Winner essays
2015 - Ron Paul
by

Thank you very much. It has been a delight to learn about the work done by Caminos de la Libertad, an organization devoted to discussing the many aspects of freedom and defending it. And, of course it has been very nice to meet Ricardo Salinas Pliego.


The name Salinas is known in the United States in the liberty movement and it’s associated with important causes, such as the ones I have defended, like sound money, the real stuff, you know, silver.


Freedom is a value that allows us to find answers. It promotes self-sufficiency. It helps us feel optimistic that we can have a more prosperous society. Liberty brings people together, but when politics get in the way there is divisiveness.  


There are two emotions we must overcome if we are to achieve peace and freedom.  The first is envy that leads to hate and “class struggles”.  The second is intolerance that leads to biased policies. Liberty is useful to everybody, both for those who lead conservative lifestyles as well as for those who opt for other value systems.  When we replace these two emotions with a better understanding of ideas of compassion, tolerance and a free-market economy, we realize that we should fight so that every individual can lead his own life as he pleases. That generates prosperity.  A good understanding of liberty brings people together, and when it is put into practice, it is valued.


There will always be individuals who believe that people are not capable of making their own decisions, that there should be policies to take care of people from their own actions.  Such individuals consider themselves infallible when they think they know what each person wants out of life. Real wisdom lies in knowing that every person is entitled to the fruit of their labor and to assume the benefits or suffer the consequences of their actions.


The excuse of protecting people against their own decisions has brought us to an age of unbridled violence linked to drug cartels.  Unfortunately the governments of our countries see this as an opportunity to expand their realm of action and not as the great tragedy it is.


During the 1920s Prohibition brought violence, gangs and corruption to the United States, just as we see today.  This violence wasn’t because manufacturing and marketing alcohol were dangerous activities in themselves, but because of the black market that made profits go sky high.   Corrupted officials and criminals defended prohibition because ending it would jeopardize their profits.  When prohibition ended, violence related to alcohol trafficking ended as well.  Today buying a bottle of wine for dinner is commonplace. Today beer trucks move from one place to another peacefully.


The best way to fight cartels and violence today is to shed light on their transactions and legalize them. This alone would destroy their profits at the root.  As a physician I believe drugs are terrible, and that nobody should use them. But as someone who believes in liberty, I think that the only prohibition on drugs should be self-imposed. If we ended prohibition today, people would stop going out to buy drugs in alleys from criminals if they could get them in cafeteria-like dispensaries. A dispensary would even ask for ID to keep from selling to minors, just as they do in bars and liquor stores. Just imagine the savings in security if the police only focused on violent crimes instead of serving nanny-states that think their mandate consists in saving people from themselves.


Our freedoms come from owning ourselves and being responsible for our own decisions. Prohibition laws deny that right and attempt against the principles of liberty.


We need to understand, therefore, that prohibitions, centrally planned economies, fiat money, welfare states, and interventionism are policies that ignore freedom. They have brought about crises and generated a dangerous and continuous march towards corporatism, socialism and the complete loss of freedom.


They all claim to endorse liberty, but they are usually out to defend their own liberty and not the liberty of others.  There are some who believe there should be limits to freedom. That it should be managed to attain equality and that the pursuit of this goal makes it acceptable to restrict our liberties.  This is where the ones deciding what liberties should be restricted come in: the politicians whose goal in life is power, and whose success depends upon the support of certain groups with special interests.


Many people find it hard sometimes to accept the liberty of others. On a personal basis, most of us understand that all a free society demands is that you refrain from aggression. We all understand we’re not supposed to steal, or fight. The problem is that most people accept the idea that the government is above these rules. They believe the government is entitled to steal and call it taxes, that it is entitled to kill and call it war.


For a long time people have put all their faith in the government and very little in themselves.  Fortunately, thanks to efforts like Caminos de la Libertad, many people are realizing the seriousness of this mistake.  Today, more than ever, people are demanding the truth from their governments, asking them to put an end to demagogy and populism, which no doubt will be a first step to end the problem.


We are in the midst of a transition era. Keynesian and socialist models for central planning have led to negative and damaging policies for the economy.  The central bank model controlled by the Federal Reserve has reduced the value of the dollar ninety eight percent since 1913. The great crisis we’ve been expecting since August 1971 when the dollar broke away from the gold standard is upon us, and a growing number of people are closely watching the problems brought about the Federal Reserve.


As early as 1912, the great Austrian economist, Ludwg von Mises predicted that socialism would fail because it alters a major factor in economy, which is the pricing system. Under today’s systems the price of money and interest rates are being controlled. Removing interest rates from the pricing system has put the world in the huge debt crisis we face today, and that debt has to be paid sooner or later.


Fortunately, ideas of freedom are more available than ever. Now, I got fascinated with the ideas of liberty with a special interest in economic policy in the 1960s. I read the Austrian free-market economists, and came across individuals like Friederich Hayek, Murray Rothbard and Ludwig von Mises. As a matter of fact, I was fortunate enough to know Rothbard quite well. I heard Mises lecture on his last lecture tour, when he went through Houston. Hayek, I had dinner with.  But these individuals were not easy to find. It was hard to find the literature. Today there is no excuse not to find information. All you have to have is a little bit of curiosity to study and understand liberty. The explosion of interest in ideas of freedom over the last eight years through the Internet has been amazing, and that’s a reason to be optimistic.


We can see that the end is near. Keynesianism is failing; foreign policy is failing. People are tired of governments interfering with their personal freedom. They are looking for a replacement, and that replacement is liberty, so we must make an effort to disseminate its message.


That’s why I think an organization like Caminos de la Libertad is just fantastic.  It brings liberty closer to the people. This is a great investment, and I’m sure Ricardo Salinas doesn’t feel like he’s wasting his money. Freedom is a crucial matter that we need to invest in. The time of liberty is coming and no army or government can stop an idea whose time has come.


 


Thank you