Ron Paul Answers Your Questions, Part Two

INSERT DESCRIPTIONRon Paul

When we solicited your questions for Congressman Ron Paul shortly after the election, so many questions came in that we split Paul’s answers into two batches, the first of which was published last week.

Here is the second. Like the first batch, they are well-considered and interesting throughout; they will surely make many readers continue to wish fervently for a Paul presidency.

Thanks again to Rep. Paul for his time and insights, and to all of you for the good questions.

Q: What is the first thing the country should do about its monetary policy?

A: We should immediately audit the Federal Reserve. I am the ranking member of the Monetary Policy subcommittee in the U.S. Congress, yet I can get more information about the internal workings of the C.I.A. than I can about our central bank. This secrecy is fundamentally wrong, and I believe that people from all over the ideological political spectrum can agree on that.

Bloomberg News this month has gone to court compel the Fed to disclose securities the central bank is accepting on behalf of American taxpayers as collateral for trillions of dollars of loans to banks. Expanding transparency is critical and could be done very quickly.

Q: What are your expectations for the next four years under an Obama administration? How might President Obama’s interventionist economic policies impact our lives?

A: Unfortunately, I don’t expect many good things. I do expect a lot of spending and even more debt. To really cut spending and balance our budget, we need to change foreign policy. Obama’s rhetoric on foreign policy is better than what we have gotten recently, but don’t expect any real change.

He may be more likely to wind things down in Iraq, but he’s still planning on keeping troops there for a least 16 more months. He wants money for Georgia and more troops in Afghanistan. He isn’t going to bring home our 30,000 troops from Korea or our 50,000 soldiers in Germany, and he won’t close any of our 700 foreign bases. At the same time, he is planning even bigger spending here at home. I hope I’m wrong, but if this spending and debt continue, the dollar is going to crash and we will see the middle class in this country take a grave hit.

Q: Do you deny global warming? Is Obama right to invest money in green technology? If you don’t deny it, and don’t think Obama is right, what is your solution?

A: I try to look at global warming the same way I look at all other serious issues: as objectively and open-minded as possible. There is clear evidence that the temperatures in some parts of the globe are rising, but temperatures are cooling in other parts. The average surface temperature had risen for several decades, but it fell back substantially in the past few years.

Clearly there is something afoot. The question is: Is the upward fluctuation in temperature man-made or part of a natural phenomenon. Geological records indicate that in the 12th century, Earth experienced a warming period during which Greenland was literally green and served as rich farmland for Nordic peoples. There was then a mini ice age, the polar ice caps grew, and the once-thriving population of Greenland was virtually wiped out.

It is clear that the earth experiences natural cycles in temperature. However, science shows that human activity probably does play a role in stimulating the current fluctuations.

The question is: how much? Rather than taking a “sky is falling” approach, I think there are common-sense steps we can take to cut emissions and preserve our environment. I am, after all, a conservative and seek to conserve not just American traditions and our Constitution, but our natural resources as well.

We should start by ending subsidies for oil companies. And we should never, ever go to war to protect our perceived oil interests. If oil were allowed to rise to its natural price, there would be tremendous market incentives to find alternate sources of energy. At the same time, I can’t support government “investment” in alternative sources either, for this is not investment at all.

Government cannot invest, it can only redistribute resources. Just look at the mess government created with ethanol. Congress decided that we needed more biofuels, and the best choice was ethanol from corn. So we subsidized corn farmers at the expense of others, and investment in other types of renewables was crowded out.

Now it turns out that corn ethanol is inefficient, and it actually takes more energy to produce the fuel than you get when you burn it. The most efficient ethanol may come from hemp, but hemp production is illegal and there has been little progress on hemp ethanol. And on top of that, corn is now going into our gas tanks instead of onto our tables or feeding our livestock or dairy cows; so food prices have been driven up. This is what happens when we allow government to make choices instead of the market; I hope we avoid those mistakes moving forward.

Q: Will you run for a leadership position in the House Republican caucus?

A: I have no plans to do so. I don’t cut deals and trade votes, which is exactly what a role like that requires.

Q: What are your thoughts on abolishing America’s income tax and switching over to a consumption tax such as the fair tax?

A: I want to abolish the income tax, but I don’t want to replace it with anything. About 45 percent of all federal revenue comes from the personal income tax. That means that about 55 percent — over half of all revenue — comes from other sources, like excise taxes, fees, and corporate taxes.

We could eliminate the income tax, replace it with nothing, and still fund the same level of big government we had in the late 1990’s. We don’t need to “replace” the income tax at all. I see a consumption tax as being a little better than the personal income tax, and I would vote for the Fair-Tax if it came up in the House of Representatives, but it is not my goal. We can do better.

Q: Did former Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan really believe in free markets or did he fail to practice what he preached?

A: In my book The Revolution: A Manifesto I talk about an encounter I had with Greenspan when he was still Fed chairman. I had come across an old Objectivist newsletter Greenspan had written in the 1960’s supporting a real gold standard. It was great stuff!

At a gathering we both attended, I presented the booklet and asked if he still believed in its subject. He said he remembered the piece and still believed every word. I can’t profess to know what is in Mr. Greenspan’s heart, but his own words lead me to believe that he knew better than to pursue the policies he did.

Q: What policies should have been put into place in 1932 to stimulate the economy instead of the confiscation of monetary gold?

A: A trust in free markets and sound money would have made the 1930’s much less rough. Inflation caused the Depression, and the big government policies of Roosevelt exacerbated the problem. Murray Rothbard wrote a masterpiece on the cause of the 1929 crash and the Great Depression, and I highly recommend it to anyone with a deep interest who wants to read the authoritative view.

Q: Is there any part of the Republican Party reaching out to you? At what point do we dump the G.O.P. and leave it for dead?

A: The leadership in the House of Representatives and at the N.R.C.C. has been cordial, and I as a ranking subcommittee member am myself in leadership. Other national leadership bodies largely ignore me.

Where I get the most attention, though, is from rank-and-file members. Dozens of Republican congressmen from across the country asked me for money and support in November’s election. I was happy to support and contribute to several deserving individuals through my Liberty PAC.

As far as quitting or staying with the Republicans, everyone will have to make up his or her own mind. There can be value in choosing either path. I myself have no plans to leave the G.O.P.

Q: Why is it that, even in the midst of unimaginable deficits and an economic crisis, both our enormous military and our policy of drug prohibition remain sacrosanct? Do you think this reflects actual democratic opinion, or is it the work of powerful, but numerically small interest groups?

A: I think that it might reflect democratic opinion, but only because each issue has been demagogued.

Take military spending. I believe in a strong national defense. I want our troops here, defending our territory; I want nuclear submarines and an adequate arsenal of weapons that can repel any conceivable attack. What I don’t want to do is spend a trillion dollars a year maintaining an empire.

Today, our troops are in 130 countries. We have 700 foreign bases. We can spend far less and have a stronger national defense than we do right now. But if you question our foreign policy, you are branded as un-American. And we’re told that if we don’t “fight them over there, we’ll fight them over here.” That’s absurd.

On your second example, the federal war on drugs has proven costly and ineffective, while creating terrible violent crime. But if you question policy, you are accused of being pro-drug. That is preposterous. As a physician, father, and grandfather, I abhor drugs. I just know that there is a better way — through local laws, communities, churches, and families — to combat the very serious problem of drug abuse than a massive federal-government bureaucracy.

There are certainly some powerful special interests that benefit from our flawed foreign and drug policies. Now, do I think they openly conspire together to deceive and manipulate? No I don’t. The system is much too complicated to think a few puppet masters control the strings. But I do think we’d be a lot better off if we listened to our founding fathers and obeyed the Constitution. The founders would never have formed a D.E.A., and they would be horrified if they saw our troops spread thin around the globe.

Q: What do you think were your biggest mistakes in the primary race, and what would you now do differently?

A: I was always pessimistic and never thought we would get to where we did. My regret is that we couldn’t see how quickly things would grow and were not adequately prepared for the explosion in money and support when they came. There are dozens, hundreds of things we could have done better, but we all worked hard and did our best. And I know we built something that will only get stronger in the years to come.


James

Furthermore, the thoughts of the founders are essential to interpreting our Constitution. Many parts of the Constitution are vague and require courts to look at what the founders were saying at that time, especially in the federalist papers.

Matt

The reason we should look to the Founders for advice is simple. History always repeats itself. The Founders understood this, and that is why we have the Constitution. It protects us from runaway government spending, reckless taxation, abhorrent foreign policies, and infringements upon our civil liberties. These are the very things which led our predecessors to separate themselves from English rule. Never forget that those who we elect to office are PUBLIC SERVANTS. They work for us. I conclude with a quote from a Founder. This rings just as true now as it did at its conception.

"In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."
-Thomas Jefferson

Jamie

They also couldn't imagine cities, but I don't think that matters.
— tanGeng

Rome was quite large and I believe they could imagine that.
Ignorance is bliss. Hope you are happy.

Andrew

Thanks to Mr. Dubner for even having this discussion. Ron Paul presents the liberty message so clearly and honestly.

Jamie

“In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”
-Thomas Jefferson
— Matt

Here here.

UncleSim

Thomas,

We don't have to speculate. Those 'long dead people' were, unlike many Americans today, literate, and wrote their ideas down. They wrote things like the Declaration of Independence, their state Constitutions, and the US Constitution. We don't have to speculate, we can read what they thought, and we can tell that they were willing to lay their lives on the line for what they thought.

What about you? Can you read, or are you still waiting for someone on TV to read that stuff to you? Can you use only your own logic to refute any argument, or do you eventually fall back on the work of past thinkers?

I see the way you mindlessly worship the founders because you're a 'beneficiary', rather than because you understand the value of freedom, or the meaning of their words. It seems the church and school of Infallible American Government is alive and well.

Also, about the guy we elected - his dad (the darker-skinned of his parents) was from Africa, so I doubt his ancestors ever were American slaves.

Sorry to let so much reality into your worldview.

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22YearOld

Thank you, Ron Paul, for everything you do. As a young American, you are the only one that gives me hope. I can't wait until 2012. Even if Ron doesn't run, I know there will be a candidate I can fully support, even if they are third party. The country is waking up slowly from a deep deep sleep........

Kathy

interesting comments. especially that we are "maintaining an empire".

is that ever a good thing?

Michael Woods

He would have been the best president this country had ever seen. Kind of makes you question the democratic system of government when Obama and McCain end up being the main candidates over someone who actually believes in the Constitution and Liberty like Ron Paul.

Michael

thomas said:

"I always find it interesting when people claim that the founders would do this or that. First off, they could barely agree with each other on the basics of foreign/monetary policy. Second, they lived 250 years ago. We just elected a guy who probably had distant relatives working on their plantations as slaves getting a 3/5 vote through their master in the electoral college. "

His old man is from Kenya, I think. So it is doubtful that he is descended from slaves. Indentured servants, more likely, and on his mama's side.

UncleSim

Matt said, "The reason we should look to the Founders for advice is simple. History always repeats itself. The Founders understood this, and that is why we have the Constitution. It protects us from runaway government spending, reckless taxation, abhorrent foreign policies, and infringements upon our civil liberties."

Um, have you been paying attention? The Constitution has FAILED to prevent such infringements.

That's what happens when we stop expecting politicians to live up to their oaths, I think.

D Morris

Thank you, Dr. Paul.

Sadly, a large segment of our society has exchanged freedom for "free."

As long as our government is intent on handing out "something for nothing," we will continue this spiral down.

I hope everyone has noticed that President-elect Obama can't shake the lobbyists who have attached themselves to his coattails - as they have to every other administration.

Sincerely,

D Morris

Raskolnikov

thomas said:

"We just elected a guy who probably had distant relatives working on their plantations as slaves getting a 3/5 vote through their master in the electoral college."

Obama's family is from the other freaking side of Africa (his father came from Kenya after WWII.)

In fact, it's actually likely Obama's family/tribe back in Kenya owns slaves right now, considering the resurgence of human trafficking after decolonization.

Craig Royce, Boscobel WI

"Q: What do you think were your biggest mistakes in the primary race, and what would you now do differently?

A: I was always pessimistic and never thought we would get to where we did. My regret is that we couldn't see how quickly things would grow and were not adequately prepared for the explosion in money and support when they came. There are dozens, hundreds of things we could have done better, but we all worked hard and did our best. And I know we built something that will only get stronger in the years to come."

Q: Conditions are likely to worsen over the next four years, leaving the voting public yearning for sensible government. Will you be prepared with a top notch team in place for 2012?

Luther

I'm proof positive that hard-headed people can be educated. I was convinced for the first 36 years of my life that democracy was good - only in the last 6 months have I realized that democracy is tyranny by majority. The Constitutional Republic that our country was founded as is the answer to nearly every malady from which we currently suffer. I'm excited by Ron Paul's message of liberty and consitutional government and will assuage my guilt for not supporting him in the primaries by sacrificing my resources to defend the Constitution.

Texas Chris

I notice that here are fewer anti-Ron Paul statements this time around. Are we winning? Or did they just get tired of trying to convince us the current system is working...?

Matt

D Morris-

Good point about Obama not being able to 'shake the lobbyists who have attached themselves to his coattails'. I am not sure why he made a commitment to run the lobbyists out of Washington, while he so clearly depended on them for campaign financing. Well, he is in charge now and it's time to return some favors. He raised $639 million over the course of the campaign ($50 million MORE than all Republicans combined). That's a lot of government contracts. Here comes the NEW New Deal, and the New Depression.

source: http://www.fec.gov/DisclosureSearch/mapApp.do?cand_id=P80003338

J.P.

The only thing I would change about Dr. Paul is his age. While I would vote for him if he were 110 I don't think the media will let you forget that he'd be 76 while running for POTUS in 2012. If only he'd been born 10 years later this nation would have a shot at freedom after Obama gives us 4 years of Clinton Lite.

Kyle

The reason this man is not president is b/c he didn't serve the interest of money.

Justin Y

The thing about Ron Paul is even if you don't agree with everything he says, at least the reason he's saying it is because he believes it, not because he is influenced by special interests. I loved his message, and then when I researched his voting record, I was stunned. He actually practices what he preaches and I am preaching everyday about his message. I have loaned out his book to at least a half dozen people in my workplace alone and the message is growing. People are fed up. Now that he is getting media exposure and will end up a prophet when the economy really tanks, I expect big things in the future.

Waiting for 2012 in Iowa!! Go Ron Go!!