[Congressional Record: July 9, 2002 (House)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
HAS CAPITALISM FAILED AGAIN?
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of
January 3, 2001, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Paul) is recognized for
60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, the question I want to address today is: Has
capitalism failed again?
It is now commonplace and politically correct to blame what is
referred to as the excesses of capitalism for the economic problems
that we face, and especially for the Wall Street fraud that dominates
the business news. Politicians are having a field day demagoguing the
issue while, of course, failing to address the fraud and deceit found
in the budgetary shenanigans of the Federal Government for which they
are directly responsible. Instead, it gives the Keynesian crowd that
the show a chance to attack free markets and ignore the issue of sound
So once again we hear the chant: Capitalism has failed; we need more
government controls over the entire financial markets. No one asked why
the billions that have been spent and thousand of pages of regulations
that have been written since the last attack on capitalism in the 1930s
did not prevent the fraud and deception of the Enrons, the WorldComs,
and the Global Crossings. That failure surely could not have come from
a dearth of regulations.
What is distinctly absent is any mention that all financial bubbles
are saturated with excesses in hype, speculation, depth, greed, fraud,
gross errors in investment judgment, carelessness on the part of the
analysts and investors, huge paper profits, conviction that a new-era
economy has arrived, and above all else, pie-in-the-sky expectations.
When the bubble is inflating, there are no complaints. When it
bursts, the blame game begins. This is especially true in the age of
victimization and is done on a grand scale. It quickly becomes a
philosophic, partisan, class, generational and even a racial issue.
While avoiding the real cause, all the fingerpointing makes it
difficult to resolve the crisis and further undermines the principles
upon which freedom and prosperity rests. Nixon was right once, when he
declared we are all Keynesians now. All of Washington is in sync in
declaring that too much capitalism has brought us to where we are
today. The only decision now before the central planners in Washington
is whose special interest will continue to benefit from the coming
pretense at reform. The various special interests will be lobbying
heavily, like the Wall Street investors, the corporations, the
military-industrial complex, the banks, the workers, the unions, the
farmers, the politicians and who knows who else, but what is not
discussed is the actual cause and perpetration of the excesses now
unraveling at a frantic pace. This same response occurred in the 1930s
in the United States as our policymakers responded to very similar
excesses that developed and collapsed in 1929. Because of the failure
to understand the problem then, the Depression was prolonged. These
mistakes allowed our current problems to develop to a much greater
degree. Like the failure to come to grips with the cause of the 1980s
bubble, Japan's economy continued to linger at no-growth and recession
level, with their stock market at approximately one fourth of its peak
13 years ago.
If we are not careful, and so far we have not been, we will make the
same errors that will prevent the correction needed before economic
growth can be resumed.
In the 1930s it was quite popular to condemn the greed of capitalism,
the gold standard, lack of regulation, and no government insurance on
bank deposits for the disaster. Businessmen became the scapegoat.
Changes were made as a result and the welfare warfare state was
institutionalized. Easy credit became the holy grail of monetary
policy, especially under Alan Greenspan, the ultimate maestro.
Today, despite the presumed protection from these Government programs
built into the system, we find ourselves in a bigger mess than ever
before. The bubble is bigger, the boom lasted longer, and the gold
price has been deliberately undermined as an economic signal. Monetary
inflation continues at a rate never seen before in a frantic effort to
prop up stock prices and continue the housing bubble, while avoiding
the consequences that inevitably come from easy credit.
This is all done because we are unwilling to acknowledge that current
policy is only setting the stage for a huge drop in the value of the
dollar. Everyone fears it, but no one wants to deal with it. Out of
ignorance as well as disapproval for the natural restraints placed on
market excesses that capitalism and sound markets impose, capitalism is
not only rejected, it is blamed for all problems we face. If this
fallacy is not corrected and capitalism is even further undermined, the
prosperity that the free market generates will be destroyed.
Corruption and fraud in the accounting practices of many companies
are coming to light. There are those who would have us believe this is
an integral part of free market capitalism. If we did have free market
capitalism, there would be no guarantees that some fraud would not
occur. When it did, it would be dealt with by local law enforcement
authorities, not by the politicians in Washington who had their chance
to prevent such problems but choose instead to politicize the issue
while using the opportunity to promote more Keynesian, useless
Capitalism should not be condemned since we have not had capitalism.
A system of capitalism presumes sound money, not fiat money manipulated
by a central bank. Capitalism cherishes voluntary contracts and
interest rates that are determined by savings, not credit creation by a
central bank. It is not capitalism when the system is plagued with
incomprehensible rules regarding mergers, acquisitions, stock sales,
wage controls, price controls, protectionism, corporate subsidies,
international management of trade, complex and punishing corporate
taxes, privileged Government contracts to the military-industrial
complex, a foreign policy controlled by corporate interests and
overseas investments; central mismanagement of farming, education,
medicine, insurance, banking and welfare. This is not capitalism.
To condemn free market capitalism because of anything going on today
makes no sense whatsoever. There is no evidence that capitalism exists
today. We are deeply involved in an interventionist, planned economy
that allows major benefits to accrue to the politically connected of
both political spectrums. One may condemn the fraud in the current
system, but it must be called its proper name, Keynesian, inflationism,
interventionism, and corporatism.
What is not discussed is that the current crop of bankruptcies
reveals that the blatant distortions and lies emanating from years of
speculative orgy were predictable.
First, Congress should be investigating the Federal Government's
fraud and deception in accounting, reporting future obligations such as
Social Security and how the monetary system destroys wealth. Those
problems are bigger than anything in the corporate world and are the
responsibility of the Congress. Besides, it is the standard set by the
Government and the monetary system it operates that are the major
contributing causes to all that is wrong on Wall Street today.
When fraud does exist, it is a State matter, not a Federal one, and
State authorities can enforce these laws without any help from
Second, we do know why financial bubbles occur and we know from
history that they are routinely associated with speculation, excessive
debt, wild promises, greed, lying and cheating. These problems were
described by quite a few observers as the problems were developing in
the 1990s, but the warnings were ignored, for one reason; everybody was
making a killing and no one cared, and those who were reminded of
history were reassured by the Fed chairman that, this time, a new
economic era had arrived and not to worry. Productivity increases, it
was said, could explain it all.
But now we know that is just not so. Speculative bubbles and all that
we have been witnessing are a consequence of huge amounts of easy
credit, created out of thin air by the Federal Reserve. We have had
essentially no savings, which is one of the most significant driving
forces in capitalism. The illusion created by low interest rates
perpetuates the bubble and all the bad stuff that goes along with it.
And that is not a fault of capitalism. We are dealing with a system of
inflationism and interventionism that always produces a bubble economy
that must end badly.
So far, the assessment made by the administration, the Congress, and
the Fed bodes badly for our economic future. All they offer is more of
the same, which cannot possibly help. All it will do is drive us closer
to national bankruptcy, a sharply lower dollar and a lower standard of
living for most Americans, as well as less freedoms for everyone.
This is a bad scenario that need not happen. But preserving our
system is impossible if the critics are allowed to blame capitalism and
policy is rejected. More spending, more debt, more easy money, more
distortion of interest rates, more regulations on everything, more
foreign meddling, will soon force us to the very uncomfortable position
of deciding the fate of our entire political system.
If we were to choose freedom and capitalism, we would restore our
dollar to a commodity or a gold standard. Federal spending would be
reduced; income taxes would be lowered and taxes would be removed from
savings, dividends and capital gains; regulations would be reduced;
special interest subsidies would be stopped and no protectionist
measures would be permitted; our foreign policy would change and we
would bring our troops home.
We cannot depend on government to restore trust to the markets. Only
trustworthy people can do that. Actually, the lack of trust in Wall
Street executives is healthy, because it is deserved and prompts
caution. The same lack of trust in the politicians, the budgetary
process, and the monetary system would serve as a healthy incentive for
the reforms in government we need.
Markets regulate better than governments can. Depending on government
regulations to protect us significantly contributes to the bubble
mentality. These moves would produce the climate for releasing the
creative energy necessary to simply serve consumers, which is what
capitalism is all about.
The system that inevitably breeds corporate government cronyism that
created our currently ongoing disaster would end. Capitalism did not
give us this crisis of confidence now existing in the corporate world.
The lack of free markets and sound money did. Congress does have a role
to play, but it is not proactive. Congress' job is to get out of the
Is America a Police State
Another subject, Mr. Speaker, I want to address today, is is America
a police state? Most Americans believe we live in dangerous times, and
I must agree. Today I want to talk about how I see those dangers and
what Congress ought to do about them.
Of course, the Monday-morning quarterbacks are now explaining with
political overtones what we should have done to prevent the 9/11
tragedy. Unfortunately, in doing so, foreign policy changes are never
I have for more than 2 decades been severely critical of our post-
World War II foreign policy. I have perceived it to be not in our best
interests and have believed that it presented a serious danger to our
For the record, in January of 2000 I said on this floor, ``Our
commercial interests in foreign policy are no longer separate. As bad
as it is that average Americans are forced to subsidize such a system,
we additionally are placed in greater danger because of our arrogant
policy of bombing nations that do not submit to our wishes. This
generates hatred directed toward America and exposes us to a greater
threat of terrorism, since this is the only vehicle our victims can use
to retaliate against a powerful military state. The cost in terms of
lost liberties and unnecessary exposure to terrorism is difficult to
assess, but in time it will become apparent to all of us that foreign
interventionism is of no benefit to American citizens. Instead, it is a
threat to our liberties.''
Again, let me remind you, these were statements I made on the House
floor in January of the year 2000. Unfortunately, my greatest fears and
warnings have been borne out.
I believe my concerns are as relevant today as they were then. We
should move with caution in this post-9/11 period so that we do not
make our problems worse overseas while further undermining our
liberties at home.
So far, our post-9/11 policies have challenged our rule of law here
at home and our efforts against the al Qaeda have essentially come up
empty-handed. The best we can tell now, instead of being in one place,
the members of the al Qaeda are scattered around the world, with more
of them in allied Pakistan than in Afghanistan. Our efforts to find our
enemies have put the CIA in 80 different countries. The question that
someday we must answer is whether we can catch them faster than we
generate them. So far, it appears we are losing.
As evidence mounts that we have achieved little in reducing the
terrorist threat, more diversionary tactics will be used. The big one
will be to blame Saddam Hussein for everything and initiate a major war
against Iraq, which will only generate even more hatred toward America
from the Muslim world.
But, Mr. Speaker, my subject today is to discuss whether America is a
police state. I am sure the large majority of Americans would answer
this in the negative. Most would associate military patrols, martial
law and summary executions with a police state, something obviously not
present in our everyday activities. However, those knowledgeable with
Ruby Ridge, Mount Carmel and other such incidents may have a different
The principal tool for sustaining a police state, even the most
militant, is always economic punishment, by denying such things as jobs
or a place to live, levying fines or imprisonment. The military is more
often only used in the transition phase to a totalitarian state.
Maintenance for long periods is usually accomplished through economic
controls on commercial transactions, the use of all property and
political dissent. Peaceful control through these efforts can be
achieved without storm troopers on our street corners. Terror or fear
is used to achieve complacency and obedience, especially when the
people are deluded into believing they are still a free people.
The changes, they are assured, will be minimal, short-lived and
necessary, such as those that occur in times of declared war. Under
those conditions, most citizens believe that once the war is won, the
restrictions on their liberties will be reversed. For the most part,
however, after a declared war is over, the return to normalcy is never
complete. In an undeclared war, without a precise enemy and, therefore,
no precise ending, returning to normalcy can prove illusory.
We have just concluded a century of war, declared and undeclared,
while at the same time responding to public outcries for more economic
equality. The question as a result of these policies is, are we already
living in a police state? If we are, what are we going to do about it?
If we are not, we need to know if there is any danger that we are
moving in that direction.
Most police states, surprisingly, come about through the democratic
process with majority support. During a crisis, the rights of
individuals and the minority are more easily trampled, which is more
likely to condition a nation to become a police state than a military
coup. Promised benefits initially seem to exceed the cost in dollars or
lost freedom. When the people face terrorism or great fear from
whatever source, the tendency to demand economic and physical security
over liberty and self-reliance proves irresistible.
The masses are easily led to believe that security and liberty are
mutually exclusive and demand for security far exceeds that for
liberty. Once it is discovered that the desire for both economic and
physical security that prompted the sacrifice of liberty which
inevitably led to the loss of prosperity and no real safety, it is too
late. Reversing the trend from authoritarian rule toward a freer
society becomes very difficult, takes a long time, and entails much
suffering. Although dissolution of the Soviet empire was relatively
nonviolent at the end, millions suffered from police suppression and
economic deprivation in the decades prior to 1989.
But what about here in the United States? With respect to a police
state, where are we and where are we going? Let me make a few
observations. Our government already keeps close tabs on just about
everything we do and requires official permission for nearly all of our
activities. One might take a look at our capital for any evidence of a
police state. We see barricades, metal detectors, police, the military
at times, dogs, ID badges required for every move, vehicles checked at
airports and throughout the capital. People are totally disarmed except
for the police and the criminals but, worse yet, surveillance cameras
in Washington are everywhere to ensure our safety. The terrorist
attacks only provided the cover for the do-gooders who had been
planning for a long time before last summer to monitor us for our own
good. Cameras are used to spy on our drug habits, on our kids at
subway travelers, and on visitors to every government building or park.
There is not much evidence of an open society in Washington, D.C., yet
most folks do not complain. Anything goes if it is for government-
provided safety and security.
If this huge amount of information and technology is placed in the
hands of the government to catch the bad guys, one naturally asks, what
is the big deal? But it should be a big deal, because it eliminates the
enjoyment of privacy that a free society holds dear. The personal
information of law-abiding citizens can be used for reasons other than
safety, such as political. Like gun control, people control hurts law-
abiding citizens much more than the lawbreakers. Social Security
numbers are used to monitor our daily activities. The numbers are given
to us at birth and then are needed when we die and for everything in
between. This allows government record-keeping of monstrous proportions
and accommodates the thugs who would steal others' identities for evil
purposes. This invasion of privacy has been compounded by the
technology now available to those in government who enjoy monitoring
and directing the activity of others. Loss of personal privacy was a
major problem a long time before 9-11. Centralized control and
regulations are required in a police state.
Community and individual State regulations are not as threatening as
the monolith of rules and regulations written by Congress and the
Federal bureaucracy. Law and order has been federalized in many ways,
and we are moving inexorably in that direction.
Almost all our economic activities depend upon receiving the proper
permits from the Federal Government. Transactions involving guns, food,
medicine, smoking, drinking, hiring, firing, wages, politically correct
speech, land use, fishing, hunting, buying a house, business mergers
and acquisitions, selling stocks and bonds, and farming all require
approval and strict regulation from our Federal Government. If this is
not done properly and in a timely fashion, economic penalties and even
imprisonment are likely consequences.
Because government pays for so much of our health care, it is
conveniently argued that any habits or risk-taking that could harm
one's health are the prerogative of the Federal Government and are to
be regulated by explicit rules to keep medical care costs down. This
same argument is used to require helmets for riding motorcycles and
bikes. Not only do we need a license to drive, but we also need special
belts, bags, buzzers, seats, and environmentally-dictated speed limits
or a policeman will be pulling us over to levy a fine and he will be
carrying a gun, of course.
The States do exactly as they are told by the Federal Government
because they are threatened with the loss of tax dollars being returned
to their State, dollars that should never have been taken from them in
the first place and sent to Washington, let alone be allowed to be used
to extort obedience to a powerful central government. Over 80,000
Federal bureaucrats now carry guns to make us toe the line and to
enforce the thousands of laws and tens of thousands of regulations that
no one can possibly understand. We do not see the guns, but we all know
they are there, and we all know we cannot fight city hall, especially
if it is Uncle Sam.
All 18-year-old males must register to be ready for the next
undeclared war. If they do not, men with guns will appear and enforce
this congressional mandate of involuntary servitude, which was banned
by the 13th amendment, but courts do not apply this prohibition to the
servitude of draftees or those citizens required to follow the dictates
of the IRS, especially the employers of the country who serve as the
Federal Government's chief tax collectors and information-gatherers.
Fear is the tool used to intimidate most Americans to comply to the
Tax Code by making examples of celebrities. Leona Helmsley and Willie
Nelson know how this process works. Economic threats against business
establishments are notorious. Rules and regulations from the EPA, the
ADA, the SEC, the LRB, OSHA and more terrorize business owners into
submission, and those charged accept their own guilt until they can
prove themselves innocent. Of course, it turns out it is much more
practical to admit guilt and pay the fine. This serves the interests of
the authoritarians because it firmly establishes just who is in charge.
An information leak from a government agency like the FDA can make or
break a company within minutes. If information is leaked, even
inadvertently, a company can be destroyed and individuals involved in
the revealing of government-monopolized information can be sent to
prison. Each, though economic crimes, are serious offenses in the
United States. Violent crimes sometimes evoke more sympathy and fewer
penalties. Just look at the O.J. Simpson case as an example.
Efforts to convict Bill Gates and others like him of an economic
crime are astounding, considering his contribution to economic
progress, while sources used to screen out terrorist elements from our
midst are tragically useless. If business people are found guilty of
even the suggestion of collusion in the marketplace, huge fines and
even imprisonment are likely consequences.
Price-fixing is impossible to achieve in a free market. Under today's
laws, talking to or consulting with competitors can be easily construed
as price-fixing and involve a serious crime even with proof that the
so-called collusion never generated monopoly-controlled prices or was
detrimental to consumers. Lawfully circumventing taxes, even sales
taxes, can lead to serious problems if a high profile person can be
made an example.
One of the most onerous controls placed on American citizens is the
control of speech through politically correct legislation. Derogatory
remarks or off-color jokes are justification for firings, demotions,
and destruction of political careers. The movement toward designating
penalties based on a category to which victims belong rather than the
nature of the crime itself has the thought police patrolling the
airways and the byways.
Establishing relative rights and special penalties for subjective
motivation is a dangerous trend. All our financial activities are
subject to legal searches without warrants and without probable cause.
Tax collection, drug usage, and possible terrorist activities justify
the endless accumulation of information on all Americans. Government
control of medicine has prompted the establishment of a national
medical data bank. For efficiency reasons, it is said, the government
keeps our medical records for our benefit. This, of course, is done
with vague and useless promises that this information will always
remain confidential, just like all the FBI information in the past.
Personal privacy, the sine qua none of liberty, no longer exists in the
United States. Ruthless and abusive use of all of this information
accumulated by the government is yet to come.
The Patriot Act has given unbelievable power to listen, read, and
monitor all of our transactions without a search warrant being issued
after affirmation or probable cause. Sneak-and-peak and blanket
searches are now becoming more frequent every day. What have we allowed
to happen to the Fourth Amendment?
It may be true that the average American does not feel intimidated by
the encroachment of the police state. I am sure our citizens are more
tolerant of what they see as mere nuisances because they have been
deluded into believing all of this government supervision is necessary
and helpful and besides, they are living quite comfortably material-
wise. However, the reaction will be different once all of this new
legislation we are passing comes into full force and the material
comforts that soften our concerns for government regulations are
decreased. This attitude then will change dramatically, but the trend
toward the authoritarian state will be difficult to reverse. What
government gives with one hand as it attempts to provide safety and
security, it must at the same time take away with two others. When the
majority recognizes that the monetary costs and the results of our war
against terrorism and personal freedoms are a lot less than promised,
it may be too late.
I am sure all of my concerns are unconvincing to the vast majority of
Americans who do not only seek, but also demand, they be made safe from
any possible attack from anybody, ever. I grant you, this is a
request. The point is, though, however, there may be a much better way
of doing it. We must remember we do not sit around and worry that some
Canadian citizen is about to walk into New York and set off a nuclear
weapon. We must come to understand the real reason is that there is a
difference between the Canadians and all of our many friends and the
Islamic radicals. Believe me, we are not the target because we are free
and prosperous. The argument made for more government controls here at
home and expansionism overseas to combat terrorism is simple and goes
like this: If we are not made safe from potential terrorists, property
and freedom have no meaning. It is argued that first we must have life
and physical and economic security with continued abundances, and then
we will talk about freedom.
It reminds me of the time I was soliciting political support from a
voter and was boldly put down. ``Ron,'' she said, ``I wish you would
lay off this freedom stuff. It is all nonsense. We are looking for a
representative who will know how to bring home the bacon and help our
area, and you are not that person.'' Believe me, I understand that
argument, it is just that I do not agree that it is what should be
motivating us here in the Congress. That is not the way it works.
Freedom does not preclude security. Making security the highest
priority can deny prosperity and still fail to provide the safety we
The Congress would never agree that we are a police state. Most
Members, I am sure, would argue for the negative. But we are all
obligated to decide in which direction we are going. If we are moving
toward a system that enhances individual liberty and justice for all,
my concerns about a police state should be reduced or totally ignored;
yet if by chance we are moving toward more authoritarian control than
is good for us in moving toward a major war in which we should have no
part, we should not ignore the dangers.
If current policies are permitting a serious challenge to our
institutions that allow for our great abundance and we ignore them, we
ignore them at great risk for future generations. That is why the post-
9-11 analysis and subsequent legislation are crucial to the survival of
those institutions that made America great.
We now are considering a major legislative proposal dealing with this
dilemma, the new Department of Homeland Security; and we must decide if
it truly serves the interests of America.
Since the new Department is now a foregone conclusion, why should
anyone bother to record a dissent? Because it is the responsibility of
all of us to speak the truth to the best of our ability; and if there
are reservations about what we are doing, we should sound an alarm and
warn the people of what is likely to come.
In times of crises, nearly unanimous support for government programs
is usual, and the effects are instantaneous. Discovering the errors of
our ways and waiting to see the unintended consequences evolve takes
time and careful analysis. Reversing the bad effects is slow and
tedious and fraught with danger. People would much prefer to hear
platitudes than the pessimism of a flawed policy.
Understanding the real reason why we were attacked is crucial to
deriving a proper response. I know of no one who does not condemn the
attacks of 9-11. Disagreement as to the cause and the proper course of
action should be legitimate in a free society such as ours; if not, we
are not a free society.
Not only do I condemn the vicious acts of 9-11, but also out of deep
philosophic and moral commitment I have pledged never to use any form
of aggression to bring about social or economic changes. But I am
deeply concerned about what has been done and what we are yet to do in
the name of security against the threat of terrorism.
Political propagandizing is used to get all of us to toe the line and
be good patriots, supporting every measure suggested by the
administration. We are told that preemptive strikes, torture, military
tribunals, suspension of habeas corpus, executive orders to wage war,
and sacrificing privacy with a weakened fourth amendment are the
minimum required to save our country from a threat of terrorism. Who is
winning this war, anyway?
To get popular support for these serious violations of our
traditional rule of law requires that people be kept in a state of
fear. The episode of spreading undue concern about the possibility of a
dirty bomb being exploded in Washington without any substantiation of
an actual threat is a good example of excessive fear being generated by
To add insult to injury, when he made this outlandish announcement,
our Attorney General was in Moscow. Maybe if our FBI spent more time at
home, we would get more for our money we pump into this now-discredited
organization. Our FBI should be gathering information here at home, and
the thousands of agents overseas should return. We do not need these
agents competing overseas and confusing the intelligence apparatus of
the CIA or the military.
I am concerned that the excess fear created by the several hundreds
of al Qaeda functionaries willing to sacrifice their lives for their
demented goals is driving us to do to ourselves what the al Qaeda
themselves could never do to us by force. So far, the direction is
clear: we are legislating bigger and more intrusive government here at
home and allowing our President to pursue much more military
adventurism abroad. These pursuits are overwhelmingly supported by
Members of Congress, the media, and the so-called intellectual
community, and questioned only by a small number of civil libertarians,
anti-imperial antiwar advocates.
The main reason why so many usually level-headed critics of bad
policy accept this massive increase in government power is clear. They,
for various reasons, believe the official explanation of ``why us?''
The several hundreds of al Qaeda members we were told hate us because
we are rich, free, and we enjoy materialism, and the purveyors of
terror are jealous and envious, creating the hatred that drive their
cause. They despise our Judeo-Christian values; and this, we are told,
is the sole reason they are willing to die for their cause.
For this to be believed, one must also be convinced that the
perpetrators lied to the world about why they attacked us. The al Qaeda
leaders say they hate us because we support Western puppet regimes in
Arab countries for commercial reasons and against the wishes of the
populace of those countries. This partnership allows military
occupation, the most confrontational being in Saudi Arabia, that
offends the sense of pride and violates their religious convictions to
have a foreign military power on their holy land. We refuse to consider
how we might feel if China's navy occupied the Gulf of Mexico for the
purpose of protecting their oil, and had air bases on U.S. territory.
We show extreme bias in support of one side in the 50-plus-year war
going on in the Middle East. That is their explanation.
What if the al Qaeda is telling the truth and we ignore it? If we
believe only the official line from the administration and proceed to
change our whole system and undermine our constitutional rights, we may
one day wake up to find that the attacks have increased the numbers of
those willing to commit suicide for their cause has grown, our freedoms
have diminished, and all this has contributed to making our economic
The dollar cost of this war could turn out to be exorbitant, and the
efficiency of our markets can become undermined by the compromises
placed on our liberties. Sometimes it almost seems that our policies
inadvertently are actually based on a desire to make ourselves less
free and less prosperous, those conditions that are supposed to have
prompted the attacks.
I am convinced we must pay more attention to the real cause of the
attacks of last year and challenge the explanation given us. The
question that one day must be answered is this: What if we had never
placed our troops in Saudi Arabia, and involved ourselves in the Middle
East war in an even-handed fashion? Would it have been worth it if this
would have prevented 9-11?
If we avoid the truth, we will be far less well off than if we
recognize that just maybe the truth lies in the statements made by the
leaders of those who perpetuated the atrocities. If they
speak the truth about the real cause, changing our foreign policy from
foreign military interventionism around the globe supporting an
American empire would make a lot of sense. It could reduce tension,
save money, preserve liberty, and preserve our economic system.
This for me is not a reactive position coming out of 9-11, but
rather, an argument I have made for decades, claiming that meddling in
the affairs of others is dangerous to our security and actually reduces
our ability to defend ourselves.
This in no way precludes pursuing those directly responsible for the
attacks and dealing with them accordingly, something that we seem to
have not yet done. We hear more talk of starting a war in Iraq than in
achieving victory over the international outlaws that instigated the
attacks on 9-11.
Rather than pursuing war against countries that were not directly
responsible for the attacks, we should consider the judicious use of
mark and reprisal. I am sure that a more enlightened approach to our
foreign policy will prove elusive. Financial interests of our
international corporations, oil companies and banks, along with the
military-industrial complex, are sure to remain a deciding influence on
Besides, even if my assessments prove to be true, any shift away from
foreign militarism, like bringing our troops home, would now be
construed as yielding to the terrorists. It just will not happen. This
is a powerful point, and the concern that we might appear to be
capitulating is legitimate. Yet, how long should we deny the truth,
especially if this denial only makes us more vulnerable? Should we not
demand the courage and wisdom of our leaders to do the right thing in
spite of the political shortcomings?
President Kennedy faced an even greater threat in October of 1962,
and from a much more powerful force. The Soviet-Cuban terrorist threat
with nuclear missiles only 90 miles off our shores was wisely defused
by Kennedy's capitulating and removing missiles from Turkey on the
Soviet border. Kennedy deserved the praise he received for the way he
handled this nuclear standoff with the Soviets.
This concession most likely prevented a nuclear exchange and proved
that taking a step back from a failed policy is beneficial. Yet how one
does so is crucial. The answer is to do it diplomatically. That is what
diplomats are supposed to do.
Maybe there is no real desire to remove the excuse for our worldwide
imperialism, especially our current new expansion into central Asia, or
the domestic violations of our civil liberties. Today's conditions may
well be exactly what our world commercial interests want. It is now
easy for us to go into the Philippines, Colombia, Pakistan,
Afghanistan, or wherever, in pursuit of terrorists. No questions are
asked by the media or the politicians, only cheers. Put in these terms,
who can object? We all despise the tactics of the terrorists, so the
nature of the response is not to be questioned.
A growing number of Americans are concluding that the threat we now
face comes more from a consequence of our foreign policy than because
the bad guys envy our freedoms and prosperity.
How many terrorist attacks have been directed toward Switzerland,
Australia, Canada, or Sweden? They are also rich and free, and would be
easy targets; but the Islamic fundamentalists see no purpose in doing
so. There is no purpose in targeting us unless there is a political
agenda, which there surely is. To deny that this political agenda
exists jeopardizes the security of this country. Pretending something
to be true that is not is dangerous.
It is a definite benefit for so many to recognize that our $40
billion annual investment in intelligence-gathering prior to 9-11 was a
failure. Now, a sincere desire exists to rectify these mistakes. That
is good, unless instead of changing the role of the CIA and the FBI all
the past mistakes are made worse by spending more money and enlarging
the bureaucracy to do the very same thing without improvement in their
efficiency or a change in their goals. Unfortunately, that is what is
likely to happen.
One of the major shortcomings that is led to the 9-11 tragedy was the
responsibility for protecting commercial airlines was left to the
government: the FAA, the FBI, the CIA, and the INS. They failed. A
greater sense of responsibility for the owners to provide security is
what is needed. Guns in the cockpit would have most likely prevented
most of the deaths that occurred on that fateful day.
But what does our government do? It firmly denies airline pilots the
right to defend their planes, and we federalize the security screeners
and rely on F-16s to shoot down airliners if they are hijacked.
Security screeners, many barely able to speak English, spend endless
hours harassing pilots, confiscating dangerous mustache scissors,
mauling grandmothers and children, and pestering Al Gore, while doing
nothing about the influx of aliens from Middle Eastern countries who
are on designated watch lists.
We pump up the military from India and Pakistan, ignore all the
warnings about Saudi Arabia, and plan a secret war against Iraq, to
make sure no one starts asking, where is Osama bin Laden? We think we
know where Saddam Hussein lives, so let us go get him instead.
Since our government bureaucracy failed, why not get rid of it,
instead of adding to it? If we had proper respect and understood how
private property owners effectively defend themselves, we could apply
those rules to the airlines and achieve something worthwhile.
If our immigration policies have failed, when will we defy the
politically correct fanatics and curtail the immigration of those
individuals on the highly suspect list? Instead of these changes, all
we hear is that the major solution will come by establishing a huge new
Federal department, the Department of Homeland Security.
According to all the pundits, we are expected to champion the big
government approach; and if we do not jolly well like it, we will be
tagged unpatriotic. The fear that permeates our country calls out for
something to be done in response to almost daily warnings of the next
attack. If it is not a real attack, then it is a theoretical one, one
where the bomb could well be only in the minds of a potential
Where is all this leading us? Are we moving toward a safer and more
secure society? I think not. All the discussions of these proposed
plans since 9-11 have been designed to condition the American people to
accept major changes in our political system. Some of the changes being
made are unnecessary, and others are outright dangerous to our way of
There is no need for us to be forced to choose between security and
freedom. Giving up freedom does not provide greater security;
preserving and better understanding freedom can. Sadly, today, many are
anxious to give up freedom in response to real and generated fears.
The plans for a first strike supposedly against a potential foreign
government should alarm all Americans. If we do not resist this power
the President is assuming, our President, through executive order, can
start a war anyplace, anytime, against anyone he chooses for any reason
without congressional approval.
This is a tragic usurpation of the war power by the executive branch
from the legislative branch, with Congress being all too accommodating.
Removing the power of the executive branch to wage war, as was done
through our revolution and the writing of the Constitution, is now
being casually sacrificed on the alter of security.
In a free society, and certainly in the constitutional Republic we
have been given, it should never be assumed that the President alone
can take it upon himself to wage war whenever he pleases. The publicly
announced plan to murder Saddam Hussein in the name of our national
security draws nary a whimper from Congress. Support is overwhelming,
without a thought as to the legality, the morality, the
constitutionality, or its practicality.
Murdering Saddam Hussein will surely generate many more fanatics
ready to commit their lives to suicide attacks against us. Our CIA
attempts to assassinate Castro backfired with the subsequent
assassination of our President. Killing Saddam Hussein just for the
sake of killing him obviously will increase the threat against us, not
diminish it. It makes no sense. But our warriors argue that some day he
may build a bomb, some day he might use
it, maybe against us or some unknown target.
This policy further radicalizes the Islamic fundamentalists against
us because, from their viewpoint, our policy is driven by Israel, not
U.S. security interests.
Planned assassination, a preemptive strike policy without proof of
any threat and a vague definition of terrorism may work for us as long
as we are king of the hill; but one most assume every other nation will
naturally use our definition of policy as justification for dealing
with their neighbors. India can justify a first strike against
Pakistan, China against India or Taiwan as other examples. This new
policy, if carried through, will make the world a lot less safe.
This new doctrine is based on proving a negative which is something
impossible to do, especially when we are dealing with a subjective
interpretation of plans buried in someone's head. To those who suggest
a more restrained approach on Iraq and killing Saddam Hussein, the war
hawks retort saying, Prove to me that Saddam Hussein might not do
something some day directly harmful to the United States. Since no one
can prove this, the war mongers shout, let us march to Bagdad.
We can all agree that aggression should be met with force and that
providing national security is an ominous responsibility that falls on
the shoulders of Congress. But avoiding useless and unjustifiable wars
that threaten our whole system of government and security seems to be
the more prudent thing to do.
Since September 11, Congress has responded with a massive barrage of
legislation not seen since Roosevelt took over in 1933. Where Roosevelt
dealt with trying to provide economic security, today's legislation
deals with personal security from any and all imaginable threat at any
cost, dollar or freedom loss. These include the PATRIOT Act, which
undermines the fourth amendment with the establishment of an overly-
broad and dangerous definition of terrorism; the Financial Anti-
terrorism Act, which expands the government's surveillance of the
financial transactions of all American citizens through the increased
power of FinCen and puts back on track the plans to impose ``Know our
customer'' regulations on all Americans.
The airline bail-out bill gave $15 billion rushed through shortly
after September 11. The federalization of all airlines security
employees, military tribunals set up by executive orders, undermining
the rights of those accused, rights established as far back as 1215.
Unlimited retention of suspects without charges being made even when a
crime has not been committed, a serious precedent that one day may well
be abused. Relaxation of FBI surveillance guidelines of all political
activity. Functioning of the Federal Government authority and
essentially monopolizing vaccines and treatment for infectious
diseases, permitting massive quarantines and mandates for vaccinations.
Almost all significant legislation since 9-11 has been rushed through
in a tone of urgency with reference to the tragedy including the $190
billion farm bill. Guarantees to all insurance companies are now moving
quickly through the Congress. Increasing the billions already flowing
into foreign aid is now being planned as our intervention overseas
continue to expand.
There is no reason to believe that the massive increase in spending,
both domestic and foreign, along with the massive expansion of the size
of the Federal Government will slow any time soon. The deficit is
exploding as the economy weakens. When the government sector drains the
resources needed for capital expansion, it contributes to the loss of
confidence needed for growth, allowing the economy to function.
Even without evidence that any good has come from this massive
expansion of government power, Congress is in the process of
establishing this huge new Department of Homeland Security, hoping
miraculously through centralization to make all of these efforts
productive and worthwhile. There is no evidence, however, that
government bureaucracy and huge funding can solve our Nation's problem.
The likelihood is that the unintended consequences of this new proposal
will be to diminish our security and do nothing to enhance our
Opposing currently proposed legislation and recently passed
legislation does not mean that one is complacent about terrorism or
homeland security. The truth is that there are alternative solutions to
these problems we face without resorting to expanding the size and
scope of government at the expense of liberty.
As tempting as it may seem, a government is incapable of preventing
crimes. On occasion with luck they might succeed. But the failure to
tip us off about 9-11 after spending $40 billion a year on
intelligence-gathering should surprise no one. Governments by nature
are very inefficient institutions. We must accept that as fact.
I am sure that our intelligence agency had the information available
to head off 9-11, but bureaucratic blundering and turf wars prevented
the information from being useful. But the basic principle is wrong.
City policeman cannot and should not be expected to try to prevent
crimes. This would invite massive intrusions into the everyday
activities of every law-abiding citizen. But that is exactly what our
recent legislation is doing. It is a wrongheaded approach, no matter
how wonderful it may sound. The policemen in the inner cities patrol
their beats, but crime is still rampant.
In the rural areas of America, literally millions of citizens are
safe and secure in their homes though miles from any police protection.
They are safe because even the advantage of isolation does not entice
the burglar to rob a house when he knows a shotgun sits inside the door
waiting to be used. But this is a right denied many of our citizens
living in the inner city.
The whole idea of government preventing crime is dangerous. To
prevent crimes in our homes or businesses, governments would need
cameras to spy on every move to check for illegal drug use, wife-
beating, child abuse or tax evasion. They would need cameras not only
on our streets and in our homes; but our phones, Internet, and travels
would need to be constantly monitored just to make sure we are not a
terrorist, drug dealer, or tax evader.
This is the assumption used at the airports, rather than using
privately owned airlines to profile their passengers to assure the
safety for which airline owners ought to assume responsibility. But, of
course, this would mean guns in the cockpit. I am certain this approach
to safety and security would be far superior to the rules that existed
prior to 9-11 and now have been made much worse in the past 9 months.
This method of providing security emphasizes private property
ownership and responsibility of the owners to protect that property,
but the right to bear arms must be included. The fact that the
administration is opposed to guns in the cockpits and the fact that
airline owners are more interested in bailouts and insurance protection
means that we are just digging a bigger hole for ourselves, ignoring
liberty and expanding the government to provide something it is not
capable of doing.
Because of this, in combination with a foreign policy that generates
more hatred towards us and multiplies the number of terrorists that
seek vengeance, I am deeply concerned that Washington's effort so far,
sadly, have only made us more vulnerable. I am convinced that the newly
proposed Department of Homeland Security will do nothing to make us
more secure, but it will make us a lot poorer and less free. If the
trend continues, the Department of Homeland Security may well be the
vehicle used for a much more ruthless control of the people by some
future administration than any of us dreamed. Let us pray that this
concern will never materialize.
America is not now a ruthless authoritarian police state, but our
concerns ought to be whether we have laid the foundation of a more
docile police state. The love of liberty has been so diminished that we
tolerate intrusions into our privacy today that would have been
abhorred just a few years ago. Tolerance of inconvenience to our
liberties is not uncommon when both personal and economic fears
persist. The sacrifices being made to our liberties will surely usher
in a system of government that will place only those who enjoy being in
charge of running other peoples lives.
What then is the answer? Is America a police state? My answer is
maybe, not yet. But it is fast approaching. The seeds have been sown
and many of our basic protections against tyranny have been and are
constantly being undermined. The post-9-11 atmosphere here in Congress
has provided ample excuse to concentrate on safety at the expense of
liberty, failing to recognize that we cannot have one without the
When the government keeps detailed records on every move we make and
we either need advanced permission for everything we do or are
penalized for not knowing what the rules are, America will be a
declared police state. Personal privacy for law-abiding citizens will
be a thing of the past. Enforcement of laws against economic and
political crimes will exceed that of violent crimes. War will be the
prerogative of the administration. Civil liberties will be suspended
for suspects and their prosecution will not be carried out by an
independent judiciary. In a police state this becomes common practice
rather than a rare incident.
Some argue that we already live in a police state and Congress does
not have the foggiest notion of what we are dealing with. So forget it
and use your energies for your own survival, some advise. And they
advise also that the momentum toward the monolithic state cannot be
Possibly that is true. But I am optimistic that if we do the right
thing and do not capitulate to popular fallacies and fancies and the
incessant war propaganda, the onslaught of statism can be reversed. To
do so, we as a people once again have to dedicate ourselves to
establishing the proper role a government plays in a free society. That
does not involve the redistribution of wealth through force. It does
not mean that government dictates to us the moral and religious
standards of the people. It does not allow us to police the world by
involving ourselves in every conflict as if it is our responsibility to
manage an American world empire. But it does mean government has a
proper role in guaranteeing free markets, protecting voluntary and
religious choices and guaranteeing private property ownership while
punishing those who violate these rules, whether foreign or domestic.
In a free society, the government's job is simply to protect liberty.
The people do the rest. Let us not give up a grand experiment that
provided so much for so many. Let us reject the police state.
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