NASHVILLE -- The Federal Reserve and how it “facilitates” the growth of government and spending was the topic of a speech given by retired Texas Republican congressman Ron Paul at a conference Friday.
The libertarian-leaning Republican from Texas who ran in the party’s presidential primaries in 2008 1nd 2012 was speaking at a conference titled “A Night of Clarity.” The event at the Nashville Sheraton featured lectures from libertarians and free-market economists on the history of U.S. monetary policy.
Paul’s speech, titled “My History with Austrian Economics and Fighting the Fed,” covered a range of topics from how he discovered the so-called “Austrian School” of economics and got involved in politics to how the Federal Reserve encourages federal government expansion.
Although the main topic of the conference was money and banking, Paul tied the Fed to many of the public policy issues prominent in the news today.
Issues such as excessive spending, rising debt, foreign interventionism and perpetual war, NSA surveillance and the loss of civil liberties are directly linked with the Federal Reserve and ever-expanding government, Paul said.
“To me, the big issue is the issue of liberty, the issue of personal liberty,” Paul said. “And that means that I believe strongly in the restraint of government. If government only could be restrained for that of protecting out rights and our liberties, and not being involved in the excessive use of force, or even have any authority to initiate violence against us or anybody else, it would be a lot different.”
Educating more people about government’s excesses is the most important way to make a change, Paul said. He added that the Internet allows for easier sharing of this information. Paul called for vigilance against attempts by the government to restrict the Internet or pass bills like the Stop Online Piracy Act, which he opposed in 2012, saying it would be used to “censor” the Web.
“When I gave my last speech in Congress, I listed, I think maybe five things I was most concerned about, and one was our ability to communicate,” Paul said. “Our ability to use our First Amendment rights, because if you don’t have that, we could all be in this room know what the truth is, and all the facts, but if we can’t each go out and influence a hundred people for each one of you here, it won’t work.”
He criticized mainstream Republicans and Democrats for being more similar than different on the issues that really matter.
“So you have the economic consequence of government spending too much, and the two parties like it,” Paul said. “Because Republicans like spending for one reason, the Democrats like it for another reason. This whole idea that they’re different, I think, has done us a lot of harm.”
One example of an important issue on which the most powerful Washington politicians tend to take a shared stance regardless of party affiliation is the recent amendment to restrain the NSA’s abilities to monitor the activities of Americans not being investigated for crimes that was proposed by U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., Paul said.
The amendment, which was intended for the 2014 Defense Appropriations Bill, failed in the House on a vote of 205 to 217. The amendment was supported by 94 Republicans and 111 Democrats, but narrowly failed with the White House, the intelligence community and the congressional leaders of both parties all standing in opposition.
“This is really the problem, is that there’s this pretense that there’s a big difference,” Paul said. “So, on foreign policy, everybody knows the Democrats are against war and they’re [for] peace for people, and they want to end the wars. Yeah, sure. And we all know the Republicans want to balance the budget. Yeah, look at how often they’ve done that.”
“But they support the same thing, over and over again,” Paul continued. “And then we end up with the mess that we have today.”
Paul also hit on his familiar non-interventionists foreign policy themes. In contrast with Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, Paul believes the United States should resolutely avoid involving itself militarily in Syria’s ongoing civil war.
Instead of trying to control the direction of politics and conflicts in other nations, the U.S. should instead follow “The Golden Rule” and do only to other countries what we’d like and tolerate to be done to us, Paul suggested.
He closed his lecture by advocating for the need to protect the right to opt out of the established government system or program whenever possible, such as in medical care, education and the monetary system.
“Just legalize freedom,” Paul said. “That’s what we need, that’s our job. Help us do it, and thank you very much.”