Ron Paul Straight Talk: Government Policies Hurt Low-Wage Workers

Fast-food workers across the county have recently held a number of high profile protests to agitate for higher wages. These protests have been accompanied by efforts to increase the wages mandated by state and local minimum wage laws, as well as a renewed push in some States and localities to pass “living wage” laws. President Obama has proposed raising the Federal minimum wage to ten dollars an hour.

Raising minimum wages by government decree appeals to those who do not understand economics. This appeal is especially strong during times of stagnant wages and increased economic inequality. But raising the minimum wage actually harms those at the bottom of the income ladder. Basic economic theory teaches that when the price of a good increases, demand for that good decreases. Raising the minimum wage increases the price of labor, thus decreasing the demand for labor. So an increased minimum wage will lead to hiring freezes and layoffs. Unskilled and inexperienced workers are the ones most often deprived of employment opportunities by increases in the minimum wage.

Minimum wage laws are not the only example of government policies that hurt those at the bottom of the income scale. Many regulations that are promoted as necessary to “rein in” large corporations actually hurt small businesses. Because these small businesses operate on a much narrower profit margin, they cannot as easily absorb the costs of complying with the regulations as large corporations. These regulations can also inhibit lower income individuals from starting their own businesses. Thus, government regulations can reduce the demand for wage-labor, while increasing the supply of labor, which further reduces wages.

Perhaps the most significant harm to low-wage earners is caused by the inflationist polices of the Federal Reserve. Since its creation one hundred years ago this month, the Federal Reserve’s policies have caused the dollar to lose over 95 percent of its purchasing power—that’s right, today you need $23.70 to buy what one dollar bought in 1913! Who do you think suffers the most from this loss of purchasing power—Warren Buffet or his secretary?

It is not just that higher incomes can afford the higher prices caused by Federal Reserve. The system is set up in a way that disadvantages those at the bottom of the income scale. When the Federal Reserve creates money, those well-connected with the political and financial elites receive the newly-created money first, before general price increases have spread through the economy. And most fast-food employees do not number among the well-connected.

It is not a coincidence that economic inequality has increased in recent years, as the Federal Reserve has engaged in unprecedented money creation and bailouts of big banks and Wall Street financial firms. As billionaire investor Donald Trump has said, the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing policies are a great deal for “people like me.” And former Federal Reserve official Andrew Huszar has called QE “the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time.”

Many so-called champions of economic equality and fairness for the working class are preparing to confirm Janet Yellen as next Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Yet Yellen is committed to continuing and even expanding, the upward redistributionist polices of her predecessors. Washington could use more sound economic thinking and less demagoguery.

By increasing unemployment, government policies like minimum wage laws only worsen inequality. Those who are genuinely concerned about increasing the well-being of all Americans should support repeal of all laws, regulations, and taxes that inhibit job creation and economic mobility. Congress should also end the most regressive of all taxes, the inflation tax, by ending the Federal Reserve.

Ron Paul Straight Talk: Progress Toward Peace In 2013, But Dark Clouds Remain

It is the time of year we feel a sense of joy and optimism. We are preparing for the holidays and looking to spend time with our families and friends. This year, as we look back, we see several developments that leave us feeling optimistic.

A U.S. attack on Syria was averted to a large degree because the American people did not want another Mideast war. Public pressure was so strong that President Barack Obama was forced to back down from his threats to launch missiles at Syria over an alleged Syrian government chemical attack. We have just recently discovered that U.S. claims at the time were based on highly manipulated “intelligence.” The President narrowly avoided another Iraq debacle, where the U.S. went to war based on lies and fabrications. This time, the American people were much more skeptical. That is good news!

A U.S. attack on Syria would have brought us one step closer to the neocons’ ultimate goal of an attack on Iran. The Administration’s decision to step back from the brink with Syria has consequently opened the door to an historic U.S. diplomatic engagement with Iran.

Yes, the neocons have suffered a number of defeats this year, for which we have great reason to be thankful and optimistic. However, it would be foolish to believe that a couple of defeats will end their obsession with American exceptionalism, war and the U.S. global empire. Though the neocons have had several setbacks, they will continue their efforts. And there are some dark clouds on the horizon that we should closely watch.

The Senate, for example, seems intent on ruining the Christmas spirit — a time when Christians celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace — with new threats against Iran, even as diplomacy has achieved what decades of sanctions could not.

While U.S. Senate efforts to include new Iran sanctions language in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2014 (NDAA) were unsuccessful, those pushing for more sanctions on Iran even in the midst of a diplomatic thaw have not given up. Last week, 26 Senators — drawn equally from each party — introduced the Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act, which would impose severe new sanctions on Iran and on countries who do business with Iran.

Perhaps worse, the Act states that it is the sense of the Congress that if Israel attacks Iran, the US Congress should:

[A]uthorize the use of military force, diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence.

Even though a “sense of Congress” has no force of law, these are the kinds of blank checks that lead to world wars. Though not binding, language like this is meant to establish U.S. policy over time, so that if Israel does attack Iran, enough Senators will be on record supporting U.S. involvement that they feel compelled to vote for war. This is the game they played for more than a decade with Iraq legislation.

The Senate bill is unlikely to ever become law. But even if it did, it would not succeed. Its demand that the rest of the world stop doing business with Iran just as Iran has shown such diplomatic flexibility would likely be ignored.

Congress — under the influence of the Israeli and Saudi lobbies — is seeking to derail the Obama Administration’s diplomatic efforts with Iran. We can be optimistic over the steps toward peace this past year, but we should remain vigilant. The war lobby will not give up so easily.

Ron Paul Straight Talk: After 100 Years Of Failure, It’s Time To End The Fed!

A week from now, the Federal Reserve System will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding. Resulting from secret negotiations between bankers and politicians at Jekyll Island, Ga., the Fed’s creation established a banking cartel and a board of government overseers that has grown ever stronger through the years. One would think this anniversary would elicit some sort of public recognition of the Fed’s growth from a quasi-agent of the Treasury Department intended to provide an elastic currency, to a de facto independent institution that has taken complete control of the economy through its central monetary planning. But just like the Fed’s creation, its 100th anniversary may come and go with only a few passing mentions.

Like many other horrible and unConstitutional pieces of legislation, the bill that created the Fed, the Federal Reserve Act, was passed under great pressure on Dec. 23, 1913, in the waning moments before Congress recessed for Christmas, with many members already absent from those final votes. This underhanded method of pressuring Congress with such a deadline to pass the Federal Reserve Act would provide a foreshadowing of the Fed’s insidious effects on the U.S. economy — with actions performed without transparency.

Ostensibly formed with the goal of preventing financial crises such as the Panic of 1907, the Fed has become increasingly powerful over the years. Rather than preventing financial crises, however, the Fed has constantly caused new ones. Barely a few years after its inception, the Fed’s inflationary monetary policy to help fund World War I led to the Depression of 1920. After the economy bounced back from that episode, a further injection of easy money and credit by the Fed led to the Roaring Twenties and to the Great Depression, the worst economic crisis in American history.

But even though the Fed continued to make the same mistakes over and over again, no one in Washington ever questioned the wisdom of having a central bank. Instead, after each episode the Fed was given more and more power over the economy. Even though the Fed had brought about the stagflation of the 1970s, Congress decided to formally task the Federal Reserve in 1978 with maintaining full employment and stable prices, combined with constantly adding horrendously harmful regulations. Talk about putting the inmates in charge of the asylum!

Now we are reaping the noxious effects of a century of loose monetary policy, as our economy remains mired in mediocrity and utterly dependent on a stream of easy money from the central bank. A century ago, politicians failed to understand that the financial panics of the 19th century were caused by collusion between government and the banking sector. The government’s growing monopoly on money creation, high barriers to entry into banking to protect politically favored incumbents, and favored treatment for government debt combined to create a rickety, panic-prone banking system. Had legislators known then what we know now, we could hope that they never would have established the Federal Reserve System.

Today, however, we do know better. We know that the Federal Reserve continues to strengthen the collusion between banks and politicians. We know that the Fed’s inflationary monetary policy continues to reap profits for Wall Street while impoverishing Main Street. And we know that the current monetary regime is teetering on a precipice. One hundred years is long enough. End the Fed!

Ron Paul Straight Talk: Hobby Lobby Case Concerns Rights, Not Contraception

This column originally appeared on the Ron Paul Institute For Peace And Prosperity’s website.

One of the most important cases the US Supreme Court will consider this term is Hobby Lobby’s lawsuit challenging the Obamacare mandate that employer-provided health care plans must cover abortion and contraceptives. Hobby Lobby, a corporation owned and managed by a traditional Christian family, argues that the mandate violates their First Amendment rights.

Much of the discussion has focused on whether a corporation such as Hobby Lobby can even have First Amendment rights. But the issue of “corporate personhood” is a smokescreen. Hobby Lobby’s corporate status has no bearing on whether under Obamacare, Hobby Lobby’s owners, about whose personhood there is no doubt, have a right to run their business in a manner consistent with their moral beliefs. If the form by which Hobby Lobby did business was relevant to its right to operate free of federal interference, then Hobby Lobby could avoid the Obamacare mandate by simply reorganizing itself as a partnership or sole proprietorship.

Some Obamacare supporters cast this case as a conflict between Hobby Lobby’s First Amendment rights and the rights of its employees to contraception and abortion. Hobby Lobby is not trying to stop its employees from obtaining contraceptives and abortions; it is simply asking that the government not force it to pay for them.

Forcing Hobby Lobby to pay for abortion services is especially offensive because Hobby Lobby’s owners consider abortion a form of murder. Those who, like me, agree that abortion is an act of violence against an innocent person, will side with Hobby Lobby. However, this case is not about the legality of abortion. It is about whether someone can have a “right” to force someone else to provide him with a good or service.  Therefore, even those who support legal abortion should at least support a business’s right to choose to not subsidize it.

Supporters of the mandate claim Congress has the power to create rights to privately-provided goods and services. They also say that Congress has the power to legislatively override the rights of religious liberty, property, and contract. It is fair to ask what is the source of Congress’s power to create new rights. It certainly does not originate in the Declaration of Independence, which expressly denies that rights come from the government; or from the United Stares Constitution, which nowhere granted government the power to redistribute or create artificial rights.

The principle that Government can force businesses to violate their religious principals even if those principles conflict with civil law could be applied in ways some Obamacare supporters may find objectionable. For example, what if the government argued that the Pentagon’s need for some products produced by a Quaker-owned business trumped the Quaker owner’s objections to war?

The hypothetical example above shows just how radical and dangerous are arguments in support of the Obamacare abortion and contraception mandate. If Hobby Lobby loses, the US Supreme Court will have endorsed the idea that the federal government can force individuals to violate their most sacred religious principles to satisfy any government demands. The central question of the Hobby Lobby case, then, is whether religious liberty will continue to be meaningful in this country. For what good is a religious liberty that protects your rights to attend a worship service, but allows the government to force you to live in opposition to the values preached at those services? This is why all supporters of liberty and limited government—regardless of their views on the morality of contraception—should be on the side of Hobby Lobby.

Ron Paul Straight Talk: You Cannot Negotiate With Iran?

You cannot negotiate with Iran. That is what they told us for years. The Iranian leadership is too fanatical, they are not rational actors, they are “not like us.” One U.S. official even recently said that deception is part of the Iranian DNA. But just over a week ago negotiations between the five permanent UN Security Council Members plus Germany and the Iranians produced an historic agreement that may be first step toward a new era in US relations with the Middle East.

As Middle East expert Eric Margolis pointed out this week, for Iran’s major concessions it will only receive “$7 billion — of its own money, which has been frozen abroad by U.S.-led sanctions.” That sounds like quite a bit of compromise for such a “fanatical” country.

Earlier this summer the same people made the same arguments about Syria. You cannot negotiate with Syrian President Assad, they said. He is insane; he is another Hitler. But not only was it possible, a deal was signed ending the threat of a US strike in exchange for Syria agreeing to give up its chemical weapons and the ability to manufacture new ones. Syria upheld its end of the agreement and the chemicals were all accounted for on schedule.

Why have the interventionists, the neocons, and the special interest groups claimed for so long that negotiation and diplomacy was tantamount to surrender; that countries such as Iran and Syria “only understand force”? It is because these groups are afraid of diplomacy. They do not want a peaceful resolution to these conflicts. They see U.S. foreign relations only in the starkest terms: do what we say and we will give you aid, disobey us and we will bomb you.

Now the warmongers who call themselves “foreign policy experts” have been exposed. The whole world sees that they are wrong. Their advice is bad. Their limited vision of how foreign affairs should be conducted is actually dangerous to the United States. It is now clear that there are workable alternatives.

As with the U.S. threats against Syria, public opinion polls on talks with Iran demonstrate that the American people are solidly behind diplomacy and opposed to another war. According to one recent poll, Americans support the deal reached with Iran by a margin of two-to-one.

Congress, however, is once again far behind the American people. Even as U.S. negotiators were reaching agreement with their Iranian counterparts, U.S. representatives and Senators were drafting legislation to increase sanctions on Iran. Instead of listening to the American people, many in Congress seem attached to special interests like the Israel and Saudi lobbies, which oppose anything less than full Iranian capitulation. Israel refuses to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty yet it seeks to dictate the rules of the treaty to those who have signed it. Saudi Arabia is desperate to control the region politically and economically, and it views an Iran that is free to sell oil and other products on the open market as a threat to Saudi power.

For too long both Israel and the Saudis have benefited from a US military guarantee. It has created “moral hazard” that only encourages more belligerent behavior on both of their parts. It remains to be seen whether this six month trial period will develop into a permanent move toward normalization of relations with Iran. What if Congress refuses to give Iran its own money back? But we are moving in the right direction and we should be optimistic.

A better U.S. relationship with Iran may signal the beginning of the end of U.S. meddling in the region and serve as an incentive for Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the Gulf States to solve their problems themselves. This would be a great boost to U.S. national security, just as an Iran open to U.S. business and trade would be a great boost to our economic security. Is peace finally breaking out? Let’s hope so.

Ron Paul Straight Talk: Can Karzai Save Us?

After a year of talks over the post-2014 U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, the US Administration announced last week that a new agreement had finally been reached. Under the deal worked out with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the U.S. would keep thousands of troops on nine military bases for at least the next ten years.

It is clear that the Obama Administration badly wants this deal. Karzai, sensing this, even demanded that the U.S. president send a personal letter promising that the U.S. would respect the dignity of the Afghan people if it were allowed to remain in the country. It was strange to see the U.S. president go to such lengths for a deal that would mean billions more U.S. dollars to Karzai and his cronies, and a U.S. military that would continue to prop up the regime in Kabul.

Just as the deal was announced by Secretary of State John Kerry and ready to sign, however, Karzai did an abrupt about-face. No signed deal until after the next presidential elections in the spring, he announced to a gathering of tribal elders, much to the further embarrassment and dismay of the U.S. side. The U.S. Administration had demanded a signed deal by December. What may happen next is anybody’s guess. The U.S. threatens to pull out completely if the deal is not signed by the end of this year.

Karzai should be wary of his actions. It may become unhealthy for him. The U.S. has a bad reputation for not looking kindly on puppet dictators who demand independence from us.

Yet Karzai’s behavior may have the unintended benefit of saving the U.S. government from its own worst interventionist instincts. The U.S. desire to continue its military presence in Afghanistan — with up to 10,000 troops — is largely about keeping up the false impression that the Afghan war, the longest in U.S. history, has not been a total, catastrophic failure. Maintaining a heavy U.S. presence delays that realization, and with it the inevitable conclusion that so many lives have been lost and wasted in vain. It is a bitter pill that this president, who called Afghanistan “the good war,” would rather not have to swallow.

The Administration has argued that U.S. troops must remain in Afghanistan to continue the fight against al-Qaeda. But al-Qaeda has virtually disappeared from Afghanistan. What remains is the Taliban and the various tribes that have been involved in a power struggle ever since the Soviets left almost a quarter of a century ago. In other words, twelve years later we are back to the starting point in Afghanistan.

Where has al-Qaeda gone if not in Afghanistan? They have branched out to other areas where opportunity has been provided by U.S. intervention. Iraq had no al-Qaeda presence before the 2003 US invasion. Now al-Qaeda and its affiliates have turned Iraq into a bloodbath, where thousands are killed and wounded every month. The latest fertile ground for al-Qaeda and its allies is Syria, where they have found that U.S. support, weapons, and intelligence is going to their side in the ongoing war to overthrow the Syrian government.

In fact, much of the U.S. government’s desire for an ongoing military presence in Afghanistan has to do with keeping money flowing to the military industrial complex. Maintaining nine U.S. military bases in Afghanistan and providing military aid and training to Afghan forces will consume billions of dollars over the next decade. The military contractors are all too willing to continue to enrich themselves at the expense of the productive sectors of the U.S. economy.

Addressing Afghan tribal elders last week, Karzai is reported to have expressed disappointment with U.S. assistance thus far: “I demand tanks from them, and they give us pickup trucks, which I can get myself from Japan… I don’t trust the U.S., and the U.S. doesn’t trust me.”

Let us hope that Karzai sticks to his game with Washington. Let the Obama Administration have no choice but to walk away from this twelve-year nightmare. Then we can finally just march out.

Ron Paul Straight Talk: The Fed Steals From The Poor To Give To The Rich

Last Thursday the Senate Banking Committee held hearings on Janet Yellen’s nomination as Federal Reserve Board Chairman. As expected, Ms. Yellen indicated that she would continue the Fed’s “quantitative easing” (QE) polices, despite QE’s failure to improve the economy. Coincidentally, two days before the Yellen hearings, Andrew Huszar, an ex-Fed official, publicly apologized to the American people for his role in QE. Mr. Huszar called QE “the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time.”

As recently as five years ago, it would have been unheard of for a Wall Street insider and former Fed official to speak so bluntly about how the Fed acts as a reverse Robin Hood. But a quick glance at the latest unemployment numbers shows that QE is not benefiting the average American. It is increasingly obvious that the Fed’s post-2008 policies of bailouts, money printing, and bond buying benefited the big banks and the politically-connected investment firms. QE is such a blatant example of crony capitalism that it makes Solyndra look like a shining example of a pure free market!

It would be a mistake to think that QE is the first time the Fed’s policies have benefited the well-to-do at the expense of the average American. The Fed’s polices have always benefited crony capitalists and big spending politicians at the expense of the average American.

By manipulating the money supply and the interest rate, Federal Reserve polices create inflation and thereby erode the value of the currency. Since the Federal Reserve opened its doors one hundred years ago, the dollar has lost over 95 percent of its purchasing power —that’s right, today you need $23.70 to buy what one dollar bought in 1913!

As pointed out by the economists of the Austrian School, the creation of new money does not impact everyone equally. The well-connected benefit from inflation, as they receive the newly-created money first, before general price increases have spread through the economy. It is obvious, then, that middle- and working-class Americans are hardest hit by the rising level of prices.

Congress also benefits from the devaluation of the currency, as it allows them to increase welfare- and warfare-spending without directly taxing the people. Instead, the increase is only felt via the hidden “inflation tax.” I have often said that the inflation tax is one of the worst taxes because it is hidden and because it is regressive. Of course, there is a limit to how long the Fed can facilitate big government spending without causing an economic crisis.

Far from promoting a sound economy for all, the Federal Reserve is the main cause of the boom-and-bust economy, as well as the leading facilitator of big government and crony capitalism. Fortunately, in recent years more Americans have become aware of how the Fed is impacting their lives. These Americans have joined efforts to educate their fellow citizens on the dangers of the Federal Reserve and have joined efforts to bring transparency to the Federal Reserve by passing the Audit the Fed bill.

Auditing the Fed is an excellent first step toward restoring a monetary policy that works for the benefit of the American people, not the special interests. Another important step is to repeal legal tender laws that restrict the ability of the people to use the currency of their choice. This would allow Americans to protect themselves from the effects of the Fed’s polices. Auditing and ending the Fed, and allowing Americans to use the currency of their choice, must be a priority for anyone serious about restoring peace, prosperity, and liberty.

Ron Paul Straight Talk: Chained Consumer Price Index Chains Taxpayers

One of the least discussed, but potentially most significant, provisions in President Obama’s budget is the use of the “chained consumer price index” (chained CPI), to measure the effect of inflation on people’s standard of living. Chained CPI is an effort to alter the perceived impact of inflation via the gimmick of “full substitution.” This is the assumption that when the price of one consumer product increases, consumers will simply substitute a similar, lower-cost product with no adverse effect. Thus, the government decides your standard of living is not affected if you can no longer afford to eat steak, as long as you can afford to eat hamburger.

The problem with “full substitution” should be obvious to anyone not on the government payroll. Since consumers did not choose to buy lower-priced beef before inflation raised the price of steak, they obviously preferred steak. So if the Federal Reserve’s policies create inflation that forces you to purchase hamburger instead of steak, your standard of living is lowered. CPI already uses this sort of substitution to mask the costs of inflation, but chained CPI uses those substitutions more frequently, thereby lowering the reported rate of inflation.

Supporters of chained CPI also argue that the government should take into account technology and other advances that enhance the quality of the products we buy. By this theory, increasing prices signal an increase in our standard of living! While it is certainly true that advances in technology improve our standard of living, it is also true that, left undisturbed, market processes tend to lowerthe prices of goods. Remember the mobile phones from the 1980s? They had limited service, constantly needed charging, and were extremely expensive. Today, almost all Americans can easily afford a mobile device to make and receive calls, texts, and e-mails, as well as use the Internet, watch movies, read books, and more.

The same process occurred with personal computers, cars, and numerous other products. If left alone, the operations of the market place will deliver higher quality and lower prices. It is only when the government interferes with the operation of the market, especially via fiat money, that consumers must contend with constant price increases.

The goal of chained CPI is to decrease the government’s obligation to meet its promise to keep up with the cost of living in programs like Social Security. But it does not prevent individuals who have a nominal increase in income from being pushed into a higher income bracket. Both are achieved without a vote of Congress.

Noted financial analyst Peter Schiff correctly calls chained CPI a measurement of the cost of survival. Instead of using inflation statistics as a political ploy to raise taxes and artificially cut spending, the President and Congress should use a measurement that actually captures the eroding standard of living caused by the Federal Reserve’s inflationary policies. Changing government statistics to exploit the decline in the American way of life and benefit big spending politicians and their cronies in the big banks does nothing but harm the American people.

What Cannot Be Said About Iraq

In this week’s “Texas Straight Talk,” Ron Paul takes a look at the hamster wheel of American interventionist policy in the Middle East and points out its senseless, repetitive, destabilizing influence. Never mind that our leaders know exactly what they’re doing, even if they’ll never admit it.

October was Iraq’s deadliest month since April, 2008. In those five and a half years, not only has there been no improvement in Iraq’s security situation, but things have gotten much worse. More than 1,000 people were killed in Iraq last month, the vast majority of them civilians. Another 1,600 were wounded, as car bombs, shootings, and other attacks continue to maim and murder.

As post-“liberation” Iraq spirals steadily downward, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was in Washington last week to plead for more assistance from the United States to help restore order to a society demolished by the 2003 U.S. invasion. Al-Qaida has made significant recent gains, Maliki told President Obama at their meeting last Friday, and Iraq needs more US military aid to combat its growing influence.

Obama pledged to work together with Iraq to address al-Qaeda’s growing presence, but what was not said was that before the U.S. attack there was no al-Qaida in Iraq. The appearance of al-Qaida in Iraq coincided with the U.S. attack. They claimed we had to fight terror in Iraq, but the U.S. invasion resulted in the creation of terrorist networks where before there were none. What a disaster.

Maliki also told President Obama last week that the war in next-door Syria was spilling over into Iraq, with the anti-Assad fighters setting off bombs and destabilizing the country. Already more than 5,000 people have been killed throughout Iraq this year, and cross-border attacks from Syrian rebels into Iraq are increasing those numbers. Again, what was not said was that the U.S. government had supported these anti-Assad fighters both in secret and in the open for the past two years.

Earlier in the week a group of Senators – all of whom had supported the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq – sent a strongly-worded letter to Obama complaining that Maliki was far too close to the Iranian government next door. What was not said was that this new closeness between the Iraqi and Iranian governments developed under the U.S.-installed government after the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Surely there is plenty of blame that can be placed on Maliki and the various no-doubt corrupt politicians running Iraq these days. But how was it they came to power? Were we not promised by those promoting the war that it would create a beach-head of democracy in the Middle East and a pro-American government?

According to former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, in early 2001 as the new Bush administration was discussing an attack on Iraq, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said, “Imagine what the region would look like without Saddam and with a regime that’s allied with U.S. interests. It would change everything in the region and beyond it. It would demonstrate what U.S. policy is all about.”

We see all these years later now how this ridiculous this idea was.

I have long advocated the idea that since we just marched in, we should just march out. That goes for U.S. troops and also for U.S. efforts to remake Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and everywhere the neocon wars of “liberation” have produced nothing but chaos, destruction, and more U.S. enemies overseas. We can best improve the situation by just leaving them alone.

The interventionists have unfortunately neither learned their lesson from the Iraq debacle nor have they changed their tune. They are still agitating for regime change in Syria, even as they blame the Iraqi government for the destabilization that spills over. They are still agitating for a U.S. attack on Iran, with Members of Congress introducing legislation recently that would actually authorize U.S. force against Iran.

It looks like a very slow learning curve for our bipartisan leaders in Washington. It’s time for a change.

Ron Paul Straight Talk: Americans Should Embrace Chilling Relations With Saudi Arabia

Last week it was reported that Saudi Arabia decided to make a “major shift” away from its 80 years of close cooperation with the United States. The Saudi leadership is angry that the Obama Administration did not attack Syria last month, and that it has not delivered heavy weapons to the Syrian rebels fighting to overthrow the Assad government. Saudi Arabia is heavily invested in the overthrow of the Assad government in Syria, sending money and weapons to the rebels.

However, it was the recent diplomatic opening between the United States and Iran that most infuriated the Saudis. Saudi Arabia is strongly opposed to the Iranian government and has vigorously lobbied the U.S. Congress to maintain sanctions and other pressure on Iran. Like Israel, the Saudis are fearful of any U.S. diplomacy with Iran.

This additional strain in U.S./Saudi relations came at the 40 year anniversary of the Arab oil embargo of the U.S. over its support of Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur war. At the time, the embargo caused quite a bit of trouble for Americans, including gas shortages and long lines at the filling stations. A repeat of this move, however, would not have the same effect on the U.S. economy. Though it would not be desired, these are not the 1970s and oil is now a more fungible commodity no longer solely in Arab hands.

Why does Saudi Arabia insist that the United States fight its battles? The Saudis are strongly opposed to the governments in Syria and Iran so they expect the U.S. to attack. It is their neighborhood, why don’t they fight their own wars? Israel shares the same position in the region as Saudi Arabia: it has been fighting to overthrow Assad in Syria for years, and Israeli leadership constantly pushes the U.S. toward war on Iran. They are both working on the same side of these issues but why do they keep trying to draw us in?

We have unwritten agreements to defend Saudi Arabia and Israel, which keeps us heavily involved militarily in the Middle East. But when the U.S. becomes so involved, we are the real losers—especially the American taxpayers, who are forced to finance this global military empire. Plus, our security guarantee to Saudi Arabia and Israel creates a kind of moral hazard: there is little incentive for these two countries to push for more peaceful solutions in the region because the U.S. military underwrites their reckless behavior. It is an unhealthy relationship that should come to an end.

If Saudi Arabia and Israel are so determined to extend their influence in the region and share such similar goals, why don’t they work together to stabilize the region without calling on the U.S. for back-up? It might be healthy for them to cooperate and leave us out of it.

One of Osama bin Laden’s stated goals was to bankrupt the U.S. by drawing it into endless battles in the Middle East and south Asia. Unfortunately, even from beyond the grave he continues to successfully implement his policy. But should we really be helping him do so? If Saudi Arabia wants to pull back from its deep and unhealthy relationship with the United States we should welcome such a move. Then we might return to peace and commerce rather than sink under entangling alliances.

Texas Straight Talk: How DC Won On The Debt Ceiling, And Americans Lost

Washington, DC, Wall Street, and central bankers around the world rejoiced this week as Congress came to an agreement to end the government shutdown and lift the debt ceiling. The latest spending-and-debt deal was negotiated by Congressional leaders behind closed doors, and was rushed through Congress before most members had time to read it. Now that the bill is passed, we can see that it is a victory for the political class and special interests, but a defeat for the American people.

The debt ceiling deal increases spending above the levels set by the “sequester.” The sequester cuts were minuscule, and in many cases used the old DC trick of calling reductions in planned spending increases a cut. But even minuscule and phony cuts are unacceptable to the bipartisan welfare-warfare spending collation. The bill also does nothing to protect the American people from the Obamacare disaster.

As is common in bills drafted in secret and rushed into law, this bill contains special deals for certain powerful politicians. The bill even has a provision authorizing continued military aid to opponents of the Ugandan “Lord’s Resistance Army,” which was the subject of the widely-viewed “Kony 2012″ YouTube videos. Most of these unrelated provisions did not come to public attention until after the bill was passed and signed into law.

Members of Congress and the public were told the debt ceiling increase was necessary to prevent a government default and an economic crisis. This manufactured fear supposedly justified voting on legislation without allowing members time to even read it, much less to remove the special deals or even debate the wisdom of intervening in overseas military conflicts because of a YouTube video.

Congress should have ignored the hysterics. A failure to increase government’s borrowing authority would not lead to a default any more that an individual’s failure to get a credit card limit increase in would mean they would have to declare bankruptcy. Instead, the failure of either an individual or a government to obtain new borrowing authority would force the individual or the government to live within their means, and may even force them to finally reduce their spending. Most people would say it is irresponsible to give a spendthrift, debit-ridden individual a credit increase. Why then is it responsible to give an irresponsible spendthrift government an increase in borrowing authority?

Congress surrendered more power to the president in this bill. Instead of setting a new debt ceiling, it simply “suspended” the debt ceiling until February. This gives the administration a blank check to run up as much debt as it pleases from now until February 7th. Congress can “disapprove” the debt ceiling suspension, but only if it passes a resolution of disapproval by a two-thirds majority. How long before Congress totally abdicates its constitutional authority over spending by allowing the Treasury permanent and unlimited authority to borrow money without seeking Congressional approval?

Instead of seriously addressing the spending crisis, most in Congress would rather engage in last-minute brinksmanship and backroom deals instead of taking the necessary action to reign in spending. Congress will only take serious steps to reduce spending when either a critical mass of Americans pressures it to cut spending, or when investors and foreign countries stop buying US government debt. Hopefully, those of us who understand sound economics can convince enough of our fellow citizens to pressure Congress to make serious spending cuts before Congress’s reckless actions cause a total economic collapse.

Ron Paul: At The Fed, The New Boss Is The Same As The Old Boss

The news that Janet Yellen was nominated to become the next Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System was greeted with joy by financial markets and the financial press. Wall Street saw Yellen’s nomination as a harbinger of continued easy money. Contrast this with the hand-wringing that took place when Larry Summers’ name was still in the running. Pundits worried that Summers would be too cautious, too hawkish on inflation, or too close to big banks.

The reality is that there wouldn’t have been a dime’s worth of difference between Yellen’s and Summers’ monetary policy. No matter who is at the top, the conduct of monetary policy will be largely unchanged: large-scale money printing to bail out big banks. There may be some fiddling around the edges, but any monetary policy changes will be in style only, not in substance.

Yellen, like Bernanke, Summers, and everyone else within the Fed’s orbit, believes in Keynesian economics. To economists of Yellen’s persuasion, the solution to recession is to stimulate spending by creating more money. Wall Street need not worry about tapering of the Fed’s massive program of quantitative easing under Yellen’s reign. If anything, the Fed’s trillion dollars of yearly money creation may even increase.

What is obvious to most people not captured by the system is that the Fed’s loose monetary policy was the root cause of the current financial crisis. Just like the Great Depression, the stagflation of the 1970s, and every other recession of the past century, the current crisis resulted from the creation of money and credit by the Federal Reserve, which led to unsustainable economic booms.

Rather than allowing the malinvestments and bad debts caused by its money creation to liquidate, the Fed continually tries to prop them up. It pumps more and more money into the system, piling debt on top of debt on top of debt. Yellen will continue along those lines, and she might even end up being Ben Bernanke on steroids.

To Yellen, the booms and bust of the business cycle are random, unforeseen events that take place just because. The possibility that the Fed itself could be responsible for the booms and busts of the business cycle would never enter her head. Nor would such thoughts cross the minds of the hundreds of economists employed by the Fed. They will continue to think the same way they have for decades, interpreting economic data and market performance through the same distorted Keynesian lens, and advocating for the same flawed policies over and over.

As a result, the American people will continue to suffer decreases in the purchasing power of the dollar and a diminished standard of living. The phony recovery we find ourselves in is only due to the Fed’s easy money policies. But the Fed cannot continue to purchase trillions of dollars of assets forever. Quantitative easing must end sometime, and at that point the economy will face the prospect of rising interest rates, mountains of bad debt and malinvested resources, and a Federal Reserve which holds several trillion dollars of worthless bonds.

The future of the US economy with Chairman Yellen at the helm is grim indeed, which provides all the more reason to end our system of central economic planning by getting rid of the Federal Reserve entirely. Ripping off the bandage may hurt some in the short run, but in the long term everyone will be better off. Anyway, most of this pain will be borne by the politicians, big banks, and other special interests who profit from the current system. Ending this current system of crony capitalism and moving to sound money and free markets is the only way to return to economic prosperity and a vibrant middle class.

Ron Paul Straight Talk: A Good Time To Talk To Iran

Last week, for the first time since the 1979 Iranian revolution, the US president spoke with his Iranian counterpart. Their 15 minute telephone call was reported to open the door to further high-level discussions. This is a very important event.

I have been saying for years that we should just talk to the Iranians. After all, we talked to the Soviets when they actually had thousands of nuclear missiles pointed at us! The Iranians have none, according to our own intelligence services. I even suggested a few years ago that we should “offer friendship” to them. Unfortunately, so many so-called experts have a stake in keeping tensions high and pushing us to war. They did not want to hear what I was saying. It seems, though, this is beginning to change now with these recent events.

The phone call was one of the most important moves away from war and conflict in a long time. Taken with the Obama administration’s decision to hold off on bombing Syria, we should be encouraged.

It is also probably a good sign that this phone call has infuriated the neoconservatives at home, the pro-war faction in Israel, and the hard-liners in Iran. Now that a process of negotiation has begun, the chance of war has been significantly reduced. The US is very unlikely to bomb Iran while it is talking with them, and Israel is also unlikely to start a war while the US is at the negotiating table with the Iranian leadership.

But we should also remain very cautious. Obama’s war on Syria was only stopped because the American people finally stood up and said “enough.” The message was received loud and clear and it shocked the neocons pushing war. They were used to being in charge of foreign policy.

In a recent CNN poll, more than 75% of Americans favored negotiations with Iran. This is very good news, but those pushing for war will not give up that easily. Believe it or not, some Members of Congress have recently introduced legislation to authorize war on Iran — even as these first steps toward a peaceful resolution of our differences begin to bear fruit!

So no, they will not give up that easily. There are many in the president’s own Cabinet who do not want to see US/Iranian relations improve. Even the president himself seems unable to avoid provocative statements — such as his claim that the Iranians are only willing to talk because the sanctions have been so successful in bringing them to the table. That is a false and unnecessary boast, and if he continues in such a way he will destroy what progress has been made.

But we are in the majority now. There are more than three-quarters of us who do not want war on Iran. It is essential that we keep the pressure on the Administration to ignore the war demands in both political parties and among the so-called foreign policy experts. There will be much more war propaganda coming our way as the warmongers get more desperate. Americans must see this propaganda for what it is. They should educate themselves and become familiar with alternative news sources to gain the tools to counter the propaganda. We do have a better chance at peace, but this is no time to let down our guard!

For Sale: The 1979 Chevette Ron Paul Used To Combat Congressional Hypocrisy

This piece was originally published on September 30 by the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

In 1979, when I was headed to DC for my first full term in Congress, I bought a car to keep there. It was a 1979 Chevrolet Chevette. But this compact 4-door soon proved to be controversial. Tip O’Neill, the powerful House speaker, was advocating gasoline rationing for the rest of us, while he was chauffeured around in a Lincoln, all at taxpayer expense. And no waiting in gasoline lines for him, nor paying for it: he had his own pump in the House garage.

So my little car—which I paid for myself, of course—was parked next to the Tip behemoth for a cheeky photo. Well, you would have thought I was Ed Snowden. There was a huge blow-up. Tip even levied the ultimate punishment: he blocked pork-barrel funds for me, which I was not seeking anyway.

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So this little car has some history to it. Yet it has only 69,000 miles on it. It was repainted after my youngest daughter used it at college, and has been garaged for the last 10 years. But it starts and runs, and is as cute as when Tip wanted to bomb it.

And you can own it, and aid the cause of peace and prosperity at the same time. The person who makes the highest pledge of a tax-deductible donation to the FREE Foundation by October 15, 2013, and redeems it, will own this historic little vehicle. The proceeds will be used to fund the work of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. That’s the one that outrages the neocons, so you know it is important.

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We’ll have a nice turnover ceremony at the FREE office in Clute, Texas, that we’ll photograph, and I’ll also present you with a Congressional license plate that was actually used on the car.

So drive history forward, and make your pledge, mailing it to FREE, 837 W. Plantation, Clute, TX 77531 or email it to free1776@comcast.net or phone 979.265.3034

Ron Paul Straight Talk: Small Government Conservatives, Anti-War Liberals Should Join Forces To Combat Warfare And Welfare Spending

As I write this, it appears that the federal government is about to shut down because the House and Senate cannot agree on whether to add language defunding or delaying Obamacare to the “Continuing Resolution”. Despite all the hand-wringing heard in DC, a short-term government shut down (which doesn’t actually shut down the government) will not cause the country to collapse.

And the American people would benefit if Obamacare was defeated or even delayed.

Obamacare saddles the American health care system with new spending and mandates which will raise the price and lower the quality of health care. Denying funds to this program may give Congress time to replace this bill with free-market reforms that put patients and physicians back in charge of health care. Defunding the bill before it becomes implemented can spare the American people from falling under the worst effects of this law.

As heartened as we should be by the fight against Obamacare, we should be equally disheartened by the fact that so few in DC are talking about making real cuts in federal spending. Even fewer are talking about reductions in the most logical place to reduce spending: the military-industrial complex. The US military budget constitutes almost 50 percent of the total worldwide military spending. Yet to listen to some in Congress, one would think that America was one canceled multi-million dollar helicopter contract away from being left totally defenseless.

What makes this military spending impossible to justify is that is does not benefit the American people. Instead, by fomenting resentment and hatred among the world population, our costly interventionist foreign policy makes our people less safe. Thus, reducing spending on militarism would not only help balance the budget, but would enhance our security.

Yet both the House and the Senate continuing resolutions not only fail to reduce military spending, they actually authorize $20 billion more in military spending than authorized by the “sequestration” created by the 2011 Budget Control Act. Most of the supposedly “draconian” sequestration cuts are not even cuts; instead, they are “reductions in the planed rate of spending.” This is where Congress increases spending but by less than originally planned—and yet they claim to cut spending.

Under sequestration, military spending increases by 18 percent instead of by 20 percent over the next ten years. Yet some so-called conservatives are so opposed to these phony cuts in military spending that they would support increased taxes and increased welfare “military” spending. This “grand bargain” would benefit the DC political class and the special interests, but it would be a disaster for the American people.

Instead of grand bargains of increased spending and taxes, those of us who support limited government and free markets should form a coalition with antiwar liberals to reduce spending on both the military industrial complex and domestic welfare programs. Instead of raising taxes on “the rich” we should also work to reduce all corporate subsidies. This “grand bargain” would truly be a win-win for the American people.

Sadly, even if a congressional coalition to cut both warfare and welfare spending was formed, it would be unlikely to carry the day as long as the Federal Reserve is willing to enable Congress’s debt addiction by monetizing the debt. But this cannot last forever. At some point the Fed’s policies will result in hyper-inflation and an economic crisis that will force Congress to reduce spending. Hopefully, the growing number of Americans who are awaking to the dangers of our current path can convince Congress to reduce overseas militarism and begin an orderly drawdown of the welfare state before this crisis occurs.

Ron Paul Straight Talk: Internet Sales Tax Could Crush Small Businesses

One unique aspect of my homeschool curriculum is that students can start and manage their own online business. Students will be responsible for deciding what products or services to offer, getting the business up and running, and marketing the business’s products. Students and their families will get to keep the profits made from the business. Hopefully, participants in this program will develop a business that can either provide them with a full-time career or a way to supplement their income.

Internet commerce is the most dynamic and rapidly growing sector of the American economy. Not surprisingly, the Internet is also relatively free of taxes and regulations, although many in Washington are working to change that. For example, earlier this year the Senate passed the Marketplace Fairness Act, more accurately referred to as the national Internet sales tax act. This bill, which passed the Senate earlier this year, would require Internet businesses to collect sales tax for all 10,000 American jurisdictions that assess sales taxes. Internet business would thus be subject to audits from 46 states, six territories, and over 500 Native American tribal nations.

Proponents of the bill deny it will hurt small business because the bill only applies to Internet business that make over a million dollars in out-of-state revenue. However, many small Internet businesses with over a million dollars in out-of-state revenues operate on extremely thin profit margins, so even the slightest increase in expenses could put them out of businesses.

Some businesses may even try to avoid increasing their sales so as to not have to comply with the Internet sales tax. It is amazing that some of the same conservatives who rightly worry over Obamacare’s effects on job creation and economic growth want to impose new taxes on the most dynamic sector of the economy.

Proponents of the law claim that there is software that can automatically apply sales taxes. However, anyone who has ever dealt with business software knows that no program is foolproof. Any mistakes made by the software, or even errors in installing it, could result in a small business being subject to expensive and time-consuming audits.

Some say that it is a legitimate exercise of Congress’s Commerce Clause power to give state governments the authority to force out-of-state businesses to collect sales taxes. But if that were the case, why shouldn’t state governments be able to force you to pay sales taxes where you physically cross state lines to make a purchase? The Commerce Clause was intended to facilitate the free flow of goods and services across state lines, not to help states impose new burdens on out of state businesses.

The main proponents of this bill are large retailers and established Internet business. Big business can more easily afford to comply with a national Internet sales tax. In many cases, they are large enough that they already have a “physical presence” in most states and thus already have to collect state sales taxes. These businesses are seeking to manipulate the political process to disadvantage their existing and future small competitors. The Internet sales tax is a bad idea for consumers, small Internet business, and perhaps most importantly, the next generation of online entrepreneurs.

For more information about the small business program well as all other aspects of the Homeschool curriculum please go here. And to purchase a copy of my new book, The School Revolution: A New Answer for Our Broken Education System please go here.

Ron Paul Straight Talk: The American Public Is Tired Of Warmongers

Will the history books record these past couple of weeks as the point when the tide finally turned against our interventionist foreign policy?

We began September with the Obama Administration on the verge of launching Tomahawk missiles at Syria. The missiles were needed, the Administration claimed, to punish the Syrian government for using poison gas on its own people. There were reports that in addition to missiles, the Administration was planning airstrikes and possibly even more military action against Syria. The talks of a punishing “shot across the bow” to send a message to the Syrian government also escalated, as some discussed the need to degrade the Syrian military to help change the regime. They refused to rule out a U.S. ground invasion of Syria.

Secretary of State John Kerry even invoked an old bogeymen that had worked so many times before. Assad was another Hitler, we were told, and failure to attack would equate to another Neville Chamberlain-like appeasement.

The Administration released its evidence to back up the claim that the Syrian government was behind the gassing, and the President asked Congress to authorize him to use force against Syria. Polls showed that the American people had very little interest in getting involved in another war in the Middle East, and as the Administration presented no solid evidence for its claim, public support eroded further. The media, as usual, was pushing war propaganda.

Then something incredible happened. It started in the British parliament, with a vote against participating in a U.S.-led attack on Syria. The UK had always reliably backed the U.S. when it came to war overseas, and the vote was a shock. Though the House and Senate leadership lined up behind the President’s decision to attack Syria, the people did not. Support among the rank and file members of the Senate and House began to evaporate, as thousands of Americans contacted their Representatives to express outrage over the President’s plan. The vote looked to be lost in the House and uncertain in the Senate. Then even Senators began to feel the anger of the American people, and it looked like a devastating and historic loss for the President was coming.

The Administration and its pro-war allies could not bear to lose a vote in Congress that would have likely shut the door completely on a U.S. attack, so they called off the vote. At least for now. It would have been far better to have had the President’s request for war authorization debated and voted down in the House and Senate, but even without a no vote it is clear that a major shift has taken place. A Russian proposal to secure and dismantle the Syrian government’s chemical weapons was inspired, it seems, by John Kerry’s accidental suggestion that such a move could avert a U.S. strike. Though the details have yet to be fully worked out, it seems the Russia plan, agreed to by the Syrian government, gives us hope that a U.S. attack will be avoided.

The American people have spoken out against war. Many more are now asking what I have been asking for quite some time: why is it always our business when there is civil strife somewhere overseas? Why do we always have to be the ones to solve the world’s problems? It is a sea change and I am very encouraged. We have had a great victory for the cause of peace and liberty and let’s hope we can further build on it.

Ron Paul: It’s Time For A Homeschooling Revolution

Former Representative Ron Paul has been a staunch opponent of government attempts to indoctrinate the Nation’s children with a pro-statist curriculum in public schools. Since retiring from Congress, Paul has taken on a number of new projects including the development of a pro-liberty home-school program (more information here) in which students will be enlightened by the ideas of great Austrian economists and encouraged to be self-made citizens as well as vocal defenders of liberty. The curriculum will be launched this month. Paul also recently authored a new book, titled “The School Revolution: A New Answer for Our Broken Education System”, laying out a plan to fix problems in the American education system. The September 9 edition of Paul’s “Texas Straight Talk”, in which Paul discusses his new educational offerings, is reprinted below with permission.

[pl_amazon_book_order src="http://rcm-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?t=perslibedige-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=1455577170&ref=tf_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr"]Opposing infringement on parental control of education and promoting alternatives to government-run schools is a vital task for the liberty movement. When government usurps a parent’s right to control their child’s education, it is inevitable that the child will be taught the values of government officials, rather than of the parents. The result is an education system with a built-in bias toward statism. Over time, government-controlled education can erode the people’s knowledge of, and appreciation for, the benefits of a free society.

This is why throughout my Congressional career I fought against any legislation that infringed on a parent’s right to control their child’s education, especially any legislation that limited a parent’s right to homeschool. Many so-called education experts claim that parents who are not “government-certified” educators cannot provide their children with a quality education. However, the numerous studies showing that homeschooled children out-perform their publicly-educated peers in every academic category shows that most parents are more than capable of providing their children with an excellent education.

The Internet has made it easier than ever for parents to homeschool. Because of my interest in promoting alternatives to government-controlled education, this month I am launching my own homeschool curriculum. The Ron Paul Curriculum consists of a rigorous program of study in history, economics, mathematics, and the physical and natural sciences.

Older students will also have the opportunity to gain experience creating and running their own on-line business. Frequent written assignments will ensure that students have the maximum opportunity to develop strong communication skills.

Students and parents are invited to participate in on-line interactive forums. The goal of the forums is to maximize participation so the student is not a passive recipient of information conveyed by the teachers. Instead, the students are encouraged to actively engage with their fellow students so the students can learn from each other as well as from the program’s instructors.

Of course, many of the offerings, particularly in history and economics, reflect my belief and interest in the freedom philosophy. However, unlike the pro-statist curriculum used in government-run schools, the curriculum does not place promoting an ideological agenda ahead of ensuring that students receive a quality education. The economic curriculum will cover all significant schools of economic thought, but will emphasize the free-market “Austrian” school.

Parents interested in providing their children with a quality education that incorporates knowledge of the principles of liberty will find this program a good investment. The curriculum also does not shy away from addressing the crucial role religion played in the development of western civilization. However, the materials are drafted in way that any Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or atheist parent who wants their children to receive a top-notch education incorporating the history, philosophy, and economics of liberty, can feel comfortable using the curriculum.

I expected interest in my curriculum to grow over the years, as the young people who have recently become interested in the ideas of liberty marry and start their own families. These men and women will want to make sure their children’s education includes instruction in the ideas of liberty that was lacking in their government-provided-and-controlled education.

I am excited to be able to help provide the increasing number of parents interested in homeschooling with a quality curriculum that emphasizes the history and philosophy of liberty and free-market economics of the Austrian school.

Ron Paul: Will Congress Endorse Obama’s War Plans? Does it Matter?

In his weekly “Texas Straight Talk” column, former Representative Ron Paul discusses the looming prospect of war with Syria.

President Obama announced this weekend that he has decided to use military force against Syria and would seek authorization from Congress when it returned from its August break. Every Member ought to vote against this reckless and immoral use of the US military. But even if every single Member and Senator votes for another war, it will not make this terrible idea any better because some sort of nod is given to the Constitution along the way.  Besides, the president made it clear that Congressional authorization is superfluous, asserting falsely that he has the authority to act on his own with or without Congress. That Congress allows itself to be treated as window dressing by the imperial president is just astonishing.

The President on Saturday claimed that the alleged chemical attack in Syria on August 21 presented “a serious danger to our national security.” I disagree with the idea that every conflict, every dictator, and every insurgency everywhere in the world is somehow critical to our national security. That is the thinking of an empire, not a republic. It is the kind of thinking that this president shares with his predecessor and it is bankrupting us and destroying our liberties here at home.

According to recent media reports, the military does not have enough money to attack Syria and would have to go to Congress for a supplemental appropriation to carry out the strikes. It seems our empire is at the end of its financial rope. The limited strikes that the president has called for in Syria would cost the US in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey wrote to Congress last month that just the training of Syrian rebels and “limited” missile and air strikes would cost “in the billions” of dollars. We should clearly understand what another war will do to the US economy, not to mention the effects of additional unknown costs such as a spike in fuel costs as oil skyrockets.

I agree that any chemical attack, particularly one that kills civilians, is horrible and horrendous. All deaths in war and violence are terrible and should be condemned. But why are a few hundred killed by chemical attack any worse or more deserving of US bombs than the 100,000 already killed in the conflict? Why do these few hundred allegedly killed by Assad count any more than the estimated 1,000 Christians in Syria killed by US allies on the other side? Why is it any worse to be killed by poison gas than to have your head chopped off by the US allied radical Islamists, as has happened to a number of Christian priests and bishops in Syria?

For that matter, why are the few hundred civilians killed in Syria by a chemical weapon any worse than the 2000-3000 who have been killed by Obama’s drone strikes in Pakistan? Does it really make a difference whether a civilian is killed by poison gas or by drone missile or dull knife?

In “The Sociology of Imperialism,” Joseph Schumpeter wrote of the Roman Empire’s suicidal interventionism:

“There was no corner of the known world where some interest was not alleged to be in danger or under actual attack. If the interests were not Roman, they were those of Rome’s allies; and if Rome had no allies, then allies would be invented. When it was utterly impossible to contrive an interest – why, then it was the national honour that had been insulted.”

Sadly, this sounds like a summary of Obama’s speech over the weekend. We are rapidly headed for the same collapse as the Roman Empire if we continue down the president’s war path. What we desperately need is an overwhelming Congressional rejection of the president’s war authorization. Even a favorable vote, however, cannot change the fact that this is a self-destructive and immoral policy.

Ron Paul: Middle Of The Road In Healthcare Leads To Socialism

This article by physician and former Texas Congressman Ron Paul was first published Monday at his website. Read Paul’s thoughts on why free-market health care isn’t the absurdity that liberal pundits make it out to be, and feel free to share the article with friends.

The ever-expanding role of government in healthcare provides an excellent example of Ludwig Von Mises’ warning that “The Middle of the Road Leads to Socialism.” Beginning in the 1940s, government policies distorted the health care market, causing prices to rise and denying many Americans access to quality care. Congress reacted to the problems caused by their prior interventions with new interventions, such as the HMO Act, ERISA, EMTLA, and various federal entitlement programs. Each new federal intervention not only failed to fix the problems it was supposedly created to solve, it created new problems, leading to calls for even more new federal interventions. This process culminated in 2010, when Congress passed Obamacare.

Contrary to the claims of some of its opponents, Obamacare is not socialized medicine. It is corporatized medicine. After all, the central feature of Obamacare is the mandate that all Americans buy health insurance from private health insurance companies. And, as with previous government interventions in the marketplace, Obamacare is not only failing to correct the problems caused by prior federal laws, it is creating new problems.

Consider the almost weekly stories about how Obamacare is causing health insurance premiums to rise, causing employees to lay off workers or reduce their workers’ hours, and causing doctors to leave the profession. Also, consider the problems the administration is already having administering the federal exchanges and other parts of the health care law.

I fully expect the implosion of Obamacare to continue, and the supporters of nationalized health care to use Obamacare’s failures to push for a Canadian-style “single payer” health care system. Unfortunately, some Obamacare opponents fail to see that the problem is not just Obamacare, but all government interference with health care. These Obamacare opponents advocate replacing Obamacare with “Obamacare lite.”  But economic law teaches us that “Obamacare lite” will be no more successful than Obamacare.

In order to win the battle for health freedom, those who oppose nationalized health care must have the courage to advocate for a complete free market in health care. Enhanced individual tax credits and enhanced use of Health Savings Accounts (HSA) are just two polices that could help restore a free-market in health care by putting control over the health care dollar back in the hands of the people. A good place to start would be to repeal Obamacare’s restrictions on HSAs.

Long-term group insurance contracts could ensure that those with pre-existing conditions could obtain coverage. Under such a contract, individuals could pool resources to purchase a group policy that would cover any and all problems any member might develop over time. Businesses, churches, community organizations, and even fraternities and sororities could offer these types of contracts.

Negative outcomes insurance, where patients waive the right to sue for medical errors in exchange for guaranteed payouts to those harmed, could reduce the burden of malpractice litigation.

Other free-market health care reforms that could make the health care market more competitive and lower the cost of health care include allowing individuals to purchase insurance from across state lines, removing restrictions on physician-owned hospitals, and reducing the regulatory power of the Food and Drug Administration.

Some will say it is unrealistic to advocate replacing Obamacare with a pure free-market system, but in fact it is unrealistic to expect anything less than a true free-market to provide quality health care for Americans at all income levels. Continuing on the “middle of the road” in health care by mixing free-markets with government spending and regulations will only continue to take us on the road to socialized health care.

Ron Paul: Why Won’t They Tell Us the Truth About NSA Spying?

This article, written by Former Congressman Ron Paul, first appeared at the-free-foundation.org, the temporary home for his weekly column until his personal web page is up and running.

In 2001, the Patriot Act opened the door to US government monitoring of Americans without a warrant. It was unconstitutional, but most in Congress over my strong objection were so determined to do something after the attacks of 9/11 that they did not seem to give it too much thought. Civil liberties groups were concerned, and some of us in Congress warned about giving up our liberties even in the post-9/11 panic. But at the time most Americans did not seem too worried about the intrusion.

This complacency has suddenly shifted given recent revelations of the extent of government spying on Americans. Politicians and bureaucrats are faced with serious backlash from Americans outraged that their most personal communications are intercepted and stored. They had been told that only the terrorists would be monitored. In response to this anger, defenders of the program have time and again resorted to spreading lies and distortions. But these untruths are now being exposed very quickly.

In a Senate hearing this March, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Senator Ron Wyden that the NSA did not collect phone records of millions of Americans. This was just three months before the revelations of an NSA leaker made it clear that Clapper was not telling the truth. Pressed on his false testimony before Congress, Clapper apologized for giving an “erroneous” answer but claimed it was just because he “simply didn’t think of Section 215 of the Patriot Act.” Wow.

As the story broke in June of the extent of warrantless NSA spying against Americans, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers assured us that the project was a strictly limited and not invasive. He described it as a “lockbox with only phone numbers, no names, no addresses in it, we’ve used it sparingly, it is absolutely overseen by the legislature, the judicial branch and the executive branch, has lots of protections built in…”

But we soon discovered that also was not true either. We learned in another Guardian newspaper article last week that the top secret “X-Keyscore” program allows even low-level analysts to “search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals.”

The keys to Rogers’ “lockbox” seem to have been handed out to everyone but the janitors! As Chairman of the Committee that is supposed to be most in the loop on these matters, it seems either the Intelligence Community misled him about their programs or he misled the rest of us. It sure would be nice to know which one it is.

Likewise, Rep. Rogers and many other defenders of the NSA spying program promised us that this dragnet scooping up the personal electronic communications of millions of Americans had already stopped “dozens” of terrorist plots against the United States. In June, NSA director General Keith Alexander claimed that the just-disclosed bulk collection of Americans’ phone and other electronic records had “foiled 50 terror plots.”

Opponents of the program were to be charged with being unconcerned with our security.

But none of it was true.

The Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday heard dramatic testimony from NSA deputy director John C. Inglis. According to the Guardian:

“The NSA has previously claimed that 54 terrorist plots had been disrupted ‘over the lifetime’ of the bulk phone records collection and the separate program collecting the internet habits and communications of people believed to be non-Americans. On Wednesday, Inglis said that at most one plot might have been disrupted by the bulk phone records collection alone.”

From dozens to “at most one”?

Supporters of these programs are now on the defensive, with several competing pieces of legislation in the House and Senate seeking to rein in an administration and intelligence apparatus that is clearly out of control. This is to be commended. What is even more important, though, is for more and more and more Americans to educate themselves about our precious liberties and to demand that their government abide by the Constitution. We do not have to accept being lied to – or spied on — by our government.