By Ron Paul
Last week President Trump urged Congress to reassert its constitutional authority to direct how federal agencies spend taxpayer dollars. Ironically, many constitutional conservatives and libertarians disagree with the president. The reason is, President Trump wants Congress to reassert its authority by bringing back earmarks.
Earmarks are line items in spending bills directing federal agencies to spend federal funds on specific projects in a representative or senator’s district or state. Congress ended the practice of earmarks several years ago after a public outcry fueled by a widespread misunderstanding of the issue.
Earmarks are added to spending bills after the spending levels have been determined. Therefore, earmarks do not increase federal spending. What earmarks do is limit the federal bureaucrats’ ability to decide how to spend taxpayer money.
When I served in Congress, I was amazed when self-proclaimed constitutionalists complained about how earmarks prevented funding of federal bureaucrats’ priorities. These “constitutionalists” seem to have forgotten that the Constitution gives Congress sole authority over deciding how taxpayer dollars should be spent.
My support for earmarks in Congress did not add one penny to the spending in the bills. I believed that some of the tax money sent to Washington should actually make it back to Congressional districts rather than remain in the hands of Washington bureaucrats. In the end, I always voted against final passage of the bloated spending bills.
Some call earmarks a gateway drug to big spending. They point to how congressional leadership denied earmarks to members unless the members voted for big spending and other anti-liberty legislation. It is true that congressional leadership used earmarks to reward and punish members. During my years in Congress, earmarks for my district were stripped from bills in an (unsuccessful) attempt to make me stop voting against unconstitutional legislation.
Congressional leaders do not need earmarks to reward or punish members. They can, for example, deny plum committee assignments to those who refuse to toe the party line, or discourage donors from supporting them.
Presidents can still use the promise of federal funds to influence congressional votes. “Presidential earmarks” were crucial to passing Obamacare, and President Trump has threatened to withhold aid from states whose senators oppose his agenda. The removal of earmarks has given the president even greater influence over the legislative branch!
The fact that there are more representatives and senators willing to vote against big government than in past years has nothing to do with the lack of earmarks. Instead, the liberty movement has led to more liberty-minded members being elected to the House and Senate.
While the ideas of liberty are growing in popularity, the majority of the people and certainly most politicians still believe the US government should run the economy, run the world, and run our lives. This misplaced faith in big government, not the presence of earmarks, is why most politicians vote for big spending. No politician ever said, “Now that I can’t receive earmarks, I am abandoning my support for the welfare-warfare state.”
Earmarks are a way for elected representatives to ensure their constituents’ tax dollars are spent in a manner that matches constituent priorities. Earmarks do not by themselves expand government. Those who oppose earmarks should work to stop so many Americans from demanding government-provided economic and personal security. Earmarks are not the cause of runaway spending, and removing them has done little or nothing to shrink government and regain our liberties.
By Chris Rossini
Watch out when government says that it's coming to "help," or that it's going to make something "more affordable." Whenever those words leave a politician's lips, a major tragedy is on its way.
Foreign policy "help" and domestic policy "help" are two sides of the same false-promise coin. It can't happen, and it won't happen.
Abroad, when the U.S. government says it's going to bring "freedom" to another nation, it ends up destroying the nation, killing untold numbers of people and producing chaos.
At home, when the U.S. government says it'll "help" make a college education "more affordable," it ends up burying kids with enormous debt, and sending the price of a college education upward into the stratosphere!
A report from the Brookings Institute tells us that about 40% of student loan borrowers will default by 2023.
In other words, throwing over $1 TRILLION at the university "system" in order to make it "more affordable" and "more accessible" backfired completely.
When you throw $1 trillion at something (anything) it's going to drive up prices dramatically. That's exactly what has happened with college degrees.
It's imperative that the role of government is reconsidered in America.
Government (its very existence) is a negation of Liberty.
At most, if a government is going to exist, its power should be so weak that you barely know that it's there. Government should be tasked with protecting Liberty....Period...End of story.
For example, if a private individual commits aggressive force or fraud against another, government steps in to punish the aggressor.
Instead, what we have today is a situation where government itself has become the aggressor! It uses aggression under the guise of "helping."
Government is not protecting Liberty, but wiping it out!
A course correction is necessary, and that can only come with a change of ideas. No longer should government be viewed as either Santa Claus or Mother Teresa. It is neither.
Government can't "help" without causing even more misery in its wake.
Government is violent force.
Real help can only come from voluntary institutions, or voluntary acts of individuals assisting one another.
Dr. Martin Luther King's stance against the Vietnam War led him to be shunned by much of the liberal establishment that applauded his work on civil rights in the US. Was challenging the US warfare state the third rail that cost MLK his life?
China has been accumulating gold for years, and are now taking steps to tie it to yuan. Interest rates in the U.S. are rising, and the Chinese are not so eager to keep piling up on U.S. dollars and U.S. Treasury debt. Ron Paul discusses on The Liberty Report!
By Jacob G. Hornberger
U.S. officials, led by President Trump, and accompanied by their acolytes in the U.S. mainstream press, are absolutely giddy over what they perceive as the success of U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea. With Iran, they are celebrating the fact that horrific economic conditions have led to sporadic protests across the country against the Iranian regime. With North Korea, they are saying that U.S. sanctions are starting to “bite,” which, they say, is what has caused North Korea to reach out to South Korea in diplomatic talks regarding North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympics.
The mindset of these people perfectly reflects Hannah Arendt’s phrase “the banality of evil.” In fact, with the possible exception of government programs like MKULTRA or syphilis experiments against unsuspecting African-Americans, it would be difficult to find anything more evil than the system of sanctions that has long been a core element of U.S. foreign policy.
Let’s begin with North Korea. As a communist state, the government owns everything, and 99 percent of the citizenry works for the government. That means that every North Korean family’s survival depends on food, housing, healthcare, and a paycheck from the state.
If the government has no money, then that means people starve to death because the government is their sole source of sustenance and income.
Thus, to feed and sustain everyone, the government must come up with ways to collect revenue, for example, by heavily taxing North Korean workers who are permitted to work abroad or by engaging in some state enterprise.
This is what socialism, in its purest form, is all about — the government taking care of people, not just with programs like Social Security, public schooling, subsidies, and Medicare, like here in the United States and taxing the productive citizens to pay for them — but rather in a total and complete manner, with the government owning everything and taking care of everyone, and with virtually everyone being an employee of the government.
In North Korea, there is widespread equality insofar as wealth is concerned (which, of course, is a cherished goal of American socialists) because everyone is equally poor, desperately poor because of their socialist economic system.
There is also in North Korea what Mises called “planned chaos.” That’s because central planning and state control of economic activity is inherently defective, given there are no free-market prices with which the planners are able to calculate when formulating their central economic plans.
So, what is the aim of U.S. sanctions? The aim is to deprive the North Korean regime of revenues in the hopes of causing North Korean families to suffer even more than they already are suffering from socialism. Ideally, the aim of the sanctions is to kill ordinary North Koreans through starvation, which will then bring anger and dissatisfaction, which, presumably, will then bring down the regime and have it replaced with a pro-U.S. regime.
That is the ultimate aim of U.S. sanctions — regime change. That’s the aim in Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Russia, and everywhere else that the U.S. has imposed sanctions. Alternatively, the aim is to force the targeted regime to accede to whatever the U.S. government wants.
(All this from a regime and a mainstream press that prattles on about Russia’s supposed interference with America’s political system.)
There is one important thing to keep in mind: the pawns in this scheme are the ordinary people — the families — the fathers, mothers, grandparents, children, grandchildren. They are the ones who U.S. officials are trying to kill as a way to achieve regime change in the targeted country.
This phenomenon of evil was manifested perfectly in 1996, when U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Madeline Albright, was asked by “Sixty Minutes,” whether the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children were “worth it.” What “Sixty Minutes” was referring to was the sanctions that U.S. officials had imposed and enforced against Iraq ever since the U.S. intervention in the Persian Gulf War.
Like with North Korea, Iran, Cuba, and Russia today, the aim of the sanctions against Iraq was regime change. U.S. officials wanted to get rid of Saddam Hussein, who, ironically, had been their partner and ally in the 1980s when Saddam was killing Iranians in the Iraq-Iran War, and replace him with a pro-U.S. ruler. To achieve that goal — regime change — U.S. officials imposed one of the most brutal sanctions systems in history, one that, naturally, targeted Iraqi families.
The combination of Iraq’s socialist economic system and the U.S. sanctions, along with the Pentagon’s intentional destruction of Iraq’s water-and-sewage treatment plants in the Gulf War, operated as a vise that squeezed the economic lifeblood out of Iraqi families. Those who bore the biggest brunt of the sanctions were Iraqi children, who began dying in masse from malnutrition and infectious illnesses, especially since the sanctions prevented Iraq from repairing the water-and-sewage treatment plants that the Pentagon had intentionally bombed and destroyed during the Gulf War.
Thus, in 1996 “Sixty Minutes” asked Albright whether the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children were “worth it.”
The US House today voted to extend Section 702 of the 2008 FISA Amendments. The section allows the government to spy on Americans without a warrant and to save their communications for possible prosecution of "future crimes." It is a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Can the US Senate stop this assault on the Constitution?
By Liberty Report Staff
President Trump is expected to mandate that US embassies overseas become more aggressive salespersons for the US weapons industry. Are the Beltway arms dealers about to get a massive, taxpayer-funded sales force? And where might these weapons end up? In the hands of our enemies?
North and South Korea held bilateral discussions today for the first time in two years. In addition to agreeing to North Korean participation in next month's Olympic games, the two sides agreed to follow up with talks to relieve military tension on the peninsula. With the US out of the picture, is this the beginning of something significant?
By Ron Paul
Attorney General Jeff Sessions kicked off the New Year by reversing the Obama-era guidance for federal prosecutors to limit their enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use. In what is almost certainly not a coincidence, Sessions’ announcement came days after California’s law legalizing recreational marijuana sales went into effect. Sessions’ action thus runs counter to the wishes of the majority of the people in the most populous US state, as well the people of the 28 other states (and DC) that have legalized some form of marijuana use.
Federal laws criminalizing marijuana and other drugs have failed to reduce drug use. However, they have succeeded in giving power-hungry politicians and bureaucrats what was, before 9-11, the go-to justification for violating our civil liberties. The federal war on marijuana has also wasted billions of taxpayer dollars. Far from reducing crime, outlawing drugs causes crime by ensuring criminals will control the market for drugs. Outlawing drugs also provides incentives for drug dealers to increase the potency, and thus the danger, of drugs, as higher potency products take up less space and are thus easier to conceal from law enforcement.
The US Constitution does not give the federal government any authority to criminalize marijuana. Thus, the question of whether marijuana is legal is one of the many issues reserved to the states under the Tenth Amendment. If the Constitution gives Congress the power to ban marijuana, then why was it necessary to amend the Constitution to give Congress the power to ban alcohol?
Sessions’ usurpation of state marijuana laws is the type of federal intrusion into state issues usually opposed by conservatives. Sadly, too many conservatives are just as willing to sacrifice constitutional government and individual liberties for the war on drugs as they are for the war on terror.
Conservative hypocrisy is especially strong when it comes to medical marijuana. Many Americans have used medical marijuana for conditions such as cancer and glaucoma. Yet many conservatives who (properly) decry Obamacare’s mandate forcing every American to purchase health insurance cheer Jeff Sessions’ effort to deprive suffering individuals of the medical treatment of their choice. Cruel paternalism in healthcare policy is often associated with progressives, but unfortunately conservatives are just as guilty.
States that have legalized medical marijuana have fewer deaths related to opioid abuse. These states have also experienced a decrease in crime and black market activity. This is perhaps because some have found medical marijuana a viable alternative to opioids.
Laws outlawing marijuana criminalize peaceful behavior that, while potentially harmful to the individual, does not violate the rights of others. Therefore, these laws, like all laws authorizing government force against peaceful, if immoral, actions, are incompatible with a free society. Once again we see the hypocrisy of conservatives who decry progressives’ war on tobacco and fatty foods, yet support jailing marijuana users.
Federal laws outlawing marijuana violate the Constitution, justify violations of civil liberties, and increase violence. By criminalizing nonviolent behavior voluntarily chosen by individuals, drug laws undermine the moral principles underlying a free society.
President Trump should fire Jeff Sessions and replace him with someone who respects the Constitution and individual liberty. Also, officials from states with legal medical or recreational marijuana should refuse to cooperate with those tasked with enforcing federal marijuana laws. If President Trump and state officials stand up for liberty, the people will join them in saying no to Jeff Sessions.