Ron Paul: an absolute faith in free markets and less government
The 10-term congressman from Texas has been a strict constitutionalist since he came into public life some 30 years ago.
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"I would say that probably from the cradle, their ethic was work and church. That was it," says Carol Paul, the candidate's wife of 50 years. "They weren't a family that played a lot. Everything was serious."Skip to next paragraph
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The family lived two miles from the local high school. Although there was a bus to school, Paul preferred to run. He won the state championship in the 220-yard dash and ranked No. 2 in the 440-yard run in Pennsylvania. "He knew he was obligated to do with his God-given body the best he could," says Mrs. Paul. They met in high school at a track meet and married in his last year at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pa., where he studied biology.
Paul says he briefly considered becoming a Lutheran minister, but opted instead for medicine. He graduated from Duke University Medical School in Durham, N.C., in 1961, and was just starting a residency in internal medicine when he was drafted into the US Air Force. From 1963 to 1965, he served as a flight surgeon, then moved to Texas to practice obstetrics. As an OB/GYN, he has delivered more than 4,000 babies.
Paul doesn't often talk about religion, at least not in the context of a political campaign. There's a reason the Gospels teach praying in secret, he says. Over the years, he has attended an Episcopal church, which "became more liberal than we were comfortable with," as well as an evangelical church. He currently attends Baptist services.
The most decisive intellectual influence in Paul's life was his discovery, while in medical school, of a passion for economics. It started with two vast novels: Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" and Boris Pasternak's "Dr. Zhivago," a gift from his mother. Both books make a case for the threat that big government bureaucracies pose to creativity and liberty.
Later, he read his way into Austrian economics – the counterweight to Keynesian economic ideas that informed the New Deal. He read Friedrich Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom" – a book that influenced a generation of American conservatives – and especially Ludwig von Mises, a libertarian who extended the influence of the Austrian school of economics in the United States.
For the Austrian school, government intervention in free markets isn't a formula for long-term economic growth. Mises warned that over time it would cripple free markets and lead to state control. Free markets are always superior to a centrally planned economy, he wrote. Mises also advocated a non-inflationary gold standard – an idea that Paul has made his own in his 2007 book "The Case for Gold" and a forthcoming book "Pillars of Prosperity: Free Markets, Honest Money, Private Property."
In 1971, Paul and another local doctor closed their practices for a day and drove 60 miles to the University of Houston to hear Mises give one of his last lectures in the United States.