Congressman Ron Paul is very popular among libertarians and Tea Party conservatives. He recently announced he is forming a campaign exploratory committee and will make an announcement about a possible White House bid by June. The newly elected chairman of the House Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy joins Diane to discuss the meaning of the term “liberty” and how it is the seed of America.


  • Rep. Ron Paul Physician and twelve-term congressman from Texas

Video Extra

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) says that the U.S.’s killing of Osama bin Laden “raises as many questions as it answers.” Paul says that “right now” would be a good time for the U.S. to withdraw forces from Afghanistan and that he believes “the connection between foreign policy and our financial problems is very significant.” Paul also believes the government should release some proof of bin Laden’s death. “Why does our government invite conspiracy theories all the time?” he said:

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul talks about his views on abortion. “If you don’t have high respect for human life, you can’t have respect for liberty,” he said:

Program Highlights

Rep. Paul on bin Laden’s Death

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) spoke with Diane about everything from the U.S’s killing of Osama bin Laden to his thoughts on how abortion policy relates to the idea of “liberty” as he defines it.

Paul said that in spite of the pleasure most Americans felt upon hearing of bin Laden’s death, the event “raises as many questions as it answers.”Paul said that “right now” would be a good time to get out of Afghanistan, emphasizing that one of bin Laden’s stated goals was to get the U.S. to bankrupt itself through its involvement in Afghanistan.

Paul also had doubts about the U.S.’s ability to confirm that it was, in fact, bin Laden they had killed. “To my knowledge, I didn’t know they could do DNA proof that quickly,” he said.

Defining Liberty

“Liberty for me recognizes the fact that each individual has a right to his or her life and that the government is not allowed to coerce them into trying to mold their economic life or their personal life. It’s the absence of coercive force by government and a rejection of coercive force by any individuals,” Paul said.

Diane asked Rep. Paul about the place of regulatory agencies in protecting the public, especially people like miners who work in dangerous situations. “They don’t do a very good job,” he replied, citing the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig last year in the Gulf of Mexico.

When Diane suggested that there would be even more disasters if we didn’t have such regulatory agencies, Paul responded that “…too often, the government gets in bed with big business, and that’s where our tragedy comes from.”


“You believe in smaller government, but you think government should put a stop to abortion,” Diane said.

“What I’m most interested in is the recognition of the value of human life,” Paul said. “If you don’t have high respect for human life, you cannot have respect for liberty, and that’s what I’m interested in,” he said.

Paul added that constitutionally, the federal government is “not supposed to be enforcing any kind of regulations or laws like that.”

“There are strong reasons to believe that the unborn has legal rights.”

Scaling Back Government

Diane closed the interview by asking Paul which specific parts of the government he would eliminate if he was elected president.

Paul’s list includes: the Department of Education; the Department of Energy; the Food and Drug Administration; and deep cuts to the Pentagon’s budget.


  • 10:06:55

    MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Twelve-term Congressman Ron Paul was in Iowa last week to announce his decision to form an exploratory campaign committee. The Texas Republican won the straw poll for the second year at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference. He's just published a new book titled "Liberty Defined," in which he discusses his views on liberty as the seed of America. Congressman Ron Paul joins me in the studio. You can join us as well, 800-433-8850. Send us your email to Join us on Facebook or Twitter. Good morning to you, sir. It's good to have you here.

  • 10:08:00

    REP. RON PAULGood morning, and nice to be here.

  • 10:08:02

    REHMThe big news this week, of course, was the killing of Osama bin Laden. What's your reaction?

  • 10:08:11

    PAULWell, of course, I, like all Americans, are delighted to see somebody like that, who committed such a crime against us, dead and gone. There's still, you know, lots of things to think about on foreign policy and ask questions about why did it take 10 years, why did it cost more than 5,000 American lives, and why is it that he was harbored in a country that's supposed to be an ally, gets a lot of money from us, and why are we fighting in Afghanistan? So in spite of the pleasure most Americans, or maybe all Americans, will get from the death of Osama bin Laden, I think that it raises as many questions as it answers. And I have, generally, over the years, been asking those questions.

  • 10:09:02

    PAULI did vote for the authority to go after those individuals responsible for 9/11, which meant to go after bin Laden in Afghanistan. But that authority did not say nor did, I think, it implied that it endorsed invasion of many countries, nation building and fighting people who had nothing to do with 9/11.

  • 10:09:28

    REHMHow do you think the death of bin Laden could affect U.S. foreign policy?

  • 10:09:37

    PAULHow do -- who would affect that?

  • 10:09:38

    REHMHow could the death...

  • 10:09:40


  • 10:09:40

    REHM...of bin Laden affect U.S. foreign policy?

  • 10:09:46

    PAULWell, some people may become too complacent about our foreign policy, you know, and just say that it's good. One thing I heard people talking about that, I think, is very, very dangerous, that a useful tool in foreign policy and having this perpetual, undeclared war worldwide against terrorism is that torture is a useful tool. I think that is very, very dangerous, and yet that is what they talk about. But I don't think it's going to change our foreign policy, even though it should. I mean, it -- I mean, we should be at the point now of saying, well, the goal was to get those responsible for 9/11. He's the ringleader, and he's dead.

  • 10:10:32

    REHMSo in...

  • 10:10:33


  • 10:10:33

    REHM...other words, you'd like to see us get out of...

  • 10:10:37


  • 10:10:37

    REHM...Afghanistan sooner...

  • 10:10:39


  • 10:10:39

    REHM...rather than later.

  • 10:10:40

    PAULThis would be a good time to do it.

  • 10:10:42

    REHMRight now?

  • 10:10:43

    PAULRight now. Say, you know, the al-Qaida is not there. We're fighting a band of people who are revolutionaries that are involved in a Civil War, the Taliban. The Taliban is different than the al-Qaida. And the most anybody estimates that al-Qaida might be in Afghan is maybe 100. Some people think even less. And I just think that we should change our foreign policy -- things should change. But I'm afraid the process will continue and use the same tools that we have used, and we're going to perpetuate this until we're totally bankrupt.

  • 10:11:19

    REHMWhat about our financial aid to Pakistan?

  • 10:11:24

    PAULWell, seeing that I don't endorse financial aid to anybody, I mean, we certainly shouldn't be giving aid to a country that probably, you know, protected bin Laden. It's pretty hard to think that their secret service and their security agents and their government didn't know that he was hiding in broad daylight, so to speak. So, no, we shouldn't be giving them aid. At the same time we give them aid, we're also dropping bombs on them. It's such a ridiculous foreign policy, and it complicates things. And I think it's going to continue, and I don't think we're going to be backing off at all.

  • 10:12:02

    REHMDo you think his death could affect the 2012 elections?

  • 10:12:08

    PAULOh, sure.

  • 10:12:09

    REHMHow so?

  • 10:12:10

    PAULI think the American people are very pleased, but the election is a long time off.

  • 10:12:15


  • 10:12:16

    PAULI mean, they were very -- people were very pleased with George Bush, Sr. with Kuwait, you know. What, did he have a positive rating of 95 percent? And he lost the election a year or two later. So things can change, and maybe the economy will be the big issue. So you could say this has produced a lot of positive points for Obama. We still are doing exactly what Obama -- bin Laden wanted us to do.

  • 10:12:44

    REHMSuch as?

  • 10:12:45

    PAULIn that he's to stay there and drain ourselves, drain our military, get dissention going in our country and bankrupt our country. Those are his stated -- were his stated goals. And so he's been laughing at us for a long time, and maybe he's going to have our last laugh because, if my assumptions are correct and we don't come home, the bankruptcy is going to march on. And we are going to suffer from it. I mean, this is very, very serious. And expenditures in the military budget is very significant. It's not like a couple of nickels and dimes. It's a perpetual -- we're endlessly involved in so many countries. And I just think that the connection between the foreign policy and the financial problems we have is very significant.

  • 10:13:34

    REHMWhat would you say to those who are doubtful that this assassination actually took place, that Osama bin Laden was buried at sea, that we do have photographs and so on? What would you say to that?

  • 10:13:54

    PAULThe question I have is why does our government invite conspiracy theories all the time? I mean, why didn't they show a picture? Nobody questions Saddam Hussein's death. They showed pictures and pictures of his son, and, you know, I don't hear any conspiracy theories about that. Maybe there was a teeny bit at the beginning, but, no. Why does our government do that? And, you know, and I have a medical question, trying to confirm the timing. You know, I understand he was killed, like, Sunday afternoon, and by Sunday, nine o'clock, it was announced that the president would speak, and that they had DNA proof of the individual.

  • 10:14:36

    PAULTo my knowledge, I didn't know they could do DNA proof that quickly. Then they came back and they said, well, we had facial features, and we'll get the results of the DNA later. It's that confusion, and I just sort of hate to talk about it in detail until we know more about the information. You know, every day, you get a little bit more information.

  • 10:14:59

    REHMSo would you consider yourself among the doubters?

  • 10:15:05

    PAULOn this? I wouldn't say -- well, I don't know whether you want doubter. All of a sudden you're into conspiracies. I would say I'm still looking for a lot more information, you know. Governments tend to fib. Some people call it lying when it comes to war. Sometimes we go to war, with Vietnam or Iraq, you know, gross distortion of the reality. So the war propagandas are very much into distorting information to get a consensus with the people. So, yeah, I'd like to see all the information come in. And look how long it took us to sort out the real cause of Vietnam, you know, the Pentagon papers. That didn't happen, and I was in the service at that time. I didn't know anything about the Pentagon papers. So it was only later on. History has come back to show exactly what went on in Vietnam.

  • 10:16:00

    REHMTwelve-term Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul. His new book is titled "Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom." Do join us, 800-433-8850. I was fascinated that within the book, you've done your chapters alphabetically. For example, you've got demagogues. You've got envy. You've got global warming. You've got marriage. So anyone can go alphabetically to a topic they wish to find. Why is this book so important to you?

  • 10:16:54

    PAULWell, actually, I have to give credit to the publisher for putting them in order. You know, I had written a lot of information and given my position on so many issues that he thought it would be a good idea to do the alphabetical. It's just important because there's a lot of debate on this. I've been working in the freedom movement for a long time. And some views are popular with conservatives, and some views are popular with progressives. And I thought it would be good to try to apply the two principles that I follow.

  • 10:17:26

    PAULAnd the two principles is the rejection of the use of violence to bring about changes. I don't want to force people to do things. I want to restrain violence, but I don't want to force you or anybody else to do my bidding. I mean, it's your life. It's everybody's life. And also, to teach how important tolerance is, tolerating people who -- you might personally reject this sort of like an expanded version of the First Amendment. Everybody knows why we have the First Amendment.

  • 10:17:54

    PAULAnd, as I say, it's not there to -- for us to be able to talk about the weather. I mean, we're supposed to be able to talk about controversial issues. But a lot of people think if you have controversial activities and it might do you harm, we should regulate it. We should regulate your drinking and smoking habits and gambling habits. And I personally may have strong feelings about that. I personally may teach my children certain things. But I don't believe in the use of force to make changes either economic or personal, and that you should do your best to be as tolerant as you can with others.

  • 10:18:31

    REHMCongressman Ron Paul of Texas. His new book titled "Liberty Defined." Short break. We'll be right back.

  • 10:20:03

    REHMAnd if you've just joined us, 12-term Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul is here in the studio with me. We're talking about many things, but most of all, his views on liberty. He has a brand new book out titled "Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom." We are going to open the phones shortly, 800-433-8850. Send us your email to Join us on Facebook or Twitter. Congressman Paul, give us your definition of liberty.

  • 10:20:56

    PAULLiberty for me recognizes the fact that each individual has a right to his or her life and that the government is not allowed to coerce them into trying to mold their economic life or their personal life. It's the absence of coercive force by government and a rejection of coercive force by any individuals. But you have to recognize individual, natural or God-given rights, that your life is your own.

  • 10:21:22

    REHMNow, here is a posting on "The Diane Rehm Show" website, and apparently there were many like this. Mark says, "I'd like to know how Dr. Paul views his ambitious and heavy-handed approach to freedom and deregulation in light of the history of the Industrial Revolution. Should he not concede that most of our regulations exist because of prior abuses? What kind of balancing does he do between social improvement and liberty?"

  • 10:22:10

    PAULWell, most of the regulations come to protect big business, is the way I see it. And a lot of people get two terms mixed up because so often I work with people like Dennis Kucinich and Bernie -- Barney -- Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a socialist. And the reason is we recognize that big business and big banks are always getting the privileges. So, too often, we end up regulating for the business -- benefit of the big guys. And therefore regulation should be there to protect property, to protect property and contracts and not to protect special interests.

  • 10:22:52

    PAULAnd if you look at the bailout, you can see that it went and protected the big guys. So I see government as protecting big business. I think the problem comes here is the definition. People who like regulations say, well, we don't like capitalism. Capitalism leads to all these tragic circumstances. Well, I disagree with that. Not true free market capitalism -- that does not happen. They are restrained by these certain laws. But what we deal with and why there's a coalition between left and right is that we're against corporatism, you know, the fact that corporations and government get in bed together.

  • 10:23:33

    PAULTake some of the things going on in medical care today. Are we having a one-payer system which would be more socialistic? Or are we protecting the medical industrial complex? Insurance company, managed care companies, the drug companies -- they're the ones who get protected under today's circumstances, so it's big government and big corporation. The military industrial complex is the same thing. Now, if you want to regulate and diminish the power and the money that corporations get when they get government benefits, I'm all with you.

  • 10:24:08

    PAULBut if you're a free market person and you get very, very wealthy because you provide a -- some goods or services and the market votes for you and, say, we vote for you because you can give us a service, whether it's Microsoft or somebody else and they get no benefits. The people are voting and saying, we want your product. And they usually vote for the best product, and they vote for the -- you know, the best price, and if you are successful and satisfied the consumer. So we want pure democracy in the marketplace. This is the democratic process that's -- in the free market, the consumer is the one that's protected. Neither big business or big labor -- not big government, but the consumer is the one who benefits.

  • 10:24:56

    REHMTwo points going back to Mark's question. What about the small guys? What about the workers? What about the miners? What about the people who work in dangerous situations? Who is there to protect them? Well, you've got the office -- OSHA. You've got regulatory agencies that try to do their job for the small guy and not.

  • 10:25:30

    PAULYeah, and they don't do a very good job. I mean, we still have oil rigs blowing up. The government regulates that.

  • 10:25:34

    REHMOf course we do.

  • 10:25:35

    PAULWe have coalmines blowing up.

  • 10:25:36

    REHMBut wouldn't we have even more if we didn't have them?

  • 10:25:40

    PAULHow do we know? Maybe there's a moral hazard. Maybe we can assume the government is going to take care of us, and the unions and the business people don't work harder to take care of the safety factors. Why was it that the setup for 9/11 was such? Because we trusted the government. The government says, we'll take care of you. We'll examine the passengers. You're not allowed to have guns on the airplane and never resist. So there's a moral hazard always involved when the people assume the governments take care of them. But that doesn't mean that they're allowed to be unsafe and harmful. The truth is -- and I won't get into a long argument on this -- but the truth is the Industrial Revolution served the little guy more than anything else because they got jobs. The standard of living has gone up.

  • 10:26:23

    PAULThere's so much has happened, but there was abuse. There's no doubt about it. But where was the abuse, even early on? Our government, you know, subsidized the railroads. You know, that was even in the 19th century. So, too often, the government gets in bed with big business, and that's where our tragedy comes from. But people don't have a right to harm people. The free society means you have absolute prohibitions. But if you preempt and say, the government will protect you, it's sort of like coming in here and saying, we're going to have prior restraint on your radio program because we don't want you to say anything wrong. And it's -- you don't have -- the freedom philosophy I have is you don't put a lot of restrain on -- prior restraint on you or the person who's producing a product.

  • 10:27:11

    PAULBut if you say something and you defame somebody and commit a -- you know, really hurt somebody, you can be held liable and responsible for misquoting. But in a same way in the business world, you're not free to do anything.

  • 10:27:26

    REHMAll right.

  • 10:27:26

    PAULThat's a fallacy.

  • 10:27:28

    REHMSecond question. You talked about a single-payer plan. You mentioned health insurance, saying that a single-payer plan, Bernie Sanders and the like. Would you have been in favor of a single-payer plan?

  • 10:27:49

    PAULThat would use coercion. That would use force. Free society means you have choices. You have to always -- I always reject force. So if the market said there was a single-payer plan and everybody liked it and they joined it, that means it was voluntary. But I don't believe in coercion. And you -- and others should have tolerance of the people who say, all I want to do is take care of myself. I want to use holistic medicine. We get in the way of people having alternative health care.

  • 10:28:17

    PAULWe get in the way by licensing everything. Doctors have to do this, this and this. And that's why we have these bills. You go in and get an X-ray, it costs you $5,000. That's all government management. That wasn't the case. I practiced medicine when we didn't have government, and we always charged the least amount. And they were (unintelligible). Now, everybody gets charged the maximum. And people are not going to have medical care soon because of the costs that are going up, and nobody's going to be able to afford it. And it's all combined with the bankruptcy that we're facing. It's a combination of the runaway entitlement system and the runaway spending in the military industrial complex.

  • 10:28:55

    REHMCongressman Paul, you announced in Iowa you were forming an exploratory committee. Why do you want to make a third presidential run?

  • 10:29:08

    PAULWell, I don't have a burning desire to, to tell you the truth. I'm sort of pressured into it because...

  • 10:29:14

    REHMBy whom?

  • 10:29:16

    PAULBy thousands and thousands of people who are just really writing to me and talking to me, the many websites, the continuation of what happened in the last go-around. I was rather shocked to find out what kind of reception I got, especially on the universities. And I've continued to speak at the university. The crowds get bigger, more enthusiastic. They don't like the war. They don't like the Patriot Act. They like personal liberties. They like to be left alone. They don't want the government to be taking care of them from cradle to grave. And they're enthusiastic.

  • 10:29:46

    PAULAnd I get, you know -- and then the monetary issue is a major issue. And when I get tired and somebody comes to me and say, well, let's do this, let's do that, like when Bernanke had his first, you know, press conference, and I said, I don't want to do all these TVs. I had 14 calls that day. And I said I am tired of this. Yeah, you've worked 30 years to make the monetary issue a key issue. You finally put pressure on Bernanke to hold a press conference, you better go do it. And oh, yeah, you're right. You're right. That's part of it. So there's two sides of me, one just as soon not have to deal with this, but I've dealt with them for a long time. And I'm enthusiastic about it.

  • 10:30:28

    PAULAnd I was taught a long time ago that if you prepare yourself and you have some piece of information, you will be asked to do something. So I've never been one to force myself on others. But when they come and ask me and my opinion, you know, I'm willing to give it because I've tried to study my best and -- all the issues and to explain the best way I can and defend liberty.

  • 10:30:54

    REHMWhat was your reaction when, at the February conservative political action conference, Donald Trump called you unelectable?

  • 10:31:06

    PAULI sort of just chuckled at it. I was just wondering, who is this person to be the expert to predict that? If I'm unelectable, why did I win Congress for so many years, you know, probably 10 times or so? And, here, he -- is he an expert? I mean, he hadn't been elected anything yet. So I thought it was sort of just Trump being Trump.

  • 10:31:30

    REHMAnd what about your son, Sen. Rand Paul? He was waiting to hear whether you were going to run before he thought he might at least give some consideration to his own run.

  • 10:31:48

    PAULI have no idea about that because he and I never talked about it. I think that was more or less concocted by the media. So -- and he probably lead them on a little bit. But we never had a serious good discussion on that.

  • 10:31:59

    REHMYou're saying he would not have run in any event?

  • 10:32:03

    PAULIf he would have, I'd have been pretty surprised.

  • 10:32:05

    REHMYou would have?

  • 10:32:06

    PAULI would have been. But, like I said, I've never asked him that specific question. But I personally would have been surprised.

  • 10:32:13

    REHMDid the two of you ever talk about this together?

  • 10:32:19

    PAULOnly after it became very clear when he said he wasn't going to do it. No, we never had a discussion on it. And that's the truth.

  • 10:32:27

    REHMIn other words, you made your decision without speaking to him about it.

  • 10:32:34

    PAULI told him about it when I was -- you know, a day or two before I said that I was going to start the committee. And he's, oh, okay, he said. You know, it wasn't a big event for him...

  • 10:32:45

    REHMIt was not a big event.

  • 10:32:47

    PAULI mean, he sort of suspected that that's what I would do.

  • 10:32:49

    REHMYeah, I want to remind people Congressman Rand Paul is here with me -- sorry -- Ron Paul. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." I want to understand how small you believe government should be.

  • 10:33:14

    PAULAs small as possible.

  • 10:33:16

    REHMDoes that mean no Congress? Does...

  • 10:33:19

    PAULOh, no.

  • 10:33:20

    REHMWell, what does it mean?

  • 10:33:21

    PAULWell, why don't we start with the rule of law? There were and there still are imperfections in our Constitution, and that's one issue. But the other issue is, are we supposed to follow the Constitution? We all take an oath to it. So I'm fortunate in that the Constitution is very much in a line with my personal beliefs. So I can say this is what I believe, and the Constitution supports my position. It's very explicit. People should read Article I in Section A. I mean, we have 21 things we're allowed to do, and the rest we're not allowed to do.

  • 10:33:55

    PAULI mean, just think about what it was like back in the teens, you know, a century ago, when the people said, you know, we think alcohol is a horror and a lot of harm comes from it, which is true. But they wanted to use force to regulate drinking habits, so they wanted to prohibit alcohol from being used. They amended the Constitution. Could you imagine amending the Constitution today to tell people they're not allowed smoke a marijuana cigarette, even if it's healthy for them and helpful to them to get them through a cancer treatment?

  • 10:34:27

    REHMWhat about...

  • 10:34:27

    PAULI mean, they don't do that anymore. So it's a rule of law that you have to follow, and then you're going to get a very small government.

  • 10:34:32

    REHMYou believe in smaller government, but you think government should put a stop to abortion.

  • 10:34:42

    PAULI think -- what I'm most interested in is the recognition of the value of human life. If you don't have high respect for human life, you cannot have respect for liberty, and that's what I'm interested in. I'm not interested in the federal government to be involved at all because of the Constitution. They're not supposed to be enforcing any kind of regulations or laws like that. So there's nothing in the Constitution prohibits states from regulating alcohol or abortion or whatever.

  • 10:35:11

    PAULBut I have, really, trouble with somebody who argues the case -- and I understand -- I've written tons of material, books on abortion. What I don't understand is the argument that says, it's the woman's body. She has to do -- she can do whatever she wants. And I, you know, agree with that, except when it comes to another life. I think your house is sacred, too. Nobody should come in your house -- no cameras, nothing -- but you can't kill your baby in your crib. So there is a limit. So if a baby -- the fetus is in the 9th month of pregnancy -- viable, perfect. The woman still has the right to pay a doctor to kill it?

  • 10:35:54

    PAULAt the same time, if a young girl has a delivery that she wasn't really much aware of -- oh, I was pregnant, I had a baby -- and she kills the baby, they arrest her. There's something awfully bizarre about that. I want the recognition that human life is something very, very special. And there are strong reasons to believe that the unborn has legal rights. You have -- let me finish.

  • 10:36:19


  • 10:36:19

    PAULYou have inheritance rights. If there's a homicide, that person is held accountable for a homicide. Oh, well, we had an accident. The baby died, but the baby doesn't exist. It's not a life, so it's not a big deal. We'll just do assault and battery, but not a homicide. No, that isn't the case. There's strong evidence that this life exists. So every argument that the left uses or the pro-abortion people use in the early part of pregnancy, where it's easy to set aside, it applies to the day before birth. And I say that there's something about this, that we should have a lot more respect for life if you want to respect liberty.

  • 10:36:57

    REHMAnd, of course, there are very few abortions...

  • 10:37:02

    PAULThe principle.

  • 10:37:03

    REHM...that take place at the end of a woman's pregnancy term.

  • 10:37:08

    PAULI'm arguing strictly from principle, the principle of the argument. The principle of the argument is you have a right to your life. It's your body. It's your baby. And I just lost my boyfriend, and he doesn't want it. And I don't want it. I can't take care of it. I'm going to get rid of it. That's a -- that's not a civilized approach to society.

  • 10:37:27

    REHMTwelfth-term Texas Republican, Congressman Ron Paul. His new book is titled "Liberty Defined." Short break. When we come back, we'll open the phones.

  • 10:40:02

    REHMAnd now it's time to open the phones for Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul, who has a new book out. It's titled "Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom." Let's go first to Tulsa, Okla. Good morning, Anthony.

  • 10:40:28

    ANTHONYGood morning. Dr. Paul, I'd be very grateful if you'd explain your view after 23, I believe, years in the House of Representatives, of whether the federal government helps people directly, whether they actually have groups -- I mean, boots on the ground or whether they simply dispense money to the states according to how the states jumps through the federal hoop and whether it's not the states themselves that have the actual boots on the ground helping people. I'm wondering if you would also expound on -- corporatism to take hold if the corporations have to exert influence on 50 different state governments, or if the federal is so powerful that they can do one-stop shopping in Washington.

  • 10:41:19

    REHMAll right. Thanks for your call.

  • 10:41:21

    PAULYeah, I don't know if I can remember everything he mentioned. But on the 50 states and regulation, I find this a fascinating argument because it's generally believed that the left hates the term states rights because they want -- if you say I'm for this because of states rights, they want to turn it into a racist statement. But when it comes to regulations, the left likes states right because, a lot of times, the states will have stronger regulations against the businessman than the federal government. And, I think, he implied -- he's correct, that big business will come and demand regulations, and the Republicans recapitulate.

  • 10:42:02

    PAULAnd the Republicans get protection of big business because they don't want to go to 50 different states. But I stick to my guns and stick to the Constitution. If you're going to regulate things, they should be done at the state level. It's not the -- under the authority of the federal government, and that it makes a very good point that, at times, the conservative Republicans will come and want regulations. And, of course, I think they're very harmful when they're not justified.

  • 10:42:33

    REHMAll right. To Conway, N.H. Good morning, Dave.

  • 10:42:41


  • 10:42:42

    REHMHi there.

  • 10:42:42

    DAVEI was curious about Dr. Paul's views on freedom of food choice. Currently, 25 states in the U.S. prohibit the sale of raw milk. That's just one example. But we have a myriad of food safety laws that protect big agribusiness and prohibit small organic farmers like me from selling good, honest products that consumers want. So how does Dr. Paul feel about the government saying, you know, what the public can and can't eat when they want to?

  • 10:43:15

    PAULOf course, my answer is very clear. You should -- the consumer should have complete freedom of choice, and the businessman is responsible and liable for any injury that he might commit. And, of course, there's no reason why they'd want to do that, and they'd have every reason in the world to give safe foods. But, yes, a free society means competition and freedom of choice by the consumer. The federal government, especially, has no authority whatsoever to command and tell you what you can grow and not grow. I don't think it provides safety if you have the FDA and the other organization -- they usually protect big business. They'll protect the big farmers. The big farmers get all the subsidies. And the little guys get hurt from this.

  • 10:44:03

    PAULSo the people should have freedom of choice on everything that we do, all our actions. And take, for instance, even the raw milk business and that people aren't allowed to buy milk, you know, like you said, in 25 states. And then government comes in and regulates interstate commerce illegally, from my viewpoint, that, oh, no, you can't sell a bottle of milk across a state line because it's raw milk. And we're going to protect the consumer.

  • 10:44:35

    PAULSo we should honor the commitment that consumers have a right of free choice. The businessman or the person the selling the product have the responsibility to give safe food. And they can't defraud anybody and tell them, oh, this is a magic cure for everything and that this food is something different than it really is. So they are responsible for correct information.

  • 10:45:00

    REHMThanks for calling, Dave. Here is an email from Matt, who says, "I'm curious about whether Congressman Paul has changed his views on the theory of evolution as a medical doctor. You should have had to take at least some biology as well anatomy courses in college. So I have a hard time with the idea that he understands the evidence, but simply refuses to accept the logical conclusion."

  • 10:45:34

    PAULYou know, I write a chapter on that, but the point wasn't to say, you know, whether I believe or I don't believe in evolution. The main thing was, why in the world are politicians asked about evolution? It's an interesting theological and a intellectual discussion. But why are politicians involved in evolution? And I -- in the book, I talk about -- we were asked that question in the state. Put your hand up whether you believe in evolution or not. My position isn't all or nothing. I would say that there's room for thought, and we should have freedom of thought.

  • 10:46:11

    PAULBut -- so I think people -- and I point out here that, once you get the government running our schools, especially the federal government, they come in and they have to dictate the literature because what if all the literature says only creationism or only evolution? Then, all of a sudden, you're doing things that won't happen in the private setting. So I just want an honest discussion on it. And I think that if this were an easy thing to solve and satisfy everybody, I think it'd have been satisfied a long time ago. But my whole point there was the federal government ought to be out of the business of deciding evolution against creationism.

  • 10:46:49

    REHMHere's an email from Peter in Tarrytown, N.Y., who says, "You promote the idea of smaller government. Given the flooding we're now seeing in the Midwest, the recent destruction by tornadoes in the South, how would your government provide the help these areas need? Or do they have to just suck it up and deal with it on their own? Does your idea of smaller government extend to the state and local level? If so, who repairs the potholes?"

  • 10:47:25

    PAULWell, you're responsible for your own property. Does he say he's from New York?

  • 10:47:30


  • 10:47:30

    PAULYeah, Tarrytown, N. Y. So there's a tornado, and houses get blown down, people get injured. I do not believe in coercing him to pay for it. I would have to go in with the IRS and say, I have to raise your taxes, and I want money from you. And I'm going to go out and help those people. No. If you live in an area where there's tornadoes -- I live in an area where there are hurricanes, but I don't think people outside of the hurricane area should pay for me living on the beach.

  • 10:48:01

    REHMSo you feel that each person should be responsible for rebuilding his or her own property?

  • 10:48:09

    PAULAbsolutely. I mean, why should somebody...

  • 10:48:12

    REHMBut when you got...

  • 10:48:12

    PAULWhy should somebody else...

  • 10:48:13

    REHM...whole towns wiped out...

  • 10:48:15

    PAULWell, what's -- I mean, whole towns are wiped out with hurricanes. Insurance companies come in and pay for it.

  • 10:48:20

    REHMNot all of it, surely.

  • 10:48:22

    PAULWell, then those people shouldn't people living there. The whole thing is, the reason people live there -- say, on the coast especially -- is there's the moral hazard that government will take care of us. You know, that -- well, I -- and, you know, they'll say, well, you have government insurance. Well, why don't you buy a private insurance? Oh, because it's too expensive, which means it's too dangerous. So we go and say, well, it's not dangerous. The government, which is stealing from somebody who doesn't live there, doesn't have the benefits of living on the coast, and they go and build where they shouldn't.

  • 10:48:55

    PAULSometimes, some of our houses are built two and three times because it's government insurance. So I've lived on the coast, and I don't believe in government insurance. I think it causes people to do dumb things.

  • 10:49:05

    REHMAll right.

  • 10:49:06

    PAULAnd people live in Tornado Alley. You say, I'm vulnerable to a tornado. What I should do, have a safe house, and I'd better get insurance.

  • 10:49:15

    REHMTo Louisville, Ky. Good morning, Greg.

  • 10:49:19

    GREGGood morning. I wanted to say that we have a divided government in Washington. It seems to be the only way we're ever going to get anywhere with the budget deficit is if the right agrees to cut in the warfare state and the left agrees to cut in the welfare state. It seems to me, if we're going to talk compromise, that's where we should be compromising. How can we cut -- how can both sides come together on cutting their pet projects?

  • 10:49:41

    PAULOh, I think that's a great question because, you know, I talk a little bit in the book about bipartisanship. And I say bipartisanship is our problem. It's bipartisan. They love our wars. It's bipartisan. They love printed press money. Bipartisan, they love government entitlement programs. And we've been doing it for years and years. But, now, he's talking about bipartisanship, but doing the right thing. I call it building coalitions, coalitions between progressives and conservatives and libertarians and come together in cutting. I think he's absolutely right. You have to come together. The odds of that happening, guess what? My opinion is probably less than 1 percent. That is where the tragedy is.

  • 10:50:21

    REHMWhat about congressional Republicans and Democrats who had faced constituents last week at home, what kinds of reactions, especially to Paul Ryan's plan?

  • 10:50:38

    PAULYeah, I think that's -- that stuff scares me, you know, what's happening because I think there's a lot of distortion. I think Paul Ryan -- I didn't vote for his bill because I didn't like it. But he has no more intent in attacking and throwing people out in the street with medical care. That's gross distortion. But let's say we move in that direction and people demagogue it and scare people and, say, he's going to throw all the people out in the street. The way I look at this is if we don't get our house in order, if we don't cut the militarism overseas and this runaway spending at home, which is unsustainable, everybody is going to be out in the street. People don't know what it's like and how to study history about runaway inflation.

  • 10:51:23

    PAULAlready, the anger is building because -- around the world because we're on a dollar standard. The riots around the world are frequently over food prices because there's inflation. And, today, there's a lot of inflation. Gasoline price is up. Food prices are up. Clothing is going up. Transportation is going up. But what happens if we pay $10 a gallon for gasoline and $10 for a loaf of bread and then there's no medical care and yet -- let's say, you have a doctor's appointment for $500? When that comes, everybody suffers. And that's what we have to deal with.

  • 10:51:55

    PAULAnd the inflation comes, the higher prices come, when the government prints money -- the government prints money when they spend too much and they can't tax anymore and they can't borrow anymore. And, believe me, we're at that point.

  • 10:52:08

    REHMWhat parts of government, what specific departments of government would you eliminate if you were elected president?

  • 10:52:18

    PAULWell, I can list a bunch, probably about six or seven of the departments. But why don't we go with what is the responsible role of government? And it's to provide a strong national defense. And...

  • 10:52:28

    REHMSo you'd leave the Pentagon in place?

  • 10:52:31

    PAULYeah, but not -- but (unintelligible) we can still cut three-quarters of our military budget.

  • 10:52:37


  • 10:52:37

    PAULWe can defend this country. That was explicit in the Constitution. The states can -- you know, can't defend against the invasion.

  • 10:52:43

    REHMWhat about the Department of State?

  • 10:52:47

    PAULI think you can have a Department of State to talk with and negotiate with other countries. I think...

  • 10:52:52

    REHMWhat about Department of Education?

  • 10:52:54

    PAULNo. Where does that authority come from? That's so far removed from the Constitution.

  • 10:52:58

    REHMWhat about Department of Energy?

  • 10:53:01

    PAULNo. That's just for big business. That's just nothing but subsidies, like agriculture, for big agriculture. No, we don't need that.

  • 10:53:08

    REHMWhat about the FDA?

  • 10:53:10

    PAULWell, the FDA just serves the drug companies, you know.

  • 10:53:13

    REHMSo you'd eliminate that?

  • 10:53:14

    PAULOh, yeah, they do a couple things. They serve drug companies, but they also prevent drugs from coming on the market 10, 15 years later than other countries have it. So, yes, the government just gets in the way on so many of those things.

  • 10:53:28

    REHMTexas Congressman Ron Paul. His new book is titled, "Liberty Defined." And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Let's go to Hickory, N.C. Good morning, Michael.

  • 10:53:46

    MICHAELGood morning, Diane, Dr. Paul.

  • 10:53:48

    PAULGood morning.

  • 10:53:49

    MICHAELI'm a big fan. I'm a declared independent or undeclared, I guess you'd say, because I hate both parties equally. If I had to declare, it would be libertarian. But the problem I have is with the philosophical aspects of free market dynamics. And I understand, philosophically and theoretically, it would work fine, but the problem is it's a two part. You've got the ability to make as much profit as you want, but then also you have on the back side of the negative consequence, you're supposed to have the negative consequence of failing, losing money, so forth.

  • 10:54:28

    MICHAELAnd I think the last financial meltdown, both on Wall Street and in the mortgage markets, show that at least individuals and groups of individuals are willing to make their own personal profits, and they don't care about their company or the overall economics. And so there's been a big generational loss, I think, in ethics or whatever.

  • 10:54:54

    REHMAll right. Sir?

  • 10:54:56

    PAULWell, I think when they do that, committing fraud, of course, they should be punished for that. I think when they do that as a consequence of our monetary system, whether he sees an inflationary bubbles where they take an opportunity, if they're unethical and they're doing it but maybe not committing a law, then the people who invest in these companies ought to know more about the companies and don't invest in it, don't participate in it. But the idea of companies making a lot of money in itself is not bad. I mean, Warren Buffett is not a threat to our society. And the people have this, well, they have billions of dollars, and they're working hard to give it away. It's not like they've been a detriment. It's how they make it.

  • 10:55:36

    PAULIf they make it by benefits from the government, that's evil, and it shouldn't happen. And then the little guys suffer. What is so disgusting about our bailout was that people who was doing some of the profit making that he was talking about, and they were benefiting by the inflation and regulatory environment, they finally overdid it. The bubble burst, and then -- oh, they're too big to fail. The world will come down if we don't stop them, stop the Depression. Well, it is true. We bailed them out, and we stopped the Depression for Wall Street. And they're doing fine right now. The Depression hits the people. The Depression hit the people who lost their jobs. They lost their mortgages or lost their houses, and they're still unemployed.

  • 10:56:16

    PAULAnd that is where the real tragedy is, but it has nothing to do with free markets. That has to do with the government intervention. It's not -- it has anything to do with making profits.

  • 10:56:27

    REHMTexas Republican Congressman Ron Paul. His new book is titled "Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues that Affect Our Freedom." Thanks for being here, sir. Good to meet you.

  • 10:56:44

    PAULThank you very much. It was nice being here.

  • 10:56:45

    REHMThank you. And thanks for listening, all. I'm Diane Rehm.

  • 10:56:51

    ANNOUNCER"The Diane Rehm Show" is produced by Sandra Pinkard, Nancy Robertson, Susan Nabors, Denise Couture, Monique Nazareth and Sarah Ashworth. The engineer is Tobey Schreiner. Dorie Anisman answers the phones. Visit for audio archives, transcripts, podcasts and CD sales. Call 202-885-1200 for more information. Our email address is And we're on Facebook and Twitter. This program comes to you from American University in Washington. This is NPR.

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