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Sharing Ideas on Liberty at Ron Pauls Congressional Luncheon Group

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I had an interesting lunch yesterday. Congressman Ron Paul invited me to share libertarian perspectives on the warfare-welfare state and the debt ceiling with his private luncheon group, which consists of several of Ron’s fellow congressmen. About 8 other congressmen joined us for the luncheon meeting in Ron’s office for a fun, free-wheeling discussion of the debt ceiling, foreign policy, domestic policy, the drug war, spending, a balanced budget, and inflation.

By agreement, everything said by the congressmen at the meeting is off the record and so I won’t discuss their side of the conversation, but I am at liberty to share with you the things I said.

I told them that we shouldn’t look at the debt-ceiling crisis as a crisis but rather as an opportunity. For years, the government has been spending far more than what it has been taking in with taxes, with the result being massive debt being piled on massive debt, with American taxpayers on the hook. Nonetheless, U.S. officials want to continue spending and borrowing to their heart’s content. They are much like the millionaire, I told them, who has lost his fortune but wants to keep spending as if he were still a millionaire.

So, the government must slash spending, which provides us with the opportunity to abolish, not reform, federal programs, departments, and agencies, dismantle America’s overseas military empire, and end the drug war.

Immediately bringing all the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan and discharging them would save a lot of money, but that’s not enough, I said. Now is a perfect time to close all the overseas military bases and terminate all foreign aid, especially to brutal dictators. That would save considerable money, with the added benefit of decreasing foreign animosity toward the United States.

On the domestic side, I suggested that while the pragmatic argument for abolishing programs is important — that is, that the government can’t afford them anymore — I advocated that Republicans also embrace a philosophical approach, one that asks this critically important question: What should be the role of government in a free society?

For easy things to abolish, I suggested that they could begin with Ronald Reagan’s recommendations — abolish the Departments of Education and Energy, along with the Department of Commerce, which Republicans have in the past called for abolishing.

The reason I recommended abolition, I told them, as compared to across-the-board cuts, was because departments and programs are like cancer. If you just cut a little bit out, they’ll come roaring back. By abolishing them, you get rid of the entire cancer.

I also recommended that they directly confront Social Security and Medicare and call for their repeal, not reform, no matter what the political costs might be. I reminded them that conservatives battled against both of these socialist programs when they were first proposed by FDR and LBJ, and all the bad things that conservatives predicted have come true — dependency on government, out of control spending, federal bankruptcy, and the ever-increasing embrace of socialistic programs. I reminded them that coercive, government-mandated charity was no charity at all and that the only genuine charity is voluntary.

Finally, I said that repealing the drug war is a total no-brainer. Forty years of warfare have produced nothing positive while killing and destroying the lives of countless innocent people. What better way to save money than by ridding our nation of the scourge of drug warfare?

As you can imagine, it was a lively conversation! Thanks to Ron and his staff for inviting me to share our libertarian perspectives here at FFF with his congressional luncheon group.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.