Ron Paul
1998 Ron Paul Chapter 40

Clean Needles And Risky Behavior

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29 April 1998
Mr. WICKER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Texas (Mr. PAUL).

(Mr. PAUL asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

1998 Ron Paul 40:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this legislation. It makes no sense to pay somebody, pay for free needles to do something that is currently illegal. It is very questionable whether it will do any good.

1998 Ron Paul 40:2
As a physician, I would have to agree with the opposition that a clean needle certainly is better than a dirty needle. I do not think there is a question about that. But I do believe that there is a message sent that if we provide free needles to do something that we are condoning or encouraging it. But there is also a strong moral as well as an economic argument against this.

1998 Ron Paul 40:3
What we are talking about here is lowering costs of risky behavior. We are saying that we will pay for the needles to perform this risky behavior. But there is another much larger element that has not been discussed so far, and that has to do with the concept that all risky behavior be socialized; that is, through the medical system, it is assumed that those who do not participate in risky behavior must pay for the costs of the risky behavior, whether it has to do with cigarettes or whether it has to do with drugs or whether it has to do with any kind of safety.

1998 Ron Paul 40:4
So, therefore, the argument is that we have to save money in medical care costs by providing free needles. But there is another position, and that is that we might suggest that we do not pay for free needles and we might even challenge the concept that we should not be paying people and taking care of them for risky behavior, whether it is risky sexual behavior or risky behavior with drugs.

1998 Ron Paul 40:5
I think this is very clearly the problem, and I do not believe we should be socializing this behavior because, if we do, we actually increase it. If we lower the cost of anything, we increase the incidence of its use. So if the responsibility does not fall on the individual performing dangerous behavior, they are more likely to, and this is just part of it, the idea that we would give them a free needle.

1998 Ron Paul 40:6
But there is a moral argument against this as well. Why should people who do not use drugs or do not participate in dangerous sexual procedures and activities have to pay for those who do? And this is really the question, and there is no correct moral argument for this. And the economic argument is very powerful. It says that if we lower the cost, we will increase this behavior.

1998 Ron Paul 40:7
But this is not only true when we are dealing with drugs. It has to do with cigarettes. I mean, the whole tobacco argument is dealing with the same issue, that we have to pay for the costs of people who get sick from dangerous behavior with cigarettes and, therefore, we have to come in and regulate the tobacco companies and nobody can assume responsibility for themselves.

1998 Ron Paul 40:8
Same thing with alcohol and safety. This is the reason we have so much government regulation dealing with helmet laws and seat belts and buzzers and beepers and air bags. So this concept has to be dealt with if we are ever to get to the bottom of this.

1998 Ron Paul 40:9
So, Mr. Speaker, I strongly support this legislation.

1998 Ron Paul 40:4 we might even challenge the concept that we should not be paying people and taking care of them for risky behavior. Perhaps the not is extraneous.

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