1st November 2007 - By Aaron Gadberry
I’m a fairly average American citizen. For my entire life I have felt like the good old days of America passed long ago. Don’t get me wrong…this country rocks, but we’ve become so dominated by government and business that it’s only a matter of time until freedom as we know it is extinct. You may look around and see a free country, but you need to realize the first freedoms are always the hardest to take away. Like anything, it’s the small compromises in the beginning that open the door to the large concessions later. As a nation we made these small compromises long ago, and as a result we have no control over the large concessions, such as the indefinite suspending of Habeas Corpus or warrentless wiretapping.
The loss of liberty during my lifetime alone has been astounding. Business is running to other countries to avoid SOX compliance, we’re told how we may and may not punish our children’s and police brutality is worse than ever. Above the freedoms we have lost individually, the country has lost it’s own sovereignty as well. The United States is subject to the authority of the WTO and is facing a $100 billion potential fine for banning internet gambling and sanctions of unspecified billions for cotton subsidies. We now live in a country where our government is limited by outside organizations. So much for being top dog.
If recent years are telling a tale of what is to come, then we are indeed entering troubled times. In societies throughout the world, once rights are revoked they are rarely restored. If they are returned then they are typically again removed through a different avenue. Our freedoms are an extremely limited natural resource and should be guarded with our lives. We have come to a point, however, where the average American citizen can do nothing within reason to protect individual liberties. With this conclusion, it is only a matter of time until we have none left, and our country will have traded the ways of Democracy for those of Socialism (or Fascism, depending on whether you believe government or business will take over). I estimate this to be within 50 to 150 years. Is that the country we want to live in and leave for our children?
This is the perspective I had of our nation’s future. It’s admittedly doomsdayish, but looking around I saw no other reasonable possibilities, at least I didn’t until a month or two ago. I have never really followed presidential campaigns or primary elections. I was a responsible enough citizen to vote, and to watch the election coverage on tv, but never to research the candidates in the primaries, or even consider looking into a smaller party candidate. I do, however, participate in the internet news phenomenon. I read interesting stories daily in all topics, including the occasional story on politics. I kept seeing the name Ron Paul on some of the sites I frequent, so I clicked on a link to see why people were so excited, not expecting anything of much substance. For hours I continued to read articles and watch videos of his views on what was wrong with America. Soon after I began researching other candidates, just to see what they were saying that was different, giving them a fair shot at responding. I have watched videos of several primary debates, interviews, speeches, straw polls and talk shows. My conclusion: Ron Paul is the candidate for me. Why?
He wants to give back the personal liberties that have been slowly taken away. It is through this, and only this, that America will deserve the reputation of “land of the free and the home of the brave.” People hear sound bites on the news and in conversation that steer them away from this radicalist, but I’m going to amalyze his plans, and determine what kind of country would result from seeing them through.
- Reduce the size of the government to that defined in the Constitution. You mean the current one isn’t? Not by a long shot. Consider the 10th Amendment “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Nowhere in the constitution does it speak of a federal educational system. You might respond, “But we have a state based educational system.” Then what is the Department of Education?
The DoE has been around since 1867 under other names, but was established by Congress as a cabinet level agency in 1980. According to the majority of the historical Republican party, Congress never had the authority to create the department. Ronald Regan promised as part of his 1980 campaign to dismantle it. In his 1982 State of the Union he pledged to exclude it from the budget. Bob Dole promised to cut the department in his 1996 campaign. Ron Paul would also like to eliminate the department.
The Department of Education provides an average of 9% primary and secondary educational funding to state and local schools. They operate off of 2.4% of the Federal Government budget, somewhere in the area of 67.2 billion dollars a year. Keep in mind that your taxes cover both the 91% from state and local sources, and the 9% from the federal source. [link] Eliminating the department means that your state and local school taxes could go up, but that your federal taxes would go down about 2.4%. It’s out of one hand and into another. With this arrangement however, your money is going to your schools, instead of across the country to someone else’s. Plus we save the overhead of running the department.
The most important thing is that we follow our own rules. The only constitutional way to establish the Department of Education is through an amendment authorizing federal oversight of the educational system. It is the neglection of our rules that has put us in this state of compromised freedom. Without our constitution, and our laws in general, we are nothing but anarchists. We have a method of changing rules and it should be utilized when change is needed. Now this has much more reaching effects than it seems. We’ve been breaking our own rules for a while, so there are many agencies and departments that would no longer be considered legitimate. The FAA, FDA, EPA, DoHS, DoE would all be put the constitutionality test. Some of these would pass, but others would be dismantled. Effective oversight in these areas could be established through a number of means. State agencies can be instantiated, interest groups could be formed, multi-state agreements could be established, and so on.
- Revert our foreign policy to that before Bush 41. It was under that administration that our foreign policy was largely rewritten to contain preemptive actions to defend our nation. We are going to war with people who have not harmed the United States in any way. We have neither the responsibility nor the authority to trample on other’s sovereign soil to instill our beliefs or governments. Imagine if China felt that a successful Democracy was a threat to their way of life, and came over here to instill their own government in the interest of national security. The very idea is preposterous. They would have no right, and neither do we. Nation Building seems generous when viewed from our arrogant perspective, but put on the other shoes and it’s a violation of our very own core values.
On another note, the countries we are “freeing” are not prepared for the governments we are putting in place. It does not take time or money to make democracy stick to a society. It takes dedication from the citizens to uncompromisingly fight for their rights. America is a democracy because our forefathers took it for democracy. That was less that 250 years ago and already we have nearly given it away. How fast will the Iraqi people give up their freedoms if they did not fight and die for them?
The preemptive war policy does not have historical precedent in our society. Just 60 years ago nearly all of Europe was conquered before we got involved. Beyond this, it was not the invading of other nations that brought us into the war, but the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Under Bush 41 all that provoked us was Kuwait being conquered. Not to belittle the horror of that event, but no attack was made on America. If we went to war for oil then that’s even worse. Do you honestly believe that if we ran out of oil that our lives would drastically change? Our capitalist economy and dynamics of supply and demand would sort out a complete and total oil drought in less than 5 years. Our dependence on foreign oil must be kept in perspective. We are only dependent on it because it’s there. If there was no more oil we would find other ways, but the abundance of it has stopped us from even trying. The government should not be involved in the stabilization or procurement of natural resources.
Also to consider is the cost of our current foreign policy. Quite frankly, we can not afford the empire we are building. We have spent over a trillion dollars in Iraq. I know these big numbers don’t really hit home, so let me do some math for you. 1.9 trillion dollars / 300,000,000 people is $6,333 apiece. And Bush is asking for more. 1.9 trillion dollars spent within our borders could mean final solutions to massive current issues, such as Social security and a national defense. Or it could mean a massive tax refund.
- Balance the budget and pay off the national debt. On paper we are by far the poorest country in the world. Our national debt is now 9 trillion dollars. According to Ron Paul we are currently borrowing 3 billion dollars a day from China to pay the interest. Ron Paul is the only candidate that has a chance of paying down debt. Given the cuts he would make to the federal government, the immediate surplus would be astounding. Shortly after that the budget would be balanced. Personally I wouldn’t be opposed to a surplus budget for a few years to get rid of the debt, but I don’t know Paul’s exact plans regarding that.
With this newly cut and limited government we no longer need an income tax, or an IRS for that matter. The average American pays approximately 25% income tax. I hear other candidates talking about tax cuts that will make a difference of $50 to me, but Ron Paul is talking about giving me a 25% per year raise. This is the very core of the message, freedom. Instead of the government spending your money for you on war and foreign aid, you get to spend it on whatever you choose.
Another tax he wants to cut is the inflation tax. Its not a direct tax, but comes as a result of the Federal Reserve printing money to subsidize various industries. Paul is a proponent of commodity-backed currency, or hard currency. Essentially this just means we shouldn’t be able to create money out of thin air, but that it has to be backed by something. This is the historical precedent, yet we began ignoring it in 1971, and continue to today. Every person in America takes a 5% pay cut annually due to inflation, and it’s about time we put a stop to it. If you are lucky enough to get an annual 3% cost of living raise, after five years you’ll be making 9% less, ten years will put you back 17%. Without taking into account the cost of living raise, which honestly most of us don’t have, the numbers are 22% and 39%. Think about that for a minute. Just ten years from now you’ll hardly be able to afford 60% of the things you buy now. Now that’s a tax. (All calculations performed by me)
- Stop empowering corruption in Washington. We were established as a limited federal system with a capitalist market economy. The intent in this structure was to minimize the government’s involvement with private business. The lobbying, contributions, kickbacks and special favors have nearly ruined our legislative branch entirely. We need to separate the government from business now, and there is only one way I can see it happening. Take away the incentive of private business to lobby congress. It’s as simple as limiting the power of congress to that defined in the constitution. The whole idea of the free market economy is supply and demand. Congress should have nothing to do with the natural selection of the consumer.
There are many other issues surrounding presidential campaigns such as abortion, illegal immigration/amnesty, gun control, social security, war powers, and health care. These issues have become Litmus tests on candidates in years past, and as such most people have thought through the consequences of both sides of each argument. For the sake of completeness, let me sum up my/Paul’s positions on the issues…
- Abortion: The Declaration of Independence says Life is one of three unalienable rights. How can this even be argued? Of course I’m biased because I wasn’t aborted.  
- Illegal Immigration: Secure the borders, stop compromising with people who don’t take the time to come into the country legally.   
- Gun Control: The 2nd Amendment was put in place so that we would always be equipped to defend our liberties and our Country.  
- Social Security: It’s failed. Allow young people to get out of the system and stop borrowing money from it to negate new debt.  
- War Powers: The Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution says that Congress has the power to declare war, not the President.  
- Health Care: A national health plan will go just as poorly as Social Security. This is a free market issue and none of the federal government’s business. 
Of the 18 Republican and Democratic presidential hopefuls, Ron Paul is promising more than the other 17 put together. Everyone else is running on one or two issue platforms, like health care or ending the war or 9/11. Ron Paul has the entire Country in perspective. He’s the only candidate to use history to his advantage because he’s the only one in line with what it says. You truly can not find historical precedent for most of the positions of the other candidates. Ron Paul has cured my political apathy. He truly is “Hope for America.”