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Ron Paul: Less Government

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    The 10-term congressman from Texas has been a strict constitutionalist since he came into public life some 30 years ago. Ron Paul: an absolute faith in free
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 3, 2008
      The 10-term congressman from Texas has been a strict constitutionalist
      since he came into public life some 30 years ago.

      Ron Paul: an absolute faith in free markets and less government
      By Gail Russell Chaddock
      The Christian Science Monitor
      January 2, 2008 edition

      Berlin, N.H. - Ron Paul still looks surprised when his calls to follow
      the Constitution and restore a sound currency set off whoops of
      approval at a campaign stop.

      The 10-term GOP congressman from Texas has been making these points
      for 30 years, with little to show for it beyond hundreds of House
      votes on the short end of 434 to 1. Critics called him a crank.

      But lately, his views and values – the product of a lifetime of
      intense, self-directed study – are finding an audience. His message is
      basic: freedom and limited government. Repeal the welfare-warfare
      state. Get out of Iraq, now. Abolish the income tax. End the war on
      drugs. Put the dollar back on a more solid footing.

      "Unlike some others, I wasn't really anxious to run for president," he
      tells supporters at Tea Bird's Café and Bistro in Berlin, N.H. "I
      didn't believe the country was ready for a strict constitutionalist."

      When he says "strict," he means it. As a member of Congress, he
      refuses to vote for any bill not explicitly set out in the
      Constitution, earning him the nickname "Dr. No." He routinely votes
      against new taxes, deficit budgets, government surveillance, gun
      control, war funding, and the war on drugs. He would abolish the
      Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Reserve, the US Departments of
      Education, Energy, and Commerce as well as other "unconstitutional
      domestic bureaucracies." He has called for America to withdraw from
      the World Trade Organization and the United Nations.

      At the heart of Paul's worldview is a conviction that people are born
      free and should govern themselves – and that free markets make better
      decisions than governments do.

      "Some people think I don't love governing, but it's different," he
      says in a Monitor interview. "I believe in self-governing and family
      governing. The responsibility is put more on the individual than on
      some huge monstrosity in Washington."

      Family Roots

      Paul traces his values of personal responsibility and self-reliance to
      his early family life. His father, Howard, the son of a German
      immigrant, ran a family dairy business in Green Tree, Pa., near
      Pittsburgh, where he pasteurized and bottled milk. The third of five
      sons, Paul learned responsibility and the work ethic at age 5 in the
      family basement. There, milk bottles were washed by hand, and he and
      his brothers earned a penny for every dirty bottle they spotted coming
      down a conveyer belt.

      "We learned the incentive system," he says. The boys soon figured out
      that one of their uncles was a worse bottle washer than the other. "We
      liked to work for that one uncle, because we got more pennies," he says.

      The five boys shared a small bedroom in a four-room house. From spring
      through fall, they slept outside in a small, screened porch. His
      grandmother and two uncles lived in the same family compound. His
      father hoped that all five sons would become Lutheran ministers; two
      of them did. "Confirmation was a big event in my family; birthdays
      weren't a big event," Paul says. His mother, Margaret, urged her sons
      to read and get an education.

      "I would say that probably from the cradle, their ethic was work and
      church. That was it," says Carol Paul, the candidate's wife of 50
      years. "They weren't a family that played a lot. Everything was serious."

      The family lived two miles from the local high school. Although there
      was a bus to school, Paul preferred to run. He won the state
      championship in the 220-yard dash and ranked No. 2 in the 440-yard run
      in Pennsylvania. "He knew he was obligated to do with his God-given
      body the best he could," says Mrs. Paul. They met in high school at a
      track meet and married in his last year at Gettysburg College in
      Gettysburg, Pa., where he studied biology.

      Paul says he briefly considered becoming a Lutheran minister, but
      opted instead for medicine. He graduated from Duke University Medical
      School in Durham, N.C., in 1961, and was just starting a residency in
      internal medicine when he was drafted into the US Air Force. From 1963
      to 1965, he served as a flight surgeon, then moved to Texas to
      practice obstetrics. As an OB/GYN, he has delivered more than 4,000

      Paul doesn't often talk about religion, at least not in the context of
      a political campaign. There's a reason the Gospels teach praying in
      secret, he says. Over the years, he has attended an Episcopal church,
      which "became more liberal than we were comfortable with," as well as
      an evangelical church. He currently attends Baptist services.

      Austrian economics

      The most decisive intellectual influence in Paul's life was his
      discovery, while in medical school, of a passion for economics. It
      started with two vast novels: Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" and Boris
      Pasternak's "Dr. Zhivago," a gift from his mother. Both books make a
      case for the threat that big government bureaucracies pose to
      creativity and liberty.

      Later, he read his way into Austrian economics – the counterweight to
      Keynesian economic ideas that informed the New Deal. He read Friedrich
      Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom" – a book that influenced a generation of
      American conservatives – and especially Ludwig von Mises, a
      libertarian who extended the influence of the Austrian school of
      economics in the United States.

      For the Austrian school, government intervention in free markets isn't
      a formula for long-term economic growth. Mises warned that over time
      it would cripple free markets and lead to state control. Free markets
      are always superior to a centrally planned economy, he wrote. Mises
      also advocated a non-inflationary gold standard – an idea that Paul
      has made his own in his 2007 book "The Case for Gold" and a
      forthcoming book "Pillars of Prosperity: Free Markets, Honest Money,
      Private Property."

      In 1971, Paul and another local doctor closed their practices for a
      day and drove 60 miles to the University of Houston to hear Mises give
      one of his last lectures in the United States.

      "I just thought it was fascinating. It made common sense – the sort of
      thing I would have concluded on my own, but the Austrian economists
      were a lot smarter," Paul says. He made friends with American
      economists such as Murray Rothbard, a student of Mises, and often
      visited Milton Friedman while continuing his own study of economics
      and world markets.

      "He's been a very serious student of economics since medical school,
      and has read a huge amount of history – constitutional history and
      monetary history. His philosophical and economic views drive him and
      everything he does," says Llewellyn Rockwell, a former congressional
      chief of staff for Paul. Mr. Rockwell is president of the Ludwig von
      Mises Institute in Auburn, Ala., and maintains the popular website,

      He recalls witnessing an illegal abortion in his first year out of
      medical school that made an impression, too. "Once I became more
      firmly entrenched with libertarian beliefs, I realized that another
      life was involved, I saw this as a principle of nonaggression, which
      libertarians adhere to. The baby has a choice, too."

      For some Washington-based libertarians, Paul's success on the campaign
      trail is puzzling. "Because Ron Paul is personally a very traditional
      man, a small town guy, his libertarianism is embedded in a lot more
      traditionalism that you find in many libertarians," who bristle at his
      stance on abortion, for example, says Brian Doherty, senior editor at
      Reason Magazine, the leading libertarian political and cultural
      journal. "But many financial analysts, who are disproportionate fans
      of the Paul campaign, say that in their world, the stuff that might
      strike a normal American as kooky, such as restoring the gold
      standard, does not strike them as kooky, especially given how the
      dollar's value is plummeting. There isn't a single other candidate out
      there talking about their world in an interesting way – or at all," he

      A surge of grass-roots support

      When Paul first ran for president as the Libertarian Party candidate
      in 1988, he won 0.54 percent of the vote. In his second presidential
      bid, he's on track to do better.

      While Paul still polls only in single digits nationally and in early
      primary states, his supporters have raised more than $19 million since
      October, including a record $6.2 million on one day, Dec. 16. This
      unofficial, grass-roots campaign is out-organizing all other campaigns
      over the Internet and recently launched a Ron Paul blimp.

      "I'm not surprised that the views are popular, but I'm surprised to
      the extent that people have rallied and gotten spontaneously involved
      and done so much in fundraising and campaign events," Paul said in a
      Monitor interview.

      Paul says his campaign is still working out what to do with the last
      quarter's surge of campaign contributions. "It's a real job figuring
      out what to do with it," he says. "We're going to budget it out. It
      just means it's a lot easier planning for super-Tuesday [on Feb. 5],
      when we have money in the bank."

      In Iowa, the campaign has used new funds to quickly ramp up a ground
      operation. In New Hampshire, it launched new television and radio ads.

      Some experts say polls may be undercounting Paul's support, because so
      many of his backers haven't voted in the past and use cellphones
      rather than the landlines, which pollsters use. That's why Paul "is
      likely to do better on election day than polls say he might," said
      Fergus Cullen, chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party in an
      interview for C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" on Sunday.



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