February 21, 2009

For Those of You Who Don't Know: The United States of America has always been a Republic

Statement of HON. RON PAUL OF TEXAS (part 3 of 4)
January 31 & February 2, 2000

3. The Past Century

Unbelievable changes have occurred in the 20th Century. We went from the horse and buggy age to the space age. Computer technology and the Internet have dramatically changed the way we live. All kinds of information and opinions on any subject are now available by clicking a few buttons. Technology offers an opportunity for everyone who seeks the truth to find it, yet at the same time, it enhances the ability of government to monitor our every physical, communicative, and financial move. And let there be no doubt, for the true believers in big government, they see this technology as a great advantage for their cause.

We are currently witnessing an ongoing effort by our government to develop a national ID card, a medical data bank, a work data bank, "Know Your Customer" regulations on banking activities, a National Security Agency all-pervasive telephone snooping system called Echelon, and many other programs. There are good reasons to understand the ramifications of the many technological advancements we have seen over the century to make sure that the good technology is not used by the government to do bad things.

Government officials oversee everything we do from regulating the amount of water in our commodes to placing airbags in our cars, safety locks on our guns, and using our own land. Almost every daily activity we engage in is monitored or regulated by some government agency. If one attempts to just avoid government harassment, one finds himself in deep trouble with the law.

Yes, we can be grateful that the technological developments in the marketplace over the last 100 years have made our lives more prosperous and enjoyable, but any observant person must be annoyed by the ever-present "Big Brother" that watches and records our every move. The idea that we're responsible for our own actions has been seriously undermined. And it would be grossly misleading to argue that the huge growth in the size of government has been helpful and necessary in raising the standard of living of so many Americans. Since government cannot create anything, it can only resort to using force to redistribute the goods that energetic citizens produce. The old-fashioned term for this is "theft." It's clear that our great prosperity has come in spite of the obstacles that big government places in our way and not because of it. And besides, our current prosperity may well not be as permanent as many believe.

Quite a few major changes in public policy have occurred in this century. These changes in policy reflect our current attitude toward the American Republic and the Constitution and help us to understand what to expect in the future. Economic prosperity seems to have prevailed, but the appropriate question asked by too few Americans is, "Have our personal liberties been undermined?"

Taxes are certainly higher. A federal income tax of 35 to 40% is something many middle-class Americans must pay, while on average they work for the government for more than half the year. In passing on our estates from one generation to the next, our "partner," the US government, decides on its share before the next generation can take over. The estate tax certainly verifies the saying about the inevitability of death and taxes. At the turn of the century we had neither, and in spite of a continuous outcry against both, there's no sign that either will soon be eliminated.

Accepting the principle behind both the income and the estate tax concedes the statist notion that the government owns the fruits of our labor, as well as our savings, and we are permitted by the politicians' "generosity" to keep a certain percentage. Every tax-cut proposal in Washington now is considered a "cost" to government, not the return of something rightfully belonging to a productive citizen. This principle is true whether it's a 1% or a 70% income tax. Concern for this principle has been rarely expressed in a serious manner over the past 50 years. The withholding process has permitted many to believe that a tax rebate at the end of the year comes as a gift from government. Because of this, the real cost of government to the taxpayer is obscured. The income tax has grown to such an extent and the government is so dependent on it that any talk of eliminating the income tax is just that, talk.

A casual acceptance of the principle behind high taxation, with an income tax and an inheritance tax, is incompatible with a principled belief in a true Republic. It is impossible to maintain a high tax system without the sacrifice of liberty and an undermining of property ownership. If kept in place, such a system will undermine prosperity, regardless of how well off we may presently be.

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