Ron Paul “Now We Live Off Our Military Power” on John Stossel – July 7th 2011
JOHN STOSSEL: Is America on the road to serfdom? I think maybe, though what do I mean, “road to serfdom”? The phrase comes from this important book, written by Nobel Prize winner, F.A. Hayek. At a time when socialism was most popular and called the route to fairness and prosperity, Hayek wrote no, the opposite is true, that “government control leads to stagnation and poverty”. And “the most important change which extensive government control produces is psychological change…an alteration in the character of the people.” In other words, too much government destroys a free people’s spirit. It turns them into serfs. What is a serf anyways? Well, in medieval times, the serfs were peasants who worked the land but could never own their land or really prosper because most everything they produced was essentially confiscated by their controllers, the aristocracy. And that is what’s happening today says presidential candidate Ron Paul. Except today’s aristocracy is the government and the political class, and as it grows, it turns us into serfs. So, really Congressman? Serfs?
RON PAUL: I think so. I think we give more to the government now than the serfs had to give to their government. But it’s more deceitful now because people still think they own their land and they own their life, but they have to work hard and turn most of it over to the government. So, I think he was onto something. As a matter of fact, The Road to Serfdom was probably the first serious economic book that I’ve read. He was the one that got me interested, and I felt very fortunate that, on one visit he had in the early 80’s to Washington D.C., I was fortunate enough to have dinner with him. So I feel an attachment to him intellectually. He was absolutely right on The Road to Serfdom. So we’re in serious trouble, and if we don’t take good advice from economists like Hayek, things are going to get a lot worse. The serfdom that we are suffering from is going to get much worse, and there’s going to be a lot more people suffering the consequences.
JOHN STOSSEL: And you talked about how maybe we give more to the government than the serfs did. It makes me think of the Bible, which says the Israelites wanted a king, and they were told, “You don’t want a king. He’ll take ten percent of your grain!” Ten percent would be good now. Now we’re paying 40 percent, state and local included.
RON PAUL: Yes, and that was in the first Samuel, in Chapter 8, and he talked about taxation, dependency, and taking young people – young men and women – and using them for the benefit of the king and fighting unnecessary wars. So I think even Samuel knew something about the road to serfdom as well.
JOHN STOSSEL: I think most Americans would say, “We’re not serfs, and we want to take care of people. We’re a rich country. We can afford to help people.”
RON PAUL: And, for a long time, we were. So much wealth was produced by the freedoms that we did have. Then we lived off what we had saved, and we lived off our image. Now we live off our military power, which conveys strength, but we also live off the fact that there’s still a lot of trust in us and hope for us. And they still allow us to print money endlessly. But common sense tells us that you cannot prevail by believing this myth that you can create wealth out of thin air, that spending is good, and debt is beneficial.
JOHN STOSSEL: You’re personally fighting some of the spending. You just returned $141,000 in unspent office funds to the Treasury toward paying down the debt. It’s a step in the right direction. Why don’t other politicians do that? Have any others done that?
RON PAUL: I would think so, but I don’t know exactly. Money talks in Washington, and we pretend that we are going to take care of people. It’s all based on good intentions that we’re rich enough, and we can take care of everybody. But most people don’t realize [that] if you really care and you’re really compassionate, you’ll defend the cause of liberty because it is liberty, free markets, sound money, and property rights that creates the wealth. We’d all be better off if we endorsed those views.
JOHN STOSSEL: Thank you, Dr. Ron Paul.