Should Europeans Sacrifice Liberty For Promises Of Security?

Anyone could predict this: just days after the Brussels attacks the security “experts” warned Europeans that they must give up some more of their liberties so that their governments can keep them safe. It’s the same old refrain, but does it ever work?

Ron Paul: Hello everybody, thank you for tuning in to The Liberty Report, my co-host today, Daniel McAdams, is with me again. Thank you, Daniel, for being here.

Daniel McAdams:: Good morning, Dr. Paul, it’s good to be here with you.

Ron Paul: You know, the big event just recently has, of course, been the bombings in Brussels and the people killed, which deserves some attention, but sometimes I think it gets more attention compared to some of the other killing that goes on. I’ve always wondered why they don’t care about the war on drugs in this country. In this country, we incarcerate so many people, and approximately 50 people get murdered in this country [every day] which is serious. But, in comparison, this is much bigger, and you can’t say this because they’re going to say, “You don’t care”. But, anyway, the aftermath of this is a big discussion on how to make ourselves safe, and the one thing for sure that they haven’t talked about is to change our foreign policy involving European nations and the United States, and maybe having less interference in the Middle East, which is considered by many in the Middle East as an invasion and a crusade and all this. No, that that part isn’t being discussed, so they’re coming up with other things.

The Jerusalem Post just yesterday came out with an article that said that Europeans should be more like Israel to make themselves safe, and they had some suggestions, of which one is: you have to sacrifice a little bit of liberty. Of course, I don’t like that idea and libertarians should never concede this, and our question on our program today is, “Should Europe sacrifice more liberty?” I know where I stand on this, and I suspect I know where you stand on this. But what do you make of this article coming out at this particular time, advising that we be more like Israel? Their circumstances are somewhat different, but that’s the comparison they
want to make.

Daniel McAdams: This is just one article that caught our attention, but I’m sure there are dozens of others. When an event like this happens, it really is a boon for the so-called security experts, because they all come out of the woodwork saying, “You need more security, you need to give up your liberty, this is the only solution.” In the Paris attacks of last year, France put out a PATRIOT Act like legislation. And they had it on the shelves, so they were ready to do it. But Dina Lisnyansky of the Jerusalem Post pointed out, “I think Europe is a strong supporter of personal freedoms, but on these terms it is impossible to continue”. So the ideas is they’ve got to give this up.

The expert says, “You can’t just let people in the airport, you’ve got a thoroughly screen them, you got to do more surveillance. You got to do all these things”. She means, “Be more like us”, as you say. But the question that I had when I read it was, how is this working out for Israel, it’s not considered that safe of a place to be.

Ron Paul: When you are making that statement, I thought you should have emphasized one word a little bit more to remind me of a story, and its “but”. You know, you go along “but the exception is …” Leonard Read, from the foundation for Economic Education, used to talk about this, he said, “Everybody is for liberty, and they all have “buts”. Everybody says, “Yes, I’m all for freedom, but when it affects me …. ” and you know this sort of thing. So it’s a good statement. But our friend Jeff Deist, president of the Mises Institute, came up with a nice article dealing with this subject.

Daniel McAdams:: Yes, we picked it up on the institute’s website and it’s about the issue of the market, and isn’t there a better way to fight terrorism? Jeff Deist points out that no one blames the government when the government fails tremendously to prevent terrorist attacks, like the one we saw in Brussels, like San Bernardino, like Paris, etc. He points out that, as a matter of fact, when these terrorist attacks happen, it’s often very beneficial for governments, because rather than get blamed for failing, they get lots more resources. Look at the militarization of the police after 9/11, they went on a shopping spree to beat all shopping sprees. So they actually benefit because there is no market factor [???] improvised goods.

He’s emphasizing the notion that much of our security could be privatized, like the security on airplanes and whatnot, and we would be all better off. But he also makes the point that the general response from the Left is, we need more welfare programs, we need more integration, we need more government management on these social things. Yet, the conservatives, especially in our country, and elsewhere, say, “We need more bombs and we need more threat. This is a good excuse to increase the military budget. It seems like I can’t find one democrat, unless they’re running from a Libertarian Party, that would even suggest that you could cut military spending. So one side wants more militarism, the other one wants more welfareism and socialism and social planning.

I think that one question we might try to address is this issue that they’re now suggesting: we give up liberty for security, but haven’t the American people and the Europeans given up liberty already? It could happen that giving up liberty prior to this, could have been a contributing factor to the problem, and so it’s not like people haven’t given up their liberties. I know there are people in Europe right now thinking that they have given up a lot of liberty, and we here in this country, too, think giving up more liberty is hardly going to solve our problems.

Daniel McAdams: Regarding the part you were saying about the Left and the Right, Jeff Deist points out that these represent ideological differences between the two, and he makes the position that libertarianism really shouldn’t be considered an ideology, but rather a lack of ideology, and introduce the idea of pragmatism, the idea of what works in the situation. And if you say “privatize security”, you know, it’s a big bogeyman, but Jeff makes a point that private actors with their own money and reputations at risk, can provide the appropriate level of security. If you own an airplane and you have too much security, people aren’t going to ride it and it’s just going be a nightmare. If you have too little, then you’re going to have problems. So they have every incentive in the world to find the right balance between the two, because they have to appeal to their customers. Governments don’t have those restrains.

Ron Paul: Right, we’re standing in a place where we’re probably less than a mile away from the DOW chemical plant, which is a major plant in Texas, and the sheriff doesn’t protect them and the local police force doesn’t protect them. They have private security. I’ve lived here for nearly 50 years, and I’ve never heard of anybody getting into that plant, their security is very secure. But I think the giving up sovereignty is giving up liberty, and what has the European Union been doing other than giving up sovereignty of the individual as well as their country’s sovereignty, and then writing these artificial laws where you have social programs and welfare programs that are offered to people who can just sort of bust their way in.

Not only that, but also the loss of liberty allows our governments to pursue wars that, quite frankly, aren’t morally justified. Our country wasn’t under attack, and we’ve been in the Middle East for a long time, so we helped create the migrants that are coming in. Also, they accept the economic policy that’s always encroaching on our liberties. All Keynesianism and inflationism is encouragement of personal liberties, causing this disturbance that then gets out of control, and people get angry and they start killing each other. If someday somebody could produce the numbers, if you ever compared the number of Muslims and Arabs that have been killed since 1990 … so essentially we’ve been very much involved in remaking the Middle East compared to the ruthless killings of Al-Qaida.

And they are ruthless, but you cannot even say that, because that is not a comparison because anytime we kill somebody who’s not an authentic terrorists, then that was an accident and it wasn’t intentional. We even go to the extent, when we bomb hospitals, like just happened this week, that we go and apologize, which is fine. But that, to me, is such an insult to go out and give them a few thousand dollars. I’m not even sure you think that’s going to appease these people and solve their problem when we say, “Oh, we’re sorry we hit your hospital”.? And do you think the people who are radicalized against us see a difference?

Daniel McAdams: Yes, you sent me this article from the New York Times this morning, where the new general in charge went to the hospital to give an apology six months later. And the reaction of the people was interesting, they were not interested in hearing his apology. They were furious, because they knew the circumstance of the bombings they knew when it happened, they knew that the U.S. knew that the hospital was there. So, yes, you’re right, an apology after the fact didn’t do much for these people with their hands blown off.

Ron Paul: Well, you mentioned about the Europeans having a PATRIOT Act, and, of course, we are the biggest and richest and most militant country in the world, we’re very, very powerful. But if you challenge that notion, it’s very unpopular, and nobody wants to be self-critical. Nobody wants even criticize themselves, let alone criticize your own country, that’s treasonous to do this. And yet, what we saw after 9/11 was, of course, the passages of the PATRIOT Act. But we are the exceptional nation, and we can spread American goodness around the world, even if it takes force. That in itself, I think, is a contributing factor but it’s almost impossible to break through the political correctness of this and say, “You have to look at this if you want to try to understand violence”.

The immediate reaction will be, “Oh, you’re giving them an excuse”, and, obviously, libertarians don’t give anybody excuses for initiating violence, we don’t want the violence, we’re trying to prevent it. But we want to try to get people to assume responsibility and understand how these things come about. That’s why I think Jeff’s article was good, and there will be other articles that will come out, but they won’t get evening news coverage.

Daniel McAdams: I was having a discussion with a couple of fellow analyst friends of mine this morning about the Jerusalem Post article, and I made the comment that taking away liberty for security is really treating the symptom, not the cause, the cause of terrorism being aggressive foreign policy, etc. One friend of mine, I won’t mention his name, made an interesting point when he said, “Maybe it’s not about cause and effect, or symptom and cause at all, maybe it’s all just a ruse, maybe they’re using this to introduce the ideas of authoritarianism into people’s minds, into the public discussion”. He said, “After all, the Reichstag fire was not about symptom or cause, it was a ruse for Hitler to grab power more”. So that’s a little bit cynical, but it’s a worth considering.

Ron Paul: Well, it’s a continuation of what’s been going on, because I’d like to introduce this notion that we can counteract the philosophy of authoritarianism, because that’s been around for thousands of years, that’s the nature of people who like to rule over others and get involved in governments, and that’s why governments can be so dangerous, and also the reason government should be a lot smaller.

Daniel McAdams: Yes, I like the way Jeff Deist finished out his article, he said, “The real goal of libertarian ‘ideology’ is a better world, not a perfect world.

Ron Paul: Right, and once again, dealing with problems and symptoms, why don’t the Europeans look and see if all these laws that we passed against ourselves … we worry about losing our liberties to the foreign invaders, and worry that Al-Qaida are going to come and take us over, but our greatest threat to our liberties – and don’t say this in public, we can only say it on our program – is our own government. They’re the ones who take away our liberties, but they say, “Well, that’s necessary so that somebody else doesn’t come in here and take away our liberties”. We over tax and over regulate and make these assumptions and, like you mentioned, they take care of symptoms. But, just like in economics, it is taught that if you have a problem out there that seems to be needed to address, maybe there is already a problem created by government. So if you write a regulation to deal with that problem, Mises says you’ll create two new problem.

The momentum is there, and this authoritarianism is a continuation of this, and they’re always justifying it. That’s why I think these elections, and this particular election this year, is so useless, because they are so far removed, which is generally the case, from the real issues. And they just go back and forth and are arguing over power and who’s going to run things. Matter of fact, I see it as just a distraction from the whole problems, and that’s why the planned effort to distract and blame other people is ongoing. Most people, if they’re honest with themselves will accept, and many people accept, that there hasn’t been any significant difference between the two parties.

And I think this is one reason why some candidate seem to be a little bit more popular, both on the Left and the Right, because they’re saying, “Yes, we recognize that, we really want to make ourselves different. But I don’t believe in their heart they’re any different in giving up authoritarianism, they just want to be the authorities, whether they’re Leftist or Rightist. They want to be the ones who will dictate, and I don’t see that as a solution.

Daniel McAdams: I think as horrible as these as terrorist attacks are, the reaction of the government, when you put it all together is probably even worse.

Ron Paul: That is for sure. I want to thank the audience for tuning in today, and obviously, I’m sure you knew our position on whether or not we should sacrifice more liberty for safety and security. Of course not, we shouldn’t do it. I have said many times in campaigns and got good, loud almost universal applause when I say, “You never have to sacrifice liberty for safety, matter of fact, if you give that up, you lose your ability to make yourself secure”. We’re not secure in our homes because there’s a policeman standing out in front of our house protecting us, they don’t prevent crimes. This is a lot of what’s going on, they claim they have to prevent crimes and round up people and these sorts of things, but I would say that using common sense and using the law as it provides us our ability to protect ourselves in the second Amendment, probably does a lot more to protect us than all these rules and regulations and the prodding and the nonsense at airports and the giving up of our privacy.

This is so bad, that we are our greatest enemy when it comes to the protection of liberty. To suggest that the Europeans have so much liberty that they’re anxious to give up some more. We shouldn’t be anxious to give up our liberty in this country, in any place in the world we shouldn’t be willing to give up liberty. This world suffers from the lack of liberty and the lack of understanding. The fear that lack of liberty would lead to chaos, quite frankly, is the chaos, that we’re facing today that is coming about because we don’t understand and promote liberty.

I want to thank everybody for tuning in today, please come back soon to The Liberty Report.

  • PaoloUSA

    We should not sacrifice even a bit of freedom. Let them make their job properly first. I remember back in the 70’s when terrorism was rampant in Europe in Italy the only additional security aggravation was that when checking into hotels your details where sent to the police. Terrorism went and we are still here, without having curtailed liberties. The bottom line is that security and safety has become the big business and political control tool of the 21st century.