Ron Paul: “I Believe In National Sovereignty”.
Peter Brimelow writes:
Congressman Ron Paul
was small, bent, and serious to the point of
humorlessness when we met with him in an office building
foyer in New Hampshire last month. We asked him if he
was enjoying himself and he looked at us as if he
thought we`d gone mad. But lots of Americans, including
VDARE.COM readers, are
enjoying Paul`s campaign for the GOP presidential
nomination, not least because it raises real
philosophical issues, notably the relationship between
libertarianism and immigration.
On the evidence of this interview, Paul is a
paleolibertarian in the
www.lewrockwell.com mode. He
accepts the need for an institutional framework for
liberty, notably the
nation-state. He is
intensely critical of illegal immigration and birthright
citizenship. He is much less focused on legal
immigration (although obviously intrigued by the idea of
guestworkers) and not at all on the
H1-b visa issue,
although many of his supporters are software engineers.
We also discussed gold and exchange rates because, after
laboring in the
financial journalism, I
felt like it.
does not endorse political candidates. Any other
presidential candidate wishing to discuss philosophy
with us is welcome to
get in touch.
start by summarizing your position on immigration.
Well, I start off with saying that it`s a big problem. I
don`t like to
get involved with the Federal Government very much,
but I do think it is a
federal responsibility to protect our borders. This
mess has come about for various reasons. One, the laws
aren`t enforced. Another, the
welfare state. We have a need for workers in this
country because our
welfare system literally
encourages people not to work. Therefore, a lot of
jobs go begging. This is an incentive for immigrants to
come in and take those jobs.
So my main point is to get rid of
incentives that cause people to break the law—entitlements
as well as the promise of amnesty, citizenship.
I also want to revisit the whole idea of birthright
citizenship. I don`t think
many countries have that. I don`t think it was the
intention of the Fourteenth Amendment. I personally
think it could be fixed by legislation. But some people
argue otherwise, so I`ve
covered myself by introducing a constitutional
It would define citizenship. Individuals that
just stepped over the border illegally
would not be technically “under the jurisdiction of
the United States”. [i.e.
"subject to the jurisdiction thereof," in the words
Fourteenth Amendment] That`s illegal
entry, so they don`t deserve this privilege.
I think it depends on our economy. If we have a healthy
economy, I think we could be very generous on work
programs. People come in, fulfill their role and go back
I`m not worried about
legal immigration. I think we would even have more
if we had a healthy economy.
But in the meantime, we want to stop the illegals. And
that`s why I don`t think our border guards should be
sent to Iraq, like we`ve done. I think we need more
border guards. But to have the money and the personnel,
we have to bring our troops home from Iraq.
economy healthy enough right now?
No. I don`t think so. I think the economy is going
downhill. People are feeling pinched—in the middle, much
more pinched than the government is willing to admit.
standard of living is going down. I saw a clip on TV
the other day about somebody who was about to lose their
couldn`t pay their mortgage .There`re millions of
people involved, people are very uncertain about this
housing market. That can`t be separated from concern
illegal immigrants do you think there are in the country
All I can go by is those predictions they put in the
paper. It used to be 3-4 million, then it went to 7-8
million. Now it`s 11-12 million! Does
Stearns made an estimate about three years ago that there
were 20 million in the country.
[The Underground Labor Force Is
Rising To The Surface, Robert Justich and Betty Ng,
CFA January 3, 2005(PDF)]
What would you do with them?
I think when you know where they are, and you know
they`re illegal, they should be sent back. Especially if
they`re caught in a crime.
I think you have to be realistic. I mean, having an army
to go around the country to
round them up and put them in trucks and haul them
that`s not feasible. But certainly if they`re
signing up for a benefit, they should be
sent back home, instead of given the benefit.
to restore the presumption against being a
Right. Or if they`re caught in a criminal act—rather
than sending them through the court system and spending
all that money and then putting them up in prison, we
can get them
shipped out pretty fast. Unless they are
a very violent criminal.
You have a
long record of being a serious libertarian. You must
have libertarians who are annoyed with you on this.
I imagine there are some, because there are some who are
literally don`t believe in any borders! Totally free
immigration! I`ve never taken that position.
Because I believe in
You think there`s a role for the nation-state?
Sure. Sure. Otherwise, the vacuum is filled with
international government. We won`t have a national
government, we`ll have a
United Nations government—and we already do, we have
a WTO [World
Trade Organization] government. But the problems
we`re talking about, I want them to be solved by the
U.S. congress and the President. I don`t want the WTO
settling this dispute.
I really haven`t had much grief from the hard-core
libertarians. Some who might disagree with me are not
very antagonistic because they know it`s a big problem
and that the lack of the free market is compounding that
thinking on immigration changed over the years?
I try to understand it better. I think it is a difficult
issue. There`s probably
only one Republican running for the presidency right
now who says “No
more immigrants!“ I don`t think America is like
that at all. I don`t agree with that. But I don`t
believe in illegal immigration. So in many ways, I`m
moderate and mainstream. I`m not radical either way.
I don`t want to put
tanks and shoot illegal immigrants as they come
over, that`s one extreme. The other is totally open
borders—just let them flow in.
your understanding of what President Bush has been
Oh, well, I don`t think he cares about national
sovereignty. Not in a serious way. Today
[VDARE.COM note: this
interview took place August 21] he`s
meeting with the
President of Mexico and the
Prime Minister of Canada and they`re talking about
North American Union.
Well, they`re meeting today!
Well, that`s what they said about the
European Union! No, I think it`s very real. We`ve
already changes our laws directed by the WTO. And NAFTA
rules overrule state and federal laws. So why should we
listen to what they`re telling us?
Most people didn`t even know—matter of fact, I didn`t
even know—about the meeting in April 2005
at which the SPP was first agreed].
But that was pretty specific. And there`s a
little bit of funding here and there to fund a
Of course, they`d like to
write us off as just a bunch of conspiracy theorists.
But to me, conspiracy just means you`re just conspiring
or planning. I conspire and plan all the time. And they
conspire and plan all the time.
you make of the argument that in order to be in favor of
free trade you ought to be in favor of free immigration?
Well, I guess there`s a little bit to that, but I don`t
think it`s an absolute. Trade is
different from people coming in, especially when
they get benefits and when they come in illegally. I
guess you can say it`s an ideal that you could work
We`ve done pretty well with Canada over the years.
How do you
Well, I`ve lived on the Canadian border—it`s almost like
going into another American state. I think the
racial component and the
economic discrepancy south of the border make it
much different living in
Texas than living in
The freer the people are, the healthier the economy, the
more tolerant the people become and the more open the
borders would become—like the
Canadian border. But as our economy shrinks, people
get more concerned about their well-being, they blame
people for it. It`s a lot easier to blame
poor people who come over the border than it is to
blame Canadians from the north.
I think if we hadn`t gone in the wrong direction, it
would have gotten even easier to go back and forth to
Canada. But now it`s becoming more difficult.
I mean just think of it—what is it, 5,000 miles? Nobody
can find the boundaries. I think it`s fantastic!
U.S. and Canada are
two very similar societies.
Yeah, that`s a difference too. But if we didn`t keep
drifting toward what Mexico is doing, becoming more
socialistic, the problem would be lessened.
moment, legal immigration is largely driven by
reunification“, which means
that an immigrant who is here can sponsor
a wide range of relatives. Is
that something you want to take a look at?
Once again, I don`t see that it`s a great danger except
under today`s circumstances.
the reason legal immigrant skill levels degrade over
time. They`re not being selected on the basis of skills,
selected on the basis of relationships.
I think we need to do both. It was a good principle to
say that when immigrants come in, they`re on their own.
They better have a sponsor. You either have a job or you
have a family; you`re not going on the dole.
what happens now, of course.
No. It isn`t. That`s bad.
don`t have a proposal do deal with that right now.
Not specifically. I`m more interested in stopping
illegal immigration, stopping subsidizing illegal
immigration and trying to straighten up the economy.
I don`t like that. I would remove all federal mandates.
I would turn it back to the states.
you think of the H1-B program?
I`ve supported that because it`s legal. I know some
they don`t follow the law….
argument is that it`s a form of
interest groups have arranged to break down their
workers` wages by bringing in temporary workers.
Well, the market always works to put pressure on the
businessman to spend the least amount of money to
provide product. So what some may call a corporate
subsidy is also a subsidy to the consumer. The consumer
is the one protected in the free market. The object of
labor is to push wages up as high as possible. The
object of business is to get the
most efficient labor at the best price. In the free
market, that works out. But the problem is we have too
much welfare and we have a currency that`s losing value.
President, various interest groups are going to come to
you and say, there`s a shortage of
teachers or (goodness!)
journalists; therefore we have
to have these temporary work programs to bring in labor
in this area. If the labor is organized, it`s going to
say to you, look, the problem isn`t that there`s a
shortage, the problem is business doesn`t want to pay
higher wages. What will you do?
Well, whatever we do will be legal. Congress has to have
a say, they have to pass a law, and the President has to
decide to sign it or not.
And I would lean in the direction of saying, if there is
indeed a shortage, and this is a legal process, this
shouldn`t be threatening to us.
you determine that there was a shortage?
Well, I don`t think it would be easy but if there`s a
need and immigrants can get a job, that means there`s a
shortage. If there was no shortage, they wouldn`t have
jobs. Obviously the companies can`t fill some of these
jobs and they`re looking for people to fill them.
counter-argument is that they can`t fill them
price that they`re offering.
That`s right, but the market has to set the price. Set
the product and set the price of labor.
argument of the
displaced software engineers
is that the government is colluding with the business
owners to break down the price by importing temporary
I don`t think we should have minimum wages to protect
the price of labor. I want the market to determine this.
At the upper level as well.
really a question of defining the rules, isn`t it? Is it
corporations to increase supply
by bringing in temporary workers?
Which, means they`re going to fill a need for a certain
time at a certain price, by people who have come here
voluntarily. Otherwise, you have to be anti-immigrant
and I don`t think our country is anti-immigrant. I think
anti-illegal immigrant. I think the problem you
identify is occurring because we don`t have a healthy
free market economy and we reward people for not getting
training and becoming the type of individual who might
get a job in a software company.
question is, whose interests are you going to go with?
The interests of the worker or the interests of capital?
A free market always goes with the interests of the
consumer. Never the businessman and never labor.
Everybody`s a consumer, not everybody`s a businessman.
Maybe I read that somewhere! Maybe that`s where I get my
views! That`s what I`ve been arguing here.
applies equally to legal immigration, you see. Because
taxpayer subsidies to legal immigrants
from the welfare state are very high.
Yes, it is definitely imperfect when you have the
welfare state. That`s right. And corporations benefit
from that too.
be altered first: immigration or the welfare state?
Well, you work on both. The most important is the
welfare state, but you can still
beef up your borders and get rid of some
incentives for illegals. The welfare state will
disappear. But the odds are that it will disappear with
a good deal of chaos because we`re going to have a
financial crisis and maybe it`s already started. And
then people are going to be struggling.
When our citizens see illegals using
food stamps, they have to
wait in line in the emergency rooms, they see
illegals in our schools with
bilingual education, then the resentment builds. And
sometimes the resentment is out of proportion. It is my
strong belief that if we had a truly free market, it
would be so much healthier, that we would need a lot of
people to come in and it could be done through temporary
work programs. There wouldn`t be this resentment and
irritation. But it should be done legally. It shouldn`t
be done by rewarding anybody who breaks our laws.
I mean, the other people we like to blame for our
China. It`s all China`s fault! And yet we don`t save
money and we become dependent on them buying our goods.
We become dependent on
cheap labor that is
encouraged by our system. So it`s our economic
climate and our lack of respect for our Constitution,
our lack of respect and understanding of a free market
that leads to our problems.
off-topic, but what do you think about China`s pegged
Well it would be better if it was just determined by the
market. But it`s wrong for us to tell them what to do.
Why should we badger them and say we want you to have a
stronger yuan, which weakens our dollar.
that`s how a fixed exchange rate-Bretton Woods-type
system works, isn`t it? You have to argue about exchange
rates because there is no free market. To put it another
way, how are you feeling about gold at the moment?
Gold? Well I think gold is real money, and I think
ultimately real money wins out in the end. It too is
manipulated, just like all the other currencies.
the gold price is being manipulated?
By the central banks. When I first started watching gold
in the 1950s and1960s, the
central banks manipulated the gold price every
single day. Because they dumped nearly 500 million
ounces, two-thirds of our gold, at
$35 an ounce, to try
to pretend our dollar was stronger than it really
Now they do it in a more sophisticated manner. A lot of
central banks have been involved in lending gold and
moving it out of the market. I`m sure they`re involved
in the futures market. You see these prices, when common
sense would tell you—well, you know—why isn`t the
price of gold going up? Then you see an
Italy`s dumping 800 tons of gold—
to me this brings up a lot of liability issues. If the
authorities are involved in
there`s lots of opportunity for insider trading.
Oh yeah, yeah—deceiving the public at the same time
there are people making profits on this as well.
Nobody knows how much gold we have right now—whether
they moved it or loaned it. Those are big issues we`re
in the dark on. We`re in the dark on what our CIA does,
we`re in the dark about
monetary manipulators. And it would be probably
interesting to know exactly what the
President`s Working Group On Financial Markets
says—what their conversations were with the central
banks, what they said to China—because China has some
similar interests to us. They don`t want the
dollar to crash either! They have to
say stuff publicly for their people, and we say
stuff publicly for our people.
And the real manipulators are talking behind the scenes.
Peter Brimelow is editor of
VDARE.COM and author of the much-denounced Alien Nation: Common Sense About America`s Immigration Disaster,
(Random House –
The Worm in the Apple (HarperCollins – 2003)