least since the 1930s. But, again, that’s another discussion for another time.)
For example, when it became obvious in 2002 that the federal government was going to war with Iraq, Ron Paul introduced a bill for Congress to formally declare war on Iraq, as the constitution requires, even though he was opposed to the war and intended to vote against his own bill (the distinction is that resolutions like the 2002 one for Iraq transfer war-making power unconstitutionally from Congress to the president). But he has stated repeatedly that, although he would’ve still been against the war had it been declared that way, at least he would have admitted that it was properly authorized.
As Ron writes in The Revolution, "A ‘living’ Constitution is just the thing any government would be delighted to have, for whenever the people complain that their Constitution has been violated, the government can trot out its judges to inform the people that they’ve simply misunderstood: the Constitution, you see, has merely evolved with the times.
"To be sure, the Constitution is not perfect. Few human contrivances are. But it’s a pretty good one, I think, and it defines and limits the scope of government. When we get into the habit of disregarding it or — what is the same thing — interpreting certain key phrases so broadly as to allow the federal government to do whatever it wants, we do so at our own peril."
Libertarians are pro-abortion.
A government is not the arbiter of morality or God’s agent on earth; it’s nothing but a group of people who grant themselves a legal monopoly on the use of force and threats of force within a certain geographical area (in other words, the legal right to act in ways that would be illegal, and would be universally regarded as criminal and immoral, if perpetrated by anyone within that geographical area who is acting with no political power). But just because one thinks something should be legal doesn’t necessarily mean that one condones it.
Nor does asserting that the federal government has no constitutional authority to legislate on abortion, and that it should be up to states and localities to make their own laws, make one pro-abortion (and the assertion that Ron, an ob-gyn who has delivered over 4,000 babies and who holds this view, is pro-abortion based on this view, is especially ludicrous).
But even if you don’t accept that position, the question of whether government "should" ban abortion is like asking whether government "should" repeal the law of gravity. Or, as Harry Browne used to say, looking at the results of the government’s War on Drugs, its War on Poverty, its War on Illiteracy, etc., if the government declared a War on Abortion, within five years men would be having abortions. Any attempt to ban abortion would result in nothing but black markets in abortion; further erosion of civil liberties for everyone; and lots of money poured down the toilet, with little or no reduction in abortions to show for it. So, if libertarians want to see abortions reduced to the minimum (but not to zero, which is impossible), the last place they should look is the state.
Ron writes, "The law isn’t what allowed abortion; abortions were already being done in the 1960s against the law. Ultimately, law or no law, it is going to be up to us as parents, as clergy, and as citizens — in the way we raise our children, how we interact and talk with our friends and neighbors, and the good example we give — to bring about changes in our culture toward greater respect for life."
Ron also explains that Article III, Section 2 of the constitution gives Congress the power to strip federal courts, including the Supreme Court, of jurisdiction over broad categories of cases, such as abortion, with a vote of a simple majority.
Looking from the pro-life perspective (since abortion is legal now, and they’re the side lobbying for change), even if one takes the position that the Supreme Court should legislate to the entire country, Congress could make such a move as a temporary measure, which would at least provide some improvements at the state and local level, then reinstate federal jurisdiction once they got enough Justices to dictate federal law their way. And the Republicans got right on that when they took over Congress in 1995, didn’t they? Right — and neither did the Democrats prior to Roe v. Wade, when they controlled Congress. This illustrates that much of the talk by politicians, either for or against abortion, is typical, empty posturing, intended to raise money and earn votes.
Late last year, it appeared that Ron Paul’s presidential campaign was growing into an unstoppable movement that might really earn him the presidency in 2008, due to the virtually-uncontrollable Internet destroying the elite’s ability to manipulate reality and public opinion through the increasingly-irrelevant mainstream media. That notion was probably just premature, rather than wrong; I still think the horizontally-structured Internet will eventually overcome the vertically-structured Old Media in influence, although I don’t know exactly when it will happen; how — or even whether — we’ll be able to tell right when it happens; or what all of the ramifications will be — although I expect most of them to be for the good.
But I do know that the Ron Paul Revolution has grown far beyond a presidential campaign, and that it will live on long past 2008, and even long past Ron Paul’s life. The Revolution is the perfect punctuation mark on the end of the campaign, as well as on the beginning of the post-campaign movement.
When I first heard that this book was coming, I cringed that Ron had chosen words like "Revolution" and "Manifesto" for the title, given the way the mainstream media often portrays him and the liberty movement. But I see now that it’s a perfect title, because that’s exactly what the book is: a manifesto for continuing the freedom revolution past 2008.
Please read it, and then use it to help spread the ideals of liberty.
Johnny Kramer [send him mail] holds a BA in journalism from Wichita State University. He is one of the authors of the first-ever biography of Ron Paul, Ron Paul: A Better Way, which will be released in Fall 2008 by Variant Press. For more information on his work, or to hire him as a writer, editor, or to speak at your next event, please visit his website.