Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) delivered a blistering farewell speech on the House floor Wednesday in which he ripped the drastic tilt of the U.S. toward expanded government, a devalued currency, persistent wars and the constant erosion of personal freedoms.
Paul, who ran for president and decided this would be his last term as a House member, said at the start of his 16-page prepared speech that, by many measures, he accomplished very little during his 23 years in office.
"All this with minimal concerns for the deficits and unfunded liabilities that common sense tells us cannot go on much longer."
But he said these failures show that people who favor big government have succeeded in convincing people that an ever-expanding government is necessary.
"[I]n 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," he said. "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."
But he said this has led the U.S. down a path in which people now need an "intellectual awakening."
"If it's not accepted that big government, fiat money, ignoring liberty, central economic planning, welfarism, and warfarism caused our crisis we can expect a continuous and dangerous march toward corporatism and even fascism with even more loss of our liberties," he said. "Prosperity for a large middle class though will become an abstract dream."
He argued that "economic ignorance" is commonplace, as evidenced by a reliance on Keynesianism, which he said has been used to justify expanded government and U.S. interference overseas. He also said it is too easy for government to go to war and that there are now thousands of federal crimes for which people can be punished.
He also said the financial crisis the U.S. faces is actually a moral crisis, because it was borne of decisions that allowed government power to expand beyond what the Founding Fathers imagined.
Paul said the five greatest threats faced by Americans today are the undermining of liberty by the government, anti-Americanism around the world, going to war without a declaration from Congress, the financial crisis caused by trillions of dollars in government debt and a "world government" eroding U.S. sovereignty.
He saw some promise for the future, including the Internet, which he said must remain free of government control.
"The Internet will provide the alternative to the government/media complex that controls the news and most political propaganda," he said. "This is why it's essential that the Internet remains free of government regulation."
He also called on all Americans to infuse their government with "the moral principles of peace and tolerance." He cited Benjamin Franklin, who said that "only a virtuous people are capable of freedom," and John Adams, who said the Constitution was "made for a moral and religious people."