by Rick Pearson
Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul contends that the federal government has overreacted by limiting personal freedom in the wake of terrorist attacks six years ago, noting more people die on U.S. highways in less than a month’s time compared to the number who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
“We have been told that we have to give up our freedoms in order to be safe because terrorism is such a horrible event,” Paul said today to more than 1,000 supporters who attended a rally at a downtown Chicago hotel ballroom.
“A lot fewer lives died on 9/11 than they do in less than a month on our highways, but once again, who owns the highways? Do we own the highways? No. It’s a government institution you know. …We need to put all this in perspective.”
More than 2,970 people were reported dead in the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. Federal highway traffic statistics show an average of 3,509 people a month were killed on the nation’s highways in 2001.
Paul, a five-term Texas congressman, has used his libertarian stylings, his opposition to the Iraq war, and his pledge to uphold the “rule of law” and adhere to the Constitution to try to appeal to voters dissatisfied with government with supporters making extensive use of the Internet and its social networking and video posting websites.
Mocking the government’s airport security program as “symbolism,” Paul said, “The best thing for us to be free and safe is to recognize the principles of private property ownership and to respect and defend the second amendment” right to bear arms.
Paul also pledged a repeal of an “unconstitutional” federal income tax, to be replaced by “nothing,” and said he would push the repeal of Constitutional amendments that allowed for the federal government to impose taxes and the direct popular election of senators.
In addition, Paul repeated his vow to seek an end to the Federal Reserve System and bring a return to the gold standard, contending the Fed was responsible for boom-and-bust business cycles and inflation that devalue U.S. currency.
“We need sound Constitutional money, which is gold and silver,” Paul said.
But much of Paul’s 40 minutes of remarks were aimed at U.S. foreign policy, including his desire for the country to get out of the United Nations, and the war in Iraq.
Paul contended President Woodrow Wilson’s World War I desire to “make the world safe for democracy,” made before Congress in 1917 in seeking a declaration of war against Germany, has skewed American foreign policy into an interventionist role rather than a traditional one of “minding our own business.”
“We have been spending a lot of lives and a lot of money” since that time, Paul said. “The world is not very democratic and it’s not very safe,” he said, adding that the war in Iraq “ought to end quickly and as soon as possible.”