Very Enlightening Ron Paul Speech

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Under What Circumstances is Democracy Legitimate?

In his essay The Charade of Participatory Democracy, written in 1991, Ridgway K. Foley Jr. writes the following:

“Remember the fundamental question that must be asked of any proposed governmental or public activity: Does this constitute an appropriate state function? If the answer lies in the affirmative, the town meeting may afford an acceptable, if not superior, method of determining and implementing public policy. However, if the answer is negative, no amount of “citizen involvement” procedures will convert an improper act into an ethical and acceptable one. Unfortunately, almost all the instances of participatory democracy assume the propriety of the end sought, concentrate on the superficial means employed, and avoid this central issue which should be studied and answered.

Elsewhere, I have suggested the test to be applied to the central question: Does the proposed state function reasonably concern (1) the protection of nonaggressive persons from acts of force or fraud, (2) a defense of the realm, or (3) the resolution of otherwise insoluble disputes? If the function falls within these limited boundaries, it provides a ripe source for public concern and the exercise of the coercive force we term “government”; if the function lands outside these narrowly circumscribed perimeters, human conduct ought to be left to the individual choices of the people involved.

Deplorably, omission of this seminal question serves to obscure the fact that most, if not all, public hearings relate to matters properly relegated to private choice. Land-use planners don’t consider whether or not the state, or any individual or group of citizens, ought (philosophically, morally, and empirically) to dictate to other, unwilling neighbors the uses of the real property belonging to the latter. Instead, they hold witless hearings (ignoring the basic question or assuming its answer) designed to carve up the countryside into brightly colored blocks and blobs on a map, representing the (presumed) community calculation of how land ought to be employed. Likewise, advocates of mass transit never examine whether taxpayer-residents (1) want a bus system or (2) if so, desire to pay public monies for a municipally owned system as opposed to a private enterprise; instead they ignore the indispensable disquisition and spend citizen time, money, and energy in a search for ways to implement their grand design—through street closures, residence relocation, mandatory ridership in the name of energy conservation, and the like.”

Read the entire essay here, http://www.thefreemanonline.org/columns/the-charade-of-participatory-democracy/.

The Root Assumptions of Regulation

In his essay The Myth of Self-Regulation, written in 1983, Ridgway K. Foley Jr. writes the following:

“Pared to essentials, all regulatory standards rest upon two premises: First, that unregulated conduct is evil, and second, that the regulator possesses the inherent ability to curb that malevolence. Subjected to proper scrutiny, both ideas prove fallacious.

Initially, consider the proposition that autonomous human activity deserves condemnation as evil. Not necessarily true. All analysis requires a comprehension of fundamental human nature. Mankind possesses a propensity for betterment, for kindness, sympathy, and empathy, along with a more sinister side tending toward darkness and cruelty. The philosopher and the theologian have long observed and considered this duality of human nature. Man exhibits inherent flaws consistent with his finite condition; neither inherently good nor naturally evil, he enjoys the capacity for improvement but not perfection.

Given this indisputable fallibility, the contention that unregulated conduct constitutes evil proves too much. As with all human endeavor, business or professional activity manifests the dual capacity for good or evil. It does not differ in this respect from any other human action.

However, rational and empirical investigation reveals that mankind generally performs better with lessened (rather than increased) regulation. Although not subject to certain proof, reason demonstrates that unfettered creative endeavors normally lead to an astonishing array of goods, services, and ideas, as distinguished from the more turgid output emanating from a closed or managed system.[1] Historical evidence supports this thesis: witness the imaginative flowering during the times of the Saracenic Empire or nineteenth century America.[2]

One caveat: by reason of mankind’s recognized duality and propensity to evil, completely unfettered human action cannot be tolerated. A free society, governed by rules of justice and opposed to coercion, requires constraints inhibiting the initiation of force and the pursuit of fraud against unwilling participants and providing a final resolution of otherwise insoluble disputes. In essence, such rules and orders circumscribe destructive conduct while leaving creative accomplishment without manacles. To the extent, then, that industry codes and professional standards tether force and fraud or provide an orderly means for solving disputes, those devices serve the legitimate ends of justice and comport with legal propriety.[3]However, if these devices exceed the described boundaries, they represent unwise and improper excursions into conduct which should remain unbound and wholly voluntary.”

Read the entire essay here, http://www.thefreemanonline.org/columns/the-myth-of-self-regulation/.

Economics: Coercion vs Volunteerism

In his essay The Social Role of Business, written in 1982, Ridgway K. Foley Jr. writes the following:

“The allocation of scarce, desirable and valuable goods, services and ideas must be secured in some manner. Basically, two methods exist: coercion or voluntarism. Because men and women choose different ways to satisfy their ever-expanding wants, property can be divided in two ways: (1) each person can bid for the goods and services sought against all competing uses (the nonaggressive method) or (2) some person or group can seize power and forcefully decide (choose) for others by allocating scarce goods, services and ideas to satisfy those insatiable wants (the coercive method). The coercive method allows some individual or group to use force to distribute these products in a forceful manner, according to their subjective value judgments. The voluntary method allows each individual to act without force to provide for his own ends and to pursue his own brand of happiness. The state represents the coercive method; business provides the voluntary method.”

Read the entire essay here, http://www.thefreemanonline.org/columns/the-social-role-of-business/.

Inflation is a Tax

In his essay The Elements of a Fair System of Taxation, written in 1982, Ridgway K. Foley Jr. writes the following:

“Surely, inflation constitutes the most invidious and unfair tax of all. We properly call inflation a tax because it results strictly from governmental meddling with the market system. Ancient monarchs clipped coins and practiced other petty debasements. Our government for many decades has ruled by deficit spending and, when the powers that be wish to fund their little schemes, they debase the currency (no longer bound by the market laws associated with the gold standard) by churning out tons of paper dollars. The increase in the federal money supply causes the phenomenon we label “inflation”: the more dollars in circulation relative to the value of created goods and services, the less each individual dollar is worth and the more dollars it takes to purchase a given good or service.[5]

Inflation operates as the cruelest tax of all because (1) it is not labeled as a tax, (2) it penalizes the thrifty, and (3) although occasioned by government policies, the politicians habitually blame other alleged causes and thus misdirect the anger and corrective powers of the citizens. One cannot imagine a more unjust situation than a hard-working laborer who, by thrift and foresight, saves up to $50,000 during his working life, by forgoing luxury expenditures and restricting his consumption, in order to provide for his family when he is too old or too ill to work, only to discover that his hard-earned fund will only buy $5,000 worth of goods. Yet that is precisely the result according to the decline in the dollar purchasing power since World War II.[6] Outright thievery would seem less painful.”

Read the entire essay here, http://www.thefreemanonline.org/columns/the-elements-of-a-fair-system-of-taxation/.

Freedom is a Fact

On pages 149 and 150 of the book The Discovery of Freedom, written in 1943 by Rose Wilder Lane, we read the following brilliant passage:

“Freedom is not a permission granted by any Authority. Freedom is a fact. Whether or not this fact is known, freedom is in the nature of every living person, as gravitation is in the nature of this planet. Life is energy; liberty is the individual control of human life-energy. It can not be separated from life. Liberty is inalienable; as I can not transfer my life to anyone else, I can not transfer my liberty, my control of my life energy, to anyone else.

My exercise of self-controlling energy can be forbidden, restricted, prevented, by force, by putting me in jail or in chains. My spirit may be so weak, or I may be so ignorant of facts, that I try to behave as if I did not control my own acts. But my self-control, which is freedom, can be taken away from me only by killing me.

So long as I live, I am self-controlling and responsible for what I do. Ignorance is no escape from a fact. Rocks fell on men before an apple fell on Newton. Not knowing how fast you are driving is no escape from the fact of momentum. No one escapes from the fact of freedom, by lacking the brains or the nerve to face it and say, “I act like a coward only because I am a coward. If I act like a crook, I am a crook. No one and nothing but I, myself, can be responsible for what I do.”

I can not crawl out from under, saying, “I have to do this, if I don’t I’ll lose my job,” or, “We’ve got to, we can’t afford to lose the contract,” or, “I have a family to support,” or, “We have a responsibility to the stockholders,” or, “It’s the Party Line; the end justifies the means.”

Liberty is inalienable. I can not transfer my responsibility to anyone or anything.

This fact is not recognized when individuals submit to an Authority that grants them “freedoms.” Implicit in that plural is the belief that individuals are not free, that adult men and women must be controlled and cared for, as children are, and that, like children, they are naturally dependent and naturally obedient to an Authority that is responsible for their acts and their welfare.”

Read the entire wonderful book here,
http://library.mises.org/books/Rose%20Wilder%20Lane/The%20Discovery%20of%20Freedom.pdf.

The 6 Basic Foundations of Liberty

In his essay On Recapturing Liberty, written in 1979, Ridgway K. Foley Jr. writes the following:

Personal Freedom. The doctrine of personal freedom forms the touchstone for any study of the philosophy of liberty. Freedom means naught without individual liberty of action and freedom of choice. Talk of social or group freedom descends into meaninglessness: Such phrases merely provide a euphemism for coerced action substituting the subjective values of the leaders, or those enjoying power, in place of the value preferences of individual actors. The essence of personal freedom resides in the major premise that it is both morally propitious and pragmatically efficacious that each individual human being remain able to seek his own destiny without the aggressive intervention of mankind.

Individual Responsibility. The concept of individual responsibility refers to the reverse side of the “personal freedom” token: One cannot exhibit meaningful freedom unless he remains ever willing to abide by the natural consequences of his choice freely exercised. We inhabit a world where action produces consequence by the inexorable grinding of natural law. Individual responsibility marks the willingness and ability of the actor to accept the results of his acts rather than shunting the consequences onto the shoulders of his neighbors who did not make the choice in the first instance.

Private Property. One who accepts the premise of a personal right to free choice and action must logically and necessarily defend the concept of private property against its many and varied invaders. A right to live one’s life apart from the aggression of others rationally includes the right to produce, maintain, and transfer all value created, whether in the form of goods, services or ideas. One repetitive aberration in the modern world concerns the person who decries state-imposed theology while applauding governmental regulation of productive pursuits. Freedom of speech, of religion, of press, and of association mean little where individuals or groups, by legally-sanctioned power, can control meeting houses, newsprint, sound trucks and billboards.

Market Economy. Again, both moral and material reasons support the voluntary exchange or market system of transfer: Such an institution produces more and better goods, services and ideas at a lower cost, and such a system harmonizes with the fundamental doctrines of personal freedom, individual responsibility, and private property; they thrive in no other garden. Whether mislabelled “free market,” “free trade,” or “free enterprise,” the market economy imposes no limitations upon the nonaggressive transfer of created value between willing individuals and groups.

Limited Government. The theory of limited government lends political support to the economic doctrine of a voluntary market. In order to effect a society which displays personal freedom, individual responsibility, private property and a market system of exchange, certain governmental preconditions must exist. On the one hand, the state must not impose strictures upon free nonaggressive action, be it in the form of regulation, taxation, subsidies, rules or orders, for to do so would amount to a denial of the tenets stated. On the other hand, the state must exert some force and apply some sanction, in its role as the repository of community power, lest the baleful nature of mankind discussed in the first section of this article take precedence. Community action must tread deftly between the quagmire of restraint and the nightmare of anarchy. The proper role of the state rests in the restriction and punishment of initially-aggressive human action—the prevention of force and fraud—and in the peaceful settlement of otherwise insoluble disputes between citizens by means of orderly and established rules of law.

Subsidiarity. Finally, the doctrine of subsidiarity provides a means of governmental decision-making appropriate to the limited government idea. Subsidiarity merely refers to the normative rule that no higher or more general organ of government will issue a rule or determine an order when the same task can be accomplished by a lower and more specialized form of government. The limited government theory presupposes that the state which governs least, governs best, while subsidiarity expresses the proposition that the government nearest the affected society, governs best, in regard to those matters which deserve state attention.”

To read the entire essay click here, http://www.thefreemanonline.org/features/on-recapturing-liberty.