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2000 Ron Paul Chapter 5

A Republic, If You Can Keep It – Part 2

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  Congressional Record

2 February 2000



2000 Ron Paul 5:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, on Monday, I took a special order to discuss the importance of the American Republic and why it should be preserved. Today, I will continue with that special order.

2000 Ron Paul 5:2
When it comes to executive orders, it has gotten completely out of hand. Executive orders may legitimately be used by a President to carry out his constitutionally authorized duties, but that would require far fewer orders than modern day Presidents have issued as the 20th century comes to a close, we find the executive branch willfully and arrogantly using the executive order to deliberately circumvent the legislative body, and bragging about it.

2000 Ron Paul 5:3
Although nearly 100,000 American battle deaths have occurred since World War II and both big and small wars have been fought almost continuously, there has not been a congressional declaration of war since 1941. Our Presidents now fight wars not only without explicit congressional approval but also in the name of the United Nations, with our troops now serving under foreign commanders.

2000 Ron Paul 5:4
Our Presidents have assured us that U.N. authorization is all that is needed to send our troops into battle. The 1973 War Powers Resolution meant to restrict presidential war powers has either been ignored by our Presidents or used to justify war up to 90 days. The Congress and the people too often have chosen to ignore this problem, saying little about the recent bombing in Serbia. The continual bombing of Iraq which has now been going on for over 9 years is virtually ignored.

2000 Ron Paul 5:5
If a President can decide on the issue of war without a vote of the Congress, a representative republic does not exist. Our President should not have the authority to declare national emergencies and they certainly should not have authority to declare martial law, a power the Congress has already granted to any future emergency.

2000 Ron Paul 5:6
Economic and political crises can develop quickly and overly aggressive Presidents are only too willing to enhance their own power in dealing with them. Congress sadly throughout this century has been only too willing to grant authority to our Presidents at the sacrifice of its own.

2000 Ron Paul 5:7
The idea of separate but equal branches of government has been forgotten and the Congress bears much of the responsibility for this trend. Executive powers in the past 100 years have grown steadily with the creation of agencies that write and enforce their own regulations and with Congress allowing the President to use executive orders without restraint.

2000 Ron Paul 5:8
But in addition, there have been various other special vehicles that our Presidents use without congressional oversight. For example, the exchange stabilization fund set up during the depression has over $34 billion available to be used at the President’s discretion without congressional approval. This slush fund grows each year as it is paid interest on the securities it holds. It was instrumental in the $50 billion Mexican bailout in 1995.

2000 Ron Paul 5:9
The CIA is so secretive that even those Congressmen privy to its operation have little knowledge of what this secret government actually does around the world.

2000 Ron Paul 5:10
We know, of course, it has been involved in the past 50 years in assassinations and government overthrows on frequent occasions. The Federal Reserve operation, which works hand in hand with the administration, is not subject to congressional oversight. The Fed manipulates currency exchange rates, controls short-term interest rates, and fixes the gold price, all behind closed doors.

2000 Ron Paul 5:11
Bailing out foreign governments, financial corporations and huge banks can all be achieved without congressional approval. One hundred years ago when we had a gold standard, credit could not be created out of thin air, and, because a much more limited government philosophy prevailed, this could not have been possible. Today it is hard to even document what goes on, let alone expect Congress to control it.

2000 Ron Paul 5:12
The people should be able to closely monitor the Government, but as our government grows in size and scope, it, the Government, seeks to monitor our every move. Attacks on our privacy are an incessant and always justified by citing so-called legitimate needs of the State, efficiency and law enforcement.

2000 Ron Paul 5:13
Plans are laid for numerous data banks to record everyone’s activities. A national ID card using our Social Security number is the goal of many, and even though we achieved a significant delivery in delaying its final approval last year, the promoters will surely persist in their efforts.

2000 Ron Paul 5:14
Plans are made for a medical data bank to be kept and used against our wishes. Job banks and details of all our lending activities continue to be of interest to all our national policy agencies, to make sure they know exactly where the drug dealers, the illegal aliens, and tax dodgers are and what they are doing, it is argued.

2000 Ron Paul 5:15
For national security purposes, the Echelon system of monitoring all overseas phone calls has been introduced, yet the details of this program are not available to any inquiring Member of Congress.

2000 Ron Paul 5:16
The Government knew very little about each individual American citizen in 1900. But, starting with World War I, there has been a systematic growth of Government surveillance of everyone’s activities, with multiple records being kept. Today, true privacy is essentially a thing of the past. The FBI and the IRS have been used by various administrations to snoop and harass political opponents, and there has been little effort by Congress to end this abuse. A free society, that is, a constitutional republic, cannot be maintained if privacy is not highly cherished and protected by the Government, rather than abused by it. We can expect it to get worse.

2000 Ron Paul 5:17
Secretary of Defense Bill Cohen was recently quoted as saying, “Terrorism is escalating to the point that U.S. citizens may have to choose between civil liberties and more intrusive forms of protection.” This is all in the name of taking care of us.

2000 Ron Paul 5:18
As far as I am concerned, we could all do with a lot less Government protection and security. The offer of Government benevolence is the worst reason to sacrifice liberty, but we have seen a lot of that during the 20th century.

2000 Ron Paul 5:19
Probably the most significant change in attitude that occurred in the 20th century was that with respect to life itself. Although abortion has been performed for hundreds, if not for thousands, of years, it was rarely considered an acceptable and routine medical procedure without moral consequence.

2000 Ron Paul 5:20
Since 1973, abortion in America has become routine and justified by a contorted understanding of the right to privacy. The difference between American rejection of abortion at the beginning of the century compared to today’s casual acceptance is like night and day. Although a vocal number of Americans express their disgust with abortion on demand, our legislative bodies and the courts claim that the procedure is a constitutionally protected right, disregarding all scientific evidence and legal precedents that recognize the unborn as a legal, living entity, deserving protection of the law.

2000 Ron Paul 5:21
Ironically, the greatest proponents of abortion are the same ones who advocate imprisonment for anyone who disturbs the natural habitat of a toad. This loss of respect for human life in the latter half of the 20th century has yet to have its full impact on our society. Without a deep concern for life and with the casual disposing of living human fetuses, respect for liberty is greatly diminished. This has allowed a subtle but real justification for those who commit violent acts against fellow human beings.

2000 Ron Paul 5:22
It should surprise no one that a teenager delivering a term newborn is capable of throwing the child away in a garbage dumpster. The new mother in this circumstance is acting consistently, knowing that if an abortion is done just before a delivery, it is legally justified and the abortionist is paid to kill the child. Sale of fetal parts to tax-supported institutions is now an accepted practice. This moral dilemma that our society has encountered over the past 40 years, if not resolved in the favor of life, will make it impossible for a system of laws to protect the life and liberty of any citizen.

2000 Ron Paul 5:23
We can expect senseless violence to continue as the sense of worth is undermined. Children know that mothers and sisters, when distraught, have abortions to solve the problem of an unwanted pregnancy. Distraught teenagers in coping with this behavior are now prone to use violence against others or themselves when provoked or confused. This tendency is made worse because they see in this age of abortion their own lives as having less value, thus destroying self-esteem.

2000 Ron Paul 5:24
The prime reason government is organized in a free society is to protect life, not to protect those who take life. Today, not only do we protect the abortionist, we take taxpayers’ funds to pay for abortions domestically as well as overseas. This egregious policy will continue to plague us well into the 21st century.

2000 Ron Paul 5:25
A free society designed to protect life and liberty is incompatible with Government sanctions and financing abortion on demand. It should not be a surprise to anyone that as abortion became more acceptable, our society became more violent and less free. The irony is that Roe v. Wade justified abortion using the privacy argument, conveniently forgetting that not protecting the innocent unborn is the most serious violation of privacy possible.

2000 Ron Paul 5:26
If the location of the fetus is the justification for legalized killing, the privacy of our homes would permit the killing of the newborn, the deformed and the elderly, a direction, unfortunately, in which we find ourselves going. As government-financed medical care increases, we will hear more economic arguments for euthanasia, that is, mercy killing, for the benefit of the budget planners. Already we hear these economic arguments for killing the elderly and terminally ill.

2000 Ron Paul 5:27
Last year the House made a serious error by trying to federalize the crime of killing a fetus occurring in an act of violence. The stated goal was to emphasize that the fetus deserved legal protection under the law, and, indeed, it should and does at the State level. Federalizing any act of violence is unconstitutional. Essentially, all violent acts should be dealt with by the States, and, because we have allowed the courts and Congress to federalize such laws, we find more good State laws are overridden than good Federal laws written.

2000 Ron Paul 5:28
Roe v. Wade federalized State abortion laws and ushered in the age of abortion. The Unborn Victims of Violence Act, if passed into law, will do great harm by explicitly excluding the abortionist, thus codifying for the first time the Roe v. Wade concept and giving even greater legal protection to the abortionist.

2000 Ron Paul 5:29
The responsibility of Congress is twofold: first, we should never fund abortions. Nothing could be more heinous than forcing those with strong right-to-life beliefs to pay for abortions.

2000 Ron Paul 5:30
Second, Roe v. Wade must be replaced by limiting jurisdiction, which can be done through legislation, a constitutional option. If we as a Nation do not once again show respect and protect the life of the unborn, we can expect the factions that have emerged on each side of this issue to become more vocal and violent. A Nation that can casually toss away its smallest and most vulnerable members and call it a “right” cannot continue to protect the lives or rights of its other citizens.

2000 Ron Paul 5:31
Much has changed over the past 100 years, where technology has improved our living standards. We find that our Government has significantly changed from one of limited scope to that of pervasive intervention.

2000 Ron Paul 5:32
One hundred years ago it was generally conceded that one extremely important function of government was to enforce contracts made voluntarily in the marketplace. Today, government notoriously interferes with almost every voluntary economic transaction. Consumerism, labor laws, wage standards, hiring and firing regulations, political correctness, affirmative action, the Americans with Disability Act, the Tax Code, and others place a burden on the two parties struggling to transact business.

2000 Ron Paul 5:33
The EPA, OSHA and government-generated litigation also interferes with voluntary contracts. At times, it seems a miracle that our society adapts and continues to perform reasonably well in spite of the many bureaucratic dictates.

2000 Ron Paul 5:34
As the 20th century comes to a close, we see a dramatic change from a government that once served an important function by emphasizing the value of voluntary contracts to one that excessively interferes with them. Although the interference is greater in economic associations than in social, the principle is the same. Already we see the political correctness movement interfering with social and religious associations. Data banks are set up to keep records on everyone, especially groups with strong religious views and anybody to be so bold as to call himself a patriot. The notion that there is a difference between murder and murder driven by hate has established the principles of a thought crime, a dangerous trend indeed.

2000 Ron Paul 5:35
When the business cycle turns down, all the regulations and laws that interfere with economic and personal transactions will not be as well tolerated, and then the true cost will become apparent. It is under the conditions of a weak economy that such government interference generates a reaction to the anger over the rules that have been suppressed.

2000 Ron Paul 5:36
To the statist, the idea that average people can and should take care of themselves by making their own decisions and that they do not need Big Brother to protect them in everything they do is anathema to the way they think.

2000 Ron Paul 5:37
The bureaucratic mindset is convinced that without the politicians’ effort, no one would be protected from anything, rejecting the idea of a free market economy out of ignorance or arrogance. This change in the 20th century has significantly contributed to the dependency of our poor on Government handouts, the recipients being convinced that they are entitled to help and that they are incapable of taking care of themselves. A serious loss of self-esteem and unhappiness results, even if the system in the short run seems to help them get by.

2000 Ron Paul 5:38
There were no Federal laws at the end of the 19th century dealing with drugs or guns. Gun violence was rare and abuse of addictive substances was only a minor problem. Now, after 100 years of progressive Government intervention in dealing with guns and drugs, with thousands of laws and regulations, we have more gun violence and a huge drug problem.

2000 Ron Paul 5:39
Before the social authoritarians decided to reform the gun and drug culture, they amended the Constitution enacting alcohol prohibition. Prohibition failed to reduce alcohol usage and a crime wave resulted. After 14 years, the American people demanded repeal of this social engineering amendment, and got it.

2000 Ron Paul 5:40
Prohibition prompted the production of poor quality alcohol with serious health consequences, while respect for the law was lost as it was flagrantly violated. At least at that time the American people believed the Constitution had to be amended to prohibit the use of alcohol, something that is entirely ignored today in the Federal Government’s effort to stop drug usage.

2000 Ron Paul 5:41
In spite of the obvious failure of alcohol prohibition, the Federal Government, after its repeal, turned its sights on gun ownership and drug usage. The many Federal anti-gun laws written since 1934, along with the constant threat of outright registration and confiscation, have put the FBI and the BATF at odds with millions of law abiding citizens who believe the Constitution is explicit in granting the right of gun ownership to all non-violent Americans.

2000 Ron Paul 5:42
Our government pursued alcohol prohibition in the 1920s and confiscation of gold in the 1930s, so it is logical to conclude that our government is quite capable of confiscating all privately-owned firearms. That has not yet occurred; but as we move into the next century, many in Washington advocate just that and would do it if they did not think the American people would revolt, just as they did against alcohol prohibition.

2000 Ron Paul 5:43
Throughout this century, there has been a move toward drug prohibition starting with the Harrison Act of 1912. The first Federal marijuana law was pushed through by FDR in 1938, but the real war on drugs has been fought with intensity for the past 30 years.

2000 Ron Paul 5:44
Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent and not only is there no evidence of reduced drug usage, we have instead seen a tremendous increase. Many deaths have occurred from overdoses of street drugs since there is no quality control or labeling. Crime as a consequence of drug prohibition has skyrocketed and our prisons are overflowing. Many prisoners are nonviolent and should be treated as patients with addictions, not as criminals. Irrational mandatory minimum sentences have caused a great deal of harm. We have nonviolent drug offenders doing life sentences, and there is no room to incarcerate the rapists and murderers.

2000 Ron Paul 5:45
With drugs and needles illegal, the unintended consequence of the spread of AIDS and hepatitis through dirty needles has put a greater burden on the taxpayers who are forced to care for the victims.

2000 Ron Paul 5:46
This ridiculous system that offers a jail cell for a sick addict rather than treatment has pushed many a young girl into prostitution to pay for the drugs priced hundreds of times higher than they are worth, but the drug dealers love the system and dread a new approach.

2000 Ron Paul 5:47
When we finally decide that drug prohibition has been no more successful than alcohol prohibition, the drug dealers will disappear. The monster drug problem we have created is compounded by moves to tax citizens so government can hand out free needles to drug addicts who are breaking the law in hopes that there will be less spread of hepatitis and AIDS in order to reduce government health care costs.

2000 Ron Paul 5:48
This proposal shows how bankrupt we are at coming to grips with this problem, and it seems we will never learn.

2000 Ron Paul 5:49
Tobacco is about to be categorized as a drug and prohibition of sorts imposed. This will make the drug war seem small if we continue to expand the tobacco war. Talk about insane government policies of the 20th century, tobacco policy wins the prize. First, we subsidize tobacco in response to demands by the special interests, knowing full well even from the beginning that tobacco had many negative health consequences. Then we spend taxpayers’ money warning the people of its dangers, without stopping the subsidies.

2000 Ron Paul 5:50
Government then pays for the care of those who choose to smoke, despite the known dangers and warnings. But it does not stop there. The trial lawyers’ lobby saw to it that the local government entities could sue tobacco companies for reimbursement of the excess costs that they were bearing in taking care of smoking-related illnesses, and the only way this could be paid for was to place a tax on those people who did not smoke.

2000 Ron Paul 5:51
How could such silliness go on for so long? For one reason. We as a nation have forgotten the basic precept of a free society, that all citizens must be responsible for their own acts. If one smokes and gets sick, that is the problem of the one making the decision to smoke or take any other risk for that matter, not the innocent taxpayers who have already been forced to pay for the tobacco subsidies and government health warning ads.

2000 Ron Paul 5:52
Beneficiaries of this monstrous policy have been tobacco farmers, tobacco manufacturers, politicians, bureaucrats, smokers, health organizations, and physicians, and especially the trial lawyers. Who suffers? The innocent taxpayers that have no choice in the matter and who acted responsibly and chose not to smoke.

2000 Ron Paul 5:53
Think of what it would mean if we followed this simple logic and implemented a Federal social program, similar to the current war on smoking, designed to reduce the spread of AIDS within the gay community. Astoundingly, we have done the opposite by making AIDS a politically correct disease. There was certainly a different attitude a hundred years ago regarding those with sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis compared to the special status given AIDS victims today.

2000 Ron Paul 5:54
It is said that an interventionist economy is needed to make society fair to everyone. We need no more government fairness campaigns. Egalitarianism never works and inevitably penalizes the innocent. Government in a free society is supposed to protect the innocent, encourage self-reliance and impose equal justice while allowing everyone to benefit from their own effort and suffer the consequences of their own acts. A free and independent people need no authoritarian central government dictating eating, drinking, gambling, sexual, or smoking habits.

2000 Ron Paul 5:55
When the rules are required, they should come from the government closest to home as it once did prior to America’s ill-fated 20th Century experiment with alcohol prohibition. Let us hope we show more common sense in the 21st Century in these matters than we did in the 20th.

2000 Ron Paul 5:56
A compulsive attitude by politicians to regulate nonviolent behavior may be well intentioned but leads to many unintended consequences. Legislation passed in the second half of the 20th Century dealing with drugs and personal habits has been the driving force behind the unconstitutional seizure and forfeiture laws and the loss of financial privacy.

2000 Ron Paul 5:57
The war on drugs is the most important driving force behind the national police state. The excuse given for calling in the Army helicopters and tanks at the Waco disaster was that the authorities had evidence of an amphetamine lab on the Davidian property. This was never proven, but nevertheless it gave the legal cover but not the proper constitutional authority for escalating the attack on the Davidians which led to the senseless killing of so many innocent people.

2000 Ron Paul 5:58
The attitudes surrounding this entire issue needs to change. We should never turn over the job of dealing with bad habits to our Federal Government. That is a recipe for disaster.

2000 Ron Paul 5:59
America has not only changed technologically in the last 100 years but our social attitudes and personal philosophies have changed as well. We have less respect for life and less love for liberty. We are obsessed with material things, along with rowdy and raucous entertainment. Needs and wants have become rights for both poor and rich. The idea of instant gratification too often guides our actions, and when satisfaction is not forthcoming anger and violence breaks out. Road rage and airline passenger rage are seen more frequently. Regardless of fault, a bad outcome in almost anything, even if beyond human control, will prompt a lawsuit. Too many believe they deserve to win the lottery and a lawsuit helps the odds.

2000 Ron Paul 5:60
Unfortunately, the only winners too often are the lawyers hyping the litigation. Few Americans are convinced anymore that productive effort is the most important factor in economic success and personal satisfaction. One did not get rich in the 1990s investing in companies that had significant or modest earnings. The most successful investors bought companies that had no earnings and the gambling paid off big. This attitude cannot create perpetual wealth and must some day end.

2000 Ron Paul 5:61
Today, financial gurus are obsessed with speculation in the next initial public offering and express no interest in the cause of liberty without which markets cannot exist.

2000 Ron Paul 5:62
Lying and cheating are now acceptable by the majority. This was not true 100 years ago when moral standards were higher. The October 1999 issue of U.S. News and World Report reveals that 84 percent of college students believe cheating is necessary to get ahead in today’s world, and 90 percent are convinced there is no price to pay for the cheating. Not surprisingly, 90 percent of college students do not believe politicians, and an equal number of percentage believes the media cheats as well.

2000 Ron Paul 5:63
There is no way to know if this problem is this bad in the general population, but these statistics indicate our young people do not trust our politicians or media. Trust has been replaced with a satisfaction in the materialism that speculative stock markets, borrowing money, and a spendthrift government can generate.

2000 Ron Paul 5:64
What happens to our society if the material abundance which we enjoy is ephemeral and human trust is lost? Social disorder will surely result and there will be a clamor for a more authoritarian government. This scenario may indeed threaten the stability of our social order and significantly undermine all our constitutional protections, but there is no law or ethics committee that will solve this problem of diminishing trust and honesty. That is a problem of the heart, mind and character to be dealt with by each individual citizen.

2000 Ron Paul 5:65
The importance of the family unit today has been greatly diminished compared to the close of the 19th Century. Now, fewer people get married, more divorces occur and the number of children born out of wedlock continues to rise. Tax penalties are placed on married couples. Illegitimacy and single parenthood are rewarded by government subsidies, and we find many authoritarians arguing that the definition of marriage should change in order to allow non-husband and -wife couples to qualify for welfare handouts.

2000 Ron Paul 5:66
The welfare system has mocked the concept of marriage in the name of political correctness, economic egalitarianism, and heterophobia. Freedom of speech is still cherished in America but the political correctness movement has seriously undermined dissent on our university campuses. A conservative or libertarian black intellectual is clearly not treated with the same respect afforded an authoritarian black spokesman.

2000 Ron Paul 5:67
We now hear of individuals being sent to psychiatrists when personal and social views are crude or out of the ordinary. It was commonplace in the Soviet system to incarcerate political dissenters in so-called mental institutions. Those who received a Soviet government designation of socially undesirable elements were stripped of their rights. Will this be the way we treat political dissent in the future?

2000 Ron Paul 5:68
We hear of people losing their jobs because of socially undesirable thoughts or for telling off-color jokes. Today, sensitivity courses are routinely required in America to mold social thinking for the simplest of infractions. The thought police are all around us. It is a bad sign.

2000 Ron Paul 5:69
Any academic discussion questioning the wisdom of our policies surrounding World War II is met with shrill accusations of anti-Semitism and Nazi lover. No one is ever even permitted, without derision by the media, the university intellectuals and the politicians, to ask why the United States allied itself with the murdering Soviets and then turned over Eastern Europe to them while ushering in a 45-year saber-rattling, dangerous Cold War period.

2000 Ron Paul 5:70
Free speech is permitted in our universities for those who do not threaten the status quo of welfarism, globalism, corporatism, and a financial system that provides great benefit to the powerful special interests. If a university professor does not follow the party line, he does not receive tenure.

2000 Ron Paul 5:71
We find ourselves at the close of this century realizing all our standards have been undermined. A monetary standard for our money is gone. The dollar is whatever the government tells us it is. There is no definition and no promise to pay anything for the notes issued ad infinitum by the government. Standards for education are continually lowered, deemphasizing excellence. Relative ethics are promoted and moral absolutes are ridiculed. The influence of religion on our standards is frowned upon and replaced by secular humanistic standards. The work ethic has been replaced by a welfare ethic based on need, not effort. Strict standards required for an elite military force are gone and our lack of readiness reflects this.

2000 Ron Paul 5:72
Standards of behavior of our professional athletes seem to reflect the rules followed in the ring by the professional wrestlers where anything goes. Managed medical care driven by government decrees has reduced its quality and virtually ruined the doctor-patient relationship.

2000 Ron Paul 5:73
Movie and TV standards are so low that our young people’s senses are totally numbed by them. Standards of courtesy on highways, airplanes, and shops are seriously compromised and at times leads to senseless violence.

2000 Ron Paul 5:74
With the acceptance of abortion, our standards for life have become totally arbitrary as they have become for liberty. Endorsing the arbitrary use of force by our government morally justifies the direct use of force by disgruntled groups not satisfied with the slower government process. The standards for honesty and truth have certainly deteriorated during the past 100 years.

2000 Ron Paul 5:75
Property ownership has been undermined through environmental regulations and excessive taxation. True ownership of property no longer exists. There has been a systematic undermining of legal and constitutional principles once followed and respected for the protection of individual liberty.

2000 Ron Paul 5:76
A society cannot continue in a state of moral anarchy. Moral anarchy will lead to political anarchy. A society without clearly understood standards of conduct cannot remain stable any more than an architect can design and build a sturdy skyscraper with measuring instruments that change in value each day. We recently lost a NASA space probe because someone failed to convert inches to centimeters, a simple but deadly mistake in measuring physical standards. If we as a people debase our moral standards, the American Republic will meet a similar fate.

2000 Ron Paul 5:77
Many Americans agree that this country is facing a moral crisis that has been especially manifested in the closing decade of the 21st century. Our President’s personal conduct, the characters of our politicians in general, the caliber of the arts, movies, and television, and our legal system have reflected this crisis.

2000 Ron Paul 5:78
The personal conduct of many of our professional athletes and movie stars has been less than praiseworthy. Some politicians, sensing this, have pushed hard to write and strictly enforce numerous laws regarding personal nonviolent behavior with the hope that the people will become more moral.

2000 Ron Paul 5:79
This has not happened, but has filled our prisons. This year it will cost more than $40 billion to run our prison system. The prison population, nearing 2 million, is up 70 percent in the last decade, and two-thirds of the inmates did not commit an act of violence. Mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws have been instrumental in this trend.

2000 Ron Paul 5:80
Laws clearly cannot alter moral behavior, and if it is attempted, it creates bigger problems. Only individuals with moral convictions can make society moral. But the law does reflect the general consensus of the people regarding force and aggression, which is a moral issue. Government can be directed to restrain and punish violent aggressive citizens, or it can use aggressive force to rule the people, redistribute wealth, and make citizens follow certain moral standards, and force them to practice certain personal habits.

2000 Ron Paul 5:81
Once government is permitted to do the latter, even in a limited sense, the guiding principle of an authoritarian government is established, and its power and influence over the people will steadily grow, at the expense of personal liberty. No matter how well-intentioned, the authoritarian government always abuses its powers. In its effort to achieve an egalitarian society, the principle of inequality that freedom recognizes and protects is lost.

2000 Ron Paul 5:82
Government, then, instead of being an obstruction to violence, becomes the biggest perpetrator. This invites all the special interests to manipulate the monopoly and evil use of government power. Twenty thousand lobbyists currently swarm Washington seeking special advantage. That is where we find ourselves today.

2000 Ron Paul 5:83
Although government cannot and should not try to make people better in the personal, moral sense, proper law should have a moral, nonaggressive basis to it: no lying, cheating, stealing, killing, injuring, or threatening. Government then would be limited to protecting contracts, people, and property, while guaranteeing all personal nonviolent behavior, even the controversial.

2000 Ron Paul 5:84
Although there are degrees in various authoritarian societies as to how much power a government may wield, once government is given the authority to wield power, it does so in an ever-increasing manner. The pressure to use government authority to run the economy in our lives depends on several factors. These include a basic understanding of personal liberty, respect for a constitutional republic, economic myths, ignorance, and misplaced good intentions.

2000 Ron Paul 5:85
In every society there are always those waiting in the wings for an opportunity to show how brilliant they are as they lust for power, convinced that they know what is best for everyone. But the defenders of liberty know that what is best for everyone is to be left alone, with a government limited to stopping aggressive behavior.

2000 Ron Paul 5:86
The 20th century has produced socialist dictators the world over, from Stalin, Hitler, and Mao to Pol Pot, Castro, and Ho Chi Minh. More than 200 million people died as a result of bad ideas of these evil men. Each and every one of these dictators despised the principle of private property ownership, which then undermined all the other liberties cherished by the people.

2000 Ron Paul 5:87
It is argued that the United States and now the world have learned a third way, something between extreme socialism and mean-spirited capitalism. But this is a dream. The so-called friendly third way endorses 100 percent the principle that government authority can be used to direct our lives and the economy. Once this is accepted, the principle that man alone is responsible for his salvation and his life on Earth, which serves as the foundation for free market capitalism, is rejected.

2000 Ron Paul 5:88
The third way of friendly welfarism or soft fascism, where government and businesses are seen as partners, undermines and sets the stage for authoritarian socialism. Personal liberty cannot be preserved if we remain on the course at which we find ourselves at the close of the 20th century.

2000 Ron Paul 5:89
In our early history, it was understood that a free society embraced both personal civil liberties and economic liberties. During the 20th century this unified concept of freedom has been undermined. Today we have one group talking about economic freedom while interfering with our personal liberty, and the other group condemning economic liberty while preaching the need to protect personal civil liberties. Both groups reject liberty 50 percent of the time. That leaves very few who defend liberty all the time. Sadly, there are too few in this country who today understand and defend liberty in both areas.

2000 Ron Paul 5:90
A common debate that we hear occurs over how we can write laws protecting normal speech and at the same time limiting commercial speech, as if they were two entirely different things. Many Americans wonder why Congress pays so little attention to the Constitution and are bewildered as to how so much inappropriate legislation gets passed.

2000 Ron Paul 5:91
But the Constitution is not entirely ignored. It is used correctly at times when it is convenient and satisfies a particular goal, but never consistently across-the-board on all legislation.

2000 Ron Paul 5:92
Two, the Constitution is all too frequently made to say exactly what the authors of special legislation want it to say. That is the modern way language can be made relative to our times, but without a precise understanding and respect for the supreme law of the land, that is, the Constitution, it no longer serves as the guide for the rule of law. In its place, we have substituted the rule of man and the special interests.

2000 Ron Paul 5:93
That is how we have arrived at the close of this century without a clear understanding or belief in the cardinal principles of the Constitution: the separation of powers and the principle of Federalism. Instead, we are rushing toward a powerful executive, centralized control, and a Congress greatly diminished in importance.

2000 Ron Paul 5:94
Executive orders, agency regulations, Federal court rulings, unratified international agreements, direct government, economy, and foreign policy. Congress has truly been reduced in status and importance over the past 100 years. When the people’s voices are heard, it is done indirectly through polling, allowing our leaders to decide how far they can go without stirring up the people.

2000 Ron Paul 5:95
But this is opposite to what the Constitution was supposed to do. It was meant to protect the rights of the minority from the dictates of the majority. The majority vote of the powerful and influential was never meant to rule the people.

2000 Ron Paul 5:96
We may not have a king telling us which trees we can cut down today, but we do have a government bureaucracy and a pervasive threat of litigation by radical environmentalists who keep us from cutting our own trees, digging a drainage ditch, or filling a puddle, all at the expense of private property ownership.

2000 Ron Paul 5:97
The key element in a free society is that individuals should wield control of their lives, receiving the benefits and suffering the consequences of all their acts. Once the individual becomes a pawn of the state, whether a monarch- or a majority-ruled state, a free society can no longer endure.

2000 Ron Paul 5:98
We are dangerously close to that happening in America, even in the midst of plenty and with the appearance of contentment. If individual liberty is carelessly snuffed out, the creative energy needed for productive pursuits will dissipate. Government produces nothing, and in its effort to redistribute wealth, can only destroy it.

2000 Ron Paul 5:99
Freedom too often is rejected, especially in the midst of plenty, when there is a belief that government largesse will last forever. This is true because it is tough to accept personal responsibility, practice the work ethic, and follow the rules of peaceful coexistence with our fellow man.

2000 Ron Paul 5:100
Continuous vigilance against the would-be tyrants who promise security at minimum cost must be maintained. The temptation is great to accept the notion that everyone can be a beneficiary of the caring state and a winner of the lottery or a class action lawsuit. But history has proven there is never a shortage of authoritarians, benevolent, of course, quite willing to tell others how to live for their own good. A little sacrifice of personal liberty is a small price to pay for long-time security, it is too often argued.

2000 Ron Paul 5:101
I have good friends who are in basic agreement with my analysis of the current state of the American republic, but argue it is a waste of time and effort to try and change the direction in which we are going. No one will listen, they argue. Besides, the development of a strong, centralized, authoritarian government is too far along to reverse the trends of the 20th century. Why waste time in Congress when so few people care about liberty, they ask? The masses, they point out, are interested only in being taken care of, and the elite want to keep receiving the special benefits allotted to them through special interest legislation.

2000 Ron Paul 5:102
I understand the odds, and I am not naive enough to believe the effort to preserve liberty is a cake walk. I am very much aware of my own limitations in achieving this goal. But ideas based on sound and moral principles do have consequences, and powerful ideas can make major consequences beyond our wildest dreams.

2000 Ron Paul 5:103
Our Founders clearly understood this, and they knew they would be successful, even against the overwhelming odds they faced. They described this steady confidence they shared with each other when hopes were dim as “divine Providence.”

2000 Ron Paul 5:104
Good ideas can have good results, and we must remember, bad ideas can have bad results. It is crucial to understand that vague and confusing idealism produces mediocre results, especially when it is up against a determined effort to promote an authoritarian system that is sold to the people as conciliatory and nonconfrontational, a compromise, they say, between the two extremes.

2000 Ron Paul 5:105
But it must be remembered that no matter how it is portrayed, when big government systematically and steadily undermines individual rights and economic liberty, it is still a powerful but negative idea and it will not fade away easily.

2000 Ron Paul 5:106
Ideas of liberty are a great threat to those who enjoy planning the economy and running other peoples’ lives. The good news is that our numbers are growing. More Americans than ever before are very much aware of what is going on in Washington and how, on a daily basis, their liberties are being undermined. There are more intellectual think tanks than ever before promoting the market economy, private property ownership, and personal liberty.

2000 Ron Paul 5:107
The large majority of Americans are sick and tired of being overtaxed, and despise the income tax and the inheritance tax. The majority of Americans know government programs fail to achieve their goals and waste huge sums of money. A smoldering resentment against the unfairness of government and efforts to force equality on us can inspire violence, but instead, it should be used to encourage an honest system of equal justice based on individual, not collective, rights.

2000 Ron Paul 5:108
Sentiment is moving in the direction of challenging the status quo of the welfare and international warfare state. The Internet has given hope to millions who have felt their voices were not being heard, and this influence is just beginning. The three major networks and conventional government propaganda no longer control the information now available to everyone with a computer.

2000 Ron Paul 5:109
The only way the supporters of big government can stop the Internet will be to tax, regulate, and monitor it. Although it is a major undertaking, plans are already being laid to do precisely that. Big government proponents are anxious to make the tax on the Internet an international tax, as advocated by the United Nations, apply the Eschelon principle used to monitor all overseas phone calls to the Internet, and prevent the development of private encryption that would guarantee privacy on the Internet.

2000 Ron Paul 5:110
These battles have just begun. If the civil libertarians and free market proponents do not win this fight to keep the Internet free and private, the tools for undermining authoritarian government will be greatly reduced. Victory for liberty will probably elude us for decades.

2000 Ron Paul 5:111
The excuse they will give for controlling the Internet will be to stop pornography, catch drug dealers, monitor child molesters, and do many other so-called good things. We should not be deceived. We have faced tough odds, but to avoid battle or believe there is a place to escape to, someplace else in the world, would concede victory to those who endorse authoritarian government.

2000 Ron Paul 5:112
The grand experiment in human liberty must not be abandoned. A renewed hope and understanding of liberty is what we need as we move into the 21st century. A perfectly free society we know cannot be achieved, and the ideal perfect socialism is an oxymoron. Pursuing that goal throughout the 20th century has already caused untold suffering.

2000 Ron Paul 5:113
The clear goal of a free society must be understood and sought, or the vision of the authoritarians will face little resistance and will easily fill the void.

2000 Ron Paul 5:114
There are precise goals Congress should work for, even under today’s difficult circumstances. It must preserve in the best manner possible voluntary options to failed government programs.

2000 Ron Paul 5:115
We must legalize freedom to the maximum extent possible.

2000 Ron Paul 5:116
1. Complete police protection is impossible; therefore, we must preserve the right to own weapons in self-defense.

2000 Ron Paul 5:117
2. In order to maintain economic protection against Government debasement of the currency, gold ownership must be preserved, something taken away from the American people during the Depression.

2000 Ron Paul 5:118
3. Adequate retirement protection by the Government is limited, if not ultimately impossible. We must allow every citizen the opportunity to control all of his or her retirement funds.

2000 Ron Paul 5:119
4. Government education has clearly failed. We must guarantee the right of families to home school or send their kids to private schools and help them with tax credits.

2000 Ron Paul 5:120
5. Government snoops must be stopped. We must work to protect all privacy, especially on the Internet, prevent the national ID card, and stop the development of all Government data banks.

2000 Ron Paul 5:121
6. Federal police functions are unconstitutional and increasingly abusive. We should disarm all Federal bureaucrats and return the police function to local authorities.

2000 Ron Paul 5:122
7. The Army was never meant to be used in local policing activities. We must firmly prevent our Presidents from using the military in local law enforcement operations, which is now being planned for under the guise of fighting terrorism.

2000 Ron Paul 5:123
8. Foreign military intervention by our Presidents in recent years to police the American empire is a costly failure. Foreign military intervention should not be permitted without explicit congressional approval.

2000 Ron Paul 5:124
9. Competition in all elections should be guaranteed, and the monopoly powers gained by the two major parties through unfair signature requirements, high fees, and campaign donation controls should be removed. Competitive parties should be allowed in all government-sponsored debate.

2000 Ron Paul 5:125
10. We must do whatever is possible to help instill a spirit of love for freedom and recognize that our liberties depend on responsible individuals, not the group or the collective or the society as a whole. The individual is the building block of a free and prosperous social order.

2000 Ron Paul 5:126
The Founders knew full well that the concept of liberty was fragile and could easily be undermined. They worried about the dangers that lay ahead. As we move into the new century, it is an appropriate time to rethink the principles upon which a free society rest.

2000 Ron Paul 5:127
Jefferson, concerned about the future wrote, “Yes, we did produce a near-perfect republic, but will they keep it? Or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of freedom? Material abundance without character is the path of destruction.”

2000 Ron Paul 5:128
“They,” that he refers to are “we.” And the future is now. Freedom, Jefferson knew, would produce plenty, and with material abundance it is easy to forget the responsibility the citizens of a free society must assume if freedom and prosperity are to continue.

2000 Ron Paul 5:129
The key element for the Republic’s survival for Jefferson was the character of the people, something no set of laws can instill. The question today is not that of abundance, but of character, respect for others, and their liberty and their property. It is the character of the people that determines the proper role for government in a free society.

2000 Ron Paul 5:130
Samuel Adams, likewise, warned future generations. He referred to “good manners” as the vital ingredient that a free society needs to survive. Adams said, “Neither the wisest Constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.”

2000 Ron Paul 5:131
The message is clear. If we lose our love of liberty and our manners become corrupt, character is lost and so is the Republic. But character is determined by free will and personal choice by each of us individually. Character can be restored or cast aside at a whim. The choice is ours alone, and our leaders should show the way.

2000 Ron Paul 5:132
Some who are every bit as concerned as I am about our future and the pervasive corrupt influence in our Government in every aspect of our lives offer other solutions. Some say to solve the problem all we have to do is write more detailed laws dealing with campaign finance reform, ignoring how this might undermine the principles of liberty. Similarly, others argue that what is needed is merely to place tighter restrictions on the lobbyists in order to minimize their influence. But they fail to realize this undermines our constitutional right to petition our Government for redress of grievances.

2000 Ron Paul 5:133
And there are others with equally good intentions that insist on writing even more laws and regulations punishing nonviolent behavior in order to teach good manners and instill character. But they fail to see that tolerating nonviolent behavior, even when stupid and dangerous to one’s own self, is the same as our freedom to express unpopular political and offensive ideas and to promote and practice religion in any way one chooses.

2000 Ron Paul 5:134
Resorting to writing more laws with the intent of instilling good character and good manners in the people is anathema to liberty. The love of liberty can come only from within and is dependent on a stable family and a society that seeks the brotherhood of man through voluntary and charitable means.

2000 Ron Paul 5:135
And there are others who believe that government force is legitimate in promoting what they call “fair redistribution.” The proponents of this course have failed to read history and instead adhere to economic myths. They ignore the evidence that these efforts to help their fellow man will inevitably fail. Instead, it will do the opposite and lead to the impoverishment of many.

2000 Ron Paul 5:136
But more importantly, if left unchecked, this approach will destroy liberty by undermining the concept of private property ownership and free markets, the bedrock of economic prosperity.

2000 Ron Paul 5:137
None of these alternatives will work. Character and good manners are not a government problem. They reflect individual attitudes that can only be changed by individuals themselves. Freedom allows virtue and excellence to blossom. When government takes on the role of promoting virtue, illegitimate government force is used and tyrants quickly appear on the scene to do the job. Virtue and excellence become illusive, and we find instead that the government officials become corrupt and freedom is lost, the very ingredient required for promoting virtue, harmony, and the brotherhood of man.

2000 Ron Paul 5:138
Let us hope and pray that our political focus will soon shift toward preserving liberty and individual responsibility and away from authoritarianism. The future of the American Republic depends on it. Let us not forget that the American dream depends on keeping alive the spirit of liberty.
Notes:

This speech is continued from 2000 Ron Paul Chapter 2.

2000 Ron Paul 5:2 modern day Presidents probably should be hyphenated: modern-day Presidents.

2000 Ron Paul 5:8 the depression probably should be capitalized: the Depression.

2000 Ron Paul 5:12 Attacks on our privacy are an incessant probably should be Attacks on our privacy are incessant.

2000 Ron Paul 5:35 It is under the conditions of a weak economy that such government interference generates a reaction to the anger over the rules that have been suppressed. perhaps should be It is under the conditions of a weak economy that such government interference generates a reaction of anger over the rules that has been suppressed.

2000 Ron Paul 5:41 law abiding citizens probably should be hyphenated: law-abiding citizens.

2000 Ron Paul 5:41 nonviolent OR non-violent? The word is hyphenated at the end of a line of text in the Congressional Record but on Ron Paul’s Congressional website it is unambiguously non-violent.

2000 Ron Paul 5:42 privately-owned probably should be unhyphenated: privately owned.

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