Well done, good and faithful servant.
Those are the words every Christian longs to hear from our Lord when our work on Earth is complete.
Seldom does the phrase apply to America's public servants – the men and women we elect to represent us in Washington or in our state capitals.
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But they more than apply to one retiring member of the House of Representatives – Dr. Ron Paul.
Understand that it is not that I have always agreed with Dr. Paul's positions or even with all of his votes. But in his three decades in Washington, he has been the conscience of the constitutionalists.
He gave his farewell address recently – and, as usual, he didn't let any liberty lovers down.
Here are a few of my favorite excerpts:
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- "The major stumbling block to real change in Washington is the total resistance to admitting that the country is broke. This has made compromising, just to agree to increase spending, inevitable since neither side has any intention of cutting spending."
- "I have thought a lot about why those of us who believe in liberty, as a solution, have done so poorly in convincing others of its benefits. If liberty is what we claim it is – the principle that protects all personal, social and economic decisions necessary for maximum prosperity and the best chance for peace – it should be an easy sell. Yet, history has shown that the masses have been quite receptive to the promises of authoritarians, which are rarely if ever fulfilled."
- "If authoritarianism leads to poverty and war and less freedom for all individuals and is controlled by rich special interests, the people should be begging for liberty. There certainly was a strong enough sentiment for more freedom at the time of our founding that motivated those who were willing to fight in the revolution against the powerful British government."
- "During my time in Congress the appetite for liberty has been quite weak; the understanding of its significance negligible. Yet the good news is that compared to 1976 when I first came to Congress, the desire for more freedom and less government in 2012 is much greater and growing, especially in grass roots America. Tens of thousands of teenagers and college age students are, with great enthusiasm, welcoming the message of liberty."
- "Freedom, private property and enforceable voluntary contracts, generate wealth. In our early history we were very much aware of this. But in the early part of the 20th century our politicians promoted the notion that the tax and monetary systems had to change if we were to involve ourselves in excessive domestic and military spending. That is why Congress gave us the Federal Reserve and the income tax. The majority of Americans and many government officials agreed that sacrificing some liberty was necessary to carry out what some claimed to be 'progressive' ideas. Pure democracy became acceptable."
- "Everyone claims support for freedom. But too often it's for one's own freedom and not for others. Too many believe that there must be limits on freedom. They argue that freedom must be directed and managed to achieve fairness and equality thus making it acceptable to curtail, through force, certain liberties. Some decide what and whose freedoms are to be limited. These are the politicians whose goal in life is power. Their success depends on gaining support from special interests."
- "Too many people have for too long placed too much confidence and trust in government and not enough in themselves. Fortunately, many are now becoming aware of the seriousness of the gross mistakes of the past several decades. The blame is shared by both political parties. Many Americans now are demanding to hear the plain truth of things and want the demagoguing to stop. Without this first step, solutions are impossible."
- "Politicians deceive themselves as to how wealth is produced. Excessive confidence is placed in the judgment of politicians and bureaucrats. This replaces the confidence in a free society. Too many in high places of authority became convinced that only they, armed with arbitrary government power, can bring about fairness, while facilitating wealth production. This always proves to be a utopian dream and destroys wealth and liberty. It impoverishes the people and rewards the special interests who end up controlling both political parties."
- "Humanitarian arguments are always used to justify government mandates related to the economy, monetary policy, foreign policy and personal liberty. This is on purpose to make it more difficult to challenge. But, initiating violence for humanitarian reasons is still violence. Good intentions are no excuse and are just as harmful as when people use force with bad intentions. The results are always negative."
- "Restraining aggressive behavior is one thing, but legalizing a government monopoly for initiating aggression can only lead to exhausting liberty associated with chaos, anger and the breakdown of civil society. Permitting such authority and expecting saintly behavior from the bureaucrats and the politicians is a pipe dream. We now have a standing army of armed bureaucrats in the TSA, CIA, FBI, Fish and Wildlife, FEMA, IRS, Corp of Engineers, etc. numbering over 100,000. Citizens are guilty until proven innocent in the unconstitutional administrative courts."
- "The Constitution established four federal crimes. Today the experts can't even agree on how many federal crimes are now on the books – they number into the thousands. No one person can comprehend the enormity of the legal system – especially the tax code. Due to the ill-advised drug war and the endless federal expansion of the criminal code, we have over 6 million people under correctional suspension, more than the Soviets ever had and more than any other nation today, including China. I don't understand the complacency of the Congress and the willingness to continue their obsession with passing more federal laws. Mandatory sentencing laws associated with drug laws have compounded our prison problems. The federal register is now 75,000 pages long, and the tax code has 72,000 pages and expands every year. When will the people start shouting, 'enough is enough,' and demand Congress cease and desist?"
- "Many are now acknowledging that a financial crisis looms but few understand it's, in reality, a moral crisis. It's the moral crisis that has allowed our liberties to be undermined and permits the exponential growth of illegal government power. Without a clear understanding of the nature of the crisis it will be difficult to prevent a steady march toward tyranny and the poverty that will accompany it."
- "Our Constitution, which was intended to limit government power and abuse, has failed. The founders warned that a free society depends on a virtuous and moral people. The current crisis reflects that their concerns were justified. … If the people are unhappy with the government performance it must be recognized that government is merely a reflection of an immoral society that rejected a moral government of constitutional limitations of power and love of freedom."
There's a lot of wisdom here.
It's one for the history books.
Ron Paul is a unique politician in American history. He's the kind of citizen-legislator our founders had in mind when they crafted the great documents meant to guide the nation's future.
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He will be missed.