Americans actually have an interesting 2008 presidential candidate – Ron Paul. As Thomas Woods pointed out in "The Revolutionary Candidate" (posted 3/26 at LewRockwell.com), "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.
Verifying 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 LewRockwell.com. Consider the following excerpts, all from the past year's archive, as an indication of where he stands:
"We can't tax, borrow, and inflate forever. That's what we've been doing, and our obligations are overwhelming."
"Whether 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."
"It’s 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."
"[Courts] 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."
"Most of our mistakes can be laid at the doorstep of our failure to follow the Constitution."
"We must rethink the very role of government in our society. Anything less, any tinkering or ‘reform,’ won't cut it."
"We forget that those powers not explicitly granted to Congress by the Constitution are inherently denied to Congress."
"…politicians 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."
"Remember 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."
"Our constitutional system…was designed to restrain political power and place limits on the size and scope of government."
"In 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."
"…with 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."
"Political 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."
"We get into trouble by not following the precepts of liberty or obeying the rule of law."
"We 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…"
"If …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!"
"Taxes never create prosperity."
"Most 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."
"Once 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."
"I 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."
"Politicians 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."
"Money 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."
"The 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…"
"With 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…"
"A 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."
"…one 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."
"…[many] 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."
"…government 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.
March 28, 2007