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1998 Ron Paul Chapter 50

National Police State

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12 May 1998


1998 Ron Paul 50:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, today the Congress will collectively move our nation two steps closer to a national police state by further expanding a federal crime and paving the way for a deluge of federal drug prohibition legislation. Of course, it is much easier to ride the current wave of federalizing every human misdeed in the name of saving the world from some evil than to uphold a Constitutional oath which prescribes a procedural structure by which the nation is protected from what is perhaps the worst evil, totalitarianism. Who, after all, and especially in an election year, wants to be amongst those members of Congress who are portrayed as soft on drugs or deadbeat parents irrespective of the procedural transgressions and individual or civil liberties one tramples in their zealous approach.

1998 Ron Paul 50:2
Our federal government is, constitutionally, a government of limited powers. Article one, Section eight, enumerates the legislative areas for which the U.S. Congress is allowed to act or enact legislation. For every other issue, the federal government lacks any authority or consent of the governed and only the state governments their designees, or the people in their private market actions enjoy such rights to governance. The tenth amendment is brutally clear in stating “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Our nation’s history makes clear that the U.S. Constitution is a document intended to limit the power of central government. No serious reading of historical events surrounding the creation of the Constitution could reasonably portray it differently. Of course, there will be those who will hang their constitutional “hats” on the interstate commerce general welfare clauses, both of which have been popular “headgear” since the FDR’s headfirst plunge into New Deal Socialism.

1998 Ron Paul 50:3
The interstate commerce clause, however, was included to prevent states from engaging in protectionism and mercantilist policies as against other states. Those economists who influenced the framers did an adequate job of educating them as to the necessarily negative consequences for consumers of embracing such a policy. The clause was never intended to give the federal government carte blanche to intervene in private economic affairs anytime some special interest could concoct a “rational basis” for the enacting such legislation.

1998 Ron Paul 50:4
Likewise, while the general welfare provides an additional condition upon each of the enumerated powers of the U.S. Congress detailed in Article I, Section eight, it does not, in itself, provide any latitude for Congress to legislatively take from A and give to B or ignore every other government-limiting provision of Constitution (of which there are many), each of which are intended to limit the central government’s encroachment on liberty.

1998 Ron Paul 50:5
Nevertheless, rather than abide by our constitutional limits, Congress today will likely pass H. Res. 423 and H.R. 3811 under suspension of the rules meaning, of course, they are “non-controversial.” House Resolution 423 pledges the House to “pass legislation that provides the weapons and tools necessary to protect our children and our communities from the dangers of drug addiction and violence”. Setting aside for the moment the practicality of federal prohibition laws, an experiment which failed miserably in the so-called “Progressive era”, the threshold question must be: “under what authority do we act?” There is, after all, a reason why a Constitutional amendment was required to empower the federal government to share jurisdiction with the States in fighting a war on a different drug (alcohol) — without it, the federal government had no constitutional authority. One must also ask, “if the general welfare and commerce clause were all the justification needed, why bother with the tedious and time-consuming process of amending the Constitution?” Whether any governmental entity should be in the “business” of protecting competent individuals against themselves and their own perceived stupidity is certainly debatable — Whether the federal government is empowered to do so is not. Being stupid or brilliant to one’s sole disadvantage or advantage, respectively, is exactly what liberty is all about.

1998 Ron Paul 50:6
Today’s second legislative step towards a national police state can be found in H.R. 3811, the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act of 1998. This bill enhances a federal criminal felony law for those who fail to meet child support obligations as imposed by the individual states. Additionally, the bills shifts some of the burden of proof from the federal government to the accused. The United States Constitution prohibits the federal government from depriving a person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. Pursuant to this constitutional provision, a criminal defendant is presumed to be innocent of the crime charged and, pursuant to what is often called “the Winship doctrine,” the prosecution is allocated the burden of persuading the fact-finder of every fact necessary to constitute the crime . . . charged.” The prosecution must carry this burden because of the immense interests at stake in a criminal prosecution, namely that a conviction often results in the loss of liberty or life (in this case, a sentence of up to two years). This departure from the long held notion of “innocent until proven guilty” alone warrants opposition to this bill.

1998 Ron Paul 50:7
Perhaps, more dangerous is the loss of another Constitutional protection which comes with the passage of more and more federal criminal legislation. Constitutionally, there are only three federal crimes. These are treason against the United States, piracy on the high seas, and counterfeiting (and, as mentioned above, for a short period of history, the manufacture, sale, or transport of alcohol was concurrently a federal and state crime). “Concurrent” jurisdiction crimes, such as alcohol prohibition in the past and federalization of felonious child support delinquency today, erode the right of citizens to be free of double jeopardy. The fifth amendment to the U.S. Constitution specifies that no “person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb . . .” In other words, no person shall be tried twice for the same offense. However, in United States v. Lanza, the high court in 1922 sustained a ruling that being tried by both the federal government and a state government for the same offense did not offend the doctrine of double jeopardy. One danger of unconstitutionally expanding the federal criminal justice code is that it seriously increases the danger that one will be subject to being tried twice for the same offense. Despite the various pleas for federal correction of societal wrongs, a national police force is neither prudent nor constitutional.

1998 Ron Paul 50:8
The argument which springs from the criticism of a federalized criminal code and a federal police force is that states may be less effective than a centralized federal government in dealing with those who leave one state jurisdiction for another. Fortunately, the Constitution provides for the procedural means for preserving the integrity of state sovereignty over those issues delegated to it via the tenth amendment. The privilege and immunities clause as well as full faith and credit clause allow states to exact judgments from those who violate their state laws. The Constitution even allows the federal government to legislatively preserve the procedural mechanisms which allow states to enforce their substantive laws without the federal government imposing its substantive edicts on the states. Article IV, Section 2, Clause 2 makes provision for the rendition of fugitives from one state to another. While not self-enacting, in 1783 Congress passed an act which did exactly this. There is, of course, a cost imposed upon states in working with one another than relying on a national, unified police force. At the same time, there is a greater cost to centralization of police power.

1998 Ron Paul 50:9
It is important to be reminded of the benefits of federalism as well as the costs. There are sound reasons to maintain a system of smaller, independent jurisdictions — it is called competition and, yes, governments must, for the sake of the citizenry, be allowed to compete. We have obsessed so much over the notion of “competition” in this country we harangue someone like Bill Gates when, by offering superior products to every other similarly-situated entity, he becomes the dominant provider of certain computer products. Rather than allow someone who serves to provide values as made obvious by their voluntary exchanges in the free market, we lambaste efficiency and economies of scale in the private marketplace. Yet, at the same time, we further centralize government, the ultimate monopoly and one empowered by force rather than voluntary exchange.

1998 Ron Paul 50:10
When small governments becomes too oppressive, citizens can vote with their feet to a “competing” jurisdiction. If, for example, I do not want to be forced to pay taxes to prevent a cancer patient from using medicinal marijuana to provide relief from pain and nausea, I can move to Arizona. If I want to bet on a football game without the threat of government intervention, I can move to Nevada. If I want my income tax at 4% instead of 10%, I can leave Washington, DC, for the surrounding state suburbs. Is it any wonder that many productive people leave DC and then commute in on a daily basis? (For this, of course, DC will try to enact a commuter tax which will further alienate those who will then, to the extent possible, relocate their workplace elsewhere). In other words, governments pay a price (lost revenue base) for their oppression.

1998 Ron Paul 50:11
As government becomes more and more centralized, it becomes much more difficult to vote with one’s feet to escape the relatively more oppressive governments. Governmental units must remain small with ample opportunity for citizen mobility both to efficient governments and away from those which tend to be oppressive. Centralization of criminal law makes such mobility less and less practical.

1998 Ron Paul 50:12
For each of these reasons, among others, I must oppose the further and unconstitutional centralization of power in the national government and, accordingly, H. Res. 423 and H.R. 3811.
Notes:

1998 Ron Paul 50:2 only the state governments their designees, probably should have a comma after governments. Compare with 1998 Ron Paul 77:9. Similar language is found in 1999 Ron Paul 69:3.

1998 Ron Paul 50:2 the interstate commerce general welfare clauses probably should be the interstate commerce and general welfare clauses.

1998 Ron Paul 50:6 Here the quotation marks are garbled in the Congressional Record.

1998 Ron Paul 50:9 similarly-situated probably should be similarly situated (without a hyphen).

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