RP: Well, we were, a long time ago. But it was even before my lifetime. People point to the war bonds sales during World War II as something of an understanding in America that we have to be able to pay for the things the government wants to do and each of us should contribute what we can if it's necessary and just. But even some of that in WWII was a fa?de. I was a kid and everyone had to save, and I saved my quarters to buy a war bond. But that was only a fraction of financing the war. The real financing came from debt and the Federal Reserve creating money. In 1913 we created the Fed – the whole purpose was to manage debt and make currency to finance WWI because they couldn't borrow enough money. There's never enough money to fight the wars and the Treasury doesn't make enough in taxes. We didn't ever do anything like this before 1913 and that's why we had the Depression in 1921, to make the corrections from the market excesses during the First World War. And we've been doing that off and on ever since – boom, correction. It's gotten especially bad in my time in Congress because there are zero restraints on what the federal government can spend.
DN: Are Americans any better at fiscal restraint than our government?
RP: We've been doing this spend spend spend for a long time, so much that it's become cultural. We've removed the incentive from individuals to be fiscally responsible. We've conditioned young people to believe they are entitled to an education, that it's a right. And any debt they might incur will be forgiven. There's always bankruptcy or a bailout or more credit. People feel like they deserve certain things that they see others have and feel that it's not fair for some people to have more than others. Liberals will say it's not fair and the government should fill in the gaps. There's a lack of spending discipline throughout our entire culture and this is where the middle class gets squeezed; they are attempting to claim some pieces of a standard of living of the upper class while being forced to provide for expensive services for the lower class. Everyone should be saving more than spending, people, governments, businesses; and certainly earning more than spending, but we do the exact opposite.
DN: People who lean towards Libertarianism, like you, catch a lot of heat for ignoring the poor and the lower class. How would the poor survive in a truly free market?
RP: People get used to being taken care of and want the government to care for them from the cradle to the grave. We have so many people who need to be taken care of and we're moving toward more. Well, people who say they care about the poor might want to read history. People who live in a free market are historically more financially stable than in societies where the other classes are taxed to provide for them. They think they care about the poor but advocate for institutions or practices that will keep the poor that way. In a free market system that is not burdened by unnecessary, unchecked government spending and debt, there is more prosperity spread around to the classes to care for the very poor. There are more jobs, people keeping larger pieces of their paychecks. Yes, some will be richer than others, but that's what we have now, it's just created politically, by political practices that protect the rich and injure the middle class.
DN: Let's talk about the family and the economic impacts of the changes to the traditional family unit.
RP: Well, we certainly end up needing welfare more (because of the dissolution of the family unit). The family – that's where the bringing up and the teaching people to be good citizens should occur. And we are having a breakdown of the family– you can see it and measure it. More kids are born out of wedlock than in wedlock. Where's the family structure? Who is teaching and caring for the children?
When I first practiced medicine it was families and no single women having babies and no abortions being done. And then I was up here (in Washington) 8 years and then went back to my medical practice in the late 1970's and '80's and attitudes changed completely on how they looked at abortion and single parenting. I witnessed that and saw that. It invites the do-gooders who say 'well no one is going to take care of these kids so we have to have more welfare programs.' And that sort of feeds into it. And makes people feel comfortable and they're being taken care of and it doesn't even deal with the problem of WHY these things are occurring. Why is the traditional model of parenting seen as dated and unnecessary? The best unit for creating strong people is the family and it always has been; the government can't take the place of a family unit. It can try but it can't instill core values and moral fiber and esteem and all that makes a good citizen. The one thing I'm convinced, the government cannot replace the family. And when they attempt to, you get a big mess.
DN: What is the role of government in an age of weakening family?
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