Lew Rockwell talks to Tom Woods, who was guest-hosting the Peter Schiff Show, about his days as Ron Paul’s chief of staff in DC.
Lew Rockwell talks to Tom Woods, who was guest-hosting the Peter Schiff Show, about his days as Ron Paul’s chief of staff in DC.
Jessica Pavoni explains how she came to know Mises, Rothbard, and the rest:
At that point, Hubby and I had more than six deployments between us, so we were credible listeners. Even more impressive: here was a guy [Ron Paul] who wasn’t toeing the party line, wasn’t kowtowing to pressure, and was actually speaking common sense! Look up any video of any presidential debate in which Dr. Paul takes part, and it’s abundantly clear that he is no politician (this is a compliment in my book). It’s safe to say that listening to his position on foreign policy was the first step down the rabbit hole; I didn’t fully understand every issue that he spoke about, but his words came through like a clear bell. Who was this guy? Where did he come from? What did he know? I was hooked.
We bought a book – Liberty Defined (highly recommend it – short, sweet, and easy to understand). I felt myself being pulled out of the apathetic, unconscious masses, and started to wake up. I started to care, I wanted to learn, and I needed to understand how the United States had found itself in the position of being mired in warfare, welfare, and eroding individual liberties. I had seen warfare; I had lost friends. These things mattered. This was real life happening. Dr. Paul was the first person to shed light on the root causes and offer an alternative system.
We began to research the great thinkers, writers, and economists that Dr. Paul referenced. We discovered Murray Rothbard (For a New Liberty and Ethics of Liberty), Ludwig von Mises (Human Action, LvMI), Lysander Spooner (Vices Are Not Crimes and No Treason), Frederic Bastiat (The Law), Peter Schiff, Ivan Eland, Lew Rockwell, and countless others. Over the course of 18 months, I progressed slowly but steadily from conservative neocon (I joined the military in the first place, right?) to limited-government proponent, to minarchism, and then finally the logically-deduced, well-researched, sound philosophy of anarcho-capitalism (self-ownership and non-aggression).
Mises Daily Thursday by Ron Paul:
US sanctions against Russia are just the latest incentive for the world’s economies to avoid dealing with the dollar.
The distinction that Paul draws between himself and the anarchists is that Paul sees some value in political action, while anarchists, whom Paul does not criticize, see no value in political action. He goes on:
“If somebody is an anarchist…. and they don’t go and shoot up the government…that’s a great idea.” “Anarchy is no threat to me.”
On “opting out”: [Referencing the Amish and Mennonites as an example] “An Individual should be allowed to do that, and get no benefits from the government, or a group should be allowed to do it.”
[In an apparent reference to Fourierist communities and similar groups] “A libertarian society gives full permission for voluntary socialism… but socialists will never endorse the idea of you having your personal liberty…”
[This is not an endorsement of any of the members discussed below.]
Congressman Justin Amash just beat his primary opponent in a race that would not have happened had it not been for campaign money poured into the anti-Amash camp by the US Chamber of Commerce, the Grand Rapids Chamber, and the Michigan Chamber. Amash, who, as a politician has committed his fair share of political crimes, at least has had the decency to oppose a variety of cronyist measures and refused to fund several bailouts and bills designed as special favors for business interests. So, naturally, while claiming to be “pro-free-market,” the US Chamber of Commerce has gone after him for not spending enough government money. This is not surprising. Business groups like Chambers of Commerce are not free-market organizations at all, but are just rent-seeking lobbying groups looking for government favors.
There’s nothing new here. When Ron Paul was in Congress, the US Chamber ranked him as one of the worst members, giving him the lowest score of any Republican. In Chamber-speak, being “free-market” means voting for things like TARP and various bailouts and No Child Left Behind. Given the Chamber’s crusade against Amash (and this Chamber-funded political ad), being pro-business also apparently means being in favor of NSA spying.
Amash was just one of the Chamber’s targets in recent years. The Daily Caller notes:
Business won an under-the-radar victory in May when the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and companies such as Delta Airlines, Georgia Power, and AT&T suddenly set up a Georgia Coalition for Job Growth and managed to defeat a Republican legislator, Rep. Charles Gregory, who was just too libertarian for them.
Gregory, a big fan of former presidential candidate Ron Paul, wasn’t trying to legalize drugs or bring the troops home from Afghanistan. No, the ads and the special website that the Georgia Coalition set up accused him of voting against education spending and against an intrusive measure to require drug testing for food stamp applicants.
The real issue was probably that he wouldn’t go along with pork-barrel projects that benefit business, such as taxpayer funding to help the Atlanta Braves move to Cobb County.
One lobbyist involved in the business effort told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “We’re not going to let liberty Republicans throw business out of the Republican Party.”
It seems unlikely that a free-marketer like Gregory wanted to “throw business out.” But he did want to persuade the GOP to stop supporting subsidies and sweetheart deals for $700 million businesses like the Braves.
Business operatives ran into trouble early on in Kentucky, where they lobbied hard though unsuccessfully to persuade the head of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce to run against Rep. Thomas Massie, a frequent ally of Amash. Massie, a businessman himself, is a strong fiscal conservative, but some local business leaders don’t like what they see as his stand-off approach.
And in California’s June primary Rep. Tom McClintock, a crusader against earmarks, turned back a challenge from Washington business consultant Art Moore, who “thinks representatives should deliver for folks back home,” in the words of a local reporter.
Actual advocates for free markets have long known that being for free markets does not mean being for big business. Perhaps the confusion arose from Ayn Rand’s laughable assertion that big business is a “persecuted minority” but the connection has stuck, and for whatever reason, many seem to think that free-market advocates are fine with subsidies and government favors as long as they go to big corporations.
From a free-market perspective, trade sanctions are always immoral and illegitimate because they restrict trade and free choice among individuals. Arguably, they are even worse when instituted for purposes of provoking war, as is the case with the Obama administration and Russia. Ron Paul examines the current controversy:
Why Won’t Obama Just Leave Ukraine Alone?
President Obama announced last week that he was imposing yet another round of sanctions on Russia, this time targeting financial, arms, and energy sectors. The European Union, as it has done each time, quickly followed suit.
These sanctions will not produce the results Washington demands, but they will hurt the economies of the US and EU, as well as Russia.
These sanctions are, according to the Obama administration, punishment for what it claims is Russia’s role in the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, and for what the president claims is Russia’s continued arming of separatists in eastern Ukraine. Neither of these reasons makes much sense because neither case has been proven.
The administration began blaming Russia for the downing of the plane just hours after the crash, before an investigation had even begun. The administration claimed it had evidence of Russia’s involvement but refused to show it. Later, the Obama administration arranged a briefing by “senior intelligence officials” who told the media that “we don’t know a name, we don’t know a rank and we’re not even 100 percent sure of a nationality,” of who brought down the aircraft.
So Obama then claimed Russian culpability because Russia’s “support” for the separatists in east Ukraine “created the conditions” for the shoot-down of the aircraft. That is a dangerous measure of culpability considering US support for separatist groups in Syria and elsewhere.
Similarly, the US government claimed that Russia is providing weapons, including heavy weapons, to the rebels in Ukraine and shooting across the border into Ukrainian territory. It may be true, but again the US refuses to provide any evidence and the Russian government denies the charge. It’s like Iraq’s WMDs all over again.
Hobby Lobby Decision Creates Small Island of Freedom in Ocean of Statism
by Ron Paul
This week, supporters of religious freedom cheered the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case. The Court was correct to protect business owners from being forced to violate their religious beliefs by paying for contraceptives. However, the decision was very limited in scope and application.
The Court’s decision only applies to certain types of businesses, for example, “closely-held corporations” that have a “sincere” religious objection to paying for contraceptive coverage. Presumably, federal courts or bureaucrats will determine if a business’s religious objection to the mandate is “sincere” or not and therefore eligible for an opt-out from one Obamacare mandate.
Opponents of the Court’s decision are correct that a religious objection does not justify a special exemption from the Obamacare contraception mandate, but that is because all businesses should be exempt from all federal mandates. Federal laws imposing mandates on private businesses violate the business owners’ rights of property and contract.
Mandated benefits such as those in Obamacare also harm those employees who do not need or want them. Benefit packages resulting from negotiations between employers and employees are much more likely to satisfy both the employer and employee than benefit packages imposed by politicians and bureaucrats.
Opponents of the Court’s decision argue that Obamacare gives employees a “right” to free birth control that trumps the employers’ property rights. This argument confuses rights with desires. Successfully lobbying the government to force someone else to grant your wishes does not magically transform a desire into a “right.”
Jeff Deist talks with Tom Woods about Congressional staffers and the DC establishment’s grudging respect for the Ron Paul revolution.
In this audio interview, Ron Paul touches on recent developments affecting the value of the dollar, the potential for currency collapse, gold, war, Russia, and more.
The Ron Paul portion begins at 2:30 and ends at 17:30.
(Note: My posting of this video is not an endorsement of any of the advertised products that appear on screen in the course of the interview.)
I’m often fearful when I learn about new feature-length movies that are explicitly libertarian because they often suffer from tiny budgets and inexperience among the actors and crew.
In this case however, the movie looks to have an adequate budget (based on the diversity and quality of shots in the trailer) and the actors have real and lengthy IMDB credits.
The Obama Administration has claimed to be outraged by the shabby treatment that veterans receive at the hands of the VA. But as Ron Paul points out this week, it’s a bit unconvincing when the administration claims to care deeply about veterans while simultaneously sending American soldiers to receive third degree burns and mangled limbs in far away lands that are no threat whatsoever to the Americans who are paying all the bills.
Indeed, as Lew Rockwell has noted, a great way to combat the abuse of veterans is to quit creating new veterans.
The other troubling aspect of this controversy is the VA health care system itself.
Why is it that government is so interested in the direct provision of health care? Why is there not a government clothing program or a government cell phone program? That is, why does no one ever say “I’m off to the VA clothing store!” or “I’m going to the VA cell phone store.” Certainly clothing and communications devices are pretty basic and necessary.
If one felt that veterans deserved some sort of lifelong benefit for military work, one could simply provide veterans with a stipend that they could use to procure health care. But this is not done.
Ron Paul writes in this weekend’s Mises Daily:
Some believe economic sanctions and blockades are acceptable alternatives to invasion and occupation. But these too are acts of war, and those on the receiving end rarely capitulate to the pressure. More likely they remain bitter enemies, and resort to terrorism when unable to confront us in a conventional military fashion.
Inflation, sanctions, and military threats all distort international trade and hurt average people in all countries involved, while usually not really hurting the targeted dictators themselves. Our bellicose approach encourages protectionism, authoritarianism, militant nationalism, and go-it-alone isolationism.
After reviving conscription, killing protestors in Odessa, and seizing ballots in eastern Ukraine, agents of the Ukrainian state now denounce organizers of the plebiscite in eastern Ukraine as “terrorists.”
“The farce, which terrorists call the referendum, is nothing more than propaganda to cover up murders, kidnappings, violence and other serious crimes,” Ukraine’s acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said in a statement.
Gee, sounds legit. Or, it may just be yet another case of a state throwing a temper tantrum any time a group of citizens try to determine their political future for themselves through decentralization or secession. Even if the separatists are guilty of serious crimes, the full extent of their crimes is surely tiny when compared to those of the Ukrainian state (and virtually all states). Read More→
Last week World Bank economists predicted that China would soon displace the United States as the world’s largest economy. The fact that this one-time economic basket case is now positioned to surpass the US is one more sign of the damage done to American prosperity by welfare, warfare, corporatism, and fiat money.
Some commentators have predicted that China’s reign as the world’s largest economy would not last long. This may be true. While China has made great strides since adopting free-market reforms in the 1970s, China is still run by an authoritarian government whose economic policies distort the market in order to benefit state-favored industries. These state-favored businesses are often controlled by politically-powerful individuals.
By Ron Paul
The nation’s attention has for the past few weeks been riveted by a standoff in Nevada between armed federal agents and the Bundys, a ranching family who believe the federal government is exceeding its authority by assessing “fees” against ranchers who graze cattle on government lands. Outrage over the government’s use of armed agents to forcibly remove the Bundys’ cattle led many Americans to travel to Nevada to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience in support of the family.
The protests seem to have worked, at least for now, as the government appears to have backed off from direct confrontation. Sadly, some elected officials have inflamed the situation by labeling the Bundys and their supporters “domestic terrorists,” thus justifying any future use of force by the government. That means there is always the possibility of another deadly Waco-style raid on the Bundys or a similar group in the future.
In a state like Nevada, where 84 percent of the land is owned by the federal government, these types of conflicts are inevitable. Government ownership of land means that land is in theory owned by everyone, but in practice owned by no one. Thus, those who use the land lack the incentives to preserve it for the long term. As a result, land-use rules are set by politicians and bureaucrats. Oftentimes, the so-called “public” land is used in ways that benefit politically-powerful special interests.
By Ron Paul
Anyone watching last week’s debate over the Republican budget resolution would have experienced déjà vu, as the debate bore a depressing similarity to those of previous years. Once again, the Republicans claimed their budget would cut spending in a responsible manner, while Democratic opponents claimed the plan’s spending cuts would shred the safety net and leave vital programs unfunded. Of course, neither claim is true.
The budget does not cut spending at all, and in fact actually increases spending by $1.5 trillion over ten years. The Republicans are using the old DC trick of spending less than originally planned and calling that reduced spending increase a $5.1 trillion cut in spending. Only in DC could a budget that increases spending by 3.5 percent per year instead of by 5.2 percent per year be attacked as a “slash-and-burn” plan.
The budget also relies on “dynamic scoring.” This trick is where the budget numbers account for increased government revenue generated by economic growth the budget will supposedly unleash. The claims are dubious at best. Of course, reducing government spending will lead to economic growth. But real growth requires real cuts, not this budget’s phony cuts.
As important as reducing spending and balancing the budget is, focusing solely on budget numbers ignores the root of the problem. The real problem is that too many in Washington — and the nation as a whole — refuse to consider any serious reductions in the welfare-warfare state.
I have always maintained that the logical place to start reducing spending is the trillions wasted on our interventionist foreign policy. Unfortunately, there are still too many in Congress who claim to be fiscal hawks when it comes to welfare spending, but turn into Keynesian “doves” when it comes to spending on the military-industrial complex.
These members cling to the mistaken belief that the government can balance it budget, keep taxes low, and even have a growing economy, while spending trillions of dollars policing the world, and propping up some governments and changing others overtly or covertly. Thus, President Obama is attacked as soft on defense because he only wants to spend $5.9 trillion over ten years on the military. In contrast, the Republican budget spends $6.2 trillion over the next decade. That is almost a trillion more than the budget’s total so-called spending cuts.
If there are too many fiscal conservatives who refuse to abandon the warfare state, there are too many liberals who act as if any reduction in welfare or entitlement spending leaves children starving. I agree it is unrealistic to simply end programs that people are currently dependent on. However, isn’t it inhumane to not take steps to unwind the welfare system before government overspending causes a bigger financial crisis and drags millions more into poverty?
Far from abandoning those in need of help, returning the responsibility for caring for the needy to private charities, churches, and local communities will improve the welfare system. At the very least, young people should have the freedom to choose to pay a lower tax rate in exchange for promising to never participate in a government welfare or entitlement program.
Last week’s budget debate showed how little difference there lies between the parties when it comes to preserving the warfare-welfare state. One side may prefer more warfare while the other prefers more welfare, but neither side actually wants to significantly reduce the size and scope of government. Until Congress stops trying to run the world, run the economy, and run our lives, there will never be a real debate about cutting spending and limiting government.
By Ron Paul
Last week Congress overwhelmingly passed a bill approving a billion dollars in aid to Ukraine and more sanctions on Russia. The bill will likely receive the president’s signature within days. If you think this is the last time US citizens will have their money sent to Ukraine, you should think again. This is only the beginning.
This $1 billion for Ukraine is a rip-off for the America taxpayer, but it is also a bad deal for Ukrainians. Not a single needy Ukrainian will see a penny of this money, as it will be used to bail out international banks who hold Ukrainian government debt. According to the terms of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)-designed plan for Ukraine, life is about to get much more difficult for average Ukrainians. The government will freeze some wage increases, significantly raise taxes, and increase energy prices by a considerable margin.
But the bankers will get paid and the IMF will get control over the Ukrainian economy.
The bill also authorizes more US taxpayer money for government-funded “democracy promotion” NGOs, and more money to broadcast US government propaganda into Ukraine via Radio Free Europe and Voice of America. It also includes some saber-rattling, directing the US Secretary of State to “provide enhanced security cooperation with Central and Eastern European NATO member states.”
The US has been “promoting democracy” in Ukraine for more than ten years now, but it doesn’t seem to have done much good. Recently a democratically-elected government was overthrown by violent protestors. That is the opposite of democracy, where governments are changed by free and fair elections. What is shocking is that the US government and its NGOs were on the side of the protestors! If we really cared about democracy we would not have taken either side, as it is none of our business.
Washington does not want to talk about its own actions that led to the coup, instead focusing on attacking the Russian reaction to US-instigated unrest next door to them. So the new bill passed by Congress will expand sanctions against Russia for its role in backing a referendum in Crimea, where most of the population voted to join Russia. The US, which has participated in the forced change of borders in Serbia and elsewhere, suddenly declares that international borders cannot be challenged in Ukraine.
Those of us who are less than gung-ho about sanctions, manipulating elections, and sending our troops overseas are criticized as somehow being unpatriotic. It happened before when so many of us were opposed to the Iraq war, the US attack on Libya, and elsewhere. And it is happening again to those of us not eager to get in another cold — or hot — war with Russia over a small peninsula that means absolutely nothing to the US or its security.
I would argue that real patriotism is defending this country and making sure that our freedoms are not undermined here. Unfortunately, while so many are focused on freedoms in Crimea and Ukraine, the US Congress is set to pass an NSA “reform” bill that will force private companies to retain our personal data and make it even easier for the NSA to spy on the rest of us. We need to refocus our priorities toward promoting liberty in the United States!
Richard Cobden, the great libertarian of the 19th century, man of peace, leader of the Anti-Corn Law League, and anti-imperialist, was once considered in line to be Prime Minister. Yet, like so many libertarians after him, he was destroyed for his opposition to nationalism and war. In Cobden’s case, his opposition to the Crimean War sent his political capital into a tailspin as not only the ruling classes savagely attacked him, but he was also abandoned by the liberal rank and file and who had supported his economic positions, but who shunned Cobden once he refused to jump on the war-hysteria bandwagon. One of Cobden’s great “crimes,” according to his critics, was that he was an apologist for the Russian Empire. Cobden was no such thing, of course, but Cobden’s recognition of the motivations behind Russian actions in Europe and Crimea earned him condemnations from narrow-minded liberals who were more concerned with criticizing the Russians (who of course couldn’t have cared less what the British liberals thought) than with criticizing the British Empire, a leading source of political instability and despotism worldwide.
Writings like this, in which Cobden simply examines the Russian point of view on the Polish and Crimean questions, while pointing to the British Empire’s own imperialism, did not earn Cobden any friends:
Lord Dudley Stuart (whose zeal, we fear, without knowledge, upon the subject of Poland, and whose prejudice against Russia have led him to occupy so much of the public time uselessly upon the question before us), in the course of his long speech in the House of Commons (February 19th) upon introducing the subject of Russian encroachments, dwelt at considerable length upon the lust of aggrandisement by which he argued that the government of St. Petersburg was so peculiarly distinguished; and he brought forward, at considerable cost of labour, details of its successive conquests of territory during the last century. Where the human mind is swayed by any passion of however amiable a nature, or where the feelings are allowed to predominate over the reason, in investigating a subject which appeals only to the understanding, it will generally happen that the judgment is defective. We attribute to the well-known fervour of Lord Stuart’s sentiments upon Russia and Poland, the circumstance that, during the fortnight which he must have employed in collecting the dates of the several treaties by which the former empire has wrested its possessions from neighbouring states, the thought never once occurred to him—a reflection which would have entered the head of almost any other man of sense, who sat down coolly to consider the subject—that, during the last hundred years, England has, for every square league of territory annexed to Russia, by force, violence, or fraud, appropriated to herself three. Such would have been the reflection which flashed across the mind of a statesman who sat down, dispassionately, to investigate the subject of Russian policy;
It was almost ten years ago when, before the House International Relations Committee, I objected to the US Government funding NGOs to meddle in the internal affairs of Ukraine. At the time the “Orange Revolution” had forced a regime change in Ukraine with the help of millions of dollars from Washington.
At that time I told the Committee:
We do not know exactly how many millions—or tens of millions—of dollars the United States government spent on the presidential election in Ukraine. We do know that much of that money was targeted to assist one particular candidate, and that through a series of cut-out non-governmental organizations (NGOs)—both American and Ukrainian—millions of dollars ended up in support of the presidential candidate…
I was worried about millions of dollars that the US government-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its various related organizations spent to meddle in Ukraine’s internal affairs. But it turns out that was only the tip of the iceberg.
Last December, US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland gave a speechin which she admitted that since 1991 the US government has:
[I]nvested more than 5 billion dollars to help Ukraine…in the development of democratic institutions and skills in promoting civil society and a good form of government.
This is the same State Department official who was caught on tape just recently planning in detail the overthrow of the Ukrainian government.
From his column in today’s USA Today:
Critics point to the Russian “occupation” of Crimea as evidence that no fair vote could have taken place. Where were these people when an election held in an Iraq occupied by U.S. troops was called a “triumph of democracy”?
Perhaps the U.S. officials who supported the unconstitutional overthrow of Ukraine’s government should refocus their energies on learning our own Constitution, which does not allow the U.S. government to overthrow governments overseas or send a billion dollars to bail out Ukraine and its international creditors.
Though the Obama administration has applied some minimal sanctions on selected Russian and Crimean individuals, neither the U.S. nor the EU can afford significant sanctions against Russia. Global trade provides too much economic benefit to both sides.
William Anderson Walter Block Per Bylund John Cochran Jeff Deist Thomas DiLorenzo Gary Galles David Gordon Jeffrey Herbener Robert Higgs Randall Holcombe David Howden Jörg Guido Hülsmann Peter Klein Hunter Lewis Matt McCaffrey Ryan McMaken Thorsten Polleit Joseph Salerno Timothy Terrell Mark Thornton Hunt Tooley Christopher Westley