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16 September 2010
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Thursday, September 16, 2010
2010 Ron Paul 51:1
Mr. PAUL. Madam Speaker, the liberty movement lost one of its’ true champions on September 7, 2010 when Ralph Smeed passed away from pancreatic cancer. “Making Statism Unpopular,” was not just the title of Ralph’s website but the focus of all his efforts as a political activist, columnist, think tank leader, and supporter of numerous pro-liberty organizations and causes. Without Ralph’s efforts, the movement to make statism unpopular would not be nearly as strong as it is today. I am honored that I was among the hundreds of freedom-lovers who were able to call Ralph a friend.
2010 Ron Paul 51:2
Ralph was born in Caldwell, Idaho in 1921. His family was in the ranching and meatpacking business. His first experience with what he referred to as the “mindless government bureaucracy” occurred when he attempted to register for military service after Pearl Harbor and was informed that he could not volunteer, he had to wait till he was drafted!
2010 Ron Paul 51:3
Following his military service, Ralph entered into the family business, becoming the manager in 1949. As a small businessman, Ralph had even more experiences with “mindless government bureaucracy,” and useless government rules and regulations. Ralph’s first hand experiences and his study of the freedom philosophy lead him to become active in efforts to try to change the direction of the country.
2010 Ron Paul 51:4
Ralph’s interest in, and knowledge of, the freedom philosophy was enhanced by his association with the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), the nation’s first free-market educational institution. Ralph attended a FEE seminar in 1965, where he met Leonard Read, the founder and President of FEE. Ralph was an enthusiastic supporter of FEE’s mission to popularize the ideas of liberty and he worked closely with FEE, eventually serving as a member of FEE’s Board of Trustees. Just recently, Ralph was involved in a special reprinting of Leonard Read’s classic essay “I, Pencil.”
2010 Ron Paul 51:5
One of the traits that made Ralph a great leader was that whenever he saw a task that needed to be done, or any opportunity to advance liberty that no one else in the freedom movement was taking advantage of; he would simply roll up his sleeves and do it himself. For example, in the early 1970s, there were not that many opinion writers providing an analysis of the events of the day from a pro- liberty perspective. Seeing this void, Ralph launched a successful career as a columnist in 1974. Years before it become commonplace to find free-market think tanks operating at the state and local level, Ralph started a public policy and education foundation, the Center for the Study of Market Alternatives. When the growth of the Internet opened up new opportunities to promote the freedom message, Ralph not only supported the efforts of free-market institutions to establish a web presence, he established his own site.
2010 Ron Paul 51:6
Ralph served as a friend and mentor to many in the freedom movement. For example, he copublished a newsletter with Steve Symms, who went on to serve in Congress and the Senate. Ralph remained a close friend and adviser to Steve through his political career. The late Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth-Hague and former U.S. Representative and current Idaho Governor Butch Otter also benefited from Ralph’s friendship and counsel. In recent years, Ralph has been recognized as the philosophical godfather of the Idaho Tea Party movement. Fortunately, Ralph’s influence over the freedom movement will continue thanks to the Internet and a collection of his essays that soon will be published.
2010 Ron Paul 51:7
As a writer, scholar, and activist for liberty, Ralph fought many ideological and political battles. Yet even Ralph’s fiercest ideological opponents never had a bad word to say about him. This is because Ralph was something one rarely comes across in politics: a genuinely nice guy. Ralph had perhaps one of the best senses of humor of anyone I have ever known, and while he was quick to criticize anyone, regardless of position, power, or long- standing friendship, who was taking a course Ralph saw as detrimental to liberty, he never resorted to personal attacks.
2010 Ron Paul 51:8
Madam Speaker, as I reflect on the impact Ralph Smeed had on the freedom movement, I cannot help but feel sorry for those freedom lovers who will never have the benefit of Ralph’s friendship, wise counsel, and wickedly delightful sense of humor. I can only hope that all of us who knew Ralph as a friend will honor his memory by taking advantage of every available opportunity to continue Ralph’s work of “Making Statism Unpopular.”