The death penalty? 'I think it's uncivilized'
The Monitor editorial board interviewed Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul last week. Much of the conversation was about the economy and the Federal Reserve, but Paul also touched on numerous other issues. Here's what he had to say on the death penalty, environmental protection, the value of the Tea Party, and the difference between compromise and coalition-building.
On the death penalty: Somebody asked me yesterday, 'When was the last time you ever changed your opinion?' It's been a while since I've had a major change of opinion, but I try to understand and study and figure out how things work and become better. But on that issue (the death penalty), I did have a change of opinion. . . . It was not overnight, but my position now is, since I'm a federal official and I would be a U.S. president, is I do not believe in the federal death penalty . . .but I would not come and say the federal government and the federal courts should tell the states they can't have the death penalty anymore.
I just don't think with the scientific evidence - I read an article yesterday, and 68 percent of the time they make mistakes.
It's so racist, too. I think more than half the people getting the death penalty are poor blacks.
This is the one place, the one remnant of racism in our country is in the court system, enforcing the drug laws and enforcing the death penalty. . . .If you're rich, you usually don't meet the death penalty. . . .
I don't think it's very good sign for civilization to still be invoking the death penalty. . . .
If you believe in the death penalty, what I really object to is the doctors participating in torture, and doctors who are there to make it smooth and sweet.
'Oh, let's put him to sleep.' If it's a death penalty, do it on Times Square, see 'em get their head chopped off and see how all the people, see how much they like it, make 'em look at it. I think it's uncivilized. But, boy, there are some really bad people out there, makes it awfully tempting.
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On the environment: The government has to enforce property rights, enforce property rights and contracts -
not the EPA: They're just a bunch of bureaucrats serving the big industries. They protect certain industries against others. Regulations are written for the benefit of big companies.
If you live upstream and you dump sewerage in your stream and pollute my water, I should take you to court and make you quit.
In the past, there was collusion between the big corporations and the government. In Pittsburgh, Big Government and Big Steel, dumped their sewers into the river, and finally it was cleaned up - and it had nothing to do with the EPA.
The bureaucracy in Washington is not the most successful way to do it.
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On the Tea Party: I've attended a lot of these meetings, but you're gonna get oddballs in just about any group. Since this is a spontaneous group and anybody can declare they're Tea Party, you're going to see that. You can go to Republican and Democratic rallies and find a few oddballs, too. But to pick out a few and say this represents them is, I think, not fair.
The Tea Party called attention to an important issue: the debt.
They know the debt is unsustainable. I think that's the biggest thing. The Tea Party movement started during our last campaign. We had very precise viewpoints, monetary policies, corporate welfare.
The explosion of Tea Party sentiments - people moved in to get hold of all that. They wanted to set the agenda for the Tea Party people, but it's very amorphous.
There are so many different views that I think that it's hard to say that Tea Party people have a list of things they believe in. I know what I believe in, and I know what supporters believe in.
What seemed to bring them together was the insurmountable debt and what it's costing us just to pay the interest and watching other countries go bankrupt. That's the unifying issue.'
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On coalitions versus compromise: Coalitions bring people together. I work with the Left better than with any other Republican, I talk to the Dennis Kuciniches of the world, and Bernie Sanders. They understand foreign policy, they understand corporatism, the corporate welfare, civil liberties, my position on the Patriot Act.
They don't have to sacrifice any principle, but I don't have to sacrifice any principle. . . .
Too many people believe in more government, too many people believe in more taxes, too many people don't care about personal liberties, too many people compromise and say well we have to give up some of our freedoms to be safe, so that's why we need the Patriot Act and why we need the TSA agents prodding and probing and x-raying us. That's a lot of compromise we don't need. . . .
Last year, we had the bill to audit the Federal Reserve and (Democratic Rep.) Barney Frank worked with me and helped me to get it passed in the House of Representatives. Republicans and Democrats who came together - what is so terrible about that? How can that be criticized? . . .
This whole idea there is this rigid Right and this rigid Left, and they can't talk to each other and they yell and scream at each other - why aren't there issues we can come together on, the war and civil liberties and the monetary policy?