Ron Paul skirted around potentially controversial issues and was met with respectful enthusiasm at a lecture Tuesday night in Salomon 101. Sharing his views on a plethora of political issues, Paul punctuated his lecture by voicing his distrust of politicians and government, at one point saying he wanted to “neuter” lobbyists.
“The bigger the government, the bigger the lies, the less liberty we have,” the former congressman told a packed house.
Paul highlighted what he described as the plights of big government in policy areas ranging from the economy to international relations, calling big government the root of the nation’s problems.
Once the only OB/GYN in his town, Paul said he was not interested in becoming a politician until then-President Nixon “ominously” took the United States off of the “pseudo-Bretton Woods gold standard” in 1971.
Since then, the government has continued to grow, the economy has become overregulated and the United States has ceased to produce tangible goods, Paul added.
Paul cited the end of the gold standard and the increasing power of Federal Reserve monetary policy as the causes of the recent economic crisis.
“In the ’50s and the ’60s when we were graduating from college and medical school, there was never a question about jobs,” Paul said, but now even graduates with advanced degrees face serious challenges finding work.
Paul condemned the Fed’s response to the recent recession as an example of what he called the corruption of big government.
“The Fed came in — in secret — to the tune of trillions and trillions of dollars to bail out all the banks and all the major corporations,” he said. “What happened to the people who were supposed to be helped?”
Large banks and corporations also profit from government welfare programs, Paul said, arguing that the programs do not actually benefit the poor.
But Paul said he would not immediately recommend cutting welfare.
“My suggestion wouldn’t be to cut food stamps for the poor or medical stamps for the children,” Paul said. The government should “stop all the wars and bring the troops home … before we do anything else.”
“I think he will eventually advocate for cutting welfare,” Galen Hunt ’14 said.
Paul’s statement showed how he “took into account” what the audience wanted to hear, Hunt added.
Paul continued criticizing big government and its manifestation through the military-industrial complex.
“The Koreans are coming, the Koreans are coming, so we have to have more weapons!” Paul said, mocking big government’s abundant fear-mongering.
Paul advocated removing U.S. military forces from bases across the globe.
“Intimidation doesn’t work, and we’ve been doing it for a long time, and so there’s a lot of resentment building up,” he said. Criticizing drone war, Paul said there are “50 innocent civilians killed for every terrorist.”
Paul spent the majority of his lecture discussing economic policy and international relations, but he took time to plug social issues close to the hearts of Brown’s liberal-leaning student body.
“He treated it much less like a lecture and much more like a trump speech,” said Stephen McShane ’16.
“There should be no question with a state saying you’re allowed to use marijuana,” Paul said in response to a student’s request that he elaborate on his position on the war on drugs. “The less drug laws any place along the line the better,” he added.
Paul also briefly mentioned his belief that the definition of marriage should not be the federal government’s concern. Another congressman once stated, “the people are too stupid — we have to take care of them,” Paul said. “I don’t believe that.”
When pushed by a student question to reconcile his views of individual freedoms with his pro-life views, Paul said he has “trouble defending everybody’s minutiae of what everyone wants.”
He referenced his former career as an OB/GYN and professional obligation to protect the rights of the fetus in the eighth and ninth months of pregnancy.
But Paul did not address abortions performed earlier in pregnancy, McShane noted, saying, “He is fundamentally a politician.”
The lecture ended on a controversial note when a student asked about racially charged statements written under Paul’s name for which Paul has previously refused to accept responsibility. Paul used this final opportunity to reemphasize his distrust of politicians and the government
“(The statements prove) that man is imperfect,” he responded. “That’s why you should never trust government.”