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Ron Paul in Iowa: Freedom is the Answer!

Interview

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Location: Unknown

Ron Paul: Thank you. Congratulations. Of course. Thank you. Thank you very much. It's very nice to be here. I wasn't sure I was going to get here a little while ago. I don't know if they told you, but the plane was a little late. We were supposed to land here at about 6:30 or so, but we got on the airplane alright; that's not too unusual. Getting through security, that's the toughest part. I did that again, like I do it twice a week. But we got through that and we got on the plane alright, and it looked like we were going to go, and then the announcement came, they said, "Well, we got some bad news. We're overweight." What are we going to do? Why don't you take some gasoline off or something? They said, "No, we have to get 9 people to leave the airplane. We need some volunteers" and they're going to give 400 bucks so my hand went up right away. 400 bucks, I mean, just to get off the airplane. But no, I thought better of it and I thought I had an obligation and I wasn't going to cave in for 400 bucks. But then they said, "Nobody volunteers, so we're going to pick 9 people and they're going to have to go". I wondered how they're going to do that. They said they're just going to pick them. And lo and behold, my name comes up and I said, "What's going on here?" So I had to pay 400 dollars to get somebody else to bribe them, and that guy got 800 dollars. That's not exactly true, but…

Anyway, we sat for an hour or so and we made it in here. It's so nice to see everybody, and it's so good to understand things are happening in the Republican Party out here. That's pretty neat. I'm so glad there is an influence. But the freedom movement is alive and well, and Campaign for Liberty is alive and well and doing quite well around the country. So to me it's very exciting.

And I don't know if you've heard about it, but I have a personal interest in and election coming up soon down in Kentucky. I can't talk about that, because I wouldn't be very objective about that race down there. But if you try to be objective, it's pretty interesting and it's pretty good and it's going to have a lot of significance no matter what they try to say about it. Rand's doing very well. In the last poll -- which was not his poll, it was an independent poll -- he was up 16 points. So it is pretty amazing. But most individuals don't believe it can be that good and it will be a lot closer, but we have 5 children, that means Rand has 4 siblings and we'll be there on Tuesday. My wife will be going up with us there. So we're hoping that it's going to be an exciting evening and there will be a celebration and another message will be sent across this country that we're ready for some changes.

I think one of the most remarkable things going on today is that the speeches are different, the promises are different. Now it's almost a political negative to say, "I know somebody in Washington. If I can get elected, I'm going to make sure I can take care of the district and get your stuff and get all the goodies and get your earmarks." It's almost the opposite now; you don't even want to be associated with Washington DC or bragging that they know how the system works.

And I think something has happened here in the last year or 2, because over the years as most of you have known, I've taken a rather firm stand about not voting for things that aren't properly authorized in the Constitution. Even though that was not mainstream politics in Washington, I think subtly many of them respected those views, because so often other members would come up to me and say, "You know, this is amazing that you can do this and get re-elected, how do you do that?" But now it's mainstream; we're getting to be mainstream. It's better now not to promise, to promise to go up and cut spending and cut taxes and cut regulations. No more deficits. This is what's become popular. So there is every reason for us to be optimistic about what's happening. Not what's happening in Washington yet, but optimistic about what's happening outside of Washington in groups like this, because our numbers are growing; there is no doubt about it. And of course, I've said so many times, and continue to be enthusiastic about going to the campuses, because the young people are certainly interested in this.

Yesterday or the day before, I was walking out of my office to vote, and there was a group of teenagers out in the quarter of the Cannon building, numbering 20 or so. But several of them recognized me and one ring leader, who really knew me and was enthusiastic, came over and introduced himself and he looked so young. But I asked, "How old are you?" he said they're 17, they're juniors and seniors in high school, and they wanted to talk about the issues. I asked, "Well, how did you get interested?" He said, "Well, I read your book on End the Fed." And they knew about the Federal Reserve and they knew what was going on and there is no way I would have had the vaguest knowledge about what was going on when I was a senior in high school. I was trying to get good grades and trying to win a track meet and swim and things like that. But I didn't know anything about politics. But the young people -- there's always large number of them -- are really responding favorably and we should be very excited about that.

I guess the issue that has surprised me the most over these last couple of years has been the issue of the Federal Reserve and how much attention we've gotten. It's something that I've been motivated about for many, many years. It was that event in 1971 when the prediction by the Austrian economists back then predicted that the Bretton Woods agreement couldn't last, it wouldn't last, it would collapse. I remember reading Henry Hazard prior to that time, and he was a prominent journalist in 1944 when Bretton Woods was established. He said it wouldn't work. And when it collapsed in 1971 it was sort of a confirmation of how bad things were.

But that was when I became fascinated and thought, "Oh I need to talk about that this, this is important stuff". And so I started talking about it and then had a token race and did it politically thinking that was the only place I can get a couple of people to listen. And there were only a couple of people at the beginning for many, many years. But even over those many years, decades literally, it was not an issue. It's not been an issue until just recently. And I think that several things have come together. Some people give the presidential campaign a little bit of credit for calling attention to this issue. That's part of it, but there's more to it than that.

One, I think it's the subtle education going on in Austrian economics throughout the country in places like the Mises Institute. Teachers like Tom Woods and others out there are reaching people. So that has laid the groundwork for this. But then, on top of that, the economic collapse came, the financial crisis hit. It hit and although they will not recognize it in Washington, it was recognized by so many others that this was a predictable event. It annoys me to no end, because they have another commission to study how this came about; another Washington commission. They did that in the 1930s, it was called the Pecora commission. Some people call this the second Pecora commission. But they have Republicans and Democrats to have it balanced. But they don't have it balanced because they're all Keynesians or socialists on the commission. And everybody they bring before the commission to ask them questions, it's all the same. They're not calling and talking to the people who knew it was coming, predicted it and understood it.

But nevertheless, the information is getting out there and the people are waking up and they know there's another option. And I think that is part of what's going on in the Tea Party Movement and the various groups and obviously the Campaign for Liberty, because something has to give. And the people are recognizing this, on this financial burden, this spending. I mean how long can we do this? And, you know, it was not hard to figure out that we got into this crisis because the government spent too much money, they taxed too much, they borrowed too much, they regulated too much, and they printed too much money. So they finally admit, it comes down to our heads 2 years ago. People panicked, "Oh, we're going to have a depression, we got to do something. This is drastic, let's do emergency legislation" So what did they do? They increased taxes and they increased regulations and they increased spending, they increased borrowing and they tremendously increased printing the money. And that's supposed to be the solution to the problem.

But it's not going to work, I've been saying in all the interviews that it's not over. The correction hasn't occurred, it's just delayed it. And now it's being transferred internationally with the debt burdens of the sovereign nations of Europe. But my biggest concern has been that everybody depends on the United States and the dollar to bail out everybody. So yes, we're involved in this bailout, obviously, with the IMF funds as well as our transfer of payments to other central banks and other governments. So we're very much involved. But what happens when the world loses confidence in the dollar? Who's going to bail out the dollar, and there's nobody left? And it wasn't that many years ago when the dollar was rather weak. In 1979 we actually went to the IMF to prop up our system and our dollar. But we pulled ourselves out of that nose dive with interest rates up to 21%. So there will be a major problem to deal with. And I think it's getting awfully close.

Now, I talk about a monetary crisis being somewhat different than a financial crisis. When the financial structures of the banks get over-involved in too much debt, then they have to do something about that. But a currency crisis happens when people lose confidence in the currency. And most of us can remember and have read about how many times… you know, not too long ago the country of Zimbabwe had a little bit of inflation. And Mexico has had it a few times, and Germany's had it. America's had it in the revolutionary times, as well as having pretty bad inflation during the civil war. So it's a well known event, but it's really devastating. But the main reason why it's so devastating is it wipes out the middle class. The people who work hard and try to save and have some wealth, and everything gets wiped out of their accounts rather quickly because it moves so fast.

Now up until now it's been moving more in a sluggish manner. You know, we as a people, our Congress established the Federal Reserve in 1913 to give us a stable currency (that was the argument), and to be the lender of last resort. Now how are they going to give you a stable currency and be the lender of last resort at the same time? Well, at that time the dollar was 1/20th of an ounce of gold, that was the definition. $20 bought an ounce of gold. So they've done a tremendous job. Today it's probably like $1250, so that's almost a 99% devaluation that they've pulled off. And what happens now if it keeps going and it goes rapidly, it will be very chaotic. And a lot of people suffered from this already. In the last 10 years, if you just start in the year 2000, from that period of time until now there has been an 80% devaluation. In the early part of the 1970s when they had fixed exchange rates, they had 2 precise devaluations: one at 8% and one at 10%. It was 18%. And I remember those days, because that was the time it was declared that the Bretton Woods agreement couldn't be upheld. But those were very big events and that ushered in rampant inflation in the later part of the 1970s.

So I think we are destined to do this to move ourselves into that category, but the government says -- you hear it all the time from the liberal economists, "There's no inflation, we can do what we want, you guys worry too much." Oh yeah, there's no inflation in the cost of government at all. There are no costs going up there. There is no inflation in the cost to get medical care. There is no inflation in the cost to get an education. It's constantly going up, and yet we still haven't seen the worst part yet.

This is a subject that is not going to go away. But how do we solve this and what do we do? Well, for us in this room, I think most of us know and understand what has to be done. It's sort of now how do you accomplish it. And that's where we're very much involved. To me it involves a lot of education, continued education. I think education is probably the most important thing. And then there are some of us that like to take the education and understanding our free market economics and try to translate that into a politically popular movement, and get people to understand it in a practical way.

And I think that's the job that Campaign for Liberty is both educational and also an organization involved in partisan politics. And I think that's necessary. Nobody can say I'm not interested in politics, I've be doing this for a long time. But I still say that education is at the top of the ladder. Because prevailing attitudes and ideas make all the difference in the world. Because since the 1930s it didn't matter whether you had Republicans or Democrats. Oh yeah, a little bit here and a little bit there, but did it really change the people's attitude about Keynesian economics or the Federal Reserve or getting rid of the income tax? So I would say, this go around when we clean up this mess, let's make it very, very clear what we don't want anymore. Like we don't want the Fed and we don't want the IRS and we don't want the federal government bearing down on us every single day.

So I think right now we live in very opportune times to get our message out, because of the conditions, the groundwork laid by the people in education, and the people being energized. I am convinced that people now are looking at what we're talking about because they know this system is broken and they are looking for answers. And even those who are on the receiving end of this big government, they're frightened too, because they know this can't continue. And what we must do is not only convince all those who believe strongly in limiting government to its constitutional size, we also have to start nibbling away at those people totally dependent on government.

And sometimes it's a lack of understanding, and sometimes they actually believe that they are entitled, that rights means entitlements. And just the government was supposed to give it to us, "Oh yeah, you mean the Constitution limits these functions?" -- "No, the Constitution is a living, breathing document and therefore we're allowed to do this." And those individuals in Washington are really following their oath of office. We have to re-educate them along that line, and we have to this opportunity. But for me it also gives us an opportunity to take the whole picture and put it together, because we have to bring people together on these views on how to do it. How do we get back to a balanced budget? They say, "Oh yeah, we're going to cut child healthcare, that will do it." And that's not a good political idea. Even though we shouldn't have started all this government medical care and all in education, I am still convinced that if we ever want to build a coalition with others outside our group, I think what we have to do is cut spending overseas. It is so much easier to cut.

So we not only could save a couple of million or a couple billion or a couple hundred billion, we could probably save many, many hundreds of billions of dollars even up to the trillions because already in Iraq and Afghanistan we've spent over a trillion dollars. We spend a trillion dollars a year just managing our military empire around the world. And that's coming to an end and if we have to have priorities, I think that would be the easiest and best. Besides, I am absolutely convinced if we change our foreign policy, we're going to be a lot safer for it; we will not be in danger.

Randolph Bourne's statement that "War is the health of the state" is such a true statement because when there is a war, there is a declared war, even if it's not legally declared. "Oh yes, we're at war on terrorism, war on drugs, war on this." People get trapped in this and say, "Oh war, it's an emergency. We have to be more willing to give up our freedoms". And notoriously they have done it. The big problem with this so-called war going on now is there is no end to it. In the past they've undermined our liberties, whether it was the Civil War or World War 1 or World War 2, just think of what they did to Japanese Americans and concentration camps. At least they closed those down afterwards and they backed away from some of the worst things that they did in World War 1. But this war is going to go on forever unless we change our foreign policy. And you know, sometimes they accuse us of getting too close to people who believe in conspiracies. But my answer to that is, "Don't believe in that conspiracy stuff unless it's true."

But what I really want to say about conspiracies is that they have a conspiracy, they have this conspiracy that they've been passing out ever since the last administration, that "they attack us because we're free and wealthy." That's why they attack us. Now that's a conspiratorial idea, and if we don't change that, we can't win this. Because I don't believe for a second that's the reason they come. Do they come because of our culture and because of Hollywood? Yeah, they probably resent it. There are probably a few of us in this room that might resent a few things that come out of Hollywood. But they didn't go and bomb Hollywood. They went to the Pentagon and they go to CIA overseas and they kill the people they at least think are trying to take over their country and they see them as occupiers.

That information to me is so crucial and yet it's tricky because people get accused, you know. When you hear me talk like this they say, "Oh he's one of those "blame America first' people". You know, I'm not bashful in blaming our government for the same thing, but I'm not going to blame the American people for this problem. We also should be very concerned about what is done here at home. Not only have we had these wars, but we've had this attack on our civil liberties at home. I never believed there would be a day when it would become official policy -- and that's actually official policy made worse by Obama because Bush never announced it this way. I can understand why they might do this, but to announce it as policy disturbs me. And that is that if you are an American citizen, that doesn't make you immune from assassination. You know, just because its trouble getting you into a court, someday we could assassinate an American citizen. "Well, because he's a terrorist." But how do we know he's a terrorist? He's a suspect. And we are on a slippery slope on that. I mean, we have secret prisons and we have lack of respect for Habeas Corpus.

And I was just reading something today which I thought was interesting. This John Walker Lynn was the American citizen who was captured right after 9/11 in Afghanistan. To me, he looked a little … I bet he was the last one to have heard about what happened on 9/11; that's what I think about him. I think we all knew it before he did. But anyway, they arrested or they captured him. And you know what they did? They read him the Miranda rights. They brought him back here and they tried him in a civilian court and sent him to prison. So what's this hysteria about protecting our rights? Yes, some of these people are monsters, they're terrible. But so are some of these mobsters in our country that kill and shoot people.

I mean, what if you find somebody in a store, he's on a video, and he shoots somebody. Of course, he deserves the full force of the law thrown at him. But we still take him to court. And I don't like this idea because the definition of somebody who is un-American or supportive of the terrorists can get pretty sloppy at times.

And then we have the war on drugs and all the terrible things that go on there that they use to violate our civil liberties. And too often these events, like the war on drugs and others and even the things going on at the border, I think a lot of it is directed at us to know what we're doing financially. I think it's the IRS to make sure you haven't sent $25 overseas and didn't report it to the government. That's what they're worrying about. But, you know, we really do have a mess on our borders and it's a complicated mess because we have the illegal aliens coming in and we have the drug dealers on the borders. It's getting very violent. There is a lot of corruption on both sides of the border, and a lot of killing going on. And I think it's going to get a lot worse and there is no easy solution for this, it's not like just putting the army down there is going to solve the whole problem. Because as much as I support tightening up and watching what illegals do, I think it's an economic problem. I think it's related to economics because the welfare state encourages a lot of our people not to work and then the welfare state feeds on the illegals who come in and they do work. And then they bring their families and they get in our schools and they get on the programs and then we go into a recession and it really gets painful. And that annoys a lot of us, it annoys me big because we have to close down hospitals and school districts are going bankrupt. So this notion that the solution is amnesty and automatic citizenship for these people doesn't make any sense at all to me.

So it's hard to deal with the borders without dealing with the economy, and it's hard to deal with it without dealing with the drug war, and it's hard to deal with it without dealing with enforcing our laws. I don't like this idea that we punish people who happen to associate with an illegal. There are a lot of people coming into this country and they've been here for 20 years and they've never left this country and they don't even speak Spanish. I mean, to round up 12 million of them and send them back, I don't know how that's going to happen. But we should do something about the borders. Now the one thing that bothers me about the borders and what's happening now is it is regulating us just as much as it's failing to regulate those that are coming in. Where can you go now without a passport? You can't go to Canada. I lived on both borders and we causally went to Canada. I was at school in Detroit and we just went to Canada whenever we felt like it. I don't what we did, showed our driver's license or something. Mexico was the same thing. No more, now we carry our passports and there are already strict currency controls on how much money we can take or send out of the country and when this currency crisis gets worse, then the governments really crack down because people have a tendency to want to expatriate and go out.

You know, one time I was told that the line that you draw between a free society and a totalitarian society is can you leave your country with your money. And when you can't do that, you don't live in a free society anymore. And I don't think it's very easy, they don't want you to do that. Now I have never been tempted to do that. I think, though, that everybody has to have the right to do that because if you don't have the right to do that, that's what we ought to be thinking about doing it.

And right now we're tightening borders up, but I think in the wrong way as much as anything. But we have a lot on our plate, a lot of things that we have to do. But our opportunities are obviously very, very good. Our philosophy can answer the questions, very simply, even with our imperfect Constitution, because I never consider it a perfect document. But it's been around a bit and it's probably one of the best ever, if that not the very best written. But I do know one thing, that if we had enough people in Washington who would take that oath of office seriously and follow it, this country would be improved a lot and in a short period of time.

The other thing about the philosophy of liberty is that -- I've said this many times too -- and that is, it's appealing. If we can present this the right way, it is appealing to more than just us in this room. It appeals to people who considered themselves as one time just extreme conservatives or even liberals believing in civil liberties. Honest liberals who believe in limited government in a personal way or maybe will share our views on foreign policy, we can bring people together. I am absolutely convinced that freedom does bring people together. It is the way you bring diverse groups together, by saying, "Yes, your life is your own. You can do with it what you want, and the government shouldn't be telling you what you do with it. The restrictions are you just can't hurt people. But in addition to that, you ought to have the right to do whatever with what you earn. Whatever you earn is your right. So you should have economic liberty and personal liberty and they should be one and the same."

It's taken many centuries for the principles of liberty to be developed. I believe with our revolution, the industrial revolution we saw the real benefits come out, the tremendous increase in wealth and production and standard of living going up. But, you know, it's been around for a long time. In the Old Testament the Israelites talked about not having a king and having too strong a king and then, of course, there was a Roman Republic that was destroyed by the Roman Empire. They talked about personal liberties and the importance of citizenship. And, of course, there was a struggle in 1215 by the barons to insist that King John sign the Magna Carta and recognize that every individual has the right to be told why the king and why the government is holding him. This seems to be slipping away. And when I see some of these things happening in this very country, this is a dangerous, dangerous thing.

Another great danger I think we face -- and this was established in the last administration and carried out in the current administration -- and that is that we now, as a people, endorse preventive war. That's the same as saying we endorse aggression because we're the good guys and we'll go and push ourselves on them. We have to reject that notion of preventive war.

So so much of what we talk about is not brand new. It's been around for many, many years. But the real experiment of the last couple hundred years has shown what it can achieve; and that is the material prosperity. What I believe has happened is that the material prosperity of our maximum freedom that we had enjoyed for so long, taught the American people to get really lazy about thinking about where the wealth came from. And we drifted over to thinking the government created the wealth, and the government takes care of us, and it was more important to pay for lobbyists than to pay for R&D research by our corporations. And there's been so much wealth and there still is a lot of wealth that it lasted a lot longer than it maybe deserved. The truth and the belief in freedom has practically vanished for so many people in Washington. But now we're starting to see the consequence of not having an understanding of liberty, not understanding what the rule of law is all about, not understanding about restraining the government. The Constitution was there to restrain the government, never to restrain the people.

So we now face this crisis, this crisis and the understanding of liberty. And the making sure that in the maximum number of people the prevailing attitude becomes that of liberty. Now you might say, "Well, this is a small group. We have several hundred here. But we need millions and millions." The truth is you really don't. You just need a lot of energetic people determined to win and they have to be in places of leadership. They can be in teaching, and they can be in journalism, and they can even get into the Republican Party and be leaders, too.

People will respond. Most people will never be in that leadership position and they will go along. But they need to be convinced it's in their best interest. That's the only thing. For too long now, since the Depression, people have been convinced that it's in their best interest to go along with big government and Keynesian economics and all this. But it's ending. It's all over. And we're going to see this crisis get worse and we're going to see a dollar crisis and when it hits the dollar, it's going to be a worldwide event. And then it will be one big issue: Are we going to live in a free society, or are we going to allow the authoritarians to take over? Are we going to allow them to expand their authority over us as individuals? Allow them to take over more of the economy and actually pretend that they can police the world? That will be the challenge. But I am more optimistic than ever, since I've been doing this for quite a few years, that we can win this. We can win this if we continue to build the momentum.

I actually was very shocked at the attention we got in the presidential campaign. I didn't know all of you were out there and you were interested. I didn't know the young people would respond. But even then I became a little bit pessimistic after it was over. I thought, "Well, I'll just go back to being a congressman." And yet the momentum with Campaign for Liberty, what John has done with the Campaign for Liberty and all of you who have been involved and all the staff and just what's happening in the country in the enthusiasm I see with these young people… it's there, and it's growing.

Now there is one thing that I am very, very pleased with, that there is so much positive conviction with the young people and even though, like tonight I talk about all the things I think are wrong, and so many of them say, "You're the only one that gives me hope." And I think this is great. It's not me, it's the message. The message of freedom is hopeful. And I tried to figure this out; why is it that we can talk about these terrible things happening to us, the dollar's going bust and the country is broke and we're at war and all these things. You know, it's sort of like an addict. The addict never is cured till he admits there is a problem. And I think that's what we're getting the country to do. We're getting them to admit that this is a serious problem, we've recognized it, we can't continue what we've been doing. And what we should be doing, we know the answer. And that is believing in ourselves, believing in what freedom can do for us, and go back to the American tradition and defend our rule of law and our constitution.


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