The Book of Ron Paul
1997 Ron Paul Chapter 38

Command Society Versus Free Society

16 May 1997

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The SPEAKER pro tempore. Mr. Paul of Texas, the gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.

1997 Ron Paul 38:1
Mr. PAUL. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I ask unanimous consent to revise and extend.

1997 Ron Paul 38:2
The SPEAKER. Without objection, so ordered.

1997 Ron Paul 38:3
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, it’s safe to say that we now live in what we call a command society. We do not live in a free society where social and economic problems are solved through voluntary and free market solution. Whether it is food for the poor, homes for the homeless, medical care for the sick, we endlessly call on Government to use force to redistribute wealth and distribute our production of welfare, with total disregard for the conditions required to produce the wealth.

1997 Ron Paul 38:4
Is this misdirected humanitarianism, great harm is done to the very people who are supposed to be helped, both the recipients, as they are forced into a degrading dependency, and the working poor, who bear the greatest tax and inflation burden. In a command society, the government continuously says, do this, do that, and we obediently do it, but smoldering anger and resentment results. Confusion arises, because all the Government does is supposed to be good and helpful.

1997 Ron Paul 38:5
We are endlessly forced to get licenses for all that we do. Rules and regulations are all around us, from morning till night, cradle to grave. We tax life, we tax death, we tax success, and we tax savings. We suffer from double and triple taxation. Taxes are everywhere, as we work half the time for our government.

1997 Ron Paul 38:6
We meet government regulations and rules and paperwork everywhere we go. We can’t walk, talk, pray, or own a gun without a government permit. We can’t drive a car without bells and buzzers and horns and belts and bags, without being reminded that Big Brother is watching, just waiting for one misstep, while the rapists and murderers go unpunished. We are intimidated by political correctness to the point that an innocent joke is a crime and the laws are a joke.

1997 Ron Paul 38:7
Our businesses are subject to invasion at will by government bureaucracy without warning, pretending to save us from ourselves, while destroying our freedoms. As the bureaucracy thrives, the command society expands.

1997 Ron Paul 38:8
I see no evidence, sadly, of a reversal of this trend. We continue to tinker with the bureaucracy through disbursement and talk of great benefits of block grants and local controls and never talk of the philosophic or moral principles that permit the command society; that is, the concession that the arbitrary use of force to mold personal behavior in the market in our entire society is permissible.

1997 Ron Paul 38:9
Without change in our philosophic approach to government, we will find all the adjustments and revamping of the command society will not and cannot succeed. It cannot change the course upon which this Nation is set.

1997 Ron Paul 38:10
Placing confidence in pseudo-reform does great harm by postponing the day we seriously consider the moral principles upon which a free society is built. I am anxiously waiting for that day, and I yield back the balance of my time.

1997 Ron Paul 38:11
Mr. Speaker, at this time I enter into the Record this recent commentary by one of America’s leading television newsmen, Hugh Downs. During his May 10, 1997, radio program “Perspective,” this commentary was broadcast, making many of the same points I have made today.

1997 Ron Paul 38:12
BATF’s in the Belfry (By Hugh Downs) Not too long ago, the California State Legislature passed a law permitting women to breast feed their children in public. Legislators felt obliged to pass a law about this despite the fact that courts have already upheld the practice. Also breast feeding has long been recommended to women by their physicians as the feeding method of choice. And quite aside from the legal precedent and the medical advantage, breast feeding is the natural way to feed infants; obviously women are equipped to serve sustenance to their offspring this way and it is the safest way to nourish an infant. So why would we need a law to state the obvious?

1997 Ron Paul 38:13
A law permitting public breast feeding is part of a tradition of inane legal redundancies generated by America’s criminal justice empire. I say empire because legislators, by nature, think they possess, like Roman Caesars, the imperium, as if the laws they pass somehow wield supreme power over the universe. For example, in the past, legislators in Arkansas prohibited the river in Little Rock to swell any higher than the bridge. That’s right, the river, by law, was “commanded” not to flood. Wasn’t that wonderful? This inane and redundant bit of arrogance reminds me of Canute, the ancient Danish King of England. Canute put his throne on the beach and commanded the sea to retreat. You will not be surprised to hear that the sea dragged Canute, throne and all, to a watery embarrassment. Legislators, from Canute to Congress, can imagine themselves as imperium, because the power to create law seems as if it should include the laws of nature, or the laws of the universe, or let’s be honest about it, the laws of the Almighty.

1997 Ron Paul 38:14
I’ve also heard that, in the past, legislators once passed a law that forbade chickens to lay eggs before 8 o’clock in the morning and no later than 4 o’clock in the afternoon. I’m told this law is, or at least was, on the books in Norfolk, Virginia. Legislators commanded chickens, under penalty of law, only to lay eggs between the daylight hours of 8 and 4. (If you’re looking for “bird brains” here, you could have trouble figuring out which species had more of them.) I wonder what the penalty was for laying eggs after 4 o’clock? Maybe criminal chickens were threatened with being “cooped up.” To be fair, a lot of stupid laws are just old laws that may have seemed liked a good idea at the time but now seem quaint. When automobiles first appeared around the turn of the century, legislators rushed laws to regulate them. Since early automobiles made enough noise to spook a horse, several states passed laws that required runners to precede automobiles so that horse riders and buggy drivers could be forewarned of the approaching menace. I can only imagine what modem Interstate highways would look like if such laws were enforced today. I heard that in Pennsylvania somewhere, there is still a law requiring motorists to pull over at the sight of a team of horses and cover the vehicle with a cloth that has been painted to match the local foliage. I looked in my trunk the other day and noticed that I don’t carry a camouflage cover. I hope I never need one in Pennsylvania.

1997 Ron Paul 38:15
Many old laws seem dumb and dumber today, and are innocently amusing. Who cares if it’s against the law in Grand Haven, Michigan to toss an abandoned hoop skirt in the street? It may have happened in the 1860’s but it’ll never happen today because women don’t wear hoop skirts anymore. In addition to antiquated laws, some laws can be ludicrous prohibitions that deal with situations that are patently obvious. Is it really true that someone passed a law in Alabama prohibiting motorists from operating a motor vehicle while blind folded? What was in their beverages? And what about that Florida law prohibiting sex with a porcupine? I’m not kidding. This is supposed to be a real law. What were these lawmakers thinking? At least sex with a porcupine must be one crime with a very low rate of recidivism.

1997 Ron Paul 38:16
Obviously, hubris can propel legislators well beyond the asinine to the really dangerous. America’s burgeoning criminal justice empire doesn’t just chum out useless laws, it also creates unnecessary law enforcement agencies—whole police forces that we don’t need. We don’t need them because we already have local police departments. The DEA, or Drug Enforcement Agency is anything but local. The DEA performs a job that used to be done by the War Department during World War II. The DEA sends American GI’s into foreign countries and wages war. Prosecution of a drug war sounds like a policy hatched by Dumb and Dumber. Without a war there would be no need for the DEA, or its staggering budget.

1997 Ron Paul 38:17
Of course, the DEA does not police alcohol and tobacco. We have a completely separate police force (the Dumber half of this duo) just to deal with cigarettes and liquor. The BATF, or Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, is what you might call an “offbeat” police force. The name itself is off the wall?

1997 Ron Paul 38:18
You might wonder why we need a completely separate organization to police things that are all legal, especially when local police already do that. Local police have been doing it for centuries in America. But lawmakers, anxious to serve in the drug war, decided that extra federal agencies were needed too. We may have too many laws and too many agencies. After the catastrophes at Waco and Ruby Ridge, the BATF came under Congressional scrutiny as an unnecessary organization that sometimes over-steps its bounds.

1997 Ron Paul 38:19
When they’re not being investigated by Congress, the BATF is tracking down dangerous criminals and keeping America safe. For example, America was recently threatened by a naked angel—that’s right a naked angel—and the BATF fought valiantly to repel her. They lost. Kermit Lynch, a wine merchant in northern California, reports that he tried to import some Chianti wine that had a naked angel on the label. The BATF pounced. Agents told Lynch that pictures of naked ladies on containers of alcohol are forbidden. So Kermit Lynch looked up the law. He discovered that pictures of women in the all together are permissible on containers of alcohol if the pictures are art. The BATF had to backtrack when Mr. Lynch demonstrated that the picture wasn’t really a naked woman, it was really an artistic nude from a 13th century tapestry.

1997 Ron Paul 38:20
A stunned Kermit Lynch says “The BATF is in the business of judging art. Can you believe it?” In an interview, Mr. Lynch told reporter Paul Kilduff that the Kenwood winery in Sonoma County, California hired artist David Goines to do a label. When Mr. Goines came up with a naked woman standing in a vineyard, the BATF pounced again. So, a now angry Mr. Goines submitted a new label with the skeleton of a woman standing in a vineyard. You guessed it. The BATF approved that one.

1997 Ron Paul 38:21
How many useless laws and useless police agencies do we really need? Surely, we should throw out what we don’t need and keep what we do. Like the law that I’m told exists in Tennessee, that prohibits shooting game animals from moving vehicles. The law has one exception: whales. It’s legal to shoot whales in Tennessee from a moving vehicle. Now there’s a law that we need.


1997 Ron Paul 38:10

Everything after Ron Paul yields back the balance of his time, was inserted in Congressional Record as an extension of his remarks, and not spoken on the House floor.

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