"I have heard it said that mankind does not want freedom, that people are happy to be slaves as long as they are entertained and well fed. I have likewise heard it said that most Americans have bought into the version of events they are given in the mainstream media and they are perfectly content to be told what to think -- what is good, what is bad, who is politically acceptable, who is politically unacceptable.
I don't believe this for a second. For one thing, our own American Revolution would have been impossible if this mentality had prevailed. Contrary to what many Americans have been taught, a majority, not a minority, of the colonists supported the fight for liberty against Great Britain.
The fact is, liberty is not given a fair chance in our society, neither in the media, nor in politics, nor (especially) in education. I have spoken to many young people during my career, some of whom had never heard my ideas before.
But as soon as I explained the philosophy of liberty and told them a little American history in light of that philosophy, their eyes lit up. Here was something they never heard before, but something that was compelling and moving, and which appealed to their sense of idealism. Liberty had simply never been presented to them as a choice.
We are engaged in a great battle of ideas, and the choices before us could not be clearer. I urge those who agree with this important message to educate themselves in the scholarship of liberty....
I have devoted this book to ideas that I consider important, if typically neglected, if our country is to restore its former self. How much of my program could be accomplished in a presidential term, or in a decade or two, I do not know. But a bare minimum of what the successor to George W. Bush should seek to achieve? I suggest the following.
First, we need to rethink what the role of government ought to be, and fast. If we continue to think of our government as the policeman of the world and as the Great Provider from cradle to grave, our problems will grow worse and worse and our downward economic spiral, the first signs of which we are now witnessing, will only accelerate. The role of world policeman has made our country poorer and less safe. The welfare state likewise threatens our financial solvency and has caused the once-robust institutions of civil society -- which are no longer needed when government performs all functions -- to atrophy.
Right now our government is borrowing $2.2 billion every day, mainly from China and Japan, to pay for our overseas empire. As our dollar continues to decline, thanks to Federal Reserve inflation, the American debt instruments that these countries are holding lose value. We cannnot expect these and other countries to hold on to them forever. And when they decide that they no longer wish to, our fantasy world comes crashing down on us. No more empire, no more pledging ever more trillions in new entitlements. Reality will set in, and it will be severe.
Our present course, in short, is not sustainable. Recall the statistics: in order to meet our long-term entitlement obligations we would need double-digit growth rates for 75 consecutive years. When was the last time we had double-digit growth for even one year? Our spendthrift ways are going to come to an end one way or another. Politicians won't even mention the issue, much less face up to it, since the collapse is likely to occur sometime beyond their typical two-to-four-year time horizon. They hope and believe that the American people are too foolish, uninformed, and shortsighted to be concerned, and that they can be soothed with pleasant slogans and empty promises of more and more loot.
To the contrary, more and more intelligent Americans are waking up to the reality of our situation every day. Now we can face the problem like adults and transition our way out of a financially impossible situation gradually and with foresight, with due care for those who have been brought to rely on government assistance. In the short run, this approach would continue the major federal programs on which Americans have been taught to be dependent, but in accordance with our Constitution it would eventually leave states, localities, and extended families to devise workable solutions for themselves. Or we can wait for the inevitable collapse and try to sort things out in the midst of unprecedented economic chaos. I know which option I prefer.
No one who has learned to be dependent on these programs needs to be thrown into the street. But in the long run these programs are insolvent. If we do not begin a transition process funded by savings from our bloated overseas presence, everyone will be out in the street because the programs will simply collapse.
Americans were given an implied contract when they began paying into Social Security, so we should not want to strip away from them the resources they understanably anticipated receiving upon retirement.... The fact is, there is no money in any trust fund. The government spent it on other things.... Current workers are not building up a Social Security nest egg for themselves; they are giving their money to current recipients and hoping there will be enough workers to support them when they reach retirement age. But no part of the system involves paying money to the government and receiving that money with interest after a certain age. The government feeds into that illusion, but it is an illusion all the same.
I have long favored giving young people the right to opt out of Social Security, since such an option follows naturally from my belief in individual liberty.... The transition period should be funded by curtailing our overseas expenditures, which are not only out of control but have also compromised our real security interests by spreading our forces so thin. If we really oppose Big Government, we cannot make an artificial exception for bloated military bureaucracies, which traditional budget-minded conservatives never hesitated to look at seriously as a source of potential savings. As many empires throughout history have learned too late, more is not always better. In this way we can phase in the ideas of responsibility and self-reliance, commonsense ideas to which young people respond favorably when I mention them.
In addition, the budgets of every federal cabinet department should at the very least be immediately frozen, a policy that all responsible people can surely embrace. Everyone should be forced to live within his or her means -- all the more so when we are speaking of federal agencies for which the Constitution makes no provision. Most departments, with the eexception of State, Defense, and Justice, deal with matters that our Constitution properly leaves to the states or to the people, and the people should no longer be exploited to support them. For too long, swarms of Washington bureaucrats have grown fat with wealth and power -- all in the name of the "common good," they assure us -- at the expense of the beleaguered American people. That must come to an end.
Forget all the protests we'll hear about how indispensable these departments are -- departments Americans got by very well without for more than 80 percent of our history, I might add. We do not have the resources for them. That is the point. And more forced labor to fund them is neither morally acceptable nor economically wise....
A federal Department of Education, for example, is an insult to the American people, who are more than capable of running their own schools without being looted to support a national education bureaucracy. We would get by just fine without it, as indeed Americans did for most of the twentieth century, a period when -- by just a coincidence? -- the population was far better educated than it is now. In fact, given the Department of Education's sorry record, if I truly opposed learning and knowledge I would propose tripling its budget.
If we adopted a sensible policy like this, the very announcement would restore strength to the dollar. And the more we lived within our means, the less inflation we would have and the less the poor and middle class would suffer, since there would be less pressure on the Fed to monetize the debt.
We also need to begin to restore monetary freedom, which means that Americans should be free, if they wish, to engage in transactions and contracts denominated in gold and silver. It is essential that Americans be able to protect themselves in this way against any coming monetary disaster that would leave them holding valueless dollar bills. No one in politics or the media even talks about the issue, so you know it must be important.
There is much that the president cannot do on his own and that requires the approval of Congress. He may earnestly recommend certain courses of action, and try to rally the public behind them, but the initiative rests with Congress.... At the same time, in areas critical to the health of our republic the president holds tremendous power for good in his own hands.
For one thing, every president sets priorities in the enforcement of laws and how he directs the attorney general. Just because the federal government has been given a power does not mean it must be exercised. The president could simply declare that the executive branch will direct no resources to the prosecution of medical marijuana patients. He could refuse to violate habeas corpus. He could refuse to detain people forever without legal counsel and without even knowing the charges against them. He can take these and other sensible measures even if Congress should refuse to curtail runaway executive authority, since the president is nowhere obligated to exercise such authority. And he can not only refuse to issue any more unconstitutional executive orders, but he can even issue an executive order repealing those that previous presidents have issued.
In foreign policy, the president as commander in chief can order the troops home from Iraq in a matter of months, not years, a policy no top Democratic candidate in 2008 consistently committed to. (Again, so much for the opposition party.) We are told by the war propagandists that such a withdrawal will lead to chaos, as if chaos did not exist there already, but these are the same people who also assured us that the war would be a breeze and that the whole thing would be paid for out of oil revenues. Why should we take their predictions seriously ever again? In the case of Vietnam, which is now a trading partner and has a functioning stock market, we have accomplished much more in peace than we ever did in an enormously costly war.
Particularly in light of the National Intelligence Estimate that was released in December 2007, the president should order the navy to back off the shores of Iran, and make clear that we have no intention of attacking the country.
The president should likewise declare that the United States is abandoning its isolationist posture of refusing major diplomatic contact with Iran and that he is willing to talk with Iranian leaders, just as American presidents talked to Soviet and Chinese leaders throughout the Cold War. The sanctions against Iran should also be removed, as a further indication of our country's shift away from isolationism.
The price of oil would shoot downward and the dollar would move upward on the basis of these announcements. The United States would suddenly become diplomatically credible once again for the first time in years.... No longer would the White House -- which is now viewed throughout the world the way the free world once viewed Pravda, the old communist newspaper -- bombard the international community with a ceaseless barrage of war-justifying propaganda that no one anywhere, apart from the gullible (and often complicit) American media, actually believes. And no longer would the patriotic sentiments of decent Americans be exploited on behalf of wars that have more to do with imperial ambition than with American security.
In other words, we need to keep our wits about us, and replace our bull-in-a-china-shop foreign policy with a statesmanlike approach that is appropriate to the real needs of American security. We also need to stand firmly against moral relativism, recalling that actions do not become moral just because our government performs them.
And if we really do oppose isolationism, as all our politicians assure us they do, then sanctions against Cuba should be lifted as well. Sanctions hurt the target population but rarely do serious harm to the targeted regime.... There is no reason that Americans should not be free to travel and trade with Cuba. When I said so in a Miami Republican debate, the response was not unexpected. Afterward, though, I spoke to a huge rally -- with Cuban-Americans making up 70 percent of those in attendance -- where everyone cheered the message of freedom. It seems to be a generational issue: younger people, not emotionally or politically attached to our failed policy, know... that freedom, as usual, is the most morally attractive position for America to take starting right now.
It is also time to begin bringing American troops home from around the world -- an absolute necessity if the budget is ever to be brought under control. We're going broke and we still have 75,000 troops in Germany? Talk about being frozen in the past. The president should notify our allies of the policy, which no one ever told Americans was to be in effect indefinitely, and then begin a withdrawal. We have not had a foreign policy that is proper to a republic for many, many years, and it is long past time that we reestablished one. If we did, Americans would be safer, our military would be more efficient and effective, and we would make an excellent start toward restoring our international competitiveness -- other countries, after all, are not burdened with the same self-imposed overseas expenditures with which the federal government has weighed down the American economy for so many years.
What I am describing is the only realistic option Americans have. (That is, it would be their most realistic option if anyone in our government would actually offer it to them.) The alternative consists of an ever-growing financial burden, more police state measures, and an endless string of wars, pitched to Americans on the basis of the now-familiar propaganda and financed by more borrowing, higher taxes, and more money printed out of thin air. The collapse of the dollar will not be far behind.
The empire game our government has been playing is coming to an end one way or another. This is the fate of all empires: they overextend themselves and then suffer a financial catastrophe, typically involving the destruction of the currency. We are already seeing the pattern emerging in our own case. We can either withdraw gracefully, as I propose, or we can stay in our fantasy world and wait until bankruptcy forces us to scale back our foreign commitments. Again, I know which option I prefer.
Will it be difficult? Perhaps, though not nearly as much as some people think. We would finally begin to pull ourselves out from the crushing burden of debt and unfunded obligations that have hung over the economy for far too long. Our country would enjoy far more robust economic performance than we have seen in many decades. Rich and poor alike could once again look to the future with confidence, instead of a sense of foreboding.
Doing nothing would be far more difficult. In my travels around the country I have discovered that young people are waking up to reality faster than anyone else, since they realize that the cosmetic changes our political class is calling for will do nothing to prevent the financial catastrophe they now fear they will inherit. What decent parents would want to do such a thing to their children?
Ours is not a fated existence, for nowhere is our destiny etched in stone. In the fianl analysis, the last line of defense in support of freedom and the Constitution consists of the people themselves. If the people want to be free, if they want to lift themselves out from underneath a state apparatus that threatens their liberties, squanders their resources on needless wars, destroys the value of their dollar, and spews forth endless propaganda about how indispensable it is and how lost we would all be without it, there is no force that can stop them.
If freedom is what we want, it is ours for the taking.
Let the revoution begin.