Police State USA
Last weeks announcement that the terrorist threat warning level has been raised in parts of New York, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C. has led to dramatic and unprecedented restrictions on the movements of citizens. Americans wishing to visit the U.S. Capitol must, for example, pass through several checkpoints and submit to police inspection of their cars and persons.
Many Americans support the new security measures because they claim to feel safer when the government issues terror alerts and fills the streets with militarized police forces. As one tourist interviewed this week said, It makes me feel comfortable to know that everything is being checked. It is ironic that tourists coming to Washington to celebrate the freedoms embodied in the Declaration of Independence are so eager to give up those freedoms with no questions asked. Freedom is not defined by safety. Freedom is defined by the ability of citizens to live without government interference. Government cannot create a world without risks, nor would we really wish to live in such a fictional place. Only a totalitarian society would even claim absolute safety as a worthy ideal, because it would require total state control over its citizens lives. This doesnt stop governments, including our own, from seeking more control over and intrusion into our lives. As one Member of Congress stated to the press last week, people who dont want to be searched dont need to come on Capitol grounds. What an insult! The Capitol belongs to the American people who pay for it, not to Congress or the police.
It is worth noting that the government rushes first to protect itself, devoting enormous resources to make places like the Capitol grounds safe, while just beyond lies one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the nation. What makes Congress more worthy of protection from terrorists than ordinary citizens?
To understand the nature of our domestic response to the September 11th, 2001 attacks, we must understand the nature of government. Government naturally expands, and any crises- whether real or manufactured- serve to justify more and more government power over our lives. Bureaucrats have used the tragedy of 9-11 as an excuse to seize police powers sought for decades, such as warrantless searches, internet monitoring, and access to bank records. It should be no surprise that the recently released report of the 9-11 Commission has but one central recommendation: bigger government and more spending at home and abroad.
Every new security measure represents another failure of the once-courageous American spirit. The more we change our lives, the more we obsess about terrorism, the more the terrorists have won. As commentator Lew Rockwell of the Ludwig von Mises Institute explains, terrorists in effect have been elevated by our response to 9-11: They are running the country. They determine our civic life. They shape our private life. They decide how public resources are spent. They may dictate who gets to be the next president. It should be obvious that the government doesnt object. Not at all. The government benefits, by getting ever more reason for ever more money and power.
Every generation must resist the temptation to believe that it lives in the most dangerous time in American history. The threat of Islamic terrorism is real, but it is not the greatest danger ever faced by our nation. This is not to dismiss the threat of terrorism, but rather to put it in perspective. Those who seek to whip the nation into a frenzy of fear do a disservice to a country that expelled the British, fought two world wars, and stared down the Soviet empire.
Liberty is lost through complacency and a subservient mindset. When we accept or even welcome automobile checkpoints, random searches, mandatory identification cards, and paramilitary police in our streets, we have lost a vital part of our American heritage. America was born of protest, revolution, and mistrust of government. Subservient societies neither maintain nor deserve freedom for long.
WHO IS RON PAUL?
Congressman Ron Paul of Texas enjoys a national reputation as the premier advocate for liberty in politics today. Dr. Paul is the leading spokesman in Washington for limited constitutional government, low taxes, free markets, and a return to sound monetary policies based on commodity-backed currency. He is known among both his colleagues in Congress and his constituents for his consistent voting record in the House of Representatives: Dr. Paul never votes for legislation unless the proposed measure is expressly authorized by the Constitution. In the words of former Treasury Secretary William Simon, Dr. Paul is the "one exception to the Gang of 535" on Capitol Hill.
Ron Paul was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Gettysburg College and the Duke University School of Medicine, before proudly serving as a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force during the 1960s. He and his wife Carol moved to Texas in 1968, where he began his medical practice in Brazoria County. As a specialist in obstetrics/gynecology, Dr. Paul has delivered more than 4,000 babies! He and Carol, who reside in Surfside Beach, Texas, are the proud parents of five children and have seventeen grandchildren.
While serving in Congress during the late 1970s and early 1980s, Dr. Paul's limited-government ideals were not popular in Washington. He served on the House Banking committee, where he was a strong advocate for sound monetary policy and an outspoken critic of the Federal Reserve's inflationary measures. He also was a key member of the Gold Commission, advocating a return to a gold standard for our currency. He was an unwavering advocate of pro-life and pro-family values. Dr. Paul consistently voted to lower or abolish federal taxes, spending, and regulation, and used his House seat to actively promote the return of government to its proper constitutional levels. In 1984, he voluntarily relinquished his House seat and returned to his medical practice.
Dr. Paul returned to Congress in 1997 to represent the 14th Congressional district of Texas. He serves on the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, and the International Relations committee. On the Financial Services Committee, Rep. Paul serves as the vice-chairman of the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee. He continues to advocate a dramatic reduction in the size of the federal government and a return to constitutional principles.
Dr. Paul is the author of several books, including Challenge to Liberty; The Case for Gold; and A Republic, If You Can Keep It. He has been a distinguished counselor to the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and is widely quoted by scholars and writers in the fields of monetary policy, banking, and political economy. He has received many awards and honors during his career in Congress, from organizations such as the National Taxpayers Union, Citizens Against Government Waste, the Council for a Competitive Economy, Young Americans for Freedom, and countless others.
Dr. Paul's consistent voting record prompted one Congressman to comment that "Ron Paul personifies the Founding Fathers' ideal of the citizen-statesman. He makes it clear that his principles will never be compromised, and they never are." Another Congresswoman added that "There are few people in public life who, through thick and thin, rain or shine, stick to their principles. Ron Paul is one of those few."
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