If there is any one member of Congress to pay attention to in the District of Columbia, surely it is Congressman Dr. Ron Paul of Texas. Mr. Paul is a staunch advocate of limited constitutional government, low taxes, free markets, and a return to a sound monetary policy based on commodity-backed currency. Fortunately for all of us whether a resident of the 14th district in Texas or not, Congressman Paul fights everyday for true American liberty. He writes an informative, no-nonsense column on current events every week called ‘Texas Straight Talk‘ . The following is his most recent column, courtesy of Mr. Paul’s website. After reading it you may want to spend some time looking around the site and learning more.
New Rules, Same Game
By Congressman Dr. Ron Paul
‘Texas Straight Talk‘
January 23, 2006
Last week I mailed each of my congressional colleagues a copy of a speech outlining my views on the lobbying and ethics scandals engulfing Washington. Iím afraid many of them wonít like my conclusion: to reduce corruption in government, we must make government less powerful– and hence less interesting to lobbyists.
I find it hard to believe that changing the congressional ethics rules or placing new restrictions on lobbyists will do much good. After all, we already have laws against bribery, theft, and fraud. We already have ethics rules in Congress. We already have campaign finance reform. We already require campaigns and lobbyists to register with the federal government and disclose expenditures. We already require federal employees, including the president and members of congress, to take an oath of office. None of it is working, so why should we think more rules, regulations, or laws will change anything?
Lobbying, whether we like it or not, is constitutionally protected. The First amendment unequivocally recognizes the right of Americans to ìpetition the government for a redress of grievances.î We canít deal with corruption in government by ignoring the Constitution.
I donít believe the problem is corrupt lobbyists or even corrupt politicians per se. The fundamental problem, in my view, is the very culture of Washington. Our political system has become nothing more than a means of distributing government largesse, through tax dollars confiscated from the American people– always in the name democracy. The federal budget is so enormous that it loses all meaning. Whatís another million or so for some pet project, in an annual budget of $2.4 trillion? No one questions the principle that a majority electorate should be allowed to rule the country, dictate rights, and redistribute wealth.
It’s no wonder a system of runaway lobbying and special interests has developed. When we consider the enormous entitlement and welfare system in place, and couple that with a military-industrial complex that feeds off perpetual war and encourages an interventionist foreign policy, the possibilities for corruption are endless. We shouldnít wonder why there is such a powerful motivation to learn the tricks of the lobbying trade– and why former members of Congress and their aides become such high priced commodities.
The dependency on government generated by welfarism and warfarism, made possible by our shift from a republican to a democratic system of government, is the real scandal of the ages. If we merely tinker with current attitudes about the role of the federal government in our lives, it wonít do much to solve the ethics crisis. True reform is impossible without addressing the immorality of wealth redistribution.
After all, criminals by definition ignore laws; unethical people ignore the rules of ethics. Changing the rules or the players is merely a band-aid if we donít change the nature of the game itself.