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Liberty Defined
April 9, 2014
Ron Paul

[The following transcript has not been edited and therefore may contain mistakes.]



Stephen Shmanske

Good afternoon. Welcome to our beautiful campus here at California State University, East Bay. I’m Steve Shmanske, the Director of the Smith Center for Private Enterprise Studies. The Center is what we called an organized research unit located in the College of Business and Economics here on campus. The Center was founded by generous gift from Owen and Erma Smith 20 years ago. Owen is struggling with health issues but Erma is here today and we’d like to express our appreciation for her family’s support over the years. Thank you Erma. The Smith Center’s mission is to spread an understanding of how voluntary interaction in free and open markets, individual initiative, and entrepreneurship solve societal problems much better than top-down government regulations and interventions. Our belief is that the invisible hand in the market and if you look closely at our logo you can make out an invisible hand that is better than the visible heavy hand of government.

The Smith Center hosts movie and pizza night for students and organizes free public lectures, which we call our “Speakers In Political Economy” series about once per month during the school year. Our next event is Wednesday, April 30 at 2:00 p.m. We will be featuring Ivan Pongracic who is the William E. Hibbs Ludwig von Mises Professor of Economics at Hillsdale College. The title for his seminar is “Pitfalls of the Regulated Society.” You can find out more about this event and about the Smith Center on our website. So please check us out at and friend us on Facebook.

Our event this afternoon is part of the Speakers of National Prominence Series in which we’ve hosted, among others, Milton Freedman, Robert H. Bork, Steve Forbs, Walter Williams, and John Stossel. We’re happy to add Ron Paul’s name to this list. We are quite delighted to have co-sponsoring today’s event, our friends and colleagues at the Independent Institute. I will now turn the podium over to David Theroux, the Founder and President of the Independent Institute, to say a few words and to introduce today’s speaker.

David Theroux, President of the Independent Institute

Thank you Steve and good evening ladies and gentlemen. I’m indeed privileged and delighted as President of the Independent Institute to welcome you here to the University Theater as well as to those in our overflow seating. We also are streaming this event live worldwide, so welcome to all those around the world. Our special event this evening is with Dr. Ron Paul who will be speaking on “Liberty Defined: The Future of Freedom” and we are quite delighted, as Steve mentioned, similarly to be cosponsoring this with our dear friends at the Smith Center here at CSU East Bay. For those of you new to the Independent Institute we are non-profit, non-partisan, public policy research organization located in Oakland just up the road and also in Washington, D.C. We sponsor in-depth studies of critical economic and social issues. The results of this work are published as books and form the basis of numerous conference and media programs like what we have this evening. Our mission at the Independent Institute is to boldly advance peaceful, prosperous and free societies grounded in a commitment to human worth and dignity. At the registration table in the lobby you can find copies of many of our award-winning books including our journal The Independent Review. There is also information about our Challenge of Liberty summer seminars for students, our student internships, and other programs, and we invite you to like us also on Facebook as well as visit us at our website at where you’ll find an extensive repository of thousands of studies, articles, videos and much more.

I also want to take the opportunity to thank the many wonderful people who have worked so hard to make this program possible tonight. Especially Steve Shmanske, Adrian Stoyan, and Susie Stidham at the Smith Center. I’d also like to thank Alicia Luther, Kim Cloidt, Keith Chris, and Rick Theroux and all of my colleagues at the Independent Institute, and I’d also like to thank a host of others who have been so generously assisted us in alerting others of tonight’s program. Finally, I want to thank the members of our Gold Sponsor Committee for their assistance in making tonight possible especially again Owen and Erma Smith.

A couple of quick program matters before we begin. After Dr. Paul’s remarks we will have questions from the audience. On the card that you received with your printed program please simply jot down whatever question you would like to submit to Dr. Paul, there will be ushers circulating up and

down the aisles to pick them up. After the question period we will adjourn and a catered reception with Dr. Paul will be held at 6:30 p.m. this evening in the new university union across the campus here at CSU East Bay. Tickets for the reception that include a copy of one of Dr. Paul’s books are included in the ticket price and/or you can buy copies again in the lobby.

Within recent years we have entered an arena of widespread political and economic turmoil that seems to grow daily regarding such issues as Obamacare and healthcare, economic stagnation and joblessness, runaway government spending, debt, bailouts and cronyism, failing schools, endless wars, NSA surveillance of everyone’s communications and increasingly abuses of civil and economic liberties that we can barely keep up with. But amidst this malaise there’s been one man of unwavering integrity and principled insight. This man is Ronald Ernest Paul. The former 12-term U.S. Congressman who enjoys a national reputation for being the premier advocate of individual liberty, privacy, limited constitutional government, low taxes and spending, free markets, restrained foreign policy and sound money. When others have been corrupt Dr. Paul has stood on principle. When others have been silent, Dr. Paul has spoken out. When others were cutting backroom deals for protectionism and corporate welfare Dr. Paul exposed them. When others have been lost in a fog Dr. Paul has been a beacon of clarity. A three-time presidential candidate, Dr. Paul was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and graduated from Gettysburg College and Duke University School of Medicine. He served as a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force during the 1960s and then as a specialist in Obstetrics, Gynecology in private medical practice delivering more than 4,000 babies. A New York Times number one bestselling author, he’s the author of 20 books including Liberty Defined, End the Fed, The Revolution, and The School Revolution, all of which we were pleased to have available as I mentioned this evening and they’re also listed in your program. Today, he is the host of the new Ron Paul Channel on television. He is Chairman of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. He is Chairman of Campaign for Liberty and a Senior Fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. A highly knowledgeable proponent of classical liberalism in the Austrian School of Economics including the work of Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek, Murray Rothbard, and our Senior Fellow Robert Higgs, Dr. Paul is known as “Dr. No” For never having voted to raise taxes or approve an unbalanced budget. He has voted against all foreign subsidies and corporate welfare and against regulating the Internet, congressional pay raises, the U.S.A. Patriot Act, the war on drugs, any increase in the part of the executive branch, gun controls, and the war in Iraq. He is a Christian, the father of five children including Senator Ran Paul, an unwavering advocate of pro-family values, and an outspoken opponent of the IRS and the Federal Reserve System.

As a result Dr. Paul has garnered acclaim across the political spectrum. Former Treasury Secretary William Simon called him “the one exception in the gang of 535 on Capitol Hill,” and Judge Andrew Napolitano has called him "The Thomas Jefferson of our day." Please join me in welcoming Dr. Ron Paul.

Dr. Ron Paul

Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you, I thank you very much. I thank you for the invitation and I’m delighted to be here today with friends. You know, in Washington I gave a few speeches but I never got applause so it’s good to get it once in a while, to help keep your ego up. But it is really nice to be here’ and we’re going to talk about a subject I’ve talked about for a long time and it has to do with the liberty and the cause of liberty and a lot of people will ask me, what are you doing now and what have you been doing? And I believe in my own mind, from the very day that I became active in speaking out which would’ve been in the early 1970s, I’ve always been doing the same thing and that is campaigning for liberty. There are different vehicles. I never quite saw myself as a politician and quite frankly I don’t even think they know what they’re doing in Washington and I don’t think you’re going to find the answers in Washington. You’re going to find them out here some place for the people to understand what’s going on and that is, that should be our goal. Understand liberty and then our government will change. But a lot of people have trouble defining liberty. I don’t have too much problem with that because I think it’s very simple. Liberty guarantees that you have a right to your life, you have a right to your liberty, and you ought to have a right to keep the fruits of your labors, which means that you do what you want and bear the responsibilities. If you do well, the government shouldn’t come and take it from you.

Then under those circumstances, obviously we would not have an income tax and that would be a rather good start to correcting some of our problems in this country. We once didn’t have an income tax, but the vicious attack that we had on liberty in 1913 didn’t only include the income tax but they did that other little thing called the Federal Reserve System. But if we want to enhance the productivity of this county and enhance liberty we would further understand what the monetary system is all about and why it has caused us so much trouble and under those circumstances we wouldn’t have a Federal Reserve either, we would do away with the Federal Reserve System. Many of us know and understand what it’s like to own our own lives and assume responsibility for and hopefully keep the government out of our lives and out of the economy, but we also have to understand what motivates those others who are doing so much damage to us, and if you look at all the people in Washington, the ones that I’ve met over the years a lot of them are not mean and nasty and purposely trying to ruin our lives and say, “Well, I hate liberty, I’m going to undo it.” They do it with good intentions but you know good intentions don’t necessarily do much good for us if they’re the wrong intentions, so I see it much as an ideological problem and the people who like authority believing and there are many in Washington who believe this, they believe that you are incapable of knowing what is best for your life and you’re incapable of knowing how to spend your own money and therefore, they believe that we need them to tell us what to do.

If you understand liberty you realize that we don’t need them to tell us what to do or what we should do with our money. Those who want to do so much good for us are driven by envy. If they can get people to understand the issue of envy of people who have too much, then we can motivate individuals to want to redistribute that well. So that’s a very, very strong emotion and certain segments of our society for many, many decades now, maybe even longer, have been motivated by the fact that some people do better than others and therefore how do we get it from them and how do we take care of it, and it fits right into the scheme of the political activities. That’s how politicians get elected. Pretending to believe themselves that they can do much better and redistribute wealth, but really it’s basically driven by envy and people who have a resistance to a truly free society if you talk about free markets. To really believe in a free market and understand how it works you have to overcome this natural tendency to have some resentment against people who have done well. In this day and age it’s a mixed deal because there’s a lot of people that are doing quite well that I’m highly critical of and I complain about it and that is the one percent now that are super wealthy—for the most part many of them have not earned their wealth. They’ve gotten to be wealthy because they’re on the inside track—they’re involved in the military industrial complex. They get their contracts from the government or they’re in the banking systems. Under those systems, it’s not envy to take that away from them but people who earned it, people who give us a good product and they do well and have wealth because we vote for them by buying their product that should be a different case.

But those who can’t understand this cannot overcome this temptation to be envious of others and want to take from one and give to another. That works until some of their own is taken away from them and they hesitate a little bit. It’s always somebody else’s wealth that they’re going to take away. But the other thing in a free society and if you understand what liberty is all about there is a lot of hesitation about liberty because people might abuse it, you might abuse it economically, might gamble and waste their money, and then they have to be taken care of. Others might take liberty and use it in a bad sort of way, waste their lives and their time, they might gamble, might have habits that we don’t like and they tend to want to think that vices are crimes but vices may well be bad and not good for a person and may be something that parents can deal with, but if governments decide that vices are bad and that they’re crimes we end up with the situation we have today, because it has been known now for a good many years, they tried to do it with alcohol, this was a vice to drink too much so we’ll prohibit it, we’ll put people in prison and make things much, much worse until we finally woke us a nation and repealed prohibition but just think of the harm done by taking the vice of people wanting to smoke something that was going to be prohibited and start arresting them. Think of the harm done by the drug war over these many decades. We fill our prisons, we put people in prison for never committing a violent act, some go to prison for life with never committing a violent act and this is because people aren’t tolerant. We generally are pretty tolerant when it comes to people’s religious values and we’re pretty tolerant when it comes to intellectual pursuits. Even if you disagree you don’t outlaw the teaching of communism. People read about it and study and hope it’s refuted by a better idea. But when it comes to habits people just cannot tolerate it they just think that if you do it that means you endorse it. But toleration and liberty does not mean that you endorse what people do. You have to allow people to do it but the big problem is, in this day and age it is assumed that if a person doesn’t take care of themselves that their neighbor will be obligated to take care of them be it through government force, and that is what’s wrong. If you want to live in a free society you ought to have the right to benefit by all of your positive actions, but if you don’t do well you don’t have the right to go to your neighbor through your government and demand that you be taken care of because you didn’t do the right thing.

Another thing that has happened over the many years to allow those who believe in government—and government as it grows undermines liberty—is that they’ve developed too much confidence, whether it’s in the social affairs like if government makes the rules they will make better people, and that is the goal. That’s a false confidence. This idea that the government is capable of producing a society that is equal, an equal society for everybody. That doesn’t produce equality except in poverty if you have an authoritarian government that demands equality. Sure, you’re going to get it, and most people will be poor, but the whole idea that the governments can do this and the trust in government is way out of proportion to what it deserves.

But I believe that some healthy things are happening today. We are seeing a shift where the American people are starting to wake up and not believe all the propaganda that comes out of Washington, D.C. Whether it’s the propaganda of why we have to go to another war or the propaganda of why we have to endorse these economic fallacies that exist in Washington, the American people, especially people who are getting ready to come out of college, they’re realizing that this is a bigger mess than they’re admitting. This country is in big trouble. We have a lot of debt and something has to happen with this. So people are questioning it, they’re questioning the government statistics and certainly I hope they question even more so the propaganda that the American people are given when they’re looking to get involved in yet another war. This is where we saw some positive things happen just recently. The President was ready to bomb Syria, and the American people expressed themselves, and there was some hesitation. Of course there was some hesitation because maybe the President had heard that there was a false flag when they said that al-Assad was using poison gases and it wasn’t the rebels that were doing this. So maybe that got out, and there was a hesitation and the President says, well maybe we ought to ask Congress. Strange isn’t it. All the sudden the President wanted to ask the Congress what to do about going into another war. I happen believe very strongly that we should never go to war without permission from the U.S. Congress and the American people. But when there was a pause at least the people expressed themselves and the President decided, well I guess we won’t bomb Syria today and also the evidence had come out that with picking the individuals that we’re going to support, low and behold in this very, very complicated mess in Syria we were on the side of the al-Qaeda who were out there trying to overthrow this government.

This is one thing that’s so wonderful about non-intervention. You don’t have to get involved in a country that’s in the midst of a civil war and having one side made up of 20 different factions and decide who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. I’ve decided all the good guys are back here at home that need their money protected. And of course we need to protect our troops and I was most impressed during the campaign when the statistics came out that the military support for our presidential campaign got the highest support of any candidate. This whole idea that the military’s in there only for fighting no-win wars is ridiculous. I was in for five years and that was never my motivation. Matter of fact, I was in the ‘60s and I just dreaded the thought of expanding the Vietnam War and that’s what happened in 1965 so it’s very natural for almost every soldier to say, no I don’t need this. I’ll defend the country if we need to but we don’t have to plan for this. So it’s common sense to say that we don’t need to do it. I believe the attitude is shifting and I hope it stays that way but I’ll tell you what, the propaganda machine is very, very powerful. Just think what we’ve gone through. Of course we had propaganda and the false flags of Vietnam, and why we had to go into Korea, and then also into Iraq. Then we got involved in Libya, and then when they tried to get us involved in Syria.

And they’re already trying to get the American people energized so we decide that we have to go after Russia. I don’t think we need a war with Russia to tell you the truth. But there is a lot of misinformation coming out and all the major media and everything the government says and the leadership on both parties, it’s all Russia’s fault. Russia, surely they’re no angels, there’s no doubt about that but I tell you what, we don’t have angels running our government, we don’t have angels running our State Department either. Because now it’s said that the Russians invaded Eastern Ukraine and invaded and took over Crimea, and yet our own government has admitted—part of the State Department said that they’ve already spent over $5 billion in the last ten years trying to overthrow the government. Of course we’ve been involved with these non-government organizations, pumping in money, agitating, so we, along with the Europeans, were behind efforts to overthrow the elected government of Yanukovych, and he had his problems but do we need to be doing that? It’s a civil war over there. If there’s a problem there and the countries that are touching it maybe they want to get involved but that’s a long way off to send our money and to send our kids and just a little common sense would tell us and a little bit of courtesy to the oath of office in obeying the oath of office we would be able to avoid all of these skirmishes and wars and deathly problems that we’ve had to face. The sooner the better.

Just recently we heard about another shooting at Forth Worth, second time within a short period of time, and soldiers were killed and the articles kept saying, “Well we got to get to the bottom of this, what is causing this?” And yet it doesn’t take a real genius to figure it out because when you look at it, if you look at the shootings and the various problems on campuses, but almost always the massive shootings—whether they’re military or not—occur with the doctors involved giving psychotropic drugs to people who are depressed. When individuals come back, of course they’re torn because they have realization just as I was pleased that they had a realization that a non-interventions foreign policy pleased the military. What would it be like to be sent over there three, four, five, and six times? Worrying where your next step is going to be and whether you’re going to get blown up, seeing your buddies killed, and not seeing back home a whole lot of concern about why we’re there. Just, “Oh yes, you are great guys, you’re all a bunch of heroes and wear bumper stickers and everybody is happy about it,” but that is a far cry from these people waking up and saying, “You know maybe this war is useless, worthless. Maybe there is no benefit to it.” And then all of the sudden they remember about kids getting killed and women getting killed and all the carnage and saying, “You know they never did a thing to me, why did I go 6,000 miles?” I am convinced that soldiers that are put up with that and when they are exposed to it, when they come back end up with a lot of guilt and so they go see a doctor, and unfortunately the doctor gives them these drugs and they end up, now we have a suicide epidemic, and it’s a consequence of the foreign policy. We’re not going to stop this problem by turning it over to the doctors. We need to turn it over to the American people who insist that our government quit getting involved in these kind of wars and exposing our kids to these predicaments that they’re in. You know on the propaganda issue there was a famous statement, I bet you many of you read it by Herman Goring and he gave it during the Nuremberg trials and he was high up in the Nazi regime but the famous statement is, “It’s no big deal to get the people to go along. All you have to do is scare them, tell them you’re going to be attacked, and if you don’t do it you’re unpatriotic and you don’t care about your own country.” He says it works every time whether you have an elected system, a factious system, a communist system, all the time. Just scare the people and tell them they’re going to be attacked and that they’re unpatriotic if they don’t go along. Well the most important thing is that we’re aware of this whole issue of propaganda, whether it has to do with war or whether it has to do with economic problems. I mean look at the propaganda to get us involved in Iraq. It was that we were about to be attacked by Saddam Hussein with nuclear weapons and yet they kept looking and looking and never found any weapons of mass destruction. So it’s difficult for me to comprehend why we don’t wake up, question what our government is saying, diminish the power and scope of government, and don’t allow individuals in our government to do these things without the proper procedure. That is what has to be done if we want to change this, and I see signs that it’s starting to shift and I see it coming from the younger generation, and I am very pleased.

You know, last week we heard that the CIA was going to have a report released, and they voted to have it released. Senator Feinstein decided that we might need to check it. She was enlightened, not because she’s against NSA or against drone wars but she found out that the CIA was spying on her and her staff, and all of the sudden she had an enlightenment. Actually, if you wanted to permit spying I think we ought to be able to spy on our politicians, but the politicians shouldn’t be able to spy on us. But anyway, she voted along with others to release this and that is good, 6000 pages. I am happy it’s happening. I’m encouraged that there’s more information out now than there has been before, questions about what our government’s doing. But I don’t think they’re going to send us out the whole report. They have a habit of making these announcements and then nothing really happens. So I am not overly pleased that it’s all going to come out.

But what about the change in position that now we should look carefully, which we should, at the whole issue of torture. But the question is—and I have one in my own mind—I’m not convinced that we don’t have prisons around the world still and that should be one of the investigations to make sure it’s not going on anymore, because we’re still arresting people at will in any country that we want to go into. Not only do we, have we, suffered the consequence of torturing people because we never got any information and that’s one thing the report has shown. It never produced any worthwhile information. Had nothing to do with the capture of bin Laden. But what does the torturing do? It dehumanizes the torturer. You know Khalid [Sheikh Mohammad] was tortured—what 183 times?—and he never confessed. I think it does more damage to us, the person that does the torturing and the country that permits it to happen. It dehumanizes us to think that this goes on, especially when it doesn’t produce anything. So let’s say we deal with torture and emphasize how terrible it is and try to stop it.

But what about drone warfare? The Senator is still for drone warfare. She still likes NSA. So she likes the spying and she likes the drone warfare, but under those circumstances it’s more than torture, it’s killing. Arbitrary killing around the world, even American citizens. So there’s a lot of reason for us to be very vigilant and wake up to what’s happening and hopefully persuade this President, the next president, or any president that we don’t need this type of a foreign policy. There’s nothing wrong with a foreign policy that I advocated once and happen to have gotten booed for: why don’t we have a foreign policy of the golden rule? Why should we not do to other, never do to another country that, anything that we don’t want them to do to us. Of course that would go a long way and that is certainly the direction that we should go.

We have a long way to go dealing with our economic problems, and Washington gives us a lot of false information and we have a lot of people in Washington that don’t fully understand economics, could you believe that? Most of them love the Fed.

One of the problems, whether it’s foreign policy or economic problems, is that we need more bipartisanship. We need these two parties to come together and compromise. I think that’s what we don’t need. I think that’s exactly what we’ve had too much of because they’ve been very bipartisan in supporting the bailouts. Very bipartisan in supporting the Federal Reserve. Very bipartisan in all of the things on foreign policy. Very, even still, very bipartisan support for NSA and the Patriot Act. All these are done by the leadership of both parties, and the reason the fighting goes on is over power. People want more power than the others, but they’re not arguing over the principle they both support on all these positions. What we need are individuals who will stand up to the establishment and say that enough is enough of this because the American people certainly are very tired of it. But our economic system is, I think in a lot worse shape than it appears. Stock markets are still not too bad they’re a little rocky. The dollar is hanging in there although it’s down. Gold prices haven’t discounted, and the gold price is up, but all not unbelievably so. The people are relatively content but I think we have a time bomb on our economics. I think the potential for a major change is greater than it was in 2007 and 2008 when many of us were concerned about the housing bubble, because all this money that is pumped into the economy produces mal-investment. The direction of the current money goes to different places so there’s a lot of mistakes out there and a lot of debt. So we took a system that was very, very misdirected with too much debt in ‘07 and ‘08, bailed out a bunch of people, and added more debt, added more spending, added more regulations, and printed a lot more money. And that’s supposed to be the solution. There is no way that’s going to cause a solution. That has built a bigger bubble and I think this clash that we’re on, that’s ongoing with Russia right now might open up Pandora’s box on this because they’re toying around with a trade war and sanctions and they have to act tough and at the same time the sanctions make no sense whatsoever. The Europeans are dependent on gas from Russia and Russia’s trading with the West, and I’ve always argued the case like the founders did that the more trade and travel and friendship with other countries, regardless of what kind of a government they have, the less likely you are to fight with them. So right now we’re certainly less likely to fight with China and we’re certainly less likely to fight with Russia, but it could get out of control and something could happen or somebody who wants to get it out of control could have a false flag and blame somebody for something else, and this could get out of control. The Russians are doing a pretty good job compensating for all the other nations of the world ganging up on them, because they’re starting to make deals. They made a contract with a large trade deal, oil for goods with Iran, and they were excluding, they were staying away, from the financial system and not using dollars which elicited an even more aggressive comments by our government, which was saying, “If you do that we’re going to put even more sanctions on you.” I think the real problem will be when the dollar is rejected as the reserve currency of the world, and I think we’re getting closer to that all the time, and nations like China and some others are in much better position. China has a lot of money in the bank and a positive trade balance. They are buying up the gold and they’re doing a lot better than we are. We certainly couldn’t do it, and that could get out of control and change rather quickly. There’s been a slipping and sliding for decades of the value of the dollar and the price of gold but toward the end, at the end stages of the currency destruction it goes rapidly, and that’s what would await us and that means interest rates would go up, and prices would go up, and our economy crash, and it would be a lot worse than what we had before in ‘08 and ‘09. But we’re facing this whole thing, we’re facing this problem of two worlds out there. We’ve been able to hide the breadlines. You know the breadlines are longer now than they were in the ‘30s, but you know you send them, you just send them a debit card, and nobody has to see them. But there’s more unemployment right now, or at least equivalent to what was going on in the depression. Only 63 percent of the workforce are now employed. So you have a lot of people who aren’t employed. We have 90 million people unemployed, and if you look at the number of people, the new people, the population increase since the beginning of the crisis, we’ve added 12 million people and of that we’ve had some new jobs in the last several years but there’s no net new jobs. There’s a couple thousand net new jobs, so 12 million new people are essentially unemployed at that level. So this is a very precarious situation we have. Over 100 million people are getting food subsidies, and we now are paying 27 percent of our income tax just for the interest on the national debt. Now the government doesn’t report it that way. They’ll report it about 17 percent which is very, very high but if you count the interest that you have to pay to Social Security because it’s—they pretend that money is there, but it’s actually 27 percent. Well no nation can continue to do that. Can you imagine what it would be like if interest rates would go from 1 percent or 2 percent or 3 percent, that would be very devastating and compound the problem.

That is why we have to have something in place both economically as well as in foreign policy and the protection of civil liberties. And it can be found in the concept of liberty. Liberty can solve these problems. Our Constitution can help us in many ways to do this, but I’ll tell you what, the Constitution is only going to be as strong as the people that we send, and sometimes we need a lot of help up there. For the economy, though, we are going to have to have something done and something available, and what we have is available to us because the free market is part of what liberty is all about. It means you have a right to your life and a right to your property. A free enterprise system, a free market, means that you own the property, not the government, that you have voluntary contracts. The government’s supposed to enforce contracts, they’re not supposed to undermine them.

Today we have a medical system where—due to government meddling—they cancel our insurance policies all the time when they should be enforcing contracts. There should be no fraud, and there should be no counterfeiting, but the government’s the biggest counterfeiter.

So we have an opportunity, and the opportunity’s going to present itself, because I believe that we live in a very, very special time. Yes, we’ve had our ups and downs and we’ve had tough times: we had World War I and World War II and the killing in Vietnam and Korea, and all these times seem to be much worse, while on the surface we don’t seem to be having that much trouble now. I think structurally though it’s much worse. I think the attack on liberty is much worse. It used to be that the presidents during wartime would undermine civil liberties but after the war it wasn’t quite so bad. The espionage act was passed in 1917 and Wilson used it against the American people, but then it sort of sat still until this president. Now he’s used it more than all other presidents since Wilson and it is an endorsement. There is no respect for our privacy. There’s no respect for our liberties, and I believe that one of the most important things that we have to protect is our First Amendment right to express ourselves and this is where the attack has been. With the espionage act they are attacking journalists, they use it to attack the whistleblowers—the people who should be in prison usually get promoted and the people who blow the whistles go to prison. We have it upside down.

On the issue of torture there’s a CIA agent, [John] Kiriakou who was asked to start torturing back, you know in the early part of this century and he refused to do it. He wouldn’t do it so they called him up on a charge of releasing information, and he was talking about what was going on, and he’s in prison. You know, he’s the only one in all the investigations; he’s the only one who went to prison over the torture, not the torturers. So I think this is where our real problems are. I believe people like Edward Snowden and Kiriakou are heroes and we should reward them instead of punishing them and yet that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re punishing them and calling them the criminals even though we write laws that are supposed to protect the whistleblowers. But truth is treason in an empire of lies, and if you tell the truth in an empire, that might be the tipping point where we know we have an empire if you start telling the truth and you get into trouble immediately. I mean whether it’s [Edward] Snowden or even [Glenn] Greenwald. They accused them of being traitors, and they’re pretty vicious about it. So if we lose these rights it’s going to be very, very tough, and I fear this because sometimes there’s so much intimidation we have, we have the direct attack by the government and the arresting people.

But what about this runaway political correctness? This is orchestrated by a media and a government that people have an opinion, which can be a perfectly legitimate opinion, and lose their jobs and lose their livelihood and have their reputations destroyed. I mean that is, I mean the First Amendment is supposed to not protect our right to talk about the weather. It’s supposed to protect our right to talk about controversial things, and it’s supposed to protect our right to criticize our own government. But right now, today of course, it’s very dangerous to criticize the government. We can get in trouble because now everybody knows that we’re being listened to. And the reforms that are occurring, I don’t believe those reforms are going to do much. Even if they get put into effect it means that the private companies who deal with our communications will be required to hold the records, and the government can go get them anytime they want. So when they talk about reforms be very, very cautious. Senator Feinstein, when that story first broke about NSA, she rushed and had a bill drawn up to reform NSA and until other members all of the sudden they got pretty quiet of her because you know somebody actually read the bill and found out what it said and it said that the NSA could do anything they want and they would be protected. Fortunately that was found and that type of reform didn’t hold up.

But the strength of our government and the wisdom of our government is only going to be as good as the people’s knowledge and this is the reason why education is such an important issue, because if the people know and understand something about monetary policy and if the Federal Reserve doesn’t serve the benefit of the people, and if big government and the NSA don’t serve the people’s liberties here at home, and if the Foreign Policy doesn’t help our national security, then this has to eventually reflect in our government, and we’re seeing some of that but it’s come very, very slowly. You know freedom is not a very ancient idea. It’s a relatively new idea. Matter of fact, recorded history is relatively new when you think of all of history of prehistoric man. In our history, recorded for 5,000 years or so, but it’s just been 800 years since we had the Magna Carta and since that time we’ve had developments and progress. Unfortunately recently our presidents have not advanced the cause of liberty; they did not advance the issue of the protection from prior restraint and protecting our rights before courts. They actually diminished it and challenged and took away habeas corpus, and that has to be reversed.

We once again have to realize that, yes, the Magna Carta was a great event. Another great event was the founders’ writing of our Constitution. Although the Constitution didn’t do what they were hoping it would do, at least it was a document. But in the last 100 years it’s been slipping away, and I see no reason in the world why we as a nation and as a people, especially with the younger people waking up to this and saying, “Why don’t we go a step further?” Why do we have to go backwards and accept this notion that’s been around throughout history that we need the government. The government is the divine right of kings and the pharaohs: that they’ll take care of us, that they’re always too powerful, and that nobody can exist without the government. I say that the government, like the founders intended, should be very, very limited.

Since limiting the government didn’t work out as well as it should have, then the next step is to consider that the abuse comes from the lack of quality and character of the people we send. Then of course, we have to work to send the best people, and right now that’s slow and tedious and not doing very much. But guess what is happening today? Because the people are way ahead of the government. I had run as a libertarian in the ‘80s, and I was pretty blunt about the stupidity of the drug war and had been in office for four terms, then I went back to my medical practice, and in ‘96 I ran again, thinking oh boy, they’ll kill me on this drug war. The Republicans certainly didn’t want me back—can you imagine what they did was when they heard I was going to run? I had told them I was going to run and that I would run against a Democrat and would take a Republican seat. This was in ‘96 but they quickly got the incumbent Democrat to switch to be a Republican and paid him a lot of money and the president, the governors, the senators: everybody endorsed him. Newt Gingrich endorsed him and the whole works and then in the primary I ran against him, and they ran against me—spent over a million dollars which even back then that was good money—and they attacked me for the stupidity of drugs, saying I wanted to give drugs to kids and all that. But it didn’t do any good. The Democrats did the same thing, but my conclusion was that the people were way ahead of the government. The people even realized that the war on drugs made no sense. And besides they had trouble with my family and my medical practice, trying to convince everybody that I was wanting to legalize freedom because I like drugs. But today the people are way ahead of Washington.

They’re ahead of Washington. This is because the people got ahead with the help of the campaign for liberty. They got ahead on the Federal Reserve, and every Republican supported my Audit the Fed bill, and we passed it twice on the House floor. And I can guarantee you it had nothing to do with my political clout in Washington because I didn’t have any, but the people—you and others outside of Washington—had some clout because you let the congressmen know, “Well look auditing the Fed is what we want done,” and they voted for it. So these kinds of things can happen but there are other things happening too. Take for instance the drug war. I think nullification is going to happen. The President, Obama, is supposed to be a progressive Democrat, and he actually talked about being tough on the war on drugs, and things got no better at all. But all of the sudden the various states passed laws circumventing the government and now it’s essentially happening that the government’s not going to come and start repealing all these laws because the momentum of the people and the consensus is finally established. I would like to see a lot more nullification of the federal laws, that’s what I would like to see.

Then we have NASA to deal with. NASA goes around the country, they have various outposts and build these big offices and headquarters and there’s one in Utah and some other states and guess what the local people have started to do. They’ve said if you build that here we’re not going to give you any water, and we’re not going to give you any electricity, and you don’t need to be here.

So people’s opinions are very important and can be important, but I know the frustration because I hear it all the time: “My congressman never listens to me. I write him this and this.” But he has to know that there are a lot of people, and if he does know it and he’s very political, he will come our way. So this is the reason I’m convinced it is educational activity that we need and we need a conviction in what liberty is. We need to understand where our rights come from. We need to understand they don’t come from our government. Our rights come in a natural God-given way and that’s why we have a right to our life and our liberties. Governments can’t give us those rights. It looks like about all they can do is take them away from us, and the one thing that the government cannot do in their efforts to try to make us better people is try to protect us from ourselves. I mean that just opens up the door to doing anything. They’re going to tell you what you want to eat and drink and smoke and read and what religion you can follow, because it’s all in your best interests. When governments are doing something in your best interest it’s always at the expense of liberty so that is the reason in itself that you say that government has to be limited, strictly limited, a lot more limited than what we have today.

And I am optimistic enough to believe that we’re moving in the right direction and I am of the opinion also that the opportunity is so much more available to us because we’re overcoming this propaganda machine of the government and the media. All that happens with our Internet connections. So any time you see anything where the government is suggesting that they’re going to curtail Internet services then we really, really have to work hard, and, hopefully, they will never be able to do it. Hopefully the technology and technicians will be able to protect the freedom of the Internet. Victor Hugo, many years ago had a famous quotation dealing with the importance of ideas, and he talked about the military, and he talked about ideas, and he said, “You know, if you’re a country and somebody’s going to invade you and you know that then you have a pretty good chance. At least you know what they are and you can have an army and you can stop their army. But, if it’s an idea you cannot stop an idea whose time has come.” And I think the time for liberty has come. I think the need is there worldwide, I believe it’s more pervasive in spite of all the problems we have. I think that we’re capable now in the next decade or two to change the attitude that yes, we need a change in our dependency on government. We don’t want to trust our government and, believe me, if the people had anything to say about it there would be a lot fewer wars being fought too.

Samuel Johnson talked about worrying about getting a majority, and a lot of people involved in the freedom movement say, well we have and I even mention we have to get the majority of the people to endorse ideas, but it isn’t that tough. You don’t have to have 51 percent in a position to know and understand. You have to have leadership, a small percentage as we had in our revolutionary war, but the people have to come along and that group of leaders is what Samuel Adams called an irate tireless minority willing to spread brush fires of liberty throughout in the minds of men, and that is what we’re getting. We’re getting brush fires set up. I meet more and more people as I travel around the country who are coming up with ideas and having different jobs and running for office, and they understand the concept of liberty. So there is a lot of progress, and we can’t even see it, but it is an idea and it’s the idea of liberty and it has to be one where we bring people together. Liberty brings people together in such a wonderful way, because you know if you’re talking about economic liberty, we have a bunch of people defending that and then you have social liberty and civil liberties and another group defends that but actually if you understand liberty you bring people together because there’s, there’s this tolerance about it. I’m not going to tell you how to live. You know I’m not going to tell you what to do; I’m not going to tell you how to spend your money. And if some people can recognize that if you tolerate somebody that doesn’t mean you accept what they do as being right. This really brings people together and a freedom movement, it should be very, very diverse, and the crowds that came out in the campaign got to be very, very diverse because they were, people understood that it’s open.

Now that we are seeing government failure, now that we’re seeing that an economic crisis is coming that we are going to see the collapse of this model which is an interventionist, central planning model that is not going to work, it’s going to fail just as blatantly as communism and socialism have failed. Now if you can see that and convince people that you still can have compassion and human concern for others by advocating liberty because the evidence is so clear that the freer society the more prosperous it is and the larger the middle class is. When we were a freer society we had a larger middle class, but our middle class is shrinking rapidly right now. So we need to convince ourselves and convince others but we need to convince ourselves instead of pretending that we are angels and that we can bully ourselves around the world and tell everybody else that America is an exceptional nation. When we’re an exceptional nation, we won’t have to bully anybody. People will want to follow what we do.

One of the personal reasons I like the idea of liberty is because I have this strong sense of personal responsibility—of family, raising children, and governing one’s self and governing in the family situation. In a free society it really allows the opportunity for excellence and virtue, and that should be what we seek. Some people won’t and they don’t care, but as long as they don’t hurt anybody else I’m not going to worry about them. But for people who are motivated for excellence and virtue you can’t have those with a government running your life. Or if you tell the truth and you get arrested. Or if you don’t follow some regulation—if you dig a ditch or a pond on your farm and you get arrested and your land is taken from you. But a free society frees up this creative attitude that is required that we once had much more of.

Today, all the creativity is designed for the lobbyists to go to Washington and influence the next piece of legislation, and how to get their bill out, and how to punish somebody else, and how to get influence over the financial system and the Federal Reserve. That’s where the motivation of all that energy is going. Just recently I saw some numbers on how many billions of dollars and millions if not billions of hours we spend getting our tax returns sent in. I mean how long are we going to put up with this? It’s such a shame and such a tragedy that it’s happened. Because I think on the issue of taxation that you really lose twice. You lose. If I’m the government and I come and I take your money, you’ve just lost—I have your money. But you lose again when the government spends the money because they’re going to do something else to hurt you. So it’s a double victory if we allow the money to stay in the people’s pockets, and they get to spend it and you don’t have the overburdening government bearing down on us. So this is available to us and this is why we should be encouraged.

After I speak, a lot of people will come up and there’ll be the question, “What, actually, what do you want me to do?” And my answer is not very complicated. I say do whatever you want. Just do something and it’s, that’s what people are doing, they’re very creative. I mean some people might be writers or some people might get into the media. Some people might want to run for office or support other candidates, and some people might support the institutions that promote liberty—and there are a lot around. In the ‘50s—and I’m sure David is probably old enough to remember—there wasn’t that much around. I remember Leonard Reed’s Foundation for Economic Education and a few more, but now there are a lot of them. So the opportunities are there, and it’s the change in the hearts and minds of the people that make all the difference in the world and the other thing that I suggest is that if you come together—because some of these problems sound pretty, pretty tough—it helps you not to be despondent about what you can’t do and that you can’t know what tomorrow will bring or the next day. But if you can get together with likeminded people who have an understanding of these policies and honor and respect what liberty is all about, you actually can have enjoyment there. So whether I’m talking to the YAL college campus kids or anybody else I say that you ought to have fun doing it and not ever get despondent about it because that’s easy to do. You can say oh, just throw up your hands and you hear so many stories, but things can change for the better. It’s possible, it has happened in the past, it’s beginning to happen here so look at this as just the beginning of a very, very positive change and I don’t think it’s just one little niche in the change and the freedom and I think it’s major what is happening because we’ve exposed government in the various forms, they’ve all failed, and we have now offered a more concrete explanation of what liberty is all about. We have more think tanks than ever before and we have the Internet to spread the message. It’s not going to be a Republican issue, it’s not going to be a Democrat issue. It’s not even going to be a United States issue, it’s going to be a worldwide issue, and we’re going to change the attitude of what the role of government ought to be. And when the government doesn’t listen or if the government won’t change their ways, then the people should just flat out opt out.

Very quickly because I think I’ve gone too long is that opting out is the solution to many of these. Just offer a choice. Whether it’s the medical care, or a monetary system, or a school system you always have a right to opt out. Just think of a few small groups that have been permitted to opt out of the system. The Amish and Mennonites. Now, maybe you don’t want to live the way they do and they got their rights because of religious freedom, but it’s not just religious freedom. There should be the right for every single American to opt out of the system and take responsibility for yourself.

Thank you very much. Delightful to be with you today. Thank you.

Mr. Theroux

Ron, we have some time for some questions and there are many. We’ll see how many we can get through. The first one is the President says, “we have jobs but where are they?”

Dr. Paul

I think he’s fibbing. No, we don’t have jobs. That one statistic I quoted was that there are 12 million new people since the recession started, and I think it’s 111,000 new jobs, but that means that 11,800,000 people don’t have jobs. So yes there are a couple of new jobs here, but when you look at it many of them are part-time jobs and low paying jobs, but we do not have a healthy, vibrant economy no matter what they say. They’re trying to, I think, talk to themselves by talking to us and convincing us, but there’s a limit. I don’t think the people are buying.

Mr. Theroux

Another question is, what is the limit to Federal Reserve money printing and what happens when we reach that limit?

Dr. Paul

What is the limit?

Mr. Theroux

To Federal Reserve money printing.

Dr. Paul

You mean the legal limit?

Mr. Theroux

Whatever, however you want to define that.

Dr. Paul

Okay, what is the limit to how much money we are printing and what will happen? You know in Austrian economics you have objective things to look at, and one thing is that there’s a subjective value of, on the theory of subjective value people put their subjective element into it. So, the dollar will have some subjective element to it. You know military power and wealth allows governments sometimes to print a lot more money, and right now we’ve been able to do it because we have the reserve currency of the world, and I spoke a little bit about that. Eventually, that will go. They really haven’t slowed up because they knew, when they cut back a little bit on QE—$85 billion dollars a month down to $55 billion dollars a month—wow but the interest rates never went up so they were buying something else. They were still fixing interest rates. So no, I don’t think anybody knows the day and time that’s going to happen but it’s going to happen but it may, I suspect it could come out of these very deeply flawed international and economic policies we have with the Russians right now that can get out of control. Our interest rates will bump up, and we won’t be able, you know it will be so devastating to our budget and then it’s going to quit. There’s no law, I mean if there were, if we were looking to the law, we would get rid of the Federal Reserve, have gold and silver, and there’d be no monetizing of any debt. But that’s not going to happen.

Mr. Theroux

Especially as a doctor, what is your view of Obamacare and what should be done about healthcare?

Dr. Paul

Well I think the easiest thing to do and the simplest way to understand it is to look for guidance in the Constitution and it’s pretty clear. I looked and looked and read it a couple times and there’s no authority in the Constitution for the federal government to be involved in medical care. But, you know we’re a long way from that because it’s involved 65 percent of the time, and more now with Obamacare. Obamacare makes it worse but the Republicans have already been caught behind the scenes putting in amendments to protect some Obamacare stuff, and the Republicans like prescription drug programs, so once again bipartisanship supports government medicine. But even in the campaign I was very clear on balancing the budget, I was going to get rid of five departments and cut a trillion dollars out, bring all the troops home and this sort of thing. I was very clear: if you can develop a transition what you do is you cut things like overseas wars and much of that spending, but you don’t cut the medical care for somebody who’s dependent on child healthcare or something. But people, even if you want to nibble away at it, what they’ll do is claim you have no compassion whatsoever, that you’re just a bunch of heartless people. but I tell you what, the heart is really on our side because if this progresses and breaks down it’s going to be a lot worse than biting the bullet a little bit. But Obamacare is not helpful, it’s going to take away your rights, the costs are going to go up, it’s going to be a monster and I am not very optimistic about that, but once again I would argue the case for the Amish/Mennonite approach to give you the right to get out of it and give you a tax deduction for taking care of yourself.

Mr. Theroux

Ron, as a related question, follow up to what you were saying, what’s your view of health savings accounts?

Dr. Paul

Health savings accounts—I alluded to that. The health savings accounts—and I’ve tried to check, with Obamacare—and I think they’re still legal but it’s more complicated, it’s more difficult to use. But the health savings account, basically, this would be perfect for a young people because they don’t want to buy this insurance. They’re the ones who are resistant but a young person could put away $3000 a year into an account and deduct it from taxes and save it and just use it for routine medical care costs, and then get a major medical policy.

Every day you hear about health insurance. It’s not health insurance, it’s prepaid medical care. What they’re talking about in medicine is like if we were buying our car insurance and the people demanded that prior conditions don’t matter, so if you have an old jalopy, the insurance company has to pay for all the repairs and the gasoline. That’s what they’re doing in medicine, and so it has nothing to do with measuring risks. So if they wanted to do that they should’ve just been up front and said all right we’ll put everybody on a government program. But this whole idea is, I think, another example of what I disapprove of so strongly, and that is the combination of corporations and big government. Whether it’s the military industrial complex, or when Bush pushed through the prescription program for the drug companies. Drug companies, I don’t think they’re screaming and hollering right now. The insurance companies, they’re getting all these forced customers. If they’re not making enough money because the government will force them to take care of all prior conditions, which they can’t afford, so then the government’s either going to give them money or they’re going to change the contract. So it’s a mess. Government generally has not done a very good job in regulating or running anything.

Mr. Theroux

Ron, the next question: “Is foreign aid ever justified?”

Dr. Paul

No and a lot of people in Congress, we had sort of an unannounced working together with progressive sand some libertarian types for being anti-war and I, of course, took the position for no foreign aid and no sanctions. But the progressives frequently would vote for the sanctions and they would vote for the foreign aid but they wouldn’t go for the war. They don’t realize that intervention is the problem and they always—bleeding hearts, you know—if we send foreign aid to Africa we’re going to help the poor people. One thing that I remember about foreign aid—just think of it—when people are taxed, they say, “We’re going to tax the rich,” but that doesn’t really happen, so foreign aid is taking money from poor people in this country and giving it to rich people in poor countries. That’s what’s happening.

Mr. Theroux

Ron, two related questions about the Constitution and the viability of holding a Constitutional Convention. One is: what do you think of an Article V State Constitutional Convention? The other is: recent reports suggest a Constitutional Convention could be called soon. What are the risks and opportunities of doing that?

Dr. Paul

Yeah, there are two sides to the argument. If somebody supports the convention you can’t be against it on principle because the principle of the Constitution is to have a convention. As optimistic as I want to be, the country’s not ready to have a convention and improve on the Constitution. I would be concerned about what they would do at the convention, but it certainly shouldn’t be illegal. Constitutions are only as good as the people. The odds of us having a convention and automatically coming out with a better Constitution, well we need to come out with better people is what we need right now.

One of the motivations behind the Constitutional Convention—and I’m sure there’ll be a little disagreement here on this—is to have a balanced budget amendment. And I think we’ve had some votes on it and I generally would vote for it unless it’s really bad. But when you think about that: if it’s just, say, that you have to balance the budget this year, maybe they’ll raise taxes, and that wouldn’t be any good. I don’t want to balance the budget by raising taxes. We want to balance the budget at a lower level. And right now think of how much is off the budget. We have black budgets all over the place. The CIA does their own budgeting. They sell drugs, and they run their outfit, and I mean it’s so out of control. What about the Federal Reserve? Are they under the budget? I mean they spent $15 trillion bailing out their friends, and we can’t even get an audit. People are waking up and we didn’t get it. So the balance the budget amendment is not going to deal with that. The only thing that really counts is the philosophy of government: what should the role of government be? And if the role of government is what it is today all of this stuff won’t help. The role of government should be for the protection of liberty and we should send only people that understand that and will do their best to protect our liberties.

Mr. Theroux

Ron, what do you say about militarized police?

Dr. Paul

They’re not legal. Especially when they’re militarized, when you think of militarized, you’re thinking of federal military tanks and equipment and army tanks coming in. I guess you could have a militarized police force that was designed locally, but usually they get the equipment from the military. The militarized police force is very bad, but it’s in conjunction with this whole idea of having a national police force. I guess on that incident today, well, let’s see, I’ve got it mixed up but there was an incident that within minutes the FBI was there and they took over. We had the, I never supported FEMA and the flood programs, even though I lived on the coast and we got hit by hurricanes. And I never lost very much politically on that because when FEMA, when there was an emergency like in New Orleans, the legal people came in, the feds came in, and they were the policemen, and they pushed everybody aside. It got to the point where the people in my district disapproved of the federal police whether it was the FBI or the FEMA people coming in, and that was very healthy. I think that we should, we just don’t need that. We just need people to understand what the Second Amendment is all about and things would be taken care of much better.

Mr. Theroux

Ron, we’re running short on time so this I think will be our last question. What’s the most effective way to reach young people?

Dr. Paul

They need inspired, and everybody has a different method of doing it. The one thing that I encourage in the campaign, because we talked about a revolution, and we want to be inspired by what we believe in, and young people are easily inspired that way and see something positive, see the problems and find out the answer’s not all that complicated—that there are answers rather than just throwing up your hands. But I also said that for a true revolution to work you have to have music. And you know, just like I was the least likely candidate to push legalization of marijuana along, I probably was the least likely candidate to ever have rap music promoting my campaign, which I didn’t understand, but then there was Amy Allen. So if you haven’t heard the Amy Allen song pull it up on the Internet, she was great.

Thank you very much.

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