Introduction: A leading free-market voice and political leader of the free-market movement in the United States, former Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex) is also a medical doctor and a leading exponent of Austrian free-market economics. Dr. Paul retired from Congress in January 2013 after an unsuccessful run for Republican presidential nominee in 2012.
While Dr. Ron Paul came to politics somewhat later in life, Ron has had an enormous impact on American sociopolitical culture. The impact was initiated on a broad scale during Ron Paul's run for the presidency in 2008 when he competed with other candidates on the Republican ticket and received national airtime for his views.
For many Americans, this was the first time they had heard a message that was both anti-war and anti-state, yet delivered by a successful politician who had served his country in wartime and whose focus was on a strict interpretation of the Constitution. In fact, Ron Paul's insistence that Congress follow the Constitution in its legislative initiatives led to Dr. Paul receiving the moniker "Dr. No." Dr. Paul continues to refuse to accept the congressional pension to which he is entitled as a congressman, believing his acceptance of it would be "hypocritical and immoral."
After losing the 2008 Republican nomination to John McCain, Congressman Ron Paul founded the advocacy group Campaign for Liberty, developed the Ron Paul Curriculum and the Ron Paul Channel and is very involved with Young Americans for Liberty. Dr. Paul has also written several widely distributed books such as End The Fed and The Revolution: A Manifesto.
By virtue of Dr. Paul's education in free-market Austrian economics, his friendship with such luminaries as economist Murray Rothbard of the Ludwig von Mises Institute and his formidable grasp of the history of free markets, Ron Paul was well-positioned to become a leading figure in a conversation over the resurgence of freedom in America.
Daily Bell: Thank you for speaking with us, Dr. Paul. We know your time is short today so will keep our questions succinct. Please tell us first about the efforts you have you been most focused on since leaving Congress.
Ron Paul: I've done various things. A lot of people ask me if I've retired. I've retired from Congress but I'm probably busier than ever because I have a lot of projects going on. I'm busy with the Internet programming that I have with the Ron Paul Channel. I have a Ron Paul Curriculum, trying to get homeschooling moving along. I stay very involved with Young Americans for Liberty and travel to college campuses. I usually stay rather busy!
Daily Bell: Of the never-ending stream of "bad news" these days, what has you most concerned right now? What do you see as the most significant problem that the US faces?
Ron Paul: There's one problem I think the world faces, and the United States faces, which is a very generalized problem that I deal with all the time and I think is the source of all our troubles. That is the lack of understanding and determination to protect liberty for the people. If you do that you solve so many problems – economic, you have less war and all these other things.
But most of the time when people are interested in the most important issue they're looking for something maybe more specific and right now I think it involves foreign affairs. I think what's going on in Iraq verifies my position and the position of many others that have held for a long time that us being involved there and intervention in these internal affairs and squabbles around the world and being the policeman of the world doesn't lead to many good things. And it's coming back to haunt us right now. It's very expensive, a lot of people have died and after ten years, where are we? We're worse off than ever. It's getting so silly that we're actually talking about working with the Iranians to help us out in bringing about stability.
But it's not only stability in Iraq. It's regional. It has to do with oil. There are problems going on with our interventions everywhere from Libya to Egypt to the Middle East to Syria and Ukraine. It's just way too much and it contributes so much to our economic problems because it all costs a lot of money and leads to a lot of death. I think that's the greatest thing we face now. More specifically economically, I think the wave of the future the people will all of a sudden start talking about will be inflation, though I believe inflation is here because they're printing money like crazy. I think prices are going up in certain areas very significantly and it will finally get to the point where even the government statistics will have to admit that there is a lot of inflation in the system.
Daily Bell: Is the US, like Rome, doomed to fall or can the pre-Civil War laissez faire republic be brought back?
Ron Paul: I work on the assumption that you can save the republic and it can come back but not in a conventional way. Although I'm involved in political activity, in trying to help people get elected and stay involved, I do not believe the republic is going to be saved by electing two or three or ten more members of Congress who are very sincere about doing the right things. I think it's good. I think it's beneficial only in providing answers for the long term.
So I see the republic and our liberties being much further undermined – because they are constantly being undermined. If you think of what's happened since 9/11, our liberties have been taken away constantly and I think that's going to get much, much worse and we're going to have a lot more violence, not only around the world but here at home and the economic problems are going to get much worse. And indeed, our liberties and our republic will be threatened and in many ways we don't have the fundamentals at all anymore.
But on the positive side, I think there are a lot of people waking up. For once in the history of Keynesianism more and more people, and and the young people I've talked to at the college level, are realizing that there's something seriously wrong with the economic model of Keynesianism, this idea that you can print money and run up debt and it doesn't have any consequence. So we have a tremendous opportunity. The failure of Keynesianism in the 20th century shows that fascism and communism are evil monsters and they don't work and they've finally collapsed. And authoritarianism doesn't work, and telling people how to run their lives. And I think there's a growing movement. The freedom movement is alive and well.
Now, how we go from here to having a much better system it's hard to tell but it's not going to be gradual and smooth. I think we're going to have things get much, much worse here, more attacks on our liberties and maybe a total breakdown of our economy, with then an opportunity if we lay the groundwork for having a generation of individuals realize what can replace the system we have.
That's exactly what the left did, the Keynesians and the socialists. For years and years they controlled the thought processes and the thought leaders and they were teaching and preaching all this government intervention, the Federal Reserve System, pushing of interest rates and economic planning. I think the wave is different and I believe that if we continue the momentum we can pick up the pieces and have a much better society than we've had in a long time.
Daily Bell: How much of that waking up, as you said, can be contributed to the Internet? And do you see it growing worldwide or only in the US?
Ron Paul: I think the Internet is key to it and is the one reason why I have my Internet program. Fewer and fewer people depend on regular TV and you see more programs being deleted from TV. So the Internet is the wave of the future and that's one of the reasons the freedom movement is growing, because it's not dependent on the establishment. When I got interested in these ideas in the '50s and '60s it was very, very difficult to get any information but today it's so easy and it spreads like a wildfire. I think it's fantastic and hopefully, that is so, so big that no one government can close it down. I'm betting somebody who knows a lot more about computers than I do will be able to maintain some type of communication on the Internet.
It is worldwide. I've said it so many times – this is not a Republican deal. We're not just trying to improve the Republicans and make it a better party. If the ideas are correct they will be pervasive, just like the interventionist foreign policy and Keynesian intervention economics. That was endorsed by the Republicans and Democrats; they just argued over who got to be the managers. And I think this is what's going on and it's worldwide and if we continue to improve on our successes, it will influence not only Republicans and Independents and Democrats; it will be worldwide. I hear from a lot of people around the world and I do travel out of the country, who are encouraged and are anxious to hear the message.
Daily Bell: What do you think of drug legalization? Is it a good idea to legalize marijuana? How about other drugs?
Ron Paul: I don't look at it in that narrow sense. I look at it in the broad sense of legalizing freedom, the freedom of choice, and that includes everything that you put into your body, everything that you put into your soul, your religious beliefs, everything you put into your mind, your intellectual pursuits. We don't tend to watch and regulate those so why should we regulate anything we put into our bodies? I would just say legalize freedom. Let people make the choices.
The biggest hurdle for people to get over is the fact that if you legalize something it doesn't mean you endorse it. Just because I legalize freedom of choice in religion, that doesn't mean I endorse violence by some religions or anything else, or some religions that make no sense. But if they're nonviolent, people get to make their choices. And the same way on personal habits.
The key thing about personal habits and individual liberty is if people make bad choices, whether they make bad choices in their social behavior or bad choices in their economic behavior, they have to suffer the consequences and they can never go to the government and to their neighbor and use force to bail them out. They have to assume responsibility for it.
So I'm for legalizing all freedom that does not initiate violence against another person.
Daily Bell: You stated you see an overarching economic crash coming, so where do you see the Federal Reserve in that overall collapse?
Ron Paul: One thing is for sure, the Federal Reserve and those who benefit – everything from the military-industrial complex to all welfarists – they will not take it easily. Although we've made great progress in the last eight years and have actually had the bill in the House passed that would audit the Federal Reserve, the people who benefit from it are very, very determined not to allow that to happen. So I think we have to keep doing it. I keep working with that to make sure everybody knows what it is, because when we repeal it we don't want another Federal Reserve System; we want constitutional money and we want commodity money and we want freedom of choices in it. And that is the important thing.
But I don't think we'll legislate the Fed out of existence. Even I don't say it would be wise to take the key and lock the door and close down the Federal Reserve System tomorrow. It would be rather chaotic. But I do believe the system will self-destruct because, although we've benefited tremendously by being able to issue the reserve currency of the world, that is coming to an end. It will come to an end. It's a nonviable system. And we just have to fight bad ideas with good ideas and, as far as I'm concerned, the good ideas come from the Austrian economists and commodity money and freedom of choice.
Daily Bell: What do you suggest individuals be doing now toward rebuilding now what we want to exist after the collapse? As opposed to fighting what we've got now, should we be building toward what we want next?
Ron Paul: I think the most important thing is education, spreading the message, which is where we're having success, and getting people to understand free-market economics – why it's good and why it's beneficial to the largest number of people and the reason we had a large middle class at one time. And the only responsibility that each of us has is to educate ourselves. We can't just listen to the propaganda of the government or the misplaced education that most of us got from our colleges and public schools. We have to challenge that and that's the great part about the Internet – we can find those answers.
After each and every one of us did that then there will always be a role we can play. It will be different. Some of us stay involved in education, others in politics, some people become writers and then others might apply it to their investment opportunities, looking at investments and things and saying this is what's coming; you ought to be prepared. Everybody has a responsibility first to understand the system and then be available and be willing to share that, not only with your friends and neighbors but anybody who asks you for the information. And hopefully, these ideas will spread.
Nobody should be discouraged because you don't have to make sure 51 percent of the people understand exactly what's going on; you have to have that 7 or 8 or 9 percent of people who are intellectual leaders who reach other people and explain to the majority why you must go along with liberty versus authoritarianism because we now live in an age of authoritarianism, which has proven to be a failure through the many, many centuries of all the history we've recorded.
Daily Bell: What gives you the most hope right now?
Ron Paul: I think I get the biggest encouragement from talking to young people figuring this out. Their minds are more open, they're aware of the problems. And, once again, they're not the 51 percent but the ones who will come out and get involved in the many projects I have are very, very enthusiastic about learning and being involved. Some of them get involved in politics and some do other things like teaching. I think that's where I get the greatest encouragement.
And, of course, the places where I go I get more support from people who are probably under 30. But then again, there are a few over 30 that know better and remember times that were different, when government was smaller and things were better and people were self-reliant. So I think nobody can measure those numbers of people out there but there are a lot of people who are very sympathetic and we just have to persist. And I think that is what's happening.
We're having a lot of determined people, not only because we have the access to the Internet but because of the blatant failures. I noticed a big blip in interest in what I was talking about with the Fed when the housing bubble burst and there'll be another giant movement in our direction when the next crash comes, which I suspect is not too far off.
Daily Bell: Thanks for your time!
Ron Paul makes a lot of good points in this terrific interview. But two of the most important have to do with (1) young people's receptiveness to messages about freedom and (2) how the Internet is helping to spread the education that necessarily must accompany free-market thinking.
When one looks at what is going on in the Western world, one can be forgiven for being baffled and even disbelieving. The "matrix" that provides justifications for authoritarianism and even spiritual death is so extensive as to be difficult to comprehend.
It encompasses militarism, economics, education and socio-political issues. In each case, one finds justifications for the "leadership" of just a few. The cult of the "expert" is all encompassing because if we don't believe in experts, we cannot accept the mind-boggling totality of what we are told to believe.
Against this promotional background, people like Ron Paul stand out – speaking "truth to power" – and doing their best to undo the mind control around us.
Ron Paul knows it won't take 50 percent of the people to effect a change, or 10 percent. Five, six or seven percent will do. And he is busy using the Internet to reach those people, especially young people who have, as he points out, the open minds that are necessary to process and accept historical truths.
Of course, that's one reason Ron Paul is for the legalization of marijuana and other controlled substances. People ought to be responsible for their own actions. The interference of the Nanny State uses such "victimless crimes" to justify far worse incursions into people's natural rights and freedoms.
Here at High Alert we support the legalization of marijuana, as well. But we are also aware of the much larger issues that Ron Paul regularly confronts – and which we often write about.
Ron Paul is a thought leader for the freedom community, and as such continues to educate a younger generation that will build on his legislative, philosophical and literary achievements. There's not much in this modern world that is more important.