With women now cleared to fill all military combat roles, a major push is on to force women to register for the draft. Is this a triumph of equality, or is it just equality in slavery?
By Ron Paul
I think the most exciting message for me today is that things are changing.
Often, when I come to these events, people ask me, “isn’t this grueling, isn’t this very tough?” It’s not, though, and it’s actually a little bit selfish on my part, because I get energized when I meet all the young people here. It’s true there is a spread of ages here, but there are a lot of young people and some of them even come up to me and say “you introduced me to these ideas when I was in high school a few years ago.”
And it’s not just people at events like these. When I landed at the airport on my way here, I was approached by two young people who came up to talk to me. They didn’t know each other, but both spoke with foreign accents, and both said they were from Africa. They said they heard the message of liberty over the Internet, and they had been following me ever since 2008.
These are just examples, but I do think they represent a larger change that is taking place right now. Things are changing dramatically and in a favorable way.
We’re in this transition period right now where the attitudes are changing. But our views have been out there a long time, so we have to ask ourselves why we’re seeing more success now among the young and many future leaders.
Part of this is just due to greater availability of ideas. The Internet certainly helps, and a lot of the credit must go to organizations like the Mises Institute that make the ideas of liberty more easily available to everyone.
I also never imagined that my presidential campaigns would get the attention they did for our ideas. Our success in bringing new young people into the movement surpassed anything I thought was possible.
Change Will Come Whether We Like It or Not
But the reason we see more success for these ideas is not just because it’s easier to find them and read them. We’re living in a time when people — especially young people — can see that the old ideas aren’t working any more.
The young generation has inherited a mess from the older generations, and the young can see that what they’ve been told isn’t true. It’s not true that you can just go to college, run up a bunch of student debt, and then get a good job. The young can see that the middle class is being destroyed by our current economic system. And they can see that our foreign policy is failing.
Whether we like it or not, change will come. The troops will come home. They probably won’t come home for ideological reasons, but simply because the United States is broke and can’t afford all its wars anymore.
We’re also living in a time when the economic system is going to come unglued. The old Keynesian economic system isn’t working and young people can see it.
If it is true that we’re in the midst of an end of an era, though, the question remains as to what’s going to replace the system we have now. There are still plenty of socialists — popular ones — who are out there saying that what we need is more government control and more war to fix the economy and the world. So, we still have a lot of work to do, but I think we’re in a better place now than we’ve been in a long time.
We Don’t Need a Majority
When thinking about all the work we still have to do, it’s important to keep in mind that we don’t need majority support. If you’re waiting for 51 percent of the population to say “I’m libertarian and I believe everything you say,” you’ll lose your mind. What we need for success is intellectual leadership in a country that can influence government and the society overall.
That’s where the progress is being made. We’re only talking about 7 or 8 percent of a country that is necessary to provide the kind of influence you need. This was the case during the American Revolution, and it’s true today. You are part of that 8 percent.
When doing this work, though, there are many things that can be done. People often ask me “what do you want me to do.” My answer is: “do what you want to do.”
There is no one way. Some people can use the political system, and others can go into pure education. Lew Rockwell started the Mises Institute, but what you do for the cause of liberty is personal to you, and you have to find what makes sense for you.
Also, you can’t know all the positive effects your work is having. I certainly had no way of knowing all these years how I was having an effect on those young Africans I met at the airport. You can’t always know what effect you’re having either.
Where To Start
So, say that we are successful, and our 7 or 8 percent continues to gain influence. What should we be doing? I think there are three basic places we need to start.
First off, we would see to it that there would be no income tax in the United States ever again.
Second, we would take the Federal Reserve and all its leadership and relegate them to the pages of history.
We would then pass a law that the US government cannot commit any crime that it punished other people for. It’s wrong to steal and hand people’s property over to other people, no matter how much people who do that win the applause of others.
And finally, we would bring all the troops home. Randolph Bourne was right when he said that war is the health of the state. Peace is the friend of liberty and prosperity.
We Need Humility
As a final note, I’d like to say that humility and tolerance need to be an important part of our efforts.
Yes, we need a foreign policy based on humility. We can’t know what’s right for people around the world, and we certainly shouldn’t force anything on them.
But right here at home, we need humility also. In fact, libertarianism is based on humility. We can’t know what’s best for other people. No one can, and that is why we want people to have the freedom to do what they think is best for themselves.
This is true in economics, of course. Do you think Janet Yellen knows what the “correct” interest rate is? There are many things that economic planners can’t possibly know. And for that reason — and others — there are so many things they shouldn’t be doing.
And yes, there are a lot of people out there living their lives in ways we might disagree with. But intolerance is what government is based on. The far left, they are very intolerant and are happy to have people with guns tell other people how to live.
We need to keep in mind that if other people aren’t hurting us or using government to force their way of life on us, they should be left alone.
Unlike the left, we want tolerance for other people’s morals and for how other people work for a living and what they choose to do with their money.
We need more tolerance and humility in every aspect of life, and that’s how we get a free society.
So, let’s all go to work and preserve the cause of liberty.
Thank you very much.
This article originally appeared in the January-February 2016 issue of The Austrian.
By Ron Paul
Republicans are dusting off their usual rhetoric and are attempting to hoodwink libertarians into voting for them. However, I see no one that will actually follow through on the rhetoric. I comment on this and more in an interview given to KERA News.
On why Rand had a poor showing in the Iowa caucus:
“Conditions are different right now and unfortunately, people are scared and are much more willing to listen to people who have magical answers – ‘I’m going to take care of you, just listen to me and we know the answers’ – there’s a lot of demagoguing going on, so it’s not easy to present the case of liberty where people assume the responsibility for themselves.”
On the misuse of the term ‘liberty’:
“[Politicians] are nowhere close to understanding what a society would be like if you followed the non-aggression principle. You couldn’t aggress against an individual and you can’t use the government to aggress against an individual and they all do. They throw that word around. It’s a misuse of words, whether it’s out of ignorance or knowingly doing it for political advantage.”
On bipartisanship and working with Bernie Sanders:
“There are some things that Bernie and I overlap on. He and I could work together to go after corporatism and corporate welfare, even though he’s a Socialist, we could agree on things.
You don’t want Republicans pretending, ‘oh, I’m for enough welfare, I can work with you,’ and the Democrats saying, ‘I know what the progressive views are, but that seems extreme,’ so they come and they merge in the middle and we have the radical middle. I think that’s very dangerous. Nobody works on principle”
On the kind of gridlock that’s good for Congress:
"What if the Republicans maintain control of the House and Senate and have another John Boehner, a [Mitch] McConnell and then you get [Ted] Cruz? It’d be better to have some progressive in there. It’d be much better for the country long-term because of partisan competition and power, you will hope to have gridlock."
Listen to the short interview here.
Yesterday the CNN Arabic website reported that Saudi Arabia has prepared a 150,000 strong force to invade Syria under the auspices of fighting ISIS. Such a move would pit Saudi troops against Iranian troops and the Russian military, in addition to the Syrian Army. Are they flirting with WWIII?
By Paul-Martin Foss
If you thought the Soviet Union’s collapse meant the end of central planning, you were wrong. Central planning is alive and well. In fact, it’s even stronger now than it was during the Soviet Union’s heyday. What’s even more disturbing is that many who would strongly oppose Soviet-style central planning and who consider themselves to be defenders of free markets fail to recognize their acceptance of central planning and see no contradiction between their acceptance of central planning and their alleged support of the market economy.
Consider this Wall Street Journal interview with AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson from last month’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Mr. Stephenson states his opinion that two percent annual economic growth is unacceptable. This is the type of statement you hear from CEOs, politicians, and other leaders all the time. You’ll hear calls for four percent annual GDP growth, five percent, maybe even six percent. How exactly do you quantify economic growth? Most would point to gross domestic product (GDP), but that is a problematic measure. Aside from the difficulty in calculating it, GDP also includes government spending as one of the components of productivity. All else being equal, more government spending equals higher GDP, which gives politicians an excuse to spend more money lest GDP should drop.
All of this ignores the fact that there is no ideal rate of growth. The rate of growth is what it is, sometimes it is greater, sometimes it is lesser, but (in an unhampered market) it really is whatever the market can bear. Attempting to pick a firm number and achieve that rate is an exercise in futility. But the obsession with economic data and calculating a precise figure for economic growth has led economists, politicians, and business leaders to believe that there is some ideal rate of growth that can be calculated, quantified, and targeted. And how do these leaders expect the economy to reach their ideal growth rate anyway? Why, just ask the central bank to help out through monetary policy. Create more money, drive prices upward, GDP rises, voila!
The downside, of course, is that economic growth that is stimulated by artificial inflation of the money supply is ultimately unsustainable. An economic boom is created, GDP growth rises, and resources are malinvested. As those malinvestements begin to come to light and businesses begin falter, the recessionary phase of the business cycle begins and GDP begins to fall. And what do the creators of the boom and bust propose to counteract the recession? Why, more money printing of course! And thus the cycle continues over and over again until what Ludwig von Mises called the “crackup boom” results.
What is monetary policy anyway other than centralized economic planning? The central bank sets a certain target interest rate and buys and sells assets to achieve that target, creating money out of thin air to do so. This is nothing more than price-fixing. It may not be as total a price-fixing scheme as occurred behind the Iron Curtain, but it is price-fixing nonetheless, with all the subsequent negative effects that result. Only this time the prices being manipulated are interest rates, the prices of money and credit, perhaps the most crucial prices to a developed economy. These prices coordinate savings and investment throughout the economy, so that if they are manipulated the entire structure of the economy is distorted.
But so many people fail to understand that monetary policy is price-fixing. Many fervent advocates of the market economy, who may decry minimum wages, rent control, trade barriers, or other economic interventionism and price-fixing, have a huge blind spot when it comes to monetary policy. That’s despite the fact that the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate in federal law decrees that the Fed is to assure full employment and stable prices. Do they honestly expect the Fed to be able to try to achieve those goals without manipulating prices?
Politicians don’t understand monetary economics and neither do most businessmen. (Neither, for that matter, do most economists, but that’s a story for another day.) They don’t want to delve too deeply into the details, but the Federal Reserve hasn’t completely destroyed the economy yet so they can’t be doing too badly, right? In a way, these politicians and businessmen treat monetary policy as though it’s magic. Just let the central bankers meet in their secret rooms and do what they want with the economy and everything will turn out just hunky-dory. And when it doesn’t? Well, the politicians will have moved on to higher office, the CEOs will have retired, and everybody who’s stuck suffering during the recession wonders why this keeps happening. It will continue to happen until the mindset that an economy can be centrally controlled is no longer taken seriously in politics, business, or academia. As long as the myth that a handful of mandarins can guide the economy and produce economic growth, this destructive cycle of booms and recessions will continue to repeat itself.
This article was originally published at The Carl Menger Center.
By Chris Rossini
If you're new to learning about the principles of liberty, you will inevitably notice that libertarians focus very strongly on ideas. For centuries champions of liberty that have advocated peace, voluntary interactions and non-aggression have focused like a laser beam on the ideas that produce these results.
There is a very logical reason for this. In our human existence, thoughts are causes and the manifestations that we see around us are effects. That is the syntax of our world. Even the mightiest skyscrapers that tower over us, must first come from ideas, or blueprints, formed in the minds of men. That's the setup. Ideas are manifested. The invisible produces the visible.
This is why libertarians focus so intently on the invisible realm of ideas. After all, one cannot place liberty into someone else's hands. One cannot go to the store and buy a 6-pack of peace. These are ideas, and the manifestation of these ideas in our world is the aim of the libertarian. But in order for the ideas of liberty to be manifested, they must first be understood, believed, and finally desired.
When individuals do not understand, they cannot believe. If they cannot believe, they cannot desire. That which is not understood remains in the realm of the unknown, and humans tend to fear the unknown. The libertarian seeks to penetrate this fear by persuading others into understanding that there is nothing to fear from peace and freedom.
The circumstances that we observe today are all rooted in the invisible world of ideas.
When we see an America mired in a century of never-ending wars, we are witnessing the manifestation of the ideas of interventionism, and more recently neoconservatism. These ideas present the American government as a "chosen" government that must police the world, and dominate it militarily. Since these ideas have been embraced, believed and desired we see the results manifested with untold millions killed, civilizations destroyed, and human suffering that cannot be comprehended by those who are entertained by Super Bowl military jet fly-overs.
When we see an America with a disappearing middle-class, swimming in oceans of debt, with higher and higher bills that must be paid, we are seeing the manifestation of Keynesian ideas. These ideas present a tiny group of central planning bureaucrats as having the ability to "run the economy" by counterfeiting money. Since these ideas have been embraced, believed and desired we see the results manifested with constant reappearances of illusory economic booms, which must be followed by heart-wrenching economic busts. The unavoidable suffering leads to broken marriages, broken families, failed businesses, anxiety, and depression on a massive scale. If new ideas do not replace the Keynesian ideas, then Americans must remain like hamsters on a wheel, going through the same motions again and again.
When we see an American government with a divide & conquer strategy that creates unnatural "wars" between sexes, races, genders, or ages, we are seeing the manifestation of ideas known as Cultural Marxism. So-called "political-correctness", "thought police", and "cultural gatekeepers" have manifested from these ideas. Since these ideas have been embraced, believed and desired we witness a population that is increasingly confined to mental prisons, not knowing what to say, feel, think or believe.
In every single case, the syntax is the same: Ideas manifest. The invisible produces the visible. This is why libertarians are so concerned with ideas. Libertarians go to the root, and leave it to others to mess with the fruit. Libertarians focus on the cause and don't waste time wrestling with the effects. Champions of liberty throughout the ages have always sought an intellectual revolution, not an impotent political revolution.
If you're going to begin something, begin at the beginning.
Ideas are the beginning, and the ideas of liberty are so much more preferable than the destructive ideas of neoconservatism, Keynesianism, and Cultural Marxism that dominate in so many minds today.
The tiny handful of military program cuts have been reversed, as Congressional hawks shame Obama into reinstating programs and systems scheduled for shutdown. Meanwhile under the NATO flag the US is massing 40,000 troops on the Russian border and quadrupling its military budget in Europe. Is it a new Cold War they want - or a new hot one?
By Ron Paul
The United States Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended mandatory depression screening for all Americans. The task force wants to force health insurance companies to pay for the screening. Basic economics, as well as the Obamacare disaster, should have shown this task force that government health insurance mandates harm Americans.
Government health insurance mandates raise the price of health insurance. Consumers will respond to this increase by either choosing to not carry health insurance or by reducing their consumption of other goods and services. Imposing new health insurance mandates will thus make consumers, many of whom are already suffering from Obamacare’s costly mandates, worse off by forcing them to deviate from their preferred consumption patterns.
Mandatory depression screening will not just raise insurance costs. In order to ensure that the screening mandate is being properly implemented, the government will need to create a database containing the results of the screenings. Those anti-gun politicians who want to forbid anyone labeled “mentally ill” from owning a firearm will no doubt want to use this database as a tool to deprive individuals of their Second Amendment rights.
If the preventive task force has its way, Americans could lose their Second Amendment, and possibly other rights, simply because they happened to undergo their mandatory depression screening when they were coping with a loved one’s passing or a divorce, or simply having a bad day. As anyone who has been mistakenly placed on the terrorist watch list can attest, it is very difficult to get off a government database even when the government clearly is in error. Thus, anyone mistakenly labeled as depressed will have to spend a great deal of time and money in what may be a futile attempt to get his rights back.
Mandatory depression screening will endanger people’s health by increasing the use of psychotropic drugs. These drugs often have dangerous side effects. Their use has even been linked to suicide. The fact that almost every mass shooter was on psychotropic drugs is another good reason to oppose any policy that will increase reliance on these medicines.
The Preventive Services Task Force’s mandatory depression screening mandate is based on the fallacy that diagnosing mental health problems is analogous to diagnosing cancer or diabetes. Even mental health professionals acknowledge that there is a great deal of subjectivity in mental health diagnosis.
Consider that until 1973 homosexuality was considered a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association. Today, some mental health professionals think that those who believe in limited government, free-market economics, or traditional values suffer from mental disorders. If mandatory depression screening becomes a reality, it is likely this mental health screening will be expanded to cover screening for other mental illnesses. This could result in anyone with an unpopular political belief or lifestyle choice being labeled as “mentally ill.”
Even if mandatory health screening could be implementing without increasing costs or threatening liberty it would still be a bad idea. Government health care mandates undermine the basic principles of a free society. If it is legitimate for government to tell us what types of health care we must receive, then it is also legitimate for the government to tell us what to eat, when to exercise, and even how to raise our children. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, a tyranny imposed for our own good is the worst form of tyranny because it is a tyranny without limits. All who love liberty must therefore oppose mandatory depression screening, or any other health care mandate.
By Lew Rockwell
The very first votes of the 2016 presidential election season were cast this week in the Iowa caucuses. This is supposed to fill us with happy thoughts about self-government, civic virtue, rational deliberation, and about politics as the way the people’s will is put into effect.
But to the contrary, we should spurn what the establishment would have us celebrate. Politics operates according to principles that would horrify us if we observed them in our private lives, and that would get us arrested if we tried to live by them. The state can steal and call it taxation, kidnap and call it conscription, kill and call it war.
And yet we are taught to fear capitalism, of all things.
But what, after all, are capitalism and the free market? They are nothing more than the sum total of voluntary exchanges in society.
When we engage in a voluntary exchange — when I buy apples for $5, or when you hire someone for $25 per hour — both sides are better off than they would have been in the absence of the exchange.
We can’t say the same for our interactions with the state, since we pay the state under threat of violence. The state sure winds up better off, though. That’s for sure.
Business firms that increase their profits thanks to some new innovation cannot rest on their laurels. Other firms will adopt the innovation themselves, and those abnormally high profits will dissipate. The original firm must continue to press forward, striving to devise still newer ways to please their fellow men.
The state operates under no such conditions. It can remain as backward as it likes. Other firms are typically prohibited from competing with it.
The state’s priorities arbitrarily override your own. Ethanol “is important for the farmers,” one candidate says. So because the state has decided some interest group’s foolish and economically nonsensical pet project is “important,” what you yourself would have preferred to do with your money is simply set aside and ignored, and you are forced to subsidize what the state seeks to privilege.
Our schools and media portray corporations as sinister, and government as benign. But who wouldn’t rather take a sales call from Norwegian Cruise Line than an audit demand from the Internal Revenue Service?
Or imagine if a corporation fabricated a web of untruths, used them as a pretext to launch a violent attack on a people that had never caused Americans any harm, and brought about as many as a million deaths and millions more internal and external refugees. That corporation would be broken up and never heard from again. It would be denounced ceaselessly until the end of time.
Now all those things did happen, but they were carried out by the state. And as we all know, there have been no repercussions for anyone. No one has been punished. In fact, the perpetrators earn six-figure speaking fees. The whole thing is shrugged off as at worst an honest mistake. Some people are still outraged about it, but even they seem to take for granted that there’s really nothing that can be done about behavior like this on the part of the American regime.
Imagine there were a corporation that was somehow so entrenched that despite being responsible for a staggering death toll, it evaded all responsibility and simply carried on as before. The outrage would be deafening and overwhelming.
But so relentless has been the propaganda, ever since all of us were children, about the state’s benign nature that many people simply cannot bring themselves to think as badly about the state as they have been taught to think about corporations — even though the crimes of the state put to shame all the misdeeds of all existing corporations put together. Meanwhile, opponents of the state are routinely portrayed as incorrigible misanthropes, when in fact, in light of the state’s true nature, we are mankind’s greatest advocates.
The market brings people together. People of divergent and sometimes antagonistic racial, religious, and philosophical backgrounds are happy to trade with one another. Beyond that, the international division of labor as it exists today is the greatest and most extraordinary example of human cooperation in the history of the world. Countless firms produce countless intermediate goods that eventually combine to become finished consumer products. And the entire structure of production, in all its complexity, is aimed at satisfying consumer preferences as effectively as possible.
The state, on the other hand, pits us against each other. If one of us wins a state favor, it comes at the expense of everyone else. For one group to be benefited, another must first be expropriated. At one time or another the state has pitted the old against the young, blacks against whites, the poor against the rich, the industrialists against agriculture, women against men.
Meanwhile, all the anti-social effort devoted to extracting favors from the state is effort that is not available to produce goods and services and increase the general prosperity.
The market is about anticipating the needs of our fellow men and exerting ourselves to meet those needs in the most cost-effective manner — in other words, by wasting the fewest possible resources, and making what we offer as affordable as we can for those we serve.
Ah, but we need the state, virtually everyone tells us. Whether it’s “monopoly,” or drugs, the bad guys overseas, or the scores of other bogeymen the state uses to justify itself, we’re constantly being reminded of why the state is supposed to be indispensable. To be sure, these and other rationales for the state sound plausible enough, which is why the state and its apologists use them. But the first halting steps toward intellectual liberation come when someone considers the possibility that the truth about these things might be different from what he hears on TV, or learned in school.
The small minority of people who administer the state with funds expropriated by the productive private sector need to justify this situation, lest the public become restless or entertain subversive ideas about the real relationship between the state and themselves. And this is where the state’s various platitudes about the people governing themselves, or taxation being voluntary, or government employees being the servants of the people, enter the picture.
Think for a moment just about this last claim: that government employees are our servants. These people staff an institution that decides how much of our income and wealth to expropriate in order to fund itself. They will imprison us if we do not pay. And we are to believe that these people are our servants?
For those not gullible enough to fall for such a transparent canard, the rationales become mildly more sophisticated. All right, all right, the state may say, it’s not quite right to say that the people govern themselves. But, they hasten to add, we can offer the next best thing: the people will be represented by individuals chosen from among them.
As Gerard Casey has argued, though, the idea of political representation is not meaningful. When an agent represents a business owner in a negotiation, he ensures that the owner's interests are pursued. If the owner’s interests are defended only weakly, ignored, or downright defied, the owner chooses different representation.
None of this bears any resemblance to political representation. Here, a so-called representative is chosen by some people but actively opposed by others. Yet he is said to “represent” all of them. But how can this be, when he can’t possibly know them all, and even if he did, he’d discover they have mutually exclusive views and priorities?
Even if we focus entirely on those people who did vote for the representative, is their vote supposed to imply consent to his every decision? Some of them may have voted for him not for his positions or merits, but simply because he was less bad than the alternative. Others may have chosen him for one or two of his stances, but may be indifferent or hostile on everything else. How can even these people — who actually voted for the representative — seriously be said to be “represented” by him?
But the idea of political representation, while meaningless, is not without its usefulness to the modern state. It helps to conceal the brute fact that, despite all the talk about “popular rule” and “governing ourselves,” even the “free societies” of the West amount to some people ruling, and others being ruled.
When the results are announced this primary season amid cheers and celebration, then, remember what it all represents: the triumph of compulsion over cooperation, coercion over freedom, and propaganda over truth. The civics textbooks may write with breathless awe about the American political system, but this is by far the worst thing about the US. Rather than celebrate the anti-social world of politics, let us raise a glass to the anti-politics of the free market, which has yielded more wealth and prosperity through peace and cooperation than the state and its politicians could with all the coercion in the world.
This article was originally published at The Mises Institute.
By Ron Paul
Empires usually disintegrate from within. The American military empire is no exception. It is rotting from the inside-out. In a speech given for The Mises Institute I cover the history and rise of the ideas of liberty. I also discuss the roadblocks known as socialism, Keynesianism, progressivism, and neoconservatism. There is good news to report: the roadblocks are doomed, and the ideas of liberty will ultimately prevail. I hope you enjoy the full speech below: