Ron Paul On Dark Knight Shooting: Absolute Safety Means Absolute Despotism

Security and Self-Governance
by Ron Paul


The senseless and horrific killings last week at a movie theater in Colorado reminded Americans that life is fragile and beautiful, and we should not take family, friends, and loved ones for granted. Our prayers go out to the injured victims and the families of those killed. As a nation we should use this terrible event to come together with the resolve to create a society that better values life.

We should also face the sober reality that government cannot protect us from all possible harm. No matter how many laws we pass, no matter how many police or federal agents we put on the streets, no matter how routinely we monitor internet communications, a determined individual or group can still cause great harm. We as individuals are responsible for our safety and the safety of our families.

Furthermore, it is the role of civil society rather than government to build a culture of responsible, peaceful, productive individuals. Government cannot mandate morality or instill hope in troubled individuals. External controls on our behavior imposed by government through laws, police, and jails usually apply only after a terrible crime has occurred.

Internal self governance, by contrast, is a much more powerful regulator of human behavior than any law. This self-governance must be developed from birth, first by parents but later also through the positive influence of relatives and adult role models. Beyond childhood, character development can occur through religious, civic, and social institutions. Ultimately, self-governance cannot be developed without an underlying foundation of morality.

Government, however, is not a moral actor. The state should protect our rights, but it cannot develop our character. Whenever terrible crimes occur, many Americans understandably demand that government “do something” to prevent similar crimes in the future. But this reflexive impulse almost always leads to bad laws and the loss of liberty.

Do we really want to live in a world of police checkpoints, surveillance cameras, and metal detectors? Do we really believe government can provide total security? Do we want to involuntarily commit every disaffected, disturbed, or alienated person who fantasizes about violence? Or can we accept that liberty is more important than the illusion of state-provided security?

Freedom is not defined by safety. Freedom is defined by the ability of citizens to live without government interference. Government cannot create a world without risks, nor would we really wish to live in such a fictional place. Only a totalitarian society would even claim absolute safety as a worthy ideal, because it would require total state control over its citizens’ lives. Liberty has meaning only if we still believe in it when terrible things happen and a false government security blanket beckons.

Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.

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7 Responses

    • Scott, how about eliminating the 1938 minimum mark up law? Government should not regulate pricing of products.

      • We are all for it, and were pushing for it…I was told by one legislator that there is not enough “stones” in the Republican party to do it because it will impact smaller “mom and pop” gas stations. Proves once again our fight is against both sides of the spectrum.

      • RRP small is relative.

        At one time there were 7 small gas stations in Lake Mills, now their are 4 full service convenience stores. I suppose you could call Quick Trip, or the 2 $1,000,000 stores own by the same person small but they most certainly are’t going out of business if a out-of-date 1938 law is repealed. By the way,the law also specifies a minimum markup on beer, and tobacco(think convenience stores not small gas stations). The law also applies prescription medicines(Think Walgreens as small) and prevents all stores in Wisconsin from having door buster sales at Christmas that sell product at less than cost. Want to learn more, and then help the taxpayers of Wisconsin, goggle “minimum markup law wisconsin.”

      • Jerry…We are for repealing minimum markup. I am only telling you what we were told by a Republican State Senator. I told them it was a win for the consumer. Obviously, that didn’t work. We will pursue this in the next legislative session.

      • RRP says “Jerry…We are for repealing minimum markup. I am only telling you what we were told by a Republican State Senator. I told them it was a win for the consumer. Obviously, that didn’t work. We will pursue this in the next legislative session.”

        Good luck, you are facing problems in both parties. The lobbyist money buying votes is spread across both parties. First there is the oil industry, they are guaranteed a fix selling price in Wisconsin BY LAW. Then there are the convenience stores, no gas wars the minimum price on gasoline is fix my the state and of course so are the mainstays of the convenience store business tobacco and liquor, which are also subject to the minimum markup law. Then there is the liquor distributors that sell in a fixed price market. Of course as drug stores like Walgreens replaced the mom and pop drug stores they smile no need to worry drugs can not be sold at less than cost thanks to the minimum mark up law. As Wal-Mart and like stores push out the mom and pop stores they benefit because of the minimum mark up law helps restrain competition pricing.

        Even the democrats won’t touch this one and the they are the people’s party. They will give you the same answer the “law protects mom and pop businesses. ” Look around the mom and pop stores have been replace with Sentry’s, Quick Trips Walgreens, Wal-mart’s etc who profit because the state fixes selling price.

        Sorry to bust your bubble but the politicians are far more concerned about protecting lobbyist money than concern for the mom and pup business, if there are any left.

  1. History will remember Dr. Paul, He has done more good for this country than the last 50 years worth of presidents combined, just by educating and awakening an entire generation to the message that made this country great.

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