Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) talks to proggy Mother Jones about prog-approved legalization of hemp, and other stuff. Excerpts:
MJ: Hemp is a natural, eco-friendly fiber with a wide range of industrial uses, none of which involve getting high. So why has Congress been treating it like an illegal drug?
Ron Paul: Because they don't have any common sense and they don't know what they are talking about and it's sort of an hysterical reaction to the drug war. If they had any sense at all they would just legalize it like it was for most of our history. So it is rather bizarre....
MJ: Your son, the freshman senator Rand Paul, also supports legalizing hemp. But why don't more of his colleagues in the Tea Party Caucus, which is supposed to stand for getting government out of the way of economic growth?
RP: I think they are intimidated because they've built up this idea that it's related to drugs. I mean, it was a consequence of the drug war that this happened. But it just doesn't make any sense. So I don't know. I do my best. I introduced legislation. We talk about it a lot. And it would be an economic benefit to all of us to have it. Why should we allow products to be made in Canada and then we buy the products made out of hemp and they come back into the United States?....
MJ: Libertarians don't always agree with progressives, but there's more overlap than many people realize. Where else do you think that both groups can work together to get things done in Congress this year?
RP: I think I probably have more allies from the progressive side when we talk about how to get the budget under control. In spite of the image of most progressives—and there are some who don't really worry about the deficit—but there are some serious-minded progressives who would like to cut back and pay the bills. And where we agree on that is the foreign adventurism....
As a libertarian, I don't endorse philosophically the many domestic programs and I'm willing to work on a transition. So I say: Let's cut the unnecessary wars. Let's cut the foreign aid. Let's cut all the empire building which costs trillions of dollars and maybe we could tide ourselves over. But for some conservatives to start tinkering with the budget with health care or education for the poor, that doesn't make any political sense to me.
And the heart of America's current political difficulties:
The bigger problem is the difficulty in shifting gears. Some people say all you have to do is deal with waste and fraud. Well, we have to deal with much bigger things than that. We have to deal with the philosophy of government, the role of government in a free society. The Constitution gave us a pretty good outline. And there is no respect for the Constitution. Cutting things out now is practically impossible because even though a lot more people want the cuts, there's an even larger number that don't want their special programs cut.
I write about Ron Paul frequently.
[Hat tip: Josh Harkinson]