Ron Paul's Texas Straight Talk - A weekly Column

April 17, 2000

Time To Get Serious With Big Government
International Institutions Must Be Curtailed

This week protesters came to Washington, DC, to make known their opposition to the policies of international institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Many of these people were also present at the Seattle protests against the World Trade Organization.
I have two general problems with these protests. The first is that the violence and lawlessness to which such demonstrations often degenerate simply goes overboard and is just plain wrong. In short, it tends to do more harm to the causes they espouse than any benefit those causes may receive from the publicity generated.
My other criticism is that these groups really tend to focus on minor side issues and never really address the principle upon which their argument depends. In short, the problem with the alphabet-soup of international financial organizations is not the policy of the current group administering these programs. Rather, the real issue is that these organizations threaten the very idea of self-government and self-determination. We do not need to change the policies these institutions are following. We need to shut down the entire international monetary apparatus and end the international welfare state.
The World Bank and IMF are not merely a significant drain on U.S. taxpayers and a threat to self-government. They also use the leverage that they purchase with our tax dollars, as a means to force less developed countries to take on new and harmful fiscal, monetary and economic regulations. This serves to leave these countries further impoverished.
There is no real way to effectively change these policies. The very nature of the current international regime will always ensure that bad policy will flow from these institutions because they have essentially been captured by those who have an interest in maintaining and expanding the international debt and credit machine. The only way to stop these policies is to end the agencies.
Similarly, I met in my office with representatives of organized labor this week. They are concerned about international trade issues. As I explained to them, the basis of their problem is not trade but managed trade and the fact that America subsidizes their competitors. They are very open to this argument but are convinced they should continue to tinker around the edges at present, fighting trade status for this or that country, one battle at a time.
My approach is to end the World Trade Organization. Although there is considerable sympathy for this approach, the groups and people who express their agreement seem content to work on minor side issues. Or, they refuse to work together with others who they distrust. This latter concern was suggested to me when I spoke to a coalition of the leaders of top conservative groups in Washington about the WTO this week.
The big problem is that, as people continue to fight battles on the edges, and work exclusively with those people with whom they have long-term ties. Our nation's sovereignty continues to be eroded by internationalists who have no gumption about the niceties of what organizations they need to work with in order to advance their agenda, much less any concern about those who are injured as a result of their successful promotion of that agenda. Those of us who realize that these international organizations are the crux of the problem must begin immediately to focus our attention on the central issue, namely putting these institutions out of business. We must also understand that to be effective we need to have large coalition of people dedicated to peaceful and lawful methods who will work together to combat the considerable interests stacked up against us.
Only when we fight the correct battle, using the correct tactics, will we see progress made in dealing a blow to these freedom-threatening institutions and the woeful policy proscriptions they so often promote.